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Chapter 89

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

Sanjaya said, “Then when the blare of conchs and the peal of drums becamevery loud, those two foremost of men, both owning white steeds, thesuta’s son Vikartana and Arjuna, encountered each other in consequence, Oking, of thy son’s evil policy. Those two heroes endued with greatimpetuosity, Dhananjaya and Adhiratha’s son, closed with each other liketwo infuriated Himalayan elephants, both of full-grown tusks, fightingwith each other for the sake of a she-elephant in her season. Like a massof clouds encountering another mass, or a mountain encountering amountain, those two warriors, both pouring showers of arrows, encounteredeach other, their bows loudly twanging the while, and the wheels of theircars producing a deafening clatter, and their bow-strings and palmsemitting loud sounds. Like two mountains, both endued with tall cliffsand abounding in trees and creepers and herbs and both teeming with thediverse other denizens that are natural to them, moving towards eachother for an encounter, those two mighty warriors encountered each other,each striking the other with mighty weapons.

The combat between the two heroes became furious like that between thechief of the celestials and Virocana’s son in days of yore. Incapable ofbeing endured by others and marked by a river whose distasteful waterconsisted of blood, the limbs of those two heroes, as also their driversand animals, became exceedingly mangled. Like two large lakes, bothteeming with lotuses of diverse kinds and fish and tortoises, and echoingwith the voices of diverse kinds of fowl, and softly stirred by the wind,approaching each other, those two cars graced with standards approachedeach other. Both endued with prowess equal to that of the great Indra,both resembling the great Indra himself, those two mighty car-warriorsstruck each other with shafts that resembled the great Indra’s thunder,like the great Indra himself and (the asura) Vritra.

Both the armies consisting of cars and elephants and steeds andfoot-soldiers, all equipped with beautiful armour and ornaments and robesand weapons, and those also that were in the welkin, were inspired withfear upon beholding that encounter of wonderful aspect between Arjuna andKarna. Others among the spectators, filled with joy and uttering leonineshouts, raised their arms, waving their fingers or the pieces of cloththey held, when Arjuna rushed against the son of Adhiratha, from desireof slaughter, like one infuriated elephant rushing against another.

The Somakas then loudly shouted to Partha, saying, “Be quick, O Arjuna,go and pierce Karna. Cut off his head without delay, and (with it) thedesire of Dhritarashtra’s son for kingdom.” Similarly many warriors ofours that were there, said unto Karna, “Proceed, proceed, O Karna, andslay Arjuna with keen shafts. Let the sons of Pritha once more go to thewoods forever.”

Then Karna first pierced Partha in that encounter, with ten mightyshafts. Arjuna pierced him in return with ten keen-pointed shafts, shotwith great vigour, in the centre of the chest. Indeed, the suta’s son andArjuna then mangled each other with many shafts equipped with goodlywings. Desirous of obtaining advantage of each other’s lapses in thatdreadful encounter, with cheerful hearts they rushed against each otherfiercely.

Rubbing his two arms and the string also of gandiva, that fierce bowman,Arjuna, then sped showers of cloth-yard shafts, and nalikas and arrowsequipped with heads like boar’s ears and razors, and anjalikas, andcrescent-shaped arrows. Those arrows of Partha, O king, spread over thewelkin, penetrated into Karna’s car like flights of birds, with headsbent down, penetrating in the evening into a tree for roosting there inthe night. All those arrows, however, O king, that Arjuna, that victorover all foes, with furrowed brow and angry glances, sped at Karna, allthose successive showers of shafts shot by the son of Pandu, were cut offby the suta’s son with his own arrows.

The son of Indra then sped at Karna a fiery weapon capable of slaying allfoes. Covering the earth and the welkin and the ten points of the compassand the very course of the sun with its effulgence, it caused his ownbody also to blaze up with light. The robes of all the warriors tookfire, at which they fled away. Loud sounds also arose there, like what isheard when a forest of bamboos in a wilderness is on fire. Beholding thatfiery weapon acting on all sides, the suta’s son Karna of great valourshot in that encounter the varunastra for quenching it. Thatconflagration then, in consequence of Karna’s weapon, became quenched.

A large mass of clouds quickly caused all the points of the compass to beenveloped with darkness. Those clouds whose extremities presented theaspect of mountains, surrounding every side, flooded the earth withwater. That fierce conflagration, though it was such, was still quenchedby those clouds in a trice. The entire welkin and all the directions,cardinal and subsidiary, were shrouded by clouds. Thus shrouded byclouds, all the points of the compass became dark and nothing could beseen.

Then Arjuna dispelled those clouds caused by Karna, by means of thevayavyastra. After this, Dhananjaya, incapable of being over-mastered byfoes inspired gandiva, its string, and his shafts, with mantras, andinvoked into existence another weapon that was the favourite of the chiefof the celestials and that resembled the thunder in energy and prowess.Then razor-headed arrows, and anjalikas, and crescent-shaped shafts, andnalikas, and cloth-yard shafts and those equipped with heads like theboar’s ear, all keen and sharp, issued from gandiva in thousands, enduedwith the force and impetuosity of the thunder. Possessed of great mightand great energy, those impetuous and keen shafts equipped with vulturinefeathers piercing all the limbs, the steeds, the bow, the yoke, thewheels, and the standard of Karna, quickly penetrated into them likesnakes frightened by Garuda penetrating into the earth. Pierced all overwith arrows and bathed in blood, (the high-souled) Karna then, with eyesrolling in wrath, bending his bow of enduring string and producing atwang as loud as the roar of the sea, invoked into existence the Bhargavaweapon. Cutting off Partha’s showers of shafts proceeding from the mouthof that weapon of Indra (which Arjuna had shot), Karna, having thusbaffled his antagonist’s weapon with his own, destroyed cars andelephants and foot-soldiers (of the Pandava army). Unable to endure thefeats of Arjuna in that fierce battle, the mighty car-warrior Karna didthis, through the energy of the Bhargava weapon. Filled with wrath andpossessed of great activity, the Suta’s son, that foremost of men,laughing at the two Krishnas, pierced the foremost of Pancala warriorswith well shot arrows in that battle. Then the Pancalas and the Somakas,O king, thus afflicted by Karna with showers of shafts in that encounter,became filled with wrath and uniting together pierced the Suta’s son withkeen arrows from every side. Quickly cutting off those arrows with hisown, the Suta’s son, vigorously agitating them in that battle, afflictedwith many shafts the cars, the elephants, and the steeds of the Pancalas.Their bodies pierced with those shafts of Karna, they fell down, deprivedof life, on the earth, making loud sounds, like mighty elephants slain byan angry lion of terrible strength. Having slain those foremost ofwarriors, those heroes endued with great strength, those leaders of thePancala forces who had always challenged him (to battle), Karna, O king,as he shot his arrows, looked beautiful, like a mass of clouds pouringtorrents of rain. Then thy warriors, thinking that Karna had won thevictory, clapped loudly and uttered leonine roars. O chief of the Kurus,all of them then regarded the two Krishnas as brought by Karna under hispower, seeing that valour, incapable of being borne by foes, of themighty car-warrior Karna. Beholding that weapon of Dhananjaya frustratedby Karna in the midst of battle, the angry son of the Wind-god, with eyesblazing with wrath, began to squeeze his hands. Indeed, the wrathfulBhima, his anger being provoked, drew deep breaths and addressing Arjunaof true aim, said, “How, O Jishnu, could this wretch fallen off fromvirtue, this Suta’s son, putting forth his might in battle, slay so manyforemost of Pancala warriors, in thy sight? Before now thou couldst notbe conquered by the very gods or the Kalakeyas. Thou receivedst the touchof the arms of Sthanu himself. How, then, O diadem-decked Arjuna, couldthe Suta’s son pierce thee first with ten long shafts such as are used bycar-warriors? That the Suta’s son should today have succeeded in bafflingthe arrows shot by thee seems to me to be very amazing. Recollect thewoes of Krishna, and those disagreeable, keen, and cutting words thatthis wicked-souled and fearless son of a Suta used towards us, viz.,’Sesame seeds without kernel!’ Recollecting all this, O Savyasaci,quickly slay the wretched Karna in battle today. Why, O diadem-deckedArjuna, dost thou show such indifference (towards this act)? This is notthe time for showing thy indifference to Karna’s slaughter. That patiencewith which thou didst vanquish all creatures and feed Agni at Khandava,with that patience, slay thou the Suta’s son. I also will crush him withmy mace.” Then Vasudeva, beholding Partha’s shafts baffled by Karna, saidunto the former, “What is this, O diadem-decked Arjuna, that Karna shouldsucceed in crushing thy weapons today with this? Why dost, thou, O hero,lose thy wits? Markest thou not that the Kauravas, (standing behindKarna), are even now shouting in joy? Indeed, all of them know that thyweapons are being baffled by Karna with his. That patience with which,Yuga after Yuga, thou hadst slain persons having the quality of darknessfor their weapons, as also terrible Kshatriyas, and Asuras born of pride,in many a battle–with that patience do thou slay Karna today. Puttingforth thy might, strike off the head of that foe of thine with thisSudarsana, of edge keen as a razor, that I give unto thee, like Sakrastriking off the head of his foe Namuci, with the thunderbolt. Thatpatience with which thou didst gratified the illustrious deity Mahadevain the guise of a hunter, summoning that patience once again, O hero,slay the Suta’s son with all his followers. After that, bestow upon kingYudhishthira the earth with her belt of seas, her towns and villages, andwealth, and from off whose surface all foes will have been removed. Bythat act, O Partha, do thou also win unrivalled fame.” Thus addressed (byKrishna), the high-souled Partha of exceeding might set his heart uponthe slaughter of the Suta’s son. Indeed, urged by Bhima and Janardana,and recollecting (his woes), and taking an internal survey of himself,and calling to mind the object for which he had come to this world, headdressed Keshava, saying, “I will now invoke into existence a mighty andfierce weapon for the good of the world and the destruction of the Suta’sson. Let me have thy permission, as also Brahman’s and Bhava’s, and ofall those that are conversant with Brahma.” Having said these words untothe holy Keshava, Savyasaci of immeasurable soul bowed unto Brahman andinvoked into existence that excellent irresistible weapon calledbrahmastra which could be applied by the mind alone. Baffling thatweapon, however, Karna looked beautiful as he continued, like a cloudpouring torrents of rain, to shoot his shafts. Beholding that weapon ofthe diadem-decked Arjuna baffled in the midst of battle by Karna, thewrathful and mighty Bhima, blazing up with rage, addressed Arjuna of sureaim and said, “People say that thou art a master of the high brahmastra,that mighty means (for achieving the destruction of foes). Do thou then,O Savyasaci, use another weapon of the same kind.” Thus addressed by hisbrother, Savyasaci used a second weapon of the kind. With that, Partha ofabundant energy shrouded all the points of the compass, cardinal andsubsidiary, with arrows sped from gandiva that resembled fierce snakesand were like the blazing rays of the sun. Created by that bull ofBharata’s race, those arrows of golden wings, in hundreds upon hundreds,endued with the effulgence of the yuga fire or the sun, in a momentshrouded the car of Karna. Thence also issued long darts and battle-axesand discs and cloth-yard shafts in hundreds, all of awful forms, at whichhostile warriors all around began to be deprived of life. The head ofsome hostile warrior, severed from his trunk, fell down on the field ofbattle. Another, beholding his fallen comrade, fell down dead on theearth, through fear. The (right) arm of a third, large and massive as thetrunk of an elephant, cut off (by Partha), fell down with the sword ingrasp. The left arm of a fourth, cut off with a razor-headed arrow, felldown with the shield in it. Even thus, Partha, decked with diadem andgarlands, wounded and slew all the foremost warriors of Duryodhana’s armywith his terrible and death-dealing shafts. Vaikartana also, in the midstof that battle, shot thousands of arrows. These, with a loud whizz, fellupon the son of Pandu like torrents of rain poured from the clouds. Thenpiercing Bhimasena and Janardana and the diadem-decked Arjuna ofsuperhuman feats, each with three arrows Karna of terrible might uttereda loud awful roar. Struck with Karna’s shafts, the diadem-decked Arjuna,beholding Bhima and Janardana, became unable to endure (the feats of hisantagonist). Once more, therefore, Partha shot eight and ten arrows.Piercing the beautiful standard of Karna with one of those arrows, hepierced Shalya with four and Karna himself with three. With ten otherwell-shot shafts he then struck the Kaurava warrior Sabhapati, clad ingolden mail. Thereupon that prince, deprived of head and arms and steedsand driver and bow and standard, fell down, wounded and dead, from hisforemost of cars, like a Sala tree cut down with an axe. Once morepiercing Karna with three, eight, twelve, four, and ten arrows, Parthaslew 400 elephants equipped with many weapons, and 8000 car-warriors, and1,000 steeds with riders, and 8,000 brave foot-soldiers. And soon Parthamade Karna with his driver and car and steeds and standard invisible withstraightly coursing shafts. Then the Kauravas, thus slaughtered byDhananjaya, loudly addressed Adhitratha’s son, saying, “Shoot thy arrowsand slay the son of Pandu. Already, he has begun to exterminate the Kuruswith his shafts!” Thus urged, Karna, with his best endeavours,incessantly shot many arrows. Capable of cutting the very vitals, thoseblood-drinking shafts, well sped by Karna, slew large numbers of thePandavas and the Pancalas. Thus those two foremost of all bowmen, thosetwo warriors of great strength that were capable of bearing all foes,those two heroes acquainted with weapons, struck the warriors opposed tothem, as also each other, with mighty weapons. Then Yudhishthira, clad ingolden mail, his arrows having been extracted and himself made sound withmantras and drugs by foremost of surgeons well-disposed towards him,quickly came to that spot for witnessing (the encounter between Arjunaand Karna). Beholding king Yudhishthira the just arrived there like theresplendent full Moon freed from the jaws of Rahu and risen in thefirmament, all creatures became filled with delight. Beholding those twoforemost of warriors, those two first of heroes and slayers of foes,viz., Karna and Partha, engaged in fight, the spectators, both celestialand terrestrial, restraining the animals they rode or that were yokedunto their vehicles, stood motionless. As the two heroes, O king, struckeach other with many foremost of arrows, O king, the sounds caused by thebows, bow-strings, and palms, of both Dhananjaya and Adhiratha’s son,became tremendous and their well-sped arrows also caused a deafeningwhizz. Then the bow-string of the son of Pandu, stretched with force,broke with a loud noise. During the interval thus offered, the Suta’s sonpierced Partha with a hundred small arrows, keen and steeped in oil,winged with the feathers of birds, and resembling snakes freed from theirsloughs. He then quickly pierced Vasudeva with sixty shafts, and thenPhalguna again with eight. Surya’s son then pierced Bhima with thousandsupon thousands of mighty arrows. Having pierced Krishna and Partha’sstandard, Karna felled many amongst the Somakas that followed Partha.These, however, in return shrouded Karna with showers of straight shaftslike masses of clouds shrouding the sun in the welkin. Accomplished inthe use of weapons, the Suta’s son, stupefying those advancing warriorswith his shafts and baffling all the weapons shot by them, destroyedtheir cars and steeds and elephants. And the Suta’s son, O king, alsoafflicted with his arrows many foremost of warriors among them. Theirbodies pierced with Karna’s shafts, they fell down on the ground,deprived of life and making a loud noise as they fell. Indeed, thosemighty combatants, afflicted by Karna of terrible strength, perished likea pack of dogs afflicted by an angry lion. And once more many foremost ofcombatants among the Pancalas and many such (among the Kauravas) felldown after this, slain by Karna and Dhananjaya. Deprived of life by themighty Karna with well-aimed arrows shot with great force, many felldown, purging the contents of their stomachs. Then thy troops, regardingthe victory to be already theirs, clapped furiously and uttered loudleonine roars. Indeed, in that dreadful encounter, all of them regardedthe two Krishnas to have been brought by Karna under his power. Thenquickly bending his bow-string and baffling all those shafts ofAdhiratha’s son, Partha, filled with rage in consequence of his limbshaving been mangled with Karna’s arrows, assailed the Kauravas. Rubbinghis bow-string, he clapped his palms and suddenly caused a darkness therewith the showers of shafts he shot. The diadem-decked Arjuna piercedKarna and Shalya and all the Kurus with those arrows. The welkin havingbeen darkened by means of that mighty weapon, the very birds were unableto range in their element, a delicious wind then blew, bearing fragrantodours. Laughing the while, Partha forcibly struck Shalya’s armour withten arrows. Piercing Karna next with a dozen shafts, he struck him oncemore with seven. Deeply struck with those winged arrows of fierce energyshot with great force from Partha’s bow, Karna, with mangled limbs andbody bathed in blood, looked resplendent like Rudra at the universaldestruction, sporting in the midst of crematorium at noon or eve, hisbody dyed with blood. The son of Adhiratha then pierced Dhananjaya whoresembled the chief of the celestials himself (in energy and might) withthree arrows, and he caused five other blazing arrows resembling fivesnakes to penetrate the body of Krishna. Shot with great force, thosearrows, decked with gold, pierced through the armour of that foremost ofbeings and passing out of his body fell upon the earth. Endued with greatenergy, they entered the earth with great force and having bathed (in thewaters of the Bhogavati in the nether region) coursed back towards Karna.Those shafts were five mighty snakes that had adopted the side ofTakshaka’s son (Aswasena whose mother Partha had slain at Khandava). Withten broad-headed arrows shot with great force, Arjuna cut off each ofthose five snakes into three fragments whereupon they fell down on theearth. Beholding Krishna’s limbs thus mangled with those snakestransformed into arrows sped from Karna’s arms, Arjuna, decked withdiadem and garlands, blazed up with wrath like a fire engaged in burninga heap of dry grass. He then pierced Karna in all his vital limbs withmany blazing and fatal shafts shot from the bow-string stretched to thevery ear. (Deeply pierced), Karna trembled in pain. With the greatestdifficulty he stood, summoning all his patience. Dhananjaya having beenfilled with wrath, all the points of the compass, cardinal andsubsidiary, the very splendour of the Sun, and Karna’s car, O king, allbecame invisible with the showers shot by him. The welkin seemed as if itwere shrouded by a thick forest. Then that slayer of foes, that bull ofKuru’s race, that foremost of heroes, viz., Savyasaci, O king, soon slewin that battle 2,000 foremost of Kuru warriors, with their cars andsteeds and drivers, forming the protectors of Karna’s car-wheels andwings and his van-guard and rear-guard and who constituted the very pickof Duryodhana’s car-force, and who, urged by Duryodhana, had beenfighting with great energy. Then thy sons and the Kauravas that werestill alive fled away, deserting Karna, and abandoning their dying andwounded, and their wailing sons and sires. Beholding himself abandoned bythe terrified Kurus and seeing the space around him empty, Karna felt noagitation, O Bharata, but, on the other hand, rushed at Arjuna, with acheerful heart.'”

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