Udyoga Parva - 5
Sanjaya described how Dushasana sent Uluka to the Pandava camp as a messenger. Uluka insulted the Pandavas and mocked Yudhishtira for being silent when Draupadi was insulted. He challenged Bheema to drink Dushasana’s blood. Uluka mocked Arjuna, asking how he can hope to defeat Drona. He mocked Arjuna for not being able to save Draupadi during the dice game. He mocked Bheema for working as a cook.
His words enraged the Pandavas. Bheema was furious and told Uluka that the Pandavas would slaughter the Kauravas and even kill Bheeshma and Drona. Uluka then returned to his camp.
Bheeshma meanwhile classified the Kauravas as athirathas and rathas based on their abilities. He said that Karna was arrogant and could be considered only as an ardha ratha (half a charioteer). Bheeshma also praised the valour of Bheema and Arjuna. He said that Abhimanyu was equal to Arjuna and even Krishna. He extolled the virtues of the Pandava forces and then said he would not fight Shikhandi.
Bheeshma then narrated the story of how he had brought Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika from Kashi after having defeated the kings assembled at the Swayamwara. Amba was in love with Shalva and requested Bheeshma to release her so she could marry him. Bheeshma had sent her, but Shalva had refused to marry her, saying she was Bheeshma’s property.
She then came to Bheeshma and asked him to marry her, but he refused. Furious with Bheeshma, she went to Parashurama and requested his help. Parashurama then met Bheeshma and angrily told him to take Amba as his wife. Bheeshma flatly refused and Parashurama decided to kill Bheeshma. They then waged a furious and ferocious battle on the Kurukshetra battlefield.
They fought for twenty-three days. Finally, on the twenty-fourth day, both of them used the Brahmastra on each other. Then the sages appeared before them and pacified them, requesting them to withdraw their weapons. The battle ended and Parashurama returned to his abode.
Amba then went to the forests and prayed to the Lord Rudra. She asked for a boon to be able to kill Bheeshma. Rudra told her she would be reborn in the next life and then kill Bheeshma.
The Panchala King Drupada who wanted a son, had a daughter. He concealed her gender and brought her up like a man and named her Shikhandi. When Shikhandi grew up, Drupada got her married to the daughter of King Hiranyavarma of Dasharna. After the marriage, Shikandi’s wife found her husband was not a man but a woman. The angry king of Dasharna planned to punish Drupada by defeating him in war.
Upset about this, Shikhandi went to the forest to pray where she met a yaksha named Sthunakarna. Hearing her story, the yaksha decided to exchange his gender with her. He became a female while she became a male. Kubera, the Yaksha king came to know of this and cursed Sthuna to become a female forever. He later on told Sthuna that he would revert to a male after Shikhandi’s death.
Bheeshma then concluded his narration, saying that since Shikhandi was born a female, he would not fight her in the war.
The next day on the eve of dawn, the two armies assembled at Kurukshetra. They took positions and waited for the start of the battle. Thousands and thousands of soldiers, horses, elephants, warriors, and kings waited for the sun to rise and the start of the Great War.
End of Udyuga Parva