1) At the start of the war, looking at the two ocean-like armies assembled there under the leadership of Bhima and Bhishma, Arjuna said to Sri Krishna.
2) “O Achyuta! Place my chariot in the middle of the two armies” – when Arjuna requested thus, Sri Krishna did the same. Arjuna saw his relatives in both the armies. Out of the fear of sin, he gave up his bow.
3) Sri Krishna then said – “For Kshatriyas punishing the evil and protecting Dharma and knowledge is Swadharma. If this is forsaken then such a person shall be condemned and he shall definitely obtain the lower worlds”.
4) “By worshipping well through his Swadharma that Bhagavan, who is responsible for all activities of all beings and who is omnipresent, a human being attains Siddhi“.
Note: Siddhi in this shloka means attainment of Moksha.
5) “You do not have to mourn the killing of relatives. Because the destruction of the body cannot be avoided. At the same time, the eternal Chetana can never undergo destruction”.
6) “It is through me alone, and not through anyone else, that the creation, maintenance, destruction, knowledge, entrapment, release, activity and restrictions on perishable beings such as Brahma, Rudra and others and the imperishable one that is Mahalakshmi, the personification of nature, takes place”.
Note: Souls such as Brahma, Rudra and others come into the cycle of Samsara at the beginning of creation and attain Moksha or other appropriate states in the end during Pralaya. Their states (from bonded to released) are perishable in that sense, although the soul itself is eternal. Hence they are ‘Kshara’. Mahalakshmi is the presiding deity of Nature and she is eternal and never undergoes Samsara or any other form of modification or change. Hence she is ‘Akshara’.
7) “Since I possess complete independence, and since I am full of auspicious attributes, I am not subject to birth or other states through any other power. In this way, since there is none equal to or greater than me, everything is under my control”.
8) “Realizing the (truth about) death and other states of these relatives, and the dependence of sentient and insentient beings (on me), understand that you are not independent even to quit war. Focus your thoughts on me and engage in battle”.
9-10) “He who offers all his Karma in me, who realizes that I am the Supreme One, who meditates on me through undistracted Yoga and worships me – very soon I shall surely remove such a person, who focuses his mind on me, from the ocean of death and Samsara”.
11) “I, being formless, pervade this entire Universe. All beings are dependent upon me, while I am not dependent upon them”.
12) “All complete auspicious attributes are verily my body. I am the most capable one, without any defects, possess an eternal and excellent body and suffer no destruction” – when Sri Krishna said thus Arjuna requested him – “O Lord! Show me your universal nature”.
13) After that, Bhagavan Sri Krishna granted Arjuna divine vision and, in accordance with his merit (yogyata), showed him his form that was omnipresent, full of auspicious attributes without the constraints of space or time and divine.
14-15) When Arjuna requested, Sri Krishna once again took on his earlier form that was in accordance with the ways of the world. He continued granting him knowledge. He revealed to him (the intricacies of) knowledge, the knowable and Prakruti. Having received such knowledge from him, Arjuna picked up his bow and arrows.
16) When the war started after the armies had made their formations, Bhimasena attacked the Kaurava forces even as he let out a leonine roar. All of them tried to stop him.
17-18) They showered numerous arrows on his head. Since it was inappropriate to immediately respond to the attack of relatives, Bhima accepted those attacks without counter-attacking them. The Upapandavas (sons of Pandavas), Abhimanyu and other heroes showered unbearable number of weapons on the Kauravas.
19) The Kauravas, in turn, caused them pain by attacking them with weapons from all directions. Casting a shower of arrows (on the enemy), the son of Vayu rescued them.
20) Then, being tormented by Bhima’s arrows, the Kauravas suffered from all directions and started to flee. Bhishma, knowledgeable in divine weapons, rushed to protect them.
21) Later, desirous of victory over each other, duels between Drona-Dhrishtadyumna, Satyaki-Krutavarma and other heroes started taking place.
22-23) When duels started taking place between Dushashana and the younger son of Madri (Sahadeva), Nakula and Vikarna and the Upapandavas and Durmukha and the rest, except Satyaki all the others from the Pandava camp suffered defeats. Satyaki defeated Krutavarma.
24) After that, even as Bhishma, Drona and the others and similarly Bhagadatta and others were chasing away the (Pandava) army, Bhima stopped them.
25) Relying only on the power of his shoulders, that terrifying warrior Bhima defeated Drona, Bhagadatta, Krupa and Duryodhana.
Note: The term ‘power of the shoulders’ is used often to indicate warfare with material weapons, without relying upon divine astras. The term is not restricted to just physical prowess.
26) Shalya killed Uttara and chased away the army. After that, Arjuna and Abhimanyu faced Bhishma and Bhurishravas, who were chasing away the army by making use of great astras.
27) Bhishma moved ahead of the always-valorous Abhimanyu and started chasing away the Panchalas, even as Arjuna watched him.
28) Dharmaraja noticed the great heroics of Bhishma, and also the soft approach of Arjuna towards him, and withdrew the army in anger.
29) During the night, Yudhisthira became very worried and berated Arjuna. Sri Krishna and the others consoled him. He again left for battle.
Note: He left for the battleground on the second morning.
30) In this way, Bhishma commandeered the army for ten days and fought against the Pandavas. What he did was impossible for the others to emulate.
31-32) Having been classified as an ardha-ratha by Bhishma, Karna had not participated in the war. After Karna departed saying “I shall not participate in the war until you are doing so” Bhishma made a vow that he would kill ten thousand chariot-warriors every day. That best amongst the knowers of astras did fulfill his vow too.
33) Although Bhima and Arjuna were capable of killing Bhishma, they stopped (themselves) out of love for him. Out of respect for him, they acted favourably towards him (in the war).
34) Many thrilling battles took place there. Seated in their planes, Brahma, Rudra and the other Devatas, all the Gandharvas, Apsaras and Asuras viewed them from the skies.
35) Dhrishtadyumna, the best amongst archers, prepared vyuhas countering those prepared by Bhishma. Being undefeated against his enemies, he fought many battles.
36) Thereafter, noticing Arjuna fighting softly, Sri Krishna picked up the Chakra in his hand and proceeded towards Bhishma.
Note: This was on the third day of the war.
37) Bhishma chanted praises of Sri Krishna. Arjuna stopped him and bowed to him and fervently requested. Sri Krishna then climbed the chariot and blew his conch.
38) Later, Bhishma and Arjuna showered each other with many weapons and astras. Then, Arjuna defeated Bhishma without any significant effort.
39) In the battle, Arjuna killed many including ten thousand chariot-warriors. Bhishma and the others, having been defeated, withdrew their armies and left.
40) Once, Bhimasena led the battle from the front and rendered Bhishma and Drona chariot-less. Driving away their horses, he pierced their vyuha and rushed in.