Friday, October 31, 2014

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.....