The Mahabharata Home
"Karna said, 'Without doubt, O Kesava, thou hast said these words from thy love, affection, and friendship for me, as also in consequence of thy desire of doing me good, O thou of Vrishni's race. I know all that thou hast said unto me. Morally, I am the son of Pandu, as also in consequence of the injunctions of the scriptures, as thou, O Krishna, thinkest. My mother, while a maiden, bore me in her womb, O Janardana, through her connection with Surya. And at the command of Surya
himself, she abandoned me as soon as I was born. Even thus, O Krishna, I came into the world. Morally, therefore, I am the son of Pandu. Kunti, however, abandoned me without thinking of my welfare. The Suta, Adhiratha, as soon as he beheld me, took me to his home, and from her affection for me, Radha's breasts were filled with milk that very day, and she, O Madhava, cleansed my urine and evacuations. How can one like us, conversant with duties and ever engaged in listening to scriptures deprive her of her Pinda? So also Adhiratha of the Suta class regardeth me as a son, and I too, from affection, always regard him as (my) father. O Madhava, that Adhiratha, O Janardana, from paternal affection caused all the rites of infancy to be performed on my person, according to the rules prescribed in the scriptures. It is that Adhiratha, again, who caused the name Vasusena to be bestowed upon me by the Brahmanas. When also I attained to youth, I married wives according to his selections. Through them have been born my sons and grandsons, O Janardana. My heart also, O Krishna, and all the bonds of affection and love, are fixed on them. From joy or fear. O Govinda. I cannot venture to destroy those bonds even for the sake of the whole earth or heaps of gold. In consequence also of my connection with Duryodhana of Dhritarashtra's race, I have, O Krishna, enjoyed sovereignty for thirteen years, without a thorn on my side. I have performed many sacrifices, always however in connection with persons of the Suta tribe. All my family rites and marriage rites have been performed with the Sutas. Obtaining me, O Krishna, Duryodhana hath, O thou of Vrishni's race, made this preparations for an armed encounter and provoked hostilities with the sons of Pandu. And it is for this, O Achyuta, that in the battle (that will ensue), I, O Krishna, have been chosen as the great antagonist of Arjuna to advance against him in a single combat. For the sake of death, or the ties of blood, or fear, or temptation, I cannot venture, O Janardana, to behave falsely towards the intelligent son of Dhritarashtra. If I do not now engage in a single combat with Arjuna, this will, O Hrishikesa, be inglorious for both myself and Partha. Without doubt, O slayer of Madhu, thou hast told me all this for doing me good. The Pandavas also, obedient as they are to thee, will, without doubt, do all that thou hast said. Thou must, however, conceal this our discourse for the present, O slayer of Madhu. Therein lies our benefit, I think, O delighter of all the Yadavas. If king Yudhishthira, of virtuous soul and well-controlled senses, cometh to know me as the firstborn son of Kunti, he will never accept the kingdom. If, again, O slayer of Madhu, this mighty and swelling empire becometh mine. I shall, O repressor of foes, certainly make it over to Duryodhana only. Let Yudhishthira of virtuous soul become king for ever. He that hath Hrishikesa for his guide, and Dhananjaya and that mighty car-warrior Bhima for his combatants, as also Nakula and Sahadeva, and the sons of Draupadi, is fit, O Madhava, to rule over the whole earth. Dhrishtadyumna,
the prince of the Panchalas, that mighty car-warrior Satyaki, Uttamaujas, Yudhamanyu, the prince of Somakas who is devoted to truth, the ruler of the Chedis, Chekitana, the invincible Sikhandin, the Kekaya brothers, all of the hue of Indragopaka insects, Bhimasena's uncle Kuntibhoja of high soul and possessed of steeds endued with the colours of the rainbow, the mighty car-warrior Syenajit, Sanka the son of Virata, and thyself, O Janardana, like an ocean,--great is this assemblage, O Krishna, of Kshatriyas (that hath been made by Yudhishthira). This blazing kingdom, celebrated among all the kings of the earth, is already won (by Yudhishthira). O thou of Vrishni's race, a great sacrifice of arms is about to be celebrated by Dhritarashtra's son. Thou, O Janardana, wilt be the Upadrashtri of that sacrifice. The office of Adhyaryu also, O Krishna, in that sacrifice, will be thine. The ape-bannered Vibhatsu accoutred in mail will be the Hotri (his bow), Gandiva will be the sacrificial ladle, and the prowess of the warriors will be the clarified butter (that is to be consumed). The weapons called Aindra, Pasupata, Brahma, and Sthunakarna, applied by Arjuna, will, O Madhava, be the mantras (of that sacrifice). Resembling his father, or perhaps, excelling him in prowess, Subhadra's son (Abhimanyu) will be the chief Vedic hymn to be chanted. That destroyer of elephant ranks that utterer of fierce roars in battle, that tiger among men, the exceedingly mighty Bhima, will be Udgatri and Prastotri in this sacrifice. King Yudhishthira of virtuous Soul, ever engaged in Yapa and Homa, will himself be the Brahma of that sacrifice. The sounds of conchs, tabors, and drums, and the leonine roaring rising high in the welkin, will be the calls upon the invited to eat. The two sons of Madri, Nakula and Sahadeva, of great fame and prowess, will be the slayers of the sacrificial animals; rows of bright cars furnished with standards of variegated hue, will, O Govinda, be stakes (for tying the animals), O Janardana, in this sacrifice. Barbed arrows and Nalikas, and long shafts, and arrows with heads like calf's tooth, will play the part of spoons (wherewith to distribute the Soma juice) while Tomaras will be the vessels of Soma, and bows will be pavitras. The swords will be Kapalas, the heads (of slain warriors) the Purodasas and the blood of warriors the clarified butter. O Krishna, in this sacrifice. The lances and bright maces (of the warriors) will be pokers (for stirring the sacrificial fire) and the corner stakes (for keeping the fire-wood from falling down). The disciples of Drona and Kripa, the son of Saradwat, will be the Sadasyas (assisting priests). The arrows shot by the wielder of Gandiva and by (other) mighty car-warriors, and by Drona and Drona's son, will play the part of ladles for distributing the Soma. Satyaki will discharge the duties of the chief assistant of the Adhyaryu. Of this sacrifice, Dhritarashtra's son will be installed as the performer, while this vast army will be his wife. O thou of mighty arms, when the nocturnal rites of sacrifice will begin, the mighty Ghatotkacha will play the part of the slayer of (devoted) victims. The mighty Dhrishtadyumna, who sprang into life from the
sacrificial fire, having for its mouth the rites celebrated with mantras, will, O Krishna, be the Dakshina of that sacrifice. For those harsh words, O Krishna, that I said before unto the sons of Pandu for the gratification of Dhritarashtra's son,--for that wicked conduct of mine,--I am consumed with repentance. When O Krishna, thou wilt behold me slain by Arjuna, then will the Punachiti of this sacrifice commence. When the (second) son of Pandu will drink the blood of the loudly roaring Dussasana, then will the Soma-drinking of this sacrifice have taken place! When the two princes of Panchala (Dhrishtadyumna and Sikhandin) will overthrow Drona and Bhishma, then, O Janardana, will this sacrifice be suspended for an interval. When mighty Bhimasena will slay Duryodhana, then, O Madhava, will this sacrifice of Dhritarashtra's son be concluded. When the wives of Dhritarashtra's sons and grandsons assembled together, deprived, O Kesava, of their husbands and sons and without protectors, will indulge in lamentations with Gandhari in their midst, on the field of battle haunted by dogs and vultures and other carnivorous birds, then, O Janardana, will the final bath of this sacrifice take place.
'I pray to thee, O bull of the Kshatriya race, let not the Kshatriyas, old in learning and old in years, perish miserably, O Janardana, for thy sake. Oh, let this swelling host of Kshatriyas perish by means of weapons on that most sacred of all spots in the three worlds, viz. Kurukshetra, O Kesava. O thou of eyes like lotus-leaves, accomplish on this spot what thou hast in thy mind, so that, O thou of Vrishni's race, the whole Kshatriya order may attain to heaven. As long, O Janardana, as the hills and the rivers will last, so long will the fame of these achievements last. The Brahmanas will recite this great war of the Bharatas. The fame, O thou of Vrishni's race, that they achieve in battles is the wealth that Kshatriyas own. O Kesava, bring Kunti's son (Arjuna) before me for battle, keeping for ever this our discourse a secret, O chastiser of foes.'"
Next: Section CXLII