Mahabharata

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GOVINDA reached Upaplavya and told the Pandavas what had happened in Hastinapura.

"I spoke urging what was right and what was also good for them. But, it was all in vain. There is now no way out except the fourth, that is, the last alternative of war. The foolish Duryodhana would not listen to the advice tendered to him by the elders in the assembly. We must now prepare for war without delay. Kurukshetra is waiting for the holocaust."

"There is no longer any hope of peace," said Yudhishthira, addressing his brothers, and issued orders for marshalling their forces in, battle array.

They formed the army in seven divisions and appointed Drupada, Virata, Dhrishtadyumna, Sikhandin, Satyaki, Chekitana and Bhimasena at the head of each division. They then considered who should be appointed Generalissimo.

Addressing Sahadeva, Yudhishthira said: "We should select one of these seven to be Supreme Commander. He should be one capable of successfully facing the great Bhishma, who can burn enemies to ashes. He should be one who knows how to dispose his forces as circumstances require from time to time. Who do you think is most fitted for this responsibility?"

In the olden days, it was the practice to ascertain the views of younger people first, before consulting elders. This instilled enthusiasm and self-confidence in the younger folk. If the elders were consulted first, it would not be possible for others to speak with freedom, and even honest differences of opinion might savor of disrespect.

"Let us take as our Supreme Commander the king of Virata who helped us when we lived in disguise and with whose support we now demand our share of the kingdom," replied Sahadeva.

"It seems to me best to make Drupada the Generalissimo, for, in point of age, wisdom, courage, birth and strength, he is supreme," said Nakula.

"Drupada, the father of Draupadi, has learnt archery from Bharadwaja, and has for long been waiting for an encounter with Drona. He is much respected by all kings, and is supporting us, as if we were his own sons. He should lead our army against Drona and Bhishma."

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Dharmaputra then asked Dhananjaya for his opinion. "I think, Dhrishtadyumna should be our chief in the battlefield. The hero who has his senses under control and who has been born to bring about Drona's end. Dhrishtadyumna alone can withstand the arrows of Bhishma whose skill in archery made even the great Parasurama hold back. He is the only man fitted to be our commander. I can think of no one else," replied Arjuna.

Bhimasena said: "O king, what Arjuna says is true, but the rishis and elders have said that Sikhandin has come into the world to kill Bhishma. My inclination would be to give the command to Sikhandin whose radiant face is like that of Parasurama. I do not think any one else can defeat Bhishma."

Yudhishthira finally asked Kesava for his opinion. "The warriors mentioned are, each one of them, worthy of selection," said Krishna. "Any one of them would fill the Kauravas with fear. All things considered, I would endorse Arjuna's choice. Anoint Dhrishtadyumna, therefore, as your Supreme Commander."

Accordingly, Dhrishtadyumna, Drupada's illustrious son, who led Draupadi at the swayamvara and gave her away to Arjuna, who for thirteen long years was brooding over the insult that his sister had to suffer in Duryodhana's court, and who was waiting for an opportunity to avenge the wrong, was anointed Supreme Commander of the Pandava army.

The lion-roar of warriors, the blowing of conchs and shells and the trumpeting of elephants rent the air, With warlike cheers which made the sky ring, the Pandava army entered Kurukshetra in martial array.