It is evening, the war is stopped for the day. Yudhisthira returns to his tent a very sad man. He does not know how to face Arjuna. As he mourns the loss of an incomparable hero, he does not want war anymore and the thought of victory has no meaning for him.
As Arjuna returns after defeating the warriors who had drawn him out of the battle field, he senses that something is amiss. 'Krishna! Why is it that there is a flutter in my heart? My lips tremble? I have no control over my body. I cannot sit still on the chariot, I have a feeling that a calamity has occurred and the thought does not leave me. I see many signs which signify misfortune. Hope my elder brother and the rest are all safe.' Krishna tries to calm him, 'I am sure that Yudhisthira and others are all safe. Do not worry! It could be a small untoward incidence!'
When they reach the camp, it appears dull like a faded painting. The usual welcome that Arjuna is given everyday, as he returns from the battlefield, is not evident. There is no auspicious chanting, music or beating of the drums and the sound of conches. The camp is quiet, the soldiers avoid meeting his eyes and go about with bowed heads. Abhimanyu who is always present when he returns is not to be seen. These signs further worry Arjuna .
Inside in the tent Pandavas and the rest are quiet and look very pre-occupied. And there is still no sign of Abhimanyu. Arjuna is now very worried, 'How is it you are all so dull? You do not seem to be happy that I have come. Where is Abhimanyu? I heard that Drona had created the Padma vyuha today. Only Abhimanyu is able to go inside this formation. But I have not yet taught him how to come out of it. Hope you did not ask him to penetrate the 'vyuha' and is not killed by the enemies. How can he, who is equal to Keshava in his valour and knowledge, be killed? If my child is dead, it is better that I also die. I will have no peace if I am unable to hear his voice or see his face.' Arjuna continues to wail helplessly in the manner of a merchant who has lost his ship in the seas.
He then looks at Yudhisthira, 'Why has not Abhimanyu, after he has defeated the enemies, come to greet me? Surely our enemies, have brought my son down, it is as if the sun has been knocked down from the skies'. And asks Krishna, 'Earlier I heard the shout of victory from the kauravas, even heard Yuyutsu deriding them for killing a young man sinfully and shamelessly and warning them that Krishna and Arjuna will mete out the right punishment for their evil act. Why did you not tell me earlier? I would have gone and destroyed them all!'
Krishna looks at Arjuna, whose eyes are filled with tears. 'Heroes who do not retreat all have the same temperament. All Khsatriya heroes expect the same fate. The prince has killed many powerful and brave men and has finally attained the state every khsatriya desires. Do not grieve for him. If you continue to grieve, your brothers and other friends will do the same. Go and pacify them.'
I am reminded of the second world war cemetary near the river Kwai in Thailand. It is beautifully maintained, with lots flowers. It is only when you step closer to read the inscriptions that it hits you. Most of the graves are for men who are in their twenties and thirties! It is a cliche', but humans seem to have no qualms about sending their young sons' to death. Now it is also the daughters in some cases!