The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Meanwhile ninety Kaurava car-warriors rushed for battle against the ape-bannered Arjuna who was advancing, borne by his steeds of exceeding fleetness. Those tigers among men, having sworn a terrible oath about the other world, encompassed that tiger among men, Arjuna. Krishna, however, (without minding those warriors), urged the white steeds of Arjuna, endued with great speed and adorned with ornaments of gold and covered with networks of pearls, towards Karna's car. Those ninety Samsaptaka cars pursued Dhananjaya, that slayer of foes, pouring upon him showers of shafts, as he proceeded towards Karna's car. Then Arjuna, with his keen shafts, cut off those ninety assailants endued with great activity, along with their drivers and bows and standards. Slain by the diadem-decked Arjuna with diverse kinds of shafts, they fell down like Siddhas falling down, with their cars, from heaven upon the exhaustion of their merits. After this, many Kauravas, with cars and elephants and steeds, fearlessly advanced against that foremost one of Kuru's race, that chief of the Bharatas, Phalguna. That large force of thy sons, teeming with struggling men and steeds, and swelling with foremost of elephants, then encompassed Dhananjaya, checking his further progress. The mighty Kaurava bowmen shrouded that descendant of Kuru's race with darts and swords and lances and spears and maces and scimitars and arrows. Like the Sun destroying the darkness with his rays, the son of Pandu destroyed with his own shafts that shower of weapons over-spread in the welkin. Then a force of Mlecchas riding thirteen hundred ever-infuriated elephants, at the command of thy son, assailed Partha in the flank. With barbed arrows and Nalikas and cloth-yard shafts and lances and spears and darts and Kampanas and short arrows, they afflicted Partha on his car. That matchless shower of weapons, some of which were hurled by the elephants with their tusks, Phalguna cut off with his broad-headed shafts and crescent-shaped arrows of great keenness. With excellent arrows of diverse kinds, he struck all those elephants and their standards and banners and riders, like Indra striking mountains with thunderbolts. Afflicted with gold-winged shafts, those huge elephants decked with necklaces of gold fell down deprived of life, like mountains ablaze with volcanic fires. Amid that roaring and shouting and wailing army of men and elephants and steeds, the twang of Gandiva, O monarch, rose high. Elephants, O king, struck (with shafts), fled away on all sides. Steeds also, their riders slain, wandered in all directions. Cars, O monarch, looking like the changeful forms of vapour in the sky, deprived of riders and steeds, were seen in thousands. Horsemen, O monarch, wandering hither and thither, were seen to fall down deprived of life by the shafts of Partha. At that time the might of Arjuna's arms was seen. (So great was that might) that alone, in that battle, he vanquished horsemen and elephants and car-warriors (that had been assailing him from every side). Then Bhimasena, beholding the diadem-decked Phalguna encompassed, O bull of Bharata's race, by a large (Kaurava) host consisting of three kinds of forces, abandoned the small unslaughtered remnant of the Kaurava car-warriors with whom he had been engaged, and rushed impetuously, O king, to the spot where Dhananjaya's car was. Meanwhile the Kaurava force that still remained after heavy slaughter, exceedingly weakened, fled away, Bhima (as already said) beholding Arjuna, proceeded towards his brother. The unfatigued Bhima, armed with a mace, destroyed, in that battle, the portion that still remained after the greater part had been slaughtered by Arjuna, of the Kaurava host possessed of great might. Fierce as the death-night, subsisting upon men and elephants and steeds as its food, and capable of crushing walls and mansions and gates of cities, that exceedingly terrible mace of Bhima incessantly descended on men and elephants and steeds around him. That mace, O sire, slew numberless steeds and riders. With that mace the son of Pandu crushed men and steeds cased in steel armour. Struck therewith, they fell down with great noise. Biting the earth with their teeth, and bathed in blood, these, with the crowns of their heads and bows and lower limbs crushed, laid themselves down on the field, supplying all carnivorous creatures with food. Satiated with blood and flesh and marrow, and eating bones as well, that mace (of Bhimasena) became, like the death-night, difficult of being gazed at. Having slain 10,000 horses and numerous foot-soldiers, Bhima ran hither and thither in rage, armed with his mace. Then, O Bharata, thy troops, beholding Bhima mace in hand, thought that Yama himself, armed with his fatal bludgeon, was in their midst. The son of Pandu then, excited with rage, and resembling an infuriated elephant, penetrated into the elephant division (of the Kauravas), like a Makara entering the ocean. Having, with his formidable mace, penetrated into that elephant division, the enraged Bhima, within a very short time, despatched it to Yama's abode. We then beheld those infuriated elephants with spiked plates on their bodies falling on every side, with their riders and standards, like winged mountains. Having destroyed that elephant division, the mighty Bhimasena, once more riding on his car, followed Arjuna at his rear. That great host, thus slaughtered, filled with cheerlessness and about to fly away, stood almost inactive, O monarch, assailed on all sides with weapons. Beholding that host looking humble and standing inactive and almost motionless, Arjuna covered it with life-scorching shafts. Men and steeds and elephants, pierced in that battle with showers of shafts by the wielder of Gandiva, looked beautiful like Kadamva flowers with their filaments. Thus struck with Arjuna's shafts that quickly slew men and steeds and cars and elephants, loud wails, O king, arose from the Kuru army. With cries of "Oh" and "Alas," and exceedingly frightened, and huddling close to one another, thy army began to turn round with great speed. The battle, however, continued between the Kurus and the Pandavas of great might. There was not a single car-warrior or horseman or elephant-warrior or steed or elephant that was unwounded. Their coats of mail pierced with shafts and themselves bathed in blood, the troops looked blazing like a forest of flowering Asokas. Beholding Savyasaci putting forth his valour on that occasion, the Kauravas became hopeless of Karna's life. Regarding the touch of Arjuna's shafts to be unbearable, the Kauravas, vanquished by the wielder of Gandiva, fled from the field. Deserting Karna in that battle as they were being thus struck with Arjuna's shafts, they fled away in fear on all sides, loudly calling upon the Suta's son (to rescue them). Partha, however, pursued them, shooting hundreds of shafts and gladdening the Pandava warriors headed by Bhimasena. Thy sons then, O monarch, proceeded towards the car of Karna. Sinking, as they seemed to be, in a fathomless ocean, Karna then became an island unto them. The Kauravas, O monarch, like snakes without poison, took Karna's shelter, moved by the fear of the wielder of Gandiva. Indeed, even as creatures, O sire, endued with actions, from fear of death, take the shelter of virtue, thy sons, O ruler of men, from fear of the high-souled son of Pandu, took shelter with the mighty bowman Karna. Then, Karna, uninspired with fear, addressed those distressed warriors afflicted with arrows and bathed in blood, saying, 'Do not fear! Come to me!" Beholding thy army vigorously broken by Partha, Karna, stretching his bow, stood desirous of slaughtering the foe. Seeing that the Kurus had left the field, Karna, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, reflecting a little, set his heart upon the slaughter of Partha and began to draw deep breaths. Bending his formidable bow, Adhiratha's son Vrisha once more rushed against the Pancalas, in the very sight of Savyasaci. Soon, however, many lords of the earth, with eyes red as blood, poured their arrowy downpours on him like clouds pouring rain upon a mountain. Then thousands of arrows, O foremost of living creatures, shot by Karna, O sire, deprived many Pancalas of their lives. Loud sounds of wailing were uttered by the Pancalas, O thou of great intelligence, while they were being thus smitten by the Suta's son, that rescuer of friends, for the sake of his friends.'"
Next: Section 82