The Great War - Day 1

The war of Kurukshetra begins fiercely with both the armies rushing at each other. Men and animals fall in hundreds. Above every other noise, Bheema's shouts are heard. Duryodhana is only more than happy to hear him roar. Twelve Kauravas, his very cousins, cover him in arrows, keeping him in bay, for the time being. Draupadi's sons, and later Abhimanyu and Dhrishtadyumna are also with Bheema, countering the Kaurava attack.

Bheeshma wants to unleash hell at the Pandava army. Arjuna blocks his way. The two maharathis match each other shaft for shaft. Satyaki fights Kritavarman. Both are Yadavas, One fighting for truth, the other for injustice. Abhimanyu finds himself facing Brihadbala, the ruler of Kosala, where Rama once ruled.

Shalya breaks Yudhishtra's bow even before his nephew realises it. He hurriedly strings back his bow and showers Shalya with arrows. All around the warriors hundreds of thousands of footsoldiers are dying. The screams of the dying are louder than the conches and the cries of the animals. No one duel lasts long enough to sustain interest. Everybody wants to win. When one sees an equal adversary, the charioteers veer away to seek a weaker adversary. But Drona and the one born to kill him, Dhrishtadyumna, fight with full energy. For some moments it appears as if the prophecy would come true today. But it is not to be so. Atleast not so fast.

Morning becomes noon, and the fight goes on. Bheeshma goes on a rampage just as Duryodhana had planned. Bheeshma is like Yama on the field. Not even Arjuna could contain the old man. The pitamah's bow is like a magic wand, killing by hundreds and thousands, whichever side he turned to. Arjuna tries to hold him up, but in vain. Bheeshma, contains the mighty Arjuna and still continues the death troll.

Suddenly as it seems that the Pandavas are out of warriors to contain the mighty Bheeshma , a chariot appears from nowhere, attacking the flanks of the Pitama's chariots. Abhimanyu scorches the flanks of Bheeshma, and cuts through the ring, held by Shalya, Kritavarma and Bheeshma himself. He strikes Shalya, hard enough, for him to leave the battlefield. Kritavarma is hit by an arrow so fast, that his bow is snatched away from his hand. Now, the Grand sire and his Great Grand son are facing each other.

People had only heard exploits of Arjuna's son. But today they knew that he was indeed worthy of those words. The Kauravas are stunned by his archery. They thought Arjuna was demi-god, but his son, was a Deva !!! The scared and dejected Pandava Army comes back with full vigour and attacks the Kaurava forces, making them run helter-skelter. Abhimanyu cuts the Pitama's banner from his chariot. The Kaurava Elders feel that this is Yama personified. Abhimanyu was going to be more difficult to handle than his father.

The Kauravas' lines are breached and Virata, Dhristadyumna, Bheema, Kekayas and Satyaki run amok through the Kauravas. Other Warriors from other parts of the field, come rushing into the place where this is happenning. Drona, splits the bow of Dhristadyumna. Aswathama stops Shikandi from advancing towards Bheeshma. Both fight furiously.

Then, there are the rules of war. Which are usually the first to be forgotten. These rules are being violated everywhere and yuddha dharma is being trampled upon. A warrior in a chariot must not fight a foot soldier. An elephant mounted warrior should not use his elephant to crush the foot soldiers. Bheeshma or for that matter Arjuna, kill hundreds of foot soldiers, paying no heed to the dharma of war. War has its own dharma. Everything is measured by the violent moment, when each man is killed or kills somebody. For the warrior, Kurukshetra was Yama's abode.

Shalya comes scorching back into the battle. Uttara Kumara gets back at him. The Kaurava soldiers who a couple of months ago, thought of him as a kid, are now awe-struck by his form and grace. As the war of the day is coming to the end, Shalya is about to lose to the young prince. Shalya's horses become wild and Uttara Kumara cuts them down. Shalya is now stranded on the battlefield, his bow fallen and his enemy just steps away from him. The heat of the moment goes to Uttara's head, who roars and raises his bow over his head as a sign of victory. In a flash, Shalya, seizes a javelin and throws it like an arrow shot from the Pinaka. It does not miss its mark. Like a bird shot with an arrow from a bow, he falls down from the elephant's back.

His elder brother, Sweta, hears his death cry and rushes to avenge his brother's death. By that time, seven Kaurava warriors have already come to the defence of Shalya. But Sweta is more than a match to them. He fights with the strength of 10 Kshyatriyas. All seven are routed and Shalya is about to face his nemesis, when Bheeshma sees from afar the calamity about to fall on Shalya. He unleashes the Kanka Astra, one of the first in this war. The astra's unique ability was to locate a target and destroy it, very similar to smart bombs and heat seeking devices of modern times. The astra weaves elliptically through hundreds of warriors and finally finds him. It burns his armor then pierces his heart. Sweta's sarathy, takes his prince's corpse away from the field.

The end of the day's war is signalled and conches blare from both sides. The armies collect their dead to cremate them beside the golden river.

Apparently the first day belongs to the Kauravas. Bheeshma himself has killed ten thousand men. Virata cries like a boy, on the death of his two sons. Yudhishtra is plunged in despair. He cries to Krishna stating how Bheeshma was destroying his army. He also says to Krishna that he has no right to ask millions to die, just because he wants to obtain a kingdom. Krishna says to Yudhishtra, that the men who have come to fight for his casuse, came knowing that their lives are at risk. Krishna tells Yudhishtra, not to worry about Bheeshma, as Bheeshma was destined to die by Shikhandi. He has killed thousands today, and he will kill many more thousands. He is too great a warrior to die on the first day of war, but then he will die, and the victory would be for Pandavas.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 by Hari
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