The Death Of Abhimanyu
THE Pandavas, proceeding
according to plan, had closely followed Abhimanyu when he broke into the
Kaurava formation. But Dhritarashtra's son-in-law Jayadratha, the gallant king
of the Sindhus, swooped down upon the Pandavas with all his forces and enabled
the breach in the formation to be effectively and solidly closed up, so that
the Pandavas found it impossible to force their way in.
Yudhishthira hurled a javelin and
cut Jayadratha's bow. But in an instant, the Saindhava took up another bow and
sent unerring shafts at Dharmaputra.
Bhimasena's arrows made deadly
work, crashing down the canopy and flagstaff of Jayadratha's car. But the
Saindhava, was alert and rearmed himself, each time his equipment was broken.
He killed Bhima's chariot horses, and the latter had to go into Satyaki's car.
In this manner, Jayadratha, with
stubborn valor, prevented the Pandavas from entering in Abhimanyu's wake. The
young hero was thus isolated and surrounded by the Kaurava forces.
The son of Subhadra was however
undaunted. He attacked all the warriors around him and slew them in great
number. Like rivers losing themselves in the ocean, the soldiers that went to
attack him, disappeared before his arrows. The Kaurava army reeled under
Duryodhana's son Lakshmana, a
gallant young warrior, then charged on Abhimanyu. When they saw this,
retreating soldiers came back and supported Lakshmana, showering arrows on
Abhimanyu, like rain falling on a hill.
Still, Arjuna's son was undaunted
and, his shaft came swift and shining, like a serpent fresh-sloughed, and pierced
Lakshmana. The handsome youth, with beautiful nose and eyebrows and hair, lay
dead on the field and the Kaurava soldiers were filled with grief.
"To hell with the wicked
Abhimanyu," shouted Duryodhana, and the six great warriors, Dorna, Kripa,
Karna, Aswatthama, Brihatbala and Kritavarma closed upon Abhimanyu.
"It is impossible to pierce
this youth's armor," said Drona to Karna. "Aim at the reins of his
horses and cut them off. Disable him thus and attack him from behind."
The son of Surya did accordingly.
Abhimanyu's bow was broken by a shaft discharged from behind. His horses and
charioteer were killed. Thus disabled, the young warrior stood on the field,
with sword and shield, facing his enemies.
As he stood dauntless like
kshatriya dharma incarnate, he filled the warriors around with amazement.
Whirling his sword, he held his own against the numerous warriors who had
surrounded him, with a skill that confounded them.
It seemed to them as if his feet
did not rest on earth and he was on wings, in the air. Drona sent a shaft that
broke Abhimanyu's sword. Karna's sharp arrows tore his shield into bits.
Then Abhimanyu bent down and
taking up one of his chariot wheels and whirling it like a discus, stood up
facing all the enemies that surrounded him.
The dust from the chariot wheel
covered him and the poet says it enhanced the natural beauty of the young hero. He fought fiercely
like a second Vishnu with the
But soon, the combined onslaught
of the warriors that surrounded him overpowered him. The chariot wheel was
shattered to pieces. The son of Duhsasana came up then and closed with him in
Both went down together but
Duhsasana's son rose again and, while Abhimanyu was struggling to his feet,
struck him with his mace and killed him.
"Subhadra's son who, like an
elephant in a lily pond, single-handed worked havoc in the Kaurava army, was
thus overpowered by numbers and killed cruelly," said Sanjaya to
"And, having killed him,
your people danced around his dead body like savage hunters exulting over their
prey. All good men in the army were grieved and tears rolled from their eyes.
Even the birds of prey, that circled overhead making noises seemed to cry 'Not
thus!' 'Not thus!' "
While there was blowing of conchs
and cries of victory all over the Kaurava army, Yuyutsu, the son of
Dhritarashtra, did not approve of all this. "This is ignoble," he
"Soldiers, you have
forgotten your code. Verily, you should be ashamed but, instead, you shout
brazen cries of victory. Having committed a most wicked deed, you revel in
foolish joy, blind to the danger that is imminent."
So saying, Yuyutsu threw his
weapon away in disgust and left the battlefield. This young son of
Dhritarashtra feared sin. His words were not sweet in the Kaurava ears, but he
was a good man and spoke out his mind.