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For Commentary on Bhagavad-gita one should read the Bhagavad-gita As It Is by his Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
<T>Thus both the armies stood ready for combat, and they faced each other like two gigantic oceans. The whole earth had concentrated her warriors on this sacred Kurukshetra field, so huge was the army of both parties. Only women and children were left in their homes. The Kurus, the Pandavas and the Somakas made certain rules of warfare before the battle. Persons who were equal should fight against each other. And if having fought fairly, the combatants withdraw, there should be no fear of another attack. A chariot fighter should fight with a chariot fighter, and one riding on an elephant should fight with another riding on an elephant. One riding on a horse should fight with an enemy riding on a horse, and infantry soldiers should fight with infantry soldiers. No warrior should strike another who is not prepared or panic stricken. One who was engaged with another, or one seeking shelter, or one retreating, one whose weapon was rendered unfit, or one who had no armor was never to be attacked. Those who carried drums and those who blew conches, should never be assaulted.
Upon seeing those vast armies ready for combat, Vyasadeva, the son of Satyavati, went to see his son, Dhritarastra, in Hastinapura. Vyasa then informed him, "O King, the clutches of death have fallen on your sons and the other monarchs in this great battle. They will all perish like flies in a fire. Therefore, do not lament. If you wish to see the battle, I will give you the proper vision."
"O best of the rishis," Dhritarastra replied, "I don't want to see the slaughter of my kinsmen. I will, however, hear about this great battle from another." Vyasa then gave a benediction to Sanjaya that he could envision the whole battlefield. He would have knowledge of everything, manifest or concealed, and happening by day or night. Even the thoughts of the mind would be known to Sanjaya.
"The fame of the Pandavas and the Kauravas," Vyasa prophesied, "shall be known for an eternity. Do not give way to grief, O King, for this slaughter cannot be prevented. It has been predestined. Regarding victory, it is where there is righteousness. They who desire victory do not conquer by means of brutal force as much as by truthfulness, compassion and virtue. As the sage Narada stated, 'Wherever there is Krishna, there will certainly be victory.' Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and if He protects the Pandava army, no one, including all the gods and demons combined, can defeat Him. Even if He does not take up any arms, by His energies, He will cause the annihilation of their forces." After speaking thus, Vyasadeva left the palace of his son.
Observing the Armies
Dhrtarastra said: O Sanjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pandu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kuruksetra, desiring to fight, what did they do?
Sanjaya said: O King, after looking over the army arranged in military formation by the sons of Pandu, King Duryodhana went to his teacher and spoke the following words. O my teacher, behold the great army of the sons of Pandu, so expertly arranged by your intelligent disciple the son of Drupada. Here in this army are many heroic bowmen equal in fighting to Bhima and Arjuna: great fighters like Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada. There are also great, heroic, powerful fighters like Dhrstaketu, Cekitana, Kasiraja, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Saibya. There are the mighty Yudhamanyu, the very powerful Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi. All these warriors are great chariot fighters. But for your information, O best of the brahmanas, let me tell you about the captains who are especially qualified to lead my military force. There are personalities like you, Bhisma, Karna, Krpa, Asvatthama, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta called Bhurisrava, who are always victorious in battle. There are many other heroes who are prepared to lay down their lives for my sake. All of them are well equipped with different kinds of weapons, and all are experienced in military science. Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhisma, whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited. All of you must now give full support to Grandfather Bhisma, as you stand at your respective strategic points of entrance into the phalanx of the army. Then Bhisma, the great valiant grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the grandfather of the fighters, blew his conchshell very loudly, making a sound like the roar of a lion, giving Duryodhana joy. After that, the conchshells, drums, bugles, trumpets and horns were all suddenly sounded, and the combined sound was tumultuous. On the other side, both Lord Krishna and Arjuna, stationed on a great chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conchshells. Lord Krishna blew His conchshell, called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of herculean tasks, blew his terrific conchshell, called Paundra. King Yudhisthira, the son of Kunti, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosa and Manipuspaka. That great archer the King of Kasi, the great fighter Sikhandi, Dhrstadyumna, Virata, the unconquerable Satyaki, Drupada, the sons of Draupadi, and the others, O King, such as the mighty-armed son of Subhadra, all blew their respective conchshells. The blowing of these different conchshells became uproarious. Vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, it shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhrtarastra. At that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, seated in the chariot bearing the flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows. O King, after looking at the sons of Dhrtarastra drawn in military array, Arjuna then spoke to Lord Krishna these words. Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms. Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhrtarastra. Sanjaya said: O descendant of Bharata, having thus been addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krishna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties. In the presence of Bhisma, Drona and all the other chieftains of the world, the Lord said, Just behold, Partha, all the Kurus assembled here. There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and well-wishers. When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus. Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning. I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Krishna, killer of the Kesi demon. I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness. O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhrtarastra?Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhrtarastra and our friends. What should we gain, O Krishna, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?O Janardana, although these men, their hearts overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing one's family or quarreling with friends, why should we, who can see the crime in destroying a family, engage in these acts of sin?With the destruction of dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion. When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krishna, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny. An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped. By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated. O Krishna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell. Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts. Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen. Better for me if the sons of Dhrtarastra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield. Sanjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.
Contents of the Gita Summarized
Sanjaya said: Seeing Arjuna full of compassion, his mind depressed, his eyes full of tears, Madhusudana, Krishna, spoke the following words. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the value of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy. O son of Prtha, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy. Arjuna said: O killer of enemies, O killer of Madhu, how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhisma and Drona, who are worthy of my worship?It would be better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though desiring worldly gain, they are superiors. If they are killed, everything we enjoy will be tainted with blood. Nor do we know which is better-conquering them or being conquered by them. If we killed the sons of Dhrtarastra, we should not care to live. Yet they are now standing before us on the battlefield. Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me. I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to dispel it even if I win a prosperous, unrivaled kingdom on earth with sovereignty like the demigods in heaven. Sanjaya said: Having spoken thus, Arjuna, chastiser of enemies, told Krishna, "Govinda, I shall not fight," and fell silent. O descendant of Bharata, at that time Krishna, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead. Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change. O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation. Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both. That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul. The material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is sure to come to an end; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata. Neither he who thinks the living entity the slayer nor he who thinks it slain is in knowledge, for the self slays not nor is slain. For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain. O Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones. The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind. This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same. It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body. If, however, you think that the soul [or the symptoms of life] is always born and dies forever, you still have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed. One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament. All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all. O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any living being. Considering your specific duty as a ksatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation. O Partha, happy are the ksatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets. If, however, you do not perform your religious duty of fighting, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter. People will always speak of your infamy, and for a respectable person, dishonor is worse than death. The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you insignificant. Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful for you?O son of Kunti, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up with determination and fight. Do thou fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat-and by so doing you shall never incur sin. Thus far I have described this knowledge to you through analytical study. Now listen as I explain it in terms of working without fruitive results. O son of Prtha, when you act in such knowledge you can free yourself from the bondage of works. In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear. Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched. Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this. In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place. The Vedas deal mainly with the subject of the three modes of material nature. O Arjuna, become transcendental to these three modes. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the self. All purposes served by a small well can at once be served by a great reservoir of water. Similarly, all the purposes of the Vedas can be served to one who knows the purpose behind them. You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga. O Dhananjaya, keep all abominable activities far distant by devotional service, and in that consciousness surrender unto the Lord. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers. A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, which is the art of all work. By thus engaging in devotional service to the Lord, great sages or devotees free themselves from the results of work in the material world. In this way they become free from the cycle of birth and death and attain the state beyond all miseries [by going back to Godhead]. When your intelligence has passed out of the dense forest of delusion, you shall become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard. When your mind is no longer disturbed by the flowery language of the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realization, then you will have attained the divine consciousness. Arjuna said: O Krishna, what are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O Partha, when a man gives up all varieties of desire for sense gratification, which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind, thus purified, finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness. One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind. In the material world, one who is unaffected by whatever good or evil he may obtain, neither praising it nor despising it, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge. One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness. The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness. The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them. One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence. While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool. But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord. For one thus satisfied [in Krishna consciousness], the threefold miseries of material existence exist no longer; in such satisfied consciousness, one's intelligence is soon well established. One who is not connected with the Supreme [in Krishna consciousness] can have neither transcendental intelligence nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man's intelligence. Therefore, O mighty-armed, one whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly of steady intelligence. What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage. A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires-that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still-can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires. A person who has given up all desires for sense gratification, who lives free from desires, who has given up all sense of proprietorship and is devoid of false ego-he alone can attain real peace. That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. If one is thus situated even at the hour of death, one can enter into the kingdom of God.
Arjuna said: O Janardana, O Kesava, why do You want to engage me in this ghastly warfare, if You think that intelligence is better than fruitive work?My intelligence is bewildered by Your equivocal instructions. Therefore, please tell me decisively which will be most beneficial for me. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O sinless Arjuna, I have already explained that there are two classes of men who try to realize the self. Some are inclined to understand it by empirical, philosophical speculation, and others by devotional service. Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection. Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment. One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender. On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma-yoga [in Krishna consciousness] without attachment, he is by far superior. Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one's physical body without work. Work done as a sacrifice for Vishnu has to be performed, otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage. In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Vishnu, and blessed them by saying, "Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation."The demigods, being pleased by sacrifices, will also please you, and thus, by cooperation between men and demigods, prosperity will reign for all. In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajna [sacrifice], will supply all necessities to you. But he who enjoys such gifts without offering them to the demigods in return is certainly a thief. The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin. All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties. Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice. My dear Arjuna, one who does not follow in human life the cycle of sacrifice thus established by the Vedas certainly leads a life full of sin. Living only for the satisfaction of the senses, such a person lives in vain. But for one who takes pleasure in the self, whose human life is one of self-realization, and who is satisfied in the self only, fully satiated-for him there is no duty. A self-realized man has no purpose to fulfill in the discharge of his prescribed duties, nor has he any reason not to perform such work. Nor has he any need to depend on any other living being. Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty, for by working without attachment one attains the Supreme. Kings such as Janaka attained perfection solely by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work. Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. O son of Prtha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I a need to obtain anything-and yet I am engaged in prescribed duties. For if I ever failed to engage in carefully performing prescribed duties, O Partha, certainly all men would follow My path. If I did not perform prescribed duties, all these worlds would be put to ruination. I would be the cause of creating unwanted population, and I would thereby destroy the peace of all living beings. As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, the learned may similarly act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path. So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities [for the gradual development of Krishna consciousness]. The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature. One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, O mighty-armed, does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification, knowing well the differences between work in devotion and work for fruitive results. Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers' lack of knowledge. Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight. Those persons who execute their duties according to My injunctions and who follow this teaching faithfully, without envy, become free from the bondage of fruitive actions. But those who, out of envy, disregard these teachings and do not follow them are to be considered bereft of all knowledge, befooled, and ruined in their endeavors for perfection. Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows the nature he has acquired from the three modes. What can repression accomplish?There are principles to regulate attachment and aversion pertaining to the senses and their objects. One should not come under the control of such attachment and aversion, because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization. It is far better to discharge one's prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another's duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one's own duty is better than engaging in another's duties, for to follow another's path is dangerous. Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrsni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world. As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust. Thus the wise living entity's pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire. The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him. Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization. The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence. Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence [Krishna consciousness] and thus-by spiritual strength-conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.
The Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Krishna, said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku. This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost. That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend and can therefore understand the transcendental mystery of this science. Arjuna said: The sun-god Vivasvan is senior by birth to You. How am I to understand that in the beginning You instructed this science to him?The Personality of Godhead said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form. Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium. One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna. Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me-and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me. As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha. Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from fruitive work in this world. According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable. There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work. All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding of My transcendental nature. Therefore you should perform your duty, following in their footsteps. Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all misfortune. The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is. One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities. One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every endeavor is devoid of desire for sense gratification. He is said by sages to be a worker for whom the reactions of work have been burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge. Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings. Such a man of understanding acts with mind and intelligence perfectly controlled, gives up all sense of proprietorship over his possessions, and acts only for the bare necessities of life. Thus working, he is not affected by sinful reactions. He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady in both success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions. The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence. A person who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature. Some yogis perfectly worship the demigods by offering different sacrifices to them, and some of them offer sacrifices in the fire of the Supreme Brahman. Some [the unadulterated brahmacaris] sacrifice the hearing process and the senses in the fire of mental control, and others [the regulated householders] sacrifice the objects of the senses in the fire of the senses. Others, who are interested in achieving self-realization through control of the mind and senses, offer the functions of all the senses, and of the life breath, as oblations into the fire of the controlled mind. Having accepted strict vows, some become enlightened by sacrificing their possessions, and others by performing severe austerities, by practicing the yoga of eightfold mysticism, or by studying the Vedas to advance in transcendental knowledge. Still others, who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, practice by offering the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and the incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Others, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself as a sacrifice. All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reactions, and, having tasted the nectar of the results of sacrifices, they advance toward the supreme eternal atmosphere. O best of the Kuru dynasty, without sacrifice one can never live happily on this planet or in this life: what then of the next?All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as such, you will become liberated. O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice performed in knowledge is better than the mere sacrifice of material possessions. After all, O son of Prtha, all sacrifices of work culminate in transcendental knowledge. Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth. Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine. Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries. As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities. In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time. A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace. But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next. One who acts in devotional service, renouncing the fruits of his actions, and whose doubts have been destroyed by transcendental knowledge, is situated factually in the self. Thus he is not bound by the reactions of work, O conqueror of riches. Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.
Karma-yoga-Action in Krishna Consciousness
Arjuna said: O Krishna, first of all You ask me to renounce work, and then again You recommend work with devotion. Now will You kindly tell me definitely which of the two is more beneficial?The Personality of Godhead replied: The renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of work. One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, free from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna. Only the ignorant speak of devotional service [karma-yoga] as being different from the analytical study of the material world [Sankhya]. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achieves the results of both. One who knows that the position reached by means of analytical study can also be attained by devotional service, and who therefore sees analytical study and devotional service to be on the same level, sees things as they are. Merely renouncing all activities yet not engaging in the devotional service of the Lord cannot make one happy. But a thoughtful person engaged in devotional service can achieve the Supreme without delay. One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled. A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, or opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them. One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water. The yogis, abandoning attachment, act with body, mind, intelligence and even with the senses, only for the purpose of purification. The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he offers the result of all activities to Me; whereas a person who is not in union with the Divine, who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled. When the embodied living being controls his nature and mentally renounces all actions, he resides happily in the city of nine gates [the material body], neither working nor causing work to be done. The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature. Nor does the Supreme Lord assume anyone's sinful or pious activities. Embodied beings, however, are bewildered because of the ignorance which covers their real knowledge. When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime. When one's intelligence, mind, faith and refuge are all fixed in the Supreme, then one becomes fully cleansed of misgivings through complete knowledge and thus proceeds straight on the path of liberation. The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]. Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and thus they are already situated in Brahman. A person who neither rejoices upon achieving something pleasant nor laments upon obtaining something unpleasant, who is self-intelligent, who is unbewildered, and who knows the science of God, is already situated in transcendence. Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme. An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them. Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and is happy in this world. One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme. Those who are beyond the dualities that arise from doubts, whose minds are engaged within, who are always busy working for the welfare of all living beings, and who are free from all sins achieve liberation in the Supreme. Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realized, self-disciplined and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future. Shutting out all external sense objects, keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils, and thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence, the transcendentalist aiming at liberation becomes free from desire, fear and anger. One who is always in this state is certainly liberated. A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty. What is called renunciation you should know to be the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Supreme, O son of Pandu, for one can never become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification. For one who is a neophyte in the eightfold yoga system, work is said to be the means; and for one who is already elevated in yoga, cessation of all material activities is said to be the means. A person is said to be elevated in yoga when, having renounced all material desires, he neither acts for sense gratification nor engages in fruitive activities. One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy. For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquillity. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same. A person is said to be established in self-realization and is called a yogi [or mystic] when he is fully satisfied by virtue of acquired knowledge and realization. Such a person is situated in transcendence and is self-controlled. He sees everything-whether it be pebbles, stones or gold-as the same. A person is considered still further advanced when he regards honest well-wishers, affectionate benefactors, the neutral, mediators, the envious, friends and enemies, the pious and the sinners all with an equal mind. A transcendentalist should always engage his body, mind and self in relationship with the Supreme; he should live alone in a secluded place and should always carefully control his mind. He should be free from desires and feelings of possessiveness. To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses and activities and fixing the mind on one point. One should hold one's body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus, with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life. Thus practicing constant control of the body, mind and activities, the mystic transcendentalist, his mind regulated, attains to the kingdom of God [or the abode of Krishna] by cessation of material existence. There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in transcendence-devoid of all material desires-he is said to be well established in yoga. As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent self. In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one's mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one's ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact. One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with determination and faith and not be deviated from the path. One should abandon, without exception, all material desires born of mental speculation and thus control all the senses on all sides by the mind. Gradually, step by step, one should become situated in trance by means of intelligence sustained by full conviction, and thus the mind should be fixed on the self alone and should think of nothing else. From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self. The yogi whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest perfection of transcendental happiness. He is beyond the mode of passion, he realizes his qualitative identity with the Supreme, and thus he is freed from all reactions to past deeds. Thus the self-controlled yogi, constantly engaged in yoga practice, becomes free from all material contamination and achieves the highest stage of perfect happiness in transcendental loving service to the Lord. A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me. Indeed, the self-realized person sees Me, the same Supreme Lord, everywhere. For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me. Such a yogi, who engages in the worshipful service of the Supersoul, knowing that I and the Supersoul are one, remains always in Me in all circumstances. He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and their distress, O Arjuna!Arjuna said: O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady. For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind. Lord Shri Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment. For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My opinion. Arjuna said: O Krishna, what is the destination of the unsuccessful transcendentalist, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization with faith but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism?O mighty-armed Krishna, does not such a man, who is bewildered from the path of transcendence, fall away from both spiritual and material success and perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere?This is my doubt, O Krishna, and I ask You to dispel it completely. But for You, no one is to be found who can destroy this doubt. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Son of Prtha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil. The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy. Or [if unsuccessful after long practice of yoga] he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Certainly, such a birth is rare in this world. On taking such a birth, he revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru. By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles-even without seeking them. Such an inquisitive transcendentalist stands always above the ritualistic principles of the scriptures. And when the yogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, achieving perfection after many, many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal. A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi. And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me-he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.
Knowledge of the Absolute
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Prtha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt. I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge, both phenomenal and numinous. This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know. Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth. Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego-all together these eight constitute My separated material energies. Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature. All created beings have their source in these two natures. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution. O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread. O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man. I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics. O son of Prtha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men. I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O lord of the Bharatas [Arjuna]. Know that all states of being-be they of goodness, passion or ignorance-are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything, but I am independent. I am not under the modes of material nature, for they, on the contrary, are within Me. Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me, who am above the modes and inexhaustible. This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it. Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me. O best among the Bharatas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me-the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute. Of these, the one who is in full knowledge and who is always engaged in pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me. All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider to be just like My own self. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he is sure to attain Me, the highest and most perfect goal. After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare. Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures. I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship some demigod, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to that particular deity. Endowed with such a faith, he endeavors to worship a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone. Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet. Unintelligent men, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme. I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible. O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows. O scion of Bharata, O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, bewildered by dualities arisen from desire and hate. Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination. Intelligent persons who are endeavoring for liberation from old age and death take refuge in Me in devotional service. They are actually Brahman because they entirely know everything about transcendental activities. Those in full consciousness of Me, who know Me, the Supreme Lord, to be the governing principle of the material manifestation, of the demigods, and of all methods of sacrifice, can understand and know Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even at the time of death.
Attaining the Supreme
Arjuna inquired: O my Lord, O Supreme Person, what is Brahman? What is the self? What are fruitive activities? What is this material manifestation? And what are the demigods? Please explain this to me. Who is the Lord of sacrifice, and how does He live in the body, O Madhusudana? And how can those engaged in devotional service know You at the time of death?The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: The indestructible, transcendental living entity is called Brahman, and his eternal nature is called adhyatma, the self. Action pertaining to the development of the material bodies of the living entities is called karma, or fruitive activities. O best of the embodied beings, the physical nature, which is constantly changing, is called adhibhuta [the material manifestation]. The universal form of the Lord, which includes all the demigods, like those of the sun and moon, is called adhidaiva. And I, the Supreme Lord, represented as the Supersoul in the heart of every embodied being, am called adhiyajna [the Lord of sacrifice]. And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail. Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt. He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha, is sure to reach Me. One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun, and He is transcendental, beyond this material nature. One who, at the time of death, fixes his life air between the eyebrows and, by the strength of yoga, with an undeviating mind, engages himself in remembering the Supreme Lord in full devotion, will certainly attain to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Persons who are learned in the Vedas, who utter omkara and who are great sages in the renounced order enter into Brahman. Desiring such perfection, one practices celibacy. I shall now briefly explain to you this process by which one may attain salvation. The yogic situation is that of detachment from all sensual engagements. Closing all the doors of the senses and fixing the mind on the heart and the life air at the top of the head, one establishes himself in yoga. After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets. For one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Prtha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service. After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection. From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again. By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night. At the beginning of Brahma's day, all living entities become manifest from the unmanifest state, and thereafter, when the night falls, they are merged into the unmanifest again. Again and again, when Brahma's day arrives, all living entities come into being, and with the arrival of Brahma's night they are helplessly annihilated. Yet there is another unmanifest nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is. That which the Vedantists describe as unmanifest and infallible, that which is known as the supreme destination, that place from which, having attained it, one never returns-that is My supreme abode. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is greater than all, is attainable by unalloyed devotion. Although He is present in His abode, He is all-pervading, and everything is situated within Him. O best of the Bharatas, I shall now explain to you the different times at which, passing away from this world, the yogi does or does not come back. Those who know the Supreme Brahman attain that Supreme by passing away from the world during the influence of the fiery god, in the light, at an auspicious moment of the day, during the fortnight of the waxing moon, or during the six months when the sun travels in the north. The mystic who passes away from this world during the smoke, the night, the fortnight of the waning moon, or the six months when the sun passes to the south reaches the moon planet but again comes back. According to Vedic opinion, there are two ways of passing from this world-one in light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns. Although the devotees know these two paths, O Arjuna, they are never bewildered. Therefore be always fixed in devotion. A person who accepts the path of devotional service is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing austere sacrifices, giving charity or pursuing philosophical and fruitive activities. Simply by performing devotional service, he attains all these, and at the end he reaches the supreme eternal abode.
The Most Confidential Knowledge
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence. This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed. Those who are not faithful in this devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of enemies. Therefore they return to the path of birth and death in this material world. By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them. And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation, for My Self is the very source of creation. Understand that as the mighty wind, blowing everywhere, rests always in the sky, all created beings rest in Me. O son of Kunti, at the end of the millennium all material manifestations enter into My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by My potency, I create them again. The whole cosmic order is under Me. Under My will it is automatically manifested again and again, and under My will it is annihilated at the end. O Dhananjaya, all this work cannot bind Me. I am ever detached from all these material activities, seated as though neutral. This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again. Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be. Those who are thus bewildered are attracted by demonic and atheistic views. In that deluded condition, their hopes for liberation, their fruitive activities, and their culture of knowledge are all defeated. O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible. Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion. Others, who engage in sacrifice by the cultivation of knowledge, worship the Supreme Lord as the one without a second, as diverse in many, and in the universal form. But it is I who am the ritual, I the sacrifice, the offering to the ancestors, the healing herb, the transcendental chant. I am the butter and the fire and the offering. I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rg, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas. I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed. O Arjuna, I give heat, and I withhold and send forth the rain. I am immortality, and I am also death personified. Both spirit and matter are in Me. Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship Me indirectly. Purified of sinful reactions, they take birth on the pious, heavenly planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights. When they have thus enjoyed vast heavenly sense pleasure and the results of their pious activities are exhausted, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus those who seek sense enjoyment by adhering to the principles of the three Vedas achieve only repeated birth and death. But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have. Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way. I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Therefore, those who do not recognize My true transcendental nature fall down. Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me. If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform-do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me. In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me. I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him. Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaisyas [merchants] and sudras [workers]-can attain the supreme destination. How much more this is so of the righteous brahmanas, the devotees and the saintly kings. Therefore, having come to this temporary, miserable world, engage in loving service unto Me. Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.
Opulence of the Absolute
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Listen again, O mighty-armed Arjuna. Because you are My dear friend, for your benefit I shall speak to you further, giving knowledge that is better than what I have already explained. Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin or opulences, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages. He who knows Me as the unborn, as the beginningless, as the Supreme Lord of all the worlds-he only, undeluded among men, is freed from all sins. Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from doubt and delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control of the senses, control of the mind, happiness and distress, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, nonviolence, equanimity, satisfaction, austerity, charity, fame and infamy-all these various qualities of living beings are created by Me alone. The seven great sages and before them the four other great sages and the Manus [progenitors of mankind] come from Me, born from My mind, and all the living beings populating the various planets descend from them. One who is factually convinced of this opulence and mystic power of Mine engages in unalloyed devotional service; of this there is no doubt. I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts. The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me. To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance. Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me. O Krishna, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me. Neither the demigods nor the demons, O Lord, can understand Your personality. Indeed, You alone know Yourself by Your own internal potency, O Supreme Person, origin of all, Lord of all beings, God of gods, Lord of the universe!Please tell me in detail of Your divine opulences by which You pervade all these worlds. O Krishna, O supreme mystic, how shall I constantly think of You, and how shall I know You? In what various forms are You to be remembered, O Supreme Personality of Godhead?O Janardana, again please describe in detail the mystic power of Your opulences. I am never satiated in hearing about You, for the more I hear the more I want to taste the nectar of Your words. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Yes, I will tell you of My splendorous manifestations, but only of those which are prominent, O Arjuna, for My opulence is limitless. I am the Supersoul, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings. Of the Adityas I am Vishnu, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Marici, and among the stars I am the moon. Of the Vedas I am the Sama Veda; of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the living force [consciousness]. Of all the Rudras I am Lord Siva, of the Yaksas and Raksasas I am the Lord of wealth [Kuvera], of the Vasus I am fire [Agni], and of mountains I am Meru. Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Brhaspati. Of generals I am Kartikeya, and of bodies of water I am the ocean. Of the great sages I am Bhrgu; of vibrations I am the transcendental om. Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa], and of immovable things I am the Himalayas. Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am Narada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila. Of horses know Me to be Uccaihsrava, produced during the churning of the ocean for nectar. Of lordly elephants I am Airavata, and among men I am the monarch. Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi. Of causes for procreation I am Kandarpa, the god of love, and of serpents I am Vasuki. Of the many-hooded Nagas I am Ananta, and among the aquatics I am the demigod Varuna. Of departed ancestors I am Aryama, and among the dispensers of law I am Yama, the lord of death. Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada, among subduers I am time, among beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda. Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am Rama, of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges. Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth. Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahma. I am all-devouring death, and I am the generating principle of all that is yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience. Of the hymns in the Sama Veda I am the Brhat-sama, and of poetry I am the Gayatri. Of months I am Margasirsa [November-December], and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring. I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong. Of the descendants of Vrsni I am Vasudeva, and of the Pandavas I am Arjuna. Of the sages I am Vyasa, and among great thinkers I am Usana. Among all means of suppressing lawlessness I am punishment, and of those who seek victory I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am the wisdom. Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being-moving or nonmoving-that can exist without Me. O mighty conqueror of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences. Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor. But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.
The Universal Form
Arjuna said: By my hearing the instructions You have kindly given me about these most confidential spiritual subjects, my illusion has now been dispelled. O lotus-eyed one, I have heard from You in detail about the appearance and disappearance of every living entity and have realized Your inexhaustible glories. O greatest of all personalities, O supreme form, though I see You here before me in Your actual position, as You have described Yourself, I wish to see how You have entered into this cosmic manifestation. I want to see that form of Yours. If You think that I am able to behold Your cosmic form, O my Lord, O master of all mystic power, then kindly show me that unlimited universal Self. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, O son of Prtha, see now My opulences, hundreds of thousands of varied divine and multicolored forms. O best of the Bharatas, see here the different manifestations of Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Asvini-kumaras and all the other demigods. Behold the many wonderful things which no one has ever seen or heard of before. O Arjuna, whatever you wish to see, behold at once in this body of Mine! This universal form can show you whatever you now desire to see and whatever you may want to see in the future. Everything-moving and nonmoving-is here completely, in one place. But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes. Behold My mystic opulence!Sanjaya said: O King, having spoken thus, the Supreme Lord of all mystic power, the Personality of Godhead, displayed His universal form to Arjuna. Arjuna saw in that universal form unlimited mouths, unlimited eyes, unlimited wonderful visions. The form was decorated with many celestial ornaments and bore many divine upraised weapons. He wore celestial garlands and garments, and many divine scents were smeared over His body. All was wondrous, brilliant, unlimited, all-expanding. If hundreds of thousands of suns were to rise at once into the sky, their radiance might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form. At that time Arjuna could see in the universal form of the Lord the unlimited expansions of the universe situated in one place although divided into many, many thousands. Then, bewildered and astonished, his hair standing on end, Arjuna bowed his head to offer obeisances and with folded hands began to pray to the Supreme Lord. Arjuna said: My dear Lord Krishna, I see assembled in Your body all the demigods and various other living entities. I see Brahma sitting on the lotus flower, as well as Lord Siva and all the sages and divine serpents. O Lord of the universe, O universal form, I see in Your body many, many arms, bellies, mouths and eyes, expanded everywhere, without limit. I see in You no end, no middle and no beginning. Your form is difficult to see because of its glaring effulgence, spreading on all sides, like blazing fire or the immeasurable radiance of the sun. Yet I see this glowing form everywhere, adorned with various crowns, clubs and discs. You are the supreme primal objective. You are the ultimate resting place of all this universe. You are inexhaustible, and You are the oldest. You are the maintainer of the eternal religion, the Personality of Godhead. This is my opinion. You are without origin, middle or end. Your glory is unlimited. You have numberless arms, and the sun and moon are Your eyes. I see You with blazing fire coming forth from Your mouth, burning this entire universe by Your own radiance. Although You are one, You spread throughout the sky and the planets and all space between. O great one, seeing this wondrous and terrible form, all the planetary systems are perturbed. All the hosts of demigods are surrendering before You and entering into You. Some of them, very much afraid, are offering prayers with folded hands. Hosts of great sages and perfected beings, crying "All peace!" are praying to You by singing the Vedic hymns. All the various manifestations of Lord Siva, the Adityas, the Vasus, the Sadhyas, the Visvedevas, the two Asvins, the Maruts, the forefathers, the Gandharvas, the Yaksas, the Asuras and the perfected demigods are beholding You in wonder. O mighty-armed one, all the planets with their demigods are disturbed at seeing Your great form, with its many faces, eyes, arms, thighs, legs, and bellies and Your many terrible teeth; and as they are disturbed, so am I. O all-pervading Vishnu, seeing You with Your many radiant colors touching the sky, Your gaping mouths, and Your great glowing eyes, my mind is perturbed by fear. I can no longer maintain my steadiness or equilibrium of mind. O Lord of lords, O refuge of the worlds, please be gracious to me. I cannot keep my balance seeing thus Your blazing deathlike faces and awful teeth. In all directions I am bewildered. All the sons of Dhrtarastra, along with their allied kings, and Bhisma, Drona, Karna-and our chief soldiers also-are rushing into Your fearful mouths. And some I see trapped with heads smashed between Your teeth. As the many waves of the rivers flow into the ocean, so do all these great warriors enter blazing into Your mouths. I see all people rushing full speed into Your mouths, as moths dash to destruction in a blazing fire. O Vishnu, I see You devouring all people from all sides with Your flaming mouths. Covering all the universe with Your effulgence, You are manifest with terrible, scorching rays. O Lord of lords, so fierce of form, please tell me who You are. I offer my obeisances unto You; please be gracious to me. You are the primal Lord. I want to know about You, for I do not know what Your mission is. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds, and I have come here to destroy all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain. Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasaci, can be but an instrument in the fight. Drona, Bhisma, Jayadratha, Karna and the other great warriors have already been destroyed by Me. Therefore, kill them and do not be disturbed. Simply fight, and you will vanquish your enemies in battle. Sanjaya said to Dhrtarastra: O King, after hearing these words from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the trembling Arjuna offered obeisances with folded hands again and again. He fearfully spoke to Lord Krishna in a faltering voice, as follows. Arjuna said: O master of the senses, the world becomes joyful upon hearing Your name, and thus everyone becomes attached to You. Although the perfected beings offer You their respectful homage, the demons are afraid, and they flee here and there. All this is rightly done. O great one, greater even than Brahma, You are the original creator. Why then should they not offer their respectful obeisances unto You? O limitless one, God of gods, refuge of the universe! You are the invincible source, the cause of all causes, transcendental to this material manifestation. You are the original Personality of Godhead, the oldest, the ultimate sanctuary of this manifested cosmic world. You are the knower of everything, and You are all that is knowable. You are the supreme refuge, above the material modes. O limitless form! This whole cosmic manifestation is pervaded by You!You are air, and You are the supreme controller! You are fire, You are water, and You are the moon! You are Brahma, the first living creature, and You are the great-grandfather. I therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto You a thousand times, and again and yet again!Obeisances to You from the front, from behind and from all sides! O unbounded power, You are the master of limitless might! You are all-pervading, and thus You are everything!Thinking of You as my friend, I have rashly addressed You "O Krishna," "O Yadava," "O my friend," not knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times, jesting as we relaxed, lay on the same bed, or sat or ate together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. O infallible one, please excuse me for all those offenses. You are the father of this complete cosmic manifestation, of the moving and the nonmoving. You are its worshipable chief, the supreme spiritual master. No one is equal to You, nor can anyone be one with You. How then could there be anyone greater than You within the three worlds, O Lord of immeasurable power?You are the Supreme Lord, to be worshiped by every living being. Thus I fall down to offer You my respectful obeisances and ask Your mercy. As a father tolerates the impudence of his son, or a friend tolerates the impertinence of a friend, or a wife tolerates the familiarity of her partner, please tolerate the wrongs I may have done You. After seeing this universal form, which I have never seen before, I am gladdened, but at the same time my mind is disturbed with fear. Therefore please bestow Your grace upon me and reveal again Your form as the Personality of Godhead, O Lord of lords, O abode of the universe. O universal form, O thousand-armed Lord, I wish to see You in Your four-armed form, with helmeted head and with club, wheel, conch and lotus flower in Your hands. I long to see You in that form. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, happily have I shown you, by My internal potency, this supreme universal form within the material world. No one before you has ever seen this primal form, unlimited and full of glaring effulgence. O best of the Kuru warriors, no one before you has ever seen this universal form of Mine, for neither by studying the Vedas, nor by performing sacrifices, nor by charity, nor by pious activities, nor by severe penances can I be seen in this form in the material world. You have been perturbed and bewildered by seeing this horrible feature of Mine. Now let it be finished. My devotee, be free again from all disturbances. With a peaceful mind you can now see the form you desire. Sanjaya said to Dhrtarastra: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, having spoken thus to Arjuna, displayed His real four-armed form and at last showed His two-armed form, thus encouraging the fearful Arjuna. When Arjuna thus saw Krishna in His original form, he said: O Janardana, seeing this humanlike form, so very beautiful, I am now composed in mind, and I am restored to my original nature. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, this form of Mine you are now seeing is very difficult to behold. Even the demigods are ever seeking the opportunity to see this form, which is so dear. The form you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am. My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding. My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being-he certainly comes to Me.
Arjuna inquired: Which are considered to be more perfect, those who are always properly engaged in Your devotional service or those who worship the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested?The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Those who fix their minds on My personal form and are always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by Me to be most perfect. But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, unchanging, fixed and immovable-the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth-by controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me. For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied. But those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Prtha-for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death. Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt. My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me. If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage. If, however, you are unable to work in this consciousness of Me, then try to act giving up all results of your work and try to be self-situated. If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind. One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me-such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me. He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anyone, who is equipoised in happiness and distress, fear and anxiety, is very dear to Me. My devotee who is not dependent on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and not striving for some result, is very dear to Me. One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things-such a devotee is very dear to Me. One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisfied with anything, who doesn't care for any residence, who is fixed in knowledge and who is engaged in devotional service-such a person is very dear to Me. Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.
Nature, the Enjoyer and Consciousness
Arjuna said: O my dear Krishna, I wish to know about prakrti [nature], purusa [the enjoyer], and the field and the knower of the field, and of knowledge and the object of knowledge. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: This body, O son of Kunti, is called the field, and one who knows this body is called the knower of the field. O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its knower is called knowledge. That is My opinion. Now please hear My brief description of this field of activity and how it is constituted, what its changes are, whence it is produced, who that knower of the field of activities is, and what his influences are. That knowledge of the field of activities and of the knower of activities is described by various sages in various Vedic writings. It is especially presented in Vedanta-sutra with all reasoning as to cause and effect. The five great elements, false ego, intelligence, the unmanifested, the ten senses and the mind, the five sense objects, desire, hatred, happiness, distress, the aggregate, the life symptoms, and convictions-all these are considered, in summary, to be the field of activities and its interactions. Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona fide spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest; even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth-all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance. I shall now explain the knowable, knowing which you will taste the eternal. Brahman, the spirit, beginningless and subordinate to Me, lies beyond the cause and effect of this material world. Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes, heads and faces, and He has ears everywhere. In this way the Supersoul exists, pervading everything. The Supersoul is the original source of all senses, yet He is without senses. He is unattached, although He is the maintainer of all living beings. He transcends the modes of nature, and at the same time He is the master of all the modes of material nature. The Supreme Truth exists outside and inside of all living beings, the moving and the nonmoving. Because He is subtle, He is beyond the power of the material senses to see or to know. Although far, far away, He is also near to all. Although the Supersoul appears to be divided among all beings, He is never divided. He is situated as one. Although He is the maintainer of every living entity, it is to be understood that He devours and develops all. He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone's heart. Thus the field of activities [the body], knowledge and the knowable have been summarily described by Me. Only My devotees can understand this thoroughly and thus attain to My nature. Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature. Nature is said to be the cause of all material causes and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world. The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species. Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul. One who understands this philosophy concerning material nature, the living entity and the interaction of the modes of nature is sure to attain liberation. He will not take birth here again, regardless of his present position. Some perceive the Supersoul within themselves through meditation, others through the cultivation of knowledge, and still others through working without fruitive desires. Again there are those who, although not conversant in spiritual knowledge, begin to worship the Supreme Person upon hearing about Him from others. Because of their tendency to hear from authorities, they also transcend the path of birth and death. O chief of the Bharatas, know that whatever you see in existence, both the moving and the nonmoving, is only a combination of the field of activities and the knower of the field. One who sees the Supersoul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies, and who understands that neither the soul nor the Supersoul within the destructible body is ever destroyed, actually sees. One who sees the Supersoul equally present everywhere, in every living being, does not degrade himself by his mind. Thus he approaches the transcendental destination. One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees. When a sensible man ceases to see different identities due to different material bodies and he sees how beings are expanded everywhere, he attains to the Brahman conception. Those with the vision of eternity can see that the imperishable soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled. The sky, due to its subtle nature, does not mix with anything, although it is all-pervading. Similarly, the soul situated in Brahman vision does not mix with the body, though situated in that body. O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness. Those who see with eyes of knowledge the difference between the body and the knower of the body, and can also understand the process of liberation from bondage in material nature, attain to the supreme goal.
The Three Modes of Material Nature
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Again I shall declare to you this supreme wisdom, the best of all knowledge, knowing which all the sages have attained the supreme perfection. By becoming fixed in this knowledge, one can attain to the transcendental nature like My own. Thus established, one is not born at the time of creation or disturbed at the time of dissolution. The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata. It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father. Material nature consists of three modes-goodness, passion and ignorance. When the eternal living entity comes in contact with nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he becomes conditioned by these modes. O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge. The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kunti, and because of this the embodied living entity is bound to material fruitive actions. O son of Bharata, know that the mode of darkness, born of ignorance, is the delusion of all embodied living entities. The results of this mode are madness, indolence and sleep, which bind the conditioned soul. O son of Bharata, the mode of goodness conditions one to happiness; passion conditions one to fruitive action; and ignorance, covering one's knowledge, binds one to madness. Sometimes the mode of goodness becomes prominent, defeating the modes of passion and ignorance, O son of Bharata. Sometimes the mode of passion defeats goodness and ignorance, and at other times ignorance defeats goodness and passion. In this way there is always competition for supremacy. The manifestations of the mode of goodness can be experienced when all the gates of the body are illuminated by knowledge. O chief of the Bharatas, when there is an increase in the mode of passion the symptoms of great attachment, fruitive activity, intense endeavor, and uncontrollable desire and hankering develop. When there is an increase in the mode of ignorance, O son of Kuru, darkness, inertia, madness and illusion are manifested. When one dies in the mode of goodness, he attains to the pure higher planets of the great sages. When one dies in the mode of passion, he takes birth among those engaged in fruitive activities; and when one dies in the mode of ignorance, he takes birth in the animal kingdom. The result of pious action is pure and is said to be in the mode of goodness. But action done in the mode of passion results in misery, and action performed in the mode of ignorance results in foolishness. From the mode of goodness, real knowledge develops; from the mode of passion, greed develops; and from the mode of ignorance develop foolishness, madness and illusion. Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually go upward to the higher planets; those in the mode of passion live on the earthly planets; and those in the abominable mode of ignorance go down to the hellish worlds. When one properly sees that in all activities no other performer is at work than these modes of nature and he knows the Supreme Lord, who is transcendental to all these modes, he attains My spiritual nature. When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes associated with the material body, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life. Arjuna inquired: O my dear Lord, by which symptoms is one known who is transcendental to these three modes? What is his behavior? And how does he transcend the modes of nature?The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O son of Pandu, he who does not hate illumination, attachment and delusion when they are present or long for them when they disappear; who is unwavering and undisturbed through all these reactions of the material qualities, remaining neutral and transcendental, knowing that the modes alone are active; who is situated in the self and regards alike happiness and distress; who looks upon a lump of earth, a stone and a piece of gold with an equal eye; who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable; who is steady, situated equally well in praise and blame, honor and dishonor; who treats alike both friend and enemy; and who has renounced all material activities-such a person is said to have transcended the modes of nature. One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman. And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness.
The Yoga of the Supreme Person
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas. The branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. This tree also has roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of human society. The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this strongly rooted tree with the weapon of detachment. Thereafter, one must seek that place from which, having gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything began and from whom everything has extended since time immemorial. Those who are free from false prestige, illusion and false association, who understand the eternal, who are done with material lust, who are freed from the dualities of happiness and distress, and who, unbewildered, know how to surrender unto the Supreme Person attain to that eternal kingdom. That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world. The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind. The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another. The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, eye, tongue, nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects. The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this. The endeavoring transcendentalists, who are situated in self-realization, can see all this clearly. But those whose minds are not developed and who are not situated in self-realization cannot see what is taking place, though they may try to. The splendor of the sun, which dissipates the darkness of this whole world, comes from Me. And the splendor of the moon and the splendor of fire are also from Me. I enter into each planet, and by My energy they stay in orbit. I become the moon and thereby supply the juice of life to all vegetables. I am the fire of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I join with the air of life, outgoing and incoming, to digest the four kinds of foodstuff. I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas. There are two classes of beings, the fallible and the infallible. In the material world every living entity is fallible, and in the spiritual world every living entity is called infallible. Besides these two, there is the greatest living personality, the Supreme Soul, the imperishable Lord Himself, who has entered the three worlds and is maintaining them. Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and the infallible, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person. Whoever knows Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without doubting, is the knower of everything. He therefore engages himself in full devotional service to Me, O son of Bharata. This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, O sinless one, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise, and his endeavors will know perfection.
The Divine and Demoniac Natures
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Fearlessness; purification of one's existence; cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; performance of sacrifice; study of the Vedas; austerity; simplicity; nonviolence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquillity; aversion to faultfinding; compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigor; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honor-these transcendental qualities, O son of Bharata, belong to godly men endowed with divine nature. Pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness and ignorance-these qualities belong to those of demoniac nature, O son of Prtha. The transcendental qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the demoniac qualities make for bondage. Do not worry, O son of Pandu, for you are born with the divine qualities. O son of Prtha, in this world there are two kinds of created beings. One is called the divine and the other demoniac. I have already explained to you at length the divine qualities. Now hear from Me of the demoniac. Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them. They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world. Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demoniac, thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent. They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification. The demoniac person thinks: "So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice." In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance. Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, they become too strongly attached to sense enjoyment and fall down into hell. Self-complacent and always impudent, deluded by wealth and false prestige, they sometimes proudly perform sacrifices in name only, without following any rules or regulations. Bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, the demons become envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in their own bodies and in the bodies of others, and blaspheme against the real religion. Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, I perpetually cast into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life. Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of demoniac life, O son of Kunti, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence. There are three gates leading to this hell-lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul. The man who has escaped these three gates of hell, O son of Kunti, performs acts conducive to self-realization and thus gradually attains the supreme destination. He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination. One should therefore understand what is duty and what is not duty by the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated.
Divisions of Faith
Arjuna inquired: O Krishna, what is the situation of those who do not follow the principles of scripture but worship according to their own imagination? Are they in goodness, in passion or in ignorance?The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: According to the modes of nature acquired by the embodied soul, one's faith can be of three kinds-in goodness, in passion or in ignorance. Now hear about this. O son of Bharata, according to one's existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired. Men in the mode of goodness worship the demigods; those in the mode of passion worship the demons; and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits. Those who undergo severe austerities and penances not recommended in the scriptures, performing them out of pride and egoism, who are impelled by lust and attachment, who are foolish and who torture the material elements of the body as well as the Supersoul dwelling within, are to be known as demons. Even the food each person prefers is of three kinds, according to the three modes of material nature. The same is true of sacrifices, austerities and charity. Now hear of the distinctions between them. Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one's existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease. Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness. Of sacrifices, the sacrifice performed according to the directions of scripture, as a matter of duty, by those who desire no reward, is of the nature of goodness. But the sacrifice performed for some material benefit, or for the sake of pride, O chief of the Bharatas, you should know to be in the mode of passion. Any sacrifice performed without regard for the directions of scripture, without distribution of prasadam [spiritual food], without chanting of Vedic hymns and remunerations to the priests, and without faith is considered to be in the mode of ignorance. Austerity of the body consists in worship of the Supreme Lord, the brahmanas, the spiritual master, and superiors like the father and mother, and in cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and nonviolence. Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature. And satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, self-control and purification of one's existence are the austerities of the mind. This threefold austerity, performed with transcendental faith by men not expecting material benefits but engaged only for the sake of the Supreme, is called austerity in goodness. Penance performed out of pride and for the sake of gaining respect, honor and worship is said to be in the mode of passion. It is neither stable nor permanent. Penance performed out of foolishness, with self-torture or to destroy or injure others, is said to be in the mode of ignorance. Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness. But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion. And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons, or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance. From the beginning of creation, the three words om tat sat were used to indicate the Supreme Absolute Truth. These three symbolic representations were used by brahmanas while chanting the hymns of the Vedas and during sacrifices for the satisfaction of the Supreme. Therefore, transcendentalists undertaking performances of sacrifice, charity and penance in accordance with scriptural regulations begin always with om, to attain the Supreme. Without desiring fruitive results, one should perform various kinds of sacrifice, penance and charity with the word tat. The purpose of such transcendental activities is to get free from material entanglement. The Absolute Truth is the objective of devotional sacrifice, and it is indicated by the word sat. The performer of such sacrifice is also called sat, as are all works of sacrifice, penance and charity which, true to the absolute nature, are performed to please the Supreme Person, O son of Prtha. Anything done as sacrifice, charity or penance without faith in the Supreme, O son of Prtha, is impermanent. It is called asat and is useless both in this life and the next.
The Perfection of Renunciation
Arjuna said: O mighty-armed one, I wish to understand the purpose of renunciation [tyaga] and of the renounced order of life [sannyasa], O killer of the Kesi demon, master of the senses. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: The giving up of activities that are based on material desire is what great learned men call the renounced order of life [sannyasa]. And giving up the results of all activities is what the wise call renunciation [tyaga]. Some learned men declare that all kinds of fruitive activities should be given up as faulty, yet other sages maintain that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance should never be abandoned. O best of the Bharatas, now hear My judgment about renunciation. O tiger among men, renunciation is declared in the scriptures to be of three kinds. Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up; they must be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls. All these activities should be performed without attachment or any expectation of result. They should be performed as a matter of duty, O son of Prtha. That is My final opinion. Prescribed duties should never be renounced. If one gives up his prescribed duties because of illusion, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of ignorance. Anyone who gives up prescribed duties as troublesome or out of fear of bodily discomfort is said to have renounced in the mode of passion. Such action never leads to the elevation of renunciation. O Arjuna, when one performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all material association and all attachment to the fruit, his renunciation is said to be in the mode of goodness. The intelligent renouncer situated in the mode of goodness, neither hateful of inauspicious work nor attached to auspicious work, has no doubts about work. It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to give up all activities. But he who renounces the fruits of action is called one who has truly renounced. For one who is not renounced, the threefold fruits of action-desirable, undesirable and mixed-accrue after death. But those who are in the renounced order of life have no such result to suffer or enjoy. O mighty-armed Arjuna, according to the Vedanta there are five causes for the accomplishment of all action. Now learn of these from Me. The place of action [the body], the performer, the various senses, the many different kinds of endeavor, and ultimately the Supersoul-these are the five factors of action. Whatever right or wrong action a man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors. Therefore one who thinks himself the only doer, not considering the five factors, is certainly not very intelligent and cannot see things as they are. One who is not motivated by false ego, whose intelligence is not entangled, though he kills men in this world, does not kill. Nor is he bound by his actions. Knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower are the three factors that motivate action; the senses, the work and the doer are the three constituents of action. According to the three different modes of material nature, there are three kinds of knowledge, action and performer of action. Now hear of them from Me. That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all living entities, though they are divided into innumerable forms, you should understand to be in the mode of goodness. That knowledge by which one sees that in every different body there is a different type of living entity you should understand to be in the mode of passion. And that knowledge by which one is attached to one kind of work as the all in all, without knowledge of the truth, and which is very meager, is said to be in the mode of darkness. That action which is regulated and which is performed without attachment, without love or hatred, and without desire for fruitive results is said to be in the mode of goodness. But action performed with great effort by one seeking to gratify his desires, and enacted from a sense of false ego, is called action in the mode of passion. That action performed in illusion, in disregard of scriptural injunctions, and without concern for future bondage or for violence or distress caused to others is said to be in the mode of ignorance. One who performs his duty without association with the modes of material nature, without false ego, with great determination and enthusiasm, and without wavering in success or failure is said to be a worker in the mode of goodness. The worker who is attached to work and the fruits of work, desiring to enjoy those fruits, and who is greedy, always envious, impure, and moved by joy and sorrow, is said to be in the mode of passion. The worker who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scripture, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is said to be a worker in the mode of ignorance. O winner of wealth, now please listen as I tell you in detail of the different kinds of understanding and determination, according to the three modes of material nature. O son of Prtha, that understanding by which one knows what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, what is to be feared and what is not to be feared, what is binding and what is liberating, is in the mode of goodness. O son of Prtha, that understanding which cannot distinguish between religion and irreligion, between action that should be done and action that should not be done, is in the mode of passion. That understanding which considers irreligion to be religion and religion to be irreligion, under the spell of illusion and darkness, and strives always in the wrong direction, O Partha, is in the mode of ignorance. O son of Prtha, that determination which is unbreakable, which is sustained with steadfastness by yoga practice, and which thus controls the activities of the mind, life and senses is determination in the mode of goodness. But that determination by which one holds fast to fruitive results in religion, economic development and sense gratification is of the nature of passion, O Arjuna. And that determination which cannot go beyond dreaming, fearfulness, lamentation, moroseness and illusion-such unintelligent determination, O son of Prtha, is in the mode of darkness. O best of the Bharatas, now please hear from Me about the three kinds of happiness by which the conditioned soul enjoys, and by which he sometimes comes to the end of all distress. That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness. That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion. And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be of the nature of ignorance. There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, which is freed from these three modes born of material nature. Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy. Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness-these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work. Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas. Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaisyas, and for the sudras there is labor and service to others. By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done. By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work. It is better to engage in one's own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another's occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one's nature are never affected by sinful reactions. Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault. One who is self-controlled and unattached and who disregards all material enjoyments can obtain, by practice of renunciation, the highest perfect stage of freedom from reaction. O son of Kunti, learn from Me how one who has achieved this perfection can attain to the supreme perfectional stage, Brahman, the stage of highest knowledge, by acting in the way I shall now summarize. Being purified by his intelligence and controlling the mind with determination, giving up the objects of sense gratification, being freed from attachment and hatred, one who lives in a secluded place, who eats little, who controls his body, mind and power of speech, who is always in trance and who is detached, free from false ego, false strength, false pride, lust, anger, and acceptance of material things, free from false proprietorship, and peaceful-such a person is certainly elevated to the position of self-realization. One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me. One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My pure devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace. In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me. If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost. If you do not act according to My direction and do not fight, then you will be falsely directed. By your nature, you will have to be engaged in warfare. Under illusion you are now declining to act according to My direction. But, compelled by the work born of your own nature, you will act all the same, O son of Kunti. The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy. O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode. Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do. Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you My supreme instruction, the most confidential knowledge of all. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit. Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear. This confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Me. For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. And I declare that he who studies this sacred conversation of ours worships Me by his intelligence. And one who listens with faith and without envy becomes free from sinful reactions and attains to the auspicious planets where the pious dwell. O son of Prtha, O conqueror of wealth, have you heard this with an attentive mind? And are your ignorance and illusions now dispelled?Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions. Sanjaya said: Thus have I heard the conversation of two great souls, Krishna and Arjuna. And so wonderful is that message that my hair is standing on end. By the mercy of Vyasa, I have heard these most confidential talks directly from the master of all mysticism, Krishna, who was speaking personally to Arjuna. O King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I take pleasure, being thrilled at every moment. O King, as I remember the wonderful form of Lord Krishna, I am struck with wonder more and more, and I rejoice again and again. Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.
The First Day of Combat: Duryodhana Gains the Upper Hand
Sanjaya said: O King, beholding the two armies appearing like two mighty oceans, the heroic King Yudhisthira took off his coat of armor, and leaving aside his weapons, proceeded toward the Kaurava's front line. Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva as well as Lord Krishna followed the great King in wonder of his actions. Yudhisthira entered the Kaurava ranks on foot followed by his brothers and His ever well wisher, Lord Krishna. Coming near the grandsire Bhishma, Yudhisthira offered his obeisances and touching the feet of his beloved grandfather he humbly submitted, "I offer my obeisances unto you, O invincible one. Grant us permission to engage in combat with you. Also give us your blessings to obtain victory."
The great grandsire of the Kuru dynasty replied, "If you had not obtained my permission in this matter, O King of the earth, then I would have cursed you to have been defeated. My grandson, I am pleased with you. O son of Pandu, commence the battle and obtain victory. You may also ask me for a benediction that will assist you in this battle. A man is a slave of wealth, but wealth is no one's slave. I have been bound to the Kauravas by their wealth and thus like a eunuch, I have taken a false master. O son of the Kuru race, what assistance can I be to you, even though I am fighting for your enemy?"
"O sire," Yudhisthira requested, "it is difficult for me to ask this of you. However, for the cause of virtue, I must ask it. Because you are invincible, how will it be possible for us to conquer you in battle? Please tell me if there is any righteousness in this request?"
"I do not see, O son of Kunti," Bhishma replied, "the person who can subjugate me in battle. However, I will indicate to you when the time for my death has come."
Bowing down to his beloved grandfather, Yudhisthira left him and proceeded to the chariot of Drona. He offered his obeisances to the preceptor and inquired from him, "I ask you, O invincible one, how may I fight without incurring sin? How also will I be able to subdue the enemy?"
"If you had not solicited my permission in humility," Drona replied, "then I would have cursed you to have been defeated in battle. However, since you have come to me in this way, I am pleased with you. You may fight and win victory. I am bound by the Kaurava's wealth, but I pray for your success"
"O great brahmana," Yudhisthira said, "pray for my victory, and give me good counsel."
"Victory, O king," Drona replied, "is certain for you, because you have Lord Hari for your advisor. I also grant you that you will vanquish your enemy in battle. Where there is righteousness, there is Lord Krishna, and where there is Lord Krishna, there is victory. Fight, O son of Kunti. What else is there to ask from me?"
"O foremost of the brahmanas," Yudhisthira inquired, "listen to my request. Since you are invincible, how will it be possible for me to subdue you in battle?"
"As long as I live," Drona replied, "you will not have victory. There is none amongst the enemy that can stop my progress. However, if I give up my weapons and sit on my chariot in meditation, then it will be possible to kill me. When I hear an untruth from a person who is always truthful, my death will take place."
Offering obeisances to the preceptor Drona, King Yudhisthira went to the son of Saradwat. Offering obeisances to Kripa, the King requested, "After obtaining your permission, I will fight with the Kaurava army, and by your blessings, I will defeat the enemy."
Kripacharya replied, "If, having made up your mind to fight, you had not come to me, I would have cursed you to be defeated in battle. I am pleased with your humility. I, also, am bound by wealth to fight for the Kauravas. However, you may take a benediction from me."
Yudhisthira spoke falteringly, "O preceptor, I ask you for the following boon." Yudhisthira could not speak another word, and his voice became choked up.
Kripa, understanding what he wanted said, "I cannot be slain in battle, O King. Fight and obtain victory. I will rise every morning and pray for your success."
Offering obeisances to the preceptor Kripa, King Yudhisthira went to Salya and offered his obeisances. With folded hands he spoke to his uncle, "I request permission to fight in battle without incurring sin, and request your blessings for victory."
"If you had not come to me in this way, O King," Salya said, "I would have cursed you to be defeated in battle. Because of your humility, I am pleased with you. Let it be as you wish. You may fight and obtain victory. I am bound to the Kauravas by a promise, and I am speaking to you like a eunuch. Still you may ask me for anything."
"If you remember the benediction you offered me at Upaplavya," Yudhisthira replied, "during the preparations for the fight, I would ask you to honor that boon in regards to the Suta's son [Karna]. Please weaken his determination for battle."
"If this be your desire," Salya said, "then I shall accomplish it. Fight according to your pleasure. I will obtain victory for you."
Having obtained blessings from his maternal uncle, Yudhisthira came out of the vast Kaurava army along with his brothers. They returned to their positions and again put on their armor. At this time Lord Krishna went to Karna and requested him, "I have heard, O Karna, that you will not fight as long as Bhishma is alive. Come to our camp, O son of Radha, and fight along with us until Bhishma is slain. Afterwards, you may again take up you position by Duryodhana's side."
"O Keshava," Karna replied, "I will not execute any action that is not agreeable to Duryodhana. For him I will give up my life." Upon hearing these words, Lord Krishna returned to Arjuna's chariot.
At this time in the midst of all the warriors, Yudhisthira loudly exclaimed, "Anyone amongst the army of Duryodhana who will fight for us, we will accept as an ally!" There was a moment of silence, and then Yuyutsu, one of Dhritarastra's sons by a vaishya wife, said, "I will chose your side if you will accept me, O sinless one."
"Come," Yudhisthira said, "come to our side and together we will fight with your foolish brothers. Both Lord Krishna and myself accept you. On you rests the continuation of Dhritarastra's line, and it will be you who will offer oblations to the forefathers." Yuyutsu then came the Pandavas ranks to the blare of conchshells and the beating of drums. The mighty armed sons of Pandu then ascended their chariots and again properly arrayed their forces in battle formation.
Dhritarastra inquired from Sanjaya: When the phalanxes of both sides were thus arrayed, who struck first, the Pandavas of the Kurus?
Sanjaya replied: O King, under Duryodhana's command, Duhshasana advanced with his troops, bearing the grandsire Bhishma at their head. The Pandavas also advanced with cheerful hearts, desiring battle with their grandfather. With Bhima leading them, the army of the Pandavas, accompanied by the tumultuous blowing of conchshells, bugles and trumpets as well as the beating of drums, encountered the troops of Duhshasana. The uproar of the soldiers was deafening, and Bhimasena roared like a bull. The thunderous war cries of Bhima's voice rose above the sounds of the instruments and the clashing armies. His voice sounded like Indra's thunderbolt. Indeed, the war cries of Bhima were so loud that the horses and elephants on both sides passed stool and urine. Bhima assumed an awful form and, fell upon Dhritarastra's sons headed by Duryodhana. Duryodhana, Durmukha, Dussaha, Duhshasana, Vivingsati and Chitrasena, pulling back their bowstrings, released snake-like arrows desiring to end Bhima's life. Joining Bhimasena in the encounter were the five sons of Draupadi, Abhimanyu, Nakula and Sahadeva. The commander in chief, Dhristadyumna also joined happily in that combat. He rushed against Dhritarastra's sons penetrating them with his pointed shafts. When those two armies met, a dust cloud rose up into the sky covering the battlefield with a darkness.
Under the order of King Duryodhana, all his generals rushed toward the Pandava army for battle. And under the command of King Yudhisthira, the Kings in his army rushed forward to halt their advancement. No one retreated from the field of battle. The sound of the troops, the twang of bowstrings, the tread of the infantry, the furious sounds of the horses, the falling of weapons and hooks, the clash of weapons, the sounds of elephants rushing against one another, and the clatter of the chariots mingled together and produced a loud uproar, causing one's hair to stand on end.
Ganga's son, Bhishma, rushed at Arjuna, taking up a bow that resembled the rod of death. And Arjuna, taking up his Gandiva bow, rushed at Bhishma with great fury. Bhishma, although piercing Arjuna's body with many arrows, could not make him waver, and the son of Kunti, Arjuna, also could not make the son of Shantanu falter. Satyaki rushed against Kritavarman and pierced him with many arrows. Kritavarman counter attacked and covered Satyaki with arrows, making him resemble a pin cushion. The mighty bowman Abhimanyu battled with the Koshala ruler, Brihadvala. Soon the King of Koshala cut off the standard and overthrew the charioteer of Subhadra's son. Abhimanyu was outraged and pierced Brihadvala with nine arrows. With another arrow Abhimanyu cut off the standard from his chariot and killed his charioteer. Bhimasena struggled in battle with Duryodhana, who was puffed up with false pride. Both of those mighty warriors covered each other with hundreds of arrows, and upon seeing that encounter, all were amazed. And Duhshasana, rushing against the mighty warrior Nakula, pierced him with many sharp arrows. Laughing at Duhshasana's prowess, Nakula cut off his standard and bow and struck him with twenty arrows. Duhshasana, however, countered and killed Nakula's horses and cut his standard from his chariot. Durmukha rushed against Sahadeva and pierced his body in many places. Sahadeva countered and killed Durmukha's chario Bhishma Parva
The Second Day at Kurukshetra; Bhima and Arjuna Devastate the Kaurava Army
Dhritarastra inquired: When the valorous Sweta was slain by the grandsire Bhishma, what did the Pandavas and the Panchalas do? O Sanjaya, hearing of our victory, my heart feels extreme delight. I do not feel any shame because of our previous transgressions. After the defeat of the great Sweta, Arjuna must have become furious. What action did he take?
Sanjaya replied: O King, your happiness is only temporary. The Pandavas are like ferocious serpents ready to release their venom. For your fault, O Monarch, you will see all your kinsmen slain on the battlefield. Listen as I narrate the events on the second day of the great war.
Sanjaya continued: King Yudhisthira greatly lamented the loss of so many troops on the first day of battle. Seeing Bhishma devour his army, he went to Lord Vasudeva and poured out his heart, "Behold, O Krishna, the invincible prowess of the mighty bowman Bhishma. He is consuming my army like fire consumes grass. No one can stand before him when he releases his celestial weapons upon my troops. Yamaraja, Varuna, Kuvera or even Indra can be defeated, but the mighty chariot fighter, Bhishma, cannot be stopped. Such being the case, I am drowning in the great ocean of Ganga's son without a boat to rescue me. I am unable to watch as my best warriors are slain. I shall, therefore, retire to the forest to perform severe austerities, and save these great warriors from the fire of the colossal Bhishma. Tell me, O Madhava, what I can do prevent this slaughter? Although Arjuna is our only hope, I see that he is indifferent, for although we are being slaughtered by Bhishma and Drona, he does not take action. Endowed with supernatural powers, Bhima alone is extinguishing the enemy troops. But at this rate it will take a hundred years to defeat the enemy. O Govinda, please find the person who can stop Ganga's son and the great Drona, so that after the enemy demise our kinsmen will live happily in this world."
Seeing Kunti's first son conquered by despair, the lotus eyed Lord smilingly instructed him, "Do not grieve, O chief of the Bharatas, especially when your brothers are great bowmen. I am planning for your victory, and so are Drupada, Virata and Satyaki. The mighty chariot fighter, Dhristadyumna, is arranging the troops to subjugate our enemy. He will certainly cause Drona's death, and Shikhandi will bring about the death of Bhishma. This has been ordained by providence."
Enlivening the heart of Yudhisthira as well as the other great generals, the lotus eyed Lord smiled compassionately upon all present. All were gazing upon His beautiful features and were not satiated upon hearing His nectarean words. In the presence of all, Dhristadyumna promised, "O son of Pritha, as ordained by Lord Shiva himself, I will be the cause of Drona's death. Tomorrow, I shall fight with Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, and Salya, and all the proud monarchs on the Kaurava's side, bringing joy to your heart."
Yudhisthira then requested Dhristadyumna, "O great hero, in a previous age there was a formation spoken of by Brihaspati, the priest of the demigods. It is known by the name of Krauncharuma, and it will help us to rout our enemy. Tomorrow before the sun rises, arrange our troops in this formation so our enemy will be defeated."
When humbly requested by King Yudhisthira, Dhristadyumna, the esteemed chariot fighter, arranged the phalanxes in the proper formation before the sun appeared on the horizon. He placed Arjuna, the carrier of the Gandiva bow, in the forefront of the whole army. King Drupada, surrounded by many phalanxes became the head of that formation. The two kings Kuntibhoja and Saivya became the two eyes, and Nakula and Sahadeva were placed on the right and left wing of the formation. On the joints of the wings were placed ten thousand chariots, and at the head of the formation was placed a hundred thousand. A hundred million chariots were placed in the body of the formation, and in the neck was placed a hundred and seventy thousands chariot fighters. On the joints of the wing as well as the far edges were placed hundreds of thousands of elephants. The rear of the formation was protected by Virata, the ruler of Kashi and the King of the Chedis, Dhrishtaketu. Having placed all the troops in their proper places, the Pandavas waited for sunrise. The white umbrellas mounted over the Pandava's chariots and elephants looked magnificent, like many rising suns on the horizon. Thus the army waited silently for the dawn of the second day.
With the first light of day, the Kauravas saw the commanding formation created by the Pandavas. In the presence of all his important generals, Duryodhana spoke encouraging words, "Each of the principal warriors here is capable of killing the Pandavas in battle. How more effective will you be if united against this vast army protected by Bhima. Let us now make arrangements to counter the vast array of the Pandavas."
Upon hearing the desires of Dhritarastra's son, Bhishma and Drona formed an array to counter that of the Pandavas. Hundreds of millions of men were lined up for combat, and they filled the earth from one horizon to the other. The leaders of the mammoth divisions were Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Salya, Duryodhana, Somadatta, Susharman, Bhurishrava, Sala, Shakuni, the ruler of the Kambhojas, Vinda and Anuvinda, Kritavarman and many others. The soldiers appeared noble with multicolored armor and vast numbers of weapons. All were cheerful, and all were ready for battle.
Then the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty blew his conchshell followed by the other great warriors. Conches, drums and kettledrums sounded in thousands, and the tumult was uproarious. In response to the Kaurava's battle cry, Krishna and Arjuna sounded their transcendental conchshells, the Panchajanya and the Devadatta, striking fear into the hearts of the enemy. The mighty Bhima blew his conch called Paundram. The son of Kunti, Yudhisthira sounded his conch called the Anantavijaya, while Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosha and the Manipushpaka. The din of these conches was tumultuous and weakened the hearts of Duryodhana's soldiers. All the warriors in the Pandava army sent up war cries that caused the very earth to tremble. Both armies were joyous at the thought of battle, and as they advanced toward one another with upraised weapons, they uttered thunderous shouts that shook the very earth.
The two armies met with a forceful impact, causing a great dust cloud to rise into the sky. Arrows like lightening bolts were scorching through the sky severing the heads, arm, and legs of the oncoming enemy. Bhishma, exhibiting gruesome prowess, approached the Pandava army and began to rain arrows in thousands upon the great warriors. He first of all met with the son of Subhadra, Abhimanyu, who was supported by Arjuna, Virata and Dhristadyumna. The Pandava warriors wavered upon seeing the fierce Bhishma releasing arrows like thunderbolts from the sky. Horsemen, chariot fighters and elephants fell fast before the onslaught of the invincible grandsire. When the soldiers in the Pandava army began to retreat, Arjuna requested the Lotus eyed Krishna, "O Hrishikesha, guide my chariot to the presence of the grandsire. O descendant of Vrishni, it is evident that Bhishma will annihilate our army if not opposed. He is protected by Drona, Kripa, Salya and Vikarna. O Janardana, I shall therefore slay Bhishma for the benefit of my troops."
Having said this, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, maneuvered that beautiful chariot in line for challenging Bhishma. Arjuna's chariot was drawn by spotlessly white horses of celestial origin. As the chariot moved, Hanuman roared from the banner striking terror into the hearts of the Kaurava army. Seeing Arjuna coming, the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, released seventy arrows. Drona assailed him with twenty five and Kripa with fifty. Salya released nine arrows, and Drona's son released sixty. Arjuna neutralized those arrows and pierced each of the great warriors with many shafts. All the arrows released by Bhishma were repelled by Arjuna, and all the arrows released by Arjuna were torn to pieces by the grandsire. Neither could gain an advantage over the other, and all, including the heavenly lords, wondered at the display of powers. Bhishma could not be defeated by Arjuna, and Arjuna could not be subdued by the grandsire, Bhishma. While these two combatants were skirmishing with their celestial weapons and countering each other, other warriors on both sides began to kill one another with sharp edge scimitars, polished battle axes, iron maces, javelins and innumerable arrows.
There was fierce fighting between Drona and the son of Drupada, Dhristadyumna. Both were greatly provoked, and both released divine weapons, hoping to slay each other. In the end Drona killed the Panchala prince's horses and the charioteer. Dhristadyumna descended from his chariot mace in hand, indicating he was ready to fight on foot. But before he take a step forward, Drona shattered the weapon to pieces with his deadly arrows. Drupada's son then took up a large scimitar and a beautiful shield marked with a hundred moons. He assaulted Drona, and with each step caused the earth to tremble. Drona, however, checked Dhristadyumna with arrows used for short range conflict. The son of Drupada deflected those arrows with his shield, using his dextrous arms. Coming to Dhrishtadyumna's aid, Bhima struck Drona with nine arrows, and quickly took Drupada's son onto his chariot, saving him from certain death.
Under Duryodhana's orders, the King of the Kalingas, Shrutayus, intercepted Bhima, intending to protect Drona. He was accompanied by a large division of troops that were well armed. He was supported by King Ketumat of the Nishadas. Bhima was supported by the Chedis, the Matsyas and the Karushas. When the two armies met, there was a enormous clash of weapons. The battle cries of the warriors filled the skies, and the troops were so thick that no one could distinguish who was friend and who was foe. Friend slaughtered friend, and foe slaughtered the foe. Heads were seen rolling on the ground and flying in the air. Gradually the Kalingas began to gain the upper hand, and the army of the Chedis broke leaving Bhima alone to fight with thousands of warriors.
From this point on, the battle is indescribable. Bhima became superhuman and created a scene of terror that caused the enemy's hair to stand on end. From the terrace of his car he rained a shower of arrows upon all warriors in the Kalinga army. The King of the Kalingas, Shrutayus, and his son Sakradeva attacked Bhima and pierced him with their shafts. They managed to kill Bhima's horses, and becoming confident of victory, Sakradeva assaulted Bhima, intending to send him to region of Yamaraja. Bhima countered those weapons with his own, and taking up a huge mace, he released it with tremendous force. That mace scorched through the air, and simultaneously killed the charioteer and Sakradeva. The mace was thrown with such power that no one could distinguish the body of that prince any longer.
Enraged on the battlefield and fighting alone, Bhima took up an immense scimitar and shield, and ran into an army of thousands of men shouting fierce war cries that terrorized the hearts of the enemy. The ruler of the Kalingas Shrutayus, was furious, and rubbing his bowstring, released a deadly arrow hoping to kill Bhima. While that arrow was scorching through the air like a meteor, the powerful Bhima cut it in two with his huge sword. When that weapon was baffled, Bhima sent up a loud roar that deafened the enemy's ears. The ruler of the Kalingas was further enraged and released fourteen barbed darts toward the son of Pandu. Bhima, fearlessly smiling, cut them into fragments with three swings of his might scimitar.
While these two heroes were skirmishing, Bhanumat, a Kalinga general, assaulted Bhima while riding on the back of his elephant. Bhanumat covered Bhima with steel arrows and sent up a tumultuous shout encouraging the Kalinga army. Not tolerating such impudence, Bhima sent up his own war cry, and ran toward Bhanumat, who was seated on his elephant. The Kalinga army, seeing Bhima single handedly fighting with tens of thousands of men, thought that he was not a human being but a celestial warrior. Rushing at Bhanumat's elephant, Bhima jumped onto his tusk and then onto his back, and with one swing of his sword, he divided Bhanumat in the middle. One half fell off one side of the elephant, and one half fell off the other side. With a thunderous roar, Bhima raised his mighty sword and severed the head of that prince of the elephants, causing it to fall to the ground.
While still on foot and wielding that terrible sword, he began to wander the battlefield slaughtering elephants and making a wide path of flesh and blood wherever he went. Wielding that great scimitar, he cut chariots in two, horses in the middle, and heads, arms and thighs were seen flying in all directions. His scimitar appeared like a discus destroying the whole Kalinga army. Anyone, who was foolish to approach him shouting battle cries, was sent to the other world. He whirled about, and jumped high, rushed forward and rushed backward, constantly keeping his sword in a circle. That grinder of the foes slaughtered elephants by cutting off their legs, trunks and heads and sometimes severing them down the middle. Such was the strength of the invincible Bhima. He moved on the battlefield, sometimes dragging chariot fighters from their chariots, and sometimes trampling infantry under his feet. Sometimes he would be so provoked that he would crush foot soldiers into balls of flesh. No one could stand before the son of the wind god as he danced on the field of battle.
Shrutayush rallied his troops, and together they rushed at Bhima hoping to trample him or kill him with their weapons. The ruler of the Kalingas pierced Bhima in the chest with nine arrows, but this only annoyed Bhima. Suddenly Bhima's charioteer, Ashoka, arrived with a chariot, and he requested Bhima to ascend that beautiful car. Bhima then attacked the King of the Kalingas challenging him to battle. Seeing Bhima coming, Shrutayush, Ketumat, Satya and Satyadeva all rushed at him releasing their arrows. With seven iron arrows Bhima killed Srutayush, the King of the Kalingas. Falling from his chariot, he was deprived of his life. Bhima then killed those other great warriors with his lethal weapons. The army of the Kalingas, headed by other powerful warriors, could not tolerate Bhima's victory, and they rushed at him in thousands. They were armed with maces, darts, javelins, swords, and bows and arrows. They surrounded him and hoped by sheer numbers they could kill him. Bhima, smiling all the while, took up a powerful mace and quickly descended from his chariot. Wheeling his mace around and around, he sent seven hundred warriors to the abode of death, and within a mere twinkling of an eye, he killed another two thousand warriors. The elephants that assaulted Bhima had their riders killed, and being thrown into confusion, they began to bolt over the battlefield crushing thousands of Kalinga soldiers. Overcome with fear at seeing Bhima's prowess, the remnants of the Kalinga army fled in all directions.
Coming up to support Bhima was Dhristadyumna and Satyaki. There was no one more dearer to Dhristadyumna that Bhima, and when the Panchala Prince saw the slaughter that Bhima had created, he sent up a war cry. Bhima saw Dhristadyumna's chariot and heard his voice. He smiled at Dhristadyumna and encouraged him to fight. By this time the Kalingas had rallied and attacked the two heroes as they stood in their chariots. Bow in hand, Bhima began to slay the enemy, causing a river of blood to flow from the warriors born in Kalinga. The Kalingas thought that Bhima was Yamaraja himself, and they sent up cries for help. Coming to their aid, Bhishma, the great grandsire of the Kurus, attacked Bhima releasing his steel shafted arrows. Bhima countered those arrows and released an iron dart with all his strength. Seeing that dart coming toward him, Bhishma tore it to pieces. Bhishma quickly killed Bhima's horses, and the son of Pandu, taking up a mace ran on foot towards the great grandsire. However, Dhristadyumna quickly took the mighty Bhima onto his chariot and took him away to safety. To stop Bhishma's advance, Satyaki killed his charioteer, and the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty was borne away by his horses with the speed of the wind. Bhimasena then finished the massacre of the Kalinga army like fire consuming a dry forest. After his victory, he was embraced by Dhristadyumna and Satyaki who exclaimed, "By good luck the king of the Kalingas and his soldiers have been slain today. By the strength and prowess of your arms, you alone have crushed this large division of troops." Having heard this and still not satiated with battle, Bhima again ascended his chariot and began to destroy the ranks of the enemy.
The son of Dhritarastra, Lakshmana, challenged the son of Arjuna, Abhimanyu, by releasing lightning fast arrows. Abhimanyu, invoking a celestial weapon, quickly released five hundred arrows at his cousin. Lakshmana, in turn, cut the bow of his cousin in two at the middle. Taking up another bow, Abhimanyu attacked Lakshmana with greater fury. Coming to Lakshman's assistance, his father, Duryodhana, accompanied by many great generals, began to afflict the son of Subhadra. Arjuna, seeing his son engaged in battle, came forward to assist him. The Kuru generals, Bhishma and Drona, accompanied by hundreds and thousands of soldiers, then attacked Dhananjaya. When those soldiers came within the scope of Arjuna's arrows, they were all sent to the other world. He filled the sky with arrows causing a dense darkness to set in on the battlefield. The battlefield soon became littered with dead elephants, horses and broken chariots. Men, pierced with as many as five hundred arrows, were lying on the ground deprived of their life. Warriors with upraised weapons, rushed against Arjuna's chariot. However, before they could come close, they had their arms severed with the weapon in hand. None could face the third son of Kunti in battle. There was literally a mountain of dead bodies surrounding Arjuna's chariot, so great was the massacre. Bhishma and Drona had their charioteers killed and were taken from the battlefield. When all the forces of the enemy had fled, Arjuna and Lord Krishna blew on their divine conchshells enlivening their army.
When the entire Kaurava army was routed, Bhishma said to Drona, "The heroic son of Pandu, guided by Krishna, is annihilating our army as he alone is able to do. Today, he cannot be subdued by any means. He appears to be the lord of death in human form. Our warriors are running from the battlefield and cannot be rallied. The sun is now setting on the horizon, and I think now is the time to withdraw our troops. They are panic stricken and will not fight again today." Having made his decision, the mighty chariot fighter, Bhishma, ordered the withdrawal of the troops thus ending the second day of the terrible war. The Pandava army also withdrew with joyous hearts, remembering the feats of Bhima and Arjuna.
Thus Ends the Third Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Second Day of Battle; Bhima and Arjuna devastate the Kaurava Army
In the beginning of this chapter, King Yudhisthira approached Lord Krishna and revealed his disparing heart. Lord Krishna encouraged him with assuring words, and thus King Yudhisthira was enlivened to continue the battle. All of us are in the battle of material existence, and sometimes material nature is so overwhelming, we need to turn to Lord Krishna for help. Some may say that we don't have Lord Krishna present to pour out our hearts to, but that is not the case. Lord Krishna is present in our hearts, and He knows our determination and our sorrows. If we turn to Him and reveal our hearts, He will help as he did King Yudhisthira. We can feel the presence of the Lord by chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna assured Arjuna, cetasa sarva karmani, mayi sannyasya mat-parah, buddhi-yogam upashritya, mach chittah sattam bhava, "In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me." (B.g. 18.57) In the next verse Lord Krishna continues, mac cittah sarva-durgani, mat-prasadat tarisyasi, atha cet tvam ahankaran, na shrosyasi vinanksyasi, "If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all obstacles of conditional life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, no hearing Me, you will be lost." (B.g. 18.58)
The Third Day of Rivalry at Kurukshetra; Bhishma and Arjuna Reek Havoc
Dhritarastra inquired: When the sun appeared on the horizon, indicating the third day of battle, what did my sons and the sons of Pandu do, both desiring victory.
Sanjaya said: O King, listen as I relate the events that happened on the third day of the great war. When the night had passed away and the dawn appeared, the great grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, Bhishma, gave orders that the army be arrayed in the Garuda formation. The beak of the bird was the grandsire himself, and Drona and Kritavarman were the two eyes. Ashvatthama and Kripa were the head, and they were supported by the Trigartas. Bhurishravas, Jayadratha, Sala, Salya, and Bhagadatta were the neck of that great bird. Duryodhana and his followers constituted the back of the bird, and Vinda and Anuvinda, the Kings of Avantipura, were the tail of the bird. The two wings of that formation were the numerous divisions of troops under the different generals. Thus they waited anxiously for the third day of the battle.
Upon seeing the array formed by the Kauravas, Arjuna, in consultation with the mighty Dhristadyumna, arranged their troops in a counter formation that resembled a half moon. On the right side of the moon was the mighty Bhimasena supported by Drupada and Virata. Dhristadyumna and Shikhandi took up their positions in the middle of that formation surrounded by the Chedis, the Karushas and the Kashis. Next to these great warriors was the pious King Yudhisthira as well as the five sons of Draupadi and the son of Arjuna, Iravan. On the far left side of that moon was Arjuna, with the Supreme Lord, Shree Krishna as his chariot driver. In this way the Pandava army was arrayed and readied for battle.
Then commenced the rivalry between the two great forces. Each rushed at the other eager for battle. The two armies clashed, and the deafening sound of steel and weapons was heard in all directions. Large numbers of elephants and chariots on both sides rushed at one another with the intention of slaughter. As on the previous days, the sounds of the drums, kettledrums, conches, rattling chariots, clashing weapons, and the war cries of the foot soldiers combined together to produce a thunderous sound that weakened the hearts of many. Arjuna, the son of Kunti, began killing soldiers in hundreds and thousands causing a great carnage on the field of battle. Unable to tolerate the prowess of Phalguna, the unlimited Kaurava army attacked Arjuna. Simultaneously, they released thousands upon thousands of arrows, javelins, darts, swords, scimitars, maces and battle axes. Seeing that curtain of weapons coming toward him like a hurricane, he checked it with his celestial weapons. He then released countless arrows that created a massacre among the Kaurava ranks. Unable to confront the third son of Pandu, Duryodhana's immense army broke its formation and began to flee. Bhishma and Drona came forward to rally the troops, and also Duryodhana encouraged the soldiers to return to their positions.
After bolstering the soldiers and enlivening them, Duryodhana spoke tersely to Bhishma, "O grandsire, listen to what I have to say. As long as you, Drona and Kripa are alive, why should my army have to retreat. I do not regard the Pandavas as your equal match. If you had told me before the battle that you were not going to fight with the Pandavas, then I would have made arrangements with Karna on what course to pursue. I do not deserve to be abandoned. Please fight according to your prowess."
Laughing at Duryodhana's words, Bhishma replied, "Many a time I have told you that the Pandavas cannot be slain. I am doing the best this aged self can do. You can witness my prowess today as I check the progress of the sons of Pandu." Filled with delight, Duryodhana ordered the drums and conches to sound, encouraging the wavering army.
Dhritarastra inquired: O Sanjaya, after Bhishma vowed a determined effort to stop the Pandavas, what did the great grandsire do to combat the Gandiva bow of Arjuna?
Sanjaya replied: O Monarch, after the son of Ganga had been provoked by your son, that great warrior, protected by a large division of troops, rushed at the Pandava army longing for battle. The afternoon had already set in, and the Pandava army had gained a decisive victory. However, the grandsire caused a carnage of dead bodies to float in the ocean of Kurukshetra. Releasing his lethal weapons, he severed the arms, legs and heads of the oncoming enemy. So quick did he sever their heads that the trunks remained on the chariots still grasping weapons or armed with bow and arrow. His bow was drawn in a full circle, and he was releasing continuous lines of arrows in all directions. He caused thousands of chariot fighters to fall from their chariots, naming each before hand. The Pandava army could not tell where Bhishma was for he appeared to be in all directions multiplied by a thousand. At one moment he was on the west, and the next moment he was on the east. Not one of the Pandavas was able to get close to him, such was the prowess he exhibited. They could not tell where he was, but they could only see that the whole sky was filled with his arrows. Not one arrow released from the grandsire's bow missed it's target. With a single arrow, he was killing the gigantic elephants that opposed him. Two or three soldiers, riding on the same elephant and encased in mail, were pierced at the same time with one arrow. In the presence of Arjuna and Lord Krishna, the Pandava army began to tremble. That army was so completely routed that no two persons were seen close to each other; all had fled the battlefield. The only thing left was a vast ocean of severed bodies, broken weapons, shattered chariots, dead horses and prostrated elephants, lying like huge hills. The Pandava's soldiers were throwing away their weapons and running from the battlefield, saving themselves from the hurricane of grandfather Bhishma.
Seeing the devastation of the army, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, spoke to Partha, "The hour has come, O son of Kunti, to fulfill your vow to destroy the grandsire. Behold Yudhisthira's troops running in all directions like forest animals chased by a lion."
Thus provoked by Lord Krishna, Dhananjaya said, "Take this chariot to the presence of Bhishma. I will force the grandsire from his chariot and take his life." Then Madhava, Lord Krishna, directed the chariot toward the spot where the son of Ganga was releasing his arrows. Sighting Arjuna coming forward to challenge Bhishma, Yudhisthira's army rallied and supported him from behind. Then that foremost of all warriors, Bhishma, seeing Arjuna coming to oppose him, released thousands of arrows by invoking his celestial weapons. At one point the chariot of Lord Krishna and Arjuna could not be seen, so heavy was the downpour of weapons. However, Vasudeva guided those horses out of that deadly curtain, and Arjuna cut the grandsire's bow in two with a single arrow. Picking up another bow and stringing it quickly, Bhishma roared and stretched that bow to its full limits. Arjuna, not affected by his grandfather's exhibition of prowess, cut that bow in two. The son of Shantanu applauded his grandson exclaiming, "O Partha, such a mighty feat is indeed worthy of you. I am pleased with your fighting. Continue to attack to the best of your ability."
Saying this much, Bhishma picked up yet another bow and released deadly arrows resembling fiery serpents. Lord Krishna quickly guided Arjuna's effulgent white horses out of the line of fire so that those arrows proved ineffectual. Then Bhishma, exhibiting his expertise, pierced both Vasudeva and Arjuna with many arrows. Invoking his celestial weapons by means of mantra, Bhishma covered the two Krishnas on all sides with hundreds and thousands of arrows, causing Arjuna to tremble on his chariot. Seeing Bhishma's mastery of weapons and the lackluster fighting of Arjuna, Lord Krishna decided to act in the interests of the Pandava army. He thought to Himself, "In a single day, Bhishma can destroy this whole army. Yudhisthira's divisions are retreating out of fear, and the Kaurava army is coming forward to take advantage of this slaughter. I shall, today, kill Bhishma for the Pandava's sake. Arjuna refuses to fight with his grandfather, and because of respect, he doesn't know what to do."
While Lord Krishna was thinking in this way, Bhishma was releasing arrows in all directions. At this time Drona, Vikarna, Jayadratha, Bhurishrava, Kritavarman and Kripa all came to assist Bhishma in his fight with Arjuna. Satyaki saw that Arjuna was covered on all sides by the foremost warriors of the Kaurava army. Satyaki quickly came to that spot like Vishnu coming to the aid of Indra. He quickly rallied Yudhisthira's troops, encouraging them to fight and gain victory. Lord Krishna then commanded the brave Satyaki, "Do not attempt to rally the troops, O son of Sini. Those who are fighting should also leave the battlefield. I, personally, will throw Bhishma down from his chariot, and then slay Drona and the sons of Dhritarastra. I will gladden the hearts of Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. I will joyfully give to Yudhisthira his kingdom this very day."
Saying this, Lord Krishna gave up the reins and jumped down from His chariot, taking up His Sudarshana chakra. That chakra was as effulgent as the sun and as sharp as a razor. Making the earth tremble with His steps, the Supreme Lord rushed at Bhishma weapon in hand. The yellow garments of Lord Krishna were waving in the breeze and looked like a cloud charged with lightning. His beautiful black hair was flowing in the wind, and His angered face appeared like a blue lotus tinged with a red hue. In a divine fury He rushed toward Bhishma, and all living entities thought that the end of the Kuru army was near. Seeing Lord Krishna coming toward him, Bhishma fearlessly supplicated His blessed Lord, "Come, come, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, O Lord of the heavenly gods, O You who have the universe for Your abode. I offer my respectful obeisances unto you who carry, the disc, the club, the sword and the Sarnga bow. O Lord, forcibly throw me down from this chariot and exhibit Your prowess for You are the refuge of the three worlds. If You kill me in the presence of all, then great fortune will be mine both in this life and the next. By the respect You are paying me, O Lord of the Vrishnis and Andhakas, I become celebrated throughout the three worlds."
Hearing the chivalrous prayers of Bhishma, Lord Krishna, rushing with great speed, exclaimed, "You are the root of this great slaughter on earth! If you were righteous, you should have stopped the vile Duryodhana long ago. I cannot tolerate this injustice against the Pandavas."
As Lord Krishna was rushing towards Bhishma, Arjuna jumped down from his chariot. Running on foot after the Lord of the Universe, he caught up to Him and seized Him with two hands. However, Lord Krishna dragged Arjuna a great distance unable to stop Him. With great difficulty, Arjuna managed to stop Lord Krishna's forward progress pleading, "Please subdue your anger! Your are the refuge of the Pandavas, O Keshava. I swear that I will fulfill the oath I made in the assembly of Kings. O Vasudeva, at Your command, I will certainly annihilate the host of Kuru warriors."
Hearing Arjuna's promise, Lord Krishna was pacified and again mounted the chariot and took up the reins. Lord Krishna was engaged as the servant of His devotee, and it is this mood that has endeared Him to hearts of all living creatures. With dust on His lotus like face, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, took up His Panchajanya conchshell and blew it filling the sky in all directions with its sound. To the sounds of drums, kettledrums and conches, Lord Krishna caused the chariot of Arjuna to enter the ranks of the enemy. The twang of the Gandiva bow resembled a roll of thunder and struck fear into the sons of Dhritarastra. All the great warriors attacked Arjuna, like the ocean coming to the beech. Bhurishrava hurled seven javelins furnished with plumes of gold. Duryodhana also picked up a lance and threw it with all his strength. A blazing dart was thrown by Bhishma, and a mace was hurled by Salya, the ruler of Madras. With little effort, Arjuna shattered those weapons, and taking from his quiver a celestial weapon called Mahendra, he caused it to appear in the sky overhead. That mighty weapon, given to him by Indra, began to shower hundreds of thousands of blazing arrows upon the oncoming Kaurava army. The whole sky was filled with those arrows, and within a matter of moments, the din of the the drums, conchshells, chariots, elephants, horsemen, and the battle cries of the foot soldiers were heard no more, for they were silenced by Arjuna's arrows.
Coming to support Arjuna was the Pandava army headed by Virata and Drupada. They quickly engaged the remnants of the Kaurava army, and the slaughter was frightening. Each warrior was struck with hundreds of arrows that tore apart their bodies; flesh and blood muddied the ground. As the Mahendra weapon began to expand in the sky, it increased the slaughter of the troops rushing into battle. Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, and the other great generals were lacerated by the celestial weapon, and seeing the situation, they caused the withdrawal of the troops for the day. The sun was setting on the horizon, and there was a great uproar amongst the Kaurava warriors. All agreed with each other, "In today's battle, Arjuna has slain ten thousand chariot fighters, seven hundred elephants, and tens of thousands of foot soldiers. This achievement is wondrous. No one else can equal his prowess. All the great warriors, Bhishma, Drona, Ashvatthama, Bhurishrava, Salya, Jayadratha and the King, have been subjugated in battle by the angry son of Pritha." Speaking thus, Duryodhana's soldiers entered their camps for nightly rest.
Thus Ends the Fourth Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Third Day of Rivalry at Kurukshetra; Bhishma and Arjuna Create Havoc.
During this day's confrontation, Bhishma is again killing the Pandava troops in large numbers, and seeing Arjuna unwilling to fight with his grandfather, Lord Krishna takes up a weapon to fight with Bhishma. Lord Krishna promised not to fight before the battle. One would expect the Supreme Lord to follow His vow. If the Lord Lord cannot keep His vow then how can He expect us to? The Lord is not breaking His promise for His own gratification, but to protect He unalloyed devotees. The Pandavas were in a desperate situation, and Lord Krishna took up His Sudarshana Chakra to protect the Pandava Army. The Lord is setting an example here that one can break his promise if it is for the satisfaction of Guru and Krishna. If one breaks his promise or vow and Lord Krishna is satisfied, then that is true morality. One should see how far Lord Krishna is satisfied.
Gadadhar Pandit, a follower and disciple of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, took a vow of Kshetra sannyasa, a vow of not leaving a holy place. When Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted leave for Vrindavana from Jagannatha Puri, Gadadhar Pandit wanted to go with Him, but the Lord forbade him to come. Gadadhar Pandit actually accompanied Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu a short distance from Jagannatha Puri, and the Lord was not pleased, and ultimately sent him back. On the other hand, Ramanujacharya received a mantra from his guru and took a vow not to tell anyone. However, Ramanuja went to the rooftops and yelled the mantra for everyone to hear. Ultimately, the townspeople became Krishna conscious by the mantra, and Ramanujachary's guru was pleased. One cannot be attached to mundane morality, but to the satisfaction of guru and Krishna.
The Fourth Day of the Great Rivalry; Bhima Kills Eight of Dhritarastra's Sons
Dhritarastra said: O Sanjaya, I regard providence as the decisive factor in as much as my son's vast army is being slaughtered by an army of less experienced soldiers. You are always speaking, O Suta, of the defeat of my army and the victory of the Pandavas. Indeed, O Sanjaya, you are describing my army as cowardly, as being slaughtered, as running from the battlefield. You continually proclaim of the glories of the Pandava army and the weaknesses of my army. Then again, you are constantly pointing out the faults of my son Duryodhana. Tell me, O Sanjaya, the means by which my sons may subjugate their enemy.
Sanjaya replied: This ill fortune has you for its root, O King. As you have said, providence is supreme. Those who are wicked by nature can never be victorious over those who are pious, no matter how many soldiers they may have. Listen now, O monarch, as I narrate the great slaughter of divisions in both armies. When the dawn of the fourth day arrived, Bhishma, surrounded by fearless chariot warriors and supported by millions of troops, attacked the Pandava army with heroic valor. Arjuna, the carrier of the Gandiva bow, came up to challenge Bhishma, and a fierce duel began between those foremost warriors. Meanwhile Ashvatthama, Bhurishrava, Chitrasena, and the son of Sala all attacked Abhimanyu, the son of Subhadra. Abhimanyu appeared like a young lion fighting with five elephants. Abhimanyu pierced the son of Drona with one shaft and Salya with five. He cut the standard from the chariot of the son of Sala, and with another arrow, he cut to pieces a mighty dart thrown by Bhurishrava. He then killed the four horses drawing the chariot of Salya. With his powerful arrows, Abhimanyu checked the progress of those great generals. Bhurishravas, Salya, Ashvatthama and Samyamani not being able to challenge Arjuna's son, fled the battlefield.
Duryodhana then commanded the Trigartas and their army numbering twenty-five thousand to challenge Abhimanyu. Coming up to assist Abhimanyu was Dhristadyumna, supported by the Madras and the Kekayas. Dhristadyumna immediately pierced Kripa with three arrows, and with another twenty, he killed the protectors of Kritavarman's chariot. The son of Sala then pierced Dhristadyumna with ten arrows that bolted through the air light lightning. However, Dhristadyumna countered and killed the horses of Sala's son. Taking up a fearsome scimitar and stepping off his chariot, the son of Sala ran at Dhristadyumna intending to chop him to pieces. The Panchala Prince quickly took up a gigantic mace and shattered the head of that heroic warrior. Falling to the ground, Sala's son loosened his grasp on his weapon and gave up his life. Angered and furious at seeing his son slain, Sala, ran towards the prince of the Panchalas who was invincible in combat. A fierce duel then commenced in which neither could overcome the other.
Coming up to support Dhristadyumna was Bhimasena. He saw Duryodhana, and desiring to fight with, he him took up his mace. Seeing the second son of Pandu coming forward, the sons of Dhritarastra ran from the battlefield. Out of all your sons, O King, only Duryodhana stood to fight with him. Duryodhana immediately ordered the elephant division of the Magadha King to challenge Bhima. Seeing that elephant army coming forward, causing the earth to tremble, Bhima took up his mace and got down from his chariot. He uttered loud war cries like a lion and rushed at those elephants swinging his deadly weapon. Protecting Bhima from the rear was the son of Subhadra, Nakula, Sahadeva and Dhristadyumna. They countered the arrows released from the elephant warriors. The ruler of Magadha was riding on an elephant that resembled the celestial Airavata. However, Abhimanyu killed that mighty beast with one shaft. When the King of Magadha was deprived of his elephant, Abhimanyu struck off his head with a broad headed shaft decorated with silver plumes.
Bhimasena was causing a great massacre of elephants. He was roaming the battlefield killing those immense beasts with one swing of his club. Some had their bodies mangled, and some had their heads smashed, while others had fled out of fear of the son of the wind god. Huge mountain-like elephants were lying on the ground vomiting blood, and some, who had their sides torn open, were pouring out a river of blood and flesh. Within a short time that whole army of ten thousand elephants was exterminated by the second son of Kunti, Bhimasena.
When this superhuman feat had taken place on the battlefield, Duryodhana ordered his whole army to confront Bhimasena. Bhima looked like the invincible lord of death, Yamaraja, himself. Bhima's club was covered with gore, and so was his body making him look like the destroyer of the universe. Outraged, he expanded his body and rushed toward the enemy reckless of life. He jumped into the air swinging that gruesome mace and causing a great carnage in the Kaurava ranks. He was smashing chariots with one blow, killing charioteer, horses and fighter. With the power of his legs, he was trampling foot soldiers and making a wide path of destruction wherever he went. No one could stand before him, and the enemy divisions melted under the power of his mace.
Not tolerating Bhima's achievement, Bhishma, the son of Shantanu, came forward with a division of troops to halt his progress. However, Satyaki challenged Bhishma and began to wipe out the troops that were supporting the grandsire. Coming to assist Bhishma were Bhurishrava, and the one hundred sons of Dhritarastra headed by Duryodhana. Thousands of fierce chariot fighters were supporting them. Nandaka, one of Duryodhana's brothers, pierced Bhimasena in the chest with an arrow that resembled lightning. Duryodhana then also pierced Bhima in the chest with nine arrows. Ascending his chariot, Bhima spoke to his chariot driver, Vishoka, "These foolish sons of Dhritarastra want to kill me, but I shall slay them all. O charioteer, guide my chariot close to where these sinful persons are positioned." Vishoka then drove the chariot closer to the sons of Dhritarastra. Duryodhana, seeing Bhima approaching, released nine arrows that shattered Bhima's bow. Stringing another bow, Bhima cut the bow of his cousin in two. Duryodhana, however, picked up another bow, and drawing the string back to his ear released an arrow with all his might. That arrow pierced Bhima's chest causing him to fall in a deadly swoon on the terrace of his chariot. Abhimanyu and the Pandava army came forward to safeguard Bhima. He covered the sons of Dhritarastra with a shower of weapons.
Bhima, regaining his consciousness, pierced Duryodhana in the chest and then pierced Salya with twenty five arrows, causing the ruler of Madras to retreat from the battlefield. Fourteen sons of Dhritarastra then assaulted Bhima in combat. They were Senapati, Sushena, Jalasandha, Sulochana, Ugra, Bhimaratha, Bhima, Viravahu, Aolupa, Durmuka, Dushpradarsha, Vivitsu, Vikata and Sama. United together they rushed at Bhima to kill him. The heroic and tenacious Bhimasena, seeing them coming, licked his mouth like a wolf seeking prey. He responded to their attack seeking to fulfill his vow made at the gambling match. The son of Pandu then cut off Senapati's head with a horseshoe headed arrow. Laughing all the while, Bhima then pierced Jalasandha with three arrows that sent him to another world. He then severed the head of Sushena and sent to death's abode another son of Dhritarastra named Ugra. With seventy shafts, Bhima sent to the other world Viravahu, whose head was graced with a beautiful turban. He then killed Bhima and Bhimaratha with one arrow each, and with a crescent shaped arrow severed the head of Sulochana. The rest of Dhritarastra's sons fled the battlefield out of fear for their lives. Killing eight of Duryodhana's brothers, Bhima smiled with satisfaction.
Beholding the slaughter of eight of Dhritarastra's sons, grandfather Bhishma ordered the Kaurava army to attack Vrikodara in full force. With King Bhagadatta at the forefront of the divisions, they rushed at Bhima releasing their powerful weapons. King Bhagadatta was seated on his grand white elephant named Supritika. Provoking the elephant with his goad, he rushed at Bhima. The Pandava army came up to assist Bhima and pierced that enormous elephant with hundreds of arrows causing blood to stream from his body. Furious that so many men had attacked him, Bhagadatta caused that elephant to run at double speed, shaking the earth with his every step. The King of Pragjyotisapura then struck Bhima in the chest with two arrows causing the great son of Pandu to fall to the tier of his chariot senseless. Seeing the gravity of the situation, Bhima's charioteer took him from the battlefield.
Ghatotkacha, beholding his father's defeat, wanted revenge and thus vanished from view. He reappeared again in a gigantic fierce form riding on an elephant that was a second Airavata. He was followed by three other celestial elephants ridden by gargantuan Rakshasas. The elephants attacked Bhagadatta's elephant from all sides and began to strike it with their tusks.
Sensing the danger, Bhishma advised Drona, Duryodhana and all the Kings, "The King of Pragjyotishapura is battling with Bhima's fierce son and may certainly be defeated. Hot-tempered as they are, they will certainly prove to be each other's death. The gigantic elephant Supritika in wailing and terrified of Ghatotkacha. Let us withdraw our troops while the sun is setting. The Rakshasas become invincible at this time, and we cannot afford to lose another general. The Pandavas have gained a decisive victory today, and our soldiers have lost their morale. Tomorrow we will again fight with the enemy." Saying this, the grandsire retired the great divisions for the night and cheerlessly entered his tent. Duryodhana was also despondent for eight of his dear brothers had been slain by Bhima. He passed some time in thoughtfulness, overcome with grief and tears.
Listening to the slaughter of his troops, Dhritarastra said to Sanjaya: Hearing of the Pandava's wondrous achievements and the death of my sons, I am filled with fear. Everything that is happening seems to be under the control of destiny. What ascetic penances have been performed by the sons of Pandu? What benedictions have they obtained that they are so victorious in battle? Without a doubt, Bhima will slay all my sons. Please tell me, O Sanjaya, what is the true cause of all this?
Sanjaya replied: Listen, O King, with attention, and let these words fill your heart. None of the capabilities of your brother's sons have been created by mystic illusions, mantras or ascetic performances. The Pandavas are devoted to Lord Krishna, and, therefore, victory will be theirs. Your sons are wicked, opposed to God's will and devoted to cruel deeds. They are now reaping the reaction of the unneeded hatred against your brother's sons. Since you could not be awakened to the situation, even by the counsel of Vidura, Bhishma, Drona, Kripa or myself, you are like a sick man that has rejected medicine. Instead, you have taken the poison of your son's advice. Regarding the cause of the Pandava's success, Duryodhana also inquired of the very same thing from Bhishma that very night after the battle. Listen as I narrate their discussions.
Duryodhana entered the assembly of the grandsire and the other leaders of the army and questioned them, "All the great commanders in my army are a match for heavenly gods. Why, then, are the Pandavas defeating us in battle? This doubt in my heart, O grandsire, should be dispelled."
Maharaja Bhishma replied, "Listen, O King, to the advice which I have uttered many times before. I have repeatedly requested that you make peace with the Pandavas. This counsel was meant for your benefit, and the benefit of your whole family. I have cried myself hoarse on this point, but you would not listen due to your envy of the Pandavas. The reaction to your offensives against the Pandavas is now fructifying. There is not, and there will not be the person who can slay the sons of Pandu, because they have Lord Krishna at their protector. Lord Krishna is the eternal Lord Vishnu who holds the discus for the protection of the heavenly lords. In a previous age the four headed Brahma was being waited upon by all the devas in the heavenly Gandhamadana mountains. Assembled were all the chief demigods, rishis and celestials. At that time the Lord of the Universe, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared there on the back of Garuda. Lord Brahma offered prayers to the Supreme Lord, and the other devas also offered their obeisances. Lord Brahma prayed, 'You are the Supreme Master of the Universe and the protector of the surrendered soul. From Your navel, I, Lord Brahma have taken birth, and it is through Your potency that I create this material world. I constantly meditate upon You who are the goal of all performances of Yoga. All victory unto You, O Lord of unfailing prowess. I know that You are destined to take birth in the Yadu dynasty to relieve the great strain of the Earth's Asuras. For the sake of establishing religious principles, You will advent Yourself as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Along with Nara, You will kill all the demons that oppose the religious principles.'
Bhishma continued, "Having been duly worshiped, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, left that assembly of demigods and returned to His own abode in the Vaikuntha planetary system. I have heard this story many times from renowned rishis such as Parashurama, Narada, Vyasa and Markandeya. Having learned of the eternal Lord Krishna's divinity, I have many times forbidden you to fight with the Pandavas. However, you have not heeded my advice. For this reason, I consider you to be a wicked Rakshasa. You are enveloped in darkness. Arjuna and Krishna are Nara and Narayana themselves. How then will we defeat them in battle? It is Krishna who upholds the three worlds and is the Lord of all the moveable and unmovable creatures. He is victory personified and, He is the greatest warrior. It is by the unseen energies of this Supreme Lord that the sons of Pandu will gain victory."
"In all the worlds," Duryodhana replied, "Vasudeva is spoken of as the Supreme Being. I desire to hear, O Grandsire, of His origin and glories."
Bhishma said, "Vasudeva is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of all lords. None is superior to Him who has eyes like those of a lotus petal. That Divine Master and Lord of the universe had created this earth planet for establishing the principles of religion. From His mouth He created fire, and from His breath, the wind. He created from His speech, the four Vedas which all men follow. It is He who lies down on the bed of Ananta Shesha in the bottom of this universe and maintains all creatures. He is the boar incarnation, and He is also Lord Nrisimhadeva. He is the same Vamana, who in three steps took all the possessions from Bali. From His mouth, He created the brahmanas, and from His two arms, He created the kshatriyas, from His belly, He created the vaishyas and from His Legs, He created the shudras. He is the Lord of the senses Hrishikesha, and the object of all worship by the great sages. Those that seek His protection are never vanquished in their struggle for material existence. Knowing all of Lord Keshava's glories, Yudhisthira has taken whole hearted shelter of His lotus feet.
"You have now heard, O King, about the glory of the Supreme Godhead, Lord Krishna, as well as Nara who is none other that Arjuna. You have also heard from me the reason for their descent to this earth. I have also told you why the Pandavas are invincible in battle and can never be slain. It is for this reason, O King, that I have repeatedly asked you to make peace with the Pandavas. By disregarding the divine Nara and Narayana, you will be annihilated with all your brothers and Kinsmen." Having spoken words of wisdom, the Grandsire entered his tent and laid down for nightly rest.
Thus Ends the Fifth Chapter of Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Fourth Day of the Great Rivalry; Bhima kills Eight of Dhritarastra's Sons.
Day after day Duryodhana's forces are being annihilated in large numbers as was prophesied by many great sages. Duryodhana could not understand the mass slaughter of so many of his troops. Bhishma informed him of the cause of the such devastation. He even went so far as to call Duryodhana a Rakshasa. Duryodhana had heard it before, and as before, he did not listen to his grandfather, but decided to continue on his course of destruction. He somehow or other hoped for his victory.
The Fifth and Sixth Days of the Great Battle
Dhritarastra said: O Sanjaya, our army consists of men of high stature and opulence. Our divisions are superior in numbers, and are arrayed according to the rules of military science. They are strong and well equipped with different kinds of weapons. They are experienced soldiers and are protected by the foremost generals of the earth. That so large an army is being slaughtered is, indeed, unnatural. It must, therefore, be the pre-arranged plan of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I can see no other cause for the defeat of this grand army.
Sanjaya said: The defeat of your army, O Monarch, is due to your own foolishness. Many times you were instructed by Vidura to curb your son and protect the Pandavas. It was through your fault that the gambling match was allowed to take its course. It is also your fault that these hostilities have come about. Having allowed your son to perform evil deeds, do you not expect to reap the reactions to those sins? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, has taken the side of the Pandavas. How can you expect victory for your sons? Even though He is not fighting personally, He will cause the annihilation of your sons and relatives. Listen, O King, as I describe the slaughter of your troops on the fifth day of the great battle.
After the night had ended, the dawn of the fifth day appeared. The Grandsire Bhishma arrayed his troops in the formation known as Makara which resembled an alligator. The Pandavas arrayed their vast divisions in the formation known as Syena, which looked something like a hawk. When the two armies met, there was a great carnage on both sides. Bhishma, the son of Shantanu, fought fiercely trying to protect Dhritarastra's sons from the weapons of Bhima. All day long the elephants' shrieks, the horses' neighing and the blare of conchshells could be heard in all directions. Fighting for victory's sake, mighty combatants roared at one another like bulls in a cow pen. Heads were seen falling from the bodies of fierce warriors, severed by crescent shaped arrows. An infinite number of heads were lying on the Kurukshetra plain decorated with turbans and earrings. The earth was covered with arms and legs decorated with gold ornaments, silken cloth and blood. The dust raised by the soldiers looked like a cloud in the sky, and the lightning in that cloud was the weapons streaking through the air. The cloud's rain was the blood flowing from the slain warriors that decorated the battlefield. Countless warriors, who were unretreating in battle, lay on the ground blocking the way of the onrushing enemy. So thick was the mass of dead elephants, horses and men, that the battlefield became like a maze. Half dead warriors lay on the ground shrieking in agony, calling out for their kinsmen. Some warriors had only half their head severed and others only had one arm, while others only had one leg. Some soldiers had their stomachs torn out with swords, and some had their chests ripped open with battle axes, while others had their heads smashed into their chests with huge maces. The whole scene became ghastly to behold, but still the combatants fought on.
During the battle, King Duryodhana was assisted by a large division of Kalingas with the grandsire Bhishma at their head. They rushed toward the Pandavas eager for combat. The Pandavas countered, supported by Vrikodara, and met the Kaurava army head on with an anger like universal destruction. Seeing his brothers challenging Bhishma, Arjuna rushed against the son of Ganga. Hearing the sound of the Panchajanya, the twang of the Gandiva, and the roar of Hanuman from the banner, the divisions of troops under Duryodhana were struck with fear. Arjuna began striking down the principle warriors in the Kaurava army, making his way toward his grandfather. Finding no relief from Arjuna's arrows, the Kaurava army sought Bhishma's protection.
While Bhishma and Arjuna were engaged in a duel, the Kings of Avantipura were challenging the ruler of Kashi, and the ruler of the Sindhus was fighting with Bhimasena. King Yudhisthira was combating with the King of Madras, Salya. Vikarna was engaged with Sahadeva, and Chitrasena with Shikhandi. Drupada, Chekitana, and Satyaki were engaged in battle with with Drona and his son. Kripa and Kritavarman both rushed against Dhristadyumna. And thus all over the battlefield great warriors fought against each other wanting victory or the heavenly realm. Huge elephants were ripping through the army ranks and trampling soldiers and horses into shapeless masses. With their trunks huge elephants would pull chariot fighters from their chariots and smash them to the ground. Those huge animals pierced with thousands of arrows roamed the battlefield causing great havoc among the enemy troops.
Drona's son, Ashvatthama, released six arrows that pierced Arjuna's armor. Arjuna countered and cut Ashvatthama's bow in two and then wounded him with five shafts. Taking up another bow, Ashvatthama invoked a celestial weapon and pierced Arjuna with seventy-five arrows and Krishna with seventy. Not tolerating that action, Vibatsu released deadly arrows that pierced Ashvatthama's armor and drank his blood. However, Drona's son did not waver. Releasing countless arrows, the two combatants fought on. Nevertheless, since Ashvatthama was a brahmana, Arjuna had great regard for him and did not want to put him under the sway of death. Arjuna then turned his attention on Kaurava divisions and began a great slaughter of tens of thousands of men.
The son of Arjuna, Abhimanyu, was also creating great havoc on the field of battle. He was consuming the Kaurava army like a blazing fire. Coming up to challenge him was Lakshmana, Duryodhana's son. Greatly angered, Abhimanyu lacerated him and his charioteer with six arrows each. Lakshmana in turn pierced the son of Subhadra with many sharp arrows which was wonderful to all on the battlefield. Furious, Abhimanyu killed Lakshmana's four horses and the charioteer. Lakshmana, while standing on his chariot, released a forceful dart at the chest of Abhimanyu. The son of Arjuna easily cut the weapon to pieces with his arrows. Kripacharya, desiring to save Duryodhana's son, had him ascend his chariot and took him away from the battlefield.
The two armies continued to grind each other, and the mighty Bhishma, releasing his celestial weapons, caused thousands of men to fall from their positions. On the side of the Pandavas, Satyaki was causing a great carnage amongst the Kaurava troops. So quickly did he draw his bow, and release the arrows, that he appeared like a cloud releasing thick pillars of rain. Unable to witness the slaughter of his troops, Duryodhana dispatched ten thousand troops to fight with him. But the great bowman Satyaki, who was incapable of being defeated, killed, with his celestial weapons, all those mighty warriors. Incensed at the massacre of so many men, the powerful Bhurishrava attacked Satyaki as he stood on his chariot, releasing his powerful weapons. Coming up to assist Satyaki were his ten sons, who were all glorious heroes. They immediately covered the renowned Kuru warrior with a hail of arrows, and sent up loud roars of victory. However, Bhurishrava countered those arrows and released ten arrows that cut their bows from their hands. The ten sons of Satyaki then surrounded the great warrior intending to finish his life. But the son of Somadatta, Bhurishrava, severed their heads with his sharpened arrows.
Beholding his sons slain in battle, the angered Satyaki attacked Bhurishrava using every power he had to defeat him. They pressed their chariots close to each other and killed each others horses. When both were deprived of their chariots, they descended to the ground and took up large scimitars, racing toward each other with blood red eyes. However, Bhima appeared on the scene and took Satyaki onto his chariot. He then took him away from the sight of all bowmen.
The great duel between Bhishma and Arjuna left ten thousand Pandava warriors dead and twenty-five thousand Kaurava warriors slaughtered. At the end of the day the sun disappeared on the horizon, and with it the withdrawal of the troops. There was a great fear that entered the minds of the warriors of both parties. It appeared that there would be a total annihilation of all the troops on both sides. Thinking like this, they all took rest for the night.
Sanjaya continued: O King, on the sixth day of the great battle, Dhristadyumna arranged the troops in the formation called Makara. In forming that array, Drupada and Dhananjaya were the head, Sahadeva and Nakula, the eyes, and the mighty Bhimasena was the beak. On the neck of that formation was Abhimanyu, the sons of Draupadi, Ghatotkacha, Satyaki and King Yudhisthira. King Virata, the ruler of the Matsyas, was the back of that great bird, and he was supported by Dhristadyumna. Dhrishtaketu and Chekitana were the right and left wing of that formation. The feet of the formation were the blessed warriors Kuntibhoja and Satanika. The mighty bowmen Shikhandi and Iravan were the tail of the great bird.
Bhishma arranged the Kaurava divisions in the formation of a huge crane. It's beak was the powerful Drona, and Ashvatthama and Kripa were the two eyes. Kritavarman and Bahlika, along with their troops, were the head of that formation, and Duryodhana was the neck. The ruler of Pragjyotisapura, Bhagadatta, seated on his powerful elephant, Supratika, was the body of the huge bird and King Susharman was the tail.
In the early morning twilight, both those armies could be seen in all their splendor. The soldiers were covered in golden mail, and all held different weapons. The multicolored flags of the chariots were seen from east to west. The huge elephants, covered in armor, were lined up in front of the battle formation. They looked magnificent, like big mountains, and their turrets were like clouds covering that mountain. The chariots were also splendid with carvings and enlays of gold and silver, and they were furnished with every kind of weapon. All the warriors were unrelenting, and so eager were they for battle, that they filled the sky with fierce war cries. When the sun had made its appearance on the horizon, the battle commenced. Elephants proceeded against elephants, horsemen rushed against horsemen, and chariot fighters rushed against chariot fighters. Excited with wrath, they attacked each other in battle. Drona rushed against Bhima and pierced him with nine shafts. In return, Bhima killed the charioteer of Drona, throwing the horses into confusion. Drona, himself, took up the reins and began to consume the Pandava army.
The herculean Bhimasena, while fighting with all his prowess, came upon the younger brothers of Duryodhana. They were Duhshasana, Durvisaha, Dussaha, Durmada, Jaya, Jayatsena, Vikarna, Chitrasena, Sudarshana, Charuchitra, Suvarman, Dushkarna and Karna. Seeing Bhima coming toward them, they decided to kill him on the battlefield. Followed by thousands of chariot fighters, they swarmed around him and began to shower their weapons. Nevertheless, fear did not enter Bhima's heart, and with a smile on his face, he got down from his chariot mace in hand. With a loud roar, he entered the sea of the Kaurava army leaving a path of total destruction wherever he went.
When Dhristadyumna came upon Bhima's chariot, he inquired from Vishoka where the second son of Pandu had gone. Vishoka informed him that Bhima had entered the enemy ranks alone, armed only with a mace. Deciding to help his friend, he entered the Kaurava army following Bhima's path of destruction. Dhristadyumna saw huge elephants mangled by Bhima's mace, and dead bodies laying in thousands all over the battlefield. When he finally came upon Bhima, he saw him killing the enemy troops like a hurricane knocking down a forest of trees. The Kaurava warriors had surrounded Bhima and were trying desperately to kill him, but it was of no use. He was slaughtering hundreds of men within a few minutes time. Bhima was covered in blood and had many arrows covering his body. Dhristadyumna quickly came to his aid and took him up onto his chariot. He plucked out the arrows from his body and embraced him.
Desirous of killing both Bhima and Dhristadyumna, Duryodhana's brothers rushed at them as they stood in their chariot. They exclaimed, "This wicked son of Drupada is now united with Bhima. Let us kill them both and bring great happiness to King Duryodhana." Urged on by Duryodhana, thousands of warriors attacked Bhima and Dhristadyumna, releasing their shower of weapons.
Seeing Dhritarastra's sons coming toward his chariot, the Panchala prince summoned his celestial weapon called pramohana and released it above the Kaurava army. That divine weapon deprived the soldiers of their senses, and they fell to the ground helpless. Drona, seeing the situation, rushed to the aid of the sons of Dhritarastra and released a weapon called prajna, that countered the pramohana weapon. When their senses again returned, the warriors challenged Bhima and Dhristadyumna, covering them with arrows. Sensing the danger, Yudhisthira ordered twelve great warriors to go and assist Bhima. They were Abhimanyu, the sons of Draupadi, Dhrishtaketu and the Kekaya brothers. They were supported by a large divisions of troops. They arrayed themselves in the formation called suchimukha, which resembled a needle point. Entering the Kaurava ranks and breaking their front lines, they proceeded to the point where Bhima and Dhristadyumna were fighting. Overjoyed to see that army coming forward, they cheered and roared. Bhima then ascended the chariot of the King of the Kaikeyas, and Dhristadyumna rushed at the preceptor Drona who was coming upon him with great speed. Drona immediately cut of the bow of the son of Drupada. Dhristadyumna, taking up another bow, then pierced Drona with Seventy arrows. Enraged, Drona cut that bow from his hand and killed his four horses. Dhristadyumna quickly ascended Abhimanyu's chariot and left the battlefield. Drona then began to slaughter the Pandava army within Bhima's sight.
Duryodhana, accompanied by his brothers, once again attacked Bhima, taking every opportunity kill him. Bhima ascended his chariot and taking up a huge bow, strung it for the destruction of his cousins. Duryodhana released a powerful golden arrow that pierced Bhima in the chest. Not minding that arrow, Bhima struck Duryodhana at the joints of his arms with nine arrows. Watching the two heroes engaged in a vicious battle, the brothers of Duryodhana joined the fight against Bhima, releasing thousands of arrows to encompass his death. Bhima, smiling all the while, fell upon them like an elephant in a sugar cane field. He first pierced Chitrasena with a long shafted arrow and pierced the other brothers with three shafts each. At this time Yudhisthira sent Abhimanyu, supported by other great warriors, to assist Bhima in his fight. Seeing them coming, Dhritarastra's sons, abandoned their encounter with Bhima and left the battlefield.
Not tolerating such action, Bhimasena and Abhimanyu ran after them and challenged them. Abhimanyu killed Vikarna's four horses and struck him with twenty five arrows. When his horses were killed, Vikarna ascended the chariot of his brother Chitrasena. Abhimanyu then began to afflict them with a hail of arrows. To counter Abhimanyu, Durjaya and Vikarna released nine iron arrows hoping to kill him. Hit by those arrows, Bhima did not move like a mountain hit by a thunderbolt.
Then the twang of the Gandiva bow was heard on the right side of the army. In that part of the battlefield, headless trunks stood up in thousands. Arjuna was mowing down the enemy faster than the speed of the mind. His bow was in a constant circle, and his arm movements could not be seen. The only thing that could be seen were thousands of arrows filling all directions, and thousands of dead elephants, horses, and men piled up on the field of battle.
Toward the end of the day, King Duryodhana spotted Bhima and confronted him with virulent arrows of death. Seeing him coming assisted by his brothers, Bhima exclaimed, "The hour has now come which I have desired for so many years. I will kill you, today, if you do not run away like a coward. Filled with pride, you have formerly humiliated us. For all the offenses you have committed, I will kill you in the sight of your kinsmen." Saying these words and stretching his bow to full limit, he released thirty six arrows with the force of a thunderbolt. With another four arrows, he killed Duryodhana's four horses and with another two, he cut the royal umbrella and royal standard from his chariot, causing great alarm among the Kaurava troops. Bhima then pierced Duryodhana with ten shafts. Seeing the King in great trouble, Jayadratha had him ascend his chariot. Bhima then pierced Duryodhana in the chest, and he fell down to the floor of the chariot in a deadly swoon. Greatly angered at Bhima's action, Jayadratha surrounded Bhima with thousands of chariots. Coming to protect Bhima were the son of Subhadra, the sons of Draupadi and Dhrishtaketu. Abhimanyu pieced Vikarna with broad headed shafts that were like snakes of virulent poison. He then killed his charioteer. Attacking with a tiger's speed, Abhimanyu released fourteen arrows that pierced his body and entered the earth. Vikarna began to vomit blood. Desiring to save their brother, the other sons of Dhritarastra surrounded Abhimanyu and began to inundate him with weapons.
The five sons of Draupadi were Prativindya, Sutasoma, Srutakarman, Srutakirti and Satanika. All five of them were maharathis, and all were capable of destroying the enemy ranks. Seeing them coming, Durmuka pierced Srutakarman with five shafts and cut off his standard with another. Advancing closer, he killed the four horses of Srutakarman. While standing on his chariot, Srutakarman released a blazing dart that passed through the armor of Durmuka and entered into the earth. Sutasoma, the son of Bhima, took Srutakarman onto his chariot, and together they attacked the enemy forces. Srutakirti, the son of Arjuna, attacked Jayatsena with the intention of killing him. Smiling all the while, Jayatsena cut his bow with a horseshoe headed arrow. Satanika, not tolerating such impudence, pierced Jayatsena with ten shafts and uttered a loud shout. Pierced by those arrows, Jayatsena fell to the floor of his chariot in a deadly swoon.
Coming to assist Jayatsena, Dushkarna challenged Satanika yelling, "Wait, Wait!" Satanika calmly cut off Dushkarna's bow with one arrow and killed his charioteer. Satanika then pierced Dushkarna with seven arrows, and with another four killed his four horses. Stretching his bow to his ear, Satanika released a broadheaded arrow that penetrated Dushkarna's chest, causing him to fall from his chariot like a tree hit with lightning.
On another part of the battlefield, the Grandsire Bhishma was causing a great massacre of the Pandava forces. The battlefield was literally strewn with masses of dead bodies, and no one came forward to oppose him. Having completely smashed the battle lines of the Pandavas, and seeing the sun set on the horizon, he withdrew his troops and retired. King Yudhisthira was joyous over the day's victory. Bhima had caused a complete rout of the Kaurava army. He embraced Bhima and smelt his head out of affection. Then all the troops retired to their tents for their much needed rest.
Thus Ends the Sixth Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Fifth and Sixth Days of the Great Battle.
The Seventh Day of Combat
Sanjaya said: O King, When the night had ended, the great Kaurava heroes were again seen in armor. Duryodhana was overwhelmed with anxiety, and with blood still flowing from his wounds, he went to his grandfather and spoke to him as follows, "In our army there are many great heroes who are invincible in battle. All these mighty warriors are protected and arrayed properly. This being the case, why is it that the Pandavas are penetrating our ranks and destroying my army, yet they escape unhurt? Yesterday, they have earned fame by routing my troops. Bhima has penetrated our army and caused great havoc. I was deprived of my senses and pierced with many sharp arrows. I cannot achieve peace of mind until I see the sons of Pandu slain and our soldiers victorious."
Responding to Duryodhana's anguish, the Grandsire Bhishma said, "O prince, I shall surely break the Pandava ranks and destroy their forces. Exerting myself with great prowess, I will bring you victory and joy. There are many great heroes on the Pandava's side who vomit forth their wrath and and know no fatigue. I will fight with those warriors and subjugate them, O King. It is within my power to destroy the three worlds if necessary. I will fight with the Pandavas and fulfill your desires for conquest. There is myself, Drona, Salya, Kritavarman, Ashvatthaman, Vikarna, Bhagadatta, Shakuni, Vinda and Anuvinda, Bahlika, Susharman, Bhrihadvala, Chitrasena and Vivingsati, who are able to defeat the demigods in battle. However, the Pandavas cannot be defeated in battle. They have Lord Krishna as their ally and are more powerful than the heavenly gods combined. Therefore, I shall either conquer the Pandavas in battle, or they will conquer me." After making this vow, the Grandsire gave a medicinal herb to Duryodhana. Applying those herbs to his wounds, he was cured, and he again prepared for battle.
When the dawn came, Bhishma arrayed his troops in the formation called Mandala, which was bristling with weapons. The Pandavas formed their army in an array known as Vajra. When the sun appeared on the horizon, both armies rushed at each other to the sounds of drums, kettledrums, conches, trumpets and war cries. The banners of the chariots waved in the wind as the beautiful chariots drawn by fleet horses galloped toward the enemy lines. The sun was reflecting off the combatant's beautiful golden armor, and as they rushed toward each other, dust rose up into the sky. Drona spotted Virata coming toward him and showered him with hundreds of arrows. Ashvatthama rushed against Shikhandi, Duryodhana against Dhristadyumna. Nakula and Sahadeva rushed against the ruler of Madras, Salya, and Vinda and Anuvinda fought with the son of Arjuna named Iravan. Many kings together rushed against Dhananjaya hopeless of their lives. Bhimasena fought with Bhurishrava, and Abhimanyu fought with the sons of Dhritarastra headed by Vikarna, Chitrasena, and Durmarshana. Bhima's son Ghatotkacha fought against the ruler of Pragjyotishapura, Bhagadatta. The powerful Rakshasa Alambhusha fought the invincible Satyaki, and King Yudhisthira fought against Kripa.
Rushing into battle, thousands of Kings riding on beautiful chariots surrounded Arjuna and showered their weapons upon him. Calmly, in the presence of those oncoming warriors, Arjuna addressed the lotus eyed Krishna, "Behold, O Madhava, all these brave warriors desiring battle with me. They have been sent here by the grandsire to finish my life. There in the distance is the King of the Trigaratas and his brothers. This very day I shall send them to the abode of death." Saying this much and rubbing his bowstring, he answered their onrush with his multitude of arrows. Those kings also released their arrows in thousands, like clouds releasing unlimited raindrops. Seeing Arjuna covered with those arrows, the demigods and rishis, who were witnessing the battle from the heavens, were struck with wonder. Then, Arjuna, excited with wrath, invoked the aindra weapon. Countering the arrows released by the kings, that weapon pierced those warriors, either wounding or killing all of them. The soldiers who were left in that army felt greatly harassed by Arjuna's arrows and sought Bhishma for protection. Bhishma then became the protector of those soldiers sinking in the ocean of the mighty Arjuna.
Meanwhile, the preceptor Drona rushed against the King of the Matsyas, Virata, and cut off his banner with one shaft, and his bow with another. Virata quickly picked up another bow that was more stout and pierced Drona with three arrows, his horses with four and his charioteer with two. Harassed by those arrows, Drona became enraged and killed the four horses of Virata's chariot and also his charioteer. Virata got upon the chariot of his son, Sankha, and together began to fight with the aggressive Drona. Resisting the arrows released by those warriors, Drona discharged a single arrow that was like virulent poison. That arrow pierced Sankha's armor and deprived him of his life. He fell from his chariot, and his bow and arrows slipped from his grasp. Seeing his son slain in front of his eyes, Virata fled the battlefield out of fear.
Shikhandi attacked Drona's son, Ashvatthama, and pierced him in the forehead with three arrows. Furious, Ashvatthama killed Shikandi's horses and charioteer. Jumping down from his chariot which was now useless, Shikhandi picked up a scimitar and shield and rushed against Ashvatthama like a hawk looking for its prey. Drona's son failed to find an opportunity to strike him and therefore, released thousands of arrows hoping to stop his forward march. However, Shikhandi cut all those arrows to pieces with his scimitar before they could reach him. Seeing that his trick had failed, Ashvatthama released more arrows that shattered the Shikhandi's sword and shield. Holding only the handle of his broken sword, Shikhandi threw it with all his strength at Drona's son. Ashvatthama quickly cut the weapon to pieces and tried desperately to kill Shikhandi as he moved on foot. At that time Satyaki appeared on the scene and took Shikhandi on his chariot, saving the life of that great fighter.
When Shikhandi was brought another chariot, Satyaki returned to the thick of the fighting and attacked the prince of the Rakshasas, Alambusha. That cruel Rakshasa shattered Satyaki's bow and pierced him with many arrows. Creating mystic illusions, he showered Satyaki's chariot with thousands of weapons. The fearless Satyaki quickly called for the aindra weapon that he had received from Arjuna and dispelled the Rakshasa illusion. That weapon covered Alambhusha's chariot with many arrows, and out of great fear, he fled to another part of the battlefield. Then without any powerful hero to oppose him, Satyaki, a descendent of Madhu, began to destroy the Kaurava divisions.
Dhristadyumna encountered the royal son of Dhritarastra and began to play with him as a lion plays with a mouse. Duryodhana, not tolerating the impudence of his enemy, released sixty arrows and then another thirty at the son of Drupada. Dhristadyumna quickly killed the four horses of Duryodhana and also his charioteer. Jumping down from his chariot, Duryodhana took up his sword and shield, and ran toward the son of Drupada. However, Shakuni quickly appeared on the scene and took the King to another part of the battlefield. After this Dhristadyumna began to destroy enemy troops in thousands.
Bhima, the son of Kunti, was then attacked by Kritavarman and covered with arrows. Laughing all the while, Bhima struck that fierce adiratha with many sharp weapons. He killed his horses and charioteer and forced him from his chariot. Kritavarman had arrows sticking out from every part of his body, and feeling greatly afflicted ascended the chariot of Vrishaka. Bhimasena, excited with rage, began to destroy the enemy ranks with his powerful club.
At this time the two kings of Avantipura, Vinda and Anuvinda, attacked the son of Arjuna, Iravan. They countered each other with many weapons, desiring to take each other's lives. So fierce was the encounter that those who witnessed it were struck with wonder. Then Iravan killed the four horses of Anuvinda and shattered his bow. Anuvinda was taken onto the chariot of his brother, and together they began to fight the son of Arjuna. Iravan proved too powerful an opponent, for he killed their chariot driver, and the horses reeling out of control, took them from the battlefield. Having no one to oppose him, Iravan began to slaughter the ranks of the Kauravas.
The prince of the Rakshasas, Ghatotkacha challenged the ruler of Pragjyotishapura, Bhagadatta, as he rode on his beautiful white elephant Supritika. The Pandava divisions were terrified of this huge elephant that seemed invincible. Wherever it went, it caused great havoc among the Yudhisthira's troops. Seeing the King of Pragjyothishapura releasing weapons from the top of his great white elephant, the Pandava soldiers fled in fear, leaving Ghatotkacha to fight with him. Rallying his troops, the son of Bhima, attacked Bhagadatta showering him with all kinds of weapons. Bhagadatta returned his attack with many arrows and pierced the son of Bhima causing him severe pain. The ruler of Pragjyotisapura then forcefully released seven javelins. They coursed through the sky like meteors, but Ghatotkacha cut them to pieces with his arrows. The son of Bhima then pierced Bhagadatta with seventy arrows, each resembling bolts of lightning. Laughing as if invincible, the Pragjyotish King released four arrows that killed the horses of Ghatotkacha. Countering, the son of Bhima released a powerful dart that scorched through the sky. However, before it could reach him, King Bhagadatta cut it into three pieces, and with this action the son of Bhima fled the battlefield. Finding no opposition, King Bhagadatta began to crush the Pandava troops with his huge elephant.
The ruler of Madras, Salya, confronted the sons of his sister, Nakula and Sahadeva. He deprived Nakula of his chariot, upon which Nakula ascended the chariot of Sahadeva. Sahadeva, greatly angered by his defeat, placed on his bow a broad headed arrow, and released it with full force at his uncle. Piercing through his body, that forceful arrow entered into the earth. Salya fell to the terrace of his chariot in a deadly swoon, and he was quickly taken from the battlefield. Sahadeva and Nakula then began to grind the Kaurava soldiers in hundreds and thousands.
King Yudhisthira encountered the very powerful Shrutayush and struck him with many arrows. Shrutayush then released seven arrows piercing Yudhisthira's armor and drinking his blood. Greatly enraged Yudhisthira killed his chariot horses and also his charioteer. He then released a long shafted arrow that hit Srutayush in the chest depriving him of his senses but not his life. Having achieved this feat, Yudhisthira began to slay the innumerable troops that had been supporting Shrutayush.
Chekitana, of the Vrishni race, covered the preceptor Kripa with many long shafted arrows. Kripa in turn cut the bow of Chekitana into pieces. The son of Saradwat then killed Chekitana's horses and also his charioteer. Taking up his hero slaying mace, that descendent of the Vrishni race, killed the horses of Kripa's chariot and also his charioteer. Coming down from his chariot, Kripa shot sixteen arrows at Chekitana. Those powerful arrows pierced the armor of the Vrishni hero and entered the earth. Not wavering when pierced in that way, Chekitana hurled his mace with all his strength at the son of Saradwat. Kripa very easily tore the weapon to pieces, and having no other weapon, Chekitana rushed at Kripacharya with his drawn sabre. Those two warriors began to fight with each other using their highly polished swords. Cutting each other and fighting vigorously, they both fell down upon the ground exhausted. Bleeding profusely, they were picked up by other chariot warriors and taken from the battlefield.
During the great battle, Abhimanyu fell upon three of Duryodhana's brothers, Chitrasena, Vikarna and Durmarshana, who were encased in golden mail and releasing their powerful weapons. Abhimanyu quickly deprived them of their chariots, but did not kill them remembering the oath his uncle Bhima had taken in the Kaurava court.
During the course of this phenomenal battle, Arjuna, the son of Kunti, came upon the Grandsire Bhishma. He ordered Lord Krishna, "Drive the horses, O Hrishikesha, to the spot where Bhishma is releasing his arrows. He has many supporting warriors and appears invincible in battle." When Arjuna proceeded toward the enemy ranks, the Kaurava army wavered in fear. Coming up to protect the Grandsire was King Susharman. He was supported by many chariot fighters. They fell upon Arjuna with the force of a tempest. The mighty Dhananjaya quickly shattered the bows in their hands, and then severed their arms, legs and heads as they stood in their chariots. Seeing his supporting chariot fighters slaughtered, Susharman, the King of the Trigartas, called for thirty two of his best car warriors and together they attacked Arjuna. They released a cloudburst of weapons, but the son of Kunti dispatched all of them to the abode of death with sixty arrows.
Having conquered King Susharman and his division, Arjuna proceeded toward Grandfather Bhishma. Duryodhana and Jayadratha came forward to help the Grandsire, but Arjuna avoided them and quickly proceeded toward the son of Ganga. Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva also joined Arjuna in attacking their grandfather. Bhishma did not waver although attacked with such force. Jayadratha and Duryodhana came forward to assist Bhishma, and the son of Dhritarastra released flaming arrows piercing each of the five Pandavas. Jayadratha also cut to pieces Shikhandi's mighty bow. Shikhandi started to retreat from the battlefield out of fear, but Yudhisthira called to him, "Do you remember the vow you took in the presence of all heroes to slay Bhishma. You have yet to fulfill that vow in as much as he still lives. Take care and do not run from the battlefield for the Grandsire is devouring my troops with his mighty arrows. Return and exhibit your prowess."
Hearing the encouraging words of Yudhisthira, Shikhandi returned and challenged the Grandsire. However, Salya came in between the two heroes and released many weapons that were difficult to defeat. As they came blazing toward him, Shikhandi invoked the varuna weapon, thus baffling those fiery weapons. Bhishma cut Yudhisthira's bow into pieces and also cut his chariot's banner. In order to protect his older brother, Bhima got down from his chariot, mace in hand. As he rushed toward Bhishma, Jayadratha pierced him with five hundred arrows from all sides. Disregarding those arrows, Bhima killed the horses of Jayadratha. Rushing to encounter Bhima was the son of Dhritarastra, Chitrasena. Bhima turned on him, and raising his mace, struck fear into the supporting soldiers that followed him. Bhima then released that mace with all his strength. Quickly descending from his chariot with sword and shield, Chitrasena watched as that mace destroyed chariot, driver and horses. Vikarna came up with his chariot, and Chitrasena quickly ascended it and was taken to safety.
Grandfather Bhishma attacked Yudhisthira, and all thought that the first son of Kunti had entered the jaws of death. Bhishma covered Yudhisthira with a curtain of arrows and made him invisible. Yudhisthira countered with a long shafted arrow that resembled blazing fire. Bhishma cut that arrow in two before it reached him. The Grandsire then killed Yudhisthira's horses, causing him to ascend the chariot of Nakula. Then Yudhisthira, Nakula and Sahadeva rushed at Bhishma with their supporting troops. Covering the onrushing warriors with thousands of arrows, Bhishma began a great slaughter. He appeared like a young lion amidst a herd of deer. The heads of many heroic chariot fighters fell to the earth, and this threw the entire army of the Pandavas into confusion. Then Shikhandi, who was born to kill Bhishma, rushed at the grandsire saying, "Wait, Wait!" Disregarding him on account of his once being a woman, Bhishma proceeded against the Shrinjayas. All the great heroes fought fiercely until the sun began to set on the horizon.
As darkness began to cover the battlefield, all the warriors returned to their camps. Bandaging their wounds and plucking out their arrows, they rested for the night. The slaughter took a great toll on both sides, and blood flowed like water. As the warriors left the battlefield, jackals and Rakshasas came to devour the dead bodies of the slain.
Thus Ends the Seventh Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Seventh Day of the Great Battle.
The Eighth Day at Kurukshetra;
Iravan is Slain
Sanjaya said: O King, When the dawn of the eighth day arrived, the Pandavas and the Kauravas once more proceeded to battle. King Duryodhana, Chitrasena Vivinsati, Bhishma and Drona arrayed the Kaurava troops in a formation that resembled an ocean. In the front line of the vast divisions was the Grandsire Bhishma supported by Duryodhana and his brothers. Next to Bhishma was Kripa and next to Kripa was Drona, supported by hundreds and thousands of troops. On the other side of Bhishma was the son of Drona, Ashvatthama, as well as Salya and Kritavarman.
Upon seeing the forceful array of the Kaurava army, Dhristadyumna arranged his troops in a counter formation called shringataka which was capable of subduing hostile armies. The horns of that formation were Bhima and the descendant of Vrishni, Satyaki. Next to Satyaki was Arjuna, who had the Supreme Personality of Godhead as his charioteer. In the center of the formation was King Yudhisthira and the twins, Nakula and Sahadeva. Behind these great warriors were Abhimanyu, Virata and Ghatotkacha. Behind them were millions upon millions of warriors.
Thus the battle began, and the two armies met, causing a great dust cloud to rise into the sky. The heroic Bhishma began mowing down the troops with arrows from his mighty bow. The Somakas and the Shrinjayas rushed at Bhishma knowing well their death was at hand. There is nothing more rewarding for a kshatriya than to die facing the enemy, what to speak of being killed by a great warrior like Bhishma. As in the previous days, the Grandsire began to slaughter the opposing forces using his celestial weapons. No one could stand before him. The only one who dared to resist him in battle was Bhima. Protecting Bhishma were Dhritarastra's sons, and they assaulted Bhima with a great fury. Bhima first killed Bhishma's charioteer, and when Bhishma's horses lost control, they took his chariot away from the battlefield.
The sons of Dhritarastra, greatly infuriated, challenged Bhima, releasing their mighty arrows. Bhima countered their attack, and with an arrow shaped like a horseshoe, he severed the head of Sunabha, whose beautifully adorned head fell to the earth and rolled on the ground. The other brothers of Duryodhana, Adityaketu, Vahvasin, Kundadahara, Mahodara, Aparajita, Panditaka and Visalakha, were outraged raged and rushed at Bhima, driving hard their beautiful chariots. Mahodara pierced Bhima with nine arrows, each resembling a thunderbolt. Adityaketu struck him with seventy shafts, Kundadahara with ninety and Visalakha with seven. The other brothers also released their arrows determined to end Bhimasena's life. Bhima, not tolerating his cousin's insolence, released an arrow that cut off Aparajita's head. With a broad headed arrow, Vrikodara dispatched Kundadahara to Yamaraja's abode. Remembering the offenses these cousins committed many times in the past, Bhima released with all his strength a golden arrow that pierced through the chest of Panditaka and entered into the ground. Panditaka then fell off his chariot deprived of his life. Then with three arrows, the second son of Kunti, severed the head of Visalakha. Mahodara was slain with a long shafted arrow released with lightning force. Adityaketu was then killed with a broad headed arrow. With another arrow Bhima then killed Vahvasin. Seeing so many of their brothers slain, the remaining sons of Dhritarastra fled the battlefield. They remembered the oath Bhima had taken in midst of the Kaurava assembly and fear overcame their hearts.
When Duryodhana saw eight of his brothers massacred, he was griefstricken. He recalled Vidura's wisdom as well as the words of the other Kuru elders. From the way in which Bhima killed his brothers, he could understand that this second son of Kunti had taken birth for his downfall. He then ordered his troops saying, "There is Bhima, kill him!" After ordering his troops to fight, he went to Bhishma and pour out his grief. He began to lament saying, "Eight of my brothers have been slain by Bhima even in your presence. Our troops are fighting bravely yet still they are being slaughtered. You seem to have become an indifferent spectator in this battle. Alas, destiny is certainly cruel to me."
Hearing the mournful words of Duryodhana, the Grandsire's eyes filled with tears, and he spoke falteringly to his grandson, "Previously, we had warned you about this, but you could not understand. Myself, Drona, Vidura, and your mother Gandhari have instructed you to make peace with the Pandavas, but you paid no attention. It has been ordained that neither myself nor Drona will escape with our lives from this battle. I speak the truth when I tell you that whoever Bhima casts his eyes upon, that person will not escape with his life. Therefore, O King, be patient and fight on, making the heavenly planets your goal. As regards to the Pandavas, they are incapable of being slain by all the demigods combined."
Dhritarastra said: O Sanjaya, beholding so many of my sons killed by a single person, I have become weak and my body trembles. Day after day, O suta, my sons are being slain. I think they have been overtaken by the force of time. Even though they are being protected by Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Bhurishrava and Ashvatthama, still they are being killed. My wicked son did not listen to the common sense of the Kuru elders and is now reaping the fruit of his sinful deeds.
Sanjaya replied: O Monarch, You were also instructed many times by the pious Vidura. He pleaded with you to restrain your diabolic sons from the game of dice, but you did not listen. The outcome of this present battle is the reaction to not listening to the intelligent Vidura. Listen now, O King, to the events of the battle exactly as they happened.
After speaking to his grandson, Bhishma again challenged the Pandava army. Opposing Bhishma were Yudhisthira, Dhristadyumna, Shikhandi, Satyaki, Virata, Drupada, Dhristaketu and Kuntibhoja. They were supported by the Somakas, the Shrinjayas and the Matsyas. Arjuna, the sons of Draupadi and Chekitana all engaged the Kaurava army headed by Duryodhana. Bhima, Abhimanyu and Ghatotkacha engaged the rest of the Kaurava army. The esteemed chariot fighter, Drona, excited with wrath, began slaughtering the Somakas and the Shrinjayas. The warriors who were struck down by Drona were seen lying on the battlefield, their head, arms and legs severed. The moans and shrieks of the wounded was a deafening sound.
Bhima fell upon the elephant divisions of the Kauravas, and with his arrows he began to cut off their trunks and mangle their bodies. Those huge beasts began to fall to the earth in large numbers. Some of the elephants were paralyzed, and some were only half killed, laying on the ground suffering unbearable pain.
Nakula and Sahadeva came upon the calvary division and began killing thousands of horsemen with their deadly shafts. Both horse and rider were killed, and those sons of Madri left a path of destruction wherever they went.
The son of Arjuna, Iravan, was a mighty warrior coming from the Naga race. His mother was Ulupi, and he was begotten by Arjuna when Arjuna was on pilgrimage many years before. He grew up with his mother in the region of the Nagas, and when he heard that Arjuna had gone to the heavenly planets, he went there to see him. Approaching his father, he spoke to him, "I am Iravan, your son by Ulupi." Arjuna then embraced Iravan, and they spent much time together. When Iravan left the heavenly planets, Arjuna requested him, "When the great battle takes place, I will be in need of your assistance." Replying to his father, Iravan promised, "When I receive your word, I will come to help you." Now that the battle had begun, Iravan was rendering valuable assistance. He had come to Kurukshetra accompanied by many celestial horses. These horses had the power to travel above ground and to trample oncoming soldiers and horsemen. During the general engagement of the day, Iravan was destroying the enemy lines and thinning them out. Coming up to challenge him were the younger brothers of Shakuni whose names were Gaya, Gavaksha, Vrishava, Charmavat, Arjava, and Suka. They came upon him supported by their divisions of troops. The Gandhara soldiers, who were anxious for battle, began to destroy the defense lines of the Pandavas. Iravan ordered his men to challenge them, and thus a great battle began. Gradually Iravan's divisions gained the upper hand, and Shakuni's younger brothers were incensed. They assaulted him on the front lines. Confident of conquering Arjuna's son, they released many lances and arrows finding their mark. Iravan was hit in many places with those weapons. Removing the lances, he returned them forcefully at Shakuni's brothers. He then got down from his chariot holding a sword and shield. Shakuni's brothers surrounded him trying to take him captive. When they came close, he cut off their right and left arms and mangled their bodies. Thus deprived of their lives, they fell from their chariots. Only Vrishava, lacerated by many weapons, survived and escaped with his life.
Seeing the slaughter of Shakuni's brothers, Duryodhana ordered the Rakshasa prince, Alambhusha, to kill Iravan, "Behold, O hero, Arjuna's son destroying my forces with his mystic powers of illusion. You are also well versed in mystic powers, so without delay, do what is needed to protect our soldiers." Following Duryodhana's order, Alambhusha, the dreadful Rakshasa, began displaying his mystic illusions. He created many powerful horses ridden by fierce Rakshasas carrying spears and battle axes. They numbered two thousand, and came upon Iravan swiftly. However, they were soon vanquished by Arjuna's son. Alambhusha then opposed Iravan releasing his blood sucking arrows. When he got close enough, Iravan cut his arrows and his bow to pieces. Seeing his bow cut, he rose up into the air and began to display his mystic illusions. Iravan also rose up into the sky and began to fight with the mystic Rakshasa. He severed his arms and hacked at his body. However, the Rakshasa produced more arms by the dint of his mystic power. Iravan repeatedly cut him with his battle axe and caused him to bleed profusely. Alambhusha then expanded his form and tried to capture Iravan, but Iravan also produced mystic illusions that baffled Alambhusha. A celestial serpent from his mother's side came to Iravan's aid. It assumed a huge form like Lord Ananta Himself. Producing many Nagas, they assaulted the huge Rakshasa. While being attacked, Alambhusha momentarily reflected and then immediately assumed a form like Garuda and devoured those mystic Nagas. Seeing the celestial serpent baffled, Iravan was bewildered. While in that state, Alambusha cut off Iravan's head with his mighty sword. When Arjuna's son was slain, the Kaurava army appeared overjoyed, and encouraged in this way, they began to overthrow the battle lines of their enemy.
Beholding Arjuna's son slain in battle, Ghatotkacha challenged Duryodhana releasing hundreds of arrows. Duryodhana took up the challenge of Bhima's son. He was assisted by an elephant division lead by the King of the Vangas. Ghatotkacha roared loudly striking terror into the Duryodhana's troops. The Rakshasa division then attacked the elephant army causing a carnage of those mighty beasts. With arrows, swords, darts, maces and battle axes, the Rakshasas began kill large elephants as if they were trees caught in a tornado. Not tolerating this, Duryodhana killed four of the principle Rakshasas, whose names were Vegavat, Maharudra, Vidyujihva and Pramathin. Bhima's son was furious and, took up a huge dart to kill him. The king of the Vangas, riding on his elephant, stepped in front of Duryodhana's chariot and protected the Kuru king. Ghatotkacha then released his dart which went straight into the elephant's heart, causing it to lie on the ground deprived of life. The King of the Vangas jumped off the elephant, and ascended another mighty elephant. With eyes red in rage, Ghatotkacha assumed a terrible form and began roaring, shaking the very earth.
Hearing these sounds, Bhishma ordered Drona, Kripa, Salya, Somadatta, Balhika, Jayadratha and Bhurishrava to protect the King. Also following behind were Vinda and Anuvinda, Ashvatthama, Vikarna, Chitrasena and Vivinsati. Beholding all these warriors coming forward, Ghatotkacha remained calm and greeted them with a hail of arrows. He cut Drona's bow to pieces and felled the standard on Somadatta's chariot. He pierce Balhika with many arrows and Kripa with one. He struck Vikarna in the shoulder joint which caused blood and flesh to flow from his wound. He was forced to sit on the floor of his chariot. Ghatotkacha released ten arrows that pierced Bhurishrava's body and entered the earth. He then cut Jayadratha's bow and killed the horses of the Avantipura kings. After defeating those warriors, he rushed at Duryodhana to kill him. Many heroes who were defending Duryodhana came forward to protect him. They surrounded Ghatotkacha releasing their weapons. Ghatotkacha then rose up into the sky and roared loudly causing the hearts of the Kuru warriors to tremble.
Hearing those roars, Yudhisthira anxiously spoke to his younger brother Bhima, "Those roars from your mighty son indicate that he is battling with the principal Kuru soldiers. I think it is more of a burden than he can bear. Quickly save him from this immediate danger." Following his brother's order, Bhima rushed to battle followed by many chariot fighters. Bhima sent forth earth trembling screams that afflicted the hearts of the Kaurava heroes. He met them head on and broke the back of that fierce army. Followed by thousands of soldiers, he pierced the enemy lines killing hundreds of men with his sharpened arrows.
Seeing his troops fleeing for their lives, Duryodhana assaulted Bhimasena to stop his progress. He covered Pandu's son with a shower of arrows and cut his bow to pieces. The crooked son of Dhritarastra then released an arrow that pierced Bhima's chest, causing him to clutch the pole of his chariot. Enraged at this action, Ghatotkacha and Abhimanyu challenged Duryodhana. Seeing them advancing, Drona ordered Somadatta, Kripa, Bhurishravas, Ashvatthama, Jayadratha and Brihadvala to save the King. To protect Duryodhana, Drona pierced Bhima with twenty-six arrows. However, Bhima pierced Drona in return with ten shafts that caused the preceptor to fall to the floor of his chariot. Jumping down from his chariot, Bhima took up his mace and ran at Drona to slay him. The mighty Kauravas, desiring to kill Bhima, surrounded him and began to rain their weapons upon him.
A King named Nila challenged Ashvatthama, who was trying to kill Bhima. He pierced the son of Drona with many winged arrows and caused blood to flow from his body. Highly enraged, Ashvatthama killed Nila's horses and his charioteer. He then released a single arrow that pierced Nila's chest causing him to slump in his chariot. Ghatotkacha came up to protect Nila, and Ashvatthama challenged him to battle. The son of Drona killed many Rakshasas that were supporting Ghatotkacha, inciting the Ghatotkacha's wrath. He produced many ghastly illusions that bewildered Drona's son. The illusions spread over the battlefield, causing a curtain of terror. The Kaurava army could not counter the illusions and ran away in fear. Confused by the mystic powers of Ghatotkacha, thousands of warriors fell down with their heads, legs and arms severed from their bodies. Even Drona, Duryodhana, Salya and Ashvatthama left the field of battle. Bhishma tried to rally the troops, yelling, "Do not run away! It is simply Rakshasa illusions!" Not hearing his words, however, they did not come back to fight, and the Pandavas considered victory to be theirs. It was near the hour of sunset that the mystic Ghatotkacha routed the Kaurava army and sent them running from the battlefield.
Witnessing his army's defeat, Duryodhana approached Grandfather Bhishma and spoke harshly, "Relying on your prowess in battle, I have started this animosity with the Pandavas. I have eleven akshauhini divisions at your command, yet I am defeated by the Pandava warriors headed by Bhima and Ghatotkacha. This is causing me great anxiety and burning my body. I, therefore, want you to kill Ghatotkacha and my desires will be fulfilled."
Replying to the chiding words of Duryodhana, Bhishma said, "Listen, O King, to my advice. In all circumstances you should be protected in battle. Kings should fight with Kings, and therefore you should fight with Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna and the twins. Myself, Drona, Kripa, Ashvatthama and Kritavarman will fight with the wicked Rakshasa. However, if you are in great anxiety, then request Bhagadatta to challenge the Rakshasa, for he is invincible as he rides on his great white elephant."
Following the advice of his grandfather, King Duryodhana went to Bhagadatta and requested him, "Proceed quickly against the son of Hidimvi, and destroy him along with his forces. You also have mystic powers and are invincible in battle." Following the orders of King Duryodhana, King Bhagadatta rushed to the forefront of the battle to fight with Ghatotkacha. Seeing him coming, Bhima, Abhimanyu, Ghatotkacha, the sons of Draupadi, Satyadriti, Kshatradeva and Vasudhama prepared themselves for battle. Bhagadatta was riding on his elephant named Supratika and was supported by many other gigantic tuskers. He came charging at Bhimasena and afflicted him with many arrows. Bhima countered killing one hundred warriors that supported Bhagadatta. Bhima, the Kekaya brothers, Abhimanyu, and the ruler of Dasharanas surrounded that elephant and began to pierce it with many weapons. Blood and flesh were flowing from its sides, but still it would not waver. The ruler of the Dasharanas, riding on his elephant, challenged the powerful Supratika, but could not make it move from its position. Then the ruler of Pragjyotishapura released fourteen lances in succession that pierced the elephant and sent him reeling from the battlefield. Turning on the Pandava's troops, that elephant began to crush the horses and chariots that supported him. The mighty warriors of the Pandava army, placing Bhima at their head, rushed at the colossal elephant, Supratika, with the intention of slaying it. The great bowman Bhagadatta fearlessly began to assault the Pandava army causing great havoc. That huge elephant crushed hundreds and thousands of soldiers and chariots.
Beholding the Pandava army broken, Ghatotkacha, his eyes blazing, rushed at Bhagadatta. He released a mighty dart that scorched through the sky like a meteor. Bhagadatta quickly released a golden arrow that shattered the dart to pieces. When that dart fell to the ground, King Bhagadatta became encouraged. He picked up a huge lance and released it at Ghatotkacha. The son of Bhima rose up into the air and seized it, uttering a loud roar. He then broke it on his knees. With this action all warriors exclaimed, "Well done! Well done!" Not tolerating that action the King of Pragjyotishapura pierced all the warriors that surrounded Ghatotkacha with many arrows. He killed the horses of Bhima and deeply hurt Bhima's charioteer, Vishoka. Vishoka fell to the floor of the chariot. Then taking up his mace Bhima descended from his chariot and began to slaughter the enemy ranks all the while being pierced by the tenacious Bhagadatta.
Just at this time Lord Krishna and Arjuna appeared on the scene. Bhima informed Arjuna of the death of his son Iravan by Alambhusha. Hearing of his son's death, Arjuna said to Krishna, "I know without doubt that Vidura saw, with his great wisdom, the destruction of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Many great heroes have fallen in battle for the sake of wealth. To hell with this profession of a kshatriya. For the fault of Duryodhana the entire kshatriya race will be destroyed. I will kill all these kinsmen who are Rakshasas in human dress. There is no time to lose, O Madhava."
Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead then speedily drove the chariot to the front line of the battle. He engaged in combat with Bhishma, Kripa, Bhagadatta, and Susharman. Meanwhile, Bhima came upon Drona and some of the Brothers of Duryodhana. In the presence of Drona he killed them like a lion kills sheep. Their names were Virudroksha, Kundalin, Anadriti, Kundavegan, Virata, Dhirgalochan, Dhirgavavahu, Suvahu and Kankyadhaga. These nine brothers fell from their chariots deprived of life. The other brothers of Duryodhana ran away fearful of their lives. The preceptor Drona looked on completely helpless to to anything.
Then a fierce engagement took place that increased the population of Yamaraja's abode. The two armies clashed causing a great carnage on both sides. Seizing one another by the hair they fought using nails, teeth, fists and knees. Father killed son and son killed father. Swords with pearl handles lay broken all over the battlefield. Costly ornaments, bows, and broken arrows were strewn on the Kurukshetra plain like rain. Barbed darts, axes, maces and spiked clubs lay next to the bodies of decapitated soldiers. Men lay on the battlefield with limbs shattered and heads smashed. The earth was covered with slain men, elephants and horses. Fragmented chariots were piled up on top of one another with the chariot fighter lying in it deprived of life. Their bloodied armor was scattered here and there no longer reflecting the sun. Decorated heads of great warriors lay everywhere, some with crowns and some with turbans. After the two armies had crushed each other, the Kurus and the Pandavas withdrew their great divisions at the approach of darkness. They retired to their tents for nightly rest.
Lamenting the loss of so many of his brothers and the loss of his troops, Duryodhana, accompanied by Duhshasana and Karna, went to see grandfather Bhishma. Duryodhana then spoke to him, "Accepting you as our protector we would venture to challenge the heavenly gods combined what to speak of the insignificant Pandavas. I desire, O son of Ganga, that you show mercy to me. Why do you not kill the Pandavas? O King, if out of hatred for myself or love of the enemy, you do not kill the Pandavas then permit Karna to fight. He will be able to vanquish the Pandavas in battle without doubt."
Replying to the wicked Duryodhana, Bhishma said, "O Duryodhana, why do you pierce my ears with these arrows? I am prepared to give up my life for you in this battle. The Pandavas cannot be defeated by anyone. Do you not remember when Arjuna defeated Indra in the battle for the Khandava forest? Do you not remember when Arjuna saved you from the Gandharvas when Karna had fled the battlefield? In Virata's kingdom the mighty armed son of Kunti defeated all of us and took away our scarves. Is this not sufficient proof to you? Do you not remember when Arjuna went to heaven and defeated the Nivitakavachas? Who is there, indeed, who can defeat Partha in battle? The eternal Lord Krishna, the carrier of the discus, has given him protection. Vasudeva possesses infinite power and can destroy this universe. All beings are his children, and He is situated in everyone's heart. This has been confirmed by Narada, Asita, Vyasa and others. Due to ignorance you do not see this like man, who is about to die, sees all trees to be made of gold. Having caused this great war why don't you fight with Bhima and Arjuna? I have vowed to slay the Somakas and the Panchalas except for Shikhandi. I will slay them or be slain by them. O son of Gandhari, tomorrow I will fight a fierce battle that men will talk about as long as the world lasts. Even though the Pandavas cannot be slain, I will satisfy your desire. I have in my possession five arrows that have the power to slay the Pandavas. If Keshava does not intervene to protect them, they will die in tommorrow's great battle. Go now, and pass the night happily in sleep."
Joyful to hear the grandsire's vow, Duryodhana requested, "Please let me keep these five arrows for safekeeping till the battle tomorrow begins." Grandfather Bhishma then handed the five arrows to Duryodhana, and thus the King and his soldiers went to their respective tents.
Lord Krishna, being the Paramatma (supersoul) in everyone's heart understood what Bhishma intended to do. He immediately went to Arjuna's tent and requested him, "The grandsire has taken a vow to kill you and your brothers in tomorrow's great battle. For this end he has set aside five arrows. For safekeeping, Duryodhana is keeping these five arrows in his possession. Go now and request these arrows from Duryodhana."
Following the order of his dear friend and Lord, Arjuna went to the camp of Duryodhana, requesting to see his cousin. In the Vedic culture, combatants fought during the day, but could dine together at night if they so desired. Such was their control of anger. Duryodhana greeted Arjuna and inquired, "O Partha, why have you come to my camp? If you deisre victory without fighting, then I am prepared to give it to you."
"I have not come to ask for victory," Arjuna replied, "but is known to me that you are keeping five arrows for slaying myself and my brothers. These have been given to you by our grandsire. I am requesting these five arrows." Duryodhana could not deny the request of his cousin and handed to Arjuna the five arrows Bhishma would use to kill the Pandavas. Arjuna then returned to his camp.
Not able to sleep, Duryodhana immediately went to inform his grandfather of what had taken place. When Bhishma heard that Arjuna had come for the five arrows, his determination only increased, "Krishna has sent Arjuna for the five arrows, but still I vow that unless Krishna intervenes in tomorrow's battle, I will kill the Pandavas. To protect His dear devotees, I will force Him to break his promise not to fight." After hearing grandfather Bhishma's determined vow, Duryodhana removed all lamentation from his heart. He considered the Pandavas as already slain in battle. He thuse retired for nightly rest with a joyful heart.
Thus ends the Eighth Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, entitled, The Eighth Day at Kurukshetra; Iravan is Slain.
The Ninth Day of the Great Battle;
The Invincible Bhishma
Dhritarastra inquired: Hearing of my sons' slaughter, O Sanjaya, a great fear has entered my mind. I think that none of my kinsmen will escape from this battle with their life. You have told me of Bhishma's determination. There has never been a warrior so great as he. Tell me, O Suta, what events took place on the ninth day of the great battle.
Sanjaya said: Listen, O King, with rapt attention to this narration. Today's rivalries will be spoken about for an eternity. On the ninth day of the great massacre, Bhishma, Shantanu's son, arranged his phalanxes in the formation called sarvatobhadra. Kripa, Kritavarman, Saivya, Shakuni Jayadratha, Sudakshina, the ruler of the Kambhojas and the Grandsire Bhishma all took up their positions together in the forefront of the great divisions. Drona, Bhurishrava, Salya, and Bhagadatta took up their positions in the right wing of that array. Ashvatthama, Somadatta, the Kings of Avantipura and Bahlika took up their positions in the left wing. In the middle of the formation was Duryodhana, Susharman and the Trigartas. The powerful Rakshasa, Alambhusha and Shrutayush took up their positions in the rear of the army.
King Yudhisthira and Bhimasena as well as the twin sons of Madri stood in the forefront of their great divisions ready for combat. The commander in chief, Dhristadyumna along with Virata, Satyaki, Shikhandi, Arjuna, Ghatotkacha and Chekitana stood surrounded by their phalanxes of soldiers. Supporting these great warriors were Abhimanyu, Drupada, the five Kaikeya brothers and Kuntibhoja. All stood ready for combat.
Then the Kauravas, placing the Grandsire at their head, rushed against the Pandavas eager for victory. The Pandavas, also eager for combat, rushed against Bhishma desiring to halt his forward march. Abhimanyu assaulted the Kaurava forces, releasing his arrows to all parts of the battlefield. He cleared enemy lines of infantry, calvary and chariot fighters. With his celestial weapons, he was tossing warriors around the battlefield like cotton in the wind. With no one to protect them, Duryodhana's divisions were consumed like a blazing fire consumes dry grass. Abhimanyu defeated Kripa, Drona, Ashvatthama and Jayadratha, and sent them reeling from the front lines. His bow was constantly drawn in a circle and resembled a circular halo around the sun. All the warriors on both sides applauded his prowess as he crossed the battlefield. Gladdening Yudhisthira's heart, he routed the Kaurava army from one end of the battlefield to the other. There was a great wail of lamentation from Duryodhana's troops as this second Arjuna approached them releasing his death dealing arrows.
Seeing his troops routed, Duryodhana commanded Alambusha, "This son of Arjuna appears like his father in prowess. I do not see anyone else who can defeat him in battle except one who possesses mystic powers. Kill this son of Subhadra and gain victory for my troops." Bowing to Duryodhana's order, the valiant and mighty Rakshasa quickly went to the front lines to challenge Abhimanyu. Coming upon Abhimanyu's division, Alambhusha began killing his soldiers in hundreds and thousands. He fought furiously and appeared to dance on the terrace of his chariot. The mighty Rakshasa came upon the five sons of Draupadi and began to grind them with his arrows. The son of Yudhisthira, Prativindya, pierced the Rakshasa through his armor causing him to roar with pain. Not tolerating that action, Alambusha killed Prativindya's horses and also killed the horses of his four brothers. He then began to pierce them with hundreds and hundreds of arrows. Having deprived them of their chariots, he rushed to kill them.
Abhimanyu, seeing his half brothers in difficulty, came up quickly to intercept the mighty Rakshasa. Alambusha challenged the son of Arjuna saying, "Wait, Wait!" The Rakshasa was endowed with mystic illusions and the son of Subhadra was endowed with all the celestial weapons. The combat was wonderful, and all who saw it were struck with wonder. Abhimanyu pierced Alambusha with five shafts, and the Rakshasa countered with nine arrows that pierced the son of Arjuna's chest. Alambusha then released blood sucking arrows that went right through Abhimanyu's body and entered into the earth. Outraged, Arjuna's son released a hundred arrows that caused the Rakshasa to turn his back on the field of battle. Alambusha then resorted to his mystic power and covered all directions with a dense darkness. No one could be seen, and Abhimanyu's supporting troops were struck with fear. To counter this illusion, Subhadra's son released a solar weapon that lit up the battlefield. When light again returned dispelling the darkness, Abhimanyu pierced Alambusha with many broad head arrows. The mystic Rakshasa tried many other mystic illusions, but they were all destroyed by Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu then pierced the Rakshasa's body, and he appeared like a forested mountain. With blood pouring from his wounds and having no other mystic weapons, he abandoned his chariot and fled the battlefield.
Beholding his troops routed, Bhishma attacked Abhimanyu. The mighty chariot fighters of the Kaurava army encircled Arjuna's son and began to rain their arrows upon him. Unwavered, Abhimanyu fought with them valiantly. Coming up to assist Abhimanyu was his father, Arjuna. He quickly arrived at the spot where Abhimanyu was slaughtering the troops. Seeing him coming, Sardwat's son, Kripa, pierced Arjuna with twenty five arrows. Not tolerating that action, Satyaki attack Kripa with an arrow capable of taking his life. However, the son of Drona, Ashvatthama, cut that arrow in mid air and then pierced Satyaki in the chest with many broad headed shafts. Satyaki countered and struck Ashvatthama with six arrows that caused him to faint away on his chariot.
With this action, Drona rushed against Satyaki. Arjuna came up to assist Satyaki and pierced Drona with three iron headed arrows. Drona countered those arrows and covered the third son of Pandu with a shower of arrows. Watching with concern, the battle between these two bullish warriors, Duryodhana ordered Susharman to attack Arjuna. Supported by his military divisions, Susharman came upon Arjuna eager for combat. The Trigarta King's arrows pierced Arjuna's body like birds enter a tree. Incensed, Arjuna invoked the Vayavya weapon which caused a hurricane to appear on the battlefield. Picking up men, horses, elephants and chariots, this weapon scattered them in all directions. Countering that weapon, Drona released the Mahadeva weapon which caused the wind to abate. However, the soldiers of the Trigarta army, fearful of their life, ran from the battlefield.
Duryodhana ordered the celebrated chariot fighters, Kripa, Ashvatthama, Salya, Sudakshina, Bahlika, and the Avanti brothers to attack Bhimasena. They came upon him with their elephant divisions and began to harass him. Vrikodara, licking his lips, took up his death dealing mace, and descending from his chariot, he began to slaughter those huge beasts along with their riders. Bhima's body was practically impenetrable and arrows could hardly pierce his skin. Fearlessly, he began to dance on the battlefield scattering the huge elephant divisions with his powerful mace. While being slaughtered by Bhima, those elephants sent up wails of anguish and fell to the ground. Some had their heads smashed and others had their backs broken by Bhima's powerful mace. Covered with the blood of the elephants and soldiers and pierced all over with arrows, he appeared like Yamaraja himself come to take the life of all beings. What ever elephants were left, fled away out of fear, and thus once again Duryodhana's troops were defeated in battle.
At midday a fierce rivalry took place between the Grandsire Bhishma and the Somakas. That renowned Kaurava warrior consumed the enemy ranks in thousands. Coming to challenge Bhishma were Drupada, Virata, Dhristadyumna and Shikhandi. They showered arrows on Bhishma, and there was not a two finger breadth of space where he wasn't pierced. However, the grandsire was not affected. He returned those arrows and struck Drupada, Virata and Dhristadyumna in the same way that they had pierced him. However, he would not release a single weapon against Shikhandi on account of his having been a female in his youth. Bhishma blazed with anger and began to destroy the Pandava ranks. He killed elephants, chariot fighters and horsemen with his deadly shafts. On hearing the twang of his bow, the Pandava troops were struck with fear. Not only did his arrows pierce the combatant's armor, but passed right through them into the ground. In front of him, the grandsire created a cemetery of dead bodies, broken chariots, fallen horses and deceased elephants. With broad headed shafts, he smashed chariots to pieces including the axle and wheels. Severed heads and numerous weapons lay in front of the Grandsire. His arrows were like meteors scorching the Kurukshetra plain. The Pandavas, with the greatest effort, could not rally their army, so frightened by Bhishma's prowess. The grandfather was endowed with a young man's power, and when he came upon Arjuna, he began to afflict him with blazing arrows.
Witnessing the rout of the Pandava army by Bhishma, Lord Krishna spoke to Arjuna, "The hour has come which you have longed for. You must kill Bhishma now, or he will kill you. In the assembly of Kings at Virata's court, you promised that slay this great warrior. Now is the time to make those words come true."
Arjuna replied, "Which would be better: another twelve years in the forest or sovereignty with hell at the end? Which of these should I achieve? Urge the horses on, O Hrishikesha, I will fulfill your desire. I will overthrow the powerful Grandsire, that invincible warrior."
Thus Lord Krishna drove the chariot to the place where Bhishma was fighting. The Pandava army rallied behind Arjuna and opposed the Grandsire eager for battle. Seeing Partha coming, Bhishma roared like a lion and covered Dhananjaya's car with a curtain of arrows. Then Partha shattered Bhishma's bow, cutting it into fragments. While Bhishma was stringing another bow, Arjuna cut that one to pieces, and Shantanu's son exclaimed, "Well done! Well done!" Then Bhishma, taking up another bow, began to lacerate Arjuna's body. Arjuna, too, released many arrows piercing his grandfather and drawing his blood. Bhishma then fought with greater prowess and began to vanquish thousands of Arjuna's supporting troops right before his very eyes. The Grandsire then covered Arjuna's chariot with hundreds of arrows so that Arjuna and Krishna could not be seen.
It was obvious that Arjuna was not fighting to full capacity, and that Bhishma was going to emerge victorious. Arrows were filling the sky, and Arjuna was falling into danger. Seeing the situation, Lord Krishna could no longer tolerate the possible defeat of Arjuna. Breaking his own promise not to fight, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descended from the chariot, and picking up the wheel of a broken chariot, He rushed at Bhishma while his hair and yellow garments flowed in the breeze. Bhishma had promised that he would kill Arjuna, and to save His devotee, Lord Krishna would have to fight. This was the vow of Bhishma. Roaring like a lion, the Lord of the universe, the mighty Lord Krishna assaulted Bhishma. Lord Krishna resembled a rain cloud passing through the sky decorated with flashes of lightning. Beholding the lotus eyed Lord rushing towards him, Bhishma began to release arrows that pierced Lord Krishna's body. The Supreme Godhead whose body is completely transcendental received those arrows like a lover receives the affectionate bites of his beloved girl friend. Bhishma said to the Supreme Lord, "Come, come, O lotus-eyed one. I offer you my respectful obeisances, O God of gods. O my Lord, destroy me in this battle so that I may win great fame. O Govinda, You may strike me as you please for I am Your eternal servant life after life."
Descending from his chariot, Arjuna ran after Lord Krishna and seized him. Stopping Him with great effort, Arjuna pleaded, "O mighty armed Keshava, You should not break the promise you made in the King's assembly. You said at that time, 'I will not fight.' Alas this great burden rests on me. I swear I will slay the grandsire. I swear by my weapons, by truth and by my good deeds. You will behold this mighty warrior thrown down by me with the greatest ease." Lord Krishna did not reply to the statement of Arjuna, but in great anger, He mounted the chariot and again guided the horses of His devotee. Bhishma once more showered arrows upon Arjuna's chariot. Once again the Grandsire began to slay hundreds and thousands of troops by using his celestial arrows. No one could even look at him as he released his death dealing weapons. One could only see thousands of slain horses, elephants, and men, as well as the sky filled with his arrows. The Pandavas gazed on Bhishma in wonder and could do nothing to stop him. Thus without a protector, the Pandava Army broke and fled the battlefield. At this time the sun set its course on the horizon and with its disappearance, the great divisions of both sides withdrew to their camps.
Witnessing the slaughter of his men, Yudhisthira could not find peace. The Kauravas, extremely delighted at the turn of events, followed Bhishma to his tent glorifying his prowess. Meanwhile the Pandavas along with their generals held consultation to discus the days events. Reflecting on what had taken place, King Yudhisthira said to Lord Krishna, "Behold the prowess of the Grandsire, Bhishma, O Vasudeva. He has crushed my troops like an elephant in a sugar cane field. I think it is possible to defeat Yamaraja or Indra in battle, but this Bhishma cannot be slain. When this is the case, I have fallen into an ocean of grief. O Invincible one, I will now retire to the forest for I have no purpose to fulfill. Witnessing the slaughter of my troops, I do not desire sovereignty of the universe. O slayer of Madhu, my brothers are greatly afflicted by our grandfather, and I am afraid that they might be slain. Please show us Your favor, O Krishna, and tell me what will benefit us at this time."
Smiling with compassion, Lord Krishna, the protector of His devotees, advised Yudhisthira, "O son of Dharma, You are follower of the religious principles, and therefore, there is no need to lament. When you have these invincible heroes for your protectors, why fall into an ocean of sorrow? Arjuna and Bhima alone are capable of routing the enemy. Both Nakula and Sahadeva are as capable and qualified as the King of heaven himself. Even I, O son of Pandu, will fight with this Bhishma and slay him. If Arjuna, out of weakness, will not kill him, then I will kill him in the very sight of Dhritarastra's sons. He, who is the enemy of the Pandavas, is also my enemy. Your brother, Arjuna, is my friend, relative and disciple. I will, O King, cut off My flesh and give it away for Arjuna's sake. Therefore, order Me, O King, to fight with Bhishma. Formerly at Upaplavya, Arjuna spoke up in the King's assembly, promising, 'I will slay Ganga's son.' If provoked in battle, Arjuna can fulfill that promise, or I can fulfill that promise for him. Bhishma has fallen under the sway of demons, and the reaction that will accrue to them will also fall upon him. That is the way of karma."
Hearing Lord Krishna's advice, Yudhisthira said, "It will certainly be as You say, O Madhava. All these Kauravas taken together cannot bear Your prowess. I am sure that all my desires will be fulfilled as long as You, My Lord, are our protector. O Govinda, what is there to say about Bhishma, although he is a mighty warrior? Before the battle he agreed to to give counsel to us although he would not fight on our side. Therefore, O slayer of Madhu, let us approach him and ask him to advise us about this situation. When we were fatherless and orphans, he raised us with great affection. Thus we love him much. O to hell with the profession of a kshatriya!"
Hearing these words, the descendent of Vrishni, spoke to Yudhisthira, "O son of Pandu, your counsel is filled with wisdom and very pleasing to hear. Let us go to Bhishma's tent and ask him how we can obtain his death. When you question him, he will certainly reply with the truth."
Thus the Pandavas followed Lord Krishna to Bhishma's abode and offered their obeisances unto him. Then the mighty armed Bhishma addressed them, "Welcome, O descendent of Vrishni, welcome O Dhananjaya. Welcome, King Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. What can I do to enhance your joy? Even if it is difficult to achieve, I will endeavor with all my soul to fulfill it."
Unto the chief Kuru descendent, Yudhisthira lovingly spoke the following words, "O worshipable grandfather, you are conversant with all knowledge. How shall we obtain victory and sovereignty? How also can this needless destruction of the kshatriya race be stopped? Please answer these questions, and also tell me how you will meet with death? It is not in our power to stop your progress. While releasing your arrows, no one is able to tell when you draw the string, place the arrow and release the arrow. This all happens in one motion. O bull of the Bharata race, where is the man who can stand in front of you as you shower your arrows causing great destruction. Tell me, O Grandsire, how will we vanquish you in battle and gain sovereignty."
Replying to Yudhisthira's inquiry, Ganga's son said, "As long as I am alive, O son of Pandu, you will not have victory. O possessor of great wisdom, this is the fact of the matter. After I am slain, you will be triumphant. If you, therefore, desire victory, then kill me without delay. I give you permission to do so. You are fortunate to know my position, for if you had not solicited my advice, then there would have been days of misfortune ahead. Listen to my words, and act upon what I say. With my large bow and other weapons, I fight very carefully in battle. No one, not even the demigods headed by Indra, can defeat me. If, however, I lay aside my weapons, then you may defeat me. It is known that I will never fight with a woman or one who was once a woman. The son of Drupada, Shikhandi, was once a woman in his youth and has since attained manhood. Keep Shikhandi before Arjuna, and let Arjuna release his arrows and pierce my body. I will not fight with Shikhandi. At that time I will lay down my weapons, and taking this opportunity, Arjuna may strike me on all sides and gain victory. Except for Devaki's divine son, Lord Krishna, or Arjuna, there is no one who can defeat me. After I am vanquished, you will be able to defeat Dhritarastra's sons and their allies."
After hearing the Grandsire's instructions and offering their respectful obeisances, the Pandavas went back to their tents. Knowing that he would have to be the cause of his grandfather's death, Arjuna said to the Personality of Godhead, "How, O Madhava, will I be able to fight with the Grandsire who is senior in years, who possesses great wisdom, and is the oldest member of our dynasty? While sporting in our childhood days, O Vasudeva, I used to climb up on his lap and smear him with dust. O Janardana, he is my grandfather worthy of great respect. I use to address him as father, but he would correct me and say, 'I am the father of your father.' O how can I kill this worshipful person in combat. Let my army perish, and let me also perish. I will never kill one who is worthy of my worship."
Lord Krishna replied, "Having vowed to kill Bhishma before, O Jishnu, how can you refrain from keeping your vow? You will not be triumphant without slaying Ganga's son. This is predestined by the desires of the demigods. It cannot happen otherwise. You are to be an instrument in this great battle, and you should not consider yourself the cause. Such were my instructions before the battle. Do not hesitate. Follow the advice given by the Grandsire and obtain victory."
"O Krishna," Arjuna said, "I will do as you say. It is true that destiny's course cannot be changed. Therefore, keeping Shikhandi before me, I will slay Bhishma, the greatest warrior that lives. I will check the other maharathis with my weapons, and myself and Shikhandi will cause the Grandsire to fall from his chariot." Having settled the affair with Bhishma's permission, the Pandavas along with Lord Krishna, retired for the night with contemplative hearts.
Thus Ends the Ninth Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Ninth Day of the Great Battle; The Invincible Bhishma.
The Tenth Day of Hostilities;
The Fall of the Grandsire Bhishma
Dhritarastra inquired: O Sanjaya, on the tenth day of the famed battle, how did Shikhandi challenge Ganga's son? The great Bhishma had received a benediction from his father that he would die only when he desired. Therefore, how would it be possible for Shikhandi or even Arjuna to take the life of that great soul? Please tell me in detail, O Suta, how the grandsire advanced against the Pandava army.
Sanjaya said: O King, the grandsire Bhishma has always acted as your father, friend and counselor. For your fault, you will now hear about the fall of this great soldier. When the hour of sunrise came, the Pandavas and the Kauravas arranged their divisions in battle formation. The Pandavas placed Shikhandi at their head, protected by Arjuna and Bhima. Behind them were the five sons of Draupadi and Abhimanyu. The other maharathis that were supporting them were Satyaki, Chekitana, Dhristadyumna, Virata, Drupada, the five Kaikeya brothers, Dhrishtaketu, and Uttamaujas.
The Kauravas, placing Bhishma in their forefront, prepared for battle. Behind Bhishma were Dhritarastra's sons and supporting them were Drona, Ashvatthama, Bhagadatta, Kripa, Kritavarman, the mighty Sudakshina, the King of the Kambhojas, Jayatsena, the ruler of Magadha, Shakuni and Brihadvala. Behind them were millions upon millions of soldiers eager for battle.
The two armies rushed at each other, and the clash of weapons and armor was uproarious. Shikhandi assaulted the grandsire and released three arrows that pierced Bhishma's chest. Grandfather Bhishma did not return any weapon, but destroyed Shikhandi's supporting troops like a forest fire consuming trees. Bhishma refused to fight with Shikhandi. Despite the fact that Shikhandi deluged Bhishma with arrows, the Grandsire would not fight with the son of Drupada. He addressed Shikhandi, "Whether you chose to strike me first or not, I will never fight with you. You are a woman by birth, and I can never challenge one who has changed his sex."
"I know that you can decimate the kshatriya race," Shikhandi replied, "and that you have even defeated the mighty Parashurama. Despite this fact, I will fight with you and slay you. Whether you chose to strike me or not, you will not escape with your life. O Bhishma, prepare yourself for the next world."
Ignoring Shikhandi, Bhishma began to rout the Somakas and the Shrinjayas. Fighting with all his energy, he killed ten thousands elephants, and ten thousand horsemen as well. On this final day the Grandsire killed a full two hundred thousand foot soldiers. Even though this slaughter was going on, the Pandavas did not waver in battle. They came forward with upraised weapons desiring to kill Bhishma.
Beholding Bhishma's prowess, Arjuna ordered Shikhandi, "Fight with Bhishma! Do not feel the slightest fear for your life. Providence has ordained his fall." Following Arjuna's command, Shikhandi, followed by Dhristadyumna and Abhimanyu, rushed at the Grandsire releasing their powerful weapons.
At this time Drona was also engaged in battle with the Pandava forces. Drona began to perceive omens indicating a great Kaurava loss. That mighty warrior spoke to his son, "On this day, my son, the mighty Partha will try his best to conquer the Grandsire. Today, my arrows are not coming from their quiver of their own accord. My bow seems to yawn, and my strength is leaving my body. My weapons are unwilling to answer my call. Animals and birds are uttering fearful and terrible cries. My heart is cheerless, and the sun seems to have lost its radiance. The four quarters are ablaze, and vultures are flying overhead. The bodies of kings, belonging to the Kaurava army, seem pale though decorated with golden ornaments. In all directions the sound of the Panchajanya and the twang of the Gandiva can be heard. Without doubt, Arjuna is trying to engage only the Grandsire avoiding the other maharathis. He seeks to kill Bhishma by keeping Shikhandi in front of him. Alas, what will be our fate?" Thus contemplating the future, Drona again battled with the Pandava warriors.
On this day Bhishma was causing a slaughter of the Somakas and the Shrinjayas. Arjuna, too, was taking away the lives of hundreds and thousands of chariot fighters, horsemen and infantry. So great was the bloodbath on both sides that it was hard to tell which side would become victorious. Bhishma was scorching the Pandava army, and after ten days, he gave up all desire to protect his life. Wishing his own death would come, he thought, "I will no longer engage in the merciless act of slaughtering large numbers of warriors."
Upon seeing Yudhisthira near him, he advised him, "O Yudhisthira, listen to my words and carry out my request. I have spent so many days killing large divisions of soldiers. O Bharata, I no longer desire to protect this body. If you wish to fulfill my desire, then kill me as I stand on my chariot. Place Shikhandi and Partha in the forefront of your army, and cause my ascendence to the heavenly planets."
Understanding Bhishma's intention, Yudhisthira ordered the Shrinjaya army headed by Dhristadyumna to attack Bhishma. Arjuna also, following Shikhandi, began to release his deadly arrows at the grandsire. Within a short time the Grandsire killed fourteen thousand chariot fighters. Shikhandi then released fourteen broad headed arrows that struck Bhishma in the chest. The son of Ganga, however, only looked at Shikhandi with wrath.
Arjuna ordered Shikhandi, "Rush quickly and slay the grandsire! Do not hesitate. Challenge him immediately!" Following those instructions, the son of Drupada released his deadly weapons for slaying the foremost Kuru warrior.
Coming up to protect the Grandsire was Duryodhana. He ordered all the great warriors with their combatants to kill Arjuna. Seeing them coming, Arjuna called upon his celestial weapons and caused a great carnage. His celestial weapons released hundreds of thousands of arrows severing the heads, arms, and legs of the oncoming enemy. Angered by the prowess of his grandson, Bhishma, invoking a celestial weapon, rushed at Arjuna in the sight of all bowmen. However, seeing Shikhandi in the forefront, the grandsire withdrew the blazing weapon.
Bhishma then fixed his attention on slaying the Somakas and the Shrinjayas. He single handedly killed ten thousand elephants and seven great rathas amongst the Panchalas and the Matsyas. He then sent to Yamaraja's abode ten thousand horsemen and five thousand foot soldiers. Having thinned the ranks of the Pandava army, Bhishma then killed Satanika, the brother of Virata. Whoever followed Partha, was sent by Bhishma to the other world. Bhishma was achieving the most glorious feats on this tenth day of the Kurukshetra war. No one could stand before the Grandsire as he released his weapons. The King of the Panchalas, Drupada, Dhristadyumna, Nakula and Sahadeva, Virata, Abhimanyu, Satyaki, the sons of Draupadi, Ghatotkacha, Bhima, and Kuntibhoja were sinking in the ocean of the Grandsire. Coming to save them was Arjuna. He encouraged them and in their presence, he killed all of Bhishma's supporting soldiers. Then all together the great adhirathas and the maharathis of the Pandava army attacked Bhishma hoping to kill him. Keeping Shikhandi in front of them, they pierced Bhishma with hundreds of Arrows. Arjuna managed to cut Bhishma's bow, and with this act the Kauravas became enraged. They all attacked Arjuna using their celestial weapons and showering upon him thousands of arrows. Shikhandi continued piercing Bhishma, but the Grandsire ignored him and penetrated through the enemy ranks. Arjuna attacked Ganga's son and tore his bow to pieces. Bhishma took up another weapon, but that was also shattered by Arjuna's arrows. Partha managed to cut all the bows taken up by Bhishma. Bhishma was furious and took up a dart, and with all his might hurled it at Arjuna. Arjuna, however, tore it to pieces as it came toward him. Seeing his dart cut off, Bhishma reflected, "With a single bow, I could kill the Pandavas, if Vishnu had not been their protector. For two reasons, I will not fight with them. One is that they are protected by Lord Krishna, and the other is that Shikhandi stands in front of them. I cannot be killed on the battlefield. Such was the benediction given by my father Shantanu. He said that I would die only when I wanted too. Now I think that that time has come."
Reflecting like this, the demigods and rishis confirmed his meditation by saying, "Your departure from this world is close at hand, O King. Withdraw your heart from battle." With these words, a fragrant and auspicious breeze filled with water particles began to blow in all directions. In the heavens Bhishma heard the sounds of conchshell, drums and bugles. Showers of flowers then began to fall from the sky upon the Bhishma. All this was only seen by Bhishma who now thought of attaining the kingdom of God.
Meanwhile, the great warriors attacked Bhishma with greater boldness. Arjuna struck Bhishma in every part of his body, but Ganga's son did not waver the slightest. He returned those arrows and began once again to afflict the enemy ranks. Shikhandi and Arjuna maneuvered their chariots near the Grandsire. Arjuna once again cut his bow from his hand and also cut his banner from the chariot. Shantanu's son then picked up another bow, but that was also cut to pieces. Repeatedly Arjuna cut all Bhishma's bows, and thus Bhishma no longer desired to fight with Arjuna. Arjuna began to pierce the Grandsire with hundreds of arrows as he stood on his chariot. Seeing Duhshasana near him, Bhishma said, "Just see, the great bowman Arjuna is piercing me with thousands of arrows. I cannot be subjugated by the heavenly gods and asuras combined, what to speak of ordinary warriors of this world. These arrows that are piercing my body are not Shikhandi's but Arjuna's. Only he can cause me the pain I am presently feeling. These arrows are released with the power of the thunderbolt. They are like virulent poison, and they are entering deep into my body. Besides the wielder of the Gandiva bow, there is no one that can cause me this much pain."
Saying this much, Bhishma picked up a dart and hurled it at Arjuna. Partha, however, cut that weapon to pieces. Then Shantanu's son picked up a sword and shield to fight with Arjuna, but the son of Kunti shattered the sword and shield before the Grandsire could descend from his chariot. This feat was wonderful on the field of battle.
Then King Yudhisthira ordered his army, "All rush at Ganga's son! Do not be afraid!" With these words, the Pandava army assaulted Bhishma with their upraised weapons. Releasing hundreds of arrows, Arjuna pierced Bhishma in every part of his body. Indeed, there was not a two fingered breadth of space where there was not an arrow. Mangled in this way, the aged grandsire of the Kuru dynasty fell from his chariot to the ground. Great sounds of lamentation were heard from the Kaurava divisions. When the grandsire fell from his chariot, the hearts of the Kauravas fell with him. It was as if one of the heavenly gods had fallen. He fell down from his chariot with his head facing the eastern direction. Knowing the sun was in an inauspicious course, he did not allow his soul to leave his body. Because his mortal frame was pierced with many arrows, he did not touch the ground. At that time, Bhishma looked divine. The clouds poured a cool shower, and the earth trembled. Seeing her son fallen from his chariot, Ganga sent rishis in swan-like form. Circumambulating him, they requested him not to leave his body until the sun had entered its northern course. He then spoke to them, "I will never pass from this world while the sun is in its southern route. I will proceed from this world when the sun changes to its northern passage." The celestial swans then again entered the heavens and informed Ganga of her son's decision.
When the great grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the foremost warrior, had fallen from his chariot, both armies ceased fighting. The Pandavas and the Shrinjayas uttered loud roars like bulls. The Kurus were overcome with grief. Duryodhana and Kripa sighed and wept tears of anguish. Duhshasana went to the division where Drona was fighting and informed him of the Bhishma's fall. Hearing the dreadful news, Drona fell from his chariot momentarily senseless. Upon regaining consciousness, he forbade his troops to fight with the Pandavas. Laying aside their armor, both the Pandavas and the Kurus came to Bhishma's side. They offered their obeisances to the Grandsire and stood with joined palms. He then spoke to them, "Welcome all you great heroes. I am joyous to see your sight before leaving this world." Bhishma's head had not been pierced with arrows and was hanging down. He requested the warriors present to fetch him a pillow. Quickly they brought him pillows of the finest silk. However, Bhishma said, "O Kings, this is not a hero's pillow." He then requested Arjuna, "O Dhananjaya, I am in need of a pillow. Please give me a pillow as you think fit."
Stringing his bow tearfully, Arjuna filled the ground under Bhishma's head with many arrows. Laying his head upon that pillow fit for a warrior, Bhishma said, "You have given me a pillow and a bed that is worthy of a kshatriya. This is the way one should sleep on the battlefield. I will sleep on this bed until the sun takes it's northern course."
Duryodhana, thinking to save Bhishma's life, brought many physicians to heal his grandfather's wounds, but Bhishma sent them all away, desiring death only. With the greatest respect, all the Pandavas and the Kauravas paid their respect to the eldest member of the Kuru family. They stationed guards to protect him from Rakshasas and carnivorous animals. Then They circumambulated him and returned to their tents.
When the night had passed away, the Pandavas and the Kurus came again to resting place of Grandfather Bhishma. Many people from Hastinapura had come to pay their last respects to the dying Bhishma. They were sprinkling flowers and sandalwood powder upon his body, and some were blowing on trumpets and some were blowing conchshells.
When the Pandavas and the Kauravas had surrounded Bhishma, the son of Ganga asked for some water. The Kings immediately brought many pitchers of water to quench his thirst. He refused them all and called for Arjuna. He said, "My body, covered with arrows, burns and my mouth is dry. You are an exalted bowman and are able to give me water in a befitting way." Understanding his grandfather's mind, Arjuna picked up his Gandiva bow and placed upon it the parjanya weapon. He then pierced the earth causing a stream of water to quench his grandfather's thirst. Bhishma then addressed Arjuna again, "O mighty armed Arjuna, this feat in not so wonderful. With Lord Krishna as your ally, there is nothing in this world that you will not achieve. Narada has told me that you are none other than Nara, the ancient rishi of old, and that Krishna is Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You are the greatest bowman that has graced the earth and you are unequaled among men. I have tried repeatedly to convince Duryodhana of this fact, but he would not listen. Now, like a fool, he will lay on the Kurukshetra plain overcome by Bhima's mace."
Hearing these prophetic words, Duryodhana's heart saddened. Looking in his direction, Bhishma advised him, "Listen, O King, abandon your anger. You have seen how Arjuna has pierced the earth with his celestial weapon. There is none other who can perform such an act. Indeed, all the celestial arms are known to Arjuna as well as to Lord Krishna. There is no one else who possesses them. This Arjuna is superhuman and cannot be conquered. While the remnants of your brothers have not yet been killed, why don't you make peace with the Pandavas? As long as Krishna has not cast his wrathful glance upon your army, make peace. I speak this wisdom for your good. Give Yudhisthira his city of Indraprastha, and let all these monarchs return to their kingdoms. If you do not listen to my advice, then you will have to lament your fate." Speaking these words out of affection for Duryodhana, Bhishma fell silent. Duryodhana could not accept his grandfather's counsel because of his wicked heart. Thus he was like a dying man refusing to take medicine.
After the Kauravas and the Pandavas had returned to their tents, Karna came to the Grandsire as he lay mortally wounded. He approached Bhishma and offered his obeisances. With a faltering voice and tears falling from his eyes, he said, "O chief of the Kurus, I am Radha's son, who you have always looked upon with anger."
Hearing Karna's voice, Bhishma opened his his eyes and seeing the place deserted of men, he embraced Karna with one of his arms. He then said with great affection, "If you had not humbly come to me, things would have not gone well with you. Do you realize that you are Kunti's son and not Radha's? I have heard about this from Narada as well as Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa. Without doubt it is true. Honestly, I bear no hatred toward you. It was only for cooling your envy of the Pandavas that I spoke to you in such a way. Without any reason you have spoken ill of the Pandavas. Due to bad association with Duryodhana, you have become like him. Indeed, you are equal to Arjuna and Krishna in bowmanship. There is no doubt about this. Whatever anger I have had against you is gone. The heroic sons of Pandu are your brothers. Therefore, unite with them and let these hostilities end."
"What you have told me is true," Karna replied. "I am Kunti's son, but I have been raised by a suta. I was abandoned by Kunti to die. For so long I have enjoyed Duryodhana's wealth with my relatives. I dare not falsify it now. As Krishna is dear to the Pandavas, so Duryodhana is dear to me. I know well that Arjuna and Krishna are undefeatable in battle, but still it is my duty to try to kill Arjuna on behalf of my friend Duryodhana. Please give me your permission to fight. Please also forgive any offense which I may have committed against you out of foolishness."
"If you are not able to cast off this anger," Bhishma said, "then I give you permission to fight. Through Arjuna you will attain the regions of heaven. I have tried to make peace, but I have not succeeded. All good fortune to you. Go and fight." Having said this much, the Grandsire became silent. Karna then offered his obeisances to Bhishma and circumambulated him. He then proceeded to Duryodhana's tent.
Thus Ends the Tenth Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Tenth Day of Hostilities; The Fall of the Grandsire Bhishma.
Thus Ends the Bhishma Parva to the Summary Study of the Mahabharata.