Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Gurus of Hastinapur - Part 21

The second battle between Arjuna and Bhagadatta was ridiculously short. Bhagadatta had had a special and very strong armour created for his elephant – Supratika. Any arrows shot at the armour were just deflected by the shield as the elephant went on a rampage mode.
But this time around, Arjuna did not aim at the armour. The armour had weak links which were small, almost hidden to the sight of normal humans. But then Arjuna shot precisely at the weak links. He shot it so perfectly that as the elephant trudged towards him, the armour just collapsed as the weak links were broken. And so right in the middle of the battlefield, as Supratika was charging towards the two Krishnas, its armour fell like a heap on the ground.
Without even waiting for a second, Arjuna pulled out a potent arrow and this time shot through all the vital organs of the elephant....
Supratika, the fighter elephant had endured much and could do nothing more....It fell on the battlefield.
Bhagadatta watched in horror as he felt Supratika was moving sluggishly. He realized that the elephant was fighting in its last breath and tried to urge the elephant forward. But deep down Bhagadatta realized that the elephant could no longer obey him...
Angrily Bhagadatta, jumped down on the ground. He started firing non stop at Arjuna. But then, the arrows never really did any damage to Arjuna.
And without Supratika, Bhagadatta found that he had lost half his strength. The brave king tried to fight, but then Arjuna picked up a crescent shaped arrow. He aimed at Bhagadatta and let it go....
The brave Bhagadatta fell dead near his beloved elephant.
The entire Kaurava army watched in fascination the twang of the Gandiva stopped for a few seconds. They all turned towards the direction where Arjuna and Krishna had been and were shocked to see that Arjuna had got down from the chariot. Arjuna went towards the dead warrior and closed his eyes for a few seconds. With regret in his eyes, Arjuna folded his hands in prayer and went around the dead warrior.

Before the other warriors could register any of this, Arjuna nodded his head and went back to Krishna, in the chariot.
'He was Indra's friend!' Arjuna said, though Krishna had not asked anything.'He fought against me but he was still my father's favourite! And so I paid my respects to him!' Arjuna said as the Gandiva was back in his hands.

The Kaurava army watched as Arjuna was studying the battlefield, when his attention was drawn to two warriors driving ferociously towards him. 'Kesava! Achala and Vrishaka are coming towards us! We will meet them in battle, today!'
Achala and Vrishaka were the brothers of Gandhari and were the princes of Gandhar like Shakuni. On seeing the death of Bhagadatta, the two of them challenged Arjuna to a fight. But as usual, they found themselves woefully short-matched to Arjuna. The warriors fought with Arjuna separately. Then Arjuna destroyed the chariot of Vrishaka, who jumped over to the chariot of his brother.
Now in the same chariot, the brothers were able to coordinate better, but then Arjuna quickly killed the two of them....
Shakuni who was watching this, let out a roar of despair as he drove angrily towards Arjuna. Duryodhana who was near his uncle also ran to help his uncle. Duryodhana threw a various weapons at Arjuna, which Arjuna cut down.
But Shakuni was a warrior of a different mettle. He was learned in the art of illusions and he created weapons from this power and hurled them at Arjuna.
However it did not matter to Arjuna, what came in his way, he just cut down any and all weapons, which came anywhere near him.
Arjuna almost finished decimating the last of the weapons, when a very strange sight met his eyes. He saw various wild animals in the battlefield coming towards him, trying to eat him. For a second Arjuna was shocked, but just for a second. Then he remembered that Shakuni was extremely good with the art of illusions and Arjuna used a weapon for burning up all the illusions which faced him.
The battlefield then looked normal to Arjuna as he sighed in relief. However Arjuna dropped his guard too quick. Suddenly around him, there was a thick darkness in all sides. A darkness so thick that nothing seemed to penetrate it. Arjuna momentarily lost his vision as he felt the horses move without a tether, wobbling.
'Partha!' Krishna's voice came from somewhere, but Arjuna did not know where.....
And the worst was that this illusion was not a battle of weapons. From within the impenetrable darkness came voices...Harsh voices which yelled and shouted at Arjuna...The voices cursed him for being what he was...
Arjuna almost faltered, but then he remembered the weapon of Jyotishka. The very purpose of the Jyotishka astra was to dispel this darkness. Arjuna knew that he had to do something fast. The horses were getting nervous in the dark.
Quickly Arjuna let the Jyotishka and the darkness disappeared. But in its place appeared a huge torrent of water gushing ferociously at him. But Arjuna was ready. Using the Aditya astra, he burnt up the entire water.
Arjuna waited for anything more to come.
There were again some more illusions, but Arjuna faced all of it.
Arjuna then pulled out his arrow and aimed straight for Shakuni. Shakuni, knowing that he could not handle Arjuna in archery any more, fled from the battlefield....

After this there was no holding back Arjuna. He fell on the Kaurava army. It is said that he was so devastatingly good that not even a single soldier dared to stand before him. Veda Vyasa describes Arjuna's archery in a very scenic manner, saying that the soldiers before Arjuna ran away like a river Ganga parting when there was mountain in the middle.
The soldiers from the massacred division ran away and mixed with Drona and Duryodhana's division.
Meanwhile elsewhere in the field, there was another warrior of the Pandavas called Nila who was destroying the Kaurava soldiers. Wishing to stop the massacre of Kaurava soldiers. Ashwattaman challenged Nila to a fight.
The battle between the Nila and Ashwattaman was fierce. Nila cut off Ashwattaman's standards and umbrella. Watching Ashwattaman without his standard, Nila smirked as he pulled out his sword to kill Ashwattaman. But Nila had forgottent that Ashwattaman still had his bow. He fired his unerring arrow at Nila, killing the warrior on the spot...

For the Kauravas, Drona was making mincemeat of the Panchala army facing him. Unable to bear this, Bheema attacked Drona. In the madness and the mayhem which followed, no one escaped the battle unhurt. Bheema with his ferocious strength was on a rampage and Drona was clinically annihilating the Pandava soldiers before him.

And then came the battle that everyone was waiting for. Arjuna found himself face to face with Karna. However before the epic battle could begin, the other Pandava soldiers also joined the fight. Dhristadhyumna, Bheema and Satyaki all fought with Karna. Karna magnificently, fought not only Arjuna, but also dealt with the arrows of the other warriors.

The other Kaurava soldiers also joined Karna. But then this battle was costly for Karna. He lost three of his brothers – the brothers born to his adopted mother – Radha, to Arjuna on that day.

But before Karna could retaliate, Satyaki challanged Karna. Satyaki fought brilliantly well and injured Karna really badly and Satyaki also broke Karna's bow. Realizing that Satyaki was in a dangerous mood and fearing for Karna's life, Drona and Duryodhana came to Karna's rescue.
However Karna needed no help. He fought on his own against the Pandava soldiers.

The bloody war would have gone on mindlessly....But then the earth received some respite from the continuous killing as the sun set, stopping the day of war....