Chapter 9

Mahabharata English - KARNA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘The world regards thee to be equal to Yayati the son ofNahusha, in beauty, birth, fame, asceticism, and learning! Indeed, inlearning, thou art, O king, like a great rishi, highly accomplished andcrowned with success! Summon thy fortitude! Do not yield to grief!’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘I think destiny is supreme, and exertion fruitlesssince even Karna, who was like a shala tree, hath been slain in battle!Having slaughtered Yudhishthira’s army and the large throngs of thePancala car-warriors, having scorched all the points of the compass bymeans of his arrowy showers, having stupefied the Parthas in battle likethe wielder of the thunderbolt stupefying the asuras, alas, how couldthat mighty car-warrior, slain by the foe, fall down on the earth like alarge tree uprooted by the tempest? Indeed, I do not behold the end of mysorrows like a drowning man unable to see the end of the ocean. Myanxieties are increasing, I do not desire to live, hearing of Karna’sdeath and Phalguni’s victory! Indeed O Sanjaya, I regard the slaughter ofKarna to be highly incredible. Without doubt, this hard heart of mine ismade of the essence of adamant, for it does not burst into a 1,000fragments upon hearing of the fall of Karna! Without doubt, the godsordained, before (my birth), a very long life for me, since soredistressed on hearing of the death of Karna, I do not die! Fie, OSanjaya, on this life of one that is destitute of friends. Brought today,O Sanjaya, to this wretched plight, miserably shall I have to live, offoolish understanding that I am, pitied by all! Having formerly been thehonoured of the whole world, how shall I, O Suta, live, overridden byfoes? From pain to greater pain and calamity, have I come, O Sanjaya, inconsequence of the fall of Bhishma and Drona and the high-souled Karna! Ido not see that anyone (of my army) will escape with life when the Suta’sson hath been slain in battle! He was the great raft, O Sanjaya, to mysons! That hero, having shot innumerable arrows, hath been slain inbattle! What use have I of life, without that bull among men? Withoutdoubt, the son of Adhiratha, afflicted with arrows, fell down from hiscar, like a mountain-peak riven by the fall of thunder! Without doubt,bathed in blood, he lieth, adorning the Earth, like an elephant slain byan infuriate prince of elephants! He who was the strength of theDhartarashtras, he who was an object of fear to the sons of Pandu, alas,he viz., Karna, that pride of all bowman, hath been slain by Arjuna! Hewas a hero, a mighty bowman, the dispeller of the fears of my sons! Alas,that hero, reft of life, lieth (on the earth), like mountain struck downby Indra! The fulfilment of Duryodhana’s wishes is even like locomotionto one that is lame, or the gratification of the poor man’s desire, orstray drops of water to one that is thirsty! Planned in one way, ourschemes end otherwise. Alas, destiny is all powerful, and time incapableof being transgressed! Was my son Duhshasana, O Suta, slain, while flyingaway from the field, humbled (to the dust), of cheerless soul, anddestitute of all manliness? O son, O Sanjaya, I hope he did no dastardlyact on that occasion? Did not that hero meet with his death like theother kshatriyas that have fallen? The foolish Duryodhana did not acceptYudhishthira’s constant advice, wholesome as medicine, against thepropriety of battle. Possessed of great renown, Partha, when begged fordrink by Bhishma then lying on his arrowy bed, pierced the surface of theearth! Beholding the jet of water caused by the son of Pandu, themighty-armed (Bhishma, addressing Duryodhana), said, “O sire, make peacewith the Pandavas! Hostilities ceasing, peace will be thine! Let the warbetween thyself and thy cousins end with me! Enjoy the earth inbrotherliness with the sons of Pandu!” Having disregarded those counsels,my child is certainly repenting now. That has now come to pass whichBhishma of great foresight said. As regards myself, O Sanjaya, I amdestitute of counsellors and reft of sons! In consequence of gambling, Iam fallen into great misery like a bird shorn of its wings! As childrenengaged in sport, O Sanjaya, having seized a bird and cut off its wings,merrily release it, but the creature cannot achieve locomotion inconsequence of its winglessness; even so have I become, like a bird shornof its wings! Weak, destitute of every resource, without kinsmen anddeprived of relatives and friends, cheerless and overpowered by enemies,to which point of the compass shall I go? He who vanquished all theKambojas and the Amvashthas with the Kaikeyas, that puissant one, who,having for the accomplishment of his purpose vanquished the Gandharas andthe Videhas in battle, subjugated the whole Earth for the sake ofDuryodhana’s aggrandisement, alas, he hath been vanquished by the heroicand strong Pandavas endued with mighty arms! Upon the slaughter, inbattle, of that mighty bowman, Karna, by the diadem-decked (Arjuna), tellme, O Sanjaya, who were these heroes that stayed (on the field)! I hopehe was not alone and abandoned (by friends) when slain in battle by thePandavas? Thou hast, O sire, told me, before this, how our brave warriorshave fallen. With his powerful shafts Shikhandi felled in battle thatforemost of all wielders of weapons, viz., Bhishma, who did nothing torepel the attack. Similarly, Sanjaya, Drupada’s son Dhrishtadyumna,uplifting his scimitar, slew the mighty bowman Drona who, already piercedwith many arrows, had laid aside his weapons in battle and devotedhimself to Yoga. These two were both slain at a disadvantage andespecially by deceit. Even this is what I have heard about the slaughterof Bhishma and Drona! Indeed, Bhishma and Drona, while contending infight, were incapable of being slain in battle by the wielder of thethunderbolt himself by fair means. This that I tell thee is the truth! Asregards Karna, how, indeed, could Death touch him, that hero equal untoIndra himself, while he was engaged in shooting his manifold celestialweapons? He unto whom in exchange for his earrings, Purandara had giventhat foe slaying, gold-decked, and celestial dart of the splendour oflightning,–he who had, lying (within his quiver) amid sandal-dust, thatsnake-mouthed celestial arrow decked with gold, equipped with goodlywings, and capable of slaying all foes, he who, disregarding those heroicand mighty car-warriors having Bhishma and Drona at their head, hadacquired from Jamadagni’s son the terrible brahmastra, that mighty-armedone, who, having seen the warriors with Drona at their head afflictedwith arrows and turn away from the field, had cut off with his keenshafts the bow of Subhadra’s son, he who, having in a trice deprived theinvincible Bhimasena endued with the might of 10,000 elephants and thespeed of the wind, of his car, had laughed at him,–he who, havingvanquished Sahadeva by means of his straight shafts and made him carless,slew him not from compassion and considerations of virtue,–he who, withShakra’s dart, slew that prince of rakshasas, Ghatotkaca, who from desireof victory, had invoked a 1,000 kinds of illusions,–he whose feats inbattle, filling Dhananjaya with fear, had made the latter for such a longperiod avoid a single combat with him,–alas, how could that hero beslain in battle? How could he be slain by foes unless one of these hadhappened to him viz., the destruction of his car, the snapping of hisbow, and the exhaustion of his weapons? Who could vanquish that tigeramong men, like a real tiger, endued with great impetuosity, Karna, whileshaking his formidable bow and shooting therefrom his terrible shafts andcelestial weapons in battle? Surely, his bow broke, or his car sank inthe earth, or his weapons became exhausted, since thou tellest me that heis slain! I do not, indeed, see any other cause for (explaining) hisslaughter! That high-souled one who had made the terrible vow “I will notwash my feet till I slay Phalguni,” that warrior through whose fear thatbull among men, king Yudhishthira the just, had not, in the wilderness,for thirteen years continuously, obtained a wink of sleep,–thathigh-souled hero of great prowess relying upon whose valour my son hadforcibly dragged the wife of the Pandavas to the assembly, and there inthe midst of that conclave, in the very sight of the Pandavas and in thepresence of the Kurus, had addressed the princess of Pancala as the wifeof slaves, that hero of the Suta caste, who in the midst of the assemblyhad addressed Krishna, saying, “All thy husbands, O Krishna, that areeven like sesamum seeds without kernel, are no more, therefore, seek someother husband, O thou of the fairest complexion!” and in wrath had causedher to listen to other expressions equally harsh and rude, how was thathero slain by the foe? He who had said unto Duryodhana even these words,viz., “If Bhishma who boasteth of his prowess in battle or Drona who isinvincible in fight, doth not, from partiality, slay the sons of Kunti, ODuryodhana, even I will slay them all, let the fever of thy heart bedispelled!” who also said, “What will (Arjuna’s) gandiva and the twoinexhaustible quivers do to that shaft of mine, smeared with coolsandal-paste, when it will course through the welkin?” alas, how couldthat warrior possessed of shoulders broad as those of the bull be slainby Arjuna? He who, disregarding the fierce touch of the arrows shot fromgandiva had addressed Krishna, saying, “Thou hast no husbands now” andglared at the Pandavas, he who, O Sanjaya, relying on the might of hisown arms, had entertained no fear, for even a moment, of the Parthas withtheir sons and Janardana,–he, I think, could not possibly meet withdeath at the hands of the very gods with Vasava at their head rushingagainst him in fury, what then need I say, O sire, of the Pandavas? Theperson could not be seen competent to stay before the son of Adhiratha,while the latter, putting on his fences, used to touch the bowstring! Itwas possible for the Earth to be destitute of the splendour of the Sun,of the Moon, or of fire, but the death of that foremost of men, who neverretreated from battle, could not be possible. That foolish child of mine,of wicked understanding, who having got Karna, as also his brotherDuhshasana, for his ally, had made up his mind for the rejection ofVasudeva’s proposals, surely, that wight, beholding the slaughter of thebull-shouldered Karna and of Duhshasana, is now indulging inlamentations! Seeing Vikartana’s son slain in single combat by Savyasaci,and the Pandavas crowned with victory, what indeed, did Duryodhana say?Seeing Durmarshana slain in battle and Vrishasena also, and seeing hishost break when slaughtered by mighty car-warriors, beholding also thekings (of his army) turn back their faces, intent on flight, and hiscar-warriors already fled, I think that son of mine is now indulging inlamentations! Beholding his host dispirited, what, indeed, did theungovernable, proud, and foolish Duryodhana, with passions not undercontrol, say? Having himself provoked such fierce hostility thoughdissuaded by all his friends what, indeed, did Duryodhana, who hassuffered a great loss in battle of friends and followers, say? Beholdinghis brother slain in battle by Bhimasena, and upon his blood being drunk,what indeed, did Duryodhana say? My son had, with the ruler of thegandharvas, said, “Karna will slay Arjuna in battle!” When he saw thatKarna slain, what indeed, did he say? What, O sire, did Shakuni, the sonof Subala, who had formerly been filled with joy after going through thematch at dice and cheating the son of Pandu, say when he saw Karna slain?What did that mighty car-warrior among the Satwatas, that great bowman,Kritavarma the son of Hridika, say when he saw Vaikartana slain? Enduedwith youth, possessed of a handsome form, agreeable to the sight, andcelebrated throughout the world, what, O Sanjaya, did Ashvatthama, theintelligent son of Drona, upon whom brahmanas and kshatriyas and vaishyaswho are desirous of acquiring the science of arms wait, for protections,say when he saw Karna slain? What did Sharadvata’s son Kripa, O sire, ofGotama’s race, that foremost of car-warriors, that teacher of the scienceof arms, say when he saw Karna slain? What did the mighty leader of theMadras warriors, that king of the Madras, the great bowman Shalya of theSauvira clan, that ornament of assemblies, that foremost of car-warriors(temporarily) engaged in driving the car, say when he saw Karna slain?What also did all the other warriors, difficult of defeat in battle,those lords of earth that came to fight, say, O Sanjaya, when they beholdVaikartana slain? After the fall of the heroic Drona, that tiger amongcar-warriors that bull among men, who, O Sanjaya, became the heads of theseveral division in their order? Tell me, O Sanjaya, how that foremost ofcar-warriors, Shalya the ruler of the Madras, became engaged in drivingthe car of Vaikartana! Who were they that guarded the right wheel of theSuta’s son while the latter was engaged in fight, and who were they thatguarded his left wheel, and who were they that stood at the rear of thathero? Who were those heroes that did not desert Karna, and who were thosemean fellows that ran away? How was the mighty car-warrior Karna slainamidst your united selves? How also did those mighty car-warriors, thebrave Pandavas, advance against him shooting showers of shafts like theclouds pouring torrents of rain? Tell me also, O Sanjaya, how that mightyshaft, celestial and foremost of its species, and equipped with a headlike that of a serpent became futile! I do not, O Sanjaya, see thepossibility of even a small remnant of my cheerless host being saved whenits leaders have been crushed! Hearing of the slaughter of those twoheroes, those two mighty bowmen, Bhishma and Drona, who were ever readyto lay down their lives for my sake, what use have I of life? Again andagain I am unable to endure that Karna, the might of whose arms equalledthat of 10,000 elephants, should be slain by the Pandavas! Tell me, OSanjaya, all that occurred in the battle between the brave warriors ofthe Kauravas and their foes, after the death of Drona! Tell me also howthe sons of Kunti fought the battle with Karna, and how that slayer offoes received his quietus in the fight!'”

Chapter 8
Chapter 10
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