Chapter 48

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me, O Sanjaya, how Karna, having caused agreat slaughter penetrated into the midst of the Pandava troops, andstruck and afflicted king Yudhishthira. Who were those foremost of heroesamong the Parthas that resisted Karna? Who were they whom Karna crushedbefore he could succeed in afflicting Yudhishthira?’

“Sanjaya said, ‘Beholding the Parthas headed by Dhrishtadyumna stationedfor battle, that crusher of foes, viz., Karna, rushed impetuously againstthe Pancalas. Like swans rushing towards the sea, the Pancalas, longingfor victory, rushed as quickly against that high-souled warrior advancingto the encounter. Then the blare of thousands of conchs, as if piercingthe heart by its shrillness, arose from both hosts, and the fierce pealalso of thousands of drums. The sound also of diverse musical instrumentsand the noise made by elephants and steeds and cars, and the leonineshouts of heroes, that arose there, became exceedingly awful. It seemedthat the whole Earth with her mountains and trees and oceans, the entirewelkin covered with wind-tossed clouds, and the whole firmament with theSun, the Moon, and the stars, trembled with that sound. All creaturesregarded that noise to be even such and became agitated. Those amongstthem that were endued with little strength fell dead. Then Karna, excitedwith great wrath, quickly invoking his weapons, began to smite thePandava army like Maghavat smiting the army of the Asuras. Penetratingthen into the Pandava host and shooting his arrows, Karna slew seven andseventy foremost of warriors among the Prabhadrakas. Then that foremostof car-warriors, with five and twenty sharp shafts equipped with goodlywings, slew five and twenty Pancalas. With many cloth-yard shaftsequipped with wings of gold and capable of piercing the bodies of allfoes, that hero slew the Cedis by hundreds and thousands. While he wasemployed in achieving those superhuman feats in battle, large throngs ofPancala cars, O king, quickly surrounded him on all sides. Aiming then, OBharata, five irresistible shafts, Karna, otherwise called Vaikartana orVrisha, slew five Pancala warriors. The five Pancalas, O Bharata, that heslew in that battle were Bhanudeva and Citrasena and Senavindu and Tapanaand Surasena. While the Pancala heroes were thus being slaughtered witharrows in that great battle, loud cries of “Oh” and “Alas” arose fromamong the Pancala host. Then ten car-warriors among the Pancalas, Omonarch, surrounded Karna. Them, too, Karna speedily slew with hisshafts. The two protectors of Karna’s car wheels, viz., his twoinvincible sons, O sire, that were named Sushena and Satyasena, began tofight, reckless of their very lives. The eldest son of Karna, viz., themighty car-warrior Vrishasena, himself protected his father’s rear. ThenDhrishtadyumna, Satyaki, and the five sons of Draupadi, and Vrikodara,Janamejaya, and Shikhandi, and many foremost warriors among thePrabhadrakas, and many amongst the Cedis, the Kaikayas, and the Pancalas,the twins (Nakula and Sahadeva), and the Matsyas, all clad in mail,rushed fiercely upon Radha’s son, skilled in smiting, from desire ofslaying him. Pouring upon him diverse kinds of weapons and thick showersof arrows, they began to afflict him like the clouds afflicting themountain breast in the season of rains. Desirous of rescuing theirfather, the sons of Karna, all of whom were effectual smiters, and manyother heroes, O king, of thy army, resisted those (Pandava) heroes.Sushena, cutting off with a broad-headed arrow the bow of Bhimasena,pierced Bhima himself with seven cloth-yard shafts in the chest, anduttered a loud roar. Then Vrikodara of terrible prowess, taking upanother tough bow and stringing it quickly, cut off Sushena’s bow.Excited with rage and as if dancing (on his car), he quickly piercedSushena himself with ten arrows, and then pierced Karna, within thetwinkling of an eye, with seventy sharp shafts. With ten other shafts,Bhima then felled Bhanusena, another son of Karna, with his steeds,driver, weapons, and standard, in the very sight of the latter’s friends.The sightly head of that youth, graced with a face as beautiful as theMoon, cut off with a razor-headed arrow, looked like a lotus plucked fromits stalk. Having slain Karna’s son, Bhima began to afflict thy troopsonce more. Cutting off the bows then of Kripa and Hridika’s son, he beganto afflict those two also. Piercing Duhshasana with three arrows madewholly of iron, and Shakuni with six, he deprived both Uluka and hisbrother Patatri of their cars. Addressing Sushena next in these words,viz., “Thou art slain.” Bhima took up an arrow. Karna, however, cut offthat arrow and struck Bhima himself with three shafts. Then Bhima took upanother straight arrow of great impetuosity and sped it at Sushena. ButVrisha cut that arrow also. Then Karna, desirous of rescuing his son, andwishing to make an end of the cruel Bhimasena, struck the latter withthree and seventy fierce arrows. Then Sushena taking up an excellent bowcapable of bearing a great strain, pierced Nakula with five arrows in thearms and the chest. Nakula, then piercing his antagonist with twentystrong shafts capable of bearing a great strain, uttered a loud roar andinspired Karna with fright. The mighty car-warrior Sushena, however, Oking, piercing Nakula with ten shafts, quickly cut off the latter’s bowwith a razor-headed arrow. Then Nakula, insensate with rage, took upanother bow, and resisted Sushena in that battle with nine shafts. Thatslayer of hostile heroes, O king, shrouding all the quarters with showersof arrows, slew Sushena’s driver, and piercing Sushena himself again withthree shafts, and then with three other broad-headed arrows, cut off hisbow of great strength into three fragments. Sushena also, deprived of hissenses in rage, took up another bow and pierced Nakula with sixty arrowsand Sahadeva with seven. The battle raged fiercely, like that of the godsand the Asuras between those heroes striking one another. Satyaki,slaying the driver of Vrishasena with three arrows, cut off the latter’sbow with a broad-headed shaft and struck his steeds with seven arrows.Crushing his standard then with another arrow, he struck Vrishasenahimself with three arrows in the chest. Thus struck, Vrishasena becamesenseless on his car, but within the twinkling of an eye, stood up again.Deprived of his driver and steeds and car standard by Yuyudhana(Satyaki), Vrishasena then, armed with sword and shield, rushed againstYuyudhana from desire of slaying him. Satyaki, however, as his antagonistrushed towards him, struck at his sword and shield with ten arrowsequipped with heads like a boar’s ear. Then Duhshasana, beholdingVrishasena made carless and weaponless, quickly caused him to ascend hisown car, and bearing him away from the spot, caused him to ride anothervehicle. The mighty car-warrior Vrishasena then, riding on anothervehicle, pierced the five sons of Draupadi with seventy and Yuyudhanawith five, and Bhimasena with four and sixty, and Sahadeva with five, andNakula with thirty, and Satanika with seven arrows, and Shikhandi withten, and king Yudhishthira with a hundred. These and many other foremostof heroes, O king, all inspired with desire of victory that great bowman,viz., the son of Karna, O monarch, continued to afflict with his shafts.Then, in that battle, the invincible Vrishasena continued to protect therear of Karna. The grandson of Sini, having made Duhshasana driverlessand steedless and carless by means of nine times nine arrows made whollyof iron, struck Duhshasana with ten shafts in the forehead. The Kuruprince then, riding on another car that was duly equipped (with allnecessary implements), once more began to fight with the Pandavas, fromwithin the division of Karna. Then Dhristadyumna pierced Karna with tenarrows, and the sons of Draupadi pierced him with three and seventy, andYuyudhana with seven. And Bhimasena pierced him with four and sixtyarrows, and Sahadeva with seven. And Nakula pierced him with thirtyarrows, and Satanika with seven. And the heroic Shikhandi pierced himwith ten and king Yudhishthira with a hundred. These and other foremostof men, O monarch, all inspired with desire of victory, began to grindthat great bowman, viz., the Suta’s son, in that dreadful battle. Thatchastiser of foes, viz., the Suta’s son of great heroism, performingquick evolutions with his car, pierced every one of those warriors withten arrows. We then, O king, witnessed the lightness of hand displayed bythe high-souled Karna and the power of his weapons. Indeed, what we sawappeared to be highly wonderful. People could not notice when he took uphis arrows, when he aimed them, and when he let them off. They onlybeheld his enemies dying fast in consequence of his wrath. The sky, thefirmament, the Earth, and all the quarters seemed to be entirely shroudedwith sharp arrows. The firmament looked resplendent as if covered withred clouds. The valiant son of Radha, armed with the bow, and as ifdancing (on his car), pierced each of his assailants with thrice as manyarrows as each of them had pierced him with. And once more piercing eachof them, and his steeds, driver, car, and standard with ten arrows, heuttered a loud roar. His assailants then gave him a way (through which hepassed out). Having crushed those mighty bowmen with showers of arrows,the son of Radha, that crusher of foes, then penetrated, unresisted, intothe midst of the division commanded by the Pandava king. Having destroyedthirty cars of the unreturning Cedis, the son of Radha struckYudhishthira with many sharp arrows. Then many Pandava warriors, O king,with Shikhandi and Satyaki, desirous of rescuing the king from the son ofRadha, surrounded the former. Similarly all the brave and mighty bowmenof thy army resolutely protected the irresistible Karna in that battle.The noise of diverse musical instrument arose then, O king, and theleonine shouts of brave warriors rent the sky. And the Kurus and thePandavas once more fearlessly encountered each other, the former headedby the Suta’s son and the latter by Yudhishthira.'”

Chapter 47
Chapter 49
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