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Chapter 69: The Sixth Day

ACCORDING to Yudhishthira's order Dhrishtadyumna arrayed the Pandava army in makara (fish) formation for the sixth day's battle. The Kaurava army was arrayed in krauncha (heron) formation.

We know, how, similarly, names were given to physical exercise, asanas, or postures. Vyuha was the general name for battle array. Which Vyuha was best for any particular occasion, depended on the requirements of the offensive and defensive plans of the day.

What the strength and composition of the forces arrayed should be and what positions they should take up were decided upon, according to the situation as it developed from time to time.

The sixth day was marked by a prodigious slaughter, even in the first part of the morning. Drona's charioteer was killed and Drona took the reins of the horses himself and used his bow as well.

Great was the destruction he effected. He went about like fire among cotton heaps.

The formations of both armies were soon broken and indiscriminate and fierce fighting went on. Blood flowed in torrents and the field was covered by dead bodies of soldiers, elephants and horses and the debris of chariots.

Bhimasena pierced the enemy's lines to seek out Duryodhana's brothers and finish them. They, for their part, did not wait to be sought, but rushed on him, in a combined attack from all sides. He was attacked by Duhsasana, Durvishaha, Durmata, Jaya, Jayatsena, Vikarna, Chitrasena, Sudarsana, Charuchitra, Suvarma, Dushkarna and others, all together.

Bhimasena, who did not know what fear was, stood up and fought them all. They desired to take him prisoner and he to kill them all on the spot.

The battle raged fiercely, even like the ancient battle between the gods and the asuras. Suddenly, the son of Pandu lost his patience and jumped down from his chariot, mace in band, and made straight on foot for the sons of Dhritarashtra, in hot haste to slay them.

When Dhrishtadyumna saw Bhima's chariot disappear in the enemy lines, he was alarmed and rushed to prevent disaster. He reached Bhima's car, but found it was occupied only by the charioteer and Bhima was not in it. With tears in his eyes, he asked the charioteer:

"Visoka, where is Bhima dearer to me than life?" Dhrishtadyumna naturally thought Bhima had fallen.

Visoka bowed and said to the son of Drupada: "The son of Pandu asked me to stay here and, without waiting for my reply rushed forward on foot, mace in hand, into the enemy ranks."

Fearing that Bhima would be overpowered and killed Dhrishtadyumna drove his chariot into the enemy lines in search of Bhimasena, whose path was marked by the bodies of slain elephants.

When Dhrishtadyumna found Bhima, he saw him surrounded on all sides by enemies fighting from their chariots.

Bhima stood against them all, mace in hand, wounded all over and breathing fire.

Dhrishtadyumna embraced him and took him into his chariot and proceeded to pick out the shafts that had stuck in his body.

Duryodhana now ordered his warriors to attack Bhimasena and Dhrishtadyumna and not to wait for them to attack or challenge.

Accordingly, they made a combined attack even though they were not inclined to engage themselves in further fighting.

Dhrishtadyumna had a secret weapon, which he had obtained from Dronacharya and, discharging it, threw the enemy forces into a stupor.

But Duryodhana then joined the fray and discharged weapons to counter the stupor weapons of Dhrishtadyumna. Just then, reinforcements sent by Yudhishthira arrived.

A force of twelve chariots with their retinue led by Abhimanyu came upon the scene to support Bhima.

Dhrishtadyumna was greatly relieved when he saw this. Bhimasena had also by now refreshed himself and was ready to renew the fight. He got into Kekaya's chariot and took up his position along with the rest.

Drona, however, was terrible that day. He killed Dhrishtadyumna's charioteer and horses and smashed his chariot and Drupada's son had to seek a place in Abhimanyu's car. The Pandava forces began to waver and Drona was cheered by the Kaurava army.

Indiscriminate mass fighting and slaughter went on that day. At one time, Bhima and Duryodhana met face to face. The usual exchange of hot words took place and was followed by a great battle of archery.

Duryodhana was hit and fell unconscious.

Kripa extricated him with great skill and took him away in his own chariot.

Bhishma personally arrived at the spot now and led the attack and scattered the Pandava forces.

The sun was sinking, but the battle was continued for an hour yet and the fighting was fierce and many thousands perished.

Then the day's battle ceased. Yudhishthira was glad that Dhrishtadyumna and Bhima returned to camp alive.