Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Mahabharata  Index  Previous  Next 


Sanjaya said,--"Just as the holy Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa had said, in that very manner the kings of the Earth, mustered together, came to the encounter. On that day on which the battle commenced Soma

p. 38

approached the region of Pitris1 The seven large planets, as they appeared in the firmament, all looked blazing like fire. 2 The Sun, when he rose, seemed to be divided in twain. Besides, that luminary, as it appeared in the firmament, seemed to blaze forth in flames. 3 Carnivorous jackals and crows, expecting dead bodies to feast upon, began to utter fierce cries from all directions that seemed to be ablaze. Every day the old grandsire of the Kurus, and the son of Bharadwaja, rising from bed in the morning, with concentrated mind, said,--'Victory to the sons of Pandu'--while those chastisers of foes used (at the same time) yet to fight for thy sake according to the pledge they had given. Thy father Devavrata, fully conversant with every duty, summoning all the kings, said these words (unto them). 'Ye Kshatriyas, this broad door is open to you for entering heaven. Go ye through it to the region of Sakra and Brahman. The Rishis of olden times have showed you this eternal path. 4 Honour ye yourselves by engaging in battle with attentive minds. Nabhaga, and Yayati, and Mandhatri, and Nahusa, and Nriga, were crowned with success and obtained the highest region of bliss by feats like these. To die of disease at home is sin for a Kshatriya. The death he meets with in battle is his eternal duty.'--Thus addressed, O bull of Bharata's race, by Bhishma, the kings, looking beautiful in their excellent cars, proceeded to the heads of their respective divisions. Only Vikartana's son Karna, with his friends and relatives, O bull of Bharata's race, laid aside his weapons in battle for the sake of Bhishma. Without Karna then, thy sons and all the kings on thy side proceeded, making the ten points of the horizon resound with their leonine roars. And their divisions shone brightly, O king, with white umbrellas, banners, standards, elephants, steeds, cars, and foot-soldiers. And the Earth was agitated with the sounds of drums and tabors and

p. 39

cymbals, and the clatter of car-wheels. And the mighty car-warriors, decked with their bracelets and armlets of gold and with their bows (variegated with gold), looked resplendent like hills of fire. And with his large palmyra-standard decked with five stars, Bhishma, the generalissimo of the Kuru army, 1 looked like the resplendent Sun himself. Those mighty bowmen of royal birth, O bull of Bharata's race, that were on thy side, all took up their positions, O king, as Santanu's son ordered. (King) Saivya of the country of the Govasanas, accompanied by all the monarchs, went out on a princely elephant worthy of royal use and graced with a banner on its back. And Aswatthaman, of the complexion of the lotus, went out ready for every emergency, stationing himself at the very head of all the divisions, with his standard bearing the device of the lion's tail. And Srutayudha and Chitrasena and Purumitra and Vivinsati, and Salya and Bhurisravas, and that mighty car-warrior Vikarna,--these seven mighty bowmen on their carts and cased in excellent mail, followed Drona's son behind but in advance of Bhishma. The tall standards of these warriors, made of gold, beautifully set up for adorning their excellent cars, looked highly resplendent. The standard of Drona, the foremost of preceptors, bore the device of a golden altar decked with a water-pot and the figure of a bow. The standard of Duryodhana guiding many hundreds and thousands of divisions bore the device of an elephant worked in gems. Paurava and the ruler of the Kalingas, and Salya, these Rathas took up their position in Duryodhana's van. On a costly car with his standard bearing the device of a bull, and guiding the very van (of his division), the ruler of the Magadhas marched against the foe. 2 That large force of the Easterners looking like the fleecy clouds of autumn 3 was (besides) protected by the chief of the Angas (Karna's son Vrishaketu) and Kripa endued with great energy. Stationing himself in the van of his division with his beautiful standard of silver bearing the device of the boar, the famous Jayadratha looked highly resplendent. A hundred thousand cars, eight thousand elephants, and sixty thousand cavalry were under his command. 4 Commanded by the royal chief of the Sindhus, that large division occupying the very van (of the army) and abounding with untold cars, elephants, and steeds, looked magnificent. With sixty thousand cars and ten thousand elephants, the ruler of the Kalingas, accompanied by Ketumat, went out. His huge elephants, looking like hills, and

p. 40

adorned with Yantras1 lances, quivers and standards, looked exceedingly beautiful. And the ruler of the Kalingas, with his tall standard effulgent as fire, with his white umbrella, and golden curass, and Chamaras (wherewith he was fanned), shone brilliantly. And Ketumat also, riding on an elephant with a highly excellent and beautiful hook, was stationed in battle, O King, like the Sun in the midst of (black) clouds. And king Bhagadatta, blazing with energy and riding on that elephant of his, went out like the wielder of the thunder. And the two princes of Avanti named Vinda and Anuvinda, who were regarded as equal to Bhagadatta, followed Ketumat, riding on the necks of their elephants. And, O king, arrayed by Drona and the royal son of Santanu, and Drona's son, and Valhika, and Kripa, the (Kaurava) Vyuha 2 consisting of many divisions of cars was such that the elephants formed its body; the kings, its head; and the steeds, its wings. With face towards all sides, that fierce Vyuha seemed to smile and ready to spring (upon the foe)."


38:1 Nilakantha in a long note explains that Magha Vishayagas Somas cannot mean that Soma or the Moon entered the constellation called Magha. He quotes numerous slokas scattered throughout the Mahabharata that throw light, directly or indirectly, on the question of the opening day of the battle, and shows that all these lead to a different conclusion. What is meant by the Moon approaching the region of the Pitris is that those who fall in battle immediately ascend to heaven; of course, they have first to go to the region of Pitris. Thence they have to go to the lunar region for obtaining celestial bodies. All this implies a little delay. Here, however, in the case of those that would fall on the field of Kurukshetra, they would not have to incur even such a little delay. Chandramas or Soma approached the region of Pitris so that the fallen warriors might have celestial bodies very soon, without, in fact, any necessity, on their part, to incur the delay of a journey to the lunar region prior to their ascension to heaven with resplendent bodies.

38:2 There are nine planets in all the Pauranic astronomy. Of these Rahu and Ketu are regarded Upagrahas, and hence, of grahas there are only seven. Thus Nilakantha, and the Burdwan pundits have made a mess of this line.

38:3 The Bengal texts read Bhanumanudito divi. The Bombay reading is Bhanumanudito Ravis. If the latter be adopted, Bhanuman would be an adjective of Ravis.

38:4 Purvais Purvatarais is literally--"They of old and still older times"; for Sanatanas some editions read Srutijas (qualifying panthas). Srutija means arising from the Srutis or as laid down in the Srutis.

39:1 Chamupatis is the Bengal reading. The Bombay text reads Chamupari. If the latter reading be adopted, the meaning would be, "at the head of the (Kuru) army."

39:2 The Bengal editions read 'Magadhascha ripum yayau.' The Bombay text reads 'Magadhasya Kripo-yayau.' If the latter reading be adopted, the meaning would be "and guiding the very van of the Magadha troops Kripa went."

39:3 The Bengal reading is Saradabhraghana-prakshyam. The Bombay reading is 'Sharadamvudhara-prakshyam.'

39:4 Vasavartinas is nominative, masculine, plural, referring to cars, &c.; the Burdwan Pundits take it as a genitive singular qualifying tasya, and they render it, therefore, as "of that subordinate of Duryodhana." This is evidently incorrect.

40:1 Machines, perhaps catapults.

40:2 'Vyuha' is an array of troops in a certain form. Many such will be spoken of in this and the other 'parvas' devoted to the battle.

Next: Section XVIII