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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

“Karna said, ‘I behold all these blessed ones, looking as if alarmed and panic-struck and unresolved and unwilling to fight. If he that is come is the king of the Matsyas or Vibhatsu, even I will resist him as the banks resist the swelling sea. Shot from my bow these straight and flying arrows, like gliding snakes, are all sure of aim. Discharged by my light hands, these keen-edged arrows furnished with golden wings shall cover Partha all over, like locusts shrouding a tree.

Strongly pressed by these winged arrows, the bow-string will cause these my leathern fences to produce sounds that will be heard to resemble those of a couple of kettle-drums. Having been engaged in ascetic austerities for the (last) eight and five years, Vibhatsu will strike me but mildly in this conflict, and the son of Kunti having become a Brahmana endued with good qualities, hath thus become a fit person to quietly receive shafts by thousands shot by me. This mighty bowman is indeed, celebrated over the three worlds. I, too, am, by no means, inferior to Arjuna, that foremost of human beings. With golden arrows furnished with vulturine wings shot on all sides, let the firmament seem today to swarm with fire-flies.

Slaying Arjuna in battle, I will discharge today that debt, difficult of repayments, but promised of old by me unto Dhritarashtra’s son. When man is there, even amongst all the gods and the Asuras, that will endure to stand in the teeth of the straight arrows shot from my bow? Let my flying arrows, winged and depressed at the middle, present the spectacle of the coursing of the fire-flies through the welkin. Hard though he be as Indra’s thunderbolt and possessed of the energy of the chief of the celestials, I will surely grind Partha, even as one afflicts an elephant by means of burning brands. A heroic and mighty car-warrior as he is, and the foremost of all wielders of weapons I shall seize the unresisting Partha, even like Garuda seizing a snake. Irresistible like fire, and fed by the fuel of swords, darts, and arrows, the blazing Pandava-fire that consumeth foes, will be extinguished even by myself who am like unto a mighty cloud incessantly dropping an arrowy shower,–the multitude of cars (I will lead) constituting its thunder, and the speed of my horses, the wind in advance. Discharged from my bow, my arrows like venomous snakes will pierce Partha’s body, like serpent penetrating through an ant-hill.

Pierced with well-tempered and straight shafts endued with golden wings and great energy, behold ye today the son of Kunti decked like a hill covered with Karnikara flowers. Having obtained weapons from that best of ascetics–the son of Jamadagni, I would, relying on their energy, fight with even the celestials. Struck with my javelin, the ape stationed on his banner-top shall fall down today on the ground, uttering terrible cries. The firmament will today be filled with the cries of the (super-human) creatures stationed in the flagstaff of the foe, and afflicted by me, they will fly away in all directions.

I shall today pluck up by the roots the long-existing dart in Duryodhan’s heart by throwing Arjuna down from his car. The Kauravas will today behold Partha with his car broken, his horses killed, his valour gone, and himself sighing like a snake. Let the Kauravas, following their own will go away taking this wealth of kine, or, if they wish, let them stay on their cars and witness my combat.'”

“Kripa said, ‘O Radheya, thy crooked heart always inclineth to war. Thou knowest not the true nature of things; nor dost thou take into account their after-consequences. There are various kinds of expedients inferrable from the scriptures. Of these, a battle hath been regarded by those acquainted with the past, as the most sinful. It is only when time and place are favourable that military operations can lead to success. In the present instance, however, the time being unfavourable, no good results will be deprived.

A display of prowess in proper time and place becometh beneficial. It is by the favourableness or otherwise (of time and place) that the opportuneness of an act is determined. Learned men can never act according to the ideas of a car-maker. Considering all this, an encounter with Partha is not advisible for us. Alone he saved the Kurus (from the Gandharvas), and alone he satiated Agni. Alone he led the life of a Brahmacharin for five years (on the breast of Himavat). Taking up Subhadra on his car, alone he challenged Krishna to single combat. Alone he fought with Rudra who stood before him as a forester. It was in this very forest that Partha rescued Krishna while she was being taken away (by Jayadratha).

It is he alone that hath, for five years, studied the science of weapons under Indra. Alone vanquishing all foes he hath spread the fame of the Kurus. Alone that chastiser of foes vanquished in battle Chitrasena, the king of the Gandharvas and in a moment his invincible troops also. Alone he overthrew in battle the fierce Nivatakavachas and the Kalakhanchas, that were both incapable of being slain by the gods themselves. What, however, O Kama, hath been achieved by thee single-handed like any of the sons of Pandu, each of whom had alone subjugated many lords of earth? Even Indra himself is unfit to encounter Partha in battle.

He, therefore, that desireth to fight with Arjuna should take a sedative. As to thyself, thou desirest to take out the fangs of an angry snake of virulent poison by stretching forth thy right hand and extending thy forefinger. Or, wandering alone in the forest thou desirest to ride an infuriate elephant and go to a boar without a hook in hand. Or, rubbed over with clarified butter and dressed in silken robes, thou desirest to pass through the midst of a blazing fire fed with fat and tallow and clarified butter. Who is there that would, binding his own hands and feet and tying a huge stone unto his neck, cross the ocean swimming with his bare arms? What manliness is there in such an act? O Kama, he is a fool that would, without, skill in weapons and without strength, desire to fight with Partha who is so mighty and skilled in weapons? Dishonestly deceived by us and liberated from thirteen years’ exile, will not the illustrious hero annihilate us? Having ignorantly come to a place where Partha lay concealed like fire hidden in a well, we have, indeed, exposed to a great danger. But irresistible though he be in battle, we should fight against him. Let, therefore, our troops, clad in mail, stand here arrayed in ranks and ready to strike. Let Drona and Duryodhana and Bhishma and thyself and Drona’s son and ourselves, all fight with the son of Pritha.

Do not O Kama, act so rashly as to fight alone. If we six car-warriors be united, we can then be a match for and fight with that son of Pritha who is resolved to fight and who is as fierce as the wielder of the thunderbolt. Aided by our troops arrayed in ranks, ourselves–great bowmen–standing carefully will fight with Arjuna even as the Danavas encounter Vasava in battle.'”

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