Thursday, July 17, 2008

PDE Mahabharata: Abhimanyu and Jayadratha

Reading Guide. Many warriors fall in the battle, but one of the most dramatic scenes is the fall of Abhimanyu, trapped alone behind the enemy lines. As you can imagine, the news of his son's death will be a bitter blow for Arjuna, and, with Krishna's help, he will seek revenge.

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [600 words]

Drona | 63. Abhimanyu and Jayadratha | Ghatotkacha

Then it was that the evil Jayadratha, who had vowed to be the slave of Yudhishthira in the forest, advanced stealthily with six warriors to fight with the lordly youth. Round him they surged like howling billows; alone stood Abhimanyu, and seven were against him. His charioteer was slain and his chariot was shattered; he leapt to the ground and fought on, slaying one by one.

Perceiving his peril, the Pandavas endeavored to rescue Arjuna's son, but Jayadratha held them back, and Karna aided him. At length Abhimanyu was wounded on the forehead, blood streamed into his eyes and blinded him, and he stumbled. Before he could recover, the son of Duhshasana leapt forward and dashed out his brains with a mace. So died the gallant youth, pure as he was at birth. He died like to a forest lion surrounded by hunters; he sank like to the red sun at evening; he perished like to a tempest whose strength is spent; he was spent out even like a fire which has consumed a forest and is extinguished on the plain; Abhimanyu was lost as is the serene white moon when shrouded in black eclipse.

So that day's battle ended, and Abhimanyu slumbered in the soft starlight, lifeless and cold.

When it was told to Arjuna that his son was slain, the mighty warrior wept silently and lay upon the ground. At length he leapt up and cried, "May the curse of a father and the vengeance of a warrior smite the murderers of my boy! May I never reach heaven if I do not slay Jayadratha on the morrow." A spy hastened to the camp of the Kauravas and told of the vow which Arjuna had taken. Jayadratha trembled with fear.

Early next morning Arjuna spake to Krishna, saying, "Drive swiftly, for this will be a day of great slaughter." He desired to find Jayadratha; with him went Bhima and Satyaki. Many warriors engaged them in battle, for the Kauravas hoped to contrive that the sun should go down before Arjuna could fulfil his terrible vow.

Mounted on an elephant, Duhshasana opposed Arjuna, but the lordly tusker took flight when the rattling chariot drew nigh. Drona blocked the way, but Arjuna refused combat, saying, "Thou art as a father unto me. Let me find the slayer of my son." He passed on.

Then Duryodhana came up and engaged him. Karna fought with Bhima, and Bhurishrava attacked Satyaki. Long waged the bitter conflicts, and at length Krishna perceived that his kinsman was about to be slain. He called to Arjuna, who cast a celestial weapon at Bhurishrava, which cut off both his arms; then Satyaki slew him.

Many warriors confronted Arjuna thereafter, and many fell. But the day wore on and evening drew nigh, and he could not find Jayadratha. At length Arjuna bade Krishna to drive furiously onward, and to pause not until he found the slayer of his son. The chariot sped like to a whirlwind, until at length Arjuna beheld the evil-hearted Jayadratha; he was guarded by Karna and five great warriors, and at that time the sun had begun to set.

Karna leapt forward and engaged Arjuna, but Krishna, by reason of his divine power, caused a dark cloud to obscure the sun, whereupon all men believed that night had fallen.

Karna at once withdrew, but Arjuna drove on, and as the sun shot forth its last ray of dazzling light, he dashed upon Jayadratha as a falcon swoops down upon its prey. Brief was the struggle, for before daylight faded utterly, Arjuna overthrew the slayer of his son and cut off his head. Bhima uttered a roar of triumph when he saw the head of Jayadratha held aloft, and the Kauravas sorrowed greatly because that their wicked design had been thwarted.

Drona | Abhimanyu and Jayadratha | Ghatotkacha

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