69. The Sixth Day
ACCORDING to Yudhishthira's order
Dhrishtadyumna arrayed the Pandava army in makara (fish) formation for the
sixth day's battle. The Kaurava army was arrayed in krauncha (heron) formation.
We know, how, similarly, names
were given to physical exercise, asanas, or postures. Vyuha was the general
name for battle array. Which Vyuha was best for any particular occasion,
depended on the requirements of the offensive and defensive plans of the day.
What the strength and composition
of the forces arrayed should be and what positions they should take up were
decided upon, according to the situation as it developed from time to time.
The sixth day was marked by a
prodigious slaughter, even in the first part of the morning. Drona's charioteer
was killed and Drona took the reins of the horses himself and used his bow as
Great was the destruction he
effected. He went about like fire among cotton heaps. The formations of both
armies were soon broken and indiscriminate and fierce fighting went on. Blood
flowed in torrents and the field was covered by dead bodies of soldiers, elephants
and horses and the debris of chariots.
Bhimasena pierced the enemy's
lines to seek out Duryodhana's brothers and finish them. They, for their part,
did not wait to be sought, but rushed on him, in a combined attack from all
sides. He was attacked by Duhsasana, Durvishaha, Durmata, Jaya, Jayatsena,
Vikarna, Chitrasena, Sudarsana, Charuchitra, Suvarma, Dushkarna and others, all
Bhimasena, who did not know what
fear was, stood up and fought them all. They desired to take him prisoner and
he to kill them all on the spot.
The battle raged fiercely, even
like the ancient battle between the gods and the asuras. Suddenly, the son of
Pandu lost his patience and jumped down from his chariot, mace in band, and
made straight on foot for the sons of Dhritarashtra, in hot haste to slay them.
When Dhrishtadyumna saw Bhima's
chariot disappear in the enemy lines, he was alarmed and rushed to prevent
disaster. He reached Bhima's car, but found it was occupied only by the
charioteer and Bhima was not in it. With tears in his eyes, he asked the
charioteer: "Visoka, where is Bhima dearer to me than life?"
Dhrishtadyumna naturally thought Bhima had fallen.
Visoka bowed and said to the son
of Drupada: "The son of Pandu asked me to stay here and, without waiting
for my reply rushed forward on foot, mace in hand, into the enemy ranks."
Fearing that Bhima would be
overpowered and killed Dhrishtadyumna drove his chariot into the enemy lines in
search of Bhimasena, whose path was marked by the bodies of slain elephants.
When Dhrishtadyumna found Bhima,
he saw him surrounded on all sides by enemies fighting from their chariots.
Bhima stood against them all, mace in hand, wounded all over and breathing
Dhrishtadyumna embraced him and
took him into his chariot and proceeded to pick out the shafts that had stuck
in his body. Duryodhana now ordered his warriors to attack Bhimasena and
Dhrishtadyumna and not to wait for them to attack or challenge.
Accordingly, they made a combined
attack even though they were not inclined to engage themselves in further
fighting. Dhrishtadyumna had a secret weapon, which he had obtained from
Dronacharya and, discharging it, threw the enemy forces into a stupor.
But Duryodhana then joined the
fray and discharged weapons to counter the stupor weapons of Dhrishtadyumna.
Just then, reinforcements sent by Yudhishthira arrived.
A force of twelve chariots with
their retinue led by Abhimanyu came upon the scene to support Bhima.
Dhrishtadyumna was greatly
relieved when he saw this. Bhimasena had also by now refreshed himself and was
ready to renew the fight. He got into Kekaya's chariot and took up his position
along with the rest.
Drona, however, was terrible that
day. He killed Dhrishtadyumna's charioteer and horses and smashed his chariot
and Drupada's son had to seek a place in Abhimanyu's car. The Pandava forces
began to waver and Drona was cheered by the Kaurava army.
Indiscriminate mass fighting and
slaughter went on that day. At one time, Bhima and Duryodhana met face to face.
The usual exchange of hot words took place and was followed by a great battle
Duryodhana was hit and fell
unconscious. Kripa extricated him with great skill and took him away in his own
chariot. Bhishma personally arrived at the spot now and led the attack and
scattered the Pandava forces.
The sun was sinking, but the
battle was continued for an hour yet and the fighting was fierce and many
thousands perished. Then the day's battle ceased. Yudhishthira was glad that
Dhrishtadyumna and Bhima returned to camp alive.