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Chapter 2

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘That foremost of speakers, the sage Narada, thusquestioned, narrated everything about the manner in which he who wasbelieved to be a Suta’s son had been cursed (in former days).’

“Narada said, ‘It is even so, O mighty armed one, as thou sayest, OBharata! Nothing could resist Karna and Arjuna in battle. This, O sinlessone, that I am about to tell thee is unknown to the very gods. Listen tome, O mighty-armed one, as it befell in former days. How all theKshatriyas, cleansed by weapons should attain to regions of bliss, wasthe question. For this, a child was conceived by Kunti in her maidenhood,capable of provoking a general war. Endued with great energy, that childcame to have the status of a Suta. He subsequently acquired the scienceof weapons from the preceptor (Drona), that foremost descendant ofAngirasa’s race. Thinking of the might of Bhimasena, the quickness ofArjuna in the use of weapons, the intelligence of thyself, O king, thehumility of the twins, the friendship, from earliest years, betweenVasudeva and the wielder of Gandiva, and the affection of the people foryou all, that young man burnt with envy. In early age he made friendswith king Duryodhana, led by an accident and his own nature and the hatehe bore towards you all. Beholding that Dhananjaya was superior to everyone in the science of weapons, Karna. one day approached Drona in privateand said these words unto him, ‘I desire to be acquainted with the Brahmaweapon, with all its mantras and the power of withdrawing it, for Idesire to fight Arjuna. Without doubt, the affection thou bearest toevery one of thy pupils is equal to what thou bearest to thy own son. Ipray that all the masters of the science of weapons may, through thygrace, regard me as one accomplished in weapons!’ Thus addressed by him,Drona, from partiality for Phalguna, as also from his knowledge of thewickedness of Karna, said, ‘None but a Brahmana, who has duly observedall vows, should be acquainted with the Brahma weapon, or a Kshatriyathat has practised austere penances, and no other.’ When Drona hadanswered thus, Karna, having worshipped him, obtained his leave, andproceeded without delay to Rama then residing on the Mahendra mountains.Approaching Rama, he bent his head unto him and said, ‘I am a Brahmana ofBhrigu’s race.’ This procured honour for him. With this knowledge abouthis birth and family, Rama received him kindly and said, ‘Thou artwelcome!’ at which Karna became highly glad. While residing on theMahendra mountains that resembled heaven itself, Karna met and mixed withmany Gandharvas, Yakshas, and gods. Residing there he acquired all theweapons duly, and became a great favourite of the gods, the Gandharvas,and the Rakshasas. One day he roved on the sea-coast by the side of thatasylum. Indeed, Surya’s son, armed with bow and sword, wandered alone,While thus employed, O Partha, he inadvertently slew, without witting it,the Homa cow of a certain utterer of Brahma who daily performed hisAgnihotra rite. Knowing that he had perpetrated that act frominadvertence, he informed the Brahmana of it. Indeed Karna, for theobject of gratifying the owner, repeatedly said, ‘O holy one, I havekilled this thy cow without wilting it. Forgive me the act!’ Filled withwrath, the Brahmana, rebuking him, said these words, ‘O thou of wickedconduct, thou deservest to be killed. Let the fruit of this act be thine,O thou of wicked soul. While fighting him, O wretch whom thou alwayschallengest, and for whose sake thou strivest so much every day, theearth shall swallow the wheel of thy car! And while the wheel of thy carshall thus be swallowed up by the earth, thy foe, putting forth hisprowess, will cut off thy head, thyself being stupefied the while! Leaveme, O vile man! As thou hast heedlessly slain this my cow, even so wiltthy foe cut off thy head while thou shalt be heedless!’ Though cursed,Karna still sought to gratify that foremost of Brahmanas by offering himkine and wealth and gems. The latter, however, once more answered him,’All the words will not succeed in falsifying the words spoken by me! Gohence or remain, do whatever thou likest.’ Thus addressed by theBrahmana, Karna, hanging down his head from cheerlessness, returnedtimidly to Rama, reflecting on that matter.’

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