Chapter XXIII - 81 Home | Index | Previous | Next

XXIII. Guardian on the Battle Field

When the king prayed like this, Vyasa said "O, king! The Pandavas, as agreed upon, lived through the twelve years of exile in the forest and also completed one full year of 'life in incognito.' When at last, they revealed themselves (on the occasion of the rape of Kine from the Virata domain by the wicked Kauravas), Duryodhana, the eldest of the cruel clan, that monster of guile, swore that the full year had not elapsed and that the Pandavas had broken their contract; so, he said, they were bound by the penal clause, a further twelve-year exile and a further one-year-of-incognito life! He was adamant in that conclusion."

"The elders, Bhishma and others, asserted that the Pandavas had scrupulously fulfilled the terms of the contract; the Pandavas had not disclosed their place of stay during the entire year; they had stayed in exile for full twelve years. But, the Kauravas did not accept the patent truth. They prepared the path for their own downfall and destruction! They listened to none, they gave ear to no counsel. They swore that the battlefield alone can settle the issue."

"What can any one do, in the face of that royal decree? So, both parties engaged themselves in preparing for war - the king endowed with sovereign sway, Duryodhana; and the claimants in exile, the Pandavas! But, truth and justice allied themselves with the exiles and so, a few kings who were motivated by moral principles joined them. The others in very large numbers, sided the ruling monarch, and so, the Kauravas were able to command eleven Akshauhinis while the Pandavas could collect just seven only (an Akshauhini consists of 109,350 foot-soldiers; 65,610 horses and horsemen; 21,870 elephants and elephant warriors; and 21,870 chariots and their human equipment)."

"Listen! The chariot of Arjuna had Lord Krishna, the Gopivallabha, as its charioteer. Not only that He became the charioteer of the destiny of the Pandavas. The Pandavas had, therefore, no weak spot in their armour; He was all the strength they needed. But, yet, in the grand drama of the Lord, the role of Arjuna took a sudden unexpected turn which astounded all."

"When the Lord commanded Arjuna to examine, from the chariot which He kept stationary between the two armies ranged for battle, the enemy leaders whom he had to encounter, Arjuna allowed his eyes to spot out in a flash the heroes eager to meet him in contest; tears flowed immediately from his eyes! He crumbled with despondency and disinclination. It was a scene that filled spectators with shame."