The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said,--'After Santanu's son Bhishma, O monarch, had become silent, all those rulers of earth, there present, then returned to their respective quarters. Hearing of Bhishma's slaughter that bull among men, viz., Radha's son (Karna), partially inspired with fear quickly came there. He beheld that illustrious hero lying on his bed of reeds. Then Vrisha (Karna) endued with great glory, with voice choked in tears, approaching that hero lying with eyes closed, fell at his feet. And he said,--O chief of the Kurus, I am Radha's son, who while before thy eyes, was everywhere looked upon by thee with hate!--Hearing these words, the aged chief of the Kurus,
the son of Ganga, whose eyes were covered with film slowly raising his eyelids, and causing the guards to be removed, and seeing the place deserted by all, embraced Karna with one arm, like a sire embracing his son, and said these words with great affection:--Come, come! Thou art an opponent of mine who always challengest comparison with me! If thou hadst not come to me, without doubt, it would not have been well with thee! Thou art Kunti's son, not Radha's! Nor is Adhiratha thy father! O thou of mighty arms, I heard all this about thee from Narada as also from Krishna-Dwaipayana! Without doubt, all this is true! I tell thee truly, O son, that I bear thee no malice! It was only for abating thy energy that I used to say such harsh words to thee! O thou of excellent vows without any reason thou speakest ill of all the Pandavas! Sinfully didst thou come into the world. It is for this that thy heart hath been such. Through pride, and owning also to thy companionship with the low, thy heart hateth even persons of merit! It is for this that I spoke such harsh words about thee in the Kuru camp! I know thy prowess in battle, which can with difficulty be borne on earth by foes! I know also thy regard for Brahmanas. thy courage, and thy great attachment to alms-giving! O thou that resemblest a very god, amongst men there is none like thee! For fear of intestine dissensions I always spoke harsh words about thee. In bowmanship, in aiming weapon, in lightness of hand and in strength of weapons, thou art equal to Phalguni himself, or the high-souled Krishna! O Karna, proceeding to the city of Kasi, alone with thy bow, thou hadst crushed the kings in battle for procuring a bride for the Kuru king! The mighty and invincible king Jarasandha also, ever boastful of his prowess in battle, could not become thy match in fight! Thou art devoted to Brahmanas; thou always fightest fairly! In energy and strength, thou art equal to a child of the celestials and certainly much superior to men. The wrath I cherished against thee is gone. Destiny is incapable of being avoided by exertion. O slayer of foes, the heroic sons of Pandu are thy uterine brothers! If thou wishest to do what is agreeable to me, unite with them, O thou of mighty arms! O son of Surya, let these hostilities end with me! Let all the kings of Earth be to-day freed from danger!--
"'Karna said I know this, O thou of mighty arms! All this without doubt, is (as thou sayest)! As thou tellest me, O, Bhishma, I am Kunti's son, and not the son of a Suta! I was, however, abandoned by Kunti, and I have been reared by a Suta. Having (so long) enjoyed the wealth of Duryodhana, I dare not falsify it now. Like Vasudeva's son who is firmly resolved for the sake of the Pandavas, I also, O thou that makest profuse presents to Brahmanas, am prepared to cast away my possessions, my body itself, my children, and my wife, for Duryodhana's sake! Death from disease, O thou of Kuru's race, doth not become a Kshatriya! Relying upon Suyodhana I have always offended the Pandavas! This affairs is destined to take its course. It is incapable of being prevented. Who was there that would venture to overcome Destiny by exertion? Various omens indicating the destruction of the Earth. O grandsire, were noticed by thee
and declared in the assembly. It is well known to me that the son of Pandu, and Vasudeva, are incapable of being conquered by other men. Even with them we venture to fight! I will vanquish the son of Pandu in battle! Even this is my firm resolve! I am not capable, of casting off this fierce animosity (that I cherish against the Pandavas)! With a cheerful heart, and keeping the duties of my order before my eye, I will contend against Dhananjaya. Firmly resolved that I am on battle, grant me thy permission, O hero! I will fight. Even this is my wish. It behoveth thee to forgive me also any harsh words that I may have at any time uttered against thee or any act that I may have done against thee from anger or inconsiderateness!--"
"'Bhishma said,--If, indeed, thou art unable to cast off this fierce animosity, I permit thee, O Karna! Fight, moved by the desire of heaven! Without anger and without vindictiveness, serve thou the king according to thy power and according to thy courage and observant of the conduct of the righteous! Have then my permission, O Karna! Obtain thou that which thou seekest! Through Dhananjaya thou wilt obtain all those regions (hereafter) which are capable of being had by fulfilling the duties of a Kshatriya! Freed from pride, and relying on thy (own) might and energy, engage in battle, since a Kshatriya cannot have a (source of) greater happiness than a righteous battle. For a long while I made great efforts for bringing about peace! But I succeeded not, O Karna, in the task! Truly do I say this unto thee!--"
"'Sanjaya continued,--'After the son of Ganga had said this, Radha's son (Karna) having saluted Bhishma and obtained his forgiveness, got up on his car and proceeded towards (the quarters of) thy son.'
The End of Bhishma Parva