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Chapter 1

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

OM! HAVING BOWED down to Narayana, and Nara, the foremost of male beings,and unto the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having offered oblations, of water unto all theirfriends and kinsmen, the sons of Pandu, and Vidura, and Dhritarashtra,and all the Bharata ladies, continued to dwell there (on the banks of thesacred stream). The high-souled sons of Pandu desired to pass the periodof mourning,[1] which extended for a month, outside the Kuru city. Afterking Yudhishthira the just had performed the water-rites, manyhigh-souled sages crowned with ascetic success and many foremost ofregenerate Rishis came there to see the monarch. Among them were theIsland-born (Vyasa), and Narada, and the great Rishi Devala, andDevasthana, and Kanwa. They were all accompanied by best of their pupils.Many other members of the regenerate order, possessed of wisdom andaccomplished in the Vedas, leading lives of domesticity or belonging tothe Snataka class, came to behold the Kuru king. Those high-souled ones,as they came, were duly worshipped by Yudhishthira. The great Rishis thentook their seats on costly carpets. Accepting the worship suited to thatperiod (of mourning and impurity) that was offered them, they sat in dueorder around the king. Thousands of Brahmanas offered consolation andcomfort to that king of kings residing on the sacred banks of theBhagirathi with heart exceedingly agitated by grief. Then Narada, afterhaving accosted the Rishis with the Island-born for their first, in duetime, addressed Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, saying, ‘Through themight of thy arms and the grace of Madhava, the whole Earth, OYudhishthira, hath been righteously won by thee. By good luck, thou hastescaped with life from this dreadful battle. Observant as thou art o fthe duties of a Kshatriya, dost thou not rejoice, O son of Pandu? Havingslain all thy foes, shalt thou not gratify thy friends, O king? Havingobtained this prosperity, I hope, grief doth not afflict thee still.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Indeed the whole Earth hath been subjugated by methrough my reliance on the might of Krishna’s arms, through the grace ofthe Brahmanas, and through the strength of Bhima and Arjuna. This heavygrief, however, is always sitting in my heart, viz., that throughcovetousness I have caused this dreadful carnage of kinsmen. Havingcaused the death of the dear son of Subhadra, and of the sons ofDraupadi, this victory, O holy one, appears to me in the light of adefeat. What wilt Subhadra of Vrishni’s race, that sister-in-law of mine,say unto me? What also will the people residing in Dwaraka say unto theslayer of Madhu when he goes thither from this place? This Draupadi,again, who is ever engaged in doing what is agreeable to us, bereaved ofsons and kinsmen, is paining me exceedingly. This is another topic, Oholy Narada, about which I will speak to thee. In consequence of Kuntihaving kept her counsels close in respect of a very important matter,great has been my grief. That hero who had the strength of ten thousandelephants, who in this world was an unrivalled car-warrior, who waspossessed of leonine pride and gait, who was endued with greatintelligence and compassion, whose liberality was very great, whopractised many high vows, who was the refuge of the Dhartarashtras, whowas sensitive about his honour, whose prowess was irresistible, who wasready to pay off all injuries and was always wrathful (in battle), whooverthrew us in repeated encounters, who was quick in the use of weapons,conversant with every mode of warfare, possessed of great skill, andendued with wonderful valour (that Karna) was a son of Kunti, bornsecretly of her, and therefore, a uterine brother of ours. Whilst we wereoffering oblations of water unto the dead, Kunti spoke of him as the sonof Surya. Possessed of every virtue, that child had been cast into thewater. Having placed him in a basket made of light materials, Kunticommitted him to the current of Ganga. He who was regarded by the worldas a Suta’s child born of Radha, was really the eldest son of Kunti and,therefore, our uterine brother. Covetous of kingdom, alas, I haveunwittingly caused that brother of mine to be slain. It is this that isburning my limbs like a fire burning a heap of cotton. The white-steededArjuna knew him not for a brother. Neither I, nor Bhima, nor the twins,knew him for such. He, however, of excellent bow, knew us (for hisbrothers). We have heard that on one occasion Pritha went to him forseeking our good and addressed him, saying, ‘Thou art my son!’ Thatillustrious hero, however, refused to obey Pritha’s wishes. Subsequently,we are informed, he said unto his mother these words, ‘I am unable todesert Duryodhana in battle! If I do so, it would be a dishonourable,cruel, and ungrateful act. If, yielding to thy wishes, I make peace withYudhishthira, people will say that I am afraid of the white-steededArjuna. Having vanquished Arjuna with Kesava, therefore, in battle, Iwill subsequently make peace with Dharma’s son.’ Even these were hiswords as we have heard. Thus answered, Pritha once more addressed her sonof broad chest and said, ‘Fight Phalguna then, but spare my four othersons.’ The intelligent Karna, with joined hands, then replied unto histrembling mother, saying, ‘If I get thy four other sons even under mypower, I will not slay them. Without doubt, O goddess, thou shaltcontinue to have five sons. If Karna be slain with Arjuna, thou shalthave five! If, on the other hand, Arjuna be slain, thou shalt have five,numbering me.’ Desirous of the good of her children, his mother once moresaid unto him, ‘Go, O Karna, do good unto those brothers of thine whosegood thou always seekest.’ Having said these words, Pritha took his leaveand came back to her abode. That hero has been slain by Arjuna,–theuterine brother by the brother! Neither Pritha, nor he, had everdisclosed the secret, O lord! That hero and great bowman was thereforeslain by Arjuna in battle. Subsequently I have come to know, O best ofregenerate ones, that he was my uterine brother. Indeed, at Pritha’swords I have come to know that Karna was the eldest born! Having causedmy brother to be slain, my heart is burning exceedingly. If I had bothKarna and Arjuna for aiding me, I could have vanquished Vasudeva himself.Whilst I was tortured in the midst of the assembly by the wicked-souledsons of Dhritarashtra, my wrath, suddenly provoked, became cooled atsight of Karna. Even while listening to the harsh and bitter words ofKarna himself on that occasion of our match at dice, to the words, thatKarna uttered from desire of doing what was agreeable to Duryodhana, mywrath became cooled at sight of Karna’s feet. It seemed to me thatKarna’s feet resembled the feet of our mother Kunti. Desirous of findingout the reason of that resemblance between him and our mother, Ireflected for a long time. With even my best exertions I failed to findthe cause. Why, indeed, did the earth swallow up the wheels of his car atthe time of battle? Why was my brother cursed? It behoveth thee to reciteall this to me. I desire to hear everything from thee, O holy one! Thouart acquainted with everything in this world and thou knowest both thepast and the future!’

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