In Bhishma’s Tent

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In Bhishma’s Tent

What had happened during the day was unbearable for Duryodhana. The arrogance of the early days had disappeared: more and more he was finding that not only would the battle not end so quickly, which he had always been sure of, but on the contrary the Pandavas seemed close to an inexorable victory. The only one who could relieve him of his pain, he thought, was Karna. He went to see him in his tent and told him everything.

“Our armies are led by the greatest generals in the world,” Duryodhana told him disconsolately, “but they, Drona, Bhishma, Shalya and Kripa refuse to kill the Pandavas. It is true that every day they kill soldiers, but what good is it? Bhishma thins their ranks and Arjuna does the same with ours, so the situation doesn’t break free. To win this war we have to kill the Pandavas, not their soldiers.”

“I know how things are going,” Karna retorted, “and I would like to do something to see you victorious and happy, but at the moment I can’t. As long as Bhishma lives I will not intervene in this war. However, if you are not satisfied with his conduct, ask him to withdraw, to allow me to take the field.”

Encouraged by that speech, Duryodhana decided to go and talk to the elder. But the latter, hurt by King Kaurava’s vehement words, barely controlled his anger.

“I couldn’t kill the Pandavas even if I wanted to,” he retorted in a forcedly gentle tone. “They are protected by Krishna, and therefore not even the Devas can do anything against them; but don’t you see what Arjuna is able to do? However, tomorrow you will see what I am capable of.”

Despite that promise, when Duryodhana returned to his tent he still did not feel satisfied. Only Karna had the will and the ability to fight against the Pandavas. But he could not fight because of Bhishma. He already knew what would happen the next day: the old warrior would cause enormous carnage but the Pandavas would stay alive. So what good would it do?

But if Duryodhana was sad, Karna was sad too. He felt that the day was approaching when he would have to fight against his brothers. As he reflected, the universal form of the Lord came to mind, so with that vision before his eyes he was able little by little to calm that whirlwind of thoughts and fell asleep.

 

This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 2”.

To buy the complete book, click above

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