The Mahabharata Home
"Karna said, 'I behold all these blessed ones, looking as if alarmed and panic-struck and unresolved and unwilling to fight. If he that is come is the king of the Matsyas or Vibhatsu, even I will resist him as the banks resist the swelling sea. Shot from my bow these straight and flying arrows, like gliding snakes, are all sure of aim. Discharged by my light hands, these keen-edged arrows furnished with golden wings shall cover Partha all over, like locusts shrouding a tree. Strongly pressed by these winged arrows, the bow-string will cause these my leathern fences
to produce sounds that will be heard to resemble those of a couple of kettle-drums. Having been engaged in ascetic austerities for the (last) eight and five years, Vibhatsu will strike me but mildly in this conflict, and the son of Kunti having become a Brahmana endued with good qualities, hath thus become a fit person to quietly receive shafts by thousands shot by me. This mighty bowman is indeed, celebrated over the three worlds. I, too, am, by no means, inferior to Arjuna, that foremost of human beings. With golden arrows furnished with vulturine wings shot on all sides, let the firmament seem today to swarm with fire-flies. Slaying Arjuna in battle, I will discharge today that debt, difficult of repayments, but promised of old by me unto Dhritarashtra's son. When man is there, even amongst all the gods and the Asuras, that will endure to stand in the teeth of the straight arrows shot from my bow? Let my flying arrows, winged and depressed at the middle, present the spectacle of the coursing of the fire-flies through the welkin. Hard though he be as Indra's thunderbolt and possessed of the energy of the chief of the celestials, I will surely grind Partha, even as one afflicts an elephant by means of burning brands. A heroic and mighty car-warrior as he is, and the foremost of all wielders of weapons I shall seize the unresisting Partha, even like Garuda seizing a snake. Irresistible like fire, and fed by the fuel of swords, darts, and arrows, the blazing Pandava-fire that consumeth foes, will be extinguished even by myself who am like unto a mighty cloud incessantly dropping an arrowy shower,--the multitude of cars (I will lead) constituting its thunder, and the speed of my horses, the wind in advance. Discharged from my bow, my arrows like venomous snakes will pierce Partha's body, like serpent penetrating through an ant-hill. Pierced with well-tempered and straight shafts endued with golden wings and great energy, behold ye today the son of Kunti decked like a hill covered with Karnikara flowers. Having obtained weapons from that best of ascetics--the son of Jamadagni, I would, relying on their energy, fight with even the celestials. Struck with my javelin, the ape stationed on his banner-top shall fall down today on the ground, uttering terrible cries. The firmament will today be filled with the cries of the (super-human) creatures stationed in the flagstaff of the foe, and afflicted by me, they will fly away in all directions. I shall today pluck up by the roots the long-existing dart in Duryodhan's heart by throwing Arjuna down from his car. The Kauravas will today behold Partha with his car broken, his horses killed, his valour gone, and himself sighing like a snake. Let the Kauravas, following their own will go away taking this wealth of kine, or, if they wish, let them stay on their cars and witness my combat.'"
Next: Section XLIX