The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'After the fall of the mighty bowman Drona on that day, O Bharata, and after the purpose had been baffled of that mighty car-warriors, viz., the son of Drona, and after the vasty army, O monarch, of the Kauravas had fled away, Partha, having arrayed his own troops, stayed on the field with his brothers. Perceiving him staying on the field, thy son, O bull of Bharata's race, seeing his own army running away, rallied them with great courage. Having caused his divisions to take up their stand, thy son, O Bharata, relying on the might of his arms, fought for a long time with his foes, the Pandavas, who, having gained their end, were filled with joy and had been struggling for hours together. On the approach there of the evening twilight, he caused the troops to be withdrawn. Having caused the withdrawal of their troops, and having entered their own encampment, the Kauravas held with one another a consultation about their own welfare, seated like the celestials on costly couches overlaid with rich coverlets, and on excellent seats and luxurious beds. Then king Duryodhana, addressing those mighty bowmen in agreeable and highly sweet expression, spoke the following words suited to the occasion.
"'Duryodhana said, "Ye foremost of intelligent men, declare all of you, without delay, your opinions! Under these circumstances, ye kings, what is necessary and what is still more necessary?'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'When that prince of men had spoken those words, those lions among men, seated on their thrones, made various gestures expressive of their desire of battle. Observing the indications of those who were all desirous of pouring their lives as libations on the battle-fire, and beholding the monarch's face radiant as morning Sun, the preceptor's son endued with intelligence and accomplished in speech, said these words: "Enthusiasm, opportunity, skill and policy,--these are the means declared by the learned, to be capable of accomplishing all ends. They are, however, dependent on destiny. Those foremost of men we had on our side, equal unto the celestials, mighty car-warriors all, possessed of policy, devoted, accomplished, and loyal, have been slain. For all that we should not despair of victory. If all these means be properly applied, even destiny may be made propitious. All of us, therefore, O Bharata, shall install Karna, that foremost of men, endued besides with every accomplishment, in the command of the army! Making Karna our commander, we shall crush our foes. This Karna is endued with great might; he is a hero, accomplished in weapons, and incapable of defeat in battle. Irresistible as Yama himself, he is quite competent to vanquish our foes in battle!" Hearing these words from the preceptor's son, O king, at that time, built great hopes on Karna. Cherishing the hope in his heart that after the fall of Bhishma and Drona, Karna would vanquish the Pandavas, and comforted (by it), O Bharata, Duryodhana then, filled with joy at having heard those words of Ashvatthama, steadying his mind and relying on the might of his arms, said unto Radha's son, O monarch, these words that were fraught with affection and regard, and that were true, delightful, and beneficial to himself: "O Karna, I know thy prowess, and the great friendship thou bearest to me! For all that, O mighty-armed one, I shall address the certain words that are for my good! Having heard them, O hero, do that which may appear desirable to thee! Thou art endued with great wisdom, and thou art even my supreme refuge! Those two Atirathas that were my Generals, viz., Bhishma and Drona, have been slain. Be thou my General, thou that art mightier than they! Both of those great bowmen were advanced in years. They were, besides, partial to Dhananjaya. Still both those heroes were respected by me, O son of Radha, at thy word! Viewing his relationship of grandsire unto them, the sons of Pandu, O sire, were spared in dreadful battle by Bhishma for ten successive days! Thyself also having laid aside thy weapons, the valiant Bhishma was slain in great battle by Phalguni with Shikhandi before him! After that great bowman had fallen and betaken himself to his bed of arrows, it was at thy word, O tiger among men, that Drona was made our leader! By him also were the sons of Pritha spared, in consequence, as I think, of their relationship unto him of pupils. That old man also has been slain by Dhrishtadyumna more speedily. I do not see, even on reflection, another warrior equal to thee in battle,--thee, that is, whose prowess could not be measured by even those two foremost of warriors that have been slain in the fight! Without doubt, thou alone today art competent to win victory for us! Before, in the middle, and later on, thou hast accordingly acted for our good. Therefore, like a leader, it behoveth thee, in this battle, to bear the burden thyself. Thyself install thy own self in the Generalship. Like the celestial generalissimo, the lord Skanda of unfading prowess, (supporting the celestial army), do thou support this Dhartarashtra host! Like Mahendra slaying the Danavas, destroy thou all the throngs of our foes! Beholding thee staying in battle, the Pandavas, those mighty car-warriors, will, with the Pancalas, fly away from battle, like the Danavas at sight of Vishnu. Do thou, therefore lead this vast force! When thou shalt stand resolved on the field, the Pandavas of wicked hearts, the Pancalas, and the Srinjayas, will all fly away with their friends. As the risen Sun, scorching everything by his energy, destroyeth the thick gloom, even so do thou destroy our foes!'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'Strong became that hope, O king, in the heart of thy son, viz., that where Bhishma and Drona had been slain, Karna would vanquish the Pandavas. Cherishing that hope within his heart, he said unto Karna, "O Suta's son, Partha never wishes to fight, standing before thee!" Karna said, "I have, O son of Gandhari, said before in thy presence, even these words, vanquish all the Pandavas with their sons and Janardana!' I shall become thy General. In this there is no doubt. Tranquilise thyself, O monarch I Consider the Pandavas to be already vanquished!'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'Thus addressed, O monarch, king Duryodhana then stood up with all the monarchs, like He of a hundred sacrifices with the gods, for honouring Karna with the command of the army, like the celestials for honouring Skanda. Then, O monarch, all the kings headed by Duryodhana, desirous of victory, installed Karna in the command, according to the rites enjoined by the ordinance. With golden and earthen jars filled to the brim with water and sanctified with mantras, with tusks of elephants and horns of rhinoceroses and mighty bulls, with other vessels decked with jewels and gems, with also fragrant herbs and plants, and with other articles collected in abundance, Karna, seated at his ease on a seat made of udumvara wood and overlaid with silken cloth, was invested with the command, according to the rites in the scriptures. Brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, and respectable shudras, praised that high-souled one after he was bathed on that excellent seat. Thus installed in the command, O king, that slayer of foes, the son of Radha, caused, by presents of Niskas and kine and other wealth, many foremost of brahmanas to utter blessings on him. "Vanquish the Parthas with Govinda and all their followers," even these were the words that the eulogists and the brahmanas said (unto him), O bull among men! (And they also said) "Slay the Parthas and the Pancalas, O son of Radha, for our victory, like risen Sun ever destroying Darkness with his fierce rays! The son of Pandu with Keshava are not able to even look at the shafts shot by thee, like owls unable to gaze at the burning rays of the Sun! The Parthas with the Pancalas are incapable of standing before thee armed with weapons, like the danavas before Indra in battle!" Installed in the command, Radha's son of incomparable splendour looked resplendent in beauty and radiance like a second Sun. Having installed the son of Radha (thus) in the command of the army, thy son, urged on by Death, regarded himself as one who had his purpose accomplished. That chastiser of foes, Karna, also, O king, having obtained the command, ordered the troops to be arrayed, at the rise of the Sun. Surrounded by thy sons, O Bharata, Karna looked resplendent like Skanda surrounded by the celestials, in the battle having Saraka for its evil root.'"
Next: Section 11