Monday, March 7, 2011

Fortification of Dwarka (referred in Mahabharatha)

Sisupala was the son of Srutasravas, a sister of Vasudeva Krishna's father, similar to his relation to the Pandavas. But unlike the Pandavas, this king of Chedi was his enemy. Sisupala came and burned Dwaraka while Krishna and his army were at Pragjyotisha Kingdom. While king Bhoja was sporting on the Raivataka hill, he fell upon the attendants of that king and slew many, leading many of them away in chains to his own city. (2,44)

Salwa's Attack on Dvaraka
The attack by Salwa on Dwaraka is a much-debated topic, since it undoubtedly has the signs of being an aerial warfare. Historians are of the opinion that it could be a naval attack, described in the fashion of an aerial attack. For example, the flying car or combat aircraft of Salwa, named Saubha, could actually be a navy ship. This explanation suits well, since Dwaraka was a city in a small island, surrounded by sea.

King Salwa came to Dwaraka, burning with fierce anger upon the death of Sisupala brought on by Vasudeva Krishna during the Rajasuya sacrifice of Yudhisthira at Indraprastha. Krishna was then at Indraprastha. He arrived there on a car made of precious metals and hence called the Souva (sometimes called Saubha, though a city also has that same name). He slew many young Vrishni heroes and destroyed many gardens of the city. He addressed all the Anarttas (clearly indicating that Anarta was the greater country, while Dwaraka was its capital), asking them to reveal where is Krishna. He rose into the sky on his car of precious metals, capable of going anywhere at will.

The Salwa King's capital was mentioned here as Maticka. Salwa considered Sisupala as his brother. When Krishna came back to the city, He saw the destroyed Dwaraka and the slain heroes. Krishna went in search of Salwa and found him in an island, in the midst of the ocean. (3,14)

The Fortification of Dwaraka
Salwa, stationing his forces in array, besieged that city around and above. And stationing himself in the upper regions, the king began his fight with the city. And that encounter commenced with a thick shower of weapons from all sides. The city at that time was well-fortified on all sides, according to the science (of fortification), with pennons, and arches, and combatants, and walls and turrets, and engines, and miners, and streets barricaded with spiked wood-works and towers and edifices with gate-ways well-filled with provisions, and engines for hurling burning brands and fires, and vessels, of deer-skins (for carrying water), and trumpets, tabors, and drums, lances and forks, and Sataghnis, and plough-shares, rockets, balls of stone and battle-axes and other weapons and shields embossed with iron, and engines for hurling balls and bullets and hot liquids!

And the city was also well-defended by numerous cars. Yadava heroes (Gada, Samva, Uddhava) placing themselves on commanding posts, aided by cavalry and standard-bearers, began to defend the town. (3,15)

High alert proclaimed in the city
To prevent carelessness, Ugrasena, Uddhava and others proclaimed throughout the city that nobody should drink. All the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, well-knowing that they would be slain by Salwa if they behaved carelessly, remained sober and watchful. The police soon drove out of the city all mimes and dancers and singers of the Anartta country. And all the bridges over rivers were destroyed, and boats forbidden to ply, and the trenches (around the city) were spiked with poles at the bottom.

The land around the city for a full two miles was rendered uneven, and holes and pits were dug thereon, and combustibles were secreted below the surface. Dwaraka fort is naturally strong and always well-defended and filled with all kinds of weapons! And in consequence of the preparations made, the city was more prepared than ever to meet the foe. (3,15)

Identity Signs were Made Strict
At the time of Salwa’s approach, nobody could either enter or leave the town of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas without presenting the sign that had been agreed upon. And all the streets of the town and the open spaces were filled with numerous elephants and horses. The combatants were all especially gratified with allowances and wages, and rations, weapons, and dresses. And amongst the combatants there was none who was not paid in gold, and none who was not paid at all, and none who was not somehow obliged, and none who was not of tried valour! It was thus Dwaraka, abounding in well-ordered arrangements, was defended by Ahuka (Ugrasena). (3,15)

Camping of Salwa's Army
Kings, Salwa, the lord of Saubha, came towards our city with an immense force consisting of infantry, cavalry and elephants! And the army headed by king Salwa, consisting of four kings of forces, occupied a level ground commanding a copious water-supply. And forsaking cemeteries and temples dedicated to the gods, and sacred trees, and grounds covered by anthills, that host occupied every other place. Divisions of the army blocked the roads (leading to the city), and the enemy’s camp also blocked all the secret entrances. Salwa's host was equipped with all kinds of arms, skilled in all weapons, consisting of a dense display of cars and elephants and cavalry abounding in banners, and well-paid and well-fed foot-soldiers possessed of great strength and bearing every mark of heroism and furnished with wonderful chariots and bows. (3,16)

The Battle outside Dvaraka
Beholding the army of Salwa, the youthful princess of the Vrishni race resolved to encounter it sallying out of the city. Charudeshna, Samva, and Pradyumna sailed out, ascending on their chariots, and clad in mail, and decked with ornaments, with colours flying, resolved to encounter the mighty and countless host of Salwa. Samva caused Salwa's general Kshemavriddhi to flee. He slew Vegavat. Charudeshna slew Vivindhya. Salwa defeated Pradyumna but Pradyumna's driver bore him away. He came back after regaining strength and attacked Salwa and made him flee. When Vasudeva Krishna came back from Indraprastha there were no sounds of Vedic recitation or sacrificial offering, the excellent damsels were all destitute of ornaments, and the gardens were devoid of beauty. (3-16,17,181,191,20)

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