The Mahabharata Home
Sanjaya said, "Then when the blare of conchs and the peal of drums became very loud, those two foremost of men, both owning white steeds, the suta's son Vikartana and Arjuna, encountered each other in consequence, O king, of thy son's evil policy. Those two heroes endued with great impetuosity, Dhananjaya and Adhiratha's son, closed with each other like two infuriated Himalayan elephants, both of full-grown tusks, fighting with each other for the sake of a she-elephant in her season. Like a mass of clouds encountering another mass, or a mountain encountering a mountain, those two warriors, both pouring showers of arrows, encountered each other, their bows loudly twanging the while, and the wheels of their cars producing a deafening clatter, and their bow-strings and palms emitting loud sounds. Like two mountains, both endued with tall cliffs and abounding in trees and creepers and herbs and both teeming with the diverse other denizens that are natural to them, moving towards each other for an encounter, those two mighty warriors encountered each other, each striking the other with mighty weapons.
The combat between the two heroes became furious like that between the chief of the celestials and Virocana's son in days of yore. Incapable of being endured by others and marked by a river whose distasteful water consisted of blood, the limbs of those two heroes, as also their drivers and animals, became exceedingly mangled. Like two large lakes, both teeming with lotuses of diverse kinds and fish and tortoises, and echoing with the voices of diverse kinds of fowl, and softly stirred by the wind, approaching each other, those two cars graced with standards approached each other. Both endued with prowess equal to that of the great Indra, both resembling the great Indra himself, those two mighty car-warriors struck each other with shafts that resembled the great Indra's thunder, like the great Indra himself and (the asura) Vritra.
Both the armies consisting of cars and elephants and steeds and foot-soldiers, all equipped with beautiful armour and ornaments and robes and weapons, and those also that were in the welkin, were inspired with fear upon beholding that encounter of wonderful aspect between Arjuna and Karna. Others among the spectators, filled with joy and uttering leonine shouts, raised their arms, waving their fingers or the pieces of cloth they held, when Arjuna rushed against the son of Adhiratha, from desire of slaughter, like one infuriated elephant rushing against another.
The Somakas then loudly shouted to Partha, saying, "Be quick, O Arjuna, go and pierce Karna. Cut off his head without delay, and (with it) the desire of Dhritarashtra's son for kingdom." Similarly many warriors of ours that were there, said unto Karna, "Proceed, proceed, O Karna, and slay Arjuna with keen shafts. Let the sons of Pritha once more go to the woods forever."
Then Karna first pierced Partha in that encounter, with ten mighty shafts. Arjuna pierced him in return with ten keen-pointed shafts, shot with great vigour, in the centre of the chest. Indeed, the suta's son and Arjuna then mangled each other with many shafts equipped with goodly wings. Desirous of obtaining advantage of each other's lapses in that dreadful encounter, with cheerful hearts they rushed against each other fiercely.
Rubbing his two arms and the string also of gandiva, that fierce bowman, Arjuna, then sped showers of cloth-yard shafts, and nalikas and arrows equipped with heads like boar's ears and razors, and anjalikas, and crescent-shaped arrows. Those arrows of Partha, O king, spread over the welkin, penetrated into Karna's car like flights of birds, with heads bent down, penetrating in the evening into a tree for roosting there in the night. All those arrows, however, O king, that Arjuna, that victor over all foes, with furrowed brow and angry glances, sped at Karna, all those successive showers of shafts shot by the son of Pandu, were cut off by the suta's son with his own arrows.
The son of Indra then sped at Karna a fiery weapon capable of slaying all foes. Covering the earth and the welkin and the ten points of the compass and the very course of the sun with its effulgence, it caused his own body also to blaze up with light. The robes of all the warriors took fire, at which they fled away. Loud sounds also arose there, like what is heard when a forest of bamboos in a wilderness is on fire. Beholding that fiery weapon acting on all sides, the suta's son Karna of great valour shot in that encounter the varunastra for quenching it. That conflagration then, in consequence of Karna's weapon, became quenched.
A large mass of clouds quickly caused all the points of the compass to be enveloped with darkness. Those clouds whose extremities presented the aspect of mountains, surrounding every side, flooded the earth with water. That fierce conflagration, though it was such, was still quenched by those clouds in a trice. The entire welkin and all the directions, cardinal and subsidiary, were shrouded by clouds. Thus shrouded by clouds, all the points of the compass became dark and nothing could be seen.
Then Arjuna dispelled those clouds caused by Karna, by means of the vayavyastra. After this, Dhananjaya, incapable of being over-mastered by foes inspired gandiva, its string, and his shafts, with mantras, and invoked into existence another weapon that was the favourite of the chief of the celestials and that resembled the thunder in energy and prowess. Then razor-headed arrows, and anjalikas, and crescent-shaped shafts, and nalikas, and cloth-yard shafts and those equipped with heads like the boar's ear, all keen and sharp, issued from gandiva in thousands, endued with the force and impetuosity of the thunder. Possessed of great might and great energy, those impetuous and keen shafts equipped with vulturine feathers piercing all the limbs, the steeds, the bow, the yoke, the wheels, and the standard of Karna, quickly penetrated into them like snakes frightened by Garuda penetrating into the earth. Pierced all over with arrows and bathed in blood, (the high-souled) Karna then, with eyes rolling in wrath, bending his bow of enduring string and producing a twang as loud as the roar of the sea, invoked into existence the Bhargava weapon. Cutting off Partha's showers of shafts proceeding from the mouth of that weapon of Indra (which Arjuna had shot), Karna, having thus baffled his antagonist's weapon with his own, destroyed cars and elephants and foot-soldiers (of the Pandava army). Unable to endure the feats of Arjuna in that fierce battle, the mighty car-warrior Karna did this, through the energy of the Bhargava weapon. Filled with wrath and possessed of great activity, the Suta's son, that foremost of men, laughing at the two Krishnas, pierced the foremost of Pancala warriors with well shot arrows in that battle. Then the Pancalas and the Somakas, O king, thus afflicted by Karna with showers of shafts in that encounter, became filled with wrath and uniting together pierced the Suta's son with keen arrows from every side. Quickly cutting off those arrows with his own, the Suta's son, vigorously agitating them in that battle, afflicted with many shafts the cars, the elephants, and the steeds of the Pancalas. Their bodies pierced with those shafts of Karna, they fell down, deprived of life, on the earth, making loud sounds, like mighty elephants slain by an angry lion of terrible strength. Having slain those foremost of warriors, those heroes endued with great strength, those leaders of the Pancala forces who had always challenged him (to battle), Karna, O king, as he shot his arrows, looked beautiful, like a mass of clouds pouring torrents of rain. Then thy warriors, thinking that Karna had won the victory, clapped loudly and uttered leonine roars. O chief of the Kurus, all of them then regarded the two Krishnas as brought by Karna under his power, seeing that valour, incapable of being borne by foes, of the mighty car-warrior Karna. Beholding that weapon of Dhananjaya frustrated by Karna in the midst of battle, the angry son of the Wind-god, with eyes blazing with wrath, began to squeeze his hands. Indeed, the wrathful Bhima, his anger being provoked, drew deep breaths and addressing Arjuna of true aim, said, "How, O Jishnu, could this wretch fallen off from virtue, this Suta's son, putting forth his might in battle, slay so many foremost of Pancala warriors, in thy sight? Before now thou couldst not be conquered by the very gods or the Kalakeyas. Thou receivedst the touch of the arms of Sthanu himself. How, then, O diadem-decked Arjuna, could the Suta's son pierce thee first with ten long shafts such as are used by car-warriors? That the Suta's son should today have succeeded in baffling the arrows shot by thee seems to me to be very amazing. Recollect the woes of Krishna, and those disagreeable, keen, and cutting words that this wicked-souled and fearless son of a Suta used towards us, viz., 'Sesame seeds without kernel!' Recollecting all this, O Savyasaci, quickly slay the wretched Karna in battle today. Why, O diadem-decked Arjuna, dost thou show such indifference (towards this act)? This is not the time for showing thy indifference to Karna's slaughter. That patience with which thou didst vanquish all creatures and feed Agni at Khandava, with that patience, slay thou the Suta's son. I also will crush him with my mace." Then Vasudeva, beholding Partha's shafts baffled by Karna, said unto the former, "What is this, O diadem-decked Arjuna, that Karna should succeed in crushing thy weapons today with this? Why dost, thou, O hero, lose thy wits? Markest thou not that the Kauravas, (standing behind Karna), are even now shouting in joy? Indeed, all of them know that thy weapons are being baffled by Karna with his. That patience with which, Yuga after Yuga, thou hadst slain persons having the quality of darkness for their weapons, as also terrible Kshatriyas, and Asuras born of pride, in many a battle--with that patience do thou slay Karna today. Putting forth thy might, strike off the head of that foe of thine with this Sudarsana, of edge keen as a razor, that I give unto thee, like Sakra striking off the head of his foe Namuci, with the thunderbolt. That patience with which thou didst gratified the illustrious deity Mahadeva in the guise of a hunter, summoning that patience once again, O hero, slay the Suta's son with all his followers. After that, bestow upon king Yudhishthira the earth with her belt of seas, her towns and villages, and wealth, and from off whose surface all foes will have been removed. By that act, O Partha, do thou also win unrivalled fame." Thus addressed (by Krishna), the high-souled Partha of exceeding might set his heart upon the slaughter of the Suta's son. Indeed, urged by Bhima and Janardana, and recollecting (his woes), and taking an internal survey of himself, and calling to mind the object for which he had come to this world, he addressed Keshava, saying, "I will now invoke into existence a mighty and fierce weapon for the good of the world and the destruction of the Suta's son. Let me have thy permission, as also Brahman's and Bhava's, and of all those that are conversant with Brahma." Having said these words unto the holy Keshava, Savyasaci of immeasurable soul bowed unto Brahman and invoked into existence that excellent irresistible weapon called brahmastra which could be applied by the mind alone. Baffling that weapon, however, Karna looked beautiful as he continued, like a cloud pouring torrents of rain, to shoot his shafts. Beholding that weapon of the diadem-decked Arjuna baffled in the midst of battle by Karna, the wrathful and mighty Bhima, blazing up with rage, addressed Arjuna of sure aim and said, "People say that thou art a master of the high brahmastra, that mighty means (for achieving the destruction of foes). Do thou then, O Savyasaci, use another weapon of the same kind." Thus addressed by his brother, Savyasaci used a second weapon of the kind. With that, Partha of abundant energy shrouded all the points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, with arrows sped from gandiva that resembled fierce snakes and were like the blazing rays of the sun. Created by that bull of Bharata's race, those arrows of golden wings, in hundreds upon hundreds, endued with the effulgence of the yuga fire or the sun, in a moment shrouded the car of Karna. Thence also issued long darts and battle-axes and discs and cloth-yard shafts in hundreds, all of awful forms, at which hostile warriors all around began to be deprived of life. The head of some hostile warrior, severed from his trunk, fell down on the field of battle. Another, beholding his fallen comrade, fell down dead on the earth, through fear. The (right) arm of a third, large and massive as the trunk of an elephant, cut off (by Partha), fell down with the sword in grasp. The left arm of a fourth, cut off with a razor-headed arrow, fell down with the shield in it. Even thus, Partha, decked with diadem and garlands, wounded and slew all the foremost warriors of Duryodhana's army with his terrible and death-dealing shafts. Vaikartana also, in the midst of that battle, shot thousands of arrows. These, with a loud whizz, fell upon the son of Pandu like torrents of rain poured from the clouds. Then piercing Bhimasena and Janardana and the diadem-decked Arjuna of superhuman feats, each with three arrows Karna of terrible might uttered a loud awful roar. Struck with Karna's shafts, the diadem-decked Arjuna, beholding Bhima and Janardana, became unable to endure (the feats of his antagonist). Once more, therefore, Partha shot eight and ten arrows. Piercing the beautiful standard of Karna with one of those arrows, he pierced Shalya with four and Karna himself with three. With ten other well-shot shafts he then struck the Kaurava warrior Sabhapati, clad in golden mail. Thereupon that prince, deprived of head and arms and steeds and driver and bow and standard, fell down, wounded and dead, from his foremost of cars, like a Sala tree cut down with an axe. Once more piercing Karna with three, eight, twelve, four, and ten arrows, Partha slew 400 elephants equipped with many weapons, and 8000 car-warriors, and 1,000 steeds with riders, and 8,000 brave foot-soldiers. And soon Partha made Karna with his driver and car and steeds and standard invisible with straightly coursing shafts. Then the Kauravas, thus slaughtered by Dhananjaya, loudly addressed Adhitratha's son, saying, "Shoot thy arrows and slay the son of Pandu. Already, he has begun to exterminate the Kurus with his shafts!" Thus urged, Karna, with his best endeavours, incessantly shot many arrows. Capable of cutting the very vitals, those blood-drinking shafts, well sped by Karna, slew large numbers of the Pandavas and the Pancalas. Thus those two foremost of all bowmen, those two warriors of great strength that were capable of bearing all foes, those two heroes acquainted with weapons, struck the warriors opposed to them, as also each other, with mighty weapons. Then Yudhishthira, clad in golden mail, his arrows having been extracted and himself made sound with mantras and drugs by foremost of surgeons well-disposed towards him, quickly came to that spot for witnessing (the encounter between Arjuna and Karna). Beholding king Yudhishthira the just arrived there like the resplendent full Moon freed from the jaws of Rahu and risen in the firmament, all creatures became filled with delight. Beholding those two foremost of warriors, those two first of heroes and slayers of foes, viz., Karna and Partha, engaged in fight, the spectators, both celestial and terrestrial, restraining the animals they rode or that were yoked unto their vehicles, stood motionless. As the two heroes, O king, struck each other with many foremost of arrows, O king, the sounds caused by the bows, bow-strings, and palms, of both Dhananjaya and Adhiratha's son, became tremendous and their well-sped arrows also caused a deafening whizz. Then the bow-string of the son of Pandu, stretched with force, broke with a loud noise. During the interval thus offered, the Suta's son pierced Partha with a hundred small arrows, keen and steeped in oil, winged with the feathers of birds, and resembling snakes freed from their sloughs. He then quickly pierced Vasudeva with sixty shafts, and then Phalguna again with eight. Surya's son then pierced Bhima with thousands upon thousands of mighty arrows. Having pierced Krishna and Partha's standard, Karna felled many amongst the Somakas that followed Partha. These, however, in return shrouded Karna with showers of straight shafts like masses of clouds shrouding the sun in the welkin. Accomplished in the use of weapons, the Suta's son, stupefying those advancing warriors with his shafts and baffling all the weapons shot by them, destroyed their cars and steeds and elephants. And the Suta's son, O king, also afflicted with his arrows many foremost of warriors among them. Their bodies pierced with Karna's shafts, they fell down on the ground, deprived of life and making a loud noise as they fell. Indeed, those mighty combatants, afflicted by Karna of terrible strength, perished like a pack of dogs afflicted by an angry lion. And once more many foremost of combatants among the Pancalas and many such (among the Kauravas) fell down after this, slain by Karna and Dhananjaya. Deprived of life by the mighty Karna with well-aimed arrows shot with great force, many fell down, purging the contents of their stomachs. Then thy troops, regarding the victory to be already theirs, clapped furiously and uttered loud leonine roars. Indeed, in that dreadful encounter, all of them regarded the two Krishnas to have been brought by Karna under his power. Then quickly bending his bow-string and baffling all those shafts of Adhiratha's son, Partha, filled with rage in consequence of his limbs having been mangled with Karna's arrows, assailed the Kauravas. Rubbing his bow-string, he clapped his palms and suddenly caused a darkness there with the showers of shafts he shot. The diadem-decked Arjuna pierced Karna and Shalya and all the Kurus with those arrows. The welkin having been darkened by means of that mighty weapon, the very birds were unable to range in their element, a delicious wind then blew, bearing fragrant odours. Laughing the while, Partha forcibly struck Shalya's armour with ten arrows. Piercing Karna next with a dozen shafts, he struck him once more with seven. Deeply struck with those winged arrows of fierce energy shot with great force from Partha's bow, Karna, with mangled limbs and body bathed in blood, looked resplendent like Rudra at the universal destruction, sporting in the midst of crematorium at noon or eve, his body dyed with blood. The son of Adhiratha then pierced Dhananjaya who resembled the chief of the celestials himself (in energy and might) with three arrows, and he caused five other blazing arrows resembling five snakes to penetrate the body of Krishna. Shot with great force, those arrows, decked with gold, pierced through the armour of that foremost of beings and passing out of his body fell upon the earth. Endued with great energy, they entered the earth with great force and having bathed (in the waters of the Bhogavati in the nether region) coursed back towards Karna. Those shafts were five mighty snakes that had adopted the side of Takshaka's son (Aswasena whose mother Partha had slain at Khandava). With ten broad-headed arrows shot with great force, Arjuna cut off each of those five snakes into three fragments whereupon they fell down on the earth. Beholding Krishna's limbs thus mangled with those snakes transformed into arrows sped from Karna's arms, Arjuna, decked with diadem and garlands, blazed up with wrath like a fire engaged in burning a heap of dry grass. He then pierced Karna in all his vital limbs with many blazing and fatal shafts shot from the bow-string stretched to the very ear. (Deeply pierced), Karna trembled in pain. With the greatest difficulty he stood, summoning all his patience. Dhananjaya having been filled with wrath, all the points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, the very splendour of the Sun, and Karna's car, O king, all became invisible with the showers shot by him. The welkin seemed as if it were shrouded by a thick forest. Then that slayer of foes, that bull of Kuru's race, that foremost of heroes, viz., Savyasaci, O king, soon slew in that battle 2,000 foremost of Kuru warriors, with their cars and steeds and drivers, forming the protectors of Karna's car-wheels and wings and his van-guard and rear-guard and who constituted the very pick of Duryodhana's car-force, and who, urged by Duryodhana, had been fighting with great energy. Then thy sons and the Kauravas that were still alive fled away, deserting Karna, and abandoning their dying and wounded, and their wailing sons and sires. Beholding himself abandoned by the terrified Kurus and seeing the space around him empty, Karna felt no agitation, O Bharata, but, on the other hand, rushed at Arjuna, with a cheerful heart.'"
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