The Mahabharata Home
"Surya said, 'Never do, O Karna, anything that is harmful to thy self and thy friends; thy sons, thy wives, thy father, and thy mother; O thou best of those that bear life, people desire renown (in this world) and lasting fame in heaven, without wishing to sacrifice their bodies. But as thou desirest undying fame at the expense of thy life, she will, without doubt, snatch away thy life! O bull among men, in this world, the father, the mother, the son, and other relatives are of use only to him that is alive. O tiger among men, as regard kings, it is only when they are alive that prowess can be of any use to them. Do thou understand this? O thou of exceeding splendour, fame is for the good of these only that are alive! Of what use is fame to the dead whose bodies have been reduced to ashes? One that is dead cannot enjoy renown. It is only when one is alive that one can enjoy it. The fame of one that is dead is like a garland of flowers around the neck of a corpse. As thou reverest me, I tell thee this for thy benefit, because thou art a worshipper of mine! They that worship me are always protected by me. That also is another reason for my addressing thee thus! Thinking again, O mighty-armed one, that this one revereth me with great reverence, I have been inspired with love for thee! Do thou, therefore, act according to my words! There is, besides some profound mystery in all this, ordained by fate. It is for this, that I tell thee so. Do thou act without mistrust of any kind! O bull among men, it is not fit for thee to know this which is a secret to the very gods. Therefore, I do not reveal that secret unto thee. Thou wilt, however, understand it in time. I repeat what I have already said. Do thou, O Radha's son, lay my words to heart! When the wielder of the thunder-bolt asketh thee for them, do thou never give him thy ear-rings! O thou of exceeding splendour, with thy handsome ear-rings, thou lookest beautiful, even like the Moon himself in the clear firmament, between the Visakha constellation! Dost thou know that fame availeth only the person that is living. Therefore, when the lord of the celestials will ask the ear-rings, thou shouldst, O son, refuse him! Repeating again and again answers fraught with various reasons, thou wilt, O sinless one, be able to remove the eagerness of the lord of the celestial for the possession of the ear-rings. Do thou, O Karna, after Purandara's purpose by urging answers fraught with reason and grave import and adorned with sweetness and suavity. Thou dost always, O tiger among men, challenge him that can draw the bow with his left hand, and heroic Arjuna also will surely encounter thee in fight. But when furnished with thy ear-rings, Arjuna will never be able to vanquish thee in fight even if Indra himself comes to his assistance. Therefore, O Karna, if thou wishest to vanquish Arjuna in battle, these handsome ear-rings of thine should never be parted with to Sakra.'"
Next: Section CCC