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Chapter 91

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Then Vasudeva, stationed on the car, addressed Karna,saying, “By good luck it is, O son of Radha, that thou rememberestvirtue! It is generally seen that they that are mean, when they sink intodistress, rail at Providence but never at their own misdeeds. Thyself andSuyodhana and Duhshasana and Shakuni, the son of Subala, had causedDraupadi, clad in a single piece of raiment, to be brought into the midstof the assembly. On that occasion, O Karna, this virtue of thine did notmanifest itself. When at the assembly Shakuni, an adept in dice,vanquished Kunti’s son Yudhishthira who was unacquainted with it, whitherhad this virtue of thine gone? When the Kuru king (Duryodhana), actingunder thy counsels, treated Bhimasena in that way with the aid of snakesand poisoned food, whither had this virtue of thine then gone? When theperiod of exile into the woods was over as also the thirteenth year, thoudidst not make over to the Pandavas their kingdom. Whither had thisvirtue of thine then gone? Thou didst set fire to the house of lac atVaranavata for burning to death the sleeping Pandavas. Whither then, Oson of Radha, had this virtue of thine gone? Thou laughedest at Krishnawhile she stood in the midst of the assembly, scantily dressed because inher season and obedient to Duhshasana’s will, whither, then, O Karna, hadthis virtue of thine gone? When from the apartment reserved for thefemales innocent Krishna was dragged, thou didst not interfere. Whither,O son of Radha, had this virtue of thine gone? Thyself addressing theprincess Draupadi, that lady whose tread is as dignified as that of theelephant, in these words, viz., ‘The Pandavas, O Krishna, are lost. Theyhave sunk into eternal hell. Do thou choose another husband!’ thoulookedest on the scene with delight. Whither then, O Karna, had thisvirtue of thine gone? Covetous of kingdom and relying on the ruler of theGandharvas, thou summonedest the Pandavas (to a match of dice). Whitherthen had this virtue of thine gone? When many mighty car-warriors,encompassing the boy Abhimanyu in battle, slew him, whither had thisvirtue of thine then gone? If this virtue that thou now invokest wasnowhere on those occasions, what is the use then of parching thy palatenow, by uttering that word? Thou art now for the practice of virtue, OSuta, but thou shalt not escape with life. Like Nala who was defeated byPushkara with the aid of dice but who regained his kingdom by prowess,the Pandavas, who are free from cupidity, will recover their kingdom bythe prowess of their arms, aided with all their friends. Having slain inbattle their powerful foes, they, with the Somakas, will recover theirkingdom. The Dhartarashtras will meet with destruction at the hands ofthose lions among men (viz., the sons of Pandu), that are alwaysprotected by virtue!'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Thus addressed, O Bharata, by Vasudeva, Karna hungdown his head in shame and gave no answer. With lips quivering in rage,he raised his bow, O Bharata, and, being endued with great energy andprowess, he continued to fight with Partha. Then Vasudeva, addressingPhalguna, that bull among men, said, “O thou of great might, piercingKarna with a celestial weapon, throw him down.” Thus addressed by theholy one, Arjuna became filled with rage. Indeed, remembering theincidents alluded to by Krishna, Dhananjaya blazed up with fury. Then, Oking, blazing flames of fire seemed to emanate from all the pores of theangry Partha’s body. The sight seemed to be exceedingly wonderful.Beholding it, Karna, invoking the brahmastra, showered his shafts uponDhananjaya, and once more made an effort to extricate his car. Parthaalso, by the aid of the brahmastra, poured arrowy downpours upon Karna.Baffling with his own weapon the weapon of his foe, the son of Panducontinued to strike him. The son of Kunti then, aiming at Karna spedanother favourite weapon of his that was inspired with the energy ofAgni. Sped by Arjuna, that weapon blazed up with its own energy. Karna,however, quenched that conflagration with the Varuna weapon. The Suta’sson also, by the clouds he created, caused all the points of the compassto be shrouded with a darkness such as may be seen on a rainy day. Theson of Pandu, endued with great energy, fearlessly dispelled those cloudsby means of the Vayavya weapon in the very sight of Karna. The Suta’s sonthen, for slaying the son of Pandu, took up a terrible arrow blazing likefire. When that adored shaft was fixed on the bow-string, the earth, Oking, trembled with her mountains and waters and forests. Violent windsbegan to blow, bearing hard pebbles. All the points of the compass becameenveloped with dust. Wails of grief, O Bharata, arose among the gods inthe welkin. Beholding that shaft aimed by the Suta’s son, O sire, thePandavas, with cheerless hearts, gave themselves up to great sorrow. Thatshaft of keen point and endued with the effulgence of Sakra’s thunder,sped from Karna’s arms, fell upon Dhananjaya’s chest and penetrated itlike a mighty snake penetrating an ant-hill. That grinder of foes, viz.,the high-souled Vibhatsu, thus deeply pierced in that encounter, began toreel. His grasp became loosened, at which his bow Gandiva dropped fromhis hand. He trembled like the prince of mountains in an earthquake.Availing himself of that opportunity, the mighty car-warrior Vrisha,desirous of extricating his car-wheel that had been swallowed up by theearth, jumped down from his vehicle. Seizing the wheel with his two armshe endeavoured to drag it up, but though possessed of great strength, hefailed in his efforts, as destiny would have it. Meanwhile thediadem-decked and high-souled Arjuna, recovering his senses, took up ashaft, fatal as the rod of Death, and called anjalika. Then Vasudeva,addressing Partha, said, “Cut off with thy arrow the head of this enemyof thine, viz., Vrisha, before he succeeds in getting upon his car.”Applauding those words of the lord Vasudeva, and while the wheel of hisenemy was still sunk, the mighty car-warrior Arjuna took up arazor-headed arrow of blazing effulgence and struck the standard (ofKarna) bearing the elephant’s rope and bright as the spotless sun. Thatstandard bearing the device of the costly elephant’s rope, was adornedwith gold and pearls and gems and diamonds, and forged with care byforemost of artists excelling in knowledge, and possessed of greatbeauty, and variegated with pure gold. That standard always used to fillthy troops with high courage and the enemy with fear. Its form commandedapplause. Celebrated over the whole world, it resembled the sun insplendour. Indeed, its effulgence was like that of fire or the sun or themoon. The diadem-decked Arjuna, with that razor-headed shaft, exceedinglysharp, equipped with wings of gold, possessed of the splendour of firewhen fed with libations of clarified butter, and blazing with beauty, cutoff that standard of Adhiratha’s son, that great car-warrior. With thatstandard, as it fell, the fame, pride, hope of victory, and everythingdear, as also the hearts of the Kurus, fell, and loud wails of “Oh!” and”Alas!” arose (from the Kuru army). Beholding that standard cut off andthrown down by that hero of Kuru’s race possessed of great lightness ofhand, thy troops, O Bharata, were no longer hopeful of Karna’s victory.Hastening then for Karna’s destruction, Partha took out from his quiveran excellent Anjalika weapon that resembled the thunder of Indra or therod of fire and that was possessed of the effulgence of thethousand-rayed Sun. Capable of penetrating the very vitals, besmearedwith blood and flesh, resembling fire or the sun, made of costlymaterials, destructive of men, steeds, and elephants, of straight courseand fierce impetuosity, it measured three cubits and six feet. Enduedwith the force of the thousand-eyed Indra’s thunder, irresistible asRakshasas in the night, resembling Pinaka or Narayana’s discus, it wasexceedingly terrible and destructive of all living creatures. Parthacheerfully took up that great weapon, in the shape of an arrow, whichcould not be resisted by the very gods, that high-souled being which wasalways adored by the son of Pandu, and which was capable of vanquishingthe very gods and the Asuras. Beholding that shaft grasped by Partha inthat battle, the entire universe shook with its mobile and immobilecreatures. Indeed, seeing that weapon raised (for being sped) in thatdreadful battle, the Rishis loudly cried out, “Peace be to the universe!”The wielder of Gandiva then fixed on his bow that unrivalled arrow,uniting it with a high and mighty weapon. Drawing his bow Gandiva, hequickly said, “Let this shaft of mine be like a mighty weapon capable ofquickly destroying the body and heart of my enemy, if I have everpractised ascetic austerities, gratified my superiors, and listened tothe counsels of well-wishers. Let this shaft, worshipped by me andpossessed of great sharpness, slay my enemy Karna by that Truth.” Havingsaid these words Dhananjaya let off that terrible shaft for thedestruction of Karna, that arrow fierce and efficacious as a riteprescribed in the Atharvan of Angiras, blazing with effulgence, andincapable of being endured by Death himself in battle. And thediadem-decked Partha, desirous of slaying Karna, with great cheerfulness,said, “Let this shaft conduce to my victory. Shot by me, let this arrowpossessed of the splendour of fire or the sun take Karna to the presenceof Yama.” Saying these words, Arjuna, decked with diadem and garlands,cherishing feelings of hostility towards Karna and desirous of slayinghim, cheerfully struck his foe with that foremost of shafts which waspossessed of the splendour of the sun or the moon and capable ofbestowing victory. Thus sped by that mighty warrior, that shaft enduedwith the energy of the sun caused all the points of the compass to blazeup with light. With that weapon Arjuna struck off his enemy’s head likeIndra striking off the head of Vritra with his thunder. Indeed, O king,with that excellent Anjalika weapon inspired with mantras into a mightyweapon, the son of Indra cut off the head of Vaikartana in the afternoon.Thus cut off with that Anjalika, the trunk of Karna fell down on theearth. The head also of that commander of the (Kaurava) army, endued withsplendour equal to that of the risen sun and resembling the meridian sunof autumn, fell down on the earth like the sun of bloody disc droppeddown from the Asta hills. Indeed, that head abandoned with greatunwillingness the body, exceedingly beautiful and always nursed inluxury, of Karna of noble deeds, like an owner abandoning with greatunwillingness his commodious mansion filled with great wealth. Cut offwith Arjuna’s arrow, and deprived of life, the tall trunk of Karna enduedwith great splendour, with blood issuing from every wound, fell down likethe thunder-riven summit of a mountain of red chalk with crimson streamsrunning down its sides after a shower. Then from that body of the fallenKarna a light passing through the welkin penetrated the sun. Thiswonderful sight, O king, was beheld by the human warriors after the fallof Karna. Then the Pandavas, beholding Karna slain by Phalguna, loudlyblew their conchs. Similarly, Krishna and Dhananjaya also, filled withdelight, and losing no time, blew their conchs. The Somakas beholdingKarna slain and lying on the field, were filled with joy and uttered loudshouts with the other troops (of the Pandava army). In great delight theyblew their trumpets and waved their arms and garments. All the warriors,O king, approaching Partha, began to applaud him joyfully. Others,possessed of might, danced, embracing each other, and uttering loudshouts, said, “By good luck, Karna hath been stretched on the earth andmangled with arrows.” Indeed, the severed head of Karna looked beautifullike a mountain summit loosened by a tempest, or a quenched fire afterthe sacrifice is over, or the image of the sun after it has reached theAsta hills. The Karna-sun, with arrows for its rays, after havingscorched the hostile army, was at last caused to be set by the mightyArjuna-time. As the Sun, while proceeding towards the Asta hills, retirestaking away with him all his rays, even so that shaft (of Arjuna) passedout, taking with it Karna’s life breaths. The death hour of the Suta’sson, O sire, was the afternoon of that day. Cut off with the Anjalikaweapon in that battle, the head of Karna fell down along with his body.Indeed, that arrow of Arjuna, in the very sight of the Kaurava troops,quickly took away the head and the body of Karna. Beholding the heroicKarna thrown down stretched on the earth, pierced with arrows and bathedin blood, the king of the Madras, went away on that car deprived of itsstandard. After the fall of Karna, the Kauravas, deeply pierced withshafts in that battle, and afflicted with fear, fled away from the field,frequently casting their eyes on that lofty standard of Arjuna thatblazed with splendour. The beautiful head, graced with a face thatresembled a lotus of a 1,000 petals, of Karna whose feats were like thoseof the thousand-eyed Indra, fell down on the earth like thethousand-rayed sun as he looks at the close of day.'”

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