On the fall of Bhishma the Kuru army resembled the heavenly dome, stripped of the stars. Then they remembered Karna, the foremost of all wielders of weapons, and that hero soon came to them to help. With his advice, Duryodhana requested Drona to become his commander-in-chief in place of Bhima; and he consented on condition that he would not slay Dhrstadyumna, who had been created to slay him (Drona). Thus Drona was invested with the chief command to the delight of all.
The Eleventh Day of Battle: The eleventh day of battle commenced, and the Kuru forces were arrayed in the form of a Sakata (Car), while the army of the Pandavas was formed in the shape of a Kraunc (Crane). Karna was at the head of the Kuru army, while Krshna and Arjuna headed the Pandava hosts.
The Attempt to Capture Yudhisthira: The battle which ensued was terrible, and the whole field was covered with fallen warriors; while broken chariots and carcasses of elephants and horses appeared like the firmament overhung with dense masses of dark clouds. Then Duryodhana and Karna begged Drona to grant them a boon to capture Yudhisthira alive. "For," said Duryodhana, "if he could be taken alive, he could once more be defeated at the game of dice, and the Pandavas, obedient to him, must repair to the forest once more, and the Kurus be free from the unconquerable might of Arjuna." Drona, after some reflection, promised to capture Yudhisthira if he could find him unprotected by the heroic Arjuna.
Drona created great confusion among the Pandava ranks, and attempted to capture Yudhisthira, but in vain; for Arjuna was ever ready to come to the rescue of the king. And, when the evening approached and the sun set, the armies retired for the night, and the victory for the day lay with the Pandava hosts.
The Twelfth Day of Battle: When the next day dawned, the Kurus resolved to draw Arjuna out of the field, so that Yudhisthira, left alone, might easily be captured. Knowing that, if challenged, he could never turn back, the Samsaptakas called Arjuna out to meet them; and he, leaving behind Satyajit and Dhrstadyumna to protect Yudhisthira, went out to fight them. Then Drona, knowing that Arjuna was away, charged the Pandava king.
The Battle Arrays: The Kuru forces were arrayed in the form of Suparna, and Drona himself was at their head. He was supported by Duryodhana and. others; while Karna, supported by his relatives and friends, brought up the rear. Seeing this, Yudhisthira ordered his troops to be arrayed in a semi-circle, and asked Dhrstadyumna to be near him in the fight.
The Fight: Drona rushed at Yudhisthira, but was repelled by the Panchala prince. Then Duryodhana charged Bhima and forced him to hide himself underneath the body of an elephant.
Arjuna and Samsaptakas; Krshna's Part: In the meanwhile Arjuna, knowing that Yudhisthira was being pressed by Drona, still decided on the destruction of the Samsaptakas. He charged Bhagadatta who, invoking the Vaisnava weapon, and inspiring it with sacred aphorisms, aimed it at the heart of Arjuna; but Krsna received it on his own heart, when the weapon was changed into a celestial garland. Then Arjuna said to Krshna, "O lotus-eyed, you had promised only to drive my steeds, and not to fight for me in battle. It is only when I am involved in a calamity, or am incapable of resisting my foes, that you should take upon yourself to protect me; not otherwise." Then replied Krshna, "O sinless one, I have four forms, and I divide myself for the benefit of the world; one of these is ever engaged in the performance of actions. This Vaisnava weapon is irresistible, and it was for your benefit that I baffled it. You can slay Bhagadatta now." Then the son of Pandu (Arjuna) pierced the heart of Bhagadatta with a crescent shaped arrow of straight knots, and he fell down dead. Thereupon Sakuni and Karna set upon Arjuna, but were compelled to retire; and when the sun set, and the armies retired to their respective tents, the whole field was covered with the wounded and the slain; but the vow of Drona that he would capture Yudhisthira, still remained unfulfilled.
The Thirteenth Day of Battle: When the thirteenth day dawned, Drona, finding how difficult it was to capture Yudhisthira, vowed that, if Arjuna was drawn away again, he would slay a mighty hero, the foremost among the car-Warriors of the Pandava hosts, that day.
The Circular Array: He arranged his troops in a Circular array, and placed himself in the van, Duryodhana in the centre, and all the mighty princes around.
The Task of Abhimanyu: Arjuna was again challenged by the Samsaptakas. The Pandavas were headed by Bhima, but could not resist the attack of Drona. Then Yudhisthira, finding that no one else could check the son of Bharadvaja (Drona), charged Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna and Subhadra and the nephew of Krsna, who was in no way inferior to his father or uncle, to penetrate the Circular array of the Kurus. "I will," said the prince, "penetrate without delay into the middle of Drona's fierce array. My father has taught me the way to pierce through such an array, but I know not the way to come out of it again." Then Yudhisthira asked Abhimanyu to penetrate the array, and promised that all of them would follow and protect him from all sides. Thereupon the son of Subhadra (Abhimanyu) resolved to do the bidding of the king.
Abhimanyu's Fight: Then the heroic son of Arjuna, bearing an excellent standard, with the device of a Karanikara tree, and clad in a fine coat of mail, rushed out against Drona, and confounded his ranks. He was no less than Krsna or Arjuna in power, and bore down all before him. He compelled Duryodhana to retreat, forced back Duhsasana, and confounded Karna. Then he penetrated into the Kuru array; but as the Pandavas and their allies rushed into the breach to follow him, they were checked by Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu, the hero who had been given a boon by Mahadeva that he would be able to check the Pandavas, all except Arjuna.
The Death of Abhimanyu: Abhimanyu fought with great power and skill of hand and, drawing his bow to a complete circle, afflicted the Kuru hosts. Then six mighty car-Warriors, Karna, Krtavarman, Krpa, Asvatthaman, and the king of Koala, with Drona, at their head, surrounded the prince; and, though he fought with discus and mace like a second Janaradana (Krshna) on the field, he was overpowered and slain by their combined arms, the hero who wore the splendour of the full Moon, who was like the starry firmament decked with the full Moon, and who, without turning back from the field, stood in battle against odds.
Beholding Abhimanyu lying dead on the ground, the Kurus were filled with joy, and the Pandavas were deeply distressed; but Yudhisthira comforted them, for that hero, he said, had surely attained to the abode of the Righteous.
The sun set on the hosts of wounded and the slain, and the earth presented a terrible sight; and at the advent of night the troops retired to rest, leaving behind a ghastly field of carnage and death.
Vyasa Consoles Yudhisthira: Yudhisthira's grief at the death of Abhimanyu was the greatest of all, but he was comforted by Vyasa, who explained to him the origin of the dark and red and tawny Goddess of Death, who dwells in the southern quarter, and destroys without committing sin.
The Vow of Arjuna: When the sun had set and the armies retired to their tents, Arjuna and Krshna also returned to their camp, and Yudhisthira told them the story of Abhimanyu's death. Hearing this, Arjuna fell down on the earth in great distress; but he soon regained his consciousness and, rising from the ground, drew a deep breath. Then, with eyes flooded with tears, he cried out, "Tomorrow I; will slay Jayadratha, who was instrumental in bringing about the slaughter of my son. If tomorrow's sun sets before I succeed in slaying that sinful wretch, then will I enter into a blazing fire myself and perish."
The Difference between Arjuna and Jayadratha: When the Kurus heard of this terrible vow of Arjuna, they resolved to protect Jayadratha with all their might and then the lord of Sindhu (Jayadratha) asked Drona to tell him the difference between Arjuna and himself. "As regards teaching," said Drona, "both of you have received an equal share. But through Yoga and the effects of hardship that he has undergone, Arjuna has become superior to you. But fight, and do not fear."
In order to protect Jayadratha, Drona resolved on the next day to form an array, half of which was like the figure of a Car and half a Lotus. Within that array was a smaller one, of the shape of a Wedge; and Jayadratha was placed in the middle of the Lotus-like array, by the side of the other half.
In the meanwhile Krsna consoled his sister Subhadra, and Uttara, the young wife of Abhimanyu, who were sore afflicted with grief; and Draupadi too came to comfort them.
Krshna's Part: Then Krsna, desirous of helping Arjuna in the task of slaying Jayadratha, had recourse to Yoga meditation, and resolved to put forth his power for Arjuna's sake, and so to act that that hero should slay Jayadratha before nightfall in the presence of all.
The Worship of Mahadeva: He appeared to Arjuna in a dream and bade him seek the assistance of Mahadeva; and then they both worshipped that Deity who has the Bull for his emblem.
The Weapons of Mahadeva: Mahadeva, being pleased, bade them go to a heavenly lake of nectar, of the effulgence of the solar disc, and take out from it his own weapons, a bow and arrow, which lay there in the form of snakes. Then, assuming the form of a Brahmacharin, he taught Arjuna, gifted with an accurate memory, the mantras (charms) and the art of discharging the weapons, and gave him his terrible Pasupata weapon too.
The Fourteenth Day of Battle; Drona's Arrays: When the night had passed away and the day dawned, Drona. formed his troops in a battle array, partly in the shape of a Sakata. (Car-Wedge) and partly a Circle. In the rear of his army was formed another array, of the figure of a Lotus, within which was constructed a third of the form of a Needle. In the rear of this Needle was placed Kritavarman; behind him, in the Sakata, came Duryodhana and Karna; and behind them was stationed Jayadratha, by the side of the Needle array; while Drona himself, armed in a white coat of mail, stood at the mouth of the Sakata, with his banner bearing the device of a Sacrificial Altar and a black Deer.
Arjuna's Fight: The Pandavas in their turn arrayed their forces with Krshna and Arjuna at their head; and the battle which ensued was fierce and terrible. Leaving behind Satyaki to protect Yudhisthira, Arjuna defeated Duhsasana, and entered the thick of the Kuru forces; and, passing through Drona's division, engaged a number of heroes, Krtavarman and others. Thereupon Duryodhana in great sorrow approached the Preceptor (Drona), and begged him to come to the assistance of the Kurus; and Drona gave Duryodhana an invincible armour belonging to Mahadeva and, joining its parts by means of Brahma threads, bade him go forth and fight the enemy without fear.
The Horses of Arjuna: Arjuna, anxious to meet Jayadratha face to face, pressed forward through the Kuru hosts. But he was surrounded by the enemy on all sides, and his horses were afflicted with arrow wounds and so he asked Krshna to unyoke them and leave them at ease, and draw out their darts, while he himself kept the whole army of the Kurus in check. But, as there was no water for the horses to drink, and they wanted water for drinking and not a bath, Arjuna struck the earth with a weapon and created a beautiful lake, at which the steeds could quench their thirst. He constructed an arrow hall for their rest, seeing which the Kurus were filled with fear, while others applauded the hero's power. Krsna then unharnessed the horses, and made them drink of the water of the lake. He then yoked them once more to the chariot with a joyful heart; and, urging them to their utmost speed, came where the struggle was the thickest.
The General Fight: While Arjuna was anxious to meet Jayadratha face to face, Drona was equally anxious to prevent him. Then Duryodhana attacked Arjuna but was defeated, and Drona attacked Yudhisthira and compelled him to retreat. Then he set upon Satyaki, and vanquished hundreds and thousands of Pancalas, Matsyas, and others.
Then Yudhisthira, believing that Arjuna was in danger, bade Satyaki go to his assistance; and he who had been charged by Arjuna to protect the king, asked Bhima to take his place, and, with Yudhisthira's blessings, went to the assistance of Arjuna. He penetrated the Kuru hosts, eluded Drona, defeated Krtavarman, put Jalasandha to death, and, displaying great feats of arms, slew Sudarsana and a host of Yavanas, Kambojas and mountaineers led by Duryodhana himself, and advanced to the help of Arjuna. In the meanwhile Drona engaged Dhrstadyumna in a wonderful fight, filling the Pandavas and Pancalas with panic. The battle raged furiously and Yudhisthira, again feeling anxious for the safety of Arjuna, bade Bhima go to his help; and that hero, charging Dhrstadyumna to protect the king, proceeded to the spot where Dhananjaya was.
Bhima penetrated through the Kuru hosts, and Drona, unable to check him, let him pass; and, defeating Karna after a fearful struggle, he came to the assistance of Arjuna.
The Death of Bhurisravas: Satyaki had by this time joined Arjuna, but he was fatigued, and his stock of weapons was exhausted, when that foremost of Kurus, Bhurisravas, assailed him. He was on the point of putting him (Satyaki) to death, when Arjuna cut off his Right arm, of him who was devoted to the performance of sacrifice. Bhurisravas complained that it was a heartless task, inasmuch as he was engaged in fighting with Satyaki alone; but Arjuna assured him that it was impossible for him to commit a sinful act. Then Bhurisravas, who had the device of a Sacrificial Stake on his banner, touched the ground with his head and, offering to him with his left arm the Right one that had been severed, desired to enter upon the performance of Praya (fasting to death). Then Krsna wished that he who was devoted to the performance of sacrifice, should repair to his holy regions; whereupon Satyaki rose and cut off his head even as he was engaged in Yoga for the liberation of his Soul and the head of Bhurisravas looked like the head of a horse cut off in a Horse-sacrifice and placed on the sacrificial altar.
The Death of Jayadratha: Then, as the sun was going quickly towards the western hills and very little of the day remained, the critical time of battle drew near, and all the chief heroes of the Kurus gathered round Jayadratha to protect him. Arjuna tried in vain to penetrate through them; and Krsna, knowing how difficult it was for Arjuna to slay Jayadratha, had recourse to his Yoga power, and created a veil of darkness to cover the sun. Then Jayadratha, believing that the sun had really set, came out of his protecting ring; and Arjuna, charged by Krshna, cut off the head of the king of Sindhu. As he did so, Krshna withdrew the veil of darkness from the sun, the darkness that was only an illusion caused by him; and, as they saw this, tears of sorrow gushed out from the eyes of the Kurus, for Arjuna had slaughtered eight of their Aksauhinis and succeeded in slaying Jayadratha too.
The Pandavas were filled with joy and Duryodhana with despair at the death of Jayadratha, and he complained of Drona's partiality for his pupil (Arjuna) "I have told you," said Drona, "that Arjuna is unrecognizable in battle. We had sufficient proofs of what he really is when, protected by him, Sikhandin slew Bhishma in battle. He cannot, indeed, be defeated or slain."
The Night Attack: After the death of Jayadratha the hostilities were not suspended even though the sun had set, and a fierce nocturnal battle raged between the combatants. The Rakshasa son of Bhima, Ghatotkaca, rushed against the son of Drona and displayed his great illusive power. Drona fought with Yudhisthira and made him retreat; Karna engaged Arjuna, and Dhrstadyumna and Asvatthaman opposed each other.
The Lamplight Attack: For a long time the battle raged in darkness; and then, at the command of Duryodhana, they laid aside their weapons and took in hand burning lamps filled with perfumed oil, and the whole army was lighted up again and then the battle commenced anew. Krtavarman engaged Yudhisthira and forced him to retreat; Duryodhana fought with Bhima, but was repulsed; Sahadeva opposed Karna, but was made to fly; and a number of combats took place between heroes on either side.
The Death of Ghatotkaca: Then Ghatotkaca charged against Karna, and a terrible battle ensued between them; and at one time it seemed as if the Rakshasa would slay Karna with his illusive power. It was midnight now, and Karna, loosening the dart given to him by Indra, hurled it at his foe; and, destroying the blazing illusion of the Rakshasa, it pierced through his breast, and, penetrating his heart, struck him dead. Thus fell Ghatotkaca after slaying a full Aksauhini of troops.
Beholding the death of Bhima's son, the Pandavas were filled with grief; but Krshna rejoiced, for Karna had exhausted the invincible dart given to him by Indra, which he had intended to hurl against Arjuna.
The Moonlight Fight: It was now past midnight and the troops, enveloped in darkness and dust, were oppressed with drowsiness and fatigue. Then Arjuna bade that they should all desist from fighting and take rest for a time. Then, exhausted with exertion, the combatants lay down on the field to sleep and the Moon rose, and the world was flooded with a stream of light, and darkness fled away. The sleeping hosts were awakened by the light of the Moon, and once again the battle was renewed.
The Fifteenth Day of Battle; Two Divisions of the Kuru Forces: When three-fourths of the night had passed away, the battle began; and soon the eastern sky was crimsoned with the myriad rays of the sun appearing like a circle of gold. The Kauravas divided their hosts into two parts, and Drona, placing Duryodhana before him, advanced against the Pandavas. Beholding the two divisions of the Kuru army, Krshna asked Arjuna to see that one division was to his left, and the other, headed by Drona, to his Right; and Arjuna, obedient to the counsel of Krsna, wheeled round so as to keep Drona and Karna)a to his Right.
Asvatthaman the Elephant: And now a terrible battle began. Bhima, worked up with rage, penetrated into Drona's division; Duryodhana and his brothers encountered Nakula and Sahadeva; Drona and Arjuna charged against each other; and Dhrstadyumna repulsed Duhsasana. But Drona, drawn by horses of golden colour, was irresistible everywhere. Realizing that he was incapable of being vanquished in battle, except when he laid aside his weapons himself, and that he could only do when Asvatthaman was slain, Krshna advised Arjuna to abandon virtue, and betake himself to a contrivance for securing victory; and he suggested that someone should inform the Preceptor (Drona) that Asvatthaman had been slain. Dhananjaya (Arjuna) did not accept this advice of Krshna, but Yudhisthira did so with much reluctance. Then Bhima killed an elephant called Asvatthaman, and exclaimed aloud that Asvatthaman was slain, knowing that what he then spoke was false. But Drona, believing that the report was false, still continued to fight and then the great 1is, headed by the God of Fire, desirous of taking Drona to the regions of Brahma, appeared before him and said, "You are fighting wrongly. The hour of your death is at hand; so cast away your weapons. You are learned in the Vedas, and it behoves you not to perform cruel acts like these."
Drona Questions Yudhisthira: Hearing these words and seeing Dhrstadyumna before him, Drona was dejected at heart; but, wishing to know if his son was really slain, and feeling certain that Yudhisthira would never tell a lie, even for the sake of getting the wealth of the three worlds, he asked him if the report was really true.
Krshna's Advice to Yudhisthira: But Govinda (Krshna), knowing that Drona could sweep away the Pandavas from the face of the earth, said to Yudhisthira, "If influenced by rage, Drona fights only for half a day more, your troops are sure to be destroyed. Save us from Drona. Under the circumstances like the present, falsehood is better than truth."
Yudhisthira's Lie: Thereupon Yudhisthira decided to speak as he was told. But afraid of telling a lie, yet anxious to obtain victory, he said clearly that Asvatthaman was dead, adding indistinctly the word elephant after the name.
The Chariot of Yudhisthira: Before this the chariot of Yudhisthira had stood at a height of four fingers' breadth from the surface of the earth; but, after he had uttered this lie, his steeds touched the ground.
Dhrstadyumna Slays Drona: Hearing these words from the lips of Yudhisthira and haunted by what the Rishis had said, Drona was unable to fight as before and then Dhrstadyumna, who was created out of a great sacrifice for the purpose of slaying Drona, assailed him. But Drona, having laid aside his weapons, was seated peacefully in his car, and had betaken himself to Yoga. He had set his heart on Vishnu and, reposing on the quality of Sattva, was lost in meditation on Om, the eternal Brahma. Dhrstadyumna dragged him by the head, while all around cried shame, and Drona remained silent all the time and with his sword cut it off. Thus he slew the Preceptor, even though Arjuna and the Pandava. Hosts cried that he should not be slain but captured alive Drona. Then ascended to heaven, and entered the stellar path; and at his death both the contending armies, the Kauravas and Pandavas, all became depressed.
The Vow of Asvatthaman: When Drona's son heard an account of his father's death, he was filled with rage, and vowed that he would slay Dhrstadyumna and the Pancalas to the last man.
The Narayana Weapon: He invoked the Narayana weapon, granted by Narayana himself to his father; and at its sight the whole world began to tremble, and the Pandava, hosts to fly. Then Krshna stayed their flight and bade them quickly lay aside their arms, and alight from their elephants, horses, and chariots, and stand on the ground, when the Narayana weapon would pass by without hurting them. They all acted according to his bidding and so were saved; and as this weapon, which could kill an Aksauhini of troops, could not be used twice, Krshna succeeded in counteracting its force. Then the two armies, after a fierce struggle, withdrew to their tents for the night.
The Vision of Arjuna: When Drona had been slain by Dhrstadyumna, Arjuna beheld a most wonderful sight, and saw a male Being of great effulgence standing before him. "People," said Arjuna, "think that I rout my foes, but they are really routed by him (Being)". Thereupon Vyasa, who came there, explained to him that he had seen Mahadeva, half Agni and half Moon, the creator of the universe, the lord of all action, who is the embodiment of all holy waters, and has the sacrificial ladle in his hands, and whose eternal phallic form is ever present in the observance of the Brahmachari vow.