Kurukshetra War and the Kambojas

Kurukshetra War and the Kambojas

" 'Among the Kshatriya tribes who had participated in the Kurukshetra war, the Kambojas occupy a very prominent place. They were the allies of Duryodhana and by their bravery, and especially the prowess of their king Sudakshina, they had rendered great service to Kuru side in the long drawn battle at Kurukshetra. Sudakshina Kamboj was one of the few Maharathas or great heroes on the field' " [ Some Kshatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, p 241, Dr B. C. Law; Felicitation Volume Presented to Professor Sripad Krishna Belvalkar, 1957, p 260, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Shripad Krishna Belvalkar; cf: The Mahabharata, 1973, p 674, Johannes Adrianus Bernardus Buitenen, James L. Fitzgerald; The Mahabharata, An English version based on selected Versions, C.V. Narasimhan, Collumbia College (Collumbia University), Williams Theodore De Bary; cf: Hindu Culture in Greater India, 1949, p 69-77, Swami Sadanand; Cambodia Past and Present, 19191, p 5, O. P. Paliwal; Tribes in Ancient India, 1943, p 5, Dr B. C. Law - Ethnology.] .

After completion of 12 years of forest exile and one year of anonymous exile, the Pandavas had approached Kauravas for giving them half of the kingdom or at least five villages from their vast kingdom. Duryodhana refused to oblige. Krishna tried to broker peace but failed. War became inevitable. The two sides summoned vast armies to their help and lined up at Kurukshetra for a war. The Kingdoms of Dwaraka, Kasi, Kekaya, Magadha, Matsya, Chedi, Pandya and the Yadus of Mathura and some other clans like the Parama Kambojas from Transoxiana were allied with the Pandavas; the allies of the Kauravas comprised the kings of Pragjyotisha, Anga, Kekaya (Kekaya brothers who were enemies of the Kekeya brothers on the Pandava side), Sindhudesa (including Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis), Mahishmati, Avanti in Madhyadesa, Madras, Gandharas, Bahlikas, Kambojas (with Yavanas, Sakas, Tusharas etc) and many others ["The contest of the Kurus and the Pandavas in early Indian legend seems to indicate a struggle between the Scythians (Kurus and their allies) and the Aryan races (the Pandavas) for supremacy" (See: Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1876, p 72, T. W. Kingsmill, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland North China Branch, Shanghai Literary and Scientific Society, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland China Branch, Shanghai Literary and Scientific Society, North-China Branch, China Branch).] [Cf: 'That the present Mahabharata is a completely revised version of an original and possibly a non-Aryan Kuru Epic has been maintained by several eminent Indologists. It has been suggested that the Pandavas were Aryans and Kauravas were non-Aryans (Iranians), that the former have been portrayed as righteous heroes while the latter have been depicted as mean and wretched people, that this picture represents just the reverse of the original character of these people. In the extant Epic account the Pandavas and Kauravas have been described as cousins and descendants of Puru, the critic point out, only with a view to give a noble pedegree to the Aryan Pandavas. The Pauravas or the descendants of the Puru, a tribe already important in the time of the Rigveda, were non-Aryans (i.e a non Indo-Aryan tribe fighting against the Aryans Bharatas/Tristus in the Rigvedic battle of ten kings)---so were the famous Kurus, also a non-Aryan people. The authors of the Epic, we are told, invented a genealogy for the Pandavas and fictitiously attached it to that of the Kurus. Dr Robert Shafer remarks: "A strong reason for doubting that bulk of the population of Kaurava nation was Aryan is that the Kauravas rallied the support of nearly all the non-Aryans (i.e non-Indo-Aryans), and Pandavas did that of nearly all Aryans" (See: Ethnography of Ancient India, p 30, Robert Shafer). The Kaurava allies like the Bahlikas, Kambojas, Sakas, Pahlavas, Tukharas, Gandharas, Madras, Kekeyas, Sindhus, Sibis, Malavas, Ksudraraks, Yaudheyas etc were nearly all of Iranian affinities. In short, the Epic of Krsna Dvaipayana has successfully assimilated and homologised the genealogy, myths and folklores of the Pauravas (Purus/Kurus). Puru was indeed a historical fugure though his historicity has been nearly completely annihilated by numerous incredible legends and stories woven around his character in the Epic and the Puranas' (See: Hitory of Punjab, 1997, p 22, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala; Cf: Political and Social Movements in Ancient Panjab (from the Vedic Age Upto [sic] the Maurya Period) – 1964, pp 125-128, 86, Dr Buddha Prakash; The Quarterly Review of Historical Studies, 1961, p 150-151, Institute of Historical Studies (Calcutta, India) which regards the Kurus as the Aryans but the Pandavas as the Irano-Scythic invaders of Punjab). It has also been contended by scholars that the Kurus, Madras, Kambojas, Bahlikas, Gandharas etc were cognate people and all had Iranian affinities (See: Journal of the Oriental Institute, 1919, p 265, Oriental Institute (Vadodara, India) - Oriental studies; For Kuru-Kamboja-Saka relationship, see Dr Chandra Chakraberty: Literary History of ancient India in relation to its racial and linguistic affiliations, 1944, pp 14,37, Vedas, Chandra Chakraberty; The Racial History of India, 1944, p 153, Ethnology, Chandra Chakraberty; Cf: Die altpersischen Keilinschriften: Im Grundtexte mit Uebersetzung, Grammatik und glossar. 2. ed, Leipzig, 1881, p 86, Friedrich Spiegel - Old Persian inscriptions; Early Zoroastrianism, 2005, Page 45, James Hope Moulton; Cf: Zoroastrian and Israel, The Thinker: A Review of World-wide Christian Thought, 1892, p 490, fn, Theology etc).] [Cf however: " In their (Brahmanas') version of the Mahabharata story, the Pandavas originally a Dravidian race, are made relations, the cousins of the Aryan Kurus, and the long remembered story sung with pride by the people of their victory over the northern invaders, is turned by the subtlety of the Brahamans into civil war, or rather a family querrel between two Aryan races (The British Empire Series, 1899, p 407, C. S. Hughes); For a theory that Pandavas were non-Aryans and the Kurus were Aryans, see also: Heroic Age, p 519, H. M. Chadwick; and also: King of Kashmir, A translation of Raja Tarangini of Kalhana Pandit, Vol II, p vii, fn, Elibron Classics, J. C. Dutt).] .

udakshina joins the Kauravas

Panchala king Drupada had advised Yudhishtra to immediately send messengers to the Kambojas and other tribes on the north-western frontiers to list their military support against Duryodhana. [ Mahabharata 5.18.15 .]

But the Pandavas do not appear to have been successful in obtaining Kambojas' alliance.

*According to Dr B. C. Law, Duryodhana was more successful to get the support of Sudakshna, perhaps through the powerful influence of the Gandharas, whose king was his grandfather on the mother's side and whose prince Shakuni was one of the most prominent actors in the Kuru-Pandava episode. [Some Kshatrya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, p 241.]

*According to Dr P. E. Pargiter, 'Sudakshina does not appear to have had any personal feelings one way or the other; hence it seems probable that he followed Jayadratha's initiative'. [Journal of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1908, p 320.] Jayadratha was king of Sindhu and Sovira and was married to king Duryodhana's sister Dushala.

*According to Dr J. L. Kamboj, Sudakshina may have sided with the Kauravas to take revenge upon Arjuna for his (Arjuna's) earlier war expedition against the Kambojas. [ Mahabharata 2.27.20-25.]

*One of the queens of Jayadratha was also a Kamboja princess [ Mahabharata 11.23.11.] (the other two being from Kuru and Yavana lineage) and it is highly likely that Kamboja princess was related to royal family of Sudakshina Kamboj. This may have caused Sudakshina to take sides with Jayadratha who was brother-in-law of Duryodhana.

*But the more important reason seems to be that princess "Bhanumati" of Kamboja royal family was married to Kuru prince Duryodhana, the Crown Prince of Hastinapura. [ Krishnavtara, 1962, pp 215, 224, Dr Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi (Dr K. M. Munshi).] [See also: Bhavan's Journal, 1963, p 25 (v-9), published by Bombay, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISSN: 0006-0518 OCLC:1774256.] [ IMPORTANT COMMENT: There is quite bit a confusion here as to the actual identity of princess Bhanumati, chief queen of Kuru prince Duryodhana. One version is that she was the sister of prince Susharma, and this Susharma is stated to be ruler of Trigarta. Yet another source claims Susharma, the brother of Bhanumati, to be prince of Vidarbha. And according to yet another claim, Duryodhana's chief queen (Bhanumati) belonged to Kalinga royal family. Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, Chapter XIX attests Kuru queen to have been the daughter of king of Kashi (i.e. Susharma, the brother of princess Bhanumati, is stated to be the king of Kashi). Yet one source also claims her to be daughter of Balrama, the elder brother of Krishana. Bangali version of Mahabharata (by Kashiram Das) claims that she was daughter of prince Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisha. Indonesian version of Mahabharata claims that Duryodhana' the Chief queen, princess Banowati, (Bhanumati), was daughter of king Shalya, the ruler of Madra kingdom. Based on some versions of Mahabharata/and other ancient sources, scholars like Dr K. M. Munshi (the distinguished scholar/educationist/philosopher, founder of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, author of 125 books, and who wrote forewords to illustrious historical series: "The History and Culture of the Indian People", as also the author of Voluminous 9 volume, Krishanavtara), identify Kuru queen Bhanumati as the Kamboja princess. According to Cherusseri Bharatham (Bharatagatha) (English Summary), Chapter 11, Bhanumati (Duryodhana's wife) was daughter of certain Bhanuman who is not identified. ] [There is reference to one young princeling "Angaraka" from Kamboja who had come to join the "Yuddha-shala" of sage Dronacharya for education and military training. The young Kamboja prince Angaraka is stated to be related to Duryodhana's wife, princess Bhanumati, and is described as a youth wearing a superior self-pride and lacking humility of a good student. Princeling Angaraka was, therefore, disallowed admission into Dronacharya's accadamy for these reasons.] Princess Bhanumati was the younger sister of the first queen-consort of Duryodhana, on whose premature death, Acharya Dronacharya is said to have brought about the marriage of the younger Kamboja sister, princess Bhanumati, to Duryodhana, since her father was a great friend of Dronacharya. [ Krshnavtara, 1962, p 224, Dr Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi; See also: Bhavan's Journal, p 26, published by Bombay, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.] It, thus, appears reasonable to conclude that Sudakshina Kamboj was related both to Duryodhana of the Kurus, as well as to Jayadratha of the Sindhus, and for this reason, he might have supported the Kauravas against the Pandavas.

Sudakshina was a great warrior in Duryodhana's army [The Mahabharata: Book 11, 2004, p 674, James L. Fitzgerald.] and had participated in the Kurukshetra war with full division ("Akshouhini") army of wrathful warriors which comprised the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas and other tribes from Central Asia including the Daradas, Tusharas and the Khasas. [ The Nations of India at the Battle Between the Pandavas and Kauravas, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1908, pp 313, 331, Dr F. E. Pargiter, (Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland).] "He was the supreme commander of this composite army which looked like multi-colored rainy clouds moved by powerful winds. The mass of this army had covered Kurukshetra battle-fields like a swarm of locust". [ Mahabharata 5.19.21-23.]

Military Divisions

Army of each party consisted of several divisions; the Kauravas had eleven while the Pandavas controlled seven. A division ("Akshouhini") includes 21,870 chariots and chariot-riders, 21,870 elephants and riders, 65,610 horses and riders, and 109,350 foot-soldiers (1.2.19-27).

The combined number of warriors and soldiers in both armies works out approximately to be four million. Each Akshohini was under a commander or a general, apart from the Commander in chief or the Generalissimo who was the head of the entire army.

Pandava Army

*Commander-in-Chief:- Dhristadyumna

"The Commanders or Generals of Pandava army were the following" (Mahabharata, 5.57):-

#Satyaki One Akshouhini of Yadava army
#Chekitana Another Akshouhini of Yadava army
#Drupada One Akshouhini of Panchala army
#Virata One Akshouhini of Matsya army
#Sahadeva One Akshouhini of Magadha army (This Sahadeva is Magadha King Sahadeva)
#Dhristaketu One Akshouhini of Chedis, Karushas and Kasis
#Five Kekaya brothers One Akshouhini of Kekaya army (lead by their elder brother Vrihatkshatra)

Kaurava Army

*Commander-in-Chief:- Bhishma
*Drona, Karna, Shalya and Ashwathama were promoted to this post successively

"The Commanders or Generals of Kaurava army were the following" (Mahabharata 5.155.30-33):-

#Kripa, a preceptor of warfare, in the race of Gautama (leads armies of various kingdoms)
#Drona, a preceptor of warfare, in the race of Bharadwaja (leads armies of various kingdoms)
#Shalya, the king of Madra Kingdom (leads the Madra army)
#Jayadratha the king of the Sindhus (leads Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis)
#Sudakshina the ruler of the Kamvojas (leads Kambojas, Yavanas, Sakas, Tusharas, Kashmiras, etc)
#Kritavarma, a Yadava chief from Anarta Kingdom (leads Yadavas allied to Duryodhana)
#Ashwathama, son of Drona, ruler of North Panchala Kingdom
#Karna, the king of Anga Kingdom (leads the Angas and armies of minor Anga chiefs)
#Bhurisravas, a chief from Bahlika
#Shakuni, a chief from Gandhara Kingdom (leads the Gandhara army)
#Bahlika king (leads the Bahlika army)

"This is repeated at another place in the Mahabharata" (6.16.15-17):-

#Sakuni, a chief from Gandhara Kingdom (leads the Gandhara army)
#Shalya, the king of Madra Kingdom (leads the Madra army)
#Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu Kingdom (leads Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis)
#Vinda and Anuvinda, two brothers and kings of Avanti Kingdom
#The Kekaya brothers from Kekeya Kingdom (opposed the Kekayas on the Pandava side)
#Sudakshina, the king of Kamboja Kingdom (leads Kambojas, Yavanas, Sakas, Tusharas, Kashmiras etc)
#Srutayudha the king of Kalinga Kingdom (leads the Kalinga army)
#Jayatsena a king of Magadha Kingdom (leads the Magadha army allied with Kauravas)
#Brihadbala the king of Kosala Kingdom (leads the Kosala and Videha armies)
#Kritavarma, a Yadava chief from Anarta Kingdom (leads Yadavas allied to Duryodhana)
#Karna, the king of Anga Kingdom (not mentioned here, he rested for 10 days, and came on 11th day onwards)

The Kurukshetra war was probably the bloodiest war in history as most of the warriors and soldiers perished during the brief period of only eighteen days. At the end of the 18 days of deadly war, only the five Pandavas, Krishna and a few old warriors from the Kaurava side had survived. The war left an extremely large number of widows and orphans and led to an economic depression and beginning of Kali Yuga.

Pre-war Scenario

Krishna Extols Sudakshina

At the start of war, Vasudeva glorifies Sudakshina Kamboja and lists him amongst the greatest Maharathas gathered at Kurukshetra battlefield (MBH 5.95.19-21).

Bhishma Extols Sudakshina

In the enumeration of great heroes on Kuru side, Bhishma extols the prowess of Sudakshina of Kambojas and calls him "a lion among the chariot warriors, and in might and fight, a match equal to god Indra himself. The best of the chariot warriors (Maharathas) under him are strikers of fierce force, and his great host of his army covering the land like a swarm of locusts...." (5.165.1-3; Dr B. C. Law).

Durodhana Extols Sudakshina

Duryodhana gives a very important place to Sudakshina Kamboj by placing him side by side with the greatest heroes on his side. He boasts of to Pandavas saying that his immense army has Bhishma as the current which cannot be crossed, Drona as the alligator which cannot be approached, Karna and Shalya as a swarm of small fishes and the Kamboja as volcanic mouth giving out flames (MBH 5.160.40; Dr B. C. Law).

Duryodhana again extols the prowess of Sudakshina along with Bhishma, Drona Acharya, Kripa Acharya, Kritvarma, Bhurisravas, Vikarna and Bhagadatta--- describing them all as 'Great Maharathas, high born, recklessly fearless, and in might and fight, more than a match even to the three worlds put together (MBH 6.65.31-33).

War Scenes

The Drona’s war flag bore an emblem of a bow while that of Duryodhana was embedded with pearls and contained an emblem of an elephant on it. In the military array, the chariot-warriors (Maharathas) Paurava, Shrutayudha of Kalinga, Sudakshina of Kamboja, Kshemadhanva, and Sumitra etc were posted in front of Duryodhana (6.17.26-27). On day one, Kaurava army stood facing west and the Pandava army stood facing east. Kripacharya, the mighty bowman, accompanied by the Shakas, the Yavanas, the Pahlavas (from the division of Sudakshina Kamboja), the Kiratas etc all from Udichya, was posted on northern point of the army and Kritavarma accompanied by Dakshinatyas including the Vrishinis, the Bhojas, the Saurashtras etc proceeded towards the southern point (6.20).

The Kamboja warriors had played very crucial role each and every day of the war and were most often placed at the vanguard of the military arrays which would be clear from the extracts below, taken from the Mahabharata (See: "Evolution of Heroic Traditions in Ancient Punjab, 1971, pp 28-51, Dr Buddha Prakash").

First day fight

Day one of the war has special reference to Sudakshina of Kamboja. The battle started with deafening noise and bustle. The twangs of the bows, neighing of horses, trumpeting of elephants, tinkling of bells tied to their howdas, and rattling of arms made the hair stand on end (6.45.4-6). In that roar and fury, Yudhishtra attacked Madra king Shalya, Bhishama clashed with Arjuna, Satyaki with Kritavarma, Abhimanyu with Brahadbala, Bhimasena with Duryodhana, Dushasana with Nakula, Durmukha with Sahadeva, Yudhishtra with Shalya, Dhristadyumna with Drona, Maharatha Dhristketu with Bahlika, Ghatotkach with Alambusha, Shikhandi with Ashwathama, Virata with Bhagadatta, Kripacharya with Brahatkshatra, Drupada with Sindhu Raja Jayadratha, Vikarana with Sutasoma, Susharma with Chekitana, and Shakuni with Yudhishtra's son Prativindhya. Similarly, Kamboja Maharatha, Sudakshina Kamboja ("Sudakshinaam tu rajendra Kambojanam maharatham") charged against mighty warrior Srutakarama, son of Sahadeva, with irresistible vehemence causing his enemy numerous injuries (Dr Buddha Prakash). Sudakshina had covered that great chariot warrior Srutakarama with numerous sharp arrows; Srutakarama too responded in kind (6.45.60-68).

Later in the day, after the slaying of Uttara (son of Virata) by Shalya, his brother Sveta, also a great warrior, was greatly upset. Blazing like fire, he gave a very fierce fight to Srutakarama and later also he clashed valiantly with seven Maharathas of the Kauravas viz.: Brihadvala the ruler of the Kosalas, Jayatsena of Magadha, Rukmaratha, the valorous son of Shalya, Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti, Sudakshina, the ruler of Kamboja, and Jayadratha, the ruler of the Sindhus and kinsman of Brihadkshatra (6.47.47-49). Thus the battle continued to rage with terrible fury, the warriors forgetting and failing to recognise their relatives and making short shrifts of each other (6.47.47)

Sveta was also finally slain by Bhishma.

Pandavas were defeated at the end of the day.

Second day fight

The second day of the battle opened with intense suspense and careful planning. The Pandavas arrayed their forces in Kraunchavyuha. To meet the challenge, Kauravas also took adequate precautions and formed a large Vyuha. Dushasana, Vikarna, Nanda, Upanandaka and Chitrasena, these brothers of Duryodhana protected Bhishma. The Samsthanas, the Surasenas, the Venikas, the Kukkuras, the Rechakas, the Trigartas, the Madrakas, the Yavanas from Kamboja Sudakshina's army, the Satrunjayas and the Manibhadrakas --these tribes protected Bhishma's army (6.51.7). Bhishma and his protectors stood at the front of the army. He was followed by Drona. Drona had the Kuntalas, Dasarnas, Magadhas, Vidarbhas (Vidarbha's who were not under the Vidarbha king Rukmi who ruled from his capital city viz Bhojakata. These Vidarbha's were from the second Vidarbha capital viz Kundinapuri), Melakas, Karna-Pravaranas. Behind Drona was Sakuni followed by Gandharas, Sindhus, Sauviras, Sivis and Vasatis. He was followed by Duryodhana with his brothers, Aswatakas, Vikarnas, Vamanas, Kosalas, Daradas, Vrikas, Kshudrakas and Malavas. He was followed by Bhurisravas, Sala, Shalya, Bhagadatta, Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti, all of who formed the left flank of the array. Then another section of the northerners led by Somadatta, Susharman, Sudakshina Kamboja, Satayus and Srutayus formed the right flank with their armies (6.51.18). Ashwathama, and Kripa, and Kritavarma of Satvata’s race, with a very large division of the troops, were stationed at the rear of the army. Behind them were the rulers of many provinces, and Ketumat, and Vasudana, and the powerful son of the king of Kasi (6.47.47-49). The day was marked by memorable encounters like that between Bhishma and Arjuna (6.52), Dhristadyumna and Drona (6.53), Bhima and the Kalingas & Nishadas (6.54) and the prodigies of Abhimanyu and Arjuna (6.55).

Third day fight

On day three Bhishma was protected by Drona, Kritavarman, Ashwathaman and Kripa. On the beak of Garuda array was Bhishma. Drona and Kritavarma formed its eyes. Ashwathaman, Kripa, Trigartas, Matsyas (Matsyas under the Trigarta rule) and Kekayas formed its head. Bhurisravas, Shala, Shalya, Bhagadatta, Jayadratha, Madrakas, Sindhus, Souviras, Panchanadas and the Vatadhanas formed its neck. Duryodhana and his brothers formed its rear. Vinda, Anuvinda, Kambojas, Sakas and Surasenas formed its tail. Magadhas, Kalingas and Daserakas formed its right wing. Vrithadvala, Karushas, Vikunjas, Mundas, Kaundivrishas formed its left wing (6.56.7-9).

COMMENT: " Mundas here also refers to the Kamboja/Yavana soldiers of Sudakshina's army since it was the Kambojas and Yavanas alone who are known to have worn short-cropped hair and have therefore, been called "mundas" (shaved-headed) in numerous ancient texts. Thus, a section of the Munda Kambojas/Yavanas probably formed its left flank also. (For Munda Kambojas, see: 'Mundan.etanhanishyami danavaniva vasavah". "pratigyam parayiahyami kambojaneva ma vaha': Translation: ('Bear me thither to those Kamboja warriors, Oh Charioteer. I shall slay these Mundas (shaved headed warriors) like Vasava had destroyed the Danavas and thus I shall fulfil my vow', says Satyaki to his charioteer in reference to the Kamboja warriors: See MBH 7.119.26-27); cf: kamboja munda, yavana munda (Ganapatha on Panini); also see: 'shiraso mundayitva...yavananan shirah sarvan kambojana tathaiva cha' (Harivamsa 14.1-19) and numerous Puranic texts etc.)". Dr J. L. Kamboj also says that the 'Munda' here (6.56.9) refers to the "shaved headed soldiery" of Sudakshina Kamboj (See: Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 63, Dr Kamboj).

Fourth day fight

The highlight of the Day four fight was that Bhima slaughtered seven of the 99 brothers of Duryodhana, effecting the first shock to that arrogant king of the Kurus, whose arrogance was the root cause of this immense slaughter of men, called the Kurukshetra War. Arjuna also became fully active as a warrior, and fought bravely with his grandfather Bhishma. Bhima also devastated the elephant division of the Magadhas. Earlier on Day two, he had afflicted the elephants of Kalingas. After the fourth day, Bhima became an expert smitter of elephant armies. (The armies which are skilled in elephant war-fare were the Kalingas, Magadhas and Pragjyotishas, all from the eastern regions. Kingdoms from the Himalayan regions possessed elephants of a different kind - that having four tusks, whitish, woolly and huge in size. Rakshasa Ghatotkacha possessed such elephants. (6.64). In the beginning, the Pandavas took the offensive and pushed their opponents back but in a trice, Bhishma rallied and charged with irresistible fury compelling even Krishna to take up arms against his vow. The important encounters of the fourth day were one between Bhishma and Arjuna (6.60). Abhimanyu also displayed prodigies in valor but they were over-whelmed by the enemy. Dhrishtadyumna charged with thousands of horses, elephants and chariots and fell on Shalya guarding the key points. This led to a furious clash between them (6.62) resulting in numerous casualties. At the end of day Ghatotakacha and Bhima dominated the scene and cornered the Kauravas (6.64).

Filled with grief this was what Duryodhana had to say to grandsire Bhishma on 4th day of the fight: "O grandsire, Drona and you, and Shalya, and Kripa, and Drona's son Ashwathama, and Kritavarma the son of Hridyika, and Sudakshina the ruler of the Kambojas, and Bhurisravas, and Vikarna, and Bhagadatta of exceeding prowess, all these are regarded as mighty car-warriors (Maharathas). All of these, again, are high-born, and prepared to throw away their lives in battle. It is my opinion that these are a match for even the three worlds (united together). Even all the warriors of the Pandava army (united together) cannot bear your prowess. A doubt has arisen in my mind. Explain it to me who enquires of you. Who it is, relying on whom the Pandavas are vanquishing us repeatedly" "(6.65.31-33).

From the fifth to the seventh day

Fifth day fight

The fifth day opened with formation of ingenious arrays, the Kauravas making "Makaravyuha" and the Pandavas the "Shyenavyuha" (6.69). The first encounter was between Bhishma and Bhima. Arjuna took offensive and threw the enemy completely in disorder. "At that juncture, the Punjabi contingents distinguished greatly themselves. Thus the Kamboja cavalries, accompanied by thousands of Gopas, advanced under the command of their chief Sudakshina; the Madras, Sauviras, Gandharas and Trigartas warriors rallied around the king of Kalinga; the Sindhu troops under Jayadratha followed Dushasana and fourteen thousand troops took the field under Shakuni" "(6.71.13-15) (Dr Buddha Prakash). A murderous fight then followed, the prominent highlights of which were the duels between Virata and Bhishma, Ashwathama and Arjuna, Duryodhana and Bhima and Abhimanyu and Lakshmana (6.73). Bhurishravas advanced and killed ten sons of Satyaki which infuriated the Pandavas and led Arjuna to display feats of his arms (6.74).

Sixth day fight

On sixth day while the Pandavas had formed "Makara vyuha", Bhishma had responded by creating "Krauncha vyuha". The Punjabi contingents as usual took the key positions in the Kaurava array (Dr Buddha Prakash). Drona took up position at its beak, Ashwathama and Kripa were positioned at its eyes, Srutavarma, foremost among the bowmen accompanied by the "super-Kambojas" (Kamboavara) took up positions at its head. Surasena, and Duryodhana with numerous princes formed its neck. Bhagadatta of Pragajyotisha with Madras, Soviras, and Kekayas formed its chest part. Parts of soldiery of Sudakshina Kamboja constituted of Tusharas, Shakas and Yavanas had formed the right flank of the Krauncha vyuha (6.75.17-21). Throughout the day, the fight continued with unabated fury and intensity. Duryodhana led a dashing charge against Bhima but the latter squarely countered it inflicting serious injuries on his rival which swooned Duryodhana (6.79). Bathed in blood, the warriors returned to their respective camps at the end of the day.

Seventh day fight

Seventh day witnessed the "Mandalavyuha" of the Kauravas and the "Vajravyuha" of the Pandavas. At the very outset, Arjuna descended on the Kaurava side. But Duryodhana harangued his warriors into fury and initiative and battle field heated up. Then came several important encounters such as between Drona and Virata, Ashwathama and Shikhandin, Alambusha and Satyaki, Dhristadyumna and Duryodhana and Kritavarma and Bhima (6.82) besides others. Trigarta king Susharman charged Arjuna, and Jayadratha of Sindhu also joined the contest. At last the sun set and sent the soldiers to their rest.

Eighth day fight

A military array was created by Bhishma on eighth day of the war where Bhishma with the Malavas, Dakshinatyas and battalions from Avanti formed its vanguard. Bhishma was followed by Drona with Pulindas, Paradas and the "ganas" of the Kshudraka-Malavas. Behind them came Bhagadatta surrounded by the battalions from Magadha, Kalinga and Pisachas. After Bhagadatta came Brahadbala of Kosala supported by Mekala, Kuruvinda and Tripura soldiery. This was followed by Susharma of Trigarta who was backed by the countless army of the Kambojas and Yavanas. Then followed a fleet of war elephants under Ashwathama. This was followed by earth-shaking forces of king Duryodhana and Kripacharya (6.87.10). With this military arrangement, began the eighth day of the war.

Ninth day fight

Bhishma had created a "Sarvatobhadra vyuha" on ninth day of the war and placed the Punjabi warriors at the head of it and the warriors of Trigarta in the middle part (6.99.2-6). Thus Bhishma accompanied by Kripacharya, Kritavarma, Maharatha Shaiva, Shakuni, Sindhuraja Jayadratha, Sudakshina Kamboja and all sons of Dhritarashtra formed its head (6.99.2-3). Drona, Bhurishravas and Bhagadatta occupied the right flank while Ashwathama, Somadatta and Vina/Anuvinda princes of Avanti were positioned at its left side. King Duryodhana accompanied by the Trigaratas had formed the central part of the military formation while Alambhusha and Srutaya were posted at its rear (6.99.4-6). Pandavas also made adequate preparations.

King Duryodhana, foremost among the chariot warriors Kripacharya, Ashwathama, Shalya, Sudakshina Kamboja, Vinda/Anuvinda princes of Avanti including Bahlika (king of Bahlika) had blocked all routes for Arjuna (6.102.23-25). Similarly, Bhagadatta and mighty Shrutaya with his division of elephants had also blocked all passages for Bhimasena. The movements of Yudhishtra and of the sons of Madri i.e. Nakula and Sahadeva were similarly jammed by other warrior from the Kuru side.

In the earlier part of the day the Pandavas remained dominant. The sons of Drupada and Abhimanyu made dashing charge and repulsed the enemy especially demoniac Alambusha. Arjuna also engaged with Bhishma and Satyaki was locked with Drona and Kripacharya. Susharman of Trigarta wounded Arjuna and Krishna with fierce blows. Shakuni of Gandhara and Madra soldiers of Shalya fought with Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva but suffered a set-back (6.105). This caused Bhishma to make a mighty and destructive onslaught against the Pandavas which caused Krishna to break his vow and join the fight. But as he was Charging against Bhishma with his disc, Arjuna, ashamed of the violation of Krishna's vow, ran after him and dragged him back, pledging himself to fight with fuller dedication.

Tenth day fight

Tenth day of the war saw the fall of Bhishma. Backed by Drona and Ashwathama, Kaurava, the Commander-in-chief Bhishma charged at the Pandava army. This was followed by Bhagadatta with his elephant corps. Kripa and Kritavarma followed Bhagadatta and they, in turn, were backed by mighty ("balvansat") Kambojaraj Sudakshina. Jayatsena of Magadha, Brahadbala of Kosala, and Susharma of Trigarta formed the rear of this army. Arjuna tactfully advised Shikhandi to face Bhishma so that he could take care of other Maharathas of the Kauravas like Dronaacharya, Ashwathama, Kripacharya, Duryodhana, Chitrasena, Vikarana, Sindhuraja Jayadratha, Avanti princes Vinda and Anuvinda, Sudakshina Kamboja, brave Bhagadatta, Bhurishravas son of Somadatta, Alambhusha and Susharama of Trigarta. Following Arjuna’s advice, Shikhandi directed his car towards Bhishma and Dhristadyumna, Abhimanyu (son of Subhadra), old Virata, Drupada, Kuntibhoja, Nakula, Sahadeva, Yudhishtra and other Maharathas of Pandavas also ran towards Bhishma to finish the latter. Kauravas too moved forwards to stem the tide of the Pandavas. Chitrasena clashed with Chekitana, Kritavarman stopped Dhristadyumna, Bhurishravas clashed with Bhimasena, Nakula was stopped by Vikarna, Sahadeva by Kripa while Durmukha faced Bhimasena’s demon son Ghatotkacha of fierce deeds. Satyaki was stopped by Duryodhana. Mighty Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna, who was almost upon Bhishma was stopped short by mighty Sudakshina of Kambojas (6.110.15). Wrathful Ashwathama, Drona and Dushasana had pushed old Virata, Drupada, Yudhishtra and Shikhandi in the way of Arjuna so as to stop the latter from charging against Bhishma. There then ensued a hand to hand fight. Alambusha and Bhagadatta and numerous other Kaurava warriors locked with Satyaki. Second time, Abhimanyu charged against Bhishma with the intention to assassinate him, but desiring the safety and welfare of Bhishma, Sudakshina of Kamboja again interrupted Abhimanyu. Sudakshina pierced Abhimanyu with numerous "sanat-jointed" arrows, and then he released 64 more sharp-edged arrows, and then again, five more of exceeding sharpness and also he wounded his car-driver. Then there ensued a terrific duel between the two mighty antagonists (6.111.18-21). Pandava Bhimasena held at bay 10 Maharathas of the Kauravas viz. Bhagadatta, Kripa, Shalya, Kritavarma, Vinda/Anuvinda, Jayadratha, Chitrasena, Vikarna and Durmarshana etc. At the head of the Panchalas and the Srnjayas, Arjuna shot showers of arrows on the Kaurava Generalissimo Bhishma. At the end of day, Bhishma, fatally wounded and pierced like a sieve, fell unconscious on the ground, which caused great rumpus among the Kuru army but sent waves of jubilation among the Pandavas.

Eleventh day fight

After the fall of Bhishma, Drona Acharya assumed the supreme command of Kaurava army. Drona constructed his military formation into a "Shakata vyuha" and assumed its vanguard position. Jayadratha of Sindhudesa, prince of Kalinga and Kaurava Vikarna, were positioned at the right flank of the vyuha. Shakuni of Gandhara supported by his numerous cavalry stood by them. Kripa, Kritavarma, Chitrasena and Vivishati, under command of Dushasna, formed the left flank of the military array.
Kambojraj Sudakshina, supported by swift and fleet Kamboja cavalry, and also backed by Yavanas and the Shakas, charged against the Pandava army (7.7.14). The Madras, Trigartas, Ambashthas, "Pratychyas" (westerners), "Udichyas" (northerners), Malavas, Sivis, Surasena, Sudras, Maladas, Soviras, Kitavas, "Prachyas" (easterners) and "Dakshinatyas" (southerners) also advanced towards the Pandavas under directions of Karna and Duryodhana.

Twelfth day fight

The 12th of the war was marked by Samsaptaka warriors challenging Arjuna and also the formation of Garuda vyuha by Drona. Drona himself formed the mouth of the vayuha. Kritavarma and arch-bowman Kripa were positioned at its eyes. Bhutasharma, Kshemasharma, brave Karkasha, the Kalingas, the Sinhalas, the Prachyas, the Suras, the Abhiras, the Daserkas, Sudakshina Kamboja’s army division ("comprising the Shakas, Yavanas and Kambojas"), Hanspathas, Surasenas, Daradas, Madras and Kekayas along with the divisions of elephants, horses, cars, the infantry and the Chaturangini ("composite four divisions of infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots"), all these wrathful warriors biting their lips in anger formed the neck of the Garudavyuha. Bhurishravas, Shalya, and Bahlika’s son Somadatta with an Akshouhini army had formed the right flank of the vyuha. Princes Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti and Sudakshina of Kamboja stood in front, on left side of Ashwathama ( The Ambashthas with Kalingas, Magadhas, Pundras, Madrakas, Gandharas, Prachyas, Parvatyas, and Vasatis formed the rear of the vyuha. Vaikartan Karna with his sons and relations was positioned at the tail of vyuha. Jayadratha, Bhimarathas, Sampati, Rishibha, Jaya, Bhumijaya, Vrishkratha and the mighty prince of Nishadadesa with his powerful army occupied the chest region of the vyuha. This military formation so formed by Drona from the chaturangi army gave the terrific impressions of the rising and falling waves of ocean powerfully disturbed by a recent mighty typhoon. These warriors were moving forwards like the thunderstorm-clouds and were too enthusiastic on displaying their war skills.

Alarmed at the direful sight, prince Yudhishtra shaped his military into "Mandalartha vyuha" in response.

There and then ensued the gruesome duels between the warriors of two sides. Nakula borne on a car yoked with studs of the Kamboja breed and decked with the feathers of the Suka bird penetrated the ranks of Kaurava army. Chedi king Dhristaketu riding on car driven by horses of Kamboja breed and of variegated hue, moved forwards too. Dhristadyumna of Panchala was driven by a car yoked with pigeon-colored horses. He was followed by Satyadhriti, Vasudana and Kashya’s son Abhibhu. Six thousands soldiers of the "Prabhadrarakastu Kambojas" (very handsome Kambojas) from Parama-Kamboja cavalry, resembling Yama (god of death) in fearful bearing and like the Kuber in riches ("Vaisravana= Kuber, the god of treasure"), riding on the their golden cars pulled by excellent steeds of the "Parama-Kamboja" breed and of diverse hues and decked with chains of gold, struck fear into the hearts of the hostile soldiers, with upraised weapons, with stretched bows and making their foes tremble with their showers of arrows and resolved to die together, also followed Dhristadyumna (7.23.42-44)

There were scenes of terrible fights on 12th day of the battle. The highlight of the day was that king Brhidakshatra of Nishada and king Chandra Varman were killed at the hands of Dhristadyumna. In its index of names, Mahabharata of Gita Press Gorakhpore calls this Chandravarman as a Kamboja king.

Thirteenth day fight

Drona formed his military array into "Charka vyuha" (Disc array), which caused great alarm among Krishna and Arjuna. Sensing their anxiety, king Yudhishtra ordered Abhimanyu to penetrate the array and fight his foes. After Arjuna, Abhimanyu alone knew the secrets of the Charka vyuha and therefore, he pushed himself into enemy's ranks and single-handedly started a carnage of the Kuru army. His attack on the northern cavalry of the Kambojas and Bahlikas was particularly devastating (7.36.37-39), including the slaughter of their super-breed horses. Shalya, king of Madra, fell into swoon and also lost his brother in the fray. This caused the Kuru forces under Drona run helter-skelter in the battle field. Abhimanyu openly challenged Dushasana and Karna and later worsted them both in duels. Yudhishtra accompanied by Bhimasena, Nakula and Sahadeva proceeded toward Abhimanyu to render him support but the party was stopped on its way by Jayadratha, the ruler of Sindhu & Sovira. Brave Abhimanyu alone continued to penetrate the deep ranks of Kuru army and he slew hundreds of their soldiers. Finally, the heroic Abhimanyu was treacherously surrounded by six Maharathas viz. Drona, Kripa, Karna, Ashwathama, Brihadbala and Kritavarma who collectively fought against mighty Abhimanyu, thus destroying his car, shield and the sword. Finding it a good opportunity, Dushasana's son struck unarmed Abhimanyu fatally with his mace which event created great consternation among the Pandava army and caused it run pell-mell leaving the battle ground. The death of Abhimanyu so pained Arjuna that he lost his nerve and took a vow to either kill Saindhava king Jayadratha next day by sun-set or consign himself to the flames (7.73).

Fourteenth day fight

Fourteenth Day of the war was naturally one of intense suspense and brisk preparations. It saw some of the bloodiest glimpses of fight as well as the derring-do deeds of the Kamboja army. After the fall of his son Abhimanyu on thirteenth day of war, Arjuna put forth his best energy and fought for all he was worth to carry out his oath of taking the life of Jayadratha, whom he took to be mainly responsible for the slaughter of his son. This news greatly alarmed Jayadratha who approached Duryodhana for providing appropriate protection to him in the wake of Arjuna’s threat. King Duryodhana assured Jayadratha in the following words:

"Oh lion man, don’t fear that Arjuna. Surrounded by brave Kshatriyas as you are, no one can even dare to approach you and touch your hair. I myself, Vaikartana Karna, Chitrasena, Vivishati, Bhurishrava, Shala, Shalya, invincible Vrishsena, Purumitra, Jaya, Bhoja, Sudakshina Kamboja, Mahabahu Satyavrata, Vikarna, Durmukha, Avanti princes Vinda and Anuvinda, Drona, Ashwathama, Subala’s son Shakuni, and numerous princes from other tribes will protect you with their armies. You absolutely don’t need to be concerned about your safety" (7.74.15-18)".

hakata vyuha of Drona

On that day, Drona created a military formation called "Chakrashakata vyuha"-- 24 kos wide in front and 10 kos wide at its rear. At its rear, he constructed another vyuha "Abhedam Garabha-vyuha" known as "Padama vyuha". And in the interior of Padama vyuha he created "Gudha-vyuha" also known as "Suchi vyuha". At the mouth of "Suchi vyuha", Drona posted arch-bowman Kritavarma. Behind him, he positioned Sudakshina Kamboja and Jarasandha. Thereafter, came Duryodhana and Karna (7.87.24-26). After them were posted a hunder-thousand irresitible warriors charged with the responsibility of protecting the mouth of Shakata vyuha. At their rear and so close to "Suchi vyuha", stood Jayadratha, further protected by all his Sindhu army. Drona himself formed the head of this over-all "complex and elaborate military formation".

In response, the Pandavas created their own vyuha and then began the war terrific.

War duels

Arjuna joined the battle in high spirits. Durmarshana clashed with Arjuna. Arjuna slaughtered entire division of his elephant corps. Then Arjuna faced Drona Acharya and paid him his obeisance but avoiding encounter with Drona he advanced further sideways. He was stopped by Satavata Kritavarma, Kamboja Sudakshina and Alambusha followed by ten thousand chariot warriors of Abhishah, the Shurasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Mavelaka, the Lalitthas, the Kekayas, Madarakas, "Narayana-Gopalas", and the numerous Ganas (Sanghas/Republics) of the Kambojas ("Kambojana cha ye ganah"), regarded as very brave and accomplished warriors in the battle-field ("sangrame shura sammatah") whom Karna had fought with and vanquished in former times, with Bharadvaja's son Ashwathama placed at their head and becoming regardless of their lives they rushed towards Partha to resist that angry hero (7.91.39-41). After terrible fight with them, Arjuna charged towards Drona but Drona diluted the fury of Arjuna’s attack with a "rain of arrows" shot at Arjuna and Krishna. Avoiding further involvement with formidable Drona, Arjuna rather charged at the Bhojas and the Kambojas. Kritavarman Bhoja pierced Arjuna with ten arrows. In response, Arjuna covered Kritavarman with hundred arrows and made him swoon but soon after recovering Kritavarma gave memorable fight to Yudhamanyu of Panchala as well as Uttamauja. Thereafter, Arjuna came face to face with Kambojas (7.92.26). Seeing Arjuna advance, brave Srutayudha charged at him and gave a grim fight. When his car was damaged, Srutayudha dismounted and on the ground he faced Arjuna with his mace but brave Srutayudha was killed with his own mace when it incidentally recoiled after hitting Krishna.

Arjuna's duel with Sudakshina

Thereafter followed the terrific duel between Arjuna and Sudakshina of Kamboja. The heroic Sudakshina, the son of the Kamboja, rushed against Arjuna, being borne on a car drawn by fleet Kamboja Studs. At him, Partha shot seven arrows, which penetrating through that great hero, entered the surface of earth. Pierced deep by those sharp arrows shot from the Gandiva bow, Sudakshina, in turn pierced Arjuna with ten shafts furnished with the feathers of "Kanka bird". He once more pierced Vasudeva's son Krishna with three and Partha (Arjuna) with five arrows, then, Arjuna bursting open his bow, cut down Sudakshina’s standard; and the son of Pandu pierced Sudakshina with a couple of "vallas" of exceeding sharpness. Sudakshina also having pressed Arjuna with three such arrows and uttered a fierce roar of a lion ("simha.naadam"). Thereafter, brave Sudakshina inflamed with overflowing rage hurled at the wielder of the Gandiva bow, a "Saraparshvi Shakti"---a lance, dreadful, tied with bells and made of iron and decked with gold. Having reached that mighty car-driver Arjuna, that dreadful lance blazing like a mighty meteor and emitting scintillations of fire, penetrated through Arjuna and then fell down on the ground. Pierced deep with that dreadful lance, Arjuna fell into a terrible swoon. Then, in an instant, that highly puissant hero recovering soon enough began to lick the corners of his mouth. Then Partha of inconceivable prowess pierced Sudakshina and his steeds, standards, bow and charioteer with ten "narachas" furnished with feathers of Kanka bird. And with innumerable other arrows he rendered Sudakshina’s chariot useless and cut it into pieces. The son of Pandu then, with an arrow of exceeding sharpness, pierced on the chest of Sudakshina, the Kamboja ruler whose purpose and prowess had both been baffled. Then with his armor shattered, trembling in all his limbs, with his crown and "Angadas" falling off, that hero fell with head downwards like a flagstaff loosened from the socket. Like a charming "Karnikara" tree in the spring growing gracefully on the top of a hill, with beautiful branches, lying on the grove when uprooted by the tempest, the prince of the Kambojas lay on the bare ground deprived of life, though accustomed to sleep on the most precious bed. Adorned with precious ornaments, very handsome and graceful ("sudarshnya"), possessing eyes of coppery hue, wearing round the head a tiara of Gold radiant like the flames of fire, the Mighty Armed Sudakshina, the king of the Kambojas felled by Arjuna with his arrows, and lying dead on the ground, appeared very beautiful like a charming hill with a flat summit.

Then beholding the prince of Kamboja slain in battle, all soldiers of Kurus began to fly in all directions (7.92.61-76). Fighting became pell-mell. Contingents of many tribes and countries huddled together to resist Arjuna. The Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Balhikas and other northern peoples--collectively called Mlechhas were using their occult stratagem and contrivances (7.93.42).

Satayaki's war with the Kambojas

Later Arjuna slaughtered numerous warriors of the Mlechchas. Dhristadyumna also waged a grim battle with Drona. Arjuna penetrated deep into the Kaurava vyuha and when a considerable time had passed, Yudhishtra grew concerned about Arjuna’s safety. He dispatched Satyaki for Arjuna’s assistance. Satyaki was a mighty warrior of the Pandavas and was second only to Arjuna. At one place in Mahabharata, he is described even mightier than Arjuna (7.121.10). In the fierce battle that took place the same day (i.e. 14th day of the war), when Satyaki urged by Yudhishtra was proceeding in the track of Arjuna, the Kamboja warriors opposed him sternly. Here we are told that Satyaki emerging out of the divisions of the Bhojas, quickly proceeded against the strong host of the Kambojas. There he was opposed by countless heroic chariot-warriors ("Maharathas") of the fierce Kambojas, in consequence whereof, Satyaki of the unbaffled prowess, could not even move a step forward...(7.3.59-60). Then, we are told that Satyaki slew thousands of Kambojas and made a havoc among them, who were otherwise stated to be unconquerable in the battle ("Kambojasainyam vidaravya durjayam yudhi Bharata" (7.110.51), "Jalasandharnavamtirttva Kambojananca vahinim" (7.118.9).

Before making his departure from Yudhistra, Satyaki made the following statement with reference to the Kambojas.

"Those other car-warriors with golden standards, O king, whom you see, and who, like the wild elephants are difficult of being resisted ("durvarana= like wild elephants"), they are called the Kambojas. They are brave, a learned people ("kritavidyash = learned in Vedas") and are firmly devoted to the science of weapons. Desiring one another's welfare, they are all highly united and mutually co-operative ("sanhatashcha bhrishan hyete anyonyasya hitaishinah"). They constitute a full Akshauhini of wrathful warriors "(7.112.43-45).

Satyaki further complemented the Kambojas as warriors in possession of diverse and wonderful weapons, ferocious fighters -- deadly like the Cobras (7.112.48-49) etc. He also qualifies them as 'Mundas' (i.e. "wearing short-cropped hair"), war-intoxicated, invincible in the battle, of fierce-deeds and biting their lips under teeth in rage as they fought etc etc (7.119.26-28).

Finally Satayaki reached to help Arjuna while Ghatotkacha in a deadly encounter smashed the demoniac Alambusha. It was, overall, a scene of war terrific. The other warriors also displayed prodigies of great valor and skill, the elephant corpus of the Trigarta is said to have been particularly vigorous. The contingents of the Kambojas, Shakas, Yavanas, Sabaras, Kiratas and Barbaras are stated to have been very destructive (Dr Buddha Prakash).

At the end of the day

The end scenario of fourteenth day of war is summed up in the following words:

"Thousands of Kambojas, and Sakas, and Shabaras, and Kiratas and Barbaras, were similarly slain by Satyaki. Indeed, the grandson of Sini, causing a great carnage among the troops, made the earth impassable and miry with their flesh and blood. The field of battle was strewn with the head-gears of the robbers (dasyus) and of those with shaved heads too that looked, in consequence of their long beards, like featherless birds. Indeed, the field of battle covered with headless trunks dyed all over with blood, looked beautiful like the welkin covered with coppery clouds" (7.119.45-48).

Fifteenth day

Drona was treacherously assassinated by Dhristadyumna, Commander-in-Chief of the Pandava army on 15th day of the war.

Sixteenth day

Drona fell on fifteenth day of war and next day i.e. sixteenth day of the war, the supreme command of Kuru army was assumed by Karna. Karna arranged his army in the Crocodile array ("Makaravyuha") and to counteract it, the Pandavas formed the crescent array ("Aradhachandravyuha"). The fighting assumed in a refreshed severity under the new commander of Kaurava army. The rains of maces and missiles and darts and the noise and roar of men and animals presented the spectacle of a storm terrible. Arjuna and Ashwathama clashed with such vehemence that both became unconscious. The Samsaptaka warriors of the Punjab (a suicidal squad) fell upon Arjuna like mighty bulls eager for the cows in heat (8.16.10) and had a deadly encounter with him. Ashwathama killed Pandya king Rajendra. Mighty corps of elephants attacked the Pandavas and spread dreadful rampage and carnage. Karana engaged Nakula and flinging his bow around Nakula's neck, dragged him down from his chariot but later let him go. But Arjuna remained vigorously aggressive and pushed the enemy forces far back. Thus ended the frightful day.

Seventeenth day fight

Karna formed his military array positioning Kripa, Kritavarma accompanied by Magadhas on its right wing. On their right were posted Shakuni and the mighty car-warrior Uluka accompanied by numerous Gandhara cavalry and many invincible mountaineers. 34,000 chariots of furious Samsaptakas ("suicidal squad of the Punjabis") were posted on the left flank of the array. On left of Samsaptakas, stood the Kambojas, the Sakas, and the Yavanas, with their cars, horses and infantry squarely challenging Arjuna and the mighty Keshava (8.46.15-16). Supported by his own angry sons, Karna occupied the center of the vyuha. The mighty-armed Dushasana surrounded by his numerous troops was stationed at the rear of the army. He was followed by Duryodhana protected by Madrakas and the Kekayas. This was, in turn, followed by Ashwathama and other mighty car-warriors including the brave Mlecchas. This great vyuha, formed according to the scheme of Brihaspati by great Karna well-versed in ways of battle, struck terror into the hearts of foes.

After the fall of valiant Sudakshina of Kamboja on 14th day of war, his younger brother prince Kamboja had taken the lead among the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas and Tusharas. The young Kamboja prince also played a crucial role for the Kuru cause and fell fighting valiantly, slain by Arjuna on seventeenth day of the battle (8.56.110-114). e.g.:

"Repairing to that further wing which was protected by the Kambojas, Partha began to grind it forcibly with his arrows like Vasava grinding the Danavas. With broad-headed arrows he began to quickly cut off the arms, with weapons in grasp, and also the heads of foes longing to slay him. Deprived of diverse limbs, and of weapons, they began to fall down on the Earth, like trees of many boughs broken by a hurricane. While he was engaged in thus slaughtering elephants and steeds and car-warriors and foot-soldiers, the younger brother of Sudakshina (the chief of the Kambojas) began to pour showers of arrows on him. With a couple of crescent-shaped arrows, Arjuna cut off the two arms, looking like spiked maces, of his striking assailant, and then his head graced with a face as beautiful as the full moon, with a razor-headed arrow. Deprived of life, the prince fell down from his vehicle, his body bathed in blood, like the thunder-riven tower or summit of a mountain of gold. Indeed, people saw the tall and exceedingly handsome younger brother of Sudakshina, the chief of the Kambojas, of eyes resembling lotus petals, slain and fall down like a column of gold or like a summit of the golden Sumeru." (8.56.111-114). See link: [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08056.htm]

After the fall of this young prince, once more ensued a battle terrific, more fierce and exceedingly thrilling. The condition of the struggling combatants varied repeatedly. Each slain with a single arrow, and combatants of the Kamboja, the Yavana, and the Saka races fell down bathed in blood. The consequences of car-warriors deprived of steeds and drivers, and steeds deprived of riders, and elephants deprived of riders, and riders deprived of elephants, battling with one another presented a scenario exceedingly wonderful. Both combatant parties committed a great carnage on opposite sides (8.56.114-117). The same day, a sortie was made against Arjuna by hundred cars, hundred elephants, and a number of Saka and Tukhara and Yavana horsemen accompanied by some of the foremost combatants among the Kambojas, but Partha speedily cut off with his razor-headed arrows the excellent weapons of his foes as also their heads, steeds, elephants and cars (8.88.13-18).

After a gruesome duel, Karna was treacherously slain by Partha at the end of seventeenth day of the war. The great hero had fallen but the fair rules of civilized warfare were also violated by Arjuna (8.91.51).

Eighteenth day fight

After the fall of Karna on seventeenth day of the war, Shalya, the valiant ruler of Madras, shining and splendent, assumed the supreme command of the remainder of Kuru army. Shalya rode on a superiormost car yoked by horses of the Sindhu breed and placed himself along with the brave Madrakas and the invincible sons of Karna at the head of his military array. On the left of his Vyuha was positioned Kritavarma surrounded by the Trigartas. On the right was Kripacharya accompanied by the Saka and the Yavana soldiery of Sudakshina Kamboja. The rear of the vyuha was taken up by Drona's son Ashwathama surrounded by the remainder of the Kamboja soldiery. Protected by the foremost of the Kuru warriors, king Duryodhana occupied the centre of the array. Surrounded by a large force of cavalry and other troops, Subala's son Shakuni and the mighty car-warrior Uluka proceeded with the others (9.8.24-26). Shalya inspired his army to heroic endeavour. Again savage fighting broke out. Shalya fought duels with Yudhishtra and Bhima and killed their horses. Finally, Yudhishtra launched a barbed missile which pierced the breast of Shalya (9.17.53). Then ensued a furious carnage and Duryodhana and Shakuni were both worsted and in a moment, the Kaurava army got melted into thin air.

In the aftermath of the War

Duryodhana at the death of Sudakshina

Near the end of war, Duryodhana grievously lamented the death of the heroes of his army including Sudakshina of Kamboja of whom he says "the great hero and Maharatha, who proudly came to battle for my sake, caring the least for his own life and was ever prepared to lay down his life. When I see him (Sudakshina) and also Alambusha and other allies of mine dead and gone, I have no desire left to remain alive " " (7.150.22-23).

Karna at the death of Sudakshina

Suryaputra Karna glorifies Sudakshina as a great stalwart and includes him among the greatest generals of Bharata war, stating that Sudakshina and other few select warriors were undefeatable even by the gods themselves (MBH 7/158/64-66)

Vasudeva at the death of Sudakshina

Krishna glorified Sudakshina and others at the conclusion of war stating that none except Arjuna could face the wrath of these mighty warriors like Drona, Bhishma, Bhagadatta, Sudakshina Kamboja, Vinda-Anuvinda of Avanti, Mahabali Shrutayudha, Acutayu etc and still be alive---each of these great Maharathas being no less than god Indra himself (8.72.17-20; also 5.95.19-21).

Gandhari at the death of Sudakshina

grievously deplored the death of Sudakshina stating that he was indeed the irresistible warrior with shoulders like those of a bull and though deserving of being stretched at his ease on the Kamboja blankets, was now woefully lying amid the dust (11.25.01).


ee also

Kamboja Kingdom
Sudakshina Kamboja
Prapaksha Kamboja
Kurukshetra war


* Mahabharata, based on the poona critical edition [http://philosophy.ru:81/library/asiatica/indica/itihasa/mahabharata/sans/]
* The Mahabharata, Trans by Kisari Mohan Ganguli(1883-1896) [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m07/index.htm]
* A Prose English Trans of the Mahabharata, Trans by Manmathanatha Datta: [http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC05282965&id=EmIMAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP11&dq=Sudakshina]
* Some Kshatriya Tribes Of Ancient India (The Kambojas), by Dr. B. C. Law"': [http://punjabi.net/talk/messages/1/52683.html?1075172231]
* Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, Dr J. L. Kamboj.
* The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, S Kirpal Singh.
* These Kamboj People, 1979, K. S. Dardi.
* Heroic Scenes from the Mahabharata: Chapter V of "Evolution of Heroic Traditions in Ancient Punjab", 1971, Dr Buddha Prakash.
* Monthly Kamboj Hitaishi, (1976 through 1977 Editions), Published From Delhi.

External links

* On Line Mahabharata, Trans Kisari Mohan Ganguli: [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm]
* Some Kshatria Tribes of Ancient India, Dr B. C. Law: [http://punjabi.net/talk/messages/1/52683.html?1075172231]

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