"Sanjaya said, 'Then Drona caused a great carnage among the Panchalas, like the slaughter caused by Sakra himself in rage amongst the Danavas in the days of yore. The great car-warriors of the Pandava army, endued with might and energy, though slaughtered, O king, by Drona's weapons, were not yet afraid of Drona in that battle. Indeed, O monarch, those mighty car-warriors, viz., the Panchalas and the Srinjayas, all rushed against Drona himself, for fighting with him. Loud and fierce were the yells they uttered as they rushed towards Drona for encompassing him on all sides and were slaughtered by him with shafts and darts. Beholding the slaughter of the Panchalas in that battle by the illustrious Drona, and seeing his, weapons overwhelm all sides, fear entered the hearts of the Pandavas. Beholding that dreadful carnage of steeds and human beings in that battle, the Pandavas, O monarch, became hopeless of victory. (They began to say unto each other) 'Is it not evident that Drona, that warrior conversant with the mightiest of weapons, will consume us all like a raging conflagration consuming a heap of straw in the season of spring? There is none competent to even look at him in battle. Conversant with the ways of morality, Arjuna (who alone is a match for him) will not fight with him.' Beholding the sons of Kunti afflicted with the shafts of Drona and inspired with fear, Kesava, endued with great intelligence and, devoted to their welfare, addressed Arjuna and said, 'This foremost of all bowmen is incapable of being ever vanquished by force in battle, by the very gods with Vasava at their head. When, however, he lays aside his weapons, he becomes capable of being slain on the field even by human beings. Casting aside virtue, ye sons of Pandu, adopt now some contrivance for gaining the victory, so that Drona of the golden car may not slay us all in battle. Upon the full of (his son) Aswatthaman he will cease to fight, I think. Let sonic man, therefore, tell him that Aswatthaman, hath been slain in battle.' This advice, however, O kin was not approved by Kunti's son, Dhananjaya. Others approved of it. But Yudhishthira accepted it with great difficulty. Then the mighty-armed Bhima, O king, slew with a mace a foe-crushing, terrible and huge elephant named Aswatthaman, of his own army, belonging to Indravarman, the chief of the Malavas. Approaching Drona then in that battle with some bashfulness Bhimasena began to exclaim aloud, 'Aswatthaman hath been slain.' That elephant named Aswatthaman having been thus slain, Bhima spoke of Aswatthaman's slaughter. Keeping the true fact within his mind, he said what was untrue, Hearing those highly disagreeable words of Bhima and reflecting upon them, Drona's limbs seemed to dissolve like sands in water. Recollecting however, the prowess of his son, he soon came to regard that intelligence as false. Hearing, therefore, of his slaughter, Drona did not become unmanned. Indeed, soon recovering his senses, he became comforted, remembering that his son was incapable of being resisted by foes. Rushing towards the son of Prishata
and desirous of slaying that hero who had been ordained as his slayer, he covered him with a thousand keen shafts, equipped with kanka feathers. Then twenty thousand Panchala car-warriors of great energy covered him, while he was thus careering in battle, with their shafts. Completely shrouded with those shafts, we could not any longer see that great car-warrior who then resembled, O monarch, the sun, covered with clouds in the season of rains. Filled with wrath and desirous of compassing the destruction of those brave Panchalas, that mighty car-warrior, that scorcher of foes, viz., Drona, dispelling all those shafts of the Panchalas, then invoked into existence the Brahma weapon. At that time, Drona looked resplendent like a smokeless, blazing fire. Once more filled with rage the valiant son of Bharadwaja slaughtering all the Somakas, seemed to be invested with great splendour. In that dreadful battle, he felled the heads of the Panchalas and cut off their massive arms, looking like spiked maces and decked with golden ornaments. Indeed, those Kshatriyas, slaughtered in battle by Bharadwaja's son fell down on the earth and lay scattered like trees uprooted by the tempest. In consequence of fallen elephants and steeds, O Bharata, the earth, miry with flesh and blood, became impassable. Having slain twenty thousand Panchala car-warriors, Drona, in that battle, shone resplendent like a smokeless, blazing fire. Once more filled with rage, the valiant son of Bharadwaja cut off, with a broad-headed arrow, the head of Vasudana from his trunk. Once more slaying five hundred Matsyas, and six thousand elephants, he slew ten thousand steeds. Beholding Drona stationed on the field for the extermination of the Kshatriya race, the Rishis Viswamitra, and Jamadagni, and Bharadwaja, and Gautama, and Vasishtha, and Kasyapa, and Atri, and the Srikatas, the Prisnis, Garga, the Valkhilyas, the Marichis, the descendants of Bhrigu and Angiras, and diverse other sages of subtle forms quickly came thither, with the Bearer of sacrificial libations at their head, and, desirous of taking Drona unto the region of Brahman, addressed Drona, that ornament of battle, and said, 'Thou art fighting unrighteously. The hour of thy death is come. Laying aside thy weapons in battle, O Drona, behold us stationed here. After this, it behoveth thee not to perpetrate such exceedingly cruel deeds. Thou art versed in the Vedas and their branches. Thou art devoted to the duties enjoined by truth, especially, thou art a Brahmana. Such acts do not become thee. Lay aside thy weapons. Drive away the film of error that shrouds thee. Adhere now to the eternal path. The period for which thou art to dwell in the world of men is now full. Thou hast, with the Brahma weapon, burnt men on earth that are unacquainted with weapons. This act that thou hast perpetrated, O regenerate one, is not righteous. Lay aside thy weapons in battle without delay, O Drona, do not wait longer on earth. Do not, O regenerate one, perpetrate such a sinful act.' Hearing these words of their as also those spoken by Bhimasena, and beholding Dhrishtadyumna before him, Drona became exceedingly cheerless in battle. Burning with grief and exceedingly afflicted, he enquired of Kunti's son Yudhishthira
as to whether his son (Aswatthaman) had been slain or not. Drona firmly believed that Yudhishthira would never speak an untruth even for the sake of the sovereignty of the three worlds. For this reason, that bull among Brahmanas asked Yudhishthira and not any body else. He had hoped for truth from Yudhishthira from the latter's infancy.
"Meanwhile, O monarch, Govinda, knowing that Drona, that foremost of warriors, was capable of sweeping all the Pandavas off the face of the earth, became much distressed. Addressing Yudhishthira he said, 'If Drona fighteth, filled with rage, for even half-a-day, I tell thee truly, thy army will then be annihilated. Save us, then, from Drona. under such circumstances, falsehood is better than truth. By telling an untruth for saving a life, one is not touched by sin. There is no sin in untruth spoken unto women, or in marriages, or for saving king, or for rescuing a Brahmana.' 1 While Govinda and Yudhishthira were thus talking with each other, Bhimasena (addressing the king) said, 'As soon, O monarch, as I heard of the means by which the high-souled Drona might be slain, putting forth my prowess in battle, I immediately slew a mighty elephant, like unto the elephant of Sakra himself, belonging to Indravarman, the chief of the Malavas, who was standing within thy army. I then went to Drona and told him, 'Aswatthaman has been slain, O Brahmana! Cease, then, to fight. Verily, O bull among men, the preceptor did not believe in the truth of words. Desirous of victory as thou art, accept the advice of Govinda. Tell Drona, O King, that the son of Saradwat's daughter is no more. Told by thee, that bull among Brahmanas will never fight. Thou, O ruler of men, art reputed to be truthful in the three worlds.' Hearing those words of Bhima and induced by the counsels of Krishna, and owing also to the inevitability of destiny, O monarch, Yudhishthira made up his mind to say what he desired. Fearing to utter an untruth, but earnestly desirous of victory, Yudhishthira distinctly said that Aswatthaman was dead, adding indistinctly the world elephant (after the name), Before this, Yudhishthira's car had stayed at a height of four fingers' breadth from the surface of the earth; after, however, he had said that untruth, his (vehicle and) animals touched the earth. Hearing those words from Yudhishthira, the mighty car-warrior Drona, afflicted with grief, for the (supposed) death of his son, yielded to the influence of despair. By the words, again, of the Rishis, he regarded himself a great offender against the high-souled Pandavas. Hearing now about the death of his son, he became perfectly cheerless and filled with anxiety; upon beholding Dhrishtadyumna, O king, that chastiser of foes could not fight as before.'"
446:1 This verse is omitted in the Bombay text. There can be no doubt, however, about its genuineness.