अन्ये च बहवः शूरा मदर्थे त्यक्तजीविताः |
नानाशस्त्रप्रहरणाः सर्वे युध्दविशारदाः ||१.९||
anye ca bahavaḥ śūrā
anye — others; ca — also; bahavaḥ — in great numbers; śūrāḥ — heroes; mat-arthe — for my sake; tyakta-jīvitāḥ— prepared to risk life; nānā — many; śastra — weapons; praharaṇāḥ — equipped with; sarve — all of them; yuddha-viśāradāḥ — experienced in military science.
There are many other heroes who are prepared to lay down their lives for my sake. All of them are well equipped with different kinds of weapons, and all are experienced in military science.
Duryodhana ends his listing by including many other heroes. However, he claims they are giving up their lives for his sake! They had all gathered in support of their role models Bhisma and Drona and not for Duryodhana.
Duryodhana makes an exhaustive mention of the Pandava warriors while mentioning only seven warriors from their side. This is one more sign of his insecurity and fear of impending defeat.
अपर्याप्तं तदस्माकं बलं भीष्माभिरक्षितम् |
पर्याप्तं त्विदमेतेषां बलं भीमाभिरक्षितम् ||१.१०||
aparyāptaṁ tad asmākaṁ
paryāptaṁ tv idam eteṣāṁ
aparyāptam — immeasurable; tat — that; asmākam — of ours; balam — strength; bhīṣma — by Grandfather Bhīṣma; abhirakṣitam — perfectly protected; paryāptam — limited; tu — but; idam — all this; eteṣām — of the Pāṇḍavas; balam — strength; bhīma — by Bhīma; abhirakṣitam — carefully protected.
Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhīṣma, whereas the strength of the Pāṇḍavas, carefully protected by Bhīma, is limited.
Now Duryodhana boasts that his army, led by Bhisma, is unlimited while the Pandava army, led by a vastly inferior Bhima, is limited. His ego and arrogance are at play.
However, the word ‘aparyaptam’ has another meaning – insufficient. By using this word Vyasa has cleverly indicated the underlying fear that Duryodhana is feeling. In spite of having an army that is almost 1.5 times stronger than the Pandavas’ army he still feels it is insufficient. This is due to his unrighteous, cruel and destructive behavior. Duryodhana refers to all these warriors as great maharathas and is afraid of facing them in battle.
अयनेषु च सर्वेषु यथाभागमवस्थिताः |
भीष्ममेवाभिरक्षन्तु भवन्तः सर्व एव हि ||१.११||
ayaneṣu ca sarveṣu
bhavantaḥ sarva eva hi
ayaneṣu — in the strategic points; ca — also; sarveṣu — everywhere; yathā-bhāgam — as differently arranged; avasthitāḥ — situated; bhīṣmam — unto Grandfather Bhīṣma; eva — certainly; abhirakṣantu — should give support; bhavantaḥ — you; sarve — all respectively; eva hi — certainly.
All of you must now give full support to Grandfather Bhīṣma, as you stand at your respective strategic points of entrance into the phalanx of the army.
Duryodhana instructs his own army to protect Bhisma alone. Bhisma was the role model for both the Pandavas and the Kauravas not just because of his valour and strength but because of his sacrificial nature. He gave up the kingdom for which they were fighting and chose to be a loyal citizen of the state. He was fighting on the side of the Kauravas in spite of knowing full well that the Pandavas were right because as a soldier his duty was to fight for the state. He knew that with Krsna on their side the Pandavas would win. He was thus giving up his life. Bhisma had also sacrificed his happiness by taking a vow of celibacy to make way for his father Santanu to marry Satyavati. Duryodhana wanted to capitalize on Bhisma’s greatness, charisma and unselfishness to motivate his own forces.
The Kauravas had no higher ideal. Duryodhana was driven only by selfishness and greed which could not inspire his forces. The Pandavas had the higher purpose of fighting for righteousness. Besides, the fact that Krsna was on their side was highly inspiring.
Bhisma was true to the ksatriya dharma which forbade fighting a woman. Shikhandi was born a girl who later changed gender to become a man. Bhisma still considered him a woman. He was therefore vulnerable on that count. In the end, he did not fight him in the battle and died at his hands.
तस्य संजनयन्हर्षं कुरूवृघ्दः पितामहः |
सिंहनादं विनद्योच्चैः शङ्खं दध्मौ प्रतापवान् || १.१२||
tasya sañjanayan harṣaṁ
śaṅkhaṁ dadhmau pratāpavān
tasya — his; sañjanayan — increasing; harṣam — cheerfulness; kuru-vṛddhaḥ — the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty (Bhīṣma); pitāmahaḥ — the grandfather; siṁha-nādam — roaring sound, like that of a lion; vinadya — vibrating; uccaiḥ — very loudly; śaṅkham — conchshell; dadhmau — blew; pratāpa-vān — the valiant.
Then Bhīṣma, the great valiant grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the grandfather of the ﬁghters, blew his conchshell very loudly, making a sound like the roar of a lion, giving Duryodhana joy.
The seniormost Kuru, the majestic Bhisma, was highly respected for his seniority and experience. He was more valiant than many younger warriors. Strength comes not just from physical prowess but, more importantly, from unselfishness and inner purification. Bhisma saw that Duryodhana’s morale was sagging and blew his conch to cheer him up.
Duryodhana was depressed. Depression is the result of extreme selfishness. Negative forces need a positive force to rally around. A stalwart does not need help. A selfish person is dependent on good people for motivation.
It is, therefore, beneficial to be unselfish. People do not understand this as it gives immediate pleasure to be selfish. In the end it goes against you and you suffer. Remember the law – “Grab you lose, give you gain”.
ततः शङ्खाश्च भेर्यश्च पणवानकगोमुखाः |
सहसैवाभ्यहन्यन्त स शब्दस्तुमुलोऽभवत् ||१.१३||
tataḥ śaṅkhāś ca bheryaś ca
sa śabdas tumulo ’bhavat
tataḥ — thereafter; śaṅkhāḥ — conchshells; ca — also; bheryaḥ — large drums; ca — and; paṇava-ānaka — small drums and kettledrums; go-mukhāḥ — horns; sahasā — all of a sudden; eva — certainly; abhyahanyanta — were simultaneously sounded; saḥ — that; śabdaḥ — combined sound; tumulaḥ — tumultuous; abhavat — became.
After that, the conchshells, drums, bugles, trumpets and horns were all suddenly sounded, and the combined sound was tumultuous.
All the Kaurava generals respond to Bhisma’s clarion call and blow their respective instruments to signify the beginning of the battle. The collective noise from the conches, kettledrums, drums, tabors and cowhorns was deafening.
The noise and disturbance described here are an external depiction of internal agitation. Dhrtarastra represents the mind which is in stress. Desire, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance and envy are the six enemies that destroy your peace of mind. The mind persists with selfishness and ego in spite of the suffering that it brings.
ततः श्वेतैर्हयैर्युक्ते महति स्यन्दने स्थितौ |
माधवः पाण्डवश्चैव दिव्यौ शङखौ प्रदध्मतुः ||१.१४||
tataḥ śvetair hayair yukte
mahati syandane sthitau
mādhavaḥ pāṇḍavaś caiva
divyau śaṅkhau pradadhmatuḥ
tataḥ — thereafter; śvetaiḥ — with white; hayaiḥ — horses; yukte — being yoked; mahati — in a great; syandane — chariot; sthitau — situated; mādhavaḥ — Kṛṣṇa (the husband of the goddess of fortune); pāṇḍavaḥ — Arjuna (the son of Pāṇḍu); ca — also; eva — certainly; divyau — transcendental; śaṅkhau — conchshells; pradadhmatuḥ — sounded.
On the other side, both Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, stationed on a great chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conchshells.
Vyasa introduces Krsna in this verse. Madhava, Krsna, and Pandava, Arjuna, were sitting in the majestic chariot gifted by Agni. It was drawn by four horses from among the hundred celestial horses given by King Chitraratha.
Krsna and Arjuna accepted Bhisma’s challenge and blew their divine conches. The majesty and divinity of Krsna was transmitted to everything around Him so the chariot and conches are described as majestic and divine respectively.
पाञ्चजन्यं हृषीकेशो देवदत्तं धनंजयः |
पौण्ड्रं दध्मौ महाशङ्खं भीमकर्मा वृकोदरः ||१.१५||
pauṇḍraṁ dadhmau mahā-śaṅkhaṁ
pāñcajanyam — the conchshell named Pāñcajanya; hṛṣīka-īśaḥ — Hṛṣīkeśa (Kṛṣṇa, the Lord who directs the senses of the devotees); devadattam — the conchshell named Devadatta; dhanam-jayaḥ — Dhanañjaya (Arjuna, the winner of wealth); pauṇḍram — the conch named Pauṇḍra; dadhmau — blew; mahā-śaṅkham — the terriﬁc conchshell; bhīma-karmā — one who performs herculean tasks; vṛka-udaraḥ — the voracious eater (Bhīma).
Lord Kṛṣṇa blew His conchshell, called Pāñcajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhīma, the voracious eater and performer of herculean tasks, blew his terriﬁc conchshell, called Pauṇḍra.
Krsna leads the way by blowing his conch Pancajanya. Only an assertively good person with a strong intellect can lead passively good people who function with the mind. Krsna is referred to as Hrisikesa, lord of the senses. Atman is the enabling power and Krsna is Atman personified.
Dhanajaya, winner of wealth, is another name of Arjuna. He had won many battles and earned great wealth for his kingdom. He blew the conch Devadatta which was Indra’s gift to him.
Bhima was the second of the Pandava brothers. He was the son of Kunti by Vayu, but like the other brothers, acknowledged as son of Pandu. He was called Vrkodara or wolf-bellied because of his ravenous appetite.
His legendary prowess was such that of all wielders of the mace, there was none equal to Bhima, and none as skilful a rider of elephants. He was reputed to be equal to ten thousand elephants.
At the end of their exile at the court of Virata, he disguised himself and acted as a palace cook.
He was a pivotal figure in the great battle of Kuruksetra, killing six out of the eleven Kaurava aksauhinis. Six aksauhinis add up to the astronomical figure of around 1,705,860 men and 787,320 animals, which is testimony to his prowess. In the battle, his charioteer was Krsna’s son himself. The Kauravas were afraid to face his might and sent elephants to fight him. Bhima’s weapon of choice was the mace. He defeated the mighty Dronacarya by breaking his chariot eight times. He forced the powerful Karna to withdraw from battle in four pitched battles. He killed the elephant Asvatthama, which enabled the Pandavas to mislead Dronacarya into thinking that his son Asvatthama was dead. At the end of the battle, he also fatally wounded Duryodhana in a duel. Bhima refrained from killing any elders in the Kaurava side out of respect for their virtue. The only elderly person he killed was the king of Bahlika (Bhishma’s maternal uncle) – because he asked Bhima to kill him to release him from the sin of fighting for the Kauravas.
He accompanied his brothers and Draupadi on their final journey to Vaikuntha, heaven. He was the last to die on the journey, leaving Yudhisthira alone to complete the journey.
अनन्तविजयं राजा कुन्तीपुत्रो युधिष्ठिरः |
नकुलः सहदेवश्च सुघोषमणिपुष्पकौ ||१.१६||
nakulaḥ sahadevaś ca
ananta-vijayam — the conch named Ananta-vijaya; rājā — the king; kuntī-putraḥ — the son of Kuntī; yudhiṣṭhiraḥ— Yudhiṣṭhira; nakulaḥ — Nakula; sahadevaḥ — Sahadeva; ca — and; sughoṣa-maṇipuṣpakau — the conches named Sughoṣa and Maṇipuṣpaka
King Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Kuntī, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughoṣa and Maṇipuṣpaka.
Sanjaya specifies that Yudhisthira was the son of Kunti as Pandu, his father and Dhrtarastra’s brother, had five sons. Yudhisthira, Arjuna and Bhima were from his first wife Kunti, while Nakula and Sahadeva were from his second wife Madri.
Yudhisthira is referred to as King even though he was not the present ruler as he wanted Dhrtarastra to understand that as the eldest Pandava he was the rightful king and that Duryodhana had usurped the kingdom. He was also subtly suggesting that Yudhisthira would eventually become king and that they were fighting a futile battle. Righteousness always prevails in the end.
Yudhisthira’s father Pandu was unable to father children due to a curse given by a Brahmana who was accidentally shot by him. As additional penance for the killing, Pandu also abdicated the crown to his blind brother Dhrtarastra.
Yudhisthira was conceived in an unusual way. His mother, Queen Kunti, had in her youth been granted the power to invoke the Devas by the sage Durvasa. Each god, when invoked, would place a child in her lap. Urged by Pandu to use her boon, Kunti gave birth to Yudhisthira by invoking the Lord of Righteousness, Dharma. Being Pandu’s eldest son, Yudhisthira was the rightful heir to the throne.
Yudhisthira’s four younger brothers were Bhima, (born by invoking Vayu); Arjuna, (born by invoking Indra); and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, born to Madri (by invoking the Asvini Gods).
Yudhisthira was known as Dharmaraja for being the upholder of dharma and never deviating from the truth.
Yudhisthira was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors Kripa and Drona. He was a master of the spear, and a maharatha capable of combating 10,000 opponents at a time. Yudhisthira was also known as Ajatashatru (one whose enemy is not born).
Yudhisthira’s true prowess was shown in his unflinching adherence to satya (truth) and dharma (righteousness), which were more precious to him than any royal ambitions, material pursuits or family relations. To symbolize his purity his feet and chariot did not touch the ground.
When the Pandavas came of age, King Dhrtarastra sought to avoid conflict with his sons, the Kauravas, by giving Yudhisthira half the Kuru kingdom, the lands which were arid and scantily populated, known as Khandavaprastha.
But with the help of Yudhisthira’s cousin Krsna, a new city, Indraprastha, was constructed by the Deva architect Viswakarman. Yudhisthira was crowned king of Khandavaprastha and Indraprastha. As he governed with absolute righteousness, with strict adherence to duty and service to his people, his kingdom became prosperous, and people from all over were attracted to it.
Duryodhana’s maternal uncle, Shakuni, challenged Yudhisthira to a game of dice. Shakuni cheated and Yudhisthira lost his kingdom, wealth, brothers and finally his wife too. Vidura, Bhishma and Drona protested, so Dhrtarastra returned all these losses. However, Shakuni challenged Yudhisthira one more time, and Yudhisthira lost again. This time, he, along with his brothers and wife were condemned to thirteen years in exile, of which the last year would be in disguise, before they could reclaim their kingdom.
Yudhisthira was criticized by Draupadi and Bhima for gambling and falling prey to Shakuni’s evil designs. Yudhisthira reproached himself for weakness of mind, but argued he was obliged to stand by the ksatriya code of honour and accept every challenge.
When the period of exile was over, Duryodhana and Shakuni refused to return Yudhisthira’s kingdom. Yudhisthira made numerous diplomatic efforts to retrieve his kingdom peacefully but failed. To go to war would mean fighting and killing his own relatives, an idea that appalled Yudhisthira. But Krsna, Yudhisthira’s most trusted advisor, pointed out that Yudhisthira’s claim was righteous, and Duryodhana was evil.
During the battle, when Yudhisthira spoke a half-lie that Asvathhama was dead, his feet and chariot descended to the ground. At the end of the war, Yudhisthira and the Pandava army emerged victorious, but Yudhisthira’s children, the sons of Draupadi, and many Pandava heroes like Dhristadyumna, Abhimanyu, Virata, Drupada, Ghatotkacha were dead. Thousands of warriors on both sides were killed.
After the war Yudhisthira was crowned king of both Indraprastha and Hastinapura. Out of respect he retained Dhrtarastra as king of Hastinapura despite his misdeeds and the evil of his dead sons.
Upon the onset of the Kali Yuga and the death of Krsna, Yudhisthira and his brothers retired, leaving the throne to their only descendant, Arjuna’s grandson Pariksita. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas made their final pilgrimage to the Himalayas.
While climbing the peaks, one by one Draupadi and each Pandava brother fell to their death. But Yudhisthira reached the mountain peak because he was unblemished by sin or untruth.
On the mountain peak, Indra, King of Gods, arrived to take Yudhisthira to heaven in his Golden Chariot. As Yudhisthira was about to step into the Chariot, the Deva told him to leave behind his companion dog, an unholy creature not worthy of heaven. Yudhisthira refused to go to heaven without the dog. At that moment the dog changed into the God Dharma, his father, who was testing him.
Yudhisthira had a conch that sounded victory as he was always victorious. Nakula blew the Sughosa, sweet-sounding conch. Sahadeva blew the Manipuspaka or jewel- flowered conch.