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"Duryodhana said, 'Fear not, O king. Nor shouldest thou grieve for us. O monarch, O lord, we are quite able to vanquish the foe in battle. When the Parthas had been exiled to the woods, there came unto them the slayer of Madhu with a vast army in battle array and capable of crushing hostile kingdoms; and there also came unto them the Kekayas, and Dhrishtaketu, and Dhrishtadyumna of Pritha's race and numerous other kings in their train; and all those great car-warriors were assembled in a place not far from Indraprastha; and having assembled together they censured thee and all the Kurus. And O Bharata, all those warriors with Krishna at their head paid their homage unto Yudhishthira clad in deerskin and seated in their midst. And all those kings then suggested to Yudhishthira that he should take back the kingdom. And all of them desired to slay thee with all the followers. And hearing of all this, O bull of the Bharata race, I addressed Bhishma and Drona and Kripa, struck with fear, O king, at the prospect of the ruin that threatened our kindred. And I said unto them, 'I think the Pandavas will not abide by the agreement made by them; Vasudeva desireth our utter extinction. I think also that with the exception of Vidura all of you will be slain, although the chief of the Kurus, Dhritarashtra, conversant with morality, will not be included in the slaughter, O sire, effecting our complete destruction, Janardana wisheth to bestow upon Yudhishthira the entire kingdom of the Kurus. What should be done? Shall we surrender, or fly, or shall we fight the foe giving up every hope of life? If, indeed, we stand up against them, our defeat is certain, for all the kings of the earth are under Yudhishthira's command. The people of the realm are all annoyed with us, and all our friends also are angry with us. All the kings of the earth are speaking ill of us, and especially all our friends and relatives. There can be no fault in our surrender, for from time immemorial, the weaker

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party is known to conclude peace. I grieve, however, for that lord of men, my, blind father, who may, on my account, be overtaken by woe and misery that is endless. [It is known to thee, O king, even before this, that thy other sons were all opposed to the foe for pleasing me only]. Those mighty car-warriors, the sons of Pandu, will, indeed, avenge their wrongs by destroying the whole race of king Dhritarashtra with all his counsellors.--(It was thus that I addressed them, and) seeing me afflicted by great anxiety and my senses tortured, Drona and Bhishma and Kripa and Drona's son then addressed me, saying, 'Fear not, O represser of foes, for if the foe wage hostilities with us, they will not be able to vanquish us when we take the field. Every one of us is singly capable of vanquishing all the kings of the earth. Let them come. With keen-edged arrows we will curb their pride. Inflamed with anger upon the death of his father, this Bhishma (amongst us) in days of old had conquered all the kings of the earth, on a single car. O Bharata, his wrath excited, that best of the Kurus smote numberless ones amongst them, whereupon from fear, they are surrendered to this Devavrata seeking his protection. That Bhishma, united with us, is still capable of vanquishing the foe in battle. Let thy fears, therefore, O bull of the Bharata race, be all dispelled.'

"Duryodhana continued, 'Even this was the resolve then formed by these heroes of immeasurable energy. The whole earth was formerly under the foe's command. Now, however, they are incapable of vanquishing us in battle, for our enemies, the sons of Pandu, are now without allies and destitute of energy. O bull of the Bharata race, the sovereignty of the earth now resteth in me, and the kings also, assembled by me, are of the same mind with me in weal or woe. Know thou, O best of the Kuru race, that all these kings, O slayer of foes, can, for my sake, enter into the fire or the sea. They are all laughing at thee, beholding thee filled with grief and including in these lamentations like one out of his wits, and affrighted at the praises of the foe. Every one amongst these kings is able to withstand the Pandavas. Indeed, sire, every one regardeth himself; let thy fears, therefore, be dispelled. Even Vasava himself is not capable of vanquishing my vast host. The Self-create Brahma himself, if desirous of slaying it, cannot annihilate it. Having given up all hopes of a city, Yudhishthira craveth only five villages, affrighted, O lord, at the army I have assembled and at my power. The belief thou entertainest in the prowess of Vrikodara, the son of Kunti, is unfounded. O Bharata, thou knowest not the extent of my prowess. There is none on earth equal to me in an encounter with the mace. None have ever surpassed me in such an encounter, nor will any surpass me. With devoted application and undergoing many privations, I have lived in my preceptor's abode. I have completed my knowledge and exercises there. It is for this that I have no fear either of Bhima or of others. When I humbly waited upon Sankarshana (my preceptor), blessed be thou, it was his firm conviction that Duryodhana hath no equal in the mace. In battle I am

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[paragraph continues] Sankarshana's equal, and in might there is none superior to me on earth. Bhima will never be able to bear the blow of my mace in battle. A single blow, O king, that I may wrathfully deal unto Bhima will certainly, O hero, carry him without delay to the abode of Yama. O king, I wish to see Vrikodara mace in hand. This hath been my long-cherished desire. Struck in battle with my mace, Vrikodara, the son of Pritha, will fall dead on the ground, his limbs shattered. Smitten with a blow of my mace, the mountains of Himavat may split into a hundred thousands fragments. Vrikodra himself knoweth this truth, as also Vasudeva and Arjuna, that there is no one equal to Duryodhana in the use of mace. Let thy fears, therefore, caused by Vrikodara. be dispelled, for I will certainly slay him in fierce conflict. Do not, O king, give way to melancholy. And after I have slain him, numerous car-warriors of equal or superior energy, will, O bull among the Bharatas, speedily throw Arjuna down. Bhishma, Drona Kripa and Drona's son, Karna and, Bhurisravas, Salya, the king of Pragjyotish, and Jayadratha, the king of the Sindhus,--every one of these, O Bharata, is singly capable of slaying the Pandavas. When united together, they will, within a moment, send Arjuna to the abode of Yama. There, indeed, is no reason why the united army of all the kings will be incapable of vanquishing Dhananjaya singly. A hundred times shrouded by immeasurable arrows shot by Bhishma and Drona and Drona's son and Kripa, and deprived of strength, Partha will have to go unto Yama's abode. Our grandsire born of Ganga is, O Bharata, superior to Santanu himself. Like unto a regenerate saint, and incapable of being withstood by the very celestials, he took his birth amongst men. There is no slayer of Bhishma, O king, on earth, for his father, being gratified, gave him the boon,--Thou shalt not die except when it is thy own wish. And Drona took his birth in a water-pot from the regenerate saint Bharadwaja. And from Drona hath taken birth his son, having a knowledge of the highest weapons. And this the foremost of preceptors. Kripa also, hath taken his birth from the great Rishi Gautama. Born in a clump of heath this illustrious one, I think, is incapable of being slain. Then again, O king, the father, mother and maternal uncle of Aswatthaman,--these three,--are not born of woman's womb. I have that hero also on my side. All these mighty car-warriors, O king, are like unto celestials, and can, O bull of the Bharata race, inflict pain on Sakra himself in battle. Arjuna is incapable of even looking at any one of these singly. When united together, these tigers among men will certainly slay Dhananjaya. Karna also, I suppose, is equal unto Bhishma and Drona and Kripa. O Bharata, Rama himself had told him,--Thou art equal unto me. Karna had two ear-rings born with him, of great brilliance and beauty; for Sachi's gratification Indra begged them of that repressor of foes, in exchange, O king, of an infallible and terrible shaft. How would Dhananjaya, therefore, escape with life from Karna who is protected by that arrow? My success, therefore, O king, is as certain as a fruit held fast in my own grasp. The utter defeat also of my foes is already bruited about on earth. This

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[paragraph continues] Bhishma, O Bharata, killeth every day ten thousand soldiers. Equal unto him are these bowmen, Drona, Drona's son and Kripa. Then, O repressor of foes, the ranks of the Samsaptaka warriors have made this resolution,--Either we will slay Arjuna or that Ape-bannered warrior will slay us. There are other kings also, who firm in their resolve of slaying Savyasachin, regard him as unequal to themselves. Why dost thou then apprehend danger from the Pandavas? When Bhimasena will be slain, O Bharata, who else (amongst them) will fight? Tell me this, O repressor of foes, if thou knowest any amongst the foes. The five brothers, with Dhrishtadyumna and Satyaki,--these seven warriors of the enemy, O king, are regarded as their chief strength. Those, however, amongst us, that are our chief warriors, are Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Drona's son, Karna, Somadatta, Vahlika, and Salya, the king of Pragjyotisha, the two kings (Vindha and Anuvinda) of Avanti, and Jayadratha; and then, O king, thy sons Dussasana, Durmukha, Dussaha, Srutayu; Chitrasena, Purumitra, Vivingsati, Sala, Bhurisravas, and Vikarna. O king, I have assembled one and ten Akshauhinis. The army of the enemy is less than mine, amounting only to seven Akshauhinis. How then can I be defeated? Vrihaspati hath said that an army which is less by a third ought to be encountered. My army, O king, exceedeth that of the foe by a third. Besides, O Bharata, I know that the enemy hath many defects, while mine, O lord, are endued with many good virtues. Knowing all this, O Bharata, as also the superiority of my force and the inferiority of the Pandavas, it behoveth thee not to lose thy senses.

'Having said this, O Bharata, that conqueror of hostile chiefs, Duryodhana, asked Sanjaya again, anxious to known more about the doings of the Pandavas.'"

Next: Section LVI