The eighth of the Mahabharata, the Great Hindu Epic’s 18 books, is called the Karna Parva, or the Book of Karna. This parva has 96 chapters and about 5000 shlokas and is not subdivided into other parvas. It includes in-depth accounts of the 16th and 17th days of the 18-day conflict, when Karna was the Kauravas army’s supreme commander. The Karna Parva is summarised in detail as follows.
Karna Parva Mahabharat Overview
Dhritarashtra was devastated by the defeat of both Bhishma and Drona when Sanjaya told him of Dronacharya’s passing. He was saddened at the passing of the legendary archer Drona. All of the Kuru army’s soldiers began to abandon the battlefield after Drona was slain since the loss of their seasoned senior leader had left them deeply disheartened. To take control of the situation and formulate new strategies, Duryodhana went back to the camp. By delivering them speeches about their responsibilities as warriors, he inspired his soldiers. He then decided on Karna to be the leader of the Kaurava army since he was the best fighter on their side and had many qualities ingrained in him. He was a fierce young man who was driven to vanquish the Pandava brothers. He didn’t have any sympathies for the Pandava brothers like Bhishma and Drona did. He had a strong animosity for Arjuna and desired to defeat him in a fair, one-on-one fight. Duryodhana believed that Karna was the ideal candidate for commander because to all of these traits and his tenacious attitude.
On the sixteenth day, Karna came up with a fresh plan of attack for the Kaurava army. Even the Pandavas recognised that the lone remaining fighter for the Kauravas was none other than Karna. Karna became the focal point of the Pandavas’ plan because they understood that if they could beat him, they would win the battle. Karna, the legendary archer, began precisely decimating the Pandava army.
The duel between Arjuna and Ashwatthama is one of the key confrontations in this Parva. He confronted Arjuna and launched arrows and heavenly weapons in his direction. With his incisive arrows, Arjuna stopped these weapons from striking him and his charioteer. Ashwatthama’s chariot and horses were destroyed by arrows fired by Arjuna. Ashwatthama was forced to flee the observation deck as a result, and he never attempted to challenge Arjuna again.
The conflict between Karna and Nakula is another outstanding conflict in this Parva. Despite the fact that Karna was a considerably superior, more intelligent, and more accomplished fighter than Nakula, Nakula battled with guts and resolve. Both of them shot arrows at one another, severely decimating the other’s armies in the process. They viciously assaulted and annihilated each other’s troops during their conflict. However, after a fierce struggle, Karna killed Nakula’s charioteer and destroyed his bow. After remembering his pledge to Kunti that he would only murder one of the five Pandava brothers—Arjuna—Karna refrained from killing Nakula.
After Karna seized control of the Kaurava army, the conflict between the two armies grew even more fierce and terrible. This Parva also includes a significant fight between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana. A number of arrows were thrown between them.
Yudhishthira was also targeted by Duryodhana’s unique weapon Sakti, yet he was easily able to defeat it. After that, Yudhishthira shot him with a hail of arrows, causing Duryodhana to lose consciousness. He recovered though, and he used a mace to attack him once again. Once more rebuffing him, Yudhishthira assaulted his chariot. Duryodhana collapsed once again after falling from his chariot. Then, he was returned to the camp.
The Pandavas army, notably Arjuna, annihilated everyone with his arrows even under Karna’s command. The Pandavas sensed that they were getting closer to victory at the conclusion of the sixteenth day. After observing the devastation caused by Arjuna at the conclusion of the 16th day, Karna made the decision and swore to Duryodhana that he would kill him the following day under whatever circumstances.
Bhima’s victory against the Kauravas army signalled the start of the war’s seventeenth day. Karna even took a respite in his chariot in a remote location as a result of Bhima’s victory in their duel. While Karna would be killed, Arjuna promised Yudhishthira that he would lead his side to victory.
The second-to-last day of the conflict saw several close combat encounters between the various troops. Dussasana and Bhima had a bloody combat, and Bhima won. He was also murdered by Bhima in retaliation for the bad actions he had committed in the past.
The conflict between Vrushasena, Karna’s son, and the Pandava brothers was one of the significant battles that day. Vruhasena shot arrows at all the brothers, including Krishna. In a fit of rage, Dhanunjaya shot 10 arrows at Vruhasena, killing him and dismembering several of his body parts. The sight of his slain son devastated Karna, who became greater more determined to murder Arjuna.
Then Arjuna and Karna fought in one of Hindu mythology’s most brutal wars. In the history of ancient Hindu mythology, the epic conflict continues to be the one that is most frequently discussed. In the whole Kuru army, only Karna possessed the abilities and tenacity enough to give Arjuna a battle to remember. Karna had gotten the better of them during the struggle. Karna’s chariot wheel slid into the ground as a result of their battle. Karna, however, battled bravely even in his tipped chariot. During one of the battle’s exchanges, Arjuna passed out. Karna took advantage of this opening to exit his chariot and destroy the wheel. At this precise time, Arjuna sprang up and grabbed the chance to assault Karna. Using his Anjalika Astra, he hacked off Karna’s head to murder him. As a result, Arjuna killed Arjuna unjustly after Krishna informed him that Karna and Duryodhana had broken enough laws and that Karna no longer had the right to fight as a warrior. Because of this, Arjuna murdered Karna voluntarily while he was oblivious to the fight. The most important incident in the Mahabharata is Karna’s passing since it guarantees the Kaurava army’s loss.
You can read other chapters from the table below. Click on the respective link to understand about the summary of that book/section of Mahabharata.
Mahabharat All Chapters Summary Guide
|1) Adi Parva||10) Sauptika Parva|
|2) Sabha Parva||11) Stri Parva|
|3) Vana Parva||12) Shanti Parva|
|4) Virata Parva||13) Anushasana Parva|
|5) Udhyoga Parva||14) Ashvamedha Parva|
|6) Bhishma Parva||15) Ashramavasika Parva|
|7) Drona Parva||16) Mausala Parva|
|8) Karna Parva||17) Mahaprasthanika Parva|
|9) Shalya Parva||18) Swaraga Arohana Parva|