EARLY next morning, Duryodhana
went to Dronacharya in a state of bitterness and anger. After the customary
salutation, he addressed him thus in the presence of a large number of
Yudhishthira was quite within your reach yesterday and, if you had really
wished to take him no one could have prevented you. Yet, you did not take him,
and to me the events of yesterday are inexplicable. I cannot understand what
makes it hard for you to carry out your promise to me. Verily great men are not
Dronacharya was exceedingly hurt
by this insulting insinuation.
"Duryodhana," he said,
"I am putting forth on your be half all the strength and skill I possess. You entertain thoughts unworthy of a king. As
long as Arjuna is present, supporting Yudhishthira, it is not possible for us
to seize him. I have told you that already. It is only if we manage some how to
get Arjuna out of the battlefield that we can hope to carry out this plan as
you desire. And I am devising ways to attain this objective."
Thus did Drona nobly conquer his
just anger and seek to comfort Duryodhana in his distress.
On the thirteenth day, the
samsaptakas again challenged Arjuna to battle and he accordingly went to attack
them, where they were arrayed to the south of the main battlefront. The battle
that was fought between the samsaptakas and Arjuna was the fiercest that ever
had been seen or heard of till that day.
When Dhananjaya left the main front for
meeting the samsaptakas, Drona rearranged his army in lotus formation and
attacked Yudhishthira fiercely.
Bhima, Satyaki, Chekitana,
Dhrishtadyumna, Kuntibhoja, Drupada, Ghatotkacha, Yudhamanyu, Sikhandin,
Uttamaujas, Virata, the Kekayas, Srinjayas and many others opposed him. But
their resistance seemed paralysed by the violence of Drona's offensive.
Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and
Subhadra, was still adolescent, but had already won recognition as a mighty
man-at arms even as the equal of his father and uncle in battle. Yudhishthira
called Abhimanyu and said to him:
"Dear son, Dronacharya is attacking
our army greatly. Arjuna is absent and, if we should be defeated in his
absence, he will be grieved beyond measure. No one among us has been able to
break Drona's array. You know you can do it and no one else. I ask you to take
up this task."
"I can do it," replied
Abhimanyu. "I have been instructed by my father how to penetrate this
formation and can certainly do so. But if after forcing my way, it should
unfortunately become necessary for me to come out, I shall be at a loss what to
do, being as yet uninstructed in the art of extrication."
"Valiant boy, break this
impregnable formation and open a passage for us. We shall all break in your
wake. We shall be with you to face any danger and no question can arise of your
having to come out."
Yudhishthira's proposal: "I shall be immediately behind you and enter when
you succeed in breaking the enemy's formation. So also will Dhrishtadyumna,
Satyaki, the Panchalas, the Kekayas and the forces of Matsyadesa. Only break
the formation as you alone can do. We shall do the rest and smash the Kaurava
Abhimanyu thought of his father
and Krishna. Feeling encouraged by what had been said by Bhimasena and
Yudhishthira, and impelled by his own gallant nature, undertook the adventure.
"I shall please my great
father and uncle," he said with enthusiasm. "Let my valor be staked
"May your prowess
grow," said Yudhishthira and blessed the youth.
"Sumitra, see Drona's flag
flying there! Drive straight and fast to that point," said Abhimanyu to
"Faster, faster!" urged
Abhimanyu as they sped along.
"May the gods protect
you!" said the charioteer. "Yudhishthira has placed a very great
burden on your young shoulders. Think well before you pierce Drona's array and
enter. The acharya is unrivalled in skill and experience, while you, though his
equal in valor, have not his long years to back it."
Abhimanyu smiled and replied:
"Friend, I am Krishna's nephew and son of Arjuna, am I not? Which other
has that advantage? Fear dares not approach me! These enemies here have not a
sixteenth part of my strength. Drive fast towards Drona's division. Do not
The charioteer obeyed.
As the golden chariot to which
were yoked beautiful young horses approached, the soldiers in the Kaurava army
shouted: "Abhimanyu is corning! He has come!" The Pandavas followed
Abhimanyu close behind him.
The Kaurava warriors were
perturbed as they saw Abhimanyu's chariot approach them with great speed.
"Here is one greater in valor than
Arjuna," they thought and began to lose heart.
Like a young lion on a herd of
elephants, Abhimanyu rushed on. There was a ripple in the Kaurava ranks which
bent under his headlong onslaught.
The bend soon became a break and
under Drona's very eyes, the formation was breached and Abhimanyu entered. But
the breach closed under the inspiration of Jayadratha, king of the Sindhus,
before the other Pandava warriors could force their way in according to plan
and Abhimanyu was alone!
Kaurava warriors opposed him, but
they fell like moths in the fire, one after another. Abhimanyu's shafts
searched the weak points in the armor of his enemies. And the bodies of
soldiers lay strewn on the field like Kusa grass on the sacrificial platform.
Bows, arrows, swords, shields,
javelins, pieces of harness, chaiot canopies, axes, maces, spears, whips,
conchs, along with severed heads and limbs of slain warriors, covered the
Seeing the destruction wrought by
Abhimanyu, Duryodhana was wroth and rushed in person to oppose the youthful
warrior. Drona, having leant that the king himself was engaged in battle with
Abhimanyu, became anxious and sent veterans to protect Duryodhana.
With great difficulty, they
managed to rescue the king from the boy-hero who greatly disappointed at the
escape of Duryodhana, vented his anger on the warriors that had come to rescue
him and put them to headlong flight.
Then, throwing away all sense of
shame and chivalry, a large number of veteran warriors made a combined and
simultaneous attack on the hero, who found himself alone, surrounded by enemies
on all sides. But, even as on all sides a rock receives the rising tide of the
sea, Arjuna's son withstood this united ouslaught.
Drona, Aswatthama, Kripa, Karna,
Sakuni, Salya and many other great warriors in their chariots, equipped with
all arms, surged in attack on the young hero, only to be dashed back, baffled
Asmaka rode his chariot at great
speed against Abhimanyu's. But smiling, Abhimanyu sent his shafts and disposed
of him in no time. Karna's armor was pierced.
Salya was badly wounded and sat,
unable to move, in his chariot. Salya's brother came up in great wrath to
avenge his brother's disgrace but he fell and his chariot was broken to pieces.
Thus did Abhimanyu, alone and
unsupported, oppose a host of veteran warriors and show the skill in the use of
arms which he had learnt from his illustrious father and from Vasudeva, his
uncle. Seeing this, the poet says, Dronacharya's eyes were filled with tears of
"Was there ever a fighter to
equal this boy Abhimanyu?" exclaimed Drona to Kripa, in the hearing of
Duryodhana who could not contain his anger.
"The acharya's partiality
for Arjuna prevents him from killing Abhimanyu," Duryodhana said,
"and he sings his praises instead of fighting him. Indeed, if the acharya
were minded to dispose of Abhimanyu, would it take him long to do it!"
Often did Duryodhana suspect and
complain in this manner against Bhishma and Drona. Having undertaken a war of
adharma, he was often led to speak in this manner and hurt the feelings of the
acharyas who stood loyally by him, even when they saw the wickedness of his
Duhsasana roared in anger and
exclaiming: "This obstinate lad will perish now!" led his chariot
forward to attack Abhimanyu. The chariots of Abhimanyu and Duhsasana made
wonderful movement against each other and the battle raged long.
Duhsasana was struck senseless in
his car, and his charioteer just managed to drive away from the field saving
Duhsasana's life. Karna attacked Abhimanyu with his shafts and harassed him
But one of Abhimanyu's arrows
felled Karna's bow and the young warrior followed up this advantage so
vigorously that he put Karna and his supporters to flight. The Kaurava forces,
when they saw this, were completely demoralised.
The army was in confusion and men
fled in all directions, not caring for Drona's shouts of remonstrance. And
Abhimanyu destroyed those that stood, as fire destroys a dry jungle in summer.