The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'When our troops were broken in battle by Bhimasena, what, O Sanjaya, did Duryodhana and Subala's son say? Or, what did Karna, that foremost of victors, or the warriors of my army in that battle, or Kripa, or Kritavarma, or Drona's son Duhshasana, say? Exceedingly wonderful, I think, is the prowess of Pandu's son, since, single-handed, he fought in battle with all the warriors of my army. Did the son of Radha act towards the (hostile) troops according to his vow? That slayer of foes, Karna, O Sanjaya, is the prosperity, the armour, the fame, and the very hope of life, of the Kurus. Beholding the army broken by Kunti's son of immeasurable energy, what did Karna, the son of Adhiratha and Radha, do in that battle? What also did my sons, difficult of defeat in battle, do, or the other kings and mighty car-warriors of our army? Tell me all this, O Sanjaya, for thou art skilled in narration!'
"Sanjaya said, 'In that afternoon, O monarch, the Suta's son of great valour began to smite all the Somakas in the very sight of Bhimasena. Bhima also of great strength began to destroy the Dhartarashtra troops. Then Karna, addressing (his driver) Shalya, said unto him, "Bear me to the Pancalas." Indeed, beholding his army in course of being routed by Bhimasena of great intelligence, Karna once more addressed his driver, saying, 'Bear me to the Pancalas only.' Thus urged, Shalya, the ruler of the Madras, endued with great might, urged those white steeds that were fleet as thought, towards the Cedis, the Pancalas and the Karushas. Penetrating then into that mighty host, Shalya, that grinder of hostile troops, cheerfully conducted those steeds into every spot that Karna, that foremost of warriors, desired to go to. Beholding that car cased in tiger skins and looking like a cloud, the Pandus and the Pancalas, O monarch, became terrified. The rattle then of that car, like unto the peal of thunder or the sound of a mountain splitting into fragments, became audible in that dreadful battle. With hundreds upon hundreds of keen arrows sped from the bow-string drawn to his ear, Karna then smote hundreds and thousands of warriors belonging to the Pandava army. While the unvanquished Karna was employed in achieving those feats, many mighty bowmen and great car-warriors among the Pandavas encompassed him on all sides. Indeed, Shikhandi, and Bhima, and Dhrishtadyumna, the son of Prishata, and Nakula, and Sahadeva, and the (five) sons of Draupadi, and Satyaki, surrounded the son of Radha, pouring showers of arrows upon him, from desire of despatching him to the other world. The heroic Satyaki, that best of men, struck Karna in that engagement with twenty keen shafts in the shoulder-joint. Shikhandi struck him with five and twenty shafts, and Dhrishtadyumna struck him with seven, and the sons of Draupadi with four and sixty, and Sahadeva with seven, and Nakula with a hundred, in that battle. The mighty Bhimasena, in that encounter, filled with rage, struck the son of Radha in the shoulder-joint with ninety straight shafts. The son of Adhiratha, then, of great might laughing in scorn, and drawing his excellent bow let off many keen shafts, afflicting his foes. The son of Radha pierced each of them in return with five arrows. Cutting off the bow of Satyaki, as also his standard, O bull of Bharata's race, Karna pierced Satyaki himself with nine shafts in the centre of the chest. Filled with wrath, he then pierced Bhimasena with thirty shafts. With a broad-headed arrow, O sire, he next cut off the standard of Sahadeva, and with three other arrows, that chastiser of foes afflicted Sahadeva's driver. Within the twinkling of an eye he then deprived the (five) sons of Draupadi of their cars, O bull of Bharata's race, which seemed exceedingly wonderful. Indeed, with his straight shafts casting those heroes to turn back from the fight, the heroic Karna began to slay the Pancalas and many mighty car-warriors among the Cedis. Thus struck in that battle. O monarch, the Cedis and the Matsyas, rushing against Karna alone, poured upon him showers of shafts. The Suta's son, however, that mighty car-warrior, began to smite them with his keen shafts. I beheld this exceedingly wonderful feat. O Bharata, viz., that the Suta's son of great prowess, alone and unsupported in that battle, fought with all those bowmen who contended with him to the utmost of their prowess, and checked all those Pandava warriors, O monarch, with his shafts. With the lightness of hand, O Bharata, of the high-souled Karna on that occasion, all the gods as also the Siddhas and the Charanas were gratified. All the great bowmen among the Dhartarashtras also, O best of men, applauded Karna, that foremost of great car-warriors, that first of all bowmen. Then Karna, O monarch, burnt the hostile army like a mighty and blazing conflagration consuming a heap of dry grass in the summer season. Thus slaughtered by Karna, the Pandava troops, struck with fear, fled in all directions, at the very sight of Karna. Loud wails arose there among the Pancalas in that great battle, while they were thus struck with the keen shafts sped from Karna's bow. Struck with fear at the noise, the vast host of the Pandavas, those enemies of Karna, regarded him as the one warrior in that battle. Then that crusher of foes, viz., the son of Radha, once more achieved an exceedingly wonderful feat, inasmuch as all the Pandavas, united together, were unable to even gaze at him. Like a swelling mass of water breaking when it comes in contact with a mountain, the Pandava army broke when it came in contact with Karna. Indeed, O king, the mighty-armed Karna in that battle, burning the vast host of the Pandavas, stood there like a blazing fire without smoke. With great activity that hero, with his shafts, cut off the arms and the heads of his brave foes, O king, and their ears decked with earrings. Swords with hilts of ivory, and standards, and darts, and steeds, and elephants, and cars of diverse kind, O king, and banners, and axles, and yokes, and wheels of many kinds, were cut off in various ways by Karna, observant of a warrior's vow. There, O Bharata, with elephants and steeds slain by Karna, the earth became impassable and miry with flesh and blood. The uneven and even spots also of the field, in consequence of slain horse and foot and broken cars and dead elephants, could no longer be distinguished. The combatants could not distinguish friends from foes in that thick darkness caused by shafts when Karna's (celestial) weapon was displayed. The mighty car-warriors of the Pandavas, O monarch, were completely shrouded with shafts, decked with gold, that were sped from Karna's bow. Those mighty car-warriors of the Pandavas, O king, in that battle, though struggling vigorously, were repeatedly broken by the son of Radha, even as a herd of deer in the forest is routed by an angry lion. Routing the foremost of Pancala car-warriors and (other) foes, Karna of great fame, in that battle, slew the Pandava warriors like a wolf slaying smaller animals. Beholding the Pandava army turn away from battle, the Dhartarashtra bowmen of great might rushed against the retreating host uttering terrible shouts. Then Duryodhana, O monarch, filled with great delight, caused diverse musical instruments to be beaten and blown in all parts of the army. The great bowmen amongst the Pancalas, those foremost of men, though broken, returned heroically to the fight, making death their goal. The son of Radha, however, that bull among men and scorcher of foes, O monarch, in that battle, broke those returned heroes in diverse ways. There, O Bharata twenty car-warriors among the Pancalas and more than a hundred Cedi warriors were slain by Karna with his shafts. Making the terraces of cars and the backs of steeds empty, O Bharata, and slaying the combatants that fought from the necks of elephants, and routing the foot-soldiers, that scorcher of foes, the Suta's son of great bravery, became incapable of being gazed at like the mid-day sun and looked resplendent like the Destroyer himself at the end of the Yuga. Thus, O monarch, that slayer of foes, that mighty bowmen, Karna, having slain foot, horse, car-warriors, and elephants, stood there on his car. Indeed, like the Destroyer himself of great might standing after slaying all creatures, the mighty car-warrior Karna stood alone, having slain the Somakas. The prowess that we then beheld of the Pancalas seemed to be exceedingly wonderful, for, though thus struck by Karna, they refused to fly away from that hero at the head of battle. At that time, the king (Duryodhana), and Duhshasana, and Kripa, the son of Sharadvata, and Ashvatthama, and Kritavarma, and Shakuni also of great might, slaughtered the Pandava warriors in hundreds and thousands. The two sons also of Karna, O monarch, those two brothers of prowess incapable of being baffled, filled with rage, slaughtered the Pandava army in several parts of the field. The battle at that place was dreadful and cruel and the carnage that occurred was very great. Similarly the Pandava heroes, Dhrishtadyumna and Shikhandi and the (five) sons of Draupadi, filled with rage, slaughtered thy host. Even thus a great destruction took place among the Pandavas everywhere on the field, and even thus thy army also suffered great loss at the hands of the mighty Bhima.'"
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