“The Rishis said, ‘O son of Suta, we wish to hear a full and circumstantial account of the place mentioned by you as Samanta-panchaya.’
“Sauti said, ‘Listen, O ye Brahmanas, to the sacred descriptions I utter O ye best of men, ye deserve to hear of the place known as Samanta-panchaka. In the interval between the Treta and Dwapara Yugas, Rama (the son of Jamadagni) great among all who have borne arms, urged by impatience of wrongs, repeatedly smote the noble race of Kshatriyas. And when that fiery meteor, by his own valour, annihilated the entire tribe of the Kshatriyas, he formed at Samanta-panchaka five lakes of blood. We are told that his reason being overpowered by anger he offered oblations of blood to the manes of his ancestors, standing in the midst of the sanguine waters of those lakes. It was then that his forefathers of whom Richika was the first having arrived there addressed him thus, ‘O Rama, O blessed Rama, O offspring of Bhrigu, we have been gratified with the reverence
thou hast shown for thy ancestors and with thy valour, O mighty one! Blessings be upon thee. O thou illustrious one, ask the boon that thou mayst desire.’
“Rama said, ‘If, O fathers, ye are favourably disposed towards me, the boon I ask is that I may be absolved from the sins born of my having annihilated the Kshatriyas in anger, and that the lakes I have formed may become famous in the world as holy shrines.’ The Pitris then said, ‘So shall it be. But be thou pacified.’ And Rama was pacified accordingly. The region that lieth near unto those lakes of gory water, from that time hath been celebrated as Samanta-panchaka the holy. The wise have declared that every country should be distinguished by a name significant of some circumstance which may have rendered it famous. In the interval between the Dwapara and the Kali Yugas there happened at Samanta-panchaka the encounter between the armies of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. In that holy region, without ruggedness of any kind, were assembled eighteen Akshauhinis of soldiers eager for battle. And, O Brahmanas, having come thereto, they were all slain on the spot. Thus the name of that region, O Brahmanas, hath been explained, and the country described to you as a sacred and delightful one. I have mentioned the whole of what relateth to it as the region is celebrated throughout the three worlds.’
“The Rishis said, ‘We have a desire to know, O son of Suta, what is implied by the term Akshauhini that hath been used by thee. Tell us in full what is the number of horse and foot, chariots and elephants, which compose an Akshauhini for thou art fully informed.’
“Sauti said, ‘One chariot, one elephant, five foot-soldiers, and three horses form one Patti; three pattis make one Sena-mukha; three sena-mukhas are called a Gulma; three gulmas, a Gana; three ganas, a Vahini; three vahinis together are called a Pritana; three pritanas form a Chamu; three chamus, one Anikini; and an anikini taken ten times forms, as it is styled by those who know, an Akshauhini. O ye best of Brahmanas, arithmeticians have calculated that the number of chariots in an Akshauhini is twenty-one thousand eight hundred and seventy. The measure of elephants must be fixed at the same number. O ye pure, you must know that the number of foot-soldiers is one hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and fifty, the number of horse is sixty-five thousand, six hundred and ten. These, O Brahmanas, as fully explained by me, are the numbers of an Akshauhini as said by those acquainted with the principles of numbers. O best of Brahmanas, according to this calculation were composed the eighteen Akshauhinis of the Kaurava and the Pandava army. Time, whose acts are wonderful assembled them on that spot and having made the Kauravas the cause, destroyed them all. Bhishma acquainted with choice of weapons, fought for ten days. Drona protected the Kaurava Vahinis for five days. Kama the desolator of hostile armies fought for two days; and Salya for half a day. After that lasted for half a day the encounter with clubs
between Duryodhana and Bhima. At the close of that day, Aswatthaman and Kripa destroyed the army of Yudishthira in the night while sleeping without suspicion of danger.
‘O Saunaka, this best of narrations called Bharata which has begun to be repeated at thy sacrifice, was formerly repeated at the sacrifice of Janamejaya by an intelligent disciple of Vyasa. It is divided into several sections; in the beginning are Paushya, Pauloma, and Astika parvas, describing in full the valour and renown of kings. It is a work whose description, diction, and sense are varied and wonderful. It contains an account of various manners and rites. It is accepted by the wise, as the state called Vairagya is by men desirous of final release. As Self among things to be known, as life among things that are dear, so is this history that furnisheth the means of arriving at the knowledge of Brahma the first among all the sastras. There is not a story current in this world but doth depend upon this history even as the body upon the foot that it taketh. As masters of good lineage are ever attended upon by servants desirous of preferment so is the Bharata cherished by all poets. As the words constituting the several branches of knowledge appertaining to the world and the Veda display only vowels and consonants, so this excellent history displayeth only the highest wisdom.
‘Listen, O ye ascetics, to the outlines of the several divisions (parvas) of this history called Bharata, endued with great wisdom, of sections and feet that are wonderful and various, of subtile meanings and logical connections, and embellished with the substance of the Vedas.
‘The first parva is called Anukramanika; the second, Sangraha; then Paushya; then Pauloma; the Astika; then Adivansavatarana. Then comes the Sambhava of wonderful and thrilling incidents. Then comes Jatugrihadaha (setting fire to the house of lac) and then Hidimbabadha (the killing of Hidimba) parvas; then comes Baka-badha (slaughter of Baka) and then Chitraratha. The next is called Swayamvara (selection of husband by Panchali), in which Arjuna by the exercise of Kshatriya virtues, won Draupadi for wife. Then comes Vaivahika (marriage). Then comes Viduragamana (advent of Vidura), Rajyalabha (acquirement of kingdom), Arjuna-banavasa (exile of Arjuna) and Subhadra-harana (the carrying away of Subhadra). After these come Harana-harika, Khandava-daha (the burning of the Khandava forest) and Maya-darsana (meeting with Maya the Asura architect). Then come Sabha, Mantra, Jarasandha, Digvijaya (general campaign). After Digvijaya come Raja-suyaka, Arghyaviharana (the robbing of the Arghya) and Sisupala-badha (the killing of Sisupala). After these, Dyuta (gambling), Anudyuta (subsequent to gambling), Aranyaka, and Krimira-badha (destruction of Krimira). The Arjuna-vigamana (the travels of Arjuna), Kairati. In the last hath been described the battle between Arjuna and Mahadeva in the guise of a hunter. After this Indra-lokavigamana (the journey to the regions of Indra); then that
mine of religion and virtue, the highly pathetic Nalopakhyana (the story of Nala). After this last, Tirtha-yatra or the pilgrimage of the wise prince of the Kurus, the death of Jatasura, and the battle of the Yakshas. Then the battle with the Nivata-kavachas, Ajagara, and Markandeya-Samasya (meeting with Markandeya). Then the meeting of Draupadi and Satyabhama, Ghoshayatra, Mirga-Swapna (dream of the deer). Then the story of Brihadaranyaka and then Aindradrumna. Then Draupadi-harana (the abduction of Draupadi), Jayadratha-bimoksana (the release of Jayadratha). Then the story of ‘Savitri’ illustrating the great merit of connubial chastity. After this last, the story of ‘Rama’. The parva that comes next is called ‘Kundala-harana’ (the theft of the ear-rings). That which comes next is ‘Aranya’ and then ‘Vairata’. Then the entry of the Pandavas and the fulfilment of their promise (of living unknown for one year). Then the destruction of the ‘Kichakas’, then the attempt to take the kine (of Virata by the Kauravas). The next is called the marriage of Abhimanyu with the daughter of Virata. The next you must know is the most wonderful parva called Udyoga. The next must be known by the name of ‘Sanjaya-yana’ (the arrival of Sanjaya). Then comes ‘Prajagara’ (the sleeplessness of Dhritarashtra owing to his anxiety). Then Sanatsujata, in which are the mysteries of spiritual philosophy. Then ‘Yanasaddhi’, and then the arrival of Krishna. Then the story of ‘Matali’ and then of ‘Galava’. Then the stories of ‘Savitri’, ‘Vamadeva’, and ‘Vainya’. Then the story of ‘Jamadagnya and Shodasarajika’. Then the arrival of Krishna at the court, and then Bidulaputrasasana. Then the muster of troops and the story of Sheta. Then, must you know, comes the quarrel of the high-souled Karna. Then the march to the field of the troops of both sides. The next hath been called numbering the Rathis and Atirathas. Then comes the arrival of the messenger Uluka which kindled the wrath (of the Pandavas). The next that comes, you must know, is the story of Amba. Then comes the thrilling story of the installation of Bhishma as commander-in-chief. The next is called the creation of the insular region Jambu; then Bhumi; then the account about the formation of islands. Then comes the ‘Bhagavat-gita’; and then the death of Bhishma. Then the installation of Drona; then the destruction of the ‘Sansaptakas’. Then the death of Abhimanyu; and then the vow of Arjuna (to slay Jayadratha). Then the death of Jayadratha, and then of Ghatotkacha. Then, must you know, comes the story of the death of Drona of surprising interest. The next that comes is called the discharge of the weapon called Narayana. Then, you know, is Karna, and then Salya. Then comes the immersion in the lake, and then the encounter (between Bhima and Duryodhana) with clubs. Then comes Saraswata, and then the descriptions of holy shrines, and then genealogies. Then comes Sauptika describing incidents disgraceful (to the honour of the Kurus). Then comes the ‘Aisika’ of harrowing incidents. Then comes ‘Jalapradana’ oblations of water to the manes of the deceased,
and then the wailings of the women. The next must be known as ‘Sraddha’ describing the funeral rites performed for the slain Kauravas. Then comes the destruction of the Rakshasa Charvaka who had assumed the disguise of a Brahmana (for deceiving Yudhishthira). Then the coronation of the wise Yudhishthira. The next is called the ‘Grihapravibhaga’. Then comes ‘Santi’, then ‘Rajadharmanusasana’, then ‘Apaddharma’, then ‘Mokshadharma’. Those that follow are called respectively ‘Suka-prasna-abhigamana’, ‘Brahma-prasnanusana’, the origin of ‘Durvasa’, the disputations with Maya. The next is to be known as ‘Anusasanika’. Then the ascension of Bhishma to heaven. Then the horse-sacrifice, which when read purgeth all sins away. The next must be known as the ‘Anugita’ in which are words of spiritual philosophy. Those that follow are called ‘Asramvasa’, ‘Puttradarshana’ (meeting with the spirits of the deceased sons), and the arrival of Narada. The next is called ‘Mausala’ which abounds with terrible and cruel incidents. Then comes ‘Mahaprasthanika’ and ascension to heaven. Then comes the Purana which is called Khilvansa. In this last are contained ‘Vishnuparva’, Vishnu’s frolics and feats as a child, the destruction of ‘Kansa’, and lastly, the very wonderful ‘Bhavishyaparva’ (in which there are prophecies regarding the future).
The high-souled Vyasa composed these hundred parvas of which the above is only an abridgement: having distributed them into eighteen, the son of Suta recited them consecutively in the forest of Naimisha as follows:
‘In the Adi parva are contained Paushya, Pauloma, Astika, Adivansavatara, Samva, the burning of the house of lac, the slaying of Hidimba, the destruction of the Asura Vaka, Chitraratha, the Swayamvara of Draupadi, her marriage after the overthrow of rivals in war, the arrival of Vidura, the restoration, Arjuna’s exile, the abduction of Subhadra, the gift and receipt of the marriage dower, the burning of the Khandava forest, and the meeting with (the Asura-architect) Maya. The Paushya parva treats of the greatness of Utanka, and the Pauloma, of the sons of Bhrigu. The Astika describes the birth of Garuda and of the Nagas (snakes), the churning of the ocean, the incidents relating to the birth of the celestial steed Uchchaihsrava, and finally, the dynasty of Bharata, as described in the Snake-sacrifice of king Janamejaya. The Sambhava parva narrates the birth of various kings and heroes, and that of the sage, Krishna Dwaipayana: the partial incarnations of deities, the generation of Danavas and Yakshas of great prowess, and serpents, Gandharvas, birds, and of all creatures; and lastly, of the life and adventures of king Bharata–the progenitor of the line that goes by his name–the son born of Sakuntala in the hermitage of the ascetic Kanwa. This parva also describes the greatness of Bhagirathi, and the births of the Vasus in the house of Santanu and their ascension to heaven. In this parva is also narrated the birth of Bhishma uniting in himself portions of the energies of the other Vasus, his renunciation of royalty and adoption of the Brahmacharya mode of life, his adherence
to his vows, his protection of Chitrangada, and after the death of Chitrangada, his protection of his younger brother, Vichitravirya, and his placing the latter on the throne: the birth of Dharma among men in consequence of the curse of Animondavya; the births of Dhritarashtra and Pandu through the potency of Vyasa’s blessings (?) and also the birth of the Pandavas; the plottings of Duryodhana to send the sons of Pandu to Varanavata, and the other dark counsels of the sons of Dhritarashtra in regard to the Pandavas; then the advice administered to Yudhishthira on his way by that well-wisher of the Pandavas–Vidura–in the mlechchha language–the digging of the hole, the burning of Purochana and the sleeping woman of the fowler caste, with her five sons, in the house of lac; the meeting of the Pandavas in the dreadful forest with Hidimba, and the slaying of her brother Hidimba by Bhima of great prowess. The birth of Ghatotkacha; the meeting of the Pandavas with Vyasa and in accordance with his advice their stay in disguise in the house of a Brahmana in the city of Ekachakra; the destruction of the Asura Vaka, and the amazement of the populace at the sight; the extra-ordinary births of Krishna and Dhrishtadyumna; the departure of the Pandavas for Panchala in obedience to the injunction of Vyasa, and moved equally by the desire of winning the hand of Draupadi on learning the tidings of the Swayamvara from the lips of a Brahmana; victory of Arjuna over a Gandharva, called Angaraparna, on the banks of the Bhagirathi, his contraction of friendship with his adversary, and his hearing from the Gandharva the history of Tapati, Vasishtha and Aurva. This parva treats of the journey of the Pandavas towards Panchala, the acquisition of Draupadi in the midst of all the Rajas, by Arjuna, after having successfully pierced the mark; and in the ensuing fight, the defeat of Salya, Kama, and all the other crowned heads at the hands of Bhima and Arjuna of great prowess; the ascertainment by Balarama and Krishna, at the sight of these matchless exploits, that the heroes were the Pandavas, and the arrival of the brothers at the house of the potter where the Pandavas were staying; the dejection of Drupada on learning that Draupadi was to be wedded to five husbands; the wonderful story of the five Indras related in consequence; the extraordinary and divinely-ordained wedding of Draupadi; the sending of Vidura by the sons of Dhritarashtra as envoy to the Pandavas; the arrival of Vidura and his sight to Krishna; the abode of the Pandavas in Khandava-prastha, and then their rule over one half of the kingdom; the fixing of turns by the sons of Pandu, in obedience to the injunction of Narada, for connubial companionship with Krishna. In like manner hath the history of Sunda and Upasunda been recited in this. This parva then treats of the departure of Arjuna for the forest according to the vow, he having seen Draupadi and Yudhishthira sitting together as he entered the chamber to take out arms for delivering the kine of a certain Brahmana. This parva then describes Arjuna’s meeting on the way with Ulupi, the daughter of a Naga
[paragraph continues] (serpent); it then relates his visits to several sacred spots; the birth of Vabhruvahana; the deliverance by Arjuna of the five celestial damsels who had been turned into alligators by the imprecation of a Brahmana, the meeting of Madhava and Arjuna on the holy spot called Prabhasa; the carrying away of Subhadra by Arjuna, incited thereto by her brother Krishna, in the wonderful car moving on land and water, and through mid-air, according to the wish of the rider; the departure for Indraprastha, with the dower; the conception in the womb of Subhadra of that prodigy of prowess, Abhimanyu; Yajnaseni’s giving birth to children; then follows the pleasure-trip of Krishna and Arjuna to the banks of the Jamuna and the acquisition by them of the discus and the celebrated bow Gandiva; the burning of the forest of Khandava; the rescue of Maya by Arjuna, and the escape of the serpent,–and the begetting of a son by that best of Rishis, Mandapala, in the womb of the bird Sarngi. This parva is divided by Vyasa into two hundred and twenty-seven chapters. These two hundred and twenty-seven chapters contain eight thousand eight hundred and eighty-four slokas.
The second is the extensive parva called Sabha or the assembly, full of matter. The subjects of this parva are the establishment of the grand hall by the Pandavas; their review of their retainers; the description of the lokapalas by Narada well-acquainted with the celestial regions; the preparations for the Rajasuya sacrifice; the destruction of Jarasandha; the deliverance by Vasudeva of the princes confined in the mountain-pass; the campaign of universal conquest by the Pandavas; the arrival of the princes at the Rajasuya sacrifice with tribute; the destruction of Sisupala on the occasion of the sacrifice, in connection with offering of arghya; Bhimasena’s ridicule of Duryodhana in the assembly; Duryodhana’s sorrow and envy at the sight of the magnificent scale on which the arrangements had been made; the indignation of Duryodhana in consequence, and the preparations for the game of dice; the defeat of Yudhishthira at play by the wily Sakuni; the deliverance by Dhritarashtra of his afflicted daughter-in-law Draupadi plunged in the sea of distress caused by the gambling, as of a boat tossed about by the tempestuous waves. The endeavours of Duryodhana to engage Yudhishthira again in the game; and the exile of the defeated Yudhishthira with his brothers. These constitute what has been called by the great Vyasa the Sabha Parva. This parva is divided into seventh-eight sections, O best of Brahmanas, of two thousand, five hundred and seven slokas.
Then comes the third parva called Aranyaka (relating to the forest) This parva treats of the wending of the Pandavas to the forest and the citizens, following the wise Yudhishthira, Yudhishthira’s adoration of the god of day; according to the injunctions of Dhaumya, to be gifted with the power of maintaining the dependent Brahmanas with food and drink: the creation of food through the grace of the Sun: the expulsion
by Dhritarashtra of Vidura who always spoke for his master’s good; Vidura’s coming to the Pandavas and his return to Dhritarashtra at the solicitation of the latter; the wicked Duryodhana’s plottings to destroy the forest-ranging Pandavas, being incited thereto by Karna; the appearance of Vyasa and his dissuasion of Duryodhana bent on going to the forest; the history of Surabhi; the arrival of Maitreya; his laying down to Dhritarashtra the course of action; and his curse on Duryodhana; Bhima’s slaying of Kirmira in battle; the coming of the Panchalas and the princes of the Vrishni race to Yudhishthira on hearing of his defeat at the unfair gambling by Sakuni; Dhananjaya’s allaying the wrath of Krishna; Draupadi’s lamentations before Madhava; Krishna’s cheering her; the fall of Sauva also has been here described by the Rishi; also Krishna’s bringing Subhadra with her son to Dwaraka; and Dhrishtadyumna’s bringing the son of Draupadi to Panchala; the entrance of the sons of Pandu into the romantic Dwaita wood; conversation of Bhima, Yudhishthira, and Draupadi; the coming of Vyasa to the Pandavas and his endowing Yudhishthira with the power of Pratismriti; then, after the departure of Vyasa, the removal of the Pandavas to the forest of Kamyaka; the wanderings of Arjuna of immeasurable prowess in search of weapons; his battle with Mahadeva in the guise of a hunter; his meeting with the lokapalas and receipt of weapons from them; his journey to the regions of Indra for arms and the consequent anxiety of Dhritarashtra; the wailings and lamentations of Yudhishthira on the occasion of his meeting with the worshipful great sage Brihadaswa. Here occurs the holy and highly pathetic story of Nala illustrating the patience of Damayanti and the character of Nala. Then the acquirement by Yudhishthira of the mysteries of dice from the same great sage; then the arrival of the Rishi Lomasa from the heavens to where the Pandavas were, and the receipt by these high-souled dwellers in the woods of the intelligence brought by the Rishi of their brother Arjuna staving in the heavens; then the pilgrimage of the Pandavas to various sacred spots in accordance with the message of Arjuna, and their attainment of great merit and virtue consequent on such pilgrimage; then the pilgrimage of the great sage Narada to the shrine Putasta; also the pilgrimage of the high-souled Pandavas. Here is the deprivation of Karna of his ear-rings by Indra. Here also is recited the sacrificial magnificence of Gaya; then the story of Agastya in which the Rishi ate up the Asura Vatapi, and his connubial connection with Lopamudra from the desire of offspring. Then the story of Rishyasringa who adopted Brahmacharya mode of life from his very boyhood; then the history of Rama of great prowess, the son of Jamadagni, in which has been narrated the death of Kartavirya and the Haihayas; then the meeting between the Pandavas and the Vrishnis in the sacred spot called Prabhasa; then the story of Su-kanya in which Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu, made the twins, Aswinis, drink, at the sacrifice of king Saryati, the Soma juice (from which they had been
excluded by the other gods), and in which besides is shown how Chyavana himself acquired perpetual youth (as a boon from the grateful Aswinis). Then hath been described the history of king Mandhata; then the history of prince Jantu; and how king Somaka by offering up his only son (Jantu) in sacrifice obtained a hundred others; then the excellent history of the hawk and the pigeon; then the examination of king Sivi by Indra, Agni, and Dharma; then the story of Ashtavakra, in which occurs the disputation, at the sacrifice of Janaka, between that Rishi and the first of logicians, Vandi, the son of Varuna; the defeat of Vandi by the great Ashtavakra, and the release by the Rishi of his father from the depths of the ocean. Then the story of Yavakrita, and then that of the great Raivya: then the departure (of the Pandavas) for Gandhamadana and their abode in the asylum called Narayana; then Bhimasena’s journey to Gandhamadana at the request of Draupadi (in search of the sweet-scented flower). Bhima’s meeting on his way, in a grove of bananas, with Hanuman, the son of Pavana of great prowess; Bhima’s bath in the tank and the destruction of the flowers therein for obtaining the sweet-scented flower (he was in search of); his consequent battle with the mighty Rakshasas and the Yakshas of great prowess including Hanuman; the destruction of the Asura Jata by Bhima; the meeting (of the Pandavas) with the royal sage Vrishaparva; their departure for the asylum of Arshtishena and abode therein: the incitement of Bhima (to acts of vengeance) by Draupadi. Then is narrated the ascent on the hills of Kailasa by Bhimasena, his terrific battle with the mighty Yakshas headed by Hanuman; then the meeting of the Pandavas with Vaisravana (Kuvera), and the meeting with Arjuna after he had obtained for the purpose of Yudhishthira many celestial weapons; then Arjuna’s terrible encounter with the Nivatakavachas dwelling in Hiranyaparva, and also with the Paulomas, and the Kalakeyas; their destruction at the hands of Arjuna; the commencement of the display of the celestial weapons by Arjuna before Yudhishthira, the prevention of the same by Narada; the descent of the Pandavas from Gandhamadana; the seizure of Bhima in the forest by a mighty serpent huge as the mountain; his release from the coils of the snake, upon Yudhishthira’s answering certain questions; the return of the Pandavas to the Kamyaka woods. Here is described the reappearance of Vasudeva to see the mighty sons of Pandu; the arrival of Markandeya, and various recitals, the history of Prithu the son of Vena recited by the great Rishi; the stories of Saraswati and the Rishi Tarkhya. After these, is the story of Matsya; other old stories recited by Markandeya; the stories of Indradyumna and Dhundhumara; then the history of the chaste wife; the history of Angira, the meeting and conversation of Draupadi and Satyabhama; the return of the Pandavas to the forest of Dwaita; then the procession to see the calves and the captivity of Duryodhana; and when the wretch was being carried off, his rescue by Arjuna; here is Yudhishthira’s dream of the deer;
then the re-entry of the Pandavas into the Kamyaka forest, here also is the long story of Vrihidraunika. Here also is recited the story of Durvasa; then the abduction by Jayadratha of Draupadi from the asylum; the pursuit of the ravisher by Bhima swift as the air and the ill-shaving of Jayadratha’s crown at Bhima’s hand. Here is the long history of Rama in which is shown how Rama by his prowess slew Ravana in battle. Here also is narrated the story of Savitri; then Karna’s deprivation by Indra of his ear-rings; then the presentation to Karna by the gratified Indra of a Sakti (missile weapon) which had the virtue of killing only one person against whom it might be hurled; then the story called Aranya in which Dharma (the god of justice) gave advice to his son (Yudhishthira); in which, besides is recited how the Pandavas after having obtained a boon went towards the west. These are all included in the third Parva called Aranyaka, consisting of two hundred and sixty-nine sections. The number of slokas is eleven thousand, six hundred and sixty-four.
“The extensive Parva that comes next is called Virata. The Pandavas arriving at the dominions of Virata saw in a cemetery on the outskirts of the city a large shami tree whereon they kept their weapons. Here hath been recited their entry into the city and their stay there in disguise. Then the slaying by Bhima of the wicked Kichaka who, senseless with lust, had sought Draupadi; the appointment by prince Duryodhana of clever spies; and their despatch to all sides for tracing the Pandavas; the failure of these to discover the mighty sons of Pandu; the first seizure of Virata’s kine by the Trigartas and the terrific battle that ensued; the capture of Virata by the enemy and his rescue by Bhimasena; the release also of the kine by the Pandava (Bhima); the seizure of Virata’s kine again by the Kurus; the defeat in battle of all the Kurus by the single-handed Arjuna; the release of the king’s kine; the bestowal by Virata of his daughter Uttara for Arjuna’s acceptance on behalf of his son by Subhadra–Abhimanyu–the destroyer of foes. These are the contents of the extensive fourth Parva–the Virata. The great Rishi Vyasa has composed in these sixty-seven sections. The number of slokas is two thousand and fifty.
“Listen then to (the contents of) the fifth Parva which must be known as Udyoga. While the Pandavas, desirous of victory, were residing in the place called Upaplavya, Duryodhana and Arjuna both went at the same time to Vasudeva, and said, “You should render us assistance in this war.” The high-souled Krishna, upon these words being uttered, replied, “O ye first of men, a counsellor in myself who will not fight and one Akshauhini of troops, which of these shall I give to which of you?” Blind to his own interests, the foolish Duryodhana asked for the troops; while Arjuna solicited Krishna as an unfighting counsellor. Then is described how, when the king of Madra was coming for the assistance of the Pandavas, Duryodhana, having deceived him on the way by presents and
hospitality, induced him to grant a boon and then solicited his assistance in battle; how Salya, having passed his word to Duryodhana, went to the Pandavas and consoled them by reciting the history of Indra’s victory (over Vritra). Then comes the despatch by the Pandavas of their Purohita (priest) to the Kauravas. Then is described how king Dhritarashtra of great prowess, having heard the word of the purohita of the Pandavas and the story of Indra’s victory decided upon sending his purohita and ultimately despatched Sanjaya as envoy to the Pandavas from desire for peace. Here hath been described the sleeplessness of Dhritarashtra from anxiety upon hearing all about the Pandavas and their friends, Vasudeva and others. It was on this occasion that Vidura addressed to the wise king Dhritarashtra various counsels that were full of wisdom. It was here also that Sanat-sujata recited to the anxious and sorrowing monarch the excellent truths of spiritual philosophy. On the next morning Sanjaya spoke, in the court of the King, of the identity of Vasudeva and Arjuna. It was then that the illustrious Krishna, moved by kindness and a desire for peace, went himself to the Kaurava capital, Hastinapura, for bringing about peace. Then comes the rejection by prince Duryodhana of the embassy of Krishna who had come to solicit peace for the benefit of both parties. Here hath been recited the story of Damvodvava; then the story of the high-souled Matuli’s search for a husband for his daughter: then the history of the great sage Galava; then the story of the training and discipline of the son of Bidula. Then the exhibition by Krishna, before the assembled Rajas, of his Yoga powers upon learning the evil counsels of Duryodhana and Karna; then Krishna’s taking Karna in his chariot and his tendering to him of advice, and Karna’s rejection of the same from pride. Then the return of Krishna, the chastiser of enemies from Hastinapura to Upaplavya, and his narration to the Pandavas of all that had happened. It was then that those oppressors of foes, the Pandavas, having heard all and consulted properly with each other, made every preparation for war. Then comes the march from Hastinapura, for battle, of foot-soldiers, horses, charioteers and elephants. Then the tale of the troops by both parties. Then the despatch by prince Duryodhana of Uluka as envoy to the Pandavas on the day previous to the battle. Then the tale of charioteers of different classes. Then the story of Amba. These all have been described in the fifth Parva called Udyoga of the Bharata, abounding with incidents appertaining to war and peace. O ye ascetics, the great Vyasa hath composed one hundred and eighty-six sections in this Parva. The number of slokas also composed in this by the great Rishi is six thousand, six hundred and ninety-eight.
“Then is recited the Bhishma Parva replete with wonderful incidents. In this hath been narrated by Sanjaya the formation of the region known as Jambu. Here hath been described the great depression of Yudhishthira’s army, and also a fierce fight for ten successive days. In this the high-souled
[paragraph continues] Vasudeva by reasons based on the philosophy of final release drove away Arjuna’s compunction springing from the latter’s regard for his kindred (whom he was on the eve of slaying). In this the magnanimous Krishna, attentive to the welfare of Yudhishthira, seeing the loss inflicted (on the Pandava army), descended swiftly from his chariot himself and ran, with dauntless breast, his driving whip in hand, to effect the death of Bhishma. In this, Krishna also smote with piercing words Arjuna, the bearer of the Gandiva and the foremost in battle among all wielders of weapons. In this, the foremost of bowmen, Arjuna, placing Shikandin before him and piercing Bhishma with his sharpest arrows felled him from his chariot. In this, Bhishma lay stretched on his bed of arrows. This extensive Parva is known as the sixth in the Bharata. In this have been composed one hundred and seventeen sections. The number of slokas is five thousand, eight hundred and eighty-four as told by Vyasa conversant with the Vedas.
“Then is recited the wonderful Parva called Drona full of incidents. First comes the installation in the command of the army of the great instructor in arms, Drona: then the vow made by that great master of weapons of seizing the wise Yudhishthira in battle to please Duryodhana; then the retreat of Arjuna from the field before the Sansaptakas, then the overthrow of Bhagadatta like to a second Indra in the field, with the elephant Supritika, by Arjuna; then the death of the hero Abhimanyu in his teens, alone and unsupported, at the hands of many Maharathas including Jayadratha; then after the death of Abhimanyu, the destruction by Arjuna, in battle of seven Akshauhinis of troops and then of Jayadratha; then the entry, by Bhima of mighty arms and by that foremost of warriors-in-chariot, Satyaki, into the Kaurava ranks impenetrable even to the gods, in search of Arjuna in obedience to the orders of Yudhishthira, and the destruction of the remnant of the Sansaptakas. In the Drona Parva, is the death of Alambusha, of Srutayus, of Jalasandha, of Shomadatta, of Virata, of the great warrior-in-chariot Drupada, of Ghatotkacha and others; in this Parva, Aswatthaman, excited beyond measure at the fall of his father in battle, discharged the terrible weapon Narayana. Then the glory of Rudra in connection with the burning (of the three cities). Then the arrival of Vyasa and recital by him of the glory of Krishna and Arjuna. This is the great seventh Parva of the Bharata in which all the heroic chiefs and princes mentioned were sent to their account. The number of sections in this is one hundred and seventy. The number of slokas as composed in the Drona Parva by Rishi Vyasa, the son of Parasara and the possessor of true knowledge after much meditation, is eight thousand, nine hundred and nine.
“Then comes the most wonderful Parva called Karna. In this is narrated the appointment of the wise king of Madra as (Karna’s) charioteer. Then the history of the fall of the Asura Tripura. Then the application to each
other by Karna and Salya of harsh words on their setting out for the field, then the story of the swan and the crow recited in insulting allusion: then the death of Pandya at the hands of the high-souled Aswatthaman; then the death of Dandasena; then that of Darda; then Yudhishthira’s imminent risk in single combat with Karna in the presence of all the warriors; then the mutual wrath of Yudhishthira and Arjuna; then Krishna’s pacification of Arjuna. In this Parva, Bhima, in fulfilment of his vow, having ripped open Dussasana’s breast in battle drank the blood of his heart. Then Arjuna slew the great Karna in single combat. Readers of the Bharata call this the eighth Parva. The number of sections in this is sixty-nine and the number of slokas is four thousand, nine hundred and sixty-tour.
“Then hath been recited the wonderful Parva called Salya. After all the great warriors had been slain, the king of Madra became the leader of the (Kaurava) army. The encounters one after another, of charioteers, have been here described. Then comes the fall of the great Salya at the hands of Yudhishthira, the Just. Here also is the death of Sakuni in battle at the hands of Sahadeva. Upon only a small remnant of the troops remaining alive after the immense slaughter, Duryodhana went to the lake and creating for himself room within its waters lay stretched there for some time. Then is narrated the receipt of this intelligence by Bhima from the fowlers: then is narrated how, moved by the insulting speeches of the intelligent Yudhishthira, Duryodhana ever unable to bear affronts, came out of the waters. Then comes the encounter with clubs, between Duryodhana and Bhima; then the arrival, at the time of such encounter, of Balarama: then is described the sacredness of the Saraswati; then the progress of the encounter with clubs; then the fracture of Duryodhana’s thighs in battle by Bhima with (a terrific hurl of) his mace. These all have been described in the wonderful ninth Parva. In this the number of sections is fifty-nine and the number of slokas composed by the great Vyasa–the spreader of the fame of the Kauravas–is three thousand, two hundred and twenty.
“Then shall I describe the Parva called Sauptika of frightful incidents. On the Pandavas having gone away, the mighty charioteers, Kritavarman, Kripa, and the son of Drona, came to the field of battle in the evening and there saw king Duryodhana lying on the ground, his thighs broken, and himself covered with blood. Then the great charioteer, the son of Drona, of terrible wrath, vowed, ‘without killing all the Panchalas including Drishtadyumna, and the Pandavas also with all their allies, I will not take off armour.’ Having spoken those words, the three warriors leaving Duryodhana’s side entered the great forest just as the sun was setting. While sitting under a large banian tree in the night, they saw an owl killing numerous crows one after another. At the sight of this, Aswatthaman, his heart full of rage at the thought of his father’s fate, resolved to slay the slumbering Panchalas. And wending to the gate of the camp, he
saw there a Rakshasa of frightful visage, his head reaching to the very heavens, guarding the entrance. And seeing that Rakshasa obstructing all his weapons, the son of Drona speedily pacified by worship the three-eyed Rudra. And then accompanied by Kritavarman and Kripa he slew all the sons of Draupadi, all the Panchalas with Dhrishtadyumna and others, together with their relatives, slumbering unsuspectingly in the night. All perished on that fatal night except the five Pandavas and the great warrior Satyaki. Those escaped owing to Krishna’s counsels, then the charioteer of Dhrishtadyumna brought to the Pandavas intelligence of the slaughter of the slumbering Panchalas by the son of Drona. Then Draupadi distressed at the death of her sons and brothers and father sat before her lords resolved to kill herself by fasting. Then Bhima of terrible prowess, moved by the words of Draupadi, resolved, to please her; and speedily taking up his mace followed in wrath the son of his preceptor in arms. The son of Drona from fear of Bhimasena and impelled by the fates and moved also by anger discharged a celestial weapon saying, ‘This is for the destruction of all the Pandavas’; then Krishna saying. ‘This shall not be’, neutralised Aswatthaman’s speech. Then Arjuna neutralised that weapon by one of his own. Seeing the wicked Aswatthaman’s destructive intentions, Dwaipayana and Krishna pronounced curses on him which the latter returned. Pandava then deprived the mighty warrior-in-chariot Aswatthaman, of the jewel on his head, and became exceedingly glad, and, boastful of their success, made a present of it to the sorrowing Draupadi. Thus the tenth Parva, called Sauptika, is recited. The great Vyasa hath composed this in eighteen sections. The number of slokas also composed (in this) by the great reciter of sacred truths is eight hundred and seventy. In this Parva has been put together by the great Rishi the two Parvas called Sauptika and Aishika.
“After this hath been recited the highly pathetic Parva called Stri, Dhritarashtra of prophetic eye, afflicted at the death of his children, and moved by enmity towards Bhima, broke into pieces a statue of hard iron deftly placed before him by Krishna (as substitute of Bhima). Then Vidura, removing the distressed Dhritarashtra’s affection for worldly things by reasons pointing to final release, consoled that wise monarch. Then hath been described the wending of the distressed Dhritarashtra accompanied by the ladies of his house to the field of battle of the Kauravas. Here follow the pathetic wailings of the wives of the slain heroes. Then the wrath of Gandhari and Dhritarashtra and their loss of consciousness. Then the Kshatriya ladies saw those heroes,–their unreturning sons, brothers, and fathers,–lying dead on the field. Then the pacification by Krishna of the wrath of Gandhari distressed at the death of her sons and grandsons. Then the cremation of the bodies of the deceased Rajas with due rites by that monarch (Yudhishthira) of great wisdom and the foremost also of all virtuous men. Then upon the presentation of water of the manes
of the deceased princes having commenced, the story of Kunti’s acknowledgment of Karna as her son born in secret. Those have all been described by the great Rishi Vyasa in the highly pathetic eleventh Parva. Its perusal moveth every feeling heart with sorrow and even draweth tears from the eyes. The number of sections composed is twenty-seven. The number of slokas is seven hundred and seventy-five.
“Twelfth in number cometh the Santi Parva, which increaseth the understanding and in which is related the despondency of Yudhishthira on his having slain his fathers, brothers, sons, maternal uncles and matrimonial relations. In this Parva is described how from his bed of arrows Bhishma expounded various systems of duties worth the study of kings desirous of knowledge; this Parva expounded the duties relative to emergencies, with full indications of time and reasons. By understanding these, a person attaineth to consummate knowledge. The mysteries also of final emancipation have been expatiated upon. This is the twelfth Parva the favourite of the wise. It consists of three hundred and thirty-nine sections, and contains fourteen thousand, seven hundred and thirty-two slokas.
“Next in order is the excellent Anusasana Parva. In it is described how Yudhishthira, the king of the Kurus, was reconciled to himself on hearing the exposition of duties by Bhishma, the son of Bhagirathi. This Parva treats of rules in detail and of Dharma and Artha; then the rules of charity and its merits; then the qualifications of donees, and the supreme ride-regarding gifts. This Parva also describes the ceremonials of individual duty, the rules of conduct and the matchless merit of truth. This Parva showeth the great merit of Brahmanas and kine, and unraveleth the mysteries of duties in relation to time and place. These are embodied in the excellent Parva called Anusasana of varied incidents. In this hath been described the ascension of Bhishma to Heaven. This is the thirteenth Parva which hath laid down accurately the various duties of men. The number of sections, in this is one hundred and forty-six. The number of slokas is eight thousand.
“Then comes the fourteenth Parva Aswamedhika. In this is the excellent story of Samvarta and Marutta. Then is described the discovery (by the Pandavas) of golden treasuries; and then the birth of Parikshit who was revived by Krishna after having been burnt by the (celestial) weapon of Aswatthaman. The battles of Arjuna the son of Pandu, while following the sacrificial horse let loose, with various princes who in wrath seized it. Then is shown the great risk of Arjuna in his encounter with Vabhruvahana the son of Chitrangada (by Arjuna) the appointed daughter of the chief of Manipura. Then the story of the mongoose during the performance of the horse-sacrifice. This is the most wonderful Parva called Aswamedhika. The number of sections is one hundred and three. The number of slokas composed (in this) by Vyasa of true knowledge is three thousand, three hundred and twenty.
“Then comes the fifteenth Parva called Asramvasika. In this, Dhritarashtra, abdicating the kingdom, and accompanied by Gandhari and Vidura went to the woods. Seeing this, the virtuous Pritha also, ever engaged in cherishing her superiors, leaving the court of her sons, followed the old couple. In this is described the wonderful meeting through the kindness of Vyasa of the king (Dhritarashtra) with the spirits of his slain children, grand-children, and other princes, returned from the other world. Then the monarch abandoning his sorrows acquired with his wife the highest fruit of his meritorious actions. In this Parva, Vidura after having leaned on virtue all his life attaineth to the most meritorious state.
“The learned son of Gavalgana, Sanjaya, also of passions under full control, and the foremost of ministers, attained, in the Parva, to the blessed state. In this, Yudhishthira the just met Narada and heard from him about the extinction of the race of Vrishnis. This is the very wonderful Parva called Asramvasika. The number of sections in this is forty-two, and the number of slokas composed by Vyasa cognisant of truth is one thousand five hundred and six.
“After this, you know, comes the Maushala of painful incidents. In this, those lion-hearted heroes (of the race of Vrishni) with the scars of many a field on their bodies, oppressed with the curse of a Brahmana, while deprived of reason from drink, impelled by the fates, slew each other on the shores of the Salt Sea with the Eraka grass which (in their hands) became (invested with the fatal attributes of the) thunder. In this, both Balarama and Kesava (Krishna) after causing the extermination of their race, their hour having come, themselves did not rise superior to the sway of all-destroying Time. In this, Arjuna the foremost among men, going to Dwaravati (Dwaraka) and seeing the city destitute of the Vrishnis was much affected and became exceedingly sorry. Then after the funeral of his maternal uncle Vasudeva the foremost among the Yadus (Vrishnis), he saw the heroes of the Yadu race lying stretched in death on the spot where they had been drinking. He then caused the cremation of the bodies of the illustrious Krishna and Balarama and of the principal members of the Vrishni race. Then as he was journeying from Dwaraka with the women and children, the old and the decrepit–the remnants of the Yadu race–he was met on the way by a heavy calamity. He witnessed also the disgrace of his bow Gandiva and the unpropitiousness of his celestial weapons. Seeing all this, Arjuna became despondent and, pursuant to Vyasa’s advice, went to Yudhishthira and solicited permission to adopt the Sannyasa mode of life. This is the sixteenth Parva called Maushala The number of sections is eight and the number of slokas composed by Vyasa cognisant of truth is three hundred and twenty.
“The next is Mahaprasthanika, the seventeenth Parva.
“In this, those foremost among men the Pandavas abdicating their kingdom went with Draupadi on their great journey called Mahaprasthana.
[paragraph continues] In this, they came across Agni, having arrived on the shore of the sea of red waters. In this, asked by Agni himself, Arjuna worshipped him duly, returned to him the excellent celestial bow called Gandiva. In this, leaving his brothers who dropped one after another and Draupadi also, Yudhishthira went on his journey without once looking back on them. This the seventeenth Parva is called Mahaprasthanika. The number of sections in this is three. The number of slokas also composed by Vyasa cognisant of truth is three hundred and twenty.
“The Parva that comes after this, you must know, is the extraordinary one called Svarga of celestial incidents. Then seeing the celestial car come to take him, Yudhishthira moved by kindness towards the dog that accompanied him, refused to ascend it without his companion. Observing the illustrious Yudhishthira’s steady adherence to virtue, Dharma (the god of justice) abandoning his canine form showed himself to the king. Then Yudhishthira ascending to heaven felt much pain. The celestial messenger showed him hell by an act of deception. Then Yudhishthira, the soul of justice, heard the heart-rending lamentations of his brothers abiding in that region under the discipline of Yama. Then Dharma and Indra showed Yudhishthira the region appointed for sinners. Then Yudhishthira, after leaving the human body by a plunge in the celestial Ganges, attained to that region which his acts merited, and began to live in joy respected by Indra and all other gods. This is the eighteenth Parva as narrated by the illustrious Vyasa. The number of slokas composed, O ascetics, by the great Rishi in this is two hundred and nine.
“The above are the contents of the Eighteen Parvas. In the appendix (Khita) are the Harivansa and the Vavishya. The number of slokas contained in the Harivansa is twelve thousand.”
These are the contents of the section called Parva-sangraha. Sauti continued, “Eighteen Akshauhinis of troops came together for battle. The encounter that ensued was terrible and lasted for eighteen days. He who knows the four Vedas with all the Angas and Upanishads, but does not know this history (Bharata), cannot be regarded as wise. Vyasa of immeasurable intelligence, has spoken of the Mahabharata as a treatise on Artha, on Dharma, and on Kama. Those who have listened to his history can never bear to listen to others, as, indeed, they who have listened to the sweet voice of the male Kokila can never hear the dissonance of the crow’s cawing. As the formation of the three worlds proceedeth from the five elements, so do the inspirations of all poets proceed from this excellent composition. O ye Brahman, as the four kinds of creatures (viviparous, oviparous, born of hot moisture and vegetables) are dependent on space for their existence, so the Puranas depend upon this history. As all the senses depend for their exercise upon the various modifications of the mind, so do all acts (ceremonials) and moral qualities depend upon this treatise. There is not a story current in the world but doth depend
on this history, even as body upon the food it taketh. All poets cherish the Bharata even as servants desirous of preferment always attend upon masters of good lineage. Even as the blessed domestic Asrama can never be surpassed by the three other Asramas (modes of life) so no poets can surpass this poem.
“Ye ascetics, shake off all inaction. Let your hearts be fixed on virtue, for virtue is the one only friend of him that has gone to the other world. Even the most intelligent by cherishing wealth and wives can never make these their own, nor are these possessions lasting. The Bharata uttered by the lips of Dwaipayana is without a parallel; it is virtue itself and sacred. It destroyeth sin and produceth good. He that listeneth to it while it is being recited hath no need of a bath in the sacred waters of Pushkara. A Brahmana, whatever sins he may commit during the day through his senses, is freed from them all by reading the Bharata in the evening. Whatever sins he may commit also in the night by deeds, words, or mind, he is freed from them all by reading Bharata in the first twilight (morning). He that giveth a hundred kine with horns mounted with gold to a Brahmana well-posted up in the Vedas and all branches of learning, and he that daily listeneth to the sacred narrations of the Bharata, acquireth equal merit. As the wide ocean is easily passable by men having ships, so is this extensive history of great excellence and deep import with the help of this chapter called Parva sangraha.”
Thus endeth the section called Parva-sangraha of the Adi Parva of the blessed Mahabharata.
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