For the Love of writing...
Monday, September 12, 2016

The hoofs of ten thousand horses raised a cloud of dust in the air enough to blanket the sun. A million warriors fought below the haze. Swords clanked, arrows flew, and spears pierced hearts, all for the gratification of ego, acquisition of wealth, and a satisfaction of lust.

The finest archer, mounted on his chariot showered arrows like rain drops on the enemy planks. The mere sight of the flag of his chariot at a distance sent shivers down the spine of his enemies. No doubt, he was the finest archer to have ever graced the land, but today, full of rage and anger, he had unleashed his wrath like never before on the enemy.

Blinded by revenge for his son Abhimanyu’s death at the hands of Jayadratha, Arjuna had vowed to kill Jayadratha by sunset, failing which he would himself walk into his son’s funeral pyre.

The fourteenth day of the epic battle of Mahabharata was indeed going to be a turning point. If only Jayadratha could be saved today from Arjuna’s arrows, the pendulum of victory would swing decisively in favor of the Kauravas after Arjuna’s self immolation.

Arjuna’s vow made Jayadratha the hero for the day. The Suvarnapathak, or the Golden Warriors, of the Kaurava army were organized in a Lotus formation by Dronacharya, the most able commander on the battlefield, and Jayadratha was at the center of it. The only way to break the Lotus formation was to go round and round the formation killing the soldiers on the outside and exposing the inner ones, just as plucking the petals of a lotus. Dronacharya knew it would be impossible to do this in a day, and they just had to survive the day.

The rule of war dictated that the challenged warrior be on the battle field, he could not be in hiding. Guarded by the Suvarnapathak, Jayadratha sat fear stricken in his chariot. Arjuna, he feared, but more so, the cunning Krishna. The maverick would be up to some of his tricks again.

Three prahars (9 hours) had passed, just one more to go. To the Kauravas, it seemed the longest day ever. It was straining their army, concentrating all their might on only one asset that had to be protected. To the Pandavas, it seemed the shortest day ever, concentrating on the Lotus formation.

The sunlight started to dim suddenly. The confused warriors on the battlefield found it surprising that the day was ending was so soon. Krishna picked up his conch and blew it hard, which he did only at the end to signal the cessation of the battle for the day. The shrilling sound of the conch caused jubilation in the Kaurava army and panic in the Pandava army. The fate of the greatest archer on earth was to be sealed, not by weapons, but only by his oath. 

Like a frog on a hot plate, Jayadratha leapt in his chariot. It had really started to darken and his joy knew no bounds.

Duryodhana, on top of his mammoth elephant, made his way to Jayadratha’s chariot. “You live my friend! You live! And that sly Arjuna dies today. You are to share a ride with me on my elephant, and we shall witness Arjuna’s immolation together from here.” Sharing a seat besides Duryodhana was an honor not extended to all, but today was Jayadratha’s day.

At a distance Krishna pointed out to Arjuna the elephant on which Jayadratha had mounted.

“There, 12 miles inside the Lotus formation, on top of the elephant, standing alongside Duryodhana, is Jayadratha, who blocked the entrance of the Chakravyuha formation, mercilessly killing your own son.”

The finest archer was once asked if he saw the eye of a parrot to pierce with his arrow and had said that he saw nothing but the eye. Today, with blood shot eyes, Arjuna could not miss the ecstatic Jayadratha in the distance.

“Take the most ordinary of your arrows, and behead him right away” ordered Krishna, “for he deserves nothing more than an ordinary arrow.”

The other Pandavas and the commanders of their great army had by now gathered around Arjuna’s chariot. They were to witness Arjuna break the seminal rule of war of not fighting after the sun had set.

Drawing an arrow from his quiver, Arjuna mounted it on his bow, took aim, pulled the string, and let it go. As if lightning had struck the sky, the thunder of the string’s pullback struck fear in the enemy heart.

His arrows never missed their mark. This one too found Jayadratha’s neck, cutting through his neck bones, it flung his head afar.

A terrified Duryodhana held the hand of the headless body. Out of rage for Arjuna, he kicked it away and it fell off the elephant. Jayadratha’s triumph lasted only a few breaths.

“Krishna…” Duryodhana screamed, his voice travelling across the battlefield, “you cheat… the battle had ended for the day…”

And suddenly, on the battlefield filled with darkness, there seemed to be a sunrise taking place, except that it was not on the horizon, but in the sky.

The dust slightly settled, and the visibility in the sky opening up, the warriors could now see the sun. A huge plate seemed to have covered the sun, creating an illusion of sunset. And that huge dark plate, now seemed to be moving away, letting sun rays pass through to the battlefield, which seemed to be lit like twilight.

And then suddenly a commander in the Pandava army shouted,

“Devaki putra… Shree Vishnu avatar… Shree Krishna Bhagwan ne Sudarshan Chakra se suraj ko dhak diya tha” [A descendant of Lord Vishnu, the son of Devaki, Lord Krishna, hid the sun behind his Sudharshan Chakra]

And another commander shouted, “Bolo Shree Krishna Bhagwan ki… Jay”

“Jay”, a million voices thundered on the battlefield as the moon slowly moved away from the path between the earth and the sun.

The maverick Krishna only smiled, as Arjuna and the other Pandavas folded their hands and bowed before him. Krishna wondered what had happened, for he didn’t know what we know today, as a phenomenon called the total solar eclipse.

The ignorance and gullibility of man had made a God out of an ordinary mortal human.

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