Kurukshetra Battle day 1 (part 1)

Before sunrise

9/9/20227 min read

The warriors woke before sunrise and prepared for battle in various ways. I feel at this point it may be necessary to speak a little about the living situation and conditions for the warriors. From what can be ascertained from the Mahabharata (which I shall use as the sole source of information) the armies lived in a large encampment.

I believe it was divided by rank and importance of the Kings princes and other nobility who were fighting in the battle. I come to this conclusion based on the fact that the warrior caste in general places a great deal of pains to order and absolutely everything being divided in its proper place. They hold very rigidly to a chain of command and it is a form of respect that when a group of people join forces the higher ranking warriors are given there due respect as respect is the bread and butter of the warrior caste.

There was a place where specifically the royal and high ranking Ksatrias lived and then there was areas for camp followers servants and priests.

We find in the Drona-Parva that the royal personalities had various morning rituals which followed almost mystic significance in there order. After Bath they were shown various auspicious symbols to meditate and then given things to smell and then things to touch. I find this significant. The meaning is that they were attempting to purify there senses so that there mind could be free to act in the proper way.

In the early morning before sunrise all the warriors of the Kuru and Pandava army began to gather on the field of battle. The commanders all began to shout “assemble together” and the great Kuru division began to form. The sound of all the soldiers horses and elephants getting into position was so loud and made such a great shaking that people thought the earth would split open.

The Kuru’s were the first to gather there formation and were complete by the time the first rays of the sun began to come over the horizon. As the sun began to rise over the field the size and scope of the kuru army could be seen. All the golden weapons and armor could begin to be seen shining amidst the ranks of the Kuru’s. As the light began to increase it illuminated the standards and flags of the Kuru’s which were all the colors of Indra’s rainbow and which were made of gold and covered in gems and shone like fire. Sakuni, Salya, Jayadratha, the two princes of Avanti named Vinda and Anuvinda, the Kekaya brothers, Sudakshina ,Srutayudha, Jayatsena,Vrihadballa and Kritavarman, were all the commanders of 10 divisions. Bhisma was the commander of the Kuru division as well as the army.

Bhisma was standing on a silver chariot wearing silver armor and had a silver helmet. His umbrella was white as well as his horses. On his flag was a large gold palm tree with five stars. The entire kuru division stood before all the others and at the head of that was Bhisma who looked like a full moon surrounded by clouds.

Turning to face the Kuru army Bhisma began a pre battle speech by which he intended to enliven the army Bhisma said. “ All you warriors listen to me. A wide door now stands before you which is open to you for entering heaven. If you go through it you will enter the region of Sakra (Indra) or Brahman.(liberation) The sages of olden times have showed us this eternal path. Honor yourselves by engaging in this battle with an attentive mind. Great kings such as Nabhaga, Yayati, Mandhatri, Nahusa, and Nriga, were crowned with success and obtained the highest region of bliss by actions such as these. To die of disease at home is a low thing for a Kshatriya. The death he meets with in battle is his eternal duty.”

This speech by Bhisma is significant, he is explaining how rare it is in this world that people can actually get a chance to face the time of death prepared. Death is such a random thing and it also is so scary to most people that they avoid thinking about it completely. However the warriors on that field not only could see the door to the next world wide open to them, they also had been given the great benediction that they could face it and die in a way which would be fulfilling to them. Fear is a great impediment for anything in life and death may be considered among the greatest of fears. However the warriors assembled there were trained from birth to be prepared for death and it was also there desire and fulfillment of purpose to fight in battle. Therefore they were extremely fortunate to be on the field. There whole life was free from the fear and they therefore enjoyed it completely and now they would either conquer and win a great kingdom or die and go to heaven and enjoy an honorable afterlife.

After Bhisma was done talking all the generals situated themselves at the heads of there respective armies, except for Karna and his relations out of spite for Bhisma. All the kings on the Kuru side proceeded, making the ten points of the horizon resound with their leonine roars. And their divisions shone brightly, with white umbrellas, banners, standards, elephants, steeds, cars, and foot-soldiers. The Earth was agitated with the sounds of drums and tabors and cymbals, and the clatter of car-wheels. The mighty car-warriors, decked with their bracelets and armlets of gold and with their bows (variegated with gold), looked resplendent like hills of fire. And with his large palmyra-standard decked with five stars, Bhishma, the Senapati of the Kuru army, looked like the resplendent Sun himself.

The great bowmen amongst the Srinjayas headed by Dhrishtadyumna, (beholding Bhishma) looked like little animals when they would behold a mighty yawning lion. Indeed, all the combatants headed by Dhrishtadyumna repeatedly trembled in fear. Indeed, the two armies facing each other looked like two oceans at the end of the Yuga agitated by fierce Makaras, and abounding with huge crocodiles. Never before, did was seen or heard of two such armies encountering each other like these of the Kauravas and Pandavas.

Seeing the Dhritarashtra divisions arrayed in order of battle, Pandu's son of virtuous soul, king Yudhishthira the just, addressed Dhananjaya, saying,--'Men are informed from the words of that great Rishi Brihaspati that the few must be made to fight by condensing them, while the many may be extended according to pleasure. In encounters of the few with the many, the array to be formed should be the needle-mouthed one. Our troops compared with the enemy's are few. Keeping in view this precept of the great Rishi, array our troops, O son of Pandu.'

Hearing this, Arjuna answered king Dharmaraj, saying,” --That immovable array known by the name of Vajra, which was designed by Indra,--that invincible array is the one that I will make for you, O best of kings. He who is like the bursting tempest, he who is incapable of being borne in battle by the foe, that Bhima the foremost of smiters, will fight at our head. That foremost of men, conversant with all the appliances of battle, becoming our leader, will fight in the van, crushing the energy of the foe. That foremost of smiters, viz., Bhima, beholding whom all the hostile warriors headed by Duryodhana will retreat in panic like smaller animals beholding the lion, all of us, our fears dispelled, will seek his shelter as if he were a wall, like the celestial seeking the shelter of Indra. The man breathes not in the world who would bear to cast his eyes upon that bull among men, Vrikodara of fierce deeds, when he is angry.'

Even this, was what Vibhatsu said, pointing out the mighty Bhimasena (to Yudhishthira). While Partha was saying so, all the troops, worshipped him on the field of battle with congratulatory words.

King Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, took up his position in the center of his army, surrounded by huge and furious elephants resembling moving hills. The high-souled Yajnasena, the king of the Panchalas, endued with great prowess, stationed himself behind Virata with an Akshauhini of troops for the sake of the Pandavas. And on the cars of those kings, were tall standards bearing diverse devices, decked with excellent ornaments of gold, and endued with the effulgence of the Sun and the Moon. Transcending the huge standards on all the cars on the Kuru side and that of the Pandavas, was the one gigantic ape on Arjuna's car. Foot-soldiers, by many hundreds of thousands, and armed with swords, spears, and scimitars, proceeded ahead for protecting Bhimasena. And ten thousand elephants with (temporal) juice trickling down their cheek and mouth, and resembling (on that account) showering clouds,endued with great courage, blazing with golden armour, huge hills, costly, and emitting the fragrance of lotuses, followed the king behind like moving mountains.

The high-souled and invincible Bhimasena, whirling his fierce mace that resembled the rod of death seemed to crush the large army of the Kurus. Incapable of being looked at like the Sun himself, and scorching as it were, the hostile army (like fire), none of the combatants on the Kuru side could bear to even look at him from any point. And this array, fearless and having its face turned towards all sides called Vajra, having bows for its lightning,and extremely fierce, was protected by the wielder of Gandiva. Who was none other than the Amsha of Indra. Disposing their troops in this counter-array against the Kuru army, the Pandavas waited for battle. And protected by the Pandavas, that array became invincible in the world of men.

As (both) the armies stood at dawn of day waiting for sunrise, a wind began to blow with drops of water (falling), and although there were no clouds, the roll of thunder was heard. And dry winds began to blow all around, bearing a shower of pointed pebbles along the ground. And as thick dust arose, covering the world with darkness. And large meteors began to fall east-wards, and striking against the rising Sun, broke in fragments with loud noise. When the troops stood arrayed, the Sun rose divested of splendour, and the Earth trembled with a loud sound, and cracked in many places, with loud noise. The roll of thunder was heard frequently on all sides. So thick was the dust that arose that nothing could be seen. The tall standards (of the combatants), furnished with strings of bells, decked with golden ornaments, garlands of flowers, and rich drapery, graced with banners and resembling the Sun in splendor, being suddenly shaken by the wind, gave a loud jingling noise like that of a forest of palm trees (when moved by the wind)It was thus that those tigers among men, the sons of Pandu, ever taking delight in battle, stood having disposed their troops in counter-array against the army of the Kurus, and sucking as it were, the marrow, of the Kuru warriors who casting their eyes on Bhimasena stationed at the head, mace in hand.