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Chapter 75: Drona In Command

DURYODHANA and Karna held counsel as to who should be put in supreme command of the forces.

"Well, everyone of these princely warriors fighting on your side is great enough to be put in charge of our forces as supreme commander," said Karna.

"All these kings are of equal prowess, strength, energy, skill, courage, valor, ancestry and wisdom. They cannot all be put in joint command and, if any of them be chosen, each of the others would feel hurt and may not put forth his whole strength in the cause. Thereby we stand to suffer. So, my advice is that we install Dronacharya, the teacher of all these princes and warriors, as supreme commander. He indeed is the greatest of all those that carry arms today. No kshatriya equals him in the qualities required for leading our army. Let us therefore install him."

Duryodhana agreed that this was the right thing to do, and so it was decided.

Duryodhana went to Dronacharya and, in the presence of the assembled warriors and princes, bowed and addressed him:

"Revered Master, you are unrivalled among all those assembled here in caste, ancestry, knowledge of sciences, age, wisdom, valor and skill. I beg of you to accept the supreme command. Under your command, this army will be victorious."

The assembled kings received this proposal with loud cheers and war cries that gladdened Duryodhana's heart.

Drona was installed in due form amidst thunderous acclamation. The praise of courtiers and the sound of trumpets that accompanied the ceremony, made the Kauravas feel as though they had already vanquished the enemy. So great was their enthusiasm and confidence in Drona's leadership.

Drona arrayed the army in circular formation. Karna, who had till then stood aside was now seen moving about in his great chariot on the battlefield and this put new courage and joy into the hearts of the Kaurava soldiers.

The talk went round in the army that the great Bhishma did not wish to slay the sons of Pandu and therefore had not put his whole heart in the fight. But now that Karna was in the field, it was certain that the Pandavas would be destroyed.

Dronacharya was in command for five days of the battle. Though of advanced years, he was everywhere in the field and displayed the fierce energy of a young warrior. Whenever he led an attack, the Pandava forces were scattered like clouds before a storm.

He personally engaged the greatest warriors on the Pandava side in battle. He fought Satyaki, Bhima, Arjuna, Dhrishtadyumna, Abhimanyu, Drupada and Kasiraja and defeated them on many occasions.

He harassed and inflicted severe punishment on the Pandava army during the five days he was in command.