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Chapter 2

Mahabharata English - DRONA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Then Adhiratha’s son of the Suta caste, knowing thatBhishma had been slain, became desirous of rescuing, like a brother, thyson’s army from the distress into which it had fallen, and which thenresembled a boat sunk in the fathomless ocean. [Indeed], O king, havingheard that that mighty car-warrior and foremost of men, that hero ofunfading glory, viz., Santanu’s son, had been thrown down (from his car),that grinder of foes, that foremost of all wielders of bows, viz., Karna,soon came (to the field of battle). When the best of car-warriors, viz.,Bhishma, was slain by the foe, Karna speedily came there, desirous ofrescuing the Kuru host which resembled a boat sunk in the ocean, like asire desirous of rescuing his children.’

“And Karna (addressing the soldiers) said, ‘That Bhishma who possessedfirmness, intelligence, prowess, vigour, truth, self-restraint, and allthe virtues of a hero, as also celestial weapons, and humidity, andmodesty, agreeable speech, and freedom from malice, that ever-gratefulBhishma, that slayer of the foes of Brahmanas, in whom were theseattributes as permanently as Lakshmi in the moon, alas, when thatBhishma, that slayer of hostile heroes, hath received his quietus, Iregard all other heroes as already slain. In consequence of the eternalconnection (of all things) with work, nothing exists in this world thatis imperishable. When Bhisma of high vows hath been slain, who is therethat would take upon himself to say with certitude that tomorrow’s sunwill rise? When he that was endued with prowess equal to that of theVasus, he that was born of the energy of the Vasus, when he, that rulerof the earth, hath once more been united with the Vasus, grieve ye,therefore, for your possessions and children for this earth and theKurus, and this host.'[4]

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Upon the fall of that boon-giving hero of greatmight, that lord of the world, viz., Santanu’s son of great energy, andupon the (consequent) defeat of the Bharatas, Karna, with cheerless heartand eyes filled with tears, began to console (the Dhartarashtras).Hearing these words of Radha’s son, thy sons, O monarch, and thy troops,began to wail aloud and shed copious tears of grief corresponding withthe loudness of those wails.[5] When, however, the dreadful battle oncemore took place and the Kaurava divisions, urged on by the Kings, oncemore set up loud shouts, that bull among mighty car-warriors, viz.,Karna, then addressed the great car-warriors (of the Kaurava army) andsaid words which caused them great delight: In this transient worldeverything is continually flitting (towards the jaws of Death). Thinkingof this, I regard everything as ephemeral. When, however, all of you werehere, how could Bhishma, that bull among the Kurus, immovable as a hill,be thrown down from his car? When that mighty car-warrior, viz., the sonof Santanu, hath been overthrown, who even now lieth on the ground likethe Sun himself dropped (from the firmament), the Kuru kings are scarcelycompetent to bear Dhananjaya, like trees incapable of bearing themountain-wind. I shall, however, now protect, as that high-souled onedid, this helpless Kuru host of cheerless mien, whose foremost warriorshave already been slain by the foe. Let this burden now devolve on me. Isee that this universe is transient, since that foremost of heroes hathbeen slain in battle. Why shall I then cherish any fear of battle?Coursing, therefore, on the field I shall despatch those bulls of Kuru’srace (viz., the Pandavas) to Yama’s abode by means of my straight shafts.Regarding fame as the highest object in the world, I shall slay them inbattle, or, slain by the foe, shall sleep on the field. Yudhishthira ispossessed of firmness, intelligence, virtue, and might. Vrikodara isequal to a hundred elephant in prowess, Arjuna is young and is the son ofthe chief of the celestials. The Pandava host, therefore, is not capableof being easily defeated by the very celestials. That force in which arethe twins, each resembling Yama himself, that force in which are Satyakiand the son of Devaki, that force is like the jaws of Death. No coward,approaching it, can come back with life. The wise oppose swelling asceticpower with ascetic austerities, so should force be opposed by force.Verily, my mind is firmly fixed upon opposing the foe and protecting myown party, O charioteer, I shall today certainly resist the might of theenemy, and vanquish him by repairing only to the field of battle. I willnot tolerate this intestine feud. When the troops are broken, he thatcometh (for aiding) in the endeavour to rally is a friend. I shall eitherachieve this righteous feat worthy of an honest man, or casting off mylife shall follow Bhishma. I shall either slay all my foes unitedtogether, or slain by them proceed to the regions reserved for heroes. Ocharioteer, I know that even this is what I should do, when women andchildren cry for help, or when Duryodhana’s prowess sustains a check.Therefore, I shall today conquer the foe. Reckless of my very life inthis terrible battle, I shall protect the Kurus and slay the sons ofPandu. Slaying in battle all my foes banded together, I shall bestow(undisputed) sovereignty on Dhritarashtra’s son. Let my armour,beautiful, made of gold, bright, and radiant with jewels and gems, bedonned; and my head-gear, of effulgence equal to that of the sun; and mybows and arrows that resemble fire, poison, or snakes. Let also sixteenquivers be tied (to my car) at the proper places, and let a number ofexcellent bows be procured. Let also shafts, and darts and heavy maces,and my conch, variegated with gold, be got ready. Bring also myvariegated, beautiful, and excellent standard, made of gold, possessed ofthe effulgence of the lotus, and bearing the device of the elephant’sgirth, cleaning it with a delicate cloth, and decking it with excellentgarlands and a network of wires.[6] O charioteer’s son, bring me also,with speed, some fleet steeds of the hue of tawny clouds, not lean, andbathed in water sanctified with mantras, and furnished with trappings ofbright gold. Bring me also, with speed, an excellent car decked withgarlands of gold, adorned gems, bright as the sun or the moon, furnishedwith every necessary, as also with weapons, and unto which are yokedexcellent animals. Bring me also a number of excellent bows of greattoughness, and a number of excellent bow-strings capable of smitting (thefoe), and some quivers, large and full of shafts and some coats of mailfor my body. Bring me also, with speed, O hero, every (auspicious)article needed for occasions of setting out (for battle), such as vesselsof brass and gold, full of curds. Let garlands of flowers be brought, andlet them be put on the (proper) limbs of my body. Let drums also bebeaten for victory! Go, O charioteer, quickly to the spot where thediadem-decked (Arjuna), and Vrikodara, and Dharma’s son (Yudhishthira),and the twins, are. Encountering them in battle, either I shall slaythem, or, being slain by them, my foes, I shall follow Bhishma. Arjuna,and Vasudeva, and Satyaki, and the Srinjayas, that force, I think, isincapable of being conquered by the kings. If all-destroying Deathhimself with unremitting vigilance, were to protect Kiritin, still shallI slay him, encountering him in battle, or repair myself to Yama’s abodeby Bhishma’s track. Verily, I say, that I will repair into the midst ofthose heroes. Those (kings) that are my allies are not provokers ofintestine feuds, or of weak attachment to me, or of unrighteous souls.’

“Sanjaya continued, Riding on an excellent and costly car of greatstrength, with an excellent pole, decked with gold, auspicious, furnishedwith a standard, and unto which were yoked excellent steeds that werefleet as the wind, Karna proceeded (to battle) for victory. Worshipped bythe foremost of Kuru car-warriors like Indra by the celestials, thathigh-souled and fierce bowman, endued with immeasurable energy like theSun himself, upon his car decked with gold and jewels and gems, furnishedwith an excellent standard, unto which were yoked excellent steeds, andwhose rattle resembled the roll of the clouds, proceeded, accompanied bya large force, to that field of battle where that bull of Bharata’s race(Bhishma) had paid his debt to nature. Of beautiful person, and enduedwith the splendour of fire, that great bowman and mighty car-warrior,viz., the son of Adhiratha, then mounted on his own beautiful carpossessed of the effulgence of fire, and shone like the lord of thecelestials himself riding on his celestial car.'”

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