It was the seventeenth day of the great war — the bhubhaaraharana kaarya of Sri Krishna was in full swing — ably assisted by the five Pandavas — and of course Ashwatthama. Karna had defeated Yudhisthira pretty badly, and the elder Pandava had to return to his camp to recover from the injuries, after being rescued by Bhimasena.
Bhima sent Arjuna to the camp to enquire upon the elder one’s health. Arjuna and Yudhisthira then had engaged in a war of words which almost led to the death of Yudhisthira initially, and then Arjuna trying to kill himself for having attempted a mindless slaying of his brother. Sri Krishna prevented both tragedies from occurring, and the two brothers united. Arjuna headed back towards the yuddha bhumi.
Meanwhile Bhimasena, who had refused to leave the battlefield, due to his adherence to shuddha bhagavata dharma, even to check on this brother’s condition, had continued thrashing the enemies. Shakuni bore the brunt of Bhima’s fury. Ten of the Kaurava princes couldn’t stand in front of the mighty pavana-suta, and ran from the battlefield. Bhima then saw Sri Krishna and Arjuna returning from the camp and felt happy and relieved that Yudhisthira was doing fine.
The news of his brother’s well being filled even more enthusiasm in Bhima. And the warriors on the other side had to pay the price for this joy — with their lives. As the destruction of the kaurava sainya continued, Bhima and Dushashana came in front of each other. The son of Dhritharashtra tried his best to engage with Bhima but his arrows seemed to have no effect.
With all his arrows failing to cause any harm to Bhima, Dushashana picked up a dart in desperation and hurled it at him. This move only aggravated the situation for him— and Bhima responded by picking up his mighty gadaa — and threw it at Dushashana.
The gadaa hit Dushashana like a thunderbolt. Not only was his chariot destroyed due to force of the impact, Dushashana was thrown a distance of ten arrows away from his chariot.
It was now time for the final battle. Dushashana was on the ground — totally helpless. The second avatara of mukhyaprana — in front of him — and slowly approaching. Dushashana started to tremble — realising his own death was approaching him.
Bhimasena stood in front of the injured Dushashana — and saw him struggling with pain. His steeds were all killed and the chariot was reduced to dust with that blow with the gadaa. Due to the impact of the fall — all ornaments from Dushashana’s body had fallen off.
Bhimasena started recollecting loudly — all the great sins that Dushashana had committed — reading out his crime — before serving the inevitable sentence. He recalled how he had dragged Yajnaseni by her hair — how he had attempted to disrobe her — the insults he had heaped on all Pandavas.
Bhima then repeated the sankalpa he had made earlier — that he would drink the blood of Dushashana. He roared that the time to fulfil that oath had come.
pashyantu chitrAm paramasya shaktim ye vai tilAh shaNDatilAH babhUvuH
“Those of you who had called us hard sesame seeds are now here as impotent sesame seeds”
Saying thus, Bhima looked at Karna, Duryodhana, Ashwathama, Kripa and Kritaverma and challenged them to come and rescue their brother from his hands.
Not one warrior dared to move an inch.
Manyu Sukta Yajna begins!
Bhimasena then began the most ferocious act of destroying Dushashana. And yet, being a follower of shuddha bhagavata dharma, the killing was also to be a yajna to paramatma.
Bhimasena remembered, and starting the chant of, manyu sukta — that powerful sukta from the rig veda — dedicated to bhagavan narasimha!
yaste manyo vIdadhvajra….
One leg was placed at the neck of Dushashana, thereby rendering him immobile. He then sat on the stomach of the kaurava. Bhima’s eyes were literally letting out fire.
Due to the impact of the gadaa itself, Dushashana’s chest had cracked. Bhima now drew out a huge sword — all the while staring angrily at the hapless Dushashana — and pierced his chest. He allowed blood to collect there — forming a puddle. He then collected the same in his palms and put it inside of his lips repeatedly.
The battle was the yajna — Bhima’s mouth was the sacrificial altar — the chest of Dushashana was the somalatha — the mace was the stone that crushed the somalatha — the blood that gushed out was the somarasa — manyu sukta was the mantra.
nara-rakta unfit for consumption
Knowing fully well that human blood was not to be consumed, Bhimasena ensured that the blood he poured into his mouth never slipped past his teeth. So while he fulfilled the oath of ‘drinking’ Dushashana’s blood, he ensured at the same time that the dharma of not drinking nara-rakta was maintained.
Time for the lion-dance!
ye tadasmAn pranrutyanti punargauriti gauriti | tAn vayaM pratinrutyAmaH punargauriti gauriti ||
Every act of adharma had to be responded to. Every act of insult had to be avenged. Every account had to be settled — with interest.
Bhima announced to all the warriors present there— after reminding them how they had mocked the Pandavas when they were walking out of the courtyard after losing the Kingdom calling them “Ox! Beasts!” — that it was time for him to return the compliment.
Bhima started a wild dance in the middle of the stunned battlefield — and right next to the dying Dushashana — shouting loudly “gauH gauH”.
The stunned Kaurava camp
Even the most stone hearted warrior out there in the field was distraught at seeing the terrible annihilation of Dushashana. None of the warriors could even manage to see Bhimasena’s dance. They were all completely engulfed by fear.
Karna’s bow slipped out of his hand. He closed his eyes out of shock. It took another of Shalya’s sermons to bring him back to his senses, and feet.
The mighty Ashwatthama couldn’t stand the sight and went far away to a different region of Kurukshetra. The entire battlefield became empty. Soldiers from both camps panicked and deserted the area.
For a duration lasting an entire muhurtha, there was no one around, save Sri Krishna and Arjuna.
Death has saved you
Bhimasena then sighted the panic-stricken Duryodhana. Immediately he roared — “Today I have successfully performed somapana in the battlefield; The time is fast approaching for me to perform the pashubali of Duryodhana”. He then began rushing towards Duryodhana who ran away from that scene, out of extreme fear.
Dushashana was dead already. Bhimasena turned around and looked at the dead body and said
“Death has saved you”
Given the terrible treatment Dushashana received, death was certainly an end to his misery that day. It saved him from further unbearable pain.
Thus Bhimasena — the destroyer of Kirmeera — the annihilator of Hidimba — the killer of Jarasandha — the terminator of Keechaka — added Dushashana to the list of asura-balis he had offered at the feet of sri narasimha!