Chapter 33 — The Battle: the Armies Engage

[The whole of this chapter abounds in onomatopoeian alliterations, and is more a play upon words than display of sense. However, it is interesting for these jingling words and for the names of the weapons in use among the ancients. — V. L. Mitra]


Rama said, “Sage, describe this warfare to me, as I love stories of this kind.”

Vasishta said:—

The ladies, in order to have a better view of the battle below, ascended in their imaginary aerial cars to a more retired spot in the higher regions of the sky.

At this time, the two armies clashed and mingled, fighting each other with shouts, like waves dashing against one another in a raging sea. Viduratha, the lord of the realm (formerly Padma, the husband of Leela), impatient seeing a bold warrior from the other army attack one of his soldiers, used his huge mallet to strike him on the breast. Then the battle raged with the impetuosity of rolling waves in a stormy ocean. Arms on both sides flamed with living fire and flashes of fiery lightning.

Now the edges of waving swords glittered in the sky. Cracking and clashing noises filled the air with a hideous crackling. Then flew winged arrows overshadowing sunbeams and emitting a booming noise that hushed the rattling clamor of summer clouds. Armor clashed against armor with a clanking noise, shooting sparks of glistening fire. Arms, hacking and slashing against arms, filled the air with their fragments flying like birds in the air.

The shaking arms and legs of the two armies appeared like a forest moving on the land. The twang of their bows and the rumbling of discs, crackling like the rattling drive of wheels in heaven, drove away the birds of the air. 10 The hissing of their loosened strings resembled the bee-like buzzing heard in samadhi. 11 Iron shafts pierced the heads of the soldiers like sleets of hailstones, and the crashing of armor broke arms of the mail-clad warriors. 12 Weapons struck brazen armor with a howling noise and clanking sound. Strokes flying like drifts of rainwater dented the face of the air on all sides.

13 Steel striking steel made hands ring with a jingling sound, and the continued rapping on arms and clapping of hands raised chat-chat and pat-pat sounds. 14 The whizzing noise as swords were unsheathed was like the hissing of sparks from fire. The sounds of arrows and darts flying in all directions were like the rustling of falling leaves in autumn.

15 The field was filled with blood spouting from throats separated from bodies, mangled limbs and heads, and broken swords. 16 The flame of fire flaring from armor emblazoned the hairs of the warriors. The sound of weapons as swordsmen fought and fell raised a giddy and loud jingling. 17 Tall elephants, pierced by spears, poured out torrents of red-hot blood; while their kin gored bodies with shrill cries. 18 Others, crushed by the ponderous maces of their antagonists, creaked grievously under the blows while heads of slain soldiers swam in rivers of blood over the plain.

19 Here hungry vultures were pouncing from above, and there the sky was covered by a cloud of dust. Weaponless soldiers fought with their hands, pulling each other down by the hair.