end. Dhrishtadyumna alone can withstand
the arrows of Bhishma whose skill in
archery made even the great Parasurama
hold back. He is the only man fitted to be
our commander. I can think of no one
else," replied Arjuna.
Bhimasena said: "O king, what Arjuna
says is true, but the rishis and elders have
said that Sikhandin has come into the
world to kill Bhishma. My inclination
would be to give the command to
Sikhandin whose radiant face is like that
of Parasurama. I do not think any one else
can defeat Bhishma."
Yudhishthira finally asked Kesava for his
opinion. "The warriors mentioned are,
each one of them, worthy of selection,"
said Krishna. "Any one of them would fill
the Kauravas with fear. All things
considered, I would endorse Arjuna's
therefore, as your Supreme Commander."
Accordingly, Dhrishtadyumna, Drupada's
illustrious son, who led Draupadi at the
swayamvara and gave her away to Arjuna,
who for thirteen long years was brooding
over the insult that his sister had to suffer
in Duryodhana's court, and who was
waiting for an opportunity to avenge the
Commander of the Pandava army.
The lion-roar of warriors, the blowing of
conchs and shells and the trumpeting of
elephants rent the air, With warlike cheers
which made the sky ring, the Pandava
army entered Kurukshetra in martial
BALARAMA, the illustrious brother of
Krishna, visited the Pandavas, in their
encampment. As Halayudha (plough
bearer), clad in blue silk, entered
majestically like a lion. Yudhishthira,
Krishna and others gave the broad-
shouldered warrior a glad welcome.
Bowing to Drupada and Virata, the visitor
seated himself beside Dharmaputra.
"I have come to Kurukshetra," said he,
"learning that the descendants of Bharata
have let themselves be overwhelmed by
greed, anger and hatred and that the peace
talks have broken down and that war has
Overcome by emotion, he paused for a
while and then continued: "Dharmaputra,
dreadful destruction is ahead. The earth is
going to is a bloody morass strewn with
mangled bodies! It is an evil destiny that
has maddened the kshatriya world to
foregather here to meet its doom. Often
have I told Krishna, 'Duryodhana is the
same to us as the Pandavas. We may not
take sides in their foolish quarrels.' He
would not listen to me. His great affection
for Dhananjaya has misled Krishna and he
is with you in this war which I see he has
approved. How can Krishna and I be in
opposite camps? For Bhima and
Duryodhana, both of them my pupils, I
have equal regard and love. How then can
I support one against the other? Nor can I
bear to see the Kauravas destroyed. I will
therefore have nothing to do with this war,
this conflagration that will consume
everything. This tragedy has made me
lose all interest in the world and so I shall
wander among holy places."
Having thus spoken against the calamitous
war, Krishna's brother left the place, his
heart laden with sorrow and his mind
seeking consolation in God.
This episode of Balarama’s, keeping out
of the Mahabharata war is illustrative of
the perplexing situations in which good
and honest men often find themselves.
Compelled to choose between two equally
justifiable, but contrary, courses of action,
the unhappy individual is caught on the
horns of a dilemma. It is only honest men
that find themselves in this predicament.
The dishonest ones of the earth have no
such problems, guided as they are solely
by their own attachments and desires, that
is, by self-interest.
Not so the great men who have renounced
all desire. Witness the great trials to
which, in the Mahabharata, Bhishma,
Vidura, Yudhishthira and Karna were put.
We read in that epic how they solved their
several difficulties. Their solutions did not
conform to a single moral pattern but
reflected their several individualities. The
conduct of each was the reaction of his
personality and character to the impact of
Modern critics and expositors sometimes
forget this underlying basic factor and
seek to weigh all in the same scales,
which is quite wrong. We may profit by
the way in which, in the Ramayana,
Bharata and Lakshmana reacted to the
difficulties with which each of them was
Likewise, Balarama's neutrality in the
Mahabharata war has a lesson. Only two
princes kept out of that war. One was
Balarama and the other was Rukma, the
ruler of Bhojakata. The story of Rukma,
whose younger sister Rukmini married
Krishna, is told in the next chapter.
BHISHMAKA, the king of Vidarbha, had
five sons and an only daughter, Rukmini,
a princess of matchless beauty, charm and
strength of character.
Having heard of Krishna and his renown,
she wished to be united to him in wedlock
and the desire daily grew in intensity. Her
relatives approved the idea, all except her
eldest brother Rukma, the heir apparent,
between whom and Krishna there was no
Rukma pressed his father not to give
Rukmini in marriage to the ruler of
Dwaraka but to marry her instead to
Sisupala, the king of Chedi. The king
being old, Rukma's became the dominant
voice and it looked as though Rukmini
would be compelled to marry Sisupala.
Rukmini, whose heart was wholly
Krishna's because she was Lakshmi
incarnate, was disconsolate. She feared
that her father would be helpless against
her domineering brother and would not be
able to prevent the unhappy marriage.
Mustering all her strength of mind,
Rukmini resolved somehow to find a way
out of her predicament. She took counsel
with a brahmana whom, abandoning all
maidenly reserve, she sent as her emissary
to Krishna, charging him to explain
matters to her beloved and sue for help.
toDwaraka and conveyed to Krishna
Rukmini's sad plight and her entreaty, and
handed to him the letter Rukmini had sent
through him. The letter ran as follows:
"My heart has already accepted you as
lord and master. I charge you therefore to
come and succour me before Sisupala
carries me off by force. The matter cannot
brook any delay; so you must be here
tomorrow. Sisupala's forces, as well as
Jarasandha's, will oppose you and will
have to be overcome before you can have
me. May you be the triumphant hero and
capture me! My brother has decided to
marry me to Sisupala and, as part of the
wedding ceremonies, I am going to the
temple along with my retinue to offer
worship to Parvati. That would be the best
time for you to come and rescue me. If
you do not turn up, I will put an end to my
life so that I may at least join you in my
Krishna read this and immediately
mounted his chariot. At the king's behest,
Kundinapura, the capital of Vidarbha, was
preparations for the wedding of the
princess with Sisupala were in full swing.
The bridegroom elect and his associates,
all sworn enemies of Krishna, had already
assembled in the capital. Balarama came
to know of Krishna's sudden and secret
departure, all by himself.
Guessing that it must be about the
daughter of the king of Vidarbha and
anxious lest Krishna should be hemmed in
alone by mortal enemies thirsting for his
blood, he hurriedly assembled a great
force and marched on to Kundinapura.
Leaving her apartments, Rukmini,
accompanied by her retinue, went in
procession to the temple, where divine
service was held.
"Oh Devi," implored Rukmini, praying for
her intercession. "I prostrate myself before
thee who knowest my devotion. Grant that
Krishna may espouse me."
Stepping out of the temple, Rukmini
sighted Krishna's chariot and ran straight
as a needle to the attracting magnet. She
fled to him and got into his chariot. And
Krishna drove off with her, to the
bewilderment of all around.
The servants ran to Rukma, the heir
apparent, and related what had happened.
"I will not return without killing
Janardana," swore Rukma, and went in
pursuit of Krishna with a large force.
But, meanwhile, Balarama had arrived
with his army, and a great battle ensued
between the two opposing forces in which
the enemy was utterly routed. Balarama
and Krishna returned home in triumph,
where Rukmini's wedding with Krishna
was celebrated with customary rites.
The defeated Rukma was ashamed to
return to Kundinapura and built at the
very site of the battle between Krishna
and himself a new city, Bhojakata, over
which he ruled.
Hearing of the Kurukshetra battle, Rukma
arrived there with a huge force. Thinking
that he could thereby win the friendship of
Vasudeva, he offered help to the
"Oh Pandavas," said he addressing
Dhananjaya, "the enemy forces are very
large. I have come to help you. Give me
the word and I shall attack whichever
sector of the enemy formation you would
like me to. I have the strength to attack
Drona, Kripa or even Bhishma. I shall
bring you victory. Only let me know your
Turning to Vasudeva, Dhananjaya
"Oh, ruler of Bhojakata," said Arjuna, "we
are not afraid of the size of the enemy
forces. We have no need of your help and
do not particularly desire it. You may
either go away or stay on, just as you
At this, Rukma was filled with anger and
shame and went to Duryodhana's camp
with his army. "The Pandavas have
refused my proffered assistance." Said he
to Duryodhana. "My forces are at your
"Is it not after the Pandavas rejected your
assistance that you have come here?"
exclaimed Duryodhana, and added: "I am
not in such dire need yet as to welcome
Rukma, thus put to disgrace by both sides,
returned to his kingdom without taking
part in battle. Neutrality in war may be of
It may arise from conscientious objection
to war or it may be due to mere conceit
and self-interest. Yet others may keep
aloof through cowardice or sheer inertia.
Balarama was neutral in the Mahabharata
war because of his love of peace. Rukma,
on the other hand, abstained as a result of
Instead of acting according to dharma, he
thought of personal glory, and neither side
would have him.
IT was the day before the commencement
of the great battle. The grandsire, now the
Duryodhana seeking to inspire him with
his own heroic spirit and cheerfulness.
Bhishma spoke of the strength, skill and
prowess of the warriors ranged on the
Kauravas' side. Duryodhana was cheered
up. Presently, Karna became the subject
of their talk.
"Karna has earned your affection," said
Bhishma, "but I do not think much of him.
I do not like his great hatred of the
Pandavas, and he is too boastful. There is
no limit to his arrogance and he is much
given to disparaging others. I would not
place him in the highest rank among the
warriors of the land. Besides, he has given
away the divine armor with which he was
born. He is not therefore likely to be of
great help to me in this battle. The curse
of Parasurama is on him too. His
command of supernatural weapons will
fail him in his hour of need, for he will not
be able to remember the mantras. And the
battle that will ensue between him and
Arjuna will prove fatal for Karna."
Thus spoke Bhishma without mincing
matters, and this was exceedingly
unpalatable to Duryodhana and Karna. To
make matters worse, Drona agreed with
the grandsire and said:
"Karna is full of pride and
overconfidence, which will cause him to
be neglectful of the finer points of
strategy, and through carelessness, he will
Enraged by these harsh words, Karna
turned to the grandsire with flaming eyes.
"You sir," said he, "have always slighted
me through mere dislike and envy and
have never neglected an opportunity of
humiliating me, though I gave you no
reason. I bore all your taunts and thrusts
for the sake of Duryodhana. You have
said that I would not be of much help in
the impending war. Let me tell you my
settled conviction, it is you, not I, who
will fail the Kauravas. Why hide your real
feelings? The fact of the matter is that you
Duryodhana, but he does not know it.
Hating me you seek to come between me
and Duryodhana and poison his mind
against me. And in furtherance of your
wicked design, you have been belittling
my strength and running me down. You
have stooped to behavior unworthy of a
kshatriya. Age alone does not confer a
title to honor and respect among warriors,
but prowess does. Desist from poisoning
Turning then to Duryodhana, Karna said:
"Illustrious warrior, think well and look to
your own good. Do not place too great a
reliance on the grandsire. He is trying to
sow dissension in our ranks. His
appraisement of me will injure your cause.
By running me down, he seeks to dampen
my enthusiasm. He has become senile and
his time is up. His arrogance does not let
him have regard for anyone else. Age
must be respected and experience is useful
but, as the sastras warn us, there is a point
when age becomes senility and ripeness
falls into rottenness and decay. You have
made Bhishma your Generalissimo who
will, I have no doubt, earn some fame
from the heroic deeds of others. But I will
not bear arms while he is in command.
Only after he has fallen will I do so."
The arrogant man is never conscious of
his own arrogance. When accused of it, he
charges the accuser with that very fault.
His judgment is warped and he considers
it a crime on the part of anyone to point
out his defect. This is well illustrated in
Controlling his anger, Bhishma replied:
"Son of Surya, we are in a crisis and that
is why you have not ceased to live this
moment. You have been the evil genius of
the Kauravas." Duryodhana was in
"Son of Ganga, I need the help of you
both," he said. "You will both do deeds of
great heroism, I have no doubt. At the
break of dawn, the battle joins. Let there
be no fighting among friends, with the foe
in full force before us!"
But Karna was adamant in that he would
not take up arms so long as Bhishma was
in supreme command. Duryodhana
eventually yielded to Karna and suffered
him to carry out his threat.
Karna kept out during the first ten days of
the battle, though all his men participated
in it. At the end of the tenth day, when the
great Bhishma lay on the battlefield
covered all over with arrows, Karna went
to him and bowed reverently and asked
for forgiveness and blessings, which he
Thereafter, Karna cooperated and himself
proposed Drona for the command of the
Kaurava forces in succession to Bhishma.
When Drona also fell, Karna took over the
command and led the Kaurava forces.
62. KRISHNA TEACHES
ALL was ready for the battle. The
warriors on both sides gathered together
and solemnly bound themselves to honor
the traditional rules of war.
The code of conduct in war and methods
of warfare vary from time to time. It is
only if what was in vogue at the time of
the Mahabharata war is kept in mind that
we can understand the epic. Otherwise,
the story would be puzzling in places.
From what follows, the reader may have
some idea of the rules of warfare followed
in the Kurukshetra battle. Each day, the
battle was over at sunset, and the hostiles
mixed freely like friends.
Single combats might only be between
equals and one could not use methods not
in accordance with dharma. Thus those
who left the field or retired would not be
attacked. A horseman could attack only a
horseman, not one on foot.
Likewise, charioteers, elephant troops and
infantrymen could engage themselves in
battle only with their opposite numbers in
the enemy ranks.
Those who sought quarter or surrendered
were safe from slaughter. Nor might one,
for the moment disengaged, direct his
weapons against another who was
engaged in combat.
It was wrong to slay one who had been
disarmed or whose attention was directed
elsewhere or who was retreating or who
had lost his armor. And no shafts were to
be directed against non-combatant
attendants or those engaged in blowing
conchs or beating drums.
These were the rules that the Kauravas
and the Pandavas solemnly declared they
The passage of time has witnessed many
changes in men's ideas of right and wrong.
Nothing is exempt from attack in modern
Not only are munitions made the target of
attack, but dumb animals such as horses,
camels, mules and medical stores, nay,
non-combatants of all ages, are destroyed
Sometimes the established conventions
went overboard even in the Mahabharata
We see clearly in the story that occasional
transgressions took place for one reason
or another. But, on the whole, the
accepted rules of honorable and humane
war were observed by both sides in the
Kurukshetra battle. And the occasional
violations were looked upon as wrong and
Addressing the princes under his
command, Bhishma said: "Heroes, yours
is a glorious opportunity. Before you, are
the gates of heaven wide open. The joy of
living with Indra and Brahma awaits you.
Pursue the path of your ancestors and
follow the kshatriya dharma. Fight with
joy and attain fame and greatness. A
kshatriya does not wish to die of disease
or old age in his bed but prefers to die on
the battlefield," and the princes responded
by ordering their trumpets to be sounded
and shouted victory to the Kauravas.
On Bhishma's flag shone brightly the
palm tree and five stars. On Aswatthama's
the lion tail fluttered in the air.
In Drona's golden-hued standard, the
ascetic's bowl and the bow glistened, and
the cobra of Duryodhana's famed banner
danced proudly with outspread hood.
On Kripa's flag was depicted a bull, while
Jayadratha's carried a wild boar. Likewise
others and the battlefield thus presented a
pageant of flags.
Seeing the Kaurava forces ranged in battle
array, Yudhishthira gave orders to Arjuna:
"The enemy force is very large. Our army
being smaller, our tactics should be
concentration rather than deployment that
will only weaken us. Array our forces,
therefore, in needle formation."
Now, when Arjuna saw men arrayed on
both sides for mutual slaughter, he was
deeply agitated and Krishna spoke to him
in order to quell his agitation and remove
Krishna's exhortation to Arjuna at this
juncture is the Bhagavad Gita, which is
enshrined in millions of hearts as the
Word of God. The Bhagavad Gita is
acknowledged by all as one of the
supreme treasures of human literature.
Its gospel of devotion to duty, without
attachment or desire of reward, has shown
the way of life for all men, rich or poor,
learned or ignorant, who have sought for
light in the dark problems of life.
63. YUDHISHTHIRA SEEKS
EVERYTHING was ready for the battle
to begin. At this tense moment, both
armies saw with amazement Yudhishthira,
the steadfast and brave son of Pandu,
suddenly doff his armor and put away his
weapons. Descending from his chariot, he
proceeded on foot towards the commander
of the Kaurava forces.
"What is this that Yudhishthira is doing?"
asked everyone and was puzzled by this
sudden and silent proceeding on the part
of the Pandava.
Dhananjaya too was perplexed and he
jumped down from his chariot and ran to
Yudhishthira. The other brothers and
Krishna also joined.
They feared that perhaps Yudhishthira,
surrendering to his natural inclination, had
suddenly decided to seek peace on any
terms and was going forward to announce
"King, why are you proceeding to the
enemy's lines in this strange manner? You
have told us nothing. The enemy is ready
for battle, their soldiers sheathed in armor
and with uplifted weapons. But you have
doffed your armor and thrown aside your
weapons and are proceeding forward,
unattended and on foot. Tell us what you
are about." Thus said Arjuna to
Dharmaputra. But Yudhishthira was
immersed in deep thought and proceeded
Then Vasudeva, who knew the hearts of
men, smiled and said: "He is going to the
elders to ask for their benediction before
commencing this terrible fight. He feels it
is not right to start such a grave
proceeding without formally taking such
benediction and permission. He goes to
the grandsire to take his blessing and that
of Dronacharya. So he goes unarmed. It is
right that he does this. He knows
proprieties. It is only thus that we might
fare well in this battle."
The men in Duryodhana's army, when
they saw Yudhishthira advancing with
hands clasped in humble attitude, thought:
"Here is the Pandava coming to sue for
peace, frightened at our strength. Truly
this man brings disgrace to the race of
kshatriyas. Why was this coward born
among us?" Thus did they talk among
themselves reviling Dharmaputra though
delighted at the prospect of securing
victory without a blow.
Yudhishthira went through the lines of
soldiers armed from head to foot and
proceeded straight to where Bhishma was
and, bending low and touching his feet in
"Grandsire, permit us to begin the battle.
We have dared to give battle to you, our
grandsire. We seek benediction before
beginning the fight."
"Child," replied the grandsire, "born in the
race of Bharatas, you have acted worthily
and according to our code of conduct. It
gives me joy to see this. Fight and you
will have victory. I am not a free agent. I
am bound by my obligation to the king
and must fight on the side of the
Kauravas. But you will not be defeated."
After thus obtaining the permission and
Yudhishthira went to Drona and
circumambulated and bowed, according to
form, to the acharya, who also gave his
"I am under inescapable obligations to the
Kauravas, O son of Dharma. Our vested
interests enslave us and become our
masters. Thus have I become bound to the
Kauravas. I shall fight on their side. But
yours will be the victory."
Yudhishthira similarly approached and
obtained the blessings of Kripacharya and
uncle Salya and returned to the Pandava
The battle began, commencing with single
combats between the leading chiefs armed
with equal weapons. Bhishma and Partha,
Satyaki and Kritavarma, Abhimanyu and
Brihatbala, Duryodhana and Bhima,
Dbrishtadyumna and Drona were thus
engaged in great battles.
Similarly, thousands of other warriors
fought severally according to the rules of
war of those days.
Besides these numerous single combats
between renowned warriors, there was
common soldiers. The name of "sankula
yuddha" was given to such free fighting
Kurukshetra battle witnessed many such
"sankula" fights wherein countless men
fought and died in the mad lust of battle.
On the field lay piles of slaughtered
soldiers, charioteers, elephants and horses.
The ground became a bloody mire in
which it was difficult for the chariots to
move about. In modern battles there is no
such thing as single combats. It is all
The Kauravas fought under Bhishma's
command for ten days. After him, Drona
took the command. When Drona died,
Karna succeeded to the command. Karna
fell towards the close of the seventeenth
day's battle. And Salya led the Kaurava
army on the eighteenth and last day.
Towards the latter part of the battle, many
savage and unchivalrous deeds were done.
Chivalry and rules of war die hard, for
there is an innate nobility in human
nature. But difficult situations and
temptations arise which men are too weak
to resist, especially when they are
exhausted with fighting and warped with
hatred and bloodshed.
Even great men commit wrong and their
lapses thereafter furnish bad examples to
others, and dharma comes to be
disregarded more and more easily and
frequently. Thus does violence beget and
nourish adharma and plunge the world in
64. THE FIRST DAY'S BATTLE
DUHSASANA was leading the Kaurava
forces and Bhimasena did the same on the
Pandava side. The noise of battle rolled
and rent the air. The kettledrums,
trumpets, horns and conchs made the sky
ring with their clamor.
Horses neighed, charging elephants
trumpeted and the warriors uttered their
lion-roars. Arrows flew in the air like
burning meteors. Fathers and sons, uncles
and nephews slew one another forgetful of
old affection and ties of blood. It was a
mad and terrible carnage. In the forenoon
of the first day's battle the Pandava army
was badly shaken. Wherever Bhishma's
chariot went, it was like the dance of the
destroyer. Abhimanyu could not bear this
and he attacked the grandsire. When the
oldest and the youngest warriors thus met
in battle, the gods came to watch the
combat. Abhimanyu's flag, displaying the
golden karnikara tree brightly waved on
Kritavarma was hit by one of his arrows
and Salya was hit five times. Bhishma
himself was hit nine times by
charioteer was struck by one of
Abhimanyu's sword-edge arrow and his
severed head rolled on the ground.
Another broke Kripa's bow. Abhimanyu's
feats brought down showers of flowers
from the gods who looked on. Bhishma
and the warrior supporting him exclaimed:
"Indeed, a worthy son to Dhananjaya!"
Then the Kaurava warriors made a
combined attack on the valiant youth. But
he stood against them all. He parried with
his own all the shafts discharged by
One of his well-aimed arrows brought the
grandsire's palm tree flag down. Seeing
this, Bhimasena was overjoyed and made
a great lion-roar that further inspired the
valiant nephew. Great was the grandsire's
joy, seeing the valor of the young hero.
Unwillingly, he had to use his full
strength against the boy. Virata, his son
Uttara, Dhrishtadyumna, the son of
Drupada and Bhima came to relieve the
young hero and attacked the grandsire
who then turned his attentions on them.
Uttara, the son of Virata, rode an elephant
and led a fierce charge on Salya. Salya's
chariot horses were trampled to death and
thereupon he hurled a javelin at Uttara. It
went with unerring aim and pierced him in
The goad he had in his hand dropped and
he rolled down dead. But the elephant did
not withdraw. It continued charging until
Salya cut off its trunk and hit it in many
places with his arrows. And then it uttered
a loud cry and fell dead. Salya got into
Virata's son Sveta saw Salya slay his
younger brother. His anger rose, like fire
fed by libations of butter. And he drove
his chariot towards Salya. Seven chariot
warriors at once came up in support of
Salya and protected him from all sides.
Arrows were showered on Sveta and the
missiles sped across like lightning in
marvelously. He parried their shafts with
his own and cut their javelins down as
they sped towards him. The warriors in
both armies were amazed at the skill
displayed by Sveta. Duryodhana lost no
time now and sent forces to relieve Salya.
Whereupon there was a great battle.
Thousands of soldiers perished, and
numerous were the chariots broken and
the horses and elephants killed. Sveta
succeeded in putting Duryodhana's men to
flight and he pushed forward and attacked
Bhishma's flag was brought down by
Sveta. Bhishma, in his turn, killed Sveta's
horses and charioteer. There upon, they
hurled javelins at one another and fought
Sveta took a mace, and swinging it, sent it
at Bhishma's car which was smashed to
pieces. But the grandsire, even before the
mace dashed against the chariot, had
anticipated it and jumped down. From the
ground he pulled the string of his bow to
his ear and sent a fatal arrow at Sveta.
Sveta was struck and fell dead. Duhsasana
blew his horn and danced in joy. This was
followed by a great attack on the Pandava
army by Bhishma.
The Pandava forces suffered greatly on
the first day of the battle. Dharmaputra
was seized with apprehension, and
Duryodhana's joy was unbounded. The
brothers came to Krishna and were
engaged in anxious consultations.
"Chief among Bharatas," said Krishna to
Yudhishthira, "do not fear. God has
blessed you with valiant brothers. Why
should you entertain any doubts? There is
Satyaki and there are Virata, Drupada and
Dhrishtadyumna, besides myself. What
reason is there for you to be dejected? Do
you forget that Sikhandin is awaiting for
his predestined victim Bhishma?" Thus
did Krishna comfort Yudhishthira.
65. THE SECOND DAY
THE Pandava army, having fared badly
on the first day of the battle,
devised measures to avoid a repetition of
it. On the second day, the army was most
carefully arrayed and everything was done
to instil confidence.
Duryodhana, filled with conceit on
account of the success on the first day,
stood in the center of his army and
addressed his warriors.
"Heroes in armor", he said in a loud voice,
"our victory is assured. Fight and care not
The Kaurava army, led by Bhishma, again
made strong attack on the Pandava forces
and broke their formation, killing large
Arjuna, turning to Krishna, his charioteer,
said: "If we continue in this way, our army
will soon be totally destroyed by the
grandsire. Unless we slay Bhishma, I am
afraid we can not save our army."
"Dhananjaya, then get ready. There is the
grandsire's chariot," replied Krishna, and
drove straight towards him.
The chariot sped forward at a great pace.
The grandsire sent his shafts welcoming
the challenge. Duryodhana had ordered
his men to protect the grandsire most
vigilantly and never to let him expose
himself to danger.
Accordingly, all the warriors, supporting
the grandsire, at once intervened and
attacked Arjuna who, however, fought on
It was well known that there were but
three on the Kaurava side who could stand
against Arjuna with any chance of success
the grandsire Bhishma, Drona and Karna.
Arjuna made short work of the warriors,
who intervened in support of Bhishma.
The way in which he wielded his great
bow on this occasion, extorted the
admiration of all the great generals in the
army. His chariot flashed hither and
thither sundering hostile ranks like forked
lightning, so rapidly that the eye ached to
follow its career.
Duryodhana's heart beat fast as he
watched this combat. His confidence in
the great Bhishma began to be shaken.
"Son of Ganga," Duryodhana said, "it
seems as if even while you and Drona are
alive and fighting, this irresistible
combination of Arjuna and Krishna will
destroy our entire army. Karna whose
devotion and loyalty to me are most
genuine stands aside and does not fight for
me only because of you. I fear I shall be
deceived and you will not take steps
quickly to destroy Phalguna (Arjuna)."
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