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Chapter 124

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

“Sanjaya said,–‘After Santanu’s son Bhishma, O monarch, had becomesilent, all those rulers of earth, there present, then returned to theirrespective quarters. Hearing of Bhishma’s slaughter that bull among men,viz., Radha’s son (Karna), partially inspired with fear quickly camethere. He beheld that illustrious hero lying on his bed of reeds. ThenVrisha (Karna) endued with great glory, with voice choked in tears,approaching that hero lying with eyes closed, fell at his feet. And hesaid,–O chief of the Kurus, I am Radha’s son, who while before thy eyes,was everywhere looked upon by thee with hate!–Hearing these words, theaged chief of the Kurus, the son of Ganga, whose eyes were covered withfilm slowly raising his eyelids, and causing the guards to be removed,and seeing the place deserted by all, embraced Karna with one arm, like asire embracing his son, and said these words with great affection:–Come,come! Thou art an opponent of mine who always challengest comparison withme! If thou hadst not come to me, without doubt, it would not have beenwell with thee! Thou art Kunti’s son, not Radha’s! Nor is Adhiratha thyfather! O thou of mighty arms, I heard all this about thee from Narada asalso from Krishna-Dwaipayana! Without doubt, all this is true! I tellthee truly, O son, that I bear thee no malice! It was only for abatingthy energy that I used to say such harsh words to thee! O thou ofexcellent vows without any reason thou speakest ill of all the Pandavas!Sinfully didst thou come into the world. It is for this that thy hearthath been such. Through pride, and owning also to thy companionship withthe low, thy heart hateth even persons of merit! It is for this that Ispoke such harsh words about thee in the Kuru camp! I know thy prowess inbattle, which can with difficulty be borne on earth by foes! I know alsothy regard for Brahmanas. thy courage, and thy great attachment toalms-giving! O thou that resemblest a very god, amongst men there is nonelike thee! For fear of intestine dissensions I always spoke harsh wordsabout thee. In bowmanship, in aiming weapon, in lightness of hand and instrength of weapons, thou art equal to Phalguni himself, or thehigh-souled Krishna! O Karna, proceeding to the city of Kasi, alone withthy bow, thou hadst crushed the kings in battle for procuring a bride forthe Kuru king! The mighty and invincible king Jarasandha also, everboastful of his prowess in battle, could not become thy match in fight!Thou art devoted to Brahmanas; thou always fightest fairly! In energy andstrength, thou art equal to a child of the celestials and certainly muchsuperior to men. The wrath I cherished against thee is gone. Destiny isincapable of being avoided by exertion. O slayer of foes, the heroic sonsof Pandu are thy uterine brothers! If thou wishest to do what isagreeable to me, unite with them, O thou of mighty arms! O son of Surya,let these hostilities end with me! Let all the kings of Earth be to-dayfreed from danger!–

“‘Karna said I know this, O thou of mighty arms! All this without doubt,is (as thou sayest)! As thou tellest me, O, Bhishma, I am Kunti’s son,and not the son of a Suta! I was, however, abandoned by Kunti, and I havebeen reared by a Suta. Having (so long) enjoyed the wealth of Duryodhana,I dare not falsify it now. Like Vasudeva’s son who is firmly resolved forthe sake of the Pandavas, I also, O thou that makest profuse presents toBrahmanas, am prepared to cast away my possessions, my body itself, mychildren, and my wife, for Duryodhana’s sake! Death from disease, O thouof Kuru’s race, doth not become a Kshatriya! Relying upon Suyodhana Ihave always offended the Pandavas! This affairs is destined to take itscourse. It is incapable of being prevented. Who was there that wouldventure to overcome Destiny by exertion? Various omens indicating thedestruction of the Earth. O grandsire, were noticed by thee and declaredin the assembly. It is well known to me that the son of Pandu, andVasudeva, are incapable of being conquered by other men. Even with themwe venture to fight! I will vanquish the son of Pandu in battle! Eventhis is my firm resolve! I am not capable, of casting off this fierceanimosity (that I cherish against the Pandavas)! With a cheerful heart,and keeping the duties of my order before my eye, I will contend againstDhananjaya. Firmly resolved that I am on battle, grant me thy permission,O hero! I will fight. Even this is my wish. It behoveth thee to forgiveme also any harsh words that I may have at any time uttered against theeor any act that I may have done against thee from anger orinconsiderateness!–”

“‘Bhishma said,–If, indeed, thou art unable to cast off this fierceanimosity, I permit thee, O Karna! Fight, moved by the desire of heaven!Without anger and without vindictiveness, serve thou the king accordingto thy power and according to thy courage and observant of the conduct ofthe righteous! Have then my permission, O Karna! Obtain thou that whichthou seekest! Through Dhananjaya thou wilt obtain all those regions(hereafter) which are capable of being had by fulfilling the duties of aKshatriya! Freed from pride, and relying on thy (own) might and energy,engage in battle, since a Kshatriya cannot have a (source of) greaterhappiness than a righteous battle. For a long while I made great effortsfor bringing about peace! But I succeeded not, O Karna, in the task!Truly do I say this unto thee!–”

“‘Sanjaya continued,–‘After the son of Ganga had said this, Radha’s son(Karna) having saluted Bhishma and obtained his forgiveness, got up onhis car and proceeded towards (the quarters of) thy son.’

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