About Tricia Thatphavong
Sacred Ganga, ample-bosomed, sweeps along in regal pride,
Rolling down her limpid waters through high banks on either side,
Childless dames and weeping widows thither in their anguish came,
Due and holy rites to render to departed chiefs of fame,
Casting forth their jewelled girdles, gems and scarfs belaced with gold,
Gave oblations of the water unto warriors true and bold,
Unto fathers, unto husbands, unto sons in battle slayed,
Offerings of the sacred water sorrowing wives and mothers made.
And so great the host of mourners wending to perform the rite,
That their footsteps made a pathway in the sad and sacred site,
And the shelving banks of Ganga, peopled by the sorrowing train,
Wide-expanding, vast and sealike, formeda scene of woe and pain!
But a wave of keener sorrow swept o'er Pritha's heaving breast,
As unto her weeping children thus her secret she expressed:
'He, my sons, the peerless bowman, mighty in his battle-car,
Who by will of fate untimely was by Arjun slain in war,
He whom as the son of Radha, chariot-driver ye have thought,
But who shone with SURYA'S lustre as his countless foes he fought,
He who faced your stoutest warriors and in battle never failed,
Bravely led the Kuru forces and in danger never quailed,
He who knew no peer in prowess, owned in war no haughtier name,
Yielded life but not his honour and by death hath conquered fame,
He in truth who never faltered, never left his vow undone,
Offer unto him oblation, Karna was my eldest son!
Karna was your honoured elder and the Sun inspired his birth,
Karna in his rings and armour Sun -like trod the spacious earth! '
Pritha spake; the Pandav brothers groaned in penitence and pain,
And they wept in woe and anguish for the brother they had slain.
Hissing forth his sigh of anguish like a crushed and wounded snake,
Sad Yudhishthir to his mother thus his inward feelings spake:
Didst thou, mother, bear the hero fathomless like ocean dread,
Whose unfailing glistening arrows like its countless billows sped,
Didst thou bear that peerless archer all-resistless in his car,
Sweeping with the roar of ocean through the shattered ranks of war?
Didst thou hide the mighty warrior, mortal man of heavcnly birth,
Crushing 'neath his arm of valour all his foemen on the earth,
Didst thou hide the birth and lineage of that chief of deathful ire,
As a man in folds of garments seeks to hide the flaming fire?
Arjun wielder of Gandiva was for us no truer stay
Than was Karna for the Kurus in the battle's dread array,
Monarchs matched not Karna's glory nor his deeds of valour done,
Midst the mighty car-borne warriors mightiest warrior Karna shone!
Woe to us! our eldest brother we have in the battle slain,
And our nearest dearest elder fell upon the gory plain,
Not the death of Abhimanyu from the fair Subbadra torn,
Not the slaughter of the princes by the proud Draupadi borne,
Not the fall of friends and kinsmen and Panchala's mighty host,
Like thy death afflicts my bosom, noble Karna loved and lost!
Monarch's empire, victor's glory, all the treasures earth can yield,
Righteous bliss and heavenly gladness, harvest of the heavenly field,
All that wish can shape and utter, all that nourish hope and pride,
All were ours, O noble Karna, hadst thou rested by our side,
And this carnage of the Kurus these sad eyes had never seen,
Peace had graced our blessed empire, happy would the earth have been! '
Long bewailed the sad Yudhishthir for his elder loved and dead,
And oblation of the water to the noble Karna made,
And the royal dames of Kuru viewed the sight with freshening pain,
Wept to see the good Yudhishthir offering to his brother slain,
And the widowed queen of Karna with the women of his house
Gave oblations to her hero, wept her loved and slaughtered spouse!
Done the rites to the, departed, done oblations to the dead,
Slowly then the sad survivors on the river's margin spread,
Far along the shore and sandbank of the sacred sealike stream
Maid and matron lave their bodies 'neath the morning's holy beam,
And ablutions done, the Kurus slow and sad and cheerless part,
Wend their way to far Hastina with a void and vacant heart.