The Mahabharata, Book 09
DRONA-VADHA (Fall of Drona)
ON the fall of Bhishma the Brahman chief Drona, preceptor of the Kuru and Pandav princes, was appointed the leader of the Kuru forces. For five days Drona held his own against the Pandavs, and some of the incidents of these days, like the fall of Abhimanyu and the vengeance of Arjun, are among the most stirring passages in the Epic. The description of the different standards of the Pandav and the Kuru warriors is also interesting. At last Drona slew his ancient foe the king of the Panchalas, and was then slain by his son the prince of the Panchalas.
The Book is an abridgment of Book vii. of the original text.
I SINGLE COMBAT BETWEEN BHIMA AND SALYA
Morning ushered in the battle; Pandav warriors heard with dread
Drona priest and proud preceptor now the Kuru forces led,
And the foe-compelling Drona pledged his troth and solemn word,
He would take Yudhishthir captive to Hastina's haughty lord!
But the ever faithful Arjun to his virtuous elder bowed,
And in clear and manful accents spake his warlike thoughts aloud:
"Sacred is our great preceptor, sacred is acharya's life,
Arjun may not slay his teacher even in this mortal strife!
Saving this, command, O monarch, Arjun's bow and warlike sword,
For thy safety, honoured elder, Arjun stakes his plighted word,
Matchless in the art of battle is our teacher fierce and dread,
But he comes not to Yudhishthir save o'er blood of Arjun shed!"
Morning witnessed doughty Drona foremost in the battle's tide,
But Yudhishthir's warlike chieftains compassed him on every side,
Foremost of the youthful chieftains came resistless Arjun's son,--
Father's blood and milk of mothers fired his deeds of valour done!
As the lion of the jungle drags the ox into his lair,
Abhimanyu from his chariot draggled Paurava by the hair,
Jayadratha king of Sindhu marked the faint and captive chief,
Leaping from his car of battle wrathful came to his relief,
Abhimanyu left his captive, turned upon the mightier foe,
And with sword and hardened buckler gave and parried many a blow!
Rank to rank from both the forces cry of admiration rose,
Streaming men poured forth in wonder, watched the combat fierce and close,
Piercing Abhimanyu's buckler Jayadratha sent his stroke,
But the turned and twisted sword-blade snapping in the midway broke!
Weaponless the king of Sindhu ran into his sheltering car,
Salya came unto his rescue from a battle-field afar,
Dauntless, on the new assailant Arjun's son his weapon drew,
Interposing 'twixt the fighters Bhima's self on Salya flow!
Stoutest wrestlers in the armies, fiercest fighters with the mace,
Bhima and the stalwart Salya stood as rivals face to face,
Hempen fastening bound their maces and the wire of twisted gold,
Whirling bright in circling flashes, shook their staff the warriors bold!
Oft they struck, and sparks of red fire issued from the seasoned wood,
And like hornéd bulls infuriate Madra's king and Bhima stood,
Closer still they came like tigers closing with their reddened paws,
Or like tuskers with their red tusks, eagles with their rending claws!
Loud as INDRA'S peals of thunder still their blows were echoed round
Rank to rank the startled soldiers heard the oft-repeated sound,
But as strikes in vain the lightning on the solid mountain-rock,
Bhima nor the fearless Salya fell or moved beneath the shook!
Closer drew the watchful heroes and their clubs were wielded well,
Till by many blows belaboured both the fainting fighters fell,
Like a drunkard dazed and reeling Bhima rose his staff to wield,
Senseless Salya, heavy -breathing, henchman carried from the field,
Writhing like a wounded serpent, lifted from the field of war,
He was carried by his soldiers to the shelter of his car!
Drona still with matchless prowess strove to keep his plighted word,
Sought to take Yudhishthir captive to Duryodhan, Kuru's lord,
Vainly then the twin-born brothers came to cross the conqueror's path,
Matsya's lord, Panchala's monarch, vainly faced him in his wrath,
Rank to rank the cry resounded circling o'er the battle-field,
Drona takes Yudhishthir captive with his bow and sword and shield!"
Arjun heard the dreadful message and in haste and fury came,
Strove to save his king and elder and redeem his loyal fame,
Speeding with his milk-white coursers dashed into the thick of war,
Blew his shrill and dreaded sankha, drove his sounding battle-car,
Fiercer, darker grew the battle, when above the reddened plain,
Evening drew her peaceful mantle o'er the living and the slain!
II STANDARDS OF THE PANDAVS
Morning came; still round Yudhishthir Drona led the gathering war,
Arjun fought the Sam-saptakas in the battle-field afar,
But the prince of fair Panchala marked his father's ancient foe,
And against the doughty Drona, Dhrishta-dyumna bent his bow!
But as darksome cloudy masses angry gusts of storm divide,
Through the scattered fainting foemen Drona drove his car in pride,
Steeds went down and riven chariots, young Panchala turned and fled,
Onward drove resistless Drona o'er the dying and the dead!
One more prince of fair Panchala 'gainst the mighty Drona came,
Ancient feud ran in the red blood of Panchala's chiefs of fame,
Fated youth! with reckless valour still he fought his father's foe,
Fought and fell; relentless Drona laid the brave Satyajit low!
Surging still like ocean's billows other Pandav warriors came,
To protect their virtuous monarch and redeem their ancient fame,
Came in various battle-chariots drawn by steeds of every hue,
Various were the chieftains' standards which the warring nations knew!
Bhima drove his stalwart horses tinted like the dappled deer,
Grey and pigeon-coloured coursers bore Panchala's prince and peer,
Horses bred in famed Kamboja, dark and grey of deepest hue,
Brave Nakula's sumptuous chariot in the deathful battle drew,
Piebald horses trained to battle did young Sahadeva rein,
Ivory-white Yudhishthir's coursers with their flowing ebon mane,
And by him with gold umbrella valiant monarch Drupad came,
Horses of a bright bay-colour carried Matsya's king of fame.
Varied as their varied courses gallantly their standards rose,
With their wondrous stran1ge devices, terror of their arméd foes,
Water-jar on tawny deerskin, such was Drona's sign of war,
Drona as a tender infant rested in a water-jar,
Golden moon with stars surrounding was Yudhishthir's sign of yore,
Silver lion was the standard tiger-waisted Bhima bore,
Brave Nakula's sign was red deer with its back of burnished gold,
Silver swan with bells resounding Sahadeva's onset told,
Golden peacock rich-emblazoned was young Abhimanyu's joy,
Vulture shone on Ghatotkacha, Bhima's proud and gallant boy.
Now Duryodhan marked the foemen heaving like the rising tide,
And he faced the wrathful Bhima towering in his tameless pride,
Short the war; for proud Duryodhan wounded from the battle fled,
And his warriors from fair Anga rested with the countless dead!
Wild with anger Bhagadatta, monarch of the farthest East,
With his still unconquered forces on the valiant Bhima pressed,
Came from far the wrathful Arjun and the battle's front he sought,
Where by eastern foes surrounded still the stalwart Bhima fought!
Fated monarch from the mighty Brahma-putra's sounding shore,
Land of rising sun will hail him and his noble peers no more,
For his tusker pierced by arrows trumpeted his dying wail,
Like a red and flaming meteor gallant Bhagadatta fell!
Then with rising wrath and anguish Karna's noble bosom bled,
Karna who had stayed from battle while his rival Bhishma led,
Ancient hate and jealous anger clouded Karna's warlike heart,
And while Bhishma led, all idly slumbered Karna's bow and dart,
Now he marked with warrior's anguish all his comrades fled afar,
And his foeman Arjun sweeping o'er the red field of the war!
Hatred like a tongue of red fire shot from Karna's flaming eye,
And he sprang to meet his foeman or to conquer or to die,
Fierce and dubious was the battle, answering clouds gave back the din,
Karna met his dearest foeman and, alas, his nearest kin!
Bhima and Panchala's warriors unto Arjun's rescue came,
Proud Duryodhan came to Karna, and fair Sindhu's king of fame,
Fiercely raged the gory combat, when the night its shadows threw,
Wounded men and blood-stained chieftains to their nightly tents withdrew
III ABUIMANYU'S DEATH
Fatal was the blood-red morning purpling o'er the angry east,
Fatal day for Abhimanyu, bravest warrior and the best,
Countless were the gallant chieftains like the sands beside the sea,
None with braver bosom battled, none with hands more stout and free!
Brief, alas, thy radiant summers, fair Subhadra's gallant boy,
Loved of Matsya's soft-eyed princess and her young heart's pride and joy,
Brief, alas, thy sunlit winters, light of war too early quenched,
Peerless son of peerless Arjun, in the blood of foemen drenched!
Drona on that fatal morning ranged his dreadful battle -line
In a circle darkly spreading where the chiefs with chiefs combine,
And the Pandavs looked despairing on the battle's dread array,
Vainly strove to force a passage, vainly sought their onward way!
Abhimanyu, young and fiery, dashed alone into the war,
Reckless through the shattered forces all resistless drove his car,
Elephants and crashing standards, neighing steeds and warriors slain
Fell before the furious hero as he made a ghastly lane!
Proud Duryodhan rushed to battle, strove to stop the turning tide,
And his stoutest truest warriors fought by proud Duryodhan's side,
Onward still went Abhimanyu, Kurus strove and fought in vain,
Backward reeled and fell Duryodhan and his bravest chiefs were slain!
Next came Salya car-borne monarch 'gainst the young resistless foe,
Urged his fiery battle -coursers, stretched his death-compelling bow,
Onward still went Abhimanyu, Salya strove and fought in vain,
And his warriors took him bleeding from the reddened battle-plain!
Next Duhsasan darkly lowering thundered with his bended bow,
Abhimanyu smiled to see him, kinsman and the dearest foe,
"Art thou he," said Abhimanyu, "known for cruel word and deed,
Impious in thy heart and purpose, base and ruthless in thy greed?
Didst thou with the false Sakuni win a realm by low device,
Win his kingdom from Yudhishthir by ignoble trick of dice,
Didst thou in the council chamber with your insults foul and keen
By her flowing raven tresses drag Yudhishthir's stainless queen,
Didst thou speak to warlike Bhima as thy serf and bounden slave,
Wrong my father righteous Arjun, peerless prince and warrior brave?
Welcome! have sought thee often, wished to cross thy tainted path,
Welcome! Dearest of all victims to my nursed and cherished wrath,
Reap the meed of sin and insult, draw on earth thy latest breath,
For I owe to Queen Draupadi, impious prince, thy speedy death!"
Like a snake upon an ant-hill, on Duhsasan's wicked heart
Fell with hissing wrath and fury Abhimanya's fiery dart,
From the loss of blood Duhsasan fainted on his battle-car,
Kuru chieftains bore him senseless from the blood-stained scene of war!
Next in gleaming arms accoutred came Duryodhan's gallant son,
Proud and warlike as his father, famed for deeds of valour done,
Young in years and rich in valour, for alas! he fought too well,
And before his weeping father proud and gallant Lakshman fell!
Onward still went Abhimanyu midst the dying and the dead,
Shook from rank to rank the Kurus and their shattered army fled,
Then the impious Jayadratha, king of Sindhu's sounding shore,
Came forth in unrighteous concert with six car-borne warriors more,
Darkly closed the fatal circle with the gulfing surge's moan,
Dauntless with the seven brave chieftains Abhimanyu fought alone!
Fell, alas, his peacock standard and his car was broke in twain,
Bow and sabre rent and shattered and his faithful driver slain,
Heedless yet of death and danger, misty with the loss of blood,
Abhimanyu. wiped his forehead, gazed where dark his foemen stood!
Then with wild despairing valour, flickering flame and closing life,
Mace in hand the heedless warrior rushed to end the mortal strife,
Rushed upon his startled foemen, Abhimanyu fought and fell,
And his deeds to distant ages bards and wand'ring minstrels tell!
Like a tusker of the forest by surrounding banters slain,
Like a wood-consuming wildfire quenched upon the distant plain,
Like a mountain-shaking tempest spent in force and hushed and still,
Like the red resplendent day-god setting on the western hill,
Like the moon serene and beauteous quenched in eclipse dark and pale,
Lifeless slumbered Abhimanyu when the softened starlight fell!
Done the day of death and slaughter, darkening shadows close around,
Wearied warriors seek for shelter on the vast and tented ground,
Soldiers' camp-fires brightly blazing, tent-lights shining from afar,
Cast their fitful gleam and radiance on the carnage of the war!
Arjun from a field at distance, where upon that day he fought,
With the ever faithful Krishna now his nightly shelter sought,
Wherefore, Krishna," uttered Arjun, "evil omens strike my eye,
Thoughts of sadness fill my bosom, wake the long-forgotten sigh,
Wherefore voice of evening bugle speaks not on the battle-field,
Merry conch nor sounding trumpet music to the warriors yield?
Harp is hushed within the dark tents and the voice of warlike song,
Bards beside the evening camp-fire tales of war do not prolong,
Good Yudhishthir's tent is voiceless and my brothers look so pale,
Abhimanyu comes not joyous Krishna and his sire to hail,
Abhimanyu's love and greeting bless like blessings from above,
Fair Subhadra's joy and treasure, Arjun's pride and hope and love!"
Softly and with many tear-drops did the sad Yudhishthir tell,
How in dreadful field of battle gallant Abhimanyu fell,
How the impious Jayadratha fell on Arjun's youthful son,--
He with six proud Kuru chieftains,--Abhimanyu all alone,
How the young prince reft of weapon and deprived of steel and car,
Fell as falls a Kshatra warrior fighting on the field of war!
Arjun heard; the father's bosom felt the cruel cureless wound,
"Brave and gallant boy!" he uttered as he sank upon the ground,
Moments passed of voiceless sorrow and of speechless bitter tear,
Sobs within his mailéd bosom smote the weeping listener's ear!
Moments passed; with rising anger quivered Arjun's iron frame,
Abhimanyu's cruel murder smote the father's heart to flame,
"Didst thou say that Sindhu's monarch on my Abhimanyu bore,--
He alone,--and Jayadratha leagued with six marauders more,
Didst thou say the impious Kurus stooped unto this deed of shame,
Outrage on the laws of honour, stain upon a warrior's fame?
Father's curse and warrior's hatred sting them to their dying breath,
For they feared my boy in battle, hunted him to cruel death,
Hear my vow, benign Yudhishthir, hear me, Krishna righteous lord,
Arjun's hand shall slay the slayer, Arjun plights his solemn word
May I never reach the bright sky where the righteous fathers dwell,
May I with the darkest sinners live within the deepest hell--
With the men who slay their fathers, shed their loving mothers' blood,
Stain the sacred bed of gurus, steal their gold and holy food,
Cherish envy, cheat their kinsmen, speak the low and dastard lie,
If, ere comes to-morrow's sunset, Jayadratha doth not die,
Jayadratha dies to-morrow, victim to my vengeful ire,
Arjun else shall yield his weapons, perish on the flaming pyre!"
Softer tear-drops wept the mother, joyless was Subhadra's life,--
Krishna's fair and honoured sister, Arjun's dear and lovéd wife:
"Dost thou lie on field of battle smeared with dust and foeman's gore,
Child of light and love and sweetness whom thy hapless mother bore,
Soft thine eye as budding lotus, sweet and gentle was thy face,
Are those soft eyes closed in slumber, faded in that peerless grace,
And thy limbs so young and tender, on the bare earth do they lie,
Where the hungry jackal prowleth and the vulture flutters nigh,
Gold and jewels graced thy bosom, gems bedecked thy lofty crest,
Doth the crimson mark of sabre decorate that manly breast?
Rend Subhadra's stony bosom with a mother's cureless grief,
Let her follow Abhimanyu and in death obtain relief,
Earth to me is void and cheerless, joyless in my hearth and home,
Dreary without Abhimanyu is this weary world to roam!
And oh! cheerless is that young heart, Abhimanyu's princess-wife,
What can sad Subhadra offer to her joyless sunless life,
Close our life in equal darkness, for our day on earth is done,
For our love and light and treasure, Abhimanyu, he is gone!
Long bewailed the anguished mother, fair Draupadi tore her hair,
Matsya's princess early widowed shed her young heart's blood in tear!
IV STANDARDS OF THE KURUS: ARJUN'S REVENGE
Morning from the face of battle night's depending curtain drew,
Long and shrill his sounding sankha then the wrathful Arjun blew,
Kurus knew the vow of Arjun, heard the sankha's deathful blare,
As it rose above the red field, thrilled the startled morning air,
"Speed, my Krishna," out spake Arjun, as he held aloft his bow,
"For to-day my task is dreadful, cruel is my mighty vow!"
Fiery coursers urged by Krishna flew with lightning's rapid course,
Dashing through the hostile warriors and the serried Kuru force,
Brave Durmarsan faced the hero but he strove and fought in vain,
Onward thundered Arjun's chariot o'er the dying and the slain,
Fierce Duhsasan with his tuskers rushed into the fine of war,
But the tuskers broke in panic, onward still went Arjun's car!
Drona then, the proud preceptor, Arjun's furious progress stayed,
Tear-drops filled the eye of Arjun as these gentle words he said:
"Pardon, father, if thy pupil shuns to-day thy offered war,
'Gainst his Abhimanyu's slayer Arjun speeds his battle-car,
Not against my great acharya is my wrathful bow-string drawn,
Not against a lovéd father fights a loving duteous son!
Heavy on this bleeding bosom sits the darkening load of woe,
And an injured father's vengeance seeks the slaughtered hero's foe,
Pardon then if sorrowing Arjun seeks a far and distant way,
Mighty is the vow of Arjun, cruel is his task to-day!"
Passing by the doughty Drona onward sped the fiery car,
Through the broken line of warriors, through the shattered ranks of war,
Angas and the brave Kalingas vainly crossed his wrathful way,
Proud Avantis from the regions where fair Chambal's waters stray,
Famed Avanti's fated princes vainly led their highland force,
Fell beneath the wrath of Arjun, stayed nor stopped his onward course,
Onward still with speed of lightning thundered Arjun's battle-car,
To the spot where Jayadratha stood behind the ranks of war!
Now the sun from highest zenith red and fiery radiance lent,
Long and weary was the passage, Arjun's foaming steeds were spent,
Arjun said the faithful Krishna, "arduous is thy cruel quest,
But thy foaming coursers falter and they need a moment's rest,"
"Be it so," brave Arjun answered, "from our chariot we alight,
Rest awhile the weary horses, Krishna, I will watch the fight!"
Speaking thus the arméd Arjun lightly leaped upon the lea,
Stood on guard with bow and arrow by the green and shady tree,
Krishna groomed the jaded horses, faint and feeble, red with gore,
With a healing hand he tended wounds the bleeding coursers bore,
Watered them beside a river by the zephyrs soft caressed,
Gave unto them welcome fodder, gave unto them needful rest,
Thus refreshed, the noble coursers Krishna harnessed to the car,
And the gleaming fiery Arjun rushed once more to fatal war!
Came on him the Kuru warriors, darksome wave succeeding wave,
Standards decked with strange devices, streaming banners rich and brave,
Foremost was the glorious standard of preceptor Drona's son,
Lion's tail in golden brilliance on his battle-chariot shone,
Elephant's rope was Karna's ensign made of rich and burnished gold,
And a bull bedecked the standard of the bowman Kripa bold,
Peacock made of precious metal, decked with jewels rich and rare,
Vrishasena's noble standard shone aloft serene and fair,
Ploughshare of a golden lustre shining like the radiant flame,
Spoke the car of mighty Salya, Madra's king of warlike fame,
Far and guarded well by chieftains shone the dazzling silver-boar,
Ensign proud of Jayadratha brought from Sindhu's sounding shore,
On the car of Somadatta shone a stake of sacrifice,
Silver-boar and golden parrots, these were Salwa's proud device,
Last and brightest of the standards, on the prince Duryodhan's car,
Lordly elephant in jewels proudly shone above the war!
Nine heroic Kuru chieftains, bravest warriors and the best,
Leagued they came to grapple Arjun and on faithful Krishna pressed,
Arjun swept like sweeping whirlwind all resistless in his force,
Sought no foe and waged no combat, held his ever onward course,
For he sighted Jayadratha midst the circling chiefs of war,
'Gainst that warrior, grim and silent, Arjun drove his furious car!
Now the day-god rolled his chariot on the western clouds aflame,
Karna's self and five great chieftains round brave Jayadratha came,
Vainly strove the valiant Arjun struggling 'gainst the Kuru line,
Charged upon the peerless Karna as he marked the day's decline,
Krishna then a prayer whispered; came a friendly sable cloud,
Veiled the red sun's dazzling brilliance in a dark and inky shroud!
Karna deemed the closing darkness now proclaimed the close of strife,
Failing in his plighted promise Arjun must surrender life,
And his comrade chiefs rejoicing slackened in their furious fight,
Jayadratha hailed with gladness thickening shades of welcome night!
In that sad and fatal error did the Kuru chiefs combine,
Arjun quick as bolt of lightning broke their all unguarded line,
Like an onward sweeping wildfire shooting forth its lolling tongue,
On the startled Jayadratha, Arjun in his fury flung!
Short the strife; as angry falcon swoops upon its helpless prey,
Arjun sped his vengeful arrow and his foeman lifeless lay,
Friendly winds removed the dark cloud from the reddening western hill,
And the sun in crimson lustre cast its fiery radiance still!
Ere the evening's mantling darkness fell o'er distant hill an d plain,
Proud Duryodhan's many brothers were by vengeful Bhima slain,
And Duryodhan stung by sorrow waged the still unceasing fight,
In the thick and gathering darkness torches lit the gloom of night!
Karna, furious in his anger for his Jayadratha slain,
And for brothers of Duryodhan sleeping lifeless on the plain,
'Gainst the gallant son of Bhima drove his deep resounding car,
And in gloom and midnight darkness waked the echoes of the war!
Bhima's son brave Ghatotkacha twice the steeds of Karna slew,
Twice the humbled steedless Karna from the dubious battle flew,
Came again the fiery Karna, vengeance flamed within his heart,
Like the midnight's lurid lightning sped his fell and fatal dart,
Woeful was the hour of darkness, luckless was the starry sway,
Bhima's son in youth and valour lifeless on the red field lay!
Then was closed the midnight battle, silent shone the starry light,
Bhima knew nor rest nor slumber through the long and woeful night!
V FALL OF DRONA
Ere the crimson morning glittered proud Duryodhan sad at heart,
To the leader of the Kurus did his sorrows thus impart:
"Sadly speeds the contest, Drona, on the battle's gory plain,
Kuru chiefs are thinned and fallen and my brothers mostly slain,
Can it be, O beat of Brahmans, peerless in the art of war,
Can it be that we shall falter while thou speed'st the battle-car?
Pandu's sons are but thy pupils, Arjun meets thee not in fight,
None can face the great acharya in his wrath and warlike might,
Wherefore then in every battle are the Kuru chieftains slain,
Wherefore lie my warlike brothers lifeless on the ghastly plain?
Is it that the fates of battle 'gainst the Kuru house combine,
Is it that thy heart's affection unto Panda's sons incline?
If thy secret love and mercy still the sons of Pandu claim,
Yield thy place to gallant Karna, Anga's prince of warlike fame!"
Answered Drona brief and wrathful: "Fair Gandhari's royal son,
Reapest thou the gory harvest of thy sinful actions done,
Cast no blame in youth's presumption on a warrior's fleecy hair,
Faithful unto death is Drona to his promise plighted fair!
Ask thyself, O prince Duryodhan, bound by battle's sacred laws,
Wherefore fightest not with Arjun for thy house and for thy cause,
Ask the dark and deep Sakuni, where is now his low device,
Wherefore wields he not his weapon as he wields the loaded dice,
Ask the chief who proudly boasted, archer Arjun he would slay,
Helméd Arjun sways the battle, whither now doth Karna stay?
Know the truth; the gallant Arjun hath no peer on earth below,
And no warrior breathes, Duryodhan, who can face thy helméd foe,
Drona knows his sacred duty, and 'tis willed by Heaven on high,
Arjun or preceptor Drona shall in this day's battle die!"
Now the Sun in crimson splendour rolled his car of glistening gold,
Sent his shafts of purple radiance on the plain and mountain bold,
And from elephant and charger, from each bravely bannered car,
Lighted mailéd kings and chieftains and the leaders of the war,
Faced the sun with hands conjoinéd and the sacred mantra told,--
Hymns by ancient rishis chanted, sanctified by bards of old!
Worship done, each silent warrior mounted on his car or steed,
Onward to the deathful contest did his gallant forces lead,
Ill it fared with Pandav forces, doughty Drona took the field,
Peer was none midst living warriors of the Brahman trained and skilled,
Arjun, faithful to his promise, his preceptor would not fight,
King nor chief nor other archer dared to face his peerless might.
But old feud like potent poison fires the warrior's heart with strife,
Sire to son still unforgotten. leaps the hate from death to life,
Wrathful princes of Panchala by their deathless hatred stung,
Saw their ancient foe in Drona and on him for vengeance sprung!
Darkly thought the ancient warrior of the old relentless feud,
Fiercely like a jungle-tiger fell upon the hostile brood,
Royal Drupad's valiant grandsons in their youth untimely slain,
Victims of a deathless discord, pressed the gory battle-plain!
Drupad pale with grief and anger marked his gallant grandsons dead
And his army crushed and routed and his bravest chieftains fled,
Filled with unforgotten hatred and with father's grief and pride,
Rushed the king, and bold Virata charged by doughty Drupad's side!
Rose a cry of nameless terror o'er the red and ghastly plain,
Noble Drupad, brave Virata, lay among the countless slain,
Burning tears the proud Draupadi wept for noble father killed,
Maid and matron with their wailing fair Panchala's empire filled,
Matsya's joyless widowed princess, for her fate was early crost,
Wept with added tears and anguish for her father loved and lost!
Waged the war with fearful slaughter, Drona onward urged his way,
Fate alone and battle's chances changed the fortunes of the day,
Aswa-thaman son of Drona was a chief of peerless fame,
And an elephant of battle bore that chieftain's warlike name,
And that proud and lordly tusker Bhima in his prowess slew,
Rank to rank from friend to foeman then a garbled message flew:
"Aswa-thaman son of Drona is by mighty Bhima slain,"
Drona heard that fatal message, bent his anguished head in pain!
"Speak Yudhishthir, soul of virtue thus the proud preceptor cried,
"Thou in truth hast never faltered and thy lips have never lied,
Speak of valiant Aswa-thaman, Drona's hope and pride and joy,
Hath he fallen in this battle, is he slain, my gallant boy,
Feeble are the hands of Drona and his prowess quenched and gone,
Fleecy are his ancient tresses and his earthly task is done!"
Said Yudhishthir thus in answer: "Tusker Aswa-thaman's dead,"
Drona heard but half the accents, feebly drooped his sinking head,
Then the prince of fair Panchala swiftly drove across the plain,
Marked his father's cruel slayer, marked his noble father slain!
Dhrista-dyumna bent his weapon and his shaft was pointed well,
And the priest and proud preceptor, peerless Drona lifeless fell,
And the fatal day was ended, Kurus fled in abject fear,
Arjun for his ancient teacher dropped a silent filial tear!
Suggestions for Further Reading
- 1. Astra Darsana (The Tournament)
- 2. Swayamvara (The Bride's Choice)
- 3. Rajasuya (The Imrfrial Sacrifice)
- 4. Dyuta (The Fatal Dice)
- 5. Pativrata-Mahatmya (Woman's Love)
- 6. Go-Harana (Cattle-Liftng)
- 7. Udyoga (The Council Of War)
- 8. Bhishma-Vadha (Fall Of Bhishma)
- 9. Drona-Vadha (Fall Of Drona)
- 10. Karna-Vadha (Fall Of Karna)
- 11. Sraddha (Funeral Rites)
- 12 Aswa-Medha (Sacrifice Of The Horse)
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