Chapter 32

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Thy son then, O monarch, humbly approaching that mightycar-warrior, viz., the ruler of the Madras, addressed him, fromaffection, in these words, “O thou of true vows, O thou of great goodfortune, O enhancer of the sorrows of foes, O ruler of the Madras, O heroin battle, O thou that inspirest hostile troops with fear, thou hastheard, O foremost of speakers, how, for the sake of Karna who spoke untome, I myself am desirous of soliciting thee among all these lions ofkings. O thou of incomparable prowess, O king of the Madras, for thedestruction of the foe, I solicit thee today, with humility and bow ofthe head. Therefore, for the destruction of Partha and for my good, itbehoveth thee, O foremost of car-warriors, to accept, from love, theoffice of charioteer. With thee for his driver, the son of Radha willsubjugate my foes. There is none else for holding the reins of Karna’ssteeds, except thee, O thou of great good fortune, thou that art theequal of Vasudeva in battle. Protect Karna then by every means likeBrahma protecting Maheswara. Even as he of Vrishni’s race protects byevery means the son of Pandu in all dangers, do thou, O chief of theMadras, protect the son of Radha today. Bhishma, and Drona, and Kripa,and thyself and the valiant ruler of the Bhojas, and Shakuni the son ofSubala, and Drona’s son and myself, constituted the chief strength of ourarmy. Even thus, O lord of Earth, we had divided amongst ourselves thehostile army into portion for the share of each. The share that had beenallotted to Bhishma is now no more as also that which had been allottedto the high-souled Drona. Going even beyond their allotted shares, thosetwo slew my foes. Those two tigers among men, however, were old, and bothof them have been slain deceitfully. Having achieved the most difficultfeats, both of them, O sinless one, have departed hence to heaven.Similarly, many other tigers among men, of our army, slain by foes inbattle, have ascended to heaven, casting off their lives and having madegreat exertions to the best of their powers. This my host, therefore, Oking, the greater portion of which has been slaughtered, has been reducedto this state by the Parthas who were at first fewer than us. What shouldbe done for the present? Do that now, O lord of Earth, by which themighty and the high-souled sons of Kunti, of prowess incapable of beingbaffled, may be prevented from exterminating the remnant of my host. Olord, the Pandavas have in battle slain the bravest warriors of this myforce. The mighty-armed Karna alone is devoted to our good, as alsothyself, O tiger among men, that art the foremost of car-warriors in thewhole world. O Shalya, Karna wishes to contend in battle today withArjuna. On him, O ruler of the Madras, my hopes of victory are great.There is none else in the world (save thee) that can make so good aholder of the reins for Karna. As Krishna is the foremost of all holdersof reins for Partha in battle, even so, O king, be thou the foremost ofall holders of reins for Karna’s car. Accompanied and protected, O sire,by him in battle, the feats that Partha achieve are all before thee.Formerly, Arjuna had never slain his foes in battle in such a way. Nowhowever, his prowess has become great, united as he is with Krishna. Dayafter day, O ruler of the Madras, this vast Dhritarashtra force is seento be routed by Partha because he is united with Krishna. A portionremains of the share allotted to Karna and thyself, O thou of greatsplendour. Bear that share with Karna, and destroy it unitedly in battle.Even as Surya, uniting with Aruna, destroys the darkness, do thou,uniting with Karna, slay Partha in battle. Let the mighty car-warriors(of the enemy), fly away, beholding in battle those two warriors enduedwith the effulgence of the morning sun, viz., Karna and Shalya,resembling two Suns risen above the horizon. Even as darkness isdestroyed, O sire, at the sight of Surya and Aruna, even so let theKaunteyas (Pandavas) with the Pancalas and the Srinjayas perish beholdingthee and Karna. Karna is the foremost of car-warriors, and thou art theforemost of drivers. In the clash of battle, again there is none equal tothee. As he of Vrishni’s race protects the son of Pandu under allcircumstances, even so let thyself protect Vikarna’s son Karna in battle.With thee as his driver, Karna will become invincible, O king, in battleeven with the gods having Sakra at their head! What then need be saidabout the Pandavas? Do not doubt my words.'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Hearing these words of Duryodhana, Shalya, becamefilled with rage. Contracting his brow into three lines, and waving hisarms repeatedly, and rolling his large eyes red in wrath, that warrior ofmassive arms proud of his lineage and wealth and knowledge and strength,said these words:

“‘Shalya said “Thou insultest me, O son of Gandhari, or without doubtsuspectest me, since thou solicitest me, without hesitation, saying, ‘Actthou as a driver.’ Regarding Karna to be superior to ourselves, thouapplaudest him thus. I, however, do not regard the son of Radha as myequal in battle. Assign to me a much greater share, O lord of Earth.Destroying that in battle, I will return to the place I come from. Or, ifthou wishest, I will, O delighter of the Kurus, contend, single-handed,with the enemy. While engaged in consuming the foe, behold thou myprowess today. Brooding upon an insult, O thou of Kuru’s race, a personlike ourselves never engageth in my task. Do not have thy doubts aboutme. Never shouldst thou humiliate me in battle. Behold these two massivearms of mine, strong as the thunder. Behold also my excellent bow, andthese shafts that resemble snakes of virulent poison. Behold my car, untowhich are yoked excellent steeds endued with the speed of the wind.Behold also, O son of Gandhari, my mace decked with gold and twined withhempen chords. Filled with wrath, I can split the very Earth, scatter themountains, and dry up the oceans, with my own energy, O king. Knowing me,O monarch, to be so capable, of afflicting the foe, why dost thou appointme to the office of driver in battle for such a low-born person asAdhiratha’s son? It behoveth thee not, O king of kings, to set me to suchmean tasks! Being so superior, I cannot make up my mind to obey thecommands of a sinful person. He that causeth a superior person arrived ofhis own will and obedient from love, to yield to a sinful wight,certainly incurreth the sin of confusing the superior with the inferior.Brahman created the brahmanas from his mouth, and the kshatriyas from hisarms. He created the Vaishyas from his thighs and the Shudras from hisfeet. In consequence of the intermixture of those four orders, O Bharata,from those four have sprung particular classes, viz., those born of menof superior classes wedding women of classes inferior to themselves, andvice versa. The kshatriyas have been described to be protectors (of theother classes) acquirers of wealth and givers of the same. The brahmanashave been established on the Earth for the sake of favouring its peopleby assisting at sacrifices, by teaching and acceptance of pure gifts.Agriculture and tending of cattle and gift are the occupations of theVaishyas according to the scriptures. Shudras have been ordained to bethe servants of the brahmanas, the kshatriyas, and the vaishyas.Similarly, the Sutas are the servants of kshatriyas, and not latter theservants of the former. Listen to these my words, O sinless one. Asregards myself, I am one whose coronal locks have undergone the sacredbath. I am born in a race of royal sages. I am reckoned a greatcar-warrior. I deserve the worship and the praises that bards andeulogists render and sing. Being all this, O slayer of hostile troops, Icannot go to the extent of acting as the driver of the Suta’s son inbattle. I will never fight, undergoing an act of humiliation. I ask thypermission, O son of Gandhari, for returning home.”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Having said these words that tiger among men andornament of assemblies, viz., Shalya, filled with rage stood up quicklyand endeavoured to get away from that concourse of kings. Thy son,however, from affection and great regard, held the king, and addressedhim in these sweet and conciliatory words, that were capable ofaccomplishing every object, “Without doubt, O Shalya, it is even so asthou hast said. But I have a certain purpose in view. Listen to it, Oruler of men, Karna is not superior to thee, nor do I suspect thee, Oking. The royal chief of the Madras will never do that which is false.Those foremost of men that were thy ancestors always told the truth. Ithink it is for this that thou art called Artayani (the descendant ofthose that had truth for their refuge). And since, O giver of honours,thou art like a barbed arrow to thy foes, therefore art thou called bythe name of Shalya on earth. O thou that makest large present (tobrahmanas) at sacrifices, do thou accomplish all that which, O virtuousone, thou hadst previously said thou wouldst accomplish. Neither the sonof Radha nor myself am superior to thee in valour that I would selectthee as the driver of those foremost of steeds (that are yoked untoKarna’s car). As, however, O sire, Karna is superior to Dhananjaya inregard to many qualities, even so doth the world regard thee to besuperior to Vasudeva. Karna is certainly superior to Partha in the matterof weapons, O bull among men. Thou too art superior to Krishna inknowledge of steeds and might. Without doubt O ruler of the Madras, thyknowledge of horse is double that which the high-souled Vasudeva hath.”

“‘Shalya said, “Since, O son of Gandhari, thou describest me, O thou ofKuru’s race, in the midst of all these troops, to be superior to Devaki’sson, I am gratified with thee. I will become the driver of Radha’s son ofgreat fame while he will be engaged in battle with the foremost one ofPandu’s sons, as thou solicitest me. Let this, however, O hero, be myunderstanding with Vikartana’s son that I will in his presence utterwhatever speeches I desire.'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘O king, thy son, with Karna then, O Bharata,answered the prince of the Madras, O best of Bharata’s race, saying, “Sobe it.”‘”

Chapter 31
Chapter 33
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