Dhritarashtra said, "How, O Sanjaya, did Alamvusha resist in combat the heroic son of Arjuna smiting many of our mighty car-warriors in battle? And how also did that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the son of Subhadra, fight with Rishyasringa's son? Tell me all this in detail, exactly as it happened in that fight. What also did Bhima, that foremost of car-warriors, and the Rakshasa Ghatotkacha, and Nakula, and Sahadeva and the mighty car-warrior Satyaki, and Dhananjaya, do with my troops in battle? Tell me all this truly, O Sanjaya, for thou art skilled (in narration)."
Sanjaya said, "I will presently describe to thee, O sire, the awful battle that took place between that foremost of the Rakshasas and the son of Subhadra. I will also describe to thee the prowess that Arjuna put forth in battle, and Bhimasena the son of Pandu and Nakula, and Sahadeva, as also the warriors of thy army headed by Bhishma and Drona, all of whom fearlessly achieved wonderful feats of diverse kinds, Alamvusha, uttering loud shouts and repeatedly roaring at Abhimanyu, rushed impetuously against that mighty car-warrior in battle, saying, 'Wait, Wait'--Abhimanyu also, repeatedly roaring like a lion, rushed with at great force at that mighty bowman, viz., the son of Rishyasringa, who was an implacable foe of the former's sire. Soon then those two foremost of car-warriors, man and Rakshasa, on their cars, encountered each other, like a god and Danava. That best of Rakshasa were endued with powers of illusion, while Phalguni's son was acquainted with celestial weapons. Then Abhimanyu, O king, pierced Rishyasringa's son in that battle with three sharp shafts and once more with five. Alamvusha, also, excited with wrath, speedily pierced Abhimanyu in the chest with nine shafts like a guide piercing an elephant with hooks. Then, O Bharata, that wanderer of the night, endued with great activity, afflicted Arjuna's son in that combat with a thousand arrows. Then Abhimanyu excited with rage, pierced that prince of the Rakshasas in his wide chest
with nine straight shafts of great sharpness. Piercing through his body these penetrated into his very vitals. And that best of Rakshasas, his limbs mangled by them, looked beautiful like a mountain overgrown with flowering Kinsukas. Bearing those shafts of golden wings on his body, that mighty prince of Rakshasas looked radiant like a mountain on fire. Then the vindictive son of Rishyasringa, inflamed with wrath, covered Abhimanyu, who was equal unto Mahendra himself, with clouds of winged arrows. Those sharp shafts resembling the rods of Yama himself, shot by him, pierced Abhimanyu through and entered the earth. And similarly the gold-decked arrows shot by Arjuna's son, piercing Alamvusha through, entered the earth. The son of Subhadra then, in that battle, with his straight shafts, obliged the Rakshasa to turn his back upon the field, like Sakra repulsing Maya in days of old. That scorcher of foes, the Rakshasa, then, thus repulsed and struck repeatedly by his adversary, exhibited his great powers of illusion by causing a thick darkness to set in. Then all the combatants there, O king, were covered by that darkness. Neither could Abhimanyu be seen, nor could friends be distinguished from foes in that battle. Abhimanyu, however, beholding that thick and awful gloom, invoked into existence. O son of Kuru's race, the blazing solar weapon. Thereupon, O king, the universe once more became visible. And thus he neutralised the illusion of that wicked Rakshasa. Then that prince of men, excited with wrath and endued with great energy, covered that foremost of Rakshasa in that battle with many straight shafts. Diverse other kinds of illusion were conjured up there by that Rakshasa. Conversant with all weapons, the son of Phalguni however, neutralised them all. The Rakshasa then, his illusions all destroyed, and himself struck with shafts, abandoned his car even there, and fled away in great fear. After that Rakshasa addicted to unfair fight had been thus vanquished, the son of Arjuna began to grind thy troops in battle, like a juice-blind prince of wild elephants agitating a lake overgrown with lotus. 1 Then Bhishma the son of Santanu, beholding his troops routed, covered Subhadra's son with a thick shower of arrows. Then many mighty car-warriors of the Dhartarashtra army, standing in a ring round that single hero, began to strike him forcibly with their shafts. That hero then, who resembled his sire in prowess and who was equal to Vasudeva in valour and might,--that foremost of all wielders of weapons,--achieved diverse feats in that battle that were worthy of both his sire and maternal uncle. Then the heroic Dhananjaya, excited with wrath and desirous of rescuing his son, arrived at the spot where the latter was slaughtering thy troops as he came along. And similarly, O king, thy sire Devavrata in that battle approached Partha like Rahu approaching the sun. 2 Then thy sons, O monarch, supported by cars,
elephants, and steeds, surrounded Bhishma in that battle and protected him from every side. And so also the Pandavas, O king, clad in mail and surrounding Dhananjaya, engaged in fierce battle, O bull of Bharata's race. Then Saradwat's son (Kripa), O king, pierced Arjuna who was staying in front of Bhishma, with five and twenty shafts. Thereupon, like a tiger attacking an elephant, Satyaki, approaching Kripa, pierced him with many whetted shafts from desire of doing what was agreeable to the Pandavas. Gautama in return, excited with wrath, quickly pierced him of Madhu's race in the chest with nine arrows winged with the feathers of the Kanka bird. Sini's grandson also, excited with wrath, and forcibly drawing his bow, quickly sped at him an arrow capable of taking his life. The fiery son of Drona, however, excited with wrath, cut in twain that arrow as it coursed impetuously towards Kripa, resembling Indra's bolt in effulgence. Thereupon that foremost of car-warriors, viz., Sini's grandson, abandoning Gautama, rushed in battle towards Drona's son like Rahu in the firmament against the Moon. Drona's son, however, O Bharata, cut Satyaki's bow in twain. After his bow had thus been cut off, the former began to strike the latter with his shafts. Satyaki then, taking up another bow capable of bearing a great strain and slaughtering the foe, struck Drona's son, O king, in the chest and arms with six shafts. Pierced therewith and feeling great pain, for a moment he was deprived of his senses, and he sat down on the terrace of his car, catching hold of his flag-staff. Regaining his consciousness then, the valiant son of Drona, excited with rage afflicted him of Vrishni's race in that battle, with one long shaft. That shaft, piercing Sini's grandson through, entered the earth like a vigorous young snake entering its hole in the season of spring. And with another broad-headed arrow, Drona's son in that battle cut off the excellent standard of Satyaki. And having achieved this feat he uttered a leonine roar. And once more, O Bharata, he covered his adversary with a shower of fierce shafts like the clouds, O king covering the Sun after summer is past, Satyaki also, O monarch, baffling that arrowy shower, soon covered the son of Drona with diverse showers of arrows That slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the grandson of Sini, freed from that arrowy shower like the Sun from the clouds, began to scorch the son of Drona (with his energy). Swelling with rage the mighty Satyaki once more covered his foe with a thousand arrows and uttered a loud shout. Beholding his son then thus afflicted like the Moon by Rahu, the valiant son of Bharadwaja rushed towards the grandson of Sini. Desirous, O king, of rescuing, his son who was afflicted by the Vrishni hero, Drona, in that great battle, pierced the latter with a shaft of exceeding sharpness. Satyaki then, abandoning the mighty car-warrior Aswatthaman, pierced Drona himself in that battle with twenty arrows of exceeding sharpness. Soon after, that scorcher of foes and mighty car-warrior, viz., Kunti's son of immeasurable soul, excited with wrath, rushed in that battle against Drona. Then Drona and Partha encountered each other in fierce combat like the planets Budha and Sukra,
[paragraph continues] O king, in the firmament. 1
254:1 The Bengal reading vanya-nagendra is better than the Bombay reading gandha-nagendra.
254:2 In Hindu mythology, solar eclipses are caused by Rahu's attempts at swallowing the Sun.
256:1 Budha is Mercury, and Sukra is Venus.