The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Tell me, O Sanjaya, how Karna, having caused a great slaughter penetrated into the midst of the Pandava troops, and struck and afflicted king Yudhishthira. Who were those foremost of heroes among the Parthas that resisted Karna? Who were they whom Karna crushed before he could succeed in afflicting Yudhishthira?'
"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding the Parthas headed by Dhrishtadyumna stationed for battle, that crusher of foes, viz., Karna, rushed impetuously against the Pancalas. Like swans rushing towards the sea, the Pancalas, longing for victory, rushed as quickly against that high-souled warrior advancing to the encounter. Then the blare of thousands of conchs, as if piercing the heart by its shrillness, arose from both hosts, and the fierce peal also of thousands of drums. The sound also of diverse musical instruments and the noise made by elephants and steeds and cars, and the leonine shouts of heroes, that arose there, became exceedingly awful. It seemed that the whole Earth with her mountains and trees and oceans, the entire welkin covered with wind-tossed clouds, and the whole firmament with the Sun, the Moon, and the stars, trembled with that sound. All creatures regarded that noise to be even such and became agitated. Those amongst them that were endued with little strength fell dead. Then Karna, excited with great wrath, quickly invoking his weapons, began to smite the Pandava army like Maghavat smiting the army of the Asuras. Penetrating then into the Pandava host and shooting his arrows, Karna slew seven and seventy foremost of warriors among the Prabhadrakas. Then that foremost of car-warriors, with five and twenty sharp shafts equipped with goodly wings, slew five and twenty Pancalas. With many cloth-yard shafts equipped with wings of gold and capable of piercing the bodies of all foes, that hero slew the Cedis by hundreds and thousands. While he was employed in achieving those superhuman feats in battle, large throngs of Pancala cars, O king, quickly surrounded him on all sides. Aiming then, O Bharata, five irresistible shafts, Karna, otherwise called Vaikartana or Vrisha, slew five Pancala warriors. The five Pancalas, O Bharata, that he slew in that battle were Bhanudeva and Citrasena and Senavindu and Tapana and Surasena. While the Pancala heroes were thus being slaughtered with arrows in that great battle, loud cries of "Oh" and "Alas" arose from among the Pancala host. Then ten car-warriors among the Pancalas, O monarch, surrounded Karna. Them, too, Karna speedily slew with his shafts. The two protectors of Karna's car wheels, viz., his two invincible sons, O sire, that were named Sushena and Satyasena, began to fight, reckless of their very lives. The eldest son of Karna, viz., the mighty car-warrior Vrishasena, himself protected his father's rear. Then Dhrishtadyumna, Satyaki, and the five sons of Draupadi, and Vrikodara, Janamejaya, and Shikhandi, and many foremost warriors among the Prabhadrakas, and many amongst the Cedis, the Kaikayas, and the Pancalas, the twins (Nakula and Sahadeva), and the Matsyas, all clad in mail, rushed fiercely upon Radha's son, skilled in smiting, from desire of slaying him. Pouring upon him diverse kinds of weapons and thick showers of arrows, they began to afflict him like the clouds afflicting the mountain breast in the season of rains. Desirous of rescuing their father, the sons of Karna, all of whom were effectual smiters, and many other heroes, O king, of thy army, resisted those (Pandava) heroes. Sushena, cutting off with a broad-headed arrow the bow of Bhimasena, pierced Bhima himself with seven cloth-yard shafts in the chest, and uttered a loud roar. Then Vrikodara of terrible prowess, taking up another tough bow and stringing it quickly, cut off Sushena's bow. Excited with rage and as if dancing (on his car), he quickly pierced Sushena himself with ten arrows, and then pierced Karna, within the twinkling of an eye, with seventy sharp shafts. With ten other shafts, Bhima then felled Bhanusena, another son of Karna, with his steeds, driver, weapons, and standard, in the very sight of the latter's friends. The sightly head of that youth, graced with a face as beautiful as the Moon, cut off with a razor-headed arrow, looked like a lotus plucked from its stalk. Having slain Karna's son, Bhima began to afflict thy troops once more. Cutting off the bows then of Kripa and Hridika's son, he began to afflict those two also. Piercing Duhshasana with three arrows made wholly of iron, and Shakuni with six, he deprived both Uluka and his brother Patatri of their cars. Addressing Sushena next in these words, viz., "Thou art slain." Bhima took up an arrow. Karna, however, cut off that arrow and struck Bhima himself with three shafts. Then Bhima took up another straight arrow of great impetuosity and sped it at Sushena. But Vrisha cut that arrow also. Then Karna, desirous of rescuing his son, and wishing to make an end of the cruel Bhimasena, struck the latter with three and seventy fierce arrows. Then Sushena taking up an excellent bow capable of bearing a great strain, pierced Nakula with five arrows in the arms and the chest. Nakula, then piercing his antagonist with twenty strong shafts capable of bearing a great strain, uttered a loud roar and inspired Karna with fright. The mighty car-warrior Sushena, however, O king, piercing Nakula with ten shafts, quickly cut off the latter's bow with a razor-headed arrow. Then Nakula, insensate with rage, took up another bow, and resisted Sushena in that battle with nine shafts. That slayer of hostile heroes, O king, shrouding all the quarters with showers of arrows, slew Sushena's driver, and piercing Sushena himself again with three shafts, and then with three other broad-headed arrows, cut off his bow of great strength into three fragments. Sushena also, deprived of his senses in rage, took up another bow and pierced Nakula with sixty arrows and Sahadeva with seven. The battle raged fiercely, like that of the gods and the Asuras between those heroes striking one another. Satyaki, slaying the driver of Vrishasena with three arrows, cut off the latter's bow with a broad-headed shaft and struck his steeds with seven arrows. Crushing his standard then with another arrow, he struck Vrishasena himself with three arrows in the chest. Thus struck, Vrishasena became senseless on his car, but within the twinkling of an eye, stood up again. Deprived of his driver and steeds and car standard by Yuyudhana (Satyaki), Vrishasena then, armed with sword and shield, rushed against Yuyudhana from desire of slaying him. Satyaki, however, as his antagonist rushed towards him, struck at his sword and shield with ten arrows equipped with heads like a boar's ear. Then Duhshasana, beholding Vrishasena made carless and weaponless, quickly caused him to ascend his own car, and bearing him away from the spot, caused him to ride another vehicle. The mighty car-warrior Vrishasena then, riding on another vehicle, pierced the five sons of Draupadi with seventy and Yuyudhana with five, and Bhimasena with four and sixty, and Sahadeva with five, and Nakula with thirty, and Satanika with seven arrows, and Shikhandi with ten, and king Yudhishthira with a hundred. These and many other foremost of heroes, O king, all inspired with desire of victory that great bowman, viz., the son of Karna, O monarch, continued to afflict with his shafts. Then, in that battle, the invincible Vrishasena continued to protect the rear of Karna. The grandson of Sini, having made Duhshasana driverless and steedless and carless by means of nine times nine arrows made wholly of iron, struck Duhshasana with ten shafts in the forehead. The Kuru prince then, riding on another car that was duly equipped (with all necessary implements), once more began to fight with the Pandavas, from within the division of Karna. Then Dhristadyumna pierced Karna with ten arrows, and the sons of Draupadi pierced him with three and seventy, and Yuyudhana with seven. And Bhimasena pierced him with four and sixty arrows, and Sahadeva with seven. And Nakula pierced him with thirty arrows, and Satanika with seven. And the heroic Shikhandi pierced him with ten and king Yudhishthira with a hundred. These and other foremost of men, O monarch, all inspired with desire of victory, began to grind that great bowman, viz., the Suta's son, in that dreadful battle. That chastiser of foes, viz., the Suta's son of great heroism, performing quick evolutions with his car, pierced every one of those warriors with ten arrows. We then, O king, witnessed the lightness of hand displayed by the high-souled Karna and the power of his weapons. Indeed, what we saw appeared to be highly wonderful. People could not notice when he took up his arrows, when he aimed them, and when he let them off. They only beheld his enemies dying fast in consequence of his wrath. The sky, the firmament, the Earth, and all the quarters seemed to be entirely shrouded with sharp arrows. The firmament looked resplendent as if covered with red clouds. The valiant son of Radha, armed with the bow, and as if dancing (on his car), pierced each of his assailants with thrice as many arrows as each of them had pierced him with. And once more piercing each of them, and his steeds, driver, car, and standard with ten arrows, he uttered a loud roar. His assailants then gave him a way (through which he passed out). Having crushed those mighty bowmen with showers of arrows, the son of Radha, that crusher of foes, then penetrated, unresisted, into the midst of the division commanded by the Pandava king. Having destroyed thirty cars of the unreturning Cedis, the son of Radha struck Yudhishthira with many sharp arrows. Then many Pandava warriors, O king, with Shikhandi and Satyaki, desirous of rescuing the king from the son of Radha, surrounded the former. Similarly all the brave and mighty bowmen of thy army resolutely protected the irresistible Karna in that battle. The noise of diverse musical instrument arose then, O king, and the leonine shouts of brave warriors rent the sky. And the Kurus and the Pandavas once more fearlessly encountered each other, the former headed by the Suta's son and the latter by Yudhishthira.'"
Next: Section 49