Dhritarashtra said, "How, O Sanjaya, did Santanu's son Bhishma of mighty energy fight on the tenth day of battle, with the Pandavas and the Srinjayas? How also did the Kurus resist the Pandavas in battle? Describe to me the great battle fought by Bhishma, that ornament of battle."
Sanjaya said, "I will presently describe to thee, O Bharata, how the Kauravas fought with the Pandavas, and how that battle took place. Day after day many mighty car-warriors of thy army, excited with wrath, were despatched to the other world by the diadem-decked (Arjuna) with his great weapons. The ever-victorious Kuru warrior Bhishma also, agreeably to his vow, always caused a great carnage among the Partha army. O chastiser of foes, beholding Bhishma, fighting at the head of the Kurus, and Arjuna also fighting at the head of the Panchalas, we could not say truly on which side the victory would declare itself. On the tenth day of battle, when Bhishma and Arjuna encountered each other, awful was the carnage that took place. On that day, O scorcher of foes, Santanu's son, Bhishma, conversant with high and mighty weapons, repeatedly slew thousands upon thousands of warriors. Many, O Bharata, whose names and families were not known, but who, endued with great bravery, were unretreating from battle, were on that day slain by Bhishma. Scorching the Pandava army for ten days, Bhishma of virtuous soul, gave up all desire of protecting his life. Wishing his own slaughter presently at the head of his troops,--No more shall I slay large numbers of foremost of warriors.--thought thy mighty-armed sire Devavrata. And seeing Yudhishthira near him, O king, he addressed him, saying, 'O Yudhishthira, O thou of great wisdom, O thou that art acquainted with every branch of learning, listen to these righteous and heaven-leading words, O sire, that I say. O Bharata, I no longer desire to protect, O sire, this body of mine. I have passed much time in slaying large numbers of men in battle. If thou wishest to do what is agreeable to me, strive to slay me, placing Partha with the Panchalas and the Srinjayas at thy van'. Ascertaining this to be his intention, king Yudhishthira of true sight proceeded to battle with the Srinjayas (for his support). Then Dhrishtadyumna, O king, and Pandu's son Yudhishthira, having heard those words of Bhishma urged their array on. And Yudhishthira said, 'Advance! Fight! Vanquish Bhishma in battle. Ye all will be protected by that conqueror of foes, viz., Jishnu of unbaffled aim. And this great bowman, this generalissimo (of our forces), viz., the son of Prishata, as also Bhima, will assuredly protect you. Ye Srinjayas, entertain no fear today of Bhishma in battle. Without doubt, we will vanquish Bhishma today, placing Sikhandin in our van'. Having, on the tenth day of battle, made such a vow, the Pandavas, resolved to (conquer or) go to heaven, advanced, blinded by rage, with Sikhandin and Dhananjaya the son of Pandu to the fore. And
they made the most vigorous efforts for the overthrow of Bhishma. Then diverse kings, of great might, urged by thy son, and accompanied by Drona and his son and a large force, and the mighty Dussasana at the head of all his uterine brothers, proceeded towards Bhishma staying in the midst of that battle. Then those brave warriors of thy army, placing Bhishma of high vows in their van, battled with the Parthas headed by Sikhandin. Supported by the Chedis and the Panchalas, the ape-bannered Arjuna, placing Sikhandin ahead, proceeded towards Bhishma, the son of Santanu. And the grandson of Sini battled with Drona's son, and Dhrishtaketu with the descendant of Puru, and Yudhamanyu with thy son Duryodhana at the head of his followers. And Virata, at the head of his forces, encountered Jayadratha supported by his own troops. And Vardhakshatra's heir, O chastiser of foes, encountered thy son Chitrasena armed with excellent bow and arrows. 1 And Yudhishthira proceeded against the mighty bowman Salya at the head of his troops. And Bhimasena, well-protected, proceeded against the elephant-division (of the Kaurava army). And Dhrishtadyumna, the prince of Panchala, excited with fury and accompanied by his brothers, proceeded against Drona, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, invincible, and irresistible. That chastiser of foes, viz., prince Vrihadvala, bearing on his standard the device of the lion, proceeded against Subhadra's son whose standard bore the device of the Karnikara flower. Thy sons, accompanied by many kings, proceeded against Sikhandin and Dhananjaya the son of Pritha, from desire of slaughtering both of them. When the combatants of both armies rushed against each other with awful prowess, the earth shook (under their tread). Beholding Santanu's son in battle, the divisions of thy army and of the foe, O Bharata, became mingled with one another. Tremendous was the din, O Bharata, that arose there of those warriors burning with rage and rushing against each other. And it was heard on all sides, O king. With the blare of conchs and the leonine shouts of the soldiers, the uproar became awful. The splendour, equal to that of either the Sun or the Moon, of bracelets and diadems of all the heroic kings, became dimmed. And the dust that rose looked like a cloud, the flash of bright weapons constituting its lightning. And the twang of bows, the whiz of arrows, the blare of conchs, the loud beat of drums, and the rattle of cars, of both the armies, constituted the fierce roar of those clouds. And the welkin, over the field of battle, in consequence of the bearded darts, the javelins, the swords and showers of arrows of both armies, was darkened. And car-warriors, and horsemen felled horsemen, in that dreadful battle. And elephants killed elephants, and foot-soldiers slew foot-soldiers. And the battle that took place there for Bhishma's sake, between the Kurus and
the Pandavas, O tiger among men, was fierce in the extreme, like that between two hawks for a piece of flesh. Engaged in battle, that encounter between those combatants desirous of slaughtering and vanquishing one another, was extremely dreadful."
290:1 Both the Bengal and the Bombay texts are confusing here. I follow the text as settled by the Burdwan Pundits. If the erudition of the Burdwan Pundits be rejected, 28 would read as, "Virata, at the head of his forces, encountered Jayadratha supported by his owl, troops, and also Vardhaskhemi's heir, O Chastiser of foes." This would be evidently wrong.