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Chapter 46

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Beholding then that unrivalled array of the Parthas madeby Dhrishtadyumna which was capable of resisting all hostile armies,Karna proceeded, uttering leonine shouts and causing his car to produce aloud rattle. And he made the Earth to tremble with the loud din ofmusical instruments. And that chastiser of foes, that hero in battle,seemed to tremble in rage. Duly disposing his own troops incounter-array, O bull of Bharata’s race, that hero of great energy made agreat slaughter of the Pandava forces like Maghavat slaughtering theAsura host. Striking Yudhishthira then with many arrows, he placed theeldest son of Pandu to his right.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘How, O Sanjaya, did the son of Radha dispose hisforces in counter array to all the Pandavas headed by Dhristadyumna andprotected by Bhimasena, viz., all those great bowmen invincible by thevery gods? Who, O Sanjaya, stood in the wings and the further wings ofour army? Dividing themselves properly, how were the warriors stationed?How also did the sons of Pandu dispose their army in counter-array tomine? How also did that great and awful battle commence? Where wasVibhatsu when Karna proceeded against Yudhishthira? Who could succeed inassailing Yudhishthira in the presence of Arjuna? That Arjuna who hadvanquished, single-handed in former days, all creatures at Khandava, whoelse that is desirous of life, save the son of Radha, would fight withhim?’

“Sanjaya said, ‘Hear now of the formation of the arrays, the manner inwhich Arjuna came and how the battle was fought by both sides surroundingtheir respective kings. Sharadvata’s son Kripa, O king, and the Magadhasendued with great activity, and Kritavarma of Satwata race, took up theirposition in the right wing. Shakuni, and the mighty car-warrior Uluka,standing on the right of these, and accompanied by many fearless Gandharahorsemen armed with bright lances, and many mountaineers difficult todefeat, numerous as flights of locusts, and grimlooking as Pishacas,protected the (Kaurava) army. 34,000 unreturning cars of the samsaptakas,mad with desire of battle, with thy sons in their midst, and all desirousof slaying Krishna and Arjuna, protected the left side (of the Kauravaarmy). On their left, the Kambojas, the Sakas, and the Yavanas, with carsand horse and foot, at the command of the Suta’s son, stood, challengingArjuna and the mighty Keshava. In the centre, at the head of that host,stood Karna, clad in armour with beautiful coat of mail and adorned withAngadas and garlands, for protecting that point. Supported by his ownangry sons, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, that hero, shoneresplendent at the head of the army as he drew his bow repeatedly. Themighty-armed Duhshasana, possessed of the effulgence of the sun or firewith tawny eyes and handsome features, riding on the neck of a hugeelephant, surrounded by many troops, and stationed at the rear of thearmy gradually approached for fight. Behind him came Duryodhana himself,O monarch, protected by his uterine brothers riding on beautiful steedsand cased in beautiful mail. Protected by the united Madrakas and theKekayas of exceeding energy, the king, O monarch, looked resplendent likeIndra of a hundred sacrifices when surrounded by the celestials.Ashvatthama and the other foremost of mighty car-warriors, and manyever-infuriate elephants shedding temporal secretions like the veryclouds and ridden by brave Mlecchas, followed behind that car-force.Decked with triumphal standards and blazing weapons, those hugecreatures, ridden by warriors skilled in fighting from their backs,looked beautiful like hills overgrown with trees. Many thousands of braveand unreturning warriors, armed with axes and swords, became thefootguards of those elephants. Gorgeously decked with horsemen andcar-warriors and elephants, that foremost of arrays looked exceedinglybeautiful like the array of the celestials or of the Asuras. That greatarray, formed according to the scheme of Brihaspati by its commander,well-versed in ways of battle, seemed to dance (as it advanced) andstruck terror into the hearts of foes. Like ever-appearing clouds in theseason of rains, foot-soldiers and horsemen and car-warriors andelephants, longing for battle began to issue from the wings and furtherwings of that array. Then king Yudhishthira, beholding Karna at the headof the (hostile) army, addressed Dhananjaya, that slayer of foes, thatone hero in the world, and said these words, “Behold, O Arjuna, themighty array formed by Karna in battle. The hostile force looksresplendent with its wings and further wings. At sight of this vasthostile force, let such measures be adopted that it may not vanquish us.’Thus addressed by the king, Arjuna replied with joined hands, ‘Everythingwill be done as thou sayest. Nothing will be otherwise. I will, OBharata, do that by which the destruction of the enemy may be compassed.By slaying their foremost of warriors, I will achieve their destruction.”

“‘Yudhishthira said, “With that view, do thou proceed against the son ofRadha, and let Bhimasena proceed against Suyodhana, Nakula againstVirshasena, Sahadeva against the son of Subala, Satanika againstDuhshasana, that bull amongst the Sinis, viz., Satyaki, against the sonof Hridika, and Pandya against the son of Drona. I myself will fight withKripa. Let the sons of Draupadi with Shikhandi amongst them, proceedagainst the rest of the Dhartarashtras. Let the other warriors of ourarmy encounter our other foes.'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Thus addressed by Yudhishthira the just, Dhananjayasaying, “So be it,” ordered his troops (to do the needful) and himselfproceeded to the head of the army. That car for which the Leader of theuniverse, viz., Agni, who derives his effulgence from Brahman, became thesteeds, that car which was known amongst the gods as belonging to Brahmanbecause it sprang first from Brahman himself, that car which in days ofold had successively borne Brahman and Ishana and Indra and Varuna oneafter another, riding on that primeval car, Keshava and Arjuna nowproceeded to battle. Beholding that advancing car of wonderful aspect,Shalya once more said unto Adhiratha’s son, that warrior of great energyin battle, these words “Yonder comes that car having white steeds yokedunto it and owning Krishna for its driver, that vehicle incapable ofbeing resisted by all the troops, like the inevitable fruit of work.There comes the son of Kunti, slaughtering his foes along the way,–he,that is, about whom thou hadst been enquiring. Since tremendous is theuproar that is being heard, deep as the roar of the clouds, it is,without doubt, those high-souled ones, viz., Vasudeva and Dhananjaya.Yonder ascends a cloud of dust that overspreads the welkin like a canopy.The whole Earth, O Karna, seems to tremble, cut deep by the circumferenceof Arjuna’s wheels. These violent winds are blowing on both sides of thyarmy. These carnivorous creatures are yelling aloud and these animals areuttering fearful cries. Behold, O Karna, the terrible and portentous Ketuof vapoury form, making the hair to stand on end, hath appeared, coveringthe Sun. Behold, diverse kinds of animals, all around in large packs, andmany mighty wolves and tigers are looking at the Sun. Behold thoseterrible Kankas and those vultures, assembled together in thousands,sitting with faces towards one another, in seeming discourse. Thosecoloured yak-tails attached to thy great car are waving unquietly. Thystandard also is trembling. Behold these thy beautiful steeds, of hugelimbs and great speed resembling that of soaring birds, are alsoquivering. From these portents, it is certain that kings, in hundreds andthousands, O Karna, deprived of life, will lie down on the ground foreternal sleep. The loud uproar of conchs, making the hair to stand onend, is being heard. The sound also of drums and cymbals, O son of Radha,is being heard on all sides, as also the whizz of diverse kinds ofarrows, and the din made by cars and steeds and men. Listen also, OKarna, to the loud twang produced by the bow-strings of high-souledwarriors. Behold, O Karna, those banners of Arjuna, that are equippedwith rows of bells, and decked with golden moons and stars. Made byskilful artists out of cloths embroidered with gold and of diverse hues,they are blazing with resplendence on Arjuna’s car as they are shaken bythe wind, like flashes of lightning in a mass of clouds. Behold those(other) banners producing sharp sounds as they wave in the air. Thosecar-warriors of the high-souled Pancalas, with flag-decked standards ontheir vehicles, are looking resplendent, O Karna, like the very gods ontheir celestial cars. Behold the heroic son of Kunti, the unvanquishedVibhatsu (Arjuna) with that foremost of apes on his standard, advancingfor the destruction of the foe. There, on the top of Partha’s standard,is to be seen that terrible ape, that enhancer of the fears of foes,attracting the gaze (of warriors) from every side. The discus, the mace,the bow called Saranga and the conch (called Panchajanya) of theintelligent Krishna, as also his gem Kaustubha, look exceedinglybeautiful in him. The wielder of Saranga and the mace, viz., Vasudeva, ofgreat energy, cometh, urging those white steeds endued with the fleetnessof the wind. Yonder twangs Gandiva, drawn by Savyasaci. Those whettedshafts, sped by that strong-armed hero, are destroying his enemies. TheEarth is strewn with the heads of unretreating kings, with facesbeautiful as the moon at full, and decked with large and expansive eyesof coppery hue. There the arms, looking like spiked maces, with weaponsin grasp, and smeared with excellent perfumes, of warriors delighting inbattle and contending with uplifted weapons, are falling. Steeds witheyes, tongues, and entrails drawn out along with their riders, arefalling and fallen and deprived of life lie prostrate on the Earth. Thoselifeless elephants huge as mountain summits, torn, mangled, and piercedby Partha, are falling down like veritable hills. Those cars, lookinglike the changeful forms of vapour in the sky, with their royal ridersslain, are falling down like the celestial cars of the denizens of heavenupon the exhaustion of the latter’s merits. Behold, the army isexceedingly agitated by the diadem-decked Arjuna, like herds of countlesscattle by a maned lion. There the Pandava heroes, advancing for theattack, are slaying kings and large numbers of elephants and steeds andcar-warriors and foot-soldiers of thy army engaged in battle. TherePartha, shrouded (by friends and foes and weapons and dust) is not to beseen, like the Sun shrouded by clouds. Only the top of his standard maybe seen and the twang of his bow-string may be heard. Thou art sure, OKarna, to behold today that hero of white steed with Krishna for hisdriver, engaged in slaughtering his foes in battle. Thou art sure ofbeholding him about whom thou hadst been enquiring. Today, O Karna, thouart sure to behold those two tigers among men, both of red eyes, bothchastisers of foes, viz., Vasudeva and Arjuna, stationed on the same car.If, O son of Radha, thou succeedest in slaying him that hath Keshava forhis driver and Gandiva for his bow, then thou shalt be our king.Challenged by the samsaptakas, Partha now proceedeth against them. Thatmighty warrior is engaged in making a great slaughter of his foes inbattle.” Unto the ruler of the Madras who was saying so, Karna, in rage,said, “Behold, Partha is assailed on all sides by the angry samsaptakas.Like the Sun shrouded by the clouds, Partha is no longer visible.Plunged, into that ocean of warriors, O Shalya, Arjuna is sure to perish.”

“‘Shalya said, “Who is there that would slay Varuna with water, or quenchfire with fuel? Who is there that would seize the wind, or drink off theocean? I regard thy act of afflicting Partha to be even such. Arjuna isincapable of being vanquished in battle by the very gods and the Asurasunited together and having Indra himself at their head. Or, sufferthyself to be gratified, and be of easy mind, having said those words(about thy capacity to slay Partha) Partha cannot be conquered in battle.Accomplish some other purpose thou mayst have in thy mind. He that woulduplift this Earth on his two arms, or burn all creatures in wrath, orhurl the gods from heaven, may vanquish Arjuna in battle. Behold thatother heroic son of Kunti, viz., Bhima, who is never fatigued withexertion, blazing with resplendence, mighty-armed, and standing likeanother Meru. With wrath ever kindled and longing for revenge, Bhima ofgreat energy stands there desirous of victory in battle, and rememberingall his injuries. There that foremost of virtuous men, viz., kingYudhishthira the just, that subjugator of hostile towns, stands difficultof being resisted by foes in battle. There stand those two tigers amongmen, the twin Ashvinis, the two uterine brothers Nakula and Sahadeva,both invincible in battle. Yonder may be seen the five sons of Krishna,that have the features of Pancala princes. All of them, equal to Arjunain battle, are standing, desirous of fight. There the sons of Drupada,headed by Dhristadyumna, swelling with pride and energy,–heroes enduedwith great energy,–have taken up their stand. There, that foremost oneamong the Satwatas, viz., Satyaki, irresistible like Indra, advancethagainst us, from desire of fight, like the destroyer himself in wrathbefore our eyes.” While those two lions among men were thus addressingeach other, the two armies mingled fiercely in battle, like the currentsof the Ganga and Yamuna.'”

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