At the start of day 6 of the Mahabharata war, the Kauravas had suffered 4 continuous days of defeats, after their notional victory on day 1. Duryodhana was furious and was keen on Bhishma and Drona fetching him a victory. He urged them to come up with a special formation to attack the Pandavas.
Bhishma setup a ‘Makara’ vyuha or the formation in the form of a crocodile. In response, the Pandavas, led by Dhrishtadyumna, set up a ‘Krauncha’ vyuha or a formation like a curlew bird. Both the vyuhas looked impenetrable.
The war began and soon Dronacharya showed his class slewing thousands of Pandava soldiers. Bhima attacked Drona in order to reduce his destructive impact. He threw a mace and killed Drona’s charioteer. Drona managed to steer his own chariot and diverted himself towards the Srunjayas and Kekayas, both of whom paid the price for Drona’s attention falling on them. Not knowing how to face him, they took to their heels.
As the battle picked up pace, Bhimasena broke through Makara vyuha and entered deep into the enemy formation.
भीमसेनस्तु निशितैबाणैर्भित्त्वा महाचमूम् |
आससाद ततो वीरः सर्वान् दुर्योधनानुजान् ||
Bhima noticed that a bunch of Kauravas were hunting in a pack and approached them. The team of the sons of Dhritarashtra consisted of Duryodhana, Dushasana, Durvishaha, Dushaha, Durmada, Jaya, Jayatsena, Vikarna, Chitrasena, Sudarshana, Charumitra, Suvarma, Dushkarna and Karna (not Radheya but a son of Dhritarashtra). All of them noticed Bhima coming towards them and believed they had a chance at killing him and ending the war on the 6th day itself.
But Bhima had other plans.
He too was thinking of ending the way the same day – by destroying all the sons of Dhritarashtra! He climbed down from his chariot and ordered his charioteer Vishoka to wait there for a muhurtha. Saying so, he jumped at the Kaurava princes.
जघान धार्तराष्ट्राणां तं बलौघमहार्णवम्
A never-before-seen destruction of the Kaurava army took place.
Dhrishtadyumna noticed the empty chariot of Bhima and panicked. He approached Vishoka quickly and sought to know from him the status of his dearest friend. Vishoka re-assured him that Bhima was away on foot for one muhurtha to cause havoc amongst the Kauravas.
As Dhrishtadyumna approached Bhima he saw the damage caused in that part of the battle field.
ते हन्यमानाः समरे रथिनः सादिनस्तथा |
पादाता दन्तिनश्चैव चक्रुरार्तस्वरं महत् ||
There was loud wailing all over. Horsemen, chariot warriors, foot soldiers and elephant riders – all of them had been brutally thrashed. They were all lying down crying in deep pain.
The brothers got together and started showering a large number of weapons at Bhima, who was at the center, in front of them, all alone. The striking of the arrows and other weapons did not impede Bhima for one moment. With a mace at hand, Bhima appeared like Yama out to finish the world at the time of Pralaya.
निःशल्यमेनं च चकार तूर्णम्
आरोपयच्छात्मरथं महात्मा |
भृशं परिश्वज्य च भीमसेनं
आश्वासयामास च शत्रुमध्ये ||
When Dhrishtadyumna finally got to him, he was shocked to see the state in which he was fighting. He plucked out numerous javelins from the body of Bhima. Although bleeding profusely with sharp javelins stuck all over him, Bhima had continued to fight without showing any signs of pain. Amazed at his kshatriya prowess, he hugged Vrikodara and pulled him over to his chariot. He asked Bhima to rest and gave him some water.
Dhrishtadyumna picked up the ‘Sammohana astra’ and launched it at the Kaurava brothers. This put them in a daze. They were totally confused and started fighting amongst themselves. The army around them also came under the spell of the astra and ran in all directions. Finally Dronacharya had to come to their rescue. He released them from their misery by firing the ‘Prajna astra’ which nullified the effects of the ‘Sammohana astra’.
Drona killed the charioteer and horses of Dhrishtadyumna which led him to take refuge in Abhimanyu’s chariot. The fighting raged on for a long time.
Duryodhana once again gathered his brothers and attacked Bhima. Seeing them coming together, Vrikodara got into his chariot and sped towards them. Duryodhana hit Bhima with three sharp arrows. This enraged the Lion. He shot back three arrows at Duryodhana that wounded him deeply.
Bhima injured Chitrasena badly with a Naracha. The other brothers were injured when Bhima shot several gold-laced arrows at them.
At that moment, Abhimanyu and the other Pandava sons drove towards Bhimasena. The Kaurava brothers took to their heels.
तान् नामृष्यत कौन्तेयो जीवमाना गता इति |
अन्वीय च पुनः सर्वांस्तव पुत्रानपीडयत् ||
Bhimasena did not like the fact that they ran away alive. Like a lion chasing hyenas, he ran after them and injured them with sharp arrows!!
The battle between the two factions of the Bharatas continued this way for several hours and the sun started to go down slowly on the west. Duryodhana, desirous of killing Bhima, attacked him yet again.
Bhimasena saw his greatest enemy come close to him and uttered the following words:
“The time that I yearned for so many years has now come close; If you do not desert the battlefield I will surely kill you today.
By killing you I will avenge all of Kunti’s pains, the pains we underwent during the vanavasa and all of Draupadi’s hurt.
O son of Gandhari! You insulted us during the game of dice; that insult has led to this sorrow for you.
You accepted the evil advice of Shakuni and Karna and ignore who we were and did whatever you liked. You insulted even Sri Krishna due to your attachment to wealth. You happily ordered Uluka to arrest Sri Krishna.
I shall revenge all of that by killing you and your followers”
Saying so, Bhimasena picked up a huge bow and fired 26 sharp arrows at Duryodhana. With two additional arrows, he broke the bow of the son of Gandhari. Two other arrows sent his charioteer to the city of Yama. His four horses followed the charioteer very soon.
रथाच्च स ध्वजः श्रीमान् नानारत्नविभूषितः |
पपात सहसा भूमिं विद्युज्जलधरादिव ||
Another two arrows broke the umbrella protecting Duryodhana. Three arrows completely destroyed his flag. That flag, with a snake embedded in it and studded with previous jewels fell down on the ground.
Finally Bhima picked up ten arrows and, like a hook that tortures elephants, released the same at Duryodhana to hurt him.
स गाडविद्धो व्यथितो भिमसेनेन संयुगे |
निषसाद रथोपस्थे मूर्च्छाभिहतचेतनः ||
Duryodhana collapsed at the center of his chariot and fell unconscious.
Seeing the pathetic plight of their leader, Jayadratha, the King of Sindhu, and Kripacharya rushed towards Duryodhana. They picked up the unconscious prince and transported him to a safer place in the battlefield.
Duryodhana lived – only to undergo the suffering of seeing his entire clan being wiped out over the next 12 days.