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Chapter 196

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘When the night passed away and morning came, thy sonsonce more, in the midst of all the troops, asked their grandsire, saying,’O son of Ganga, this army that is ready for fight, of Pandu’s son, thatabounds with men, elephants, and steeds, that is crowded with Maharathas,that is protected by these mighty bowmen endued with great strength,viz., Bhima and Arjuna and others headed by Dhrishtadyumna and allresembling the very regents of the world, that is invincible andincapable of being withstood, that resembles the unbounded sea,–this seaof warriors incapable of being agitated by the very gods in battle, inhow many days, O son of Ganga, O thou of great effulgence, canst thouannihilate it, and in what time can that mighty bowman, our preceptor(Drona), in what time also the mighty Kripa, in what time Karna whotaketh a pleasure in battle, and in what time that best of Brahmanas,viz., the son of Drona, can each annihilate it? Ye that are in my armyare all acquainted with celestial weapons! I desire to know this, for thecuriosity I feel in my heart is great! O thou of mighty arms, it behoveththee to say this to me!’

“Bhishma said, ‘O foremost one of the Kurus, O lord of the earth, thouenquirest about the strength and weakness of the foe. This, indeed, isworthy of thee. Listen, O king, as I tell thee the utmost limit of mypower in battle, or of the energy of my weapons, or of the might of myarms, O thou of mighty arms! As regards ordinary combatants, one shouldfight with them artlessly. As regards those that are possessed of powersof deception, one should fight with them aided by the ways of deception.Even this is what hath been laid down in respect of the duties ofwarriors. I can annihilate the Pandava army, O blessed monarch, takingevery morning ten thousand (ordinary) warriors and one thousandcar-warriors as my share from day to day. Cased in mail and alwaysexerting myself actively, I can, O Bharata, annihilate this large force,according to this arrangement as regards both number and time. If,however, stationed in battle, I shoot my great weapons that slay hundredsand thousands at a time, then I can, O Bharata, finish the slaughter in amonth.’

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Hearing these words of Bhishma, king Duryodhana thenasked Drona, O monarch, that foremost one of Angira’s race, saying, ‘Opreceptor, in what time canst thou annihilate the troops of Pandu’s son?’Thus addressed by him, Drona said smilingly, ‘I am old, O mighty-armedone! My energy and activity have both become weak. With the fire of myweapons I can consume the army of the Pandavas, like Santanu’s sonBhishma, I think, in a month’s time.’ Even this is the limit of my power,even this is the limit of my strength.’ Then Saradwat’s son Kripa saidthat he could annihilate the foe in two month’s time. Dron’s son(Aswatthaman) pledged himself to annihilate the Pandava army in tennights, Karna, however, acquainted as he was with weapons of highefficacy, pledged himself to achieve that feat in five days. Hearing thewords of the Suta’s son the son of the ocean-going (Ganga) laughed aloudand said, ‘As long, O son of Radha, as thou encounterest not in battlePartha with his arrows, conch, and bows and rushing to the combat on hiscar with Vasudeva in his company, so long mayest thou think so! Why, thouart capable of saying anything, even what thou pleasest!'”

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