I think, exceedingly difficult. Do thou now,
O Radha’s son, contending with me in the sight
of the Kurus, make good what thou hadst said before
in disregard of myself. Thou who hadst witnessed
Panchala’s princess outraged by villains in the
midst of the court, do thou now reap the fruit of that
act of thine. Fettered by the bonds of morality
before, I desisted from vengeance then. Behold
now, O son of Radha, the fruit of that wrath in conflict
at hand. O wicked wight, we have suffered much
misery in that forest for full twelve; years.
Reap thou today the fruits of our concentrated vengeance.
Come, O Karna, cope with me in battle. Let these
thy Kaurava warriors witness the conflict. Hearing
these words, Karna replied, ’Do thou, O Partha,
accomplish in deed what thou sayst in words. The
world knows that thy words verily exceed thy deed.
That thou hadst foreborne formerly was owing to thy
inability to do anything. If we witness thy prowess
even now, we may acknowledge its truth. If thy
past forbearance was due to thy having been bound
by the bonds of morality, truly thou art equally bound
now although thou regardest thyself free. Having
as thou sayst, passed thy exile in the woods in strict
accordance with thy pledge and being therefore weakened
by practising an ascetic course of life, how canst
thou desire a combat with me now! O Pritha’s
son, if Sakra himself fight on thy side, still I would
feel no anxiety in putting forth my prowess.
Thy wish, O son of Kunti, is about to be gratified.
Do thou fight with me now, and behold my strength.’
Hearing this, Arjuna said, ’Even now, O Radha’s
son, thou hadst fled from battle with me, and it is
for this that thou livest although thy younger brother
hath been slain. What other person, save thee,
having beheld his younger brother slain in battle
would himself fly from the field, and boast as thou
dost, amid good and true men?’
“Vaisampayana continued, ’Having said
these words unto Karna, the invincible Vibhatsu rushed
at him and charged a volley, of shafts capable of
penetrating through a coat of mail. But that mighty
car-warrior, Karna, received with great alacrity that
discharge with an arrowy shower of his own, heavy
as the downpour of the clouds. And that fierce
volley of arrows covered all sides and severally pierced
the steeds and arms and leathern fences of the combatants.
And incapable of putting up with that assault, Arjuna
cut off the strings of Karna’s quiver by means
of a straight and sharp arrow. Thereupon, taking
out from his quiver another arrow, Karna pierced the
Pandava in the hand at which the latter’s hold
of the bow was loosened. And then the mighty-armed
Partha cut off Karna’s bow into fragments.
And Karna replied by hurling a dart at his adversary,
but Arjuna cut it off by means of his arrows.
And then the warriors that followed the son of Radha
rushed in crowds at Arjuna, but Partha sent them all
to the abode of Yama by means of arrows shot from the