"Vaisampayana said, 'In the midst, O Bharata, of all those assembled kings, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, then said these words unto Duryodhana, 'Once on a time, Vrihaspati and Sakra went to Brahma. The Maruts also with Indra, the Vasus with Agni, the Adityas, the
[paragraph continues] Sadhyas, the seven celestial Rishis, the Gandharvas, Viswavasu, and the beautiful tribes of the Apsaras, all approached the ancient Grandsire. And having bowed down unto the Lord of the universe, all those dwellers of heaven sat around him. Just then, the two ancient deities, the Rishis Nara and Narayana, as if drawing unto themselves by their own energy the minds and energies of all who were present there, left the place.' Thereupon, Vrihaspati asked Brahma, saying,--Who are these two that leave the place without worshipping thee? Tell us, O Grandsire, who are they? Thus asked, Brahma said, 'These two, endued with ascetic merit, blazing with effulgence and beauty, illuminating both the earth and the heaven, possessed of great might, and pervading and surpassing all, are Nara and Narayana, dwelling now in the region of Brahman having arrived from the other world. Endued with great might and prowess, they shine in consequence of their own asceticism. By their acts they always contribute to the joy of the world. Worshipped by the gods and the Gandharvas, they exist only for the destruction of Asuras.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Having heard these words, Sakra went to the spot where those two were practising ascetic austerities, accompanied by all the celestials and having Vrihaspati at their head. At that time, the dwellers of heaven had been very much alarmed in consequence of a war raging between themselves and the Asuras. And Indra asked that illustrious couple to grant him a boon. Thus solicited, O best of the Bharata race, those two said,--Name thou the boon.--Upon this Sakra said unto them,--Give us your aid.--They then said unto Sakra,--We will do what thou wishest. And then it was with their aid that Sakra subsequently vanquished the Daityas and the Danavas. The chastiser of foes, Nara, slew in battle hundreds and thousands of Indra's foes among the Paulomas and the Kalakhanjas. It was this Arjuna, who, riding on a whirling car, severed in battle, with a broad-headed arrow, the head of the Asura Jambha while the latter was about to swallow him. It was he who afflicted (the Daitya city of Hiranyapura) on the other side of the ocean, having vanquished in battle sixty thousands of Nivatakavachas. It was this conqueror of hostile towns, this Arjuna of mighty arms, that gratified Agni, having vanquished the very gods with Indra at their head. And Narayana also hath, in this world, destroyed in the same way numberless other Daityas and Danavas. Even such are those two of mighty energy that are now seen united with each other. It hath been heard by us that the two heroic and mighty car-warriors, Vasudeva and Arjuna, that are now united with each other, are those same ancient gods, the divine Nara and Narayana. Amongst all on earth they are incapable of being vanquished by the Asuras and the gods headed by Indra himself. That Narayana is Krishna, and that Nara is Falguna. Indeed, they are one Soul born in twain. These two, by their acts, enjoy numerous eternal and inexhaustible regions, and are repeatedly born in those worlds when destructive wars are necessary. For this reason their
mission is to fight. Just this is what Narada, conversant with the Vedas, had said unto the Vrishnis. When thou, O Duryodhana, wilt see Kesava with conch-shell and discus, and mace in hand, and that terrible wielder of the bow, Arjuna, armed with weapons, when thou wilt behold those eternal and illustrious ones, the two Krishnas seated on the same car, then wilt thou, O child, remember these my words. Why should not such danger threaten the Kurus when thy intellect, O child, hath fallen off from both profit and virtue? If thou heedest not my words, thou shalt then have to hear of the slaughter of many, for all the Kauravas accept thy opinion. Thou art alone in holding as true the opinion, O bull of the Bharata race, only three persons, viz., Karna, a low-born Suta's son cursed by Rama, Sakuni, the son of Suvala, and thy mean and sinful brother Dussasana.'
'Karna said. 'It behoveth thee not, O blessed grandsire, to use such words towards me, for I have adopted the duties of the Kshatriya order without falling off from those of my own. Besides, what wickedness is there in me? I have no sin known to any one of Dhritarashtra's people. I have never done any injury to Dhritarashtra's son; on the other hand, I will slay all the Pandavas in battle. How can they that are wise make peace again with those that have before been injured? It is always my duty to do all that is agreeable to king Dhritarashtra, and especially to Duryodhana, for he is in possession of the kingdom.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having listened to these words of Karna, Bhishma the son of Santanu, addressing king Dhritarashtra, again said, 'Although this one often boasteth saying,--I shall slay the Pandavas,--yet he is not equal to even a sixteenth part of high-souled Pandavas. Know that the great calamity that is about to overtake thy sons of wicked souls, is the act of this wretched son of a Suta! Relying upon him, thy foolish son Suyodhana hath insulted those heroes of celestial descent, those chastiser of all foes. What, however, is that difficult feat achieved by this wretch before that is equal to any of those achieved of old by every one of the Pandavas? Beholding in the city of Virata his beloved brother slain by Dhananjaya who displayed such prowess, what did this one then do? When Dhananjaya, rushing against all the assembled Kurus, crushed them and took away their robes, was this one not there then? When thy son was being led away as a captive by the Gandharvas on the occasion of the tale of the cattle, where was this son of a Suta then who now belloweth like a bull? Even there, it was Bhima, and the illustrious Partha, and the twins, that encountered the Gandharvas and vanquished them. Ever beautiful, and always unmindful of both virtue and profit, these, O bull of the Bharata race, are the many false things, blessed be thou, that this one uttereth.'
'Having heard these words of Bhishma, the high-souled son of Bharadwaja, having paid due homage unto Dhritarashtra and the assembled kings, spoke unto him these words, 'Do that, O king, which the best of the Bharatas, Bhishma, hath said. It behoveth thee not to act
according to the words of those that are covetous of wealth. Peace with the Pandavas, before the war breaks out, seems to be the best. Everything said by Arjuna and repeated here by Sanjaya, will, I know, be accomplished by that son of Pandu, for there is no bowman equal unto him in the three world!' Without regarding, however, these words spoken by both Drona and Bhishma, the king again asked Sanjaya about the Pandavas. From that moment, when the king returned not a proper answer to Bhishma and Drona, the Kauravas gave up all hopes of life.'"