The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "The foremost of kings, viz., Yudhishthira the son
of Dharma, still remaining speechless, Pandu's son Arjuna addressed Krishna and spoke as follows:
"Arjuna said, 'This scorcher of foes, viz., Dharma's son, is burning with grief on account of his (slaughtered) kinsfolk. Comfort him, O Madhava I Once more, O Janardana, all of us have fallen into great danger. It behoveth thee! O mighty-armed one, to dispel his grief.'"
Vaisampayana continued, "Thus addressed by the high-souled Arjuna, the lotus-eyed Govinda of unfading glory turned his face towards the king. Kesava could not by any means be disregarded by Yudhishthira. From the earliest years Govinda was dearer to Yudhishthira than Arjuna himself. Taking up the king's hand adorned with sandal-paste and looking like a column of marble, the mighty-armed Saurin began to speak, gladdening (the hearts of all who listened to him). His face, adorned with teeth and eyes that were very beautiful, shone brightly like a full-blown lotus at sunrise.
"Vasudeva said, "Do not, O tiger among men, indulge in such grief that emaciates thy body. They who have been slain in this battle will on no account be got back. Those Kshatriyas, O king, that have fallen in this great battle, are even, like objects that one acquires in one's dreams and that vanish when one awakes. All of them were heroes and ornaments of battle. They were vanquished while rushing with faces towards their foes. No one amongst them was slain with wounds on the back or while flying away. All of them, having contended with heroes in great battle and having cast off their life-breaths then, have, sanctified by weapons, proceeded to heaven. It behoveth thee not to grieve for them. Devoted to the duties of Kshatriyas, possessed of courage, perfectly conversant with the Vedas and their branches, all of them have attained to that blissful end which is obtainable by heroes. It behoveth thee not to grieve for them after hearing of those high-souled lords of the earth, of ancient days, that departed from this world. In this connection is cited the old discourse of Narada before Srinjaya when the latter was deeply afflicted with grief on account of the death of his son. (Narada said),--Subject to happiness and misery, myself, thyself and all creatures, O Srinjaya, shall have to die. What cause then is there for sorrow. Listen to me as I recite the great blessedness of (some) ancient king. Hear me with concentrated attention. Thou shalt then, O king, cast off thy grief. Listening to the story of those high-souled lords of the earth, abate thy sorrow. O, hear me as I recite their stories to thee in detail. By listening to the charming and delightful history of those kings of ancient times, malignant stars may be propitiated and the period of one's life be increased. We hear, O Srinjaya, that there was a king of the name of Marutta who was the son of Avikshit. Even he fell a prey to death. The gods with Indra and Varuna and Vrihaspati at their head came to sacrifice, called Viswasrij, performed by that high-souled monarch. 1 Challenging Sakra, the chief of the gods, that king vanquished him in battle. The learned Vrihaspati, from desire of doing good unto Indra, had refused to officiate at Marutta's sacrifice. Thereupon Samvarta, the younger brother
of Vrihaspati, acceded to the king's request. During the rule of that king, O best of monarchs, the earth yielded crops without being tilled and was adorned with diverse kinds of ornaments. In the sacrifice of that king, the Viswedevas sat as courtiers, the Maruts acted as distributors (of food and presents) and the high-souled Sadhyas were also present. In that sacrifice of Marutta, the Maruts drank Soma. The sacrificial presents the king made surpassed (in value) those ever made by the gods, the Gandharvas, and men. When even that king, O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in religious merit, knowledge, renunciation, and affluence, and who was purer than thy son, felt a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son. There was another king of the name of Suhotra the son of Atithi. We hear, O Srinjaya, that even he fell a prey to death. During his rule, Maghavat showered gold for one whole year upon his kingdom. Obtaining that king for her lord, the earth became in reality (and not in name only as before) Vasumati. 1 The rivers, during the sway of that king, bore golden tortoises, crabs, alligators, sharks, and porpoises, for the adorable Indra, O king, had showered these upon them. Beholding those golden fishes and sharks and tortoises in hundreds and thousands, Atithi's son became filled with wonder. Collecting that vast wealth of gold that covered the earth, Suhotra performed a sacrifice at Kurujangala and gave it away unto the Brahmanas, When that king, O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in the four attributes of religious merit, knowledge, renunciation, and affluence, and who was purer than thy son, felt a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son (that is dead). Thy son never performed a sacrifice and never made gifts. Knowing this, pacify thy mind and do not give away to grief. 2 We hear also, O Srinjaya, that Vrihadratha the king of the Angas, fell a prey to death. He gave away I hundred thousand steeds. A hundred thousand maidens also, adorned with golden ornaments, he gave away as presents in a sacrifice he performed. A hundred thousand elephants also of the best breed, he gave away as presents in another sacrifice performed by him. A hundred millions also of bulls, adorned with golden chains, with thousands of kine accompanying them, he gave away as sacrificial presents. While the king of Anga performed his sacrifice by the hill called Vishnupada, Indra became intoxicated with the Soma he drank, and the Brahmanas with the presents they received. In the sacrifices, O monarch, numbering by hundreds, that this king performed of old, the presents he made far surpassed those ever made by the gods, the Gandharvas, and men. No other man was born, or will ever be born, that gave or will give away so much wealth as was given away by the king of the Angas in the seven sacrifices he performed, each of which was characterised by the consecration of the Soma. 3 When, O Srinjaya, this Vrihadratha even, who was thy superior in the four attributes and who was
purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear also, O Srinjaya, that Sivi, the son of Usinara, fell a prey to death. That king swayed the whole earth as one sways the leathern shield in his hand. Riding on a single car that proved victorious in every battle, king Sivi caused the whole earth to resound with the rattle of his wheels and subjugated all monarchs. 1 Usinara's son Sivi gave away, in a sacrifice, all the kine and horses he had, both domestic and wild. The Creator himself thought that no one amongst the kings of the past or the future had or would have the ability to bear the burthen, O Srinjaya, that Usinara's son Sivi, that foremost of kings, that hero who was possessed of prowess equal to that of Indra himself, bore. Do not, therefore, grieve or thy son who never performed any sacrifice nor made any gift. Indeed, O Srinjaya, when Sivi, who was far superior to thee in the four attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that the high-souled Bharata also, the son of Dushmanta and Sakuntala, who had a vast and well-filled treasury, fell a prey to death. Devoting three hundred horses unto the gods on the banks of the Yamuna, twenty on the banks of the Saraswati, and fourteen on the banks of Ganga, that king of great energy, in days of old, performed (in this order) a thousand Horse-sacrifices and a hundred Rajasuyas. No one amongst the kings of the earth can imitate the great deeds of Bharata, even as no man can, by the might of his arms, soar into the welkin. Erecting numerous sacrificial altars, he gave away innumerable horses and untold wealth unto the sage Kanwa. 2 When even he, O Srinjaya, who was far superior to thee in the four attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that Rama also, the son of Dasaratha, fell a prey to death. He always cherished his subjects as if they were the sons of his own loins. In his dominions there were no widows and none that was helpless. Indeed, Rama in governing his kingdom always acted like his father Dasaratha. The clouds, yielding showers season ably, caused the crops to grow abundantly. During the period of his rule, food was always abundant in his kingdom. No death occurred by drowning or by fire. As long as Rama governed it, there was no fear in his kingdom of any disease. Every man lived for a thousand years, and every man was blessed with a thousand children. During the period of Rama's sway, all men were whole and all men attained the fruition of their wishes. The very women did not quarrel with one another, what need then be said of the men? During his rule his subjects were always devoted to virtue. Contented, crowned with fruition in respect of all the objects of their desire, fearless, free, and wedded to the vow of truth, were all the people when Rama governed the kingdom. The trees always bore flowers and fruit and were subject to no accidents. Every cow yielded milk filling a drona to the brim. Having dwelt, in the observance of severe penances,
for four and ten years in the woods, Rama performed ten Horse-sacrifices of great splendour 1 and to them the freest access was given to all. Possessed of youth, of a dark complexion, with red eyes, he looked like the leader of an elephantine herd. With aims stretching down to his knees and of handsome face, his shoulders were like those of a lion and the might of his arms great. Ascending upon the throne of Ayodhya, he ruled for ten thousand and ten hundred years. When, he O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that king Bhagiratha also died. In one of the sacrifices of that king, intoxicated with the Soma he had drunk, Indra, the adorable chastiser of Paka and the chief of the gods, vanquished, by putting forth the might of his arms, many thousands of Asuras. King Bhagiratha, in one of the sacrifices he performed, gave away a million of maidens adorned with ornaments of gold. Each of those maidens sat upon a car and unto each car were attached four steeds. With each car were a hundred elephants, all of the foremost breed and decked with chains of gold. Behind each elephant were a thousand steeds, and behind each steed a thousand kine, and behind each cow a thousand goats and sheep. (The river-goddess) Ganga, named (from before) Bhagirathi, sat upon the lap of this king dwelling near (her stream), and from this incident she came to be called Urvasi. 2 The triple-coursed Ganga had agreed to be the daughter of Bhagiratha of Ikshvaku's race, that monarch ever engaged in the performance of sacrifices with presents in profusion unto the Brahmanas. 3 When he, O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in respect of the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son. We hear, O Srinjaya, that the high-souled Dilipa also fell a prey to death. The Brahmanas love to recite his innumerable deeds. In one of his great sacrifices that king, with heart fully assenting, gave away the entire earth, abounding with wealth, unto the Brahmanas. In each sacrifice performed by him, the chief priest received as sacrificial fee a thousand elephants made of gold. In one of his sacrifices, the stake (set up for slaughtering the victims) was made of gold and looked exceedingly beautiful. Discharging the duties assigned to them, the gods having Sakra for their chief, used to seek the protection of that king. Upon that golden stake possessed of great effulgence and decked with a ring, six thousand Gods and Gandharvas danced in joy, and Viswavasu himself, in their midst played on his Vina the seven notes according to the rules that regulate their combinations. Such was the character of Viswavasu's music that every creature
[paragraph continues] (whatever he might be) thought that the great Gandharva was playing to him alone. No other monarch could imitate this achievement of king Dilipa. The elephants of that king, intoxicated and adorned with housings of gold, used to lie down on the roads. 1 Those men proceeded to heaven that succeeded in obtaining a sight even of the high-souled king Dilipa who was ever truthful in speech and whose bow could bear a hundred foes equal in energy to a hundred Anantas. 2 These three sounds never ceased in Dilipa's abode, viz., the voice of Vedic recitations, the twang of bows, and cries of Let it be given. When he, O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. Yuvanaswa's son Mandhatri also, O Sanjaya, we have heard, fell a prey to death. The deities named Maruts extracted that child from his sire's stomach through one of its sides. Sprung from a quantity of clarified butter that had been sanctified by mantras (and that had by mistake been quaffed by his sire instead of his sire's spouse) Mandhatri was born in the stomach of the high-souled Yuvanaswa. Possessed of great prosperity, king Mandhatri conquered the three worlds. Beholding that child of celestial beauty lying on the lap of his sire, the God asked one another, 'From whom shall this child obtain suck?' Then Indra approached him, saying, 'He shall obtain stick even from me!' From this circumstance, the chief of the deities came to call the child by the name of Mandhatri. 3 From the nourishment of that high-souled child of Yuvanaswa, the finger of Indra, placed in his mouth, began to yield a jet of milk. Sucking Indra's finger, he grew up into a stout youth in a hundred days, In twelve days he looked like one of twelve years. The whole earth in one day came under the sway of that high-souled and virtuous and brave king who resembled Indra himself for prowess in battle. He vanquished king Angada, Marutta, Asita, Gaya, and Vrihadratha the king of the Angas. 4 When Yuvanaswa's son fought in battle with Angada, the Gods thought that the firmament was breaking with the twang of his how. The whole earth from where the Sun rises to where he sets is said to be the field of Mandhatri. Having performed Horse-sacrifices and a hundred Rajasuyas, he gave unto the Brahmanas many Rohita fishes. Those fishes were each ten Yojanas in length and one in breadth. Those that remained after gratifying the Brahmanas were divided amongst themselves by the other classes. When he, O Srinjaya, who transcended thee in respect of the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Sanjaya, that Yayati, the son of Nahusha, also fell a prey to death. Having subjugated
the whole world with its seas, he journeyed through it, decking it with successive sacrificial altars the intervals between which were measured by throws of a heavy piece of wood. Indeed, he reached the very shores of the sea as he proceeded performing great sacrifices (on those altars along his way). 1 Having performed a thousand sacrifices and a hundred Vajapeyas, he gratified the foremost of Brahmanas with three mountains of gold. Having slain many Daityas and Danavas duly arrayed in battle, Nahusha's son, Yayati, divided the whole earth (among his children). At last discarding his other sons headed by Yadu and Drahyu, he installed (his youngest son) Puru on his throne and then entered the woods accompanied by his wife, When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that Amvarisha also, the son of Nabhaga, fell a prey to death. That protector (of the world) and foremost of kings was regarded by his subjects as the embodiment of virtue. That monarch, in one of his sacrifices, assigned to the Brahmanas, for waiting upon them, a million of kings who had themselves performed thousands of sacrifices each. Men of piety praised Amvarisha, the son of Nabhaga, saying that such feats had never been achieved before nor would their like be achieved in the future. 2 Those hundreds upon hundreds and thousands upon thousands of kings (that had at the command of Amvarisha waited at his sacrifices upon the Brahmanas that came there) became (through Amvarisha's merits) crowned with the fruits of the Horse-sacrifice, and followed their lord by the Southern-path (to regions or brightness and bliss). When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy child that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that Sasavindu also, the son of Chitrasena, felt a prey to death. That high-souled king had a hundred thousand wives, and million of sorts. All of them used to wear golden armour and all of them were excellent bowmen. Each of those princes married a hundred princesses, and each princess brought a hundred elephants. With each of those elephants were a hundred cars. With each car were a hundred steeds, all of good breed and all decked with trappings of gold. With each steed were a hundred kine, and with each cow were a hundred sheep and goats. This countless wealth, O monarch, Sasavindu gave away, in a Horse-sacrifice, unto the Brahmanas. When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy child that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that Gaya also, the son of Amurtarayas, fell a prey to death. For a hundred years, that king subsisted upon the remains of sacrificial food. (Pleased with such devotion) Agni desired to give him boons. The boons solicited by Gaya were, 'Let
my wealth be inexhaustible even if I give ceaselessly. Let my regard for virtue exist for ever. Let my heart ever take pleasure in Truth, through thy grace, O cater of sacrificial libations.' It hath been heard by us that king Gaya obtained all those wishes from Agni. On days of the new moon, on those of the full moon, and on every fourth month, for a thousand years, Gaya repeatedly performed the Horse-sacrifice. Rising (at the completion of every sacrifice) he gave away a hundred thousand kine and hundreds of mules (unto the Brahmanas) during this period. That bull among men gratified the gods with Soma, the Brahmanas with wealth, the Pitris with Swadha, and the women with the accomplishment of all their wishes. In his great Horse-sacrifice, king Gaya caused a golden ground to be made, measuring a hundred cubits in length and fifty in breadth, and gave it away as the sacrificial fee. That foremost of men, viz., Gaya, the son of Amurtarayas, gave away as many kine as there are sand grains, O king, in the river Ganga. When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that Sankriti's son Rantideva also fell a prey to death. Having undergone the austerest of penances and adored him with great reverence, he obtained these boons from Sakra, having solicited them, saying 'Let us have abundant food and numerous guests. Let not my faith sustain any diminution, and let us not have to ask anything of any person.' The animals, both domestic and wild, slaughtered in his sacrifice, used to come to him, viz., the high-souled Rantideva of rigid vows and great fame, of their own accord. The secretions that flowed from the skins of the animals (slaughtered in his sacrifices), produced a mighty and celebrated river which to this day is known by the name of Charmanwati. King Rantideva used to make gifts unto the Brahmanas in an extensive enclosure. When the king said, 'Unto thee I give a hundred nishkas! Unto thee I give a hundred,' the Brahmanas (without accepting what was offered) made a noise (expressive of refusal). When, however, the king would say, 'I give a thousand nishkas,' the gifts were all accepted. All the vessels and plates, in Rantideva's palace, for holding food and other articles, all the jugs and pots, the pans and plates and cups, were of gold. On those nights during which the guests used to live in Rantideva's abode, twenty thousand and one hundred kine had to be slaughtered. Yet even on such occasions, the cooks, decked in ear-rings, used to proclaim (amongst those that sat down to supper): 'There is abundant soup, take as much as ye wish; but of flesh we have not as much today as on former occasions.' When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that the high-souled Sagara also fell a prey to death. He was of Ikshvaku's race, a tiger among men, and of superhuman prowess. Sixty thousand sons used to walk behind him, like myriads upon myriads of stars waiting upon the Moon in the cloudless firmament of autumn. His sway extended over the whole of this earth. 1 He gratified the gods by performing
a thousand Horse-sacrifices. He gave away unto deserving Brahmanas palatial mansions with columns of gold and (other parts) made entirely of that precious metal, containing costly beds and bevies of beautiful ladies with eyes resembling petals of the lotus, and diverse other kinds of valuable objects. At his command, the Brahmanas divided those gifts among themselves. Through anger that king caused the earth to be excavated whereupon she came to have the ocean on her bosom, and for this, the ocean has come to be called Sagara after his name. When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. We hear, O Srinjaya, that king Prithu also, the son of Vena, fell a prey to death. The great Rishis, assembling together in the great forest, installed him in the sovereignty of the earth. And because it was thought that he would advance all mankind, he was, for that reason, called Prithu (the advancer). And because also he protected people from injuries (Kshata), he was, for that reason, called a Kshatriya (protector from injuries). Beholding Prithu the son of Vena, all the creatures of the earth exclaimed, 'We have been lovingly attached to him.' From this circumstance of the loving attachment (to him of all creatures), he came to be called a Raja (one that can inspire attachment). The earth, during his sway, yielded crops without being tilled, every leaf that the trees had bore honey; and every cow yielded a jugful of milk. All men were hale and all their wishes used to be crowned with fruition. They had no fear of any kind. They used to live, as they pleased, in fields or in (sheltered) houses. When Prithu desired to go over the sea, the waters became solidified. The rivers also never swelled up when he had to cross them but remained perfectly calm. The standard on his car moved freely everywhere (without being obstructed by any impediment). King Prithu, in one of his grand Horse-sacrifices, gave away unto the Brahman as one and twenty mountains of gold, each measuring three nalwas. 1 When he, O Srinjaya, who far surpassed thee in the four principal attributes and who was purer than thy son, fell a prey to death, do not grieve for thy son that is dead. Upon what, O Srinjaya, dost thou reflect in silence? It seems, O king, that thou hearest not these words of mine. If thou hast not heard them, then this discourse of mine has been a fruitless rhapsody, like medicine or diet, to a person on the point of death.'
"Srinjaya said, 'I am attending, O Narada, to this discourse of thine, of excellent import and perfumed like a garland of flowers,--this discourse upon the conduct of high-souled royal sages of meritorious deeds and great fame, that can certainly dispel grief. Thy discourse, O great sage, has not been a fruitless rhapsody. I have been freed from grief at thy very sight. Like one never satiated with drinking nectar, I am not satiated with thy words. O thou of true sight, if thou, O lord, be inclined to show thy grace towards this person burning on account of the death of his son, then that son, through that grace of thine, is sure to be revived and to mingle once more with me (in this life).
"Narada said, 'I will give back to thee that son of thine, named Suvarnashthivin, whom Parvata gave thee and who has been bereft of life. Of the splendour of gold, that child shall have a thousand years.'"
54:1 This sacrifice is one in which the performer parts with all his wealth.
55:1 Vasumati means possessed of wealth (from Vasu and the syllable mat).
55:2 The Bengal reading chainam in the first line of 31 is better than the Bombay reading chetya, which, Nilakantha explains, means chetanavan bhava.
55:3 These seven sacrifices were the Agnishtoma, the Atyagnishtoma, the Ukthya, the Shodashi, the Vajapeya, the Atiratra, and the Aptoryama. Each of these required the consecration of the Soma.
56:1 The expression used is "He caused one umbrella only to be set up." The custom is well-known that none but kings could cause umbrellas to be held over their heads.
56:2 Kanwa had brought up in his retreat Bharata's mother Sakuntala who had been deserted, immediately after her birth, by her mother, Menaka, Bharata himself was born in Kanwa's retreat.
57:1 Jaruthyan is explained by Nilakantha as Stutyan. It may also mean Triguna-dakshinan.
57:2 The legend about the bringing down of Ganga is very beautiful. Ganga is nothing else than the melted form of Vishnu. For a time she dwelt in the pot (Kamandalu) of Brahman. The ancestors of Bhagiratha having perished through Kapila's curse, Bhagiratha resolved to rescue their spirits by calling down Ganga from heaven and causing her sacred waters to roll over the spot where their ashes lay. He succeeded in carrying out his resolution after conquering many difficulties. Urvasi literally means one who sits on the lap.
57:3 Triple-coursed, because Ganga is supposed to have one stream in heaven, one on the earth, and a third in the nether regions.
58:1 The sense, I think, is that such was the profusion of Dilipa's wealth that no care was taken for keeping gold-decked elephants within guarded enclosures.
58:2 Satadhanwan is explained by Nilakantha as one whose bow is capable of bearing a hundred Anantas.
58:3 Literally, "Me he shall suck."
58:4 The Burdwan translators take Asita and Gaya as one person called Asitangaya, and K.P. Singha takes Anga and Vrihadratha to be two different persons. Of course, both are wrong.
59:1 Samyapat is explained as hurling a heavy piece of wood. What it meant here is that Yayati, having erected an altar, took up and hurled a piece of wood forward, and upon the place where it fell, erected another altar. In this way he proceeded till he reached the very sea shore.
59:2 Dakshinah is explained by Nilakantha as men possessed of Dakshya. It may mean liberal-minded men.
60:1 Literally, 'there was but one umbrella opened on the earth in his time.'
61:1 The word in the original is nala. Nilakantha supposes that it has been so used for the sake or rhythm, the correct form being nalwa, meaning a distance of four hundred cubits.
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