The First Day

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The First Day

Taking up his arms with great determination, Arjuna got back into his war chariot.

An expectant silence fell between the soldiers.

Then the two armies moved at first slowly, then gradually increasing their speed, until they launched themselves decisively against each other.

The impact was terrible.

A deafening din was heard particularly at the point where Duhssasana had launched the attack, promptly countered by Dhristadyumna.

Although the noise rose very loudly, one could clearly distinguish the roar of Bhima, who had been attacked simultaneously by twelve of Duryodhana’s brothers. Seeing the worthy fighter oppressed by a swarm of adversaries thirsting for his life, Draupadi’s five sons, Abhimanyu, Nakula and Sahadeva came to his aid and the enemy was driven back. Only a few minutes had passed but it was already possible to understand what that battle would be: a spectacle of death such as to make hair stand on end in terror.

Bhishma found himself facing the battalion led by Arjuna, and the Kaurava soldiers immediately realized what it meant to have the Pandava in front of him: the Gandiva bow did not stop for a moment, its arrows were as thick as raindrops during a terrible storm, and the soldiers fell without even realizing who or what they had been hit by.

In different parts of the boundless battlefield there were fantastic duels such as that between Satyaki and Kritavarma, between Abhimanyu and Brihadbala, and between Yudhisthira and Shalya. The battle raged more and more, so much so that the tumult became indescribable. In a hell of weapons that darted between human and animal bodies, and chariots of various shapes, the Kshatriya ardor of the warriors was released in all its violence.

One of the hottest spots turned out to be where Bhima found himself facing the battalion of Duryodhana; finally having his hated cousin in front of him, he got off the chariot and, alone, relying solely on the club he always carried with him, threw himself against the soldiers surrounding him, causing panic and general flight.

But of all, the one who was causing the greatest number of victims was surely the son of Ganga, who seemed to be the fire of dissolution when, at the end of the time allowed for the existence of the material universe, he burns the worlds. Because of him, the Pandavas were counting heavy losses at the end of the afternoon. Bhishma had been overwhelming; whenever he came in contact with the opposing troops, they seemed to melt like butter when approached by a great fire.

Abhimanyu, who observed that catastrophe closely, at a certain point could no longer tolerate the sight of such great destruction and attacked the old and venerable warrior; the youngest against the oldest. The son of Arjuna, born from the energy of Soma, was a great fighter, so he managed to wound Bhishma, Shalya and Kritavarma, and even dropping the flag of the elder’s chariot; so much agitated the already stormy waters of the battle that his soldiers regained courage and hope, and returned to face the enemy with boldness. Abhimanyu had shown that Bhishma was not invincible: this proof was of fundamental importance for the morale of his troops.

The only major losses that the Pandavas had suffered that day were Virata’s two sons: young Uttara and his brother Sveta, both killed by Bhishma. The two boys had fought with great valor.

The sun had begun to hide behind the horizon and the light seemed to have exhausted the afternoon glare; the eldest general, sounded the conchshell that ordered the return of the troops.

 

The first day of the bloodiest war ever fought was over. Bhishma had been so terrible that Duryodhana felt drunk with contentment. He told everyone that if his grandfather continued to fight like that, it would all be over very soon, and with their victory.

The Pandavas, on the other hand, were demoralized: they had suffered heavy losses.

“Have you seen what Bhishma can do?” Yudhisthira complained in the presence of Krishna. “He is invincible, it is not possible to stand in front of him even for a few seconds. Now I realize how foolish it was to believe in a victory against an army strong of his presence. It would have been better for everyone if I had continued to stay in the forest. What can be done against him and Drona?”

“You have nothing to worry about,” Krishna replied. “None of your closest friends have fallen, and I’m still here with you, and so are Arjuna and everyone else. What are you worried about? Tomorrow we will find a way to stop him.”

It seemed to the warriors that the hours of the night passed in an instant; just enough time to close your eyes and it was already dawn, which announced the second day.

 

This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 2”.

To buy the complete book, click above

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