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....