The fierce epic war began. It wen on for
eighteen days. The heads o great kings rolled on the battlefield While sometimes the
Pandava! achieved striking successes, Bhishma the commander of Duryodhana's army destroyed
some of their forces. How could they overcome this might warrior?
On the advice of, Krishna Arjuna posed this very question Bhishma. Bhishma had vowed
that h( will not fight against Shikhandi. On the tenth day Arjuna stood behind Shikhandi
and shot arrows and Bhishma laid down his arms.
Thereafter Drona became the commander - in-chief of the Kaurava army. Krishna plotted
to do away with Drona. Krishna knew that Drona loved his son Ashwatthama deeply and if
Dharmaraja told Drona that Ashwatthama was dead Drona would lay down his arms and then he
could be killed. But Dharmaraja was unwilling to tell a lie. He spoke only the truth and
cried aloud, "Ashwatthama, the elephant, is dead." Krishna sounded his conch so
that Drona could not hear the words 'the elephant'. Drona was stunned and put down his
arms. He, too, was killed.
Was all this fair? Did Krishna use fair methods to get rid of Bhishma and Drona ?
True, Drona and Bhishma were great men. They were not evil men. They did not do
anything immoral for their own gain. But they had joined the forces of the unjust
Duryodhana. Similarly, Kama was also a good man. He had respect for Dharma and for
Krishna. While Karna was pulling out one of the wheels of his chariot that had struck in
the mud, Krishna asked Arjuna to shoot and kill Karna. Karna cried out to Arjuna,
"Fight justly." Arjuna then began to doubt if Krishna's advice was just. Krishna
said, "Who is to distinguish between Dharma justice) and Adharma (injustice) ? Not
those who have themselves been unjust, not those who have been against the just. Only
those who are themselves just and live for the sake of justice can do So it is right to
kill your enemies in this war. Those who are against Dharma and their followers should be
wiped out by using all possible means. This is Dharma' so said Krishna. Accordingly Karna
There was yet another incident which threw light on the policy pursued by Krishna on
the battlefield. Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, the beloved sister of
Krishna. When Arjuna was fighting in a distant part of the battlefield, Abhimanyu was
killed. On hearing the news of Abhimanyu's death, Arjuna took an oath. Jayadratha, a
supporter of Duryodhana, was mainly responsible for Abhimanyu's death.Arjuna declared,I
shall killJayadratha before the sun sets." But Duryodhana hid Jayadratha, and Arjuna
could not kill him. The sun was about to set. Arjuna decided to kill himself. Krishna
threw his Chakra at the sun and made it appear as if the sun had set. Jayadratha came to
watch the death of Arjuna. Krishna withdrew his Chakra.
The sun had not yet set. Arjuna killed Jayadratha.
It was a terrible war. Bhishma' Drona, Dusshasana, Karna, Abhimanyu, Drushtadyumna -
many such heroes were killed. Who could keep count of the ordinary soldiers who were
killed or blinded or lost their limbs ? Streams of blood turned the earth red.
The end of the war was in sight. Of all the mighty warriors of the Kaurava army
Duryodhana alone was alive. He was hiding in a lake. Krishna discovered this and came to
the lake with the Pandavas. Bhima cried out, "You coward! Come out." Duryodhana
came out. The two fought with maces.
Bhima could not overcome Duryodhana. Krishna signaled to Bhima to strike on the right
thigh of Duryodhana (Which he had indecently exposed, asking Draupadi to sit on it). Bhima
dealt a terrific blow and broke it. Duryodhana fell down.
The war was over. Dharmaraja ascended the throne. The country was free from the unjust
and the wicked rulers.