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The Death of Salya
Dhritarastra said: O Sanjaya, my limbs are burning upon hearing of Karna's death. Who will give my son protection? Now that Bhishma and Drona have been slain, and Karna lies prostrate on the field of battle, who was made the commander in chief of our great army? I desire, O Suta, to hear everything that happened on the eighteenth day of the great battle.
Sanjaya replied: O descendent of Bharata, hear with attention the great carnage of both the Kurus and the Pandavas. After the death of Karna, there was no warrior capable of rallying the Kaurava troops. When their protector had been slain by the mighty armed Arjuna, the troops became like ship wrecked boats on the stormy ocean. Indeed after the demise of Karna, the Kaurava soldiers were like deer hunted by a lion. Mangled by Arjuna's arrows, the troops fled here and there. It was with great effort that King Duryodhana was able to gather his valiant soldiers and calm them. They then retired to their tents for the night. After they had rested for some time and refreshed themselves, whatever generals were left in Duryodhana's army gathered together and advised the king as follows, "Now that the invincible Karna has fallen on the field of battle, we should pick another amongst us to be the commander in chief of this heroic army." Duryodhana then approached Drona's son and questioned him, "O Ashvatthama, you are a brahmana and are highest refuge. Therefore, please tell us who should be the commander in chief of our army?"
Ashvatthama replied, "Let Salya become the commander of the army. In fame, descent, prowess and in achievements, he is superior to all of us. He will lead our army, and take us to victory."
Hearing this opinion, Duryodhana went to Salya and requested, "O ruler of Madras, you are devoted to your friends and always seek our welfare. We request you to lead this army of brave soldiers and conquer the Pandavas. There are many generals here whose prowess has lasted these eighteen days. Supporting you on all sides, we will either gain victory or enter the spiritual regions. Please protect us as Kartikeya protects the demigods."
To this request, Salya replied, "I will, O King of the Kurus, accomplish all that you have asked. Everyone regards the two Krishnas to be unconquerable. They are not, however, equal to me in the use of weapons. When angry, I can destroy the demons and devas united. Without doubt, I will become the leader of your troops, and I will form an array that our enemies will not be able to penetrate."
Thus encouraged by King Salya, Duryodhana appointed the ruler of Madras as the commander in chief of the army. All the troops became joyous and beat on their drums and sounded their conchshells. They regarded the Pandavas to be already slain in battle. They then rested for the night.
When the dawn of the eighteenth day arrived, all the troops assembled eager for battle. They were determined either to gain victory or ascend to the heavenly realm. There numbers were greater than the Pandavas, and thus they felt confident of victory.
Dhritarastra inquired: O Sanjaya, after seventeen days had passed at Kurukshetra, how many Kuru warriors remained fit for battle, and also, how many men were left to support the Pandavas?
Sanjaya said: O descendent of Kuru, I will now tell you how many brave soldiers were left to fight for the Pandava's and the Kaurava's cause. O monarch, on the side of your son, there still remained eleven thousands chariots, ten thousand seven hundred elephants, two hundred thousand horsemen and three million foot soldiers. On the side of the Pandavas, O King, there were left six thousand chariots, six thousand elephants, ten thousand horses and one million foot soldiers. Those two armies arrayed before each other at the dawn of the eighteenth day were all eager for combat.
Sanjaya continued: When the two armies met, there was a great dust cloud that appeared due to the clashing of men. The sound of steel and the sounds of the horses and elephants was uproarious. Krishna and Arjuna blew on their transcendental conchshells encouraging the troops in this last day of engagement. Partha and Bhima began a massacre of troops that was so great that before the day had finished, there would be none left to fight for the Kaurava's cause. Yudhisthira rushed at Salya protected by Dhristadyumna and Shikhandi. Nakula encountered Susena and Satyasena, the sons of Karna. In that duel, the mighty Nakula severed the heads of both those heroes. Bhima fought with Kritavarman, and the Bhoja King managed to kill Bhima's horses. Bhima jumped from his chariot taking up his death dealing mace. He smashed the horses, driver and chariot of the King of the Bhojas. Kritavarman jumped down from the chariot and fled for his life.
Salya, the King of Madras, was engaged in fighting with Yudhisthira and at the same time killing large numbers of the Panchalas, the Somakas and the Shrinjayas. To stop his progress, Bhima took up his mace and killed the four horses that were guiding Salya's chariot. Not tolerating that victorious feat, Salya released a lance that pierced Bhima's chest. Becoming enraged, Bhima pulled out that lance and pierced Salya's chariot driver in the chest, depriving him of life. Upon seeing this feat, Salya took up his own mace and rushed at Bhima eager for combat. They began whirling in circles looking for the opportunity to strike each other. They sometimes jumped high or moved to the left or to the right. When the maces of those two heroes collided, sparks and fire shot in all directions. They struck each others limbs and soon their bodies were covered in blood. Although struck repeatedly by Bhima's mace, Salya did not waver like mount Meru when struck by a thunderbolt. They fought each other fiercely and in the end, they both fell to the ground overcome with fatigue. At that time Kripacharya appeared on the scene, and placing the ruler of Madras on his chariot, took him away from the battlefield. Bhima suddenly rose up, reeling like a drunken man and again challenged Salya to combat. However, Salya had already been taken away from the scene.
Duryodhana came forward supported many Kaurava warriors and attacked the Pandavas. The heroic Duryodhana came upon the Vrishni prince Chekitana and challenged him to battle. Red hot with anger after Karna's death, Duryodhana released a powerful javelin that pierced the chest of Chekitana, and that great descendent of the Vrishni house fell to the ground dead.
After Salya had regained strength, he reentered the field of battle. He came to the front line thirsting for victory or death. He fought with Bhima, Satyaki, Nakula and Sahadeva and defeated them all. Yudhisthira then came forward to fight with Salya. Salya cut Yudhisthira's bow in two and wounded him with many arrows. Yudhisthira countered and cut off Salya's bow and pierced him with ten broad headed shafts. The first son of Kunti then killed his four horses and the two protectors of his wheels. When this happened Ashvatthama took Salya onto his chariot and sped away. However, Yudhisthira followed challenging Salya to battle. Salya then ascended another chariot and proceeded against Yudhisthira. He pierced Bhima with three arrows and Satyaki with ten. He then afflicted both Nakula and Sahadeva with many arrows. Not tolerating the enemy's prowess, Salya killed the King's horses and charioteer. Having accomplished this act, King Salya began to afflict the supporting forces of Yudhisthira. Suddenly Bhimasena appeared on the scene and stopped the King of Madras by killing his four horses. He also killed Salya's chariot driver. Salya then took up a sword and shield and quickly ran against Yudhisthira to kill him. In great rage, Salya cut off the shaft of Nakula's chariot and continued toward Yudhisthira. Bhima then shattered the shield and sword with a number of arrows. With this action the Pandava army roared in joy. With no weapons to fight with, Salya ran at Yudhisthira, whose horses had already been killed. While sitting in his chariot, Yudhisthira took up a golden dart that he had received from Lord Shiva. Aiming it at Salya heart, he released it with all his strength. When Salya saw that dart coming toward him, he endeavored to catch it, but the golden dart pierced his hands and chest and entered into the earth taking with it the life force of the King. Stretching his arms to full length, the King of Madras fell to the earth like a tree that was struck by a thunderbolt.
After Salya had been slain, his younger brother assaulted Yudhisthira with a desire to revenge Salya's death. He covered Yudhisthira with many arrows, but in the end Yudhisthira severed his head with a broad headed shaft. With this action all the Kaurava troops broke and fled the battlefield.
Duryodhana quickly rallied the fleeing troops and urged them on toward victory or the heavenly realm. Duryodhana attacked Dhristadyumna and pierced him with many arrows. The son of Drupada then killed the King's horses and chariot driver. Duryodhana then ascended a horse and went to another part of the battlefield.
At this time three thousand elephants surrounded the five Pandava brothers and tried to trample them. Arjuna was furious and rushed against the elephant army. He began to slay the large elephant division causing those huge beasts to fall to ground. Descending from his chariot, mace in hand, the angered Bhima rushed at the elephant army whirling his club which was like a revolving discus. Huge elephants had their heads split open, gushing forth flesh and blood. So fearful were those elephants at the sight of Bhima that they passed stool and urine. Out of great fear, they tried to flee from the battlefield. Bhima, however, was so quick that not one elephant escaped, and soon three thousand elephants had fallen on the Kurukshetra field, lying there like small mountains. Having been encircled by so many thousands of dead elephants, the Pandavas could not come out. To free themselves, Bhimasena picked up many elephants and threw them out of the way, thus making a path for his brothers to escape.
At another part of the battlefield, Ashvatthama was looking for Duryodhana, but no one could tell him where he had gone. Some of the warriors informed him that Duryodhana had left the battlefield on horse to rest for a while. The Kaurava army was just at the point of annihilation. Bhima was destroying the remnant of the army when he came upon some of Duryodhana's brothers. Their names were Durmarshana, Srutanta, Jaitra, Bhurivala, Ravi, Jayatsena, Sujata, Durvishaha, Durvimochana, Dushpradharsha and the mighty armed Srutavan. Thirsting to fulfill his vow, Bhima killed all of those cousins like a lion kills a flock of deer. Upon the fall of those brothers, the remnant of the Kaurava army rushed at Bhimasena to kill him. They surrounded him and began to cover him with their weapons. The powerful Bhima, who could not tolerate their attack, assaulted the huge force. He quickly destroyed five hundred chariots, seven hundred elephants, eight hundred horsemen and ten thousand foot soldiers. Having routed the huge phalanx, Bhima slapped his armpits and sent up a loud roar striking fear in the enemy's hearts. With only a small amount of warriors left, the leaders of Duryodhana's army once again proceeded against the Pandavas making the next world their goal.
Sanjaya continued: O King, after Bhimasena had killed ninety eight of your sons, only two remained. They were Duryodhana and Sudarshana. At this time there was only five hundred horsemen, two hundred chariots, one hundred chariot warriors and three thousand foot soldiers left in your son's army. All these gathered together and rushed against the Pandavas. Shakuni and the ruler of the Trigartas, Susharman, challenged Arjuna. Your son Sudarshana attacked Bhima, and Duryodhana rushed against Sahadeva. Duryodhana released a lance that pierced Sahadeva in the forehead. Sahadeva fell down to the floor of his chariot senseless. Regaining his consciousness, he covered Duryodhana with many arrows.
Meanwhile Arjuna encountered the remnant of the Trigarta army headed by Susharman. Arjuna covered the Trigarta king with a hundred arrows and then killed his four horses. Remembering his former anger against this King, Arjuna took out a single arrow, and fixing it to his bow released it at Susharman's heart. That arrow found its mark and the ruler of the Trigartas fell to the earth deprived of life. After this Arjuna killed the thirty five sons of Susharman and completely destroyed to the man, the Trigarta army. While this action was going on, Bhima cut off Sudarshana's head with a razor sharp arrow, thus bringing the death toll of cousins up to ninety nine. Now only Duryodhana was left alive.
At this time Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva assaulted the remnant of Shakuni's division. Shakuni and his son Uluka fought fiercely with the Pandavas. Sahadeva cut Shakuni's bow in two, but Shakuni took up a lance and pierced Sahadeva in the forehead causing blood to cover his body. Shakuni then pierced Nakula and Bhima with many arrows. When Sahadeva regained his consciousness, he was furious. Attaching to his bow a broad headed shaft, he severed Uluka's head, thus gladdening the Pandavas.
Witnessing his son's death, Shakuni shed tears and breathed heavily. He then remembered the wisdom of Vidura who had spoken about the annihilation of the kshatriya race. Knowing that his death was at hand, the Gandhara King assailed Sahadeva releasing his weapons. Sahadeva cut off Shakuni's bow, but Shakuni picked up his mace and threw it at the son of Madri. Sahadeva cut off that weapon and pierced Shakuni with many arrows. All the weapons released by Shakuni were shattered by Sahadeva, and when the Gandhara king had no more weapons, he fled the battlefield.
Sahadeva followed him quickly and challenged him to fight, "Remembering the duties of a kshatriya, stand and fight like a man. During the gambling match, O fool, you rejoiced greatly. Receive now, O wicked person, the fruit of this act!" Sahadeva then pierced Shakuni with ten arrows and rushed at him to end his life. Sahadeva quickly killed Shakuni's four horses and charioteer, and sent up a loud roar. Shakuni then took up a golden lance and rushed at Sahadeva to kill him. The son of Madri, however, cut off his two arms before the lance could be released. Then with a razor sharp arrow, he severed the head of that sinful person whose crooked dice had sent them into exile for thirteen years.
Seeing their King lying on the ground dead, the Gandhara warriors rushed at the Pandavas eager for battle. Encouraged by King Duryodhana, whatever troops were left in the army rushed at the Pandavas anxious to enter the other world. Within a matter of minutes all the Kaurava soldiers had been slain to the last man. Out of eleven Akshauhini divisions of soldiers, there was only four men left. They were Duryodhana, Ashvatthama, Kritavarman and Kripacharya. When Duryodhana saw that his whole army had been slaughtered, he retreated from the battlefield. The Pandavas were roaring with joy and blowing on their conchshells. Surviving on the Pandava's side were two thousand chariot warriors, seven hundred elephants, five thousand horsemen and ten thousand foot soldiers.
Sanjaya continued: O King, upon seeing that all his forces had been killed and that he alone was to face the Pandava force, Duryodhana abandoned his dead horse and taking up his mace proceeded eastward. He came upon a lake and desired to rest before again engaging the Pandavas in combat. By his mystic power, he entered the lake and solidified it's waters. As he lay in that lake bleeding profusely, he remembered Vidura's prophecy which foretold this annihilation.
Thus Ends the First Chapter of the Salya Parva, Entitled, The Death of Salya.
The Fall of Duryodhana
Dhritarastra inquired: O Sanjaya, After the eleven akshauhinis gathered by my son were destroyed, what troops remained with the Pandavas? Tell me also what happened to my wicked son after that lord of the earth saw that his army had been exterminated.
Sanjaya replied: O King, the Pandava army consisted of two thousand chariot warriors, seven hundred elephants, five thousand horsemen, and ten thousand foot soldiers, left out of a vast seven Akshauhinis. As you know I also fought on the battlefield while at the same time I have narrated to you this great war. This all took place by the mercy of Vyasa. While I was leaving the battlefield, I was caught by Satyaki. He brought me to Dhristadyumna who laughed saying, "What is the use of keeping this one alive. Kill him immediately!" When Satyaki was about to kill me with his sword, Vyasadeva appeared on the scene and ordered, "Sanjaya should not be killed. By no means should he be slain!" Hearing Vyasa's command, Satyaki released me and offered his obeisances unto the great sage. After leaving that place, I started to walk toward Hastinapura. I came upon Duryodhana standing near the battlefield staring at the host of dead men. His eyes were full of tears, and his body was badly mangled with arrows. I spoke to him about my own capture, and how by the mercy of Vyasa, I was released. Drawing deep breaths and sighing repeatedly, your son said to me, "Except for you, O Sanjaya, there are none who are living. Go now to the blind King and tell him that his son has entered a lake and is burning from his wounds. Tell him that I will rest here for some time and then continue the battle."
After giving orders to Sanjaya, Duryodhana entered the lake and rested beneath the waters by his mystic powers. As I stood there, three division leaders appeared with their tired animals. They were Kritavarman, Kripa and Ashvatthama. When they saw me they exclaimed, "By good luck, O Sanjaya, you are still alive! Is King Duryodhana still living?" I then pointed to the lake where the King was resting. At that time, the Pandavas were looking for the remnants of the Kaurava army. Kripa, Kritavarman, and Ashvatthama quickly took me on their chariots and returned to the Kaurava camp to inform the guards and the ladies of the Kaurava annihilation. Upon hearing this most unpalatable news, the ladies fell to the ground greatly afflicted. They cried in grief and repeatedly called out for their husbands. The elderly men in the camp began to make preparations to take the women back to the city.
Sanjaya continued: O King, after the battle was over, Yuyutsu, your only son destined to live and who had assisted the Pandavas, approached Yudhisthira and requested permission to return to the city and comfort the afflicted relatives. Yudhisthira embraced him warmly and gave permission for Yuyutsu to return. Yuyutsu, your son by your vaishya wife, then went to the Kaurava camp and made arrangements for all the women to be taken to Hastinapura.
Dhritarastra inquired: After all the warriors had been slain and the ladies removed to the city, what happened to Kritavarman, Kripa, and Ashvatthama? Also tell me the fate of my wicked son who now bore the fruit of his sinful activities.
Sanjaya replied: O descendent of Bharata, when the Kaurava camp had been deserted, Kritavarman, Kripa and Ashvatthama heard the victorious sounds of the Pandavas. Fearing that they were coming to the camp to engage in battle, they fled away. The Pandavas searched the entire battlefield, but they could not find Duryodhana anywhere. Their horses were tired, and they returned to their camp for a short rest. At that time those three heroes approached the lake where Duryodhana was resting and talked with him, "Arise, O King, and join us in a fight against Yudhisthira. Either we will obtain victory or we will ascend to the next world. The Pandava forces are few in number and are exceedingly mangled from battle. They will not be able to bear your prowess. If you are protected by us, you will regain your kingdom."
Duryodhana replied, "I am overjoyed to hear, O great heroes, that you are still alive. After we have rested awhile, we will again challenge the Pandavas to battle. At the present, I am cut in many places, and feel great fatigue. It is for this reason that I do not want to fight now. The time is not right. After I have rested for the night, I will join you and fight the enemy. There is no doubt of this."
While this conversation was going on, some hunters, who favored the Pandavas, heard the conversation between Duryodhana and the son of Drona. Desiring to please the Pandavas, they went to their camp and informed them of all they had seen and heard. The Pandavas were in great anxiety at not being able find Duryodhana, and this new information was like a breath of life. They then proceeded to the spot where Duryodhana was hiding. All the warriors that were left in the army came there desiring to witness the battle between the Pandavas and Duryodhana. Those great warriors were Satyaki, Dhristadyumna, Shikhandi, Uttamaujas, Yudhamanyu, and the five sons of Draupadi. They were also many left from the divisions of the Somakas, Shrinjayas and the Panchalas. As the Pandavas and their followers were approaching the lake, Ashvatthama, Kripa and Kritavarman bade farewell to the King and left that spot fearing death.
Sanjaya continued: After Ashvatthama, Kripa and Kritavarman had left the lake, the Pandavas suddenly arrived there. They saw that the waters had been hardened by Duryodhana's mystic powers, and that he was, indeed, laying at the bottom of the lake. At this time Yudhisthira spoke to Lord Krishna, "Behold, the son of Dhritarastra has entered these waters and has applied his mystic powers to hide himself. It useless, however, for he will not escape with his life."
"With your own mystic powers destroy the illusion created by Duryodhana," Lord Krishna replied. "One who uses mystic power should be slain with mystic power. In order to slay the demons, Indra used his powers of illusion. In the case of Vritrasura, who could not be slain, Indra used the thunderbolt weapon taken from Dadichi's bones. Similarly Bali was captured by Vamanadeva and tied up with ropes of mystic power. The great demon Hiranyakashipu was finally defeated by the Lord Himself when He assumed the form of Lord Nrisimhadeva. Therefore, take help of the powers available to you, and kill this sinful Duryodhana."
Sanjaya continued: Thus addressed by the lotus eyed Lord, the wise Yudhisthira went to the bank of the lake and challenged your son, "Why, O Duryodhana, have you entered this lake after all the kshatriyas have been annihilated. Having caused the slaughter of the Earth's warriors, why do you now hide in this lake like a coward afraid of battle. You are known in assemblies of princes and kings as a hero. Therefore, arise and fight for you are born of a noble kshatriya race. Either you will defeat us and gain the world, or you will be killed by us and attain the heavenly realm."
Duryodhana replied, "It is not surprising, O King, that fear should enter the hearts of all creatures. As for myself, I have never fled the battlefield out of fear of the enemy. When my chariot was destroyed and there was no one left to stand next to me in battle, I desired to rest awhile. It is not from fear or grief that I have entered these waters, but out of fatigue of the day's battle. If you rest with your followers, then I shall also rest, and after the fatigue of battle is gone, I will certainly rise from these waters and engage in combat."
Yudhisthira said, "All of us have rested sufficiently. We have been looking for you for many hours since the remnant of your army has been annihilated. Rise up now and engage us in battle."
Hearing Yudhisthira's challenge, Duryodhana replied, "All those for whom I have desired sovereignty have now been slain and lie dead on the field of battle. I, therefore, no longer desire to enjoy this world devoid of friends and relatives. There is no longer any need for battle when Drona, Bhishma and Karna have left this world. What king is there who would like to rule a kingdom devoid of relatives and friends? I no longer desire the kingship of this planet, and now I offer it to you as a gift. As for myself, I will retire to the forest and take up the life of a renunciate. I have no desire to enjoy even life itself."
The intelligent Yudhisthira then replied to these cowardly words, "Do not utter such meaningless words, O Duryodhana. I do not feel any compassion for you. You are now offering to me this earth as a gift, but I do not want to accept any gift given from you. It is not the duty of a king to accept gifts. I will, however, take this earth and rule it after killing you in battle. How can you make a gift of this earth when you don't possess it. Formerly, you would not even give me as much land as to drive a needle point. Why then at this time are you offering me the whole earth? What fool is there that would make a gift of the entire earth to his enemies? Although you desire the entire earth, you will not escape today with your life! In the past you have tried to poison us, burn us, drowned us and even mistreated our queen. You have exiled us and spoken cruel words to us. For these reasons, O sinful person, you must die."
Sanjaya continued: Thus chastised, O monarch, your son began to breathe heavily like a snake. He set his heart on battle and spoke the following words, "There are many great warriors here who are all well armed and possess chariot and horses. However, I am without sufficient weapons and do not have a chariot. How can I, therefore, fight against numerous enemies who are well equipped. Will you not fight with me one at a time? I am not afraid of you, or Vrikodara, or Phalguna, or Vasudeva or any of the other warriors present. Today, I shall fight with all of you and free myself from the debt I owe my relatives and friends."
"By good luck, O Duryodhana, you remember a brave warrior's duty," Yudhisthira replied. "You may fight anyone of us using whatever weapon you like. I also grant you the boon that if you kill any one of us, then you shall become King."
Upon hearing this offer for battle, Duryodhana replied, "You are certainly confident of these warriors since you have chosen that I shall only have to fight with one. I choose my mace as the weapon with which to fight. There have been many wonderful duels on chariots, but today let both parties fight on foot using only the mace. With your permission, I shall then kill you with all your brothers."
"Rise up, O son of Gandhari, and fight me," Yudhisthira said. "Encounter us one at a time and fight with great care. Today, you will come to the end of your life, and we will witness you smashed to the ground with this very mace."
When Duryodhana heard Yudhisthira's challenge, he could not tolerate it. Pierced by these words, that great hero came out of the water and stood there mace in hand. His limbs were bleeding due to many wounds, and his entire body was wet with water. He then spoke to Yudhisthira, "You must now fight with me one at a time. It is not proper that one hero fight with many warriors singlehandedly, especially since I have no armor, chariot or sufficient weapons. Let the gods in the heavens be a witness to this request; this combat should be one against one."
"How is it," Yudhisthira replied, "that you did not remember this request for righteousness when Abhimanyu was under these same circumstances. If it is true that one warrior should not be slain by many, why is it that all of you sinful persons killed Abhimanyu while he was on foot with no armor, weapons or chariot? We grant you armor and whatever else you desire for battle. I also grant you the benediction that if you can slay anyone of us, then you may regain your kingdom. Otherwise, if slain by us, you may proceed to the other world."
Sanjaya continued: Hearing the benedictions offered by Yudhisthira, Duryodhana became cheerful. He then spoke to his cousin, "I am prepared to fight you or any of your brothers using the mace as a weapon. I will fight with anyone of you and gain victory in battle. There is no one who can equal me when it comes to single combat with the mace. Among all of you there is none so competent with the mace as I am. I do not want to boast such words of pride in this respect, and therefore, I shall make these words come true in your presence. Let any of you pick up the mace and fight with me singlehandedly!"
While Duryodhana was repeatedly roaring in this way, the lotus eyed Lord Vasudeva said, "O Yudhisthira, you have acted rashly. For thirteen years this sinful person has been practicing on an iron statue of Bhima, knowing that such a battle would take place. I think that you have again brought about a game of chance, like the one between yourself and Shakuni. Bhima possesses strength, but Duryodhana possesses skill. In this contest, he who possesses skill, will be the victor. Without doubt the sons of Kunti and Pandu are not destined to enjoy sovereignty. They are born to pass their lives in continued exile."
To Lord Krishna's words, Bhima said, "O slayer of Madhu, do not worry about the outcome of this battle. Without doubt, I will slay Duryodhana. We have already passed through many unfavorable circumstances, but by Your grace, my Lord, we are victorious. Because of Your auspicious presence, Yudhisthira's victory is certain. O Janardana, let all warriors stand as spectators, while I fight with this sinful person and fulfill my vow made in the King's assembly."
After Bhima had made his request, Lord Krishna praised him saying, "King Yudhisthira will certainly receive the earth as his kingdom, relying on the might of your arms. After all, it was you who defeated the great Hidimva, who killed Kichaka and who also defeated Jarasandha. In this Kurukshetra war, you have killed ninety nine sons of Dhritarastra. Slaying this vile Duryodhana should not be such a difficult feat. You will surely accomplish your vow by breaking his thighs."
After receiving the blessings of Lord Krishna, Bhima said to Yudhisthira, "Today, O King, I will take great delight killing Duryodhana. Today, I shall vomit forth my wrath that I have been withholding for these thirteen years of exile. O Yudhisthira, today, you will behold this sinful wretch stretched out on the ground pounded by my mace. At the end of this day I will garland you with the wreath of victory."
Taking up his mace and preparing for battle, Bhima reminded Duryodhana, "Do you remember the poison you once gave me? Do you remember what happened at Varanavata? Do you remember how you mistreated Draupadi, and how King Yudhisthira was unfairly defeated at dice? You will now see the reaction to these sinful deeds. It is because of you that our grandfather now lays on a bed of arrows. It is because of you that Drona has been slain, Karna slain, Salya slain, and Shakuni, as well as all your brothers. Only you are left alive. Today, I will slay you with my mace, and of this there is no doubt."
When the battle was about to begin, Lord Balarama, who had been traveling on pilgrimage during the Kurukshetra war, suddenly appeared there. While on pilgrimage he had heard that most of the kshatriyas who fought at Kurukshetra had been killed. He felt relieved that the great burden of the world has been lifted. Lord Balarama heard that although most of the warriors had been killed, the Kurus were still engaged in fighting. He appeared at the holy place of Kurukshetra just at the time when Bhima and Duryodhana were to engage in combat. When the Pandavas saw him, they offered their respectful obeisances, but did not speak to him, knowing his affection toward Duryodhana. Duryodhana and Bhima had learned the art of fighting with the club from Balarama, but Duryodhana was known to be his favorite pupil.
Lord Balarama, wanting to stop the fighting, advised both parties, "My dear King Duryodhana and Bhimasena, I know that both of your are great fighters and are well known in the world as great heroes. But still I think that Bhima is superior to Duryodhana in bodily strength. On the other hand, Duryodhana is superior in the art of fighting with a club. Taking this into consideration, My opinion is that neither of you is inferior to the other in fighting. Under the circumstances, there is very little chance of one of you being defeated by the other. Therefore I request you not to waste your time in fighting in this way. I wish you to stop this unnecessary fight."
The good instruction given by Lord Balarama was meant to benefit both Duryodhana and Bhima. But they were so enwrapped in anger against each other that they could only remember their long-lasting personal enmity. Each thought only of killing the other, and they did not give much importance to the instruction of Lord Balarama. Both of them became like madmen in remembering the strong accusations and ill behavior they had exchanged with one another. Lord Balarama, being able to understand the destiny which was awaiting them, was not eager to go further in the matter. Therefore, instead of staying, He decided to return to the city of Dvaraka.
After Lord Balarama left, those two mighty heroes engaged in battle casting fierce glances at one another. They each longed for combat, and each took up various positions trying to gain an advantage over the other. Bhima tried to circumambulate his enemy, sometimes attacking and sometimes retreating. He delivered attacks and also warded off those of his enemy. He stood immovable, prepared for attacking his foe as soon as the latter exposed himself at the proper time. He circumambulated his foe and prevented his foe from circumambulating him. He avoided the blows of Duryodhana by jumping into the air or ducking down. Both Duryodhana and Bhima encircled each other and struck each other repeatedly. Blood poured from their wounds as they pounded each other with their powerful maces.
While they were fighting in this way, Duryodhana struck a blow to Bhima's side. While Bhima was about to return a blow, Duryodhana struck him again. Bhima, although struck repeatedly, did not waver like mount Meru when struck by the thunderbolt of Indra. Duryodhana then rushed at Bhima and hurled his mace with all his strength. However, Bhima struck the mace down to the ground as it came upon him with the power of a tempest. When those two maces collided, a great cloud of smoke and sparks was created. The Earth trembled and all the warriors were struck with wonder. Not tolerating the defeat of his weapon, Duryodhana picked it up again and ran at Bhima, bringing down the force of that weapon on his head. Although struck powerfully, Bhima did not move nor did he feel any pain. Everyone who saw that incident applauded the bodily strength of Pandu's son. Bhima then rushed at Duryodhana and stuck him in the side, causing him to fall to his knees. When Duryodhana fell to his knees, a great roar of approval came from the Kings and princes who were witnessing the fight. Not tolerating the cheers of victory, Duryodhana rushed at Bhimasena and struck him in the forehead. Again Bhima did not move an inch, and taking up his own mace, he struck Duryodhana forcefully, causing him to fall to the ground. After Duryodhana had regained consciousness, he again engaged in combat with Bhima using various skills to defeat his opponent.
Sanjaya continued: While witnessing the battle between those two bulls among men, Arjuna inquired from Vasudeva, "Between these two, who, in Your opinion will win victory? Tell me the merits of both, and on which side is righteousness."
"The instructions both have received are equal," the lotus eyed Lord replied. "However, Bhima is stronger that Duryodhana. Although possessing greater power, still Bhimasena is inferior to Duryodhana in skill. If he were to fight fairly, I don't think that Bhima would gain victory. At the time of the gambling match, Bhima vowed to break Duryodhana's thighs, because he had shown them to Draupadi. Let him now fulfill his vow and kill Duryodhana in this way."
Having said these words, Lord Krishna slapped his thighs within the Bhima's sight. Understanding Lord Krishna's intentions, Bhima began to maneuver himself for making good his vow. They struck each other, roaring and thirsting for victory. Duryodhana, seeing an opportunity to strike Vrikodara, rushed at him with his upraised mace. Bhima then hurled his mace with full force at the oncoming enemy. Duryodhana, however, moved out of the way of the flying mace, and taking the opportunity, struck Bhima, causing huge amounts of blood to flow from Bhima's side. Bhima was weakened, but this was not seen by Duryodhana. He thought Bhima was again unmovable. After resting for a moment, Bhima again took up his mace and rushed at Duryodhana. Duryodhana then performed a maneuver called Avasthana. He jumped up in the air in a certain way to avoid Bhima's mace. Bhima fully understood the intentions of his enemy, and with a loud roar and with all his strength, he smashed his mace against the two thighs of that deceitful cousin.
Sanjaya continued: O King, after Bhima had broken the two thighs of your son, he fell to the earth like a tree chopped down at the root. Upon seeing the fall of your son, the demigods began to shower flowers, and the Gandharvas and the Vidyadharas began to dance and play on their musical instruments. The Pandavas, the Somakas, the Panchalas and the Shrinjayas all became filled with joy and applauded the prowess of Bhimasena. Bhima then approached the fallen Duryodhana and spoke harshly to him, "O sinful person, you have laughed at Draupadi and later again you laughed at us calling, 'Cow!, Cow!' Bear now the fruit of your sinful activities." Bhima then kicked Duryodhana's head and again placed his foot on the head of that person who was the cause of the various hostilities. After thirteen years of exile, Bhima felt satisfied in heart.
After Duryodhana's fall, Yudhisthira spoke to his brother as follows, "Cease now, O Bhima, and do not crush his head with your foot. After all he is a King, and in this situation, he deserves to be pitied in every respect. All his warriors have been slain. All his brothers, friends, uncles and well wishers have been killed on the field of battle. Do not, therefore, insult him any further."
After saying these words, Yudhisthira spoke to the dying son of Gandhari, "You should not lament at this time of your death. Through your own fault, this great calamity has come to you. In consequence of your sinful activities, all of your friends and relatives have been killed. I think all of this to be the work of destiny."
After saying these words to the dying Duryodhana, the Pandavas, along with Lord Krishna and their followers, went to their chariots and ascended them. They then went to the Kaurava's camp as was the custom at the time of victory. They inspected the camp of Duryodhana and then proceeded to their chariots. At that time, Lord Krishna, who was always engaged in the welfare of the Pandavas, spoke to Arjuna, "Take down your Gandiva bow as well as your two quivers. I tell you this for your own good." Following Lord Krishna's instructions, Arjuna took his bow and quivers, and backed away from the chariot. At that time Hanuman, who was riding on the standard, disappeared from view. The chariot which had been repeatedly burnt by the celestial weapons of Bhishma, Drona and Karna then burst into flames, and within a matter of moments, the whole chariot as well as the horses was reduced to ashes.
Upon seeing the wonderful incident, Arjuna inquired from Lord Krishna, "O master of the universe, for what reason has this chariot been burnt to ashes."
"This chariot should have been reduced to ashes long ago," Lord Krishna replied. "It is only because I have been sitting in it that it did not fall into pieces. After our victory, it is now reacting to the force of those weapons."
All of the Pandavas wondered at the incident, not being able to understand the inconceivable powers of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Due to the influence of Yogamaya, the Pandavas accepted the Lord of the universe as their friend and protector. Thus the Pandavas, accompanied by their well wisher Lord Krishna and the mighty Satyaki, went out of the camp and spent that night on the bank of the sacred river Oghavati. It was a custom that the victors of battle spend the night in some place other than their camp. Due to the influence of destiny, the rest of the warriors returned to their tents.
Thus Ends the Second Chapter of the Salya Parva, Entitled, The Fall of Duryodhana.
Thus Ends the Salya Parva.
Duryodhana has now eaten the bitter fruit of Vaishnava aparadha. Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has warned us about offending Vaishnavas. He instructed Rupa Goswami that there is a seed of devotional service which is planted in the heart, and it is watered by the process of hearing and chanting about Krishna. That seed sprouts into a creeper which must be protected. The greatest offense and annihilator of the devotional creeper is Vaishnava aparadha which is compared to a mad elephant. An elephant can destroy a small creeper very easily, and offending a Vaishnava is compared to letting an elephant loose in a small garden. The result is devastation. Duryodhana planted the seed of Vaishnava aparadha, and that seed grew into a creeper which eventually produced the bitter fruit of his death at the hands of Bhima. One should learn from the events of Mahabharata that one should not offend Vaishnavas.