63.YUDHISHTHIRA SEEKS BENEDICTION
I am not a free agent. I am bound by my obligation to the king and must fight on the side of the Kauravas. But you will not be defeated." After thus obtaining the permission and the blessings of the grandsire, Yudhishthira went to Drona and circumambulated and bowed, according to form, to the acharya, who also gave his blessings, saying: "I am under inescapable obligations to the Kauravas, O son of Dharma. Our vested interests enslave us and become our masters. Thus have I become bound to the Kauravas. I shall fight on their side. But yours will be the victory." Yudhishthira similarly approached and obtained the blessings of Kripacharya and uncle Salya and returned to the Pandava lines. The battle began, commencing with single combats between the leading chiefs armed with equal weapons. Bhishma and Partha, Satyaki and Kritavarma, Abhimanyu and Brihatbala, Duryodhana and Bhima, Yudhishthira and Salya, and Dbrishtadyumna and Drona were thus engaged in great battles. Similarly, thousands of other warriors fought severally according to the rules of war of those days. Besides these numerous single combats between renowned warriors, there was also indiscriminate fighting among common soldiers. The name of "sankula yuddha" was given to such free fighting and promiscuous carnage. The Kurukshetra battle witnessed many such "sankula" fights wherein countless men fought and died in the mad lust of battle. On the field lay piles of slaughtered soldiers, charioteers, elephants and horses. The ground became a bloody mire in which it was difficult for the chariots to move about. In modern battles there is no such thing as single combats. It is all "sankula." The Kauravas fought under Bhishma's command for ten days. After him, Drona took the command. When Drona died, Karna succeeded to the command. Karna fell towards the close of the seventeenth day's battle. And Salya led the Kaurava army on the eighteenth and last day. Towards the latter part of the battle, many savage and unchivalrous deeds were done. Chivalry and rules of war die hard, for there is an innate nobility in human nature. But difficult situations and temptations arise which men are too weak to resist, especially when they are exhausted with fighting and warped with hatred and bloodshed. Even great men commit wrong and their lapses thereafter furnish bad examples to others, and dharma comes to be disregarded more and more easily and frequently. Thus does violence beget and nourish adharma and plunge the world in wickedness.