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bhishma-stuthi-24

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Tue Jul 29 1997 - 01:17:35 PDT

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta guravE namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", 

On the 10th Day of the Kurukshetra War, the mammoth Kaurava armies assembled
at dawn to face the enemy headlong.

The Pandava troops however did not assemble in like fashion.

The Kauravas were a little surprised to see that instead of deploying their
main battalions for a full-scale, head-on engagement, the Pandavas had
changed tactic. 

The tactic appeared to the Kauravas both unusual and feeble.

They saw a long and thinly manned column of Pandava heavy-cavalry
(horse-drawn chariots, elephants, raging bulls and horse-borne soldiers)
approaching them. Only a few thousand foot-soldiers followed this vanguard.
The contingents of the larger and main Pandava-army however did not join
this advance-column.

Duryodhana and Karna were intrigued by the unusual movement of the Pandava army.

They pointed it out to their Supreme Commander, BhishmA, "Sire, what is this
Pandava strategem ? Sikhandi leads a vanguard of a few thousand troops but
there is no sign of their main infantry ?!!"

Bhishma remained silent.

Karna said to himself uneasily, "This doesn't smell good. I can sense
something perfidious here."

Again Bhishma, strangely, made no comment.

DronAchAryar peered into the distance behind Sikhandi's phalanx and
remarked,"Can any of you see anything beyond Sikhandi's vanguard ? I can't
because it's kicking up so much dust in the air !".

Suddenly Bhishma bellowed, "Generals and officers to your stations, please!
Let the battle begin!".

In an instant, bugles blared, the drums began to beat and the Kaurava
brigades charged into Sikhandi's onrushing cavalry with horrible howls and
yelps of battle-rage.

Duryodhana, Karna and DronAchArya-r dispersed quickly to take their
respective positions elsewhere along the flanks of the Kaurava army.

               
                  ***************************************

Many miles away, behind Sikhandi's advancing column, Yudhishtra, his
brothers and the huge Pandava armies, watched their vanguard disappear from
their sight just as giant, thick clouds of dust rose several feet into the air.

Yudhishtra looked up at the swirling dust-clouds and smiled with satisfaction.

"Everything's going fine as per plan. Time to move", he murmured.

Sikhandi's heavy cavalry of elephants and chariots, as well as his
foot-soldiers, were all kicking up thick dust-clouds behind them, exactly as
pre-planned. The billowing dust, thus, quickly began to form into a
smoke-screen through which the Pandava main-battalion moved in and,
un-noticed by the Kaurava-s whom Sikhandi's advance-brigade kept distracted,
took strong positions.
                       ***********************************

The first wave of the Kaurava-charge was beaten back by Sikhandi's
chariot-drawn cavalry.

The second wave was repulsed by Sikhandi's fleet of raging bulls and
elephants which flattened a few hundred of Bhishma's men in a matter of
minutes much like modern-day battle-tanks mow down everything before them.

Sikhandi's phalanx then advanced menacingly close to Bhishma's ranks.

The third wave of Kaurava-charge was simply torn to shreds by Sikhandi's
specialist archers.

Then quite suddenly, but as expected, a large breach appeared in the Kaurava
ranks. Sikhandi saw Bhishma's position clearly exposed. It was what he'd
been waiting for !

It was the moment he chose to draw upon his deadliest arsenal to hurl
viciously at the "pitA-mahar" and exactly as he'd been briefed earlier by
Yudhishtra, the Pandava Commander.

A barrage of missiles poured down like a flurry of heavy hail-stones on
BhishmAchArya-r. It crippled his chariot.

Down, but not out, the undaunted, old warrior then rose and unleashed a
staccato of fiery missiles in the direction of Sikhandi.

It was an avalanche of "bhANa-s" ! 

Sikhandi didn't know what collided into them but his troops seemed to
suddenly walk splat into a sizzling wall of steel. The advancing contingent
came to a screeching and abrupt stand-still !

A fierce, pitched battle ensued between Bhishma and Sikhandi.... 
                
                   ************************************

Behind Sikhandi, a raging blizzard of dust climbed several hundred feet into
the sky, caused as it was by trampling hoofs of horses and battle-mad
elephants. Amidst the blood, gore, the clash of steel and maces, and amidst
the shrill wail of dying soldiers, the main battle-forces of Yudhishtra and
Arjuna quickly but surreptitiously gathered and took vantage positions of
which the Kaurava-flanks, headed by Duryodhana, Karna or DronAchArya-r, were
entirely unaware.
  
                      **********************************
Many miles abreast of BhishmA's contingent, on the right, left and rear
flanks, Duryodhana, Karna and DronAcharyar, surveyed the battlefield in mute
confusion.

All they saw was swirling dust in Bhishma's theatre of war but no sign of
the Pandava-army in their own. All they thought they could see was but a
skirmish between Sikhandi and Bhishma.

Under the circumstances, they were confident Sikhandi -- a mere eunuch ---
would be just no match for their Supreme Commander. So they decided they'd
do better to simply stay put, remain at their respective stations and
watch/wait for the main Pandava army to make its first move for the day.

It was a big mistake on their part.

Little did they realize that the "skirmish" between Bhishma and Sikhandi was
the leak that would very soon turn into a deluge. It would soon eventually
make the difference between victory and defeat in Kurukshetra.
                  ***********************************

In a raging engagement -- which the Kaurava-ranks elsewhere were deceived
into believing was nothing more than a minor skirmish -- in a bitter
engagement that dragged on for the greater part of an hour, Sikhandi made up
for his lack of firepower with a nagging accuracy which gradually wore the
great Bhishma down.

So harried and teased was Bhishma by Sikhandi's accuracy, he very nearly
came close to hurling a deadly "astrA" and sealing the eunuch's fate, once
and for all. But the moment Bhishma squinted through his mighty bow-sights
and gazed down the length of a long, lethal shaft poised to blaze away, he
saw, in the distance, his real target : the half-female form of Sikhandi ! 

It was an image that made Bhishma's resolve and aim falter !

It was enough to make him hesitate, change his mind and pull his punches.

Somehow, Bhishma just could not bring himself to cut Sikhandi, a HALF-WOMAN,
down ! 

And no sooner did Bhishma appear to hesitate and withdraw than Sikhandi
seized the moment to send another incendiary arrow smashing into his chariot
or armour.

In course of time, thus, the old warrior began to tire ... the martial fire
in him began to dim ...and eventually ... became a mere flicker ....

                    ***************************************

It was the moment that Yudhistra chose to charge with his army out of the
dust-haze and attack the Kaurava flanks led by Duryodhana, Karna and DrOnA!

The Kaurava flanks were taken utterly by surprise at the sudden and
ferocious charge of the Pandava main-infantry.

                  ********************************************* 

It was also the moment that Krishna, the Master Strategist, steered Arjuna's
chariot out of the smoke-screen of dust-clouds into the centre-stage of battle.

Bhishma beheld the "nara-narayana avatAra"!

It was the moment he'd long been waiting for.

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srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yatindra mahadesikaya namaha
sudarshan