The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Exceedingly difficult of accomplishment was that feat, O Sanjaya, which was achieved by Bhima who caused the mighty-armed Karna himself to measure his length on the terrace of his car. There is only one person, Karna, who will slay the Pandavas along with the Srinjayas--even this is what Duryodhana, O Suta, used very often to say unto me. Beholding, however, that son of Radha now defeated by Bhima in battle, what did my son Duryodhana next do?'
"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding Radha's son of the Suta caste turned back from the fight in that great battle, thy son, O monarch, addressed his uterine brothers, saying, "Go ye quickly, blessed be ye, and protect the son of Radha who is plunged into that fathomless ocean of calamity represented by the fear of Bhimasena." Thus commanded by the king, those princes, excited with wrath and desirous of slaying Bhimasena, rushed towards him like insects towards a blazing fire. They were Srutarvan and Durddhara and Kratha and Vivitsu and Vikata and Soma, and Nishangin and Kavashin and Pasin and Nanda and Upanandaka, and Duspradharsha and Suvahu and Vatavega and Suvarchasas, and Dhanurgraha and Durmada and Jalasandha and Sala and Saha. Surrounded by a large car-force, those princes, endued with great energy and might, approached Bhimasena and encompassed him on all sides. They sped at him from every side showers of arrows of diverse kinds. Thus afflicted by them, Bhima of great strength, O king, quickly slew fifty foremost car-warriors with five hundred others, amongst those sons of thine that advanced against him. Filled with rage, Bhimasena then, O king, with a broad-headed arrow, struck off the head of Vivitsu adorned with earrings and head-gear, and graced with a face resembling the full moon. Thus cut off, that prince fell down on the Earth. Beholding that heroic brother of theirs slain, the (other) brothers there, O lord, rushed in that battle, from every side, upon Bhima of terrible prowess. With two other broad-headed arrows then, Bhima of terrible prowess took the lives of two other sons of thine in that dreadful battle. Those two, Vikata and Saha, looking like a couple of celestial youths, O king, thereupon fell down on the Earth like a couple of trees uprooted by the tempest. Then Bhima, without losing a moment, despatched Kratha to the abode of Yama, with a long arrow of keen point. Deprived of life, that prince fell down on the Earth. Loud cries of woe then, O ruler of men, arose there when those heroic sons of thine, all great bowmen, were being thus slaughtered. When those troops were once more agitated, the mighty Bhima, O monarch, then despatched Nanda and Upananda in that battle to Yama's abode. Thereupon thy sons, exceedingly agitated and inspired with fear, fled away, seeing that Bhimasena in that battle behaved like the Destroyer himself at the end of the Yuga. Beholding those sons of thine slain, the Suta's son with a cheerless heart once more urged his steeds of the hue of swans to that place where the son of Pandu was. Those steeds, O king, urged on by the ruler of Madras, approached with great speed the car of Bhimasena and mingled in battle. The collision, O monarch, that once more took place between Karna and the son of Pandu in battle, became, O king, exceedingly fierce and awful and fraught with a loud din. Beholding, O king, those two mighty car-warriors close with each other, I became very curious to observe the course of the battle. Then Bhima, boasting of his prowess in battle, covered Karna in that encounter, O king, with showers of winged shafts in the very sight of thy sons. Then Karna, that warrior acquainted with the highest of weapons, filled with wrath, pierced Bhima with nine broad-headed and straight arrows made entirely of iron. Thereupon the mighty-armed Bhima of terrible prowess, thus struck by Karna, pierced his assailant in return with seven shafts sped from his bow-string drawn to his ear. Then Karna, O monarch, sighing like a snake of virulent poison, shrouded the son of Pandu with a thick shower of arrows. The mighty Bhima also, shrouding that mighty car-warrior with dense arrowy downpours in the very sight of the Kauravas, uttered a loud shout. Then Karna, filled with rage, grasped his strong bow and pierced Bhima with ten arrows whetted on stone and equipped with kanka feathers. With another broad-headed arrow of great sharpness, he also cut off Bhima's bow. Then the mighty-armed Bhima of great strength, taking up a terrible parigha, twined round with hempen cords and decked with gold and resembling a second bludgeon of Death himself, and desiring to slay Karna outright, hurled it at him with a loud roar. Karna, however, with a number of arrows resembling snakes of virulent poison, cut off into many fragments that spiked mace as it coursed towards him with the tremendous peal of thunder. Then Bhima, that grinder of hostile troops, grasping his bow with greater strength, covered Karna with keen shafts. The battle that took place between Karna and the son of Pandu in that meeting became awful for a moment, like that of a couple of huge lions desirous of slaying each other. Then Karna, O king, drawing the bow with great force and stretching the string to his very ear, pierced Bhimasena with three arrows. Deeply pierced by Karna, that great bowman and foremost of all persons endued with might then took up a terrible shaft capable of piercing through the body of his antagonist. That shaft, cutting through Karna's armour and piercing through his body, passed out and entered the Earth like a snake into ant-hill. In consequence of the violence of that stroke, Karna felt great pain and became exceedingly agitated. Indeed, he trembled on his car like a mountain during an earthquake. Then Karna, O king, filled with rage and the desire to retaliate, struck Bhima with five and twenty shafts, and then with many more. With one arrow he then cut off Bhimasena's standard, and with another broad-headed arrow he despatched Bhima's driver to the presence of Yama. Next quickly cutting off the bow of Pandu's son with another winged arrow, Karna deprived Bhima of terrible feats of his car. Deprived of his car, O chief of Bharata's race, the mighty-armed Bhima, who resembled the Wind-god (in prowess) took up a mace and jumped down from his excellent vehicle. Indeed, jumping down from his car with great fury, Bhima began to slay thy troops, O king, like the wind destroying the clouds of autumn. Suddenly the son of Pandu, that scorcher of foes, filled with wrath, routed seven hundred elephants, O king, endued with tusks as large as plough-shafts, and all skilled in smiting hostile troops. Possessed of great strength and a knowledge of what the vital parts of an elephant are, he struck them on their temples and frontal globes and eyes and the parts above their gums. Thereupon those animals, inspired with fear, ran away. But urged again by their drivers they surrounded Bhimasena once more, like the clouds covering the Sun. Like Indra felling mountains with thunder, Bhima with his mace prostrated those seven hundred elephants with their riders and weapons and standards. That chastiser of foes, the son of Kunti, next pressed down two and fifty elephants of great strength belonging to the son of Subala. Scorching thy army, the son of Pandu then destroyed a century of foremost cars and several hundreds of foot-soldiers in that battle. Scorched by the Sun as also by the high-souled Bhima, thy army began to shrink like a piece of leather spread over a fire. Those troops of thine, O bull of Bharata's race, filled with anxiety through fear of Bhimasena, avoided Bhima in that battle and fled away in all directions. Then five hundred car-warriors, cased in excellent mail, rushed towards Bhima with loud shouts, shooting thick showers of arrows on all sides. Like Vishnu destroying the Asuras, Bhima destroyed with his mace all those brave warriors with their drivers and cars and banners and standards and weapons. Then 3,000 horsemen, despatched by Shakuni, respected by all brave men and armed with darts and swords and lances, rushed towards Bhima. That slayer of foes, advancing impetuously towards them, and coursing in diverse tracks, slew them with his mace. Loud sounds arose from among them while they were being assailed by Bhima, like those that arise from among herd of elephants struck with large pieces of rocks. Having slain those 3,000 excellent horses of Subala's son in that way, he rode upon another car, and filled with rage proceeded against the son of Radha. Meanwhile, Karna also, O king, covered Dharma's son (Yudhishthira) that chastiser of foes, with thick showers of arrows, and felled his driver. Then that mighty car-warrior beholding Yudhishthira fly away in that battle, pursued him, shooting many straight-coursing shafts equipped with Kanka feathers. The son of the Wind-god, filled with wrath, and covering the entire welkin with his shafts, shrouded Karna with thick showers of arrows as the latter pursued the king from behind. The son of Radha then, that crusher of foes, turning back from the pursuit, quickly covered Bhima himself with sharp arrows from every side. Then Satyaki, of immeasurable soul, O Bharata, placing himself on the side of Bhima's car, began to afflict Karna who was in front of Bhima. Though exceedingly afflicted by Satyaki, Karna still approached Bhima. Approaching each other those two bulls among all wielders of bows, those two heroes endued with great energy, looked exceedingly resplendent as they sped their beautiful arrows at each other. Spread by them, O monarch, in the welkin, those flights of arrows, blazing as the backs of cranes, looked exceedingly fierce and terrible. In consequence of those thousands of arrows, O king, neither the rays of the Sun nor the points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, could any longer be noticed either by ourselves or by the enemy. Indeed, the blazing effulgence of the Sun shining at mid-day was dispelled by those dense showers of arrows shot by Karna and the son of Pandu. Beholding the son of Subala, and Kritavarma, and Drona's son, and Adhiratha's son, and Kripa, engaged with the Pandavas, the Kauravas rallied and came back to the fight. Tremendous became the din, O monarch, that was made by that host as it rushed impetuously against their foes, resembling that terrible noise that is made by many oceans swollen with rains. Furiously engaged in battle, the two hosts became filled with great joy as the warriors beheld and seized one another in that dreadful melee. The battle that commenced at that hour when the Sun had reached the meridian was such that its like had never been heard or seen by us. One vast host rushed against another, like a vast reservoir of water rushing towards the ocean. The din that arose from the two hosts as they roared at each other, was loud and deep as that which may be heard when several oceans mingle with one another. Indeed, the two furious hosts, approaching each other, mingled into one mass like two furious rivers that run into each other.
"'The battle then commenced, awful and terrible, between the Kurus and the Pandavas, both of whom were inspired with the desire of winning great fame. A perfect Babel of voices of the shouting warriors was incessantly heard there, O royal Bharata, as they addressed one another by name. He who had anything, by his father's or mother's side or in respect of his acts or conduct, that could furnish matter for ridicule, was in that battle made to hear it by his antagonist. Beholding those brave warriors loudly rebuking one another in that battle, I thought, O king, that their periods of life had been run out. Beholding the bodies of those angry heroes of immeasurable energy a great fear entered my heart, respecting the dire consequences that would ensue. Then the Pandavas, O king, and the Kauravas also, mighty car-warriors all, striking one another, began to mangle one another with their keen shafts.'"
Next: Section 52