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Chapter 171

Mahabharata English - DRONA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Then Karna, that slayer of hostile heroes, beholdingPrishata’s son in battle, struck him on the chest with ten shafts capableof penetrating into the very vitals. Dhrishtadyumna quickly pierced Karnain return in that great battle, with five shafts, and addressing him,said, Wait! Wait!’ Shrouding each other in that dreadful combat withshowers of arrows, O king, they once more pierced each other with keenshafts, sped from bows drawn to their fullest stretch. Then Karna, inthat battle, despatched to Yama’s abode the driver and the four steeds orDhrishtadyumna, that foremost warrior among the Panchalas. He then cutoff his enemy’s foremost bow with keen arrows, and felled, with abroad-headed shaft the latter’s driver from his niche in the car. Thenthe valiant Dhrishtadyumna, deprived of car, steeds, and driver, quicklyjumped down from his car and took up a mace. Though struck all the whilewith straight shafts by Karna, the Panchala prince, approaching Karna,slew the four steeds of the latter. Turning back with great speed, thatslayer of hosts, viz., the son of Prishata, quickly ascended the car ofDhananjaya. Mounting upon that car, the mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumnadesired to proceed towards Karna. Dharma’s son (Yudhishthira), however,bade him desist. Then Karna endued with great energy, mingling hisleonine shouts with it twanged his bow loudly and blew his conch withgreat force. Beholding Prishata’s son vanquished in battle, those mightycar-warriors, viz., the Panchalas and the Somakas, excited with rage, andtaking up all kinds of weapons, proceeded, making death itself theirgoal, towards Karna, from desire of slaughtering him. Meanwhile, Karna’sdriver had yoked other steeds unto his master’s car, that were white asconchs, endued with great speed, of the Sindhu breed, and well-broken.Then Karna of sure aim, contending with vigour, afflicted those mightycar-warriors among the Panchalas with his shafts like a cloud pouringtorrents of rain upon a mountain. The Panchala host, thus afflicted byKarna, fled away in fear, like a doe frightened by a lion. Horsemen wereseen falling from their horses, and elephant-riders from their elephants,O monarch, and car-warriors from cars, all around. In that dreadfulbattle, Karna cut off with razor-faced arrows the arms of flyingcombatants and heads decked with car-rings. And he cut off, O king, thethighs of others that were on elephants or on the back of steeds, or onthe earth, O sire! Many mighty car-warriors, as they fled away, felt nottheir loss of limbs or the injury in their animals, in that battle.Slaughtered by terrible shafts, the Panchalas and the Srinjayas took themotion of even a straw for Karna (so great was their fright). Deprived oftheir senses, the warriors took their flying friends for Karna and fledaway from these in fear. Karna pursued the broken and retreating host, OBharata, shooting his shafts on all sides. Indeed, in that battle, theretreating warriors, deprived of their senses, were slaughtered withmighty weapons by that illustrious hero, Karna. Others, only looked at byDrona, fled away on all sides. Then king Yudhishthira, beholding his armyflying away, and regarding retreat to be advisable, addressed Phalgunaand said, ‘Behold that mighty bowman, Karna stationed there like Rudrahimself armed with his bow. Behold him scorching everything around likethe blazing sun himself, at this fierce hour, this dead of night. Thesewails are being incessantly heard, O Partha, of thy helpless friends whoare uttering them, mangled by the shafts of Karna. The manner in whichKarna is aiming and letting off his shafts is such that no interval canbe noticed between the two acts. He will, O Partha, annihilate all ourfriends. Do that now, Dhananjaya, about the slaughter of Karna, which,according to thy judgment, should next be done and the time for which mayhave come.’ Thus addressed (by Yudhishthira), Partha said unto Krishna,’The royal son of Dharma is frightened today by the prowess of Karna.When Karna’s division is thus acting (towards us) repeatedly, do thouspeedily adopt that course which should now be adopted. Our army isflying away, O slayer of Madhu, our troops, broken and mangled withDrona’s shafts and frightened by Karna, are unable to make a stand. I seeKarna careering fearlessly. Our foremost of car-warriors are flying away.Karna is scattering his keen shafts. I cannot, like a snake incapable ofputting up with the tread of a human being upon its body, bear to see himthus careering at the head of battle, before my eyes, O tiger ofVrishni’s race. Proceed, therefore, to that spot where the mightycar-warrior Karna is. I will either kill him, O slayer of Madhu, or lethim slay me.'[229]

“Vasudeva said, ‘I behold Karna, O son of Kunti, that tiger among men,that warrior of superhuman prowess, careering in battle like the chief ofthe celestials himself. O Dhananjaya, there is none else capable ofadvancing against him in battle, save thee, O tiger among men, and theRakshasa Ghatotkacha. I do not, however, O sinless one, regard the timeto have come, O mighty-armed one, for thee to encounter the Suta’s son inbattle. The blazing dart, resembling a mighty meteor, given him byVasava, is still with him, O thou of mighty arms, kept for thee withcare, by the Suta’s son. He keepeth that dart by him, and hath nowassumed a terrible form. As regards Ghatotkacha, he is always devoted toyou and desirous of your good. Let the mighty Ghatotkacha proceed againstthe son of Radha. Endued with the prowess of a celestial, he has beenbegotten by the mighty Bhima. With him are celestial weapons as alsothose used by Rakshasa. The latter soon came before him, clad in mail,and armed, O king, with sword arrow, and bow. Saluting Krishna and alsoDhananjaya, the son of Pandu, he proudly said, ‘Here I am, command me.’Then he of Dasarha’s race, addressed Hidimva’s son, that Rakshasa ofblazing mouth and fiery eyes and body of the hue of clouds, and saidthese words, ‘Listen, O Ghatotkacha, attend to what I say. The time iscome for the display of thy prowess, and not of anybody else. Be thou theraft in this battle to the sinking Pandavas. Thou hast diverse weapons,and many kinds of Rakshasa illusion. Behold, O son of Hidimva, the armyof the Pandavas is being beaten by Karna on the field of battle, like aherd of kine by the herdsman. Yonder, the mighty bowman Karna, enduedwith great intelligence and steady prowess, is scorching the foremost ofKshatriyas among the divisions of the Pandava host. Afflicted by hisfiery arrows, the Pandava warriors are incapable of standing in front ofthat firm bowman who is shooting showers of mighty shafts. Afflicted atdead of night by the Suta’s son with his arrowy showers, the Panchalasare flying away like a herd of deer afflicted by a loin. Except thee, Othou of terrible prowess, there is none else that can withstand theSuta’s son who is thus engaged in battle. Aided by thy energy and might,do thou, O mighty-armed one, accomplish that which is worthy of thy ownself, of thy maternal race, and of thy sires. It is even for this, O sonof Hidimva, that men desire children, viz., for being rescued fromdifficulties. Do thou now rescue thy kinsmen. O Ghatotkacha, sires desiresons for achieving their own objects. Children, those sources of good,are expected to rescue their sires both here and hereafter. Illustriousthou art, and thy might in battle is terrible and unrivalled, whilecontending in battle, there is none equal to thee. O scorcher of foes, bethou the means by which the Pandavas who are routed by Karna with hisshafts this night, and who are now sinking in the Dhartarashtra ocean,may safely reach the shore. At night, Rakshasas, again, become enduedwith unlimited prowess, great might, and great courage. They become (atsuch an hour) warriors of great valour and incapable of defeat. SlayKarna in battle, at this dead of night, aided by thy illusions. TheParthas, with Dhrishtadyumna, will dispose of Drona.’

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Hearing those words of Kesava, Vibhatsu also, OKauravya, said these words unto that chastiser of foes, viz., theRakshasa Ghatotkacha, ‘O Ghatotkacha, thyself, the long-armed Satyaki,and Bhimasena, the son of Pandu, these three, in my judgment, are theforemost ones among all our warriors. Go and encounter Karna in singlecombat this night. The mighty car-warrior Satyaki will protect thy rear.Assisted by Satwata hero, slay brave Karna in battle, as Indra in days ofold had slain (the Asura) Taraka, aided by (the celestial generalissimo)Skanda.’

“Ghatotkacha said, ‘I am match for Karna, as also for Drona, O Bharata,or for any illustrious Kshatriya accomplished in weapons. This night Ishall fight such a battle with the Suta’s son as will form the subject oftalk as long as the world lasts. Tonight, I will spare neither the bravenor the timid nor those that will, with joined hands, pray for quarter.Following the Rakshasa usage, I shall slay all.’

“Sanjaya continued, Having said these words, that slayer of hostileheroes, viz., the son of Hidimva, rushed against Karna in that dreadfulfight frightening thy troops. The Suta’s son, that tiger among men,smilingly received that angry warrior of blazing mouth and blazing locks.The battle then that took place between Karna and that Rakshasa, bothroaring against each other, O tiger among kings, resembled that betweenIndra and Prahlada (in days of yore).’

Chapter 172
Chapter 170


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