76.TO SEIZE YUDHISHTHIRA ALIVE
What then was the point in killing Yudhishthira? On the other hand, if Yudhishthira was captured alive, Duryodhana thought, the war would end more speedily and victoriously for the Kauravas. Thereafter, he could surely play on Yudhishthira's goodness and his loyalty to the traditional code of kshatriya conduct. It was pretty certain he could be drawn into the battle of dice again and sent to the forests once more. Ten days of fighting had demonstrated to Duryodhana that further fighting would only result in the destruction of the race, not the fulfilment of the desires. When Duryodhana made his motives clear to Drona, the acharya was greatly disappointed and he cursed Duryodhana in his heart. But whatever the reason for it, he was glad that Yudhishthira was not to be killed. The news that Drona had given a solemn assurance to Duryodhana that he would take Yudhishthir a prisoner, was carried by their spies to the Pandava army. The Pandavas knew that, when the acharya was determined on something and gave his pledged word for executing it, his unrivalled eminence in the art of war and his valor made it a most serious affair. So, they soon got busy and so arrayed the forces that Yudhishthira was never left unsupported. Whatever movements might take place, they always took care to leave sufficient protection against any surprise attack on Yudhishthira. In the first day's battle under the leadership of Drona, the acharya amply demonstrated his great skill and energy. He moved about destroying the Pandava forces like a fire burning up dry logs. His rapid movements made the Pandava army feel as if Drona was everywhere at the same time showering arrows like rain and converting the battlefield into a stage for the dance of the God of Death. He cut the Pandava army in twain where Dhrishtadyumna stood. Many were the single combats among renowned warriors. There was a fierce battle between Sahadeva and Sakuni skilled in illusion warfare. When their chariots broke, they alighted on the ground. And, like two hills sprung to life and motion, they struck each other with maces and closed with one another in single combat. Between Bhima and Vivimsati there was a great battle in which chariots were broken on both sides. Salya fought his nephew Nakula and harassed him exceedingly, smiling most provokingly all the time. But, in the end, Salya had his car smashed and his flag brought down, and he withdrew admitting defeat.