Chapter 111 — The Four-fold King Lets Loose His Weapons and the Enemy Flees

Vasishta continued:—

Thus the war waged with the fury of the four elements in their mutual conflict on the last doomsday of the world. Forces on all sides were falling and flying in numbers in and about the battlefield. The sky was filled with the harsh sound of the fourfold noise of drums and conch shells and the rattling of arrows and clattering of arms. Furious warriors violently dashed against one another. Their steel armor clashed and split in two with a clattering noise. The ranks of the royal forces were broken in the struggle. They fell fainting in the field, chopped off like leaves and plants, mown down like straw and grass.

At this time the trumpets announced the king’s advance with a sound that filled the quarters of the sky. Cannons thundered with a treble roar resounding with the uproar of kalpa doomsday clouds. They tore apart the sides of the highest hills and mountains and split rocky shores and banks everywhere in two. Then the king issued forth on all four sides with his fourfold forms, like the four regents of the four quarters of the sky, or like the four arms of Narayana stretching to so many sides of heaven. Followed by his fourfold forces (cavalry, elephants, chariots and foot soldiers), he rushed out of the confines of his city of palaces and marched to the open fields lying outside town. He saw the thinness of his own army and the strong armament of his enemies all around. He heard their loud clamor all about, like the wild roar of the surrounding sea.

10 Flights of arrows flying thickly through the air appeared like sharks floating in the sea. The bodies of elephants moving in the wide battlefield seemed like huge waves of the ocean. 11 Battalions wheeling in circular formations seemed like the whirling currents in the sea. Racing chariots with flags waving appeared like sailing ships with their unfurled sails. 12 Uplifted umbrellas were like sea foam and the neighing of horses was like the frothing of whales. The glare of shining weapons appeared like flares of falling rain under sunshine. 13 Moving elephants and sweeping horses seemed like huge surges and swelling waves of the sea. Dark barbarians babbled like the gurgling bubbles of sea waters.

14 Big elephants with towering and dark bodies seemed like they were mounting from the heights of mountains and breaking their hollow caves, howling with rustling winds. 15 The battlefield looked like a vast expanse of water in which slain horses and elephants seemed to be swimming like fragments of floating rocks, and where moving legions appeared like the rolling waves of the sea. 16 The field presented a dismal appearance of an untimely dissolution. It appeared like an ocean of blood stretching to the borders of the visible horizon. 17 Fragments of shining weapons sparkled like gems in the womb of the sea. The movements of forces resembled the casting of projectile stones into it. 18 Falling weapons were like showers of gems and snow from above, presenting the appearance of evening clouds in some place and fleecy vapors in another.

19 Seeing the ocean-like battalions of the enemy, the king thought of swallowing it up like sage Agastya had sucked up the ocean. With this intent, he remembered his airy instrument which he thought to employ on this occasion. 20 He got the Vayavya airy weapon and aimed it at all sides, just as when the god Shiva set the arrow to his bow on Mount Meru to slay the demon Tripura. 21 The king bowed to his god Agni, then let his mighty missile fly with all his might to repel the raging fire and protect his own forces from destruction. 22 He hurled his airy Paryaya arrow, together with its accompaniment of cloudy Vayavya arms, both to drive off as well as to set down enemy fire. 23 From these weapons propelled from his crossbow, eight beings emerged into a thousand horrible weapons which ran and filled all four quarters of the sky. 24 Then from these there issued forth an abundance of darts and arrows, currents of iron spears and tridents, and volleys of shots and rockets. 25 There were torrents of missiles and mallets, as well as currents of discs and battle axes. 26 There were streams of iron clubs, crowbars and lances, and floods of bhindipalas, short arrows thrown from the hand or through tubes, and splashes of spring nets and air instruments of incredible velocity. 27 There was a pouring out of fire-bolts and a flowing of lightning, as also showers of falling rains and swift movements of flying swords and sabers. 28 There were fallings of iron arrows, javelins and spears of great force and strength, and fallings of huge snakes found in mountain caves that grew there for ages.

29 In no time the force of these flying arms blasted the ocean of hostile forces. They fled in full haste and hurry in all directions, like heaps of ash before a hurricane or whirlwind. 30 The thunder showers of arms and the driving rain of weapons were driven away by impetuous winds. Invading hosts hurried to all sides like the torrent of a river in the rains breaks its embankment and flows over the land. 31 The four bodies of enemy troops (horse, elephant, chariots, and foot-soldiers) fled defeated from the battlefield to the four directions, just as mountain waterfalls rapidly move down on all sides during rains.

32 Lofty flags and their posts were torn, broken and hurled down like large trees in a storm. Forests of uplifted swords were broken to pieces and scattered on the ground like the petals of marichi flowers. 33 Sturdy bodies of strong soldiers rolled like stones on the ground, smeared with blood gushing out of their wounds, while the groans of their agony broke down the stoutest hearts. 34 Large elephants rolled upon the ground with their tusks sticking up like trees. They roared aloud with crackling sounds as loud as thunder and roaring clouds.

35 The clashing of the weapons against one another was like the crashing of tree branches. Horses clashing on one another sounded like the clashing of waves of the sea. 36 The crackling of war cars and their huge wheels sounded like the rattling of a hailstorm from high, and the mingled noise of the clashing of carriages, horse, elephants and foot soldiers sounded like the crashing of rocks. 37 The harsh sound of war hoops and shouts was loud on all sides. Cries of dying soldiers, “We die! We are slain!” swelled in the air all around. 38 The army appeared like a sea and their march was like the whirling of an whirlpool with its gurgling sound. Blood shed on their bodies exhibited the roseate color of the evening sky. 39 Waving weapons appeared like a dark cloud moving upon the shore. The ground smeared in blood looked like the fragment of a purple cloud. 40 Lancers, mace bearers and spearmen looked as if they were carrying tall palm trees in their hands. Cowardly crowds of men were seen crying aloud like timid deer in the plains.

41 The dead bodies of horses, elephants and warriors lay on the ground like the fallen leaves of trees. The rotten flesh and fat of bruised carcasses were trodden down to mud and mire in the field. 42 Their bones were pounded to dust under the hoofs of horses. The impact of wood and stones under driving winds raised a rattling sound all around. 43 The clouds of doomsday roared and the winds of desolation blew. The rains of the last day were falling and the thunders of destruction were clapping all about. 44 The surface of the ground was all muddy and miry and the face of the land was flooded all over. The air was chilly and bleak and the sky was drizzling through all its pores.

45 Huts and hamlets and towns and villages were all in a blaze. People and their cattle, with all the horses and elephants, were in full cry and loud uproar. 46 Earth and heaven resounded with the rolling of chariots and rumbling of clouds. The four quarters of heaven reverberated to the twanging of the king’s fourfold bow on all the four sides.

47 Forked lightning played with the friction and clashing of clouds. Showers of arrows and missiles fell profusely from them, with thunderbolts of maces and darts of spears. 48 The armies of the invading chiefs fled in confusion from all four sides of the field. Fleeing forces fell in numbers like swarms of ants and troops of gnats and flies. 49 The armies of the border tribes were burnt amidst the conflagration of fiery arms, pierced by the fiery weapons falling like thunderbolts upon them from the darkened sky. The fleeing forces resembled marine animals of the deep, disturbed by the perturbed waters of the sea, plunging into an undersea fire.