Bheeshma Parva 1- Both the armies gather at Kurukshetra
The war during Bheeshma’s commandership
Conches were blown, and drums sounded to signify the start of the war. Krishna and Arjuna blew their conches Panchajanya and Devadatta. Hearing the sound, the Kaurava soldiers panicked. The horses excreted in fear. A cloud of dust arose and stones were flung around as soldiers and animals nervously moved to their positions.
Prior to the start of the war, the two sides had an agreement on the rules to be followed. It was decided that a person who withdrew from battle would not be killed. A ratha should fight with a ratha, elephant with elephant, horse with horse, and soldier with soldier. One without weapon or armour should not be killed. Charioteers should not be killed and anyone distracted or fighting with another should not be attacked.
Vyasa came to Hastinapura and offered to give divine vision to Dhritarashtra to be able to view the war. When Dhritarashtra declined it, his aide Sanjaya was given the vision to be able to see what was happening on the battlefield. Vyasa pointed out how bad omens and astrological signs didn’t auger well for the Kurus. Advising Dhritarashtra again to try for peace, he left.
Sanjaya then started describing the battle. He first described the geographical location of the entire Jambudweepa talking about the mountains, rivers, lands, and the people dwelling on this land. He then described the oceans and the kingdoms near the oceans.
Sanjaya then informed that the great Bheeshma, who was undefeated by Parashurama was dead and now was lying on a bed of arrows. Dhritarashtra then asked Sanjaya to describe all that had happened and wanted to know how Bheeshma was killed. Sanjaya then narrated all that had happened.
At the start of the battle, Duryodhana asked Dushasana to ensure Bheeshma was properly protected. Eleven akshauhinis commanded by Shakuni, Soubala, Shalya, Jayadratha, Vinda and Anuvinda, Sudakshina, Shrutayudha, Jayatsena, Brihadbala, Kritavarma, and Duryodhana stood under the leadership of Bheeshma who stood in his silver chariot with a standard bearing the palmyra flag.
Arjuna, on the instructions of Yudhishtira arranged the Vajra vyuha with Bheema at the forefront. When Yudhishtira wondered how they could defeat an army headed by Bheeshma, Krishna reminded him of Narada’s words that where there is Krishna, there is victory.
Arjuna then asked Krishna, who was his charioteer, to take him closer to the Kaurava forces, as he wanted to see whom he should fight. When he saw his family members assembled, Arjuna told Krishna that he felt his Gandiva was slipping. He told Krishna that he couldn’t kill his uncles, cousins, and relatives even if they killed him. He threw down his bow and sat dejected and depressed.
Krishna then asked him to give up his weakness and do his duty. When Arjuna asked how he could kill Bheeshma and Drona, Krishna revealed the truth of life to him. He told him not to grieve for those who don’t deserve it. Krishna told Arjuna that he would be considered someone who fled from the battlefield.
… to be continued