OM! HAVING BOWED down unto Narayan, and unto that most exalted of malebeings, viz., Nara, and unto the goddess Saraswati also, must the wordJaya be uttered.
“Janamejaya said, ‘Hearing that his sire Devavrata of unrivalled vigourand sturdiness, and might, energy and prowess, had been slain bySikhandin, the prince of the Panchalas, what, indeed, O regenerate Rishi,did the powerful king Dhritarashtra with eyes bathed in tears do? Oillustrious one, his son (Duryodhana) wished for sovereignty aftervanquishing those mighty bowmen, viz., the sons of Panda, through Bhishmaand Drona and other great car-warriors. Tell me, O thou that hast wealthof asceticism, all that he, of Kura’s race, did after that chief of allbowmen had been slain.’
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing that his sire had been slain, kingDhritarashtra of Kura’s race filled with anxiety and grief, obtained nopeace of mind. And while he, of Kura’s race, was thus continuallybrooding over that sorrow, Gavalgana’s son of pure soul once more came tohim. Then, O monarch, Dhritarashtra, the son of Amvika, addressedSanjaya, who had that night come back from the camp to the city calledafter the elephant. With a heart rendered exceedingly cheerless inconsequence of his having heard of Bhishma’s fall, and desirous of thevictory of his sons, he indulged in these lamentations in great distress.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘After having wept for the high-souled Bhishma ofterrible prowess, what, O son, did the Kauravas, urged by fate, next do?Indeed, when that high-souled and invincible hero was slain, what did theKauravas do, sunk as they were in an ocean of grief? Indeed, thatswelling and highly efficient host of the high-souled Pandavas, would, OSanjaya, excite the keenest fears of even the three worlds. Tell me,therefore, O Sanjaya, what the (assembled) kings did after Devavrata,that bull of Kura’s race, had fallen.’
“Sanjaya said, ‘Listen, O king, with undivided attention, to me as Irecite what thy sons did after Devavrata had been killed in battle. WhenBhishma, O monarch, of prowess incapable of being baffled, was slain, thywarriors as also the Pandavas both reflected by themselves (on thesituation). Reflecting on the duties of the Kshatriya order, they werefilled with wonder and joy; but acting according to those duties of theirown order, they all bowed to that high-souled warrior. Then those tigersamong men contrived for Bhishma of immeasurable prowess a bed with apillow made of straight shafts. And having made arrangements forBhishma’s protection, they addressed one another (in pleasant converse).Then bidding Ganga’s son their farewell and walking round him, andlooking at one another with eyes red in anger, those Kshatriyas, urged byfate, once more went out against one another for battle. Then by theblare of trumpets and the beat of drums, the divisions of thy army asalso those of the foe, marched out. After the fall of Ganga’s son, Oking, when the best part of the day had passed away, yielding to theinfluence of wrath, with hearts afflicted by fate, and disregarding thewords, worthy of acceptance, of the high-souled Bhishma, those foremostones of Bharata’s race went out with great speed, armed with weapons. Inconsequence of thy folly and of thy son’s and of the slaughter ofSantanu’s son, the Kauravas with all the kings seemed to be summoned byDeath himself. The Kurus, deprived of Devavrata, were filled with greatanxiety, and resembled a herd of goats and sheep without a herdsman, in aforest abounding with beasts of prey. Indeed, after the fall of thatforemost one of Bharata’s race, the Kuru host looked like the firmamentdivested of stars, or like the sky without the atmosphere, or like theearth with blasted crops, or like an oration disfigured by badgrammar, or like the Asura host of old after Vali had been smittendown, or like a beautiful damsel deprived of husband, or like a riverwhose waters have been dried up, or like a roe deprived of her mate andencompassed in the woods by wolves; or like a spacious mountain cave withits lion killed by a Sarabha. Indeed, O chief of the Bharatas, theBharata host, on the fall of Ganga’s son, became like a frail boat on thebosom of the ocean, tossed by a tempest blowing from every side.Exceedingly afflicted by the mighty and heroic Pandavas of sure aim, theKaurava host, with its steeds, car-warriors and elephants much troubled,became exceedingly distressed, helpless, and panic-stricken. And thefrightened kings and the common soldiers, no longer relying upon oneanother, of that army, deprived of Devavrata, seemed to sink into thenethermost region of the world. Then the Kauravas remembered Karna, whoindeed, was equal to Devavrata himself. All hearts turned to thatforemost of all wielders of arms, that one resembling a guest resplendent(with learning and ascetic austerities). And all hearts turned to him, asthe heart of a man in distress turneth to a friend capable of relievingthat distress. And, O Bharata, the kings then cried out saying, Karna!Karna! The son of Radha, our friend, the son of a Suta, that one who isever prepared to lay down his life in battle! Endued with great fame,Karna, with his followers and friends, did not fight for these ten days.O, summon him soon!’ The mighty-armed hero, in the presence of all theKshatriyas, during the mention of valiant and mighty car-warriors, was byBhishma classed as an Ardha-ratha, although that bull among men is equalto two Maharathas! Even thus was he classed during the counting of Rathasand Atirathas, he that is the foremost (of all Rathas and Atirathas), hethat is respected by all heroes, he that would venture to fight even withYama, Kuvera, Varuna, and Indra. Through anger caused by this, O king, hehad said unto Ganga’s son these words: ‘As long as thou livest, O thou ofKuru’s race, I will never fight! if thou, however, succeedest in slayingthe sons of Pandu in great battle, I shall, O Kaurava, with Duryodhana’spermission, retire into the woods. If, on the other hand, thou, OBhishma, slain by the Pandavas, attainest to heaven, I shall then, on asingle car, slay all of them, whom thou regardest as great car-warriors.’Having said this, mighty-armed Karna of great fame, with thy son’sapproval, did not fight for the first ten days. Bhishma, of great prowessin battle and of immeasurable might, slew, O Bharata, a very large numberof warriors belonging to Yudhishthira’s army. When, however, that hero ofsure aim and great energy was slain, thy sons thought of Karna, likepersons desirous of crossing a river thinking, of a boat. Thy warriorsand thy sons, together with all the kings, cried out, saying, Karna! Andthey all said, ‘Even this is the time for the display of his prowess.’Our hearts are turned to that Karna who derived his knowledge of weaponsfrom Jamadagni’s son, and whose prowess is incapable of being resisted!He, indeed, O king, is competent to save us from great dangers, likeGovinda always saving the celestials from great dangers.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Unto Sanjaya who was thus repeatedly applaudingKarna, Dhritarashtra sighing like a snake, said those words.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘[I understand] that the hearts of all of you areturned towards Vikartana’s son Karna, and that all of you, saw that sonof Radha, that hero of the Suta caste, ever prepared to lay down his lifein battle. I hope that hero of prowess incapable of being baffled, didnot falsify the expectations of Duryodhana and his brothers, all of whomwere then afflicted with grief and fear, and desirous of being relievedfrom their danger. When Bhishma, that refuge of Kauravas, was slain,could Karna, that foremost of bowmen, succeed in filling up the gapcaused? Filling up that gap, could Karna fill the foe with fear? Could healso crown with fruit the hopes, entertained by my sons, of victory?'”