Chapter 37

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Beholding the mighty Karna take up his station fromdesire of battle, the Kauravas, filled with delight, uttered loud shoutsfrom every side. With the beat of cymbals and the sound of drums, withthe whizz of diverse kinds of arrows and the roars of combatants enduedwith great activity, all thy troops proceeded to battle, making deathonly the point at which to stop. When Karna set out and the warriors ofthe Kuru army were filled with joy, the Earth, O king, trembled and madea loud noise. The seven great planets including the Sun seemed to proceedagainst one another (for combat). Meteoric showers became noticeable andall the quarters seemed ablaze. Thunders fell from a cloudless sky, andfierce winds began to blow. Animals and birds in larger numbers kept thyarmy to their right, foreboding great calamities. After Karna had setout, his steeds tumbled down on the Earth. A frightful shower of bonesfell from the sky. The weapons (of the Kuru warriors) seemed to beablaze; their standards trembled; and their animals, O monarch, shedcopious tears. These and many other terrible and awful portents appearedfor the destruction of the Kurus. Stupefied by destiny, none of themregarded those portents at all. Beholding the Suta’s son setting out, allthe rulers of men (in the Kaurava army) cried victory to him. TheKauravas regarded the Pandavas to have been already vanquished. Thatslayer of hostile heroes, that foremost of car-warriors, viz.,Vaikartana, as he stayed on his car recollecting the death of Bhishma andDrona, blazed up with splendour like the Sun or fire. Reflecting on themighty feats of Partha, and burning with self-conceit and pride, andblazing with wrath and breathing long and hard, he addressed Shalya andsaid these words: “When stationed on my car and armed with my bow, Iwould not take fright at Indra himself armed with the thunder and excitedwith wrath. Beholding those great heroes headed by Bhishma lying on thefield of battle, do not feel any anxiety. Seeing even the faultlessBhishma and Drona, equal unto Indra and Vishnu, those crushers offoremost of cars and steeds and elephants, those heroes that wereunslayable, slain by the foe, I do not still experience any fear in thisbattle. Acquainted with mighty weapons, and himself the foremost ofbrahmanas, why, indeed, did not the preceptor slay in battle all foes,seeing them destroy the mightiest of our kings with their drivers andelephants and cars? Remembering that Drona in great battle, I tell youtruly, listen to me, ye Kurus, there is none amongst you, save myself,that is competent to bear the advancing Arjuna, that warrior whoresembles Death himself in his fiercest form. In Drona were the skillsattendant on practice, and might, and bravery, and the highest of weaponsand policy. When even that high-souled one had to succumb to Death, Iregard all the others (of our army), strengthless and on the point ofdeath. In this world I do not find anything, even on reflection, to bestable, in consequence of the inevitable connection of acts. When thepreceptor himself is dead, who then will indulge in the certain beliefthat he will live till even today’s sun-rise? When the preceptor was thusslain by the enemy in battle, without doubt weapons, ordinary andcelestial, and might and prowess, and achievements and wise policy, arenot able to compass the happiness of man. In energy Drona was equal tofire or the Sun, in prowess he resembled Vishnu or Purandara; in policyhe was equal to Brihaspati or Usana; irresistible as he was, weaponscould not yet protect him. When (our) women and children are weeping anduttering loud wails, when the valour of the Dhartarashtras has beendefeated, I know it, O Shalya, that it is I who am to fight. Proceedtherefore, against the army of our enemies. Who else, save myself, willbe able to bear those troops amongst whom are stationed the royal son ofPandu firm in truth, and Bhimasena and Arjuna, and Satyaki, and thetwins? Therefore, O ruler of the Madras, proceed quickly, in this battle,towards the Pancalas, the Pandavas, and the Srinjayas. Encountering themin battle, either I will slay them, or myself to Yama’s presence by thepath taken by Drona. Do not think, O Shalya, that I will not go into thevery midst of those heroes. These intestine dissensions cannot betolerated by me. (Without seeking to tolerate them) I will even follow inthe wake of Drona. Wise or ignorant, when his period is run out,everybody is equally regarded by the Destroyer; no one can escape, Olearned one, for this, I will proceed against the Parthas. I am unable totransgress my destiny. The son of Vichitravirya’s son is, O king, alwaysengaged in doing me good. For the accomplishment of his purpose, I willcast away my life-breaths that are so dear, and this body that is sodifficult of being cast away. This foremost of cars covered withtigerskins, with axle producing no sound equipped with a golden seatendued with trivenu made of silver, and unto which are yoked theseforemost of steeds, Rama gave unto me. Behold, also, O Shalya, thesebeautiful bows, these standards, these maces, these shafts of fierceforms, this blazing sword, this mighty weapon, this white conch of fierceand loud blare. Riding upon this car decked with banners, its wheelsproducing a rattle deep as that of the thunder, having white steeds yokedunto it, and adorned with excellent quivers, I will, putting forth mymight, slay in battle that bull among car-warriors, Arjuna. If Deathhimself, that universal consumer, were to protect with vigilance the sonof Pandu in battle, I would still encounter him in fight and either slayhim or myself go to Yama’s presence following Bhishma. If Yama, Varuna,Kuvera, and Vasava, with all their followers coming hither, unitedlyprotect the son of Pandu in this great battle, what need of many words, Iwill still vanquish him with them.'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Hearing these words of the bragging Karna who wasexceedingly delighted with the prospect of battle, the valiant king ofthe Madras, deriding him, laughed aloud, and gave him the following replyfor checking him.

“‘Shalya said, “Forbear, forbear, O Karna, from such bragging. Thou artin transports of delight and sayest what thou shouldst never say. Whereis Dhananjaya, that foremost of men, and where again, art thou, O lowestof men? Who else, save Arjuna, could take away the younger sister of(Keshava) that foremost of all persons, having forcibly agitated the homeof the Yadus that was protected by the younger brother of Indra and thatresembled heaven itself that is guarded by the chief of celestials? Whatman save Arjuna who is endued with prowess that is equal to the prowessof the chief of the celestials, could on the occasion of the disputecaused by the slaughter of an animal, summon Bhava the Lord of Lords, theCreator of the worlds, to battle? For the sake of honouring Agni, Jayahad vanquished asuras and gods and great snakes and men and birds andpishacas and yakshas and rakshasas with his shafts and gave unto that godthe food he had desired. Dost thou remember, O Karna, the occasion when,slaughtering those foes in large numbers with his excellent shafts enduedwith the effulgence of the Sun, Phalguna liberated Dhritarashtra’s sonhimself among the Kurus? Dost thou remember the occasion when, thyselfhaving been the first to fly away, the quarrelsome sons of Dhritarashtrawere liberated by the Pandavas after the latter had defeated thoserangers of the skies (the gandharvas headed by Citraratha)? On theoccasion also of the seizure of (Virata’s) kine, the Kauravas, swellingwith numbers in respect of both men and animals, and having the preceptorand the preceptor’s son and Bhishma amongst them, were vanquished by thatforemost of men. Why, O son of Suta, didst thou not vanquish Arjuna then?For thy destruction another excellent battle has now presented itself. Ifthou dost not fly away from fear of thy enemy, know O Suta’s son, that assoon as thou goest to battle thou wilt be slain.'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘When the ruler of the Madras was most heartilyengaged in addressing these harsh speeches to Karna and uttering thesepraises of the latter’s foe, that scorcher of foes, viz., the commanderof the Kuru army, excited with rage, said these words unto the Madra king.

“‘Karna said, “Let it be so, let it be so. Why, however, dost thouindulge in Arjuna’s praises? A battle is about to ensue between myselfand him. If he vanquishes me in fight, then will these thy praises beregarded as well-uttered.'”

“Sanjaya continued, ‘The ruler of the Madras said, “Let it be so,” andgave no reply. When Karna, from desire of fight, addressed Shalya,saying, “Proceed,” then that great carwarrior, having white steeds yokedunto his vehicle and owning Shalya as his charioteer, proceeded againsthis foes, slaying large numbers in battle along his way, like the Sundestroying the darkness. Indeed, on that car covered with tiger-skins andhaving white steeds yoked unto it, Karna proceeded with a cheerful heart,and beholding the army of the Pandavas, speedily enquired afterDhananjaya.'”

Chapter 36
Chapter 38
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