The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding Alayudha of terrible deeds come to battle, all the Kauravas became filled with delight. Similarly, thy sons having Duryodhana for their head, (were filled with delight) like raftless men desirous of crossing the ocean when they meet with a raft. Indeed, the Icings in the Kuru army then regarded themselves as persons reborn after death. 1 They all offered a respectful welcome to Alayudha, During the progress of that terrible and superhuman battle between Karna and the Rakshasa at night,--a battle which though fierce was yet delightful to behold,--the Panchalas, with all the other Kshatriyas, smilingly looked on as spectators. Meanwhile, thy soldiers, O king, though protected (by their leaders) all over the field and Drona and Drona's son and Kripa and others, uttered loud wails, saying, 'All is lost!' Indeed, beholding those feats of Hidimva's son on the field of battle, all thy warriors were agitated with fear, and uttering cries of woe became almost deprived of their senses. Thy troops, O king, became hopeless of Karna's life. Then Duryodhana, beholding Karna fallen into great distress, summoned Alayudha and said unto him, 'Yonder Vikartana's son, Karna, is engaged with the son of Hidimva, and is accomplishing such feats in battle as are worthy of his might and prowess. Behold those brave kings slain by the son of Bhimasena, struck with diverse kinds of weapons (and lying on the field) like trees broken by an elephant. Amongst all my royal warriors, let this be thy share in battle, allotted by me, with thy permission, O hero, displaying thy prowess, slay thou this Rakshasa. O crusher of foes, see that this wretch viz., Ghatotkacha, may not, relying on his powers of illusion, slay Karna, the son of Vikarana, before thou finishest him.' Thus addressed by the king, that Rakshasa of fierce prowess and mighty arms, saying, 'So be it,' rushed against Ghatotkacha. Then Bhimasena's son, O lord, abandoning Karna, began to grind his advancing foe with arrows. The battle that took place then between those angry Rakshasa princes, resembled that between two infuriated elephants in the forest, fighting for the sake of the same she-elephant in her season. Freed then from the Rakshasa, Karna,
that foremost of car-warriors, rushed against Bhimasena, riding on his car of solar effulgence. Beholding Ghatotkacha engaged with Alayudha in battle and afflicted like the leader of a bovine herd when engaged with a lion, Bhima, that foremost of smiters, disregarding the advancing Karna, rushed towards Alayudha, riding on his car of solar effulgence and scattering clouds of shafts. Seeing Bhima advance, Alayudha, O lord, abandoning Ghatotkacha, proceeded against Bhima himself. Then Bhima, that exterminator of Rakshasas, impetuously rushed towards him, O lord, and covered that prince of the Rakshasas with shafts. Similarly, Alayudha, that chastiser of foes, repeatedly covered the son of Kunti with straight shafts whetted on stone. All the other Rakshasas also, of terrible forms and armed with diverse weapons solicitous for the victory of thy sons, rushed against Bhimasena. The mighty Bhimasena, thus assailed by them, pierced each of them with five whetted shafts. Then those Rakshasas of wicked understanding, thus received by Bhimasena, uttered loud wails and fled away on all sides. The mighty Rakshasa, beholding his followers frightened by Bhima, rushed impetuously against Bhima and covered him with shafts. Then Bhimasena, in that battle, weakened his foe by means of many keen-pointed arrows. Amongst those arrows sped at him by Bhima, Alayudha speedily cut off some and seized others in that battle. Then Bhima of terrible prowess, looking steadily at that prince of the Rakshasas, hurled at him with great force a mace endued with the impetuosity of thunder. That mace, coursed towards him like a flame of fire, and the cannibal struck it with a mace of his own, where-upon the latter (baffling the former) proceeded towards Bhima. Then, the son of Kunti covered that prince of Rakshasas, with showers of shafts. The Rakshasa, with his own keen shafts, baffled all those shafts of Bhima. Then all those Rakshasa warriors, of terrible forms, rallying and returning to battle, at the command of their leader, began to slay the elephants (of Bhima's force). The Panchalas and the Srinjayas, the steeds and huge elephants (of Bhima's army), exceedingly afflicted by the Rakshasas, became much agitated. Beholding that terrible battle (fought between Bhima and the Rakshasa), Vasudeva, that foremost of men addressing Dhananjaya, said these words, 'Behold, the mighty-armed Bhima is succumbing to that prince of Rakshasas. Quickly proceed in Bhima's wake, without thinking of anything else, O son of Pandu. Meanwhile, let Dhrishtadyumna and Sikhandin, and Yudhamanyu and Uttamaujas, these mighty car-warriors, uniting with the son of Draupadi, proceed against Karna. Let Nakula and Sahadeva and the valiant Yuyudhana, O son of Pandu, at thy command, slay the other Rakshasas! As regards thyself, O mighty armed one, do thou resist this division having Drona at its head. O thou of mighty arms, great is the danger that threatens us now.' After Krishna had said so, those foremost of car-warriors, as commanded, proceeded against Karna, the son of Vikartana, and against the other Rakshasas (fighting for the Kurus). Then with some shafts resembling snakes of virulent poison and sped from his bow drawn to its fullest stretch, the valiant prince of the Rakshasas
cut off Bhima's bow. The mighty cannibal next, in the very sight of Bhima, O Bharata, slew the latter's steeds and driver with some whetted shafts. Steedless and driverless, Bhima, descending from the terrace of his car, uttered a loud roar and hurled a heavy mace at his foe. That heavy mace, as it coursed impetuously towards him with a terrible sound, the mighty cannibal baffled with a mace of his own. The latter then uttered a loud roar. Beholding that mighty and terrible feat of that prince of Rakshasas, Bhimasena filled with joy, seized another fierce mace. The battle then that took place between that human warrior and that Rakshasa, became dreadful. With the clash of their descending maces, the earth trembled violently. Casting aside their maces, they once more encountered each other. They struck each other with their clenched fists, failing with the sound of thunder. Excited with rage, they encountered each other with car-wheels, and yokes, and Akshas and Adhishthanas, and Upaskaras, in fact, with anything that came in their way. Encountering each other thus and both covered with blood, they looked like a couple of infuriated elephants of gigantic size. Then, Hrishikesa, ever devoted to the good of the Pandavas, beholding that combat, despatched Hidimva's son for protecting Bhimasena.'"
410:1 i.e., they thought they obtained a new lease of life.
Next: Section CLXXVIII