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Chapter 54

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Then Kritavarma, and Kripa, and the son of Drona and theSuta’s son, O sire, and Uluka, and Subala’s son (Shakuni), and the kinghimself, with his uterine brothers, beholding the (Kuru) army afflictedwith the fear of Pandu’s son, unable to stand together, like a vesselwrecked on the ocean, endeavoured to rescue it with great speed. For ashort space of time, O Bharata, the battle that once more took placebecame exceedingly fierce, enhancing as it did the fears of timid and thejoy of the brave. The dense showers of arrows shot in battle by Kripa,thick, as flights of locusts, covered the Srinjayas. Then Shikhandi,filled with rage, speedily proceeded against the grandson of Gautama(Kripa) and poured upon that bull amongst Brahmanas his arrowy downpoursfrom all sides. Acquainted with the highest weapons Kripa then checkedthat arrowy downpour, and wrathfully pierced Shikhandi with ten arrows inthat battle. Then Shikhandi filled with rage, deeply pierced Kripa, inthat encounter, with seven straight arrows equipped with Kanka feathers.The twice-born Kripa then, that great car-warrior, deeply pierced withthose keen arrows, deprived Shikhandi of his steeds, driver and car.Jumping down from his steedless vehicle, the mighty car-warrior(Shikhandi) rushed impetuously at the Brahmana, having taken up a swordand a shield. As the Pancala prince advanced, Kripa quickly covered himwith many straight arrows in that encounter, which seemed exceedinglywonderful. Indeed, exceedingly wonderful was the sight that we thenbeheld, even like the flying of rocks, for Shikhandi, O king, (thusassailed) remained perfectly inactive in that battle. Beholding Shikhandicovered (with arrows) by Kripa, O best of the kings, the mightycar-warrior Dhrishtadyumna speedily proceeded against Kripa. The greatcar-warrior Kritavarma, however, rushing impetuously receivedDhrishtadyumna as the latter proceeded against the son of Sharadvata(Kripa). Then Drona’s son checked Yudhishthira as the latter, with hisson and troops, was rushing towards the car of Sharadvata’s son. Thy sonDuryodhana, shooting a shower of arrows, received and checked Nakula andSahadeva, those two great car-warriors endued with celerity. Karna too,otherwise called Vaikartana, O Bharata, in that battle, resistedBhimasena, and the Karushas, the Kaikayas, and the Srinjayas. MeanwhileSharadvata’s son, in that battle, O sire, with great activity, sped manyarrows at Shikhandi, as if for the purpose of burning him outright. ThePancala prince, however, whirling his sword repeatedly, cut off all thosearrows, decked with gold, that had been sped at him by Kripa from allsides. The grandson of Gautama (Kripa) then quickly cut off with hisarrows the shield of Prishata’s son, that was decked with hundred moons.At this feat of his, the troops made a loud uproar. Deprived of hisshield, O monarch, and placed under Kripa’s power Shikhandi still rushed,sword in hand, (towards Kripa), like a sick man towards the jaws ofDeath. Then Suketu, the son of Citraketu, O king, quickly proceededtowards the mighty Shikhandi plunged into such distress and assailed inthat manner by Kripa with his arrows. Indeed, the young prince ofimmeasurable soul rushed towards the car of Sharadvata’s son and pouredupon that Brahmana, in that battle, innumerable shafts of great keenness.Beholding that Brahmana observant of vows thus engaged in battle (withanother), Shikhandi, O best of kings, retreated hastily from that spot.Meanwhile Suketu, O king, piercing the son of Gautama with nine arrows,once more pierced him with seventy and again with three. Then the prince,O sire, cut off Kripa’s bow with arrow fixed thereon, and with anothershaft struck hard the latter’s driver in a vital limb. The grandson ofGautama then, filled with rage, took up a new and very strong bow andstruck Suketu with thirty arrows in all his vital limbs. All his limbsexceedingly weakened, the prince trembled on his excellent car like atree trembling exceedingly during an earthquake. With a razor-headedarrow then, Kripa struck off from the prince’s trunk, while the latterwas still trembling, his head decked with a pair of blazing earrings andhead-protector. That head thereupon fell down on the Earth like a pieceof meat from the claws of a hawk, and then his trunk also fell down, Othou of great glory. Upon the fall of Suketu, O monarch, his troopsbecame frightened, and avoiding Kripa, fled away on all sides.

“‘Encompassing the mighty Dhrishtadyumna, Kritavarma cheerfully addressedhim saying, “Wait, Wait!” The encounter then that took place between theVrishni and the Pancala warriors in that battle became exceedinglyfierce, like that between two hawks, O king, for a piece of meat. Filledwith rage, Dhrishtadyumna, in that battle, struck the son of Hridika(Kritavarma, the ruler of Bhoja) with nine arrows in the chest, andsucceeded in afflicting him greatly. Then Kritavarma, thus deeply struckby Prishata’s son in that encounter, covered his assailant, his steeds,and his car with his shafts. Thus shrouded, O king, along with his car,Dhrishtadyumna became invisible, like the Sun shrouded by rain-chargedclouds. Baffling all those shafts decked with gold, Dhrishtadyumna, Oking, looked resplendent in that battle in his wounds. The commander ofthe Pandava forces, viz., the son of Prishata, then, filled with rage,approached Kritavarma and poured upon him a fierce shower of arrows. Theson of Hridika, however, in that battle, with many thousands of his ownarrows, destroyed that fierce arrowy shower coursing towards him withgreat impetuosity. Beholding his irresistible shower of arrows checked inthat battle by Kritavarma, the son of Prishata, approaching hisantagonist, began to resist him. And soon he despatched Kritavarma’sdriver to Yama’s abode with a broad-headed arrow of great sharpness.Deprived of life, the driver fell down from the car. The mightyDhrishtadyumna, having vanquished his mighty antagonist, began then toresist the Kauravas with shafts, without losing a moment. Then thywarriors, O king, rushed towards Dhrishtadyumna, uttering loud leonineroars. At this a battle once more took place between them.'”

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