In the beginning Sanjaya gives the description of the various continents ,other celestial planets ,and goes on to describe the Indian subcontinent ,describing various kingdoms,provinces ,cities ,towns ,villages and tribes of ancient ‘Bharatvarsha‘.
He also explains the military formation and strategies adopted by each of the opponent and the sequence of death of the warriors on each day of the war.
krishna’s peace message
Following the Rajadharma ,and to avoid bloodshed of their kin, Krishna the chief of Yadavas travelled to Hastinapur as a divine representative of Pandavas to persuade the Kauravas for a peace treaty.
Duryodhana invited Krishna to accomodate him in his palace just to show his royality. Krishna turned down his offer and stayed at the house of Vidur.
Duryodhana felt it as an insult and decided to arrest Krishna and humiliate him infront of the royal court of Hastinapur , to signify that he was ready for an open war and rejecting the peace treaty.
As a formal presentation Krishna asked Duryodhana to return Pandavas their complete kingdom, when this offer was rejected , he asked for atleast five villages namely Indraprastha (Delhi), Swarnprastha (Sonipat), Panprastha (Panipat), Vyaghrprastha (Baghpat) and Tilprastha (Tilpat).However Duryodhana rejected all the peace proposals saying that he would not even give a land equal to tip of needle to Pandavas, and ordered his soldiers to arrest Krishna.
Krishna laughed and expanded himself to his divine form . Seeing that his peace mission was utterly insulted Krishna became furious and cursed Duryodhana hat his downfall was certain at the hands of the one who was sworn to tear off his thigh (Bhima).
Then Krishna returns to the camp of Pandava at Upaplavya( a city in the Matsya kingdom of Virat) and declares that there was just one way left for the Pandavas to uphold righteousness and get their kingdom back ,which was the – WAR OF KURUKSHETRA !
krishna as charioteer
Before the war began ,both Duryodhana and Arjuna went to Dwarika to ask for Krishna’s help in the war. When they reached Krishna was asleep. Duryodhana being arrogant chose a seat at Krishna’s head ,while Arjuna being a devotee sat at the feet of Krishna . When Krishna woke up he saw Arjuna first and presented him with two choices : – (i) NARAYANI SENA OF KRISHNA
(ii) KRISHNA – UNARMED
Despite of being aware of the strength of Narayani sena Arjuna chose only Krishna as his charioteer and the Narayani Sena was given to Duryodhana. Both Arjuna and Duryodhana returned being satisfied from what they got.
When Yudhisthira realised that there was no hope of peace , he decided to organise his army as follows:
SIZE OF ARMY = 7 Akshauhinis ( each consisting 218000 soldiers excluding the charioteers)
COMMANDERS =Draupad ,Virat, Abhimanyu , Shikhandi, Satyaki , Nakula and Sahdeva
SUPREME COMMANDER= Drishtadyumna (brother of Draupadi)
CHEIF WARRIORS= Drupada ,Virata, Abhimanyu,Shikhandi ,Satyaki ,Nakul ,Shadev,Bhima ,Arjuna ,Drishtadyumna,Ghatotkacha, Kuntibhoja and Upapandavas.
ALLIES KINGDOMS=Matsya, Kekeya, Magadha and Pandya.
SIZE OF ARMY = 11 Akshauhinis ( each consisting 218000 soldiers excluding the charioteers)
Karna promised to act as the guard of Duryodhana and not to fight ,but when Bhisma was wounded severly he entered the fight.
SUPREME COMMANDER= Bhisma
CHEIF WARRIORS= 100 Kauravas,including Duryodhana and Dushassana,Drona ,Ashwathhama ,Jaydrath ,Kripa,Kritavarma ,Shalya and many more who were bounded by their loyalty or promises to Hastinapur or Dhritarashtra.
Rukmi ,Vidura and Balrama acted as neutral in the war.
The weapons included bows,swords ,darts ,lance and the mace.Among all of the warriors , Karna was the one who could use all of these weapons .
Beginning of the War
Before the war began ,three solar eclipse occured during a period of 30 days , which was in no way possible astronomically . This indicated the evil effect of war .
The army of Kauravas was facing west and Pandavas on the east side . Kauravas had a large army which created a formation which had head ,body and wings. On the other hand Pandavas created a shape of Vajra(diamond shaped) army .
The main aim of Duryodhana was to protect Bhisma and Karna in any way , as he solely relied on the valour and skills of both of them.
KRISHNA DELIVERS THE DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
When the two armies were facing each other and conches were blown from both sides , Arjuna realized that he would have to kill his own teachers and guardians like Drona and Bhisma, whom he respected more than anyone .Arjuna felt weak and sickened at the prospect of killing his entire family, including his 100 cousins and friends .
Thus Arjuna seeked for the divine grace and turned to Krishna. Krishna reminds Arjuna of his duty as a warrior and reveals the real truth of human life and existence. The entire knowledge is presented in the holy book of Bhagwadgita (‘The song of God’).Meanwhile Krishna also revealed his divine form to Arjuna .
Before the first arrow was fired ,Yudhisthira walked towards the Kauravas army unarmed with folded hands to seek the blessings of Drona and Bhisma,which surprised everyone.Bhisma and Drona blessed him and the war began.
When the battle started the Bhisma formed the forces as a circular group front and a long supporting body behind it ,while Arjuna created the formation of a diamond shaped army. Bhisma entered the formation and ruined everything in his way .
Highlights- Virat's son Uttara and Shwet , were killed by Bhisma and Shalya Winner - Kauravas
Pandavas formed the Krouncha Vyuha( heron) and Bhisma formed Maha Vyuha(eagle shape). Krishna acted as a skilled charioteer and located Bhisma and asked Arjuna to attack him . Arjuna and Bhisma were engaged in a duel and similarily were Drona and Drishtadyumna, the latter was defeated and rescued by Bhima. Satyaki killed the charioteer of Bhisma driving him away from battlefield.
Highlight - whole force of Kalinga were killed by Bhima alone. Winner - Pandavas
Bhisma formed an eagle formation and Arjuna formed a crescent moon. Kauravas concentrated their forces against Arjuna. Arjuna skillfully showered arrows and shielded his chariot . Meanwhile Bhima and Ghatotkach attacked Duryodhana and an arrow of Bhima hit him . Thus Duryodhana fleed from battlefield.
To enrage Bhisma , Duryodhana accused him of false charges of showing leniency towards Pandavas. Bhisma became furious and caused havoc to the Pandavas army . Arjuna on the other hand was not fighting whole heartedly against Bhisma, and as a result a large portion of his army was killed on the third day.
Highlights- Abhimanyu defeated Gandhar forces, Bhisma killed large part of arjuna forces. Result-- neutral to both sides
Abhimanyu was attacked by many warriors together . To protectect him Arjuna appeared and soon Bhima appeared at this scene.This day is known for the valour displayed by Bhima . Duryodhana sent a huge force of elephants to stop Bhima . But the latter smashed all of them with his iron mace killing eight of Kauravas brothers.
Finally he got struck by an arrow of dushashana and dazed in his chariot.Similarily Arjuna killed many Athirathis and Maharathis using his divine arrows.
Highlights- Bhisma explains Duryodhana that Pandavas were dominating becuase they were on the side of righteousness. Winner- Pandavas
Satyaki was ruthlessly defeated by Bhisma. Arjuna killed thousands of soldiers and Bhima and Bhisma fought a inconclusive duel.Draupad and his son Shikhandi were defeated by Vikarna ,one of Kauravas brothers.
Drona caused heavy ruins and immeasurable loss to Pandavas enemy .Bhima entered the Kauravas formation and attacked Duryodhana. However he was rescued by his other brothers. The sons of Draupadi fought against Ashwathhama and destroyed his chariot.
Shanka ,the son of Virat was slayed by Drona .Nakul and Sahdev engaged in a fight with Kaurava brothers but were overwhelmed by seeing them in large numbers.
Bhima caused huge havoc against the Kauravas army and killed 17 of the brothers.Iravan(son of Arjuna) and Ulupi killed five brothers of Shakuni. Finally Iravan was killed by a demon sent by Duryodhana.
Since Arjuna was not fighting with full valour against Bhisma ,Krishna was filled with anger .He furiously jumps from the chariot and move towards Kuru’s head Bhisma , raising a wheel of the chariot in one of his shoulders.The furious form of Krishna was overwhelming for everyone , he appeared as a lion , his yellow garments fluttered in the sky as a bolt of lightning . His face was shining because of perspirations.
Seeing Krishna ,Bhisma surrenders his arms and asks Krishna to kill him as he thought that there would be nothing more fortunate for a person than getting killed by the owner of the universe -Krishna.
However Arjuna realizes his mistake and vows to slay the opponents and urge Krishna not to break his vow by catching his feets.
Highlight- Krishna lifts the Sudarshan wheel, Ghatotkach killed Alambusha Winner - Kauravas
At the advise of Krishna Shikhandi who was a women in prior life was placed against Bhisma . Bhisma vowed not to fight women. Standing behind Shikhandi ,Arjuna showered arrows on Bhisma ,piercing his entire body and throwing him off his chariot.
Bhisma had the boon of self-wished death( Ichchha mrityu)from his father. After the war was over ,he delivered the knowledge of politics and warfare to the Pandavas and left his body on the first day of Uttarayana.
Highlight- Bhisma was out of war Winner- pandavas
Now karna was given the charge of leading the army , and Drona was made the commander of armies. Their plan was to capture yudhisthira alive from the battlefield and use him strategically . Following this plan Drona tried to capture him on this day ,but Arjuna showered arrows against Drona and protected yudhisthira.
The same plan was followed by Drona and Arjuna was made busy fighting the other warriors.However this time Dharmaraj was protected by Prativindhya(one of Draupadi’s son).Arjuna fought with Samsaptakas,headed by Susharma and defeated them .
A furious fight enraged between Arjuna and Bhagadatta( a warrior who defeated Bhima and Abhimanyu) ,and the result was in favor of Arjuna. Drona was frustrated as his plan to capture Dharmaraj was in vain.
This was a legendry day as it displays the cruelty of Kauravas as well as the valour of Abhimanyu. This day made Abhimanyu one of the greatest warrior in Mahabharata.
Drona arranged the formation of the Chakravyuha or Padmavyuha . Among all the warriors only Krishna and Arjuna knew to break it and to exit it. But they were made busy at another part of battlefield ,fighting with Samsaptakas again.
Abhimanyu ,the son of Arjuna and Subhadra knew how to break the padmavyuha but was unaware of its exit. He entered the formation ,followed by the other Pandavas .But , as soon as he entered Jaydratha blocked the way for the Pandavas. Thus Abhimanyu was trapped.
Abhimanyu killed thousands of soldiers and defeated prominent warriors like Drona ,Dushashana and Karna. However when he was exhausted he was collectively attacked by all these warriors and killed .
Highlights- Abhimanyu is killed, Arjuna vows to kill Jaydrath by next sunset or else to burn himself in fire.
Enraged Arjuna searched for Jaydrath throughout the day and killed thousands of soldiers in his way. Jaydrath was hidden in camp of Kauravas to protect him from arjuna.
However , Krishna played a trick and covered the sun and created an illusion which made everyone feel that it was sunset . Then,Jaydrath reveals himself and humiliates Arjuna ,asking him to burn himself. Meanwhile Krishna draws off his illusion , and Jaydrath was killed by Arjuna ,thus fulfilling his vow.
Vikarna was killed by Bheem , and his death was mourned by Bheem himself as he was a man of righteousness ,but on the wrong side. The son of Dushashan was slayed by the son of Arjuna and Draupadi,Prativindhya.
Ghatotkach(demon son of Bhima) killed numerous warriors and faced a fight with Karna. Karna used the Vasava Astra against him .He incresed his size manifolds and fell on the field dead,thus killing 1 Akshahini of Kaurava’s army.
Highlight- Jaydrath was killed, Ghatotkach was killed ,Vikarna was killed Winner- Pandavas
Pandavas found it very difficult to conquer Drona because he was very powerful and invincible.Krishna advised Yudhisthira that Drona would give up his arms if his son Aswathama were dead. Bhima killed a huge elephant named Aswathama and proclaimed loudly that Aswathhama is dead. Confused at this proclaimation Drona asks Yudhisthira about this . Yudhisthira said that Aswathama is killed ,but he is not sure if it was an elephant or the son of Drona.Meanwhile Krishna blew a loud conch and Drona could hear only that Aswathama is killed.
Filled with remorse, Drona gave up his weapons ,and Drishtadyumna shot him with an arrow.Thus Drona was killed with trick .
The chariot of Yudhisthira used to be a few inches above the ground ,proclaiming his righteousness above others,but after this incident it landed on ground ,because he lied.
Highlights- Drona was killed , Karna promised kunti not to kill her sons except Arjuna, and not to use same weapon twice against arjuna. Winner- Pandavas
Karna was made the commander of Kaurava’s army .He fought ruthlessly and was difficult to conquer.
Banasena ,the son of Karna was killed by Bhima infront of him.He also fought Karna and brought him on the verge of death ,but left him for Arjuna .
On this day Bhisma teared up the chest of Dushashana,drank his blood and smeared the untied hair of Draupadi with his blood.Thus he fulfilled his vow ,which he made during ‘ Draupadi Cheerharan’.
Highlights - Banasena and Dushashana were killed. Winner- Pandavas
Karna defeated Nakul,Sahdev and Yudhisthira and engaged in a duel with Arjuna. Meanwhile a wheel of his chariot got stuck in the mud ,and he asked for a rest.
Karna was cursed by Parshurama that he would forget all his skills at the time when he needed them the most .The time had arrived. Krishna reminded Arjuna ,how Karna killed Abhimanyu mercilessly. Arjuna was furious and he shot Karna on his neck .Karna lied dead on ground ,and his soul got absorbed in the sun.
Highlights - Karna was killed by Arjuna. Winner- Pandavas
Yudhisthira killed Shalya ,Nakul and Shadev killed Shakuni and his son Uluka.
Realizing his defeat Duryodhana fled from the warscene and hid himself in a lake,but was caught by the Pandavas. Meanwhile Balrama returned at the scene ,and advised to arrange a mace battle between Duryodhana and Bheem. Bheem killed Duryodhana by hitting him below his waist.
To avenge the actions of Bhima , Aswathama killed Drishtadyumna ,avenging his father’s death(Drona)and all of the sons of Draupadi . Kripacharya and Kirtivarma attacked Pandava’s camp at night and killed their remaining forces. Aswathama released Brahmastra at Uttara’s womb and tried to kill the last heir of Kuru’s race. But Krishna with his divine power saved the child and released his Sudarshan Chakra at Aswathama ,removing the divine gem from his head and cursed him to dwell with the wounded forehead until the end of Kaliyuga.
Finally the War of Kurukshetra was won by Righteousness under the guidance of Lord Krishna, Once again claiming that no power can be more dominant than Dharma and truth.
Only twelve warriors survived the wrath of the tragic war namely – Yudhisthira,Bhima,Arjuna,Nakul, Sahdev, Krishna,Satyaki, Ashwathama, ,Kripacharya ,Yuyutsu, Vrishaketu and Kritavarma.
Yudhisthira was the new emperor of Hastinapur. Krishna was cursed by Gandhari that his entire Yadav clan would be ruined the same way in which her sons were killed, and the same happened.
After 36 years of their rule the Pandavas left for Kailash to reach the heaven , passing the governance to their grandson – Parikshit ,who was the son of Abhimanyu and Uttara and the last ruler of Kuru Dynasty. Out of the five brothers only Yudhisthira could reach heaven in his mortal form ,because of his righteousness.
The death of Parikshit marked the end of Dwapar Yuga and the beginning of Kaliyuga.