काश्यश्च परमेष्वासः शिखण्डी च महारथः |
धृष्टधुम्नो विराटश्च सात्यकिश्चापराजितः ||१.१७||
kāśyaś ca parameṣv-āsaḥ
śikhaṇḍī ca mahā-rathaḥ
dhṛṣṭadyumno virāṭaś ca
kāśyaḥ — the King of Kāśī (Vārāṇasī); ca — and; parama-iṣu-āsaḥ — the great archer; śikhaṇḍī — Śikhaṇḍī; ca — also; mahā-rathaḥ — one who can ﬁght alone against thousands; dhṛṣṭadyumnaḥ— Dhṛṣṭadyumna (the son of King Drupada); virāṭaḥ — Virāṭa (the prince who gave shelter to the Pāṇḍavas while they were in disguise); ca — also; sātyakiḥ — Sātyaki (the same as Yuyudhāna, the charioteer of Lord Kṛṣṇa); ca — and; aparājitaḥ — who had never been vanquished.
That great archer the King of Kāśī, the great ﬁghter Śikhaṇḍī, Dhṛṣṭadyumna, Virāṭa, the unconquerable Sātyaki.
Sanjaya addresses Dhrtarastra as ‘lord of the earth’ to remind him of his obligation as king to rise above personal considerations and act for the welfare of the kingdom.
The King of Kasi was an expert archer. His kingdom had a close relationship with the Kurus. Vicitravirya, son of Santanu and Satyavati, was married to two daughters of the king of Kasi – Ambika and Ambalika. Dhrtarastra was the son of Ambika while Pandu was the son of Ambalika. Bhima was also married to the daughter of the king of Kasi.
Sikhandi, son of Drupada, fought in the Kuruksetra war on the side of the Pandavas. He was born in an earlier life as Amba, daughter of the king of Kasi, who was to marry Vicitravirya along with her two sisters. But she wanted to marry another man so Bhisma let her go. But since she had already been taken by Bhisma he did not marry her and Bhisma also rejected her. Feeling deeply humiliated and wanting revenge, Amba did great penance with the desire to kill Bhisma. She was reborn as Shikhandini.
From her birth, Shikhandini was raised like a man, trained in warfare and eventually married. On her wedding night, her wife insulted her on finding out the truth. Contemplating suicide, she fled Pancala, but was saved by a Yaksa who exchanged his sex with her. Shikhandi came back a man.
In the battle of Kuruksetra, Bhisma recognised him as Amba reborn, and upheld the ksatriya tradition of not fighting ‘a woman’. Thus, with Shikhandi’s help Arjuna dealt a death blow to Bhisma, who had been invincible till then. Shikhandi was finally killed by Asvatthama on the 18th day of battle.
Dhrstadyumna was the son of Drupada and brother of Draupadi and Shikhandi. He was appointed Commander of the Pandava Army, and was responsible for the killing of Drona. Even though he was the prophesied killer of Drona, he was accepted by Drona to join his school for young princes, where he learnt advanced martial arts.
When his sister was betrothed to a young brahmana who won the martial contest at her svayamvara, Dhrstadyumna secretly followed him and his brothers, only to discover that they were in fact the five Pandavas: Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva.
At a point when Drona, as the Kuru commander, was killing vast numbers of Pandava troops, Krsna advised Yudhisthira to adopt a plan to kill the preceptor. It was known that as long as Drona raised his weapons he was invincible. Krsna advised that it be proclaimed that Drona’s son, Asvatthama had died in the battle. Yudhisthira hesitated so Bhima killed an elephant named Asvatthama and shouted “Asvatthama is dead”.”
Shocked Drona asked Yudhisthira to ascertain the news, knowing that the son of Dharma would never speak a lie. Yudhisthira said that Asvatthama was dead, but muttered “(I wonder) whether the man or the elephant”. Krsna blew his conch at that exact moment so that Drona did not hear the latter part.
In grief, Drona lay down his arms and Dhrstadyumna killed him
After the war was over, Asvatthama treacherously attacked the Pandava camp during the night, killing Dhrstadyumna and the sons of Draupadi in revenge for his father’s death and the defeat of the Kurus.
Virata was king of the Matsyas in whose court the Pandavas spent a year in hiding during their exile. Virata was the father of Princess Uttara who married Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son. Abhimanyu’s son Pariksita then became king after Yudhisthira. Virata was killed by Drona.
Satyaki was Krsna’s cousin and charioteer. He accompanied Krsna to the Kuru capital as the emissary of peace which was ridiculed and turned down by the sons of Dhrtarastra.
Satyaki was a valiant warrior and on one particular occasion, stunned Drona by breaking his bow 101 times. On the fourteenth day of the conflict, Satyaki fought an intense battle with his archrival Bhurisravas with whom he had a long standing family feud. After a long and bloody battle, Satyaki begins to tire, but is rescued by Arjuna, who shoots an arrow cutting off Bhurisravas’ arm. Satyaki emerges from his swoon, and swiftly decapitates his enemy.
द्रुपदो द्रौपदेयाश्च सर्वशः पृथिवीपते |
सौभद्रश्च महाबाहुः शङ्खान्दध्मुः पृथक्पृथक् ||१.१८||
drupado draupadeyāś ca
saubhadraś ca mahā-bāhuḥ
śaṅkhān dadhmuḥ pṛthak pṛthak
drupadaḥ — Drupada, the King of Pāñcāla; draupadeyāḥ — the sons of Draupadī; ca — also; sarvaśaḥ — all; pṛthivī-pate — O King; saubhadraḥ — Abhimanyu, the son of Subhadrā; ca — also; mahā-bāhuḥ — mighty-armed; śaṅkhān — conchshells; dadhmuḥ — blew; pṛthak pṛthak — each separately.
Drupada, the sons of Draupadī, and others, O King, such as the mighty-armed son of Subhadrā, all blew their respective conchshells.
The sons of Draupadi from each of the Pandavas were Prativindhya, Srutasoma, Srutakarma, Satanika and Srutasena. They were all killed in an attack at night by the Kauravas, totally against the laws of warfare at that time.
Abhimanyu, a brave and tragic hero, was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, the half-sister of Lord Krsna. As an unborn child in his mother’s womb, Abhimanyu learnt the art of entering the deadly and virtually impenetrable circular battle formation known as Chakravyuha from Arjuna. Arjuna spoke about entering the Chakravyuha. Subhadra then dozed off so Arjuna did not explain how to exit the Chakravyuha. As a result, Abhimanyu only knew how to penetrate it, not how to escape from it.
Abhimanyu spent his childhood in Dvaraka, his mother’s city. He was trained by Pradyumna, the son of Krsna, and his father Arjuna and brought up under the guidance of Lord Krsna. He was married to Uttara, daughter of king Virata to seal an alliance between the Pandavas and the royal family of Virata. The Pandavas had been hiding in cognito through the final year of their exile in Virata’s kingdom of Matsya.
Being the grandson of Lord Indra, god of mystical weapons and wars, Abhimanyu was a courageous and dashing warrior. Considered equal to his father, Abhimanyu was able to hold at bay great heroes like Drona, Karna, Duryodhana and Duhsasana. He was praised for his audacious bravery and absolute loyalty to his father, uncles and their cause.
On the 13th day of battle, the Kauravas challenged the Pandavas to break the Chakravyuha. The Pandavas accepted the challenge since both Krsna and Arjuna knew how to break the formation.
However, on that day, Krsna and Arjuna were drawn into fighting on another front. Since the Pandavas had accepted the challenge they had no choice but to use young Abhimanyu, who had partial knowledge. To make sure that Abhimanyu did not get trapped in the Chakravyuha, the remaining Pandava brothers decided that they and their allies would also break into the formation along with Abhimanyu and assist him in breaking out of it. On the fateful day, Abhimanyu used his skills to successfully break into the formation. The Pandava brothers and allies attempted to follow him inside the formation, but they were cut off by Jayadratha. Abhimanyu was left to fend for himself against the entire Kaurava army.
Abhimanyu fought valiantly slaying several warriors who came his way including Duryodhana’s son Laxmana. He wounded Karna and made Duhsasana faint in the battlefield. Duryodhana, incensed at his son’s death, ordered the entire Kaurava force to attack Abhimanyu. Ignoring all codes of war, the Kauravas attacked him simultaneously. His sword broke and the remaining chariot wheel shattered into pieces. Duhsasana’s son then killed him by crushing his skull with a mace.
It is said that Abhimanyu’s death marked the end of the adherence to the rules of war. Krsna cites the despicable manner in which Abhimanyu was killed to tell Arjuna to kill Karna. This is cited as a reason to kill Duryodhana. News of the shocking acts committed on Abhimanyu reached his father Arjuna at the end of the day. Arjuna vows to kill Jayadratha the very next day by sunset.
The Kaurava army the next day places Jayadratha furthest away from Arjuna, and every warrior attempts to prevent Arjuna from reaching anywhere close to Jayadratha. Arjuna literally hacks through the Kaurava army and kills more than a hundred thousand soldiers and warriors in a single day. However, almost by sundown, Arjuna’s chariot is still nowhere near Jayadratha’s. Arjuna becomes despondent because he realizes that failure is imminent, and starts getting mentally prepared to self-immolate. Krsna uses his powers to temporarily create an eclipse. The Kauravas and Pandavas alike believe that indeed the sun has set and the war stops according to the rules. Both sides come to watch Arjuna self-immolate. In his haste to see Arjuna’s death, Jayadratha also comes to the front. Krsna sees the opportunity that he has effectively created, and the sun comes out again. Before the Kauravas can take corrective action, Krsna points out to Arjuna and asks him to pick up his Gandiva and behead Jayadratha. Arjuna’s unerring arrows decapitate Jayadratha, and his vow to kill Jayadratha by sunset that day and avenge Abhimanyu’s death is fulfilled.
Abhimanyu’s son, Pariksita, born after his death, remains the sole survivor of the Kuru clan at the conclusion of the war, and carries on the Pandava lineage.
All these mighty warriors blew their conches to signify their unity and solidarity.
स घोषो धार्तराष्ट्राणां ह्रदयानि व्यदारयत् |
नभश्च पृथिवीं चैव तुमुलो व्यनुनादयन् ||१.१९||
sa ghoṣo dhārtarāṣṭrāṇāṁ
nabhaś ca pṛthivīṁ caiva
saḥ — that; ghoṣaḥ — vibration; dhārtarāṣṭrāṇām — of the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra; hṛdayāni — hearts; vyadārayat — shattered; nabhaḥ — the sky; ca — also; pṛthivīm — the surface of the earth; ca — also; eva — certainly; tumulaḥ— uproarious; abhyanunādayan — resounding.
The blowing of these different conchshells became uproarious. Vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, it shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra.
Sanjaya exaggerates the chaotic noise that pervades the atmosphere in the hope that Dhrtarastra would get the message and call a halt to the war. The deafening sound that results from everyone sounding their conches demoralises the Kaurava forces. Unrighteous people tremble in fear even if they are physically stronger than their opponents. The same sound has no such effect on the Pandava army who are fired with a higher ideal.
The noise is within. Desire and its modifications – anger, greed, delusion, arrogance and envy – cause mental agitations. Even then people do not learn their lesson. They believe the source of their problem is outside!
अथ व्यवस्थितान् दृष्ट्वा धार्तराष्ट्रान्कपिध्वजः |
प्रवृत्ते शस्त्रसंपाते धनुरूद्यम्य पाण्डवः
हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते।||१.२०||
atha vyavasthitān dṛṣṭvā
dhanur udyamya pāṇḍavaḥ
hṛṣīkeśaṁ tadā vākyam
idam āha mahī-pate
atha — thereupon; vyavasthitān — situated; dṛṣṭvā — looking upon; dhārtarāṣṭrān — the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra; kapi-dhvajaḥ — he whose ﬂag was marked with Hanumān; pravṛtte — while about to engage; śastra-sampāte — in releasing his arrows; dhanuḥ — bow; udyamya — taking up; pāṇḍavaḥ — the son of Pāṇḍu (Arjuna); hṛṣīkeśam — unto Lord Kṛṣṇa; tadā — at that time; vākyam — words; idam — these; āha — said; mahī-pate — O King.
At that time Arjuna, the son of Pāṇḍu, seated in the chariot bearing the ﬂag marked with Hanumān, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows. O King, after looking at the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra drawn in military array, Arjuna then spoke to Lord Kṛṣṇa these words.
Arjuna’s entry is dramatic. The earth and sky reverberate as ominous signs of the devastation that is to follow. His flag with the monkey logo signifies Hanuman’s promise to support Arjuna.
Arjuna had planned the battle for many years. He knows it is his obligation to restore justice and virtue in the state. He is alert and geared up for war. Yet a little later there is sudden loss of clarity and confusion. This is the destructive nature of the mind.
Krsna is referred to as Hrsikesa, lord of the senses, and Acyuta, one who is never vanquished. Sanjaya wants to communicate to Dhrtarastra that the Pandavas are invincible as they have Krsna on their side. The Kauravas do not have even the slightest chance of victory. Unfortunately, Dhrtarastra does not get the message.
Dhrtarastra is addressed as Mahipati, lord of the earth. Dhrtarastra represents the mind. The mind projects the world. A doctor’s mind creates a medical world, a politician sees a political world, a student lives in a student’s world. Thus we are all Mahipatis, lords of our respective worlds. If you see a world that is not conducive, you cannot directly change the world. All you have to do is change your thoughts, your mind. The world will change dramatically!
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत||१.२१||
senayor ubhayor madhye
rathaṁ sthāpaya me ’cyuta
arjunaḥ uvāca — Arjuna said; senayoḥ — of the armies; ubhayoḥ — both; madhye — between; ratham — the chariot; sthāpaya — please keep; me — my; acyuta — O infallible one
Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies