Bhurisravas undaunted by numbers,
opposed the combined attack and was not
to be shaken. His well-aimed darts broke
their weapons and they were all slain,
strewn on the field like so many tall trees
struck down by lightning. Satyaki, wild
with rage and grief, drove forward at a
furious pace to slay Bhurisravas.
The chariots of the two warriors dashed
against each other and crumbled to pieces.
And the warriors stood face to face with
sword and shield in desperate single
Then, Bhima came and took away Satyaki
by force into his chariot and drove away.
For Bhima knew that Bhurisravas was an
unrivalled swordsman and he did not want
Satyaki to be slain.
Arjuna killed thousands of warriors that
evening. The soldiers, dispatched against
him by Duryodhana, perished like moths
in the fire. As the sun went down and
Bhishma gave orders to cease fighting, the
princes on the Pandava army surrounded
Arjuna and greeted him with loud cries of
admiration and victory.
The armies on both sides retired to camp,
along with the tired horses and elephants.
69. THE SIXTH DAY
ACCORDING to Yudhishthira's order
Dhrishtadyumna arrayed the Pandava
army in makara (fish) formation for the
sixth day's battle. The Kaurava army was
arrayed in krauncha (heron) formation.
We know, how, similarly, names were
given to physical exercise, asanas, or
postures. Vyuha was the general name for
battle array. Which Vyuha was best for
any particular occasion, depended on the
requirements of the offensive and
defensive plans of the day.
What the strength and composition of the
forces arrayed should be and what
positions they should take up were
decided upon, according to the situation as
it developed from time to time.
The sixth day was marked by a prodigious
slaughter, even in the first part of the
morning. Drona's charioteer was killed
and Drona took the reins of the horses
himself and used his bow as well.
Great was the destruction he effected. He
went about like fire among cotton heaps.
The formations of both armies were soon
broken and indiscriminate and fierce
fighting went on. Blood flowed in torrents
and the field was covered by dead bodies
of soldiers, elephants and horses and the
debris of chariots.
Bhimasena pierced the enemy's lines to
seek out Duryodhana's brothers and finish
them. They, for their part, did not wait to
be sought, but rushed on him, in a
combined attack from all sides. He was
attacked by Duhsasana, Durvishaha,
Durmata, Jaya, Jayatsena, Vikarna,
Suvarma, Dushkarna and others, all
Bhimasena, who did not know what fear
was, stood up and fought them all. They
desired to take him prisoner and he to kill
them all on the spot.
The battle raged fiercely, even like the
ancient battle between the gods and the
asuras. Suddenly, the son of Pandu lost his
patience and jumped down from his
chariot, mace in band, and made straight
on foot for the sons of Dhritarashtra, in
hot haste to slay them.
When Dhrishtadyumna saw Bhima's
chariot disappear in the enemy lines, he
was alarmed and rushed to prevent
disaster. He reached Bhima's car, but
found it was occupied only by the
charioteer and Bhima was not in it. With
tears in his eyes, he asked the charioteer:
"Visoka, where is Bhima dearer to me
than life?" Dhrishtadyumna naturally
thought Bhima had fallen.
Visoka bowed and said to the son of
Drupada: "The son of Pandu asked me to
stay here and, without waiting for my
reply rushed forward on foot, mace in
hand, into the enemy ranks."
overpowered and killed Dhrishtadyumna
drove his chariot into the enemy lines in
search of Bhimasena, whose path was
marked by the bodies of slain elephants.
When Dhrishtadyumna found Bhima, he
saw him surrounded on all sides by
enemies fighting from their chariots.
Bhima stood against them all, mace in
hand, wounded all over and breathing fire.
Dhrishtadyumna embraced him and took
him into his chariot and proceeded to pick
out the shafts that had stuck in his body.
Duryodhana now ordered his warriors to
attack Bhimasena and Dhrishtadyumna
and not to wait for them to attack or
Accordingly, they made a combined
attack even though they were not inclined
to engage themselves in further fighting.
Dhrishtadyumna had a secret weapon,
which he had obtained from Dronacharya
and, discharging it, threw the enemy
forces into a stupor.
But Duryodhana then joined the fray and
discharged weapons to counter the stupor
weapons of Dhrishtadyumna. Just then,
reinforcements sent by Yudhishthira
A force of twelve chariots with their
retinue led by Abhimanyu came upon the
scene to support Bhima.
Dhrishtadyumna was greatly relieved
when he saw this. Bhimasena had also by
now refreshed himself and was ready to
renew the fight. He got into Kekaya's
chariot and took up his position along
with the rest.
Drona, however, was terrible that day. He
killed Dhrishtadyumna's charioteer and
horses and smashed his chariot and
Drupada's son had to seek a place in
Abhimanyu's car. The Pandava forces
began to waver and Drona was cheered by
the Kaurava army.
Indiscriminate mass fighting and slaughter
went on that day. At one time, Bhima and
Duryodhana met face to face. The usual
exchange of hot words took place and was
followed by a great battle of archery.
Duryodhana was hit and fell unconscious.
Kripa extricated him with great skill and
took him away in his own chariot.
Bhishma personally arrived at the spot
now and led the attack and scattered the
The sun was sinking, but the battle was
continued for an hour yet and the fighting
was fierce and many thousands perished.
Then the day's battle ceased. Yudhishthira
was glad that Dhrishtadyumna and Bhima
returned to camp alive.
70. THE SEVENTH DAY
DURYODHANA, wounded all over and
suffering greatly, went to Bhishma and
"The battle had been going against us
every day. Our formations are broken and
our warriors are being slain in large
numbers. You are looking on doing
The grandsire soothed Duryodhana with
"Why do you let yourself be disheartened?
Here are all of us, Drona, Salya,
Bhagadatta, Sakuni, the two brothers of
Avanti, the Trigarta chief, the king of
Magadha, and Kripacharya. When these
great warriors are here, ready to give up
their lives for you, why should you feel
downhearted? Get rid of this mood of
Saying this, he issued orders for the day.
"See there," the grandsire said to
Duryodhana. "These thousands of cars,
horses and horsemen, great war elephants,
and those armed foot soldiers from
various kingdoms are all ready to fight for
you. With this fine army, you can
vanquish even the gods. Fear not."
Thus cheering up the dejected
Duryodhana, he gave him a healing balm
for his wounds. Duryodhana rubbed it
over his numerous wounds and felt
He went to the field, heartened by the
grandsire's words of confidence. The army
was that day arrayed in circular formation.
With each war elephant were seven
chariots fully equipped.
Each chariot was supported by seven
horsemen. To each horseman were
attached ten shield bearers. Everyone
Duryodhana stood resplendent like Indra
at the center of this great and well-
equipped army. Yudhishthira arrayed the
Pandava army in vajravyuha. This day's
battle was fiercely fought simultaneously
at many sectors.
Bhishma personally opposed Arjuna's
attacks. Drona and Virata were engaged
with each other at another point.
Sikhandin and Aswatthama fought a big
battle at another sector.
Duryodhana and Dhrishtadyumna fought
with each other at yet another point.
Nakula and Sahadeva attacked their uncle
Salya. The Avanti kings opposed
Yudhamanyu, while Bhimasena opposed
Kritavarma, Chitrasena, Vikarna and
There were great battles between
Ghatotkacha and Bhagadatta, between
Bhurisravas and Dhrishtaketu, between
Yudhishthira and Srutayu and between
Chekitana and Kripa.
In the battle between Drona and Virata,
the latter was worsted and he had to climb
into the chariot of his son Sanga, having
lost his own chariot, horses and
Virata's sons Uttara and Sveta had fallen
in the first day's battle. On this seventh
day, Sanga also was slain just as his father
came up to his side. Sikhandin, Drupada's
son, was defeated by Aswatthama.
His chariot was smashed and he jumped
down and stood sword and shield in hand.
Aswatthama aimed his shaft at his sword
and broke it. Sikhandin then whirled the
broken sword and hurled it at Aswatthama
with tremendous force, but it was met by
Sikhandin, badly beaten, got into Satyaki's
chariot and retired. In the fight between
Satyaki and Alambasa, the former had the
worst of it at first but later recovered
ground and Alambasa had to flee.
In the battle between Dhrishtadyumna and
Duryodhana, the horses of the latter were
killed and he had to alight from his
chariot. He, however, continued the fight,
sword in hand. Sakuni came then and took
the prince away in his chariot.
Kritavarma made a strong attack on
Bhima but was worsted. He lost his
chariot and horses and acknowledging
defeat, fled towards Sakuni's car, with
Bhima's arrows sticking all over him,
making him look like a porcupine
speeding away in the forest.
Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti were
defeated by Yudhamanyu, and their
armies were completely destroyed.
Bhagadatta attacked Ghatotkacha and put
to flight all his supporters.
But, alone, Ghatotkacha stood and fought
bravely. But in the end, he too had to save
himself by flight, which gladdened the
whole Kaurava army.
Salya attacked his nephews. Nakula's
horses were killed and he had to join his
brother in the latter's chariot. Both
continued the fight from the same car.
Salya was hit by Sahadeva's arrow and
swooned. The charioteer skilfully drove
the car away and saved Salya.
When the Madra king (Salya) was seen
retreating from the field Duryodhana's
army lost heart and the twin sons of Madri
blew their conchs in triumph. Taking
advantage of the situation, they inflicted
heavy damage on Salya's forces.
At noon, Yudhishthira led an attack on
Srutayu. The latter's well-aimed arrows
intercepted Dharmaputra's missiles, and
his armor was pierced and he was severely
Yudhishthira then lost his temper and sent
a powerful arrow that pierced Srutayu's
breast-plate. That day, Yudhishthira was
not his normal self and burnt with anger.
Srutayu's charioteer and horses were
killed and the chariot was smashed and he
had to flee on foot from the field. This
In the attack on Kripa, Chekitana, losing
his chariot and charioteer, alighted and
attacked Kripa's charioteer and horses
with mace in hand and killed them.
Kripa also alighted, and standing on the
ground, discharged his arrows. Chekitana
was badly hit. He then whirled his mace
and hurled it at Kripacharya, but the latter
was able to intercept it with his own
Thereupon they closed with each other,
sword in hand. Both were wounded and
fell on the ground, when Bhima came and
took Chekitana away in his chariot.
Sakuni similarly took wounded Kripa
away in his car.
Ninety-six arrows of Dhrishtaketu struck
Bhurisravas. And the great warrior was
like a sun radiating glory, as the arrows,
all sticking in his breast-plate, shone
bright around his radiant face. Even in
that condition, he compelled Dhrishtaketu
to admit defeat and retire. Three of
Abhimanyu who inflicted a heavy defeat
on them but spared their lives, because
Bhima had sworn to kill them. Thereupon,
Bhishma attacked Abhimanyu.
Arjuna saw this and said to his illustrious
charioteer: "Krishna, drive the car towards
At that moment, the other Pandavas also
joined Arjuna. But the grandsire was able
to hold his own against all five until the
sunset, and the battle was suspended for
the day. And the warriors of both sides,
weary and wounded, retired to their tents
for rest and for having their injuries
After this, for an hour, soft music was
played, soothing the warriors to their rest.
That hour was spent, says the poet,
without a word about war or hatred. It was
an hour of heavenly bliss, and it was a
glad sight to see. One can see herein what
the great lesson of the Mahabharata is.
71. THE EIGHTH DAY
WHEN the eighth day dawned, Bhishma
arrayed his army in tortoise formation.
Yudhishthira said to Dhrishtadyumna:
"See there, the enemy is in kurma vyuha
(tortoise formation). You have to answer
at once with a formation that can break it."
Dhrishtadyumna immediately proceeded
to his task. The Pandava forces were
arrayed in a three-pronged formation.
Bhima was at the head of one prong,
Satyaki of another, and Yudhishthira at
the crest of the middle division. Our
ancestors had developed the science of
war very well.
It was not reduced to writing but was
preserved by tradition in the families of
kshatriyas. Armor and tactics were
employed suitably to meet the weapons of
offence and the tactics that the enemy
used in those days.
The Kurukshetra battle was fought some
thousands of years ago. Reading the story
of the battle in the Mahabharata, we
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