'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'
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 .
Sudakshina 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.
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.
- 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'. 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.
- One of the queens of Jayadratha was also a Kamboja princess (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. 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. 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 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. 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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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
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
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).
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
with Brahadbala, Bhimasena
, Durmukha with Sahadeva
, Maharatha Dhristketu with Bahlika
, Ghatotkach with Alambusha, Shikhandi
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
(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
and Vasatis. He was followed by Duryodhana
with his brothers, Aswatakas, Vikarnas, Vamanas, Kosalas
, 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 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
, Ashwathaman and Kripa
. On the beak
of Garuda array was Bhishma
formed its eyes
. Ashwathaman, Kripa
(Matsyas under the Trigarta rule) and Kekayas
formed its head
. Bhurisravas, Shala, Shalya
, Panchanadas and the Vatadhanas formed its neck
and his brothers formed its rear
. Vinda, Anuvinda, Kambojas
formed its tail
and Daserakas formed its right wing
. Vrithadvala, Karushas
, Vikunjas, Mundas
, Kaundivrishas formed its left wing
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
also became fully active as a warrior, and fought bravely with his grandfather Bhishma
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
, 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
. 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 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
, Alambusha and Satyaki
and Duryodhana and Kritavarma
and Bhima (6.82) besides others. Trigarta king Susharman charged Arjuna, and Jayadratha
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
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
. Then followed a fleet of war elephants under Ashwathama
. This was followed by earth-shaking forces of king Duryodhana
(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
, 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
, the Commander-in-chief Bhishma charged at the Pandava army. This was followed by Bhagadatta with his elephant corps. Kripa
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
, Chitrasena, Vikarana, Sindhuraja Jayadratha
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
(son of Subhadra), old Virata, Drupada, Kuntibhoja, Nakula
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
(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
, 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
, prince of Kalinga
and Kaurava Vikarna, were positioned at the right flank of the vyuha. Shakuni
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.
, 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
(northerners), Malavas, Sivis, Surasena
, Sudras, Maladas, Soviras
, Kitavas, Prachyas
(easterners) and Dakshinatyas
(southerners) also advanced towards the Pandavas under directions of Karna
Twelfth day fight
The 12th of the war was marked by Samsaptaka warriors challenging Arjuna
and also the formation of Garuda vyuha
. 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
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
(188.8.131.52). The Ambashthas with Kalingas
, Pundras, Madrakas
, 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
formed his military array into Charka vyuha
(Disc array), which caused great alarm among Krishna
. Sensing their anxiety, king Yudhishtra
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 later worsted them both in duels. Yudhishtra
accompanied by Bhimasena
proceeded toward Abhimanyu to render him support but the party was stopped on its way by Jayadratha
, the ruler of Sindhu
. 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
, 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
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).
Shakata 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
(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.
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
, 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
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
. 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
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).
Drona was treacherously assassinated by Dhristadyumna
, Commander-in-Chief of the Pandava army on 15th day of the war.
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:
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
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 "
Karna at the death of Sudakshina
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
glorified Sudakshina and others at the conclusion of war stating that none except Arjuna
could face the wrath of these mighty warriors like Drona
, 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
In Stri Parva
, Gandhari, mother of Duryodhana
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).
- Mahabharata, based on the poona critical edition
- The Mahabharata, Trans by Kisari Mohan Ganguli(1883-1896)
- A Prose English Trans of the Mahabharata, Trans by Manmathanatha Datta:
- Some Kshatriya Tribes Of Ancient India (The Kambojas), by Dr. B. C. Law''':
- 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.
- On Line Mahabharata, Trans Kisari Mohan Ganguli:
- Some Kshatria Tribes of Ancient India, Dr B. C. Law: