Karna Parva 3 - Karna’s Carnage in Arjuna’s Absence
Shalya then told the story of a crow that lived on offerings from a man. Becoming arrogant, it challenged a swan for a race over the ocean. Unable to keep up with the swan, the tired crow was on the verge of drowning when the swan saved it. The arrogance of the crow was thus destroyed. Shalya then compared Karna to the crow and said he lived on alms given by Dhritarashtra. He compared Arjuna to the swan.
Karna once again criticized the people of Madra, to which Shalya spoke insultingly of the people of Anga. They then reached the Pandava vyuha and Karna launched his attack. The Samashaptakas simultaneously launched a fierce attack against Arjuna, enveloping him with arrows.
Karna slaughtered the Panchala princes and nobles one by one. Vrishasena protected his rear while his sons, Sushena and Satyasena were his chariot protectors. Bheema attacked Karna and struck his sons and killed Satyasena by beheading him with a sharp arrow. Bheema then tried to kill Sushena but was foiled by Karna, who struck him with seventy-three arrows.
Karna then smashed through the Chedi army and attacked Yudhishtira. The Pandava warriors came to their king’s defence and a fierce battle ensued. Karna was unstoppable as he let loose fiery volleys of arrows. Soon, he cut off Yudhishtira’s bow and broke his armour. The king flung spear after spear at Karna, but he shattered them all.
Completely beaten, Yudhishtira fled, but Karna pursued him and caught him. Holding him by his shoulder, he told him he had all the qualities of a brahmana and none of a Kshatriya. Karna humiliated him by asking him not to fight with brave ones. Yudhishtira left the battlefield in another chariot.
A furious Bheema charged towards Karna, shooting arrows. Karna welcomed the challenge and countered his arrows. Bheema’s arrows raced through the air and struck Karna on the chest, causing him to swoon. Seeing Karna fall, the Kaurava soldiers were in a panic and Bheema massacred them.
Duryodhana sent nineteen of his brothers to take on Bheema, but one by one he killed them all. A violent Bheema then brought out his mighty club and smashed the elephant brigade killing seven hundred elephants.
The Samshapatakas surrounded Arjuna and climbed on to his chariot and attacked him and Krishna. They were all thrown away by Krishna. An angry Arjuna used the Naga weapon to make the Samashapatakas immobile. He then started killing them one by one. An angry Susharma used the Suparna weapon to free his army.
Arjuna then used the Aindra weapon to create a shower of arrows that killed fourteen thousand foot soldiers, three thousand elephants, and ten thousand chariot warriors.
The Samashapatakas kept attacking Arjuna relentlessly, preventing him from reaching Karna even as he kept killing them. Arjuna then defeated Ashwatthama causing him to swoon after which his charioteer took him away from the battle.
Ashwatthama then attacked Dhrishtadyumna, determined to kill him to avenge his father’s death. Once again Arjuna defeated Ashwatthama and made him faint.
Karna defeated Shikhandi and made him flee from the battlefield. Karna then told Shalya that he would completely destroy the Pandava army. He invoked the Bhargavastra, and the weapon released tens of thousands of blazing arrows.
…. to be continued