Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Gurus of Hastinapur - Part 33

Meanwhile outside the Vyugha, Bhima was fighting with Almabusa, a Rakshasa, who practiced magic. It was Alambusa with his magical powers and Bhima with his brute force.
Alambusa looked angrily at Bhima. 'You killed my brother Vaka in the forest! I was not there at that time! But today you shall face the Vaka's revenge! I am going to kill....'
Alambusa never completed the words because Bhima had already started fighting. The first of arrow of Bhima nicked Alambusa on the shoulder. Alambusa pulled out the arrow from his shoulder angrily and using his magical powers, he turned invisible. Turning invisible, Alambusa started firing arrows on Bhima.
Bhima was flummoxed for all of two seconds, but then he did not care. Subconsciously, he started firing his arrows at the places by calculating the trajectory of the arrows being fired on him. And this proved more damaging for the Kaurava army than anything else Bhima did. The arrows that Bhima fired not only did they hurt Alabusa, but when Alambusa vanished from that place, it hit the other Kaurava soldiers, killing countless soldiers on the spot.
Alambusa tried fighting back but he was unsuccessful at fighting against the Pandava and eventually fled from Bhima.
But then Alambusa did not run from the battle. He ran to another side of the battle and as his luck would have it, there he met Gatothgaja, the son of Bhima.
Like Alambusa, Gatothgaja was well versed in magic. The illusions that the two warriors created in the battlefield was breathtaking....
Alambusa stopping the magic tricks, and already angry with the defeat in the hands of Bhima engaged Gatothgaja in a physical battle.
Almabusa all but destroyed Gatothgaja as the Pandavas watched.
'Save him!' the Pandava soldiers shouted as they rushed towards Alambusa. Alambusa got flustered as he saw all the Pandava soldiers rushing at him.
The moment of hesitation was what Gatothgaja needed and he counter-attacked Alambusa. And Gatothgaja came back with a vengeance. Gagatohgaja fought with Alambusa so well that the Pandava soldiers almost applauded as Alambusa,unable to cope up with Gatothgaja, ran away from the battle for the second time.....

Again in another part of the battlefield, Drona was fighting the battle as if he was going to destroy all the Panchalas today. Satyaki was the only person who was able to contain the teacher and he successfully was rallying the troops to counter the attack of the teacher. Yudhishtara watched the fight with bated breath and thought that Satyaki was going to turn this fight in their favour.
That was when Yudhishtara was shocked out of his wits when he heard the Panchajanya sounding loudly from the field.
The Panchajanya was so loud that it drowned out the sound made by the sound of the Gandiva.

A gnawing fear developed in Yudhishtara's heart as he tried to search for Krishna's chariot inthe battlefield. But there was so much smoke and fire that nothing was visible anywhere. The fear grew into terror as Yudhishtara wondered whether the Dark Lord was calling for help because something had happened to Arjuna...
Without thinking, Yudhishtara drove his horses towards Satyaki.
He found Satyaki who had just pushed the teacher's forces back.
'Arjuna needs your help!' Yudhishtara blurted without thinking.
Satyaki could scarcely even understand what Yudhishtara was saying.
'What?' Satyaki was sure he had heard something wrong.
'I can heard Krishna's Panchajanya, but I do not hear the Gandiva! I think...' Yudhishtara chocked as he swallowed. 'I think something terrible must have happened to Arjuna and Krishna is asking for our help! Please go...Please go and save my brother!' Yudhishtara pleaded.
Satyaki was looking at Yudhishtara like he had lost his mind as Yudhishtara continued rapidly. 'Arjuna told me that you were one of the best in battle! And I also know how much Arjuna means to you! He is like your brother, your friend and your mentor! Please go and protect him!' Yudhishtara pleaded.
Satyaki was honestly lost for words. 'He is Arjuna!' Satyaki finally spluttered. 'He does not need out help! And he has Krishna with him!' Satyaki said. 'Nothing will happen to the two of them, my king!' Satyaki watched Yudhishtara was steadily looking depressed. 'Besides, today in the morning, Arjuna called me aside and told me that I am not to leave your side today! Drona has promised to take you captive! If I leave you alone with Drona in a form like this, Arjuna will be very angry with me! Please king, do not ask this from me!'
'I have Bhima and Gatothgaja with me!' Yudhishtara said rapidly. 'Besides the Panchalas and Nakula and Sahadeva would not let anything happen to me! Please!' Yudhishtara said with tears in his eyes. 'My heart is restless and I will not know peace, until I know what has happened to my brother! Please Satyaki! I am your king! Do not say no to me!' Yudhishtara saw Dhrishtadhyumna coming in sight before him. 'This fire born prince, is born to kill Drona! As long as I have him near me, nothing can happen to me! Please Satyaki! Please!'

Satyaki sighed. He realized that nothing he said would make the slightest difference to Yudhishtara. He looked at the king realizing that if he went inside the Vyugha after Arjuna, Arjuna was going to be very angry with him for leaving Yudhishtara at the mercy of Drona and if he did not go, the Pandavas would think that he was a coward and that he was unwilling to get inside the Vyugha.
Satyaki unhappily nodded as he looked at Yudhishtara.
Yudhishtara beamed happily. He turned to his soldiers. 'Have Satyaki's chariot filled with five times the number of weapons that he has right now!'
The weapons were filled and after the other preparations, Satyaki was off inside the Vyugha.....


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Gurus of Hastinapur - Part 32

After the horses had been rested, as if he had all the time in the world, Krishna yoked the horses. Arjuna fired one last arrow to discourage the approaching Kaurava soldiers from coming any further, as he quickly got on the chariot.
All charged up, Krishna drove the horses almost to the limit. 
Arjuna's arrows were firing with an almost two mile range and clearing the place where the horses had to go. Krishna weaved through the battlefield and suddenly the impossible happened...The two warriors found themselves out of the second Vyugha which Drona had so painstakingly constructed in the morning.
'The six Maharathas of the Kaurava army, Partha!' Krishna announced quietly. 'They are the only people who stand between you and your....'
Krishna stopped as he frowned and turned towards the Kaurava army out of which the two of them had just come out. The entire battlefield was just littered with the bodies of soldiers, horses and elephants and it was very easy to observe the eldest Kaurava prince come towards the two of them.
'Duryodhana!' Krishna said tightly. He looked at the six Maharathas, the first of whom was Ashwattaman. Ashwattaman was already firing at Arjuna who was cutting down the arrows.
Krishna made a quick choice. He turned the horses. 
Arjuna fired the weapon at Ashwattaman, as he felt the horses move in the wrong direction. 'Krishna!' Arjuna said rapidly, looking confused.
'Duryodhana!' was what Krishna said as he urged the horses towards the very Vyugha, they had come out.
Arjuna looked at Duryodhana, the same Duryodhana who was the very root cause of the war...the same Duryodhana who had humiliated his brother...the same Duryodhana who had ordered Draupadi to be dragged in the court of Hastinapur....the same Duryodhana who had ordered all the Maharathas of his army to attack Abhimanyu.
An almost feral anger possessed Arjuna. He forgot all about his vow. He forgot about the six Maharathas, now behind him. Because now Duryodhana was approaching him. And Duryodhana was coming to him all alone. This was one opportunity that he was not going to let go. Arjuna looked at Krishna, almost smiling at the Dark Lord. Duryodhana was all that mattered now....
'I am going to kill him!' Arjuna said viciously twanging his bow, which sent an almost unearthly sound.
Krishna said nothing. He was thinking about why the Kaurava prince was suddenly coming to meet Arjuna, all alone. Duryodhana knew that he was no match to Arjuna...then why? Krishna frowned.
The first arrow of Duryodhana was easily cut down by Arjuna. The two chariots were very close.
'I am challenging the great Krishnas!' Duryodhana said in a taunting voice. 'Do you just talk or do you also do anything useful?' he continued. 'My men have to see how their king defeats the great Krishnas...and that is before the great Arjuna keeps his vow!'
Duryodhana's chariot and Arjuna's chariot was driving in circles, facing each other and firing arrows.
Duryodhana started his attack as he pulled out the arrows quick and fast. 
Arjuna quiet easily cut it down. Then he got the perfect opportunity. He almost smiled as he pulled the arrow and fired.
The arrow should have penetrated Duryodhana and killed him on the spot.
Both the Krishnas watched the arrow as it very easily penetrated Duryodhana's defences. But that was when the two of them received the shock of their life.
The arrow bounced off Duryodhana's armour.
Both Arjuna and Krishna looked at each other, not able to believe what they were just seeing.
'Again, Partha!' Krishna said as he drove the horses slightly away.
Duryodhana saw the arrow bounce away and let out a whooping shout as the flow of arrows from him, became even stronger, perhaps charged with the fact that the two Krishnas were powerless against him.
Arjuna almost fumbled as he placed another arrow on the Gandiva and let it go. And this time he let his defence slightly down. Duryodhana had pierced both him and Krishna and Arjuna again. And worse, this time also Arjuna's arrows also he met with the same result.
'Partha!' Krishna panted as Duryodhana's arrow nicked him on his shoulder. 'What is happening? Why is the Gandiva not....'
'His armour!' Arjuna said suddenly, as he realized the truth. Arjuna pointed at his armour. 'Archarya taught me how to wear the armour, such that it would be very difficult for weapons to pierce it!' Arjuna nodded to himself. 'I think Dronacharya has given him, his own armour!'
'Do you know how to counter it?' Krishna all but shouted as he just weaved to the right as one of Duryodhana's arrows missed them.
Arjuna rapidly shook his head. 'Forget me! Not even Indra can penetrate that.....' Arjuna suddenly blinked. 'I know of only one weapon! But it is a dangerous...'
'USE IT!' Krishna shouted, as one of the arrow hurt their horses.
Arjuna needed no further encouragement. He pulled out his arrow and muttered a mantra....
*******

Ashwattaman was fighting Arjuna and was shocked when he found Arjuna's chariot going away. That was when Ashwattaman saw Duryodhana's chariot coming towards them. At first he could not understand why the Kaurava prince was coming singlehanded against the two Krishnas. It seemed to be perfect recipe for disaster.
But that was when Ashwattaman saw the armour. Even at this distance, Ashwattaman could not mistake that armour.
He settled back and watched the fight. He was sure this was going to be interesting, to say the least...
Ashwattaman almost laughed as he saw the faces of both Krishna and Arjuna as the first arrow bounced back. And a part of Ashwattaman was shocked. He knew that his father's armour was powerful...but this was the first time he had seen it work.
But then Ashwattaman's fun stopped short. He realized that Arjuna had pulled back another arrow and was muttering a mantra.
'No! No!' Ashwattaman muttered as he urged his horses forward. Just as Arjuna let his arrow fly, Ashwattaman broke Arjuna's arrow from the side!
*******

Arjuna looked aghast as he saw the arrow break and cursed himself for not noting that Ashwattaman was coming.
And to add to their problems, Duryodhana was still firing arrows, laughing at them.
'I cannot use the arrow again, Krishna!' Arjuna shouted. 'That arrow came with a caveat! If I use it again, it will destroy us and our troops!'
'Forget about what you cannot do!' Krishna said above the din of the battlefield. 'See what you can!'
This time the smile that lit up Arjuna's face was genuine, because he realized what Krishna was telling him.
*****

Duryodhana was feeling invincible to say the least. He had that feeling that nothing could go wrong. Duryodhana genuinely believed that with the armour, no one could defeat him. Even Krishna and Arjuna themselves seemed helpless against him...
He pulled out another arrow and was about to let it fly when he saw Arjuna pull out another arrow.
Duroydhana was stupefied because he realized that Arjuna was not aiming at him. 
And before Duryodhana could realize why, Arjuna let the arrow fly.
As the arrow came whizzing towards him, Duryodhana realized too late what Arjuna was trying to do....
The first arrow killed all his horses, the second arrow killed his charioteer...Duryodhana was just blinking as Arjuna let his next arrow and this time Duryodhana fell on the ground with a thud along with his broken chariot. 
Duroydhana was still coughing away dust and smoke as he watched Arjuna give him a small smile and this time the arrow was aimed straight at him.
Duryodhana did not even have time to blink as he felt a sharp twisting pain when he saw an arrow peaking out of his right palm. Duryodhana did not even have time gasp as another arrow pierced through his other palm.....The only part of his body which was not covered by the armour...
Duryodhana blinked back the pain as he realized that he could not fire back on the two Krishnas...
****

Ashwattaman knew that Duryodhana needed help and he needed it right now. 'All of you...Attack the Krishnas! Protect the King! Protect Duryodhana now!' he shouted at this battalion.
The soldiers threw themselves at the Krishnas, in an attempt to save Duryodhana.
Krishna saw the soldiers coming towards them from all over the field and realized that this would only make it more difficult for Arjuna, to fulfill his vow.
He turned to Arjuna. 'Twang your bow, Partha!'
Arjuna looked at the soldiers who were trying to surround them and nodded his head as he twanged his bow. The sound from the Gandiva was almost unearthly and was so loud that it scared the soldiers and sent them running away. 
But then what was more terrifying was the sound of Krishna's Panchajanya. The conch was louder than the twang of the Gandiva. The sound was so loud that the Kaurava soldiers ran away from the field instead of towards the two of them....As the soldiers ran away, it cleared a path for the two warriors to go towards the Maharathas who were protecting Jayadratha....
******

Daruka watched the battlefield with anxious eyes. The Dark Lord had asked him to come when his conch sounded the Rishabha note. As Daruka heard the Panchajanya, he almost hurried towards the chariot....but then he realized that this was not the Rishabha note.

Daruka looked at the battlefield and sighed. The Dark Lord had not called him. Not yet.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Gurus of Hastinapur - Part 31

The Kaurava warriors could not believe what they were watching. Till now, the gleaming chariot with the two dark men was nothing more that blur, in the battlefield. No matter what or who appeared before them, either Arjuna mercilessly destroyed them or Krishna weaved through them with his chariot. The galloping of the horses was accompanied by a steady twang of the arrows making an impossibly beautiful rhythm. But then unexpectedly it stopped. More from the sudden absence of the sound than anything else, the Kaurava soldiers looked up towards the direction of the twanging of the arrows....Without the accompanying galloping of the horses, the twanging of the arrows seemed....almost incomplete.

That was when the Kauravas had the second shock....
Right there in the middle of the battlefield, Krishna had unyoked the horses and as Kaurava soldiers watched, Arjuna got down from the chariot. The Kauravas glanced at the sun warily hoping...really hoping that the sun had set, because otherwise there seemed no other reason for the actions of the Dark Lord. But the day was not yet over of surprises.
Krishna was tending to the horses as he was running his hands through the wounds of the horses, presumably treating them! Right there, in the middle of the battlefield...
That was when one of the Kaurava soldier realized the inevitable truth as he shouted out aloud. 'ARJUNA IS NOT IN THE CHARIOT!' He shouted. He looked at his fellow warriors, quiet frankly not able to believe what he himself was saying. 'Arjuna is not in his chariot!' the others repeated. The word got around the Kaurava army in surprisingly short time.
There were many warriors who believed that Arjuna was a great warrior only because he had the Dark Lord as his charioteer. While it was true that Krishna and Arjuna together were invincible, but Arjuna by himself was a formidable warrior and that time he proved it....
The Kauravas warriors probably thinking that Arjuna without the Dark Lord was weak, attacked him, as he was standing right there in the middle of field, his bow and arrow ready in his hands.....
*****

Krishna murmured as he lovingly tended to the animals.
Looking at him, it definitely looked like Krishna did not have a care in the world. The fact that the sun was now setting, the fact that they were in the middle of the battlefield, surrounded by completely hostile enemies, did not seem to matter to him at all. Right now, his job was to attend to the injured animals and get them refreshed and that was all he cared about.....
Krishna smiled as he saw his lone warrior standing before him, firing arrows rapidly one after the other, at the warriors who was attacking him. The two of them were supposed to be surrounded by enemies, but then not one arrow reached Krishna...not one, actually...Arjuna had made sure of that. It almost seemed like there was an invisible barrier between Krishna and the Kaurava warriors, one that they they could not breach, no matter how hard they tried.
Krishna saw that the horses were now almost well, as he looked at Arjuna. 'Partha! The horses need water!' he called out above the twang of the arrows.
Probably it was not correct to disturb a warrior when he was fighting off almost an entire army standing right in the middle of it. But Krishna did not seem to think it wrong.
There was a rapid change in twang of weapons as Krishna heard a whizzing sound almost next to him. The Kaurava warriors who were facing Arjuna definitely did not know anything different, as the stream of arrows coming towards them seemed as relentless as before...
But none of the Kaurava warriors could explain it, when right there in the middle of the battlefield, where until a minute back was nothing but hard ground, was a beautiful lake...
'Let the horses have their fill, Krishna!' Arjuna said putting the Varunastra back. Arjuna permitted himself a small smile, as he saw the impossible expression which came on the faces of the warriors who were facing him....

**********

Duryodhana was furious. In fact Duryodhana was beyond that. This was the second time in two days, when what he had thought was a simple job was getting steadily out of hand. Yesterday, it had that boy...Abhimanyu, whom Duryodhana had dismissed nothing more than a young kid....Abhimanyu proved to be so disastrous that even his death could not make up for the loss that Abhimanyu had inflicted on the Kaurava army.
And today...All the Kaurava army had to do was to keep Arjuna away from Jayadratha and considering the sheer size of his army, that could not be an impossible task...or so Duryodhana thought. But Duryodhana had not counted on Arjuna's expertise, or the Dark Lord's capability of handling the chariot. The two men together were probably destroying more people today than most of his warriors had done overall till now...As if adding insult to injury, Arjuna was now taking time off coming out of his chariot and letting his horses rest...
Duryodhana was so furious that he drove his horses directly towards the man whom he thought was responsible for all this.
'You were our teacher!' he said as he found himself face to face with his teacher. 'You were invincible! You said no one could penetrate this Vyugha!' Duryodhana said as his words slurred in anger, as he looked dangerously close to the brink. 'And those two men defied you! Just like that!' 
Dronacharya looked at Duryodhana with hurt eyes as Duryodhana continued viciously. 'I think you are also like Bheeshma! You merely say that you will fight on my behalf and all you do is TALK!' Duryodhana shouted loudly.
Dronacharya closed his eyes as his took deep breaths to control himself. He opened his eyes and looked at Duryodhana. Dronacharya probably realized that no matter what he did, Duryodhana would probably never trust him. Dronacharya also realized that talking with the prince was also a waste of time. The prince would not believe anything he said anyway.
Dronacharya shook his head as he removed his armour.
Duryodhana looked shocked as Dronacharya got down from his chariot with his armour in his hand. 'This is one of the most powerful armours, which was given to me! The armours have also been made strong by the mantras of ancient times! Wear it, my prince! Nothing can penetrate this armour!'
Duryodhana looked shocked as he looked at Dronacharya, probably a little ashamed, that he had doubted his teacher. 'I am sorry! I....' Duryodhana said fumbling with apology as he saw his teacher helping him on with the armour.
'You are like Ashwattaman to me! I would forgive him too, if he spoke that way to me!' Dronacharya said quietly. Dronacharya took a deep breath and continued with a small smile. 'And go and fight, my prince! Go and fight the Pandava warriors and remember that nothing can hurt you...GO NOW!'

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Gurus of Hastinapur - Part 30

Krishna drove the chariot deeper inside the enemy territory...and for once, the thick arrows around them proved a useful cover to him. His warrior was hurt and hurt badly. Krishna quickly turned as he pulled out the lance from Arjuna's body.
Arjuna gasped as he blearily glanced at Krishna.
'Get up, Partha!' Krishna muttered as he looked at the closing Kaurava army.
Arjuna slowly nodded his head, as he looked around realizing what was happening.
'The aindrastra!' Arjuna muttered even as he struggled to get up on his feet.
Arjuna fixed the arrow on his bow, even before he was fully alert. Arjuna spotted Srutayus almost immediately as he let loose the aindrastra.
The arrow found its mark.....Even before the surprised Srutayus could react, the Aindrastra hit him and his brother, killing the two brilliant warriors on the spot.....

********

Yudhishtara watched his brother go with the Dark Lord inside Drona's army. The battle between the teacher and his brother was breathtakingly beautiful. Though his brother escaped from Drona, Yudhishtara realized that he could not risk Drona attacking Arjuna again, now that the two Krishnas were deep inside the Vyugha.

Yudhishtara eyed the outer Vyugha and turned to Bheema. 'Take your division! Attack Jalasandha and his men!' Yudhishtara looked at the Vyugha again. 'I am going after Kritivarman's division!'

Bheema hefted his mace and looked at Yudhishtara. 'What about the teacher? Whom are we going to send to fight him?'

Yudhishtara looked at the prince of Panchala, Dhrishtadhyumna, the one who was prophecised to kill Dronacharya, who was his wife – Draupadi's, brother.

'Let Dhrishtadhyumna meet the teacher!' Yudhishtara said turning to the prince of Panchala.

As Arjuna had asked Yuyudhana (Satyaki) to protect Yudhishtara, Satyaki accompanied Yudhishtara's division.

Before the Kauravas could recover from Arjuna's attack, Yudhishtara started his attack. For a brief second it looked like the Pandavas had an upper hand....For a very small second.....

Yudhishtara had not counted on Drona's expertise nor the ferocity with with Drona countered the Pandava attack.

Dhrishtadhyumna and Drona fought arrow for arrow, blade for blade, but then Dhrishtadhyumna did not have the experience of his teacher and neither did he have the knowledge. Without thinking, Dhrishtadhyumna got in too close to the teacher. The teacher now started using a variety of weapons against Dhrishtadhyumna and not just his bow and arrow. And the way the teacher was going, Dhrishtadhyumna did not look like he was going to make it out alive....

Yudhishtara looked almost horrified as Dronacharya was letting arrows fly real fast at Dhrishtadhyumna. Dhrishtadhyumna tried fighting back, but there really was no hope for him. It looked at Dhrishtadhyumna was almost living on borrowed time and that the teacher was going to do the impossible and make the prophecy false.....But then out of nowhere, a warrior came from the Pandava army. Arjuna's student and the only Yadava (besides Krishna, of course) who fought on the side of the Pandavas – Satyaki.
[Before the start of the war, Krishna had promised that the Yadavas would fight on behalf of Duryodhana, whereas he himself would be on the side of the Pandavas. However Satyaki, though he was a Yadava, as he was a student of Arjuna, he was allowed to fight on behalf of his Guru.]
As Drona let the last arrow fly towards Dhrishtadhyumna, almost everyone in the Pandava army had written off Dhrishdhyumna. And that was when Satyaki came. At the last minute as the arrow almost reached Dhrishdhyumna, Satyaki, emerged from Yudhishtara's division and cut off the arrow.
The other warriors also reached Dhrishtadhyumna as Drona dismissed the prince of Panchala and turned his attention to Satyaki.
This fight was brilliant – almost like the one between the Dronacharya and Arjuna. Arjuna had taught Satyaki real well and it showed. Satyaki was able to counter almost everything that Drona did and was able to do it with the same confidence that his teacher had. It is said that in this battle, Satyaki broke Drona's bow, not once, or twice, but sixteen times continuously.....
Drona watched almost dazed at Satyaki from the other side with a smile, as he realized that the warrior before him was really good.

Drona fired the Agneyastra. Screaming, the astra made its way to Satyaki. Without blinking, Satyaki fired the Varunastra.
The sound made by the two weapons were so ferocious that the soldiers who had stopped to watch the fight were sure that the two weapons were powerful enough to end the world....They watched with a horrid fascination as the two arrows met.....
The perfect counter for the Agneyastra was the Varunastra and the two weapons were fired by persons who knew what they were doing. Miraculously, the two weapons canceled out each other, rendering each other useless....

As Drona was about to pull his next arrow, he briefly eyed the sky....It was past noon. For a second, Drona turned and saw his favourite pupil who was storming inside the Vyugha, a single thought burning through Drona's mind...Could his student actually reach Jayadratha before the day was up?.........
*****

After the almost game changing fight by Srutayus and Achyutayus, almost no one was able to stand up to Arjuna.
But then the princes of Avanti – Vinda and Anuvinda gave a brief fight to Arjuna. But then Arjuna did not want to waste too much time on them. Arjuna injured the two brothers very badly without actually killing them. But the two brothers would not give up so easily. Though injured, they followed the two Krishnas deeper inside the Vyugha.
Realizing that the two warriors were so brilliantly synchronized as to cover for each other's mistakes, Arjuna first took out Vinda.....
Anuvinda watched horrified as his brother lay dead before him. Screaming, Anuvinda, pulled out his mace and raced after the two Krishnas. With utter hatred and anger, Anuvinda lashed out with his mace. Anuvinda could have aimed better, or atleast tried to hit the right person. The mace hit Krishna who bore the brunt of the mace attack.
And after that Anuvinda really had no hope. Arjuna did not waste even a single second as all the next six arrows found Anuvinda, with unerring accuracy. Anuvinda met the same end as his brother. Arjuna was now dispatching the Kaurava warriors before him, with disdain, as he plodded deeper inside the Vyugha.
*****
Arjuna resembled a forest fire and burnt everything which came in his path. He actually looked like he was going to finish the war that day. But then Krishna knew that they were having problems, really, big problems....
Arjuna frowned as he felt the horses moving sluggishly. 'Krishna! Why....'
'Partha! The horses!' Krishna said as he looked around.'They are hurt, tired and thirsty! They need some rest!'
Arjuna looked at sun and then at Jayadratha, who was looking a lot closer than he had been a few hours before. Arjuna then looked at Krishna and nodded. 'Stop and tend to the horses, Krishna!'
The Dark Lord almost smiled as he urged the horses to stop, right there in the middle of the battlefield....

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Gurus of Hastinapur - Part 29

Drona looked at his own army. Before proceeding to the outside of the Vyugha, Drona fist went to Jayadratha. 'You, Bhurisravas, Karna, Ashwattamana, Salya. Vrishasena and Kripacharya with your twenty thousand soldiers, horses and elephants shall be twelve miles behind me!' Drona smiled looking at Jayadratha. 'Nothing is going to happen to you!'
The Vyugha formed by Drona was brilliant. The first Vyugha was exceedingly huge where Drona had placed many kings and warriors where each warrior was to help the other, making it impossible for them to be attacked. Inside this Vyudha was another Vyugha in the form of a lotus. And inside the lotus were the six Kaurava Maharathas in the form of a needle, protecting Jayadratha.
At the entrance of the Sakata Vyugha, Drona took his troops and waited for Arjuna....
*****

Satanika, Nakula's son saw the Kaurava Vyugha and almost gasped. The sheer size of the Kaurava army was enormous. But then with Dhrishtadyumna's help, they managed to place the Pandava army properly.

*****

Durmarshana looked at the almost puny Pandava army when suddenly from within its rank, Arjuna emerged along with Krishna. Durmarshana looked at his army and then at the two warriors. He then looked at Duryodhana, his brother. 'Let me go and stop him first, brother!'
Duryodhana looked surprised as Durmarshana nodded. 'Just like how the huge continents are able to stop the seas, I will stop Arjuna today!' As his brother was about to say something, Durmarshana held up his hands. 'I will go alone! The other warrior's troops do not need to join me!'
Durmarshana had definitely done a smart thing. Bhimasena, the second Pandava had sworn to kill all of Duryodhana's brothers. It was but natural that the other warriors in the Pandava army would not kill Duryodhana's brothers to help Bheema keep up his vow. So whatever else Arjuna could do, he would not kill Durmarshana or any of Duryodhana's brothers. So they were well protected compared to the other warriors. Which was probably what Durmarshana had in mind when he spoke of attacking the Pandava first.

******

Arjuna studied the entire Kaurava army and did not speak a word. He finally looked at Krishna.
'Are you ready Partha?' Krishna asked.

'We go through Durmarshana's elephant section! Through that we go towards the Vyugha!' Krishna nodded as Arjuna pulled out his conch and blew loudly on it. A second later, Krishna joined him. The sound of the Devadatta and the Panchajanya melted as one as the Kaurava soldiers almost trembled hearing the sounds of the two conches. And with that Arjuna was off....

*******

To say that Arjuna massacred Durmashasana's division was probably an understatement. All that the people in Durmashasana's division saw was that Arjuna was rapidly moving his hands and feet, almost as if he was dancing in his chariot. No one knew when the arrow was fixed in the bow and when it was released. And by the time the soldiers realized that they were the target of the arrow....it was too late.
Elephant, Elephant drivers, horses, charioteers, chariot warriors....Arjuna spared no one. Arjuna had not even entered the Vyugha and already the Kaurava soldiers were running away from him with fear...

Dusshasana was getting furious at the pace with which Arjuna was progressing towards the Vyugha. He got the elephants from his own division and had all of them surround Arjuna.
As if that was going to stop Arjuna. Veda Vyasa has a very interesting metaphor to describe Arjuna's progress through Dusshasan's elephants. He said that Arjuna ripped through Dusshasana's elephant division like a crocodile rips through water waves.

Arjuna had still not entered the Vyugha and the Kauravas were facing heavy casualties.
Seeing Arjuna on a rampage, Dusshasana ran to his teacher, the man who had made the Vyugha...

*********

'Ready!' Drona yelled to his men, as he saw Arjuna and Krishna come towards him. Drona frowned as he saw the chariot slow down marginally. Krishna was saying something as Arjuna was nodding his head. Drona then saw as Arjuna straightened and the chariot came towards him in a flash.

Drona was about to fire his arrow when he heard Arjuna speak to him. 'You are my Guru! You are like a father to me! All the protection that you give Ashwattama....you are bound to protect me the same way! Please let me inside the Vyugha, so that I may fulfill my vow!'

Drona said a sad smile to Arjuna as he eyed Krishna. Drona was more than sure that this talk was Krishna's idea. Dronacharya shook his head. 'You can get to Jayadratha only if you defeat me!' Drona pulled out his bow and arrow and aimed it ready at Arjuna. 'Fight!'

The fight between the teacher and the stodent was a beautiful one. Neither yielded an inch to the other. What one had in flair, the other had in experience. And Arjuna's vow almost seemed like it would not be fulfilled as Arjuna had been stopped just outside the Sakata Vyugha....Stopped by none other than his own teacher...

'Partha!' Krishna shouted as he veered his chariot all over the place. 'You are wasting far too much time and we have not even penetrated the Vyugha! Finish this encounter! The teacher is delaying you purposely!'

'Krishna! Turn to the right of Drona's division!' Arjuna yelled as he fired weapons in quick succession. 'We will get deep into the Vyugha, away from the teacher!'

Krishna needed no further encouragement. He urged his chariot to the right of Drona.

Drona roared, partly out of shock that his student, the great Arjuna had actually run away from a battle, and partly because he realized too late what Arjuna was doing.
'I thought you never gave up a fight without defeating your foe!' Drona yelled loudly.

'You are not my foe!' Arjuna shouted as his chariot just passed Drona's division. 'You are my Guru and I am your student! I am like your son! And there is no one in the whole world you can defeat you in battle!'

Before Drona could do anything, Arjuna let loose his arrows at the troops to the right of Drona. A break appeared among the army soldiers as Krishna drove his chariot expertly, penetrating the Vyugha with a clinical efficiency.

During any war, a chariot warrior was given protection by atleast two other chariot warriors. Their job was to protect the chariot wheels of the first warrior. They had to make sure no one attacked the chariot wheels and disabled the warrior. Arjuna was protected by Yudhamanyu and Uttamaujas, the Panchala princes. As Arjuna entered the Vyugha, the two princes followed him too.

Inside the Vyugha, Jaya, Kritavarman, Sudakshina, the king of Kamvojas and Srutayus attacked the Krishnas (Arjuna and Krishna were called as the two Krishnas, during the battle). As if that was not enough Drona angrily turned his chariot around as he came inside the Vyugha and he along with the Surasenas, Sivis, Vastis, Mavellakas, Kaikeyas and some other tribes were coming towards the two heroes.

*****

Arjuna sighed. He was really hoping that he could avoid fighting with Dronacharya. But then his teacher was making it difficult not to face him.
Drona was showering the two of them with continuous arrows. Having no other choice, Arjuna pulled out the Brahma arrow and fired it. The rain of arrows from Drona was cut off. But Drona showed no signs of stopping. He continued firing the arrows as if nothing had happened.

Arjuna sighed again as he turned his attention to the Bhojas and started attacking them, an idea already half forming in his mind.
'Krishna!' Arjuna called out. 'Get the chariot between Kritivarman and Sudakshina!'
Krishna smiled as he expertly maneuvered the vehicle between the troops of Kritivarman and Sudakshina. Arjuna's ploy was definitely a good one. Kritivarman and Sudakshina were definitely easier people to face, atleast easier than Dronacharya. And if Arjuna and Krishna were between the two troops, Dronacharya would not fire because there was every chance that Dronacharya would hit his own Kaurava soldiers...

With Drona removed from the picture for now, Kritivarman and Arjuna were having a marvelous battle between them. Krishna however sighed as he saw the battle. He realized that his friend was again not fighting to the best of his abilities.
'Partha!' Krishna shouted. 'Forget that you know this man! Forget how he is related to you! Right now he is your enemy! Kill him!' Krishna said looking at Kritivarman.
Arjuna took a deep breath as he pulled the next arrow and fired. This time the arrow hit Kritivarman penetrating his shield as Kritivarman staggered in his chariot.
As Arjuna's chariot veered away from there, Kritivarman angrily turned his attention to Yudhamanyu and Uttamaujas.
Kritivarman angrily broke the bows of the two warriors. But without hesitation, the two warriors pulled out two other bows and starting fighting with Kritivarman. Thus the two princes were able to stop Kritivarman from attacking Arjuna but at a cost....Arjuna penetrated deeper into the Vyugha. But as the two warriors were still fighting with Kritivarman, they could not follow Arjuna.

******
Inside the Vyugha, Srutayudha and Arjuna were having another fierce fight. Srutayudha tried to contain Arjuna and for all his efforts, he lost his charioteer and horses and Arjuna even broke Srutayudha's bow.
Srutayudha fell down heavily on his ground as his chariot lay crumbling before him. Angrily Srutayudha picked up his mace from the remains of the chariot.....

*********
Arjuna was almost turning his attention away from Srutayodha, as he usually never attacked a person after they had fallen. Even now he did the same. Srutayodha had fallen and Arjuna was about to turn his attention to the other warriors. But Krishna was now looking angrily at Srutayudha. The horses remained in the same place as Arjuna wondered what was going on....

******

Srutayudha picked up his mace as he saw the two Krishnas. He saw that Arjuna did not understand...Arjuna did not understand what Srutayudha had in his hands. But Krishna knew and knew too well.
Without realizing what he was doing, Srutayudha threw the mace. Unfortunately for Srutayudha and fortunately for Arjuna, Srutayudha aimed the mace at the wrong person.
Srutayudha threw the mace at Krishna. Sudakshina threw the mace at Krishna who bore no weapons and who was in the Mahabharatha war strictly as a charioteer.

Arjuna fired his arrows at the mace, but to his horror, the mace just brushed aside his arrows as if they were nothing.
'TURN THE CHARIOT!' Arjuna shouted. But then he was too late. The weapon was almost upon Krishna when Arjuna watched almost with horror filled eyes.

Arjuna was sure he was dreaming when the mace turned. He was watching with an almost unreal feeling as he saw the mace turn away from them as if it was deflected by Krishna. Arjuna was blinking as now Srutayudha looked horrified. The mace was now going straight for Srutayudha and before Srutayudha could blink, the mace came and hit Srutayudha, killing him on the spot....

'What.....?' Arjuna blinked wondering what he was seeing. 'What just happened?'

Krishna smiled as he turned the chariot. 'Just be glad he aimed for me!'

'What?' Arjuna asked he pulled the Gandiva closer.
'Srutayudha is the son of Varuna, Partha! As soon as he was born, Srutayudha's mother asked for a boon from Varuna. She wanted Srutayudha to be invincible! Varuna gave Srutayudha this mace and said that as long as Srutayudha had the mace, he would be invincible! The only caveat that Varuna gave Srutayudha was that in case Srutayudha ever aimed the mace at some one who was unarmed, the weapon would turn back at him and kill him!' Krishna said as they made their way to the next division, in the army.

Arjuna was completely lost for words. All that he had seen was slowly making sense....But then he was in a middle of a battle...that was when Sudakshina caught up with him.

And watching Srutayudha fall had done nothing good to Sudakshina's temper.

Sudakshina and Arjuna were exchanging arrows with great ferocity and for the first time, Sudakshina gained the upper hand! He shot Arjuna with a solid iron arrow. The arrow pierced through Arjuna's shield and penetrated his body. Arjuna almost swooned in the chariot as the arrow passed through.

Clutching the Gandiva almost with bleary eyes, Arjuna aimed the arrow and managed to break Sudakshina's chariot first, then killed Sudakshina's horses and also destroyed Sudakshina's bow and finally killed the charioteer. Barely conscious Arjuna fired the last arrow straight at Sudakshina's heart.....
***

But this time at the fall of Sudakshina, the Kaurava soldiers became furious at Krishnas. The Abhishahas, Surasenas, Sivis and the Vasatis together attacked Arjuna.

It is said that Arjuna killed six hundred of these soldiers with one arrow!

The fall of Sudakshina or Srutayudha did not scare the Kaurava soldiers, but this definitely did. The Kaurava soldiers started running away from Arjuna...

*****

But this then brought Arjuna to face two brilliant warriors – Srutayus and Achyutayus. Together the two of them completely surrounded the places around Krishna and Arjuna with arrows.

But then Srutayus was not only a good archer, he was very good with the lance. While Ashyutayus engaged with Arjuna, Srutayus threw a well aimed lance at Arjuna. Arjuna did not react on time as the spear penetrated his shield....

Krishna watched almost shocked as Achyutayus threw another spear at Arjuna before Arjuna could recover. Arjuna was already bleary eyed and unable to focus. He was not able to react and the Achyutayus's spear also penetrated him.

'ARJUNA!' Krishna shouted almost shocked as Arjuna staggered falling back heavily on the chariot, unable to breath.

'Arjuna, breath!' Krishna said rapidly as he scanned the battlefield trying to take the chariot to a relatively safe place. 'Arjuna! Can you hear me? Arjuna...' Krishna called as the chariot careened dangerously, all over the battlefield.

Arjuna has fallen! A ripple went through the battlefield. An impossible whisper ran through the Kaurava soldiers. ARJUNA HAS FALLEN! The whispers suddenly became a shout. The continuous shower of arrows from the two warriors rendered Krishna and Arjuna invisible to everyone as the confusion continued....