Chapter 16

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Describe to me the battle of Arjuna with thesamsaptakas, and of the other kings with the Pandavas. Narrate to mealso, O Sanjaya, the battle of Arjuna with Ashvatthama, and of the otherlords of the Earth with Partha.’

“Sanjaya said, ‘Listen, O king, as I speak to thee as to how occurred thebattle of the heroic warriors (on our side) with the foe–the battlewhich was destructive of bodies, sins, and lives. That slayer of foes,viz, Partha, penetrating into the Samsaptaka force that resembled theocean, agitated it exceedingly, like a tempest agitating the vast deep.Cutting off with broad-headed arrows of keen edges the heads of bravewarriors that were decked with faces possessed of the splendour of thefull moon and with beautiful eyes and eyebrows and teeth, Dhananjayaspeedily caused the Earth to be strewn there as if with lotuses, pluckedoff their stalks. And in that battle Arjuna with his razor-headed shafts,cut off the arms of his foes, that were all well rounded, large andmassive, and smeared with sandal-paste and other perfumes, with weaponsin grasp, with leathern gloves casing their fingers, and looking likefive-headed snakes. And the son of Pandu repeatedly cut off with hisbroad-headed shafts, steeds, riders, drivers, and flags, and bows andarrows, and arms decked with gems. And Arjuna in that battle, O king,with many thousands of arrows, despatched to Yama’s abode, car-warriorsand elephants and horses and horsemen. Many foremost of warriors, filledwith rage and roaring like bulls mad (like them) with excitement for acow in season, rushed towards Arjuna, with loud cries. All of them thenbegan to strike Arjuna with their arrows as the latter was employed inslaying them, like infuriate bulls striking one of their species withtheir horns. The battle that took place between him and them made thehair to stand on end, even like the battle between the Daityas and thewielder of the thunderbolt on the occasion of the conquest of the threeworlds. Resisting with his own weapons the weapons of his foes on allsides. Arjuna, piercing them fast with innumerable arrows, took theirlives. Like the wind destroying vast masses of clouds, Arjuna, otherwisecalled Jaya, that enhancer of the fears of his foes, cutting off intominute fragments large throngs of cars,–cars, that is, whose poles,wheels, and axles had previously been shattered by him, and whosewarriors and steeds and drivers had been slain before, and whose weaponsand quivers had been displaced, and standards crushed, and traces andreins sundered, and wooden fences and shafts broken already, and fillingevery body with wonder, achieved feats magnificent to behold andrivalling those of a 1,000 great car-warriors fighting together. Crowdsof Siddhas and celestial Rishis and Charanas all applauded him. Andcelestial kettle-drums sounded, and floral showers fell upon the heads ofKeshava and Arjuna. And an incorporeal voice said, “These viz., Keshavaand Arjuna, are those two heroes that always possess the beauty of themoon, the splendour of fire, the force of the wind and the radiance ofthe sun. Stationed on the same car these two heroes are invincible evenlike Brahman and Isana. These two heroes the foremost of all creaturesare Nara and Narayana.” Hearing and beholding these wonderful things, OBharata, Ashvatthama, with great care and resolution, rushed againstKrishna and Arjuna in that battle. With his arm that held an arrow in itsgrasp, the son of Drona hailed the Pandava, shooting shafts equipped withfoe-slaying heads, and smilingly told him these words, “If, O hero, thouregardest me a worthy guest arrived (before thee), then give me today,with the whole heart, the hospitality of battle.” Thus summoned by thepreceptor’s son from desire of battle, Arjuna regarded himself highlyhonoured, and addressing Janardana said, “The samsaptakas should be slainby me, but Drona’s son again is summoning me. Tell me, O Madhava, towhich of these duties should I first turn? First let the services ofhospitality be offered, if thou thinkest that to be proper.” Thusaddressed, Krishna bore Partha who had been summoned according to therules of triumphant challenge to the vicinity of Drona’s son, like Vayubearing Indra to the sacrifice. Saluting Drona’s son whose mind was fixedupon one thing, Keshava, said unto him, “O Ashvatthama, be cool, andwithout losing a moment strike and bear. The time has come for those thatare dependent on others to repay their obligation to their masters. Thedisputes between brahmanas are subtle. The consequences, however, of thedisputes of kshatriyas are palpable, being either victory or defeat. Forobtaining those excellent rites of hospitality that from folly thousolicitest at the hands of Partha, fight coolly now with the son ofPandu.” Thus addressed by Vasudeva, that foremost of regenerate ones,replied saying, “So be it!” pierced Keshava with sixty shafts and Arjunawith three. Arjuna then, filled with rage, cut off Ashvatthama’s bow withthree shafts. Drona’s son took up another bow that was still moreformidable. Stringing it within the twinkling of an eye, he piercedArjuna and Keshava, the latter with three hundred arrows, and the formerwith a 1,000. And then Drona’s son, with good care, stupefying Arjuna inthat battle, shot thousands and tens of thousands and millions of arrows.From the quivers, the bow, the bow-string, the fingers, the arms, thehands, the chest, the face, the nose, the eyes, the ears, the heads, thelimbs, the pores of the body, the armour on his person, the car, and thestandard, O sire, of that utterer of Brahma, arrows began to issue.Piercing Madhava and the son of Pandu with the thick arrowy shower,Drona’s son filled with joy, roared aloud like a vast mass of congregatedclouds. Hearing that roar of his, the son of Pandu said unto Keshava ofunfading glory these words “Behold, O Madhava, this wickedness towards meof the preceptor’s son. He regardeth us to be slain, having shrouded uswith his dense arrowy shower. I will presently, however, by my trainingand might, baffle his purpose.” Cutting off every one of those arrowsshot by Ashvatthama into three fragments, that foremost one of Bharata’srace destroyed them all like the Sun destroying a thick fog. After thisthe son of Pandu once more pierced with his fierce shafts, thesamsaptakas with their steeds, drivers, cars, elephants, standards andfoot-soldiers. Every one of those that stood there as spectators, everyone of those that were stationed there on foot or car or steed orelephant, regarded himself as shrouded by the arrows of Arjuna. Shot fromGandiva, those winged arrows of diverse forms slew in that battleelephants and steeds and men whether stationed in his immediate front orat the distance of two miles. The trunks, cut off with broad-headedshafts, of elephants, down whose cheeks and other limbs flowed the juiceindicative of excitement, fell down like tall trees in the forest struckdown with the axe. A little after down fell elephants, huge as hillocks,with their riders, like mountains crushed by Indra with his thunder. Withhis shafts cutting into minute portions well-equipped cars that lookedlike dissolving edifices of vapour in the evening sky and unto which wereyoked well-trained steeds of great speed and which were ridden bywarriors invincible in battle, the son of Pandu continued to shower hisarrows on his enemies. And Dhananjaya continued to slay well-deckedhorsemen and foot-soldiers of the foe. Indeed, Dhananjaya, resembling thevery Sun as he rises at the end of the Yuga, dried up the samsaptakaocean incapable of being dried up easily, by means of keen arrowsconstituting his rays. Without losing a moment, the son of Pandu oncemore pierced Drona’s son resembling a huge hill, with shafts of greatimpetuosity and the splendour of the Sun, like the wielder of thethunderbolt piercing a mountain with the thunder. Desirous of battle, thepreceptor’s son then, filled with rage, approached Arjuna for piercinghim and his steeds and drivers by means of his swiftly coursing shafts.Arjuna, however, quickly cut off the shafts shot at him by Ashvatthama.The son of Pandu then filled with great wrath, proffered untoAshvatthama, that desirable guest, quivers upon quivers of arrows, like acharitable person offering everything in his house unto a guest. Leavingthe samsaptakas then the son of Pandu rushed towards Drona’s son like adonor abandoning unworthy guests, for proceeding towards one that isworthy.”

Chapter 15
Chapter 17
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