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Chapter 58

Mahabharata English - VIRATA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After Kripa had thus been taken away, the invincibleDrona of red steeds, taking up his bow to which he had already stringedan arrow, rushed towards Arjuna of white steeds. And beholding at nogreat distance from him the preceptor advancing on his golden car, Arjunathat foremost of victorious warriors, addressing Uttara, said, ‘Blessedbe thou, O friend, carry me before that warrior on whose high banner-topis seen a golden altar resembling a long flame of fire and decked withnumerous flags placed around, and whose car is drawn by steeds that arered and large, exceedingly handsome and highly-trained, of face pleasantand of quiet mien, and like unto corals in colour and with faces ofcoppery hue, for that warrior is Drona with whom I desire to fight. Oflong arms and endued with mighty energy possessed of strength and beautyof person, celebrated over all the worlds for his prowess, resemblingUsanas himself in intelligence and Vrihaspati in knowledge of morality,he is conversant with the four Vedas and devoted to the practice ofBrahmacharya virtues. O friend, the use of the celestial weapons togetherwith the mysteries of their withdrawal and the entire-science of weapons,always reside in him. Forgiveness, self-control, truth, abstention frominjury, rectitude of conduct,–these and countless other virtues alwaysdwell in that regenerate one. I desire to fight with that highly-blessedone on the field. Therefore, take me before the preceptor and carry methither, O Uttara.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Arjuna, Virata’s son urgedhis steeds decked with gold towards the car of Bharadwaja’s son. AndDrona also rushed towards the impetuously advancing Partha, the son ofPandu,–that foremost of car-warriors,–like an infuriate elephantrushing towards an infuriate compeer. And the son of Bharadwaja then blewhis conch whose blare resembled that of a hundred trumpets. And at thatsound the whole army become agitated like the sea in a tempest. Andbeholding those excellent steeds red in hue mingling in battle withArjuna’s steeds of swan-like whiteness endued with the speed of the mind,all the spectators were filled with wonder. And seeing on the field ofbattle those car-warriors–the preceptor Drona and his disciplePartha–both endued with prowess, both invincible, both well-trained,both possessed of great energy and great strength, engaged with eachother, that mighty host of the Bharatas began to tremble frequently. Andthat mighty car-warrior Partha, possessed of great prowess and filledwith joy upon reaching Drona’s car on his own, saluted the preceptor. Andthat slayer of hostile heroes, the mighty armed son of Kunti, thenaddressed Drona in an humble and sweet tone, saying, ‘Having completedour exile in the woods, we are now desirous of avenging our wrongs. Eveninvincible in battle, it doth not behove thee to be angry with us. Osinless one, I will not strike thee unless thou strikest me first. Eventhis is my intention. It behoveth thee to act as thou choosest.’ Thusaddressed Drona discharged at him more than twenty arrows. But thelight-handed Partha cut them off before they could reach him. And atthis, the mighty Drona, displaying his lightness of hand in the use ofweapons, covered Partha’s car with a thousand arrows. And desirous ofangering, Partha, that hero of immeasurable soul, then covered his steedsof silvery whiteness with arrows whetted on stone and winged with thefeathers of the Kanka bird. And when the battle between Drona and Kiritinthus commenced, both of them discharging in the encounter arrows ofblazing splendour, both well-known for their achievements, both equal tothe wind itself in speed, both conversant with celestial weapons, andboth endued with mighty energy, began shooting clouds of arrows tobewilder the royal Kshatriyas. And all the warriors that were assembledthere were filled with wonder at sight of all this. And they all admiredDrona who quickly shot clouds of arrows exclaiming,–Well done! Welldone! Indeed, who else save Falguna, is worthy of fighting with Drona inbattle? Surely the duties of a Kshatriya are stern, for Arjuna fightethwith even his own preceptor!–And it was thus that they who stood on thefield of battle said unto one another. And inflamed with fire, thosemighty-armed heroes standing before other, and each incapable ofovercoming the other, covered each other with arrowy showers. AndBharadwaja’s son, waxing worth, drew his large and unconquerable bowplated on the back with gold, and pierced Falguna with his arrows. Anddischarging at Arjuna’s car innumerable whetted arrows possessed of solareffulgence, he entirely shrouded the light of the sun. And that greatcar-warrior of mighty arms, violently pierced Pritha’s son withkeen-edged shafts even as the clouds shower upon a mountain. Then takingup that foremost of bows, the Gandiva, destructive of foes and capable ofwithstanding the greatest strain, the impetuous son of Pandu cheerfullydischarged countless shafts of various kinds adorned with gold, and thatpowerful warrior also baffled in a moment Drona’s arrowy shower by meansof those shafts shot from his own bow. And at this the spectatorswondered greatly. And the handsome Dhananjaya, the son of Pritha, rangingon his car, displayed his weapons on all sides at the same time. And theentire welkin covered with his arrows, became one wide expanse of shade.And at this Drona become invisible like the sun enveloped in mist. Andshrouded by those excellent arrows on all sides, Drona looked like amountain on fire. And beholding his own car completely enveloped by thearrows of Pritha’s son, Drona that ornament of battle, bent his terribleand foremost of bows whose noise was as loud as that of the clouds. Anddrawing that first of weapons, which was like unto a circle of fire, hedischarged a cloud of keen-edged shafts. And then there were heard on thefield loud sounds like the splitting of bamboos set on fire. And thatwarrior of immeasurable soul, shooting from his bow arrows furnished withgolden wings, covered all sides, shrouding the very light of the sun. Andthose arrows with knots well-peeled off, and furnished with golden wings,looked like flocks of birds in the sky. And the arrows discharged byDrona from his bow, touching one another at the wings, appeared like oneendless line in the sky. And those heroes, thus discharging their arrowsdecked with gold, seemed to cover the sky with showers of meteors. Andfurnished with feathers of the Kanka bird, those arrows looked like rowsof cranes ranging in the autumnal sky. And the fierce and terribleencounter that took place between the illustrious Drona and Arjunaresembled that between Virata and Vasava of old. And discharging arrowsat each other from bows drawn at their fullest stretch, they resembledtwo elephants assailing each other with their tusks. And those wrathfulwarriors–those ornaments of battle–fighting strictly according toestablished usage, displayed in that conflict various celestial weaponsin due order. Then that foremost of victorious men, Arjuna, by means ofhis keen shafts resisted the whetted arrows shot by that best ofpreceptors. And displaying before the spectators various weapons, thathero of terrible prowess covered the sky with various kinds of arrows.And beholding that tiger among men, Arjuna, endued with fierce energy andintent upon striking him, that foremost of warriors and best ofpreceptors (from affection) began to fight with him playfully by means ofsmooth and straight arrows. And Bharadwaja’s son fought on with Falguna,resisting with his own the celestial weapons shot by the former. And thefight that took place between those enraged lions among men, incapable ofbearing each other, was like unto encounter between the gods and theDanavas. And the son of Pandu repeatedly baffled with his own, theAindra, the Vayavya, and the Agneya weapons that were shot by Drona. Anddischarging keen shafts, those mighty bowmen, by their arrowy showerscompletely covered the sky and made a wide expanse of shade. And then thearrows shot by Arjuna, falling on the bodies of hostile warriors,produced the crash of thunderbolt. O king, elephants, cars, and horses,bathed in blood, looked like Kinsuka trees crowned with flowers. And inthat encounter between Drona and Arjuna, beholding the field covered witharms decked with bangles, and gorgeously-attired car-warriors, and coatsof mail variegated with gold, and with banners lying scattered all about,and with warriors slain by means of Partha’s arrows, the Kuru host becamepanic-stricken. And shaking their bows capable of bearing much strain,those combatants began to shroud and weaken each other with their shafts.And, O bull of the Bharata race, the encounter that took place betweenDrona and Kunti’s son was dreadful in the extreme and resembled thatbetween Vali and Vasava. And staking their very lives, they began topierce each other straight arrows shot from their fully-stretchedbow-strings. And a voice was heard in the sky applauding Drona, andsaying, ‘Difficult is the feat performed by Drona, inasmuch as hefighteth with Arjuna,–that grinder of foes, that warrior endued withmighty energy, of firm grasp, and invincible in battle,–that conquerorof both celestials and Daityas, that foremost of all car-warriors.’ Andbeholding Partha’s infallibility, training, fleetness of hand, and therange also of Arjuna’s, arrows, Drona became amazed. And, O bull of theBharata race, lifting up his excellent bow, the Gandiva the unforbearingPartha drew it now with one hand and now with another shot an arrowyshower. And beholding that shower resembling a flight of locusts, thespectators wondering applauded him exclaiming, ‘Excellent’! ‘Excellent’!And so ceaselessly did he shoot his arrows that the very air was unableto penetrate the thick array. And the spectators could not perceive anyinterval between the taking up of the arrows and letting them off. And inthat fierce encounter characterised by lightness of hand in the dischargeof weapons, Partha began to shoot his arrows more quickly than before.And then all at once hundreds and thousands of straight arrows fell uponDrona’s car. And, O bull of the Bharata race, beholding Drona completelycovered by the wielder of the Gandiva with his arrows, the Kuru army setup exclamation of ‘Oh’! and ‘Alas’! And Maghavat, together with thoseGandharvas and Apsaras that have come there, applauded the fleetness ofPartha’s hand. And that mighty car-warrior, the preceptor’s son, thenresisted the Pandva with a mighty array of cars. And although enragedwith Arjuna, yet Aswatthaman mentally admired that feat of thehigh-souled son of Pritha. And waxing wroth, he rushed towards Partha,and discharged at him an arrowy shower like a heavy down-pour by thecloud. And turning his steeds towards Drona’s son, Partha gave Drona anopportunity to leave the field. And thereupon the latter, wounded in thatterrible encounter, and his mail and banner gone sped away by the aid ofswift horses.'”

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