The Mahabharata Home
"Arjuna said, 'The time, O Karna, hath now come for making good thy loquacious boast in the midst of the assembly, viz., that there is none equal to thee in fight. Today, O Karna, contending with me in terrible conflict, thou shalt know thy own strength, and shalt no longer disregard others. Abandoning good breeding, thou hadst uttered many harsh words, but this that thou endeavourest to do, is, I think, exceedingly difficult. Do thou now, O Radha's son, contending with me in the sight of the Kurus, make good what thou hadst said before in disregard of myself. Thou who hadst witnessed Panchala's princess outraged by villains in the midst of the court, do thou now reap the fruit of that act of thine. Fettered by the bonds of morality before, I desisted from vengeance then. Behold now, O son of Radha, the fruit of that wrath in conflict at hand. O wicked wight, we have suffered much misery in that forest for full twelve; years. Reap thou today the fruits of our concentrated vengeance. Come, O Karna, cope with me in battle. Let these thy Kaurava warriors witness the conflict. Hearing these words, Karna replied, 'Do thou, O Partha, accomplish in deed what thou sayst in words. The world knows that thy words verily exceed thy deed. That thou hadst foreborne formerly was owing to thy inability to do anything. If we witness thy prowess even now, we may acknowledge its truth. If thy past forbearance was due to thy having been bound by the bonds of morality, truly thou art equally bound now although thou regardest thyself free. Having as thou sayst, passed thy exile in the woods in strict accordance with thy pledge and being therefore weakened by practising an ascetic course of life, how canst thou desire a combat with me now! O Pritha's son, if Sakra himself fight on thy side, still I would feel no
anxiety in putting forth my prowess. Thy wish, O son of Kunti, is about to be gratified. Do thou fight with me now, and behold my strength.' Hearing this, Arjuna said, 'Even now, O Radha's son, thou hadst fled from battle with me, and it is for this that thou livest although thy younger brother hath been slain. What other person, save thee, having beheld his younger brother slain in battle would himself fly from the field, and boast as thou dost, amid good and true men?'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having said these words unto Karna, the invincible Vibhatsu rushed at him and charged a volley, of shafts capable of penetrating through a coat of mail. But that mighty car-warrior, Karna, received with great alacrity that discharge with an arrowy shower of his own, heavy as the downpour of the clouds. And that fierce volley of arrows covered all sides and severally pierced the steeds and arms and leathern fences of the combatants. And incapable of putting up with that assault, Arjuna cut off the strings of Karna's quiver by means of a straight and sharp arrow. Thereupon, taking out from his quiver another arrow, Karna pierced the Pandava in the hand at which the latter's hold of the bow was loosened. And then the mighty-armed Partha cut off Karna's bow into fragments. And Karna replied by hurling a dart at his adversary, but Arjuna cut it off by means of his arrows. And then the warriors that followed the son of Radha rushed in crowds at Arjuna, but Partha sent them all to the abode of Yama by means of arrows shot from the Gandiva. And Vibhatsu slew the steeds of Karna by means of sharp and tough arrows shot from the bow-string drawn to the ear, and deprived of life they dropped down on the ground. And taking another sharp and blazing arrow endued with great energy, the mighty son of Kunti pierced the breast of Kama. And that arrow, cleaving through his mail, penetrated into his body. And at this, Karna's vision was obscured and his senses left him. And regaining consciousness, he felt a great pain, and leaving the combat fled in a northernly direction. And at this, the mighty car-warrior Arjuna and Uttara, both began to address him contumely.'"
Next: Section LXI