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Chapter 65: The Second Day

THE Pandava army, having fared badly on the first day of the battle, Dhrishtadyumna, the Generalissimo, devised measures to avoid a repetition of it. On the second day, the army was most carefully arrayed and everything was done to instil confidence.

Duryodhana, filled with conceit on account of the success on the first day, stood in the center of his army and addressed his warriors.

"Heroes in armor", he said in a loud voice,

"our victory is assured. Fight and care not for life."

The Kaurava army, led by Bhishma, again made strong attack on the Pandava forces and broke their formation, killing large numbers.

Arjuna, turning to Krishna, his charioteer, said: "If we continue in this way, our army will soon be totally destroyed by the grandsire. Unless we slay Bhishma, I am afraid we can not save our army."

"Dhananjaya, then get ready. There is the grandsire's chariot," replied Krishna, and drove straight towards him.

The chariot sped forward at a great pace.

The grandsire sent his shafts welcoming the challenge. Duryodhana had ordered his men to protect the grandsire most vigilantly and never to let him expose himself to danger.

Accordingly, all the warriors, supporting the grandsire, at once intervened and attacked Arjuna who, however, fought on unconcerned.

It was well known that there were but three on the Kaurava side who could stand against Arjuna with any chance of success the grandsire Bhishma, Drona and Karna.

Arjuna made short work of the warriors, who intervened in support of Bhishma.

The way in which he wielded his great bow on this occasion, extorted the admiration of all the great generals in the army. His chariot flashed hither and thither sundering hostile ranks like forked lightning, so rapidly that the eye ached to follow its career.

Duryodhana's heart beat fast as he watched this combat. His confidence in the great Bhishma began to be shaken.

"Son of Ganga," Duryodhana said, "it seems as if even while you and Drona are alive and fighting, this irresistible combination of Arjuna and Krishna will destroy our entire army. Karna whose devotion and loyalty to me are most genuine stands aside and does not fight for me only because of you. I fear I shall be deceived and you will not take steps quickly to destroy Phalguna (Arjuna)."

The gods came down to watch the combat between Bhishma and Arjuna. These were two of the greatest warriors on earth. Both chariots were drawn by white steeds.

From either side flew arrows in countless number. Shaft met shaft in the air and sometimes the grandsire's missile hit Arjuna's breast and that of Madhava (Krishna). And the blood flowing made Madhava more beautiful than ever as he stood like a green palasa tree in full bloom with crimson flowers.

Arjuna's wrath rose when he saw his dear charioteer hit and he pulled his bow and sent well-aimed arrows at the grandsire.

The combatants were equal and the battle raged for a long while.

In the movements the chariots made they were so close to one another and moved about so fast that it was not possible to say where Arjuna was and where Bhishma.

Only the flag could be distinguished.

As this great and wonderful scene was enacted in one part of the field, at another place a fierce battle was being fought between Drona and his born enemy Dhrishtadyumna, the son of the king of the Panchalas and brother of Draupadi.

Drona's attack was powerful and Dhrishtadyumna was wounded badly. But the latter retaliated with equal vigor and with a grin of hatred he shot arrows and sped other missiles at Drona.

Drona defended himself with great skill.

He parried the sharp missiles and the heavy maces hurled at him with his arrows and broke them to pieces even as they sped in the air.

Many times did Dhrishtadyumna's bow break, hit by Drona's arrows. One of Drona's arrows killed the Panchala prince's charioteer. Thereupon Dhrishtadyumna took up a mace and, jumping down from the chariot, went forward on foot.

Drona sent an arrow that brought the mace down. Dhrishtadyumna then drew his sword and rushed forward like a lion springing on its elephant prey. But Drona again disabled him and prevented his advance.

Just then Bhima, who saw the Panchala's predicament, sent a shower of arrows on Drona and carried Dhrishtadyumna to safety in his chariot.

Duryodhana who saw this sent the Kalinga forces against Bhimasena. Bhima killed the Kalinga warriors in great number. Like Death itself he moved about among his enemies and felled them to the ground. So fierce was the destruction that the entire army trembled in fear.

When Bhishma saw this, he came to relieve the Kalingas. Satyaki, Abhimanyu and other warriors came up in support of Bhima. One of Satyaki's shafts brought Bhishma's charioteer down and the horses of Bhishma's chariot, left uncontrolled, bolted carrying Bhishma away from the field.

The Pandava army was wild with enthusiasm when Bhishma's chariot sped thus out of the field. They took advantage of the situation and made a fierce attack on the Kaurava army.

Great was the loss the Kaurava army suffered in that day's battle as a result of Arjuna's deeds of valor. The generals of the Kaurava army were greatly perturbed and their previous day's enthusiasm had all disappeared.

They eagerly looked forward to sunset when there would be an end to the day's battle. As the sun sank in the west, Bhishma said to Drona: "It is well we stop the fighting now. Our army is disheartened and weary."

On the side of the Pandavas, Dhananjaya and others returned in great cheer to their camp, with bands playing. At the end of the second day's battle, the Kauravas were in the mood that the Pandavas were in the previous evening.