Chapter 79

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Meanwhile Arjuna, O monarch, having slain the four kindsof forces (of the enemy), and having obtained a sight of the angry son ofthe Suta in that dreadful battle, caused a river of blood to flow therethat was tawny with flesh and marrow and bones. Human heads constitutedits rocks and stones. Elephants and steeds formed its banks. Full of thebones of heroic combatants, it resounded with the cries of ravens andvultures. Umbrellas were its swans or rafts. And that river ran, bearingaway heroes like trees along its current. (Even) necklaces constitutedits assemblage of lotuses, and head-gears formed its excellent foam. Bowsand shafts constituted its fishes; and the crowns of crushed men floatedon its surface. Shields and armour were its eddies, and cars were therafts with which it teemed. And it could be easily forded by personsdesirous of victory, while to those that were cowards it was unfordable.Having caused that river to flow, Vibhatsu, that slayer of hostile heroesand bull among men, addressing Vasudeva said, “Yonder, O Krishna, thestandard of the Suta’s son is visible. There, Bhimasena and others arefighting with that great car-warrior. There, the Pancalas, afraid ofKarna, are flying away, O Janardana. Yonder, king Duryodhana, with thewhite umbrella over his head, along with Karna, looketh exceedinglyresplendent as he is engaged in routing the Pancalas. There Kripa, andKritavarma, and Drona’s son, that mighty car-warrior, are protecting kingDuryodhana, themselves protected by the Suta’s son. There, O Krishna,Shalya, well conversant with holding the reins, looketh exceedinglyresplendent as, seated on the terrace of Karna’s car, he guideth thatvehicle. Bear me to that mighty car-warrior, for even such is the wishcherished by me. Without slaying Karna in this battle I will neverreturn. Otherwise, the son of Radha, O Janardana, will, in my sight,exterminate the mighty car-warriors of the Parthas and the Srinjayas.”Thus addressed, Keshava quickly proceeded on his car, towards the mightybowman Karna, for causing a single combat to take place between Karna andSavyasaci. Indeed, the mighty-armed Hari, at the command of Pandu’s son,proceeded on his car, assuring (by that very act) all the Pandava troops.The rattle then of Arjuna’s vehicle rose loud in that battle, resembling,O sire, the tremendous peal of Vasu’s thunder. Beholding Arjuna of whitesteeds and having Krishna for his driver thus advance, and seeing thestandard of that high-souled one, the king of the Madras, addressingKarna, said, “There cometh that car-warrior having white steeds yokedunto his vehicle and having Krishna for his driver, slaying his foes inbattle. There cometh he about whom thou wert enquiring, holding his bowGandiva. If thou canst slay him today, great good may then be done to us.He cometh, O Karna, desirous of an encounter with thee, slaying, as hecometh, our chief warriors. Do thou proceed against that hero ofBharata’s race. Avoiding all our warriors, Dhananjaya advanceth withgreat speed, for, as I think, an encounter with thee, judging by his formswelling with rage and energy. Blazing with wrath, Partha will not stopfrom desire of battle with anybody else save thee, especially whenVrikodara is being so much afflicted (by thee). Learning that kingYudhishthira the just hath been exceedingly mangled and made carless bythee, and seeing (the plight of) Shikhandi, and Satyaki, andDhrishtadyumna, the son of Prishata, and the (five) sons of Draupadi, andYudhamanyu, and Uttamauja, and the brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva, thatscorcher of foes, Partha, advanceth impetuously on a single car againstthee. Without doubt, he is advancing with speed against us, avoidingother combatants. Do thou, O Karna, proceed against him, for there is noother bowman (among us that can do so). I do not behold any arrangementsmade for his protection, either on his flanks or at his rear. Headvanceth alone against thee. Look after thy success now. Thou alone artable to encounter the two Krishnas in battle. Proceed, therefore, againstDhananjaya. Thou art the equal of Bhishma, of Drona, of Drona’s son, ofKripa. Do thou resist in this great battle the advancing Savyasaci.Indeed, O Karna, slay this Dhananjaya that resembles a snake frequentlydarting out its tongue, or a roaring bull, or a tiger in the forest.There, those kings, those mighty car-warriors of the Dhritarashtra’sarmy, through fear of Arjuna, are quickly flying away, regardless of oneanother. Save thee, O Suta’s son, there is no other man, O hero, thatcan, in battle, dispel the fears of those retreating combatants. Allthose Kurus, O tiger among men, obtaining thee as their refuge in thisbattle, stand depending on thee and desirous of thy protection. Musteringthy great prowess, O mighty-armed one, proceed against Vrishni’s race,who is always gratified by the diadem-decked (Arjuna).”

“‘Karna said, “Thou seemest now to be in thy usual frame of mind and thouart now agreeable to me. Do not, O mighty-armed one, entertain any fearof Dhananjaya. Behold the might of my arms today, and behold my skill.Single-handed, I will today destroy the mighty host of the Pandavas, asalso those two lions among men, the two Krishnas! I say this truly untothee. I will never return from the field today without slaying twoheroes. Or, slain by those two, I shall today sleep on the field ofbattle. Victory is uncertain in battle. Slaying or slain, I shall todayachieve my purpose.”

“‘Shalya said, “All great car-warriors, O Karna, say that this foremostof car-warriors, (Arjuna), even when alone, is invincible. When again, heis protected by Krishna, who will venture to vanquish him?”

“‘Karna said, “As far as I have heard, such a superior car-warrior hasnever been born on earth! Behold my prowess, since I will contend inbattle with even that Partha who is such. This prince of Kuru’s line,this foremost of car-warriors, careers in battle, borne by his steedswhite in hue. Perhaps he will despatch me to Yama’s abode today. Know,however, that with Karna’s death, these all will be exterminated. The twoarms of this prince are never covered with sweat. They never tremble.They are massive and covered with cicatrices. Firm in the use of weapons,he is possessed of great skill and endued with great lightness of hands.Indeed, there is no warrior equal to the son of Pandu. He taketh a largenumber of arrows and shooteth them as if they were one. Quickly fixingthem on the bow-string, he propelleth them to the distance of two miles.They always fall on the foe. What warriors is there on earth that isequal to him? That Atiratha, endued with great activity, with Krishna ashis ally, gratified the god Agni at Khandava. There, on that occasion,the high-souled Krishna obtained his discus, and Savyasaci, the son ofPandu, obtained his bow Gandiva. There that mighty-armed one, endued withmight that knows no decay, also obtained his terrible car unto which areyoked those white steeds, as also his two great celestial andinexhaustible quivers, and many celestial weapons, from the God of Fire.In the region of Indra he obtained his conch Devadatta and slewinnumerable Daityas, and all the Kalakeyas. Who is there on earth that issuperior to him? Possessed of greatness of soul, he gratified Mahadevahimself in fair fight, and obtained from him the terrible and mightyweapon Pasupata that is capable of destroying the three worlds. Theseveral Regents of the world, united together gave him their weapons ofimmeasurable energy, with which that lion among men quickly destroyed inbattle those united Asuras, the Kalakhanjas. So also, in Virata’s city,moving on a single car he vanquished all of us, and snatched from us thatwealth of kine, and took from all the foremost of car-warriors (portionsof) their garments. Challenging that foremost of Kshatriyas, that herohaving him of Vrishni’s race for his ally, that warrior who is enduedwith such energy and such attributes, I regard myself, O Shalya, to bethe foremost of persons in all the world in point of courage. He is,again, protected by that Keshava of great energy, who is Narayana himselfand who is without a rival, that high-souled Vasudeva, thatever-victorious Vishnu armed with conch, discus, and mace, whoseattributes all the world united together, cannot (in narrating) exhaustin 10,000 years. Beholding the two Krishnas together on the same car,fear entereth my heart together with courage. Partha is the foremost ofall bowmen, while Narayana is unrivalled in encounters with the discus.Even such are Vasudeva, and the son of Pandu. Indeed, the mountains ofHimavat may move from the spot where they stand but not the two Krishnas.Both of them are heroes, possessed of great skill, firm in the use ofweapons, and mighty car-warriors. Both of them have adamantine frames.Who else, O Shalya, save myself, would proceed against Phalguna andVasudeva that are even such? The desire cherished by me today, viz., thatof a battle with the son of Pandu, O ruler of the Madras, will befulfilled without delay. Soon will that wonderful and matchless andbeautiful battle take place. Either I will overthrow those two in battletoday, or the two Krishnas will today overthrow me.” Saying these wordsunto Shalya, Karna, that slayer of foes, began to utter loud roars inthat battle, like those of the clouds. Approaching then thy son, thatforemost one among the Kurus, and saluted respectfully by him, Karna saidunto that prince as also unto those two mighty-armed warriors, Kripa andthe Bhoja chief Kritavarma, and the ruler of the Gandharvas with his son,and the preceptors and his own younger brothers, and all thefoot-soldiers and horsemen and elephant-riders, these words, “Rushtowards Acyuta and Arjuna and close up their path all around, and causethem to be tired with exertion, so that, ye lords of the earth, I mayeasily slay those two after ye all will have mangled them deeply.”Saying, “So be it!” those foremost of heroes, desirous of slaying Arjuna,speedily proceeded against him. Those mighty car-warriors then, obeyingthe behest of Karna, began to strike Dhananjaya with innumerable arrowsin that battle. Like the great ocean containing a vast quantity of waterreceiving all rivers with their tributaries Arjuna received all thosewarriors in battle. His foes could not notice when he fixed his excellentarrows on the bow-string and when he let them off. All that could be seenwas that men and steeds and elephants, pierced with the arrows sped byDhananjaya, continually fell down, deprived of life. Like men withdiseased eyes that are unable to gaze at the sun, the Kauravas on thatoccasion could not gaze at Jaya who seemed to be possessed of the energyof the all-destroying Sun that rises at the end of the Yuga, havingarrows for his rays, and Gandiva for his beautiful circular disc. Smilingthe while, Partha with his own showers of arrows cut off the excellentarrows sped at him by those mighty car-warriors. In return, he struckthem with innumerable arrows, drawing his bow Gandiva to a completecircle. As the sun of fierce rays between the months of Jyaishtha andAshadha easily drieth up the waters (of the earth), even so Arjuna,baffling the arrows of his foes, consumed thy troops, O king of kings!Then Kripa, and the chief of the Bhojas, and thy son himself shootingshowers of shafts, rushed towards him. Drona’s son also, that mightycar-warrior, rushed towards him, shooting his shafts. Indeed, all of themrained their arrows on him, like the clouds pouring torrents of rain on amountain. The son of Pandu, however, with great activity and speed, cutoff with his own shafts those excellent arrows sped at him with greatcare in that dreadful battle by those accomplished warriors desirous ofslaying him, and pierced the chest of each of his adversaries with threeshafts. Having arrows for his fierce rays, the Arjuna sun, with gandivadrawn to its fullest stretch constituting his corona, looked resplendent,as he scorched his foes, like the Sun himself between the months ofJyeshtha and Ashadha, within his bright corona. Then Drona’s son piercedDhananjaya with ten foremost of shafts, and Keshava with three, and thefour steeds of Dhananjaya with four, and showered many shafts on the Apeon Arjuna’s banner. For all that, Dhananjaya cut off the full drawn bowin his adversary’s hand with three shafts, the head of his driver with arazor-faced arrow, and his four steeds with his four other shafts and hisstandard with three other arrows and felled him from his car. The son ofDrona then, filled with wrath, took up another costly bow, bright as thebody of Takshaka, and decked with gems and diamonds and gold, andresembling a mighty snake caught from the foot of a mountain. Stringingthat bow as he stood on the earth, and bringing out one after anothershafts and weapons, Drona’s son, that warrior who excelled in manyaccomplishments, began to afflict those two unvanquished and foremost ofmen and pierce them from a near point with many shafts. Then those mightycar-warriors, Kripa and Bhoja and thy son, standing at the van of battle,fell upon and shrouded that bull among the Pandavas, shooting showers ofshafts, like clouds shrouding the dispeller of darkness. Possessed ofprowess equal to that of the thousand-armed (Kartavirya), Partha thenshowered his shafts on Kripa’s bow with arrow fixed on it, his steeds,his standard, and his driver, like the wielder of the thunder in days ofyore showering his shafts on (the asura) Vali. His weapons destroyed byPartha’s shafts, and his standard also having been crushed in that greatbattle, Kripa was afflicted with as many thousands of arrows by Arjuna asGanga’s son Bhishma before them (on the day of his fall) by the samediademdecked warrior. The valiant Partha then, with his shafts, cut offthe standard and the bow of thy roaring son. Destroying next the handsomesteeds of Kritavarma, he cut off the latter’s standard as well. He thenbegan to destroy with great speed the elephants of the hostile force, asalso its cars with their steeds and drivers and bows and standards.Thereupon that vast host of thine broke into a hundred parts like anembankment washed off by the waters. Then Keshava, quickly urgingArjuna’s car, placed all his afflicted foes on his right side. Then otherwarriors, desirous of an encounter, with their well-equipped cars bearinglofty standards, followed Dhananjaya who was proceeding with great speedlike Indra proceeding for the slaughter of Vritra. Then those mightycar-warriors, Shikhandi and Satyaki and the twins, proceeding in thedirection of Dhananjaya, checked those foes and, piercing them with keenarrows, uttered terrible roars. Then the Kuru heroes and the Srinjayas,encountering one another with rage, slew one another with straight shaftsof great energy, like the Asuras and the celestials in days of yore ingreat battle. Elephant-warriors and horsemen and car-warriors,–allchastisers of foes,–inspired with desire of victory or impatient ofproceeding to heaven, fell fast on the field. Uttering loud shouts, theypierced one another vigorously with well-shot arrows. In consequence ofthose high-souled warriors of great courage shooting their arrows at oneanother in that dreadful battle and by that means causing a darknessthere, the points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary becameenveloped in gloom and the very effulgence of the sun became totallyshrouded.'”

Chapter 78
Chapter 80
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