King Dhritarashtra said:
Tell me, O Sanjaya, what happened when the sons of my people and the sons of Pandu assembled on Kurukshetra, the holy field of righteousness, arrayed for battle?
Sanjaya the Poet said:
Upon looking out upon the army of the Pandavas in attack formation, Prince Duryodhana addressed his great spiritual teacher, Drona, and spoke these words:
“Behold, O Revered Teacher, this powerful army of the Pandavas, expertly arrayed for battle by your gifted disciple, the son of King Drupada.
Among them are great archers, equal in prowess to their leaders, Bhima and Arjuna, and great fighters like Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada.
In their army are famous heroes like Dhrishtaketu, Purujit, Kuntibhoj, Shaibya, and Chekitan, the gallant king of Kashi — all of them the best among men.
Among their ranks are the courageous Yuyudhamanyu, the gallant Uttamauja son of Subhadra, and the sons of Draupadi — all great warrior chiefs, and expert charioteers.
Now hear also, O Noblest Among the Reborn, the names of the distinguished captains who lead my army, so that you may locate them during battle and remember them after the war.
First of all there is you, great teacher, then Bhishma, Karna, Kripa, Ashwaththama, Vikarna, and the son of Somadhatta — all of whom are ever victorious in battle.
And thousands of other heroic soldiers, equipped with many weapons and skilled in the art of war, who are prepared to lay down their lives for my sake.
Yet our forces, commanded by Bhishma, seem the weaker, while their forces, commanded by Bhima, seem stronger.
Therefore, I call upon you, my captains, and all those you command, to defend and protect general Bhishma, even as you perform your other battle assignments.”
Hearing this, the valiant Bhishma, great grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, grandfather of the soldiers arrayed before him, roared like a lion to give joy and confidence to Prince
Duryodhana, then blew his conch shell with great power.
Immediately thereafter, the army’s entire array of conchs, horns, bugles, and kettledrums erupted with tumultuous, deafening intensity.
Then from the other side, amidst the Pandava army, standing in a glorious chariot drawn by white stallions, Lord Krishna and Arjuna blew their conch shells, and their sound echoed with the transcendent timbre of the Divine.
Lord Krishna blew his conch shell called “Panchajanya.” Arjuna blew his conch shell called “Devadatta,” and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of herculean deeds, blew his conch shell called “Paundra.”
King Yudhisthira, son of Kunte, blew his conch shell Anantavijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew their shells Sughosa and Manipuspaka.
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And the king of Kashi, a great archer, and Shikhandi, a great soldier, and Dhrishtayumna, and Virata, and Satyaki the Invincible, and Drupad, and the five sons of Draupadi, and the mighty-armed Abhimanyu, son of Subhadra, all blew their conch shells, O Ruler of the Earth.
And the thunderous sound of these powerful conchs echoed across the earth and sky and weakened the hearts of your sons, O Dhritarashtra.
Then, O Lord of the Earth, seeing Dhritarashtra’s army at the ready and the arrows about to fly, Arjuna, son of Pandu, whose chariot flew the flag of Hanuman the Monkey God, took up his bow and addressed his charioteer, Lord Krishna.
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“O Infallible One, draw up our chariot between these two great armies so that I can see both those who fight with me, and those who fight against me in this great trial of combat.
Let me see those who have come to fight for the sinful son of Dhritarashtra so that they might please him.”
Then, O Dhritarashtra, upon hearing Arjuna’s request, Lord Krishna drove their luminous chariot to the exact middle of the battlefield.
There he pointed to Bhishma, Drona and all the other kings and princes and said: “Behold, Arjuna, the Kuru dynasty has gathered.”
As Arjuna looked out upon the armies, he saw his father, grandfathers, teachers, uncles, brothers, cousins, sons, nephews, grand-nephews, father-in-law, and friends and well-wishers on both sides.
And seeing all his relatives arrayed for battle against each other, Arjuna was overwhelmed with sadness and compassion.
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He turned to Lord Krishna in despair, saying, “O Lord, as I gaze upon all my kinsmen assembled here, so eager to do battle with each other, my limbs quiver and my mouth has dried up. My whole body trembles and the hairs on my neck stand on end.
Gandiva, my bow, slips from my hand, and my skin burns all over. My mind is reeling, and my knees will not hold me up.
I see only bad omens, O Krishna. What good can come of killing my kinsmen?
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I do not desire victory, kingdom, nor any pleasures that may come with it. What good is kingdom, pleasure, or even life itself, when the very ones with whom we desire to experience these things stand against us ready to kill or be killed?
Teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, fathers-in-law, uncles, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and many other relatives are gathered for battle against us, prepared to lose their wealth and lives.
I do not want to kill them, even if it means I will be killed. I do not want to kill them even for the three worlds, let alone for any earthly powers or pleasures.
What pleasure can there be in killing the sons of Dhritarashtra? By slaying these desperate men we only create sin for ourselves.
Are we not more noble than to kill our kinsmen? How can killing our own bring happiness?
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Even though the sons of Dhritarashtra, their minds poisoned with greed, see no sin in killing family, should not we who see the wrong in this refrain from taking part?
When a dynasty is vanquished, the traditions of its lineage, both ancestral and spiritual, are lost. The entire family descends into disorder and impiety.
When virtue is lost, the women of the family become unchaste, resulting in unwanted children and intermingling of casts.
An increase in unwanted children leads to a hellish life for the family, and for the destroyers of the family as well. The souls of the ancestors of these families also languish, being now deprived of ceremonial offerings of rice and water.
By the misdeeds of those who destroy families and cause the mixing of blood, the virtue of the family and the dharma of the entire community is devastated.
O Krishna, is it not said by the wise that those who destroy the spiritual traditions of families shall live in hell for an indefinite period of time?
Alas, how strange that, knowing all this, we are still prepared to commit such great sin. Driven by the desire for royal pleasures, we stand ready to slay our kinsmen.
Much better for my eternal welfare if I be killed, unarmed and unresisting, by the weapons of the sons of Dhritarashtra.”
Having thus spoken these words in the middle of the battlefield, Arjuna dropped his bow and sank down on the seat of his chariot, his mind in despair.