The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding the Pandava heroes rushing impetuously towards thy host, Duryodhana, O monarch, endeavoured to check the warriors of his army on all sides, O bull of Bharata race. Although, however, thy son cried at the top of his voice, his flying troops, O king, still refused to stop. Then one of the wings of the army and its further wing, and Shakuni, the son of Subala, and the Kauravas well-armed turned against Bhimasena in that battle. Karna also, beholding the Dhartarashtra force with all its kings flying away, addressed the ruler of the Madras, saying, "Proceed towards the car of Bhima." Thus addressed by Karna, the ruler of the Madras began to urge those foremost of steeds, of the hue of swans, towards the spot where Vrikodara was. Thus urged by Shalya, that ornament of battle, those steeds approaching the car of Bhimasena, mingled in battle. Meanwhile, Bhima, beholding Karna approach, became filled with rage, and set his heart on the destruction of Karna, O bull of Bharata's race. Addressing the heroic Satyaki and Dhrishtadyumna, the son of Prishata, he said, "Go you to protect king Yudhishthira of virtuous soul. With difficulty he escaped from a situation of great peril before my very eyes. In my sight have the armour and robes of the king been cut off and torn, for Duryodhana's gratification, by Radha's son of wicked soul. I shall today reach the end of that woe, O son of Prishata. Today, either I shall slay Karna in battle, or he will slay me in dreadful battle. I tell thee truly. Today I make over the king to you as sacred pledge. With cheerful hearts exert ye today for protecting the king." Having said these words, the mighty-armed Bhima proceeded towards Adhiratha's son, making all the points of the compass resound with a loud leonine shout. Beholding Bhima, that delighter in battle, advancing quickly, the puissant king of the Madras addressed the Suta's son in the following words:
"'Shalya said, "Behold, O Karna, the mighty-armed son of Pandu, who is filled with rage. Without doubt, he is desirous of vomiting upon thee that wrath which he has cherished for many years. Never before did I see him assume such a form, not even when Abhimanyu was slain and the Rakshasa Ghatotkaca. Filled with wrath, the form he hath now assumed, endued with the splendour of the all-destroying fire at the end of the Yuga, is such that it seems he is capable of resisting the three worlds united together.'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'While the ruler of the Madras was saying these words unto the son of Radha, Vrikodara, excited with rage, came upon Karna. Beholding Bhima, that delighter in battle, approaching him in that way, the son of Radha laughingly said unto Shalya these words, "The words that thou, O ruler of the Madras, hast today spoken to me regarding Bhima, O lord, are without doubt all true. This Vrikodara is brave and is a hero full of wrath. He is reckless in protecting his body, and in strength of limbs he is superior to all. While leading a life of concealment in the city of Virata, relying then on the might of his bare arms, for doing what was agreeable to Draupadi, he secretly slew Kichaka with all his relatives. Even he stands today at the head of battle clad in mail and insensate with wrath. He is ready to engage in battle with the Destroyer armed with uplifted mace. This desire, however, hath been cherished through all my days, viz., that either I shall slay Arjuna or Arjuna will slay me. That desire of mine may be fulfilled today in consequence of my encounter with Bhima. If I slay Bhima or make him carless, Partha may come against me. That will be well for me. Settle that without delay which thou thinkest to be suitable to the hour." Hearing these words of Radha's son of immeasurable energy Shalya replied, saying, "O thou of mighty arms, proceed against Bhimasena of great might. Having checked Bhimasena, thou mayst then obtain Phalguna. That which is thy purpose, that desire which for many long years thou hast cherished in thy heart, will be accomplished, O Karna. I tell the truth." Thus addressed, Karna once more said unto Shalya, "Either I shall slay Arjuna in battle, or he will slay me. Setting thy heart on battle proceed to the spot where Vrikodara is.'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'Then, O king, Shalya speedily proceeded on that car to the spot where that great bowman, viz., Bhima, was engaged in routing thy army. There rose then the blare of trumpets and the peal of drums, O monarch, when Bhima and Karna met. The mighty Bhimasena, filled with rage, began to scatter thy troops difficult of defeat, with his sharp and polished shafts, to all sides. That collision in battle, O monarch, between Karna and the son of Pandu became, O king, fierce and awful, and the noise that arose was tremendous. Beholding Bhima coming towards him, Karna, otherwise called Vaikartana or Vrisha, filled with rage, struck him with shafts in the centre of the chest. And once more, Karna of immeasurable soul, covered him with a shower of arrows. Thus pierced by the Suta's son, Bhima covered the former with winged arrows. And he once more pierced Karna with nine straight and keen shafts. Then Karna, with a number of arrows, cut in twain Bhima's bow at the handle. And after cutting off his bow, he pierced him once again in the centre of the chest with a shaft of great keenness and capable of penetrating every kind of armour. Then Vrikodara, taking up another bow, O king, and knowing full well what the vital parts of the body are, pierced the Suta's son with many keen arrows. Then Karna pierced him with five and twenty arrows, like a hunter striking a proud and infuriate elephant in the forest with a number of blazing brands. His limbs mangled with those shafts, his eyes red with rage and the desire of revenge, the son of Pandu, insensate with wrath, and impelled by the desire of slaying the Suta's son, fixed on his bow an excellent shaft of great impetuosity, capable of bearing a great strain, and competent to pierce the very mountains. Forcibly drawing the bow-string to his very ear, the son of the Wind-god, that great bowman, filled with wrath and desirous of making an end of Karna, sped that shaft. Thus sped by the mighty Bhima, that shaft, making a noise loud as that of the thunder, pierced through thunderbolt Karna in that battle, like the thunderbolt itself piercing through a mountain. Struck by Bhimasena, O perpetuator of Kuru's race, the Suta's son, that commander (of thy forces), sat down senseless on the terrace of his car. The ruler of the Madras then, beholding the Suta's son deprived of his senses, bore that ornament of battle away on his car, from that fight. Then after Karna's defeat, Bhimasena began to rout the vast Dhartarashtra host like Indra routing the danavas.'"
Next: Section 51