Arjuna was really glad that the sun had set. That he was exhausted after decimating the Samshaptakas was probably an understatement. He was almost glad as Krishna turned the horses towards the Pandava camp.
Arjuna watched at the Dark Lord drove the horses home, and as usual Krishna was quiet. But then Arjuna was more than tuned in to Krishna's feelings. This was not the normal silence of the Dark Lord. It was darker...something which spoke of a deep fore brooding. It seemed like the calm before the....Arjuna blinked as he saw the Pandava camp coming into focus. 'Krishna! Why is the Pandava camp so dark?' he demanded.
There was no reply as Krishna stopped the chariot just outside the camp. 'Why is there no musical instruments playing? Why are....' Arjuna stumbled as he almost fell out of the chariot towards the camp.
'Krishna! Abhimanyu is the first one to wish me after the day's battle! I....' This time Arjuna caught Krishna looking at him with an almost miserable expression in his face. Arjuna shook his head, unable to believe it. NO! No....I..I...' Arjuna staggered as Krishna helped him to Yudhishtara's tent.
If Arjuna had any hope until he entered Yudhishtara's camp, it vaporised the minute he saw Yudhishtara. 'I heard that Dronacharya formed the Chakravyugha today!' Arjuna glanced at all the people in the room. 'None of you can break it!' the stillness in the tent was almost suffocating as Arjuna shouted. 'WHOM DID YOU SEND INSIDE THE VYUGHA?'
No one spoke. There was no need to. Arjuna collapsed in the tent. Some part of him registered Krishna was near him looking devastated. But Arjuna was too numb to pay proper attention to it.
'I did not teach him how to get out of it! I did not...' Arjuna whispered to himself, as the words chocked in his mouth.
A feral anger gave way to the overwhelming sadness as he looked at his brothers. 'You! The great Pandavas!' he sneered angrily. 'You sent a boy inside the Chakravyugha! Are you not....' Arjuna found that words refused to cooperate with his mouth as he chocked again. 'What will I tell Subhadra?' Arjuna moaned falling back on the wall. 'Draupadi loved him like her own son! What am I going to tell her?' Arjuna almost yelped as he looked around haunted. 'What am I going to tell Uttara? They have been married just a few months...' Arjuna wailed, as words once again failed him.
Nobody could speak. Just before the arrival of Arjuna, Yudhishtara had been inconsolable as he was sitting in his tent, thinking the entire uselessness of the war. Veda Vyasa, himself had come to the battlefield and consoled Yudhishtara. It was because of this that the other four Pandavas were in slightly better shape than Arjuna. But the haunted words of Arjuna again brought the stark reality to all of them...They had sent a sixteen year old boy to his death....
All the five Pandavas whimpered as Arjuna murmured to Krishna. 'All the Kaurava Maharathas must have faced him! He would have been all alone while he was facing them and he must have thought that his father was going to come and protect him....' Tears filled Arjuna's face 'And when my son needed me the most, I was not there for him!' Arjuna said his eyes almost popping in madness as an ice cold rage built inside him.
Krishna held Arjuna's hands, his eyes filled with tears as he shook his head. 'Partha! Abhimanyu has now reached that realm of heaven, which only the bravest people can have! Your brothers now look to you for comfort! Please control yourself!'
Arjuna turned to Krishna and Yudhishtara with a quiet coldness which was more terrifying than the helpless sobbing before. 'How did this happen? I need to know all that happened!'
Yuyutsu (He was the son of Dhirdarashtra, but he was not the son of Gandhari. He was the son of a trader woman. He fought the war on behalf of the Pandavas because he always supported them.) was beyond anger as he saw the Kaurava soldiers rejoicing. He could take it no more as he angrily pushed the soldiers away and entered the Kaurava camp.
'What are you happy about?' He asked them angrily. 'WHAT ARE YOU HAPPY ABOUT?' He shouted as all the soldiers parted ways for him. 'You think you have done something great by killing a boy?' There was a sudden silence as the Kaurava soldiers looked at Yuyutsu, afraid. 'Do you know what you have done?' Yuyutsu asked fiercely. 'Krishna and Arjuna are now furious! Where do you think you can run from them?' Now the Kaurava soldiers were terrified as Yuyutsu continued. 'For the crime that you have committed today, you will all pay! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!' Yuyutsu said angrily pushing the soldiers away as he walked back to the Pandava camp.
'Jayadratha? The King of Sindhu?' Arjuna wondered whether his grief had actually unhinged him. Jayadratha was at best a mediocre warrior. Bheema alone was sufficient to stop him. And his brother were telling him that the King of Sindhu singlehanded stopped them from entering the Vyugha....
'After Bheema defeated him, Jayadratha performed severe penance towards the three eyed Lord Shiva, Partha!' Krishna said quietly. Arjuna turned as he tried to focus on Krishna's words trying to forget the pain which was filling in his chest. 'Jayadratha's penance was so strong that Lord Shiva granted him a boon that as long as you were not with your brothers, he would be able to stop the other four Pandavas!' Krishna finished sadly.
Arjuna fell back as a feeling of complete and utter defeat washed over him. So it was him....He was not there for his son. It was because he was not there that his son was now not here. The son whose fair eyes and beautiful face was something that always cheered him no matter what. The son whose optimism was infectious. His son....
Arjuna looked at Krishna first as Krishna sensed him in an almost dangerous mood. Arjuna then turned to Yudhishtara. 'Jayadratha dies tomorrow!' Arjuna said in a vicious voice. 'And he dies by my hands!' His brothers stayed almost away from Arjuna as Arjuna got up looking something beyond anger. 'Unless that wretch comes to us for protection or goes to Krishna for protection, I will kill that man! And I don't care who is protecting that man! If they are protecting him....they will be filled with my arrows!' Arjuna said with a definite shout. 'And if I don't do what I say, I will kill myself!' Arjuna huffed as he pulled his Gandiva close to himself. Krishna picked up his conch – the Panchajanya and blew on it loudly, closely joined by Arjuna's conch the Devadatta. An unearthly sound filled the world...the almost sounded like a death knell....
'ARJUNA WHAT?' Jayadratha asked stunned as the spies informed the Kauravas of Arjuna's promise. Beads do perspiration appeared in his forehead which Karna found very odd. The man had been very confident in the morning when he had said that he would stop the four Pandavas. Now the man was scared...actually he was terrified. 'I am going to run away!' Jayadratha said swallowing. 'With Arjuna against me, it does not matter who is here to prtect me....He will kill me! I wish to hide from the Pandavas! I will...'
Duryodhana came forward to Jayadratha with a smile which was almost unnerving to watch. 'Why do you fear my friend? You are a warrior! Fear does not suit you! All my 11 Akshauhinis (a battalion of soldiers) are for protecting you! Nothing will happen to you!'
In desperation, Jayadratha almost believed the man.
Too afraid to speak anything else, the two men met Drona. Drona shook his head. 'I will make a formation today that will make it impossible for Arjuna to even come near you!' Duryodhana was another matter, but Jayadratha believed Drona almost instantaneously. For the first time since he heard the news of Arjuna's promise, Jayadratha felt relieved. 'You have lived a good life and had done your duty well! Why do you fear Death, my son?' Drona shook her head. 'Fear does not suit you! Let it go and go to sleep! Be in peace, my son!'
Jayadratha gave a hesitant smile and nodded as he looked at the wizened face of the Teacher.
Arjuna was not feeling good, but he was feeling a rather different emotion from the Dark Lord. Krishna was listening, as a rather indistinct looking man was talking to Krishna.
The man finished and again melted back in the crowd.
Krishna turned to Arjuna as Arjuna realized with a jolt that Krishna was angry with him. 'You have made a rash promise, my friend!' Krishna said in quiet anger. Arjuna was looking completely blankly at Krishna wondering whether he had heard right. He seemed incapable of words as Krishna continued. 'You made a vow to kill Jayadratha by tomorrow or kill yourself if you do not succeed!'
Arjuna said nothing as Krishna continued. 'My spies tell me that the Kauravas know all about your vow! Drona has planned a special Vyugha just for you! It is going to half like a Sakata (a vehicle of some sort) and half a lotus. And in the middle Jayadratha would be surrounded by six Maharathas from the Kaurava army!'
'You think I cannot keep my promise?' Arjuna looked at Karna with mild bewilderment. 'I have the Gandiva with me! I trust I can equal all those six Maharathas! And you are my charioteer! When you are with me, what do you think I cannot do?' Arjuna asked Krishna. 'I will do exactly what I have said!' Arjuna said firmly.