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Chapter 173

Mahabharata English - DRONA PARVA

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘How, indeed, did that battle take place when atdead of night Vikartana’s son, Karna, and the Rakshasa Ghatotkachaencountered each other? What aspect did that fierce Rakshasa thenpresent? What kind of car did he ride, and what was the nature of hissteeds and what of his weapons? What was the size of his steeds, of thestandard of his car, and of his bow? What was the kind of armour he wore,and what head-gear had he on? Asked by me, describe all this, for thouart skilled in narration, O Sanjaya!’

“Sanjaya said, ‘Of blood-red eyes, Ghatotkacha was of gigantic form. Hisface was of the hue of copper. His belly was low and sunken. The bristleson his body all pointed upwards. His head was green. His ears were likearrows. His cheek-bones were high. His mouth was large, extending fromear to ear. His teeth were keen, and four of these were high and pointed.His tongue and lips were very long and of a coppery hue. His brows werelong-extending. His nose was thick. His body was blue, and neck red. Tallas a hill, he was terrible to behold. Of gigantic frame, gigantic arms,and gigantic head, he was endued with great might. Ugly and of hardlimbs, the hair on his head was tied upwards in a frightful shape. Hiships were large and his navel was deep. Of gigantic frame, thecircumference of his body, however, was not great. The ornaments on hisarms were proportionate. Possessed of great powers of illusion, he wasdecked also in Angadas. He wore a cuirass on his breast like a circle offire on the breast of a mountain. On his head was a bright and beautifuldiadem made of gold, with every part proportionate and beautiful, andlooking like an arch. His ear-rings were bright as the morning sun, andhis garlands were made of gold and exceedingly bright. He had on his bodya gigantic armour of brass of great effulgence. His car was decked with ahundred tinkling bells, and on his standard waved numerous blood-redbanners. Of prodigious proportions, and of the measure of a nalwa, thatcar was covered with bear-skins. Equipped with all kinds of mightyweapons, it possessed a tall standard and was adorned with garlands,having eight wheels, and its clatter resembled the roar of the clouds.His steeds were like infuriated elephants, and possessed of red eyes; ofterrible aspect, they were variegated in hue, and endued with great speedand might. Above all fatigue, and adorned with long manes and neighingrepeatedly, they bore that hero to battle. A Rakshasa of terrible eyes,fiery mouth, and blazing ear-rings, acted as his driver, holding thereins, bright as the rays of the sun, of his steeds in battle. With thatdriver he came to battle like Surya with his driver Aruna. Looking like ahigh mountain encircled with a mighty cloud, a very tall standard, thattouched the heavens, was set up on his car. A carnivorous and awfulvulture of blood-red body perched on it. He came, forcibly drawing hisbow whose twang resembled the thunder of Indra, and whose string was veryhard, and which measured a dozen cubits in length and one cubit inbreadth.[231] Filling all the points of the compass with shafts of themeasure of the Aksha of a car, the Rakshasa rushed against Karna on thatnight that was so destructive of heroes. Staying proudly on his car, ashe stretched his bow, the twang that was heard resembled that sound ofthe roaring thunder. Frightened by him, O Bharata, all thy troopstrembled like the surging waves of the ocean. Beholding that frightfulRakshasa of horrible eyes advancing against him, Radha’s son, as ifsmiling, withstood him speedily. And Karna proceeded against the smilingRakshasa, smiting him in return from a near point, like an elephantagainst an elephant or the leader of a bovine herd against the leader ofanother herd. The collision that took place between them, i.e., Karna andthe Rakshasa, O king, became terrible and resembled that between Indraand Samvara. Each taking a formidable bow of loud twang, struck andcovered the other with powerful shafts. With straight shafts sped frombows drawn to their fullest stretch, they mangled each other, piercingtheir coats of mail made of brass. With darts of the measure of Akshas,and shafts also they continued to mangle each other, like a couple oftigers or of mighty elephants with their teeth or tusks. Piercing eachother’s body, aiming shafts at each other, scorching each other withclouds of arrows, they became incapable of being gazed at. With limbspierced and mangled with shafts, and bathed in streams of blood, theylooked like two hills of chalk with rivulets running down their breasts.Those two mighty car-warriors, both struggling vigorously, both withlimbs pierced with keen-pointed shafts, and each mangling the other,failed, however to make each other tremble For a long time, thatnocturnal combat between Karna and the Rakshasas in which both seemed tosport, making life itself the stake, continued equally. Aiming keenshafts and shooting them to the utmost measure of his might, the twang ofGhatotkacha’s bow inspired both friends and foes with fear.[232] At thattime, O king, Karna could not prevail over Ghatotkacha. Seeing this, thatforemost of all persons acquainted with weapons, invoked into existencecelestial weapons. Beholding a celestial weapon aimed at him by Karna,Ghatotkacha, that foremost of Rakshasas invoked into existence hisRakshasa illusion. He was seen surrounded by a large force ofterrible-looking Rakshasas, armed with lances, large rocks and hills andclubs.[233] Beholding Ghatotkacha advancing with a mighty weapon uplifted(in his hands) like unto the Destroyer himself of all creatures armedwith his fierce and fatal club, all the kings there were struck withfear. Terrified at the leonine roars uttered by Ghatotkacha, theelephants passed urine all the combatants trembled with fear. Then therefell on all sides a thick rain of rocks and stones poured incessantly bythe Rakshasas, who had, in consequence of midnight, became inspired withgreater strength.[234] Iron wheels and Bhusundis, and darts, and lancesand spears and Sataghnis and axes also began to fall incessantly.Beholding that fierce and terrible battle, all the kings, as also thysons and the combatants, fled away in fear. Only one amongst them, viz.,Karna, proud of the power of his weapons, and feeling a noble pride,trembled not. Indeed, with his shafts he destroyed that illusion invokedinto existence by Ghatotkacha. Beholding his illusion dispelled,Ghatotkacha, filled with rage began to shoot deadly shafts from desire ofslaying the Suta’s son. Those shafts, bathed in blood, piercing throughKarna’s body in that dreadful battle, entered the earth like angrysnakes. Then the valiant son of the Suta, filled with rage and possessedof great lightness of hands, prevailing over Ghatotkacha, pierced thelatter with ten shafts. Then Ghatotkacha, thus pierced by the Suta’s sonin his vital parts and feeling great pain, took up a celestial wheelhaving a thousand radii. The edge of that wheel was sharp as a razor.Possessed of the splendour of the morning sun, and decked with jewels andgems, Bhimasena’s son hurled that wheel at the son of Adhiratha, desirousof making an end of the latter. That wheel, however, of great power andhurled also with great might, was cut off into pieces by Karna with hisshafts, and fell down, baffled of its object, like the hopes and purposesof an unfortunate man. Filled with rage upon beholding his wheel baffled,Ghatotkacha covered Karna with showers of shafts, like Rahu covering thesun. The Suta’s son, however, endued with the prowess of Rudra or ofIndra’s younger brother or of Indra, fearlessly shrouded Ghatotkacha’scar in a moment with winged arrows. Then Ghatotkacha, whirling agold-decked mace, hurled it at Karna. Karna, however, with his shafts,cutting it off, caused it to fall down. Then soaring into the sky androaring deep like a mass of clouds, the gigantic Rakshasa poured from thewelkin a perfect shower of trees. Then Karna pierced with his shaftsBhima’s son in the sky, that Rakshasa acquainted with illusions, like thesun piercing with his rays a mass of clouds. Slaying then all the steedsof Ghatotkacha, and cutting also his car into a hundred pieces, Karnabegan to pour upon him his arrows like a cloud pouring torrents of rain.On Ghatotkacha’s body there was not even two finger’s breadth of spacethat was not pierced with Karna’s shafts. Soon the Rakshasa seemed to belike a porcupine with quills erect on his body. So completely was heshrouded with shafts that we could not in that battle, any longer seeeither the steeds or the car or the standard of Ghatotkacha orGhatotkacha himself. Destroying then by his own weapon, the celestialweapon of Karna, Ghatotkacha, endued with the power of illusion, began tofight with the Suta’s son, aided by his powers of illusion. Indeed, hebegan to fight with Karna, aided by his illusion and displaying thegreatest activity. Showers of shafts fell from an invisible source fromthe welkin. Then Bhimasena’s son, endued with great prowess of illusion,O foremost of the Kurus, assumed a fierce from, aided by those powers,began to stupefy the Kauravas, O Bharata! The valiant Rakshasa, assumingmany fierce and grim heads, began to devour the celestial weapons of theSuta’s son. Soon again, the gigantic Rakshasa, with a hundred wounds onhis body seemed to lie cheerlessly, as if dead, on the field. The Kauravabulls then, regarding Ghatotkacha deed, uttered loud shouts (of joy).Soon, however, he was seen on all sides, careering in new forms. Oncemore, he was seen to assume a prodigious form, with a hundred heads and ahundred stomachs, and looking like the Mainaka mountain.[235] Once again,becoming small about the measure of the thumb, he moved abouttransversely or soared aloft like the swelling surges of the sea. Tearingthrough the earth and rising on the surface, he dived again into thewaters. Once seen here, he was next seen at a different place. Descendingthen from the welkin, he was seen standing, clad in mail, on a car deckedwith gold, having wandered through earth and sky and all the points ofthe compass, aided by his powers of illusion. Approaching then thevicinity of Karna’s car, Ghatotkacha, with his ear-rings waving,fearlessly addressed the Suta’s son, O monarch, and said, ‘Wait a little,O Suta’s son. Whither shalt thou go with life, avoiding me. I shalltoday, on the field of battle, quell thy desire of fight.’ Having saidthose words, that Rakshasas, of cruel prowess and eyes red like copper inwrath, soared aloft into the sky and laughed aloud. Like a lion smiting aprince of elephants, he began to strike Karna, pouring upon him a showerof shafts, each of the measure the Aksha, of a car. Indeed, he pouredthat arrowy shower upon Karna, that bull among car-warriors, like a cloudpouring torrents of rain on a mountain, Karna destroyed that shower ofarrows from a distance. Beholding his illusion destroyed by Karna, O bullof Bharata’s race, Ghatotkacha once more created an illusion and madehimself invisible. He became a high mountain with many summits andabounding with tall trees. And from that mountain incessantly issuedstreams of lances and spears and swords and clubs. Seeing that mountain,which resembled a mighty mass of antimony, with its streams of fierceweapons, on the welkin, Karna was not at all agitated. Smiling the while,Karna invoked into existence a celestial weapon. Cut off with thatweapon, that huge mountain was destroyed. Then he fierce Ghatotkacha,becoming a blue cloud with a rainbow, in the welkin, began to pour uponthe Suta’s son a shower of stones. Vikartana’s son, Karna, who was calledalso Vrisha, that foremost of all persons acquainted with weapons, aiminga Vayavya weapon, destroyed that dart-cloud. Then covering all the pointsof the compass with innumerable shafts, he destroyed a weapon that hadbeen aimed at him by Ghatotkacha. The mighty son of Bhimasena thenlaughing loudly in that battle, once more invoked into existence anall-powerful illusion against the mighty car-warrior Karna. Once morebeholding that foremost of warriors, viz., Ghatotkacha, fearlesslyapproaching him, surrounded by a large number of Rakshasas that resembledlions and tigers and infuriated elephants in prowess, some riding onelephants, some on cars, and some on horseback, all armed with diverseweapons and clad in diverse kinds of mail and diverse kinds of ornaments;in fact, beholding Ghatotkacha surrounded by those fierce Rakshasas likeVasava by the Maruts, the mighty bowman Karna began to battle with himfiercely. Then Ghatotkacha piercing Karna with five shafts, uttered aterrible roar frightening all the kings. Once more shooting an Anjalikaweapon, Ghatotkacha quickly cut off the bow of Karna’s hand along withthe arrowy shower the latter had shot. Karna then taking out another bowthat was strong and capable of bearing a great strain and that was aslarge as Indra’s bow, drew it with great force. Then Karna shot somefoe-slaying shafts of golden wings at those sky-ranging Rakshasas.Afflicted with those shafts, the large foes of broad chested Rakshasaslooked agitated like a herd of wild elephants afflicted by a lion.Destroying with his shafts those Rakshasas along with their steeds anddiverse elephants, the puissant Karna looked like the divine Agniconsuming all creatures at the time of the universal dissolution. Havingdestroyed that Rakshasa host, the Suta’s son looked resplendent like thegod Maheswara in heaven after having consumed the triple city (of theAsuras). Among those thousands of kings on the Pandava side, O sire,there was not a single one, O monarch, that could even look at Karnathen, save the mighty Ghatotkacha, that prince of Rakshasas, who wasendued with terrible energy and strength, and who, inflamed with rage,then looked like Yama himself. From his eyes, as he was excited withwrath, flames of fire seemed to emit, like blazing drops of oil from acouple of burning brands. Striking his palm against palm and biting hisnether lip, the Rakshasa was once more seen on a car that had beencreated by his illusion, and unto which were yoked a number of asses,looking like elephants and having the faces of Pisachas. Excited withwrath, he addressed his driver, saying, ‘Bear me towards the Suta’s son.’Then that foremost of car-warriors proceeded on that terrible-looking carof his, for once more fighting a single combat with the Suta’s son, Oking! The Rakshasa, excited with rage, hurled at the Suta’s son an Asaniof Rudra’s workmanship, terrible and furnished with eight wheels. Karna,placing his bow on his car, jumped down on the earth and seizing thatAsani hurled it back at Ghatotkacha. The latter, however, had quicklydescended from his car (before the weapon could reach it). The Asani,meanwhile, of great effulgence, having reduced the Raksha’s car to ashes,with it steeds, driver, and standard, piercing through the earth,disappeared within its bowels, at which the gods were filled with wonder.Then all creatures applauded Karna, who, having jumped down from his car,had seized that Asani. Having achieved that feat, Karna once moreascended his car. The Suta’s sort, that scorcher of foes, then began toshoot his shafts. Indeed, O giver of honours, there is none else amongstall living creatures who can accomplish what Karna accomplished in thatfrightful battle. Struck by Karna with shafts like a mountain withtorrents of rain, Ghatotkacha once more disappeared from the field ofbattle like the melting forms of vapour in the sky. Contending in thisway, the gigantic Rakshasa, that slayer of foes, destroyed the celestialweapons of Karna by means of his activity as also his power of illusion.Seeing his weapons destroyed by the Rakshasa, aided by his powers ofillusion, Karna, without being inspired with fear, continued to fightwith the cannibal. Then, O monarch, the mighty son of Bhimasena excitedwith wrath, divided his own self into many parts, frightening all themighty car-warriors (of the Kuru army). Then there came on the field ofbattle lions, and tigers, and hyenas, and snakes with fiery tongues, andbirds with iron beaks. As regards Ghatotkacha. himself, struck with thekeen arrows that were sped from Karna’s bow, that huge Rakshasa, lookinglike (Himavat) the prince of mountains, disappeared then and there. Thenmany Rakshasas and Pisachas and Yatudhanas, and large numbers of wolvesand leopards, of frightful faces rushed towards Karna for devouring him.These approached the Suta’s son, uttering fierce howls for frighteninghim. Karna pierced every one of those monsters with many swift-winged andterrible shafts that drank their blood. At last, using a celestialweapon, he destroyed that illusion of the Rakshasa. He then, with somestraight and fierce shafts, struck the steeds of Ghatotkacha. These, withbroken and maimed limbs, and their backs cut by those shafts, fell downon the earth, in the very sight of Ghatotkacha. The son of Hidimva,seeing his illusion dispelled, once more made himself invisible, sayingunto Karna, the son of Vikartana, ‘I will presently compass thydestruction.'”

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