The Great War - Day 17

The seventeenth day of war dawns and Duryodhana comes to Shalya, early in the morning. He says that he has come to ask a favor. Shalya tells him that he can consider it given. Duryodhana explains to Shalya that Karna has everything that Arjuna has except one, which is a sarathy of Krishna's calibre. Duryodhana is asked by an impatient Shalya to come to the point. 'I beg you, Shalya, That you be Karna's sarathy today.'
'How dare you' roars Shalya,'You ask a Kshatriya to be a suta to a sutaputra. You have already made a sutaputra a Senapati of the Kuru army. You ask me this, as if Karna is my superior. Why ? I can easily kill your Karna, Arjuna, Krishna all put together. You have insulted me Duryodhana and I cannot fight anymore for you.'
Shalya turns to walk away, but Duryodhana grasps his hand and begs him with teary eyes. 'Shalya, you will not kill your nephews and Arjuna must die for winning this war. Of us all, only Karna can kill him and he can do that, only if has a better sarathy than the king of Dwaraka which is you. I am not at all suggesting that Karna is your superior. Great Kshatriya, I merely ask you take Karna's reins as Brahma did when Shiva flew to burn the Tripura.'
Shalya glows at the fulsome praise. Shalya embraces Duryodhana, 'You have spoken from your heart Kaurava, and for this, I shall drive Karna's chariot. But there is a condition that I must impose. If I am to be Karna's sarathy, I must have the liberty to speak to him as I please. I must be free to censure him, if I find any weakness in him. He must not mind it.' By then word had gone out to Karna's camp, and Karna walked into Shalya's tent. He bows deeply to Shalya, and tells him that he is honored.

Karna and Shalya get into the chariot. Both look like Surya and Agni riding the Pushpaka Vimana. Duryodhana cries to his friend, 'Today you will accomplish what Bheeshma and Drona could not. Come back to me, covered in glory. This will be finest day of our lives.' Karna shouts back, ' For you, I will always to my best. And remember, Karna always did his best for you. The rest was mere fate playing her part.' Shalya flicks his reins and they are off at the enemy.

As Shalya and Karna take leave, Duryodhana stares at the wake. He always felt that Karna was no sutaputra. He may have called himself Radheya and Adiratha's son, but he could have been adopted. Bhargava, a Trikaalgni could never have parted with his weapons, if he knew Karna was a sutaputra. Perhaps, Karna was born to a princess, out of wedlock, and she had abandoned him. How else could one explain the shine and of course, his armor. That was no suta's feat. He knew that if Karna was not a Kshatriya, then none of them were.

Karna shouts to his sarathy to fly at Arjuna. Shalya remembers his promise to Yudhishtra that he would dishearten the Kauravas while he fought for them, most of all, he would discourage Karna. Now was his chance. He keeps taunting Karna. Karna tells him that he knows his job and that Shalya should not be talking in favor of his nephews. Karna deploys his vyuhas in no definite pattern. Acorss the field Arjuna and Dhristadyumna form their legions in a vyuha to subdue the one Karna forms.

Conches blaze and the armies run at each other. It is the seventeeth day of war and the roar of the soldiers is nothing compared to the first day. The forces have vastly diminished and tired as well. The remains of the Trigarta army, charges at Arjuna again. He makes short work of that dispirited legion killing almost all. Karna is an army on his own. No soldier who meets him in battle escapes with life. At his chariot wheels ride his sons, as bright as their father and equally formidable. Sushena and Satyasena are beside him while Vrishasena guards his back. Dhristadyumna, Satyaki, Bheema, Shikhandi, Nakula and Sahadeva all combine to hold up Karna and his sons, But today, Shalya is Karna's sarathy. The Kaurava senapati is uncontainable. Bheema breaks through and cuts Satyasena's chariot and cuts off the lad's head with a shaft. Bheema injures Vrishasena and Sushena as well. Karna comes down as hell upon the Pandava forces.

Seeing Karna raze his forces, Yudhishtra decides to ride at him. His eyes flaming he comes right in front of Karna. Of all, he fears this enemy the most. The mere sight of him, makes the Pandava's blood run cold. Yudhishtra tells Karna that he wants to save Arjuna the trouble of killing him. Karna smiles sarcastically. At first Yudhishtra fights like a deva, injuring Karna, but suddenly Karna raises his level of archery to a level that Yudhishtra cannot withstand him at all. Karna quickly kills Chandradeva and Dandahara who stood guart at Dharma's rear. Satyaki rushes to Yudhishtra's aid, but Karna pushes back the Yadava and faces Yudhishtra again.

Before Yudhishtra has time to think, his bow is dissected and his armor has been take off his chest. Short range arrows prick his body and cover it in blood, but the wounds are never fatal. A javelin cast by Dharma at the sutaputra is brought down with ease by Karna. Four more javelins also meet with the same result. Karna's smile does not leave his face. Kaunteya cuts down Yudhishtra's flagstaff and Karna has him at his mercy. The target of his next arrow is Yudhishtra's head and the bowstring has already stretched to his ears, but he does not shoot the arrow. He lowers his weapon and rides closer, and rebukes Dharma, 'I spare your life, Yudhishtra. Next time pick some one of your talent'

Bheema sees the shaming of Yudhishtra and his eyes turn red. He smashes his way through the Kaurava army. Suryaputra is unable to face his assault and faints in his chariot. Shalya warns his nephew that it was not right to kill an enemy when he was not conscious and turns him away. After Karna regains consciousness, he asks Shalya to take him to Bheema once again, but Shalya tells him that his target was Arjuna and not Bheema. After seeing Bheema attack Karna in such a ferocious manner, Duryodhana sends twenty of hs brothers to counter Bheema. They shoot deadly arrows at Bheema, but Bheema was like the fire, which fireflies enter. Within minutes he kills 6 of them and scatters the other. 700 elephants now surround Bheema to trample him to death, but for a man with the strength of 4000 elephants, he maces them all to dead. Shakuni then sends hundreds of chariots and thousands of horsemen to send Bheema to Yama's abode, but Bheema kills them all. Now madness sets into Bheema. He is suddenly everywhere. Rivers of blood flow in all directions. The bodies of men and animals are all mangled together in the mess that Bheema leaves behind him.

Meanwhile at the other end, Arjuna is busy destroying the remaining of the the Samsaptakas. The Samsaptakas out of desperation began to crowd at Arjuna's chariot and hack away at the wheels, and hurt the horses. Arjuna releases a Nagastra that subdues the nearby warriors and then frees his chariot. Then Arjuna kills thousands and thousands of Sampsaptaka warriors. Susharman is terrified and shoots a deadly arrow at Arjuna. Just as the Kaurava forces began celebrating that Arjuna was dead, Arjuna unleashes the Aindrastra. With millions of weapons and arrows shooting forth from it, 17000 Samsaptakas were killed in seconds. Arjuna continued his massacre of the Samsaptakas.

A little away, Yudhishtra fights Duryodhana. Nakula and Sahadeva assist Yudhishtra in fighting Duryodhana. But Karna comes to his friend's rescue and hurts Yudhishtra so very much that Dharma actually faints in his chariot. Sahadeva and Nakula, quickly take Yudhishtra out of the battlefield. Shayla, in order to protect Yudhishtra instructs Karna, not to fight Dharma but Phalguna. Arjuna meanwhile is fighting Ashwathama and failing to see Yudhihstra's flag, asks Bheema about him. Bheema tells him that Karna had hurt Yudhishtra badly and that he had gone to the tent to rest. Arjuna immediately requests Krishna to take him to the place where Yudhishtra was resting. Upon seeing them Yudhishtra is of the opinion that Arjuna had already slain Karna and sings praises of Arjuna. He asks Arjuna to detail, how he had killed Radheya.

Listening to this praise from his brother, Arjuna clarifies that he had only defeated Drona's son and the Samsaptakas and that Karna was still killing hundreds and thousands of Pandava warriors with his Vijaya, the bow given to him by his guru Bhargava. Yudhishtra is disturbed and angry.He accuses Arjuna of being cowardly and unfit for battle. He says to Arjuna that he had abandoned Bheema on the battlefront and run away , citing his elder brother as an excuse. At one point where Bheema was trying to hold the war, Radheya was killing men by the thousands, then shouldn't Arjuna be helping his brother fight the Kauravas. Had Arjuna told Yudhishtra that he was afraid of fighting Karna, then maybe, He would have made other arrangements. Of what use did Arjuna have of Gandeeva ? He could give that to Krishna and become Krishna's sarathy and Krishna might then be able to kill Karna and save the war for the Pandavas.

Arjuna is highly agitated but Krishna pacifies him. Arjuna then promises to see his brother only after he has killed Karna and then leaves for battle once again. He sees Bheema unleashing his anger on the Kaurava forces. He joins forces with the vayuputra. Krishna then tells him that Karna was fighting more ferociously elsewhere. Krishna then steers his chariot towards the place where Karna was fighting.

It appeared as if Karna was waiting for this day for a long time. Karna was playing the part of an Adiratha perfectly. He was fighting Satyaki, Dhrishtadyumna, The sons of Draupadi, Shikandi, Nakula and Sahadeva, all simultaneously. Satyaki kills Karna's son with a fine arrow. Enraged, Karna kills Dhristadyumna's son. Not only does he contain the Pandava forces, but also causing a great slaughter of the army.

Meanwhile Dushasana meets Bheema on the battlefield. He shatters Bheema's bow and pierces his with sharp arrows. Bheema is enraged. He remembers all that has happened in the past. He says, 'Dushasana, today, I shall fullfill my vow.' The vayuputra throws a mace at Dushasana. It is thrown with such force that all the arrows that Dushansana shoots at it, are unable to stop it. It hits him on the head with such force that he is thrown away 90 feet away from his chariot. Seeing his armor, crown and hair displaced, Bheema is suddenly aware of what happened that day in the great hall. Dushasana is now lying semi-conscious on the ground. The Kaurava warriors are looking at this gory scene. Duryodhana is watching with bated breath. Ring after ring of soldiers and warriors surround the scene of battle. Bheema shouts to Duryodhana and the others, 'I have your Dushasana in my hands like a sparrow in eagle's talons. Is there anybody who wants a piece of him ? The man who touched my Draupadi with filthy hands ? You touched her sanctified hair, did you not Dushasana ? Do you know that she has not braided her hair for all these years for want of your blood ? And today, she shall braid her hair.' He quickly opens a gash on Dushasana's chest, 'With your blood.'

Bheema shouts to Duryodhana, 'Look at your brother Dushasana. He is at my mercy and look at the way he is whimpering. Do you see the terror in his eyes ? He is begging you to save him, but I know you can't ? Do you understand this predicament, Kuru ? The same that my Draupadi felt when you disrobed her in the great hall ? All around her, but none to help her.'

No one moves. The armies are watching. Quick as lightning ,Bheema cuts off Dushasana right hand. His screams rent the air, but there are no other sounds. Bheema holds up Dushasana's bejeweled hand,and says ,'This is the hand that dared touched Panchali's hair. Watch this Duryodhana !!!'

With the gash that he has already opened, Bheema sits on Dushasana's chest and using his fingers tears open Dushasana's chest. Dushasana screams his last. The blood is spurting out in a fountain. It reddens Bheema's face and hands. He tastes the blood and then roars victoriously. The Kauravas stand rooted in their chariots. He then shouts to Panchali, 'Come Krishna, I have avenged you. Come and wash your hair in this wretch's blood.'

Draupadi comes running out into the field. With a strange glee on her face, she bathes her black loose tresses in Dushasana's gushing blood. She then embraces Bheema and leaves the field. Krishna notices something in her eyes that nobody notices. She smiles wickedly at Krishna as she walks past and Krishna acknowledges it with a slight nod of his head.

Duryodhana turns away his chariot, unable to see the spectacle. Karna breaks down. Shalya tells him, 'Radheya, this is War. These things happen. Find Arjuna and kill him. That is perhaps the only way you can console Duryodhana.'

Ten sons of Dhritarashtra surround Vayuputra. The second son of Pandu however cuts off all their heads. Duryodhana faints in his chariot and Kripa and Ashwathama try to pacify him. Vrishasena, son of Karna, attacks Nakula with renewed vigor. Nakula's horses, chariot and his two thousand horsemen are all gone in an instant and Nakula is left stranded on the battlefield, if it was not for Bheema and his chariot.

Seeing this Arjuna tells Krishna to take the chariot closer to the son of Karna. Arjuna quickly cuts off his head and arms with sharp arrows and Karna is left sobbing. Karna rushes towards Arjuna in an attempt to kill Phalguna. Duryodhana is watching this. He is joined by Ashwathama. Ashwathama tells Duryodhana that he still has time, to stop the war.'My father has died for this. Bheeshma has fallen for it. Dushasana and countless of your brothers have died for this Duryodhana. Stop it, before Karna is also killed.'

'Pandavas are men of peace. They will not reject a peace offer now. Arjuna and Krishna will embrace me. Arjuna and Karna will both live as friends, as Shiromani's of the Kuru empire. Yudhishtra hates this slaughter anyway. Send me to the Pandavas now, and I will make peace with them, Honorable Peace.'

Duryodhana smiles grimly at his Acharya's son. But he tells him its too late. Fate has already taken things into her hand,and they had come too far to go back. The war had to fought until the last man on one side was dead.

Karna raises the Vijaya and twangs the bowstring. Arjuna does the same with his Gandeeva. There are shouts of 'Arjuna Jaya','Karna Jaya' everywhere. War has come to a standstill, atleast around the two Deva Putras. The heavens themselves divide themselves into two camps. Indra and Surya. Rishis, Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Nagas, Pitris, Apsaras, Vidyadharas and demigods, all are looking at this event with great interest. Lord of the Universe on one side, and the master of the Ashwahrudaya on the other. One trained by Drona, the Other by none other than Bhargava. One with Gandeeva. One with Vijaya. One with the blessings of his brothers and mother. One with three curses dangling above his head.

Quick as lightning, Arjuna invokes the Agneyastra and it begins scorching Karna's troops with fire. Karna immediately fires the Varunastra to cool down the flames and counter the astra. Thick smoke billows and darkness quickly surrounds the chariots.Arjuna quickly summons the Vayavastra that blows away all the smoke and a scented breeze wafts through Kurukshetra.

Arjuna now raises his archery a notch higher. The Aindrastra. As he chants the mantra for the astra, strange light fills up Kurukshetra and the arrow hangs in the air. Thousands of arrows and other weapons whistle down at Karna and the army behind him. Hundreds of soldiers are killed in an instant. Enraged Karna puts the Bharagavastra to test. It was given to him by his guru, instructed to be put to use, only when an equal was fighting the war. The silver shaft quickly neutralises the Aindrastra and starts decimating the Pandava forces. Duryodhana is pleased to see this. Bheema taunts Partha, that maybe he should fight Karna. Krishna goads him to think about the war, and not think about its consequences. He urges him to use the Brahmastra. The Brahmastra counters the Bhargavastra and they are nullified.

Arjuna does not fight as he wanted to fight. Krishna tells him, that they will never be able to kill Karna, if Arjuna fought like this. Narayana then tells Nara, 'Don't you remember Asura Dambodhbhava ? He has come again. He is standing in front of you, as Karna. He has come across ten lives to have revenge. He is more powerful and ancient than you understand. Wakeup, and kill Karna.'

Arjuna sees a vision and then he sees another life, another dream, and the deep reasons why Karna confronts him on Kurukshetra today. He realises the purport of Krishna's words. Arjuna now wakes up. He takes his archery, another notch higher. Faced with perhaps his only real rival, his archery becomes a mystic thing. So absorbed is the Pandava, that he is hardly aware of what he is doing. The Gandeeva has become a part of him. Bow and Bowman are one !!

Arjuna goes all out on Karna. Suddenly there are Arjunas everywhere. The Kaurava soldiers are running helter-skelter. Karna has no inexhaustible quivers. He does not have Madhusoodhana as his charioteer. He is hidden in a perfect darkness of arrows. Arjuna hides the face of the sun. Perfect irony for the son of Sun.

Karna realises that the moment of truth has come. He longs for Indra's shakti, but its gone, forever. As the last of his powerful weapons get exhausted, Karna decides to try the Nagastra. Chanting the arcane mantra, which perhaps less than 5 people knew on earth, Karna aims the astra at Arjuna's neck. Seeing this, Shalya, aware of the adamant nature of Karna, tries to warn him.

He tells Karna that the arrow should be aimed at the heart and not at neck. Karna, out of vanity, lectures Shalya, that the true archer does not change his mark. Fitting the arrow to the bowstring, Karna stetches the string to his ears and then shouts to Arjuna, 'Have a good look around you Arjuna, this is the last day of your life'.

A collective gasp goes up from everybody. From heavens as well as soldiers gathered around. Karna is certain his aim is correct. Shalya is sure that his nephew is dead. Arjuna himself sees a fatalistic arrow flying towards his neck. Arjuna sees Kaal, in the form of serpent flying towards him.

Karna shoots the Nagastra without considering the charioteer of Partha. Krishna sees the Nagastra, even before Karna shoots it, and when the arrow is shot, he jerks on his reins. He forces his gandharva horses to go down on their knees. The Nagastra is still flying at the same height, true to the archer's aim, but the target is a hand's length lower !!

The arrow whisks away the jeweled kirita that Arjuna wears, leaving with without a scratch. Wild cheering breaks out among the Pandavas. The howl from Bheema turns into a yell of joy. Yudhishtra is visibly relieved. Arjuna smiles gratefully at the Avatar, who does not show any reaction, except for an indication that the war must go on.

From the astra which Karna aimed at Arjuna, out comes a serpent invisble to others. It reaches Karna and speaks to him. It tells him, that it had entered his Nagastra subtly to kill Arjuna. 'I am Aswasena. Long time ago, when Arjuna scorched the Khandava, my mother was in it. When she was trying to escape, he killed her. But I, who was in her womb, survived. That day, I swore I would kill Arjuna. Set me on another arrow Karna, and shoot me at the Pandava. This time, there will be no mistake.' Karna is angry. He tells Aswasena that he does not need a snake's assistance in killing Arjuna. Rather he would face a hundred Arjuna than to face the ignominy of killing Arjuna with the help of a snake. Disappointed, Aswasena tries to kill Arjuna, but Arjuna kills him by shredding him into six pieces.

Karna and Arjuna resume their duel. More intense. Karna's time is running out. His death glides nearer.Fate and Earth conspire to fulfill the first curse on Suryaputra. The ground turns soft, and his chariot wheel sinks into the yielding earth. Shalya's horses are askew. Karna cannot fight as he possibly is. In a flash, a scene flashes before Karna, A wind swept beach. The corpse of a cow. The brahmin. And then the curse echoes in his mind, once again, 'When you face your greatest enemy, your chariot wheel will be mired in the earth.'

A shiver runs through Radheya's spine. He fights more furiously than ever. He has forgotten his mantras all of a sudden. Despair stokes him. He knows that he has one last astra which might still finish Phalguna. With great difficulty, Karna tries to remembers the mantra for Brahmastra, and fits the golden arrow to the bowstring to shoot it at Arjuna. But Karna realises the Mantra would never come to him. Instead a face lingers in his memory. The angry eyes. Bhargava !! His curse !! 'When you most need an astra to save your life, you will forget the mantras I have taught you.'

Arjuna's arrows keep coming from all directions. Arjuna cuts Karna's bowstring again and again. Tears well up in Karna's eyes. His whole life flashes past in front of the teary veil. Arjuna has already invoked the Aindrastra. At the very last moment, Karna remembers the mantra for Brahmastra and the two astras consume each other. Atleast for the time being. Arjuna has already thought of the Raudrastra to be the perfect weapon for killing Karna. Karna jumps down from his chariot, and with super-human strength, puts back the chariot wheel on what he thinks to be solid ground. It promptly sinks again. He asks Arjuna to wait, till he lifted the wheel out. It was not dharma to shoot when the opponent was helpless.

A wild laugh stems from Krishna. 'Look who is asking for Dharma, King of Anga. Where was your Dharma when Dushasana, Duryodhana and yourself, ordered Draupadi to be brought into the assembly naked ? Where was your Dharma, when Yudhishtra was defeated unfairly at dice ? Where was your Dharma, when Bheema was given a poisoned cake by Duryodhana ? Where was your Dharma when you told Draupadi to choose another husband as her five husbands have sunk into hell ? Where was your Dharma, when Pandavas exiled for thirteen years in the forest ? I heard, six maharathis killed Abhimanyu when he was alone and without a weapon in his hands. And the one who broke the bowstring from behind is now asking for Dharma ? From the father of Ahimanyu ?'

The words are laced with truth. Karna leaves the wheel and turns to fight. Arjuna does not summon the Raudrastra. He summons the Agneyastra at Radheya. Karna burns in it. Karna tries to summon the Varunastra to quell the fire. He succeeds, but the efforts havd drained him out, physically and mentally. The quenching of fire with water resulted in smoke. In this veil of smoke, Karna sets about getting his chariot back on solid ground. He hardly has the strength to lift his chariot. His mind is numb. He realizes that he cannot remember another mantra. Visions overwhelm Sutaputra. He sees it all so vividly. The illuminations tires him. Gritting his teeth, Karna shoots a heavy wooden arrow at Arjuna. Caught totally unawares, The arrow hits the Pandava's chest. The Gandeeva slips from Arjuna's hands.

Arjuna is hit but not dead. Karna tries hard to get his chariot out. Shalya is equally helpless. His horses are struggling with the wounds that Arjuna's arrows have caused. Arjuna reels in his chariot, But he is not as hurt as badly as Karna was. Quickly Krishna revives him, and instructs him, 'Cut off Karna's head Partha..'

Arjuna hesitates. The Dharma of War do not permit him to do so. 'This war will not be over till Karna is killed. You know it better than me Arjuna. Karna has come this far. His curses weigh heavily on him Phalguna. Kill him now, and be glorious for ever.'

Arjuna stands lost. In a moment, as fleeting as eternity, Arjuna sees the life of Karna across his eyes. The swagger into the academy challenging him for a duel, the golden armor that he wore, the look on his face when Draupadi refused to marry a suta putra, the glow on his face when he was crowned the King of Anga, his happy times with Duryodhana, and then his valor on the battlefield as the Senapati of the Kuru army. Was this man really the greatest archer ever ? Was he really that noble as people claimed him to be ? Was this the greatest friend who ever lived ? Was this the man, with whom he was always compared with ? Was this the man, because of whom Arjuna was always insecure ?

As more and more questions enter Arjuna's mind and he stands in a dilemma whether or not to shoot the arrow, Narayana speaks, 'Nara, do not hesitate. Hesitation is for the weak minded. Karna is already dead. So is Duryodhana. So is Shalya, et. al. I have already killed all of them. It is Karna's fate to die on the battlefield in this manner. This is the penultimate step in the true purpose of our Avatar.'

Arjuna snaps back into reality, only to find Krishna, urging him to kill Karna. 'Kill him Partha, this is the only chance that you have got. Do not forget Panchali's insult. Do not forget the deceitful game of dice. Do not forget the insults at Virata during Agyaatvaas. Do not forget the taunt of five villages. Its now or never !!!'

Thus inspired by Krishna, Arjuna quickly mounts Anjalika on his Gandeeva. Kaal was just seconds away from the actual Kaunteya. With a deadly aim and without a second thought, Arjuna shoots the arrow. For the devatas, kinkaras, Gandharvas, apsaras and the onlookers of this war on Bhooloka, it appears as if the arrow takes ages to reach Karna, as if allowing him some more moments of life, out of pity on him. The Anjalika severs Karna's head, and the life force enters the sun. Arjuna quickly brings down the banner of Karna, thus signifying the end of a great hero.

The Pandavas erupt in joy. The demigods shower flowers on Arjuna. High noon of the seventeenth day of battle at Kurukshetra claims Karna's life. Karna's body lies like a lotus on the earth and his body gleams like gold. The sun himself mourns for his son.

Shalya drives his chariot back to the Kaurava camp. Both its banner and the warrior have fallen. Shalya finds Duryodhana outside his tent in a terrible state. No words come from his lips. The heart that bore the death of his brothers and his sons so bravely, cannot believe his friend is dead. Shalya tries to console him and says that Karna fought like no man had ever did on Kurukshetra. He tells Duryodhana that only fate could have brought him down. Shalya is proud to be the sarathy of a man, who has fought so bravely. The greatest archer in the world had left them. Listening to Shalya makes Duryodhana calm. But he still struggles to speak. Shalya asks Duryodhana the permission to stop fighting, in honor of Karna. The sun sets over Kurukshetra and Karna lies on the battlefield. His body glows as if the golden armor was still on him.

When Karna is killed, Arjuna and Krishna both blow their conches, and all the Pandavas follow suit. The note on Devdutta and Panchajanya is not a joyful one. Arjuna feels as if he had died. He feels a part of him has gone forever. So many years he waited to meet this man in battle and now that battle was over. He may have been the best archer in the world, but it was now only Phalguna. Only Phalguna was the foremost archer in the world.

There is nothing to take away from the Pandavas. The last warrior who stood between them and victory has fallen. Thus the Pandavas celebrate the death of a great hero, ignorant of the fact that he was actually their elder brother. Karna had granted life to four of the Pandavas, and granted his life to the fifth brother. Not being able to give up his affectionate relationship with Duryodhana, Karna perishes on the battlefield with Duryodhana's brothers.

After the demise of Karna, Duryodhana is now in a quandry. The Kaurava soldiers would be hunted like deer. That night, Duryodhana calls his greatest warriors and asks them for suggestions. Ashwathama suggests that Shalya is superior to them in terms of Fame, Descent, Prowess and Achievements and that he deserves to the commander of the Kaurava army. Ashwathama says that he will protect the Kauravas as Kartikeya protects the gods.

Shalya agrees to this proposition and again, at midnight, another Senapati is consecrated.

Thursday, September 2, 2010 by Hari
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