The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Upon the failure of Krishna's solicitations (for peace), and after he had started for the Pandavas from the Kurus, Kshatri approached Pritha and said these words slowly in grief, 'O mother of living children, thou knowest that my inclination is always for peace, and although I cry myself hoarse, yet Suyodhana doth not accept my words. King Yudhishthira, having the Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Kekayas, Bhima and Arjuna, Krishna, Yuyudhana, and the twins for his allies, stayeth yet at Upaplavya, and from affection for kinsmen, looketh up to righteousness only, like a weak man, though he is possessed of great strength. King Dhritarashtra here, though old in years, doth not effect peace, and intoxicated with pride of children, treadeth a sinful path. In consequence of the wickedness of Jayadratha and Karna and Dussasana and Suvala's son, intestine dissensions will break out. They that behave unrighteously towards him that is righteous, verily that sin of theirs soon produceth its consequences. Who is there that will not be filled with sorrow at the sight of the Kurus persecuting righteousness in this way? When Kesava returneth without being able to bring about peace, the Pandavas will certainly address themselves for battle. Thereupon, the sin of the Kurus will lead to a destruction of heroes. Reflecting on all this, I do not get sleep by day or by night.'
"Hearing these words uttered by Vidura, who always wished her sons the accomplishment of their objects, Kunti began to sigh heavily, afflicted with grief, and began to think within herself, 'Fie to wealth, for the sake of which this great slaughter of kinsmen is about to take place. Indeed, in this war, they that are friends will sustain defeat. What can be a greater grief than this that the Pandavas, the Chedis,
the Panchalas, and the Yadavas, assembled together, will fight with the Bharatas? Verily, I behold demerit in war. (On the other hand) if we do not fight, poverty and humiliation would be ours. As regards the person that is poor, even death is beneficial (to him). (On the other band) the extermination of one's kinsmen is not victory. As I reflect on this, my heart swelleth with sorrow. The grandsire (Bhishma), the son of Santanu, the preceptor (Drona), who is the foremost of warriors, and Karna, having embraced Duryodhana's side, enhance my fears. The preceptor Drona, it seemeth to me, will never fight willingly against his pupils. As regards the Grandsire, why will he not show some affection for the Pandavas? There is only this sinful Karna then, of deluded understanding and ever following the deluded lead of the wicked Duryodhana, that hateth the Pandavas. Obstinately pursuing that which injureth the Pandavas, this Karna is, again, very powerful. It is this which burneth me at present. Proceeding to gratify him. I will today disclose the truth and seek to draw his heart towards the Pandavas. Pleased with me, while I was living in the inner apartments of the palace of my father, Kuntibhoja, the holy Durvasa gave me a boon in the form of an invocation consisting of mantras. Long reflecting with a trembling heart on the strength or weakness of those mantras and the power also of the Brahmana's words, and in consequence also of my disposition as a woman, and my nature as a girl of unripe years, deliberating repeatedly and while guarded by a confidential nurse and surrounded by my waiting-maids, and thinking also of how not to incur any reproach, how to maintain the honour of my father, and how I myself might have an accession of good fortune without being guilty of any transgression, I, at last, remembered that Brahmana and bowed to him, and having obtained that mantras from excess of curiosity and from folly, I summoned, during my maidenhood, the god Surya. He, therefore, who was held in my womb during my maidenhood,--why should he not obey my words that are certainly acceptable and beneficial to his brothers? And reflecting in this strain, Kunti formed an excellent resolution. And having formed that resolution, she went to the sacred stream called after Bhagiratha. And having reached the banks of Ganga, Pritha heard the chanting of the Vedic hymns by her son, endued with great kindness and firmly devoted to truth. And as Karna stood with face directed to the east and arms upraised, then helpless Kunti, for the sake of her interest stayed behind him, waiting the completion of prayers. And the lady of Vrishni's race, that wife of Kuru's house, afflicted by the heat of the sun began to look like a faded garland of lotuses. And, at last, she stood in the shade afforded by the upper garments of Karna. And Karna, of regulated vows, said his prayers until his back became heated by the rays of the sun. Then turning behind, he behold Kunti and was filled with surprise. And saluting him in proper form and with joined palms that foremost of virtuous persons, endued with great energy and
pride, viz., Vrisha, the son of Vikartana, bowed to her and said (the following words)."'
Next: Section CXLV