It was the afternoon of the 14th day. The great war had taken a tragic turn with the brutal killing of Abhimanyu on the 13th. Arjuna, without consulting Sri Krishna, had vowed to kill Jayadratha before sunset. Both of them had entered deep into the Kuru army’s formation and were engaged in a fierce battle even as sunset approached.
At one point in time, Yudhisthira heard the sounds of Sri Krishna’s Panchajanya. Typical of him, he would interpret it in only one way. The absence of the sound of Arjuna’s conch meant, according to him, that Arjuna was in danger and possibly even dead. He urged and then ordered Satyaki, the great Yadava warrior to go find Arjuna and Sri Krishna and relay to him the news of their well being. After a lot of hesitation, Satyaki agreed and went in search.
Satyaki had a special boon from Sri Krishna, as revealed in the Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya by Sri Madhwacharya, that he would be extra ordinary in battle for one day. The 14th day was to be that special occasion. Satyaki defeated armies of several kingdoms that day. He killed numerous great warriors, including Bhurishravas. He kept making steady progress in approaching Arjuna.
The wait was, however, too long for Yudhisthira whose fears kept compounding. He was now worried that even the valorous Satyaki may have been killed. Left with no other option, and on the verge of panicking, he asked his brother Bhimasena to go look for Arjuna, Sri Krishna and Satyaki. Bhimasena told the elder Pandava that his fears were totally unfounded since no one under the protection of Sri Krishna could be harmed. Yet, he said, he would bow to Yudhisthira’s wishes and go seek Partha.
Bhima set out to battle in what would turn out be his greatest Yajna of all the 18 days. Innumerable were the Kaurava side warriors who would be offered as Ahuti by Vrikodara.
As soon as he started, he was first opposed by 20 of Duryodhana’s brothers – Dusshala, Chitrasena, Kundabhedi, Vivishanti, Durmukha, Dussaha, Vikarna, Shala, Vinda, Anuvinda, Sumukha, Deergabahu, Vrundaraka, Suhasta, Sushena, Deergalochana, Abhaya, Raudrakarma, Suvarma and Durvimochana.
तान् समीक्ष्य तु कौन्तेयो भीमसेनः पराक्रमी |
अभ्यवर्तत वेगेन सिंहः क्षुद्रमृगानिव ||
The valorous Bhimasena, the son of Kunti, saw them and rushed towards them like a Lion attacking a herd of small animals.
Having dismissed them through a shower of arrows, he then proceeded towards an elephant army. Bhima tortured the elephants so badly that they ran helter-skelter killing many Kaurava foot soldiers themselves!
Bhima’s march was then halted by the arrows of Dronacharya, like a turbulent sea that is halted by the coast.
A fierce arrow discharged by Dronacharya stuck Bhima in his forehead. Causing no pain, the arrow appeared like an upward ray of light emanating from the Sun and Bhima appeared even more radiant.
Dronacharya had earlier let go both Arjuna and Satyaki through after they bowed down to him according him the respect of a Guru. Drona harbored similar thoughts about Bhimasena.
स मन्यमानस्त्वाचर्यो ममायं फल्गुनो यथा |
भीमः करिष्यते पूजमित्युवाच वृकोदरम् ||
Thinking that Bhima too would offer him worship just like Arjuna, Dronacharya spoke to him (thus).
Drona said – “O Bhimasena, without defeating me in the midst of your enemies, you cannot enter the army (formation). Your brother and Krishna went past me only after my permission. You, however, cannot enter”
Bhima’s response was immediate and clear.
“O Brahma bandhu! Arjuna did not enter the formation after your permission. He, the invincible one, can even enter Indra’s army. Only so he can offer you respect as a teacher, he bowed down to you”
नार्जुनोsहं घृणी द्रोण भीमसेनोsस्मि ते रिपुः |
“But I am not kind hearted like Arjuna. I am Bhimasena, your enemy!”
“If you think of us as your enemy, then I am not under compulsion to treat you as a father, guru or relative. It is my Dharma to accord you the treatment that an enemy deserves”
Saying so, Bhimasena threw a mighty mace at Drona’s chariot. The gada was like Yama’s kaladanda. Drona had to jump off his vehicle to save himself. The effect of the mace was such that Drona’s horses, charioteer and flag were all destroyed in an instant. It was like a hurricane that had swept off the trees. Drona climbed another chariot.
Duryodhana’s brothers who were watching all of this rushed towards him to protect their commander. But three sharp arrows found the necks of Kundabhedi, Sushena and Deerganetra. All three reached the abode of Yama.
Next on the list was Vrundaraka. One arrow is all it took Bhimasena to kill this Kaurava.
Another three arrows and three more victims. Duryodhana’s brothers Abhaya, Raudrakarma and Durvimochana met their end.
It was then the turn of Vinda, Anuvinda and Suvarna to meet their end. Bhimasena dispatched them without any mercy. Three sharp arrows and all met with success.
A stinging iron arrow then brought down Sudarshana.
The other 9 sons of Dhritharashtra who were around ran away.
Having thus disposed off 11 brothers of Duryodhana, Bhima once again approached the chariot of Drona. After all, it was Drona who was standing in the way of getting near Arjuna, the purpose of Bhima’s venture that day.
Drona shot a stream of arrows at Bhima. He countered all of them with powerful arrows of his own. Encouraged by Duryodhana, many archers approached Bhima and simultaneously attacked him. Bhima threw a mighty mace at them causing them to run away. Many foot-soldiers were crushed under the impact of that gada.
A great duel then ensued between Guru Drona and Shishya Bhima.
तद्युद्धमासीत् सुमहद् घोरं देवासुरोपमम् |
द्रोणस्य च महाराज भीमस्य च महात्मनः ||
“O Maharaja! Like the battle between the Devas and the Asuras, a mighty duel took place between Drona and the great soul Bhima”
Seeing that Drona was targeting his army’s foot-soldiers by the thousands, Bhima decided to end this engagement and move on. He got down from his chariot and ran towards Drona.
Drona attacked the approaching Bhima with a shower of arrows. It was like a bull running amidst heavy rain. The arrows had no effect on Bhima.
स वध्यमानः समरे रथं द्रोणस्य मारिष |
इषायां पाणिना गृह्य प्रचिक्षेप महाबलः ||
O worshipful one! Even as he was being hit this way, he held the pole of the chariot with his hands and threw the (entire) chariot away.
In a moment, the large and mighty chariot of Dronacharya was in the sky. The warriors who witnessed this feat of Bhima were stunned. They saw their commander Drona flying in the air trying to save himself.
द्रोणस्य सत्वरो राजन् क्षिप्तो भीमेन संयुगे |
रथमन्यं समास्थाय व्यूहद्वारमुपाययौ ||
O King! Drona, having been thrown in the air along with his chariot by Bhima, (jumped out and) quickly climbed on to another chariot and reached the entrance of the Vyuha.
Drona knew Bhima could not be contained. He left that place and occupied the front of the Vyuha, away from Vrikodara.
Bhima’s path towards Arjuna and Sri Krishna was clear. He moved on.