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Chapter 16

Arjuna’s Great Vow

As the sun set, Arjuna asked Kṛṣṇa to drive him back to camp. After slaying thousands of Samshaptakas, he got down from his chariot and, along with Kṛṣṇa, offered prayers to Sandhya, the goddess of twilight. The two friends then mounted the chariot and made their way through the deepening darkness toward Yudhiṣṭhira’s tent. As they traveled Arjuna suddenly felt an inexplicable anxiety. He said, “O Govinda, why am I suddenly feeling misgivings? Why is my speech faltering? I see evil portents all around me and my limbs are becoming weak. I fear a great calamity has occurred. May all be well with the king, my venerable superior, and his followers.”

Driving the chariot expertly through the day’s carnage, Kṛṣṇa replied, “Seeing all these slaughtered Kauravas I think everything fares well with your brothers and ministers. Do not give way to evil thoughts. Probably a trivial calamity has taken place.”

Arjuna, still anxious, tried to accept Kṛṣṇa’s words. He said nothing as the chariot moved across the field. He thought of Droṇa. The preceptor had been intent on capturing Yudhiṣṭhira. Had he succeeded? Arjuna trembled at the thought. If anything had happened to Yudhiṣṭhira, or any of his brothers, he would be unable to live. Even if it were the dead of night he would challenge the entire Kaurava army to come out and fight, and he would exterminate every last one of them.

Within an hour they reached the camp. As they entered its perimeters, Arjuna looked around and said, “O Janārdana, I do not hear the auspicious sounds of drums and other instruments signifying our success. The bards and minstrels are not singing songs describing our victories. Everyone is turning their faces away when they see me. No one has come forward to salute me in the usual way. O Madhava, is everything well with my brothers? Seeing these men so obviously distressed, my mind is disturbed. Is Drupada well? Has the Virata ruler encountered a calamity? O you of undeteriorating glory, what has happened to our warriors?”

Then Arjuna began to suspect the truth. Abhimanyu had always greeted him when he returned to camp, but today there was no sign of the boy. On his way back he had heard from some of his soldiers that Droṇa had formed the chakravyuha. He knew there were only two warriors on the field who could break into the array: Abhimanyu and himself.

Arriving at the royal tent, Arjuna dismounted and went in with Kṛṣṇa by his side. As he entered, he saw his brothers sitting with downcast faces. No one said anything as Arjuna walked in. They could not hold his gaze and shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

Then Arjuna saw his son’s empty seat. His heart stopped. He approached Yudhiṣṭhira and bowed at his feet. Standing, he looked into his brother’s downcast face. “O King, you are pale. I also see that Abhimanyu is not here, nor does anyone welcome me. I heard that today the Kauravas formed the chakravyuha. Save and except Abhimanyu, no one could have penetrated that formation in my absence, but he did not know how to get out of it. Did you ask my son to enter that terrible arrangement? Has that fierce bowman, that slayer of hostile heroes, after breaking into the enemy ranks and killing thousands, gone himself to Death’s mansion?”

Arjuna began to cry. Falling to his knees, he cried out to Yudhiṣṭhira in a piteous voice. “Tell me how he fell, he who possessed mighty arms and red eyes, who was born into our race like a lion born on a mountainside and who resembled Indra himself. How was he slain in battle?”

Arjuna saw tears in Yudhiṣṭhira’s eyes. His own eyes flooded as he realized what he had feared most was true. Yudhiṣṭhira’s silence confirmed it. Taking a deep breath, Arjuna fought to control his mind. His head fell to his knees and he sobbed. After a few minutes, he looked up and continued in a broken voice. “What foolish warriors, urged on by evil destiny, ventured to slay my son? How has that youth, who resembled the high-souled Kṛṣṇa Himself in prowess, generosity and Vedic knowledge, been killed? If I do not see that hero, who is my second self, Keśava’s favorite, and so dearly loved by Kṛṣṇa’s sister, then I too will become a guest in Yamarāja’s abode. If I cannot behold him, that modest boy of gentle speech and kind deeds, with curling dark locks, eyes like a young gazelle, the tread of a furious elephant, and shoulders like a mighty lion, then I will leave at once for Death’s limitless domain.”

Kṛṣṇa stood by Arjuna’s side and placed an arm around his shoulders. The Pāṇḍava grieved loudly for some time, describing his son’s many qualities. His brothers and allies sat in silence, their hearts riven by grief as he continued.

“Although younger, that boy was my superior. He was virtuous, grateful, obedient to his elders, and always desirous of doing us good. Self-controlled and sinless, he pursued only the path of piety and truth. He was faithful and devoted to serving God in all his acts. In battle he would never strike first, nor would he attack a helpless foe. He was the terror of his enemies and the shelter of his friends. How has such a boy been slain?”

Arjuna fell to the ground, repeatedly crying out his son’s name. Composing himself with difficulty, he said, “Today my son lies on the bare earth like one forlorn, although he was always attended by the most beautiful women. He who was formerly attended by servants and bards chanting his glories is now attended by jackals and vultures. His face, which was worthy of being shaded by royal umbrellas, is now shaded by dust and dirt. Alas! How unfortunate I am to lose you, and how fortunate are the gods to gain you. Surely Yamarāja, Indra, Kuvera and Varuṇa, after receiving you as a welcome guest, are now making preparations for your worship.”

Arjuna looked up at Yudhiṣṭhira, who looked back at his brother with compassion. His eyes bloodshot and his face streaked with tears, Arjuna asked, “Please tell me, O best of men, has my son gone to heaven? Did he have to contend single-handedly with numerous heroes and give up his life after killing them by the thousands? Surely he would have thought of me. Afflicted by the mean-minded Duryodhana, and by Droṇa, Karṇa, Kṛpa and others, he must have thought, ‘My father will rescue me.’ I think all those ruthless warriors felled him while he was calling out to me. Or it may be, as he was conceived in the womb of a Vrishni princess, that he did not make such exclamations.”

Arjuna censured himself. How had he allowed himself to be taken away from the main fight? Obviously Duryodhana had concocted a plan that required his absence. Why had he not seen it? If he had, Abhimanyu would still be alive. Without thinking about his kinsmen’s welfare, he had rushed off desiring glory in battle. Now his son was dead.

Arjuna cried out, “Without doubt, my heart is made of stone that it does not shatter into fragments. It will surely break apart when I hear the lamentations of Subhadrā and Draupadī. What will I say to those gentle ladies? How can I tell them that Abhimanyu now embraces the cold ground, weltering in his own blood? What indeed will I say to Uttarā, his chaste and beautiful wife? The Kauravas may rejoice only for as long as I do not return to the field. For slaying my son they will have to grieve as I do now.”

Arjuna turned to Kṛṣṇa. “Why did You not tell me what was happening today, O Madhava? Surely then I would have burnt the cruel Kauravas immediately. How could they aim their deadly shafts at such a tender boy, attacking him when I was absent? I do not think he found any protector while among those vicious men. How could You allow this, O Kṛṣṇa?”

Kṛṣṇa comforted his friend with sober words. “Do not give way to grief. This is the inevitable end of heroes who never think of retreating. Those who know the Vedas have said that this is the highest and most desirable goal for a kṣatriya who knows his duty. Heroes always covet such an end. There is no better death for a warrior than to fall in battle while facing the enemy. Undoubtedly Abhimanyu has gone to regions only reached by the most pious men. Do not lament, for you are plunging your brothers and followers in sorrow. You know everything and it behooves you to console your kinsmen at this time. Take hold of yourself and throw off this grief.”

Arjuna turned slowly to Yudhiṣṭhira. “O lord of the earth, tell me exactly how my lotus-eyed son was slain.” His voice had become cold. His grief was giving way to an intense fury. “How did he fight our wicked foes? I will consume all of them with their elephants, chariots and horses. Why, O brother, did you not do so yourself? How was my son slain when you, Bhīma, the twins, and so many other heroes were present? Surely you all possess no prowess. Before your eyes my son was killed.”

Arjuna gazed at his son’s empty seat. What was the use in blaming anyone for Abhimanyu’s death? Destiny had willed it, as it willed the death of every living creature. Yet still it was hard not to see how things might have been different. Why had he not been by Abhimanyu’s side when he needed him most? Arjuna shook his head as he continued. “I should rather blame myself. Knowing you all to be cowards, I went away. Alas, are your weapons and armor mere decorations? Are your bold words meant only to impress an assembly? All of you together could not protect my son.”

No one spoke as Arjuna strode over to his seat, his long sword swinging by his side, the Gāṇḍīva in his hand. His eyes blazed and hot tears ran down his cheeks. He sighed repeatedly. No one dared to look at him. Only Yudhiṣṭhira and Kṛṣṇa, who were always agreeable to Arjuna, were able to say anything. After a few moments Yudhiṣṭhira said, “O mighty-armed one, when you had gone to fight the Samshaptakas, Droṇa exerted himself to capture me. He formed the unbreakable chakravyuha and advanced toward us, showering his fire-like shafts in all directions. At that time, I asked your son to penetrate the formation and allow us all to enter. Without delay the boy rushed forward and entered the array like Garuḍa entering the ocean. We followed him with upraised weapons, but somehow the puny Sindhu ruler held us in check. We have since heard from Vyāsadeva that Jayadratha received a boon from Mahadeva that he would be able to stop us in battle. Your son was alone in the formation. Six Kaurava maharathas surrounded him. They destroyed his chariot, armor and weapons. Worn with fatigue, he was finally slain by a seventh, Dushashana’s son.”

Arjuna wailed. Yudhiṣṭhira paused, then went on. “Before dying, he slew countless heroes, many of them kings and maharathas. Now he has ascended to heaven. Through the inscrutable workings of fate, he has attained his destined end. Thus we have all been plunged into a burning grief.”

Crying out, “O my son!” Arjuna rolled on the ground. Everyone gazed at each other with vacant eyes. They said nothing as Arjuna expressed his grief. Gradually, he composed himself and got to his feet. Shivering as if with fever and wringing his hands, he spoke in a low, controlled voice that seethed with rage. “I say this truly: tomorrow I will slay Jayadratha, if indeed he does not forsake Duryodhana in fear of his life. If he stays in the battle and does not seek shelter of either Kṛṣṇa or yourself, O King, he will die tomorrow. Whoever tries to protect him--be it Droṇa, Kṛpa or anyone else--will find himself struck down by my arrows. That Sindhu ruler caused my son’s death. For this act of violence toward Abhimanyu and I, he will die.”

Arjuna felt all his anger directed toward Jayadratha, who had already shown himself to be a despicable wretch when he had assaulted Draupadī. This time he would not escape. Although Abhimanyu was assailed by six Kaurava warriors at once and finally slain by Durjaya, it was Jayadratha who was to blame. Many times warriors found themselves overwhelmed by superior odds, but their allies and supporters could always come to their rescue. Abhimanyu would surely have been saved if the Pāṇḍavas had been able to reach him. Jayadratha’s act was mean and unforgivable. Arjuna clasped his Gāṇḍīva tightly. Soon that low-minded Sindhu ruler would reap the result of his hatred for the Pāṇḍavas.

Looking around at his brothers and allies, Arjuna went on. “If I do not kill that wretch tomorrow, then may I never attain the regions meant for the righteous. Let me instead go to the hell reached by those who ravish their own mothers, or those who are malicious, ungrateful or miserly. Let me reach the dark worlds inhabited by rapists, slayers of Brahmins, betrayers of trust, men who seduce other’s wives, who are unkind to guests, and who deceive and cheat others. If I do not kill Jayadratha tomorrow, then such will be my end.”

Arjuna’s voice seemed to shake the earth. “Now listen to one more vow I will make. If I do not slay Jayadratha by sunset tomorrow, I will enter blazing fire. Neither the celestials, Asuras, mortals, winged creatures, Rākṣasas, ṛṣis, nor any other moving or unmoving creature will prevent me from achieving my aim. If Jayadratha enters the nether regions or somehow ascends to heaven, I will still find him and sever his head from his body. When this night passes away, Abhimanyu’s enemy will see me as his death personified wherever he goes.”

After solemnly speaking these words, Arjuna violently twanged his bowstring, producing sounds that reached the heavens. At the same time, Kṛṣṇa, also excited with rage, blew His conch shell, creating a sound that seemed to make the universe vibrate.

As word of Arjuna’s vow got round the camp, the sounds of numerous drums and other instruments could be heard, along with the fierce cries of many warriors. The whole camp was filled with a joyous uproar. Surely the next day the Kauravas would face their worst calamity so far. The enraged Arjuna was a foe to be feared indeed.

In the Kauravas’ camp there was much rejoicing. Abhimanyu was one of the greatest warriors among the Pāṇḍava army. It was almost as if Arjuna himself had been slain. Surely Arjuna would now be discouraged and lose his taste for battle. Now that yet another of his sons was slain--this time the beloved Abhimanyu--Arjuna’s energy would be sapped by grief. Duryodhana praised Droṇa and sat in his assembly to discuss the next day’s strategy. It should prove easier to encounter their dispirited enemies. Perhaps the same formation could be employed again. Maybe another powerful fighter could be trapped and slain.

As the Kauravas were speaking, they heard the din from the Pāṇḍavas’ camp, reverberating like the roar of the ocean. The Kauravas looked at each other in surprise. Why would the Pāṇḍavas be rejoicing? Should they not be feeling despair?

Suddenly Jayadratha burst into the tent. His face was a mask of terror. He stood panting before Duryodhana, sweat running down his face. The Kaurava chief saw him trembling like a sapling in a storm. He asked him the cause of his fear and Jayadratha replied, “He who was begotten on Pāṇḍu’s wife by the lustful Indra, that one of perverse intellect, has vowed to kill me tomorrow. May good betide you all; I will now return to my home to save my life. Or, if you wish me to remain, you had better assure my safety. In my view, O King, you, Droṇa, Kṛpa, Karṇa, and all the other rulers here are capable of saving a man who is seized by Death himself.”

Jayadratha looked around the assembly with wild eyes. His boon from Śiva could well prove to be his destruction. He had enjoyed his moment of glory, but now as a result he faced the most deadly danger. Arjuna was famous for keeping his vows, and he would now be angry. The Sindhu king continued. “Having heard the Pāṇḍavas’ rejoicings, I am struck with anxiety. Our spies have told me that Arjuna has vowed either to kill me tomorrow or to enter fire. Thus the Pāṇḍavas are filled with joy rather than grief. I think it will be wisest for me to return to my own country. No one can prevent Arjuna from fulfilling his vow, not even the gods. We are about to suffer the greatest destruction of our forces yet. Let me now go, my identity concealed.”

Duryodhana laughed. “O foremost of men, do not be afraid. What person can seek to slay you when you stand amid the kṣatriyas assembled here? I will protect you, along with Droṇa, Kṛpa, Karṇa, Aśvatthāmā, Śalya, Bāhlika, and the other invincible heroes. Together with our troops we will stand between you and Arjuna. He will not even be able to get near you tomorrow. Drive the fear from your heart.”

Duryodhana realized that it would be a formidable task to check Arjuna from fulfilling his vow. At the same time, this was a real opportunity to attain victory. If Arjuna failed, he would certainly remember his promise to take his own life. With both Abhimanyu and Arjuna dead, the Pāṇḍavas would then be finished. Duryodhana looked down at the quaking Jayadratha. It would be worth deploying the whole army to protect him.

Jayadratha went over to Droṇa. “What is the difference between me and Arjuna in the proficiency of arms? You have taught us both. How is Arjuna superior to me? Of what should I be wary when the battle comes tomorrow?”

Droṇa replied, “I have taught both you and Arjuna equally, but by his practice of yoga and asceticism, he has become superior to you. Still, I will do everything in my power to protect you from him. Tomorrow I will form such an array with all our troops that Arjuna will never reach its end. Even the gods will not be able to pass the arrangement I will create to protect you.”

Droṇa smiled. Jayadratha had only himself to blame for his present predicament. Like Duryodhana, his hatred for the virtuous Pāṇḍavas would lead to his destruction before long. He placed a hand on Jayadratha’s shoulder. “If somehow you should be slain, then you will attain heaven. Do not be afraid of death. You have performed sacrifices and carried out your sacred duty as a kṣatriya. Therefore, fight without fear, your mind fixed on victory or paradise.”

Although he assured Jayadratha and understood Duryodhana’s mind, Droṇa knew that Jayadratha was as good as dead. Certainly Arjuna alone would not be able to cross the entire Kaurava army, but Arjuna was not alone. With Kṛṣṇa driving his chariot, he could cross the universe, passing the four Lokapālas in order to steal the gods’ divine nectar. Even without fighting, Kṛṣṇa would no doubt find some way to protect His friend. And he would need to, for the Pāṇḍava hero would face an almost impossible task the next day.

Cheered on by Droṇa, the warriors shouted and blew their conches. The Kaurava leaders began to plan their strategy for the following day. Jayadratha felt his fear vanish and he set his heart on battle. Perhaps Arjuna’s vow would be a blessing in disguise. Śiva’s boon may yet prove to be a boon indeed if it ended up causing the Pāṇḍavas’ destruction.

After hearing Arjuna make his vow, the Pāṇḍavas and their followers spent a little while discussing their strategy and then retired for the night. They would decide the next day’s battle plans in the morning, after they received information from their spies as to how the Kauravas were reacting to the news of Arjuna’s promise.

Arjuna sat alone in his tent, burning with grief and anger. He could hardly wait for the battle to begin. For over an hour he sat on his bed without moving, his face covered by his two hands. As he sat shedding tears, Kṛṣṇa came in and sat down by his side. He spoke softly, but reproachfully. “O Pārtha, without first seeking My advice you have made a difficult vow. That was rash. You have placed a heavy burden on your shoulders. Alas, how will we avoid becoming the butt of ridicule? I have heard from spies that Droṇa vows to protect Jayadratha. He will form a tremendous array guarded on all sides by the best of the Kauravas. Six mighty maharathas, namely, Karṇa, Aśvatthāmā, Bhurisrava, Kṛpa, Vrishasena and Śalya, will stand in the van of that array. Droṇa himself will stay within a secondary formation, Jayadratha by his side. You will first need to vanquish those six heroes and pass through a thick array of fighters before you can come anywhere near the Sindhu king. Then you will have to fight with the preceptor.”

Arjuna did not reply. Kṛṣṇa placed an arm around his shoulder. “In the morning we will consult with your brothers and allies. We need to come up with a strategy to ensure that your vow can be kept. However, O son of Pāṇḍu, it will not be easy to accomplish.”

Arjuna lifted his head. His voice was almost a growl. “The six chariot fighters you have named are not equal to even half of my power. You will see me cut apart all their weapons. The Sindhu ruler is a dead man. Before the eyes of his wailing followers and of Droṇa I will sever his head from his body. Even if a celestial army headed by all the principal gods protects him, even if I must fight against the personified oceans, mountains, heaven, earth, quarters, their regents, and all mobile and immobile beings, still You will see him slain by my arrows. I swear by truth itself that nothing will stop me. Especially with You at my side, O Janārdana, my success is certain.”

Arjuna continued expressing his determination and confidence for several minutes. He was prepared to face even Death personified armed with his irresistible staff. “Tomorrow You will see me rip open the enemy ranks with blazing shafts, like thunderbolts rending a mountain. Arrows shot with the speed of the mind will fall by the tens of thousands from my Gāṇḍīva. I will not restrain myself at all. All men will witness the power of the weapons I have obtained from Yamarāja, Kuvera, Varuṇa, Indra and Maheśvara. I will throw the Brahmā missile and annihilate anyone who tries to stand in my way. The earth will be filled with the bodies of men, horses and elephants, all bleeding copiously and deprived of life.”

Arjuna got to his feet and stood before Kṛṣṇa with the Gāṇḍīva clasped in his hand. His face was flushed and his lips trembled. “The sinful Jayadratha has forgotten his kinship with us and bears us only hatred. I will strike him down tomorrow, making his friends and followers grieve.”

Arjuna ached for the battle to begin. His arrows seemed ready to leap from his quivers and the Gāṇḍīva vibrated in his hand. He could not understand Kṛṣṇa’s apprehension. What possibility was there of the Kauravas standing against him in his present mood? He placed his bow in its golden case. Unfastening his gleaming armor, he asked, “O lord, master of the senses, why do You admonish me? You know my prowess and You know Your own power. When we are together, what are we not able to achieve? Jayadratha may be counted among those already slain in battle. I am Arjuna, of unwavering vows, and you are Nārāyaṇa. Truth resides in the Brahmins, humility is seen in the pious, prosperity attends sacrifice, and victory, O Keśava, is always with You. When this night has passed, You should ready my chariot, filling it with every weapon. A great task is at hand.”

Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa sat together breathing like a pair of infuriated serpents. Afflicted by grief, Arjuna felt unable to rest. Kṛṣṇa also displayed great sorrow. While the Pāṇḍavas had been in the forest He had helped raise Abhimanyu, acting as a loving father toward His nephew. The boy had always been with Him. Kṛṣṇa had personally taught him many of his martial skills, and they had often hunted and sported together in the forests around Dwārakā.

Seeing both Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa excited with rage, the gods headed by Indra became anxious. Surely the universe might be destroyed if they both gave vent to their anger. Many ill omens were seen. Dry winds blew, thunder rumbled in the clear sky, and thunderbolts fell to earth. The earth trembled and rivers flowed backwards, while the cries of jackals and crows echoed everywhere.

Arjuna asked Kṛṣṇa to go to the women’s quarters and console Subhadrā. The Vrishni princess, along with Draupadī and other royal ladies, had come to the battlefield to be with their husbands. Kṛṣṇa went to her tent and found her lying on the ground, weeping like a female osprey. Taking a seat near her, He spoke consolingly. “O daughter of the Vrishni race, do not give way to this grief. Abhimanyu has met the end always sought by heroes. After slaying the enemy by the thousands, he has ascended to the highest regions of heaven. Although a mere youth, he has attained a destination difficult to reach even for accomplished yogīs. Surely this is his good fortune. O amiable one, you are the wife of a hero, the daughter of a hero, and the mother of a hero. Born also into a race of heroes, you should not lament one who has met a hero’s death. Nor will his death go unavenged. Tomorrow you will hear that Arjuna has severed Jayadratha’s head from his trunk. Rise up and renounce your fever of grief. You must now console your daughter-in-law, beloved sister.”

Subhadrā looked at Kṛṣṇa from where she lay. Her eyes were red and her face streaked with mascara. Her ornaments were strewn around her on the floor. Nearby her garland lay crushed. Her words were frequently interrupted by sobs.

“Alas, son of my unfortunate self, why did you go to war? O son, equal to Arjuna in battle, how could you perish? How can I see your dark and handsome face now soiled with dust and smeared with blood as you lay on the cold ground? Having the Pāṇḍavas, Vrishnis and Pañchālas as your protectors, by whom have you been slain like one helpless? Fie on Bhīma’s strength, Arjuna’s prowess, and the Pañchālas’ might! What use is their power when they could not save a child from dying before their eyes? Today I see the earth vacant and destitute of all beauty for I cannot see my son. My eyes are blinded by grief and my mind is utterly confounded. O my child! You were like a hoard of treasure seen and lost in a dream. Alas, everything in this world is fleeting and unreal, like foam on an ocean.”

Kṛṣṇa remained silent as His sister poured out her sorrow. She tossed about on the costly carpet covering the floor of her tent. Her silk garments were in disarray and her raven-black hair hung loose and disheveled. Beating her breast, Subhadrā cried out to her slain son. “O my child, how shall I comfort Uttarā? Overwhelmed by sorrow she resembles a cow bereft of its calf. Surely the ways of destiny are mysterious, for even though you had Keśava as your protector, you have been slain by evil men. O beloved son, may you attain that end reached only by the most pious men, that end which is reached by those of the strictest vows, who are self-controlled, modest, truthful, charitable, and devoted to duty. May you ascend to the eternal regions that belong to men who are faithful and always devoted to the Lord’s service, who have given up all selfish thoughts and live only for the welfare of others.”

As Subhadrā rolled about in grief, Draupadī came into her tent, accompanied by Uttarā. Also lamenting, they dropped to the ground next to Subhadrā. The three ladies appeared like three mad creatures as they fell about uttering pitiful cries.

With tears in His eyes Kṛṣṇa sprinkled cool water on their faces, His voice shaking as He addressed them. “O Subhadrā, throw off this grief. O Pāñcālī, O Uttarā, take heart. O most beautiful ladies, rather than lament we should pray that all the members of our race attain the same state that Abhimanyu has attained. All other warriors united can only dream of achieving the feats he has single-handedly accomplished in battle.”

Kṛṣṇa took His leave from the ladies and went back to Arjuna’s tent. It was past midnight and the servants had spread out an auspicious bed of kusha grass decorated with flower garlands and sprinkled with perfume on a thick rug. With His weapons by His side, Kṛṣṇa reclined peacefully, placing His head on His arm. Within the tent Brahmins performed the usual nightly ceremony of offering the victims of battle to Śiva, so that he might guide them safely to their next destination.

Arjuna worshiped Kṛṣṇa with various offerings, then lay next to Him on his own bed. Kṛṣṇa said, “O son of Pṛthā, rest now. You will have to achieve tremendous feats tomorrow.”

Arjuna was assuaged by Kṛṣṇa’s care. He lay gazing up at the high roof of the tent. His mind flickered between thinking of Abhimanyu and thinking of Jayadratha. That sinful wretch should have been slain long ago when he first insulted Draupadī. This time Yudhiṣṭhira would not protect him. He would soon taste the fruits of his wicked inclinations. As Arjuna lay thinking in this way, he fell into a fitful sleep.