Chapter 56

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Meanwhile Vikartana himself, resisting Bhimasenasupported by the Pancalas and the Cedis and the Kaikayas, covered himwith many arrows. In the very sight of Bhimasena, Karna, slew in thatbattle many mighty car-warriors among the Cedis, the Karushas, and theSrinjayas. Then Bhimasena, avoiding Karna, that best of car-warriors,proceeded against the Kaurava troops like a blazing fire towards a heapof dry grass. The Suta’s son also in that battle, began to slay themighty bowmen amongst the Pancalas, the Kaikayas, and the Srinjayas, inthousands. Indeed, the three mighty car-warriors viz., Partha andVrikodara and Karna, began to exterminate the samsaptakas, the Kauravas,and the Pancalas, respectively. In consequence of thy evil policy, Oking, all these Kshatriyas, scorched with excellent shafts by those threegreat warriors, began to be exterminated in that battle. Then Duryodhana,O chief of the Bharatas, filled with rage, pierced Nakula and his foursteeds with nine arrows. Of immeasurable soul, thy son next, O ruler ofmen, cut off the golden standard of Sahadeva with a razor-faced shaft.Filled with wrath, Nakula then, O king, struck thy son with three andseventy arrows in that battle, and Sahadeva struck him with five. Each ofthose foremost warriors of Bharata’s race and foremost of all bowmen, wasstruck by Duryodhana in rage with five arrows. With a couple ofbroad-headed arrows, then, he cut off the bows of both those warriors;and then he suddenly pierced each of the twins with three and seventyarrows. Taking up then two other beautiful and foremost of bows each ofwhich resembled the bow of Indra himself, those two heroes lookedbeautiful like a pair of celestial youths in that battle. Then those twobrothers, both endued with great activity in battle, poured upon theircousin, O king, ceaseless showers of terrible shafts like two masses ofclouds, pouring rain upon a mountain breast. Thereupon thy son, thatgreat car-warrior, O king filled with rage, resisted those two greatbowmen, viz., the twin sons of Pandu, with showers of winged arrows. Thebow of Duryodhana in that battle, O Bharata, seemed to be continuouslydrawn into a circle, and shafts seemed to issue from it ceaselessly onall sides. Covered with Duryodhana’s shafts the two sons of Pandu ceasedto shine brightly, like the Sun and the Moon in the firmament, divestedof splendour, when shrouded by masses of clouds. Indeed, those arrows, Oking, equipped with wings of gold and whetted on stone, covered all thepoints of the compass like the rays of the Sun, when the welkin was thusshrouded and all that was seen was one uniform expanse of the Destroyerhimself, at the end of the Yuga. Beholding on the other hand, the prowessof thy son, the great car-warriors all regarded the twin sons of Madri tobe in the presence of Death. The commander then, O king, of the Pandavaarmy, viz., the mighty car-warrior Parshata (Son of Prishata) proceededto that spot where Duryodhana was. Transgressing those two greatcar-warriors, viz., the two brave sons of Madri, Dhrishtadyumna began toresist thy son with his shafts. Of immeasurable soul, that bull amongmen, viz., thy son, filled with the desire to retaliate, and smiling thewhile, pierced the prince of Pancala with five and twenty arrows. Ofimmeasurable soul and filled with the desire to retaliate, thy son oncemore pierced the prince of Pancala with sixty shafts and once again withfive, and uttered a loud roar. Then the king, with a sharp razor-facedarrow, cut off, in that battle, O sire, the bow with arrow fixed thereonand the leathern fence of his antagonist. Casting aside that broken bow,the prince of Pancala, that crusher of foes, quickly took up another bowthat was new and capable of bearing a great strain. Blazing withimpetuosity, and with eyes red as blood from rage, the great bowmanDhrishtadyumna, with many wounds on his person looked resplendent on hiscar. Desirous of slaying Duryodhana, O chief of the Bharatas, the Pancalahero sped five and ten cloth-yard shafts that resembled hissing snakes.Those shafts, whetted on stone and equipped with the feathers of Kankasand peacocks, cutting through the armour decked with gold of the kingpassed through his body and entered the Earth in consequence of the forcewith which they had been shot. Deeply pierced, O monarch, thy son lookedexceedingly beautiful like a gigantic Kinsuka in the season of springwith its flowery weight. His armour pierced with those shafts, and allhis limbs rendered exceedingly infirm with wounds, he became filled withrage and cut off Dhrishtadyumna’s bow, with a broad-headed arrow. Havingcut off his assailant’s bow the king then, O monarch, with great speed,struck him with ten shafts on the forehead between the two eyebrows.Those shafts, polished by the hands of the smith, adornedDhrishtadyumna’s face like a number of bees, desirous of honey, adorninga full-blown lotus. Throwing aside that broken bow, the high-souledDhrishtadyumna quickly took up another, and with it, sixteen broad-headedarrows. With five he slew the four steeds and the driver of Duryodhana,and he cut off with another his bow decked with gold. With the remainingten shafts, the son of Prishata cut off the car with the upashkara, theumbrella, the dart, the sword, the mace, and the standard of thy son.Indeed, all the kings beheld the beautiful standard of the Kuru king,decked with golden Angadas and bearing the device of an elephant workedin jewels, cut off by the prince of the Pancalas. Then the uterinebrothers of Duryodhana, O bull of Bharata’s race, rescued the carlessDuryodhana who had all his weapons, besides, cut off in that battle. Inthe very sight of Dhrishtadyumna, Durdhara, O monarch, causing that rulerof men to ride upon his car quickly bore him away from the battle.

“‘Meanwhile the mighty Karna, having vanquished Satyaki and desirous ofrescuing the (Kuru) king, proceeded straight against the face of Drona’sslayer, that warrior of fierce shafts. The grandson of Sini, however,quickly pursued him from behind, striking him with his arrows, like anelephant pursuing a rival and striking him at the hinder limbs with histusks. Then, O Bharata, fierce became the battle that raged between thehigh-souled warriors of the two armies, in the space that intervenedbetween Karna and the son of Prishata. Not a single combatant of eitherthe Pandavas nor ourselves turned his face from the battle. Then Karnaproceeded against the Pancalas with great speed. At that hour when theSun had ascended the meridian, great slaughter, O best of men, ofelephants and steeds and men, took place on both sides. The Pancalas, Oking, inspired with the desire of victory, all rushed with speed againstKarna like birds towards a tree. The son of Adhiratha, of great energy,filled with rage, began from their front to strike those Pancalas, withthe keen points of his shafts, singling out their leaders, viz.,Vyaghraketu and Susharma and Citra and Ugrayudha and Jaya and Sukla andRochamana and the invincible Singhasena. Those heroes, speedily advancingwith their cars, encompassed that foremost of men, and poured theirshafts upon that angry warrior, viz., Karna, that ornament of battle.That foremost of men endued with great valour, viz., the son of Radha,afflicted those eight heroes engaged in battle with eight keen shafts.The Suta’s son possessed of great prowess, O king, then slew manythousands of other warriors skilled in fight. Filled with rage, the sonof Radha then slew Jishnu, and Jishnukarman, and Devapi, O king, in thatbattle, and Citra, and Citrayudha, and Hari, and Singhaketu and Rochamanaand the great car-warrior Salabha, and many car-warriors among the Cedisbathed the form of Adhiratha’s son in blood, while he himself was engagedin taking the lives of those heroes. There, O Bharata, elephants,assailed with arrows by Karna, fled away on all sides in fear and causeda great agitation on the field of battle. Others assailed with the shaftsof Karna, uttered diverse cries, and fell down like mountains riven withthunder. With the fallen bodies of elephants and steeds and men and withfallen cars, the Earth became strewn along the track of Karna’s car.Indeed, neither Bhishma, nor Drona, nor any other warrior of thy army hadever achieved such feats as were then achieved by Karna in that battle.Amongst elephants, amongst steeds, amongst cars and amongst men, theSuta’s son caused a very great carnage, O tiger among men. As a lion isseen to career fearlessly among a herd of deer, even so Karna careeredfearlessly among the Pancalas. As a lion routeth a herd of terrified deerto all points of the compass, even so Karna routed those throngs ofPancala cars to all sides. As a herd of deer that have approached thejaws of a lion can never escape with life, even so those greatcar-warriors that approached Karna could not escape with their lives. Aspeople are certainly burnt if they come in contact with a blazing fire,even so the Srinjayas, O Bharata, were burnt by the Karna-fire when theycame in contact with it. Many warriors among the Cedis and the Pancalas,O Bharata, that were regarded as heroes, were slain by the single-handedKarna in that battle who fought with them, proclaiming his name, in everyinstance. Beholding the prowess of Karna, O king, I thought that a singlePancala even would not, in that battle, escape from the son of Adhiratha.Indeed, the Suta’s son in that battle repeatedly routed the Pancalas.

“‘Beholding Karna thus slaughtering the Pancalas in that dreadful battle,King Yudhishthira the just rushed in wrath towards him; Dhrishtadyumnaand the sons of Draupadi also, O sire, and hundreds of warriors,encompassed that slayer of foes viz., the son of Radha. And Shikhandi,and Sahadeva, and Nakula, and Nakula’s son, and Janamejaya, and thegrandson of Sini, and innumerable Prabhadrakas, all endued withimmeasurable energy, advancing with Dhrishtadyumna in their van, lookedmagnificent as they struck Karna with shafts and diverse weapons. LikeGaruda falling upon a large number of snakes, the son of Adhiratha,singlehanded, fell upon all those Cedis and Pancalas and Pandavas in thatencounter. The battle that took place between them and Karna, O monarch,became exceedingly fierce like that which had occurred in days of oldbetween the gods and the Danavas. Like the Sun dispelling the surroundingdarkness, Karna fearlessly and alone encountered all those great bowmenunited together and pouring upon him repeated showers of arrows. Whilethe son of Radha was thus engaged with the Pandavas, Bhimasena, filledwith rage, began to slaughter the Kurus with shafts, every one of whichresembled the lord of Yama. That great bowman, fighting single-handedwith the Bahlikas, and the Kaikayas, the Matsyas, the Vasatas, theMadras, and Saindhavas, looked exceedingly resplendent. There, elephants,assailed in their vital limbs by Bhima with his cloth-yard shafts felldown, with their riders slain, making the Earth tremble with the violenceof their fall. Steeds also, with their riders slain, and foot-soldiersdeprived of life, lay down, pierced with arrows and vomiting blood inlarge quantities. Car-warriors in thousands fell down, their weaponsloosened from their hands. Inspired with the fear of Bhima, they laydeprived of life, their bodies mangled with sounds. The Earth becamestrewn with car-warriors and horsemen and elephant-men and drivers andfoot-soldiers and steeds and elephants all mangled with the shafts ofBhimasena. The army of Duryodhana, O king, cheerless and mangled andafflicted with the fear of Bhimasena, stood as if stupefied. Indeed thatmelancholy host stood motionless in that dreadful battle like the Ocean,O king, during a calm in autumn. Stupefied, that host stood even like theOcean in calm. However endued with wrath and energy and might, the armyof thy son then, divested of its pride, lost all its splendour. Indeed,the host, whilst thus being slaughtered became drenched with gore andseemed to bathe in blood. The combatants, O chief of the Bharatas,drenched with blood, were seen to approach and slaughter one another. TheSuta’s son, filled with rage, routed the Pandava division, whileBhimasena in rage routed the Kurus. And both of them, while thusemployed, looked exceedingly resplendent. During the progress of thatfierce battle filling the spectators with wonder, Arjuna, that foremostof various persons, having slain a large number of samsaptakas in themidst of their array, addressed Vasudeva, saying, “This struggling forceof samsaptakas, O Janardana, is broken. Those great car-warriors amongstthe samsaptakas are flying away with their followers, unable to bear myshafts, like deer unable to bear the roar of the lion. The vast force ofthe Srinjayas also seems to break in this great battle. There that bannerof the intelligent Karna, bearing the device of the elephant’s rope, OKrishna, is seen in the midst of Yudhishthira’s division, where he iscareering with activity. The other great car-warriors (of our army) areincapable of vanquishing Karna. Thou knowest that Karna is possessed ofgreat energy as regards prowess in battle. Proceed thither where Karna isrouting our force. Avoiding (other warriors) in battle, proceed againstthe Suta’s son, that mighty car-warrior. This is what I wish, O Krishna.Do, however, that which thou likest.” Hearing these words of his, Govindasmiled, and addressing Arjuna, said, “Slay the Kauravas, O son of Pandu,without delay.” Then those steeds, white as swans, urged by Govinda, andbearing Krishna and the son of Pandu penetrated thy vast force. Indeed,thy host broke on all sides as those white steeds in trappings of gold,urged by Keshava, penetrated into its midst. That ape-bannered car, theclatter of whose wheels resembled the deep roar of the clouds and whoseflags waved in the air, penetrated into the host like a celestial carpassing through the welkin. Keshava and Arjuna, filled with rage, andwith eyes red as blood, as they penetrated, piercing through thy vasthost, looked exceedingly resplendent in their splendour. Both delightingin battle, as those two heroes, challenged by the Kurus, came to thefield, they looked like the twin Ashvinis invoked with proper rites in asacrifice by the officiating priests. Filled with rage, the impetuosityof those two tigers among men increased like that of two elephants in alarge forest, enraged at the claps of hunters. Having penetrated into themidst of that car-force and those bodies of horse, Phalguna careeredwithin those divisions like the Destroyer himself, armed with the fatalnoose. Beholding him put forth such prowess within his army, thy son, OBharata, once more urged the samsaptakas against him. Thereupon, with a1,000 cars, and 300 elephants, and 14,000 horses, and 200,00 offoot-soldiers armed with the bow, endued with great courage, of surenessof aim and conversant with all the ways of battle, the leaders of thesamsaptakas rushed (from every side) towards the son of Kunti (in thegreat battle) covering the Pandava, O monarch, with showers of arrowsfrom all sides. Thus covered with shafts in that battle, Partha, thatgrinder of hostile forces, exhibited himself in a fierce form like theDestroyer himself, armed with the noose. While engaged in slaughteringthe samsaptakas, Partha became a worthy object of sight to all. Then thewelkin became filled with shafts decked with gold and possessed of theeffulgence of lightning that were ceaselessly short by the diadem-deckedArjuna. Indeed, everything completely shrouded with mighty shafts spedfrom Arjuna’s arms and falling ceaselessly all around, lookedresplendent, O lord, as if covered with snakes. The son of Pandu, ofimmeasurable soul, shot on all sides his straight shafts equipped withwings of gold and furnished with keen points. In consequence of the soundof Partha’s palms, people thought that the Earth, or the vault of thewelkin, or all the points of the compass, or the several oceans, or themountains seemed to split. Having slain 10,000 kshatriyas, Kunti’s son,that mighty car-warrior, then quickly proceeded to the further wing ofthe samsaptakas. Repairing to that further wing which was protected bythe Kambojas, Partha began to grind it forcibly with his arrows likeVasava grinding the Danavas. With broad-headed arrows he began to quicklycut off the arms, with weapons in grasp, and also the heads of foeslonging to slay him. Deprived of diverse limbs, and of weapons, theybegan to fall down on the Earth, like trees of many boughs broken by ahurricane. While he was engaged in thus slaughtering elephants and steedsand car-warriors and foot-soldiers, the younger brother of Sudakshina(the chief of the Kambojas) began to pour showers of arrows on him. Witha couple of crescent-shaped arrows, Arjuna cut off the two arms, lookinglike spiked maces, of his striking assailant, and then his head gracedwith a face as beautiful as the full moon, with a razor-headed arrow.Deprived of life, he fell down from his vehicle, his body bathed inblood, like the thunder-riven summit of a mountain of red arsenic.Indeed, people saw the tall and exceedingly handsome younger brother ofSudakshina, the chief of the Kambojas, of eyes resembling lotus petals,slain and fall down like a column of gold or like a summit of the goldenSumeru. Then commenced a battle there once more that was fierce andexceedingly wonderful. The condition of the struggling combatants variedrepeatedly. Each slain with a single arrow, and combatants of theKamboja, the Yavana, and the Saka races, fell down bathed in blood, uponwhich the whole field of battle became one expanse of red, O monarch. Inconsequence of car-warriors deprived of steeds and drivers, and steedsdeprived of riders, and elephants deprived of riders, and riders deprivedof elephants, battling with one another, O king, a great carnage tookplace. When the wing and the further wing of the samsaptakas had thusbeen exterminated by Savyasaci, the son of Drona quickly proceededagainst Arjuna, that foremost of victorious warriors. Indeed, Drona’s sonrushed, shaking his formidable bow, and taking with him many terriblearrows like the Sun himself appearing with his own rays. With mouth wideopen from rage and with the desire to retaliate, and with red eyes, themighty Ashvatthama looked formidable like death himself, armed with hismace and filled with wrath as at the end of the Yuga. He then shotshowers of fierce shafts. With those shafts sped by him, he began to routthe Pandava army. As soon as he beheld him of Dasharha’s race (Keshava)on the car, O king, he once more sped at him, and repeated showers offierce shafts. With those falling shafts, O monarch, sped by Drona’s son,both Krishna and Dhananjaya were completely shrouded on the car. Then thevaliant Ashvatthama, with hundreds of keen arrows, stupefied both Madhavaand the son of Pandu in that battle. Beholding those two protectors ofall mobile and immobile creatures thus covered with arrows, the universeof mobile and immobile beings uttered cries of “Oh!” and “Alas!” Crowdsof Siddhas and Charanas began to repair to that spot from every side,mentally uttering this prayer, viz., “Let good be to all the worlds.”Never before, O king, did I see prowess like that of Drona’s son in thatbattle while he was engaged in shrouding the two Krishnas with shafts.The sound of Ashvatthama’s bow, inspiring foes with terror, wasrepeatedly heard by us in that battle, O king, to resemble that of aroaring lion. While careering in that battle and striking right and leftthe string of his bow looked beautiful like flashes of lightning in themidst of a mass of clouds. Though endued with great firmness andlightness of hand the son of Pandu, for all that, beholding the son ofDrona then, became greatly stupefied. Indeed, Arjuna then regarded hisown prowess to be destroyed by his high-souled assailant. The form ofAshvatthama became such in that battle that men could with difficultygaze at it. During the progress of that dreadful battle between Drona’sson and the Pandava, during that time when the mighty son of Drona, Omonarch, thus prevailed over his antagonist and the son of Kunti lost hisenergy, Krishna became filled with rage. Inspired with wrath he drew deepbreaths, O king, and seemed to burn with his eyes both Ashvatthama andPhalguna as he looked at them repeatedly. Filled with rage, Krishnaaddressed Partha in an affectionate tone, saying, “This, O Partha, that Ibehold in battle regarding thee, is exceedingly strange, since Drona’sson, O Partha, surpasseth thee today! Hast thou not now the energy andthe might of thy arms thou hadst before? Hast thou not that Gandiva stillin thy hands, and dost thou not stay on thy car now? Are not thy two armssound? Hath thy fist suffered any hurt? Why is it then that I see the sonof Drona prevail over thee in battle? Do not, O Partha, spare thyassailant, regarding him as the son of thy preceptor, O bull of Bharata’srace. This is not the time for sparing him.” Thus addressed by Krishna,Partha speedily took up four and ten broad-headed arrows at a time, whenspeed was of the highest moment, and with them he cut off Ashvatthama’sbow and standard and umbrella and banners and car and dart and mace. Witha few calf-toothed arrows he then deeply struck the son of Drona in thelatter’s shoulder. Thereupon overcome with a deep swoon, Ashvatthama satdown, supporting himself on his flagstaff. The latter’s driver then, Omonarch, desirous of protecting him from Dhananjaya, bore him awayinsensible and thus deeply afflicted by the foe. Meanwhile that scorcherof foes, viz., Vijaya, slaughtered thy troops by hundreds and thousands,in the very sight of that hero, viz., thy son, O sire. Thus, O king, inconsequence of thy evil counsels, a cruel and awful destruction andcarnage commenced as thy warriors were engaged with the enemy. Within ashort time Vibhatsu routed the samsaptakas: Vrikodara, the Kurus, andVasusena, the Pancalas. During the progress of the battle destructive ofgreat heroes, there rose many headless trunks all around. MeanwhileYudhishthira, O chief of the Bharatas, in great pain owing to his wounds,retreating about two miles from the battle, rested himself for sometime.'”

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