The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said,--"Seeing then the two armies (standing) on the east and the west for the fierce battle that was impending, the holy Rishi Vyasa, the son of Satyavati, that foremost of all persons acquainted with the Vedas, that grandsire of the Bharatas, conversant with the past, the present, and the future, and beholding everything as if it were present before his eyes, said these words in private unto the royal son of Vichitravirya who was then distressed and giving way to sorrow, reflecting on the evil policy of his sons.
"Vyasa said,--'O king, thy sons and the other monarchs have their hour arrived. 2 Mustered in battle they will kill one another. O Bharata, their hour having come, they will all perish. Bearing in mind the changes brought on by time, do not yield thy heart to grief. O king, if thou wish to see them (fighting) in battle, I will, O son, grant thee vision. Behold the battle."
"Dhritarashtra said,--'O best of regenerate Rishi, I like not to behold the slaughter of kinsmen. I shall, however, through thy potency hear of this battle minutely."
Vaisampayana continued.--"Upon his not wishing to see the battle but wishing to hear of it, Vyasa, that lord of boons, gave a boon to Sanjaya. (And addressing Dhritarashtra he said),--'This Sanjaya, O king, will describe the battle to thee. Nothing in the whole battle will be beyond this one's eyes.' Endued, O king with celestial vision, Sanjaya will narrate the battle to thee. He will have knowledge of everything. Manifest or concealed, (happening) by day or by night, even that which is thought of in the mind, Sanjaya shall know everything. Weapons will not cut him and exertion will not fatigue him. This son of Gavalgani will come out of the battle with life. As regards myself, O bull of Bharata's race, the fame of these Kurus, as also of all the Pandavas, I will spread. Do not grieve. This is destiny, O tiger among men. It behoveth thee not to give way to grief. It is not capable of being prevented. As regards victory, it is there where
Vaisampayana continued,--"That highly-blessed and holy grandsire of the Kurus, having said so, once more addressed Dhritarashtra and said,--'Great will the slaughter be, O monarch, in this battle. I see here also (numerous) omens indicative of terror. Hawks and vultures, and crows and herons, together with cranes, are alighting on the tops of trees and gathering in flocks. These birds, delighted at the prospect of battle, are looking down (on the field) before them. Carnivorous beasts will feed on the flesh of elephants and steeds. Fierce herons, foreboding terror, and uttering merciless cries, are wheeling across the centre towards the southern region. In both the twilights, prior and posterior, I daily behold, O Bharata, the sun during his rising and setting to be covered by headless trunks. Tri-coloured clouds with their extremities white and red and necks black, charged with lightning, and resembling maces (in figure) envelope the sun in both twilights. I have seen the sun, the moon, and the stars to be all blazing. No difference in their aspect is to be noted in the evening. I have seen this all day and all night. All this forbodes fear. On even the fifteenth night of the lighted-fortnight in (the month of) Kartika, the moon, divested of splendour, became invisible, or of the hue of fire, the firmament being of the hue of the lotus. Many heroic lords of earth, kings and princes, endued with great bravery and possessed of arms resembling maces, will be slain and sleep lying down on the earth. Daily I notice in the sky during night time the fierce cries of battling boars and cats. 1 The images of gods and goddesses sometimes laugh, sometimes tremble, and sometimes again these vomit blood through their mouths and sometimes they sweat and sometimes fall down. O monarch! drums, without being beaten, give sounds, and the great cars of Kshatriyas move without (being drawn by) animals yoked to them. Kokilas, wood-peckers, jaws, water-cocks, parrots, crows, and peacocks, utter terrible cries. Here and there, cavalry soldiers, cased in mail, armed with weapons, send forth fierce shouts. At sun-rise flights of insects, by hundreds are seen. In both twilights, the cardinal quarters seem to be ablaze, and the clouds, O Bharata, shower dust and flesh. She, O king, who is celebrated over the three worlds and is applauded by the righteous, even that (constellation) Arundhati keepeth (her lord) Vasistha on her back. The planet Sani also, O king, appeareth afflicting (the constellation) Rohini. The sign of the deer in the Moon hath deviated from its usual position. A great terror is indicated. Even though the sky is cloudless, a terrible roar is heard there. The animals are all weeping and their tears are falling fast.'"
3:2 Rather, "have their periods run out."
4:1 The Bombay text reads pralahshaye for prajashaye. I have adopted the former.
Next: Section III