The next day was a marvelous sight to behold for the Pandava army. All the Kaurava soldiers were dressed in red and walked towards the field with a definite plan.
As the soldiers were getting into formation, Drona gave the order as the Samshaptakas raced towards Arjuna. The Samshaptakas challenged Arjuna. Having no other choice, Arjuna followed the Samshaptakas. Just as Krishna had predicted, the Samshaptakas led Arjuna to the far south of the battlefield. There Arjuna fought like he had never fought before. But then there were just too many of the enemy. No matter how many Arjuna killed, more kept coming in their place....
Yudhishtara watched the Kaurava army with stunned awe as the Kaurava soldiers formed a huge Chakravyugha right in the middle of the battlefield. With their red dress, the battlefield resembled a huge multilayered blood-red wheel. Drona was adept at forming the Chakravyugha and the Pandavas were without Arjuna to penetrate the Vyugha. The Vyugha was so cunningly made that the Kaurava lost almost no soldiers. But because of the expert formation, the Pandavas lost men in hundreds...
Bheema along with Yudhishtara and the twins did some excellent archery, but the Vyugha did not yield.
Watching the Pandava army razed to the ground, Yudhishtara rapidly drove towards Abhimanyu. 'Son! Do something! If you do not fight Dronacharya's chakra, I am afraid this will be the very end of the battle! The way we are losing our forces without Arjuna....' Yudhishtara gulped hastily as he took a deep breath trying to steady himself. 'I have heard that there are only four people in the entire world who can break the Chakravyugha – Arjuna, Krishna, Pradhyumna and you! Please son!' Yudhishtara pleaded. 'Please break the Vyugha!'
Abhimanyu looked at the blood red wheel in the battlefield as he nodded his head. He remembered listening about the Chakravyugha. He could not remember from where...Then he knew...Frowning he turned to Yudhishtara. 'Sir! I have heard my father explain about the Vyugha to my mother, when I was in her womb! Though I learnt how to break the Vyugha, I never learnt how to come out of it!'
Bheema drove towards Abhimanyu as he aimed a few arrows uselessly at the Vyugha. 'Son! It does not matter! Create an opening inside the Vyugha! We will follow you!' Bheema said grimly. 'Once inside, we will break the Vyugha from the inside!'
Abhimanyu smiled as he nodded. He turned to his charioteer, Sumitra. 'Drive! Drive towards the Vyugha, Sumitra!'
'Prince Abhimanyu!' The old charioteer spoke. 'These are the Kaurava forces...All of them. Look Duryodhana right in the middle of the circle and surrounding him are his brothers, the elders of the Hastinapur and obviously Duryodhana's friend – Karna! Around that is another circle of elephants...Not just any elephants...they are well trained war elephants! Then the archery section and then finally Jayadratha with his akshauni in the outer circle! All of them are great warriors...I am afraid if we go inside, the warriors may overwhelm us...'
Abhimanyu smiled again. 'King Yudhishtara has asked for our help! Other than father and my maternal uncle (Krishna), there is no one in the battlefield who can break this Vyugha! You were watching how badly the Pandava soldiers were being killed in the battle....There is no way we can survive this onslaught continuously. We have to do something! Come my friend!'
Sumitra looked at the sharp, young face of the prince and nodded his head. 'As you wish my prince!'
And off they drove...towards the Chakravyugha.
The four Pandavas followed Abhimanyu as he drove forward. Bheema watched with utter amazement as Abhimanyu aimed at the left from where he was going. Abhimanyu fired continuous arrows as a throng of Kaurava soldiers on the left fell. Bheema watched astonished as the other soldiers tried to rapidly fill in the places of the fallen soldiers. But then Abhimanyu rapidly fired to the right. The same thing happened in the right of the Vyugha and the soldiers tried filling in the place of the dead soldiers.
Much to Bheema's astonishment, the Kaurava soldiers were busy filling up the places of their dead, and they moved away from the place, clearing the area where Abhimanyu was about to enter the Vyugha, making an almost perfect path for Abhimanyu's chariot to enter....
Bheema cheered as he was about to follow Abhimanyu when from nowhere an arrow landed right in front of him. The horses almost skidded to a stop as Bheema was thrown forward. Bheema looked annoyed as he saw Jayadratha coming before him with an almost smug expression in his face.
Bheema saw Abhimanyu was entering the Chakravyugha and fumed. 'I think the lesson I gave that man in the Kamakya forests were not sufficient! That man needs to be killed....' Bheema told his charioteer as he angrily picked up his arrow as he countered Jayadratha's arrows.
Bheema was in for a shock. The man whom he had so easily defeated in the Kamakya forest looked like he had suddenly raised the level of the battle to a different level. No matter what Bheema did, Jayadratha was able to counter it and counter it brilliantly. Yudhishtara, Nakula and Sahadeva saw Abhimanyu getting deeper inside the Chakravyugha and took turns trying to defeat Jayadratha. However what started as a simple fight and what should have been over in a matter of minutes prolonged on and on....The four Pandava brothers were unable to get through Jayadratha, no matter what....That day Jayadratha fought like a man possessed....
And a young prince without any backup, was all alone in Dronacharya's Chakravyugha.
Inside the Chakravyugha, Abhimanyu was hunting like Yama, the God of death. Nobody, no archer or any warrior was able to stand before him. The dual between him and the other Kaurava warriors was remarkably short. It did not matter who came before him, the elephant warriors or the horse soldiers, Abhimanyu annihilated them with clinical efficiency. As Abhimanyu shot deeper and deeper into the Vyugha, there was a trail of dead soldiers in his wake.
Duryodhana watched the massacre almost unable to believe his eyes. Watching his soldiers run, Duryodhana let out a feral shout pulling out his bow and arrow urging his charioteer to go towards Abhimanyu.
Dronacharya watched Duryodhana going towards Abhimanyu and shouted. 'NO! Don't go...' But it was wasted. Duryodhana had already marched forward, out of hearing distance.
'SURROUND DURYODHANA!' Dronacharya shouted to the other warriors of the Kuru army. 'Duryodhana is going to his death by going to fight with Abhimanyu alone! SURROUND HIM!'
Fortunately for Duryodhana, the other Kuru warriors heard Dronacharya. In no time, Karna, Drona, Ashwattaman, Kripacharya, Kritivarman, Bhurisravas, Vrishasena and a hoard of warriors surrounded Duryodhana before he could reach Abhimanyu. Together all of them fired at Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu was able to check most of the arrows but still some of them shot through his defense injuring him. However that did not stop Abhimanyu. The continuous onslaught of arrows from Abhimanyu at the Kaurava warriors made sure that the people who fought against Abhimanyu were in worse shape than him....
Dusshasana, Duryodhana's brother looked at Abhimanyu with anger. Like his elder brother, he believed that he could stop Abhimanyu. He shouted to Karna. 'Watch me, Karna! I am going to kill this boy today! I will break the hearts of the two Krishnas (In the Mahabharatha, during the Kurukshetra battle, both Krishna and Arjuna were together referred to as the two Krishnas). Probably watching him die, the Krishnas will lose the will to fight...' Dusshasana said gleefully.
Dusshasana went towards the young warrior and he started what became an almost desperate fight with Abhimanyu....Desperate, because Dusshasana realized very soon that he could never be in the same league as Abhimanyu, no matter how much he tried. Without even trying too hard Abhimanyu broke Dusshasana's bow. Abhimanyu fired rapidly at Dusshasana completely rendering Dusshasana helpless. As Dusshasana lay helpless before him, Abhimanyu spoke softly to Sumitra. 'Dusshasana is a cruel man, my friend! This man has hurt my father and Mother Krishna (Draupadi) much. By killing him, I will be free of the debt...' Abhimanyu pulled out his gleaming crescent shaped arrow and was about to take aim, when Dusshasana's charioteer showing quick presence of mind led the unconscious warrior away from the battlefield, which was probably what saved Dusshasan's life, that day.
At Dusshasana's fall, Karna came up again against the youth. Using his first arrow Abhimanyu pierced Karna's armour deep. Karna fell down on the chariot momentarily shocked as his bow dropped from his hand. What really shocked Karna was that as Abhimanyu was fighting with him, Abhimanyu maintained the fight with Kritivarman and pierced Kritivarman's armour too! Both the warriors retreated, unable to face Abhimanyu....
Shalya came up, but he had picked up the wrong day to battle Abhimanyu. Shalya was unable to defend himself and one of the arrows of Abhimanyu pierced Shalya deep and the king of Madra fell on the chariot unconscious. His charioteer drove Shalya away least the young Abhimanyu kill Shalya. Shalya's army ran away from the field seeing their leader fall....
Not having learnt the lesson, Rukmartha, Shalya's brother boasted that he was going to stop Abhimanyu....He lost his life almost immediately to the brilliant archery of Abhimanyu. Karna's younger brother (born to Adhiratha and Radha, Karna's adopted parents) attacked Abhimanyu, because Karna's brother was unable to bear the fact that Karna had been defeated by such a young boy. He rushed at Abhimanyu. Unfortunately Karna's brother was not in the same class as Abhimanyu and he was killed by Abhimanyu in a very short battle. It was also said that another king Vasatiya lost his life fighting with Abhimanyu....
The way the Kaurava soldiers and warriors were falling it almost looked like Abhimanyu was performing a sacrifice with the blood of the Kaurava soldiers and warriors...
The air around Abhimanyu and the other warriors were so thick with arrows that almost nothing could be seen by any of the soldiers of the Kaurava army....
It was at this stage of the battle that Abhimanyu used an arrow called the Gandharva Tumvuru. This arrow was got by Arjuna when he helped Indra fight the Nitavatakavachas. Arjuna had given the arrow to Abhimanyu and had also taught Abhimanyu the mantra to invoke it. Abhimanyu fired the arrow and to the horror of the Kaurava army, Abhimanyu suddenly disappeared from where he was standing....The Kaurava soldiers looked around shocked as there were a dozen Abhimanyus all over the battlefield...To their horror, the Kaurava soldiers now found the arrows were coming from everywhere, as they did not know where the real Abhimanyu was. The soldiers whose moral had already been hit hard now almost started fleeing from the field watching the dreaded Abhimanyu everywhere....
However the problem was that despite everything, Abhimanyu was still human. He was a tremendously good warrior, but still nothing more than a young boy of sixteen. The continuous battle in the hostile territory was taking its toll on Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu had been pierced so many times by so many arrows that his coat overflowed with his own blood. But still Abhimanyu fought on...It seemed almost as if he had crushed all the need for rest and recuperation as he plodded on through the Chakravyugha.