The Mahabharata Home
"'Duryodhana said, "This one, O Karna, will act as thy driver, this ruler of the Madras, who is superior to Krishna, like Matali the driver of the chief of the celestials. Indeed, as Matali taketh the management of the car unto which the steeds of Indra are attached, even so will Shalya be the driver of the steeds of thy car today. With thyself as warrior on that vehicle and the ruler of the Madras as its driver, that foremost of car will certainly vanquish the Parthas in battle.'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'When the morning came, O monarch, Duryodhana once more addressed the ruler of the Madras endued with great activity, saying, "O ruler of the Madras, hold the reins in battle of Karna's foremost of steeds. Protected by thee, the son of Radha will vanquish Dhananjaya." Thus addressed, Shalya, answering, "So be it" ascended the car, O Bharata. When Shalya approached that car, Karna with a cheerful heart addressed his driver, saying, "O charioteer, quickly equip the car for me." Having duly equipped that triumphal car, the foremost of its kind, which resembled the vapoury mansions in the sky, Shalya presented it to Karna, saying, "Blessed be thou, victory to thee." Then Karna, that foremost of car-warriors, duly worshipping that car which had in days of old been sanctified by a priest conversant with Brahma, and circumambulating it and carefully adoring the god Surya addressed the ruler of the Madras standing near, saying, "Ascend the vehicle." Thereupon Shalya of mighty energy ascended that large, invincible, and foremost of cars, belonging to Karna like a lion ascending a mountain summit. Beholding Shalya stationed, Karna ascended his excellent car like the Sun riding on a mass of clouds charged with lightning. Mounted on the same car, those two heroes endued with the splendour or the Sun of fire looked resplendent like Surya and Agni sitting together on a cloud in the firmament. Eulogised then (by bards and panegyrists), those two heroes of great effulgence looked like Indra and Agni adored with hymns in a sacrifice by Ritwiks and Sadasyas. Karna stood on that car, the reins of whose steeds were held by Shalya, stretching his formidable bow, like the Sun himself within a halo of circular light. Stationed on that foremost of cars, that tiger among men, Karna, with his shafts constituting his rays, looked beautiful like the Sun on the Mandara mountains. Unto the mighty-armed son of Radha that warrior of immeasurable energy, stationed on his car for battle. Duryodhana said these words, "O son of Adhiratha, O hero, do thou achieve that feat difficult of accomplishment which Drona and Bhishma have not achieved in the very sight of all the bowmen. I had always believed that those two mighty car-warriors, viz., Bhishma and Drona, would without doubt slay Arjuna and Bhimasena in battle. Like a second wielder of the thunderbolt, O son of Radha, do thou in great battle achieve that feat worthy of a hero which was not achieved by those two. Either seize king Yudhishthira the just or slay Dhananjaya and Bhimasena, O son of Radha, and the twin sons of Madri. Blessed be thou, let victory be thine. Set out for battle, O tiger among men. Reduce to ashes all the troops of Pandu's son." Then thousands of trumpets and tens of thousands of drums, sounded together, produced a noise like that of the clouds in the welkin. Accepting those words (of Duryodhana), the foremost of car-warriors stationed on his car, viz., the son of Radha, addressed Shalya, that warrior accomplished in battle, saying, "Urge the steeds, O mighty-armed one, so that I may slay Dhananjaya and Bhimasena and both the twins and king Yudhishthira. O Shalya, let Dhananjaya behold today the might of my arms, when I will be engaged in shooting shafts winged with Kanka feathers in hundreds and thousands. Today, O Shalya, I will shoot shafts with great energy for the destruction of the Pandavas and the victory of Duryodhana."
"'"Shalya said, "O Suta's son, why dost thou think so low of the sons of Pandu, all of whom are endued with great might, all of whom are great bowmen, and all of whom are acquainted with every weapon? They are unretreating, of great good fortune, invincible, and of prowess incapable of being baffled. They are capable of inspiring fear in the heart of Indra himself. When, son of Radha thou wilt hear the twang of Gandiva in battle, resembling the peal of the thunder itself, thou wilt not then utter such speeches. When thou wilt behold Dharma's son and the twins causing a canopy, like that of the clouds in the welkin, with their sharp arrows, and the other invincible kings (of the Pandava army), endued with great lightness of hands and shooting (showers of shafts) and weakening their foes, then thou wilt not utter such words.'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'Disregarding those words spoken by the ruler of the Madras, Karna addressing him endued with great activity, saying, "Proceed."'"
Next: Section 37