Hamro dharma

Mahabht 10 Sauptika P.

BOOK 10
Sauptika-parva

Section 1

Om! Having bowed down unto Narayana, and Nara the most exalted of male
beings, and unto the goddess Sarasvati, must the word Jaya be uttered!

Sanjaya said, “Those heroes then together proceeded towards the south. At
the hour of sunset they reached a spot near the (Kuru) encampment.
Letting their animals loose they became very much frightened. Reaching
then a forest, they secretly entered it. They took up their quarters
there at no great distance from the encampment. Cut and mangled with many
keen weapons, they breathed long and hot sighs, thinking of the Pandavas.
Hearing the loud noise made by the victorious Pandavas, they feared a
pursuit and therefore fled towards the east. Having proceeded for
sometime, their animals became tired and they themselves became thirsty.
Overpowered by wrath and vindictiveness, those great bowmen could not put
up with what had occurred, burning as they did with (grief at) the
slaughter of the king. They however, took rest for a while.”

Dhritarashtra said, “The feat, O Sanjaya, that Bhima achieved seems to be
incredible, since my son who was struck down possessed the strength of
10,000 elephants. In manhood’s prime and possessed of an adamantine
frame, he was not capable of being slain by any creature! Alas, even that
son of mine was struck down by the Pandavas in battle! Without doubt, O
Sanjaya, my heart is made of adamant, since it breaks not into a 1,000
fragments even after hearing of the slaughter of my hundred sons! Alas,
what will be the plight of myself and my spouse, an old couple destitute
of children! I dare not dwell in the dominions of Pandu’s son! Having
been the sire of a king and a king myself, O Sanjaya, how shall I pass my
days as a slave obedient to the commands of Pandu’s son! Having laid my
commands over the whole Earth and having stayed over the heads of all, O
Sanjaya, how shall I live now as a slave in wretchedness? How shall I be
able, O Sanjaya, to endure the words of Bhima who hath single-handed
slain a full hundred sons of mine? The words of the high-souled Vidura
have come to be realised! Alas, my son, O Sanjaya, did not listen to
those words! What, however, did Kritavarma and Kripa and Drona’s son do
after my son Duryodhana had been unfairly stuck down?”

Sanjaya said, “They had not proceeded far, O king, when they stopped, for
they beheld a dense forest abounding with trees and creepers. Having
rested for a little while, they entered that great forest, proceeding on
their cars drawn by their excellent steeds whose thirst had been
assuaged. That forest abounded with diverse kinds of animals, and it
teemed with various species of birds. And it was covered with many trees
and creepers and was infested by numerous carnivorous creatures. Covered
with many pieces of water and adorned with various kinds of flowers, it
had many lakes overgrown with blue lotuses.

Having entered that dense forest, they cast their eyes about and saw a
gigantic banyan tree with thousands of branches. Repairing to the shade
of that tree, those great car-warriors, O king, those foremost of men,
saw that was the biggest tree in that forest. Alighting from their cars,
and letting loose their animals, they cleansed themselves duly and said
their evening prayers. The Sun then reached the Asta mountains, and
Night, the mother of the universe, came. The firmament, bespangled with
planets and stars, shone like an ornamented piece of brocade and
presented a highly agreeable spectacle. Those creatures that walk the
night began to howl and utter their cries at will, while they that walk
the day owned the influence of sleep. Awful became the noise of the
night-wandering animals. The carnivorous creatures became full of glee,
and the night, as it deepened, became dreadful.

At that hour, filled with grief and sorrow, Kritavarma and Kripa and
Drona’s son all sat down together. Seated under that banyan, they began
to give expression to their sorrow in respect of that very matter: the
destruction that had taken place of both the Kurus and the Pandavas.
Heavy with sleep, they laid themselves down on the bare earth. They had
been exceedingly tired and greatly mangled with shafts. The two great
car-warriors, Kripa and Kritavarma, succumbed to sleep. However deserving
of happiness and undeserving of misery, they then lay stretched on the
bare ground. Indeed, O monarch, those two who had always slept on costly
beds now slept, like helpless persons, on the bare ground, afflicted with
toil and grief.

Drona’s son, however, O Bharata, yielding to the influence of wrath and
reverence, could not sleep, but continued to breathe like a snake.
Burning with rage, he could not get a wink of slumber. That hero of
mighty arms cast his eyes on every side of that terrible forest. As he
surveyed that forest peopled with diverse kinds of creatures, the great
warrior beheld a large banyan covered with crows. On that banyan
thousands of crows roosted in the night. Each perching separately from
its neighbour, those crows slept at ease, O Kauravya! As, however, those
birds were sleeping securely on every side, Ashvatthama beheld an owl of
terrible aspect suddenly make its appearance there. Of frightful cries
and gigantic body, with green eyes and tawny plumage, its nose was very
large and its talons were long. And the speed with which it came
resembled that of Garuda. Uttering soft cries that winged creature, O
Bharata, secretly approached the branches of that banyan. That ranger of
the sky, that slayer of crows, alighting on one of the branches of the
banyan, slew a large number of his sleeping enemies. He tore the wings of
some and cut off the heads of others with his sharp talons and broke the
legs of many. Endued with great strength, he slew many that fell down
before his eyes. With the limbs and bodies, O monarch, of the slain
crows, the ground covered by the spreading branches of the banyan became
thickly strewn on every side. Having slain those crows, the owl became
filled with delight like a slayer of foes after having behaved towards
his foes according to his pleasure.

Beholding that highly suggestive deed perpetrated in the night by the
owl, Drona’s son began to reflect on it, desirous of framing his own
conduct by the light of that example. He said unto himself, “This owl
teaches me a lesson in battle. Bent as I am upon the destruction of the
foe, the time for the deed has come! The victorious Pandavas are
incapable of being slain by me! They are possessed of might, endued with
perseverance, sure of aim, and skilled in smiting. In the presence,
however, of the king I have vowed to slay them. I have thus pledged
myself to a self-destructive act, like an insect essaying to rush into a
blazing fire! If I were to fight fairly with them, I shall, without
doubt, have to lay down my life! By an act of guile, however, success may
yet be mine and a great destruction may overtake my foes! People
generally, as also those versed in the scriptures, always applaud those
means which are certain over those which are uncertain. Whatever of
censure and evil repute this act may provoke ought to be incurred by
person that is observant of kshatriya practices. The Pandavas of
uncleansed souls have, at every step, perpetrated very ugly and
censurable acts that are again fall of guile. As regards this matter,
certain ancient verses, full of truth, are heard, sung by truth-seeing
and righteousness-observing persons, who sang them after a careful
consideration of the demands of justice.

These verses are even these: The enemy’s force, even when fatigued, or
wounded with weapons, or employed in eating, or when retiring, or when
resting within their camp, should be smitten. They should be dealt with
in the same way when afflicted with sleep in the dead of night, or when
reft of commanders, or when broken or when under the impression of an
error.'”

Having reflected in this way, the valiant son of Drona formed the
resolution of slaying during the night the slumbering Pandavas and the
Pancalas. Having formed this wicked resolution and pledged himself
repeatedly to its execution, he awoke both his maternal uncle and the
chief of Bhojas. Awakened from sleep, those two illustrious and mighty
persons, Kripa and the Bhoja chief, heard Ashvatthama’s scheme. Filled
with shame, both of them abstained from giving a suitable reply.

Having reflected for a short while, Ashvatthama said with tearful eyes,
“King Duryodhana, that one hero of great might, for whose sake we were
waging hostilities with the Pandavas, hath been slain! Deserted and
alone, though he was the lord of eleven akshauhinis of troops, that hero
of unstained prowess hath been struck down by Bhimasena and a large
number of wretches banded together in battle! Another wicked act hath
been perpetrated by the vile Vrikodara, for the latter hath touched with
his foot the head of a person whose coronal locks underwent the sacred
bath! The Pancalas are uttering loud roars and cries and indulging in
loud bursts of laughter. Filled with joy, they are blowing their conchs
and beating their drums! The loud peal of their instruments, mingled with
the blare of conchs, is frightful to the ear and borne by the winds, is
filling all the points of the compass. Loud also is the din made by their
neighing steeds and grunting elephants and roaring warriors! That
deafening noise made by the rejoicing warriors as they are marching to
their quarters, as also the frightful clatter of their car-wheels, comes
to us from the east. So great hath been the havoc made by the Pandavas on
the Dhartarashtras that we three are the only survivors of that great
carnage! Some were endued with the might of a hundred elephants, and some
were masters of all weapons. Yet have they been slain by the sons of
Pandu! I regard this to be an instance of the reverses brought about by
Time! Truly, this is the end to which such an act leads! Truly, although
the Pandavas have achieved such difficult feats, even this should be the
result of those feats! If your wisdom hath not been driven away by
stupefaction, then say what is proper for us to do in view of this
calamitous and grave affair.'”

2

Kripa said, “We have heard all that thou hast said, O puissant one!
Listen, however, to a few words of mine, O mighty armed one! All men are
subjected to and governed by these two forces, Destiny and Exertion.
There is nothing higher than these two. Our acts do not become successful
in consequence of destiny alone, nor of exertion alone, O best of men!
Success springs from the union of the two. All purposes, high and low,
are dependent on a union of those two. In the whole world, it is through
these two that men are seen to act as also to abstain. What result is
produced by the clouds pouring upon a mountain? What results are not
produced by them pouring upon a cultivated field? Exertion, where destiny
is not auspicious, and absence of exertion where destiny is auspicious,
both these are fruitless! What I have said before (about the union of the
two) is the truth. If the rains properly moisten a well-tilled soil, the
seed produces great results. Human success is of this nature.

Sometimes, Destiny, having settled a course of events, acts of itself
(without waiting for exertion). For all that, the wise, aided by skill
have recourse to exertion. All the purposes of human acts, O bull among
men, are accomplished by the aid of those two together. Influenced by
these two, men are seen to strive or abstain. Recourse may be had to
exertion. But exertion succeeds through destiny. It is in consequence
also of destiny that one who sets himself to work, depending on exertion,
attains to success. The exertion, however, of even a competent man, even
when well directed, is without the concurrence of destiny, seen in the
world to be unproductive of fruit. Those, therefore, among men, that are
idle and without intelligence, disapprove of exertion. This however, is
not the opinion of the wise.

Generally, an act performed is not seen to be unproductive of fruit in
the world. The absent of action, again, is seen to be productive of grave
misery. A person obtaining something of itself without having made any
efforts, as also one not obtaining anything even after exertion, is not
to be seen. One who is busy in action is capable of supporting life. He,
on the other hand, that is idle, never obtains happiness. In this world
of men it is generally seen that they that are addicted to action are
always inspired by the desire of earning good. If one devoted to action
succeeds in gaining his object or fails to obtain the fruit of his acts,
he does not become censurable in any respect. If anyone in the world is
seen to luxuriously enjoy the fruits of action without doing any action,
he is generally seen to incur ridicule and become an object of hatred. He
who, disregarding this rule about action, liveth otherwise, is said to do
an injury to himself. This is the opinion of those that are endued with
intelligence.

Efforts become unproductive of fruits in consequence of these two
reasons: destiny without exertion and exertion without destiny. Without
exertion, no act in this world becomes successful. Devoted to action and
endued with skill, that person, however, who, having bowed down to the
gods, seeks, the accomplishment of his objects, is never lost. The same
is the case with one who, desirous of success, properly waits upon the
aged, asks of them what is for his good, and obeys their beneficial
counsels. Men approved by the old should always be solicited for counsel
while one has recourse to exertion. These men are the infallible root of
means, and success is dependent on means. He who applies his efforts
after listening to the words of the old, soon reaps abundant fruits from
those efforts. That man who, without reverence and respect for others
(capable of giving him good counsel), seeks the accomplishment of his
purposes, moved by passion, anger, fear, and avarice, soon loses his
prosperity.

This Duryodhana, stained by covetousness and bereft of foresight, had
without taking counsel, foolishly commenced to seek the accomplishment of
an undigested project. Disregarding all his well-wishers and taking
counsel with only the wicked, he had, though dissuaded, waged hostilities
with the Pandavas who are his superiors in all good qualities. He had,
from the beginning, been very wicked. He could not restrain himself. He
did not do the bidding of friends. For all that, he is now burning in
grief and amid calamity. As regards ourselves since we have followed that
sinful wretch, this great calamity hath, therefore, overtaken us! This
great calamity has scorched my understanding. Plunged in reflection, I
fail to see what is for our good!

A man that is stupefied himself should ask counsel of his friends. In
such friends he hath his understanding, his humility, and his prosperity.
One’s actions should have their root in them. That should be done which
intelligent friends, having settled by their understanding, should
counsel. Let us, therefore, repair to Dhritarashtra and Gandhari and the
high-souled Vidura and ask them as what we should do. Asked by us, they
will say what, after all this, is for our good. We should do what they
say. Even this is my certain resolution. Those men whose acts do not
succeed even after the application of exertion, should, without doubt, be
regarded as afflicted by destiny.”

3

Sanjaya said, “Hearing these words of Kripa that were auspicious and
fraught with morality and profit, Ashvatthama, O monarch, became
overwhelmed with sorrow and grief. Burning with grief as if with a
blazing fire, he formed a wicked resolution and then addressed them both
saying, “The faculty of understanding is different in different men. Each
man, however, is pleased with own understanding. Every man regards
himself more intelligent than others. Everyone respects his own
understanding and accords it great praise. Everyone’s own wisdom is with
every one a subject of praise. Everyone speaks ill of the wisdom of
others, and well of his own, in all instances. Men whose judgements agree
with respect to any unattained object, even though there be a variety of
considerations, become gratified with and applaud one another. The
judgements, again, of the same men, overwhelmed with reverses through the
influence of time, become opposed to one another. More particularly, in
consequence of the diversity of human intellects, judgements necessarily
differ when intellects are clouded.

As a skilful physician, having duly diagnosed a disease, prescribes a
medicine by the application of his intelligence for effecting a cure,
even so men, for the accomplishment of their acts, use their
intelligence, aided by their own wisdom. What they do is again
disapproved by others. A man, in youth, is affected by one kind of
understanding. In middle age, the same does not prevail with him, and in
the period of decay, a different kind of understanding becomes agreeable
to him. When fallen into terrible distress or when visited by great
prosperity, the understanding of a person, O chief of the Bhojas, is seen
to be much afflicted. In one and the same person, through want of wisdom,
the understanding becomes different at different times. That
understanding which at one time is acceptable becomes the reverse of that
at another time.

Having resolved, however, according to one’s wisdom, that resolution
which is excellent should be endeavoured to be accomplished. Such
resolution, therefore, should force him to put forth exertion. All
persons, O chief of the Bhojas, joyfully begin to act, even in respect of
enterprises that lead to death, in the belief that those enterprises are
achievable by them. All men, relying on their own judgements and wisdom,
endeavour to accomplish diverse purposes, knowing them to be beneficial.
The resolution that has possessed my mind today in consequence of our
great calamity, as something that is capable of dispelling my grief, I
will now disclose unto both of you.

The Creator, having formed his creatures, assigned unto each his
occupation. As regards the different orders, he gave unto each a portion
of excellence. Unto brahmanas he assigned that foremost of all things,
the Veda. Unto the kshatriya he assigned superior energy. Unto the
vaishya he gave skill, and unto the shudra he gave the duty of serving
the three other classes. Hence, a brahmana without self-restraint is
censurable. A kshatriya without energy is base. A vaishya without skill
is worthy of dispraise, as also a shudra who is bereft of humility (to
the other orders).

I am born in an adorable and high family of brahmanas. Through ill-luck,
however, I am wedded to kshatriya practices. If, conversant as I am with
kshatriya duties, I adopt now the duties of a brahmana and achieve a high
object (the purification of self under such injuries), that course would
not be consistent with nobleness. I hold an excellent bow and excellent
weapons in battle. If I do not avenge the slaughter of my sire, how shall
I open my mouth in the midst of men? Paying regard to kshatriya duties,
therefore, without hesitation, I shall today walk in the steps of my
high-souled sire and the king.

The Pancalas, elated with victory, will trustfully sleep tonight, having
put off their armour and in great glee, and filled with happiness at the
thought of the victory they have won, and spent with toil and exertion.
While sleeping at their ease during the night within their own camp, I
shall make a great and terrible assault upon their camp. Like Maghavat
slaying the danavas, I shall, attacking them while senseless and dead in
sleep in their camp, slay them all, putting forth my prowess. Like a
blazing fire consuming a heap of dry grass, I shall slay all of them
assembled in one place with their leader Dhrishtadyumna! Having slain the
Pancalas, I shall obtain peace of mind, O best of men! While engaged in
the act of slaughter, I shall career in their midst like the wielder of
Pinaka, Rudra himself, in rage among living creatures. Having cut off and
slain all the Pancalas today, I shall then, in joy, afflict the sons of
Pandu in battle. Taking their lives one after another and causing the
earth to be strewn with the bodies of all the Pancalas, I shall pay off
the debt I owe to my sire. I shall today make the Pancalas follow in the
wake, hard to tread, of Duryodhana and Karna and Bhishma, and the ruler
of the Sindhus. Putting forth my might, I shall tonight grind the head,
like that of any animal, of Dhrishtadyumna, the king of the Pancalas! I
shall tonight, O son of Gautama, cut off with my sharp sword, in battle,
the sleeping sons of the Pancalas and the Pandavas. Having exterminated
the Pancalas army tonight while sunk in sleep, I shall, O thou of great
intelligence, obtain great happiness and regard myself to have done my
duty!”

4

Kripa said, “By good luck, O thou of unfading glory, thy heart is set
today on vengeance. The wielder of the thunder himself will not succeed
in dissuading thee today. Both of us, however, shall accompany thee in
the morning. Putting off thy armour and taking down thy standard, take
rest for this night. I shall accompany thee, as also Kritavarma of the
Satvata race, clad in mail and riding on our cars, while thou shalt
proceed against the foe. United with ourselves, thou shalt slay the foes,
the Pancalas with all their followers, tomorrow in press of battle,
putting forth thy prowess, O foremost of car-warriors! If thou puttest
forth thy prowess, thou art quite competent to achieve that fear! Take
rest, therefore, for this night. Thou hast kept thyself awake for many a
night. Having rested and slept, and having become quite refreshed, O
giver of honours, encounter the foe in battle! Thou shalt then slay the
enemy, without doubt. No one, not even Vasava amongst the gods, would
venture to vanquish thee armed with foremost of weapons, O first of
car-warriors! Who is there that would, even if he be the chief of the
gods himself, fight Drona’s son, when the latter proceeds, accompanied by
Kripa and protected by Kritavarma? Therefore, having rested and slept
this night and shaken off fatigue, we shall slay the foe tomorrow
morning! Thou art a master of celestial weapons. I also am so, without
doubt. This hero of Satvata’s race is a mighty bowman, always skilled in
battle. All of us, uniting together, O son, shall succeed in slaying our
assembled foes in battle by putting forth our might. Great shall be our
happiness then! Dispelling thy anxieties, rest for this night and sleep
happily! Myself and Kritavarma, both armed with bows and capable of
scorching our enemies, will, clad in mail, follow thee, O best of men,
while thou shalt proceed on thy car against the enemy. Proceeding to
their camp and proclaiming thy name in battle, thou shalt then make a
great slaughter of the foe. Tomorrow morning, in broad daylight, having
caused a great slaughter among them thou shalt sport like Shakra after
the slaughter of great asuras. Thou art quite competent to vanquish the
army of the Pancalas in battle like the slayer of the danavas in
vanquishing in rage the danava host. United with myself in battle and
protected by Kritavarma, thou art incapable of being withstood by the
wielder of the thunderbolt himself.

Neither I, O son, nor Kritavarma, will ever retreat from battle without
having vanquished the Pandavas! Having slain the angry Pancalas along
with the Pandavas, we shall come away, or slain by them, we shall proceed
to heaven. By every means in our power, we two shall render thee
assistance in battle tomorrow morning. O thou of mighty arms, I tell thee
the truth, O sinless one!”

Addressed in these beneficial words by his maternal uncle, the son of
Drona, with eyes red in rage, answered his uncle, O king, saying, Where
can a person that is afflicted, or one that is under the influence of
rage, or one whose heart is always engaged in revolving projects for the
acquisition of wealth, or one that is under the power of lust, obtain
sleep? Behold, all these four causes are present in my case. Anyone of
these, singly would destroy sleep. How great is the grief of that person
whose heart is always thinking of the slaughter of his sire! My heart is
now burning day and night. I fail to obtain peace. The way in which my
sire in particular was slain by those sinful wretches hath been witnessed
by you all. The thought of that slaughter is cutting all my vitals. How
could a person like me live for even a moment after hearing the Pancalas
say that they have slain my father? I cannot bear the thought of
supporting life without having slain Dhrishtadyumna in battle. In
consequence of the slaughter of my father he hath become slayable by me,
as also all with whom he is united. Who is there so hard-hearted that
would not burn after having heard the lamentations that I have heard of
the king lying with broken thighs? Who is there so destitute of
compassion whose eyes would not be filled with tears after hearing such
words uttered by the king with broken thighs? They whose side was adopted
by me have been vanquished. The thought of this enhances my sorrow as a
rush of waters enhances the sea.

Protected as they are by Vasudeva and Arjuna, I regard them, O uncle, to
be irresistible by the great Indra himself. I am unable to restrain this
rising wrath in my heart. I do not behold the man in this world that can
assuage this wrath of mine! The messengers informed me of the defeat of
my friends and the victory of the Pandavas. That is burning my heart.
Having however, caused a slaughter of my enemies during their sleep, I
shall then take rest and shall then sleep without anxiety.”

5

Kripa said, “A person who is bereft of intelligence and who hath not his
passions under control, cannot, even if he waits dutifully upon his
superiors, understand all the considerations of morality. This is my
opinion. Similarly, an intelligent person who does not practise humility
fails to understand the settled conclusions of morality. A brave man, if
bereft of understanding, by waiting all his life upon a learned person
fails to know his duties, like a wooden ladle unable to taste the juicy
soup (in which it may lie immersed). The wise man, however, by waiting
upon a learned person for even a moment, succeeds in knowing his duties,
like the tongue tasting the juicy soup (as soon as it comes into contact
with the latter). That person who is endued with intelligence, who waits
upon his superiors, and who has his passions under control succeeds in
knowing all the rules of morality and never disputes with what is
accepted by all. An ungovernable, irreverent, and sinful person of wicked
soul perpetrates sin in seeking his well-being by disregarding destiny.

Well-wishers seek to restrain a friend from sin. He who suffers himself
to be dissuaded, succeeds in winning prosperity. He that does otherwise
reaps misery. As a person of disordered brains is restrained by soothing
words, even so should a friend be restrained by well-wishers. He that
suffers himself to be so restrained never becomes a prey to misery. When
a wise friend is about to perpetrate a wicked act, well-wishers possessed
of wisdom repeatedly and according to the extent of their power endeavour
to restrain him. Setting thy heart on what is truly beneficial, and
restraining thyself by thy own self, do my bidding, O son, so that thou
mayst not have to repent afterwards.

In this world, the slaughter of sleeping persons is not applauded,
agreeably to the dictates of religion. The same is the case with persons
that have laid down their arms and come down from cars and steeds. They
also are unslayable who say We are thine!’ and they that surrender
themselves, and they whose locks are dishevelled, and they whose animals
have been killed under them or whose cars have been broken. All the
Pancalas will sleep tonight. O lord, divesting themselves of armour.
Trustfully sunk in sleep, they will be like dead men. That crooked-minded
man who would wage hostility with them then, it is evident, would sink in
deep and limitless hell without a raft save himself. In this world thou
art celebrated as the foremost of all persons conversant with weapons.
Thou hast not as yet committed even a minute trespass. When the sun rises
next morning and light shall discover all things, thyself, like a second
sun in effulgence wilt conquer the foe in battle. This censurable deed,
so impossible in one like thee, will look like a red spot on a white
sheet. Even this is my opinion.”

Ashvatthama said, “Without doubt, it is even so, O maternal uncle, as
thou sayest. The Pandavas, however, have before this broken the bridge of
righteousness into a hundred fragments. In the very sight of all the
kings, before thy eyes also, my sire, after he had laid down his weapons,
was slain by Dhrishtadyumna. Karna also, that foremost of car-warriors,
after the wheel of his car had sunk and he had been plunged into great
distress, was slain by the wielder of gandiva. Similarly, Shantanu’s son
Bhishma, after he had laid aside his weapons and become disarmed, was
slain by Arjuna with Shikhandi placed in his van. So also, the mighty
bowman Bhurishrava, while observant of the praya vow on the field of
battle, was slain by Yuyudhana in total disregard of the cries of all the
kings! Duryodhana too, having encountered Bhima in battle with the mace,
hath been slain unrighteously by the former in the very sight of all the
lords of earth. The king was all alone in the midst of a large number of
mighty car-warriors standing around him. Under such circumstances was
that tiger among men slain by Bhimasena. Those lamentations that I have
heard, of the king lying prostrate on the earth with his thighs broken,
from the messengers circulating the news, are cutting the very core of my
heart. The unrighteous and sinful Pancalas, who have broken down the
barrier of virtue, are even such. Why do you not censure them who have
transgressed all considerations? Having slain the Pancalas, those slayers
of my sire, in the night when they are buried in sleep, I care not if I
am born a worm or a winged insect in my next life. That which I have
resolved is hurrying me towards its accomplishment. Hurried as I am by
it, how can I have sleep and happiness? That man is not yet born in the
world, nor will be, who will succeed in baffling this resolution that I
have formed for their destruction.”

Sanjaya continued, “Having said these words, O monarch, the valiant son
of Drona yoked his steeds to his car at a corner and set out towards the
direction of his enemies. Then Bhoja and Sharadvata’s son, those
high-souled persons, addressed him, saying, “Why dost thou yoke the
steeds to thy car? Upon what business art thou bent? We are determined to
accompany thee tomorrow, O bull among men! We sympathise with thee in
weal and woe. It behoveth thee not to mistrust us. Remembering the
slaughter of his sire, Ashvatthama in rage told them truly about the feat
that he had resolved to accomplish. When my sire, having slain hundreds
and thousands of warriors with keen shafts, had laid aside his weapons,
he was then slain by Dhrishtadyumna. I shall slay that slayer today in a
similar condition that is, when he will have laid aside his armour. The
sinful son of the king of the Pancalas I shall today slay by a sinful
act. It is my resolve to slay like an animal that sinful prince of the
Pancalas in such a way that he may not attain to regions earned by
persons slain with weapons! Put on your coats of mail without delay and
take your bows and swords, and wait for me here, ye foremost of
car-warrior and scorchers of foes.”

Having said these words, Ashvatthama got upon his car and set out towards
the direction of the enemy. Then Kripa, O king, and Kritavarma of the
Satvata race, both followed him. While the three proceeded against the
enemy, they shone like three blazing fires in a sacrifice, fed with
libations of clarified butter. They proceeded, O lord, towards the camp
of the Pancalas within which everybody was asleep. Having approached the
gate, Drona’s son, that mighty car-warrior, stopped.”

6

Dhritarashtra said, “Seeing Drona’s son stop at the gate of the
encampment, what, O Sanjaya, did those two mighty car-warriors, Kripa and
Kritavarma, do? Tell me this!”

Sanjaya said, “Inviting Kritavarma, as also the mighty car-warrior Kripa,
Drona’s son, filled with rage, approached the gate of the camp. He there
beheld a being of gigantic frame, capable of making the very hair stand
on end, and possessed of the effulgence of the Sun or the Moon, guarding
the entrance. Round his loins was a tiger-skin dripping with blood, and
he had a black deer for his upper garment. He had for his sacred thread a
large snake. His arms were long and massive and held many kinds of
uplifted weapons. He had for his angadas a large snake wound round his
upper arm. His mouth seemed to blaze with flames of fire. His teeth made
his face terrible to behold. His mouth was open and dreadful. His face
was adorned with thousands of beautiful eyes. His body was incapable of
being described, as also his attire. The very mountains, upon beholding
him, would split into a 1,000 fragments. Blazing flames of fire seemed to
issue from his mouth and nose and ears and all those thousands of eyes.
From those blazing flames hundreds and thousands of Hrishikeshas issued,
armed with conchs and discs and maces.

Beholding that extraordinary being capable of inspiring the whole world
with terror, Drona’s son, without feeling any agitation, covered him with
showers of celestial weapons. That being, however, devoured all those
shafts shot by Drona’s son. Like the vadava fire devouring the waters of
the ocean, that being devoured the shafts sped by the son of Drona.
Beholding his arrowy showers prove fruitless, Ashvatthama hurled at him a
long dart blazing like a flame of fire. That dart of blazing point,
striking against that being, broke into pieces like a huge meteor at the
end of the yuga breaking and falling down from the firmament after
striking against the Sun. Ashvatthama then, without losing a moment, drew
from its sheath an excellent scimitar of the colour of the sky and endued
with a golden hilt. The scimitar came out like a blazing snake from its
hole. The intelligent son of Drona then hurled that excellent scimitar at
that being. The weapon, approaching that being, disappeared within his
body like a mongoose disappearing in its hole. Filled with rage, the son
of Drona then hurled a blazing mace of the proportions of a pole set up
in honour of Indra. The being devoured that mace also.

At last, when all his weapons were exhausted Ashvatthama, casting his
eyes around, beheld the whole firmament densely crowded with images of
Janardana. Drona’s son, divested of weapons, beholding that wonderful
sight, recollected the words of Kripa, and turning pale with grief, said,
“He that listens not to the beneficial words of advising friends is
obliged to repent, being overwhelmed with calamity, even as my foolish
self for having disregarded my two well-wishers. That fool who,
disregarding the way pointed out by the scriptures, seeketh to slay his
enemies, falleth off from the path of righteousness and is lost in the
trackless wilderness of sin. One should not cast weapons upon kine,
brahmanas, kings, women, friends, one’s own mother, one’s own preceptor,
a weak man, an idiot, a blind man, a sleeping man, a terrified man, one
just arisen from sleep, an intoxicated person, a lunatic and one that is
heedless. The preceptors of old always inculcated this truth upon men. I
have, however, by disregarding the eternal way pointed out by the
scriptures, and by essaying to tread in a wrong path, fallen into
terrible distress. The wise have called that to be a terrible calamity
when one falls back, through fear, from a great feat after having essayed
to achieve it. I am unable, by putting forth only my skill and might, to
achieve that which I have vowed.

Human exertion is never regarded more efficacious than destiny. If any
human action that is commenced does not succeed through destiny, the
actor becomes like one who falling off from the path of righteousness, is
lost in the wilderness of sin. The sages speak of defeat as foolishness
when one having commenced an act swerves from it through fear. In
consequence of the wickedness of my essay, this great calamity has come
upon me, otherwise Drona’s son would never had been forced to hold back
from battle. This being, again whom I see before me, is most wonderful!
He stands there like the uplifted rod of divine chastisement. Reflecting
even deeply, I cannot recognise who this being is. Without doubt, that
being is the terrible fruit of this sinful determination of mine that I
had essayed to achieve unrighteously. He standeth there for baffling that
determination. It seems, therefore, that in my case this falling off from
fight had been ordained by destiny. It is not for me to exert for the
accomplishment of this my purpose unless destiny becomes favourable. I
shall, therefore, at this hour, seek the protection of the puissant
Mahadeva! He will dispel this dreadful rod of divine chastisement
uplifted before me. I will take the shelter of that god, that source of
everything beneficial, the lord of Uma, otherwise called Kapardin, decked
with a garland of human skulls, that plucker of Bhaga’s eyes called also
Rudra and Hara. In ascetic austerities and prowess, he far surpasses all
the gods. I shall, therefore, seek the protection of Girisha armed with
the trident.”

7

Sanjaya said, “The son of Drona, O monarch, having reflected thus,
descended from the terrace of his car and stood, bending his head unto
that supreme god. And he said, “I seek the protection of Him called Ugra,
Sthanu, Shiva, Rudra, Sharva, Ishana, Ishvara, Girisha; and of that
boon-giving god who is the Creator and Lord of the universe; of Him whose
throat is blue, who is without birth, who is called Shakra, who destroyed
the sacrifice of Daksha, and who is called Hara; of Him whose form is the
universe, who hath three eyes, who is possessed of multifarious forms,
and who is the lord of Uma; of Him who resides in crematoriums, who
swells with energy, who is the lord of diverse tribes of ghostly beings,
and who is the possessor of undecaying prosperity and power; of Him who
wields the skull-topped club, who is called Rudra, who bears matted locks
on his head, and who is a brahmacari. Purifying my soul that is so
difficult to purify, and possessed as I am of small energy, I adore the
Destroyer of the triple city, and offer myself as the victim. Hymned thou
hast been, deserving art thou of hymns, and I hymn to thy glory!

Thy purposes are never baffled. Thou art robed in skins; thou hast red
hair on thy head; thou art blue-throated; thou art unbearable; thou art
irresistible! Thou art pure; thou art the Creator of Brahman; thou art
Brahma; thou art a brahmacari; thou art an observer of vows; thou art
devoted to ascetic austerities; thou art infinite; thou art the refuge of
all ascetics; thou art multiform; thou art the leader of diverse tribes
of ghostly beings; thou art three-eyed; thou art fond of those beings
called companions; thou art always seen by the Lord of treasures; thou
art dear to Gauri’s heart; thou art the sire of Kumara; thou art tawny;
thou hast for thy excellent bearer a bovine bull; thou art robed in a
subtle attire; thou art most fierce; thou art eager to adorn Uma; thou
art higher than all that is high; thou art higher than everything; there
is nothing higher than thou; thou art the wielder of weapons; thou art
immeasurable, and thou art the protector of all quarters; thou art cased
in golden armour; thou art divine; thou hast the moon as an ornament on
thy brow! With concentrated attention, I seek thy protection, O god! For
success in getting over this dreadful distress that is so difficult to
get over, I sacrifice unto thee, the purest of the pure, offering for thy
acceptance the (five) elements of which my body is composed!”

Knowing this to be his resolution in consequence of his desire to
accomplish his object, a golden altar appeared before the high-souled son
of Drona. Upon the altar, O king, appeared a blazing fire, filling all
the points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, with its splendour.
Many mighty beings also, of blazing mouths and eyes, of many feet, heads,
and arms, adorned with angadas set with gems, and with uplifted arms, and
looking like elephants and mountains, appeared there. Their faces
resembled those of hares and boars and camels and horses and jackals and
cows and bears and cats and tigers and pards and crows and apes and
parrots. And the faces of some were like those of mighty snakes, and
others had faces like those of ducks. And all of them were endued with
great effulgence. And the faces of some were like those of woodpeckers
and jays, O Bharata, and of tortoises and alligators and porpoises and
huge sharks and whales, and of lions and cranes and pigeons and elephants
and stags. Some had faces like those of ravens and hawks, some had ears
on their hands; some had a 1,000 eyes, some had very large stomachs, and
some had no flesh, O Bharata! And some, O king, had no heads, and some, O
Bharata, had faces like those of bears. The eyes of some were like fire,
and some had fiery complexions. The hair on the heads and bodies of some
were blazing and some had four arms, and some, O king, had faces like
those of sheep and goats. The colour of some was like that of conchs, and
some had faces that resembled conchs, and the ears of some were like
conchs, some wore garlands made of conchs, and the voices of some
resembled the blare of conchs. Some had matted locks on their heads, and
some had five tufts of hair, and some had heads that were bald. Some had
lean stomachs; some had four teeth, some had four tongues, some had ears
straight as arrows and some had diadems on their brows. Some had strings
of grass on their bodies, O monarch, and some had curly hair. Some had
head-gears made of cloth, some had coronets, some had beautiful faces,
and some were adorned with ornaments. Some had ornaments made of lotuses,
and some were decked with flowers. They numbered in hundreds and
thousands.

Some were armed with shataghnis, some with thunder, and some had mushalas
in their hands. Some had bhushundis, some had nooses, and some had maces
in their hands, O Bharata! On the backs of some were slung quivers
containing excellent shafts, and all were fierce in battle. Some had
standards with banners and bells, and some were armed with battle-axes.
Some had large nooses in their uplifted arms, and some had clubs and
bludgeons. Some had stout posts in their hands, some had scimitars, and
some had snakes with erect heads for their diadems. Some had large snakes
(wound round their upper arms) for angadas, and some had beautiful
ornaments on their persons. Some were begrimed with dust, some smutted
with mire, and all were attired in white robes and white garments. The
limbs of some were blue, while others had limbs that were tawny. And some
there were that were beardless. Those beings, called companions,
possessed of golden complexions, and filled with joy, played upon drums
and horns and cymbals and jharjharas and anakas and gomukhas. And some
sang and some danced about uttering loud sounds, and some leapt forward
and cut capers and jumped sideways. Endued with great fleetness, they ran
about most fiercely, the hair on their heads waving in the air, like huge
elephants infuriated with passion and frequently uttering loud roars.
Terrible, and of frightful mien and armed with lances and battle-axes,
they were attired in robes of diverse hues and decked with beautiful
garlands and unguents. Adorned with angadas decked with gems, and with
uplifted arms, they were endued with great courage. Capable of forcibly
slaying all foes, they were irresistible in prowess. Drinkers of blood
and fat and other animal matter, they subsisted on the flesh and entrails
of animals. Some had their locks tied in tall tufts above their heads.
Some had single tufts on their heads; some had rings on their ears; and
some had stomachs resembling earthen vessels used for cooking. Some were
of very short statures, and some were very high in stature. Some were
tall and very fierce. Some had grim features, some had long lips, and the
genital limbs of some were very long. Some had costly and diverse kinds
of crowns upon their heads; and some had bald heads, and the heads of
others were covered with matted locks.

They were capable of bringing down the firmament with the sun, moon, and
stars, on earth, and exterminating the four orders of created things.
They know not what it is to fear, and are capable of enduring the frowns
of Hara. They always act as they like, and are the lords of the lords of
the three worlds. Always engaged in merry sports, they are thorough
masters of speech and are perfectly free from pride. Having obtained the
eight kinds of divine attributes, they are never elated with pride. The
divine Hara is always filled with wonder at their feats. They are devout
worshippers of Mahadeva. Adored by them in thought, word, and deed, the
great god protects those worshippers of his, looking upon them, in
thought, word, and deed as children of his own loins. Filled with rage,
they always drink the blood and fat of all haters of Brahma. They always
drink also the soma juice endued with four kinds of taste. Having adored
the trident-bearing god with Vedic recitations, with brahmacarya, with
austerities, and with self-restraint, they have obtained the
companionship of Bhava. The divine Maheshvara, that lord of the past, the
present, and the future as also Parvati, eat with those diverse tribes of
mighty beings that partake of their own nature.

Causing the universe to resound with the peal of diverse kinds of
instruments, with noise of laughter, with loud sounds and shrieks and
leonine roar, they approached Ashvatthama. Uttering the praises of
Mahadeva and spreading an effulgent light all around, desirous of
enhancing the honour of Ashvatthama and the glory of the high-souled
Hara, and wishing to ascertain the extent of Ashvatthama’s energy, and
desirous also of beholding the slaughter during the hour of sleep, armed
with terrible and fierce bludgeons and fiery wheels and battle-axes, that
crowd of strange beings, endued with terrible forms, came from every
side. They were capable of inspiring the three worlds with dread at their
sight. The mighty Ashvatthama, however, beholding them, felt no fear.
Drona’s son, armed with bow, and with fingers cased in fences made of
iguana skins, himself offered up his own self as a victim unto Mahadeva.
Bows were the fuel, and sharp shafts were the ladles, and his own soul
possessed of great might was the libation, O Bharata, in that act of
sacrifice. The valiant and wrathful son of Drona then, with propitiating
mantras, offered up his own soul as the victim. Having with fierce rites
adored Rudra of fierce deeds, Ashvatthama with joined hands, said these
words unto that high-souled god.

Ashvatthama said, “Sprung from Angirasa’s line, I am about to pour my
soul, O god, as a libation on this fire! Accept, O lord, this victim! In
this hour of distress, O Soul of the universe, I offer up my own self as
the sacrificial victim, from devotion to thee and with heart concentrated
in meditation! All creatures are in thee and thou art in all creatures!
Assemblage of all high attributes occur in thee! O lord, O thou art the
refuge of all creatures. I wait as a libation for thee, since I am unable
to vanquish my foes. Accept me, O god.” Having said these words, Drona’s
son, ascending that sacrificial altar on which a fire blazed brightly,
offered himself up as the victim and entered that blazing fire.

Beholding him stand immovable and with uplifted hands and as an offering
up to himself, the divine Mahadeva appeared in person and smilingly said,
“With truth, purity, sincerity, resignation, ascetic austerities, vows,
forgiveness, devotion, patience, thought, and word, I have been duly
adored by Krishna of pure deeds. For this there is none dearer to me than
Krishna. For honouring him and at his word I have protected the Pancalas
and displayed diverse kinds of illusion. By protecting the Pancalas I
have honoured him. They have, however, been afflicted by time. The period
of their lives hath run out.”

Having said these words unto the high-souled Ashvatthama, the divine
Mahadeva entered Ashvatthama’s body after giving him an excellent and
polished sword. Filled by that divine being, Drona’s son blazed up with
energy. In consequence of that energy derived from godhead, he became
all-powerful in battle. Many invisible beings and rakshasas proceeded
along his right and his left as he set out, like the lord Mahadeva
himself, for entering the camp of his foes.”

8

Dhritarashtra said, “While Drona’s son, that mighty car-warrior, thus
proceeded towards the hostile camp, did Kripa and Bhoja stop from fear? I
hope those two car-warriors checked by vulgar guards, did not fly away
secretly, thinking their opponents irresistible? Or, have they, after
grinding the camp, the Somakas, and the Pandavas, followed, while still
engaged in battle, the highly glorious path in which Duryodhana has gone?
Are those heroes, slain by the Pancalas, sleeping on the bare Earth? Did
they achieve any feat? Tell me all this, O Sanjaya!”

Sanjaya said, “When the high-souled son of Drona proceeded towards the
camp, Kripa and Kritavarma waited at the gate. Beholding them ready to
exert themselves, Ashvatthama became filled with joy, and addressing them
whisperingly, O king, said, “If you two exert, you are competent to
exterminate all the kshatriyas! What need I say, therefore, of this
remnant of the (Pandava) army, particularly when it is buried in sleep? I
shall enter the camp and career like Yama. I am sure that you two will
act in such way that no man may escape you with life.”

Having said these words, the son of Drona entered the vast camp of the
Parthas; casting off all fear, he penetrated into it by a spot where
there was no door. The mighty-armed hero, having entered the camp,
proceeded, guided by signs, very softly, towards the quarters of
Dhrishtadyumna. The Pancalas, having achieved great feats, had been much
tired in battle. They were sleeping in confidence, assembled together,
and by the side of one another. Entering into Dhrishtadyumna’s chamber, O
Bharata, Drona’s son beheld the prince of the Pancalas sleeping before
him on his bed. He lay on a beautiful sheet of silk upon a costly and
excellent bed. Excellent wreaths of flowers were strewn upon that bed and
it was perfumed with powdered dhupa. Ashvatthama, O king, awoke with a
kick the high-souled prince sleeping trustfully and fearlessly on his
bed. Feeling that kick, the prince, irresistible in battle and of
immeasurable soul, awaked from sleep and recognised Drona’s son standing
before him. As he was rising from his bed, the mighty Ashvatthama seized
him by the hair of his head and began to press him down on the earth with
his hands. Thus pressed by Ashvatthama with great strength, the prince,
from fear as also from sleepiness, was not able to put forth his strength
at that time. Striking him with his foot, O king, on both his throat and
breast while his victim writhed and roared, Drona’s son endeavoured to
kill him as if he were an animal. The Pancala prince tore Ashvatthama
with his nails and at last softly said, “O preceptor’s son, slay me with
a weapon, do not tarry! O best of men, let me, through thy act, repair to
the regions of the righteous!”

Having said this much, that slayer of foes, the son of the Pancala king,
assailed with strength by that mighty hero, became silent. Hearing those
indistinct sounds of his, Drona’s son said, “O wretch of thy race, there
is no region for those that slay their preceptors. For this, O thou of
wicked understanding, thou deservest not to be slain with any weapon!”
While saying so, Ashvatthama, filled with rage, began to strike the vital
parts of his victim with violent kicks of his heels, and slew his foe
like a lion slaying an infuriated elephant. At the cries of that hero
while he was being slain, his wives and guards that were in his tent all
awake, O king! Beholding somebody crushing the prince with superhuman
force, they regarded the assailant to be some preternatural being and,
therefore, uttered no cries from fear. Having despatched him to Yama’s
abode by such means, Ashvatthama of great energy went out and getting
upon his beautiful car stayed on it. Indeed, coming out of
Dhrishtadyumna’s abode, O king, Ashvatthama caused all the points of the
compass to resound with his roars, and then proceeded on his car to other
parts of the camp for slaying his foes.

After Drona’s son, that mighty car-warrior, had gone away, the women and
all the guards set up a loud wail of woe. Seeing their king slain, all
the wives of Dhrishtadyumna, filled with great sorrow, cried. At that
wail of theirs many mighty kshatriyas, awaking, put on their armour and
came there for enquiring after the cause of those cries. Those ladies,
terrified at the sight of Ashvatthama, in piteous tones asked the men to
pursue him without delay. They said, “Whether he is a rakshasa or a human
being, we know not what he is! Having slain the Pancala king, he stayeth
there!” At these words, those foremost of warriors suddenly surrounded
Drona’s son. The latter slew them all by means of the rudrastra. Having
slain Dhrishtadyumna and all those followers of his, he beheld Uttamauja
sleeping on his bed. Attacking him with his foot on the throat and chest,
Drona’s son slew that great hero also while the latter writhed in agony.
Yudhamanyu, coming up and believing his comrade to have been slain by a
rakshasa, speedily struck Drona’s son in the chest with a mace. Rushing
towards him, Ashvatthama seized him and brought him down to the ground
and slew him like an animal while the latter uttered loud shrieks.

Having slain Yudhamanyu thus, that hero proceeded against the other
car-warriors of the king, who were all asleep. He slew all those
trembling and shrieking warriors like animals in a sacrifice. Taking up
his sword then, he slew many others. Proceeding along the diverse paths
of the camp, one after another, Ashvatthama, accomplished in the use of
the sword, beheld diverse gulmas and slew in a trice the unarmed and
tired warriors sleeping within them. With that excellent sword he cut off
combatants and steeds and elephants. Covered all over with blood, he
seemed then to be Death himself commissioned by time. Causing his foes to
tremble by the repeated blows of his sword that were of three kinds,
Ashvatthama became bathed in blood. Covered as he was with blood, and
wielding as he did a blazing sword, his form, as he careered in battle,
became exceedingly terrible and superhuman. Those who awaked from sleep,
O Kaurava, became stupefied with the loud noise (they heard around).
Beholding Drona’s son, they looked at each other’s faces and trembled
(with fear). Those kshatriyas, beholding the form of that crusher of
foes, believed him to be a rakshasa and closed their eyes.

Of terrible form, he careered in the camp like Yama himself, and at last
saw the sons of Draupadi and the remnant of the Somakas. Alarmed by the
noise, and learning that Dhrishtadyumna had been slain, those mighty
car-warriors, the sons of Draupadi, armed with bows, fearlessly poured
their shafts on Drona’s son. Awakened by their noise, the Prabhadrakas
with Shikhandi at their head, began to grind the son of Drona with their
arrows. Drona’s son, beholding them shower their arrows on him, uttered a
loud roar and became desirous of slaying those mighty car-warriors.
Recollecting the death of his sire, Ashvatthama became filled with rage.
Alighting from the terrace of his car, he rushed furiously (against his
enemies). Taking up his bright shield with a 1,000 moons and his massive
and celestial sword decked with gold, the mighty Ashvatthama rushed
against the sons of Draupadi and began to lay about him with his weapon.
Then that tiger among men, in that dreadful battle, struck Prativindhya
in the abdomen, at which the latter, O king, deprived of life, fell down
on the Earth. The valiant Sutasoma, having pierced the son of Drona with
a lance, rushed at him with his uplifted sword. Ashvatthama, however cut
off Sutasoma’s arm with the sword in grasp, and once more struck him in
the flank. At this, Sutasoma fell down, bereft of life. The valiant
Shatanika, the son of Nakula, taking up a car-wheel with his two hands,
violently struck Ashvatthama at the chest. The regenerate Ashvatthama
violently assailed Shatanika after he had hurled that car-wheel.
Exceedingly agitated, Nakula’s son fell down upon the Earth, upon which
Drona’s son cut off his head. Then Shrutakarma, taking up a spiked
bludgeon, attacked Ashvatthama. Furiously rushing at Drona’s son, he
assailed him violently on the left part of his forehead. Ashvatthama
struck Shrutakarma with his excellent sword on the face. Deprived of
senses and his face disfigured, he fell down lifeless on the Earth. At
this noise, the heroic Shrutakirti, that great car-warrior, coming up,
poured showers of arrows on Ashvatthama. Baffling those arrowy showers
with his shield, Ashvatthama cut off from the enemy’s trunk the latter’s
beautiful head adorned with ear-rings. Then the slayer of Bhishma, the
mighty Shikhandi, with all the Prabhadrakas, assailed the hero from every
side with diverse kinds of weapons. Shikhandi struck Ashvatthama with an
arrow in the midst of his two eyebrows. Filled with rage at this, Drona’s
son, possessed of great might, approached Shikhandi and cut him into
twain with his sword. Having slain Shikhandi, Ashvatthama, filled with
rage, rushed furiously against the other Prabhadrakas. He proceeded also
against the remnant of Virata’s force.

Endued with great strength, Drona’s son made a heavy carnage amongst the
sons, the grandsons, and the followers of Drupada, singling them out one
after another. Accomplished in the use of the sword, Ashvatthama then,
rushing against other combatants, cut them down with his excellent sword.
The warriors in the Pandava camp beheld that Death-Night in her embodied
form, a black image, of bloody mouth and bloody eyes, wearing crimson
garlands and smeared with crimson unguents, attired in a single piece of
red cloth, with a noose in hand, and resembling an elderly lady, employed
in chanting a dismal note and standing full before their eyes, and about
to lead away men and steeds and elephants all tied in a stout cord. She
seemed to take away diverse kinds of spirits, with dishevelled hair and
tied together in a cord, as also, O king, many mighty car-warriors
divested of their weapons. On other days, O sire, the foremost warriors
of the Pandava camp used to see in their dreams that figure leading away
the sleeping combatants and Drona’s son smiting them behind! The Pandava
soldiers saw that lady and Drona’s son in their dreams every night from
the day when the battle between the Kurus and the Pandavas first
commenced. Afflicted before by Destiny, they were now smitten by Drona’s
son who terrified them all with the frightful roars uttered by him.
Afflicted by Destiny, the brave warriors of the Pandava camp,
recollecting the sight they had seen in their dreams, identified it with
what they now witnessed.

At the noise made, hundreds and thousands of Pandava bowmen in the camp
awoke from their slumbers. Ashvatthama cut off the legs of some, and the
hips of others, and pierced some in their flanks, careering like the
Destroyer himself let loose by Time. The Earth, O lord, was soon covered
with human beings that were crushed into shapelessness or trodden down by
elephants and steeds and with others that roared in great affliction.
Many of them loudly exclaimed, “What is this?” “Who is this one?” “What
is this noise?” “Who is doing what?” While uttering such shrieks, Drona’s
son became their Destroyer. That foremost of smiters, the son of Drona,
despatched to regions of Yama all those Pandus and Srinjayas who were
without armour and weapons. Terrified at that noise, many awoke from
sleep. Possessed with fear, blinded by sleep, and deprived of their
senses, those warriors seemed to vanish (before the fury of Ashvatthama).
The thighs of many were paralysed and many were so stupefied that they
lost all their energy. Shrieking and possessed with fear, they began to
slay one another. Drona’s son once more got upon his car of terrible
clatter and taking up his bow despatched many with his shafts to Yama’s
abode. Others awoke from sleep, brave warriors and foremost of men, as
they came towards Ashvatthama, were slain before they could approach him
and were thus offered up as victims unto that Death-Night. Crushing many
with that foremost of cars, he careered through the camp, and covered his
foes with repeated showers of arrows. Once again with that beautiful
shield of his, adorned with hundred moons, and with that sword of his
which was of the hue of the welkin, he careered amidst his enemies. Like
an elephant agitating a large lake, Drona’s son, irresistible, in battle,
agitated the camp of the Pandavas.

Awaked by the noise, O king, many warriors, afflicted still with sleep
and fear, and with senses still under a cloud, ran hither and thither.
Many shrieked in harsh tones and many uttered incoherent exclamations.
Many succeeded not in obtaining their weapons and armour. The locks of
many were dishevelled, and many failed to recognise one another. Having
risen from sleep, many fell down, fatigued; some wandered here and there
without any purpose. Elephants and steeds, breaking their cords, passed
excreta and urine. Many, causing great confusion, huddled together.
Amongst these, some through fear laid themselves down on the earth. The
animals of the camp crushed them there.

While the camp was in this state, rakshasas, O king, uttered loud roars
in joy, O chief of the Bharatas! The loud noise, O king, uttered by
ghostly beings in joy, filled all the points of the compass and the
welkin. Hearing the wails of woe, elephants, steeds, breaking their
cords, rushed hither and thither, crushing the combatants in the camp. As
those animals rushed hither and thither, the dust raised by them made the
night doubly dark. When that thick gloom set in, the warriors in the camp
became perfectly stupefied; sires recognised not their sons, brothers
recognised not their brothers. Elephants assailing riderless elephants,
and steeds assailing riderless steeds, assailed and broke and crushed the
people that stood in their way. Losing all order, combatants rushed and
slew one another, and felling those that stood in their way, crushed them
into pieces. Deprived of their senses and overcome with sleep, and
enveloped in gloom, men, impelled by fate, slew their own comrades. The
guards, leaving the gates they watched, and those at duty at the outposts
leaving the posts they guarded, fled away for their lives, deprived of
their senses and not knowing whither they proceeded. They slew one
another, the slayers, O lord, not recognising the slain. Afflicted by
Fate, they cried after their sires and sons. While they fled, abandoning
their friends and relatives, they called upon one another, mentioning
their families and names. Other, uttering cries of “Oh!” and “Alas!” fell
down on the earth. In the midst of the battle, Drona’s son, recognising
them, slew them all.

Other kshatriyas, while being slaughtered, lost their senses, and
afflicted by fear, sought to fly away from their camps. Those men that
sought to fly away from their camp for saving their lives, were slain by
Kritavarma and Kripa at the gate. Divested of weapons and instruments and
armour, and with dishevelled hair, they joined their hands. Trembling
with fear, they were on the ground. The two Kuru warriors, however, (who
were on their cars) gave quarter to none. None amongst those that escaped
from the camp was let off by those two wicked persons, Kripa and
Kritavarma. Then again, for doing that which was highly agreeable to
Drona’s son, those two set fire to the Pandava camp in three places.

When the camp was lighted, Ashvatthama, that delighter of his sires, O
monarch, careered, sword in hand and smiting his foes with great skill.
Some of his brave foes rushed towards him and some ran hither and
thither. That foremost of regenerate ones, with his sword, deprived all
of them of their lives. The valiant son of Drona, filled with rage,
felled some of the warriors, cutting them in twain with his sword as if
they were sesame stalks. The Earth, O bull of Bharata’s race, became
strewn with the fallen bodies of the foremost of men and steeds and
elephants mingled together and uttering woeful wails and cries. When
thousands of men had fallen down deprived of life, innumerable headless
trunks stood up and fell down. Ashvatthama, O Bharata, cut off arms
adorned with angadas and holding weapons in grasp, and heads, and thighs
resembling trunks of elephants, and hands, and feet. The illustrious son
of Drona mangled the backs of some, cut off the heads of some, and caused
some to turn away from the fight. And he cut off some at the middle, and
lopped off the ears of others, and struck others on the shoulders, and
pressed down the heads of some into their trunks.

As Ashvatthama careered in this way, slaughtering thousands of men, the
deep night became more terrible in consequence of the darkness that set
in. The earth became terrible to behold, strewn with thousands of human
beings dead and dying and innumerable steeds and elephants. Cut off by
the enraged son of Drona, his foes fell down on the earth that was then
crowded with yakshas and rakshasas, and frightful with (broken) cars and
slain steeds and elephants. Some called upon their brothers, some upon
their sires, and some upon their sons. And some said, “The Dhartarashtras
in rage could never accomplish such feats in battle as these which
rakshasas of wicked deeds are achieving (upon us) during the hour of
sleep! It is only in consequence of the absence of the Parthas that this
great slaughter is going on. That son of Kunti, who hath Janardana for
his protector, is incapable of being vanquished by gods, asuras,
gandharvas, yakshas and rakshasas! Devoted to Brahma, truthful in speech,
self-restrained, and compassionate towards all creatures, that son of
Pritha, called Dhananjaya, never slaughters one that is asleep, or one
that is heedless, or one that has laid aside his weapons or one that has
joined his hands in supplication, or one that is retreating, or one whose
locks have been dishevelled. Alas, they are rakshasas of wicked deeds who
are perpetrating such terrible act upon us.” Uttering such words, many
laid themselves down.

The loud din caused by the cries and groans of human beings died away
within a short space of time. The earth being drenched with blood, O
king, that thick and frightful dust soon disappeared. Thousands of men
moving in agony, overwhelmed with anxiety and overcome with despair, were
slain by Ashvatthama like Rudra slaying living creatures. Many who laid
themselves down on the ground clasping one another, and many who sought
to fly away, and many who sought to hide themselves, and many who
struggled in battle, were all slain by the son of Drona. Burnt by the
raging flames and slaughtered by Ashvatthama, the men, losing their
senses, slew one another. Before half the night was over, the son of
Drona, O monarch, despatched the large host of the Pandavas unto Yama’s
abode.

That night, so terrible and destructive unto human beings and elephants
and steeds filled with joy all creatures that wander in the dark. Many
rakshasas and pishacas of various tribes were seen there, gorging upon
human flesh and quaffing the blood that lay on the ground. They were
fierce, tawny in hue, terrible, of adamantine teeth, and dyed with blood.
With matted locks on their heads, their thighs were long and massive;
endued with five feet, their stomachs were large. Their fingers were set
backwards. Of harsh temper and ugly features, their voice was loud and
terrible. They had rows of tinkling bells tied to their bodies. Possessed
of blue throats, they looked very frightful. Exceedingly cruel and
incapable of being looked at without fear, and without abhorrence for
anything, they came there with their children and wives. Indeed, diverse
were the forms seen there of the rakshasas that came. Quaffing the blood
that ran in streams, they became filled with joy and began to dance in
separate bands. “This is excellent!” “This is pure!” “This is very
sweet!” these were the words they uttered.

Other carnivorous creatures, subsisting upon animal food, having gorged
upon fat and marrow and bones and blood, began to eat the delicate parts
of corpses. Others, drinking the fat that flowed in streams, ran naked
over the field. Possessed of diverse kinds of faces, other carnivorous
beings of great ferocity, and living upon dead flesh, came there in tens
of thousands and millions. Grim and gigantic rakshasas also, of wicked
deeds, came there in bands as numerous. Other ghostly beings, filled with
joy and gorged to satiety, O king, also came there and were seen in the
midst of that dreadful carnage.

When morning dawned, Ashvatthama desired to leave the camp. He was then
bathed in human blood and the hilt of his sword so firmly adhered in his
grasp that his hand and sword, O king, became one! Having walked in that
path that is never trod (by good warriors), Ashvatthama, after that
slaughter, looked like the blazing fire at the end of the yuga after it
has consumed all creatures into ashes. Having perpetrated that feat
agreeably to his vow, and having trod in that untrodden way, Drona’s son,
O lord, forgot his grief for the slaughter of his sire. The Pandava camp,
in consequence of the sleep in which all within it were buried, was
perfectly still when Drona’s son had entered it in the night.

After the nocturnal slaughter, when all became once more quiet,
Ashvatthama issued from it. Having issued from the camp, the valiant
Ashvatthama met his two companions and, filled with joy, told them of his
feat, gladdening them, O king, by the intelligence. Those two, in return,
devoted as they were to his good, gave him the agreeable intelligence of
how they also had slaughtered thousands of Pancalas and Srinjayas (at the
gates). Even thus did that night prove terribly destructive to the
Somakas who had been heedless and buried in sleep. The course of time,
without doubt, is irresistible. Those who had exterminated us were
themselves exterminated now.”

Dhritarashtra said, “Why is it that that mighty car-warrior, the son of
Drona, did not achieve such a feat before although he had resolutely
exerted himself for bestowing victory upon Duryodhana? For what reason
did that great bowman do this after the slaughter of the wretched
Duryodhana? It behoveth thee to tell me this!”

Sanjaya said, “Through fear of the Parthas, O son of Kuru’s race,
Ashvatthama could not achieve such a feat then. It was owing to the
absence of the Parthas and the intelligent Keshava as also of Satyaki,
that Drona’s son could accomplish it. Who is there, the lord Indra
unexcepted, that is competent to slay them in the presence of these
heroes? Besides, O king, Ashvatthama succeeded in accomplishing the feat
only because the men were all asleep. Having caused that vast slaughter
of the Pandava forces, those three great car-warriors (Ashvatthama, Kripa
and Kritavarma), meeting together, exclaimed, “Good luck!” His two
companions congratulated Ashvatthama, and the latter was also embraced by
them. In great joy the latter uttered these words: “All the Pancalas have
been slain, as also all the sons of Draupadi! All the Somakas also, as
well as all that remained of the Matsyas, have been slaughtered by me!
Crowned with success, let us without delay go there where the king is! If
the king be still alive, we will give him this joyful intelligence!”

9

Sanjaya said, “Having slain all the Pancalas and the sons of Draupadi,
the three Kuru heroes together came to that spot where Duryodhana lay,
struck down by the foe. Arrived there, they beheld that life had not been
wholly extinct in the king. Jumping down from their cars, they surrounded
thy son. The Kuru king, O monarch, was lying there with broken thighs.
Almost senseless, his life was about to ebb away. He was vomiting blood
at intervals, with downcast eyes. He was then surrounded by a large
number of carnivorous animals of terrible forms, and by wolves and
hyenas, that awaited at no great distance for feeding upon his body. With
great difficulty the king was keeping off those beasts of prey that stood
in expectation of feasting upon him. He was writhing on the earth in
great agony. Beholding him thus lying on the earth, bathed in his own
blood, the three heroes who were the sole survivors of his army,
Ashvatthama and Kripa and Kritavarma, became afflicted with grief and sat
surrounding him. Encompassed by those three mighty car-warriors who were
covered with blood and who breathed hot sighs, the Kuru king looked like
a sacrificial altar surrounded by three fires. Beholding the king lying
in that highly undeserving plight, the three heroes wept in unendurable
sorrow. Wiping the blood from off his face with their hands, they uttered
these piteous lamentations in the hearing of the king lying on the field
of battle.

Kripa said, “There is nothing too difficult for destiny to bring about,
since even this king Duryodhana who was the lord of eleven akshauhinis of
troops sleepeth on the bare ground, struck down by the foes and covered
with blood! Behold, fond he was of the mace, and that mace decked with
pure gold still lieth by the side of the king whose splendour still
resembles that of pure gold! In no battle did that mace abandon this
hero! Even now, when he is about to ascend to heaven, that weapon leaveth
not this illustrious warrior. Behold, that weapon, adorned with pure
gold, still lieth by the side of this hero like a loving wife by the side
of her lord stretched on his bed in his chamber of sleep. Behold the
reverses brought about by Time! This scorcher of foes that used to walk
at the head of all crowned kings, now eateth the dust struck down (by the
foe)! He who had formerly struck down many foes and caused them to lie on
the bare ground, alas, that king of the Kurus lieth today on the bare
ground, struck down by foes. He to whom hundreds of kings used to bow
down in fear, lieth today on the field of battle, surrounded by beasts of
prey. The brahmanas formerly used to wait upon this lord for wealth.
Alas, beasts of prey wait upon him today for feeding upon his body!”

Sanjaya continued, “Beholding that chief of Kuru’s race lying on the
ground, Ashvatthama, O best of the Bharatas, uttered these piteous
lamentations: “O tiger among kings, all people indicated thee as the
foremost of all bowmen! People also said that (in encounters with the
mace) thou, a disciple of Sankarshana, wert like the Lord of treasures
(Kuvera), himself! How then, O sinless one, could Bhima notice any lapses
in thee! Thou wert ever mighty and possessed of skill! He, on the other
hand, O king, is a wicked-souled wight! Without doubt, O monarch, Time in
this world is mightier than everything else, for we behold even thee
struck down by Bhimasena in battle! Alas, how could the wretched and mean
Vrikodara unrighteously strike thee down, thee that wert conversant with
every rule of righteousness! Without doubt, Time is irresistible. Alas,
having summoned thee to a fair fight, Bhimasena, putting forth his might,
fractured thy thighs. Fie on that wretched Yudhishthira who tolerated the
head of one unrighteously struck down in battle to be touched with the
foot! In all battles warriors will certainly reprove Vrikodara as long as
the world will last. Without doubt, thou hast been struck down
unrighteously!

The valiant Rama of Yadu’s race, O king, always used to say that there is
no one equal to Duryodhana in encounters with the mace. He of the Vrishni
race, O Bharata, used to boast of thee, O lord, in every assembly,
saying, Duryodhana of Kurus race is a worthy disciple of mine!’ Thou hast
obtained that end which great rishis have declared to be the high reward
of a kshatriya slain in battle with his face towards the foe. I do not, O
bull among men, grieve for thee, O Duryodhana! I grieve only for thy
mother Gandhari and thy sire, childless as they now are. Afflicted with
sorrow, they will have to wander over the earth, begging their food. Fie
on Krishna, Vrishni’s race, and on Arjuna of wicked understanding! They
regard themselves conversant with the duties of morality, yet both of
them stood indifferent whilst thou wert being slain! How will the other
Pandavas, shameless though they are, O king, speak of the manner in which
they have accomplished thy death? Thou art highly fortunate, O son of
Gandhari, since thou hast been slain on the field of battle, O bull among
men, while advancing fairly against the foe. Alas, what will be the
plight of Gandhari who is now childless, and who hath lost all her
kinsmen and relatives! What also will be the plight of the blind king!

Fie on Kritavarma, on myself, as also on mighty car-warrior Kripa, since
we have not yet gone to heaven with thy royal self before us! Fie on us,
lowest of mortals, since we do not follow thee that wert the granter of
all wishes, the protector of all men, and the benefactor of all thy
subjects! Through thy power, the abodes of Kripa, of myself, and of my
sire, along with those of our dependants, O tiger among men, are full of
wealth. Through thy grace, ourselves with our friends and relatives have
performed many foremost of sacrifices with a profusion of presents to
brahmanas. Where shall such sinful persons as ourselves now go, since
thou hast gone to heaven, taking with thee all the kings of the earth?
Since we three, O king, do not follow thee that art about to obtain the
highest end (of life), it is for this that we are indulging in such
lamentations. Deprived of thy companionship, reft of wealth, our memories
painfully dwelling upon thy prosperity, alas, what will be our lot since
we do not go with thee? Without doubt, O chief of Kuru’s race, we shall
have to wander in grief on the earth. Deprived of thee, O king, where can
we have peace and where can we have happiness?

Going from this world, O monarch, and meeting with those mighty
car-warriors (that have preceded thee), show thy regards to them, at my
request, one after another, according to the order of their rank and
years. Having offered worship to thy preceptor, that foremost of all
wielders of bows, tell him, O king, that Dhrishtadyumna hath been slain
by me. Embrace king Bahlika, that mighty car-warrior, as also the ruler
of the Sindhus, and Somadatta, Bhurishrava, and the other foremost of
kings that have preceded thee to heaven. At my request, embrace all of
them and enquire after their welfare.”

Sanjaya continued, “Having said these words unto the king deprived of his
senses and lying with broken thighs, Ashvatthama once more cast his eyes
on him and uttered these words, “If, O Duryodhana, thou hast any life in
thee still, listen to these words that are so pleasant to hear. On the
side of the Pandavas, only seven are alive, and among the Dhartarashtras,
only we three! The seven on their side are the five brothers and Vasudeva
and Satyaki; on our side, we three are myself and Kripa and Kritavarma!
All the sons of Draupadi have been slain, as also all the children of
Dhrishtadyumna! All the Pancalas too have been slain, as also the remnant
of the Matsyas, O Bharata! Behold the vengeance taken for what they had
done! The Pandavas are now childless! While buried in sleep, the men and
animals in their camp have all been slain! Penetrating into their camp in
the night, O king, I have slain Dhrishtadyumna, that wight of sinful
deeds, as one kills an animal.”

Duryodhana then, having heard those words that were so agreeable to his
heart, regained his senses and said these words in reply, “That which
neither Ganga’s son, nor Karna, nor thy sire, could achieve, hath at last
been achieved by thee today, accompanied by Kripa and Bhoja. Thou hast
slain that low wretch (Dhrishtadyumna) who was commander of the Pandava
forces, as also Shikhandi. In consequence of this I regard myself equal
to Maghavat himself! Good be to you all! Let prosperity be yours! All of
us will again meet together in heaven!”

Having said these words the high-souled king of the Kurus became silent.
Casting off his griefs for all his (slain) kinsmen, he then gave up his
life-breath. His soul ascended to sacred heaven, while his body only
remained on earth. Even thus, O king, thy son Duryodhana breathed his
last. Having provoked the battle first, he was slain by his foes at last.
The three heroes repeatedly embraced the king and gazed steadfastly on
him. They then ascended their cars. Having heard these piteous
lamentations of Drona’s son, I came away at early dawn towards the city.
Even thus the armies of the Kurus and Pandavas have been destroyed. Great
and terrible have been that carnage, O king, caused by thy evil policy.
After thy son had ascended to heaven, I became afflicted with grief and
the spiritual sight which the rishi gave hath been lost by me!”

Vaishampayana continued, “The king, hearing of his son’s death, breathed
long and hot sighs, and became plunged in great anxiety.”

10

Vaishampayana said, “After that night had gone away, the driver of
Dhrishtadyumna’s car gave intelligence to king Yudhishthira of the great
slaughter that had been caused during the hour of sleep.

The driver said, “The sons of Draupadi, O king, have been slain, with all
the children of Drupada himself, while they were heedless and trustfully
asleep in their own camp! During the night, O king, thy camp has been
exterminated by the cruel Kritavarma, and Kripa, the son of Gautama, and
the sinful Ashvatthama! Slaying thousands of men and elephants and steeds
with lances and darts and battle-axes, those men have exterminated thy
army. While thy army was being slaughtered like a forest cut down with
axes, a loud wail was heard rising from thy camp. I am the sole survivor,
O monarch, of that vast force. I have, O thou of virtuous soul, escaped
with difficulty from Kritavarma at a time when he was heedless!”

Hearing these evil tidings, Kunti’s son Yudhishthira, however, capable of
bearing up (against foes), fell down on the earth, afflicted with grief
at the loss of his sons. Advancing forward, Satyaki held the king in his
embrace. Bhimasena and Arjuna and the two sons of Madri also stretched
forth their arms. Having recovered his senses, the son of Kunti lamented
in great affliction, uttering these words rendered indistinct by sorrow:
“Alas, having vanquished the foe, we have ourselves been vanquished in
the end! The course of events is difficult to be ascertained even by
persons endued with spiritual sight. The foes, who were vanquished have
become victorious! Ourselves, again, while victorious, are vanquished!
Having slain brothers and friends and sires and sons and well-wishers,
and kinsmen, and counsellors, and having vanquished them all, we
ourselves are vanquished at last! Misery looks like prosperity and
prosperity looks like misery! This our victory has assumed the shape of
defeat. Our victory, therefore, has ended in defeat! Having won the
victory, I am obliged to grieve as an afflicted wretch. How, then, can I
regard it as a victory? In reality, I have been doubly defeated by the
foe. They for whose sake we have incurred the sin of victory by slaying
our kinsmen and friends, alas, they, after victory had crowned them, have
been vanquished by defeated foes that were heedful!

Alas, through heedlessness have they been slain that had escaped from
even Karna, that warrior who had barbed arrows and nalikas for his teeth,
the sword for his tongue, the bow for his gaping mouth, and the twang of
the bowstring and the sound of palms for his roars–that angry Karna who
never retreated from battle, and who was a very lion among men! Alas,
those princes that succeeded in crossing, by boats constituted by their
own excellent weapons, the great Drona-ocean having cars for its deep
lakes, showers of arrows for its waves, the ornaments of warriors for its
gems, car-steeds for its animals, darts and swords for its fishes,
elephants for its alligators, bows for its whirlpools, mighty weapons for
its foam, and the signal of battle for its moonrise causing it to swell
with energy, and the twang of the bowstring and the sound of palms for
its roar,–alas, even those princes have from heedlessness been slain!

There is, in this world, no more powerful cause of death, as regards men,
than heedlessness! Prosperity abandons a heedless man from every side,
and every kind of misery overtakes him. The tall standard with excellent
top that stood on his car was the wreath of smoke that infallibly
indicated the Bhishma-fire. Shafts constituted its flames, and wrath was
the wind that fanned it! The twang of his formidable bow and the sound of
his palms constituted the roar of that fire. Armour and diverse kinds of
weapons were the homa libations that were poured into it. The vast
hostile army was the heap of dry forest-grass that was assailed by that
fire. Alas, even they that had endured that fierce fire whose terrible
energy was represented by the mighty weapons in Bhishma’s hand have at
last fallen through heedlessness.

A heedless person can never acquire knowledge, asceticism, prosperity, or
great renown. Behold, Indra has obtained great happiness after slaying
all his foes heedfully. Behold the survivors among our foes have, through
our heedlessness, slain so many sons and grandsons of kings, each of whom
was really like Indra himself. Alas, they have perished like merchants
with rich freight perishing through carelessness in a shallow stream
after having crossed the great ocean. They whose bodies are now lying on
the bare ground, slain by those vindictive wretches, have without doubt
ascended to heaven.

I grieve, however, for the princess Krishna. Alas, she will be plunged
today in an ocean of grief. Hearing of the slaughter of her brothers and
sons and her venerable sire, the king of the Pancalas, without doubt she
will fall down senseless on the earth. Her body emaciated by grief, she
will not rise again. Unable to bear the grief resulting from such
affliction, and worthy as she is of happiness, alas, what will be her
plight? Cut to the quick by the slaughter of her sons and brothers, she
will be like one scorched by fire.’

Having in deep affliction indulged in these lamentations, that king of
Kuru’s race then addressed Nakula, saying, Go and bring the unfortunate
princess Draupadi here along with all her maternal relations.’ Obediently
accepting that command of the king who equalled Yama himself in
righteousness, Nakula speedily proceeded on his car to the quarters of
Draupadi where that princess resided with all the wives of the Pancala
king. Having despatched the son of Madri, Yudhishthira, crushed by grief,
proceeded with tears in his eyes accompanied by those friends of his, to
the field on which his sons had battled and which still teemed with
diverse kinds of creatures. Having entered that cursed field abounding
with fierce sights, the king saw his sons, well-wishers, and friends, all
lying on the ground, covered with blood, their bodies mangled, and heads
separated from their trunks. Beholding them in that plight, Yudhishthira,
that foremost of righteous men, became deeply afflicted. That chief of
the Kurus then began to weep aloud and fell down on the earth, deprived
of his senses, along with all his followers.”

11

Vaishampayana said, “Beholding his sons, grandsons, and friends all slain
in battle, the king’s soul became overwhelmed with great grief, O
Janamejaya! Recollecting those sons and grandsons and brothers and
allies, a deep sorrow took possession of the illustrious monarch.
Senseless and trembling, his eyes were bathed in tears. His friends then,
themselves filled with anxiety, began to comfort him.

At that time, Nakula, skilled in executing errands, arrived there on his
car of solar effulgence, accompanied by the princess Krishna in great
affliction. She had been residing at Upaplavya. Having received that
heartrending intelligence about the slaughter of all her sons, she became
exceedingly agitated. Trembling like a plantain tree shaken by the wind,
the princess Krishna, arrived at the presence of Yudhishthira, fell down,
afflicted by grief. Her face, adorned with eyes resembling a couple of
full-blown lotuses, seemed to be darkened by grief like the Sun himself
when enveloped in darkness.

Beholding her prostrate on the earth, the wrathful Vrikodara, of prowess
incapable of being baffled, advancing hastily, raised her up and clasped
her with his arms. The beautiful lady, comforted by Bhimasena, began to
weep, and addressing the eldest son of Pandu with his brothers, said, “By
good luck, O monarch, having obtained the whole earth, thou shalt enjoy
her after the slaughter of thy brave sons in the observance of kshatriya
duties. By good luck, O son of Pritha, thou art happy at the thought of
having obtained the whole earth. By good luck, thy thoughts do not dwell
on Subhadra’s son whose tread resembled that of an infuriated elephant.
By good luck, thou dost not, like myself while residing at Upaplavya,
recollect thy heroic sons slaughtered in the observance of kshatriya
duties. O son of Pritha, hearing of the slaughter of those sleeping
heroes by Drona’s son of sinful deeds, grief burns me as if I were in the
midst of a fire. If Drona’s son be not made to reap the fruit of that
sinful deed of his, if, putting forth your prowess in battle, thou dost
not take the life of that wretch of sinful deeds, along with the lives of
all his followers, then listen to me, ye Pandavas, I shall sit here in
praya!”

Having said these words, the helpless Krishna, the daughter of Yajnasena,
sat by the side of the eldest son of Pandu, king Yudhishthira the just.
The royal sage, Yudhishthira, of righteous soul, seeing his dear queen
sit in praya, addressed her, saying, “O auspicious lady, O thou that art
conversant with morality, all thy sons and brothers have righteously met
with a noble death. It behoveth thee not to grieve for them. As regards
Drona’s son, he hath gone to a distant forest, O beautiful princess! How
shall thou O lady, make thyself sure of his fall in battle?”

Draupadi answered, “I have heard that Drona’s son hath a gem on his head,
born with him. I shall see that gem brought to me after the slaughter of
that wretch in battle, Placing that gem on thy head, O king, I shall
endure to live. Even this is my resolve.”

Having said these words unto the royal son of Pandu, the beautiful
Krishna approached Bhimasena and said these words of high purpose unto
him: “Remembering the duties of a kshatriya, O Bhima, it behoveth thee to
come to my rescue. Slay that man of sinful deeds like Maghavat slaying
Samvara. There is no one in this world who is equal to thee in prowess.
It is known throughout the world how on an occasion of great calamity
thou becamest at the town Varanavata the refuge of all the Parthas. When
again we were seen by Hidimba, it was thou that becamest our refuge in
the same way. Like Maghavat rescuing (his spouse) the daughter of Puloma,
thou didst rescue my afflicted self, in Virata’s city, from a great
calamity. Like those great feats, O Partha, that thou didst achieve in
former days, slay now, O slayer of foes, the son of Drona and be thou
happy!”

Hearing these and other piteous lamentations of the princess, Kunti’s
son, Bhimasena, of great might, could not endure them. He mounted upon
his great car adorned with gold and took his beautiful bow with arrow
placed on the string. Making Nakula his charioteer, and resolved upon
slaying the son of Drona, he began to stretch his bow and caused his
steeds to be urged without delay. Those steeds, fleet as the wind, thus
urged, O tiger among men, proceeded with great speed. Possessed of great
valour and unfading energy, Bhima set out from the Pandava camp and
proceeded with great celerity along the track of Ashvatthama’s vehicle.”

12

Vaishampayana said, “After the irresistible Bhimasena had set out, that
bull of Yadu’s race, possessed of eyes like lotus-petals, addressed
Kuru’s son Yudhishthira, saying, O son of Pandu, this brother of thine,
overwhelmed with grief at the slaughter of his sons, proceedeth alone to
battle, from desire of slaying the son of Drona. O bull of Bharata’s
race, of all thy brothers, Bhima is thy dearest! Beholding him fallen
into a great danger why dost thou not stir thyself? The weapon called
brahmashira, which that subjugator of hostile towns, Drona, communicated
to his son, is capable of consuming the whole world. The illustrious and
highly blessed preceptor, that foremost of all wielders of bows,
delighted with Dhananjaya, had given him that very weapon. Unable to
endure it, his only son then begged it of him. Unwillingly he imparted
the knowledge of that weapon to Ashvatthama. The illustrious Drona knew
the restlessness of his son. Acquainted with all duties, the preceptor
laid this command on him, saying, “Even when overtaken by the greatest
danger, O child in the midst of battle, thou shouldst never use this
weapon, particularly against human beings.” Even thus the preceptor Drona
spoke unto his son. A little while after he again spoke, saying, “O bull
among men, thou wilt not, it seems, walk in the path of the righteous.”
Hearing those bitter words of his sire, the wicked-souled Ashvatthama, in
despair of obtaining every kind of prosperity, began in grief to wander
over the earth.

Then, O chief of the Kurus, while you were living in the woods, O
Bharata, he came to Dvaraka and took up his abode there, worshipped by
the Vrishnis. One day, after he had taken up his abode in Dvaraka, he
came to me, without a companion and when I myself was without anybody by
my side, on the seacoast, and there smilingly addressing me said, “O
Krishna, that weapon, called brahmashira, worshipped by gods and
gandharvas, which my sire, the preceptor of the Bharatas, of prowess
incapable of being baffled, and obtained from Agastya after performing
the austerest penances, is now with me, O Dasharha, as much as it is with
my sire. O foremost one of Yadu’s race, in exchange for that celestial
weapon, give me thy discus which is capable of slaying all foes in
battle.”

While he with joined palms and great importunity thus begged of me my
discus, myself, O bull of Bharata’s race, from desire of gladdening him,
told him these words: “Gods, danavas, gandharvas, men, birds and snakes,
assembled together, are not equal to even a hundredth part of my energy.
I have this bow, this dart, this discus, and this mace. I will give thee
whichever amongst these thou desirest to have from me. Without giving me
the weapon thou wishest to give, take from among these weapons of mine
whichever thou mayest be able to wield and use in battle.”

Thus addressed, the illustrious son of Drona, as if challenging me,
solicited at my hands my discus of excellent nave and hard as thunder,
possessed of a 1,000 spokes, and made of iron “Take it.” I said unto him.
Thus addressed, he rose suddenly and seized the discus with his left
hand. He failed, however, to even move the weapon from the spot on which
it lay. He then made preparations for seizing it with his right hand.
Having seized it then very firmly and having put forth all his strength,
he still failed to either wield or move it. At this, Drona’s son became
filled with sorrow. After he was tired with the exertions he made, he
ceased, O Bharata!

When he withdrew his heart from that purpose, I addressed the anxious and
senseless Ashvatthama and said, “He who is always regarded as the
foremost of all human beings, that wielder of gandiva, that warrior
having white steeds yoked unto his car, that hero owning the prince of
apes for the device on his standard, that hero who, desirous of
vanquishing in a wrestling encounter the god of gods, the blue-throated
lord of Uma, gratified the great Shankara himself, that Phalguna than
whom I have no dearer friend on earth, that friend to whom there is
nothing that I cannot give including my very wives and children, that
dear friend Partha of unstained acts, never said unto me, O brahmana,
such words as these which thou hast uttered.

That son whom I obtained through ascetic penances and observances of
austere brahmacarya for twelve years on the breast of Himavati whither I
had gone for the purpose, that son of mine, Pradyumna, of great energy
and a portion of Sanat-kumara himself, begotten by me upon my wife
Rukmini who had practised vows as austere as mine, that hero even never
solicited this best of objects, this unrivalled discus, which thou of
little understanding had solicited!

Rama of great might never said such words to me! Neither Gada nor Samba
has ever asked that of me which thou hast asked! No one among the other
great car-warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka race residing in
Dvaraka has ever asked this of me which thou hast asked! Thou art the son
of the preceptor of the Bharatas, thou art held in high respect by all
the Yadavas. Let me ask thee, O foremost of car-warriors, with whom
wouldst thou fight using this weapon?”

Thus addressed by me, Drona’s son replied, saying, “After offering
worship to thee, O Krishna, it was my intention to fight thee, O thou of
unfading glory! It was for this, O Krishna that I solicited thee for thy
discus which is adored by gods and danavas. If I had got it I would then
become invincible in the world. Having failed, O Keshava, in obtaining my
almost unattainable wish, I am about to leave thee, O Govinda! Address me
in fair words now. This terrible weapon is held by thee that art the
foremost of all terrible persons. Unrivalled art thou for this weapon!
There is none else in this world capable of possessing it.”

Having said these words unto me, the son of Drona, taking many couples of
steeds and much wealth and diverse kinds of gems, left Dvaraka. He is
wrathful, wicked-souled, restless, and very cruel. He knows the weapon
called brahmashira. Vrikodara should be protected from him!”

13

Vaishampayana said, “Having said these words, that foremost of all
wielders of weapons, that delighter of all the Yadavas, mounted upon his
excellent car equipped with every kind of powerful weapons. Unto that
vehicle were yoked two pairs of foremost steeds of the Kamboja breed,
that were adorned with garlands of gold. The dhur of that best of cars
was of the hue of the morning sun. On the right was yoked the steed known
as Shaibya; on the left was placed Sugriva; the Parshni was borne by two
others called Meghapushpa and Balahaka. There was seen on that car a
celestial standard decked with gems and gold and created by the divine
Artificer, and standing high like the Maya (of Vishnu himself). Upon that
standard was Vinata’s son (Garuda) shining with great splendour. Indeed,
that enemy of snakes perched on the standard-top of Keshava who is Truth
embodied.

Then Hrishikesha, that foremost of all bowmen, mounted on that car. After
him Arjuna of irresistible feats and Yudhishthira, the king of the Kurus,
ascended the same vehicle. Seated on that car, by the side of him of
Dasharha’s race who wielded the bow called sharnga, the two sons of Pandu
looked exceedingly beautiful, like the twin Ashvinis seated by the side
of Vasava. Causing them to ascend on that car of his which was adored by
all the world, he of Dasharha’s race urged those foremost of steeds
endued with great fleetness. Those steeds then suddenly flew, taking
after them that excellent vehicle ridden by the two sons of Pandu and by
that bull of Yadu’s race. Endued with great speed, as those animals bore
away the wielder of sharnga, loud became the noise caused by their rush,
like that of birds coursing through the air.

Proceeding with great speed, they soon came up, O bull of Bharata’s race,
with the mighty bowman Bhimasena in whose wake they had followed.
Although those great car-warriors met Bhima, they failed however to stop
that son of Kunti, as filled with wrath he proceeded fiercely towards the
foe. In the very sight of those illustrious and firm bowmen, Bhima, by
means of his very fleet steeds, proceeded towards the bank of the river
brought down by Bhagiratha. He beheld the high-souled and illustrious and
dark-complexioned and island-born Vyasa sitting near the edge of the
water in the midst of many rishis. And he also saw Drona’s son of wicked
deeds sitting beside them, covered with dust, attired in a piece of cloth
made of kusha grass, and smeared all over with clarified butter. The
mighty-armed Bhimasena, the son of Kunti, taking up his bow with shaft
fixed on it, rushed towards Ashvatthama, and said, Wait, wait!’

Drona’s son, beholding that terrible bowman coming towards him bow in
hand, and the two brothers on Janardana’s car, became exceedingly
agitated and thought his hour had come. Of soul incapable of being
depressed, he called to his mind that high weapon (which he had obtained
from his sire). He then took up a blade of grass with his left hand.
Fallen into great distress, he inspired that blade of grass with proper
mantras and converted it into that powerful celestial weapon. Unable to
brook the arrows (of the Pandavas) and the presence of those wielders of
celestial weapons, he uttered in wrath these terrible words: For the
destruction of the Pandavas.’ Having said these words, O tiger among
kings, the valiant son of Drona let off that weapon for stupefying all
the worlds. A fire then was born in that blade of grass, which seemed
capable of consuming the three worlds like the all-destroying Yama at the
end of the yuga.”

14

Vaishampayana said, “At the very outset the mighty-armed hero of
Dasharha’s race understood from signs the intention of Drona’s son.
Addressing Arjuna, he said, O Arjuna, O son of Pandu, the time is come
for the use of that celestial weapon which is in thy memory, knowledge of
which was imparted to thee by Drona. For protecting thyself as also thy
brothers, O Bharata, shoot in this battle that weapon which is capable of
neutralising all weapons.’

Thus addressed by Keshava, Arjuna, that slayer of hostile heroes, quickly
alighted from the car, taking with him his bow with shaft fixed on the
string. Softly wishing good unto the preceptor’s son and then unto
himself, and unto all his brothers, that scorcher of foes then bowed unto
all the gods and all his superiors and let off his weapon, thinking of
the welfare of all the worlds and uttering the words, Let Ashvatthama’s
weapon be neutralised by this weapon!’

That weapon, quickly let off by the wielder of gandiva, blazed up with
fierce flames like the all-destroying fire that appears at the end of the
yuga. Similarly, the weapon that had been shot by Drona’s son of fierce
energy blazed up with terrible flames within a huge sphere of fire.
Numerous peals of thunder were heard; thousands of meteors fell; and all
living creatures became inspired with great dread. The entire welkin
seemed to be filled with noise and assumed a terrible aspect with those
flames of fire. The whole earth with her mountains and waters and trees,
trembled. Then the two great rishis, Narada, who is the soul of every
creature, and the grandsire of all the Bharata princes (Vyasa), beholding
those two weapons scorching the three worlds, showed themselves there.
The two rishis sought to pacify the two heroes Ashvatthama and
Dhananjaya. Conversant with all duties and desirous of the welfare of all
creatures, the two sages, possessed of great energy, stood in the midst
of those two blazing weapons. Incapable of being overwhelmed by any
force, those two illustrious rishis, placing themselves between the two
weapons, stood like two blazing fires. Incapable of being checked by any
creature endued with life, and adorned by the gods and danavas, they two
acted in this way, neutralising the energy of the two weapons and doing
good to all the world.

The two rishis said, “Those great car-warriors who have fallen in this
battle were acquainted with diverse kinds of weapons. They, however,
never shot such a weapon upon human beings. What act of rashness is this,
ye heroes, that ye have done?”

15

Vaishampayana said, “At the very sight, O tiger among men, of those two
rishis possessed of splendour like that of fire, Dhananjaya quickly
resolved to withdraw his celestial shaft. Joining his hands, he addressed
those rishis, saying, I used this weapon, saying, “Let it neutralise the
(enemy’s) weapon!” If I withdraw this high weapon, Drona’s son of sinful
deeds will then, without doubt, consume us all with the energy of his
weapon. Ye two are like gods! It behoveth you to devise some means by
which our welfare as also that of the three worlds may be secured!’

Having said these words Dhananjaya withdrew his weapon. The withdrawal of
that weapon by the gods themselves in battle is exceedingly difficult.
Not excepting the great Indra himself, there was nobody save the son of
Pandu, who was capable of withdrawing that high weapon after it had once
been let off. That weapon was born of Brahma energy. No person of
uncleansed soul can bring it back after it is once let off. Only one that
leads the life of a brahmacari can do it. If one who has not practised
the vow of brahmacarya seeks to bring it back after having shot it, it
strikes off his own head and destroys him with all his equipments. Arjuna
was a brahmacari and an observer of vows. Having obtained that almost
unobtainable weapon, he had never used it even when plunged into
situations of the greatest danger. Observant of the vow of truth,
possessed of great heroism, leading the life of a brahmacari, the son of
Pandu was submissive and obedient to all his superiors. It was for this
that he succeeded in withdrawing his weapon.

Drona’s son, beholding those two rishis standing before him, could not by
his energy withdraw his own terrible weapon. Unable to withdraw the high
weapon in battle, Drona’s son, O king, with a cheerless heart, said unto
the island-born rishi these words, Threatened by a great danger, and
desirous of protecting my life, I let off this weapon, through fear of
Bhimasena, O sage! This Bhimasena of false behaviour, acted sinfully, O
holy one, while slaying the son of Dhritarashtra in battle! It is for
this, O regenerate one, that of uncleansed soul as I am I let off this
weapon. I dare not, however, withdraw it now. Having inspired this
irresistible and celestial weapon with the energy of fire, I let it off
for the destruction of the Pandavas. Contrived for the destruction of the
Pandavas, that weapon, therefore, will take away the lives of all the
sons of Pandu. O regenerate one, I have, in wrath, done this sinful deed.
I invoked this weapon in battle for the destruction of the Pandavas.’

Vyasa said, “Pritha’s son Dhananjaya, O child, was acquainted with the
weapon called brahmashira. Neither from wrath, nor for thy destruction in
battle, did he shoot this weapon. Arjuna, on the other hand, used it for
baffling thy weapon. He has again withdrawn it. Having obtained even the
brahmastra through thy sire’s instructions, the mighty-armed Dhananjaya
did not fall off from a kshatriya’s duties. Arjuna is possessed of such
patience, and such honesty. He is, besides, conversant with every weapon,
Why dost thou seek to compass the destruction of such a person with all
his brothers? That region where the weapon called brahmashira is baffled
by another high weapon suffers a drought for twelve years, for the clouds
do not pour a drop of water there for this period. For this reason, the
mighty-armed son of Pandu, although he had the power, would not, from
desire of doing good to living creatures, baffle thy weapon with his. The
Pandavas should be protected; thy own self should be protected; the
kingdom also should be protected. Therefore, O thou of mighty arms,
withdraw this celestial weapon of thine. Dispel this wrath from thy heart
and let the Pandavas be safe. The royal sage Yudhishthira never desires
to win victory by perpetrating any sinful act. Give unto these that gem
which is on thy head. Taking that, the Pandavas will in return grant thee
thy life!”

Drona’s son said, “This my gem is more valuable than all the wealth that
has ever been earned by the Pandavas and the Kauravas. If this gem is
worn, the wearer ceases to have any fear from weapons or disease or
hunger! He ceases to have any fear of gods and danavas and nagas! His
apprehensions from rakshasas as also from robbers will cease. Even these
are the virtues of this gem of mine. I cannot, by any means, part with
it. That, however, O holy one, which thou sayest, should be done by me.
Here is this gem. Here is myself. This blade of grass (inspired into a
fatal weapon) will, however, fall into the wombs of the Pandava women,
for this weapon is high and mighty, and incapable of being frustrated. O
regenerate one, I am unable to withdraw it, having once let it off. I
will now throw this weapon into the wombs of the Pandava women. As
regards thy commands in other respects, O holy one, I shall certainly
obey them.”

Vyasa said, “Do then this. Do not, however, entertain any other purpose,
O sinless one! Throwing this weapon into the wombs of the Pandava women,
stop thyself.”

Vaishampayana continued, “The son of Drona, having heard these words of
the island-born, threw that uplifted weapon into the wombs of the Pandava
women.”

16

Vaishampayana said, “Understanding that that weapon was thrown (into the
wombs of the Pandava women) by Drona’s son of sinful deeds, Hrishikesha,
with a cheerful heart, said these words unto him: A certain brahmana of
pious vows, beholding Virata’s daughter who is now daughter-in-law to
Arjuna, while she was at Upaplavya, said, “While the Kuru line will
become extinct, a son will be born to thee. This thy son for that reason,
will be called by the name of Parikshit.” The words of that pious man
shall become true: the Pandavas shall have a son called Parikshit. Unto
Govinda, that foremost one of the Satvata race, while he was saying these
words, Drona’s son, filled with wrath, replied, saying, This, O Keshava,
that thou sayest from thy partiality for the Pandavas, shall not happen.
O thou of eyes like lotus-petals, my words cannot but be fulfilled.
Uplifted by me, this weapon of mine shall fall on the foetus that is in
the womb of Virata’s daughter, upon that foetus which thou, O Krishna,
art desirous of protecting.’

The holy one said, “The fall of this mighty weapon will not be fruitless.
The foetus will die. But being dead, it will live again and have a long
life! As regards thyself, all wise men know thee for a coward and a
sinful wretch! Always engaged in sinful acts, thou art the slayer of
children. For this reason, thou must have to bear the fruit of these thy
sins. For 3,000 years thou shalt wander over this earth, without a
companion and without being able to talk with anyone. Alone and without
anybody by thy side, thou shalt wander through diverse countries, O
wretch, thou shalt have no place in the midst of men. The stench of pus
and blood shall emanate from thee, and inaccessible forests and dreary
moors shall be thy abode! Thou shalt wander over the Earth, O thou of
sinful soul, with the weight of all diseases on thee.

The heroic Parikshit, attaining to age and a knowledge of the Vedas and
the practice of pious vows, shall obtain all weapons from the son of
Sharadvata. Having obtained a knowledge of all high weapons, and
observant of all kshatriya duties, that righteous-souled king shall rule
the earth for sixty years. More than this, that boy shall become the
mighty-armed king of the Kurus, known by the name of Parikshit, before
thy very eyes, O thou of wicked soul! Though burnt by the energy of thy
weapon’s fire, I shall revive him. O lowest of men, behold the energy of
my austerities and my truth.”

Vyasa said, “Since, disregarding us, thou hast perpetrated this
exceedingly cruel act, and since thy behaviour is such although thou art
a good brahmana (by birth), therefore, those excellent words that
Devaki’s son has said, will, without doubt, be realised in thy case, an
adopter as thou hast been of kshatriya usages!”

Ashvatthama said, “With thyself among all men, O holy one, I shall live!
Let the words of this illustrious and foremost of men become true!”

Vaishampayana continued, “Drona’s son, then, having made over his gem to
the high-souled Pandavas, cheerlessly proceeded, before their eyes, to
the forest. The Pandavas who had killed and chastised all their foes,
placed Govinda and the island-born Krishna and the great ascetic Narada
at their head, and taking the gem that was born with Ashvatthama, quickly
came back to the intelligent Draupadi who was sitting in observance of
the praya vow.

Those tigers among men, borne by their excellent steeds resembling the
wing in fleetness, came back with him of Dasharha’s race to their
encampment. Speedily alighting from their cars, those great car-warriors,
themselves much more afflicted, beheld, Drupada’s daughter Krishna
afflicted with woe. Approaching the cheerless princess stricken with
sorrow and grief, the Pandavas with Keshava, sat round her.

Then the mighty Bhimasena, desired by the king, gave that celestial gem
unto her and said these words: “This gem, O amiable lady, is thine. The
slayer of thy sons hath been vanquished. Rise, casting off thy sorrow,
and recollect the duties of a kshatriya lady. O thou of black eyes, when
Vasudeva was about to set out (from Upaplavya) on his mission of peace,
thou hadst, O timid lady, said even these words unto the slayer of Madhu,
“I have no husbands! I have no sons, nor brothers! Nor art thou alive, O
Govinda, since the king desires for peace!” Those bitter words were
addressed by thee to Krishna, that foremost of persons! It behoveth thee
to recollect those words of thine that were so consistent with kshatriya
usages.

The wretched Duryodhana, that obstacle on the way of our sovereignty, has
been slain. I have quaffed the blood of the living Duhshasana. We have
paid off the debt we owed to our enemy. People, while talking, will not
be able to censure us any longer. Having vanquished Drona’s son, we have
set him free for the sake of his being a brahmana and of the respect that
should be shown to our deceased preceptor. His fame hath been destroyed,
O goddess, only his body remains! He has been divested of his gem and on
earth he has been reft of his weapons!”

Draupadi said, “I desired to only pay off our debt for the injury we have
sustained. The preceptor’s son is worthy of my reverence as the preceptor
himself. Let the king bind this gem on his head, O Bharata!” The king
then, taking that gem, placed it on his head, at the desire of Draupadi
and regarding it as a gift from the preceptor. Holding on his head that
excellent and celestial gem, the puissant king looked beautiful like a
mountain with the moon above it. Though stricken with grief on account of
the death of her sons, the princess Draupadi, possessed of great mental
strength, gave up her vow. Then king Yudhishthira enquired of the
mighty-armed Krishna, saying the following words.”

17

Vaishampayana said, “After all the troops had been slain during the hour
of sleep by those three car-warriors, king Yudhishthira in great grief
said these words unto him of Dasharha’s race: How, O Krishna, could my
sons, all of whom were mighty car-warriors, be slaughtered by the sinful
and wretched Ashvatthama of no great skill in battle? How also could
Drona’s son slay the children of Drupada, all of whom were accomplished
in weapons, possessed of great prowess, and capable of battling with
hundreds of thousands of foes? How could he slay that foremost of
car-warriors, Dhrishtadyumna, before whom the great bowman Drona himself
could not appear? What act was done by the preceptor’s son, O bull among
men, in consequence of which he succeeded in slaying, single-handed, all
our men in battle?’

The holy one said, “Verily, Drona’s son had sought the aid of that
highest of all the gods, the eternal Mahadeva. It was for this that he
succeeded in slaying, single-handed, so large a number of warriors. If
Mahadeva be gratified, he can bestow even immortality. Girisha can give
such valour as will succeed in checking Indra himself. I know Mahadeva
truly, O bull of Bharata’s race! I know also his various acts of old. He,
O Bharata, is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all creatures.
This entire universe acts and moves through his energy.

The puissant Grandsire, desirous of creating living creatures, saw Rudra;
and the Grandsire asked him, saying, “Create living creatures without
delay!” Thus asked, Rudra of tawny locks, saying, “So be it!” plunged
into the water and practised austerities for a long time, inasmuch as he
was sensible of the defects of living creatures. Having waited in
expectation of Rudra for a very long time, the Grandsire, by a fiat of
his will, invoked into existence another being for making him the creator
of all kinds of living things. Beholding Girisha plunged into the waters,
this (second) being said unto his sire, “If there be no being born before
me, then I will create living creatures!” His sire replied unto him,
saying, “There is no other first-born being besides thee! This Sthanu has
plunged into the water! Go and create living creatures, without any
anxiety!”

That being then created many living creatures, having Daksha for their
first, who created all these creatures of four kinds. As soon, however,
as they were created, they ran O king, towards their sire, afflicted with
hunger and desirous of devouring him. The second being whom Brahma had
created, thereupon ran towards him, desirous of protection from his own
offspring. And he said unto the Grandsire, “O illustrious one, protect me
from these, and let these creatures have their food assigned unto them!”
Then the Grandsire assigned herbs and plants and other vegetables as
their food, and unto those that were strong he assigned the weaker
creatures as the means of sustenance. Their sustenance having been thus
assigned, the newly-created creatures all went away to regions they
desired, and cheerfully multiplied by union with their respective species.

After the creatures had multiplied and the Grandsire had become well
pleased, the first-born rose from the water and beheld the living
creation. He saw that diverse kinds of creatures had been created and
that they had multiplied by their own energy. At this sight, Rudra became
angry and caused his procreative limb to disappear in the bowels of the
Earth. The unfading Brahma, soothing him by soft words, said unto him, “O
Sharva, what wert thou doing so long within the water? For what reason,
also hast thou caused thy limb of generation to disappear in the bowels
of the Earth?” Thus questioned, that lord of the universe wrathfully
answered the lord Brahman, “Somebody else has created all these
creatures! What purpose then would be served by this limb of mine? I have
by my austerities, O Grandsire, created food for all these creatures.
These herbs and plants also will multiply like those that will subsist
upon them!” Having said these words, Bhava went away, in cheerlessness
and rage, to the foot of the Menjavat mountains for practising severer
austerities.”

18

The holy one said, “After the krita-yuga had elapsed, the gods, desirous
of performing a sacrifice, duly made preparation for one according to the
directions laid down in the Vedas. They collected clarified butter and
the other requisites. And they not only devised what the requisites of
their sacrifice should be, but also determined those amongst themselves
that should have a share in the sacrificial offerings.

Not knowing Rudra truly, the celestials, O king, assigned no share for
the divine Sthanu. Seeing that the celestials assigned to him no share in
the sacrificial offerings, Sthanu, clad in deer skins, desired to destroy
that Sacrifice and with that object constructed a bow. There are four
kinds of Sacrifices: the loka Sacrifice, the Sacrifice of special rites,
the eternal domestic Sacrifice, and the Sacrifice consisting in the
gratification derived by man from his enjoyment of the five elemental
substances and their compounds. It is from these four kinds of Sacrifice
that the universe has sprung. Kapardin constructed that bow using as
materials the first and the fourth kinds of Sacrifices. The length of
that bow was five cubits. The sacred (mantra) “vashat,” O Bharata, was
made its string. The four parts, of which a Sacrifice consists, became
the adornments of that bow.

Then Mahadeva, filled with rage, and taking up that bow, proceeded to
that spot where the celestials were engaged in their Sacrifice. Beholding
the unfading Rudra arrive there attired as a brahmacari and armed with
that bow, the goddess Earth shrunk with fear and the very mountains began
to tremble. The very wind ceased to move, and fire itself, though fed,
did not blaze forth. The stars in the firmament, in anxiety, began to
wander in irregular courses. The Sun’s splendour decreased. The disc of
the Moon lost its beauty. The entire welkin became enveloped in a thick
gloom. The celestials, overwhelmed, knew not what to do. Their Sacrifice
ceased to blaze forth. The gods were all terrified. Rudra then pierced
the embodiment of Sacrifice with a fierce shaft in the heart. The
embodied form of Sacrifice, assuming the shape of a deer, fled away, with
the god of fire. Approaching heaven in that form, he blazed forth in
beauty. Rudra, however, O Yudhishthira, pursued him through the skies.
After Sacrifice had fled away, the gods lost their splendour. Having lost
their senses, the gods were stupefied.

Then the three-eyed Mahadeva, with his bow, broke in rage the arms of
Savitri, and plucked out the eyes of Bhaga and the teeth of Pushana. The
gods then fled away, as also all the several parts of Sacrifice. Some
amongst them, reeling as they sought to fly away, fell down senseless.
The blue-throated Rudra, having agitated them thus, laughed aloud, and
whirling the horn of his bow, paralysed them. The celestials then uttered
a cry. At their command, the string of the bow broke. The string having
broken, the bow became stretched into a line. The gods then approached
the bowless god of gods and, with the embodied form of Sacrifice, sought
the protection of the puissant Mahadeva and endeavoured to gratify him.

Gratified, the great god threw his wrath into the water, O king, that
wrath, assuming the form of fire, is always employed in consuming that
liquid element. He then gave unto Savitri his arms, Bhaga his eyes, and
Pushana his teeth. And he also restored the Sacrifices themselves, O
Pandava! The world once more became safe and sound. The gods assigned
unto Mahadeva all the libations of clarified butter as the share of great
deity. O monarch, when Mahadeva had become angry, the whole world had
thus become agitated: when he became gratified everything became safe.
Possessed of great energy, the god Mahadeva was gratified with
Ashvatthama. It was for this that thy sons, those mighty car-warriors,
could be slain by that warrior. It was for this that many other heroes,
the Pancalas, with all their followers, could be slain by him. Thou
shouldst not suffer thy mind to dwell on it. It was not Drona’s son that
accomplished that act. It was done through the grace of Mahadeva. Do now
what should next be done.”

The end of Sauptika-parv

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: