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Page:Mahabharata - the epic of ancient India.djvu/24

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10
THE EPIC OF ANCIENT INDIA


Now the clouds with lurid flashes gathered darkling, thick and high,
Lines of cranes like gleams of laughter sailed across the gloomy sky,

Rain-god Indra over Arjun watched with father's partial love,
Watchful Surya over Karna shed his light from far above,

Arjun stood in darkening shadow by the inky clouds concealed,
Bold and bright in open sunshine radiant Karna stood revealed!

Proud Duryodhan and his brothers stood by Karna calm and bold,
Drona stood by gallant Arjun, and brave Bhishma, warrior old,

Women too with partial glances viewed the one or other chief,
But by equal love divided silent Pritha swooned in grief!

Wise Vidura, true to duty, with an anxious hurry came,
Sandal-drops and sprinkled water roused the woe-distracted dame,

And she saw her sons in combat, words of woe she uttered none,
Speechless wept, for none must fathom Karna was her eldest son!

VII

The Anointment of Karna

Crested Karna, helm├ęd Arjun, proudly trod the spacious green,
Kripa, skilled in herald's duties, spake upon the dreadful scene:

"This is helmet-wearing Arjun, sprung of Kuru's mighty race,
Pandu's son and borne by Pritha, prince of worth and warlike grace,

Long-armed Chief! declare thy lineage, and the race thou dost adorn,
Name thy mother and thy father, and the house that saw thee born,

By the rules of war Prince Arjun claims his rival chief to know,
Princes may not draw their weapon 'gainst a base and nameless foe!"

Karna silent heard this mandate but his birth could not proclaim,
Like a raindrop-pelted lotus bent his humble head in shame!