The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 3 Books 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 online

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the worlds. As the illustrious Brahman, the Creator of the worlds, the
Grandsire, the Supreme Deity of unfading glory, acted as the driver of
Rudra, so do thou restrain the steeds of the high-souled son of Radha
like Grandsire restraining those of Rudra. There is not the slightest
doubt, O tiger among kings, that thou art superior to Krishna, to Karna,
and to Phalguna. In battle, Karna is like Rudra, and thou art like
Brahman in policy. United, ye two, therefore, are competent to vanquish
my foes that are even like the Asuras. Let, O Shalya, that be done
speedily today by which this Karna, grinding the Pandava troops, may be
able to slay Kunti's son owning white steeds and having Krishna for the
driver of his car. Upon thee depend Karna, ourselves, our kingdom, and
(our) victory in battle. Hold the reins, therefore, of the excellent
steeds (of Karna). There is another story which I will narrate. Listen
once more to it. A virtuous Brahmana had recited it in the presence of my
father. Hearing these delightful words fraught with the reasons and
purposes of acts, do, O Shalya, what thou mayst settle, without
entertaining any scruples. In the race of the Bhrigus was Jamadagni of
severe ascetic penances. He had a son endued with energy and every
virtue, who became celebrated by the name of Rama. Practising the
austerest penances, of cheerful soul, bound to observances and vows, and
keeping his senses under control, he gratified the god Bhava for
obtaining weapons. In consequence of his devotion and tranquillity of
heart, Mahadeva became gratified with him. Sankara, understanding the
desire cherished in his heart, showed himself unto Rama. And Mahadeva
said, 'O Rama, I am gratified with thee. Blessed be thou, thy desire is
known to me. Make thy soul pure. Thou wilt then have all that thou
desirest. I will give thee all weapons when thou wilt become pure. Those
weapons, O son, of Bhrigu, burn a person that is incompetent and that is
not deserving of them.' Thus addressed by that god of gods, that deity
bearing the trident, the son of Jamadagni, bending his head unto that
puissant high-souled one, said, 'O god of gods, it behoveth thee to give
those weapons unto me that am always devoted to thy service, when, indeed
thou wilt regard me fit for holding them.'"'

"'Duryodhana continued. "With penances then, and restraining his senses,
and observances of vows, and worship and offerings and with sacrifices
and Homa performed with mantras, Rama adored Sarva for many long years.
At last Mahadeva, pleased with the high-souled son of Bhrigu's race,
described him, in the presence of his divine spouse, as possessed of many
virtues: 'This Rama, of firm vows is ever devoted to me.' Gratified with
him, the Lord Sankara thus repeatedly proclaimed his virtues in the
presence of gods and the Rishis, O slayer of foes. Meanwhile, the Daityas
became very mighty. Blinded by pride and folly, they afflicted the
denizens of heaven. The gods then, uniting together, and firmly resolved
to slay them, strove earnestly for the destruction of those foes. They,
however, failed to vanquish them. The gods then, repairing to Maheswara,
the Lord of Uma, began to gratify him with devotion, saying, 'Slay our
foes.' That god, having promised the destruction of their foes unto the
celestials, summoned Rama the descendant of Bhrigu. And Sankara addressed
Rama, saying, 'O descendant of Bhrigu, slay all the assembled foes of the
gods, from desire of doing good unto all the worlds as also for my
satisfaction.' Thus addressed, Rama replied unto that boon-giving Lord of
Three-eyes, saying, 'What strength have I, O chief of the gods destitute
as I am of weapons, to slay in battle the assembled Danavas that are
accomplished in weapons and invincible in fight?' Maheswara said, 'Go thou
at my command. Thou shalt slay those foes. Having vanquished all those
enemies, thou shalt acquire numerous merits.' Hearing these words and
accepting them all, Rama, causing propitiatory rites to be performed for
his success, proceeded against the Danavas. Addressing those enemies of
the gods that were endued with might and possessed with folly and pride,
he said, 'Ye Daityas that are fierce in battle, give me battle. I have
been sent by the God of gods to vanquish you.' Thus addressed by the
descendant of Bhrigu, the Daityas began to fight. The delighter of the
Bhargavas, however, slaying the Daityas in battle, with strokes whose
touch resembled that of Indra's thunder, came back to Mahadeva.
Jamadagni's son, that foremost of Brahmanas returned with many wounds on
his person inflicted by the Danavas. Touched, however by Sthanu, his
wounds were immediately healed. Gratified also with that feat of his, the
illustrious god gave diverse kinds of boons unto the high-souled son of
Bhrigu. With satisfaction in his heart, the trident-wielding God of gods
said, 'The pain thou hast suffered in consequence of the fall of weapons
upon thy body evidences the super-human feat that thou hast achieved, O
delighter of the Bhrigus. As desired by thee, accept from me these
celestial weapons.'"'

"'Duryodhana continued, "Having obtained all the celestial weapons and
the boons that had been desired by him, Rama bowed unto Siva with his
head. Obtaining the leave also of the gods that great ascetic went away.
This is the old story that the rishi had recited. The descendant of
Bhrigu gave the whole science of weapons unto the high-souled Karna, O
tiger among kings with delighted heart. If Karna had any fault, O lord of
Earth, the delighter of Bhrigu's race would never have given him his
celestial weapons. I do not think that Karna could have been born in the
Suta order. I think him to be the son of a god, born in the Kshatriya
order. I think that he was abandoned (in infancy) in order that the race
in which he was born might be ascertained (by his features and feats). By
no means, O Shalya, could this Karna have been born in the Suta order.
With his (natural) earring and (natural) coat of mail, this mighty
car-warrior of long arms, resembling Surya himself, could not be borne by
a common woman even as a she-deer can never bear a tiger. His arms are
massive, each resembling the trunk of a prince of elephants. Behold his
chest that is so broad and capable of resisting every foe. Karna
otherwise called Vaikartana, O king, cannot be an ordinary person. Endued
with great valour, this disciple of Rama, O king of kings, is a
high-souled personage."'"


"'Duryodhana said, "Even thus did that illustrious Deity, that Grandsire
of all the worlds, viz., Brahman, act as driver on that occasion and even
thus did Rudra become the warrior. The driver of the car, O hero, should
be superior to the warrior on it. Therefore, O tiger among men, do thou
hold the reins of the steeds in this battle. As on that occasion the
Grandsire had been selected with care by all the celestials, indeed, O
great king, as one greater than Sankara, so thou that art superior to
Karna art now selected by us with care. Like the Grandsire holding the
reins of Rudra's steeds, do thou hold, without delay, the reins of
Karna's steeds in battle, O thou of great splendour."

"'Shalya said, "O foremost of men, many a time have I heard this
excellent and celestial history, recited to me, of those two lions among
gods. Indeed, I have heard how the Grandsire acted as the driver of Bhava
and how the Asuras also, O Bharata, were all destroyed with one shaft.
Krishna also had knowledge of all this before, the knowledge, viz., of
how the illustrious Grandsire had become the driver on that occasion of
yore. Indeed, Krishna knoweth the past and the future with all their
details. Knowing this fact, he became the driver, O Bharata, of Partha
like the Self-create becoming the driver of Rudra. If the Suta's son, by
some means, succeeds in slaying the son of Kunti, Keshava, beholding
Partha slain, will fight himself. That bearer of the conch, the discus,
and the mace, will then consume thy army. There is no king here that will
stay in the ranks in front of that illustrious one of Vrishni's race when
he will be excited with wrath."'"

"Sanjaya said, 'Unto the ruler of the Madras who was speaking in that
strain, that chastiser of foes, viz., thy mighty-armed son of cheerful
soul replied, saying, "Do not, O mighty-armed one, think disparagingly of
Karna, otherwise called Vaikartana, in battle, - that warrior who is the
foremost of all wielders of arms and who is acquainted with the meaning
of the whole body of our scriptures. Hearing the terrible and loud twang
of his bow and the sound of his palms, the Pandava troops fly away on all
sides. Thou hast witnessed it with thy own eyes, O mighty-armed one, how
Ghatotkaca, screened by his illusions and displaying hundreds of illusions,
was still slain that night (by Karna). Feeling a great fear all these days
Vibhatsu could never stand, fronting Karna. The mighty Bhimasena also,
moved hither and thither by the horn of Karna's bow, was, O king, addressed
in very harsh words such as 'Fool' and 'Glutton.' The two brave sons of
Madri also were defeated by Karna in great battle, though, from some
object he had in view, he did not, O sire, slay them then. That foremost
one of Vrishni's race, viz., the heroic Satyaki, the chief of the Satwata
clan, was vanquished by Karna and made carless. Others, such as all the
Srinjayas headed by Dhrishtadyumna, have been repeatedly defeated in
battle by Karna the great car-warrior who has achieved all these feats
and who excited with wrath, is competent to slay Purandara himself armed
with the thunderbolt in fight. Thyself also, O hero, art acquainted with
every weapon. Thou art, again, the master of all branches of learning.
There is none on Earth who is thy equal in might of arms. Irresistible in
prowess, thou art like a dart (Shalya) unto thy enemies. It is for this,
O king, that thou O slayer of foes, art called 'Shalya.' Encountering the
might of thy arms, all the Satwatas were unable to get the better of it.
Is Krishna superior to thee in might of arms, O king? Indeed, as Krishna
is to bear the burthen of the Pandava troops upon the slaughter of
Partha, even so art thou to bear the burthen of this vast (Kaurava) force
if Karna lays down his life. Why should he be able to resist my troops
and why shouldst not thou be able to slay the hostile troops, O sire? For
thy sake, O sire, I would willingly follow the footsteps of my (slain)
brothers and the other heroic kings of the Earth."'

"'Shalya said, "O son of Gandhari, when thou, O giver of honours,
describest me before thy troops to be superior to the son of Devaki, I am
exceedingly gratified with thee. I accept the drivership of the
celebrated son of Radha when he will fight with that foremost of the sons
of Pandu, as thou desirest. I have, however, O hero, a compact to make
with Vaikartana, and that is this: I will utter whatever words I may
wish, in this one's presence."'

"Sanjaya continued, 'Thy son then, O king, with Karna, O sire, answered
the ruler of the Madras, saying, "Let it be so" in the presence of all
the Kshatriyas. Assured by Shalya's acceptance of the drivership,
Duryodhana, filled with joy, embraced Karna. Eulogised (by bards and
panegyrists around), thy son then once more addressed Karna, saying,
"Slay all the Parthas in battle, like the great Indra slaying the
Danavas." Shalya having accepted the office of holding the reins of his
steeds, Karna, with a cheerful heart, once more addressed Duryodhana,
saying, "The ruler of the Madras does not say very cheerfully what he
says. O king, solicit him once more in sweet words." Thus addressed, the
mighty king Duryodhana, possessed of great wisdom and accomplished in
everything, once more spoke unto that lord of Earth, viz., Shalya, the
ruler of Madras, in a voice deep as that of the clouds and filling the
whole region there with the sound of that voice: "O Shalya, Karna thinks
that he should fight with Arjuna today. O tiger among men hold the reins
of Karna's steeds in battle. Having slain all the other warriors Karna
desires to slay Phalguna. I solicit thee, O king, repeatedly, in the
matter of holding the reins of his steeds. As Krishna, that foremost of
all drivers, is the counsellor of Partha, even so do thou protect the son
of Radha today from every danger."'"

"Sanjaya continued, 'Embracing thy son then, Shalya the ruler of the
Madras, joyfully answered that slayer of foes, viz., Duryodhana, saying,
"If this is what is thou thinkest, O royal son of Gandhari, O thou of
handsome features, I shall, for that, accomplish everything that may be
agreeable to thee. O chief of the Bharatas, for whatever acts I may be
fit, employing myself therein with my whole heart, I will bear the
burthen of those acts of thine. Let Karna, however, and thyself pardon me
all those words, agreeable or disagreeable, that I may speak unto Karna
from desire of his good."'"

"'Karna said, "O ruler of the Madras, be thou ever engaged in our good as
Brahman in that of Ishana, as Keshava in that of Partha."

"'Shalya said, "These four kinds of conduct - self-rebuke and self-praise,
speaking ill of others, and adulation of others, are never practised by
those that are respectable. That, however, O learned one, which I shall
say, for inspiring thy confidence is fraught with self-adulation. For all
that, listen to it duly. O puissant one, like Matali himself, I am fit to
act as the driver of even Indra in watchfulness, in managing the steeds,
in knowledge of coming danger and of the means of avoiding it, and in
competence to avoid it in practice. When thou wilt be engaged in battle
with Partha, I will hold the reins of thy steeds. Let thy anxiety be
dispelled, O Suta's son."'"


"'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,


"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding the mighty Karna take up his station from
desire of battle, the Kauravas, filled with delight, uttered loud shouts
from every side. With the beat of cymbals and the sound of drums, with
the whizz of diverse kinds of arrows and the roars of combatants endued
with great activity, all thy troops proceeded to battle, making death
only the point at which to stop. When Karna set out and the warriors of
the Kuru army were filled with joy, the Earth, O king, trembled and made
a loud noise. The seven great planets including the Sun seemed to proceed
against one another (for combat). Meteoric showers became noticeable and
all the quarters seemed ablaze. Thunders fell from a cloudless sky, and
fierce winds began to blow. Animals and birds in larger numbers kept thy
army to their right, foreboding great calamities. After Karna had set
out, his steeds tumbled down on the Earth. A frightful shower of bones
fell from the sky. The weapons (of the Kuru warriors) seemed to be
ablaze; their standards trembled; and their animals, O monarch, shed
copious tears. These and many other terrible and awful portents appeared
for the destruction of the Kurus. Stupefied by destiny, none of them
regarded those portents at all. Beholding the Suta's son setting out, all
the rulers of men (in the Kaurava army) cried victory to him. The
Kauravas regarded the Pandavas to have been already vanquished. That
slayer of hostile heroes, that foremost of car-warriors, viz.,
Vaikartana, as he stayed on his car recollecting the death of Bhishma and
Drona, blazed up with splendour like the Sun or fire. Reflecting on the
mighty feats of Partha, and burning with self-conceit and pride, and
blazing with wrath and breathing long and hard, he addressed Shalya and
said these words: "When stationed on my car and armed with my bow, I
would not take fright at Indra himself armed with the thunder and excited
with wrath. Beholding those great heroes headed by Bhishma lying on the
field of battle, do not feel any anxiety. Seeing even the faultless
Bhishma and Drona, equal unto Indra and Vishnu, those crushers of
foremost of cars and steeds and elephants, those heroes that were
unslayable, slain by the foe, I do not still experience any fear in this
battle. Acquainted with mighty weapons, and himself the foremost of
Brahmanas, why, indeed, did not the preceptor slay in battle all foes,
seeing them destroy the mightiest of our kings with their drivers and
elephants and cars? Remembering that Drona in great battle, I tell you
truly, listen to me, ye Kurus, there is none amongst you, save myself,
that is competent to bear the advancing Arjuna, that warrior who
resembles Death himself in his fiercest form. In Drona were the skills
attendant on practice, and might, and bravery, and the highest of weapons
and policy. When even that high-souled one had to succumb to Death, I
regard all the others (of our army), strengthless and on the point of
death. In this world I do not find anything, even on reflection, to be
stable, in consequence of the inevitable connection of acts. When the
preceptor himself is dead, who then will indulge in the certain belief
that he will live till even today's sun-rise? When the preceptor was thus
slain by the enemy in battle, without doubt weapons, ordinary and
celestial, and might and prowess, and achievements and wise policy, are
not able to compass the happiness of man. In energy Drona was equal to
fire or the Sun, in prowess he resembled Vishnu or Purandara; in policy
he was equal to Brihaspati or Usana; irresistible as he was, weapons
could not yet protect him. When (our) women and children are weeping and
uttering loud wails, when the valour of the Dhartarashtras has been
defeated, I know it, O Shalya, that it is I who am to fight. Proceed
therefore, against the army of our enemies. Who else, save myself, will
be able to bear those troops amongst whom are stationed the royal son of
Pandu firm in truth, and Bhimasena and Arjuna, and Satyaki, and the
twins? Therefore, O ruler of the Madras, proceed quickly, in this battle,
towards the Pancalas, the Pandavas, and the Srinjayas. Encountering them
in battle, either I will slay them, or myself to Yama's presence by the
path taken by Drona. Do not think, O Shalya, that I will not go into the
very midst of those heroes. These intestine dissensions cannot be
tolerated by me. (Without seeking to tolerate them) I will even follow in
the wake of Drona. Wise or ignorant, when his period is run out,
everybody is equally regarded by the Destroyer; no one can escape, O
learned one, for this, I will proceed against the Parthas. I am unable to
transgress my destiny. The son of Vichitravirya's son is, O king, always
engaged in doing me good. For the accomplishment of his purpose, I will
cast away my life-breaths that are so dear, and this body that is so
difficult of being cast away. This foremost of cars covered with
tigerskins, with axle producing no sound equipped with a golden seat
endued with trivenu made of silver, and unto which are yoked these
foremost of steeds, Rama gave unto me. Behold, also, O Shalya, these
beautiful bows, these standards, these maces, these shafts of fierce
forms, this blazing sword, this mighty weapon, this white conch of fierce
and loud blare. Riding upon this car decked with banners, its wheels
producing a rattle deep as that of the thunder, having white steeds yoked
unto it, and adorned with excellent quivers, I will, putting forth my
might, slay in battle that bull among car-warriors, Arjuna. If Death
himself, that universal consumer, were to protect with vigilance the son
of Pandu in battle, I would still encounter him in fight and either slay
him or myself go to Yama's presence following Bhishma. If Yama, Varuna,
Kuvera, and Vasava, with all their followers coming hither, unitedly
protect the son of Pandu in this great battle, what need of many words, I
will still vanquish him with them."'"

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