Dhritarashtra said, "How did Sikhandin advance against the son of Ganga in battle, and how did Bhishma also advance against the Pandavas? Say all this unto me, O Sanjaya!"
Sanjaya said, "Then all those Pandavas, towards the hour of sun-rise, with beat of drums and cymbals and smaller drums, and with the blare of conches of milky whiteness, all around, went out for battle, placing Sikhandin in their van. And they marched out, O king, having formed an array that was destructive of all foes. And Sikhandin, O monarch, was stationed in the very van of all the troops. And Bhimasena and Dhananjaya became the protectors of his car-wheels. And in his rear were the sons of Draupadi and the valiant Abhimanyu. And those mighty car-warriors, viz., Satyaki and Chekitana, became the protectors of the last. And behind them was Dhrishtadyumna protected by the Panchalas. Next to Dhrishtadyumna, behind, marched the royal lord Yudhishthira, accompanied by the twins, filling the air with leonine shouts, O bull of Bharata's race. Next behind him was Virata, surrounded by his own troops. Next to him marched Drupada, O mighty-armed one. And the five Kaikeya brothers and the valiant Dhrishtaketu, O Bharata, protected the rear of the Pandava army. Having disposed their vast army in such an array, the Pandavas rushed against thy host, prepared to cast away their lives. And similarly the Kauravas, O king, placing that mighty car-warrior Bhishma at the head of their whole host, proceeded against the Pandavas. And that invincible warrior was protected by thy mighty sons. Next behind them was the great bowman Drona, as also his mighty son (Aswatthaman). Next behind was Bhagadatta surrounded by his elephant division. And behind Bhagadatta were Kripa and Kritavarman. Behind them were Sudakshina the mighty ruler of the Kamvojas, and Jayatsena, the king of the Magadhas, and Suvala's son and Vrihadvala. And similarly, many other kings, that were all great bowmen, protected the rear of thy host, O Bharata. As each day came, Bhishma the son of Santanu, formed arrays in battle, sometimes after the manner of the Asuras, sometimes after that of the Pisachas, and sometimes after that of the Rakshasas. Then commenced the battle between thy troops, O Bharata, and theirs, both parties smiting one another and increasing the population of Yama's kingdom. And the Parthas with Arjuna at their head, placing Sikhandin in the van, proceeded against Bhishma in that battle, scattering diverse kinds of arrows. And then, O Bharata afflicted by Bhishma with his shafts, (many of) thy warriors, profusely bathed in blood, repaired to the other world. And Nakula and Sahadeva, and the mighty car-warrior Satyaki, approaching thy army, began to afflict it with great vigour. Thus slaughtered in battle, O bull of Bharata's race, thy warriors were unable to resist that vast host of the Pandavas. Then thy host, vigorously afflicted by great car-warriors and thus slaughtered by them everywhere, fled away on all sides. Slaughtered with sharp shafts by
the Pandavas and the Srinjayas they found not a protector, O bull of Bharata's race."
Dhritarashtra said, "Tell me, O Sanjaya, what the valiant Bhishma, excited with rage, did in battle, upon beholding my host afflicted by the Parthas. O sinless one, tell me how that hero, that chastiser of foes, rushed against the Pandavas in battle, and slaughtered the Somakas."
Sanjaya said, "I will tell thee, O king, what thy sire did when thy sons' host was afflicted by the Pandavas and the Srinjayas. With cheerful hearts, the brave sons of Pandu, O elder brother of Pandu, encountered thy son's host, slaughtering (all whom they met). That carnage, O chief of men, of human beings, elephants and steeds, that destruction by the foe of thy army in battle, Bhishma could not brook. That invincible and great bowman, then, reckless of his very life poured upon the Pandavas, the Panchalas, and the Srinjayas, showers of long shafts and calf-toothed and crescent-shaped arrows. And with weapons, O monarch, he checked with his shafts and with showers of other weapons, both offensive and defensive, all sped with energy and wrath, the five foremost of mighty car-warriors of the Pandavas, who had been struggling vigorously in battle. Excited with wrath, he slaughtered in that battle countless elephants and steeds. And that bull among men, O monarch, throwing down many car-warriors from their cars, 1 and horsemen from their horses, and crowds of foot soldiers, and elephant-warriors from the backs of the beasts they rode, struck terror into the foe. And the Pandava warriors all rushed together upon Bhishma singly, upon that mighty car-warrior struggling in battle with great activity, like the Asuras rushing together upon him with the thunderbolt in hand. Shooting on all sides his whetted arrows whose touch resembled that of Indra's thunder, he seemed to the enemy to have assembled a terrible visage. While fighting in that battle, his large bow, resembling that of Sakra himself, seemed to be always drawn to a circle. Beholding those feats in battle, thy sons, O monarch, filled with exceeding wonder, worshipped the grandsire. The Parthas cast their eyes, with cheerless hearts, upon thy heroic sire struggling in battle, like the celestials upon (the Asura) Viprachitti (in days of old). 2 They could not resist that warrior who then resembled the Destroyer himself with wide-open mouth. In that battle on the tenth day, Bhishma, with his sharp shafts, consumed the division of Sikhandin like a conflagration consuming a forest. Him resembling an angry snake of virulent poison, or the Destroyer urged by Death himself, Sikhandin pierced with three shafts in the centre of the chest. Deeply pierced therewith, Bhishma saw that it was Sikhandin (who was piercing him). Excited with wrath, but unwilling (to fight with Sikhandin) Bhishma laughingly said, 'Whether thou choosest to strike me or not, I will never fight with thee.
[paragraph continues] Thou art that Sikhandin still which the Creator had made thee first', 1 Hearing these words of his, Sikhandin, deprived of his senses by wrath, and licking the corners of his mouth addressed Bhishma in that battle, saying, 'I know thee, O mighty-armed one, to be the exterminator of the Kshatriya race. I have heard also of thy battle with Jamadagni's son. I have also heard much of thy super-human prowess. Knowing thy prowess I will still fight with thee today. For doing what is agreeable to the Pandavas and is agreeable to my own self, O chastiser of foes, I will today fight with thee in battle, O best of men. I will, of a certainty, slay thee. I swear this before thee by my troth! Hearing these words of mine, do that which thou shouldst. Whether thou choosest to strike me or not, thou shall not escape me with life. O thou that art ever victorious, O Bhishma, look thy last on this world.
Sanjaya continued, "Having said so, Sikhandin in that battle pierced Bhishma with five straight shafts, having already pierced him with his wordy shafts. Hearing those words of his, the mighty car-warrior Arjuna, regarding Sikhandin to be Bhishma's Destroyer, urged him on, saying, 'I will fight behind thee, routing the foe with my shafts. Excited with fury, rush thou against Bhishma of terrible prowess. The mighty Bhishma will not be able to afflict thee in battle. Therefore, O mighty-armed one, encounter Bhishma with vigor. If, O sire, thou returnest today without slaying Bhishma, thou wilt, with myself, be an object of ridicule to the world. Seek to do that in battle by which, O hero, we may not incur ridicule in this great battle. Stay the grandsire. O thou of great strength, I will protect thee in this battle, checking all the car-warriors (of the Kuru army). Do thou slay the grandsire. Drona, and Drona's son, and Kripa, and Suyodhana, and Chitrasena, and Vikarna, and Jayadratha the ruler of the Sindhus, Vinda and Anuvinda. of Avanti, and Sudakshina the ruler of the Kamvojas, and the brave Bhagadatta, and the mighty king of the Magadhas, and Somadatta's son, and the brave Rakshasas who is Rishyasringa's son and the ruler of the Trigartas, alone with all the other great car-warriors (of the Kuru army). I will check like the continent resisting the surging sea. Indeed, I will hold in check all the mighty warriors of the Kuru army assembled together and battling with us. Do thou slay the grandsire.'
274:1 The adjective Vahu in the first line of 32 qualifies rathinas in the second line. The last of the verse is a nom. sing. and not a vocative.
274:2 The Bengal texts read mahasuram in the second line of the verse. This seems to be vicious. A latter reading would be mahasuram (the great Asura). The Bombay text reads rane suram. I adopt the last.
275:1 i.e. Thou art still a woman though the sex hath been changed.