Chapter 10

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘After the fall of the mighty bowman Drona on that day, OBharata, and after the purpose had been baffled of that mightycar-warriors, viz., the son of Drona, and after the vasty army, Omonarch, of the Kauravas had fled away, Partha, having arrayed his owntroops, stayed on the field with his brothers. Perceiving him staying onthe field, thy son, O bull of Bharata’s race, seeing his own army runningaway, rallied them with great courage. Having caused his divisions totake up their stand, thy son, O Bharata, relying on the might of hisarms, fought for a long time with his foes, the Pandavas, who, havinggained their end, were filled with joy and had been struggling for hourstogether. On the approach there of the evening twilight, he caused thetroops to be withdrawn. Having caused the withdrawal of their troops, andhaving entered their own encampment, the Kauravas held with one another aconsultation about their own welfare, seated like the celestials oncostly couches overlaid with rich coverlets, and on excellent seats andluxurious beds. Then king Duryodhana, addressing those mighty bowmen inagreeable and highly sweet expression, spoke the following words suitedto the occasion.

“‘Duryodhana said, “Ye foremost of intelligent men, declare all of you,without delay, your opinions! Under these circumstances, ye kings, whatis necessary and what is still more necessary?'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘When that prince of men had spoken those words,those lions among men, seated on their thrones, made various gesturesexpressive of their desire of battle. Observing the indications of thosewho were all desirous of pouring their lives as libations on thebattle-fire, and beholding the monarch’s face radiant as morning Sun, thepreceptor’s son endued with intelligence and accomplished in speech, saidthese words: “Enthusiasm, opportunity, skill and policy,–these are themeans declared by the learned, to be capable of accomplishing all ends.They are, however, dependent on destiny. Those foremost of men we had onour side, equal unto the celestials, mighty car-warriors all, possessedof policy, devoted, accomplished, and loyal, have been slain. For allthat we should not despair of victory. If all these means be properlyapplied, even destiny may be made propitious. All of us, therefore, OBharata, shall install Karna, that foremost of men, endued besides withevery accomplishment, in the command of the army! Making Karna ourcommander, we shall crush our foes. This Karna is endued with greatmight; he is a hero, accomplished in weapons, and incapable of defeat inbattle. Irresistible as Yama himself, he is quite competent to vanquishour foes in battle!” Hearing these words from the preceptor’s son, Oking, at that time, built great hopes on Karna. Cherishing the hope inhis heart that after the fall of Bhishma and Drona, Karna would vanquishthe Pandavas, and comforted (by it), O Bharata, Duryodhana then, filledwith joy at having heard those words of Ashvatthama, steadying his mindand relying on the might of his arms, said unto Radha’s son, O monarch,these words that were fraught with affection and regard, and that weretrue, delightful, and beneficial to himself: “O Karna, I know thyprowess, and the great friendship thou bearest to me! For all that, Omighty-armed one, I shall address the certain words that are for my good!Having heard them, O hero, do that which may appear desirable to thee!Thou art endued with great wisdom, and thou art even my supreme refuge!Those two Atirathas that were my Generals, viz., Bhishma and Drona, havebeen slain. Be thou my General, thou that art mightier than they! Both ofthose great bowmen were advanced in years. They were, besides, partial toDhananjaya. Still both those heroes were respected by me, O son of Radha,at thy word! Viewing his relationship of grandsire unto them, the sons ofPandu, O sire, were spared in dreadful battle by Bhishma for tensuccessive days! Thyself also having laid aside thy weapons, the valiantBhishma was slain in great battle by Phalguni with Shikhandi before him!After that great bowman had fallen and betaken himself to his bed ofarrows, it was at thy word, O tiger among men, that Drona was made ourleader! By him also were the sons of Pritha spared, in consequence, as Ithink, of their relationship unto him of pupils. That old man also hasbeen slain by Dhrishtadyumna more speedily. I do not see, even onreflection, another warrior equal to thee in battle,–thee, that is,whose prowess could not be measured by even those two foremost ofwarriors that have been slain in the fight! Without doubt, thou alonetoday art competent to win victory for us! Before, in the middle, andlater on, thou hast accordingly acted for our good. Therefore, like aleader, it behoveth thee, in this battle, to bear the burden thyself.Thyself install thy own self in the Generalship. Like the celestialgeneralissimo, the lord Skanda of unfading prowess, (supporting thecelestial army), do thou support this Dhartarashtra host! Like Mahendraslaying the Danavas, destroy thou all the throngs of our foes! Beholdingthee staying in battle, the Pandavas, those mighty car-warriors, will,with the Pancalas, fly away from battle, like the Danavas at sight ofVishnu. Do thou, therefore lead this vast force! When thou shalt standresolved on the field, the Pandavas of wicked hearts, the Pancalas, andthe Srinjayas, will all fly away with their friends. As the risen Sun,scorching everything by his energy, destroyeth the thick gloom, even sodo thou destroy our foes!'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Strong became that hope, O king, in the heart of thyson, viz., that where Bhishma and Drona had been slain, Karna wouldvanquish the Pandavas. Cherishing that hope within his heart, he saidunto Karna, “O Suta’s son, Partha never wishes to fight, standing beforethee!” Karna said, “I have, O son of Gandhari, said before in thypresence, even these words, vanquish all the Pandavas with their sons andJanardana!’ I shall become thy General. In this there is no doubt.Tranquilise thyself, O monarch I Consider the Pandavas to be alreadyvanquished!'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Thus addressed, O monarch, king Duryodhana thenstood up with all the monarchs, like He of a hundred sacrifices with thegods, for honouring Karna with the command of the army, like thecelestials for honouring Skanda. Then, O monarch, all the kings headed byDuryodhana, desirous of victory, installed Karna in the command,according to the rites enjoined by the ordinance. With golden and earthenjars filled to the brim with water and sanctified with mantras, withtusks of elephants and horns of rhinoceroses and mighty bulls, with othervessels decked with jewels and gems, with also fragrant herbs and plants,and with other articles collected in abundance, Karna, seated at his easeon a seat made of udumvara wood and overlaid with silken cloth, wasinvested with the command, according to the rites in the scriptures.Brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, and respectable shudras, praised thathigh-souled one after he was bathed on that excellent seat. Thusinstalled in the command, O king, that slayer of foes, the son of Radha,caused, by presents of Niskas and kine and other wealth, many foremost ofbrahmanas to utter blessings on him. “Vanquish the Parthas with Govindaand all their followers,” even these were the words that the eulogistsand the brahmanas said (unto him), O bull among men! (And they also said)”Slay the Parthas and the Pancalas, O son of Radha, for our victory, likerisen Sun ever destroying Darkness with his fierce rays! The son of Panduwith Keshava are not able to even look at the shafts shot by thee, likeowls unable to gaze at the burning rays of the Sun! The Parthas with thePancalas are incapable of standing before thee armed with weapons, likethe danavas before Indra in battle!” Installed in the command, Radha’sson of incomparable splendour looked resplendent in beauty and radiancelike a second Sun. Having installed the son of Radha (thus) in thecommand of the army, thy son, urged on by Death, regarded himself as onewho had his purpose accomplished. That chastiser of foes, Karna, also, Oking, having obtained the command, ordered the troops to be arrayed, atthe rise of the Sun. Surrounded by thy sons, O Bharata, Karna lookedresplendent like Skanda surrounded by the celestials, in the battlehaving Saraka for its evil root.'”

Chapter 9
Chapter 11
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