Chapter 35 — The Battle: Description of the Battlefield

[First the battle ground is compared with the sky, then with the sea, next with a forest, and last with the final doomsday. — V.L. Mitra.]


Vasishta said:—

Then waves of cavalry mounting to the sky made the battlefield appear like a raging sea. Moving umbrellas floated as its foam and froth, and feathered silvery arrows glided like finny pearly fish, while cavalry charges and flights heaved and dashed like surges of the sea. Rushing of weapons resembled the running of its currents, and circles of soldiers were its whirlpools. The elephants were like its islets and their motions resembled the rocks moving in it. Whirling discs were its eddies, and long hair flying on heads its floating weeds. Sparkling sands were its shining waters, and the flash of swords its glassy spray. Gigantic warriors were its whales and alligators, and the resounding caves like its gurgling whirlpools. Flying arrows were its swimming fishes, and floating flags resembled its uprising waves and bores. Shining weapons formed the waters of this ocean and their whirlpools also, while the long lines of forces appeared like the huge and horrible bodies of its whales. Soldiers clad in black iron armor were like the dark blue waters of the deep, and headless bodies groveling in dust were like the whirling currents of the sea, with scattered weapons like sea weeds.

Showers of arrows hid the skies with a mist, and the confused rattling of the battlefield was like the roaring of clouds. 10 Flying and falling heads of slain soldiers resembled large drops of rain, and their bodies were like pieces of wood whirling in the eddies of the discs. 11 The bold archer, bending his strong bow in the form of a curve and leaping above the ground, resembled the spouting sea rising from under the ground with heaving waves. 12 The unnumbered umbrellas and flags that were moving up and down the field were like the foaming and frothing of the sea, rolling in waves of blood and carrying away the beams and timbers of broken chariots in its current. 13 The army’s march resembled the flow of seawater, and the blood spouting from the wounds of elephants were like its bubbles, while the moving horses and elephants represented the sea animals in their motion.

14 The battlefield had become like a wonderful field of the air in which the furious war, like a tremendous earthquake, shook hills like moving clouds in the sky. 15 Here the waves were undulating like flights of birds in the air, and groups of elephants falling aground like rocks, and the cowardly ranks murmured like herds of frightened deer. 16 The field has become a forest of arrows. Wounded soldiers are standing fixed on the ground like trees, arrows flying like locusts, and horses moving like antelopes.

17 Here a loud drum sounded like the humming of bees in the hollows of trees. The army appears like a mist with a bold warrior sprawling like a lion in it. 18 Dust was rising in clouds and forces falling like rocks. Huge, broken chariots looked like hills, and flaming swords shined on all sides. 19 The rise and fall of soldiers’ feet flitted like falling flowers on the ground, and flags and umbrellas rose above it like clouds. All was covered with streams of blood, and high-sounding elephants fell like thundering showers of rain.

20 The war was like the last doom of death ready to devour the world, destroying flags, banners, umbrellas and chariots in a confused chaos. 21 Shining weapons fell like fragments of the bight sun, burning all things like a burning pain inflames the soul and mind. 22 The stretched bows were like rainbows, and falling arrows like showers of rain. Flying sabers resembled forked lightning, and their falling fragments like sparkling hailstones.

23 The dire massacre made a sea of blood with hurling stones as its shoals and rocks. Flying arms resembled stars falling from heaven. 24 The sky was like a sea full of whirlpools of discs hurled through the air. There were burning fires performing funerals of the slain. 25 Missiles were like bolts of thunder that struck rock-like elephants dead in the field to block the passage of men. 26 Earth and sky were hidden by a thick cloud of showering arrows, and the army below was a sea of tempestuous warfare and bloodshed. 27 Destructive weapons were flying on all sides, like huge dragons of the sea carried aloft by gusts of wind from the stormy main. 28 The flying arms of bolts, swords, discs, pikes and lances were blazing and breaking one another in the air with such hideous noise that it seemed to be a second deluge, when the last tornado blew up everything on high, scattering them in all directions, crushing and smashing them with a tremendous peal.