Chapter 26 — Description of Battle between Gods and Demons

Vasishta continued:—

So thinking, the chief of the demons dispatched his generals Dama, Byala and Kata to lead his armies to destroy the gods upon earth. The demonic army rose out of the foaming sea and infernal caverns in full armor and wielding fiendish arms. Then bursting forth with hideous noise, the demon soldiers soared aloft with their huge bodies like mountains flying on high. Their monstrous and mountainous bodies hid the disc of the sun in the sky, and their stretching arms smote him of his rays. They increased in number and size under the leadership of Dama, Byala and Kata.

Then the dreadful hosts of the celestials issued out from the forests and caverns of heavenly Mount Meru like torrents of the great deluge. The forces under the flags of gods and demons fought together with such obstinacy that it seemed to be an untimely and deadly struggle between the gods and demons as during the prior world. The heads of decapitated warriors decorated with shining earrings fell down on the ground like the orbs of the sun and moon which, being shorn of their beams as at the end of the world, were rolling in the great abyss of chaos. Heroes hurled huge hills with the hoarse noise of roaring lions. Hills were blown up and down by the blast of an all destroying tornado.

Warriors’ broken weapons fell on mountain tops and were ground to granules. They fell like hailstones upon lions that had been resting on their sides below. The sparks of fire that flew about from the clashing of the weapons were like the scattered stars of the sky flying at random on the last day of dissolution. 10 Vetala ghosts as big as tala palm trees were beating the tala time of their giddy dance with the tali clapping of their palms, dancing over heaps of carnage floating on floods of blood flowing like a bloody sea on the surface of earth. 11 Showers of flowing blood put down the flying dust of the battlefield. Numbers of crowned heads separated from their bodies glistened among the clouds like so many stars sparkling in the sky.

12 Demons filled all sides blazing like burning suns with their luminous bodies. They held tall kalpa branches in their hands to strike the enemy and used to break down the tops and peaks of mountains. 13 They ran about with their swinging swords in hand, breaking down buildings by the speed of their motion, like blasts of a gale. The rocks they hurled at the enemy were reduced to dust, like the ashes of a burning mountain.

14 The gods also pursued them like sacrificial horses, driving the weaponless demons like clouds before the storm. 15 They fell upon and laid hold of them like cats pouncing upon rats, seizing them for their prey. Meanwhile demons also seized gods like bears lay hold of men climbing tall trees with fear. 16 Thus gods and demigods dashed against one another, like forest trees in a storm strike each other with their branching arms, and scattered the flowers of bloodshed on both sides. 17 Their broken weapons lay scattered on all sides, like heaps of flowers lying on the sides of a hill after a strong gale has passed.

18 There was a close fight between both armies, a confused noise filling the vault of the sky which, like the hollow of an udumbara tree, resounded to the combined hum of gnats rumbling within. 19 The elephants that rule the different quarters of the skies sent their loud roars, answering the tremendous noise of the world-destroying cloud. 20 The thickened air grew as hard as the solid earth with gathering clouds, and thickened clouds, so dense a fist could grab them, were heavy and slow in their motion. 21 Broken weapons repelled by war-chariots hit against the hills and emitted a rattling noise from their inner hollowness, like the discordant sounds of a chorus. 22 Mountain forests were set on fire by fiery weapons, and burning rocks melted down their lava with a noise as dreadful as that of volcanic Mount Meru with its melting gold and blazing with the brightness of the twelve suns of the zodiac.

23 The clamor of battle was like that of the beating waves of a boisterous ocean filling the vast deep of the earth, resounding hoarsely by their impact. 24 Demons hurled huge rocks that flew like birds in the air with their flapping wings sounding like thunder claps, while the hoarse noise of rocky caverns sounded like the deep sounding ocean. 25 The clamor of warfare resembled the rumbling of the ocean when it was churned by Mandara Mountain, and the clashing of weapons sounded like the gods clapping their hands in their revelry for the ambrosial nectar.

26 In this war between the two armies, the haughty demons gained the day and laid waste to the cities and villages of the gods, together with their lands of hills and forests. 27 The mountainous bodies of demons were also pierced by the gods’ great weapons, and the roof of heaven was filled with flying weapons flung by the hands of both parties. 28 Bursting rockets broke the peaks and pinnacles of rocks by the hundreds, and flying arrows pierced the faces of both gods and demigods. 29 Whirling discs lopped off the heads of the warriors like blades of grass, and the clamor of the armies rolled with an uproar in the midway sky. 30 Struck by flying weapons, heavenly charioteers fell upon the ground and their celestial cities were deluged by the hydraulic engines of the demons. 31 Flights of swords, spears and lances flew in the air like rivers running down mountain sides. The vault of heaven was filled with war-whoops and shouts of the combatants.

32 The palaces of the ruling gods were falling under the blows of demons from behind, and their female apartments echoed with the lamentations and jingling bells of the goddesses. 33 The stream of flying weapons from the demons washed the bodies of fighting men with blood, making them fly off from the battlefield with hideous cries. 34 Death was now lurking behind, now hovering over the heads of the gods and leaders of armies, like a black bee now skulking in, and then flitting over the lotuses. Armies on both sides were defeated by the blows of the gods and demigods on the battlefield. 35 Demons flew in the air like winged mountains moving around the sky, making a whizzing rustle that was dreadful to hear.

36 The mountainous bodies of the demons, pierced by the gods’ weapons, were gushing out with streams of blood that converted the earth below to a crimson sea and tinged the air with purple clouds over the mountain heights. 37 Many countries and cities, villages, forests, vales and dales were laid waste, and innumerable demons, elephants, horses and human beings were put to death. 38 Also numbers of elephants were pierced with long and pointed shafts of steel and iron, and the bodies of huge Airavatas were bruised by the blows of steeled fists. 39 Flights of arrows falling in showers like flood rains crushed the tops of mountains. The friction of thunderbolts broke down the bodies of mountainous giants.

40 Furious flames of heavenly fire burned the bodies of the infernal hosts who, in their turn, quenched the flames with water-spouts drawn out of an underground deep. 41 Enraged demons flung up and hurled huge hills against the gods’ falling fires which, like a wild conflagration, melted the hard stones to liquid water. 42 The shadow of the demons’ weapons spread a dark night in the sky which the gods destroyed by the artificial flame of lightning, blazing like so many suns in heaven. 43 The fire of the lightning dried up the waters of the raining clouds, and the clashing of arms emitted a shower of fire on all sides. 44 The shower of thunder-arms broke down the battery of mountain ramparts, and the sleep-weapon of slumber dispelled by that of its counteraction. 45 Some bore the sawing weapon, while others held the Brahmastra, the invincible weapon of warfare that dispels the darkness of the field by its flashing.

46 The air was filled with shells and shots fired by firearms. Machines for hurling stones crushed the missile weapons of fire. 47 War chariots, with their up-lifted flags and moonlike discs, moved like clouds about the horizon, while their wheels rolled with loud roaring under the roof of heaven. 48 The constant thunders of heaven were killing demons in numbers, who were again restored to life by the great art of Shukra that gave immortality to demonic spirits.

49 Now the gods were victorious, and now flying away defeated. Now they were looking to their good stars, and now to the inauspicious ones in vain. 50 They looked upon heaven with uplifted heads and eyes for signs of good and evil, but from the heaven above the world on the earth below appeared like a sea of blood. 51 The rage of stubborn enmity made the world seem like a forest of full blown red kinsuka flowers, and like a sea of blood filled with mountains of dead bodies. 52 Dead bodies hanging on tree branches appeared as their fruit moving to and fro by the breath of winds.

53 The roof of the sky was filled with forests of long and large arrows, and with mountains of headless trunks with their hundred arms. 54 As these torsos leaped and jumped in the air, they plucked the clouds and stars and the heavenly cars of the celestials with their numerous arms and hurled their mountain-like missile arms and clubs and arrows to the heavens. 55 The sky was filled with the broken fragments of buildings falling from the seven spheres of heaven. Their constant fall raised a noise like the roaring of flood clouds. 56 These sounds were resounded by the elephants of the deep (Patala), while the bird of heaven, Garuda, was snatching gigantic demons as his prey.

57 The dread of the demons drove the celestial deities, the siddhas and sadhyas (deities who guard sacred rites), and the gods of the winds, together with the kinnaras, gandharvas and charanas from all their different quarters to one indistinct side. 58 Then there blew a tremendous tornado like the all-destroying north wind of universal desolation, laying waste the trees of the garden of paradise and threatening to destroy the gods. The thunders of heaven were splitting and breaking down mountains flung to the face of the sky.