Mahabharata Udyoga Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section LXII

"Vaisampayana said, 'Without much minding Dhritarashtra, the son of Vichitravirya who was about to ask of Partha, Karna said unto Dhritarashtra's son these words, cheering up the spirit of the assembled Kurus, 'Coming to know of the false pretence under which I obtained the Brahma weapon of old from Rama, the latter told me,--When thy hour will come thy memory will fail thee in respect of this weapon. Even for so great an offence I was cursed so lightly by that great Rishi, my preceptor. That great Rishi of fierce energy is capable of consuming even the entire Earth with her seas. By attention and personal bravery, I appeased his heart. I have that weapon with me still, and my period is not yet run. I am, therefore, fully competent (to win victory) Let the responsibility be mine. Having obtained the favour of that Rishi, I will slay within the twinkling of an eye the Panchalas, the Karushas, the Matsyas, and the sons of Pritha with their sons and grandsons, and bestow on thee numerous regions won by my weapons. Let the Grandsire and Drona and all the kings stay with thee. I will slay the sons of Pritha, marching forth with the chief warriors of my army. Let that task be mine.' Unto him speaking thus, Bhishma said, 'What sayest thou, O Karna? Thy intellect is clouded at the approach of thy hour. Knowest thou not, O Karna, that when the chief is slain, the sons of Dhritarashtra will all be slain? Having heard of the feat achieved by Dhananjaya, with Krishna only as his ally, at the burning of the Khandava forest, it behoveth thee with thy friends and relatives to restrain thy mind. The shaft that the illustrious and adorable chief of the celestials, the great Indra, gave thee, thou wilt see, will be broken and reduced to ashes when struck by Kesava with his discus. That other shaft of serpentine mouth that shineth (in thy quiver) and is respectfully worshipped by thee with flowery garlands, will, O Karna, when struck by the son of Pandu with his shafts, perish with thee. O Karna, the slayer of Vana and Bhumi's son (Naraka), Vasudeva himself, who hath, in the thickest of battle, slain foes equal and even superior to thee, protecteth the diadem-decked Arjuna'.

"Karna said, 'Without doubt, the chief of the Vrishnis is even so. Further, I admit, that that high-souled one is even more than that. Let, however, the Grandsire listen to the effect of the bit of harsh speech that he hath uttered. I lay down my weapons. The Grandsire will henceforth behold me in court only and not in battle. After thou hast become quiet, the rulers of the earth will behold my prowess in this world.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having said this, that great bowman (Karna), leaving the court went to his own abode. Bhishma, however, O king, addressing Duryodhana in the midst of the Kurus, and laughing aloud, said, 'How truly doth the Suta's son keep his promise. Why having repeatedly given his pledge, saying,--The kings of Avanti and Kalinga, Jayadratha, and Chediddhaja and Valhika standing as spectators, I will slay hostile warriors by thousands and tens of thousands,--how will he discharge that obligation? Having distributed his divisions in counter-array and scattering heads by thousands, behold the havoc committed by Bhimasena. Indeed, that moment, when, representing himself as a Brahmana unto the holy and blameless Rama, Vikartana's son obtained that weapon, that vile wretch lost both his virtue and asceticism.' O king of kings, when Bhishma said this after Karna had gone away giving up his weapons, Duryodhana, that foolish son of Vichitravirya's son, addressed Santanu's son in these words.'"