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
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
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
“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
“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.