Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 46

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 46

Sanjaya said,—"O king, I will now describe to thee the combats of hundreds and thousands of foot-soldiers, O Bharata, in utter forgetfulness of all consideration due to others. There the son recognised not the sire, the sire (recognised not) the son of his loins, the brother (recognised not) the brother, the sister's son (recognised not) the maternal uncle. The maternal uncle (recognised not) the sister's son, the friend not the friend. The Pandavas and the Kurus fought as if they were possessed by demons. Some tigers among men, fell with cars into pieces. And the shafts of cars broke clashing against shafts, and the spikes of car-yokes against spikes of car-yokes. And some (warriors) united together encountered others that were united together, all desirous of taking one another's life. And some cars, obstructed by cars, were unable to move.

And huge-bodied elephants with rent temples, falling upon huge elephants, angrily tore one another in many places with their tusks. Others, O king, encountering impetuous and huge ones of their species with arched edifices and standards (on their backs) and trained to the fight struck with their tusks, shrieked in great agony.[1] Disciplined by training and urged on by pikes and hooks, elephants not in rut rushed straight against those that were in rut.[2] And some huge elephants, encountering compeers in rut, ran, uttering cries like those of cranes, in all directions. And many huge elephants, well-trained, and with juice trickling down from rent temples and mouth, mangled with swords, lances, and arrows, and pierced in their vital parts, shrieked aloud and falling down expired. And some, uttering frightful cries, ran in all directions.

The foot-soldiers that protected the elephants, endued with broad chests, and capable of smiting effectually, with wrath excited, and armed with pikes and bows, and bright battle-axes, and with maces and clubs, and short arrows, and lances, and with shafts, and stout bludgeons mounted with iron spikes and swords, well-grasped of the brightest polish, ran hither and thither, O king, and seemed resolved to take one another's life. And the sabres of brave combatants rushing against one another steeped in human blood, seemed to shine brightly. And the whiz of swords whirled and made to descend by heroic arms and falling upon the vital parts (of the bodies) of foes, became very loud. And the heart-ending wails of combatants in multitudinous hosts, crushed with maces and clubs, and cut off with well-tempered swords, and pierced with the tusks of elephants, and grained by tuskers, calling upon one another, were heard, O Bharata, to resemble the wails of those that are doomed to hell. And horsemen, on chargers of exceeding speed and furnished with outstretched tails resembling (the Plumes of) swans, rushed against one another. And hurled by them, long-bearded darts adorned with pure gold, fleet, and polished, and sharp-pointed, fell like snakes.[3] And some heroic horsemen, on coursers of speed, leaping high, cut off the heads of car-warriors from their cars.[4]



  1. The last half of the 7th with the 8th forms one sentence. It is certainly pleonastic. Ranavaranais of the Bengal texts is preferable to the Bombay reading Varavaranais. Toranas are the wooden edifices placed on the backs of elephants for the protection and comfort of the riders. These are called in India Hawdas
  2. Many of the Bengal texts read Avinitas. The correct reading, as in the Bombay text, is Abhinitas. Aprabhinna is literally "unrent," i.e. with the temporal juice not trickling down. This juice emanates from several parts of the elephant's body when the season of rut comes. To avoid a cumbrous periphrasis, which again would be unintelligible to the European reader, I have given the sense only.
  3. For the Bengal reading 'Mahaprajna' the Bombay text reads 'Mahaprasas.'
  4. Rathat and not Rathan is the reading that I adopt