The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Once more Keshava of immeasurable soul said these words unto Arjuna, who, O Bharata, was advancing (to battle), firmly resolved upon slaying Karna, 'Today is the seventeenth day, O Bharata, of this terrible massacre of men and elephants and steeds. At the outset vast was the host that belonged to you. Encountering the foe in battle, that host has been very much reduced in numbers, O king! The Kauravas also, O Partha, were numerous at first, teeming with elephants and steeds. Encountering thee, however, as their foe, they have been nearly exterminated in the van of battle! These lords of Earth and these Srinjayas, united together, and these Pandava troops also, obtaining thy invincible self as their leader, are maintaining their ground on the field. Protected by thee, O slayer of foes, the Pancalas, the Matsyas, the Karushas, and the Cedis, have caused a great destruction of thy foes. Who is there that can vanquish the assembled Kauravas in battle? On the other hand, who is there that can vanquish the mighty car-warriors of the Pandavas protected by thee? Thou, however, art competent to vanquish in battle the three worlds consisting of the gods, the asuras, and human beings, united together. What need I say then of the Kaurava host? Save thee, O tiger among men, who else is there, even if he resemble Vasava himself in prowess, that could vanquish king Bhagadatta? So also, O sinless one, all the lords of earth, united together, are incapable, O Partha, of even gazing at this vast force that is protected by thee. So also, O Partha, it is owing to their having been always protected by thee that Dhrishtadyumna and Shikhandi succeeded in slaying Drona and Bhishma. Who, indeed, O Partha, could vanquish in battle those two mighty car-warriors of the Bharatas, Bhishma and Drona, both of whom were endued with prowess equal to that of Sakra himself? Save thee, O tiger among men, what other man in this world is able to vanquish those fierce lords of akshauhinis, those unreturning and invincible heroes, all accomplished in weapons and united together, Shantanu's son Bhishma, and Drona, and Vaikartana, and Kripa, and Drona's son, and king Duryodhana himself? Innumerable divisions of soldiers have been destroyed (by thee), their steeds and cars and elephants having been mangled (with thy shafts). Numberless Kshatriyas also, wrathful and fierce, hailing from diverse provinces, have been destroyed by thee. Teeming with horses and elephants, large bodies of combatants of diverse Kshatriya clans, such as the Govasas, the Dasamiyas, the Vasatis, O Bharata, and the Easterners, the Vatadhanas, and the Bhojas that are very sensitive of their honour, approaching thee and Bhima, O Bharata, have met with destruction. Of terrible deeds and exceedingly fierce, the Tusharas, the Yavanas, the Khasas, the Darvabhisaras, the Daradas, the Sakas, the Kamathas, the Ramathas, the Tanganas the Andhrakas, the Pulindas, the Kiratas of fierce prowess, the Mlecchas, the Mountaineers, and the races hailing from the sea-side, all endued with great wrath and great might, delighting in battle and armed with maces, these all--united with the Kurus and fighting wrathfully for Duryodhana's sake were incapable of being vanquished in battle by anybody else save thee, O scorcher of foes! What man, unprotected by thee, could advance, beholding the mighty and swelling host of the Dhartarashtras arrayed in order of battle? Protected by thee, O puissant one, the Pandavas, filled with wrath, and penetrating into its midst, have destroyed that host shrouded with dust and resembling a swollen sea. Seven days have elapsed since the mighty Jayatsena, the ruler of the Magadhas, was slain in battle by Abhimanyu. After that, 10,000 elephants, of fierce feats, that used to follow that king, were slain by Bhimasena with his mace. After that, other elephants, and car-warriors, by hundreds, have been destroyed by Bhima in that exercise of his might. Even thus, O Partha, during the progress of this awful battle, the Kauravas, with their steeds and carwarriors and elephants, encountering Bhimasena and thee, O son of Pandu, have from hence repaired to the region of Death. The van of the Kaurava army, O Partha, having been struck down by the Pandavas, Bhishma shot showers of fierce shafts, O sire! Conversant with the highest weapons, he shrouded the Cedis, the Pancalas, the Karushas, the Matsyas, and the Kaikayas with the shafts, and deprived them of life! The welkin became filled with gold-winged and straight coursing shafts, capable of piercing the bodies of all foes, that issued out of his bow. He slew thousands of car-warriors, shooting showers of shafts at a time. In all, he slew a 100,000 men and elephants of great might. Abandoning the diverse motions, each of a new kind, in which they careered, those wicked kings and elephants, while perishing, destroyed many steeds and cars and elephants. Indeed, numberless were the shafts that Bhishma shot in battle. Slaughtering the Pandava host for ten days together, Bhishma made the terraces of numberless cars empty and deprived innumerable elephants and steeds of life. Having assumed the form of Rudra or of Upendra in battle, he afflicted the Pandava divisions and caused a great carnage amongst them. Desirous of rescuing the wicked Suyodhana who was sinking in a raftless sea, he slaughtered many lords of Earth among the Cedis, the Pancalas, and the Kaikayas, and caused a great massacre of the Pandava army teeming with cars and steeds and elephants. Innumerable foot-soldiers among the Srinjayas, all well-armed, and other lords of earth, were incapable of even looking at that hero when he careered in battle like the Sun himself of scorching splendour. At last the Pandavas, with all their resources, made a mighty effort, and rushed against that warrior who, inspired with the desire of victory, used to career in battle even in this way. Without availing himself of any aid, he routed, however, the Pandavas and the Srinjayas in battle, and came to be regarded as the one foremost hero in the world. Encountering him, Shikhandi, protected by thee, slew that tiger among men with his straight shafts. Having obtained thee that art a tiger among men (as his foe), that grandsire is now stretched on a bed of arrows, like Vritra when he obtained Vasava for his foe. The fierce Drona also slaughtered the hostile army for five days together. Having made an impenetrable array and caused many mighty car-warriors to be slain, that great car-warrior had protected Jayadratha (for some time). Fierce as the Destroyer himself, he caused a great carnage in the nocturnal battle. Endued with great valour, the heroic son of Bharadwaja consumed innumerable combatants with his arrows. At last, encountering Dhrishtadyumna, he attained to the highest end. If, on that day, thou hadst not checked in battle all the (Dhartarashtra) car-warriors headed by the Suta's son, Drona then would never have been slain. Thou heldst in check the whole Dhartarashtra force. It was for this, O Dhananjaya, that Drona could be slain by the son of Prishata. What other Kshatriya, save thee, could in battle achieve such feats for compassing the slaughter of Jayadratha. Checking the vast (Kaurava) army and slaying many brave kings, thou killedest king Jayadratha, aided by the might and energy of thy weapons. All the kings regarded the slaughter of the ruler of the Sindhus to have been exceedingly wonderful. I, however, do not regard it so; thou didst it and thou art a great car-warrior. If this vast assemblage of Kshatriyas, obtaining thee as a foe, suffer extermination in course of even a whole day, I should, I think, still regard these Kshatriyas to be truly mighty. When Bhishma and Drona have been slain, the terrible Dhartarashtra host, O Partha, may be regarded to have lost all its heroes. Indeed, with all its foremost warriors slain, with its steeds, cars, and elephants destroyed, the Bharata army looketh today like the firmament, reft of the Sun, the Moon, and stars. Yonder host of fierce prowess, O Partha, hath been shorn of its splendours today like the Asura host in days of yore shorn of its splendours by Sakra's prowess. The remnant of that grand master now consists of only five great car-warriors, viz., Ashvatthama, Kritavarma, Karna, Shalya, and Kripa. Slaying those five great car-warriors today, O tiger among men, be thou a hero that hath killed all his foes, and bestow thou the Earth with all her islands and cities on king Yudhishthira. Let Pritha's son Yudhishthira of immeasurable energy and prosperity, obtain today the whole earth with the welkin above it, the waters on it, and the nether regions below it. Slaying this host like Vishnu in days of yore slaying the Daityas and the Danavas, bestow the Earth on the king like Hari bestowing (the three worlds) on Sakra. Let the Pancalas rejoice today, their foes being slain, like the celestials rejoicing after the slaughter of the Danavas by Vishnu. If in consequence of thy regard for that foremost of men, viz., thy preceptor Drona, thou cherishest compassion for Ashvatthama, if, again, thou hast any kindness for Kripa for the sake of respect that is due to a preceptor, if, approaching Kritavarma, thou dost not despatch him today to Yama's abode in consequence of the honour that is due to one's kinsmen by the mother's side, if, O lotus-eyed one, approaching thy mother's brother, viz., Shalya, the ruler of the Madras, thou dost not from compassion slay him, I ask thee, do thou, with keen shafts, O foremost of men slay Karna today with speed, that vile wretch of sinful heart who cherisheth the fiercest hate for the son of Pandu. This is thy noblest duty. There is nothing in it that would be improper. We approve of it, and here is no fault in the act. The wicked-souled Karna is the root, O thou of unfading glory, of that attempt, O sinless one, made in the night for burning thy mother with all her children, and of that conduct which Suyodhana adopted towards you in consequence of that match at dice. Suyodhana always hopeth for deliverance through Karna. Filled with rage, he endeavours to afflict me also (in consequence of that support). It is the firm belief of Dhritarashtra's royal son, O giver of honours, that Karna, without doubt, will slay all the Prithas in battle. Though fully acquainted with thy might, still, O son of Kunti, Dhritarashtra's son hath selected war with you in consequence of his reliance on Karna. Karna also always says, 'I will vanquish the assembled Parthas and that mighty car-warrior, viz., Vasudeva of Dasharha's race'. Buoying up the wicked-souled son of Dhritarashtra, the wicked Karna always roareth in the (Kuru) assembly. Slay him today, O Bharata. In all the acts of injury, of which Dhritarashtra's son hath been guilty towards you, the wicked-souled Karna of sinful understanding hath been the leader. I saw the heroic son of Subhadra of eyes like those of a bull, slain by six mighty car-warriors of cruel heart belonging to the Dhritarashtra army. Grinding those bulls among men, viz., Drona, Drona's son, Kripa and other heroes, he deprived elephants of their riders and mighty car-warriors of their cars. The bull-necked Abhimanyu, that spreader of the fame of both the Kurus and the Vrishnis, deprived steeds also of their riders and foot-soldiers of weapons and life. Routing the (Kaurava) divisions and afflicting many mighty car-warriors, he despatched innumerable men and steeds and elephants to Yama's abode. I swear by Truth to thee, O friend, that my limbs are burning at the thought that while the son of Subhadra was thus advancing, consuming the hostile army with his shafts, even on that occasion the wicked-souled Karna was engaged in acts of hostility to that hero, O lord! Unable, O Partha, to stay in that battle before Abhimanyu's face, mangled with the shafts of Subhadra's son, deprived of consciousness, and bathed in blood, Karna drew deep breaths, inflamed with rage. At last, afflicted with arrows, he was obliged to turn his back upon the field. Eagerly desirous of flying away and becoming hopeless of life, he stayed for some time in battle, perfectly stupefied and exhausted with the wounds he had received. At last hearing those cruel words of Drona in battle--words that were suited to the hour--Karna cut off Abhimanyu's bow. Made bowless by him in that battle, five great car-warriors then, well-versed in the ways of foul warfare, slew that hero with showers of shafts. Upon the slaughter of that hero, grief entered the heart of everyone. Only, the wicked-souled Karna and Suyodhana laughed in joy. (Thou rememberest also) the harsh and bitter words that Karna cruelly said unto Krishna in the (Kuru) assembly, in the presence of the Pandavas and Kurus, 'The Pandavas, O Krishna, are dead! They have sunk into eternal hell! O thou of large hips, choose other lords now, O thou of sweet speeches! Enter now the abode of Dhritarashtra as a serving woman, for, O thou of curving eye-lashes, thy husbands are no more! The Pandavas will not, O Krishna, be of any service to thee today! Thou art the wife of men that are slaves, O princess of Pancala, and thou art thyself, O beautiful lady, a slave! Today only Duryodhana is regarded as the one king on earth; all other kings of the world are worshipping the agency by which his administration is kept up. Behold now, O amiable one, how all the sons of Pandu have equally fallen! Overwhelmed by the energy of Dhritarashtra's son, they are now silently eyeing one another. It is evident that they are all sesame seeds without kernel, and have sunk into hell. They will have to serve the Kaurava (Duryodhana), that king of kings, as his slaves.' Even these were the foul words that that wretch, viz., the sinful Karna of exceedingly wicked heart, spoke on that occasion, in thy hearing, O Bharata! Let gold-decked shafts whetted on stone and capable of taking the life of him at whom they are sped, shot by thee, quench (the fire of) those words and all the other wrongs that that wicked-souled wight did unto thee. Let thy shafts quench all those wrongs and the life also of that wicked wight. Feeling the touch of terrible arrows sped from Gandiva, let the wicked-souled Karna recollect today the words of Bhishma and Drona! Let foe-killing cloth-yard shafts, equipped with the effulgence of lightning, shot by thee, pierce his vital limbs and drink his blood! Let fierce and mighty shafts, of great impetuosity, sped by thy arms, penetrate the vitals of Karna today and despatch him to Yama's abode. Let all the kings of the earth, cheerless and filled with grief and uttering wails of woe, behold Karna fall down from his car today, afflicted with thy arrows. Let his kinsmen, with cheerless faces, behold Karna today, fallen down and stretched at his length on the earth, dipped in gore and with his weapons loosened from his grasp! Let the lofty standard of Adhiratha's son, bearing the device of the elephant's rope, fall fluttering on the earth, cut off by thee with a broad-headed arrow. Let Shalya fly away in terror, abandoning the gold-decked car (he drives) upon seeing it deprived of its warrior and steeds and cut off into fragments with hundreds of shafts by thee. Let thy enemy Suyodhana today, beholding Adhiratha's son slain by thee, despair of both his life and kingdom. Yonder, O Partha, Karna, equal unto Indra in energy, or, perhaps, Sankara himself, is slaughtering thy troops with his shafts. There the Pancalas, though slaughtered by Karna with his whetted shafts, are yet, O chief of Bharata's race, rushing (to battle), for serving the cause of the Pandavas. Know, O Partha, that is prevailing over the Pancalas, and the (five) sons of Draupadi, and Dhrishtadyumna and Shikhandi, and the sons of Dhrishtadyumna, and Satanika, the son of Nakula, and Nakula himself, and Sahadeva, and Durmukha, and Janamejaya, and Sudharman, and Satyaki! The loud uproar made by those allies of thine, viz., the Pancalas, O scorcher of foes, as they are being struck by Karna in dreadful battle, is heard. The Pancalas have not at all been inspired with fear, nor do they turn away their faces from the battle. Those mighty bowmen are utterly reckless of death in great battle. Encountering even that Bhishma who, single-handed, had encompassed the Pandava army with a cloud of shafts, the Pancalas did not turn away their faces from him. Then again, O chastiser of foes, they always strove with alacrity to vanquish forcibly in battle their great foe, viz., the invincible Drona, that preceptor of all wielders of the bow, that blazing fire of weapons, that hero who always burnt his foes in battle. They have never turned their faces from battle, afraid of Adhiratha's son. The heroic Karna, however, with his shafts, is taking the lives of the Pancala warriors endued with great activity as they are advancing against him, like a blazing fire taking the lives of myriads of insects. The son of Radha, in this battle, is destroying in hundreds the Pancalas that are advancing against him,--those heroes, that are resolved to lay down their lives for the sake of their allies! It behoveth thee, O Bharata, to become a raft and rescue those brave warriors, those great bowmen, that are sinking in the raftless ocean represented by Karna. The awful form of that weapon which was obtained by Karna from that foremost of sages, viz., Rama of Bhrigu's race, hath been displayed. Scorching all the troops, that weapon of exceedingly fierce and awful form is blazing with its own energy, surrounding our vast army. Those arrows, sped from Karna's bow, are coursing in battle thick as swarm of bees, and scorching thy troops. Encountering Karna's weapon in battle, that is irresistible by persons not having their souls under control, there the Pancalas, O Bharata, are flying away in all directions! Yonder, Bhima, of unappeasable wrath, surrounded on all sides by the Srinjayas, is fighting with Karna, O Partha, afflicted by the latter with keen shafts! If neglected, Karna will, O Bharata, exterminate the Pandavas, the Srinjayas, and the Pancalas, like a neglected disease whose germ has entered the body. Save thee I do not see another in Yudhishthira's army that would come home safe and sound, having encountered the son of Radha in battle. Slaying that Karna today with thy keen shafts, O bull among men, act according to thy vow, O Partha, and win great fame. I tell thee truly, thou only art able to vanquish in battle the Kaurava host with Karna amongst them, and no one else, O foremost of warriors! Achieving this great feat, viz., slaying the mighty car-warrior Karna, attain thy object, O Partha, and crowned with success, be happy, O best of men!'"
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