91.THE DEATH OF KARNA
WHEN Drona died, the princes of the
Kaurava army installed Karna as
Generalissimo. Karna stood up in his
gorgeous war chariot driven by Salya. The
dauntless confidence of his bearing and
his great renown as a warrior heartened
the Kauravas. The battle again began.
Readers of the stars were consulted and
the Pandavas chose the propitious hour for
grim battle. Arjuna led the attack on
Karna, supported by Bhimasena
immediately behind his chariot.
Duhsasana made a concentrated attack on
Bhima and sent a shower of arrows at
him. Bhima chuckled and said to himself.
"I have this wretch now safe in my hands.
I shall today redeem my promise to
Draupadi. Too long has my oath waited
As Bhima thus bethought himself of what
Duhsasana had done to Draupadi, the
anger within him blazed up uncontrollably
and throwing down all his weapons, he
jumped from his chariot and leapt upon
Duhsasana like a tiger on its prey, hurled
him down and broke his limbs.
"Wicked beast, is this the wretched hand
that held Draupadi by the hair? Here, I
tear out the root from your body. If there
be any here wishing to help you, let him
come forward and try!"
Glaring hatefully at Duryodhana as he
roared this challenge, Bhimasena tore
Duhsasana's arm out and threw the
bleeding limb on the battlefield.
And then he fulfilled the terrible oath he
had taken thirteen years before. He sucked
and drank the blood from his enemy's
body like a beast of prey and danced on
the bloody field, mad with passion. "I
have done it!" he roared. "The oath I
swore against this great sinner has been
redeemed. It only remains to redeem my
oath as regards Duryodhana. The
sacrificial fire is ready. Let that victim
The scene made everyone shudder. Even
great Karna was shaken as he saw Bhima
in this ecstasy of wrath. "Do not flinch,"
said Salya to Karna. "It does not befit you
to show any sign that may be mistaken for
fear. When Duryodhana stands quivering
in despair; it is not right that you also
should lose heart.