The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Placing Karna at their van, thy warriors, difficult of defeat in fight, returned and fought (with the foe) a battle that resembled that between the gods and the Asuras. Excited by the loud uproar made by elephants and men and cars and steeds and conchs, elephant-men and car-warriors and foot-soldiers and horsemen, in large numbers, filled with wrath advanced against the foe and slew the latter with strokes of diverse kinds of weapons. Elephants and cars, steeds and men, in that dreadful battle were destroyed by brave warriors with sharp battle axes and swords and axes and shafts of diverse kinds and by means also of their animals. Strewn with human heads that were adorned with white teeth and fair faces and beautiful eyes and goodly noses, and graced with beautiful diadems and earrings, and everyone of which resembled the lotus, the Sun, or the Moon, the Earth looked exceedingly resplendent. Elephants and men and steeds, by thousands, were slain with hundreds of spiked clubs and short bludgeons and darts and lances and hooks and Bhusundis and maces. The blood that fell formed a river like currents on the field. In consequence of those car-warriors and men and steeds and elephants slain by the foe, and lying with ghostly features and gaping wounds, the field of battle looked like the domains of the king of the dead at the time of universal dissolution. Then, O god among men, thy troops, and those bulls amongst the Kurus, viz., thy sons resembling the children of the celestials, with a host of warriors of immeasurable might at their van, all proceeded against Satyaki, that bull of Sini's race. Thereupon that host, teeming with many foremost of men and steeds and cars and elephants, producing an uproar loud as that of the vast deep, and resembling the army of the Asuras or that of the celestials, shone with fierce beauty. Then the son of Surya, resembling the chief of the celestials himself in prowess and like unto the younger brother of Indra, struck that foremost one of Sini's race with shafts whose splendour resembled the rays of the Sun. That bull of Sini's race also, in that battle, then quickly shrouded that foremost of men, with his car and steeds and driver, with diverse kinds of shafts terrible as the poison of the snake. Then many Atirathas belonging to thy army, accompanied by elephants and cars and foot-soldiers, quickly approached that bull among car-warriors, viz., Vasusena, when they beheld the latter deeply afflicted with the shafts of that foremost hero of Sini's race. That force, however, vast as the ocean, assailed by foes possessed of great quickness viz., the Pandava warriors headed by the sons of Drupada, fled away from the field. At that time a great carnage occurred of men and cars and steeds and elephants. Then those two foremost of men, viz., Arjuna and Keshava, having said their daily prayer and duly worshipped the lord Bhava, quickly rushed against thy troops, resolved to slay those foes of theirs. Their foes (i.e., the Kurus) cast their eyes cheerlessly on that car whose rattle resembled the roar of the clouds and whose banners waved beautifully in the air and which had white steeds yoked unto it and which was coming towards them. Then Arjuna, bending Gandiva and as if dancing on his car, filled the welkin and all the points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, with showers of shafts, not leaving the smallest space empty. Like the tempest destroying the clouds, the son of Pandu destroyed with his arrows many cars looking like celestial vehicles, that were well-adorned, and equipped with weapons and standards, along with their drivers. Many elephants also, with the men that guided them, adorned with truimphal banners and weapons, and many horsemen with horses, and many foot-soldiers also, Arjuna despatched with his arrows to Yama's abode. Then Duryodhana singly proceeded against that mighty car-warrior who was angry and irresistible and resembled a veritable Yama, striking him with his straight shafts. Arjuna, cutting off his adversary's bow and driver and steeds and standard with seven shafts, next cut off his umbrella with one arrow. Obtaining then an opportunity, he sped at Duryodhana an excellent shaft, capable of taking the life of the person struck. Drona's son, however, cut off that shaft into seven fragments. Cutting off then the bow of Drona's son and slaying the four steeds of the latter with his arrow, the son of Pandu next cut off the formidable bow of Kripa too. Then cutting off the bow of Hridika's son, he felled the latter's standard and steeds. Then cutting off the bow of Duhshasana, he proceeded against the son of Radha. At this, Karna, leaving Satyaki quickly pierced Arjuna with three arrows and Krishna with twenty, and Partha again repeatedly. Although many were the arrows that he shot while slaying his foes in that battle, like Indra himself inspired with wrath, Karna yet felt no fatigue. Meanwhile Satyaki, coming up, pierced Karna with nine and ninety fierce arrows, and once more with a hundred. Then all the foremost heroes among the Parthas began to afflict Karna. Yudhamanyu and Shikhandi and the sons of Draupadi and the Prabhadrakas, and Uttamauja and Yuyutsu and the twins and Dhrishtadyumna, and the divisions of the Cedis and the Karushas and the Matsyas and Kaikeyas, and the mighty Chekitana, and king Yudhishthira of excellent vows, all these, accompanied by cars and steeds and elephants, and foot-soldiers of fierce prowess, encompassed Karna on all sides in that battle, and showered upon him diverse kinds of weapons, addressing him in harsh words and resolved to compass his destruction. Cutting off that shower of weapons with his sharp shafts, Karna dispersed his assailants by the power of his weapons like the wind breaking down the trees that stand on its way. Filled with wrath, Karna was seen to destroy car-warriors, and elephants with their riders, and horses with horse-men, and large bands of foot-soldiers. Slaughtered by the energy of Karna's weapons, almost the whole of that force of the Pandavas, deprived of weapons, and with limbs mangled and torn, retired from the field. Then Arjuna, smiling the while, baffled with his own weapons the weapons of Karna and covered the welkin, the Earth, and all the points of the compass with dense shower of arrows. The shafts of Arjuna fell like heavy clubs and spiked bludgeons. And some amongst them fell like Sataghnis and some fell like fierce thunderbolts. Slaughtered therewith, the Kaurava force consisting of infantry and horse and cars and elephants, shutting its eyes, uttered loud wails of woe and wandered senselessly. Many were the steeds and men and elephants that perished on that occasion. Many, again, struck with shafts and deeply afflicted fled away in fear.
"'Whilst thy warriors were thus engaged in battle from desire of victory, the Sun approaching the Setting Mountain, entered it. In consequence of the darkness, O king, but especially owing to the dust, we could not notice anything favourable or unfavourable. The mighty bowmen (amongst the Kauravas), fearing a night-battle, O Bharata, then retired from the field, accompanied by all their combatants. Upon the retirement of the Kauravas, O king, at the close of the day, the Parthas, cheerful at having obtained the victory, also retired to their own encampment, jeering at their enemies by producing diverse kinds of sounds with their musical instruments, and applauding Acyuta and Arjuna. After those heroes had thus withdrawn the army, all the troops and all the kings uttered benediction upon the Pandavas. The withdrawal having been made, those sinless men, the Pandavas, became very glad, and proceeding to their tents rested there for the night. Then rakshasas and pishacas, and carnivorous beasts, in large numbers came to that awful field of battle resembling the sporting ground of Rudra himself.'
Next: Section 31