Dawn is yet to break over Kurukshetra. Yudhishtra is the first man to greet the fourteenth day of war. Krishna comes to meet him with the other Pandava warriors. Yudhishtra says to the Dark One,'Arjuna must keep his vow Krishna. He cannot fail when he has you as his sarathy.'
Krishna says, 'There is no kshyatriya like your brother. When Jayadratha dies, The Kauravas will know that Arjuna's vows are made of not just words, but arrows. All omens today cry that we will prevail today. I swear Arjuna will keep his oath.'
Arjuna enters the tent and his face is calm. It seems as if he knows some secret that nobody else knows. Arjuna narrates his dream to the Pandavas and says, that Jayadratha will not see the sun set today.
Completely majestic, Krishna and Arjuna mount the white chariot. Krishna takes the reins and they make their way forward into the field. At the front, Arjuna says to Satyaki, that in this excitement, we must not forget that Drona has sworn to take Yudhishtra captive. He wants Satyaki to guard Yudhishtra with his life, which Satyaki promises.
Across the Kurukshetra, Drona's chestnut horses flit here and there as the Brahamana forms the three vyuhas. Facing the Pandava force is the Shakta Vyuha.Square and Solid. the Cart Phalanx. Behind the Shakata, Drona forms the lotus, Padma Vyuha, a subtle variation of the chakra in which Abhimayu died. Near the last of the petals of the Lotus, like a stem, Drona deploys the Kaurava Maharathikas in their chariots, the final and the most powerful line of defense. He arrays them straight as a needle, a suchi, one after the other, with the precios Jayadratha at the eye of the needle, which faces away from the field.
Jayadratha quakes with fear, when he hears the Pandava conches. He peers across six krosas and sees only Arjuna. He sees every feature on the Pandava's face. Drona lays a kind hand on him.
The three vyuhas are six krosas long. Six krosas separate you from the front lines. A hundred thousand horsemen, Sixty thousand chariots, three million foot soldiers, fourteen thousand elephants, and then six maharathikas, each one more powerful than all of these put together, stand between Arjuna and you. Not even the army of Devaloka can break past such a defense before the sun sets.
Jayadratha is hardly consolded. He knows that Six krosas and hundreds of thousands of kshaytriyas are not enough to separate the Pandava from him. When he sees Krishna's dark form, he knows that six oceans would not enough.
Drona sets himself at the rim of the Padma vyuha. Between him and the Pandava army lies the Shakata. Durmarshana begs to command this Phalanx. Drona lets him meet Arjuna's first charge. Durmarshana is certain, Arjuna will not pass him. Only time would tell.
Arjuna's Gandeeva glitters. To the king, hiding behind the Kaurava army, Arjuna seems like the God of Death. The Pandava raises the Devadutta and blows on it. Krishna joins a deep note to it. The Kaurava army cower at the sound. Jayadratha whimpers.
Durmarshana roars like a tiger and charges out of his vyuha to meet Arjuna. For a while it appears as if he will hold Arjuna. But the contention lasts only a few moments. Arjuna raises the level of his archery. and heads roll of necks. No one can see where he bends his bow, or draws another arrow. or where he aims it. they just see a blur in his chariot. At times, it appears as if he hardly moves, but enemy soldiers fall in waves before him.
Not a sound from the Pandava, save that of his bowstrings and the hum of his arrows. Arjuna severs the Kaurava heads so casually, as if he were offering flowers to Shiva for worship. In moments five thousand Kaurava soldiers have died. Durmarshana bolts, and so do his men. Arjuna has smashed the first of Drona's vyuhas in minutes. The shakata has collapsed, and far away, at the eye of the needle, Jayadratha is near collapse.
Dushasana appears on Arjuna's path with a legion of elephants. But it makes no difference to the Pandava. Horses or elephants, Dushasana or Durmarshana. All that matters is that they come between him and Jayadratha. The Gandeeva sings, calling the enemy to the ceremony of death. Arjuna comes face to face with Dushasana himself. He covers Dushasana in a mantle of fire. He shreds the weapons in his cousin's hands. Dushasana cannot stay any longer than Durmarshana. On plunges Arjuna.
The white chariot storms the rim of the second vyuha. Drona checks him. Arjuna says to his master that, he had come to avenge his child and that his Acharya must bless him for victory. Drona instead challenges him to fight.
Without another thought Arjuna launches his first volley at his guru. Drona answers it with a scorching volley of his own. The Guru and the Shishya know each other's mind pretty well. They perfectly anticipate each others shaft. But they are not master and pupil any more. Arjuna is more than his Acharya's equal. The Pandava breaks Drona's bow. For an hour they duel, when Krishna cries, that it wasn't Drona he had sworn to kill. Time was precious. Krishna quickly takes his horses around Drona for a Pradakshina and storms into the Padma Vyuha.
For the time wasted on Drona, arrows fly thicker and faster from the Gandeeva. Kritavarman comes to challenge Arjuna. It seems Kritavarman is able to engage Arjuna, but Krishna tells Arjuna,'Do not hesitate to kill him, because he is my cousin. He is a traitor and deserves to die. He is one of the six who murdered your child.' No sooner had Krishna spoken, Ten sizzling shafts break Kritavarman's bow and kill his sarathy. Kritavarman departs.
Deeper into the vyuha, Arjuna moves. Srutayuhda looms into Arjuna's path. Srutayudha wields Varuna's mace. It is a magical weapon and no one can kill Srutayudha till he possess it. Whenever he cast it at the enemy, it divided itself into a hundred maces and struck like a flock of thunderbolts, and then flew back to his hand. But the weapon had a condition. The wielder must never cast the mace at anyone who bore no arms, for then it would turn on the one who cast it.
Srutayudha harries Arjuna with the mace, but finds he is unable to strike the Pandava due to his sarathy's lightning quick maneuvers. Forgetting that the Sarathy does not carry any weapon, Srutayudha flings the mace at Krishna. The mace rebounds, and smashes Srutayudha's head like a peach. On his death, the mace returns back to the Lord of the tides.
Seeing Srutayudha die, Sudakshina turns back into battle against Arjuna. The duel lasts just moments. The Pandava kills the lord of the Kambhojas with an arrow through his heart. Panic grips the Kaurava army. Drona roars to his legions that they must not let him move ahead. But who can stand before the Pandava today. Drona himself rushes forward, covering Arjuna is a fever of arrows. Arjuna quells them all with a brahmastra. Fifty thousand soldiers rush as Arjuna, but Arjuna cuts a way of fire through them.
The golden chariot ploughs through, as if no army stood in its way. Two heroic brothers challenge the Pandava : Srutayus and Achutayus.They fly at Arjuna and catch him unawares. Srutayus strikes Krishna unconscious. Achutayus casts a javelin laced with maya at Arjuna which strikes Paartha in his side. A roar goes up from Kaurava as Arjuna reels, and the Gandeeva slips from his hands. The Pandava's hands tremble holding his flagstaff. With a cry Krishna recovers and seizes the reins. By Krishna's grace, Arjuna's wound is stanched and the jade lance falls out. Quicker than thinking Arjuna invokes the Aindrasta to quell the thousand arrows that flare at him from every side. With another shaft of incredible archery, he cuts down the two brothers. A single arrow that severs Srutayus' head and also crashes into Achutayus' heart.
Four Kaurava kshyatriyas die in moments. Padma vyuha has been breached and every instant, the golden chariot is flying nearer its quarry.
Duryodhana is wild with rage to see Arjuna storm into the Padma Vyuha. He goes to Drona and cries at the Acharya,'Arjuna is smashing through your legions as if they are not there at all. Shakata vyuha was breached at the first charge. Now Padma vyuha has broken as if it was made up of mere petals. We do everything to please you Acharya, but you betray our cause.Going at the rate at which Arjuna is advancing, Jayadratha will die before noon. I should have let him ride home Acharya. He would have been safer facing Yama than Arjuna.'
Stung, Drona replies, 'You saw me try. But he as quick as the mind. This is Arjuna, there is no one like him. Then Krishna is his sarathy. But, I can keep another vow today. With Arjuna away, I can take Yudhishtra. Let a younger man pursue Arjuna, none better than you, Duryodhana. It will hearten your men to see their king lead from the front.'
Duryodhana's face turns darker,'Do you mock me Acharya. How can I stop the archer, whom Drona himself could not stop. You stood at the entrance to your Padma vyuha like Siva with his Pinaka, but even as you were watching him, he killed Srutayudha, Achutayus, Srutayus and Sudakshina, as if they were children'
'You are like my son Duryodhana. I will not send you to your death. I have Brahma's own kavacha. Its links are ancient mantras, that not even Devastras can pierce. Wear it and you will beat Arjuna today'
As if Brahma's armor gave him unworldly courage, Duryodhana rides into the battlefield. Seeing their king, the soldiers rush back into the battle. This is at the very heart of the red lotus.
Only Arjuna, and Yuddhamanyu and Uttamaujas at his chariot wheels have broken into the vyuha. Drona returns to the rim of the vyuha, where Dhrishtadyumna and the Pandava army storm the Shakata which Arjuna had breached. The two armies meet each other as Ganga meets Yamuna. The Pandava forces are unable to make any headway against the brahmana, who is forging closer to Yudhishtra.
Bheema and his brothers face Vivimsati, Chitrasena and Vikarna. Vinda and Anuvinda face Virata and Shalya faces Yudhishtra. Dushasana and Satyaki battle. Shakuni meets the Madri twins. Shikhandi and Baahlika fight, where Ghatotkacha and Alambus are locked ina mystic duel. Far away, Arjuna was forging on alone through the Padma vyuha.
Dhristadyumna rides at Drona and a duel breaks out. Drona fights beyond himself now, to reach Yudhishtra at any cost. The old master overwhelms Dhrishtradyumna. He smashes the chariot, kills the horses and the sarathy of the FirePrince. Growling Dhristadyumna seizes up a sword and leaps on to Drona's horses. The man born to kill Drona makes an absurdly easy target. Drona raises his bow, with an astra that will blow the fire-prince to pieces at such a short range. He draws back his bowstring, and for a moment that lasts a life, Dhrishtadyumna sees death face to face. For an eternity, Drona's bowstring remains drawn back and Dhrishtradyumna sees every detail of the master's powerful hand, his figers, the rings on them. Every wrinkle on his face, the smile on his lips, every hair in his beard. For another eternity, Drona's hand remains quivering, where it has pulled back his bowstring. Dhristadyumna wants to shut his eyes but finds he cannot. He then hears the sound of an arrow cleaving the air, loud as a tempest. Dhristadyumna waits in that awful moment for the shaft to tear open his chest. Instead he sees shock on the Acharya's face. He sees the bowstring sag and the arrow drop on to the chariot floor. Satyaki's timely barb hums past him after severing Drona's bowstring.
Satyaki, sweeps his friend out of his daze into his chariot, before Drona can recover. Drona, with a feral roar on realising what had happened tries to burn Satyaki in a swath of arrows, but Satyaki fights like his master Arjuna. He quickly cuts the bowstring of the Acharya again.
Drona cries to his sarathy to fly at Yudhishtra. Satyaki instructs his sarathy to fly between Drona and Yudhishtra. The war now pauses to see the Acharya and his shishya's shisya fight the war. Satyaki is as magnificient as Arjuna. Drona mutters to himslef, 'Arjuna's shishya is his guru's peer.'
Twice more, Satyaki breaks Drona's bow. The brahmana's face is red now. He loosens an Aagneyastra at the Yadava. A lesser Kshyatriya would have panicked. Not Paartha's shishya. He invokes a Varunastra and douses Drona's fireball in a blue wave. Devas Gandharvas, Charnas and apsaras have gathered in the sky to watch this duel. Drenched in the Varunastra, Drona is tempestuous. But before the duel can resume, other warriors join them and the battle spreads out again. Though Drona has failed in his attempt to capture Yudhishtra, He is warrior enough, nay, artist enough to admire the valor of young Satyaki.
The sun rises to his zenith and begins his descent in the sky. Arjuna was battling not just the Kaurava army, but time himself. Arjuna is twice as fierce as when he began. He has reached the end of Drona's Padma Vyuha, But Arjuna's horses, the unearthly horses gifted by Chitrasena, the gandharva, are tired and heave from thirst.
Jayadratha is still far way, beyond the final pital of the lotus, three fourths of a krosa from Arjuna, and the greatest Kaurava warriors stand between the Pandava and his prey.Vinda and Anuvinda ride at Arjuna. They cover not just him, but his thirsty horses and his blue sarathy with arrows. Vinda attacks from the front and Anuvinda from rear. Arjuna does not have time for this trivial fights. He takes Vinda's head off with a crescent tipped shaft and cuts off the arms and legs and then the head of Anuvinda.
The morale of the Kaurava soldiers have been destroyed. In moments, the white chariot leaves behind a thousand men, dead in their wake. Arjuna and Krishna finally smash through the last petals of the lotus. Ahead lies the needle made of the Kaurava maharathikas, with Jayadratha at its eye. Krishna and Arjuna for the first time in the day, see the king, his face ashen. Jayadratha knows that two of Drona's invincible vyuhas have fallen apart an only a slendar stalk of warriors separates him from death. Arjuna forges nearer.
Suddenly a royal ratha breaks out of the sharp tip of the Suchi. Stands a dark kshyatriya adorning a golden mail, It is Duryodhana. Krishna says to Arjuna, 'Kill this one man, and the war will end.'
Arjuna says, 'Here is a man who has caused us years of grief, who broke my brother's heart. He has so much to pay for,but I wonder how he comes to fight me so boldly today.'
Duryodhana shoots ten arrows at him. Arjuna replies with a volley as sharp as serpents' fangs. His arrows glance off Duryodhana and the Kaurava laughter rocks the field. Another potent volley from the Kaurava begins hurting Krishna. Every one of Arjuna's arrows, each one which would have killed a hundred men, graze off Duryodhana like flowers. Arjuna realises that Duryodhana is wearing a magical kavacha.
'I know how to get this man out of our way. The astra to pierce his armor is the Maanavastra.'
This was the same astra with which Rama once killed Maricha. Arjuna draws his bowstring to his ear, but in a blur, another archer guts that shaft into two. It was Ashwathama.
Arjuna knows that he cannot invoke the Maanavastra again, for if he did, it would kill him. Nevertheless, he decides to teach Duryodhana a lesson. He aims some arrows at the exposed parts of Duryodhana's body, at his fingers. Wringing his hands, Duryodhana rides away from the battlefield.
Krishna and Arjuna are still two leagues from Jayadratha. The maharathikas fo suchimukha vyuha and their armies surround Arjuna's chariot. Bhoorisravas, Sala, Karna, Vrishasena, Kripa, Shalya and Ashwathama attack Arjuna at once. But Arjuna is god like. Ashwathama has his fire returned to him ten-fold, so he faints in his chariot. Krishna looks up and sees the rim of the sun not far above the western mountain. Arjuna's heart skips a beat when he follows his sarathy's gaze, but neither of them show, as much as a flicker on their faces. While to Krishna and his warrior the sun seems to fall like a meteor in the sky, to their enemies, it appears as if it would take a lifetime to go down.
A krosa behind Arjuna's chariot, the two armies fight on. Yudhishtra faces Drona. Yudhishtra covers his Acharya with arrows. Drona is taken aback. Yudhishtra launches a shakti at Drona which the brahmana cuts down with an astra.
All the while Drona is inching towards Yudhishtra. The Acharya casts a mace at the Pandava. But the shishya has learnt well from his master. Dharma quickly smashes that gada with his own, but the impact rocks him off his heels. Drona cuts down Yudhishtra's banner, kills his horses and lights his ratha with an astra. Yudhishtra escapes in the nick of time, by jumping out of his chariot. As Yudhishtra stands defenseless on the ground, Drona approaches him, as a Tiger would stalk a deer. Satyaki flits between the brahamana and his quarry, and sweeps Yudhishtra into his chariot.
A thousand duels rage across Kurukshetra. A Trigarta called Viradhnava fights as if to avenge himself today on the Pandava army for all his brothers that Arjuna killed yesterday. Viradhanva kills a thousand men, before Dhrishtaketu, the Lord of the Chedis, challenges him. Another intense duel begins. Finally Dhristakety casts a whistling javelin at the Trigarta and nails him to his flagstaff.
Once more, Satyaki, Nakula and Sahadeva are at the van of the Pandava army and no one can stop them. Yudhishtra's legions forge ahead. Drona comes to hunt again. Satyaki stems his flow, once again. the abttle between the lord of Sala and Drauapadi's princes goes on. But in the end, Sala is unable to stand before the Princes. Sahadeva's son shoots him through the throat.
Bheema fights Alambusa briefly, but the Rakshasa knows he cannot face the son of the wind. He melts away with Maya. Ghatotkacha then faces Alambusa. The pair no longer use maya, but their own bodies. Ghatotkacha lifts Alambusa high and then flings him down explosively so that his limbs fly off his trunk.
A roar goes up from the Pandava army. Fear rips through Drona's legions. Alambusa had come out of hiding, to help Duryodhana so that he could avenge Baka's death. Now he lay dead on the Kurukshetra.
Suddenly they hear the sound of Panchajanya, again and again, as if Arjuna was in dire need of them. The thunder of the Gandeeva was drowned. Krishna knew that Arjuna will refuse any call for help, and hence he blew the Panchajanya. Yudhishtra hears the Panchajanya resound, lonely across the two vyuhas. He does not hear the Devadutta or Gandeeva. Panic grips him. He is sure that Arjuna was in danger. He begs to Satyaki to rush to Paartha's help, but Satyaki refuses. His 'guru' had ordered him to protect Dharma and he would do that at any cost. Yudhishtra tries to talk him into accepting his idea. He says the Bheema, Dhrishtadyumna, Draupadi's sons, Kekayas, Ghatotkacha, Drupada, Shikhandi, Nakula, Sahadeva, Dhristaketu, Kuntibhoja all his army was there to protect him. Satyaki hesitates.
Finally Satyaki makes up his mind to rush to the rescue of Arjuna, but he realises that his horses are tired and he needs more weapons. Moreover, it was a long way to travel across the two vyuhas, to reach suchmukha. Yudhishtra gives orders for Satyaki's horses to be tended and his chariot to be stocked with every weapon he might need. The shakata was already breached by Arjuna, but Padma vyuha was still formidable now that the Acharya was guarding it more preciously.
Daruka's brother is Satyaki's sarathy, and his flag is the banner of the golden lion. Before departing into the Shakata, Satyaki warns Bheema of the scheming Acharya an instructs him to guart Dharma. Satyaki's heart sings, as he thinks that he will be fortunate enough to see his master kill Jayadratha. All the while, the sun was plummeting.
Satyaki blasts through the remaining of the shakata vyuha. He is at the rim of the Padma Vyuha in a couple of minutes. A smiling Drona confronts Satyaki. The brahmana decides to infuriate the Yadava by matching him shaft for shaft. Satyaki decides that it was best he avoided the Acharya. He too makes a quick pradakshina and takes leave into the heart of the vyuha.
He sees Baahlika's army, and beyond him the lord of Dravida and Karna's army from Anga. Drona is after him. He roars through the Dravida legions and Anga legions as if he was a rabbit furrowing in soft sand. Kritavarman, knowing Satyaki's style fights him, but Satyaki throws him a javelin which kills Kritavarman's sarathy and his horses bolt, leaving him to the mercy of his horses. Satyaki marches ahead.
He has crossed two great maharathis now, Drona and then Kritavarman. Jalasandha sets his legion of elephants onto Satyaki, but within minutes, Kurukshetra is strewn with corpses of the Pachyderms. Satyaki is now attacked by Jalasandha himself. Satyaki is already tired. He has neither the time nor the stamina for a prolonged duel. He seizes a bow and in three swift arrows, cuts away the Arms of Jalasandha with two and his head with another.
Quicker than ever Satyaki races ahead. Duryodhana comes to stop him, but Satyaki knows that his strength will not last long. He kills Duryodhan's horses and puts him to flight. Kritavarman comes back again. He strikes Satyaki's sarathy with two deadly narachas, and Daruka's brother falls unconscious. Enraged, Satyaki injured Kritavarman's horses and pierces his armor. Drona is next. Satyaki has by now recovered from the onslaught. He strikes slim darts at Drona's horses causing the animals to bolt and making Drona lose control. By the time, Drona recovers, Satyaki is far away into the vyuha.
A river in spate, Satyaki rushes on through the Kaurava army and no one is able to stop him. Satyaki has killed Jalasandha, Sudharshana. He has put to flight Duryodhana, Drona and Kritavarman. As for the common soldiers, he has killed atleast ten thousand men. Men consisting of Mlechas of Kasi, Nishadas, Tankanas, Kalingas, Magadhas, Kekayas, Kambhojas, Yavanas.
The Kaurava legions have come together once more, just to bring him down. At the head of the force, is the Duryodhana, with his brothers around him. He says to his sarathy,'Look !! An army just to stop us. Ride at them. Let Duryodhana know today, that Satyaki is Krishna's cousin,and Arjuna is his guru. Let us show it to them that we are invincble.
True to his word, in a short one sided battle, he destroys's Duryodhana's legion. He kills his sarathy and makes his horses run hither thither. With Duryodhana routed, his army runs away from the Yadava and he has a clear path before his again. The Yadava has killed more men than his guru. Duryodhana sends men fighting with slingshots and stones. They are five hundred men, who slign phenomenonaly. But Satyaki kills them with a handful of minor astras. Far away, Drona hears the screams and says to his sarathy, that he was more terrible than Arjuna.
Duryodhana comes running to Acharya, fearing the onslaught of Satyaki. The acharya chides him for being a coward. He mocks Duryodhana asking him, if this was his valor. He could easily give back the kingdom to the Pandavas and live with his women in the harem. He scolds Duryodhana saying, that he was not only ruining his own honor but also destroying the morale of his soldiers. Drona instructs Dushasana to attack Satyaki again.
Within minutes of approaching Satyaki, Dushana finds his bow snatched from his hand, his chariot broken and at the end of a silver shaft from Satyaki. But Satyaki refuses to kill him, as he wanted Bheema to fulfill his revenge. In the meanwhile, Drona is stalking Yudhishtra. Bheema and Dhrishtadyumna guard Dharma carefully. Drona attacks fiercely, but the fire-born prince is fiercer and puts the Acharya to flight. Duryodhana comes to fight with the Acharya. He fights exceptionally well now. Not all of the Pandava maharathi's put together can match him today. Thousands of Pandava soldiers are being killed ever moment.
The eldest of the Kekaya brothers Brihadkshatra challenges Drona. Drona lets loose a brahmastra. The Kekaya replies with a Brahmastra of his own. The astras tire the maharathis. Drona makes the best use of this opportunity and beheads Brihadkshatra with a crescent tipped shaft. Dhrishtaketu attacks Drona only to meet the same fate. Jarasandha's son, Sahadeva, rides at only to be beheaded in the inkling of an eye. At the same moment, Dhristadyumna's son Kshatradharma is also beheaded by the Acharya. It was as if the Acharya was extracting revenge for his inevitable death at the hands of the Fire-Born prince.
Yudhishtra's anxious eyes scan the horizon for Arjuna. There is no flash of the golden banner, No report of Gandeeva's string, no sound of conches. There is no news of Satyaki either. Yudhishtra repents that he had sent Satyaki after Arjuna, when he was tired. He decides to send Bheema after Satyaki to assist Arjuna. Bheema scoffs at Yudhishtra. But Yudhishtra persists.
Bheema goes off into the vyuha, to assist Satyaki and Arjuna. Duryodhana sends his brothers after Bheema, but Bheema today practises archery as if he is two Arjunas. Bheema kills the Kaurava warriors as if they were flies. With the last kill the Bheema just made, he has already killed 49 of the 100 Kauravas.
Karna decides to tackle Bheema. He knows that Bheema is his own brother, but nevertheless decides to look at him as an enemy. Karna and Bheema now light up the Kurukshetra with astras.Karna howls in shock as Bheema strikes him deeply in the arm. Duryodhana sends 7 more of his brothers to see Bheema dead. The seven surround Bheema, and all of them are sent to Yamaloka instantly. As he sees the seventh Kaurava, Vikarna, Bheema's laughter dries up. He cires, 'Vikarna, why have you come to me to die ? I have sworn to kill your hundred brothers, and I must not break my oath. Oh I curse this war, that you must die with those sinners. Vikarna, were you not the only Kaurava who spoke for Draupadi, when her modesty was outraged. Shame on me and this war. Vikarna, forgive me.' and he strikes Vikarna's head off.
Having killed 56 of Duryodhana's brothers Bheema stands in the middle of the Kurukshetra, roaring like a lion. Karna is now transformed into another unearthly archer, for whom the Pandava is no match at all. Bheema stands with a bewildered look as Karna splits Bheema's bow, severs the reins in his sarathy's hands and wounds the charioteer. Bheema is unable to believe that this is the same man he sent scuttling from battle, an hour ago.
Slowly Karna tires out Bheema. Bheema now comes to a point, when he stands weaponless in front of Karna. Karna raises an arrow at Bheema and Bheema waits with baited breath for the call from Yama. But that does not happen. Instead, Karna scoffs at Bheema and says, 'You are only fit for eating Vrikodara. Why don't you go back into the forest and eat. You shouldn't take up the trouble of fighting wars and winning kingdoms.' Saying so, he leaves Bheema. Taunted, Bheema goes ahead to meet his brother.
Seeing Karna attack Bheema, Arjuna aims many shafts at Karna, which Ashwathama intercepts. Now Arjuna sends Aswathama running into the elephant battalion. At the same time, Satyaki also comes into the battle and the three of them roar together in delight. Dharma hears this and is pacified. He says to Dhristadyumna that his brothers are safe and so is Satyaki and that now even if he is killed, he will be happy.
Inside the vyuha, Satyaki is encountered by his old enemy Bhoorisravas. Satyaki's grandfather Sini, was a great warrior and had helped Vasudeva (Krishna's father) by abducting Devaki on his behalf. At that time, Somadutta, Bhoorisravas' father had fought against Sini and lost. This led to a bitter feud between the two families. Now the time had come to redeem their family honor. Bhoorisravas and Satyaki pounce on each other with arrows that mangled their body parts. It appeared that though both appeared to be ready to go the abode of Yama, one of them was destined to die on the battlefield, while the other was to live.
Satyaki was taking heavy fire from Bhoorisravas. It was very evident that Satyaki was tired and needed more rest. Seeing this Krishna hordes Arjuna to help his shishya. Krishna tells Arjuna that Satyaki was his disciple and that Arjuna needed to help his shishya more than ever. Arjuna tells Krishna, that his eyes are fixed on the horizon on the side of the Kuru Army looking for the king of the Sindhus. Moreover, it was not right on the part of a Kshyatriya to shoot arrows when the enemy was engaged with somebody else. Moreover, Bhoorisravas was an old friend of Pandu and perhaps the oldest man on the battlefield after Bheeshma. Arjuna hesitates. He mentally prays to Bhoorisravas and pays his respect towards him. On Krishna's insistence, Arjuna agrees to divert himself. In the meanwhile, Bhoorisravas has alread de-armed Satyaki and is about to cut his head off with a sword.
Arjuna raises on the Gandeeva a sharp arrow, and shoots it at Bhoorisravas, cutting off his right hand. Seeing his right hand cut in this fashion, infuriates the son of Somadutta. He talks on the goodness of Arjuna and how he under the counsel of Krishna had to resort to such mean methods of killing the enemy especially when the enemy is engaged with someone else. Arjuna puts sense into Bhoorisravas by saying that Satyaki had entered the battle on his behalf and that he was both a kinsman and a fine warrior. Arjuna says that Satyaki was his student and his right hand and that he had every right to protect him.
The son of Somadutta, then decided to give up his arms and die on the battlefield. He sat down in meditation on the battlefield and prayed for his life force to go back to its creator. At this juncture, Satyaki had regained consciousness. He took a sword and hacked off the head of Bhoorisravas in one single swift move. All the Kaurava warriors began to curse Satyaki stating that this act was totally barbaric and that Satyaki should not be called a Kshatriya anymore as he had failed to uphold Kshatriya Dharma by killing a man who was unarmed and not ready to battle. Satyaki shouts at them asking them where they were when they killed the son of Subhadra. Six maharathikas shot arrows at the young warrior one after the other.
In all the melee, the warriors hear a oracle. "No blame clings to Satyaki. It was written that Bhoorisravas would be killed by Satyaki."
The Kaurava soldiers run away from the place. Satyaki has no chariot to ride on. Jayadratha still lives.
Krishna flicks his reins and the horses move towards the suchimukha. Duryodhana, Karna, Vrishasena, Aswathama, Kripa and their soldiers get ready to stop Arjuna. Duryodhana asks Karna to stop Arjuna. But between Arjuna and Karna there stood one Yadava, Satyaki. Arjuna asks Krishna to ride towards Satyaki, but Krishna says that Satyaki will handle Karna. When Arjuna protests that Satyaki does not have a chariot, Krishna blows a rishaba on his Panchajanya. The note of Rishaba is clearly heard across the Kurukshetra. In a moment, a marvelous chariot flashes up to Satyaki. A banner of golden eagle flutters on the chariot. It was the Garuda. The chariot's name was Jaitra and the chariotry of Daruka exceeded that of his master's.
The fight starts between Satyaki and Karna, but Karna's sarathy was no match for Daruka. The advantage of using Gandharva horses, and the chariotry of Daruka, which was as quick as thought, is clearly a plus for the Yadava. He quickly puts Karna to flight. The Kauravas are now desperate to make sure not to allow Satyaki to join Arjuna once again. Dushasana and his brothers surround Satyaki, and are about to be sent to Yama's realm when Satyaki remembers Bheema's oath and lets them escape.
Ashwathama says to Kritavarma, "If anyone on Kurukshetra is Arjuna's and Krishna's equal in archery, its is Satyaki" and Kritavarman conquers. Karna now comes behind Arjuna. Before they actually fight, Arjuna shouts to Karna, 'You slaughtered my son like an animal. Watch me kill your son Vrishasena'
Arjuna sails past every Kaurava warrior. Every moment the sun sinks lower, the shadows grow longer and Jayadratha lives. Duryodhana goads Karna to stop Arjuna, as this was their last chance to win the war. Arjuna sees the sun turn crimson. The lower rim touching the horizon. Nara and Narayana exchange a split-second glance. Five maharathikas led by Karna ride between Arjuna and Jayadratha. Satyaki and Bheema are at Arjuna's side now, holding off the Kaurava warriors. Jayadratha raises his bow and fights just to keep his terror at bay. Between them Bheema and Satyaki hold up four maharathikas, but Karna, still bars Arjuna's way. An ineffable duel breaks out between them. The astras that they shoot, lights up Kurukshetra. Half the saffron orb is already below the horizon and Karna still bars his way.
Krisna tells Arjuna,'The night is about to fall. Be ready with the Pasupata. And when I tell you, trust me and kill Jayadratha. We cannot reach him before the sun sets.'
As if in a trance, Arjuna invokes the astra with the mantra. He does not know what Krishna is about to instruct. As the astra comes to life in his hands, darkness falls on the Kurukhetra and a shout goes up from the Kaurava soldiers. Duryodhana's roar rings above all ears,'The sun has set'.
Karna has already lowered his bow. Arjuna shivers. But he waits with baited breath. Then he hears Jayadratha cry, 'The sun has set'. He lifts his head to gaze at the sky. As if in drean, Krishna hisses at him, 'Quick, kill him now. The sun hasn't set. I have only hidden it for a moment'.
There is no time for doubt. In a state of mind, between dream and reality, past Karna's chariot, Arjuna sees Jayadratha's bare neck. Before the arrow leaves the bow, Krishna tells Arjuna,'His head must not fall on earth. Jayadratha's father sits in sandhya vandata at Samatapanchaka. Let his son's head fall on his lap'.
The flaming astra leaves the Gandeeva. For what seems to be a lifetime, Arjuna waits to hear Jayadratha's roar. Shiva's astra, takes off his head like a bud from a flowering tree. As the others spin around to see the cause for the cry, they only see a stream of silver arrows, carrying Jayadratha's head high above the battlefield and beyond its perimeter. A million voices roar, 'Arjuna has broken his vow.'
Arjuna has no answer to this. Then suddenly, a divine Chakra glides majestically away from the last sliver of the setting sun. Night and the stars vanish and Kuruskhetra is bathed in light crimson light once again, only this time, it looked like as if it was Jayadratha's blood. Arjuna looks at the Avatara. His face is wreathed in a smile.
Bheema's celebrant roars rock Kurukshetra and Satyaki roars with him. Duryodhana and his army hardly believe what their eyes have seen.
Arjuna chants the mantra to retract the Pasupata Astra. As the arrow flies back to Partha, Krishna embraces Arjuna. They know how close they had come to closure. Across the field, Yudhishtra hears the roars of Bheema, but is still skeptical. But the sounds of Devadutta and Panchajanya are borne to him by the winds and immediately Yudhistra is pacified.
Arjuna says to Krishna, that all of this is your doing. He says, that by himself, he would have never been able to cross the sea of enemies and keep his promise. Krishna smiles. He knew there was a vast difference between this Arjuna and the one before the war. The one before the war had doubt. This one had confidence.Krishna says, 'Between Satyaki and you, you have razed 7 akshauhinis, and the Kauravas were glad to sacrifice them as long as Jayadratha lived, and now they will regret their decision.'
When Partha and his sarathy meet Yudhistra, he cries in joy. He says to Krishna, that without your grace, this would have been impossible.'
Krishna smiles and says, ' You are mistaken Dharma. Jayadratha died because of rage. The wrath of a good man, a serene man not easily moved to anger is more potent than any other force on earth.
Across the Kurukshetra, gloom cloaks the Kaurava camp. Duryodhana sits alone in his camp. He realises the truth of what Bheeshma and Drona old him. No one, not Drona, not Karna, not Ashwathama was any match for Arjuna in battle. Duryodhana sits sobbing bitterly. What consoles him is that, the war is not yet over, its heroes are not all slain. Drona still lives and he hadn't heard of anyone who had conquered the Acharya in battle. He goes to the Acharya's tent. He sobs gently. 'Seven akshauhinis. Seven legions razed by two men !! All these men came to fight for me, and now they are all dead but they are still alive. I am a coward, Drona. a man who cannot fight for himself. And how cruel is fate that it leaves me alive to see my precious friends slain. Each one paid for my sins, my arrogance and my stubborness. How will I face Dushala ? How would I tell her, that one pandava warrior crossed 6 kosas of Kaurava warriors to kill her husband ? 56 of my brothers have died in this battle till now.'
As he counts his dead, his tears stop flowing. Now his eyes turn red again. Duryodhana says 'I will avenge my friends before I die. I will kill all five Pandavas. I will kill every Panchala,or die trying. Why should I wait till tomorrow ? Even now, by darkness, I will ride for revenge.'
Drona is moved to see Duryodhana like that. He says, 'I told you Arjuna is invincible. But I swear to you, I will take such battle to the enemy as they have not yet tasted yet. I will not take off this armour till all your enemies are killed or I am. Do not grieve my prince. We shall fight under the moon and the stars. Drona goes out to call his legions to assemble once again. Duryodhana goes to find Karna.
Duryodhana complains to Karna that the Acharya does not fight like himself. Karna tells him that he should not speak such words. Karna says to Duryodhana that at his age, it is a miracle that he fights like this. Arjuna's chariot is yoked to Gandharva horses, Krishna is his sarathy. It isn't Drona alone that he could point a finger, even Karna himself was at fault. It was fate, Karna says to Duryodhana. He goads Duryodhana to fight as never before. Side by side. For each other. He says that who wins or loses is not theirs to decide.
Even as they spoke, conches sounded across the dark field. Drona was lit like a ghostly deva, swathed in star light. Pandava soldiers run from Duryodhana. Yudhishtra rides to meet his cousin. Seeing Bheema at his, Duryodhana is even more enraged. The two engage in fierce battle. At times, no one knows whom he shot his arrows at. Drona is anxious for Duryodhana, any chance arrow can end the battle. Just then Duryodhana kills Dharma's sarathy and leaves him to his mercy, but Yudhishtra is mercurial quick and plunges two shafts into Duryodhana. Brahma's armour protects him, but he is still hurt.
Drona rides between Yudhishtra and Duryodhana, drawing a magic curtain of arrows between them. It appears as if Drona can see as clearly by starlight as he can see by the sun. His aim is unerring. Bheema is as devastating as Drona is. The Kauravas are tempted to think that Bheema has cat's eyes and that is why he is able to hunt blind Dhritarashtra's sons. He picks them unerringly and kills them. Yet another warrior is even more at home in the darkness. Ghatotkacha patrols the night with a legion of Rakshasas. His eyes light up like torches. Somadutta, the father of Sala and Bhoorisravas counters Satyaki. Somadutta is hardly a match for the brave Satyaki who cracks Somadutta's bow and makes him unconscious. Ashwathama quickly rides up to confront Satyaki. Satyaki is already tired after the day long battle. In what appears to be a one side battle, Ashwathama is suddenly accosted by Ghatotkacha.
Bheema's son uses maya against Drona's son. He creates bizarre hallucinations out of the black air. But Ashwathama is unmoved. He vaporises the demoniacal visions with an agneyastra, which lustrates the field like a small sun. The Rakshasa casts a phosphorescent chakra at Ashwathama, but the skilled archer that he is, Ashwathama smashes it in mid flight. Ghatotkacha's son attacks Ashwathama from the air with a barrage of occult weapons. Ashwathama lets loose an astra and brings him down like a bird out of the sky. Ghatotkacha creates a vast illusion and Ashwathama finds himself in a mythic forest that teems with all kinds of predators. The hallucination is like the trial the soul passes through on its way to moksha. But Ashwathama is a master of himself and a warrior and yogin enough to dispel the illusion with a proper astra.
Now Ashwathama is furious. He lets loose an arrow at Ghatotkacha and the asura falls down. A roar goes up from the Pandava forces, 'Ashwathama has killed Ghatotkacha'. When Bheema hears this, he falls on the enemy with renewed vigour. He has already killed 3000 warriors when suddenly 10 of his cousins surround him, thinking that it was the right time to finish the Vayu-putra, but they are mistaken as, in split seconds they meet with the same fate as their 56 brothers previously. When the last of the 10 skulls was smashed by Bheema's mace, another cry goes up among the Pandava ranks, ' Ghatotkacha is now dead. He fainted'.
Ashwathama is Rudra in the night. Columns of Pandava army are consumed within seconds with his astras. Somadutta's father, Baahlika, the oldest Kshyatriya to fight the war, (he was older than Bheeshma) straddles across the Kurukshetra like a man half his age. Bheema gets the better of him by smashing his head with a mace. Ten more of Dhritarashtra's sons try to corner Bheema, and Bheema fulfills another tenth of his vow. Shakuni arrives with his legion and Bheema welcomes him by sending some of his brothers to Yama's abode.
There is another Pandava who is putting the Kaurava army to flight. He is fighting as he has never done before. Yudhishtra. He is burning Kaurava legions like blades of dry grass. Drona rides at him. The Kurukshetra is lit up as the Acharya lets loose the astra of Varuna, Yama, Agni, Twashtar and Savita at Dharma, but Yudhishtra cuts them down with the skillfulness that only Arjuna could have exhibited. With Arjuna resting the night, Drona sees this as the best opportunity to capture Yudhistra and end this wretched war. Drona intones the mantra for the Brahmastra. Across the field, only Yudhishtra is able to hear the arcane mantra. He summons the Brahmastra himself. The two Brahmastras consume each other and the Pandava army roars in delight to see Yudhishtra match his guru. The Acharya has no answer to this contest and rides away, only to let the Pandava army feel his ire.
From two sides, two of Pandu's sons try to live upto their Guru's challenge. From the west comes Bheema, annihilating everything in his way, and from the east comes a greater archer than any other, Arjuna. A rejuvenated Arjuna rides into the battle again and the combined onslaught seems to have taken a toll on the Kaurava senapati, who shrinks away. Bheema and Arjuna kills men by the thousands and it appears as if the battle will end before sunrise. Duryodhana rides up to Karna and tells him, that he is his only hope.
Karna says, that he has Indra's shakti, and that Arjuna's death will be by his father's own weapon. He says that he will kill Arjuna and then the war is as good as won. Kripa mocks at Karna. He says, 'We saw how you cowered away at Virata and also you couldn't hold him today when defending Jayadratha. If only you fought as well as you spoke Karna...!!!' Without another word, Karna mounds his chariot and rides into battle.
Karna burns the Kurukshetra as Agni did the Khandava. He burns up a legion in moments. Arjuna rides at him. A radiant duel breaks out. The armies stand rooted to the spot, vying with each other to see two gods fight. Their archery is so effortless. Arjuna then strains briefly and in the span of an eyewink, kills Karna's sarathy and horses and breaks his bow. The Kaurava army runs blindly when Karna loses his chariot. Duryodhana decides to face Arjuna in battle but Ashwathama checks him. Duryodhana tauns Ashwathama by saying that his father and he were so full of love for the Pandavas, and that Ashwathama was fighting just to please Yudhishtra. Ashwathama remains calm at the taunt and rides out into the battle again. He hits the Pandava forces like a natural calamity, but he is encountered by another matchless kshatriya, The fire-born prince. The rivalry between the two was as deep as their fathers'. Dhristadyumna wants to avenge the death of his sons, whereas Ashwathama was hell bent on destorying everything in his way. Dhristadyumna has his sarathy killed, and bow broken and rides away from the battlefield, in a matter of seconds. It appears as if the Acharya's son is invincible under the stars.
Satyaki cries to his sarathy that he must kill Somadutta today, knowing fully that if he doesn't kill this Kuru, he will hunt him down some day and avenge him. They fight without a word, each aware that this was the duel for their lives. Satyaki has age on his side. He swiftly puts an arrow into the heart of the old man and sends him to realm of the dead. On Somadutta death,ten Kauravas converge on Satyaki. Drona is among them. Yudhishtra rides at Drona. The brahmana turns on the Pandava king. Guru battles the shishya in the dark. The Acharya lets loose a vaayvyaastra to keep Dharma at bay, which he quickly quells with another astra of his. Krishna rides to Yudhishtra and tells him, that he mustn't face the Acharya so often and definitely not alone. A king should fight a king and that he should be battling with Duryodhana. Dhristadyumna was born to kill Drona and that this task was best left to him.
Drona and Duryodhana quickly realise that the darkness instead of proving to be an asset was now a bane. They had no idea of their numbers and it suddenly appeared as if they had been outnumbered by the Pandavas. Duryodhana tells his legions to light up torches for the maharathikas and not to fight the war by themselves. The Pandavas quickly follow the enemy's strategy and soon the whole of Kurukshetra is lit up by thousands and thousands of flaming torches.
Satyaki seems to have found second wind and fights as if he has begun a new day. He quickly sends a king called Bhoori to his death. Ashwathama burns like a thousand torches himself. Once more, he strikes Ghatotkacha senseless in his chariot. Elsewhere Duryodhana and Bheema fight. Sahadeva rides against Karna and the Ashwini Kumaras' son does fight lustrously, but the fight does not last long. Karna quickly kills his sarathy and his horses and breaks his bow. Sahadeva's mace is blown to dust. He wrenches a chariot wheel only to have it shattered by some wonderful display of archery by Karna. Karna laughs and says to Sahadeva, that he must fight his equals, and then rides away.
All around multiple duels range. Shalya overcomes Virata. Arjuna kills a king called Ala, and Kripa puts Shikhandi to flight. Nakula and Shakuni fight and the Pandava ensures that Shakuni is given no chance to use his treacherous sorcery. Quickly Shakuni's banner is brought down and is sent running away from the battlefield.
Karna kills thousands of Pandava soldiers by night. For the Pandavas there was only one Kshyatriya who was as glorious as Karna was that night. Satyaki. As if drawn together by fate, Karna and Satyaki face each other. They fight not with arrows but with astras. Karna hears the loud screaming of his legions and also the thunder of the Gandeeva. He says to Duryodhana to contain Arjuna and that he will use the Shakti after defeating Satyaki. Karna is aflame. Fighting as never befroe, he smashes Dhrishtadyumna's bow and chariot leaving the Panchala breathless. Kunti's eldest son has brought such fear to the enemy that Pandava soldiers cry out when breeze brushes their faces, thinking it is Karna. Yudhishtra helplessly watches the brother he does not know, raze his army. Arjuna says to Krishna that his brother was under danger and he must ride against the sutaputra.
Krishna says to Arjuna softly,'There are only two warriors on our side who can face Karna tonight. One is your Partha, and the other one is Ghatotkacha. Night makes him stronger and he can kill anyone by darkness. Look at Drona and how he stalks Yudhishtra. If the wily brahamana takes your brother all the heroism of your brothers, all your valor will all be lost. Your first dharma is to protect your brother. Send for Ghatotkacha.'
Arjuna looks at the Avatar in doubt. But he cannot ignore his sarathy's warning. He summons Ghatotkacha with a thought. Krishna smiles at him and says, 'Only you can stand before Karna. Arjuna must watch over Yudhishtra. Karna must be killed and no one can do this but you. Take your astras and show the sutaputra what hell looks like.'
Krishna knew about the Shakti that Indra gave in exchange for the Kavacha-Kundala. He knows that not even Arjuna could resist that weapon. Karna would use the weapon against Arjuna and then everything would be lost. The Avatara knows that one precious life had to be sacrificed. He had to protect Arjuna. Only he could kill Karna. Karna grows in stature with every life he takes. His valor on the battlefield tonight outshines the valor of Satyaki and Arjuna put together. Who would say after watching the sutaputra that Arjuna was the best archer in the world. ?
Ghatotkacha and his legions arrive on the battlefield armed to the fangs. Duryodhana sees his soldiers flee onto one side of the battlefield. He immediately instructs Dushasana to take ten men for every Rakshasa and protect Karna at any cost. At this point another rakshasa speaks. Jatasura. Jatasura's father was killed by Bheema. In an attempt to take revenge Jatasura wants to kill Bheema's son. He is taller than any of Ghatotkacha's men. And then the fight starts. The two human armies hold their breath around the inhuman warriors. They fight for long and then suddenly Ghatotkacha tired of this fight, takes a sword and hacks off the head of Jatasura in a trice. Bheema's son picks up the head of Jatasura and throws it at Duryodhana's feet, taunting him.
The rakshasa stands heaving before the King of Anga. Karna mocks him with laughter. Ghatotkacha answers the mockery ith an astra that immolates a thousand Kaurava soldiers. Kurukshetra is lit up with burning men. Karna douses the fire with rain. But this was not a war between men. All around Kaurava soldiers run screaming in terror of the Rakshasa. Karna fights at the limits of his ability. Duryodhana looks at the fight from afar. It appears as if even the sutaputra would not be able to match Ghatotkacha tonight.
Another demon arrives on the Kurukshetra. It is Alayudha, whom his own kind shun. He offers his services to Duryodhana. Bheeshma would never have allowed this, but Duryodhana senses an ally and welcomes him. 'Kill Bheema's boy and your shall find me grateful forever'
Karna by far is the finest archer in the Kaurava army. He was equivalent to a legion of marksmen by himself. He was better than Ashwathama, Drona, Kripa and Kritavarman, all put together. Yudhishtra had a glimpse of his genius at the tournament in Hastinapur and knew immediately that this was the greatest archer in the world, even greater than Arjuna. Today, the one who confronts this Surya Putra is indeed a fine match. And even as Ghatotkacha faces Karna, he continues to slaughter Kaurava army.
Alayudha comes into the battle and soon Ghatotkacha is contained since two powerful enemies assail him at once. Seeing his son reel under the combined assault, Bheema rushes into the battle scene and lures Alayudha away. But Bheema was not prepared for a duel with an enemy that he could not see. Soon his chariot is smashed to pieces and it appears as if he could do with some help. Krishna takes his chariot to Ghatotkacha and tells him to help his father. As Karna tries to pursue Ghatotkacha, Arjuna bars his way with a screen of arrows. Ghatotkacha flies out of the sky at Alayudha, and in one single stroke he hacks off the Rakshasa's head. Again he picks up the head and throws it into Duryodhana's chariot and Dhritarashtra's eldest son, recoils in terror.
Bheema's son rules the night's heart. He massacres the Kaurava army as not Bheema, Arjuna, Satyaki or Dhrishtadyumna have done. Only Karna prevents him from razing down the whole Kaurava army. But not even Karna could contain him completely. In a chilling moment, he sees an entire legion of Kaurava soldiers beheaded by a flight of golden swords. He has no answer to this assault. Karna realises that the Rakshsasa is not alone. His father and uncle are killing men by thousands. All of Duryodhana's men cry to Karna for help. Karna hears Duryodhana's desparate cry, 'The Shakti, Karna. The Shakti. Use it, or else we shall be doomed.'
Karna hesistates to even look at the Shakti. He had kept it for a purpose. He recalled that moment when Indra had given him the Shakti. 'You can cast it only once. Against just one enemy. Whoever he may be, he will die. But then the astra will return to me.' Even after Karna had discovered that Arjuna was his brother, the old flame of rivalry had not sudsided entirely. Bheeshma had said it. So had Drona. So did Kripa and Shalya, - That Arjuna was the best archer in the world. He knew that they were wrong. He would prove them wrong. Indra took away his Kavacha-Kundala. Krishna had struck deep by telling that Arjuna was his brother. But the war could end tonight if he did not use the Shakti now. Karna knew that if he used the Shakti now, the war would be as good as lost anyway.
Karna decides that he had to use the Shakti now. But he is strangely glad about it. Now it will be he who will be hunted by Arjuna and not the other way around. He would now die at his brother's hand. Was this not what his mother had wanted. Karna raises the Shakti above his head and a radiant light fills the battlefield. Karna stands at the heart of that splendour.
With a heavy heart, he shoots the Shakti at Ghatotkacha. It seems to take an age to traverse the night to its target. Ghatotkacha seems to stand helpless in its path. His mantle of maya being torn apart by the core of the shakti. Fearlessly, he watches Death come for him from afar, and all his life flashes before his eyes in a split second. Within another split second he realises the truth of why he was asked to fight Karna and then decides that he had live upto the expectations. He starts growing in size. He towers over the Kaurava Army. The Shakti crashes into Bheema's son and kills him instantly. He falls like a mountain on Duryodhana's men, crushing tens of thousands of men, a whole Akshauhini. In the shocked silence, Bheema's roars echo. That sound is music to Duryodhana's ear. All the Pandava army is stunned when Ghatotkacha falls. There is one exception. Krishna exults. Arjuna stands too shocked to shed a tear. But Krishna leaps down from his chariot in unashamed delight.
Arjuna asks Krishna in anguish, 'Bheema's son has died. Everybody is mourning.. What makes you so happy ?'
Krishna says 'This is the happiest day of my life Arjuna. I am not celebrating Ghatotkacha's death, but the manner in which he died. I swear he has not died in vain. Now Yudhishtra will definitely sit on the throne of the earth.
Arjuna appears confused. Krishna explains.
'It is so plain Arjuna. The only man I feared of the enemy, Karna, is now as good as dead. The Shakti, Arjuna, The Shakti. He could use it only once. Karna could have easily killed you with his Shakti, and the war would then be in favor of the Kauravas. Bheeshma and Drona have scofed at him, because they believed that you were invincible, but Duryodhana loves Karna more. That made Karna more clear eyed and focussed than you. Only he realises Karna's true worth. I know the truth Arjuna. Karna is indeed the greatest archer. As long as Karna had the Shakti, not even the armies of Devaloka, not Varuna, not Yama, or Kubera could defeat him. Not even you with your Gandeeva or me with my Sudarshana. Not any more Arjuna. He is now a God, who is not immortal any more. Even now, only you can kill him, but atleast it can be done.'
Arjuna listens, unable to digest Krishna's words. Satyaki joins his guru. Krishna continues, 'Karna is the most misunderstood, most demeaned man on earth. This man is not only the greatest archer in the world, Partha, but also the noblest. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he is more pious and noble than Yudhishtra. You ask me why I rejoice on Ghatotkacha's death. It is because he gave his life to save yours, and it was a needful sacrifice. Every night the Kauravas spoke of nothing else, but the usage of the Shakti on Arjuna, and that was precisely the reason why we avoided him for fourteen days.'
Drona has rallied his forces already for another assault on the Pandava forces. Yudhishtra asks the grief stricken Bheema to face the Brahmana, knowing fully that his grief will turn to wrath. Yudhishtra in the meanwhile slumps in his chariot, crying for his nephew. He speaks highly of Ghatotkacha to Krishna. Yudhishtra talks of how quickly Ghatotkacha learnt the arts, archery and other shastras from them. 'When Abhimanyu was killed, none of us was near him, but Ghatotkacha died before our eyes. What was the point of killing Jayadratha for Abhimanyu's death. Drona and KArna still live. Even now, nobody speaks of killing Karna for his act.' There is rage in Yudhishtra's eyes and he decides to take the battle to the enemy camps. But Vyasa intervenes at the right time. Vyasa tells Dharma that in five days he will be the lord of the earth and the light of dharma will shine again in the dark world. Yudhishtra returns to his senses and decides to keep his emotions in check.
The battle extends into midnight and both the armies are totally exhaused. Arjuna gives a call for end of battle and both the armies willingly comply. As Soma deva rises in the sky, it appears to onlookers as if he was bathed in blood.
There is one man, who does not sleep tonight. Drona sits alone at the edge of the Kaurava camp. A profound sense of doom prevails him. His life plays out in a chaotic manner before his eyes.
He sees himself as a boy. His tutelage at his father, Bharadwaja's ashrama. He sees Drupada beside him, as a boy. Their voices full of love. He then sees Ashwathama drinking flour mixed with water and thinking that he has drunk milk. He sees himself come to Drupada's court, hoping to find a new life, only to be taunted by Drupada. Thirsty for revenge he comes to Hastinapura, where he sees himself walking to Kripa's house. He goes to Bheeshma and tels him how Drupada had humiliated him. He remembers Bheeshma's mocking smile. A smile that mocked Drona's earnestness. Nevertheless, Drona stayed on in Hastinapura as the guru of the house of Kuru. Revenge possessed him. Over the period of years, he had just become a hireling of the Kurus. Over the years, this gnawed at him, yet more than anything else, he wanted revenge against Drupada. When Arjuna routed the Panchala, Drona had had his revenge but he had been foolish to give back half of Drupada's kingdom. How could a Kshatriya ever forget that shame. Drupada prayed for a son who would kill Drona. He also prayed for a daughter who would marry Arjuna.
The brahmana then sees himself as the master to the Kuru princes. As a guru he could have easily nipped the enemity in the bud, but he had turned a blind eye, thinking that the rivalry would help them compete more intensely. This was where his indifference had led them all. Drona realises his folly. He had seen his wards not as children, but as human warriors. Drona lives his past again. He could have spoken up during the fateful game of dice. But he held his tongue. He remembers the moment,when Duryodhana came to him, expressing his fears that his cousins might attack Hastinapura. Rashly, he had promised that he would fight for Duryodhana and that was the promise that had sealed Drona's fate. There was no turning back for him.
He remembers the chakra vyuha. He sees every chariot and footsoldier with crystal clarity. He sees himself weave that web, to snare a maharathika. And why ? Because Duryodhana had taunted him. He knew very well, that Only Abhimanyu, Arjuna and Krishna knew how to break it. It was as if he had stolen into Abhimanyu's tent and stabbed him in his sleep. And Arjuna had treated him as a father, even when he had fought as the Kaurava Senapati.
He is cut short in his thoughts by Duryodhana's arrival. The Kaurava's eyes are full of evil and for the first time, Acharya sees him as he truly is, a beast of darkness. Duryodhana once again mocks the Acharya telling him that he has a soft corner for the Pandavas. Drona growls at him and says that it was a crime to use devastras against common soldiers. He had already vowed that he would not remove his armour until the Kauravas won or he died. But Drona taunts Duryodhana once again. He says, 'You are the king. I am the Senapati. I will obey you. If you command me to use the devastras against common Pandava soldiers, I will use it. But listen to me, Arjuna cannot be killed with devastras, not with any weapon that your warriors may possess. No Kshyatriya that fights for you, not all of them put together can bring him down.'
For a moment, Duryodhana hates his mentor. Then controlling his anger, he says, 'We will bring down your Arjuna, Acharya. Between, myself, Karna, Dushasana and Shakuni, we will kill your great archer.' He says this with such arrogance that Drona can only smile scathingly. Duryodhana continues, 'Let us divide the army into two halves. You keep one half and the other half, let us four take. We will ride against the Pandavas and you may fight for the Kauravas, if you will, or stand aside and contemplate your Arjuna's greatness.'
Drona speaks to Duryodhana, 'I wish you well, Duryodhana. Only when you face Arjuna, will you discover who Arjuna is. You have always been suspicious, never knowing who loves you and who does not. But I am forgetting, that after all, you are a kshyatriya born in the house of Kuru. What do you have to fear tomorrow Duryodhana ? Your uncle Shakuni goes into battle with you. The one who brought us all to this pass. The master of the dice board will accomplish tomorrow what no kshyatriya has ever done yet, that of vanquishing Arjuna on battlefield. Your time is here Duryodhana. You, Karna and Dushasana can go into the battle and kill the Pancha-Pandavas. You have wielded power as no other man in the world. And yes, I cannot take it away from you, You have been generous to those whom you love. As far as I know, you are not in debt to anyone. You have tasted everything that life has to offer someone like you.' Drona pauses. Duryodhana stiffens.
'Now die gloriously at the hands of your cousins', and then Drona walks off into the darkness.
The Great War - Day 14
Dawn is yet to break over Kurukshetra. Yudhishtra is the first man to greet the fourteenth day of war. Krishna comes to meet him with the other Pandava warriors. Yudhishtra says to the Dark One,'Arjuna must keep his vow Krishna. He cannot fail when he has you as his sarathy.'