Mahabharata VI


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Santanu asked, ‘What was the fault of the Vasus and who was Apava,

through whose curse the Vasus had to be born among men? What also hath

this child of thine, Gangadatta, done for which he shall have to live

among men? Why also were the Vasus, the lords of the three worlds,

condemned to be born amongst men? O daughter of Jahnu, tell me all.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, the celestial daughter of

Jahnu, Ganga, then replied unto the monarch, her husband, that bull

amongst men, saying, ‘O best of Bharata’s race, he who was obtained as

son by Varuna was called Vasishtha, the Muni who afterwards came to be

known as Apava. He had his asylum on the breast of the king of mountains

called Meru. The spot was sacred and abounded with birds and beasts. And

there bloomed at all times of the year flowers of every season. And, O

best of Bharata’s race, that foremost of virtuous men, the son of Varuna,

practised his ascetic penances in those woods abounding with sweet roots

and water.

“Daksha had a daughter known by the name of Surabhi, who, O bull of

Bharata’s race, for benefiting the world, brought forth, by her

connection with Kasyapa, a daughter (Nandini) in the form of a cow. That

foremost of all kine, Nandini, was the cow of plenty (capable of granting

every desire). The virtuous son of Varuna obtained Nandini for his Homa

rites. And Nandini, dwelling in that hermitage which was adored by Munis,

roamed about fearlessly in those sacred and delightful woods.

“One day, O bull of Bharata’s race, there came into those woods adored by

the gods and celestial Rishis, the Vasus with Prithu at their head. And

wandering there with their wives, they enjoyed themselves in those

delightful woods and mountains. And as they wandered there, the

slender-waisted wife of one of the Vasus, O thou of the prowess of Indra,

saw in those woods Nandini, the cow of plenty. And seeing that cow

possessing the wealth of all accomplishments, large eyes, full udders,

fine tail, beautiful hoofs, and every other auspicious sign, and yielding

much milk, she showed the animal to her husband Dyu. O thou of the

prowess of the first of elephants, when Dyu was shown that cow, he began

to admire her several qualities and addressing his wife, said, ‘O

black-eyed girl of fair thighs, this excellent cow belongeth to that

Rishi whose is this delightful asylum. O slender-waisted one, that mortal

who drinketh the sweet milk of this cow remaineth in unchanged youth for

ten thousand years.’ O best of monarchs, hearing this, the

slender-waisted goddess of faultless features then addressed her lord of

blazing splendour and said, ‘There is on earth a friend of mine, Jitavati

by name, possessed of great beauty and youth. She is the daughter of that

god among men, the royal sage Usinara, endued with intelligence and

devoted to truth. I desire to have this cow, O illustrious one, with her

calf for that friend of mine. Therefore, O best of celestials, bring that

cow so that my friend drinking of her milk may alone become on earth free

from disease and decrepitude. O illustrious and blameless one, it

behoveth thee to grant me this desire of mine. There is nothing that

would be more agreeable to me.’ On hearing these words of his wife, Dyu,

moved by the desire of humouring her, stole that cow, aided by his

brothers Prithu and the others. Indeed, Dyu, commanded by his lotus-eyed

wife, did her bidding, forgetting at the moment the high ascetic merits

of the Rishi who owned her. He did not think at the time that he was

going to fall by committing the sin of stealing the cow.

“When the son of Varuna returned to his asylum in the evening with fruits

he had collected, he beheld not the cow with her calf there. He began to

search for them in the woods, but when the great ascetic of superior

intelligence found not his cow on search, he saw by his ascetic vision

that she had been stolen by the Vasus. His wrath was instantly kindled

and he cursed the Vasus, saying, ‘Because the Vasus have stolen my cow of

sweet milk and handsome tail, therefore, shall they certainly be born on


“O thou bull of Bharata’s race, the illustrious Rishi Apava thus cursed

the Vasus in wrath. And having cursed them, the illustrious one set his

heart once more on ascetic meditation. And after that Brahmarshi of great

power and ascetic wealth had thus in wrath cursed the Vasus, the latter,

O king, coming to know of it, speedily came into his asylum. And

addressing the Rishi, O bull among kings, they endeavoured to pacify him.

But they failed, O tiger among men, to obtain grace from Apava–that

Rishi conversant, with all rules of virtue. The virtuous Apava, however,

said, ‘Ye Vasus, with Dhava and others, ye have been cursed by me. But ye

shall be freed from my curse within a year of your birth among men. But

he for whose deed ye have been cursed by me he, viz., Dyu, shall for his

sinful act, have to dwell on earth for a length of time. I shall not make

futile the words I have uttered in wrath. Dyu, though dwelling on Earth,

shall not beget children. He shall, however, be virtuous and conversant

with the scriptures. He shall be an obedient son to his father, but he

shall have to abstain from the pleasure of female companionship.’

“Thus addressing the Vasus, the great Rishi went away. The Vasus then

together came to me. And, O king, the begged of me the boon that as soon

as they would be born, I should throw them into the water. And, O best of

kings, I did as they desired, in order to free them from their earthly

life. And O best of kings, from the Rishi’s curse, this one only, viz.,

Dyu, himself, is to live on earth for some time.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said this, the goddess disappeared then

and there. And taking with her the child, she went away to the region she

chose. And that child of Santanu was named both Gangeya and Devavrata and

excelled his father in all accomplishments.

“Santanu, after the disappearance of his wife, returned to his capital

with a sorrowful heart. I shall now recount to thee the many virtues and

the great good fortune of the illustrious king Santanu of the Bharata

race. Indeed, it is this splendid history that is called the



(Sambhava Parva continued )

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The monarch Santanu, the most adored of the gods and

royal sages, was known in all the worlds for his wisdom, virtues, and

truthfulness (of speech). The qualities of self-control, liberality,

forgiveness, intelligence, modesty, patience and superior energy ever

dwelt in that bull among men, viz., Santanu, that great being endued with

these accomplishments and conversant with both religion and profit, the

monarch was at once the protector of the Bharata race and all human

beings. His neck was marked with (three) lines, like a conch-shell; his

shoulders were broad, and he resembled in prowess an infuriated elephant.

It would seem that all the auspicious signs of royalty dwelt in his

person, considering that to be their fittest abode. Men, seeing the

behaviour of that monarch of great achievements came to know that virtue

was ever superior to pleasure and profit. These were the attributes that

dwelt in that great being–that bull among men–Santanu. And truly there

was never a king like Santanu. All the kings of the earth, beholding him

devoted to virtue, bestowed upon that foremost of virtuous men the title

of King of kings. And all the kings of the earth during the time of that

lord-protector of the Bharata race, were without woe and fear and anxiety

of any kind. And they all slept in peace, rising from bed every morning

after happy dreams. And owing to that monarch of splendid achievements

resembling Indra himself in energy, all the kings of the earth became

virtuous and devoted to liberality, religious acts and sacrifices. And

when the earth was ruled by Santanu and other monarchs like him, the

religious merits of every order increased very greatly. The Kshatriyas

served the Brahmanas; the Vaisyas waited upon the Kshatriyas, and the

Sudras adoring the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas, waited upon the Vaisyas.

And Santanu residing in Hastinapura, the delightful capital of the Kurus,

ruled the whole earth bounded by seas. He was truthful and guileless, and

like the king of the celestials himself conversant with the dictates of

virtue. And from the combination in him of liberality, religion and

asceticism, he acquired a great good fortune. He was free from anger and

malice, and was handsome in person like Soma himself. In splendour he was

like the Sun and in impetuosity of valour like Vayu. In wrath he was like

Yama, and in patience like the Earth. And, O king, while Santanu ruled

the earth, no deer, boars, birds, or other animals were needlessly slain.

In his dominions the great virtue of kindness to all creatures prevailed,

and the king himself, with the soul of mercy, and void of desire and

wrath, extended equal protection unto all creatures. Then sacrifices in

honour of the gods, the Rishis, and Pitris commenced, and no creature was

deprived of life sinfully. And Santanu was the king and father of all–of

those that were miserable and those that had no protectors, of birds and

beasts, in fact, of every created thing. And during the rule of the best

of Kurus–of that king of kings–speech became united with truth, and the

minds of men were directed towards liberality and virtue. And Santanu,

having enjoyed domestic felicity for six and thirty years, retired into

the woods.

“And Santanu’s son, the Vasu born of Ganga, named Devavrata resembled

Santanu himself in personal beauty, in habits and behaviour, and in

learning. And in all branches of knowledge worldly or spiritual his skill

was very great. His strength and energy were extraordinary. He became a

mighty car-warrior. In fact he was a great king.

“One day, while pursuing along the banks of the Ganges a deer that he had

struck with his arrow, king Santanu observed that the river had become

shallow. On observing this, that bull among men, viz., Santanu, began to

reflect upon this strange phenomenon. He mentally asked why that first of

rivers ran out so quickly as before. And while seeking for a cause, the

illustrious monarch beheld that a youth of great comeliness, well-built

and amiable person, like Indra himself, had, by his keen celestial

weapon, checked the flow of the river. And the king, beholding this

extraordinary feat of the river Ganga having been checked in her course

near where that youth stood, became very much surprised. This youth was

no other than Santanu’s son himself. But as Santanu had seen his son only

once a few moments after his birth, he had not sufficient recollection to

identify that infant with the youth before his eyes. The youth, however,

seeing his father, knew him at once, but instead of disclosing himself,

he clouded the king’s perception by his celestial powers of illusion and

disappeared in his very sight.

“King Santanu, wondering much at what he saw and imagining the youth to

be his own son then addressed Ganga and said, ‘Show me that child.’ Ganga

thus addressed, assuming a beautiful form, and holding the boy decked

with ornaments in her right arm, showed him to Santanu. And Santanu did

not recognise that beautiful female bedecked with ornaments and attired

in fine robes of white, although he had known her before. And Ganga said,

‘O tiger among men, that eighth son whom thou hadst some time before

begat upon me is this. Know that this excellent child is conversant with

all weapons, O monarch, take him now. I have reared him with care. And go

home, O tiger among men, taking him with thee. Endued with superior

intelligence, he has studied with Vasishtha the entire Vedas with their

branches. Skilled in all weapons and a mighty bowman, he is like Indra in

battle. And, O Bharata, both the gods and the Asuras look upon him with

favour. Whatever branches of knowledge are known to Usanas, this one

knoweth completely. And so is he the master of all those Sastras that the

son of Angiras (Vrihaspati) adored by the gods and the Asuras, knoweth.

And all the weapons known to the powerful and invincible Rama, the son of

Jamadagni are known to this thy illustrious son of mighty arms. O king of

superior courage, take this thy own heroic child given unto thee by me.

He is a mighty bowman and conversant with the interpretation of all

treatises on the duties of a king.’ Thus commanded by Ganga, Santanu took

his child resembling the Sun himself in glory and returned to his

capital. And having reached his city that was like unto the celestial

capital, that monarch of Puru’s line regarded himself greatly fortunate.

And having summoned all the Pauravas together, for the protection of his

kingdom he installed his son as his heir-apparent. And O bull of

Bharata’s race, the prince soon gratified by his behaviour his father and

the other members of the Paurava race: in fact, all the subjects of the

kingdom. And the king of incomparable prowess lived happily with that son

of his.

“Four years had thus passed away, when the king one day went into the

woods on the bank of the Yamuna. And while the king was rambling there,

he perceived a sweet scent coming from an unknown direction. And the

monarch, impelled by the desire of ascertaining the cause, wandered

hither and thither. And in course of his ramble, he beheld a black-eyed

maiden of celestial beauty, the daughter of a fisherman. The king

addressing her, said, ‘Who art thou, and whose daughter? What dost thou

do here, O timid one?’ She answered, ‘Blest be thou! I am the daughter of

the chief of the fishermen. At his command, I am engaged for religious

merit, in rowing passengers across this river in my boat.’ And Santanu,

beholding that maiden of celestial form endued with beauty, amiableness,

and such fragrance, desired her for his wife. And repairing unto her

father, the king solicited his consent to the proposed match. But the

chief of the fishermen replied to the monarch, saying, ‘O king, as soon

as my daughter of superior complexion was born, it was of course,

understood that she should be bestowed upon a husband. But listen to the

desire I have cherished all along in my heart. O sinless one, thou art

truthful: if thou desirest to obtain this maiden as a gift from me, give,

me then this pledge. If, indeed, thou givest the pledge, I will of course

bestow my daughter upon thee for truly I can never obtain a husband for

her equal to thee.’

“Santanu, hearing this, replied, ‘When I have heard of the pledge thou

askest, I shall then say whether I would be able to grant it. If it is

capable of being granted, I shall certainly grant it. Otherwise how shall

I grant it.’ The fisherman said, ‘O king, what I ask of thee is this: the

son born of this maiden shall be installed by thee on thy throne and none

else shall thou make thy successor.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O Bharata, when Santanu heard this, he felt no

inclination to grant such a boon, though the fire of desire sorely burnt

him within. The king with his heart afflicted by desire returned to

Hastinapura, thinking all the way of the fisherman’s daughter. And having

returned home, the monarch passed his time in sorrowful meditation. One

day, Devavrata approaching his afflicted father said, ‘All is prosperity

with thee; all chiefs obey thee; then how is it that thou grievest thus?

Absorbed in thy own thoughts, thou speakest not a word to me in reply.

Thou goest not out on horse-back now; thou lookest pale and emaciated,

having lost all animation. I wish to know the disease thou sufferest

from, so that I may endeavour to apply a remedy.’ Thus addressed by his

son, Santanu answered, ‘Thou sayest truly, O son, that I have become

melancholy. I will also tell thee why I am so. O thou of Bharata’s line,

thou art the only scion of this our large race. Thou art always engaged

in sports of arms and achievements of prowess. But, O son, I am always

thinking of the instability of human life. If any danger overtake thee, O

child of Ganga, the result is that we become sonless. Truly thou alone

art to me as a century of sons. I do not, therefore, desire to wed again.

I only desire and pray that prosperity may ever attend thee so that our

dynasty may be perpetuated. The wise say that he that hath one son hath

no son. Sacrifices before fire and the knowledge of the three Vedas

yield, it is true, everlasting religious merit, but all these, in point

of religious merit, do not, come up to a sixteenth part of the religious

merit attainable on the birth of a son. Indeed, in this respect, there is

hardly any difference between men and the lower animals. O wise one, I do

not entertain a shadow of doubt that one attains to heaven in consequence

of his having begotten a son. The Vedas which constitute the root of the

Puranas and are regarded as authoritative even by the gods, contain

numerous proof of this. O thou of Bharata’s race, thou art a hero of

excitable temper, who is always engaged in the exercise of arms. It is

very probable that thou wilt be slain on the field of battle. If it so

happen, what then will be the state of the Bharata dynasty, It is this

thought that hath made me so melancholy. I have now told thee fully the

causes of my sorrow.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Devavrata who was endued with great

intelligence, having ascertained all this from the king, reflected within

himself for a while. He then went to the old minister devoted to his

father’s welfare and asked him about the cause of the king’s grief. O

bull of Bharata’s race, when the prince questioned the minister, the

latter told him about the boon that was demanded by the chief of the

fishermen in respect of his daughter Gandhavati. Then Devavrata,

accompanied by many Kshatriya chiefs of venerable age, personally

repaired to the chief of the fishermen and begged of him his daughter on

behalf of the king. The chief of the fishermen received him with due

adorations, and, O thou of Bharata’s race, when the prince took his seat

in the court of the chief, the latter addressed him and said, ‘O bull

among the Bharatas, thou art the first of all wielders of weapons and the

only son of Santanu. Thy power is great. But I have something to tell

thee. If the bride’s father was Indra himself, even then he would have to

repent of rejecting such an exceedingly honourable and desirable proposal

of marriage. The great man of whose seed this celebrated maiden named

Satyavati was born, is, indeed, equal to you in virtue. He hath spoken to

me on many occasions of the virtues of thy father and told me that, the

king alone is worthy of (marrying) Satyavati. Let me tell you that I have

even rejected the solicitations of that best of Brahmarshis–the

celestial sage Asita–who, too, had often asked for Satyavati’s hand in

marriage. I have only one word to say on the part of this maiden. In the

matter of the proposed marriage there is one great objection founded on

the fact of a rival in the person of a co-wife’s son. O oppressor of all

foes, he hath no security, even if he be an Asura or a Gandharva, who

hath a rival in thee. There is this only objection to the proposed

marriage, and nothing else. Blest be thou! But this is all I have to say

in the matter of the bestowal or otherwise, of Satyavati.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O thou of Bharata’s race, Devavrata, having

heard these words, and moved by the desire of benefiting his father thus

answered in the hearing of the assembled chiefs, ‘O foremost of truthful

men, listen to the vow I utter! The man has not been or will not be born,

who will have the courage to take such a vow! I shall accomplish all that

thou demandest! The son that may be born of this maiden shall be our

king.’ Thus addressed, the chief of the fishermen, impelled by desire of

sovereignty (for his daughter’s son), to achieve the almost impossible,

then said, ‘O thou of virtuous soul, thou art come hither as full agent

on behalf of thy father Santanu of immeasurable glory; be thou also the

sole manager on my behalf in the matter of the bestowal of this my

daughter. But, O amiable one, there is something else to be said,

something else to be reflected upon by thee. O suppressor of foes, those

that have daughters, from the very nature of their obligations, must say

what I say. O thou that art devoted to truth, the promise thou hast given

in the presence of these chiefs for the benefit of Satyavati, hath,

indeed, been worthy of thee. O thou of mighty arms, I have not the least

doubt of its ever being violated by thee. But I have my doubts in respect

of the children thou mayst beget.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O king, the son of Ganga, devoted to truth,

having ascertained the scruples of the chief of the fishermen, then said,

moved thereto by the desire of benefiting his father, ‘Chief of

fishermen, thou best of men, listen to what I say in the presence of

these assembled kings. Ye kings, I have already relinquished my right to

the throne, I shall now settle the matter of my children. O fisherman,

from this day I adopt the vow of Brahmacharya (study and meditation in

celibacy). If I die sonless, I shall yet attain to regions of perennial

bliss in heaven!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Upon these words of the son of Ganga, the hair

on the fisherman’s body stood on end from glee, and he replied, ‘I bestow

my daughter!’ Immediately after, the Apsaras and the gods with diverse

tribes of Rishis began to rain down flowers from the firmament upon the

head of Devavrata and exclaimed, ‘This one is Bhishma (the terrible).’

Bhishma then, to serve his father, addressed the illustrious damsel and

said, ‘O mother, ascend this chariot, and let us go unto our house.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said this, Bhishma helped the beautiful

maiden into his chariot. On arriving with her at Hastinapura, he told

Santanu everything as it had happened. And the assembled kings, jointly

and individually, applauded his extraordinary act and said, ‘He is really

Bhishma (the terrible)!’ And Santanu also, hearing of the extraordinary

achievements of his son, became highly gratified and bestowed upon the

high-souled prince the boon of death at will, saying, ‘Death shall never

come to thee as long as thou desirest to live. Truly death shall approach

thee, O sinless one, having first obtained thy command.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O monarch, after the nuptials were over, king

Santanu established his beautiful bride in his household. Soon after was

born of Satyavati an intelligent and heroic son of Santanu named

Chitrangada. He was endued with great energy and became an eminent man.

The lord Santanu of great prowess also begat upon Satyavati another son

named Vichitravirya, who became a mighty bowman and who became king after

his father. And before that bull among men, viz., Vichitravirya, attained

to majority, the wise king Santanu realised the inevitable influence of

Time. And after Santanu had ascended to heaven. Bhishma, placing himself

under the command of Satyavati, installed that suppressor of foes, viz.,

Chitrangada, on the throne, who, having soon vanquished by his prowess

all monarchs, considered not any man as his equal. And beholding that he

could vanquish men, Asuras, and the very gods, his namesake, the powerful

king of the Gandharvas, approached him for an encounter. Between that

Gandharva and that foremost one of the Kurus, who were both very

powerful, there occurred on the field of Kurukshetra a fierce combat

which lasted full three years on the banks of the Saraswati. In that

terrible encounter characterised by thick showers of weapons and in which

the combatants ground each other fiercely, the Gandharva, who had greater

prowess or strategic deception, slew the Kuru prince. Having slain

Chitrangada–that first of men and oppressor of foes–the Gandharva

ascended to heaven. When that tiger among men endued with great prowess

was slain, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, performed, O king, all his

obsequies. He then installed the boy Vichitravirya of mighty arms, still

in his minority, on the throne of the Kurus. And Vichitravirya, placing

himself under the command of Bhishma, ruled the ancestral kingdom. And he

adored Santanu’s son Bhishma who was conversant with all the rules of

religion and law; so, indeed, Bhishma also protected him that was so

obedient to the dictates of duty.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O thou of Kuru’s race, after Chitrangada was slain,

his successor Vichitravirya being a minor, Bhishma ruled the kingdom,

placing himself under the command of Satyavati. When he saw that his

brother, who was the foremost of intelligent men, attained to majority,

Bhishma set his heart upon marrying Vichitravirya. At this time he heard

that the three daughters of the king of Kasi, all equal in beauty to the

Apsaras themselves, would be married on the same occasion, selecting

their husbands at a self-choice ceremony. Then that foremost of

car-warriors, that vanquisher of all foes, at the command of his mother,

went to the city of Varanasi in a single chariot. There Bhishma, the son

of Santanu, saw that innumerable monarchs had come from all directions;

and there he also saw those three maidens that would select their own

husbands. And when the (assembled) kings were each being mentioned by

name, Bhishma chose those maidens (on behalf of his brother). And taking

them upon his chariot, Bhishma, that first of smiters in battle,

addressed the kings, O monarch, and said in a voice deep as the roar of

the clouds, ‘The wise have directed that when an accomplished person has

been invited, a maiden may be bestowed on him, decked with ornaments and

along with many valuable presents. Others again may bestow their

daughters by accepting a couple of kine. Some again bestow their

daughters by taking a fixed sum, and some take away maidens by force.

Some wed with the consent of the maidens, some by drugging them into

consent, and some by going unto the maidens’ parents and obtaining their

sanction. Some again obtain wives as presents for assisting at

sacrifices. Of these, the learned always applaud the eighth form of

marriage. Kings, however, speak highly of the Swyamvara (the fifth form

as above) and themselves wed according to it. But the sages have said

that, that wife is dearly to be prized who is taken away by force, after

the slaughter of opponents, from amidst the concourse of princes and

kings invited to a self-choice ceremony. Therefore, ye monarchs, I bear

away these maidens hence by force. Strive ye, to the best of your might,

to vanquish me or to be vanquished. Ye monarchs, I stand here resolved to

fight!’ Kuru prince, endued with great energy, thus addressing the

assembled monarchs and the king of Kasi, took upon his car those maidens.

And having taken them up, he sped his chariot away, challenging the

invited kings to a fight.

“The challenged monarchs then all stood up, slapping their arms and

biting their nether lips in wrath. And loud was the din produced, as, in

a great hurry, they began to cast off their ornaments and put on their

armour. And the motion of their ornaments and armour, O Janamejaya,

brilliant as these were, resembled meteoric flashes in the sky. And with

brows contracted and eyes red with rage, the monarchs moved in

impatience, their armour and ornaments dazzling or waving with their

agitated steps. The charioteers soon brought handsome cars with fine

horses harnessed thereto. Those splendid warriors then, equipped with all

kinds of weapons, rode on those cars, and with uplifted weapons pursued

the retreating chief of the Kurus. Then, O Bharata, occurred the terrible

encounter between those innumerable monarchs on one side and the Kuru

warrior alone on the other. And the assembled monarchs threw at their foe

ten thousand arrows at the same time. Bhishma, however speedily checked

those numberless arrows before they could come at him by means of a

shower of his own arrows as innumerable as the down on the body. Then

those kings surrounded him from all sides and rained arrows on him like

masses of clouds showering on the mountain-breast. But Bhishma, arresting

with his shafts the course of that arrowy downpour, pierced each of the

monarchs with three shafts. The latter, in their turn pierced Bhishma,

each with five shafts. But, O king, Bhishma checked those by his prowess

and pierced each of the contending kings with two shafts. The combat

became so fierce with that dense shower of arrows and other missiles that

it looked very much like the encounter between the celestials and the

Asuras of old, and men of courage who took no part in it were struck with

fear even to look at the scene. Bhishma cut off, with his arrows, on the

field of battle, bows, and flagstaffs, and coats of mail, and human heads

by hundreds and thousands. And such was his terrible prowess and

extraordinary lightness of hand, and such the skill with which he

protected himself, that the contending car-warriors, though his enemies,

began to applaud him loudly. Then that foremost of all wielders of

weapons having vanquished in battle all those monarchs, pursued his way

towards the capital of the Bharatas, taking those maidens with him.

“It was then, O king, that mighty car-warrior, king Salya of immeasurable

prowess, from behind summoned Bhishma, the son of Santanu, to an

encounter. And desirous of obtaining the maidens, he came upon Bhishma

like a mighty leader of a herd of elephants rushing upon another of his

kind, and tearing with his tusks the latter’s hips at the sight of a

female elephant in heat. And Salya of mighty arms, moved by wrath

addressed Bhishma and said, ‘Stay, Stay.’ Then Bhishma, that tiger among

men, that grinder of hostile armies, provoked by these words, flamed up

in wrath like a blazing fire. Bow in hand, and brow furrowed into

wrinkles, he stayed on his car, in obedience to Kshatriya usage having

checked its course in expectation of the enemy. All the monarchs seeing

him stop, stood there to become spectators of the coming encounter

between him and Salya. The two then began to exhibit their prowess (upon

each other) like roaring bulls of great strength at the sight of a cow in

rut. Then that foremost of men, king Salya covered Bhishma, the son of

Santanu with hundreds and thousands of swift-winged shafts. And those

monarchs seeing Salya thus covering Bhishma at the outset with

innumerable shafts, wondered much and uttered shouts of applause.

Beholding his lightness of hand in combat, the crowd of regal spectators

became very glad and applauded Salya greatly. That subjugator of hostile

towns, Bhishma, then, on hearing those shouts of the Kshatriyas, became

very angry and said, ‘Stay, Stay’. In wrath, he commanded his charioteer,

saying, ‘Lead thou my car to where Salya is, so that I may slay him

instantly as Garuda slays a serpent.’ Then the Kuru chief fixed the

Varuna weapon on his bow-string, and with it afflicted the four steeds of

king Salya. And, O tiger among kings, the Kuru chief, then, warding off

with his weapons those of his foe, slew Salya’s charioteer. Then that

first of men, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, fighting for the sake of those

damsels, slew with the Aindra weapon the noble steeds of his adversary.

He then vanquished that best of monarchs but left him with his life. O

bull of Bharata’s race, Salya, after his defeat, returned to his kingdom

and continued to rule it virtuously. And O conqueror of hostile towns,

the other kings also, who had come to witness, the self-choice ceremony

returned to their own kingdoms.

“That foremost of smiters, viz., Bhishma, after defeating those monarchs,

set out with those damsels, for Hastinapura whence the virtuous Kuru

prince Vichitravirya ruled the earth like that best of monarchs, viz.,

his father Santanu. And, O king, passing through many forests, rivers,

hills, and woods abounding with trees, he arrived (at the capital) in no

time. Of immeasurable prowess in battle, the son of the ocean-going

Ganga, having slain numberless foes in battle without a scratch on his

own person, brought the daughters of the king of Kasi unto the Kurus as

tenderly if they were his daughters-in-law, or younger sisters, or

daughters. And Bhishma of mighty arms, impelled by the desire of

benefiting his brother, having by his prowess brought them thus, then

offered those maidens possessing every accomplishment unto Vichitravirya.

Conversant with the dictates of virtue, the son of Santanu, having

achieved such an extraordinary feat according to (kingly) custom, then

began to make preparations for his brother’s wedding. And when everything

about the wedding had been settled by Bhishma in consultation with

Satyavati, the eldest daughter of the king of Kasi, with a soft smile,

told him these words, ‘At heart I had chosen the king of Saubha for my

husband. He had, in his heart, accepted me for his wife. This was also

approved by my father. At the self-choice ceremony also I would have

chosen him as my lord. Thou art conversant with all the dictates of

virtue, knowing all this, do as thou likest.’ Thus addressed by that

maiden in the presence of the Brahmanas, the heroic Bhishma began to

reflect as to what should be done. As he was conversant with the rules of

virtue, he consulted with the Brahmanas who had mastered the Vedas, and

permitted Amba, the eldest daughter of the ruler of Kasi to do as she

liked. But he bestowed with due rites the two other daughters, Ambika and

Ambalika on his younger brother Vichitravirya. And though Vichitravirya

was virtuous and abstemious, yet, proud of youth and beauty, he soon

became lustful after his marriage. And both Ambika and Ambalika were of

tall stature, and of the complexion of molten gold. And their heads were

covered with black curly hair, and their finger-nails were high and red;

their hips were fat and round, and their breasts full and deep. And

endued with every auspicious mark, the amiable young ladies considered

themselves to be wedded to a husband who was every way worthy of

themselves, and extremely loved and respected Vichitravirya. And

Vichitravirya also, endued with the prowess of the celestials and the

beauty of the twin Aswins, could steal the heart of any beautiful woman.

And the prince passed seven years uninterruptedly in the company of his

wives. He was attacked while yet in the prime of youth, with phthisis.

Friends and relatives in consultation with one another tried to effect a

cure. But in spite of all efforts, the Kuru prince died, setting like the

evening sun. The virtuous Bhishma then became plunged into anxiety and

grief, and in consultation with Satyavati caused the obsequial rites of

the deceased to be performed by learned priests and the several of the

Kuru race.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The unfortunate Satyavati then became plunged in

grief on account of her son. And after performing with her

daughters-in-law the funeral rites of the deceased, consoled, as best she

could, her weeping daughters-in-law and Bhishma, that foremost of all

wielders of weapons. And turning her eyes to religion, and to the

paternal and maternal lines (of the Kurus), she addressed Bhishma and

said ‘The funeral cake, the achievements, and the perpetuation of the

line of the virtuous and celebrated Santanu of Kuru’s race, all now

depend on thee. As the attainment of heaven is inseparable from good

deeds, as long life is inseparable from truth and faith, so is virtue

inseparable from thee. O virtuous one, thou art well-acquainted, in

detail and in the abstract, with the dictates of virtue, with various

Srutis, and with all the branches of the Vedas; know very well that thou

art equal unto Sukra and Angiras as regards firmness in virtue, knowledge

of the particular customs of families, and readiness of inventions under

difficulties. Therefore, O foremost of virtuous men, relying on thee

greatly, I shall appoint thee in a certain matter. Hearing me, it

behoveth thee to do my bidding. O bull among men, my son and thy brother,

endued with energy and dear unto thee, hath gone childless to heaven

while still a boy. These wives of thy brother, the amiable daughters of

the ruler of Kasi, possessing beauty and youth, have become desirous of

children. Therefore, O thou of mighty arms, at my command, raise

offspring on them for the perpetuation of our line. It behoveth thee to

guard virtue against loss. Install thyself on the throne and rule the

kingdom of the Bharatas. Wed thou duly a wife. Plunge not thy ancestors

into hell.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by his mother and friends and

relatives, that oppressor of foes, the virtuous Bhishma, gave this reply

conformable to the dictates of virtue, ‘O mother, what thou sayest is

certainly sanctioned by virtue. But thou knowest what my vow is in the

matter of begetting children. Thou knowest also all that transpired in

connection with thy dower. O Satyavati, I repeat the pledge I once gave,

viz., I would renounce three worlds, the empire of heaven, anything that

may be greater than that, but truth I would never renounce. The earth may

renounce its scent, water may renounce its moisture, light may renounce

its attribute of exhibiting forms, air may renounce its attribute of

touch, the sun may renounce his glory, fire, its heat, the moon, his

cooling rays, space, its capacity of generating sound, the slayer of

Vritra, his prowess, the god of justice, his impartiality; but I cannot

renounce truth.’ Thus addressed by her son endued with wealth of energy,

Satyavati said unto Bhishma, ‘O thou whose prowess is truth, I know of

thy firmness in truth. Thou canst, if so minded, create, by the help of

thy energy, three worlds other than those that exist. I know what thy vow

was on my account. But considering this emergency, bear thou the burden

of the duty that one oweth to his ancestors. O punisher of foes, act in

such a way that the lineal link may not be broken and our friends and

relatives may not grieve.’ Thus urged by the miserable and weeping

Satyavati speaking such words inconsistent with virtue from grief at the

loss of her son, Bhishma addressed her again and said, ‘O Queen, turn not

thy eyes away from virtue. O, destroy us not. Breach of truth by a

Kshatriya is never applauded in our treatises on religion. I shall soon

tell thee, O Queen, what the established Kshatriya usage is to which

recourse may be had to prevent Santanu’s line becoming extinct on earth.

Hearing me, reflect on what should be done in consultation with learned

priests and those that are acquainted with practices allowable in times

of emergency and distress, forgetting not at the same time what the

ordinary course of social conduct is.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Bhishma continued, ‘In olden days, Rama, the son of Jamadagni, in anger

at the death of his father, slew with his battle axe the king of the

Haihayas. And Rama, by cutting off the thousand arms of Arjuna (the

Haihaya king), achieved a most difficult feat in the world. Not content

with this, he set out on his chariot for the conquest of the world, and

taking up his bow he cast around his mighty weapons to exterminate the

Kshatriyas. And the illustrious scion of Bhrigu’s race, by means of his

swift arrows annihilated the Kshatriya tribe one and twenty times.

“And when the earth was thus deprived of Kshatriyas by the great Rishi,

the Kshatriya ladies all over the land had offspring raised by Brahmanas

skilled in the Vedas. It has been said in the Vedas that the sons so

raised belongeth to him that had married the mother. And the Kshatriya

ladies went in unto the Brahamanas not lustfully but from motives of

virtue. Indeed, it was thus that the Kshatriya race was revived.

“In this connection there is another old history that I will recite to

you. There was in olden days a wise Rishi of the name of Utathya. He had

a wife of the name Mamata whom he dearly loved. One day Utathya’s younger

brother Vrihaspati, the priest of the celestials, endued with great

energy, approached Mamata. The latter, however, told her husband’s

younger brother–that foremost of eloquent men–that she had conceived

from her connection with his elder brother and that, therefore, he should

not then seek for the consummation of his wishes. She continued, ‘O

illustrious Vrihaspati, the child that I have conceived hath studied in

his mother’s womb the Vedas with the six Angas, Semen tuum frustra perdi

non potest. How can then this womb of mine afford room for two children

at a time? Therefore, it behoveth thee not to seek for the consummation

of thy desire at such a time. Thus addressed by her, Vrihaspati, though

possessed of great wisdom, succeeded not in suppressing his desire. Quum

auten jam cum illa coiturus esset, the child in the womb then addressed

him and said, ‘O father, cease from thy attempt. There is no space here

for two. O illustrious one, the room is small. I have occupied it first.

Semen tuum perdi non potest. It behoveth thee not to afflict me.’ But

Vrihaspati without listening to what that child in the womb said, sought

the embraces of Mamata possessing the most beautiful pair of eyes. Ille

tamen Muni qui in venture erat punctum temporis quo humor vitalis jam

emissum iret providens, viam per quam semen intrare posset pedibus

obstruxit. Semen ita exhisum, excidit et in terram projectumest. And the

illustrious Vrihaspati, beholding this, became indignant, and reproached

Utathya’s child and cursed him, saying, ‘Because thou hast spoken to me

in the way thou hast at a time of pleasure that is sought after by all

creatures, perpetual darkness shall overtake thee.’ And from this curse

of the illustrious Vrishaspati Utathya’s child who was equal unto

Vrihaspati in energy, was born blind and came to be called Dirghatamas

(enveloped in perpetual darkness). And the wise Dirghatamas, possessed of

a knowledge of the Vedas, though born blind, succeeded yet by virtue of

his learning, in obtaining for a wife a young and handsome Brahmana

maiden of the name of Pradweshi. And having married her, the illustrious

Dirghatamas, for the expansion of Utathya’s race, begat upon her several

children with Gautama as their eldest. These children, however, were all

given to covetousness and folly. The virtuous and illustrious Dirghatamas

possessing complete mastery over the Vedas, soon after learnt from

Surabhi’s son the practices of their order and fearlessly betook himself

to those practices, regarding them with reverence. (For shame is the

creature of sin and can never be where there is purity of intention).

Then those best of Munis that dwelt in the same asylum, beholding him

transgress the limits of propriety became indignant, seeing sin where sin

was not. And they said, ‘O, this man, transgresseth the limit of

propriety. No longer doth he deserve a place amongst us. Therefore, shall

we all cast this sinful wretch off.’ And they said many other things

regarding the Muni Dirghatamas. And his wife, too, having obtained

children, became indignant with him.

“The husband then addressing his wife Pradweshi, said, ‘Why is it that

thou also hast been dissatisfied with me?’ His wife answered, ‘The

husband is called the Bhartri because he supporteth the wife. He is

called Pati because he protecteth her. But thou art neither, to me! O

thou of great ascetic merit, on the other hand, thou hast been blind from

birth, it is I who have supported thee and thy children. I shall not do

so in future.’

“Hearing these words of his wife, the Rishi became indignant and said

unto her and her children, ‘Take me unto the Kshatriyas and thou shalt

then be rich.’ His wife replied (by saying), ‘I desire not wealth that

may be procured by thee, for that can never bring me happiness. O best of

Brahmanas, do as thou likest. I shall not be able to maintain thee as

before.’ At these words of his wife, Dirghatamas said, ‘I lay down from

this day as a rule that every woman shall have to adhere to one husband

for her life. Be the husband dead or alive, it shall not be lawful for a

woman to have connection with another. And she who may have such

connection shall certainly be regarded as fallen. A woman without husband

shall always be liable to be sinful. And even if she be wealthy she shall

not be able to enjoy that wealth truly. Calumny and evil report shall

ever dog her.’ Hearing these words of her husband Pradweshi became very

angry, and commanded her sons, saying, ‘Throw him into the waters of

Ganga!’ And at the command of their mother, the wicked Gautama and his

brothers, those slaves of covetousness and folly, exclaiming, ‘Indeed,

why should we support this old man?–‘tied the Muni to a raft and

committing him to the mercy of the stream returned home without

compunction. The blind old man drifting along the stream on that raft,

passed through the territories of many kings. One day a king named Vali

conversant with every duty went to the Ganges to perform his ablutions.

And as the monarch was thus engaged, the raft to which the Rishi was

tied, approached him. And as it came, the king took the old man. The

virtuous Vali, ever devoted to truth, then learning who the man was that

was thus saved by him, chose him for raising up offspring. And Vali said,

‘O illustrious one, it behoveth thee to raise upon my wife a few sons

that shall be virtuous and wise.’ Thus addressed, the Rishi endued with

great energy, expressed his willingness. Thereupon king Vali sent his

wife Sudeshna unto him. But the queen knowing that the latter was blind

and old went not unto him, she sent unto him her nurse. And upon that

Sudra woman the virtuous Rishi of passions under full control begat

eleven children of whom Kakshivat was the eldest. And beholding those

eleven sons with Kakshivat as the eldest, who had studied all the Vedas

and who like Rishis were utterers of Brahma and were possessed of great

power, king Vali one day asked the Rishi saying, ‘Are these children

mine?’ The Rishi replied, ‘No, they are mine. Kakshivat and others have

been begotten by me upon a Sudra woman. Thy unfortunate queen Sudeshna,

seeing me blind and old, insulted me by not coming herself but sending

unto me, instead, her nurse.’ The king then pacified that best of Rishis

and sent unto him his queen Sudeshna. The Rishi by merely touching her

person said to her, ‘Thou shalt have five children named Anga, Vanga,

Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma, who shall be like unto Surya (Sun) himself in

glory. And after their names as many countries shall be known on earth.

It is after their names that their dominions have come to be called Anga,

Vanga, Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma.’

“It was thus that the line of Vali was perpetuated, in days of old, by a

great Rishi. And it was thus also that many mighty bowmen and great

car-warriors wedded to virtue, sprung in the Kshatriya race from the seed

of Brahmanas. Hearing this, O mother, do as thou likest, as regards the

matter in hand.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Bhishma, continued, ‘Listen, O mother, to me as I indicate the means by

which the Bharata line may be perpetuated. Let an accomplished Brahmana

be invited by an offer of wealth, and let him raise offspring upon the

wives of Vichitravirya.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Satyavati, then, smiling softly and in voice

broken in bashfulness, addressed Bhishma saying, ‘O Bharata of mighty

arms, what thou sayest is true. From my confidence in thee I shall now

indicate the means of perpetuating our line. Thou shall not be able to

reject it, being conversant, as thou art, with the practices permitted in

seasons of distress. In our race, thou art Virtue, and thou art Truth,

and thou art, too, our sole refuge. Therefore hearing what I say truly,

do what may be proper.

“My father was a virtuous man. For virtue’s sake he had kept a (ferry)

boat. One day, in the prime of my youth, I went to ply that boat. It so

happened that the great and wise Rishi Parasara, that foremost of all

virtuous men, came, and betook himself to my boat for crossing the

Yamuna. As I was rowing him across the river, the Rishi became excited

with desire and began to address me in soft words. The fear of my father

was uppermost in my mind. But the terror of the Rishi’s curse at last

prevailed. And having obtained from him a precious boon, I could not

refuse his solicitations. The Rishi by his energy brought me under his

complete control, and gratified his desire then and there, having first

enveloped the region in a thick fog. Before this there was a revolting

fishy odour in my body; but the Rishi dispelled it and gave me my present

fragrance. The Rishi also told me that by bringing forth his child in an

island of the river, I would still continue (to be) a virgin. And the

child of Parasara so born of me in my maidenhood hath become a great

Rishi endued with large ascetic powers and known by the name of

Dwaipayana (the island-born). That illustrious Rishi having by his

ascetic power divided the Vedas into four parts hath come to be called on

earth by the name of Vyasa (the divider or arranger), and for his dark

colour, Krishna (the dark). Truthful in speech, free from passion, a

mighty ascetic who hath burnt all his sins, he went away with his father

immediately after his birth. Appointed by me and thee also, that Rishi of

incomparable splendour will certainly beget good children upon the wives

of thy brother. He told me when he went away, ‘Mother, think of me when

thou art in difficulty.’ I will now call him up, if thou, O Bhishma of

mighty arms so desirest. If thou art willing, O Bhishma, I am sure that

great ascetic will beget children upon Vichitravirya’s field.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Mention being made of the great Rishi, Bhishma

with joined palms said, ‘That man is truly intelligent who fixes his eyes

judiciously on virtue, profit, and pleasure, and who after reflecting

with patience, acteth in such a way that virtue may lead to future

virtue, profit to future profit and pleasure to future pleasure.

Therefore, that which hath been said by thee and which, besides being

beneficial to us, is consistent with virtue, is certainly the best advice

and hath my full approval.’ And when Bhishma had said this, O thou of

Kuru’s race, Kali (Satyavati) thought of the Muni Dwaipayana and

Dwaipayana who was then engaged in interpreting the Vedas, learning that

he was being called up by his mother, came instantly unto her without

anybody’s knowing it. Satayavati then duly greeted her son and embraced

him with arms, bathing him in her tears, for the daughter of the

fisherman wept bitterly at the sight of her son after so long a time. And

her first son, the great Vyasa, beholding her weeping, washed her with

cool water, and bowing unto her, said, ‘I have come, O mother, to fulfil

thy wishes. Therefore, O virtuous one, command me without delay. I shall

accomplish thy desire.’ The family priest of the Bharatas then worshipped

the great Rishi duly, and the latter accepted the offerings of worship,

uttering the usual mantras. And gratified with the worship he received,

he took his seat. Satyavati, beholding him seated at his ease, after the

usual inquiries, addressed him and said, ‘O learned one, sons derive

their birth both from the father and the mother. They are, therefore, the

common property of both parents. There cannot be the least doubt about it

that the mother, hath as much power over them as the father. As thou art,

indeed, my eldest son according to the ordinance, O Brahmarshi, so is

Vichitravirya my youngest son. And as Bhishma is Vichitravirya’s brother

on the father’s side, so art thou his brother on the same mother’s side.

I do not know what you may think, but this is what, O son, I think. This

Bhishma, the son of Santanu, devoted to truth, doth not, for the sake, of

truth, entertain the desire of either begetting children or ruling the

kingdom. Therefore, from affection for thy brother Vichitravirya, for the

perpetuation of our dynasty, for the sake of this Bhishma’s request and

my command, for kindness to all creatures, for the protection of the

people and from the liberality of thy heart, O sinless one, it behoveth

thee to do what I say. Thy younger brother hath left two widows like unto

the daughters of the celestials themselves, endued with youth and great

beauty. For the sake of virtue and religion, they have become desirous of

offspring. Thou art the fittest person to be appointed. Therefore beget

upon them children worthy of our race and for the continuance of our


“Vyasa, hearing this, said, ‘O Satyavati, thou knowest what virtue is

both in respect of this life and the other. O thou of great wisdom, thy

affections also are set on virtue. Therefore, at thy command, making

virtue my motive, I shall do what thou desirest. Indeed, this practice

that is conformable to the true and eternal religion is known to me, I

shall give unto my brother children that shall be like unto Mitra and

Varuna. Let the ladies then duly observe for one full year the vow I

indicate. They shall then be purified. No women shall ever approach me

without having observed a rigid vow.’

“Satyavati then said, ‘O sinless one, it must be as thou sayest. Take

such steps that the ladies may conceive immediately. In a kingdom where

there is no king, the people perish from want of protection; sacrifices

and other holy acts are suspended; the clouds send no showers; and the

gods disappear. How can a kingdom be protected that hath no king?

Therefore, see thou that the ladies conceive. Bhishma will watch over the

children as long as they are in their mother’s wombs.

“Vyasa replied, ‘If I am to give unto my brother children so

unseasonably, then let the ladies bear my ugliness. That in itself shall,

in their case, be the austerest of penances. If the princess of Kosala

can bear my strong odour, my ugly and grim visage, my attire and body,

she shall then conceive an excellent child.'”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having spoken thus unto Satyavati, Vyasa of

great energy addressed her and said, ‘Let the princess of Kosala clad in

clean attire and checked with ornaments wait for me in her bed-chamber.’

Saying this, the Rishi disappeared, Satyavati then went to her

daughter-in-law and seeing her in private spoke to her these words of

beneficial and virtuous import, ‘O princess of Kosala, listen to what I

say. It is consistent with virtue. The dynasty of the Bharatas hath

become extinct from my misfortune. Beholding my affliction and the

extinction of his paternal line, the wise Bhishma, impelled also by the

desire of perpetuating our race, hath made me a suggestion, which

suggestion, however, for its accomplishment is dependent on thee.

Accomplish it, O daughter, and restore the lost line of the Bharatas. O

thou of fair hips, bring thou forth a child equal in splendour unto the

chief of the celestials. He shall bear the onerous burden of this our

hereditary kingdom.’

“Satyavati having succeeded with great difficulty in procuring the assent

of her virtuous daughter-in-law to her proposal which was not

inconsistent with virtue, then fed Brahmanas and Rishis and numberless

guests who arrived on die occasion.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Soon after the monthly season of the princess of

Kosala had been over, Satyavati, purifying her daughter-in-law with a

bath, led her into the sleeping apartment. There seating her upon a

luxurious bed, she addressed her, saying, ‘O Princess of Kosala, thy

husband hath an elder brother who shall this day enter thy womb as thy

child. Wait for him tonight without dropping off to sleep.’ Hearing these

words of her mother-in-law, the amiable princess, as she lay on her bed,

began to think of Bhishma and the other elders of the Kuru race. Then the

Rishi of truthful speech, who had given his promise in respect of Amvika

(the eldest of the princesses) in the first instance, entered her chamber

while the lamp was burning. The princess, seeing his dark visage, his

matted locks of copper hue, blazing eyes, his grim beard, closed her eyes

in fear. The Rishi, from desire of accomplishing his mother’s wishes,

however knew her. But the latter, struck with fear, opened not her eyes

even once to look at him. And when Vyasa came out, he was met by his

mother, who asked him, ‘Shall the princess have an accomplished son?’

Hearing her, he replied, ‘The son of the princess she will bring forth

shall be equal in might unto ten thousand elephants. He will be an

illustrious royal sage, possessed of great learning and intelligence and

energy. The high-souled one shall have in his time a century of sons. But

from the fault of his mother he shall be blind ‘At these words of her

son, Satyavati said, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth, how can one that is blind

become a monarch worthy of the Kurus? How can one that is blind become

the protector of his relatives and family, and the glory of his father’s

race? It behoveth thee to give another king unto the Kurus.’ Saying, ‘So

be it,’ Vyasa went away. And the first princess of Kosala in due time

brought forth a blind son.

“Soon after Satyavati, O chastiser of foes, summoned Vyasa, after having

secured the assent of her daughter-in-law. Vyasa came according to his

promise, and approached, as before, the second wife of his brother. And

Ambalika beholding the Rishi, became pale with fear And, O Bharata,

beholding her so afflicted and pale with fear, Vyasa addressed her and

said, ‘Because thou hast been pale with fear at the sight of my grim

visage, therefore, thy child shall be pale in complexion. O thou of

handsome face, the name also thy child shall bear will be Pandu (the

pale).’ ‘Saying this, the illustrious and best of Rishis came out of her

chamber. And as he came out, he was met by his mother who asked him about

the would-be-child. The Rishi told her that the child would be of pale

complexion and known by the name of Pandu. Satyavati again begged of the

Rishi another child, and the Rishi told her in reply, ‘So be it.’

Ambalika, then, when her time came, brought forth a son of pale

complexion. Blazing with beauty the child was endued with all auspicious

marks. Indeed, it was this child who afterwards became the father of

those mighty archers, the Pandavas.

“Some time after, when the oldest of Vichitravirya’s widows again had her

monthly season, she was solicited by Satyavati to approach Vyasa once

again. Possessed of beauty like a daughter of a celestial, the princess

refused to do her mother-in-law’s bidding, remembering the grim visage

and strong odour of the Rishi. She, however, sent unto him, a maid of

hers, endued with the beauty of an Apsara and decked with her own

ornaments. And when the Vyasa arrived, the maid rose up and saluted him.

And she waited upon him respectfully and took her seat near him when

asked. And, O king, the great Rishi of rigid vows, was well-pleased with

her, and when he rose to go away, he addressed her and said, ‘Amiable

one, thou shalt no longer be a slave. Thy child also shall be greatly

fortunate and virtuous, and the foremost of all intelligent men on

earth!’ And, O king, the son thus begotten upon her by Krishna-Dwaipayana

was afterwards known by the name of Vidura. He was thus the brother of

Dhritarashtra and the illustrious Pandu. And Vidura was free from desire

and passion and was conversant with the rules of government, and was the

god of justice born on earth under the curse of the illustrious Rishi

Mandavya. And Krishna-Dwaipayana, when he met his mother as before,

informed her as to how he had been deceived by the seniormost of the

princesses and how he had begotten a son upon a Sudra woman. And having

spoken thus unto his mother the Rishi disappeared from her sight.

“Thus were born, in the field of Vichitravirya, even of Dwaipayana those

sons of the splendour of celestial children, those propagators of the

Kuru race.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘What did the god of justice do for which he was

cursed? And who was the Brahmana ascetic from whose curse the god had to

be born in the Sudra caste?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There was a Brahmana known by the name of Mandavya.

He was conversant with all duties and was devoted to religion, truth and

asceticism. The great ascetic used to sit at the entrance of his

hermitage at the foot of a tree, with his arms upraised in the observance

of the vow of silence. And as he sat there for years together, one day

there came into his asylum a number of robbers laden with spoil. And, O

bull in Bharata’s race, those robbers were then being pursued by a

superior body as guardians of the peace. The thieves, on entering that

asylum, hid their booty there, and in fear concealed themselves

thereabout before the guards came. But scarcely had they thus concealed

themselves when the constables in pursuit came to the spot. The latter,

observing the Rishi sitting under the tree, questioned him, O king,

saying, ‘O best of Brahmanas, which way have the thieves taken? Point it

out to us so that we may follow it without loss of time.’ Thus questioned

by the guardians of peace the ascetic, O king, said not a word, good or

otherwise, in reply. The officers of the king, however, on searching that

asylum soon discovered the thieves concealed thereabout together with the

plunder. Upon this, their suspicion fell upon the Muni, and accordingly

they seized him with the thieves and brought him before the king. The

king sentenced him to be executed along with his supposed associates. And

the officers, acting in ignorance, carried out the sentence by impaling

the celebrated Rishi. And having impaled him, they went to the king with

the booty they had recovered. But the virtuous Rishi, though impaled and

kept without food, remained in that state for a long time without dying.

And the Rishi by his ascetic power not only preserved his life but

summoned other Rishi to the scene. And they came there in the night in

the forms of birds, and beholding him engaged in ascetic meditation

though fixed on that stake, became plunged into grief. And telling that

best of Brahmanas who they were, they asked him saying, ‘O Brahmana, we

desire to know what hath been thy sin for which thou hast thus been made

to suffer the tortures of impalement!'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus asked, the tiger among Munis then answered

those Rishis of ascetic wealth, ‘Whom shall I blame for this? In fact,

none else (than my own self) hath offended against me!’ After this, O

monarch, the officers of justice, seeing him alive, informed the king of

it. The latter hearing what they said, consulted with his advisers, and

came to the place and began to pacify the Rishi. fixed on the stake. And

the king said, ‘O thou best of Rishis, I have offended against thee in

ignorance. I beseech thee to pardon me for the same. It behoveth thee not

to be angry with me.’ Thus addressed by the king, the Muni was pacified.

And beholding him free from wrath, the king took him up with the stake

and endeavoured to extract it from his body. But not succeeding therein,

he cut it off at the point just outside the body. The Muni, with a

portion of the stake within his body, walked about, and in that state

practised the austerest of penances and conquered numberless regions

unattainable by others. And for the circumstances of a part of the stake

being within his body, he came to be known in the three worlds by the

name of Ani-Mandavya (Mandavya with the stake within). And one day that

Brahamana acquainted with the highest truth of religion went unto the

abode of the god of justice. And beholding the god there seated on his

throne, the Rishi reproached him and said, ‘What, pray, is that sinful

act committed by me unconsciously, for which I am bearing this

punishment? O, tell me soon, and behold the power of my asceticism.’

“The god of justice, thus questioned, replied, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth,

a little insect was once pierced by thee on a blade of grass. Thou

bearest now the consequence of the act. O Rishi, as a gift, however

small, multiplieth in respect of its religious merits, so a sinful act

multiplieth in respect of the woe it bringeth in its train.’ On hearing

this, Ani-Mandavya asked, ‘O tell me truly when this act was committed by

me. Told in reply by the god of justice that he had committed it, when a

child, the Rishi said, ‘That shall not be a sin which may be done by a

child up to the twelfth year of his age from birth. The scriptures shall

not recognise it as sinful. The punishment thou hast inflicted on me for

such a venial offence hath been disproportionate in severity. The killing

of a Brahmana involves a sin that is heavier than the killing of any

other living being. Thou shall, therefore, O god of justice, have to be

born among men even in the Sudra order. And from this day I establish

this limit in respect of the consequence of acts that an act shall not be

sinful when committed by one below the age of fourteen. But when

committed by one above that age, it shall be regarded as sin.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Cursed for this fault by that illustrious

Rishi, the god of justice had his birth as Vidura in the Sudra order. And

Vidura was well-versed in the doctrines of morality and also politics and

worldly profit. And he was entirely free from covetousness and wrath.

Possessed of great foresight and undisturbed tranquillity of mind, Vidura

was ever devoted to the welfare of the Kurus.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Upon the birth of those three children, Kurujangala,

Kurukshetra, and the Kurus grew in prosperity. The earth began to yield

abundant harvest, and the crops also were of good flavour. And the clouds

began to pour rain in season and trees became full of fruits and flowers.

And the draught cattle were all happy and the birds and other animals

rejoiced exceedingly. And the flowers became fragrant and the fruits

became sweet; the cities and towns became filled with merchants,

artisans, traders and artists of every description. And the people became

brave, learned, honest and happy. And there were no robbers then, nor

anybody who was sinful. And it seemed that the golden age had come upon

every part of the kingdom. And the people devoted to virtuous acts,

sacrifices and truth, and regarding one another with love and affection

grew in prosperity. And free from pride, wrath and covetousness, they

rejoiced in perfectly innocent sports. And the capital of the Kurus, full

as the ocean, was a second Amaravati, teeming with hundreds of palaces

and mansions, and possessing gates and arches dark as the clouds. And men

in great cheerfulness sported constantly on rivers, lakes and tanks, and

in fine groves and charming woods. And the southern Kurus, in their

virtuous rivalry with their northern kinsmen, walked about in the company

of Siddhas and Charanas and Rishis. And all over that delightful country

whose prosperity was thus increased by the Kurus, there were no misers

and no widowed women. And the wells and lakes were ever full; the groves

abounded with trees, and the houses and abodes of Brahmanas were full of

wealth and the whole kingdom was full of festivities. And, O king,

virtuously ruled by Bhishma, the kingdom was adorned with hundreds of

sacrificial stakes. And the wheel of virtue having been set in motion by

Bhishma, and the country became so contented that the subjects of other

kingdoms, quitting their homes, came to dwell there and increase its

population. And the citizens and the people were filled with hope, upon

seeing the youthful acts of their illustrious princes. And, O king, in

the house of the Kuru chiefs as also of the principal citizens, ‘give’,

‘eat’ were the only words constantly heard. And Dhritarashtra and Pandu

and Vidura of great intelligence were from their birth brought up by

Bhishma, as if they were his own sons. And the children, having passed

through the usual rites of their order, devoted themselves to vows and

study. And they grew up into fine young men skilled in the Vedas and all

athletic sports. And they became well-skilled in the practice of bow, in

horsemanship, in encounters with mace, sword and shield, in the

management of elephants in battle, and in the science of morality.

Well-read in history and the Puranas and various branches of learning,

and acquainted with the truths of the Vedas and their branches they

acquired knowledge, which was versatile and deep. And Pandu, possessed of

great prowess, excelled all men in archery while Dhritarashtra excelled

all in personal strength, while in the three worlds there was no one

equal to Vidura in devotion to virtue and in the knowledge of the

dictates of morality. And beholding the restoration of the extinct line

of Santanu, the saying became current in all countries that among mothers

of heroes, the daughters of the king of Kasi were the first; that among

countries Kurujangala was the first; that among virtuous men, Vidura was

the first; that among cities Hastinapura was the first. Pandu became

king, for Dhritarashtra, owing to the blindness, and Vidura, for his

birth by a Sudra woman, did not obtain the kingdom. One day Bhishma, the

foremost of those acquainted with the duties of a statesman and dictates

of morality, properly addressing Vidura conversant with the truth of

religion and virtue, said as follows.”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Bhishma said, ‘This our celebrated race, resplendent with every virtue

and accomplishment, hath all along sovereignty over all other monarchs on

earth. Its glory maintained and itself perpetuated by many virtuous and

illustrious monarchs of old, the illustrious Krishna (Dwaipayana) and

Satyavati and myself have raised you (three) up, in order that it may not

be extinct. It behoveth myself and thee also to take such steps that this

our dynasty may expand again as the sea. It hath been heard by me that

there are three maidens worthy of being allied to our race. One is the

daughter of (Surasena of) the Yadava race; the other is the daughter of

Suvala; and the third is the princess of Madra. O son, all these maidens

are of course of blue blood. Possessed of beauty and pure blood, they are

eminently fit for an alliance with our family. O thou foremost of

intelligent men, I think we should choose them for the growth of our

race. Tell me what thou thinkest.’ Thus addressed, Vidura replied, ‘Thou

art our father and thou art our mother, too. Thou art our respected

spiritual instructor. Therefore, do thou what may be best for us in thy


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Soon after Bhishma heard from the Brahmanas

that Gandhari, the amiable daughter of Suvala, having worshipped Hara

(Siva) had obtained from the deity the boon that she should have a

century of sons. Bhishma, the grandfather of the Kurus, having heard

this, sent messengers unto the king of Gandhara. King Suvala at first

hesitated on account of the blindness of the bridegroom, but taking into

consideration the blood of the Kurus, their fame and behaviour, he gave

his virtuous daughter unto Dhritarashtra and the chaste Gandhari hearing

that Dhritarashtra was blind and that her parents had consented to marry

her to him, from love and respect for her future husband, blindfolded her

own eyes. Sakuni, the son of Suvala, bringing unto the Kurus his sister

endued with youth and beauty, formally gave her away unto Dhritarashtra.

And Gandhari was received with great respect and the nuptials were

celebrated with great pomp under Bhishma’s directions. And the heroic

Sakuni, after having bestowed his sister along with many valuable robes,

and having received Bhishma’s adorations, returned to his own city. And,

O thou of Bharata’s race, the beautiful Gandhari gratified all the Kurus

by her behaviour and respectful attentions. And Gandhari, ever devoted to

her husband, gratified her superiors by her good conduct; and as she was

chaste, she never referred even by words to men other than her husband or

such superiors.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘There was amongst the Yadavas a chief named

Sura. He was the father of Vasudeva. And he had a daughter called Pritha,

who was unrivalled for beauty on earth. And, O thou of Bharata’s race,

Sura, always truthful in speech, gave from friendship this his firstborn

daughter unto his childless cousin and friend, the illustrious

Kuntibhoja–the son of his paternal aunt–pursuant to a former promise.

And Pritha in the house of her adoptive father was engaged in looking

after the duties of hospitality to Brahmanas and other guests. Once she

gratified by her attentions the terrible Brahmana of rigid vows, who was

known by the name of Durvasa and was well-acquainted with the hidden

truths of morality. Gratified with her respectful attentions, the sage,

anticipating by his spiritual power the future (season of) distress

(consequent upon the curse to be pronounced upon Pandu for his

unrighteous act of slaying a deer while serving its mate) imparted to her

a formula of invocation for summoning any of the celestials she liked to

give her children. And the Rishi said, ‘Those celestials that thou shall

summon by this Mantra shall certainly approach thee and give thee

children.’ ‘Thus addressed by the Brahmana, the amiable Kunti (Pritha)

became curious, and in her maidenhood summoned the god Arka (Sun). And as

soon as he pronounced the Mantra, she beheld that effulgent deity–that

beholder of everything in the world–approaching her. And beholding that

extraordinary sight, the maiden of faultless features was overcome with

surprise. But the god Vivaswat (Sun) approaching her, said, ‘Here I am, O

black-eyed girl! Tell me what I am to do for thee.’

“Hearing this, Kunti said, ‘O slayer of foes, a certain Brahamana gave me

this formula of invocation as a boon, and, O lord, I have summoned thee

only to test its efficacy. For this offence I bow to thee. A woman,

whatever be her offence, always deserveth pardon.’ Surya (Sun) replied,

‘I know that Durvasa hath granted this boon. But cast off thy fears,

timid maiden, and grant me thy embraces. Amiable one, my approach cannot

be futile; it must bear fruit. Thou hast summoned me, and if it be for

nothing, it shall certainly be regarded as thy transgression.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Vivaswat thus spoke unto her many things with a

view to allay her fears, but, O Bharata, the amiable maiden, from modesty

and fear of her relatives, consented not to grant his request. And, O

bull of Bharata’s race, Arka addressed her again and said, ‘O princess,

for my sake, it shall not be sinful for thee to grant my wish.’ Thus

speaking unto the daughter of Kuntibhoja, the illustrious Tapana–the

illuminator of the universe–gratified his wish. And of this connection

there was immediately born a son known all over the world as Karna

accountred with natural armour and with face brightened by ear-rings. And

the heroic Karna was the first of all wielders of weapons, blessed with

good fortune, and endued with the beauty of a celestial child. And after

the birth of this child, the illustrious Tapana granted unto Pritha her

maidenhood and ascended to heaven. And the princess of the Vrishni race

beholding with sorrow that son born of her, reflected intently upon what

was then the best for her to do. And from fear of her relatives she

resolved to conceal that evidence of her folly. And she cast her

offspring endued with great physical strength into the water. Then the

well-known husband of Radha, of the Suta caste, took up the child thus

cast into the water, and he and his wife brought him up as their own son.

And Radha and her husband bestowed on him the name of Vasusena (born with

wealth) because he was born with a natural armour and ear-rings. And

endued as he was born with great strength, as he grew up, he became

skilled in all weapons. Possessed of great energy, he used to adore the

sun until his back was heated by his rays (i.e., from dawn to midday),

and during the hours of worship, there was nothing on earth that the

heroic and intelligent Vasusena would not give unto the Brahmanas. And

Indra desirous of benefiting his own son Phalguni (Arjuna), assuming the

form of a Brahmana, approached Vasusena on one occasion and begged of him

his natural armour. Thus asked Karna took off his natural armour, and

joining his hands in reverence gave it unto Indra in the guise of a

Brahmana. And the chief of the celestials accepted the gift and was

exceedingly gratified with Karna’s liberality. He therefore, gave unto

him a fine dart, saying, ‘That one (and one only) among the celestials,

the Asuras, men, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, and the Rakshasas, whom thou

desirest to conquer, shall be certainly slain with this dart.’

“The son of Surya was before this known by the name of Vasusena. But

since he cut off his natural armour, he came to be called Karna (the

cutter or peeler of his own cover).'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said. ‘The large-eyed daughter of Kuntibhoja, Pritha by

name, was endued with beauty and every accomplishment. Of rigid vows, she

was devoted to virtue and possessed of every good quality. But though

endued with beauty and youth and every womanly attribute, yet it so

happened that no king asked-for her hand. Her father Kuntibhoja seeing

this, invited, O best of monarchs, the princes and kings of other

countries and desired his daughter to select her husband from among her

guests. The intelligent Kunti, entering the amphitheatre, beheld

Pandu–the foremost of the Bharatas–that tiger among kings–in that

concourse of crowned heads. Proud as the lion, broad-chested, bull-eyed,

endued with great strength, and outshining all other monarchs in

splendour, he looked like another Indra in that royal assemblage. The

amiable daughter of Kuntibhoja, of faultless features, beholding

Pandu–that best of men–in that assembly, became very much agitated. And

advancing with modesty, all the while quivering with emotion, she placed

the nuptial garland about Pandu’s neck. The other monarchs, seeing Kunti

choose Pandu for her lord, returned to their respective kingdoms on

elephants, horses and cars, as they had come. Then, O king, the bride’s

father caused the nuptial rites to be performed duly. The Kuru prince

blessed with great good fortune and the daughter of Kuntibhoja formed a

couple like Maghavat and Paulomi (the king and queen of the celestials).

And, O best of Kuru monarchs, king Kuntibhoja, after the nuptials were

over, presented his son-in-law with much wealth and sent him back to his

capital. Then the Kuru prince Pandu, accompanied by a large force bearing

various kinds of banners and pennons, and eulogised by Brahmanas and

great Rishis pronouncing benedictions, reached his capital. And after

arriving at his own palace, he established his queen therein.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Some time after, Bhishma the intelligent son of

Santanu set his heart upon getting Pandu married to a second wife.

Accompanied by an army composed of four kinds of force, and also by aged

councillors and Brahmanas and great Rishis, he went to the capital of the

king of Madra. And that bull of the Valhikas–the king of Madra–hearing

that Bhishma had arrived, went out to receive him. And having received

him with respect, he got him to enter his palace. Arriving there, the

king of Madra offered unto Bhishma a white carpet for a seat; water to

wash his feet with, and usual oblation of various ingredients indicative

of respect. And when he was seated at ease, the king asked him about the

reason of his visit. Then Bhishma–the supporter of the dignity of the

Kurus–addressed the king of Madra and said, ‘O oppressor of all foes,

know that I have come for the hand of a maiden. It hath been heard by us

that thou hast a sister named Madri celebrated for her beauty and endued

with every virtue; I would chose her for Pandu. Thou art, O king, in

every respect worthy of an alliance with us, and we also are worthy of

thee. Reflecting upon all this, O king of Madra, accept us duly.’ The

ruler of Madra, thus addressed by Bhishma, replied, ‘To my mind, there is

none else than one of thy family with whom I can enter into an alliance.

But there is a custom in our family observed by our ancestors, which, be

it good or bad, I am incapable of transgressing. It is well-known, and

therefore is known to thee as well, I doubt not. Therefore, it is not

proper for thee to say to me,–Bestow thy sister. The custom to which I

allude is our family custom. With us that is a virtue and worthy of

observance. It is for this only, O slayer of foes, I cannot give thee any

assurance in the matter of thy request.’ On hearing this, Bhishma

answered the king of Madra, saying, ‘O king, this, no doubt,’ is a

virtue. The self-create himself hath said it. Thy ancestors were

observant of custom. There is no fault to find with it. It is also

well-known, O Salya, that this custom in respect of family dignity hath

the approval of the wise and the good.’ Saying this Bhishma of great

energy, gave unto Salya much gold both coined and uncoined, and precious

stones of various colours by thousands, and elephants and horses and

cars, and much cloth and many ornaments, and gems and pearls and corals.

And Salya accepting with a cheerful heart those precious gifts then gave

away his sister decked in ornaments unto that bull of the Kuru race. Then

the wise Bhishma, the son of the oceangoing Ganga, rejoiced at the issue

of his mission, took Madri with him, and returned to the Kuru capital

named after the elephant.

“Then selecting on auspicious day and moment as indicated by the wise for

the ceremony, King Pandu was duly united with Madri. And after the

nuptials were over, the Kuru king established his beautiful bride in

handsome apartments. And, O king of kings, that best of monarchs then

gave himself up to enjoyment in the company of his two wives as best he

liked and to the limit of his desires. And after thirty days had elapsed,

the Kuru king, O monarch, started from his capital for the conquest of

the world. And after reverentially saluting and bowing to Bhishma and the

other elders of the Kuru race, and with adieus to Dhritarashtra and

others of the family, and obtaining their leave, he set out on his grand

campaign, accompanied by a large force of elephants, horses, and cars,

and well-pleased with the blessings uttered by all around and the

auspicious rites performed by the citizens for his success. And Pandu,

accompanied by such a strong force marched against various foes. And that

tiger among men–that spreader of the fame of the Kurus–first subjugated

the robber tribes of asarna. He next turned his army composed of

innumerable elephants, cavalry, infantry, and charioteers, with standards

of various colours against Dhirga–the ruler of the kingdom of Maghadha

who was proud of his strength, and offended against numerous monarchs.

And attacking him in his capital, Pandu slew him there, and took

everything in his treasury and also vehicles and draught animals without

number. He then marched into Mithila and subjugated the Videhas. And

then, O bull among men, Pandu led his army against Kasi, Sumbha, and

Pundra, and by the strength and prowess of his arms spread the fame of

the Kurus. And Pandu, that oppressor of foes, like unto a mighty fire

whose far-reaching flames were represented by his arrows and splendour by

his weapons, began to consume all kings that came in contact with him.

These with their forces, vanquished by Pandu at the head of his army,

were made the vassals of the Kurus. And all kings of the world, thus

vanquished by him, regarded him as the one single hero on earth even as

the celestials regard Indra in heaven. And the kings of earth with joined

palms bowed to him and waited on him with presents of various kinds of

gems and wealth, precious stones and pearls and corals, and much gold and

silver, and first-class kine and handsome horses and fine cars and

elephants, and asses and camels and buffaloes, and goats and sheep, and

blankets and beautiful hides, and cloths woven out of furs. And the king

of Hastinapura accepting those offerings retraced his steps towards his

capital, to the great delight of his subjects. And the citizens and

others filled with joy, and kings and ministers, all began to say, ‘O,

the fame of the achievements of Santanu, that tiger among kings, and of

the wise Bharata, which were about to die, hath been revived by Pandu.

They who robbed before the Kurus of both territory and wealth have been

subjugated by Pandu–the tiger of Hastinapura–and made to pay tribute.’

And all the citizens with Bhishma at their head went out to receive the

victorious king. They had not proceeded far when they saw the attendants

of the king laden with much wealth, and the train of various conveyances

laden with all kinds of wealth, and of elephants, horses, cars, kine,

camels and other animals, was so long that they saw not its end. Then

Pandu, beholding Bhishma, who was a father to him, worshipped his feet

and saluted the citizens and others as each deserved. And Bhishma, too,

embracing Pandu as his son who had returned victorious after grinding

many hostile kingdoms, wept tears of joy. And Pandu, instilling joy into

the hearts of his people with a flourish of trumpets and conchs and

kettle-drums, entered his capital.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Pandu, then, at the command of Dhritarashtra,

offered the wealth he had acquired by the prowess of his arms to Bhishma,

their grand-mother Satyavati and their mothers. And he sent portion of

his wealth to Vidura also. And the virtuous Pandu gratified his other

relatives also with similar presents. Then Satyavati and Bhishma and the

Kosala princes were all gratified with the presents Pandu made out of the

acquisitions of his prowess. And Ambalika in particular, upon embracing

her son of incomparable prowess, became as glad as the queen of heaven

upon embracing Jayanta. And with the wealth acquired by that hero

Dhritarashtra performed five great sacrifices that were equal unto a

hundred great horse-sacrifices, at all of which the offerings to

Brahmanas were by hundreds and thousands.

“A little while after, O bull of Bharata’s race, Pandu who had achieved a

victory over sloth and lethargy, accompanied by his two wives, Kunti and

Madri, retired into the woods. Leaving his excellent palace with its

luxurious beds, he became a permanent inhabitant of the woods, devoting

the whole of his time to the chase of the deer. And fixing his abode in a

delightful and hilly region overgrown with huge sala trees, on the

southern slope of the Himavat mountains, he roamed about in perfect

freedom. The handsome Pandu with his two wives wandered in those woods

like Airavata accompanied by two she-elephants. And the dwellers in those

woods, beholding the heroic Bharata prince in the company of his wives,

armed with sword, arrows, and bow, clad with his beautiful armour, and

skilled in all excellent weapons, regarded him as the very god wandering

amongst them.

“And at the command of Dhritarashtra, people were busy in supplying Pandu

in his retirement with every object of pleasure and enjoyment.

“Meanwhile the son of the ocean-going Ganga heard that king Devaka had a

daughter endued with youth and beauty and begotten upon a Sudra wife.

Bringing her from her father’s abode, Bhishma married her to Vidura of

great wisdom. And Vidura begot upon her many children like unto himself

in accomplishments.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Meanwhile, O Janamejaya, Dhritarashtra begat upon

Gandhari a hundred sons, and upon a Vaisya wife another besides those

hundred. And Pandu had, by his two wives Kunti and Madri, five sons who

were great charioteers and who were all begotten by the celestials for

the perpetuation of the Kuru line.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘O best of Brahmanas, how did Gandhari bring forth

those hundred sons and in how many years? What were also the periods of

life allotted to each? How did Dhritarashtra also beget another son in a

Vaisya wife? How did Dhritarashtra behave towards his loving obedient,

and virtuous wife Gandhari? How were also begotten the five sons of

Pandu, those mighty charioteers, even though Pandu himself laboured under

the curse of the great Rishi (he slew)? Tell me all this in detail, for

my thirst for hearing everything relating to my own ancestor hath not

been slaked.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘One day Gandhari entertained with respectful

attention the great Dwaipayana who came to her abode, exhausted with

hunger and fatigue. Gratified with Gandhari’s hospitality, the Rishi gave

her the boon she asked for, viz., that she should have a century of sons

each equal unto her lord in strength and accomplishments. Some time after

Gandhari conceived and she bore the burden in her womb for two long years

without being delivered. And she was greatly afflicted at this. It was

then that she heard that Kunti had brought forth a son whose splendour

was like unto the morning sun. Impatient of the period of gestation which

had prolonged so long, and deprived of reason by grief, she struck her

womb with great violence without the knowledge of her husband. And

thereupon came out of her womb, after two years’ growth, a hard mass of

flesh like unto an iron ball. When she was about to throw it away,

Dwaipayana, learning everything by his spiritual powers, promptly came

there, and that first of ascetics beholding that ball of flesh, addressed

the daughter of Suvala thus, ‘What hast thou done?’ Gandhari, without

endeavouring to disguise her feelings, addressed the Rishi and said,

‘Having heard that Kunti had brought forth a son like unto Surya in

splendour, I struck in grief at my womb. Thou hadst, O Rishi, granted me

the boon that I should have a hundred sons, but here is only a ball of

flesh for those hundred sons!’ Vyasa then said, ‘Daughter of Suvala, it

is even so. But my words can never be futile. I have not spoken an

untruth even in jest. I need not speak of other occasions. Let a hundred

pots full of clarified butter be brought instantly, and let them be

placed at a concealed spot. In the meantime, let cool water be sprinkled

over this ball of flesh.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That ball of flesh then, sprinkled over with

water, became, in time, divided into a hundred and one parts, each about

the size of the thumb. These were then put into those pots full of

clarified butter that had been placed at a concealed spot and were

watched with care. The illustrious Vyasa then said unto the daughter of

Suvala that she should open the covers of the pots after full two years.

And having said this and made these arrangements, the wise Dwaipayana

went to the Himavat mountains for devoting himself to asceticism.

“Then in time, king Duryodhana was born from among those pieces of the

ball of flesh that had been deposited in those pots. According to the

order of birth, king Yudhishthira was the oldest. The news of

Duryodhana’s birth was carried to Bhishma and the wise Vidura. The day

that the haughty Duryodhana was born was also the birth-day of Bhima of

mighty arms and great prowess.

“As soon as Duryodhana was born, he began to cry and bray like an ass.

And hearing that sound, the asses, vultures, jackals and crows uttered

their respective cries responsively. Violent winds began to blow, and

there were fires in various directions. Then king Dhritarashtra in great

fear, summoning Bhishma and Vidura and other well-wishers and all the

Kurus, and numberless Brahmanas, addressed them and said, ‘The oldest of

those princes, Yudhishthira, is the perpetuator of our line. By virtue of

his birth he hath acquired the kingdom. We have nothing to say to this.

But shall this my son born after him become king? Tell me truly what is

lawful and right under these circumstances.’ As soon as these words were

spoken, O Bharata, jackals and other carnivorous animals began to howl

ominously And marking those frightful omens all around, the assembled

Brahmanas and the wise Vidura replied, ‘O king, O bull among men, when

these frightful omens are noticeable at the birth of thy eldest son, it

is evident that he shall be the exterminator of thy race. The prosperity

of all dependeth on his abandonment. Calamity there must be in keeping

him. O king, if thou abandonest him, there remain yet thy nine and ninety

sons. If thou desirest the good of thy race, abandon him, O Bharata! O

king, do good to the world and thy own race by casting off this one child

of thine. It hath been said that an individual should be cast off for the

sake of the family; that a family should be cast off for the sake of a

village; that a village may be abandoned for the sake of the whole

country; and that the earth itself may be abandoned for the sake of the

soul.’ When Vidura and those Brahmanas had stated so, king Dhritarashtra

out of affection for his son had not the heart to follow that advice.

Then, O king, within a month, were born a full hundred sons unto

Dhritarashtra and a daughter also in excess of this hundred. And during

the time when Gandhari was in a state of advanced pregnancy, there was a

maid servant of the Vaisya class who used to attend on Dhritarashtra.

During that year, O king, was begotten upon her by the illustrious

Dhritarashtra a son endued with great intelligence who was afterwards

named Yuvutsu. And because he was begotten by a Kshatriya upon a Vaisya

woman, he came to be called Karna.

“Thus were born unto the wise Dhritarashtra a hundred sons who were all

heroes and mighty chariot-fighters, and a daughter over and above the

hundred, and another son Yuyutsu of great energy and prowess begotten

upon a Vaisya woman.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O sinless one, thou hast narrated to me from the

beginning all about the birth of Dhritarashtra’s hundred sons owing to

the boon granted by the Rishi. But thou hast not told me as yet any

particulars about the birth of the daughter. Thou hast merely said that

over and above the hundred sons, there was another son named Yuyutsu

begotten upon a Vaisya woman, and a daughter. The great Rishi Vyasa of

immeasurable energy said unto the daughter of the king of Gandhara that

she would become the mother of a hundred sons. Illustrious one, how is

that thou sayest Gandhari had a daughter over and above her hundred sons?

If the ball of flesh was distributed by the great Rishi only into a

hundred parts, and if Gandhari did not conceive on any other occasion,

how was then Duhsala born. Tell me this, O Rishi! my curiosity hath been


“Vaisampayana said, ‘O descendant of the Pandavas, thy question is just,

and I will tell thee how it happened. The illustrious and great Rishi

himself, by sprinkling water over that ball of flesh, began to divide it

into parts. And as it was being divided into parts, the nurse began to

take them up and put them one by one into those pots filled with

clarified butter. While this process was going on, the beautiful and

chaste Gandhari of rigid vows, realising the affection that one feeleth

for a daughter, began to think within herself, ‘There is no doubt that I

shall have a hundred sons, the Muni having said so. It can never be

otherwise. But I should be very happy if a daughter were born of me over

and above these hundred sons and junior to them all. My husband then may

attain to those worlds that the possession of a daughter’s sons

conferreth. Then again, the affection the women feel for their

sons-in-law is great. If, therefore, I obtain a daughter over and above

my hundred sons, then, surrounded by sons and daughter’s sons, I may feel

supremely blest. If I have ever practised ascetic austerities, if I have

ever given anything in charity, if I have ever performed the homa

(through Brahamanas), if I have ever gratified my superiors by respectful

attentions, then (as the fruit of those acts) let a daughter be born unto

me.’ All this while that illustrious and best of Rishis,

Krishna-Dwaipayana himself was dividing the ball of flesh; and counting a

full hundred of the parts, he said unto the daughter of Suvala, ‘Here are

thy hundred sons. I did not speak aught unto thee that was false. Here,

however, is one part in excess of the hundred, intended for giving thee a

daughter’s son. This part shall develop into an amiable and fortunate

daughter, as thou hast desired’ Then that great ascetic brought another

pot full of clarified butter, and put the part intended for a daughter

into it.

“Thus have I, O Bharata, narrated unto thee all about the birth of

Duhsala. Tell me, O sinless one, what more I am now to narrate.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘Please recite the names of Dhritarashtra’s sons

according to the order of their birth.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Their names, O king, according to the order of

birth, are Duryodhana, Yuyutsu, Duhsasana, Duhsaha, Duhsala, Jalasandha,

Sama, Saha, Vinda and Anuvinda, Durdharsha, Suvahu, Dushpradharshana,

Durmarshana and Durmukha, Dushkarna, and Karna; Vivinsati and Vikarna,

Sala, Satwa, Sulochana, Chitra and Upachitra, Chitraksha, Charuchitra,

Sarasana, Durmada and Durvigaha, Vivitsu, Vikatanana; Urnanabha and

Sunabha, then Nandaka and Upanandaka; Chitravana, Chitravarman, Suvarman,

Durvimochana; Ayovahu, Mahavahu, Chitranga, Chitrakundala, Bhimavega,

Bhimavala, Balaki, Balavardhana, Ugrayudha; Bhima, Karna, Kanakaya,

Dridhayudha, Dridhavarman, Dridhakshatra, Somakitri, Anudara;

Dridhasandha, Jarasandha, Satyasandha, Sada, Suvak, Ugrasravas, Ugrasena,

Senani, Dushparajaya, Aparajita, Kundasayin, Visalaksha, Duradhara;

Dridhahasta, Suhasta, Vatavega, and Suvarchas; Adityaketu, Vahvashin,

Nagadatta, Agrayayin; Kavachin, Krathana, Kunda, Kundadhara, Dhanurdhara;

the heroes, Ugra and Bhimaratha, Viravahu, Alolupa; Abhaya, and

Raudrakarman, and Dridharatha; Anadhrishya, Kundabhedin, Viravi,

Dhirghalochana Pramatha, and Pramathi and the powerful Dhirgharoma;

Dirghavahu, Mahavahu, Vyudhoru, Kanakadhvaja; Kundasi and Virajas.

Besides these hundred sons, there was a daughter named Duhsala. All were

heroes and Atirathas, and were well-skilled in warfare. All were learned

in the Vedas, and all kinds of weapons. And, O, king, worthy wives were

in time selected for all of them by Dhritarashtra after proper

examination. And king Dhritarashtra, O monarch, also bestowed Duhsala, in

proper time and with proper rites, upon Jayadratha (the king of Sindhu).’


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O utterer of Brahma, thou hast recited (everything

about) the extraordinary birth among men, of the sons of Dhritarashtra in

consequence of the Rishi’s grace. Thou hast also said what their names

are, according to the order of their birth. O Brahmana, I have heard all

these from thee. But tell me now all about the Pandavas. While reciting

the incarnations on earth of the celestial, the Asuras, and the beings of

other classes, thou saidst that the Pandavas were all illustrious and

endued with the prowess of gods, and that they were incarnate portion of

the celestials themselves. I desire, therefore, to hear all about those

beings of extraordinary achievements beginning from the moment of their

birth. O Vaisampayana, recite thou their achievements.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king, one day Pandu, while roaming about in the

woods (on the southern slopes of the Himavat) that teemed with deer and

wild animals of fierce disposition, saw a large deer, that seemed to be

the leader of a herd, serving his mate. Beholding the animals, the

monarch pierced them both with five of his sharp and swift arrows winged

with golden feathers. O monarch, that was no deer that Pandu struck at,

but a Rishi’s son of great ascetic merit who was enjoying his mate in the

form of a deer. Pierced by Pandu, while engaged in the act of

intercourse, he fell down to the ground, uttering cries that were of a

man and began to weep bitterly.

“The deer then addressed Pandu and said, ‘O king, even men that are

slaves to lust and wrath, and void of reason, and ever sinful, never

commit such a cruel act as this. Individual judgment prevaileth not

against the ordinance, the ordinance prevaileth against individual

judgment. The wise never sanction anything discountenanced by the

ordinance. Thou art born, O Bharata, in a race that hath ever been

virtuous. How is it, therefore, that even thou, suffering thyself to be

overpowered by passion and wrath losest thy reason?’ Hearing this, Pandu

replied, ‘O deer, kings behave in the matter of slaying animals of thy

species exactly as they do in the matter of slaying foes. It behoveth

thee not, therefore, to reprove me thus from ignorance. Animals of thy

species are slain by open or covert means. This, indeed, is the practice

of kings. Then why dost thou reprove me? Formerly, the Rishi Agastya,

while engaged in the performance of a grand sacrifice, chased the deer,

and devoted every deer in the forest unto the gods in general. Thou hast

been slain, pursuant to the usage sanctioned by such precedent. Wherefore

reprovest us then? For his especial sacrifices Agastya performed the homa

with fat of the deer.’

“The deer then said, ‘O king, men do not let fly their arrows at their

enemies when the latter are unprepared. But there is a time for doing it

(viz., after declaration of hostilities). Slaughter at such a time is not


“Pandu replied, ‘It is well-known that men slay deer by various effective

means without regarding whether the animals are careful or careless.

Therefore, O deer, why dost thou reprove me?’

“The deer then said, ‘O, king, I did not blame thee for thy having killed

a deer, or for the injury thou hast done to me. But, instead of acting so

cruelly, thou shouldst have waited till the completion of my act of

intercourse. What man of wisdom and virtue is there that can kill a deer

while engaged in such an act? The time of sexual intercourse is agreeable

to every creature and productive of good to all. O king, with this my

mate I was engaged in the gratification of my sexual desire. But that

effort of mine hath been rendered futile by thee. O king of the Kurus, as

thou art born in the race of the Pauravas ever noted for white (virtuous)

deeds, such an act hath scarcely been worthy of thee. O Bharata, this act

must be regarded as extremely cruel, deserving of universal execration,

infamous, and sinful, and certainly leading to hell. Thou art acquainted

with the pleasures of sexual intercourse. Thou art acquainted also with

the teaching of morality and dictates of duty. Like unto a celestial as

thou art, it behoveth thee not to do such an act as leadeth to hell. O

best of kings, thy duty is to chastise all who act cruelly, who are

engaged in sinful practices and who have thrown to the winds religion,

profit, and pleasure as explained in the scriptures. What hast thou done,

O best of men, in killing me who have given thee no offence? I am, O

king, a Muni who liveth on fruits and roots, though disguised as a deer.

I was living in the woods in peace with all. Yet thou hast killed me, O

king, for which I will curse thee certainly. As thou hast been cruel unto

a couple of opposite sexes, death shall certainly overtake thee as soon

as thou feelest the influence of sexual desire. I am a Muni of the name

of Kindama, possessed of ascetic merit. I was engaged in sexual

intercourse with this deer, because my feelings of modesty did not permit

me to indulge in such an act in human society. In the form of a deer I

rove in the deep woods in the company of other deer. Thou hast slain me

without knowing that I am a Brahmana, the sin of having slain a Brahmana

shall not, therefore, be thine. But senseless man, as you have killed me,

disguised as a deer, at such a time, thy fate shall certainly be even

like mine. When, approaching thy wife lustfully, thou wilt unite with her

even as I had done with mine, in that very state shalt thou have to go to

the world of the spirits. And that wife of thine with whom thou mayst be

united in intercourse at the time of thy death shall also follow thee

with affection and reverence to the domains of the king of the dead. Thou

hast brought me grief when I was happy. So shall grief come to thee when

thou art in happiness.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Saying this, that deer, afflicted with grief

gave up the ghost; and Pandu also was plunged in woe at the sight.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After the death of that deer, king Pandu with his

wives was deeply afflicted and wept bitterly. And he exclaimed, ‘The

wicked, even if born in virtuous families, deluded by their own passions,

become overwhelmed with misery as the fruit of their own deeds. I have

heard that my father, though begotten by Santanu of virtuous soul, was

cut off while still a youth, only because he had become a slave to his

lust. In the soil of that lustful king, the illustrious Rishi

Krishna-Dwaipayana himself, of truthful speech, begot me. A son though I

am of such a being, with my wicked heart wedded to vice, I am yet leading

a wandering life in the woods in the chase of the deer. Oh, the very gods

have forsaken me! I shall seek salvation now. The great impediments to

salvation are the desire to beget children, and other concerns of the

world. I shall now adopt the Brahmacharya mode of life and follow in the

imperishable wake of my father. I shall certainly bring my passions under

complete control by severe ascetic penances. Forsaking my wives and other

relatives and shaving my head, alone shall I wander over the earth,

begging for my subsistence from each of these trees standing here.

Forsaking every object of affection and aversion, and covering my body

with dust, I shall make the shelter of trees or deserted houses my home.

I shall never yield to influence of sorrow or joy, and I shall regard

slander and eulogy in the same light. I shall not seek benedictions or

bows. I shall be at peace with all, and shall not accept gifts. I shall

not mock anybody, nor shall I knit my brows at any one, but shall be ever

cheerful and devoted to the good of all creatures. I shall not harm any

of the four orders of life gifted with power of locomotion or otherwise,

viz., oviparous and viviparous creatures and worms and vegetables. But on

the contrary, preserve an equality of behaviour towards all, as if they

were, my own children. Once a day shall I beg of five or ten families at

the most, and if I do not succeed in obtaining alms, I shall then go

without food. I shall rather stint myself than beg more than once of the

same person. If I do not obtain anything after completing my round of

seven or ten houses, moved by covetousness, I shall not enlarge my round.

Whether I obtain or fail to obtain alms. I shall be equally unmoved like

a great ascetic. One lopping off an arm of mine with a hatchet, and one

smearing another arm with sandal-paste, shall be regarded by me equally.

I shall not wish prosperity to the one or misery to the other. I shall

not be pleased with life or displeased with death. I shall neither desire

to live nor to die. Washing my heart of all sins, I shall certainly

transcend those sacred rites productive of happiness, that men perform in

auspicious moments, days, and periods. I shall also abstain from all acts

of religion and profit and also those that lead to the gratification of

the senses. Freed from all sins and snares of the world, I shall be like

the wind subject to none. Following the path of fearlessness and bearing

myself in this way I shall at last lay down my life. Destitute of the

power of begetting children, firmly adhering to the line of duty I shall

not certainly deviate therefrom in order to tread in the vile path of the

world that is so full of misery. Whether respected or disrespected in the

world that man who from covetousness casteth on others a begging look,

certainly behaveth like a dog. (Destitute as I am of the power of

procreation, I should not certainly, from desire of offspring, solicit

others to give me children).’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The king, having thus wept in sorrow, with a

sigh looked at his two wives Kunti and Madri, and addressing them said,

‘Let the princess of Kosala (my mother), Vidura, the king with our

friends, the venerable Satyavati, Bhishma, the priests of our family,

illustrious Soma-drinking Brahmanas of rigid vows and all elderly

citizens depending on us be informed, after being prepared for it, that

Pandu hath retired into the woods to lead a life of asceticism.’ Hearing

these words of their lord who had set his heart on a life of asceticism

in the woods, both Kunti and Madri addressed him in these proper words,

‘O bull of Bharata’s race, there are many other modes of life which thou

canst adopt and in which thou canst undergo the severest penances along

with us, thy wedded wives–in which for the salvation of thy body

(freedom from re-birth), thou mayest obtain heaven. We also, in the

company of our lord, and for his benefit, controlling our passions and

bidding adieu to all luxuries, shall subject ourselves to the severest

austerities. O king, O thou of great wisdom, if thou abandonest us, we

shall then this very day truly depart from this world.’

Pandu replied, ‘If, indeed, this your resolve springeth from virtue, then

with you both I shall follow the imperishable path of my fathers.

Abandoning the luxuries of cities and towns, clad in barks of trees, and

living on fruits and roots, I shall wander in deep woods, practising the

severest penances. Bathing morning and evening, I shall perform the homa.

I shall reduce my body by eating very sparingly and shall wear rags and

skins and knotted locks on my head. Exposing myself to heat and cold and

disregarding hunger and thirst, I shall reduce my body by severe ascetic

penances, I shall live in solitude and I shall give myself up to

contemplation; I shall eat fruit, ripe or green, that I may find. I shall

offer oblations to the Pitris (manes) and the gods with speech, water and

the fruits of the wilderness. I shall not see, far less harm, any of the

denizens of the woods, or any of my relatives, or any of the residents of

cities and towns. Until I lay down this body, I shall thus practise the

severe ordinances of the Vanaprastha scriptures, always searching for

severer ones that they may contain.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Kuru king, having said this unto his wives,

gave away to Brahmanas the big jewel in his diadem, his necklace of

precious gold, his bracelets, his large ear-rings, his valuable robes and

all the ornaments of his wives. Then summoning his attendants, he

commended them, saying, ‘Return ye to Hastinapura and proclaim unto all

that Pandu with his wives hath gone into the woods, foregoing wealth,

desire, happiness, and even sexual appetite.’ Then those followers and

attendants, hearing these and other soft words of the king, set up a loud

wail, uttering, ‘Oh, we are undone!’ Then with hot tears trickling down

their cheeks they left the monarch and returned to Hastinapura with speed

carrying that wealth with them (that was to be distributed in charity).

Then Dhritarashtra, that first of men, hearing from them everything that

had happened in the woods, wept for his brother. He brooded over his

affliction continually, little relishing the comfort of beds and seats

and dishes.

“Meanwhile, the Kuru prince Pandu (after sending away his attendants)

accompanied by his two wives and eating fruits and roots went to the

mountains of Nagasata. He next went to Chaitraratha, and then crossed the

Kalakuta, and finally, crossing the Himavat, he arrived at Gandhamadana.

Protected by Mahabhutas, Siddhas, and great Rishis, Pandu lived, O king,

sometimes on level ground and sometimes on mountain slopes. He then

journeyed on to the lake of Indradyumna, whence crossing the mountains of

Hansakuta, he went to the mountain of hundred peaks (Sata-sringa) and

there continued to practise ascetic austerities.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Pandu, possessed of great energy, then devoted

himself to asceticism. Within a short time he became the favourite of the

whole body of the Siddhas and Charanas residing there. And, O Bharata,

devoted to the service of his spiritual masters, free from vanity, with

mind under complete control and the passions fully subdued, the prince,

becoming competent to enter heaven by his own energy, attained to great

(ascetic) prowess. Some of the Rishis would call him brother, some

friend, while others cherished him as their son. And, O bull of Bharata’s

race, having acquired after a long time great ascetic merit coupled with

complete singleness, Pandu became even like a Brahmarshi (though he was a

Kshatriya by birth).

“On a certain day of the new moon, the great Rishis of rigid vows

assembled together, and desirous of beholding Brahman were on the point

of starting on their expedition. Seeing them about to start, Pandu asked

those ascetics, saying, ‘Ye first of eloquent men, where shall we go?’

The Rishis answered, ‘There will be a great gathering today, in the abode

of Brahman, of celestials, Rishis and Pitris. Desirous of beholding the

Self-create we shall go there today.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing this, Pandu rose up suddenly, desirous

of visiting heaven along with the great Rishis. Accompanied by his two

wives, when he was on the point of following the Rishis in the northerly

direction from the mountain of hundred peaks, those ascetics addressed

him saying, ‘In our northward march, while gradually ascending the king

of mountains, we have seen on its delightful breast many regions

inaccessible to ordinary mortals; retreats also of the gods, and

Gandharvas and Apsaras, with palatial mansions by hundreds clustering

thick around and resounding with the sweet notes of celestial music, the

gardens of Kuvera laid out on even and uneven grounds, banks of mighty

rivers, and deep caverns. There are many regions also on those heights

that are covered with perpetual snow and are utterly destitute of

vegetable and animal existence. In some places the downpour of rain is so

heavy that they are perfectly inaccessible and incapable of being

utilised for habitation. Not to speak of other animals, even winged

creatures cannot cross them. The only thing that can go there is air, and

the only beings, Siddhas and great Rishis. How shall these princesses

ascend those heights of the king of mountains? Unaccustomed to pain,

shall they not droop in affliction? Therefore, come not with us, O bull

of Bharata’s race!’

“Pandu replied, ‘Ye fortunate ones, it is said that for the sonless there

is no admittance into heaven. I am sonless! I In affliction I speak’ unto

you! I am afflicted because I have not been able to discharge the debt I

owe to my ancestors. It is certain that with the dissolution of this my

body my ancestors perish! Men are born on this earth with four debts,

viz. those due unto the (deceased) ancestors, the gods, the Rishis, and

other men. In justice these must be discharged. The wise have declared

that no regions of bliss exist for them that neglect to pay these debts

in due time. The gods are paid (gratified) by sacrifices, the Rishis, by

study, meditation, and asceticism, the (deceased) ancestors, by begetting

children and offering the funeral cake, and, lastly other men, by leading

a humane and inoffensive life. I have justly discharged my obligations to

the Rishis, the gods, and other men. But those others than these three

are sure to perish with the dissolution of my body! Ye ascetics, I am not

yet freed from the debt I owe to my (deceased) ancestors. The best of men

are born in this world to beget children for discharging that debt. I

would ask you, should children be begotten in my soil (upon my wives) as

I myself was begotten in the soil of my father by the eminent Rishi?’

“The Rishis said, ‘O king of virtuous soul, there is progeny in store for

thee, that is sinless and blest with good fortune and like unto the gods.

We behold it all with our prophetic eyes. Therefore, O tiger among men,

accomplish by your own acts that which destiny pointeth at. Men of

intelligence, acting with deliberation, always obtain good fruits; it

behoveth thee, therefore, O king, to exert thyself. The fruits thou

wouldst obtain are distinctly visible. Thou wouldst really obtain

accomplished and agreeable progeny.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of the ascetics, Pandu,

remembering the loss of his procreative powers owing to the curse of the

deer, began to reflect deeply. And calling his wedded wife the excellent

Kunti, unto him, he told her in private, ‘Strive thou to raise offspring

at this time of distress. The wise expounders of the eternal religion

declare that a son, O Kunti, is the cause of virtuous fame in the three

worlds. It is said that sacrifices, charitable gifts, ascetic penances,

and vows observed most carefully, do not confer religious merit on a

sonless man. O thou of sweet smiles, knowing all this, I am certain that

as I am sonless, I shall not obtain regions of true felicity. O timid

one, wretch that I was and addicted to cruel deeds, as a consequence of

the polluted life I led, my power of procreation hath been destroyed by

the curse of the deer. The religious institutes mention six kinds of sons

that are heirs and kinsmen, and six other kinds that are not heirs but

kinsmen. I shall speak of them presently. O Pritha, listen to me. They

are: 1st, the son begotten by one’s own self upon his wedded wife; 2nd,

the son begotten upon one’s wife by an accomplished person from motives

of kindness; 3rd, the son begotten upon one’s wife by a person for

pecuniary consideration; 4th, the son begotten upon the wife after the

husband’s death; 5th, the maiden-born son; 6th, the son born of an

unchaste wife; 7th, the son given; 8th, the son bought for a

consideration; 9th, the son self-given; 10th, the son received with a

pregnant bride; 11th, the brother’s son; and 12th, the son begotten upon

a wife of lower caste. On failure of offspring of a prior class, the

mother should desire to have offspring of the next class. In times of

distress, men solicit offspring from accomplished younger brothers. The

self-born Manu hath said that men failing to have legitimate offspring of

their own may have offspring begotten upon their wives by others, for

sons confer the highest religious merit. Therefore, O Kunti, being

destitute myself of the power of procreation, I command thee to raise

good offspring through some person who is either equal or superior to me.

O Kunti, listen to the history of the daughter of Saradandayana who was

appointed by her lord to raise offspring. That warrior-dame, when her

monthly season arrived, bathed duly and in the night went out and waited

on a spot where four roads met. She did not wait long when a Brahmana

crowned with ascetic success came there. The daughter of Saradandayana

solicited him for offspring. After pouring libations of clarified butter

on the fire (in the performance of the sacrifice known by the name of

Punsavana) she brought forth three sons that were mighty car-warriors and

of whom Durjaya was the eldest, begotten upon her by that Brahmana. O

thou of good fortune, do thou follow that warrior-dame’s example at my

command, and speedily raise offspring out of the seed of some Brahmana of

high ascetic merit.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed, Kunti replied unto her heroic lord,

king Pandu, that bull amongst the Kurus, saying, ‘O virtuous one, it

behoveth thee not to say so unto me. I am, O thou lotus-eyed one, thy

wedded wife, devoted to thee. O, Bharata of mighty arms, thyself shalt,

in righteousness, beget upon me children endued with great energy. Then I

shall ascend to heaven with thee; O prince of Kuru’s race, receive me in

thy embrace for begetting children. I shall not certainly, even in

imagination, accept any other man except thee in my embraces. What other

man is there in this world superior to thee? O virtuous one, listen to

this Pauranic narrative that hath been, O thou of large eyes, heard by

me, and that I shall presently narrate.

“There was, in ancient times, a king in the race of Puru, known by the

name of Vyushitaswa. He was devoted to truth and virtue. Of virtuous soul

and mighty arms, on one occasion, while he was performing a sacrifice the

gods with Indra and the great Rishis came to him, and Indra was so

intoxicated with the Soma juice he drank and the Brahmanas with the large

presents they received, that both the gods and the great Rishis began

themselves to perform everything appertaining to that sacrifice of the

illustrious royal sage. And thereupon Vyushitaswa began to shine above

all men like the Sun appearing in double splendour after the season of

frost is over. And the powerful Vyushitaswa, who was endued with the

strength of ten elephants very soon performed the horse-sacrifice,

overthrowing, O best of monarchs, all the kings of the East, the North,

the West and the South, and exacted tributes from them all. There is an

anecdote, O best of the Kurus, that is sung by all reciters of the

Puranas, in connection with that first of all men, the illustrious

Vyushitaswa.–Having conquered the whole Earth up to the coast of the

sea, Vyushitaswa protected every class of his subjects as a father does

his own begotten sons.–Performing many great sacrifices he gave away

much wealth to the Brahmanas. After collecting unlimited jewels and

precious stones he made arrangements for performing still greater ones.

And he performed also the Agnishtoma, and other special Vedic sacrifices,

extracting great quantities of Soma juice. And, O king, Vyushitaswa had

for his dear wife, Bhadra, the daughter of Kakshivat, unrivalled for

beauty on earth. And it hath been heard by us that the couple loved each

other deeply. King Vyushitaswa was seldom separated from his wife. Sexual

excess, however, brought on an attack of phthisis and the king died

within a few days, sinking like the Sun in his glory. Then Bhadra, his

beautiful queen, was plunged into woe, and as she was sonless, O tiger

among men, she wept in great affliction. Listen to me, O king, as I

narrate to you all that Bhadra said with bitter tears trickling down her

cheeks. ‘O virtuous one’, she said, ‘Women serve no purpose when their

husbands are dead. She who liveth after her husband is dead, draggeth on

a miserable existence that can hardly be called life. O bull of the

Kshatriya order, death is a blessing to women without husbands. I wish to

follow the way thou hast gone. Be kind and take me with thee. In thy

absence, I am unable to bear life even for a moment. Be kind to me, O

king and take me hence pretty soon. O tiger among men, I shall follow

thee over the even and uneven ground. Thou hast gone away, O lord, never

to return. I shall follow thee, O king, as thy own shadow. O tiger among

men, I will obey thee (as thy slave) and will ever do what is agreeable

to thee and what is for thy good. O thou of eyes like lotus-petals,

without thee, from this day, mental agonies will overwhelm me and eat

into my heart. A wretch that I am, some loving couple had doubtless been

separated by me in a former life, for which, in this life, I am made to

suffer the pangs of separation from thee. O king, that wretched woman who

liveth even for a moment separated from her lord, liveth in woe and

suffereth the pangs of hell even here. Some loving couple had doubtless

been separated by me in a former life, for which sinful act I am

suffering this torture arising from my separation from thee. O king, from

this day I will lay myself down on a bed of Kusa grass and abstain from

every luxury, hoping to behold thee once more. O tiger among men, show

thyself to me. O king, O lord, command once more thy wretched and

bitterly weeping wife plunged in woe.’

“Kunti continued, ‘It was thus, O Pandu, that the beautiful Bhadra wept

over the death of her lord. And the weeping Bhadra clasped in her arms

the corpse in anguish of heart. Then she was addressed by an incorporeal

voice in these words, “Rise up, O Bhadra, and leave this place. O thou of

sweet smiles, I grant thee this boon. I will beget offspring upon thee.

Lie thou down with me on thy own bed, after the catamenial bath, on the

night of the eighth or the fourteenth day of the moon.’ Thus addressed by

the incorporeal voice, the chaste Bhadra did, as she was directed, for

obtaining offspring. And, O bull of the Bharatas, the corpse of her

husband begat upon her seven children viz., three Salwas and four Madras.

O bull of the Bharatas, do thou also beget offspring upon me, like the

illustrious Vyushitaswa, by the exercise of that ascetic power which thou



(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed by his loving wife, king Pandu,

well-acquainted with all rules of morality, replied in these words of

virtuous import, ‘O Kunti, what thou hast said is quite true. Vyushitaswa

of old did even as thou hast said. Indeed he was equal unto the

celestials themselves. But I shall now tell thee about the practices of

old indicated by illustrious Rishis, fully acquainted with every rule of

morality. O thou of handsome face and sweet smiles, women formerly were

not immured within houses and dependent on husbands and other relatives.

They used to go about freely, enjoying themselves as best as they liked.

O thou of excellent qualities, they did not then adhere to their husbands

faithfully, and yet, O handsome one, they were not regarded sinful, for

that was the sanctioned usage of the times. That very usage is followed

to this day by birds and beasts without any (exhibition of) jealousy.

That practice, sanctioned by precedent, is applauded by great Rishis. O

thou of taper thighs, the practice is yet regarded with respect amongst

the Northern Kurus. Indeed, that usage, so lenient to women, hath the

sanction of antiquity. The present practice, however (of women’s being

confined to one husband for life) hath been established but lately. I

shall tell thee in detail who established it and why.

“It hath been heard by us that there was a great Rishi of the name of

Uddalaka, who had a son named Swetaketu who also was an ascetic of merit.

O thou of eyes like lotus-petals, the present virtuous practice hath been

established by that Swetaketu from anger. Hear thou the reason. One day,

in the presence of Swetaketu’s father a Brahmana came and catching

Swetaketu’s mother by the hand, told her, ‘Let us go.’ Beholding his

mother seized by the hand and taken away apparently by force, the son was

greatly moved by wrath. Seeing his son indignant, Uddalaka addressed him

and said, ‘Be not angry. O son! This is the practice sanctioned by

antiquity. The women of all orders in this world are free, O son; men in

this matter, as regards their respective orders, act as kine.’ The

Rishi’s son, Swetaketu, however, disapproved of the usage and established

in the world the present practice as regards men and women. It hath been

heard by us, O thou of great virtue, that the existing practice dates

from that period among human beings but not among beings of other

classes. Accordingly, since the establishment of the present usage, it is

sinful for women not to adhere to their husbands. Women transgressing the

limits assigned by the Rishi became guilty of slaying the embryo. And,

men, too, viol ting a chaste and loving wife who hath from her maidenhood

observed the vow of purity, became guilty of the same sin. The woman also

who, being commanded by her husband to raise offspring, refuses to do his

bidding, becometh equally sinful.

“Thus, O timid one, was the existing usage established of old by

Swetaketu, the son of Uddalaka, in defiance of antiquity. O thou of taper

thighs, it hath also been heard by us that Madayanti, the wife of

Saudasa, commanded by her husband to raise offspring went unto Rishi

Vasishtha. And on going in unto him, the handsome Madayanti obtained a

son named Asmaka. She did this, moved by the desire of doing good to her

husband. O thou of lotus-eyes, thou knowest, O timid girl, how we

ourselves, for the perpetuation of the Kuru race, were begotten by

Krishna-Dwaipayana. O faultless one, beholding all these precedents it

behoveth thee to do my bidding, which is not inconsistent with virtue, O

princess, who is devoted to her husband, it hath also been said by those

acquainted with the rules of morality that a wife, when her monthly

season cometh, must ever seek her husband, though at other times she

deserveth liberty. The wise have declared this to be the ancient

practice. But, be the act sinful or sinless, those acquainted with the

Vedas have declared that it is the duty of wives to do what their

husbands bid them do. Especially, O thou of faultless features, I, who am

deprived of the power of procreation, having yet become desirous of

beholding offspring, deserve the more to be obeyed by thee. O amiable

one, joining my palms furnished with rosy fingers, and making of them a

cup as of lotus leaves, I place them on my head to propitiate thee. O

thou of lair looks, it behoveth thee to raise offspring, at my command,

through some Brahmana possessed of high ascetic merit. For then, owing to

thee, O thou of fair hips, I may go the way that is reserved for those

that are blessed with children.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Pandu, that subjugator of

hostile cities, the handsome Kunti, ever attentive to what was agreeable

and beneficial to her lord, then replied unto him, saying, ‘In my

girlhood, O lord, I was in my father’s house engaged in attending upon

all guests. I used to wait respectfully upon Brahmanas of rigid vows and

great ascetic merit. One day I gratified with my attentions that Brahmana

whom people call Durvasa, of mind under full control and possessing

knowledge of all the mysteries of religion. Pleased with my services,

that Brahmana gave me a boon in the form of a mantra (formula of

invocation) for calling into my presence any one of the celestials I

liked. And the Rishi, addressing me, said, ‘Anyone among the celestials

whom thou callest by this shall, O girl, approach thee and be obedient to

thy will, whether he liketh it or not. And, O princess, thou shall also

have offspring through his grace.’ O Bharata, that Brahmana told me this

when I lived in my father’s house. The words uttered by the Brahmana can

never be false. The time also hath come when they may yield fruit.

Commanded by thee, O royal sage, I can by that mantra summon any of the

celestials, so that we may have good children. O foremost of all truthful

men, tell me which of the celestials I shall summon. Know that, as

regards this matter, I await your commands.’

“Hearing this, Pandu replied, ‘O handsome one, strive duly this very day

to gratify our wishes. Fortunate one, summon thou the god of justice. He

is the most virtuous of the celestials. The god of justice and virtue

will never be able to pollute us with sin. The world also, O beautiful

princess, will then think that what we do can never be unholy. The son

also that we shall obtain from him shall in virtue be certainly the

foremost among the Kurus. Begotten by the god of justice and morality, he

would never set his heart upon anything that is sinful or unholy.

Therefore, O thou of sweet smiles, steadily keeping virtue before thy

eyes, and duly observing holy vows, summon thou the god of justice and

virtue by the help of thy solicitations and incantations.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Kunti, that best of women, thus addressed

by her lord, said, ‘So be it.’ And bowing down to him and reverently

circumambulating his person, she resolved to do his bidding.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O Janamejaya, when Gandhari’s conception had been a

full year old, it was then that Kunti summoned the eternal god of justice

to obtain offspring from him. And she offered without loss of time,

sacrifices unto the god and began to duly repeat the formula that Durvasa

had imparted to her some time before. Then the god, overpowered by her

incantations, arrived at the spot where Kunti was seated in his car

resplendent as the Sun. Smiling, he asked, ‘O Kunti, what am I to give

thee?’ And Kunti too smiling in her turn, replied, ‘Thou must even give

me offspring.’ Then the handsome Kunti was united (in intercourse) with

the god of justice in his spiritual form and obtained from him a son

devoted to the good of all creatures. And she brought his excellent

child, who lived to acquire a great fame, at the eighth Muhurta called

Abhijit, of the hour of noon of that very auspicious day of the seventh

month (Kartika), viz., the fifth of the lighted fortnight, when the star

Jyeshtha in conjunction with the moon was ascendant. And as soon as the

child was born, an incorporeal voice (from the skies) said, ‘This child

shall be the best of men, the foremost of those that are virtuous. Endued

with great prowess and truthful in speech, he shall certainly be the

ruler of the earth. And this first child of Pandu shall be known by the

name of Yudhishthira. Possessed of prowess and honesty of disposition, he

shall be a famous king, known throughout the three worlds.’

“Pandu, having obtained that virtuous son, again addressed his wife and

said. ‘The wise have declared that a Kshatriya must be endued with

physical strength, otherwise he is no Kshatriya.’ Therefore, ask thou for

an offspring of superior strength. Thus commanded by her lord, Kunti then

invoked Vayu. And the mighty god of wind, thus invoked, came unto her,

riding upon a deer, and said, ‘What, O Kunti, am I to give thee? Tell me

what is in thy heart” Smiling in modesty, she said to him, ‘Give me, O

best of celestials, a child endued with great strength and largeness of

limbs and capable of humbling the pride of every body.’ The god of wind

thereupon begat upon her the child afterwards known as Bhima of mighty

arms and fierce prowess. And upon the birth of that child endued with

extraordinary strength, an incorporeal voice, O Bharata, as before, said,

‘This child shall be the foremost of all endued with strength.’ I must

tell you, O Bharata, of another wonderful event that occurred alter the

birth of Vrikodara (Bhima). While he fell from the lap of his mother upon

the mountain breast, the violence of the fall broke into fragments the

stone upon which he fell without his infant body being injured in the

least. And he fell from his mother’s lap because Kunti, frightened by a

tiger, had risen up suddenly, unconscious of the child that lay asleep on

her lap. And as she had risen, the infant, of body hard as the

thunderbolt, falling down upon the mountain breast, broke into a hundred

fragments the rocky mass upon which he fell. And beholding this, Pandu

wondered much. And it so happened that that very day on which Vrikodara

was born, was also, O best of Bharatas, the birthday of Duryodhana who

afterwards became the ruler of the whole earth.’

“After the birth of Vrikodara, Pandu again began to think, ‘How am I to

obtain a very superior son who shall achieve world-wide fame? Every,

thing in the world dependeth on destiny and exertion. But destiny can

never be successful except by timely exertion. We have heard it said that

Indra is the chief of the gods. Indeed, he is endued with immeasurable

might and energy and prowess and glory. Gratifying him with my

asceticism, I shall obtain from him a son of great strength. Indeed, the

son he giveth me must be superior to all and capable of vanquishing in

battle all men and creatures other than men. I shall, therefore, practise

the severest austerities, with heart, deed and speech.’

“After this, the Kuru king Pandu, taking counsel with the great Rishis

commanded Kunti to observe an auspicious vow for one full year, while he

himself commenced, O Bharata, to stand upon one leg from morning to

evening, and practise other severe austerities with mind rapt in

meditation, for gratifying the lord of the celestials.

“It was after a long time that Indra (gratified with such devotion)

approached Pandu and, addressing him, said, ‘I shall give thee, O king, a

son who will be celebrated all over the three worlds and who will promote

the welfare of Brahmanas, kine and all honest men. The son I shall give

thee will be the smiter of the wicked and the delight of friends and

relatives. Foremost of all men, he will be an irresistible slayer of all

foes.’ Thus addressed by Vasava (the king of the celestials), the

virtuous king of the Kuru race, well-recollecting those words, said unto

Kunti, ‘O fortunate one, thy vow hath become successful. The lord of the

celestials hath been gratified, and is willing to give thee a son such as

thou desirest, of superhuman achievements and great fame. He will be the

oppressor of all enemies and possessed of great wisdom. Endued with a

great soul, in splendour equal unto the Sun, invincible in battles, and

of great achievements, he will also be extremely handsome. O thou of fair

hips and sweet smiles, the lord of the celestials hath become gracious to

thee. Invoking him, bring thou forth a child who will be the very home of

all Kshatriya virtues.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The celebrated Kunti, thus addressed by her

lord, invoked Sakra (the king of the gods) who thereupon came unto her

and begat him that was afterwards called Arjuna. And as soon as this

child was born, an incorporeal voice, loud and deep as that of the clouds

and filling the whole welkin, distinctly said, addressing Kunti in the

hearing of every creature dwelling in that asylum, ‘This child of thine,

O Kunti, will be equal unto Kartavirya in energy and Siva in prowess.

Invincible like Sakra himself he will spread thy fame far and wide. As

Vishnu (the youngest of Aditi’s sons) had enhanced Aditi’s joy, so shall

this child enhance thy joy. Subjugating the Madras, the Kurus along with

the Somakas, and the people of Chedi, Kasi and Karusha, he will maintain

the prosperity of the Kurus. (Surfeited with libations at the sacrifice

of king Swetaketu), Agni will derive great gratification from the fat of

all creatures dwelling in the Khandava woods (to be burnt down) by the

might of this one’s arms. This mighty hero, vanquishing all the

effeminate monarchs of the earth, will, with his brothers perform three

great sacrifices. In prowess, O Kunti, he will be even as Jamadagnya or

Vishnu. The foremost of all men endued with prowess, he will achieve

great fame. He will gratify in battle (by his heroism) Sankara, the god

of gods (Mahadeva), and will receive from him the great weapon named

Pasupata. This thy son of mighty arms will also slay, at the command of

Indra, those Daityas called the Nivatakavachas who are the enemies of the

gods. He will also acquire all kinds of celestial weapons, and this bull

among men will also retrieve the fortunes of his race.’

‘Kunti heard these extraordinary words, while lying in the room. And

hearing those words uttered so loudly, the ascetics dwelling on the

mountain of a hundred peaks, and the celestials with Indra sitting in

their cars, became exceedingly glad. The sounds of the (invisible) drum

filled the entire welkin. There were shouts of joy, and the whole region

was covered with flowers showered down by invisible agents. The various

tribes of celestials assembled together, began to offer their respectful

adorations to the son of Pritha. The sons of Kadru (Nagas), the son of

Vinata, the Gandharvas, the lords of the creation, and the seven great

Rishis, viz., Bharadwaja, Kasyapa, Gautama, Viswamitra, Jamadagni,

Vasishtha, and the illustrious Atri who illumined the world of old when

the Sun was lost, all came there. And Marichi, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha,

Kratu, Daksha the lord of creation, the Gandharvas, and Apsaras, came

there also. The various tribes of Apsaras, decked with celestial garlands

and every ornament, and attired in fine robes, came there and danced in

joy, chanting the praises of Vibhatsu (Arjuna). All around, the great

Rishis began to utter propitiatory formulas. And Tumvuru accompanied by

the Gandharvas began to sing in charming notes. And Bhimasena and

Ugrasena, Urnayus and Anagha. Gopati and Dhritarashtra and Suryavarchas

the eighth, Yugapa and Trinapa, Karshni, Nandi, and Chitraratha,

Salisirah the thirteenth, Parjanya the fourteenth, Kali the fifteenth,

and Narada the sixteenth in this list, Vrihatta, Vrihaka, Karala of great

soul, Brahmacharin, Vahuguna, Suvarna of great fame, Viswavasu, Bhumanyu,

Suchandra, Sam and the celebrated tribes of Haha and Huhu gifted with

wonderful melody of voice,–these celestial Gandharvas, O king, all went

there. Many illustrious Apsaras also of large eyes, decked with every

ornament came there to dance and sing. And Anuchana and Anavadya,

Gunamukhya and Gunavara, Adrika and Soma, Misrakesi and Alambusha,

Marichi and Suchika, Vidyutparna and Tilottama and Ambika, Lakshmana,

Kshema Devi, Rambha, Manorama, Asita, Suvahu, Supriya, Suvapuh,

Pundarika, Sugandha, Surasa, Pramathini, Kamya and Saradwati, all danced

there together. And Menaka, Sahajanya, Karnika, Punjikasthala,

Ritusthala, Ghritachi, Viswachi, Purvachiti, the celebrated Umlocha,

Pramlocha the tenth and Urvasi the eleventh,–these large-eyed dancing

girls of heaven,–came there and sang in chorus. And Dharti and Aryaman

and Mitra and Varuna, Bhaga and Indra, Vivaswat, Pushan, Tvastri and

Parjanya or Vishnu, these twelve Adityas came there to glorify Pandu’s

son. And, O king, Mrigavyadha, Sarpa, the celebrated Niriti, Ajaikapada,

Ahivradhna, Pinakin, Dahana, Iswara, Kapalin, Sthanu and the illustrious

Bhaga–these eleven Rudras,–also came there. And the twin Aswins, the

eight Vasus, the mighty Maruts, the Viswedevas, and the Sadhyas, also

came there. And Karkotaka, Vasuki, Kachchhapa, Kunda and the great Naga

Takshaka,–these mighty and wrathful snakes possessed of high ascetic

merit also came there. And Tarkshya, Arishtanemi, Garuda,

Asitadvaja,–these and many other Nagas, came there, so also Aruna and

Aruni of Vinata’s race also came there. And only great Rishis crowned

with ascetic success and not others saw those celestials and other beings

seated in their cars or waiting on the mountain peaks. Those best of

Munis beholding that wonderful sight, became amazed, and their love and

affection for the children of Pandu was in consequence enhanced.

“The celebrated Pandu, tempted by the desire of having more children

wished to speak again unto his wedded wife (for invoking some other god).

But Kunti addressed him, saying, ‘The wise do not sanction a fourth

delivery even in a season of distress. The woman having intercourse with

four different men is called a Swairini (heanton), while she having

intercourse with five becometh a harlot. Therefore, O learned one, as

thou art well-acquainted with the scripture on this subject, why dost

thou, beguiled by desire of offspring, tell me so in seeming

forgetfulness of the ordinance?'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After the birth of Kunti’s sons and also of the

hundred sons of Dhritarashtra the daughter of the king of the Madras

privately addressed Pandu, saying, ‘O slayer of foes, I have no complaint

even if thou beest unpropitious to me. I have, O sinless one, also no

complaint that though by birth I am superior to Kunti yet I am inferior

to her in station. I do not grieve, O thou of Kuru’s race, that Gandhari

hath obtained a hundred sons. This, however, is my great grief that while

Kunti and I are equal, I should be childless, while it should so chance

that thou shouldst have offspring by Kunti alone. If the daughter of

Kuntibhoja should so provide that I should have offspring, she would then

be really doing me a great favour and benefiting thee likewise. She being

my rival, I feel a delicacy in soliciting any favour of her. If thou

beest, O king, propitiously disposed to me, then ask her to grant my


“Hearing her, Pandu replied, ‘O Madri, I do revolve this matter often in

my own mind, but I have hitherto hesitated to tell thee anything, not

knowing how thou wouldst receive it. Now that I know what your wishes

are, I shall certainly strive after that end. I think that, asked by me,

Kunti will not refuse.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, Pandu addressed Kunti in private,

saying, ‘O Kunti, grant me some more offspring for the expansion of my

race and for the benefit of the world. O blessed one, provide thou that I

myself, my ancestors, and thine also, may always have the funeral cake

offered to us. O, do what is beneficial to me, and grant me and the world

what, indeed, is the best of benefits. O, do what, indeed, may be

difficult for thee, moved by the desire of achieving undying fame.

Behold, Indra, even though he hath obtained the sovereignty of the

celestials, doth yet, for fame alone, perform sacrifices. O handsome one,

Brahmanas, well-acquainted with the Vedas, and having achieved high

ascetic merit, do yet, for fame alone, approach their spiritual masters

with reverence. So also all royal sages and Brahmanas possessed of

ascetic wealth have achieved, for fame only, the most difficult of

ascetic feat. Therefore, O blameless one, rescue this Madri as by a raft

(by granting her the means of obtaining offspring), and achieve thou

imperishable fame by making her a mother of children.’

“Thus addressed by her lord, Kunti readily yielded, and said unto Madri,

‘Think thou, without loss of time, of some celestial, and thou shall

certainly obtain from him a child like unto him.’ Reflecting for a few

moments. Madri thought of the twin Aswins, who coming unto her with speed

begat upon her two sons that were twins named Nakula and Sahadeva,

unrivalled on earth for personal beauty. And as soon as they were born,

an incorporeal voice said, ‘In energy and beauty these twins shall

transcend even the twin Aswins themselves.’ Indeed possessed of great

energy and beauty, they illumined the whole region.

“O king, after all the children were born the Rishis dwelling on the

mountain of a hundred peaks uttering blessings on them and affectionately

performing the first rites of birth, bestowed appellations on them. The

eldest of Kunti’s children was called Yudhishthira, the second Bhimasena,

and the third Arjuna, and of Madri’s sons, the first-born of the twins

was called Nakula and the next Sahadeva. And those foremost sons born at

an interval of one year after one another, looked like an embodied period

of five years. And king Pandu, beholding his children of celestial beauty

and of super-abundant energy, great strength and prowess, and of

largeness of soul, rejoiced exceedingly. And the children became great

favourites of the Rishis, as also of their wives, dwelling on the

mountain of a hundred peaks.

“Some time after, Pandu again requested Kunti on behalf of Madri.

Addressed, O king, by her lord in private, Kunti replied, ‘Having given

her the formula of invocation only once, she hath, O king, managed to

obtain two sons. Have I not been thus deceived by her, I fear, O king,

that she will soon surpass me in the number of her children. This,

indeed, is the way of all wicked women. Fool that I was, I did not know

that by invoking the twin gods I could obtain at one birth twin children.

I beseech thee, O king, do not command me any further. Let this be the

boon granted (by thee) to me.’

“Thus, O king, were born unto Pandu five sons who were begotten by

celestials and were endued with great strength, and who all lived to

achieve great fame and expand the Kuru race. Each bearing every

auspicious mark on his person, handsome like Soma, proud as the lion,

well-skilled in the use of the bow, and of leonine tread, breast, heart,

eyes, neck and prowess, those foremost of men, resembling the celestials

themselves in might, began to grow up. And beholding them and their

virtues growing with years, the great Rishis dwelling on that snowcapped

sacred mountain were filled with wonder. And the five Pandavas and the

hundred sons of Dhritarashtra–that propagator of the Kuru race–grew up

rapidly like a cluster of lotuses in a lake.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, “Beholding his five handsome sons growing up before

him in that great forest on the charming mountain slope, Pandu felt the

last might of his arms revive once more. One day in the season of spring

which maddens every creature the king accompanied by his wife (Madri),

began to rove in the woods where every tree had put forth new blossoms.

He beheld all around Palasas and Tilakas and Mangoes and Champakas and

Parihadrakas and Karnikaras, Asokas and Kesaras and Atimuktas and

Kuruvakas with swarms of maddened bees sweetly humming about. And there

were flowers of blossoming Parijatas with the Kokilas pouring forth their

melodies from under every twig echoing with the sweet hums of the black

bees. And he beheld also various other kinds of trees bent down with the

weight of their flowers and fruits. And there were also many fine pools

of water overgrown with hundreds of fragrant lotuses. Beholding all

these, Pandu felt the soft influence of desire. Roving like a celestial

with a light heart amidst such scenery, Pandu was alone with his wife

Madri in semi-transparent attire. And beholding the youthful Madri thus

attired, the king’s desire flamed up like a forest-fire. And ill-able to

suppress his desire thus kindled at the sight of his wife of eyes like

lotus-petals, he was completely overpowered. The king then seized her

against her will, but Madri trembling in fear resisted him to the best of

her might. Consumed by desire, he forgot everything about his misfortune.

And, O thou of Kuru’s race unrestrained by the fear of (the Rishi’s)

curse and impelled by fate, the monarch, overpowered by passion, forcibly

sought the embraces of Madri, as if he wished to put an end to his own

life. His reason, thus beguiled by the great Destroyer himself by

intoxicating his senses, was itself lost with his life. And the Kuru king

Pandu, of virtuous soul, thus succumbed to the inevitable influence of

Time, while united in intercourse with his wife.

“Then Madri, clasping the body of her senseless lord, began to weep

aloud. And Kunti with her sons and the twins of Madri, hearing those

cries of grief, came to the spot where the king lay in that state. Then,

O king, Madri addressing Kunti in a piteous voice, said, ‘Come hither

alone, O Kunti, and let the children stay there.’ Hearing these words,

Kunti, bidding the children stay, ran with speed, exclaiming, ‘Woe to

me!’ And beholding both Pandu and Madri lying prostrate on the ground she

went in grief and affliction, saying, ‘Of passions under complete

control, this hero, O Madri, had all along been watched by me with care.

How did he then forgetting the Rishi’s curse, approach thee with

enkindled desire? O Madri, this foremost of men should have been

protected by thee. Why didst thou tempt him into solitude? Always

melancholy at the thought of the Rishi’s curse, how came he to be merry

with thee in solitude? O princess of Valhika, more fortunate than myself,

thou art really to be envied, for thou hast seen the face of our lord

suffused with gladness and joy.’

“Madri then replied, saying, ‘Revered sister, with tears in my eyes, I

resisted the king, but he could not control himself, bent on, as it were

making the Rishi’s curse true.’

“Kunti then said, ‘I am the older of his wedded wives; the chief

religious merit must be mine. Therefore, O Madri, prevent me not from

achieving that which must be achieved. I must follow our lord to the

region of the dead. Rise up, O Madri, and yield me his body. Rear thou

these children.’ Madri replied, saying, ‘I do clasp our lord yet, and

have not allowed him to depart; therefore, I shall follow him. My

appetite hath not been appeased. Thou art my older sister, O let me have

thy sanction. This foremost one of the Bharata princes had approached me,

desiring to have intercourse. His appetite unsatiated, shall I not follow

him in the region of Yama to gratify him? O revered one, if I survive

thee, it is certain I shall not be able to rear thy children as if they

were mine. Will not sin touch me on that account? But, thou, O Kunti,

shall be able to bring my sons up as if they were thine. The king, in

seeking me wishfully, hath gone to the region of spirits; therefore, my

body should be burnt with his. O revered sister, withhold not thy

sanction to this which is agreeable to me. Thou wilt certainly bring up

the children carefully. That indeed, would be very agreeable to me. I

have no other direction to give!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said this, the daughter of the king of

Madras, the wedded wife of Pandu, ascended the funeral pyre of her lord,

that bull among men.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The godlike Rishis, wise in counsels, beholding the

death of Pandu, consulted with one another, and said, ‘The virtuous and

renowned king Pandu, abandoning both sovereignty, and kingdom came hither

for practising ascetic austerities and resigned himself to the ascetics

dwelling on this mountain. He hath hence ascended to heaven, leaving his

wife and infant sons as a trust in our hands. Our duty now is to repair

to his kingdom with these his offspring, and his wife.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then those godlike Rishis of magnanimous

hearts, and crowned with ascetic success, summoning one another, resolved

to go to Hastinapura with Pandu’s children ahead, desiring to place them

in the hands of Bhishma and Dhritarashtra. The ascetics set out that very

moment, taking with them those children and Kunti and the two dead

bodies. And though unused to toil all her life, the affectionate Kunti

now regarded as very short the really long journey she had to perform.

Having arrived at Kurujangala within a short time, the illustrious Kunti

presented herself at the principal gate. The ascetics then charged the

porters to inform the king of their arrival. The men carried the message

in a trice to the court. And the citizens of Hastinapura, hearing of the

arrival of thousands of Charanas and Munis, were filled with wonder. And

it was soon after sunrise that they began to come out in numbers with

their wives and children to behold those ascetics. Seated in all kinds of

cars and conveyances by thousands, vast numbers of Kshatriyas with their

wives, and Brahmanas with theirs came out. And the concourse of Vaisyas

and Sudras too was as large on the occasion. The vast assemblage was very

peaceful, for every heart then was inclined to piety. And there also came

out Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and Somadatta or Valhika and the royal

sage (Dhritarashtra) endued with the vision of knowledge and Vidura

himself and the venerable Satyavati and the illustrious princess of

Kosala and Gandhari accompanied by the other ladies of the royal

household. And the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, decked with various

ornaments, also came out.

“The Kauravas, then, accompanied by their priest, saluted the Rishis by

lowering their heads, and took their seats before them. The citizens also

saluting the ascetics and bowing down unto them with touching the ground,

took their seats there. Then Bhishma, setting that vast concourse

perfectly still, duly worshipped, O king, those ascetics by offering them

water to wash their feet with and the customary Arghya. And having done

this, he spoke unto them about the sovereignty and the kingdom. Then the

oldest of the ascetics with matted locks on head and loins covered with

animal skin, stood up, and with the concurrence of the other Rishis,

spoke as follows, ‘You all know that that possessor of the sovereignty of

the Kurus who was called king Pandu, had, after abandoning the pleasures

of the world, repaired hence to dwell on the mountain of a hundred peaks.

He adopted the Brahmacharya mode of life, but for some inscrutable

purpose the gods have in view, this his eldest son, Yudhishthira, was

born there, begotten by Dharma himself. Then that illustrious king

obtained from Vayu this other son–the foremost of all mighty men–called

Bhima. This other son, begotten upon Kunti by Indra, is Dhananjaya whose

achievements will humble all bowmen in the world. Look here again at

these tigers among men, mighty in the use of the bow, the twin children

begotten upon Madri by the twin Aswins. Leading in righteousness the life

of a Vanaprastha in the woods, illustrious Pandu hath thus revived the

almost extinct line of his grandfather. The birth, growth, and Vedic

studies of these children of Pandu, will, no doubt, give you great

pleasure. Steadily adhering to the path of the virtuous and the wise, and

leaving behind him these children, Pandu departed hence seventeen days

ago. His wife Madri, beholding him placed in the funeral pyre and about

to be consumed, herself ascended the same pyre, and sacrificing her life

thus, hath gone with her lord to the region reserved for chaste wives.

Accomplish now whatever rites should be performed for their benefit.

These are (the unburnt portions of) their bodies. Here also are their

children–these oppressors of foes–with their mother. Let these be now

received with due honours. After the completion of the first rites in

honour of the dead, let the virtuous Pandu, who had all along been the

supporter of the dignity of the Kurus, have the first annual Sraddha

(sapindakarana) performed with a view to installing him formally among

the Pitris.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The ascetics with Guhyakas, having said this

unto the Kurus, instantly disappeared in the very sight of the people.

And beholding the Rishis and the Siddhas thus vanish in their sight like

vapoury forms appearing and disappearing in the skies, the citizens

filled with wonder returned to their homes.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Dhritarashtra then said, ‘O Vidura, celebrate

the funeral ceremonies of that lion among kings viz., Pandu, and of Madri

also, in right royal style. For the good of their souls, distribute

cattle, cloths, gems and diverse kinds of wealth, every one receiving as

much as he asketh for. Make arrangements also for Kunti’s performing the

last rites of Madri in such a style as pleaseth her. And let Madri’s body

be so carefully wrapped up that neither the Sun nor Vayu (god of wind)

may behold it. Lament not for the sinless Pandu. He was a worthy king and

hath left behind him five heroic sons equal unto the celestials


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Vidura, O Bharata, saying, ‘So be it,’ in

consultation with Bhishma, fixed upon a sacred spot for the funeral rites

of Pandu. The family priests went out of the city without loss of time,

carrying with them the blazing sacred fire fed with clarified butter and

rendered fragrant therewith. Then friends, relatives, and adherents,

wrapping it up in cloth, decked the body of the monarch with the flowers

of the season and sprinkled various excellent perfumes over it. And they

also decked the hearse itself with garlands and rich hangings. Then

placing the covered body of the king with that of his queen on that

excellent bier decked out so brightly, they caused it to be carried on

human shoulders. With the white umbrella (of state) held over the hearse

with waving yak-tails and sounds of various musical instruments, the

whole scene looked bright and grand. Hundreds of people began to

distribute gems among the crowd on the occasion of the funeral rites of

the king. At length some beautiful robes, and white umbrellas and larger

yak-tails, were brought for the great ceremony. The priests clad in white

walked in the van of the procession pouring libations of clarified butter

on the sacred fire blazing in an ornamental vessel. And Brahmanas, and

Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and Sudras by thousands followed the deceased

king, loudly wailing in these accents, ‘O prince, where dost thou go,

leaving us behind, and making us forlorn and wretched for ever?’ And

Bhishma, and Vidura, and the Pandavas, also all wept aloud. At last they

came to a romantic wood on the banks of the Ganga. There they laid down

the hearse on which the truthful and lion-hearted prince and his spouse

lay. Then they brought water in many golden vessels, washed the prince’s

body besmeared before with several kinds of fragrant paste, and again

smeared it over with sandal paste. They then dressed it in a white dress

made of indigenous fabrics. And with the new suit on, the king seemed as

if he was living and only sleeping on a costly bed.

“When the other funeral ceremonies also were finished in consonance with

the directions of the priests, the Kauravas set fire to the dead bodies

of the king and the queen, bringing lotuses, sandal-paste, and other

fragrant substances to the pyre.

“Then seeing the bodies aflame, Kausalya burst out, ‘O my son, my

son!’–and fell down senseless on the ground. And seeing her down the

citizens and the inhabitants of the provinces began to wail from grief

and affection for their king. And the birds of the air and the beasts of

the field were touched by the lamentations of Kunti. And Bhishma, the son

of Santanu, and the wise Vidura, and the others also that were there,

became disconsolate.

“Thus weeping, Bhishma, Vidura, Dhritarashtra, the Pandavas and the Kuru

ladies, all performed the watery ceremony of the king. And when all this

was over, the people, themselves filled with sorrow, began to console the

bereaved sons of Pandu. And the Pandavas with their friends began to

sleep on the ground. Seeing this the Brahmanas and the other citizens

also renounced their beds. Young and old, all the citizens grieved on

account of the sons of king Pandu, and passed twelve days in mourning

with the weeping Pandavas.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Bhishma and Kunti with their friends celebrated

the Sraddha of the deceased monarch, and offered the Pinda. And they

feasted the Kauravas and thousands of Brahmanas unto whom they also gave

gems and lands. Then the citizens returned to Hastinapura with the sons

of Pandu, now that they had been cleansed from the impurity incident to

the demise of their father. All then fell to weeping for the departed

king. It seemed as if they had lost one of their own kin.

“When the Sraddha had been celebrated in the manner mentioned above, the

venerable Vyasa, seeing all the subjects sunk in grief, said one day to

his mother Satyavati, ‘Mother, our days of happiness have gone by and

days of calamity have succeeded. Sin beginneth to increase day by day.

The world hath got old. The empire of the Kauravas will no longer endure

because of wrong and oppression. Go thou then into the forest, and devote

thyself to contemplation through Yoga. Henceforth society will be filled

with deceit and wrong. Good work will cease. Do not witness the

annihilation of thy race, in thy old age.’

“Acquiescing in the words of Vyasa, Satyavati entered the inner

apartments and addressed her daughter-in-law, saying, ‘O Ambika, I hear

that in consequence of the deeds of your grandsons, this Bharata dynasty

and its subjects will perish. If thou permit, I would go to the forest

with Kausalya, so grieved at the loss of her son.’ O king, saying this

the queen, taking the permission of Bhishma also, went to the forest. And

arriving there with her two daughters-in-law, she became engaged in

profound contemplation, and in good time leaving her body ascended to


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then the sons of king Pandu, having gone

through all the purifying rites prescribed in the Vedas, began to grow up

in princely style in the home of their father. Whenever they were engaged

in play with the sons of Dhritarashtra, their superiority of strength

became marked. In speed, in striking the objects aimed at, in consuming

articles of food, and scattering dust, Bhimasena beat all the sons of

Dhritarashtra. The son of the Wind-god pulled them by the hair and made

them fight with one another, laughing all the while. And Vrikodara easily

defeated those hundred and one children of great energy as if they were

one instead of being a hundred and one. The second Pandava used to seize

them by the hair, and throwing them down, to drag them along the earth.

By this, some had their knees broken, some their heads, and some their

shoulders. That youth, sometimes holding ten of them, drowned them in

water, till they were nearly dead. When the sons of Dhritarashtra got up

to the boughs of a tree for plucking fruits, Bhima used to shake that

tree, by striking it with his foot, so that down came the fruits and the

fruitpluckers at the same time. In fact, those princes were no match for

Bhima in pugilistic encounters, in speed, or in skill. Bhima used to make

a display of his strength by thus tormenting them in childishness but not

from malice.

“Seeing these wonderful exhibitions of the might of Bhima, the powerful

Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, began to conceive hostility

towards him. And the wicked and unrighteous Duryodhana, through ignorance

and ambition, prepared himself for an act of sin. He thought, ‘There is

no other individual who can compare with Bhima, the second son of Pandu,

in point of prowess. I shall have to destroy him by artifice. Singly,

Bhima dares a century of us to the combat. Therefore, when he shall sleep

in the garden, I shall throw him into the current of the Ganga.

Afterwards, confining his eldest brother Yudhishthira and his younger

brother Arjuna, I shall reign sole king without molestation.’ Determined

thus, the wicked Duryodhana was ever on the watch to find out an

opportunity for injuring Bhima. And, O Bharata, at length at a beautiful

place called Pramanakoti on the banks of the Ganga, he built a palace

decorated with hangings of broad-cloth and other rich stuffs. And he

built this palace for sporting in the water there, and filled it with all

kinds of entertaining things and choice viands. Gay flags waved on the

top of this mansion. The name of the house was ‘the water-sport house.’

Skilful cooks prepared various kinds of viands. When all was ready, the

officers gave intimation to Duryodhana. Then the evil-minded prince said

unto the Pandavas, ‘Let us all go to the banks of the Ganga graced with

trees and crowned with flowers and sport there in the water.’ And upon

Yudhishthira agreeing to this, the sons of Dhritarashtra, taking the

Pandavas with them, mounted country-born elephants of great size and cars

resembling towns, and left the metropolis.

“On arriving at the place, the princes dismissed their attendants, and

surveying the beauty of the gardens and the groves, entered the palace,

like lions entering their mountain caves. On entering they saw that the

architects had handsomely plastered the walls and the ceilings and that

painters had painted them beautifully. The windows looked very graceful,

and the artificial fountains were splendid. Here and there were tanks of

pellucid water in which bloomed forests of lotuses. The banks were decked

with various flowers whose fragrance filled the atmosphere. The Kauravas

and the Pandavas sat down and began to enjoy the things provided for

them. They became engaged in play and began to exchange morsels of food

with one another. Meanwhile the wicked Duryodhana had mixed a powerful

poison with a quantity of food, with the object of making away with

Bhima. That wicked youth who had nectar in his tongue and a razor in his

heart, rose at length, and in a friendly way fed Bhima largely with that

poisoned food, and thinking himself lucky in having compassed his end,

was exceedingly glad at heart. Then the sons of Dhritarashtra and Pandu

together became cheerfully engaged in sporting in the water. Their sport

having been finished, they dressed themselves in white habiliments, and

decked themselves with various ornaments. Fatigued with play, they felt

inclined in the evening to rest in the pleasurehouse belonging to the

garden. Having made the other youths take exercise in the waters, the

powerful second Pandava was excessively fatigued. So that on rising from

the water, he lay down on the ground. He was weary and under the

influence of the poison. And the cool air served to spread the poison

over all his frame, so that he lost his senses at once. Seeing this

Duryodhana bound him with chords of shrubs, and threw him into the water.

The insensible son of Pandu sank down till he reached the Naga kingdom.

Nagas, furnished with fangs containing virulent venom, bit him by

thousands. The vegetable poison, mingled in the blood of the son of the

Wind god, was neutralised by the snake-poison. The serpents had bitten

all over his frame, except his chest, the skin of which was so tough that

their fangs could not penetrate it.

“On regaining consciousness, the son of Kunti burst his bands and began

to press the snakes down under the ground. A remnant fled for life, and

going to their king Vasuki, represented, ‘O king of snakes, a man drowned

under the water, bound in chords of shrubs; probably he had drunk poison.

For when he fell amongst us, he was insensible. But when we began to bite

him, he regained his senses, and bursting his fetters, commenced laying

at us. May it please Your Majesty to enquire who is.’

“Then Vasuki, in accordance with the prayer of the inferior Nagas, went

to the place and saw Bhimasena. Of the serpents, there was one, named

Aryaka. He was the grandfather of the father of Kunti. The lord of

serpents saw his relative and embraced him. Then, Vasuki, learning all,

was pleased with Bhima, and said to Aryaka with satisfaction, ‘How are we

to please him? Let him have money and gems in profusion.”

“On hearing the words of Vasuki, Aryaka said, ‘O king of serpents, when

Your Majesty is pleased with him, no need of wealth for him! Permit him

to drink of rasakunda (nectar-vessels) and thus acquire immeasurable

strength. There is the strength of a thousand elephants in each one of

those vessels. Let this prince drink as much as he can.’

“The king of serpents gave his consent. And the serpents thereupon began

auspicious rites. Then purifying himself carefully, Bhimasena facing the

east began to drink nectar. At one breath, he quaffed off the contents of

a whole vessel, and in this manner drained off eight successive jars,

till he was full. At length, the serpents prepared an excellent bed for

him, on which he lay down at ease.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Meanwhile the Kauravas and the Pandavas, after

having thus sported there, set out, without Bhima, for Hastinapura, some

on horses, some on elephants, while others preferred cars and other

conveyances. And on their way they said to one another, ‘Perhaps, Bhima

hath gone before us.’ And the wicked Duryodhana was glad at heart to miss

Bhima, and entered the city with his brothers in joy.

“The virtuous Yudhishthira, himself unacquainted with vice and

wickedness, regarded others to be as honest as himself. The eldest son of

Pritha, filled with fraternal love, going unto his mother, said, after

making obeisance to her, ‘O mother, hath Bhima come? O good mother, I

don’t find him here. Where may he have gone? We long sought for him

everywhere in the gardens and the beautiful woods; but found him nowhere.

At length, we thought that the heroic Bhima preceded us all. O

illustrious dame, we came hither in great anxiety. Arrived here, where

hath he gone? Have you sent him anywhere? O tell me, I am full of doubts

respecting the mighty Bhima. He had been asleep and hath not come. I

conclude he is no more.’

“Hearing these words of the highly intelligent Yudhishthira, Kunti

shrieked, in alarm, and said, ‘Dear son, I have not seen Bhima. He did

not come to me. O, return in haste, and with your brothers search for


“Having said this in affliction to her eldest son, she summoned Vidura,

and said, ‘O illustrious Kshattri, Bhimasena is missing! Where has he

gone? The other brothers have all come back from the gardens, only Bhima

of mighty arms does not come home! Duryodhana likes him not. The Kaurava

is crooked and malicious and low-minded and imprudent. He coveteth the

throne openly. I am afraid he may have in a fit of anger slain my

darling. This afflicts me sorely, indeed, it burns my heart.’

“Vidura replied, ‘Blessed dame, say not so! Protect thy other sons with

care. If the wicked Duryodhana be accused, he may slay thy remaining

sons. The great sage hath said that all thy sons will be long-lived.

Therefore, Bhima will surely return and gladden thy heart.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The wise Vidura, having said this unto Kunti,

returned to his abode, while Kunti, in great anxiety, continued to stay

at home with her children.

“Meanwhile, Bhimasena awoke from that slumber on the eighth day, and felt

strong beyond measure in consequence of the nectar he had taken having

been all digested. Seeing him awake, the Nagas began to console and cheer

him, saying, ‘O thou of mighty arms, the strength-giving liquor thou hast

drunk will give thee the might of ten thousand elephants! No one now will

be able to vanquish thee in fight. O bull of Kuru’s race, do thou bath in

this holy and auspicious water and return home. Thy brothers are

disconsolate because of thee.’

“Then Bhima purified himself with a bath in those waters, and decked in

white robes and flowery garlands of the same hue, ate of the paramanna

(rice and sugar pudding) offered to him by the Nagas. Then that oppressor

of all foes, decked in celestial ornaments, received the adorations and

blessings of the snakes, and saluting them in return, rose from the

nether region. Bearing up the lotus-eyed Pandava from under the waters,

the Nagas placed him in the selfsame gardens wherein he had been

sporting, and vanished in his very sight.

“The mighty Bhimasena, arrived on the surface of the earth, ran with

speed to his mother. And bowing down unto her and his eldest brother, and

smelling the heads of his younger brothers, that oppressor of all foes

was himself embraced by his mother and every one of those bulls among

men. Affectionate unto one another, they all repeatedly exclaimed, ‘What

is our joy today, O what joy!’

‘Then Bhima, endued with great strength and prowess, related to his

brothers everything about the villainy of Duryodhana, and the lucky and

unlucky incidents that had befallen him in the world of the Serpents.

Thereupon Yudhishthira said, ‘Do thou observe silence on this. Do not

speak of this to any one. From this day, protect ye all one another with

care.’ Thus cautioned by the righteous Yudhishthira, they all, with

Yudhishthira himself, became very vigilant from that day. And lest

negligence might occur on the part of the sons of Kunti, Vidura

continually offered them sage advice.

“Some time after, Duryodhana again mixed in the food of Bhima a poison

that was fresh, virulent, and very deadly. But Yuyutsu (Dhritarashtra’s

son by a Vaisya wife), moved by his friendship for the Pandavas, informed

them of this. Vrikodara, however, swallowed it without any hesitation,

and digested it completely. And, though virulent the poison produced no

effects on Bhima.

“When that terrible poison intended for the destruction of Bhima failed

of its effect, Duryodhana. Karna and Sakuni, without giving up their

wicked design had recourse to numerous other contrivances for

accomplishing the death of the Pandavas. And though every one of these

contrivances was fully known to the Pandavas, yet in accordance with the

advice of Vidura they suppressed their indignation.

“Meanwhile, the king (Dhritarashtra), beholding the Kuru princes passing

their time in idleness and growing naughty, appointed Gautama as their

preceptor and sent them unto him for instruction. Born among a clump of

heath, Gautama was well-skilled in the Vedas and it was under him (also

called Kripa) that the Kuru princes began to learn the use of arms.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, it behoveth thee to relate to me

everything about the birth of Kripa. How did he spring from a clump of

heath? Whence also did he obtain his weapons?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king, the great sage Gautama had a son named

Saradwat. This Saradwat was born with arrows (in hand). O oppressor of

foes, the son of Gautama exhibited great aptitude for the study of the

science of weapons, but none for the other sciences. Saradwat acquired

all his weapons by those austerities by which Brahmanas in student life

acquire the knowledge of Vedas. Gautama (the son of Gotama) by his

aptitude for the science of weapons and by his austerities made Indra

himself greatly afraid of him. Then, O thou of Kuru’s race, the chief of

the gods summoned a celestial damsel named Janapadi and sent her unto

Gautama, saying, ‘Do thy best to disturb the austerities of Gautama.’

Repairing unto the charming asylum of Saradwat, the damsel began to tempt

the ascetic equipped with bow and arrows. Beholding that Apsara, of

figure unrivalled on earth for beauty, alone in those woods and clad in a

single piece of cloth, Saradwat’s eyes expanded with delight. At the

sight of the damsel, his bow and arrows slipped from his hand and his

frame shook all over with emotion; but possessed of ascetic fortitude and

strength of soul, the sage mustered sufficient patience to bear up

against the temptation. The suddenness, however, of his mental agitation,

caused an unconscious emission of his vital fluid. Leaving his bow and

arrows and deer-skin behind, he went away, flying from the Apsara. His

vital fluid, however, having fallen upon a clump of heath, was divided

into two parts, whence sprang two children that were twins.

“And it happened that a soldier in attendance upon king Santanu while the

monarch was out a-hunting in the woods, came upon the twins. And seeing

the bow and arrows and deer-skin on the ground, he thought they might be

the offspring of some Brahmana proficient in the science of arms.

Deciding thus, he took up the children along with the bow and arrows, and

showed what he had to the king. Beholding them the king was moved with

pity, and saying, ‘Let these become my children,’ brought them to his

palace. Then that first of men, Santanu, the son of Pratipa having

brought Gautama’s twins into his house, performed in respect of them the

usual rites of religion. And he began to bring them up and called them

Kripa and Kripi, in allusion to the fact that he brought them up from

motives of pity (Kripa). The son of Gotama having left his former asylum,

continued his study of the science of arms in right earnest. By his

spiritual insight he learnt that his son and daughter were in the palace

of Santanu. He thereupon went to the monarch and represented everything

about his lineage. He then taught Kripa the four branches of the science

of arms, and various other branches of knowledge, including all their

mysteries and recondite details. In a short time Kripa became an eminent

professor of the science (of arms). And the hundred sons of

Dhritarashtra, and the Pandavas along with the Yadavas, and the Vrishnis,

and many other princes from various lands, began to receive lessons from

him in that science.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Desirous of giving his grandsons a superior

education, Bhishma was on the look-out for a teacher endued with energy

and well-skilled in the science of arms. Deciding, O chief of the

Bharatas, that none who was not possessed of great intelligence, none who

was not illustrious or a perfect master of the science of arms, none who

was not of godlike might, should be the instructor of the Kuru (princes),

the son of Ganga, O tiger among men, placed the Pandavas and the Kauravas

under the tuition of Bharadwaja’s son, the intelligent Drona skilled in

all the Vedas. Pleased with the reception given him by the great Bhishma,

that foremost of all men skilled in arms, viz., illustrious Drona of

world-wide fame, accepted the princes as his pupils. And Drona taught

them the science of arms in all its branches. And, O monarch, both the

Kauravas and the Pandavas endued with immeasurable strength, in a short

time became proficient in the use of all kinds of arms.’

“Janamejaya asked, ‘O Brahmana, how was Drona born? How and whence did he

acquire his arms? How and why came he unto the Kurus? Whose son also was

he endued with such energy? Again, how was his son Aswatthaman, the

foremost of all skilled in arms born? I wish to hear all this! Please

recite them in detail.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There dwelt at the source of the Ganga, a great sage

named Bharadwaja, ceaselessly observing the most rigid vows. One day, of

old, intending to celebrate the Agnihotra sacrifice he went along with

many great Rishis to the Ganga to perform his ablutions. Arrived at the

bank of the stream, he saw Ghritachi herself, that Apsara endued with

youth and beauty, who had gone there a little before. With an expression

of pride in her countenance, mixed with a voluptuous languor of attitude,

the damsel rose from the water after her ablutions were over. And as she

was gently treading on the bank, her attire which was loose became

disordered. Seeing her attire disordered, the sage was smitten with

burning desire. The next moment his vital fluid came out, in consequence

of the violence of his emotion. The Rishi immediately held it in a vessel

called a drona. Then, O king, Drona sprang from the fluid thus preserved

in that vessel by the wise Bharadwaja. And the child thus born studied

all the Vedas and their branches. Before now Bharadwaja of great prowess

and the foremost of those possessing a knowledge of arms, had

communicated to the illustrious Agnivesa, a knowledge of the weapon

called Agneya. O foremost one of Bharata’s race, the Rishi (Agnivesa)

sprung from fire now communicated the knowledge of that great weapon to

Drona the son of his preceptor.

“There was a king named Prishata who was a great friend of Bharadwaja.

About this time Prishata had a son born unto him, named Drupada. And that

bull among Kshatriyas, viz., Drupada, the son of Prishata, used every day

to come to the hermitage of Bharadwaja to play with Drona and study in

his company. O monarch, when Prishata was dead, this Drupada of mighty

arms became the king of the northern Panchalas. About this time the

illustrious Bharadwaja also ascended to heaven. Drona continuing to

reside in his father’s hermitage devoted himself to ascetic austerities.

Having become well-versed in the Vedas and their branches and having

burnt also all his sins by asceticism, the celebrated Drona, obedient to

the injunctions of his father and moved by the desire of offspring

married Kripi, the daughter of Saradwat. And this woman, ever engaged in

virtuous acts and the Agnihotra, and the austerest of penances, obtained

a son named Aswatthaman. And as soon as Aswatthaman was born, he neighed

like the (celestial) steed Ucchaihsravas. Hearing that cry, an invisible

being in the skies said, ‘The voice of this child hath, like the neighing

of a horse, been audible all around. The child shall, therefore, be known

by the name of Aswatthaman, (the horse-voiced). The son of Bharadwaja

(Drona) was exceedingly glad at having obtained that child. Continuing to

reside in that hermitage he devoted himself to the study of the science

of arms.

“O king, it was about this time that Drona heard that the illustrious

Brahmana Jamadagnya, that slayer of foes, that foremost one among all

wielders of weapons, versed in all kinds of knowledge, had expressed a

desire of giving away all his wealth to Brahmanas. Having heard of Rama’s

knowledge of arms and of his celestial weapons also, Drona set his heart

upon them as also upon the knowledge of morality that Rama possessed.

Then Drona of mighty arms, endued with high ascetic virtues, accompanied

by disciples who were all devoted to vows ascetic austerities, set out

for the Mahendra mountains. Arrived at Mahendra, the son of Bharadwaja

possessed of high ascetic merit, beheld the son of Bhrigu, the

exterminator of all foes, endued with great patience and with mind under

complete control. Then, approaching with his disciples that scion of the

Bhrigu race Drona, giving him his name, told him of his birth in the line

of Angiras. And touching the ground with his head, he worshipped Rama’s

feet. And beholding the illustrious son of Jamadagni intent upon retiring

into the woods after having given away all his wealth, Drona said, ‘Know

me to have sprung from Bharadwaja, but not in any woman’s womb! I am a

Brahmana of high birth, Drona by name, come to thee with the desire of

obtaining thy wealth.’

“On hearing him, that illustrious grinder of the Kshatriya race replied,

Thou art welcome, O best of regenerate ones! Tell me what thou desirest.

Thus addressed by Rama, the son of Bharadwaja replied unto that foremost

of all smiters, desirous of giving away the whole of his wealth, ‘O thou

of multifarious vows, I am a candidate for thy eternal wealth,’ ‘O thou

of ascetic wealth, returned Rama, ‘My gold and whatever other wealth I

had, have all been given away unto Brahmanas! This earth also, to the

verge of the sea, decked with towns and cities, as with a garland of

flowers, I have given unto Kasyapa. I have now my body only and my

various valuable weapons left. I am prepared to give either my body or my

weapons. Say, which thou wouldst have! I would give it thee! Say quickly!’

“Drona answered, O son of Bhrigu, it behoveth thee to give me all thy

weapons together with the mysteries of hurling and recalling them.’

“Saying, ‘So be it,’ the son of Bhrigu gave all his weapons unto

Drona,–indeed, the whole science of arms with its rules and mysteries.

Accepting them all, and thinking himself amply rewarded that best of

Brahmanas then, glad at heart, set out, for (the city of) his friend



(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then, O king, the mighty son of Bharadyaja presented

himself before Drupada, and addressing that monarch, said, ‘Know me for

thy friend.’ Thus addressed by his friend, the son of Bharadwaja, with a

joyous heart, the lord of the Panchalas was ill-able to bear that speech.

The king, intoxicated with the pride of wealth, contracted his brows in

wrath, and with reddened eyes spake these words unto Drona, ‘O Brahmana,

thy intelligence is scarcely of a high order, inasmuch as thou sayest

unto me, all on a sudden, that thou art my friend! O thou of dull

apprehension, great kings can never be friends with such luckless and

indigent wights as thou! It is true there had been friendship between

thee and me before, for we were then both equally circumstanced. But Time

that impaireth everything in its course, impaireth friendship also. In

this world, friendship never endureth for ever in any heart. Time weareth

it off and anger destroyeth it too. Do not stick, therefore, to that

worn-off friendship. Think not of it any longer. The friendship I had

with thee, O first of Brahmanas, was for a particular purpose. Friendship

can never subsist between a poor man and a rich man, between a man of

letters and an unlettered mind, between a hero and a coward. Why dost

thou desire the continuance of our former friendship? There may be

friendship or hostility between persons equally situated as to wealth or

might. The indigent and the affluent can neither be friends nor quarrel

with each other. One of impure birth can never be a friend to one of pure

birth; one who is not a car-warrior can never be a friend to one who is

so; and one who is not a king never have a king for his friend.

Therefore, why dost thou desire the continuance of our former friendship?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Drupada, the mighty son of

Bharadwaja became filled with wrath, and reflecting for a moment, made up

his mind as to his course of action. Seeing the insolence of the Panchala

king, he wished to check it effectually. Hastily leaving the Panchala

capital Drona bent his steps towards the capital of the Kurus, named

after the elephant.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Arrived at Hastinapura, that best of Brahmanas, the

son of Bharadwaja, continued to live privately in the house of Gautama

(Kripa). His mighty son (Aswatthaman) at intervals of Kripa’s teaching,

used to give the sons of Kunti lessons in the use of arms. But as yet

none knew of Aswatthaman’s prowess.

“Drona had thus lived privately for some time in the house of Kripa when

one day the heroic princes, all in a company, came out of Hastinapura.

And coming out of the city, they began to play with a ball and roam about

in gladness of heart. And it so happened that the ball with which they

had been playing fell into a well. And thereupon the princes strove their

best to recover it from the well. But all the efforts the princes made to

recover it proved futile. They then began to eye one another bashfully,

and not knowing how to recover it, their anxiety became great. Just at

this time they beheld a Brahmana near enough unto them, of darkish hue,

decrepit and lean, sanctified by the performance of the Agnihotra and who

had finished his daily rites of worship. And beholding that illustrious

Brahmana, the princes who had despaired of success surrounded him

immediately. Drona (for that Brahmana was no other), seeing the princes

unsuccessful, and conscious of his own skill, smiled a little, and

addressing them said, ‘Shame on your Kshatriya might, and shame also on

your skill in arms! You have been born in the race of Bharata! How is it

that ye cannot recover the ball (from the bottom of this well)? If ye

promise me a dinner today, I will, with these blades of grass, bring up

not only the ball ye have lost but this ring also that I now throw down!’

Thus saying, Drona that oppressor of foes, taking off his ring, threw it

down into the dry well. Then Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, addressing

Drona, said, ‘O Brahmana (thou askest for a trifle)! Do thou, with

Kripa’s permission, obtain of us that which would last thee for life!’

Thus addressed, Drona with smiles replied unto the Bharata princes,

saying, ‘This handful of long grass I would invest, by my mantras, with

the virtue of weapons. Behold these blades possess virtues that other

weapons, have not! I will, with one of these blades, pierce the ball, and

then pierce that blade with another, and that another with a third, and

thus shall I, by a chain, bring up the ball.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Drona did exactly what he had said. And

the princes were all amazed and their eyes expanded with delight. And

regarding what they had witnessed to be very extraordinary, they said, O

learned Brahmana, do thou bring up the ring also without loss of time.’

“Then the illustrious Drona, taking a bow with an arrow, pierced the ring

with that arrow and brought it up at once. And taking the ring thus

brought up from the well still pierced with his arrow, he coolly gave it

to the astonished princes. Then the latter, seeing the ring thus

recovered, said, ‘We bow to thee, O Brahmana! None else owneth such

skill. We long to know who thou art and whose son. What also can we do

for thee?’

“Thus addressed, Drona replied unto the princes, saying, ‘Do ye repair

unto Bhishma and describe to him my likeness and skill. The mighty one

will recognize me.’ The princes then saying, ‘So be it,’ repaired unto

Bhishma and telling him of the purport of that Brahmana’s speech, related

everything about his (extraordinary) feat. Hearing everything from the

princes, Bhishma at once understood that the Brahmana was none else than

Drona, and thinking that he would make the best preceptor for the

princes, went in person unto him and welcoming him respectfully, brought

him over to the place. Then Bhishma, that foremost of all wielders of

arms, adroitly asked him the cause of his arrival at Hastinapura. Asked

by him, Drona represented everything as it had happened, saying, ‘O sir,

in times past I went to the great Rishi Agnivesa for obtaining from him

his weapons, desirous also of learning the science of arms. Devoted to

the service of my preceptor, I lived with him for many years in the

humble guise of a Brahmacharin, with matted locks on my head. At that

time, actuated by the same motives, the prince of Panchala, the mighty

Yajnasena, also lived in the same asylum. He became my friend, always

seeking my welfare. I liked him much. Indeed, we lived together for many,

many years. O thou of Kuru’s race, from our earliest years we had studied

together and, indeed, he was my friend from boyhood, always speaking and

doing what was agreeable to me. For gratifying me, O Bhishma, he used to

tell me, ‘O Drona, I am the favourite child of my illustrious father.

When the king installeth me as monarch of the Panchalas, the kingdom

shall be thine. O friend, this, indeed, is my solemn promise. My

dominion, wealth and happiness, shall all be dependent on thee.’ At last

the time came for his departure. Having finished his studies, he bent his

steps towards his country. I offered him my regards at the time, and,

indeed, I remembered his words ever afterwards.

“Some time after, in obedience to the injunctions of my father and

tempted also by the desire of offspring, I married Kripi of short hair,

who gifted with great intelligence, had observed many rigid vows, and was

ever engaged in the Agnihotra and other sacrifices and rigid austerities.

Gautami, in time, gave birth to a son named Aswatthaman of great prowess

and equal in splendour unto the Sun himself. Indeed, I was pleased on

having obtained Aswatthaman as much as my father had been on obtaining me.

“And it so happened that one day the child Aswatthaman observing some

rich men’s sons drink milk, began to cry. At this I was so beside myself

that I lost all knowledge of the point of the compass. Instead of asking

him who had only a few kine (so that if he gave me one, he would no

longer be able to perform his sacrifices and thus sustain a loss of

virtue), I was desirous of obtaining a cow from one who had many, and for

that I wandered from country to country. But my wanderings proved

unsuccessful, for I failed to obtain a milch cow. After I had come back

unsuccessful, some of my son’s playmates gave him water mixed with

powdered rice. Drinking this, the poor boy, was deceived into the belief

that he had taken milk, and began to dance in joy, saying, ‘O, I have

taken milk. I have taken milk!’ Beholding him dance with joy amid these

playmates smiling at his simplicity, I was exceedingly touched. Hearing

also the derisive speeches of busy-bodies who said, ‘Fie upon the

indigent Drona, who strives not to earn wealth, whose son drinking water

mixed with powdered rice mistaketh it for milk and danceth with joy,

saying, ‘I have taken milk,–I have taken milk!’–I was quite beside

myself. Reproaching myself much, I at last resolved that even if I should

have to live cast off and censured by Brahmanas, I would not yet, from

desire of wealth, be anybody’s servant, which is ever hateful. Thus

resolved, O Bhishma, I went, for former friendship, unto the king of the

Somakas, taking with me my dear child and wife. Hearing that he had been

installed in the sovereignty (of the Somakas), I regarded myself as

blessed beyond compare. Joyfully I went unto that dear friend of mine

seated on the throne, remembering my former friendship with him and also

his own words to me. And, O illustrious one, approaching Drupada, I said,

‘O tiger among men, know me for thy friend!’–Saying this, I approached

him confidently as a friend should. But Drupada, laughing in derision

cast me off as if I were a vulgar fellow. Addressing me he said, ‘Thy

intelligence scarcely seemeth to be of a high order inasmuch as

approaching me suddenly, thou sayest thou art my friend! Time that

impaireth everything, impaireth friendship also. My former friendship

with thee was for a particular purpose. One of impure birth can never be

a friend of one who is of pure birth. One who is not a car-warrior can

never be a friend of one who is such. Friendship can only subsist between

persons that are of equal rank, but not between those that are unequally

situated. Friendship never subsisteth for ever in my heart. Time

impaireth friendships, as also anger destroyeth them. Do thou not stick,

therefore, to that worn-off friendship between us. Think not of it any

longer. The friendship I had with thee, O best of Brahmanas, was for a

special purpose. There cannot be friendship between a poor man and a rich

man, between an unlettered hind and a man of letters, between a coward

and a hero. Why dost thou, therefore, desire, the revival of our former

friendship? O thou of simple understanding, great kings can never have

friendship with such indigent and luckless wight as thou? One who is not

a king can never have a king for his friend. I do not remember ever

having promised thee my kingdom. But, O Brahmana, I can now give thee

food and shelter for one night.’–Thus addressed by him, I left his

presence quickly with my wife, vowing to do that which I will certainly

do soon enough. Thus insulted by Drupada, O Bhishma, I have been filled

with wrath, I have come to the Kurus, desirous of obtaining intelligent

and docile pupils. I come to Hastinapura to gratify thy wishes. O, tell

me what I am to do.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by the son of Bharadwaja,

Bhishma said unto him, ‘String thy bow, O Brahmana, and make the Kuru

princes accomplished in arms. Worshipped by the Kurus, enjoy with a glad

heart to thy fill every comfort in their abode. Thou art the absolute

lord, O Brahmana, of what ever wealth the Kurus have and of their

sovereignty and kingdom! The Kurus are thine (from this day). Think that

as already accomplished which may be in thy heart. Thou art, O Brahmana,

obtained by us as the fruit of our great good luck. Indeed, the favour

thou hast conferred upon me by thy arrival is great.’


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus worshipped by Bhishma, Drona, that first of

men, endued with great energy, took up his quarters in the abode of the

Kurus and continued to live there, receiving their adorations. After he

had rested a while, Bhishma, taking with him his grandsons, the Kaurava

princes, gave them unto him as pupils, making at the same time many

valuable presents. And the mighty one (Bhishma) also joyfully gave unto

the son of Bharadwaja a house that was tidy and neat and well-filled with

paddy and every kind of wealth. And that first of archers, Drona,

thereupon joyfully, accepted the Kauravas, viz., the sons of Pandu and

Dhritarashtra, as his pupils. And having accepted them all as his pupils,

one day Drona called them apart and making them touch his feet, said to

them with a swelling heart, ‘I have in my heart a particular purpose.

Promise me truly, ye sinless ones, that when ye have become skilled in

arms, ye will accomplish it.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words, the Kuru princes remained

silent. But Arjuna, O king, vowed to accomplish it whatever it was. Drona

then cheerfully clasped Arjuna to his bosom and took the scent of his

head repeatedly, shedding tears of joy all the while. Then Drona endued

with great prowess taught the sons of Pandu (the use of) many weapons

both celestial and human. And, O bull of the Bharata race, many other

princes also flocked to that best of Brahmanas for instruction in arms.

The Vrishnis and the Andhakas, and princes from various lands, and the

(adopted) son of Radha of the Suta caste, (Karna), all became pupils of

Drona. But of them all, the Suta child Karna, from jealousy, frequently

defied Arjuna, and supported by Duryodhana, used to disregard the

Pandavas. Arjuna, however, from devotion to the science of arms, always

stayed by the side of his preceptor, and in skill, strength of arms, and

perseverance, excelled all (his class-fellows). Indeed, although the

instruction the preceptor gave, was the same in the case of all, yet in

lightness and skill Arjuna became the foremost of all his fellow-pupils.

And Drona was convinced that none of his pupils would (at any time) be

able to be equal to that son of Indra.

“Thus Drona continued giving lessons to the princes in the science of

weapons. And while he gave unto every one of his pupils a narrow-mouthed

vessel (for fetching water) in order that much time may be spent in

filling them, he gave unto his own son Aswatthaman a broad-mouthed

vessel, so that, filling it quickly, he might return soon enough. And in

the intervals so gained, Drona used to instruct his own son in several

superior methods (of using weapons). Jishnu (Arjuna) came to know of

this, and thereupon filling his narrow-mouthed vessel with water by means

of the Varuna weapon he used to come unto his preceptor at the same time

with his preceptor’s son. And accordingly the intelligent son of Pritha,

that foremost of all men possessing a knowledge of weapons, had no

inferiority to his preceptor’s son in respect of excellence. Arjuna’s

devotion to the service of his preceptor as also to arms was very great

and he soon became the favourite of his preceptor. And Drona, beholding

his pupil’s devotion to arms, summoned the cook, and told him in secret,

‘Never give Arjuna his food in the dark, nor tell him that I have told

thee this.’ A few days after, however, when Arjuna was taking his food, a

wind arose, and thereupon the lamp that had been burning went out. But

Arjuna, endued with energy, continued eating in the dark, his hand, from

habit, going to his mouth. His attention being thus called to the force

of habit, the strong-armed son of Pandu set his heart upon practising

with his bow in the night. And, O Bharata, Drona, hearing the twang of

his bowstring in the night, came to him, and clasping him, said, ‘Truly

do I tell thee that I shall do that unto thee by which there shall not be

an archer equal to thee in this world.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thereafter Drona began to teach Arjuna the art

of fighting on horse-back, on the back of elephants, on car, and on the

ground. And the mighty Drona also instructed Arjuna in fighting with the

mace, the sword, the lance, the spear, and the dart. And he also

instructed him in using many weapons and fighting with many men at the

same time. And hearing reports of his skill, kings and princes, desirous

of learning the science of arms, flocked to Drona by thousands. Amongst

those that came there, O monarch, was a prince named Ekalavya, who was

the son of Hiranyadhanus, king of the Nishadas (the lowest of the mixed

orders). Drona, however, cognisant of all rules of morality, accepted not

the prince as his pupil in archery, seeing that he was a Nishada who

might (in time) excel all his high-born pupils. But, O oppressor of all

enemies, the Nishada prince, touching Drona’s feet with bent head, wended

his way into the forest, and there he made a clay-image of Drona, and

began to worship it respectfully, as if it was his real preceptor, and

practised weapons before it with the most rigid regularity. In

consequence of his exceptional reverence for his preceptor and his

devotion to his purpose, all the three processes of fixing arrows on the

bowstring, aiming, and letting off became very easy for him.

“And one day, O grinder of foes, the Kuru and the Pandava princes, with

Drona’s leave, set out in their cars on a hunting excursion. A servant, O

king, followed the party at leisure, with the usual implements and a dog.

Having come to the woods, they wandered about, intent on the purpose they

had in view. Meanwhile, the dog also, in wandering alone in the woods,

came upon the Nishada prince (Ekalavya). And beholding the Nishada of

dark hue, of body besmeared with filth, dressed in black and bearing

matted locks on head, the dog began to bark aloud.

“Thereupon the Nishada prince, desirous of exhibiting his lightness of

hand, sent seven arrows into its mouth (before it could shut it). The

dog, thus pierced with seven arrows, came back to the Pandavas. Those

heroes, who beheld that sight, were filled with wonder, and, ashamed of

their own skill, began to praise the lightness of hand and precision of

aim by auricular precision (exhibited by the unknown archer). And they

thereupon began to seek in those woods for the unknown dweller therein

that had shown such skill. And, O king, the Pandavas soon found out the

object of their search ceaselessly discharging arrows from the bow. And

beholding that man of grim visage, who was totally a stranger to them,

they asked, ‘Who art thou and whose son?’ Thus questioned, the man

replied, ‘Ye heroes, I am the son of Hiranyadhanus, king of the Nishadas.

Know me also for a pupil of Drona, labouring for the mastery of the art

of arms.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Pandavas then, having made themselves

acquainted with everything connected with him, returned (to the city),

and going unto Drona, told him of that wonderful feat of archery which

they had witnessed in the woods. Arjuna, in particular, thinking all the

while, O king, Ekalavya, saw Drona in private and relying upon his

preceptor’s affection for him, said, ‘Thou hadst lovingly told me,

clasping me, to thy bosom, that no pupil of thine should be equal to me.

Why then is there a pupil of thine, the mighty son of the Nishada king,

superior to me?”

‘Vaisampayana continued, ‘On hearing these words, Drona reflected for a

moment, and resolving upon the course of action he should follow, took

Arjuna with him and went unto the Nishada prince. And he beheld Ekalavya

with body besmeared with filth, matted locks (on head), clad in rags,

bearing a bow in hand and ceaselessly shooting arrows therefrom. And when

Ekalavya saw Drona approaching towards him, he went a few steps forward,

and touched his feet and prostrated himself on the ground. And the son of

the Nishada king worshipping Drona, duly represented himself as his

pupil, and clasping his hands in reverence stood before him (awaiting his

commands). Then Drona, O king, addressed Ekalavya, saying, ‘If, O hero,

thou art really my pupil, give me then my fees.’ On hearing these words,

Ekalavya was very much gratified, and said in reply, ‘O illustrious

preceptor, what shall I give? Command me; for there is nothing, O

foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas, that I may not give

unto my preceptor.’ Drona answered, ‘O Ekalavya, if thou art really

intent on making me a gift, I should like then to have the thumb of thy

right hand.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these cruel words of Drona, who had

asked of him his thumb as tuition-fee, Ekalavya, ever devoted to truth

and desirous also of keeping his promise, with a cheerful face and an

unafflicted heart cut off without ado his thumb, and gave it unto Drona.

After this, when the Nishada prince began once more to shoot with the

help of his remaining fingers, he found, O king, that he had lost his

former lightness of hand. And at this Arjuna became happy, the fever (of

jealousy) having left him.

“Two of Drona’s pupils became very much accomplished in the use of mace.

These were Druvodhana and Bhima, who were, however, always jealous of

each other. Aswatthaman excelled everyone (in the mysteries of the

science of arms). The twins (Nakula and Sahadeva) excelled everybody in

handling the sword. Yudhishthira surpassed everybody as a car-warrior;

but Arjuna, however, outdistanced everyone in every respect–in

intelligence, resourcefulness, strength and perseverance. Accomplished in

all weapons, Arjuna became the foremost of even the foremost of

car-warriors; and his fame spread all over the earth to the verge of the

sea. And although the instruction was the same, the mighty Arjuna

excelled all (the princes in lightness of hand). Indeed, in weapons as in

devotion to his preceptor, he became the foremost of them all. And

amongst all the princes, Arjuna alone became an Atiratha (a car-warrior

capable of fighting at one time with sixty thousand foes). And the wicked

sons of Dhritarashtra, beholding Bhimasena endued with great strength and

Arjuna accomplished in all arms, became very jealous of them.

“O bull among men, one day Drona desirous of testing the comparative

excellence of all his pupils in the use of arms, collected them all

together after their education had been completed. And before assembling

them together, he had caused an artificial bird, as the would be aim, to

be placed on the top of a neighbouring tree. And when they were all

together, Drona said unto them, ‘Take up your bows quickly and stand here

aiming at that bird on the tree, with arrows fixed on your bowstrings;

shoot and cut off the bird’s head, as soon as I give the order. I shall

give each of you a turn, one by one, my children.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Drona, that foremost of all Angira’s sons

first addressed Yudhishthira saying, ‘O irrepressible one, aim with thy

arrow and shoot as soon as I give the order. Yudhishthira took up the bow

first, as desired, O king, by his preceptor, and stood aiming at the

bird. But, O bull of Bharata’s race, Drona in an instant, addressing the

Kuru prince standing with bow in hand, said, ‘Behold, O prince, that bird

on top of the tree.’ Yudhishthira replied unto his preceptor, saying, ‘I

do.’ But the next instant Drona again asked him, ‘What dost thou see now,

O prince? Seest thou the tree, myself or thy brothers?’ Yudhishthira

answered, ‘I see the tree, myself, my brothers, and the bird.’ Drona

repeated his question, but was answered as often in the same words. Drona

then, vexed with Yudhishthira, reproachingly said, ‘Stand thou apart. It

is not for thee to strike the aim.’ Then Drona repeated the experiment

with Duryodhana and the other sons of Dhritarashtra, one after another,

as also with his other pupils, Bhima and the rest, including the princes

that had come unto him from other lands. But the answer in every case was

the same as Yudhishthira’s viz., ‘We behold the tree, thyself, our

fellow-pupils, and the bird.’ And reproached by their preceptor, they

were all ordered, one after another, to stand apart.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘When everyone had failed, Drona smilingly called

Arjuna and said unto him, ‘By thee the aim must be shot; therefore, turn

thy eyes to it. Thou must let fly the arrow as soon as I give the order.

Therefore, O son, stand here with bow and arrow for an instant.’ Thus

addressed, Arjuna stood aiming at the bird as desired by his preceptor,

with his bow bent. An instant after Drona asked him as in the case of

others, ‘Seest thou, O Arjuna, the bird there, the tree, and myself?’

Arjuna replied, ‘I see the bird only, but nor the tree, or thyself.’ Then

the irrepressible Drona, well-pleased with Arjuna, the instant after,

again said unto that mighty car-warrior amongst the Pandavas, ‘If thou

seest the vulture, then describe it to me.’ Arjuna said, I see only the

head of the vulture, not its body.’ At these words of Arjuna, the hair

(on Drona’s body) stood on end from delight. He then said to Partha,

‘Shoot.’ And the latter instantly let fly (his arrow) and with his sharp

shaft speedily struck off the head of the vulture on the tree and brought

it down to the ground. No sooner was the deed done than Drona clasped

Phalguna to his bosom and thought Drupada with his friends had already

been vanquished in fight.

“Some time after, O bull of Bharata’s race, Drona, accompanied by all of

his pupils, went to the bank of the Ganga to bathe in that sacred stream.

And when Drona had plunged into the stream, a strong alligator, sent as

it were, by Death himself seized him by the thigh. And though himself

quite capable, Drona in a seeming hurry asked his pupil to rescue him.

And he said, ‘O, kill this monster and rescue me.’ Contemporaneously with

this speech, Vibhatsu (Arjuna) struck the monster within the water with

five sharp arrows irresistible in their course, while the other pupils

stood confounded, each at his place. Beholding Arjuna’s readiness, Drona

considered him to be the foremost of all his pupils, and became highly

pleased. The monster, in the meantime cut into pieces by the arrows of

Arjuna, released the thigh of illustrious Drona and gave up the ghost.

The son of Bharadwaja then addressed the illustrious and mighty

car-warrior Arjuna and said, ‘Accept, O thou of mighty arms, this very

superior and irresistible weapon called Brahmasira with the methods of

hurling and recalling it. Thou must not, however, ever use it against any

human foe, for if hurled at any foe endued with inferior energy, it might

burn the whole universe. It is said, O child, that this weapon hath not a

peer in the three worlds. Keep it, therefore, with great care, and listen

to what I say. If ever, O hero, any foe, not human, contendeth against

thee thou mayst then employ it against him for compassing his death in

battle.’ Pledging himself to do what he was bid, Vibhatsu then, with

joined hands, received that great weapon.

The preceptor then, addressing him again, said, ‘None else in this world

will ever become a superior bowman to thee. Vanquished thou shall never

be by any foe, and thy achievements will be great.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O thou of Bharata’s race, beholding the sons of

Dhritarashtra and Pandu accomplished in arms, Drona, O monarch, addressed

king Dhritarashtra, in the presence of Kripa, Somadatta, Valhika, the

wise son of Ganga (Bhishma), Vyasa, and Vidura, and said, ‘O best of Kuru

kings, thy children have completed their education. With thy permission,

O king, let them now show their proficiency.’ Hearing him, the king said

with a gladdened heart, ‘O best of Brahmanas, thou hast, indeed,

accomplished a great deed. Command me thyself as to the place and the

time where and when and the manner also in which the trial may be held.

Grief arising from my own blindness maketh me envy those who, blessed

with sight, will behold my children’s prowess in arm. O Kshatri (Vidura),

do all that Drona sayeth. O thou devoted to virtue, I think there is

nothing that can be more agreeable to me.’ Then Vidura, giving the

necessary assurance to the king, went out to do what he was bid. And

Drona endued with great wisdom, then measured out a piece of land that

was void of trees and thickets and furnished with wells and springs. And

upon the spot of land so measured out, Drona, that first of eloquent men,

selecting a lunar day when the star ascendant was auspicious, offered up

sacrifice unto the gods in the presence of the citizens assembled by

proclamation to witness the same. And then, O bull among men, the

artificers of the king built thereon a large and elegant stage according

to the rules laid down in the scriptures, and it was furnished with all

kinds of weapons. They also built another elegant hall for the

lady-spectators. And the citizens constructed many platforms while the

wealthier of them pitched many spacious and high tents all around.

“When the day fixed for the Tournament came, the king accompanied by his

ministers, with Bhishma and Kripa, the foremost of preceptors, walking

ahead, came unto that theatre of almost celestial beauty constructed of

pure gold, and decked with strings of pearls and stones of lapis lazuli.

And, O first of victorious men, Gandhari blessed with great good fortune

and Kunti, and the other ladies of the royal house-hold, in gorgeous

attire and accompanied by their waiting women, joyfully ascended the

platforms, like celestial ladies ascending the Sumeru mountain. And the

four orders including the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, desirous of beholding

the princes’ skill in arms, left the city and came running to the spot.

And so impatient was every one to behold the spectacle, that the vast

crowd assembled there in almost an instant. And with the sounds of

trumpets and drums and the noise of many voices, that vast concourse

appeared like an agitated ocean.

“At last, Drona accompanied by his son, dressed in white (attire), with a

white sacred thread, white locks, white beard, white garlands, and white

sandal-paste rubbed over his body, entered the lists. It seemed as if the

Moon himself accompanied by the planet Mars appeared in an unclouded sky.

On entering Bharadwaja performed timely worship and caused Brahmanas

versed in mantras to celebrate the auspicious rites. And after auspicious

and sweet-sounding musical instruments had been struck up as a

propitiatory ceremony, some persons entered, equipped with various arms.

And then having girded up their loins, those mighty warriors, those

foremost ones of Bharata’s race (the princes) entered, furnished with

finger-protectors (gauntlet), and bows, and quivers. And with

Yudhishthira at their head, the valiant princes entered in order of age

and began to show wonderful skill with their weapons. Some of the

spectators lowered their heads, apprehending fall of arrows while others

fearlessly gazed on with wonder. And riding swiftly on horses and

managing them ‘dexterously’ the princes began to hit marks with shafts

engraved with their respective names. And seeing the prowess of the

princes armed with bows and arrows, the spectators thought that they were

beholding the city of the Gandharvas, became filled with amazement. And,

O Bharata, all on a sudden, some hundreds and thousands, with eyes wide

open in wonder, exclaimed, ‘Well done! Well done!’ And having repeatedly

displayed their skill and dexterity in the use of bows and arrows and in

the management of cars, the mighty warriors took up their swords and

bucklers, and began to range the lists, playing their weapons. The

spectators saw (with wonder) their agility, the symmetry of their bodies,

their grace, their calmness, the firmness of their grasp and their

deftness in the use of sword and buckler. Then Vrikodara and Suyodhana,

internally delighted (at the prospect of fight), entered the arena, mace

in hand, like two single-peaked mountains. And those mighty-armed

warriors braced their loins, and summoning all their energy, roared like

two infuriate elephants contending for a cow-elephant; and like two

infuriated elephants those mighty heroes faultlessly (in consonance with

the dictates of the science of arm) careered right and left, circling the

lists. And Vidura described to Dhritarashtra and the mother of the

Pandavas (Kunti) and Gandhari, all the feats of the princes.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Upon the Kuru king and Bhima, the foremost of

all endued with strength, having entered the arena, the spectators were

divided into two parties in consequence of the partiality swaying their

affections. Some cried, ‘Behold the heroic king of the

Kurus!’–some–‘Behold Bhima!’–And on account of these cries, there was,

all on a sudden, a loud uproar. And seeing the place become like a

troubled ocean, the intelligent Bharadwaja said unto his dear son,

Aswatthaman, ‘Restrain both these mighty warriors so proficient in arms.

Let not the ire of the assembly be provoked by this combat of Bhima and


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then the son of the preceptor of the princes

restrained those combatants with their maces uplifted and resembling two

swollen oceans agitated by the winds that blow at the universal

dissolution. And Drona himself entering the yard of the arena commanded

the musicians to stop, and with a voice deep as that of the clouds

addressed these words, ‘Behold ye now that Partha who is dearer to me

than my own son, the master of all arms, the son of Indra himself, and

like unto the younger brother of Indra, (Vishnu)! And having performed

the propitiatory rites, the youthful Phalguna, equipped with the finger

protector (gauntlet) and his quiver full of shafts and bow in hand,

donning his golden mail, appeared in the lists even like an evening cloud

reflecting the rays of the setting sun and illumined by the hues of the

rainbow and flashes of lightning.

“On seeing Arjuna, the whole assembly were delighted and conchs began to

be blown all around with other musical instruments. And there arose a

great uproar in consequence of the spectators’ exclaiming,–‘This is the

graceful son of Kunti!’–‘This is the middle (third) Pandava!’–‘This is

the son of the mighty Indra!’–‘This is the protector of the

Kurus’–‘This is the foremost of those versed in arms!’–‘This is the

foremost of all cherishers of virtue!’–‘This is the foremost of the

persons of correct behaviour, the great repository of the knowledge of

manners!’ At those exclamations, the tears of Kunti, mixing with the milk

of her breast, wetted her bosom. And his ears being filled with that

uproar, that first of men, Dhritarashtra, asked Vidura in delight, ‘O

Kshatri, what is this great uproar for, like unto that of the troubled

ocean, arising all on a sudden and rending the very heavens?’ Vidura

replied, ‘O mighty monarch, the son of Pandu and Pritha, Phalguna, clad

in mail hath entered the lists. And hence this uproar!’ Dhritarashtra

said, ‘O thou of soul so great, by the three fires sprung from Pritha who

is even like the sacred fuel, I have, indeed, been blessed, favoured and


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When the spectators, excited with delight, had

somewhat regained their equanimity, Vibhatsu began to display his

lightness in the use of weapons. By the Agneya weapon, he created fire,

and by the Varuna weapon he created water, by the Vayavya weapon, he

created air, and by the Parjanya weapon he created clouds. And by the

Bhauma weapon, he created land, and by the Parvatya weapon, he brought

mountains into being. By the Antardhana weapon all these were made to

disappear. Now the beloved one of his preceptor (Arjuna) appeared tall

and now short; now he was seen on the yoke of his car, and now on the car

itself; and the next moment he was on the ground. And the hero favoured

by his practised dexterity, hit with his various butts–some tender, some

fine and some of thick composition. And like one shaft, he let fly at a

time into the mouth of a moving iron-boar five shafts together from his

bow-string. And that hero of mighty energy discharged one and twenty

arrows into the hollow of a cow’s horn hung up on a rope swaying to and

fro. In this manner, O sinless one, Arjuna showed his profound skill in

the use of sword, bow, and mace, walking over the lists in circles.

“And, O Bharata, when the exhibition had well-nigh ended, the excitement

of the spectators had cooled, and the sounds of instruments had died out

there was heard proceeding from the gate, the slapping of arms,

betokening might and strength, and even like unto the roar of the

thunder. And, O king, as soon as this sound was heard, the assembled

multitude instantly thought, ‘Are the mountains splitting or is the earth

itself rending asunder, or is the welkin resounding with the roar of

gathering clouds? And then all the spectators turned their eyes towards

the gate. And Drona stood, surrounded by the five brothers, the sons of

Pritha, and looked like the moon in conjunction with the five-starred

constellation Hasta. And Duryodhana, that slayer of foes, stood up in

haste and was surrounded by his century of haughty brothers with

Aswatthaman amongst them. And that prince, mace in hand, thus surrounded

by his hundred brothers with uplifted weapons appeared like Purandara in

days of yore, encircled by the celestial host on the occasion of the

battle with the Danavas.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When the spectators, with eyes expanded with

wonder, made way for that subjugator of hostile cities, Karna, that hero

with his natural mail and face brightened with ear-rings, took up his bow

and girded on his sword, and then entered the spacious lists, like a

walking cliff. That far-famed destroyer of hostile hosts, the large-eyed

Karna, was born of Pritha in her maidenhood. He was a portion of the

hot-beamed Sun and his energy and prowess were like unto those of the

lion, or the bull, or the leader of a herd of elephants. In splendour he

resembled the Sun, in loveliness the Moon, and in energy the fire.

Begotten by the Sun himself, he was tall in stature like a golden palm

tree, and, endued with the vigour of youth, he was capable of slaying a

lion. Handsome in features, he was possessed of countless

accomplishments. The mighty-armed warrior, eyeing all around the arena,

bowed indifferently to Drona and Kripa. And the entire assembly,

motionless and with steadfast gaze, thought, ‘Who is he?’ And they became

agitated in their curiosity to know the warrior. And that foremost of

eloquent men, the offspring of the Sun, in a voice deep as that of the

clouds, addressed his unknown brother, the son of the subduer of the

Asura, Paka (Indra), saying, ‘O Partha, I shall perform feats before this

gazing multitude; excelling all thou hast performed! Beholding them, thou

shall be amazed.’ And, O thou best of those blest with speech, he had

hardly done when the spectators stood up all at once, uplifted by some

instrument, as it were. And, O tiger among men, Duryodhana was filled

with delight, while Vibhatsu was instantly all abashment and anger. Then

with the permission of Drona, the mighty Karna, delighting in battle,

there did all that Partha had done before. And, O Bharata, Duryodhana

with his brothers thereupon embraced Karna in joy and then addressed him

saying, ‘Welcome O mighty-armed warrior! I have obtained thee by good

fortune, O polite one! Live thou as thou pleasest, and command me, and

the kingdom of the Kurus.’ Kama replied, ‘When thou hast said it, I

regard it as already accomplished. I only long for thy friendship. And, O

lord, my wish is even for a single combat with Arjuna.’ Duryodhana said,

‘Do thou with me enjoy the good things of life! Be thou the benefactor of

thy friend, and, O represser of enemies, place thou thy feet on the heads

of all foes.”

“Vaisampayanacontinued, ‘Arjuna, after this, deeming himself disgraced,

said unto Karna stationed amidst the brothers like unto a cliff, ‘That

path which the unwelcome intruder and the uninvited talker cometh to,

shall be thine, O Karna, for thou shall be slain by me.’ Karna replied,

‘This arena is meant for all, not for thee alone, O Phalguna! They are

kings who are superior in energy; and verily the Kshatriya regardeth

might and might alone. What need of altercation which is the exercise of

the weak? O Bharata, speak then in arrows until with arrows I strike off

thy head today before the preceptor himself!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hastily embraced by his brothers, Partha that

subduer of hostile cities, with the permission of Drona, advanced for the

combat. On the other side, Karna, having been embraced by Duryodhana with

his brothers, taking up his bow and arrows, stood ready for the fight.

Then the firmament became enveloped in clouds emitting flashes of

lightning, and the coloured bow of Indra appeared shedding its effulgent

rays. And the clouds seemed to laugh on account of the rows of white

cranes that were then on the wing. And seeing Indra thus viewing the

arena from affection (for his son), the sun too dispersed the clouds from

over his own offspring. And Phalguna remained deep hid under cover of the

clouds, while Karna remained visible, being surrounded by the rays of the

Sun. And the son of Dhritarashtra stood by Karna, and Bharadwaja and

Kripa and Bhishma remained with Partha. And the assembly was divided, as

also the female spectators. And knowing the state of things, Kunti the

daughter of Bhoja, swooned away. And by the help of female attendants,

Vidura, versed in the lore of all duties, revived the insensible Kunti by

sprinkling sandal-paste and water on her person. On being restored to

consciousness, Kunti, seeing her two sons clad in mail, was seized with

fear, but she could do nothing (to protect them). And beholding both the

warriors with bows strung in their hands the son of Saradwat, viz.,

Kripa, knowing all duties and cognisant of the rules regulating duels,

addressed Karna, saying ‘This Pandava, who is the youngest son of Kunti,

belongeth to the Kaurava race: he will engage in combat with thee. But, O

mighty-armed one, thou too must tell us thy lineage and the names of thy

father and mother and the royal line of which thou art the ornament.

Learning all this, Partha will fight with thee or not (as he will think

fit). Sons of kings never fight with men of inglorious lineage.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When he was thus addressed by Kripa, Karna’s

countenance became like unto a lotus pale and torn with the pelting

showers in the rainy season. Duryodhana said, ‘O preceptor, verily the

scriptures have it that three classes of persons can lay claim to

royalty, viz., persons of the blood royal, heroes, and lastly, those that

lead armies. If Phalguna is unwilling to fight with one who is not a

king, I will install Karna as king of Anga.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘At that very moment, seated on a golden seat, with

parched paddy and with flowers and water-pots and much gold, the mighty

warrior Karna was installed king by Brahmanas versed in mantras. And the

royal umbrella was held over his head, while Yak-tails waved around that

redoubtable hero of graceful mien. And the cheers, having ceased, king

(Karna) said unto the Kaurava Duryodhana, ‘O tiger among monarchs, what

shall I give unto thee that may compare with thy gift of a kingdom? O

king, I will do all thou biddest!’ And Suyodhana said unto him, ‘I

eagerly wish for thy friendship.’ Thus spoken to, Karna replied, ‘Be it

so.’ And they embraced each other in joy, and experienced great



(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After this, with his sheet loosely hanging down,

Adhiratha entered the lists, perspiring and trembling, and supporting

himself on a staff.

“Seeing him, Karna left his bow and impelled by filial regard bowed down

his head still wet with the water of inauguration. And them the

charioteer, hurriedly covering his feet with the end of his sheet,

addressed Karna crowned with success as his son. And the charioteer

embraced Karna and from excess of affection bedewed his head with tears,

that head still wet with the water sprinkled over it on account of the

coronation as king of Anga. Seeing the charioteer, the Pandava Bhimasena

took Karna for a charioteer’s son, and said by way of ridicule, ‘O son of

a charioteer, thou dost not deserve death in fight at the hands of

Partha. As befits thy race take thou anon the whip. And, O worst of

mortals, surely thou art not worthy to sway the kingdom of Anga, even as

a dog doth not deserve the butter placed before the sacrificial fire.’

Karna, thus addressed, with slightly quivering lips fetched a deep sigh,

looked at the God of the day in the skies. And even as a mad elephant

riseth from an assemblage of lotuses, the mighty Duryodhana rose in wrath

from among his brothers, and addressed that performer of dreadful deeds,

Bhimasena, present there, ‘O Vrikodara, it behoveth thee not to speak

such words. Might is the cardinal virtue of a Kshatriya, and even a

Kshatriya of inferior birth deserveth to be fought with. The lineage of

heroes, like the sources of a lordly river, is ever unknown. The fire

that covereth the whole world riseth from the waters. The thunder that

slayeth the Danavas was made of a bone of (a mortal named) Dadhichi. The

illustrious deity Guha, who combines in his composition the portions of

all the other deities is of a lineage unknown. Some call him the

offspring of Agni; some, of Krittika, some, of Rudra, and some of Ganga.

It hath been heard by us that persons born in the Kashatriya order have

become Brahmanas. Viswamitra and others (born Kshatriyas) have obtained

the eternal Brahma. The foremost of all wielders of weapons, the

preceptor Drona hath been born in a waterpot and Kripa of the race of

Gotama hath sprung from a clump of heath. Your own births, ye Pandava

princes, are known to me. Can a she-deer bring forth a tiger (like

Karna), of the splendour of the Sun, and endued with every auspicious

mark, and born also with a natural mail and ear-rings? This prince among

men deserveth the sovereignty of the world, not of Anga only, in

consequence of the might of his arm and my swearing to obey him in

everything. If there be anybody here to whom all that I have done unto

Karna hath become intolerable, let him ascend his chariot and bend his

bow with the help of his feet.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then there arose a confused murmur amongst the

spectators approving of Duryodhana’s speech. The sun, however, went down,

but prince Duryodhana taking Karna’s hand led him out of the arena

lighted with countless lamps. And, O king, the Pandavas also, accompanied

by Drona and Kripa and Bhishma, returned to their abodes. And the people,

too, came away, some naming Arjuna, some Karna, and some Duryodhana (as

the victor of the day). And Kunti, recognising her son in Karna by the

various auspicious marks on his person and beholding him installed in the

sovereignty of Anga, was from motherly affection, very pleased. And

Duryodhana, O monarch, having obtained Karna (in this way), banished his

fears arising out of Arjuna’s proficiency in arms. And the heroic Karna,

accomplished in arms, began to gratify Duryodhana by sweet speeches,

while Yudhishthira was impressed with the belief that there was no

warrior on earth like unto Karna.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Beholding the Pandavas and the son of

Dhritarashtra accomplished in arms, Drona thought the time had come when

he could demand the preceptorial fee. And, O king, assembling his pupils

one day together, the preceptor Drona asked of them the fee, saying,

‘Seize Drupada, the king of Panchala in battle and bring him unto me.

That shall be the most acceptable fee.’ Those warriors then answering,

‘So be it’, speedily mounted up on their chariots, and for bestowing upon

their preceptor the fee he had demanded, marched out, accompanied by him.

Those bulls among men, smiting the Panchalas on their way, laid siege to

the capital of the great Drupada. And Duryodhana and Karna and the mighty

Yuyutsu, and Duhsasana and Vikarna and Jalasandha and Sulochana,–these

and many other foremost of Kshatriya princes of great prowess, vied with

one another in becoming the foremost in the attack. And the princes,

riding in first class chariots and following the cavalry, entered the

hostile capital, and proceeded along the streets.

“Meanwhile, the king of Panchala, beholding that mighty force and hearing

its loud clamour, came out of his palace, accompanied by his brothers.

Though king Yajnasena was well-armed, the Kuru army assailed him with a

shower of arrows, uttering their war-cry. Yajnasena, however, not easy to

be subdued in battle, approaching the Kurus upon his white chariot, began

to rain his fierce arrows around.

“Before the battle commenced, Arjuna, beholding the pride of prowess

displayed by the princes, addressed his preceptor, that best of

Brahmanas, Drona, and said, ‘We shall exert ourselves after these have

displayed their prowess. The king of Panchala can never be taken on the

field of the battle by any of these. Having said this, the sinless son of

Kunti surrounded by his brothers, waited outside the town at a distance

of a mile from it. Meanwhile Drupada beholding the Kuru host, rushed

forward and pouring a fierce shower of arrows around, terribly afflicted

the Kuru ranks. And such was his lightness of motion on the field of

battle that, though he was fighting unsupported on a single chariot, the

Kurus from panic supposed that there were many Drupadas opposed to them.

And the fierce arrows of that monarch fell fast on all sides, till conchs

and trumpets and drums by thousands began to be sounded by the Panchalas

from their houses (giving the alarm). Then there arose from the mighty

Panchala host a roar terrible as that of the lion, while the twang of

their bow-strings seemed to rend the very heavens. Then Duryodhana and

Vikarna, Suvahu and Dirghalochana and Duhsasana becoming furious, began

to shower their arrows upon the enemy. But the mighty bowman, Prishata’s

son, invincible in battle, though very much pierced with the arrows of

the enemy, instantly began, O Bharata, to afflict the hostile ranks with

greater vigour. And careering over the field of battle like a fiery

wheel, king Drupada with his arrows smote Duryodhana and Vikarna and even

the mighty Karna and many other heroic princes and numberless warriors,

and slaked their thirst for battle. Then all the citizens showered upon

the Kurus various missiles like clouds showering rain-drops upon the

earth. Young and old, they all rushed to battle, assailing the Kurus with

vigour. The Kauravas, then, O Bharata, beholding the battle become

frightful, broke and fled wailing towards the Pandavas.

“The Pandavas, hearing the terrible wail of the beaten host,

reverentially saluted Drona and ascended their chariots. Then Arjuna

hastily bidding Yudhishthira not to engage in the fight, rushed forward,

appointing the sons of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva) the protectors of his

chariot-wheels, while Bhimasena ever fighting in the van, mace in hand,

ran ahead. The sinless Arjuna, thus accompanied by his brothers, hearing

the shouts of the enemy, advanced towards them, filling the whole region

with the rattle of his chariot-wheels. And like a Makara entering the

sea, the mighty-armed Bhima, resembling a second Yama, mace in hand,

entered the Panchala ranks, fiercely roaring like the ocean in a tempest.

And Bhima, mace in hand, first rushed towards the array of elephants in

the hostile force, while Arjuna, proficient in battle, assailed that

force with the prowess of his arms. And Bhima, like the great Destroyer

himself, began to slay those elephants with his mace. Those huge animals,

like unto mountains, struck with Bhima’s mace, had their heads broken

into pieces. Covered with stream of blood, they began to fall upon the

ground like cliffs loosened by thunder. And the Pandavas prostrated on

the ground elephants and horses and cars by thousands and slew many

foot-soldiers and many car-warriors. Indeed, as a herdsman in the woods

driveth before him with his staff countless cattle with ease, so did

Vrikodara drive before him the chariots and elephants of the hostile


“Meanwhile, Phalguna, impelled by the desire of doing good unto

Bharadwaja’s son, assailed the son of Prishata with a shower of arrows

and felled him from the elephant on which he was seated. And, O monarch,

Arjuna, like unto the terrible fire that consumeth all things at the end

of the Yuga, began to prostrate on the ground horses and cars and

elephants by thousands. The Panchalas and the Srinjayas, on the other

hand, thus assailed by the Pandava, met him with a perfect shower of

weapons of various kinds. And they sent up a loud shout and fought

desperately with Arjuna. The battle became furious and terrible to

behold. Hearing the enemy’s shouts, the son of Indra was filled with

wrath and assailing the hostile host with a thick shower of arrows,

rushed towards it furiously afflicting it with renewed vigour. They who

observed the illustrious Arjuna at that time could not mark any interval

between his fixing the arrows on the bowstring and letting them off. Loud

were the shouts that rose there, mingled with cheers of approval. Then

the king of the Panchalas, accompanied by (the generalissimo of his

forces) Satyajit, rushed with speed at Arjuna like the Asura Samvara

rushing at the chief of the celestials (in days of yore). Then Arjuna

covered the king of Panchala with a shower of arrows. Then there arose a

frightful uproar among the Panchala host like unto the roar of a mighty

lion springing at the leader of a herd of elephants. And beholding Arjuna

rushing at the king of Panchala to seize him, Satyajit of great prowess

rushed at him. And the two warriors, like unto Indra and the Asura

Virochana’s son (Vali), approaching each other for combat, began to grind

each other’s ranks. Then Arjuna with great force pierced Satyajit with

ten keen shafts at which feat the spectators were all amazed. But

Satyajit, without losing any time, assailed Arjuna with a hundred shafts.

Then that mighty car-warrior, Arjuna, endued with remarkable lightness of

motion, thus covered by that shower of arrows, rubbed his bow-string to

increase the force and velocity of his shafts. Then cutting in twain his

antagonist’s bow, Arjuna rushed at the king of the Panchalas, but

Satyajit, quickly taking up a tougher bow, pierced with his arrows

Partha, his chariot, charioteer, and horses. Arjuna, thus assailed in

battle by the Panchala warrior, forgave not his foe. Eager to slay him at

once, he pierced with a number of arrows his antagonist’s horses, flags,

bow, clenched (left) fist, charioteer, and the attendant at his back.

Then Satyajit, finding his bows repeatedly cut in twain and his horses

slain, desisted from the fight.

“The king of the Panchalas, beholding his general thus discomfited in the

encounter, himself began to shower his arrows upon the Pandava prince.

Then Arjuna, that foremost of warriors, crowned with success, began to

fight furiously, and quickly cutting his enemy’s bow in twain as also his

flagstaff which he caused to fall down, pierced his antagonist’s horses,

and charioteer also with five arrows. Then throwing aside his bow Arjuna

took his quiver, and taking out a scimitar and sending forth a loud

shout, leaped from his own chariot upon that of his foe. And standing

there with perfect fearlessness he seized Drupada as Garuda seizeth a

huge snake after agitating the waters of the ocean. At the sight of this,

the Panchala troops ran away in all directions.

“Then Dhananjaya, having thus exhibited the might of his arm in the

presence of both hosts, sent forth a loud shout and came out of the

Panchala ranks. And beholding him returning (with his captive), the

princes began to lay waste Drupada’s capital. Addressing them Arjuna

said, ‘This best of monarchs, Drupada, is a relative of the Kuru heroes.

Therefore, O Bhima, slay not his soldiers. Let us only give unto our

preceptor his fee.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O king, thus prevented by Arjuna, the mighty

Bhimasena, though unsatiated with the exercise of battle, refrained from

the act of slaughter. And, O bull of the Bharata race, the princes then,

taking Drupada with them after having seized him on the field of battle

along with his friends and counsellors, offered him unto Drona. And Drona

beholding Drupada thus brought under complete control–humiliated and

deprived of wealth–remembered that monarch’s former hostility and

addressing him said, ‘Thy kingdom and capital have been laid waste by me.

But fear not for thy life, though it dependeth now on the will of thy

foe. Dost thou now desire to revive thy friendship (with me)?’ Having

said this, he smiled a little and again said, ‘Fear not for thy life,

brave king! We, Brahmanas, are ever forgiving. And, O bull among

Kshatriyas, my affection and love for thee have grown with me in

consequence of our having sported together in childhood in the hermitage.

Therefore, O king, I ask for thy friendship again. And as a boon

(unasked), I give thee half the kingdom (that was thine). Thou toldest me

before that none who was not a king could be a king’s friend. Therefore

is it, O Yajnasena, that I retain half thy kingdom. Thou art the king of

all the territory lying on the southern side of the Bhagirathi, while I

become king of all the territory on the north of that river. And, O

Panchala, if it pleaseth thee, know me hence for thy friend.’

“On hearing these words, Drupada answered, ‘Thou art of noble soul and

great prowess. Therefore, O Brahmana, I am not surprised at what thou

doest. I am very much gratified with thee, and I desire thy eternal


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, O Bharata, Drona released the king

of Panchala, and cheerfully performing the usual offices of regard,

bestowed upon him half the kingdom. Thenceforth Drupada began to reside

sorrowfully in (the city of) Kampilya within (the province of) Makandi on

the banks of the Ganga filled with many towns and cities. And after his

defeat by Drona, Drupada also ruled the southern Panchalas up to the bank

of the Charmanwati river. And Drupada from that day was well-convinced

that he could not, by Kshatriya might alone, defeat Drona, being very

much his inferior in Brahma (spiritual) power. And he, therefore, began

to wander over the whole earth to find out the means of obtaining a son

(who would subjugate his Brahmana foe).

“Meanwhile Drona continued to reside in Ahicchatra. Thus, O king, was the

territory of Ahicchatra full of towns and cities, obtained by Arjuna, and

bestowed upon Drona.’


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After the expiration, O king, of a year from

this, Dhritarashtra, moved by kindness for the people, installed

Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, as the heir-apparent of the kingdom on

account of his firmness, fortitude, patience, benevolence, frankness and

unswerving honesty (of heart). And within a short time Yudhishthira, the

son of Kunti, by his good behaviour, manners and close application to

business, overshadowed the deeds of his father. And the second Pandava,

Vrikodara, began to receive continued lessons from Sankarshana (Valarama)

in encounters with the sword and the mace and on the chariot. And after

Bhima’s education was finished, he became in strength like unto

Dyumatsena himself and continuing to live in harmony with his brothers,

he began to exert his prowess. And Arjuna became celebrated for the

firmness of his grasp (of weapons), for his lightness of motion,

precision of aim, and his proficiency in the use of the Kshura, Naracha,

Vala and Vipatha weapons, indeed, of all weapons, whether straight or

crooked or heavy. And Drona certified that there was none in the world

who was equal to Arjuna in lightness of hand and general proficiency.

“One day, Drona, addressing Arjuna before the assembled Kaurava princes,

said, ‘There was a disciple of Agastya in the science of arms called

Agnivesa. He was my preceptor and I, his disciple. By ascetic merit I

obtained from him a weapon called Brahmasira which could never be futile

and which was like unto thunder itself, capable of consuming the whole

earth. That weapon, O Bharata, from what I have done, may now pass from

disciple to disciple. While imparting it to me, my preceptor said, ‘O son

of Bharadwaja, never shouldst thou hurl this weapon at any human being,

especially at one who is of poor energy. Thou hast, O hero, obtained that

celestial weapon. None else deserveth it. But obey the command of the

Rishi (Agnivesa). And, look here, Arjuna, give me now the preceptorial

fee in the presence of these thy cousins and relatives.’ When Arjuna, on

hearing this, pledged his word that he would give what the preceptor

demanded, the latter said, ‘O sinless one, thou must fight with me when I

fight with thee.’ And that bull among the Kuru princes thereupon pledged

his word unto Drona and touching his feet, went away northward. Then

there arose a loud shout covering the whole earth bounded by her belt of

seas to the effect that there was no bowman in the whole world like unto

Arjuna. And, indeed, Dhananjaya, in encounters with the mace and the

sword and on the chariot as also with the bow, acquired wonderful

proficiency. Sahadeva obtained the whole science of morality and duties

from (Vrihaspati) the spiritual chief of celestials, and continued to

live under the control of his brothers. And Nakula, the favourite of his

brothers taught by Drona, became known as a skilful warrior and a great

car-warrior (Ati-ratha). Indeed, Arjuna and the other Pandava princes

became so powerful that they slew in battle the great Sauvira who had

performed a sacrifice extending over three years, undaunted by the raids

of the Gandharvas. And the king of the Yavanas himself whom the powerful

Pandu even had failed to bring under subjection was brought by Arjuna

under control. Then again Vipula, the king of the Sauviras, endued with

great prowess, who had always shown a disregard for the Kurus, was made

by the intelligent Arjuna to feel the edge of his power. And Arjuna also

repressed by means of his arrows (the pride of) king Sumitra of Sauvira,

also known by the name of Dattamitra who had resolutely sought an

encounter with him. The third of the Pandava princes, assisted by Bhima,

on only a single car subjugated all the kings of the East backed by ten

thousand cars. In the same way, having conquered on a single car the

whole of the south, Dhananjaya sent unto the kingdom of the Kurus a large


“Thus did those foremost of men, the illustrious Pandavas, conquering the

territories of other kings, extend the limits of their own kingdom. But

beholding the great prowess and strength of those mighty bowmen, king

Dhritarashtra’s sentiments towards the Pandavas became suddenly poisoned,

and from that day the monarch became so anxious that he could hardly



(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘On hearing that the heroic sons of Pandu endued

with excess of energy had become so mighty, king Dhritarashtra became

very miserable with anxiety. Then summoning unto his side Kanika, that

foremost of minister, well-versed in the science of politics and an

expert in counsels the king said, ‘O best of Brahmanas, the Pandavas are

daily overshadowing the earth. I am exceedingly jealous of them. Should I

have peace or war with them? O Kanika, advise me truly, for I shall do as

thou biddest.

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That best of Brahmanas, thus addressed by the

king, freely answered him in these pointed words well-agreeing with the

import of political science.”

“Listen to me, O sinless king, as I answer thee. And, O best of Kuru

kings, it behoveth thee not to be angry with me after hearing all I say.

Kings should ever be ready with uplifted maces (to strike when

necessary), and they should ever increase their prowess. Carefully

avoiding all faults themselves they should ceaselessly watch over the

faults of their foes and take advantage of them. If the king is always

ready to strike, everybody feareth him. Therefore the king should ever

have recourse to chastisement in all he doeth. He should so conduct

himself that, his foe may not detect any weak side in him. But by means

of the weakness he detecteth in his foe he should pursue him (to

destruction). He should always conceal, like the tortoise concealing its

body, his means and ends, and he should always keep back his own weakness

from, the sight of others. And having begun a particular act, he should

ever accomplish it thoroughly. Behold, a thorn, if not extracted wholly,

produceth a festering sore. The slaughter of a foe who doeth thee evil is

always praiseworthy. If the foe be one of great prowess, one should

always watch for the hour of his disaster and then kill him without any

scruples. If he should happen to be a great warrior, his hour of disaster

also should be watched and he should then be induced to fly. O sire, an

enemy should never be scorned, however contemptible. A spark of fire is

capable of consuming an extensive forest if only it can spread from one

object to another in proximity. Kings should sometimes feign blindness

and deafness, for if impotent to chastise, they should pretend not to

notice the faults that call for chastisement. On occasions, such as

these, let them regard their bows as made of straw. But they should be

always on the alert like a herd of deer sleeping in the woods. When thy

foe is in thy power, destroy him by every means open or secret. Do not

show him any mercy, although he seeketh thy protection. A foe, or one

that hath once injured thee, should be destroyed by lavishing money, if

necessary, for by killing him thou mayest be at thy ease. The dead can

never inspire fear. Thou must destroy the three, five and seven

(resources) of thy foes. Thou must destroy thy foes root and branch. Then

shouldst thou destroy their allies and partisans. The allies and

partisans can never exist if the principal be destroyed. If the root of

the tree is torn up, the branches and twigs can never exist as before.

Carefully concealing thy own means and ends, thou shouldst always watch

thy foes, always seeking their flaws. Thou shouldst, O king, rule thy

kingdom, always anxiously watching thy foes. By maintaining the perpetual

fire by sacrifices, by brown cloths, by matted locks, and by hides of

animals for thy bedding, shouldst thou at first gain the confidence of

thy foes, and when thou has gained it thou shouldst then spring upon them

like a wolf. For it hath been said that in the acquisition of wealth even

the garb of holiness might be employed as a hooked staff to bend down a

branch in order to pluck the fruits that are ripe. The method followed in

the plucking of fruits should be the method in destroying foes, for thou

shouldst proceed on the principle of selection. Bear thy foe upon thy

shoulders till the time cometh when thou canst throw him down, breaking

him into pieces like an earthen pot thrown down with violence upon a

stony surface. The foe must never be let off even though he addresseth

thee most piteously. No pity shouldst thou show him but slay him at once.

By the arts of conciliation or the expenditure of money should the foe be

slain. By creating disunion amongst his allies, or by the employment of

force, indeed by every means in thy power shouldst thou destroy thy foe.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me truly how a foe can be destroyed by the

arts of conciliation or the expenditure of money, or by producing

disunion or by the employment of force.’

“Kanika replied, ‘Listen, O monarch, to the history of a jackal dwelling

in days of yore in the forest and fully acquainted with the science of

politics. There was a wise jackal, mindful of his own interests who lived

in the company of four friends, viz., a tiger, a mouse, a wolf, and a

mongoose. One day they saw in the woods a strong deer, the leader of a

herd, whom, however, they could not seize for his fleetness and strength.

They thereupon called a council for consultation. The jackal opening the

proceedings said, ‘O tiger, thou hast made many an effort to seize this

deer, but all in vain simply because this deer is young, fleet and very

intelligent. Let now the mouse go and eat into its feet when it lieth

asleep. And when this is done, let the tiger approach and seize it. Then

shall we all, with great pleasure feast on it.’ Hearing these words of

the jackal, they all set to work very cautiously as he directed. And the

mouse ate into the feet of the deer and the tiger killed it as

anticipated. And beholding the body of the deer lying motionless on the

ground, the jackal said unto his companions, ‘Blessed be ye! Go and

perform your ablutions. In the meantime I will look after the deer.’

Hearing what the jackal said, they all went into a stream. And the jackal

waited there, deeply meditating upon what he should do. The tiger endued

with great strength, returned first of all to the spot after having

performed his ablutions. And he saw the jackal there plunged in

meditation. The tiger said, ‘Why art thou so sorrowful, O wise one! Thou

art the foremost of all intelligent beings. Let us enjoy ourselves today

by feasting on this carcass.’ The jackal said, ‘Hear, O mighty-armed one,

what the mouse hath said. He hath even said, O, fie on the strength of

the king of the beasts! This deer hath been slain by me. By might of my

arm he will today gratify his hunger.’ When he hath boasted in such a

language, I, for my part, do not wish to touch this food.’ The tiger

replied, ‘If, indeed, the mouse hath said so, my sense is now awakened. I

shall, from this day, slay with the might of my own arms, creatures

ranging the forest and then feast on their flesh.’ Having said this, the

tiger went away.

“And after the tiger had left the spot, the mouse came. And seeing the

mouse come, the jackal addressed him and said, ‘Blest be thou, O mouse,

but listen to what the mongoose hath said. He hath even said, The carcass

of this deer is poison (the tiger having touched it with his claws). I

will not eat of it. On the other hand, if thou, O jackal, permittest it,

I will even slay the mouse and feast on him.’ Hearing this the mouse

became alarmed and quickly entered his hole. And after the mouse had

gone, the wolf, O king, came there having performed his ablutions. And

seeing the wolf come, the jackal said unto him, ‘The king of the beasts

hath been angry with thee. Evil is certain to overtake thee. He is

expected here with his wife. Do as thou pleasest.’ Thus was the wolf

also, fond of animal flesh, got rid of by the jackal. And the wolf fled,

contracting his body into the smallest dimensions. It was then that the

mongoose came. And, O king, the jackal, seeing him come, said, ‘By the

might of my arm have I defeated the others who have already fled. Fight

with me first and then eat of this flesh as you please.’ The mongoose

replied, ‘When, indeed, the tiger, the wolf, and the intelligent mouse

have all been defeated by thee, heroes as they are, thou seemest to be a

greater hero still. I do not desire to fight with thee.’ Saying this, the

mongoose also went away.

“Kanika continued, ‘When they all had thus left the place, the jackal,

well-pleased with the success of his policy, alone ate up that flesh. If

kings always act in this way, they can be happy. Thus should the timid by

exciting their fears, the courageous by the arts of conciliation, the

covetous by gift of wealth, and equals and inferiors by exhibition of

prowess be brought under thy sway. Besides all this, O king, that I have

said, listen now to something else that I say.’

“Kanika continued, ‘If thy son, friend, brother, father, or even the

spiritual preceptor, anyone becometh thy foe, thou shouldst, if desirous

of prosperity, slay him without scruples. By curses and incantations, by

gift of wealth, by poison, or by deception, the foe should be slain. He

should never be neglected from disdain. If both the parties be equal and

success uncertain, then he that acteth with diligence groweth in

prosperity. If the spiritual preceptor himself be vain, ignorant of what

should be done and what left undone, and vicious in his ways, even he

should be chastised. If thou art angry, show thyself as if thou art not

so, speaking even then with a smile on thy lips. Never reprove any one

with indications of anger (in thy speech). And O Bharata, speak soft

words before thou smitest and even while thou art smiting! After the

smiting is over, pity the victim, and grieve for him, and even shed

tears. Comforting thy foe by conciliation, by gift of wealth, and smooth

behaviour, thou must smite him when he walketh not aright. Thou shouldst

equally smile the heinous offender who liveth by the practice of virtue,

for the garb of virtue simply covereth his offences like black clouds

covering the mountains. Thou shouldst burn the house of that person whom

thou punishest with death. And thou shouldst never permit beggars and

atheists and thieves to dwell in thy kingdom. By a sudden sally or

pitched battle by poison or by corrupting his allies, by gift of wealth,

by any means in thy power, thou shouldst destroy thy foe. Thou mayest act

with the greatest cruelty. Thou shouldst make thy teeth sharp to give a

fatal bite. And thou should ever smite so effectually that thy foe may

not again raise his head. Thou shouldst ever stand in fear of even one

from whom there is no fear, not to speak of him from whom there is such.

For if the first be ever powerful he may destroy thee to the root (for

thy unpreparedness). Thou shouldst never trust the faithless, nor trust

too much those that are faithful, for if those in whom thou confidest

prove thy foes, thou art certain to be annihilated. After testing their

faithfulness thou shouldst employ spies in thy own kingdom and in the

kingdoms of others. Thy spies in foreign kingdoms should be apt deceivers

and persons in the garb of ascetics. Thy spies should be placed in

gardens, places of amusement, temples and other holy places, drinking

halls, streets, and with the (eighteen) tirthas (viz., the minister, the

chief priest, the heir-presumptive, the commander-in-chief, the

gate-keepers of the court, persons in the inner apartments, the jailor,

the chief surveyor, the head of the treasury, the general executant of

orders, the chief of the town police, the chief architect, the chief

justice, the president of the council, the chief of the punitive

department, the commander of the fort, the chief of the arsenal, the

chief of the frontier guards, and the keeper of the forests), and in

places of sacrifice, near wells, on mountains and in rivers, in forests,

and in all places where people congregate. In speech thou shouldst ever

be humble, but let thy heart be ever sharp as razor. And when thou art

engaged in doing even a very cruel and terrible act, thou shouldst talk

with smiles on thy lips. If desirous of prosperity, thou shouldst adopt

all arts–humility, oath, conciliation. Worshipping the feet of others by

lowering thy head, inspiring hope, and the like. And, a person conversant

with the rules of policy is like a tree decked with flowers but bearing

no fruit; or, if bearing fruit, these must be at a great height not

easily attainable from the ground; and if any of these fruits seem to be

ripe care must be taken to make it appear raw. Conducting himself in such

a way, he shall never fade. Virtue, wealth and pleasure have both their

evil and good effects closely knit together. While extracting the effects

that are good, those that are evil should be avoided. Those that practise

virtue (incessantly) are made unhappy for want of wealth and the neglect

of pleasure. Those again in pursuit of wealth are made unhappy for the

neglect of two others. And so those who pursue pleasure suffer for their

inattention to virtue and wealth. Therefore, thou shouldst pursue virtue,

wealth and pleasure, in such a way that thou mayest not have to suffer

therefrom. With humiliation and attention, without jealousy and

solicitous of accomplishing thy purpose, shouldst thou, in all sincerity,

consult with the Brahmanas. When thou art fallen, thou shouldst raise

thyself by any means, gentle or violent; and after thou hast thus raised

thyself thou shouldst practise virtue. He that hath never been afflicted

with calamity can never have prosperity. This may be seen in the life of

one who surviveth his calamities. He that is afflicted with sorrow should

be consoled by the recitation of the history of persons of former times

(like those of Nala and Rama). He whose heart hath been unstrung by

sorrow should be consoled with hopes of future prosperity. He again who

is learned and wise should be consoled by pleasing offices presently

rendered unto him. He who, having concluded a treaty with an enemy,

reposeth at ease as if he hath nothing more to do, is very like a person

who awaketh, fallen down from the top of a tree whereon he had slept. A

king should ever keep to himself his counsels without fear of calumny,

and while beholding everything with the eyes of his spies, he should take

care to conceal his own emotions before the spies of his enemies. Like a

fisherman who becometh prosperous by catching and killing fish, a king

can never grow prosperous without tearing the vitals of his enemy and

without doing some violent deeds. The might of thy foe, as represented by

his armed force, should ever be completely destroyed, by ploughing it up

(like weeds) and mowing it down and otherwise afflicting it by disease,

starvation, and want of drink. A person in want never approacheth (from

love) one in affluence; and when one’s purpose hath been accomplished,

one hath no need to approach him whom he had hitherto looked to for its

accomplishment. Therefore, when thou doest anything never do it

completely, but ever leave something to be desired for by others (whose

services thou mayest need). One who is desirous of prosperity should with

diligence seek allies and means, and carefully conduct his wars. His

exertions in these respects should always be guided by prudence. A

prudent king should ever act in such a way that friends and foes may

never know his motive before the commencement of his acts. Let them know

all when the act hath been commenced or ended, and as long as danger doth

not come, so long only shall thou act as if thou art afraid. But when it

hath overtaken thee, thou must grapple with it courageously. He who

trusteth in a foe who hath been brought under subjection by force,

summoneth his own death as a crab by her act of conception. Thou shouldst

always reckon the future act as already arrived (and concert measures for

meeting it), else, from want of calmness caused by haste, thou mayest

overlook an important point in meeting it when it is before thee. A

person desirous of prosperity should always exert with prudence, adopting

his measures to time and place. He should also act with an eye to destiny

as capable of being regulated by mantras and sacrificial rites; and to

virtue, wealth, and pleasure. It is well-known that time and place (if

taken into consideration) always produce the greatest good. If the foe is

insignificant, he should not yet be despised, for he may soon grow like a

palmyra tree extending its roots or like a spark of fire in the deep

woods that may soon burst into an extensive conflagration. As a little

fire gradually fed with faggots soon becometh capable of consuming even

the biggest blocks, so the person who increaseth his power by making

alliances and friendships soon becometh capable of subjugating even the

most formidable foe. The hope thou givest unto thy foe should be long

deferred before it is fulfilled; and when the time cometh for its

fulfilment, invent some pretext for deferring it still. Let that pretext

be shown as founded upon some reason, and let that reason itself be made

to appear as founded on some other reason. Kings should, in the matter of

destroying their foes, ever resemble razors in every particular;

unpitying as these are sharp, hiding their intents as these are concealed

in their leathern cases, striking when the opportunity cometh as these

are used on proper occasions, sweeping off their foes with all their

allies and dependants as these shave the head or the chin without leaving

a single hair. O supporter of the dignity of the Kurus, bearing thyself

towards the Pandavas and others also as policy dictateth, act in such a

way that thou mayest not have to grieve in future. Well do I know that

thou art endued with every blessing, and possessed of every mark of good

fortune. Therefore, O king, protect thyself from the sons of Pandu! O

king, the sons of Pandu are stronger than their cousins (thy sons);

therefore, O chastiser of foes, I tell thee plainly what thou shouldst

do. Listen to it, O king, with thy children, and having listened to it,

exert yourselves (to do the needful). O king, act in such a way that

there may not be any fear for thee from the Pandavas. Indeed, adopt such

measures consonant with the science of policy that thou mayest not have

to grieve in the future.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having delivered himself thus Kanika returned

to his abode, while the Kuru king Dhritarashtra became pensive and



(Jatugriha Parva)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the son of Suvala (Sakuni), king Duryodhana,

Duhsasana and Kama, in consultation with one another, formed an evil

conspiracy. With the sanction of Dhritarashtra, the king of the Kurus,

they resolved to burn to death Kunti and her (five) sons. But that wise

Vidura, capable of reading the heart by external signs, ascertained the

intention of these wicked persons by observing their countenances alone.

Then the sinless Vidura, of soul enlightened by true knowledge, and

devoted to the good of the Pandavas, came to the conclusion that Kunti

with her children should fly away from her foes. And providing for that

purpose a boat strong enough to withstand both wind and wave, he

addressed Kunti and said, ‘This Dhritarashtra hath been born for

destroying the fame and offspring of the (Kuru) race. Of wicked soul, he

is about to cast off eternal virtue. O blessed one, I have kept ready on

the stream a boat capable of withstanding both wind and wave. Escape by

it with thy children from the net that death hath spread around you.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words, the illustrious Kunti was

deeply grieved, and with her children, O bull of Bharata’s race, stepped

into the boat and went over the Ganges. Then leaving the boat according

to the advice of Vidura, the Pandavas took with them the wealth that had

been given to them (while at Varanavata) by their enemies and safely

entered the deep woods. In the house of lac, however, that had been

prepared for the destruction of the Pandavas, an innocent Nishada woman

who had come there for some purpose, was, with her children burnt to

death. And that worst of Mlechchhas, the wretched Purochana (who was the

architect employed in building the house of lac) was also burnt in the

conflagration. And thus were the sons of Dhirtarashtra with their

counsellors deceived in their expectations. And thus also were the

illustrious Pandavas, by the advice of Vidura, saved with their mother.

But the people (of Varanavata) knew not of their safety. And the citizens

of Varanavata, seeing the house of lac consumed (and believing the

Pandavas to have been burnt to death) became exceedingly sorry. And they

sent messengers unto king Dhritarashtra to represent everything that had

happened. And they said to the monarch, ‘Thy great end hath been

achieved! Thou hast at last burnt the Pandavas to death! Thy desire

fulfilled, enjoy with thy children. O king of the Kurus, the kingdom.’

Hearing this, Dhritarashtra with his children, made a show of grief, and

along with his relatives, including Kshattri (Vidura) and Bhishma the

foremost of the Kurus, performed the last honours of the Pandavas.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘O best of Brahmanas, I desire to hear in full this

history of the burning of the house of lac and the escape of the Pandavas

there from. That was a cruel act of theirs (the Kurus), acting under the

counsels of the wicked (Kanika). Recite the history to me of all that

happened. I am burning with curiosity to hear it.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O chastiser of all foes, listen to me, O monarch, as

I recite the (history of the) burning of the house of lac and the escape

of the Pandavas. The wicked Duryodhana, beholding Bhimasena surpass

(everybody) in strength and Arjuna highly accomplished in arms became

pensive and sad. Then Karna, the offspring of the Sun, and Sakuni, the

son of Suvala, endeavoured by various means to compass the death of the

Pandavas. The Pandavas too counteracted all those contrivances one after

another, and in obedience to the counsels of Vidura, never spoke of them

afterwards. Then the citizens, beholding the son of Pandu possessed of

accomplishments, began, O Bharata, to speak of them in all places of

public resort. And assembled in courtyards and other places of gathering,

they talked of the eldest son of Pandu (Yudhishthira) as possessed of the

qualifications for ruling the kingdom. And they said, ‘Dhritarashtra,

though possessed of the eye of knowledge, having been (born) blind, had

not obtained the kingdom before. How can he (therefore) become king now?

Then Bhishma, the son of Santanu, of rigid vows and devoted to truth,

having formerly relinquished the sovereignty would never accept it now.

We shall, therefore, now install (on the throne) with proper ceremonies

the eldest of the Pandavas endued with youth, accomplished in battle,

versed in the Vedas, and truthful and kind. Worshipping Bhishma, the son

of Santanu and Dhritarashtra conversant with the rules of morality, he

will certainly maintain the former and the latter with his children in

every kind of enjoyment.

“The wretched Duryodhana, hearing these words of the parting partisans of

Yudhishthira, became very much distressed. Deeply afflicted, the wicked

prince could not put up with those speeches. Inflamed with jealousy, he

went unto Dhritarashtra, and finding him alone he saluted him with

reverence and distressed at (the sight of) the partiality of the citizens

for Yudhishthira, he addressed the monarch and said, ‘O father, I have

heard the parting citizens utter words of ill omen. Passing thee by, and

Bhishma too, they desire the son of Pandu to be their king. Bhishma will

sanction this, for he will not rule the kingdom. It seems, therefore,

that the citizens are endeavouring to inflict a great injury on us. Pandu

obtained of old the ancestral kingdom by virtue of his own

accomplishments, but thou, from blindness, didst not obtain the kingdom,

though fully qualified to have it. If Pandu’s son now obtaineth the

kingdom as his inheritance from Pandu, his son will obtain it after him

and that son’s son also, and so on will it descend in Pandu’s line. In

that case, O king of the world, ourselves with our children, excluded

from the royal line, shall certainly be disregarded by all men.

Therefore, O monarch, adopt such counsels that we may not suffer

perpetual distress, becoming dependent on others for our food. O king, if

thou hadst obtained the sovereignty before, we would certainly have

succeeded to it, however much the people might be unfavourable to us.'”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, “King Dhritarashtra whose knowledge only was his

eyes, on hearing these words of his son and recollecting everything that

Kanika had, said unto him, became afflicted with sorrow, and his mind

also thereupon began to waver. Then Duryodhana and Karna, and Sakuni, the

son of Suvala, and Duhsasana as their fourth, held a consultation

together. Prince Duryodhana said unto Dhritarashtra, ‘Send, O father, by

some clever contrivance, the Pandavas to the town of Varanavata. We shall

then have no fear of them.’ Dhritarashtra, on hearing these words uttered

by his son, reflected for a moment and replied unto Duryodhana, saying,

‘Pandu, ever devoted to virtue, always behaved dutifully towards all his

relatives but particularly towards me. He cared very little for the

enjoyments of the world, but devotedly gave everything unto me, even the

kingdom. His son is as much devoted to virtue as he, and is possessed of

every accomplishment. Of world-wide fame, he is again the favourite of

the people. He is possessed of allies; how can we by force exile him from

his ancestral kingdom? The counsellors and soldiers (of the state) and

their sons and grandsons have all been cherished and maintained by Pandu.

Thus benefited of old by Pandu, shall not, O child, the citizens slay us

with all our friends and relatives now on account of Yudhishthira?”

“Duryodhana replied, ‘What thou sayest, O father, is perfectly true. But

in view of the evil that is looming on the future as regards thyself, if

we conciliate the people with wealth and honours, they would assuredly

side with us for these proofs of our power. The treasury and the

ministers of state, O king, are at this moment under our control.

Therefore, it behoveth thee now to banish, by some gentle means, the

Pandavas to the town of Varanavata; O king, when the sovereignty shall

have been vested in me, then, O Bharata, may Kunti with her children come

back from that place.’

“Dhritarashtra replied, ‘This, O Duryodhana, is the very thought existing

in my mind. But from its sinfulness I have never given expression to it.

Neither Bhishma, nor Drona, nor Kshattri, nor Gautama (Kripa) will ever

sanction the exile of the Pandavas. In their eyes, O dear son, amongst

the Kurus ourselves and the Pandavas are equal. Those wise and virtuous

persons will make no difference between us. If therefore, we behave so

towards the Pandavas, shall we not, O son, deserve death at the hands of

the Kurus, of these illustrious personages, and of the whole world?’

“Duryodhana answered, ‘Bhishma hath no excess of affection for either

side, and will, therefore, be neutral (in case of dispute). The son of

Drona (Aswatthaman) is on my side. There is no doubt that where the son

is, there the father will be. Kripa, the son of Saradwat, must be on the

side on which Drona and Aswatthaman are. He will never abandon Drona and

his sister’s son (Aswatthaman). Kshattri (Vidura) is dependent on us for

his means of life, though he is secretly with the foe. It he sides the

Pandavas, he alone can do us no injury, Therefore, exile thou the

Pandavas to Varanavata without any fear. And take such steps that they

may go thither this very day. By this act, O father, extinguish the grief

that consumeth me like a blazing fire, that robbeth me of sleep, and that

pierces my heart even like a terrible dart.'”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, Then prince Duryodhana, along with his brothers began

to gradually win over the people to his side by grants of wealth and

honours. Meanwhile, some clever councillors, instructed by Dhritarashtra,

one day began to describe (in court) the town of Varanavata as a charming

place. And they said, The festival of Pasupati (Siva) hath commenced in

the town of Varanavata. The concourse of people is great and the

procession is the most delightful of all ever witnessed on earth. Decked

with every ornament, it charmed the hearts of all spectators.’ Thus did

those councillors, instructed by Dhritarashtra, speak of Varanavata, and

whilst they were so speaking, the Pandavas, O king, felt the desire of

going to that delightful town. And when the king (Dhritarashtra)

ascertained that the curiosity of the Pandavas had been awakened, the son

of Ambika addressed them, saying, ‘These men of mine often speak of

Varanavata as the most delightful town in the world. If therefore, ye

children, ye desire to witness that festival, go to Varanavata with your

followers and friends and enjoy yourselves there like the celestials. And

give ye away pearls and gems unto the Brahmanas and the musicians (that

may be assembled there). And sporting there for some time as ye please

like the resplendent celestials and enjoying as much pleasure as ye like,

return ye to Hastinapura again.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Yudhishthira, fully understanding the motives

of Dhritarashtra and considering that he himself was weak and friendless,

replied unto the king, saying, ‘So be it.’ Then addressing Bhishma, the

son of Santanu, the wise Vidura, Drona, Valhika, the Kaurava, Somadatta,

Kripa, Aswatthaman, Bhurisravas, and the other councillors, and Brahmanas

and ascetics, and the priests and the citizens, and the illustrious

Gandhari, he said slowly and humbly, ‘With our friends and followers we

go to the delightful and populous town of Varanavata at the command of

Dhritarashtra. Cheerfully give us your benedictions so that acquiring

prosperity, therewith we may not be touched by sin.’ Thus addressed by

the eldest of Pandu’s sons, the Kaurava chiefs all cheerfully pronounced

blessings on them, saying, ‘Ye sons of Pandu, let all the elements bless

you along your way and let not the slightest evil befall you.’

“The Pandavas, having performed propitiatory rites for obtaining (their

share of) the kingdom, and finishing their preparations, set out for



(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The wicked Duryodhana became very pleased when the

king, O Bharata, had said so unto Pandavas. And, O bull of Bharata’s

race, Duryodhana, then, summoning his counsellor, Purochana in private,

took hold of his right hand and said, ‘O Purochana, this world, so full

of wealth, is mine. But it is thine equally with me. It behoveth thee,

therefore, to protect it. I have no more trustworthy counsellor than thee

with whom to consult. Therefore, O sire, keep my counsel and exterminate

my foes by a clever device. O, do as I bid thee. The Pandavas have, by

Dhritarashtra, been sent to Varanavata, where they will, at

Dhritarashtra’s command, enjoy themselves during the festivities. Do that

by which thou mayest this very day reach Varanavata in a car drawn by

swift mules. Repairing thither, cause thou to be erected a quadrangular

palace in the neighbourhood of the arsenal, rich in the materials and

furniture, and guard thou the mansion well (with prying eyes). And use

thou (in erecting that house) hemp and resin and all other inflammable

materials that are procurable. And mixing a little earth with clarified

butter and oil and fat and a large quantity of lac, make thou a plaster

for lining the walls, and scatter thou all around that house hemp and oil

and clarified butter and lac and wood in such a way that the Pandavas, or

any others, may not, even with scrutiny behold them there or conclude the

house to be an inflammable one. And having erected such mansion, cause

thou the Pandavas, after worshipping them with great reverence, to dwell

in it with Kunti and all their friends. And place thou there seats and

conveyances and beds, all of the best workmanship, for the Pandavas, so

that Dhritarashtra may have no reason to complain. Thou must also so

manage it all that none of Varanavata may know anything till the end we

have in view is accomplished. And assuring thyself that the Pandavas are

sleeping within in confidence and without fear, thou must then set fire

to that mansion beginning at the outer door. The Pandavas thereupon must

be burnt to death, but the people will say that they have been burnt in

(an accidental) conflagration of their house.

“Saying, ‘So be it’ unto the Kuru prince, Purochana repaired to

Varanavata in a car drawn by fleet mules. And going thither, O king,

without loss of time, obedient to the instructions of Duryodhana, did

everything that the prince had bid him do.”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Meanwhile the Pandavas got into their cars, yoking

thereto some fine horses endued with the speed of wind. While they were

on the point of entering their cars, they touched, in great sorrow, the

feet of Bhishma, of king Dhritarashtra, of the illustrious Drona, of

Kripa, of Vidura and of the other elders of the Kuru race. Then saluting

with reverence all the older men, and embracing their equals, receiving

the farewell of even the children, and taking leave of all the venerable

ladies in their household, and walking round them respectfully, and

bidding farewell unto all the citizens, the Pandavas, ever mindful of

their vows, set out for Varanavata. And Vidura of great wisdom and the

other bulls among the Kurus and the citizens also, from great affliction,

followed those tigers among men to some distance. And some amongst the

citizens and the country people, who followed the Pandavas, afflicted

beyond measure at beholding the sons of Pandu in such distress, began to

say aloud, ‘King Dhritarashtra of wicked soul seeth no things with the

same eye. The Kuru monarch casteth not his eye on virtue. Neither the

sinless Yudhishthira, nor Bhima the foremost of mighty men, nor

Dhananjaya the (youngest) son of Kunti, will ever be guilty (of the sin

of waging a rebellious war). When these will remain quiet, how shall the

illustrious son of Madri do anything? Having inherited the kingdom from

their father, Dhritarashtra could not bear them. How is that Bhishma who

suffers the exile of the Pandavas to that wretched place, sanctions this

act of great injustice? Vichitravirya, the son of Santanu, and the royal

sage Pandu of Kuru’s race both cherished us of old with fatherly care.

But now that Pandu that tiger among men, hath ascended to heaven,

Dhritarashtra cannot bear with these princes his children. We who do not

sanction this exile shall all go, leaving this excellent town and our own

homes, where Yudhishthira will go.’

“Unto those distressed citizens talking in this way, the virtuous

Yudhishthira, himself afflicted with sorrow, reflecting for a few moments

said, ‘The king is our father, worthy of regard, our spiritual guide, and

our superior. To carry out with unsuspicious hearts whatever he biddeth,

is indeed, our duty. Ye are our friends. Walking round us and making us

happy by your blessings, return ye to your abodes. When the time cometh

for anything to be done for us by you, then, indeed, accomplish all that

is agreeable and beneficial to us.’ Thus addressed, the citizens walked

round the Pandavas and blessed them with their blessings and returned to

their respective abodes.

“And after the citizens had ceased following the Pandavas, Vidura,

conversant with all the dictates of morality, desirous of awakening the

eldest of the Pandavas (to a sense of his dangers), addressed him in

these words. The learned Vidura, conversant with the jargon (of the

Mlechchhas), addressed the learned Yudhishthira who also was conversant

with the same jargon, in the words of the Mlechchha tongue, so as to be

unintelligible to all except Yudhishthira. He said, ‘He that knoweth the

schemes his foes contrive in accordance with the dictates of political

science, should, knowing them, act in such a way as to avoid all danger.

He that knoweth that there are sharp weapons capable of cutting the body

though not made of steel, and understandeth also the means of warding

them off, can never be injured by foes. He liveth who protecteth himself

by the knowledge that neither the consumer of straw and wood nor the

drier of the dew burneth the inmates of a hole in the deep woods. The

blind man seeth not his way: the blind man hath no knowledge of

direction. He that hath no firmness never acquireth prosperity.

Remembering this, be upon your guard. The man who taketh a weapon not

made of steel (i.e., an inflammable abode) given him by his foes, can

escape from fire by making his abode like unto that of a jackal (having

many outlets). By wandering a man may acquire the knowledge of ways, and

by the stars he can ascertain the direction, and he that keepeth his five

(senses) under control can never be oppressed y his enemies.’

“Thus addressed, Pandu’s son, Yudhishthira the just replied unto Vidura,

that foremost of all learned men, saying, ‘I have understood thee.’ Then

Vidura, having instructed the Pandavas and followed them (thus far),

walked around them and bidding them farewell returned to his own abode.

When the citizens and Bhishma and Vidura had all ceased following, Kunti

approached Yudhishthira and said, ‘The words that Kshattri said unto thee

in the midst of many people so indistinctly as if he did not say

anything, and thy reply also to him in similar words and voice, we have

not understood. If it is not improper; for us to know them I should then

like to hear everything that had passed between him and thee.’

“Yudhishthira replied, ‘The virtuous Vidura said unto me that we should

know that the mansion (for our accommodation at Varanavata) hath been

built of inflammable materials. He said unto me, ‘The path of escape too

shall not be unknown to thee,’–and further,–‘Those that can control

their senses can acquire the sovereignty of the whole world.’–The reply

that I gave unto Vidura was, ‘I have understood thee.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Pandavas set out on the eighth day of the

month of Phalguna when the star Rohini was in the ascendant, and arriving

at Varanavata they beheld the town and the people.'”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then all the citizens (of Varanavata) on hearing

that the son of Pandu had come, were filled with joy at the tidings,

speedily came out of Varanavata, in vehicles of various kinds numbering

by thousands, taking with them every auspicious article as directed by

the Sastras, for receiving those foremost of men. And the people of

Varanavata, approaching the sons of Kunti blessed them by uttering the

Jaya and stood surrounding them. That tiger among men, viz., the virtuous

Yudhishthira thus surrounded by them looked resplendent like him having

the thunderbolt in his hands (viz., Indra) in the midst of the

celestials. And those sinless ones, welcomed by the citizens and

welcoming the citizens in return, then entered the populous town of

Varanavata decked with every ornament. Entering the town those heroes

first went, O monarch, to the abodes of Brahmanas engaged in their proper

duties. Those foremost of men then went to the abodes of the officials of

the town, and then of the Sutas and the Vaisyas and then to those of even

the Sudras, O bull of Bharata’s race, thus adored by the citizens, the

Pandavas at last went with Purochana going before them, to the palace

that had been built for them, Purochana then began to place before them

food and drink and beds and carpets, all of the first and most agreeable

order. The Pandavas attired in costly robes, continued to live there,

adored by Purochana and the people having their homes in Varanavata.

“After the Pandavas had thus lived for ten nights, Purochana spoke to

them of the mansion (he had built) called ‘The Blessed Home,’ but in

reality the cursed house. Then those tigers among men, attired in costly

dress, entered that mansion at the instance of Purochana like Guhyakas

entering the palace (of Siva) on the Kailasa mount. The foremost of all

virtuous men, Yudhishthira, inspecting the house, said unto Bhima that it

was really built of inflammable materials. Smelling the scent of fat

mixed with clarified butter and preparations of lac, he said unto Bhima,

‘O chastiser of foes, this house is truly built of inflammable materials!

Indeed, it is apparent that such is the case! The enemy, it is evident,

by the aid of trusted artists well-skilled in the construction of houses,

have finely built this mansion, after procuring hemp, resin, heath,

straw, and bamboos, all soaked in clarified butter. This wicked wretch,

Purochana, acting under the instruction of Duryodhana, stayeth here with

the object of burning me to death when he seeth me trustful. But, O son

of Pritha, Vidura of great intelligence, knew of this danger, and,

therefore, hath warned me of it beforehand. Knowing it all, that youngest

uncle of ours, ever wishing our good from affection hath told us that

this house, so full of danger, hath been constructed by the wretches

under Duryodhana acting in secrecy.’

“Hearing this, Bhima replied, ‘If, sir, you know this house to be so

inflammable, it would then be well for us to return thither where we had

taken up our quarters first.’ Yudhishthira replied, ‘It seems to me that

we should rather continue to live here in seeming unsuspiciousness but

all the while with caution and our senses wide awake and seeking for some

certain means of escape. If Purochana findeth from our countenances that

we have fathomed designs, acting with haste he may suddenly burn us to

death. Indeed, Purochana careth little for obloquy or sin. The wretch

stayeth here acting under the instruction of Duryodhana. If we are burnt

to death, will our grandfather Bhishma be angry? Why will he, by showing

his wrath, make the Kauravas angry with him? Or, perhaps, our grandfather

Bhishma and the other bull of Kuru’s race, regarding indignation at such

a sinful act to be virtuous, may become wrathful. If however, from fear

of being burnt, we fly from here, Duryodhana, ambitious of sovereignty

will certainly compass our death by means of spies. While we have no rank

and power, Duryodhana hath both; while we have no friends and allies,

Duryodhana hath both; while we are without wealth, Duryodhana hath at his

command a full treasury. Will he not, therefore, certainly destroy us by

adopting adequate means? Let us, therefore, by deceiving this wretch

(Purochana) and that other wretch Duryodhana, pass our days, disguising

ourselves at times. Let us also lead a hunting life, wandering over the

earth. We shall then, if we have to escape our enemies, be familiar with

all paths. We shall also, this very day, cause a subterranean passage to

be dug in our chamber in great secrecy. If we act in this way, concealing

what we do from all, fire shall never be able to consume us. We shall

live here, actively doing everything for our safety but with such privacy

that neither Purochana nor any of the citizens of Varanavata may know

what we are after.'”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘A friend of Vidura’s, well-skilled in mining,

coming unto the Pandavas, addressed them in secret, saying, ‘I have been

sent by Vidura and am a skilful miner. I am to serve the Pandavas. Tell

me what I am to do for ye. From the trust he reposeth in me Vidura hath

said unto me, ‘Go thou unto the Pandavas and accomplish thou their good.

What shall I do for you? Purochana will set fire to the door of thy house

on the fourteenth night of this dark fortnight. To burn to death those

tigers among men, the Pandavas, with their mother, is the design of that

wicked wretch, the son of Dhritarashtra. O son of Pandu, Vidura also told

thee something in the Mlechchha tongue to which thou also didst reply in

same language. I state these particulars as my credentials.’ Hearing

these words, Yudhishthira, the truthful son of Kunti replied, ‘O amiable

one, I now know thee as a dear and trusted friend of Vidura, true and

ever devoted to him. There is nothing that the learned Vidura doth not

know. As his, so ours art thou. Make no difference between him and us. We

are as much thine as his. O, protect us as the learned Vidura ever

protecteth us. I know that this house, so inflammable, hath been

contrived for me by Purochana at the command of Dhritarashtra’s son. That

wicked wretch commanding wealth and allies pursueth us without

intermission. O, save us with a little exertion from the impending

conflagration. If we are burnt to death here, Duryodhana’s most cherished

desire will be satisfied. Here is that wretch’s well-furnished arsenal.

This large mansion hath been built abutting the high ramparts of the

arsenal without any outlet. But this unholy contrivance of Duryodhana was

known to Vidura from the first, and he it was who enlightened us

beforehand. The danger of which Kshattri had foreknowledge is now at our

door. Save us from it without Purochana’s knowledge thereof.’ On hearing

these words, the miner said, ‘So be it,’ and carefully beginning his work

of excavation, made a large subterranean passage. And the mouth of that

passage was in the centre of that house, and it was on a level with the

floor and closed up with planks. The mouth was so covered from fear of

Purochana, that wicked wretch who kept a constant watch at the door of

the house. The Pandavas used to sleep within their chambers with arms

ready for use, while, during the day, they went a-hunting from forest to

forest. Thus, O king, they lived (in that mansion) very guardedly,

deceiving Purochana by a show of trustfulness and contentment while in

reality they were trustless and discontented. Nor did the citizens of

Varanavata know anything about these plans of the Pandavas. In fact, none

else knew of them except Vidura’s friend, that good miner.'”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Seeing the Pandavas living there cheerfully and

without suspicion for a full year, Purochana became exceedingly glad. And

beholding Purochana so very glad, Yudhishthira, the virtuous son of

Kunti, addressing Bhima and Arjuna and the twins (Nakula and Sahadeva)

said, ‘The cruel-hearted wretch hath been well-deceived. I think the time

is come for our escape. Setting fire to the arsenal and burning Purochana

to death and letting his body lie here, let us, six persons, fly hence

unobserved by all!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then on the occasion of an almsgiving, O king,

Kunti fed on a certain night a large number of Brahmanas. There came also

a number of ladies who while eating and drinking, enjoyed there as they

pleased, and with Kunti’s leave returned to their respective homes.

Desirous of obtaining food, there came, as though impelled by fate, to

that feast, in course of her wanderings, a Nishada woman, the mother of

five children, accompanied by all her sons. O king, she, and her

children, intoxicated with the wine they drank, became incapable.

Deprived of consciousness and more dead than alive, she with all her sons

lay down in that mansion to sleep. Then when all the inmates of the house

lay down to sleep, there began to blow a violent wind in the night. Bhima

then set fire to the house just where Purochana was sleeping. Then the

son of Pandu set fire to the door of that house of lac. Then he set fire

to the mansion in several parts all around. Then when the sons of Pandu

were satisfied that the house had caught fire in several parts those

chastisers of foes with their mother, entered the subterranean passage

without losing any time. Then the heat and the roar of the fire became

intense and awakened the townspeople. Beholding the house in flames, the

citizens with sorrowful faces began to say, ‘The wretch (Purochana) of

wicked soul had under the instruction of Duryodhana built his house for

the destruction of his employer’s relatives. He indeed hath set fire to

it. O, fie on Dhritarashtra’s heart which is so partial. He hath burnt to

death, as if he were their foe, the sinless heirs of Pandu! O, the sinful

and wicked-souled (Purochana) who hath burnt those best of men, the

innocent and unsuspicious princes, hath himself been burnt to death as

fate would have it.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The citizens of Varanavata thus bewailed (the

fate of the Pandavas), and waited there for the whole night surrounding

that house. The Pandavas, however, accompanied by their mother coming out

of the subterranean passage, fled in haste unnoticed. But those

chastisers of foes, for sleepiness and fear, could not with their mother

proceed in haste. But, O monarch, Bhimasena, endued with terrible prowess

and swiftness of motion took upon his body all his brothers and mother

and began to push through the darkness. Placing his mother on his

shoulder, the twins on his sides, and Yudhishthira and Arjuna on both his

arms, Vrikodara of great energy and strength and endued with the speed of

the wind, commenced his march, breaking the trees with his breast and

pressing deep the earth with his stamp.'”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘About this time, the learned Vidura had sent into

those woods a man of pure character and much trusted by him. This person

going to where he had been directed, saw the Pandavas with their mother

in the forest employed in a certain place in measuring the depth of a

river. The design that the wicked Duryodhana had formed had been, through

his spies, known to Vidura of great intelligence, and, therefore, he had

sent that prudent person unto the Pandavas. Sent by Vidura unto them, he

showed the Pandavas on the sacred banks of the Ganga a boat with engines

and flags, constructed by trusted artificers and capable of withstanding

wind and wave and endued with the speed of the tempest or of thought. He

then addressed the Pandavas in these words to show that he had really

been sent by Vidura, ‘O Yudhishthira, he said, “listen to these words the

learned Vidura had said (unto thee) as a proof of the fact that I come

from him. Neither the consumer of straw and the wood nor the drier of dew

ever burneth the inmates of a hole in the forest. He escapeth from death

who protecteth himself knowing this, etc.’ By these credentials know me

to be the person who has been truly sent by Vidura and to be also his

trusted agent. Vidura, conversant with everything, hath again said, ‘O

son of Kunti, thou shalt surely defeat in battle Karna, and Duryodhana

with his brothers, and Sakuni.’ This boat is ready on the waters, and it

will glide pleasantly thereon, and shall certainly bear you all from

these regions!’

“Then beholding those foremost of men with their mother pensive and sad

he caused them to go into the boat that was on the Ganga, and accompanied

them himself. Addressing them again, he said, ‘Vidura having smelt your

heads and embraced you (mentally), hath said again that in commencing

your auspicious journey and going alone you should never be careless.’

“Saying these words unto those heroic princes, the person sent by Vidura

took those bulls among men over to the other side of the Ganga in his

boat. And having taken them over the water and seen them all safe on the

opposite bank, he uttered the word ‘Jaya’ (victory) to their success and

then left them and returned to the place whence he had come.

“The illustrious Pandavas also sending through that person some message

to Vidura, began, after having crossed the Ganga, to proceed with haste

and in great secrecy.'”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then, when the night had passed away, a large

concourse of the townspeople came there in haste to see the sons of

Pandu. After extinguishing the fire, they saw that the house just burnt

down had been built of lac in materials and that (Duryodhana’s)

counsellor Purochana had been burnt to death. And the people began to

bewail aloud saying, ‘Indeed, this had been contrived by the sinful

Duryodhana for the destruction of the Pandavas. There is little doubt

that Duryodhana hath, with Dhritarashtra’s knowledge, burnt to death the

heirs of Pandu, else the prince would have been prevented by his father.

There is little doubt that even Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and Drona

and Vidura and Kripa and other Kauravas have not, any of them, followed

the dictates of duty. Let us now send to Dhritarashtra to say, ‘Thy great

desire hath been achieved! Thou hast burnt to death the Pandavas!’

“They then began to extinguish the members to obtain some trace of the

Pandavas, and they saw the innocent Nishada woman with her five sons

burnt to death. Then the miner sent by Vidura, while removing the ashes,

covered the hole he had dug with those ashes in such a way that it

remained unnoticed by all who had gone there.

“The citizens then sent to Dhritarashtra to inform him that the Pandavas

along with (Duryodhana’s) counsellor Purochana had been burnt to death.

King Dhritarashtra, on hearing the evil news of the death of the

Pandavas, wept in great sorrow. And he said, ‘King Pandu, my brother of

great fame, hath, indeed, died today when those heroic sons of his

together with their mother have been burnt to death. Ye men, repair

quickly to Varanavata and cause the funeral rites to be performed of

those heroes and of the daughter of Kuntiraj! Let also the bones of the

deceased be sanctified with the usual rites, and let all the beneficial

and great acts (usual on such occasions) be performed. Let the friends

and relatives of those that have been burnt to death repair thither. Let

also all other beneficial acts that ought, under the circumstances, to be

performed by us for the Pandavas and Kunti be accomplished by wealth.’

“Having said this, Dhritarashtra, the son of Ambika, surrounded by his

relatives, offered oblations of water to the sons of Pandu. And all of

them, afflicted with excessive sorrow, bewailed aloud, exclaiming, ‘O

Yudhishthira! Oh prince of the Kuru race!’–While others cried aloud,

‘Oh, Bhima!–O Phalguna!’–while some again,–‘Oh, the twins!–Oh,

Kunti!’–Thus did they sorrow for the Pandavas and offer oblations of

water unto them. The citizens also wept for the Pandavas but Vidura did

not weep much, because he knew the truth.

“Meanwhile the Pandavas endued with great strength with their mother

forming a company of six going out of the town of Varanavata arrived at

the banks of the Ganga. They then speedily reached the opposite bank

aided by the strength of the boatmen’s arms, the rapidity of the river’s

current, and a favourable wind. Leaving the boat, they proceeded in the

southern direction finding their way in the dark by the light of the

stars. After much suffering they at last reached, O king, a dense forest.

They were then tired and thirsty; sleep was closing their eyes every

moment. Then Yudhishthira, addressing Bhima endued with great energy,

said, ‘What can be more painful than this? We are now in the deep woods.

We know not which side is which, nor can we proceed much further. We do

not know whether that wretch Purochana hath or hath not been burnt to

death. How shall we escape from these dangers unseen by others? O

Bharata, taking us on thyself, proceed thou as before. Thou alone amongst

us art strong and swift as the wind.’

“Thus addressed by Yudhishthira the just, the mighty Bhimasena, taking up

on his body Kunti and his brothers, began to proceed with great



(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said,” As the mighty Bhima proceeded, the whole forest with

its trees and their branches seemed to tremble, in consequence of their

clash with his breast. The motion of his thighs raised a wind like unto

that which blows during the months of Jyaishtha and Ashadha (May and

June). And the mighty Bhima proceeded, making a path for himself, but

treading down the trees and creepers before him. In fact, he broke (by

the pressure of his body) the large trees and plants, with their flowers

and fruits, standing on his way. Even so passeth through the woods

breaking down mighty trees, the leader of a herd of elephants, of the age

of sixty years, angry and endued with excess of energy, during the season

of rut when the liquid juice trickle down the three parts of his body.

Indeed, so great was the force with which Bhima endued with the speed of

Garuda or of Marut (the god of wind), proceeded that the Pandavas seemed

to faint in consequence. Frequently swimming across streams difficult of

being crossed, the Pandavas disguised themselves on their way from fear

of the sons of Dhritarashtra. And Bhima carried on his shoulder his

illustrious mother of delicate sensibilities along the uneven banks of

rivers. Towards the evening, O bull of Bharata’s race, Bhima (bearing his

brothers and mother on his back) reached a terrible forest where fruits

and roots and water were scarce and which resounded with the terrible

cries of birds and beasts. The twilight deepened the cries of birds and

beasts became fiercer, darkness shrouded everything from the view and

untimely winds began to blow that broke and laid low many a tree large

and small and many creepers with dry leaves and fruits. The Kaurava

princes, afflicted with fatigue and thirst, and heavy with sleep, were

unable to proceed further. They then all sat down in that forest without

food and drink. Then Kunti, smitten with thirst, said unto her sons, ‘I

am the mother of the five Pandavas and am now in their midst. Yet I am

burning with thirst!’ Kunti repeatedly said this unto her sons. Hearing

these words, Bhima’s heart, from affection for his mother, was warmed by

compassion and he resolved to go (along as before). Then Bhima,

proceeding through that terrible and extensive forest without a living

soul, saw a beautiful banian tree with widespreading branches. Setting

down there his brothers and mother, O bull of Bharata’s race; he said

unto them, ‘Rest you here, while I go in quest of water. I hear the sweet

cries of aquatic fowls. I think there must be a large pool here.’

Commanded, O Bharata, by his elder brother who said unto him, ‘Go’, Bhima

proceeded in the direction whence the cries of those aquatic fowls were

coming. And, O bull of Bharata’s race, he soon came upon a lake and

bathed and slaked his thirst. And affectionate unto his brothers, he

brought for them, O Bharata, water by soaking his upper garments. Hastily

retracing his way over those four miles he came unto where his mother was

and beholding her he was afflicted with sorrow and began to sigh like a

snake. Distressed with grief at seeing his mother and brothers asleep on

the bare ground, Vrikodara began to weep, ‘Oh, wretch that I am, who

behold my brothers asleep on the bare ground, what can befall me more

painful than this? Alas, they who formerly at Varanavata could not sleep

on the softest and costliest beds are now asleep on the bare ground! Oh,

what more painful sight shall I ever behold than that of Kunti–the

sister of Vasudeva, that grinder of hostile hosts–the daughter of

Kuntiraja,–herself decked with every auspicious mark, the

daughter-in-law of Vichitravirya,–the wife of the illustrious

Pandu,–the mother of us (five brothers),–resplendent as the filaments

of the lotus and delicate and tender and fit to sleep on the costliest

bed–thus asleep, as she should never be, on the bare ground! Oh, she who

hath brought forth these sons by Dharma and Indra and Maruta–she who

hath ever slept within palaces–now sleepeth, fatigued, on the bare

ground! What more painful sight shall ever be beheld by me than that of

these tigers among men (my brothers) asleep on the ground! Oh, the

virtuous Yudhishthira, who deserveth the sovereignty of the three worlds,

sleepeth, fatigued, like an ordinary man, on the bare ground! This Arjuna

of the darkish hue of blue clouds, and unequalled amongst men sleepeth on

the ground like an ordinary person! Oh, what can be more painful than

this? Oh the twins, who in beauty are like the twin Aswins amongst the

celestials, are asleep like ordinary mortals on the bare ground! He who

hath no jealous evil-minded relatives, liveth in happiness in this world

like a single tree in a village. The tree that standeth single in a

village with its leaves and fruits, from absence of other of the same

species, becometh sacred and is worshipped and venerated by all. They

again that have many relatives who, however, are all heroic and virtuous,

live happily in the world without sorrow of any kind. Themselves powerful

and growing in prosperity and always gladdening their friends and

relatives, they live, depending on each other, like tall trees growing in

the same forest. We, however, have been forced in exile by the wicked

Dhritarashtra and his sons having escaped with difficulty, from sheer

good fortune, a fiery death. Having escaped from that fire, we are now

resting in the shade of this tree. Having already suffered so much, where

now are we to go? Ye sons of Dhritarashtra of little foresight, ye wicked

fellows, enjoy your temporary success. The gods are certainly auspicious

to you. But ye wicked wretches, ye are alive yet, only because

Yudhishthira doth not command me to take your lives. Else this very day,

filled with wrath, I would send thee, (O Duryodhana), to the regions of

Yama (Pluto) with thy children and friends and brothers, and Karna, and

(Sakuni) the son of Suvala! But what can I do, for, ye sinful wretches,

the virtuous king Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, is not yet

angry with you?’

“Having said this, Bhima of mighty arms, fired with wrath, began to

squeeze his palms, sighing deeply in affliction. Excited again with wrath

like an extinguished fire blazing up all on a sudden, Vrikodara once more

beheld his brothers sleeping on the ground like ordinary persons sleeping

in trustfulness. And Bhima said unto himself, ‘I think there is some town

not far off from this forest. These all are asleep, so I will sit awake.

And this will slake their thirst after they rise refreshed from sleep.’

Saying this, Bhima sat there awake, keeping watch over his sleeping

mother and brothers.'”


(Hidimva-vadha Parva)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Not far from the place where the Pandavas were

asleep, a Rakshasa by name Hidimva dwelt on the Sala tree. Possessed of

great energy and prowess, he was a cruel cannibal of visage that was grim

in consequence of his sharp and long teeth. He was now hungry and longing

for human flesh. Of long shanks and a large belly, his locks and beard

were both red in hue. His shoulders were broad like the neck of a tree;

his ears were like unto arrows, and his features were frightful. Of red

eyes and grim visage, the monster beheld, while casting his glances

around, the sons of Pandu sleeping in those woods. He was then hungry and

longing for human flesh. Shaking his dry and grizzly locks and scratching

them with his fingers pointed upwards, the large-mouthed cannibal

repeatedly looked at the sleeping sons of Pandu yawning wistfully at

times. Of huge body and great strength, of complexion like the colour of

a mass of clouds, of teeth long and sharp-pointed and face emitting a

sort of lustre, he was ever pleased with human flesh. And scenting the

odour of man, he addressed his sister, saying, ‘O sister, it is after a

long time that such agreeable food hath approached me! My mouth waters at

the anticipated relish of such food. My eight teeth, so sharp-pointed and

incapable of being resisted by any substance, I shall, today, after a

long time, put into the most delicious flesh. Attacking the human throat

and even opening the veins, I shall (today) drink a plentiful quantity of

human blood, hot and fresh and frothy. Go and ascertain who these are,

lying asleep in these woods. The strong scent of man pleaseth my

nostrils. Slaughtering all these men, bring them unto me. They sleep

within my territory. Thou needest have no fear from them. Do my bidding

soon, for we shall then together eat their flesh, tearing off their

bodies at pleasure. And after feasting to our fill on human flesh we

shall then dance together to various measures!’

“Thus addressed by Hidimva in those woods, Hidimva, the female cannibal,

at the command of her brother, went, O bull of Bharata’s race, to the

spot where the Pandavas were. And on going there, she beheld the Pandavas

asleep with their mother and the invincible Bhimasena sitting awake. And

beholding Bhimasena unrivalled on earth for beauty and like unto a

vigorous Sala tree, the Rakshasa woman immediately fell in love with him,

and she said to herself, ‘This person of hue like heated gold and of

mighty arms, of broad shoulders as the lion, and so resplendent, of neck

marked with three lines like a conch-shell and eyes like lotus-petals, is

worthy of being my husband. I shall not obey the cruel mandate of my

brother. A woman’s love for her husband is stronger than her affection

for her brother. If I slay him, my brother’s gratification as well as

mine will only be momentary. But if I slay him not, I can enjoy, with him

for ever and ever.’ Thus saying, the Rakshasa woman, capable of assuming

form at will, assumed an excellent human form and began to advance with

slow steps towards Bhima of mighty arms. Decked with celestial ornaments

she advanced with smiles on her lips and a modest gait, and addressing

Bhima said, ‘O bull among men, whence hast thou come here and who art

thou? Who, besides, are these persons of celestial beauty sleeping here?

Who also, O sinless one, is this lady of transcendent beauty sleeping so

trustfully in these woods as if she were lying in her own chamber? Dost

thou not know that this forest is the abode of a Rakshasa. Truly do I

say, here liveth the wicked Rakshasa called Hidimva. Ye beings of

celestial beauty, I have been sent hither even by that Rakshasa–my

brother–with the cruel intent of killing you for his food. But I tell

thee truly that beholding thee resplendent as a celestial, I would have

none else for my husband save thee! Thou who art acquainted with all

duties, knowing this, do unto me what is proper. My heart as well as my

body hath been pierced by (the shafts of) Kama (Cupid). O, as I am

desirous of obtaining thee, make me thine. O thou of mighty arms, I will

rescue thee from the Rakshasa who eateth human flesh. O sinless one, be

thou my husband. We shall then live on the breasts of mountains

inaccessible to ordinary mortals. I can range the air and I do so at

pleasure. Thou mayest enjoy great felicity with me in those regions.’

“Hearing these words of hers, Bhima replied, ‘O Rakshasa woman, who can,

like a Muni having all his passions under control, abandon his sleeping

mother and elder and younger brothers? What man like me would go to

gratify his lust, leaving his sleeping mother and brothers as food for a


“The Rakshasa woman replied, ‘O, awaken all these, I shall do unto you

all that is agreeable to thee! I shall certainly rescue you all from my

cannibal brother?’

“Bhima then said, ‘O Rakshasa woman, I will not, from fear of thy wicked

brother, awaken my brothers and mother sleeping comfortably in the woods.

O timid one, Rakshasas are never able to bear the prowess of my arms.

And, O thou of handsome eyes, neither men, nor Gandharvas, nor Yakshas

are able to bear my might. O amiable one, thou mayst stay or go as thou

likest, or mayst even send thy cannibal brother, O thou of delicate

shape. I care not.'”


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hidimva, the chief of the Rakshasas, seeing that his

sister returned not soon enough, alighted from the tree, proceeded

quickly to the spot where the Pandavas were. Of red eyes and strong arms

and the arms and the hair of his head standing erect, of large open mouth

and body like unto a mass of dark clouds, teeth long and sharp-pointed,

he was terrible to behold. And Hidimva, beholding her brother of

frightful visage alight from the tree, became very much alarmed, and

addressing Bhima said, ‘The wicked cannibal is coming hither in wrath. I

entreat thee, do with thy brothers, as I bid thee. O thou of great

courage, as I am endued with the powers of a Rakshasa, I am capable of

going whithersoever I like. Mount ye on my hips, I will carry you all

through the skies. And, O chastiser of foes, awaken these and thy mother

sleeping in comfort. Taking them all on my body, I will convey you

through the skies.’

“Bhima then said, ‘O thou of fair hips, fear not anything. I am sure that

as long as I am here, there is no Rakshasa capable of injuring any of

these, O thou of slender waist. I will slay this (cannibal) before thy

very eyes. This worst of Rakshasas, O timid one, is no worthy antagonist

of mine, nor can all the Rakshasas together bear the strength of my arms.

Behold these strong arms of mine, each like unto the trunk of an

elephant. Behold also these thighs of mine like unto iron maces, and this

broad and adamantine chest. O beautiful one, thou shall today behold my

prowess like unto that of Indra. O thou of fair hips, hate me not,

thinking that I am a man.’

“Hidimva replied saying, ‘O tiger among men, O thou of the beauty of a

celestial, I do not certainly hold thee in contempt. But I have seen the

prowess that Rakshasas exert upon men.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then, O Bharata, the wrathful Rakshasa eating

human flesh heard these words of Bhima who had been talking in that way.

And Hidimva beheld his sister disguised in human form, her head decked

with garlands of flowers and her face like the full moon and her eyebrows

and nose and eyes and ringlets all of the handsomest description, and her

nails and complexion of the most delicate hue, and herself wearing every

kind of ornament and attired in fine transparent robes. The cannibal,

beholding her in that charming human form, suspected that she was

desirous of carnal intercourse and became indignant. And, O best of the

Kurus, becoming angry with his sister, the Rakshasa dilated his eyes and

addressing her said, ‘What senseless creature wishes to throw obstacles

in my path now that I am so hungry? Hast thou become so senseless, O

Hidimva, that thou fearest not my wrath? Fie on thee, thou unchaste

woman! Thou art even now desirous of carnal intercourse and solicitous of

doing me an injury. Thou art ready to sacrifice the good name and honour

of all the Rakshasas, thy ancestors! Those with whose aid thou wouldst do

me this great injury, I will, even now, slay along with thee.’ Addressing

his sister thus, Hidimva, with eyes red with anger and teeth pressing

against teeth, ran at her to kill her then and there. But beholding him

rush at his sister, Bhima, that foremost of smiter, endued with great

energy, rebuked him and said, Stop–Stop!”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘And Bhima, beholding the Rakshasa angry with

his sister, smiled (in derision), and said, addressing him, ‘O Hidimva,

what need is there for thee to awaken these persons sleeping so

comfortably? O wicked cannibal, approach me first without loss of time.

Smite me first,–it behoveth thee not to kill a woman, especially when

she hath been sinned against instead of sinning. This girl is scarcely

responsible for her act in desiring intercourse with me. She hath, in

this, been moved by the deity of desire that pervadeth every living form.

Thou wicked wretch and the most infamous of Rakshasas, thy sister came

here at thy command. Beholding my person, she desireth me. In that the

timid girl doth no injury to thee. It is the deity of desire that hath

offended. It behoveth thee not to injure her for this offence. O wicked

wretch, thou shalt not slay a woman when I am here. Come with me, O

cannibal, and fight with myself singly. Singly shall I send thee today to

the abode of Yama (Pluto). O Rakshasa, let thy head today, pressed by my

might, be pounded to pieces, as though pressed by the tread of a mighty

elephant. When thou art slain by me on the field of battle, let herons

and hawks and jackals tear in glee thy limbs today on the ground. In a

moment I shall today make this forest destitute of Rakshasas,–this

forest that had so long been ruled by thee, devourer of human beings! Thy

sister, O Rakshasa, shall today behold thyself, huge though thou art like

a mountain, like a huge elephant repeatedly dragged by a lion, O worst of

Rakshasas, thyself slain by me, men ranging these woods will henceforth

do so safely and without fear.’

“Hearing these words, Hidimva said, ‘What need is there, O man, for this

thy vaunt and this thy boast? Accomplish all this first, and then mayst

thou vaunt indeed. Therefore, delay thou not. Thou knowest thyself to be

strong and endued with prowess, so thou shalt rightly estimate thy

strength today in thy encounter with me. Until that, I will not slay

these (thy brothers). Let them sleep comfortably. But I will, as thou art

a fool and the utterer of evil speeches, slay thee first. After drinking

thy blood, I will slay these also, and then last of all, this (sister of

mine) that hath done me an injury.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Saying this, the cannibal, extending his arms

ran in wrath towards Bhimasena, that chastiser of foes. Then Bhima of

terrible prowess quickly seized, as though in sport, with great force,

the extended arms of the Rakshasa who had rushed at him. Then seizing the

struggling Rakshasa with violence, Bhima dragged him from that spot full

thirty-two cubits like a lion dragging a little animal. Then the

Rakshasa, thus made to feel the weight of Bhima’s strength, became very

angry and clasping the Pandava, sent forth a terrible yell. The mighty

Bhima then dragged with force the Rakshasa to a greater distance, lest

his yells should awaken his brothers sleeping in comfort. Clasping and

dragging each other with great force, both Hidimva and Bhimasena put

forth their prowess. Fighting like two full-grown elephants mad with

rage, they then began to break down the trees and tear the creepers that

grew around. And at those sounds, those tigers among men (the sleeping

Pandavas) woke up with their mother, and saw Hidimva sitting before



(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Roused from sleep, those tigers among men, with

their mother, beholding the extraordinary beauty of Hidimva, were filled

with wonder. And Kunti, gazing at her with wonder at her beauty,

addressed her sweetly and gave her every assurance. She asked, ‘O thou of

the splendour of a daughter of the celestials, whose art thou and who art

thou? O thou of the fairest complexion, on what business hast thou come

hither and whence hast thou come? If thou art the deity of these woods or

an Apsara, tell me all regarding thyself and also why thou stayest here?’

Thereupon Hidimva replied, ‘This extensive forest that thou seest, of the

hue of blue cloud, is the abode of a Rakshasa of the name of Hidimva. O

handsome lady, know me as the sister of that chief of the Rakshasa.

Revered dame, I had been sent by that brother of mine to kill thee with

all thy children. But on arriving here at the command of that cruel

brother of mine, I beheld thy mighty son. Then, O blessed lady, I was

brought under the control of thy son by the deity of love who pervadeth

the nature of every being, and I then (mentally) chose that mighty son of

thine as my husband. I tried my best to convey you hence, but I could not

(because of thy son’s opposition). Then the cannibal, seeing my delay,

came hither to kill all these thy children. But he hath been dragged

hence with force by that mighty and intelligent son of thine–my husband.

Behold now that couple–man and Rakshasa–both endued with great strength

and prowess, engaged in combat, grinding each other and filling the whole

region with their shouts.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing those words of hers, Yudhishthira

suddenly rose up and Arjuna also and Nakula and Sahadeva of great energy

and they beheld Bhima and the Rakshasa already engaged in fight, eager to

overcome each other and dragging each other with great force, like two

lions endued with great might. The dust raised by their feet in

consequence of that encounter looked like the smoke of a

forest-conflagration. Covered with that dust their huge bodies resembled

two tall cliffs enveloped in mist. Then Arjuna, beholding Bhima rather

oppressed in the fight by the Rakshasa, slowly, said with smiles on his

lips, ‘Fear not, O Bhima of mighty arms! We (had been asleep and

therefore) knew not that thou wast engaged with a terrible Rakshasa and

tired in fight. Here do I stand to help thee, let me slay the Rakshasa,

and let Nakula and Sahadeva protect our mother.’ Hearing him, Bhima said,

‘Look on this encounter, O brother, like a stranger. Fear not for the

result. Having come within the reach of my arms, he shall not escape with

life.’ Then Arjuna said, ‘What need, O Bhima, for keeping the Rakshasa

alive so long? O oppressor of enemies, we are to go hence, and cannot

stay here longer. The east is reddening, the morning twilight is about to

set in. The Rakshasa became stronger by break of day, therefore, hasten,

O Bhima! Play not (with thy victim), but slay the terrible Rakshasa soon.

During the two twilights Rakshasas always put forth their powers of

deception. Use all the strength of thy arms.

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘At this speech of Arjuna, Bhima blazing up with

anger, summoned the might that Vayu (his father) puts forth at the time

of the universal dissolution. And filled with rage, he quickly raised

high in the air the Rakshasa’s body, blue as the clouds of heaven, and

whirled it a hundred times. Then addressing the cannibal, Bhima said, ‘O

Rakshasa, thy intelligence was given thee in vain, and in vain hast thou

grown and thriven on unsanctified flesh. Thou deservest, therefore, an

unholy death and I shall reduce thee today to nothing. I shall make this

forest blessed today, like one without prickly plants. And, O Rakshasa,

thou shalt no longer slay human beings for thy food.’ Arjuna at this

juncture, said, ‘O Bhima, if thou thinkest it a hard task for thee to

overcome this Rakshasa in combat, let me render thee help, else, slay him

thyself without loss of time. Or, O Vrikodara, let me alone slay the

Rakshasa. Thou art tired, and hast almost finished the affair. Well dost

thou deserve rest.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of Arjuna, Bhima was fired

with rage and dashing the Rakshasa on the ground with all his might slew

him as if he were an animal. The Rakshasa, while dying, sent forth a

terrible yell that filled the whole forest, and was deep as the sound of

a wet drum. Then the mighty Bhima, holding the body with his hands, bent

it double, and breaking it in the middle, greatly gratified his brothers.

Beholding Hidimva slain, they became exceedingly glad and lost no time in

offering their congratulations to Bhima, that chastiser of all foes. Then

Arjuna worshipping the illustrious Bhima of terrible prowess, addressed

him again and said, ‘Revered senior, I think there is a town not far off

from this forest. Blest be thou, let us go hence soon, so that Duryodhana

may not trace us.’

“Then all those mighty car-warriors, those tigers among men, saying, ‘So

be it,’ proceeded along with their mother, followed by Hidimva, the

Rakshasa woman.'”


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