’These and many other rulers of provinces, headed by Vasudeva, have assembled for the sake of Pandu’s son. These, O king, are principally the Rathas, Atirathas, and half Rathas of the high-souled Pandava, and these, O king, will lead in battle the terrible army of Yudhishthira which is protected, again, by that hero, the diadem-decked (Arjuna), who is even like the great Indra himself. It is with them (thus) endued with powers of illusion and fired by the desire of success that I shall contend in battle, expectant of victory or death. I shall advance against these two foremost of car-warriors, Vasudeva and Arjuna, bearing (respectively) Gandiva and the discus, and resembling the sun and the moon as seen together in the evening. I shall, on the field of battle, encounter also those other car-warriors of Yudhishthira (whom I have, mentioned) at the head of their respective troops.
’The Rathas and Atirathas, according to their precedence, have now been declared by me to thee, and they also that are half Rathas, belonging to thee or them, O chief of the Kauravas! Arjuna and Vasudeva and other lords of earth that may be there, all of them, upon whom my eyes may fall, I will withstand, O Bharata! But, thou of mighty arms, I will not strike or slay Sikhandin the prince of Panchalas, even if I behold him rushing against me in battle with weapons upraised. The world knows how from a desire of doing what was agreeable to my father, that I gave up the kingdom that had become mine and lived in the observance of the Brahmacharya vow. I then installed Chitrangada in the sovereignty of the Kauravas, making at the same time the child Vichitravirya the Yuvaraja. Having notified my god-like vow among all the kings of the earth, I shall never slay a woman or one that was formerly a woman. It may be known to you, O king, that Sikhandin was formerly a woman. Having been born as a daughter, she afterwards became metamorphosed into the male sex. I shall not, O Bharata, fight against him. I shall certainly smite all other kings, O bull of Bharata’s race, whom I may encounter in battle. I will not, however, O king, be able to slay the sons of Kunti!’”
“Duryodhana said, ’For what reason, O chief of the Bharatas, wilt thou not slay Sikhandin even if thou beholdest him approach thee as a foe with arms upraised? Thou hadst, O mighty-armed one, formerly told me,—I will slay the Panchalas with the Somakas’—O son of Ganga, tell me, O grandsire (the reason of the present reservation),’
“Bhishma said, ’Listen, O Duryodhana, to this history, with all these lords of earth, as to why I will not slay Sikhandin even if I behold him in battle! My father, Santanu, O king, was celebrated over all the world. O bull of the Bharata race, that king of virtuous soul paid his debt to nature in time, Observing my pledge, O chief of the Bharatas, I then installed my brother, Chitrangada, on the throne