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Chapter 88

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Meanwhile the welkin, filled with gods and Nagas andAsuras and Siddhas and Yakshas and with large bands of Gandharvas andRakshasas, and Asuras and regenerate Rishis and royal sages and birds ofexcellent feathers, assumed a wonderful aspect. All human beingsassembled there beheld those beings of wonderful aspect staying in thesky, and the sky itself resounded with the voice of musical instrumentsand song and adulatory hymns and laughter and dance, and diverse otherkinds of charming sounds. Then both the Kaurava and the Pandava warriors,filled with joy, and causing the earth and the ten points of the compassto resound with the voice of musical instruments, the blare of conchs,and leonine roars and the din of battle, began to slaughter their foes.Teeming with men and steeds and elephants and cars and weapons,unbearable to combatants in consequence of the falling of maces andswords and darts and rapiers, abounding in heroes, and crowded withlifeless bodies, the field of battle, crimsoned with gore, lookedexceedingly resplendent. Indeed, the battle between the Kurus and thePandavas then resembled that in days of yore between the gods and theAsuras. After that fierce and awful battle had commenced betweenDhananjaya and Adhiratha’s son, each of those two heroes, clad inexcellent mail, shrouded the ten points of the compass and the hostopposed to him with keen and straight arrows. A darkness having beencaused there with the arrows shot on that occasion, neither thy warriorsnor the enemy could any longer see anything. From fear all the warriorsthere sought the protection of either Karna or Arjuna like rays of lightspread out in the welkin converging towards either the sun or the moon.The two heroes then, each baffling the other’s weapons with his own, likethe east and the west winds encountering each other, looked exceedinglyresplendent like the sun and the moon risen after dispelling the darknesscaused by the clouds and covering the welkin. Each having encouraged histroops, saying, “Do not fly away!” the enemy and thy warriors stood theirground, encircling those two mighty car-warriors like the gods and theasuras standing around Vasava and Samvara. The two armies then greetedthose two best of men with the sounds of drums and other instruments andwith leonine roars, at which those two bulls among men looked beautifullike the sun and the moon greeted by roaring clouds gathered around. Eacharmed with a formidable bow drawn to a complete circle and looking like a(solar or lunar) corona, those two heroes of great splendour, shooting,in that battle thousands of arrows that constituted their rays, resembledtwo unbearable suns risen at the end of the yuga for burning the entireuniverse with its mobile and immobile creatures. Both invincible, bothcapable of exterminating foes, each desirous of slaying the other; andeach displaying his skill upon the other, those two warriors, Karna andthe son of Pandu, closed fearlessly with each other in that dreadfulbattle, like Indra and the asura Jambha. Invoking the mightiest ofweapons then, those two formidable bowmen began, with their terribleshafts, to slay innumerable men and steeds and elephants as also tostrike each other, O king! Afflicted once more by those two foremost ofmen, the troops of both the Kurus and the Pandavas, consisting ofelephants and foot-soldiers and horsemen and car-warriors, fled away onall sides like other animals in the forest when assailed by the lion.Then Duryodhana, and the chief of the Bhojas, and Subala’s son, andKripa, and the son of Sharadvata’s daughter, these five greatcar-warriors, assailed Dhananjaya and Keshava with shafts capable ofproducing great pain. Dhananjaya, however, with his shafts, cut off atthe same time the bows, the quivers, the steeds, the elephants, and thecars with their drivers, of those warriors, and mangling every one ofthem with excellent shafts, pierced the Suta’s son with a dozen arrows.Then a hundred cars, a hundred elephants, and a number of Saka andTukhara and Yavana horsemen, accompanied by some of the foremostcombatants among the Kambojas, quickly rushed against Arjuna from desireof slaying him. Speedily cutting off with the shafts and razor-headedarrows in his hands the excellent weapons of his foes, as also theirheads, and steeds, and elephants, and cars, Dhananjaya felled hiscontending enemies on the field. Then in the welkin blasts of celestialtrumpets were blown by the excellent gods. These were mingled with thepraises of Arjuna. Blown by gentle breezes, excellent floral showers,fragrant and auspicious, fell (upon Arjuna’s head). Beholding thatincident, which was witnessed by gods and men, all creatures, O king,were filled with wonder.’ Only thy son and the Suta’s son who were bothof the same opinion, felt neither pain nor wonder. Then Drona’s son,catching hold of Duryodhana’s hand, and adopting a soothing tone,addressed thy son, saying, “Be gratified, O Duryodhana! Make peace withthe Pandavas. There is no need for quarrel. Fie on war! The preceptor,conversant with the mightiest of weapons and like unto Brahma itself,hath been slain. Other bulls among men, headed by Bhishma, have also beenslain. As regards myself, I am unslayable, as also my maternal uncle.Rule the kingdom for ever, (sharing it) with the sons of Pandu. Dissuadedby me, Dhananjaya will abstain. Janardana also doth not desirehostilities. Yudhishthira is always engaged in the good of all creatures.Vrikodara is obedient to him. So also are the twins. Peace being madebetween thee and the Parthas, all creatures will be benefited, through,as it would seem, thy desire. Let the kings that are still alive go backto their homes. Let the troops abstain from hostilities. If thou dost notlisten to my words, O king, struck by foes in battle, thou wilt have toburn with grief. Thou hast beheld, as well as the universe, what has beenachieved by the single-handed Arjuna decked with diadem and garlands. Theslayer of Vala himself could not achieve its like, nor the Destroyer, norPrachetas, nor the illustrious king of the Yakshas. Dhananjaya, asregards his merits, is even much greater than that. He will nevertransgress whatever I say unto him. He will always follow thee. Be thougratified, O king, for the benefit of the universe. Thou always honourestme greatly. I, too, bear a great friendship for thee. It is for this thatI say so unto thee. I shall dissuade Karna also, provided thou artinclined to peace. Discerning persons say that there are four kinds offriends, viz., those that are naturally so, those that are made so byconciliation, those that become so through wealth, and lastly thosebrought under subjection by the exercise of power. All these elements areowned by thee with regard to the sons of Pandu. The Pandavas, O hero, arenaturally thy friends. Obtain them again as friends for certain byconciliation. If upon thyself being gratified, they agree to becomefriends, do thou, O king of kings, act in that way.” These beneficialwords having been said unto him by his friends, Duryodhana reflected forsome time. Drawing deep breaths, he then, with a cheerless heart, said,”It is as thou, O friend, hast said. Listen, however, to the words that Iwould say unto thee. The wicked-hearted Vrikodara, having slainDuhshasana like a tiger, spoke words that still dwell in my heart. Thoualso heardest the same. How then can there be peace? Arjuna again willnot be able to bear Karna in battle, like a tempest whose force isweakened when encountering the mighty mountains of Meru. Nor will thesons of Pritha have the least confidence in me, thinking of the many actsof forceful hostility (done by me towards them). Nor, O preceptor’s sonof unfading glory, doth it behove thee to say unto Karna now ‘Abstainfrom battle!’ Phalguna is exceedingly tired today. Karna will soon slayhim”. Having with humility said these words repeatedly unto thepreceptor’s son, thy son commanded his own troops, saying, “Armed witharrows, rush against and slay these foes. Why stand ye inactive?”‘”

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