Hamro dharma

Mahabht 11 Stri P.

BOOK 11
Stri-parva

Section 1

(Jalapradanika-parva)

Om! Having bowed down unto Narayana and Nara, the foremost of male
beings, and unto the goddess Sarasvati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

Janamejaya said, “After Duryodhana had fallen and after all the warriors
also had fallen, what, O sage, did king Dhritarashtra do on receipt of
the intelligence? What also did the high-souled Kuru king Yudhishthira,
the son of Dharma, do? What did the three survivors (of the Kuru army)
viz. Kripa and the others do? I have heard everything about the feats of
Ashvatthama. Tell me what happened after that mutual denunciation of
curses. Tell me all that Sanjaya said unto the blind old king.”

Vaishampayana said, “After he had lost his century of sons, king
Dhritarashtra, afflicted with grief on that account, cheerless, and
looking like a tree shorn of its branches, became overwhelmed with
anxiety and lost his power of speech. Possessed of great wisdom, Sanjaya,
approaching the monarch, addressed him, saying, Why dost thou grieve, O
monarch? Grief does not serve any purpose. Eight and ten Akshauhinis of
combatants, O king, have been slain! The earth hath become desolate, and
is almost empty now! Kings of diverse realms, hailing from diverse
quarters, united with thy son (for aiding him in battle) have all laid
down their lives. Let now the obsequial rites of thy sires and sons and
grandsons and kinsmen and friends and preceptors be performed in due
order.”

Vaishampayana continued, “Destitute of sons and counsellors and all his
friends, king Dhritarashtra of great energy suddenly fell down on the
earth like a tree uprooted by the wind.

“Dhritarashtra said, Destitute as I am of sons and counsellors and all my
friends, I shall, without doubt have to wander in sorrow over the earth.
What need have I now of life itself, left as I am of kinsmen and friends
and resembling as I do a bird shorn of its wings and afflicted with
decrepitude? Shorn of kingdom, deprived of kinsmen, and destitute of
eyes, I cannot, O thou of great wisdom, shine any longer on earth like a
luminary shorn of its splendours! I did not follow the counsels of
friends of Jamadagnis son, of the celestial rishi Narada, and of
island-born Krishna, while they offered me counsel. In the midst of the
assembly, Krishna told me what was for my good, saying, “A truce (tense)
to hostilities, O king! Let thy son take the whole kingdom! Give but five
villages to the Pandavas!” Fool that I was, for not following that
advice, I am now obliged to repent so poignantly! I did not listen to the
righteous counsels of Bhishma. Alas, having heard of the slaughter of
Duryodhana whose roars were as deep as those of a bull, having heard also
of the death of Duhshasana and the extinction of Karna and the setting of
the Drona-sun, my heart does not break into pieces. I do not, O Sanjaya,
remember any evil act committed by me in former days, whose consequences,
fool that I am, I am suffering today. Without doubt, I committed great
sins in my former lives, for which the Supreme Ordainer has set me to
endure such a measure of grief. This destruction of all my kinsmen, this
extermination of all my well-wishers and friends, at this old age, has
come upon me through the force of Destiny. What other man is there on
earth who is more afflicted than my wretched self? Since it is so, let
the Pandavas behold me this very day firmly resolved to betake myself to
the long way that leads to the regions of Brahman!”

Vaishampayana continued, “While king Dhritarashtra was indulging in such
lamentations, Sanjaya addressed him in the following words for dispelling
his grief, Cast off thy grief, O monarch! Thou hast heard the conclusions
of the Vedas and the contents of diverse scriptures and holy writ, from
the lips of the old, O king! Thou hast heard those words which the sages
said unto Sanjaya while the latter was afflicted with grief on account of
the death of his son. When thy son, O monarch, caught the pride that is
born of youth, thou didst not accept the counsels offered unto thee by
thy well-wishers. Desirous of fruit, thou didst not, through
covetousness, do what was really for thy benefit. Thy own intelligence,
like a sharp sword, has wounded thee. Thou didst generally pay court to
those that were of wicked behaviour. Thy son had Duhshasana for his
counsellor, and the wicked-souled son of Radha, and the equally wicked
Shakuni and Citrasena of foolish understanding, and Salya. Thy son (by
his own behaviour) made the whole world his enemy. Thy son, O Bharata,
did not obey the words of Bhishma, the reverend chief of the Kurus, of
Gandhari and Vidura, of Drona, O king, of Kripa the son of Sharadvata, of
the mighty-armed Krishna, of the intelligent Narada, of many other
rishis, and of Vyasa himself of immeasurable energy. Though possessed of
prowess, thy son was of little intelligence, proud, always desirous of
battle, wicked, ungovernable, and discontented. Thou art possessed of
learning and intelligence and art always truthful. They that are so
righteous and possessed of such intelligence as thou, are never stupefied
by grief. Virtue was regarded by none of them. Battle was the one word on
their lips. For this the Kshatriya order has been exterminated and the
fame of thy foes enhanced. Thou hadst occupied the position of an umpire,
but thou didst not utter one word of salutary advise. Unfitted as thou
wert for the task, thou didst not hold the scales evenly. Every person
should, at the outset, adopt such a beneficial line of action that he may
not have, in the end, to repent for something already done by him.
Through affection for thy son, O monarch, thou didst what was agreeable
to Duryodhana. Thou art obliged to repent for that now. It behoveth thee,
however not to give way to grief. The man whose eyes are directed towards
only the honey without being once directed to the fall, meets with
destruction through his covetousness for honey. Such a man is obliged to
repent even like thee. The man who indulges in grief never wins wealth.
By grieving one loses the fruits one desires. Grief is again an obstacle
to the acquisition of objects dear to us. The man who gives way to grief
loses even his salvation. The man who shrouds a burning coal within the
folds of his attire and is burnt by the fire that is kindled by it, would
be pronounced a fool if he grieves for his injuries. Thyself, with thy
son, hadst, with your words, fanned the Partha-fire, and with your
covetousness acting as clarified butter caused that fire to blaze forth,
into consuming flames. When that fire thus blazed forth thy sons fell
into it like insects. It behoveth thee not, however, to grieve for them
now that they have all been burnt in the fire of the enemys arrow. The
tear-stained face, O king, which thou bearest now is not approved by the
scriptures or praised by the wise. These tears, like sparks of fire, burn
the dead for whom they are shed. Kill thy grief with thy intelligence,
and bear thyself up with the strength of thy own self! Thus was the king
comforted by the high-souled Sanjaya. Vidura then, O scorcher of foes,
once again addressed the king, displaying great intelligence.”

Section 2

Vaishampayana said, “Listen, O Janamejaya, to the nectar-like words that
Vidura said unto the son of Vicitravirya and by which he gladdened that
bull among men!

“Vidura said, Rise, O king! Why art thou stretched on the earth? Bear
thyself up with thy own self. O king, even this is the final end of all
living creatures. Everything massed together ends in destruction;
everything that gets high is sure to fall down. Union is certain to end
in separation; life is sure to end in death. The destroyer, O Bharata,
drags both the hero and the coward. Why then, O bull amongst Kshatriyas,
should not Kshatriyas engage in battle? He that does not fight is seen to
escape with life. When, however, ones time comes, O king, one cannot
escape. As regards living creatures, they are non-existent at first. They
exist in the period that intervenes. In the end they once more become
non-existent. What matter of grief then is there in this? The man that
indulges in grief succeeds not in meeting with the dead. By indulging in
grief, one does not himself die. When the course of the world is such,
why dost thou indulge in sorrow? Death drags all creatures, even the
gods. There is none dear or hateful to death, O best of the Kurus! As the
wind tears off the tops of all blades of grass, even so, O bull of
Bharatas race, death overmasters all creatures. All creatures are like
members of a caravan bound for the same destination. (When death will
encounter all) it matters very little whom he meets with first. It
behoveth thee not, O king, to grieve for those that have been slain in
battle. If the scriptures are any authority, all of them must have
obtained the highest end. All of them were versed in the Vedas; all of
them had observed vows. Facing the foe all of them have met with death.
What matter of sorrow is there in this? Invisible they had been (before
birth). Having come from that unknown region, they have once more become
invisible. They are not thine, nor art thou theirs. What grief then is
there in such disappearance? If slain, one wins heaven. By slaying, fame
is won. Both these, with respect to us, are productive of great merit.
Battle, therefore, is not bootless. No doubt, Indra will contrive for
them regions capable of granting every wish. These, O bull among men,
become the guests of Indra. Men cannot, by sacrifices with profuse gifts,
by ascetic penances and by learning, go so speedily to heaven as heroes
slain in battle. On the bodies of hostile heroes constituting the
sacrificial fire, they poured their arrowy libations. Possessed of great
energy, they had in return to endure the arrowy libations (poured upon
them by their enemies). I tell thee, O king, that for a Kshatriya in this
world there is not a better road to heaven than battle! They were all
high-souled Kshatriyas; possessed of bravery, they were ornaments of
assemblies. They have attained to a high state of blessedness. They are
not persons for whom we should grieve. Comforting thyself by thy own self
cease to grieve, O bull among men! It behoveth thee not to suffer thyself
to be overwhelmed with sorrow and to abandon all actions. There are
thousands of mothers and fathers and sons and wives in this world. Whose
are they, and whose are we? From day to day thousands of causes spring up
for sorrow and thousands of causes for fear. These, however, affect the
ignorant but are nothing to him that is wise. There is none dear or
hateful to Time, O best of the Kurus! Time is indifferent to none. All
are equally dragged by Time. Time causeth all creatures to grow, and it
is Time that destroyeth everything. When all else is asleep, Time is
awake. Time is irresistible. Youth, beauty, life, possessions, health,
and the companionship of friends, all are unstable. He that is wise will
never covet any of these. It behoveth thee not to grieve for what is
universal. A person may, by indulging in grief, himself perish, but grief
itself, by being indulged in, never becomes light. Ifthou feelest thy
grief to be heavy, it should be counteracted by not indulging in it. Even
this is the medicine for grief, viz., that one should not indulge in it.
By dwelling on it, one cannot lessen it. On the other hand, it grows with
indulgence. Upon the advent of evil or upon the bereavement of something
that is dear, only they that are of little intelligence suffer their
minds to be afflicted with grief. This is neither Profit, nor Religion,
nor Happiness, on which thy heart is dwelling. The indulgence of grief is
the certain means of ones losing ones objects. Through it, one falls away
from the three great ends of life (religion, profit, and pleasure). They
that are destitute of contentment, are stupefied on the accession of
vicissitudes dependent upon the possession of wealth. They, however, that
are wise, are on the other hand, unaffected by such vicissitudes. One
should kill mental grief by wisdom, just as physical grief should be
killed by medicine. Wisdom hath this power. They, however, that are
foolish, can never obtain tranquillity of soul. The acts of a former life
closely follow a man, insomuch that they lie by him when he lies down,
stay by him when he stays, and run with him when he runs. In those
conditions of life in which one acts well or ill, one enjoys or suffers
the fruit thereof in similar conditions. In those forms (of physical
organisation) in which one performs particular acts, one enjoys or
suffers the fruits thereof in similar forms. Ones own self is ones own
friend, as, indeed, ones own self is ones own enemy. Ones own self is the
witness of ones acts, good and evil. From good acts springs a state of
happiness, from sinful deeds springs woe. One always obtains the fruit of
ones acts. One never enjoys or suffers weal or woe that is not the fruit
of ones own acts. Intelligent persons like thee, O king, never sink in
sinful enormities that are disapproved by knowledge and that strike at
the very root (of virtue and happiness).”

Section 3

“Dhritarashtra said, O thou of great wisdom, my grief has been dispelled
by thy excellent words! I desire, however, to again hear thee speak. How,
indeed, do those that are wise free themselves from mental grief born of
the advent of evils and the bereavement of objects that are dear?

“Vidura said, He that is wise obtains tranquillity by subduing both grief
and joy through means by which one may escape from grief and joy. All
those things about which we are anxious, O bull among men, are ephemeral.
The world is like a plantain tree, without enduring strength. Since the
wise and the foolish, the rich and the poor, all, divested of their
anxieties, sleep on the crematorium, with bodies reft of flesh and full
of bare bones and shrivelled sinews, whom amongst them will the survivors
look upon as possessed of distinguishing marks by which the attributes of
birth and beauty may be ascertained? (When all are equal in death) why
should human beings, whose understandings are always deceived (by the
things of this world) covet one anothers rank and position? The learned
say that the bodies of men are like houses. In time these are destroyed.
There is one being, however, that is eternal. As a person, casting off
one attire, whether old or new, wears another, even such is the case with
the bodies of all embodied beings. O son of Vicitravirya, creatures
obtain weal or woe as the fruit of their own acts. Through their acts
they obtain heaven, O Bharata, or bliss, or woe. Whether able or unable,
they have to bear their burdens which are the result of their own acts.
As amongst earthen pots some break while still on the potters wheel, some
while partially shaped, some as soon as brought into shape, some after
removal from the wheel, some while in course of being removed, some after
removal, some while wet, some while dry, some while being burnt, some
while being removed from the kiln, some after removal therefrom, and some
while being used, even such is the case with the bodies of embodied
creatures. Some are destroyed while yet in the womb, some after coming
out of the womb, some on the day after, some on the expiration of a
fortnight or of a month, some on the expiration of a year or of two
years, some in youth, some in middle age, and some when old. Creatures
are born or destroyed according to their acts in previous lives. When
such is the course of the world, why do you then indulge in grief? As
men, while swimming in sport on the water, sometimes dive and sometimes
emerge, O king, even so creatures sink and emerge in lifes stream. They
that are of little wisdom suffer or meet with destruction as the result
of their own acts. They, however, that are wise, observant of virtue, and
desirous of doing good unto all living creatures, they, acquainted with
the real nature of the appearance of creatures in this world, attain at
last to the highest end.”

4

“Dhritarashtra said, O foremost speakers, how may the wilderness of this
world be known? I desire to hear this. Asked by me, tell me this.

“Vidura said, I will describe to thee all the acts of creatures from
their first conception. At the outset it lives in the admixture of blood
and the vital fluid. Then it grows little by little. Then on the expiry
of the fifth month it assumes shape. It next becomes a foetus with all
its limbs completed, and lives in a very impure place, covered with flesh
and blood. Then, through the action of the wind, its lower limbs are
turned upwards and the head comes downwards. Arriving in this posture at
the mouth of the uterus, it suffers manifold woes. In consequence of the
contractions of the uterus, the creature then comes out of it, endued
with the results of all his previous acts. He then encounters in this
world other evils that rush towards him. Calamities proceed towards him
like dogs at the scent of meat. Next diverse diseases approach him while
he is enchained by his previous acts. Bound by the chains of the senses
and women and wealth and other sweet things of life, diverse evil
practices also approach him then, O king! Seized by these, he never
obtains happiness. At that season he succeeds not in obtaining the fruit
of his acts, right or wrong. They, however, that set their hearts on
reflection, succeed in protecting their souls. The person governed by his
senses does not know that death has come at his door. At last, dragged by
the messengers of the Destroyer, he meets with destruction at the
appointed time. Agitated by his senses, for whatever good and evil has
been done at the outset and having enjoyed or suffered the fruits of
these, he once more becomes indifferent to his acts of self-slaughter.
Alas, the world is deceived, and covetousness brings it under its
dominion. Deprived of understanding by covetousness, wrath, and fear, one
knows not ones own self. Filled with joy at ones own respectability of
birth, one is seen to traduce those that are not high-born. Swelled also
with pride of wealth, one is seen to contemn the poor. One regards others
to be ignorant fools, but seldom takes a survey of ones own self. One
attributes faults to others but is never desirous to punish ones own
self. Since the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the
high-born and the lowborn, the honoured and the dishonoured, all go to
the place of the dead and sleep there freed from every anxiety, with
bodies divested of flesh and full only of bones united by dried-up
tendons, whom amongst them would the survivors look upon as distinguished
above the others and by what signs would they ascertain the attributes of
birth and beauty? When all, stretched after the same fashion, sleep on
the bare ground, why then should men, taking leave of their senses,
desire to deceive one another? He that, looking at this saying (in the
scriptures) with his own eyes or hearing it from others, practiseth
virtue in this unstable world of life and adhereth to it from early age,
attaineth to the highest end. Learning all this, he that adhereth to
Truth, O king, succeedeth in passing over all paths.”

5

“Dhritarashtra said, Tell me in detail everything about the ways of that
intelligence by which this wilderness of duties may be safely covered.

“Vidura said, Having bowed down to the Self-create, I will obey thy
behest by telling thee how the great sages speak of the wilderness of
life. A certain brahmana, living in the great world, found himself on one
occasion in a large inaccessible forest teeming with beasts of prey. It
abounded on every side with lions and other animals looking like
elephants, all of which were engaged in roaring aloud. Such was the
aspect of that forest that Yama himself would take fright at it.
Beholding the forest, the heart of the brahmana became exceedingly
agitated. His hair stood on end, and other signs of fear manifested
themselves, O scorcher of foes! Entering it, he began to run hither and
thither, casting his eyes on every point of the compass for finding out
somebody whose shelter he might seek. Wishing to avoid those terrible
creatures, he ran in fright. He could not succeed, however, in distancing
them or freeing himself from their presence. He then saw that that
terrible forest was surrounded with a net, and that a frightful woman
stood there, stretching her arms. That large forest was also encompassed
by many five-headed snakes of dreadful forms, tall as cliffs and touching
the very heavens. Within it was a pit whose mouth was covered with many
hard and unyielding creepers and herbs. The brahmana, in course of his
wanderings, fell into that invisible pit. He became entangled in those
clusters of creepers that were interwoven with one another, like the
large fruit of a jack tree hanging by its stalk. He continued to hang
there, feet upwards and head downwards. While he was in that posture,
diverse other calamities overtook him. He beheld a large and mighty snake
within the pit. He also saw a gigantic elephant near its mouth. That
elephant, dark in complexion, had six faces and twelve feet. And the
animal gradually approached that pit covered with creepers and trees.
About the twigs of the tree (that stood at the mouth of the pit), roved
many bees of frightful forms, employed from before in drinking the honey
gathered in their comb about which they swarmed in large numbers.
Repeatedly they desired, O bull of Bharatas race, to taste that honey
which though sweet to all creatures could, however, attract children
only. The honey (collected in the comb) fell in many jets below. The
person who was hanging in the pit continually drank those jets. Employed,
in such a distressful situation, in drinking that honey, his thirst,
however, could not be appeased. Unsatiated with repeated draughts, the
person desired for more. Even then, O king, he did not become indifferent
to life. Even there, the man continued to hope for existence. A number of
black and white rats were eating away the roots of that tree. There was
fear from the beasts of prey, from that fierce woman on the outskirts of
that forest, from that snake at the bottom of the well, from that
elephant near its top, from the fall of the tree through the action of
the rats, and lastly from those bees flying about for tasting the honey.
In that plight he continued to dwell, deprived of his senses, in that
wilderness, never losing at any time the hope of prolonging his life.”

6

“Dhritarashtra said, Alas, great was the distress of that person and very
painful his mode of life! Tell me, O first of speakers, whence was his
attachment to life and whence his happiness? Where is that region, so
unfavourable to the practice of virtue, in which that person resides? Oh,
tell me how will that man be freed from all those great terrors? Tell me
all this! We shall then exert ourselves properly for him. My compassion
has been greatly moved by the difficulties that lie in the way of his
rescue!

“Vidura said, They that are conversant, O monarch, with the religion of
moksha cite this as a simile. Understanding this properly, a person may
attain to bliss in the regions hereafter. That which is described as the
wilderness is the great world. The inaccessible forest within it is the
limited sphere of ones own life. Those that have been mentioned as beasts
of prey are the diseases (to which we are subject). That woman of
gigantic proportions residing in the forest is identified by the wise
with Decrepitude which destroys complexion and beauty. That which has
been spoken of as the pit is the body or physical frame of embodied
creatures. The huge snake dwelling in the bottom of that pit is time, the
destroyer of all embodied creatures. It is, indeed, the universal
destroyer. The cluster of creepers growing in that pit and attached to
whose spreading stems the man hangeth down is the desire for life which
is cherished by every creature. The six-faced elephant, O king, which
proceeds towards the tree standing at the mouth of the pit is spoken of
as the year. Its six faces are the seasons and its twelve feet are the
twelve months. The rats and the snakes that are cutting off the tree are
said to be days and nights that are continually lessening the periods of
life of all creatures. Those that have been described as bees are our
desires. The numerous jets that are dropping honey are the pleasures
derived from the gratification of our desires and to which men are seen
to be strongly addicted. The wise know lifes course to be even such.
Through that knowledge they succeed in tearing off its bonds.”

7

“Dhritarashtra said, Excellent is this parable that thou hast recited!
Indeed, thou art acquainted with truth! Having listened to thy nectarlike
speech, I desire to hear thee more.

“Vidura said, Listen to me, O king, I shall once more discourse in detail
on those means an acquaintance with which enable the wise to free
themselves from the ties of the world. As a person, O king, who has to
travel a long way is sometimes obliged to halt when fatigued with toil,
even so, O Bharata, they that are of little intelligence, travelling
along the extended way of life, have to make frequent halts in the shape
of repeated births in the womb. They, however, that are wise are free
from that obligation. Men conversant with the scriptures, for this,
describe lifes course as a long way. The wise also call lifes round with
all its difficulties a forest. Creatures, O bull of Bharatas race,
whether mobile or immobile, have to repeatedly return to the world. The
wise alone escape. The diseases, mental and physical, to which mortals
are subject, whether visible or invisible, are spoken of as beasts of
prey by the wise. Men are always afflicted and impeded by them, O
Bharata! Then again, those fierce beasts of prey, represented by their
own acts in life, never cause any anxiety to them that are of little
intelligence. If any person, O monarch, somehow escapes from diseases,
Decrepitude, that destroyer of beauty, overwhelmshim afterwards. Plunged
in a slough by the objects of the different senses–sound and form and
taste and touch and scent–man remains there without anything to rescue
him thence. Meanwhile, the years, the seasons, the months, the
fortnights, the days, and the nights, coming one after another, gradually
despoil him of beauty and lessen the period allotted to him. These all
are messengers of death. They, however, that are of little understanding
know them not to be such. The wise say that all creatures are governed by
the Ordainer through their acts. The body of a creature is called the
car. The living principle is the driver of (that car). The senses are
said to be steeds. Our acts and the understanding are the traces. He who
followeth after those running steeds has to come repeatedly to this world
in a round of rebirths. He, however, who, being self-restrained restrains
them by his understanding hath not to come back. They, however, that are
not stupefied while wandering in this wheel of life that is revolving
like a real wheel, do not in reality wander in a round of rebirths. He
that is wise should certainly take care to prevent the obligation of
rebirth. One should not be indifferent to this, for indifference may
subject us to it repeatedly. The man, O king, who has restrained his
senses and subdued wrath and covetousness, who is contented, and truthful
in speech, succeeds in obtaining peace. This body is called the car of
Yama. Then those that are of little intelligence are stupefied by it.
Such a person, O king, would obtain that which thou hast obtained. The
loss of kingdom, of friends, and of children, O Bharata, and such as
these, overtake him who is still under the influence of desire. He that
is wise should apply the medicine of intelligence to all great griefs.
Indeed, obtaining the medicine of wisdom, which is truly very efficacious
and is almost unattainable, the man of restrained soul would kill that
serious disease called sorrow. Neither prowess, nor wealth, nor friend,
nor well-wishers can cure a man of his grief so effectually as the
self-restrained soul. Therefore, observant of the great duty of
abstention from all injuries, or friendship for all creatures, be of
pious behaviour, O Bharata! Self-restraint, renunciation, and heedfulness
are the three steeds of Brahman. He who rides on the car of his soul,
unto which are yoked these steeds with the aid of traces furnished by
good conduct, and drives it, casting off all fear of death, proceedeth, O
king, to the regions of Brahman. That person, O monarch, who gives unto
all creatures an assurance of his harmlessness, goes to the highest of
regions, the blessed realm of Vishnu. The fruit that one obtains by an
assurance unto all creatures of his harmlessness cannot be obtained by a
1,000 sacrifices or by daily fasts. Amongst all things there is certainly
nothing dearer than self. Death is certainly disliked by all creatures, O
Bharata! Therefore, compassion should certainly be shown unto all. Endued
with diverse kinds of errors entangled by the net of their own
intelligence, they that are wicked and are of good vision, wander
repeatedly on the earth. They however, that are wise and endued with
subtle sight, attain to a union with Brahman.”

8

Vaishampayana said, “Even after hearing the words of Vidura, the chief of
the Kurus, afflicted with grief on account of the death of his sons, fell
down senseless on the Earth. Beholding him fall down in that state, his
friends, as also the island-born Vyasa, and Vidura, and Sanjaya, and
other well-wishers, and the attendants who used to wait at the gates and
who enjoyed his confidence, sprinkled cool water over his body, and
fanned him with palm leaves, and gently rubbed him with their hands. For
a long while they comforted the king while in that condition. The
monarch, recovering his senses after a long time, wept for a long while,
overwhelmed with grief on account of the death of his sons. He said, Fie
on the state of humanity! Fie on the human body! The woes that are
suffered in this life frequently arise from the very state of humanity.
Alas, O lord, great is the grief, like poison or fire, that one suffers
at the loss of sons, of wealth, of kinsmen, and relatives. That grief
causes the limbs to burn and our wisdom to be destroyed. Overwhelmed with
that grief, a person regards death to be preferable. This calamity that
has overtaken me through ill-luck is even like that. It will not, I see,
end except with life itself. O best of regenerate ones, I shall,
therefore, put an end to my life this very day. Having said these words
unto his high-souled sire, that foremost of all persons conversant with
Brahman, Dhritarashtra, overwhelmed with grief, became stupefied. The
king, O monarch reflecting on his woes, became speechless. Hearing these
words of his, the puissant Vyasa thus spoke unto his son afflicted with
grief on account of the death of his children.

“Vyasa said, O mighty-armed Dhritarashtra, listen to what I say. Thou art
possessed of learning, thou hast great intelligence, and thou, O puissant
one, art skilled in understanding duties. Nothing of that which should be
known is unknown to thee, O scorcher of foes! Without doubt, thou knowest
the instability of all things doomed to death. When the world of life is
unstable when this world itself is not eternal, when life is sure to end
in death, why then, O Bharata, dost thou grieve? Before thy very eyes, O
king, the concatenation of facts brought about by Time making thy son the
cause, produced this hostility. This destruction of the Kurus, O king,
was inevitable. Why then dost thou grieve for those heroes that have
attained to the highest end? O thou of mighty arms, the high-souled
Vidura knew everything. With all his might he had endeavoured, O king, to
bring about peace. It is my opinion that the course marked out by Destiny
cannot be controlled by anyone, even if one struggles for eternity. The
course that was settled by the gods was heard directly by me. I will
recite it to thee, so that tranquillity of mind may be thine. Once
before, without any fatigue, I repaired very quickly to the court of
Indra. There I beheld all the denizens of heaven assembled together.
There were, O sinless one, all the celestial rishis also, headed by
Narada. There, O monarch, I saw also the Earth (in her embodied form).
The latter had repaired to the gods for the accomplishment of a
particular mission. Approaching the gods, she said, “That which ye all
should do for me hath, ye blessed ones, been already promised by you
while you were in Brahmas abode. Let that be accomplished soon.” Hearing
these words of hers, Vishnu, the adored of all the worlds, smilingly
addressed her in the midst of the celestial conclave, saying, “The eldest
of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, who is known by the name of
Duryodhana, will accomplish thy business. Through that king, thy purpose
will be achieved. For his sake, many kings will assemble together on the
field of Kuru. Capable of smiting, they will cause one another to be
slain through the instrumentality of hard weapons. It is evident, O
goddess, that thy burthen will then be lightened in battle. Go quickly to
thy own place and continue to bear the weight of creatures, O beauteous
one!” From this thou wilt understand, O king, that thy son Duryodhana,
born in Gandharis womb, was a portion of Kali, sprung for the object of
causing a universal slaughter. He was vindictive, restless, wrathful, and
difficult of being gratified. Through the influence of Destiny his
brothers also became like him. Shakuni became his maternal uncle and
Karna his great friend. Many other kings were born on earth for aiding in
the work of destruction. As the king is, so do his subjects become. If
the king becomes righteous, even unrighteousness (in his dominions)
assumes the shape of righteousness. Servants, without doubt, are affected
by the merits and defects of their masters. Those sons of thine, O king,
having obtained a bad king, have all been destroyed. Conversant with
truth, Narada, knew all this. Thy sons, through their own faults, have
been destroyed, O king! Do not grieve for them, O monarch! There is no
cause for grief. The Pandavas have not, O Bharata, the least fault in
what has happened. Thy sons were all of wicked souls. It is they that
caused this destruction on earth. Blessed be thou; Narada had truly
informed Yudhishthira of all this in his court on the occasion of the
rajasuya sacrifice, saying, “The Pandavas and the Kauravas, encountering
each other, will meet with destruction. Do that, O son of Kunti, which
thou shouldst!” Upon these words of Narada, the Pandavas became filled
with grief. I have thus told thee that which is an eternal secret of the
gods. This will destroy thy grief and restore to thee a love of thy
life-breath, and cause thee to cherish affection for the Pandavas, for
all that has happened has been due to what had been ordained by the gods.
O thou of mighty arms, I had learnt all this sometime before. I also
spoke of it to king Yudhishthira the just on the occasion of his foremost
of sacrifices, the rajasuya. When I secretly informed him of all this,
Dharmas son endeavoured his best for preserving peace with the Kauravas.
That, however, which is ordained by the gods proved too powerful (to be
frustrated by him). The fiat, O king of the Destroyer, is incapable of
being baffled anyhow by mobile and immobile creatures. Thou art devoted
to virtue and possessed of superior intelligence, O Bharata! Thou knowest
also that which is the way and that which is not the way of all
creatures. If king Yudhishthira learns that thou art burning with grief
and losing thy senses frequently, he will cast off his very life-breath.
He is always compassionate and possessed of wisdom. His kindness extends
even to all the inferior creatures. How is it possible, O king, that he
will not show compassion to thee, O monarch? At my command, and knowing
that what is ordained is inevitable, as also from kindness to the
Pandavas, continue to bear thy life, O Bharata! If thou livest thus, thy
fame will spread in the world. Thou shalt then be able to acquire a
knowledge of all duties and find many years for obtaining ascetic merit.
This grief for the death of thy sons that has arisen in thy heart, like a
blazing fire, should always be extinguished, O king, by the water of
wisdom!””

Vaishampayana continued, “Hearing these words of Vyasa of immeasurable
energy and reflecting upon them for a little while, Dhritarashtra said, O
best of regenerate ones, I am exceedingly afflicted by a heavy load of
grief. My senses are repeatedly forsaking me and I am unable to bear up
my own self. Hearing, however, these words of thine about what had been
ordained by the gods, I shall not think of casting off my life-breath and
shall live and act without indulging in grief! Hearing these words of
Dhritarashtra, O monarch, Satyavatis son, Vyasa, disappeared then and
there.”

9

Janamejaya said, “After the holy Vyasa had departed, what, O regenerate
sage, did king Dhritarashtra, do? It behoveth thee to tell me this. What
also did the Kuru king, the high-souled son of Dharma, do? And how did
those three, Kripa and others, do? I have heard of the feats of
Ashvatthama and the mutual denouncement of curses. Tell me what happened
next and what Sanjaya next said (unto the old king).”

Vaishampayana said, “After Duryodhana had been slain and all the troops
slaughtered, Sanjaya, deprived of his spiritual sight, came back to
Dhritarashtra.

“Sanjaya said, The kings of diverse peoples, that came from diverse
realms, have all, O king, gone to the regions of the dead, along with thy
sons. Thy son, O king, who had constantlybeen implored (for peace) but
who always wished to terminate his hostility (with the Pandavas by
slaughtering them) has caused the earth to be exterminated. Do thou, O
king, cause the obsequial rites of thy sons and grandsons and sires to be
performed according to due order!”

Vaishampayana continued, “Hearing these terrible words of Sanjaya, the
king fell down on the Earth and lay motionless like one deprived of life.
Approaching the monarch who was lying prostrate on the Earth, Vidura,
conversant with every duty, said these words: Rise, O king, why dost thou
lie down thus? Do not grieve, O bull of Bharatas race! Even this, O lord
of Earth, is the final end of all creatures. At first creatures are
non-existent. In the interim, O Bharata, they become existent. At the
end, they once more become non-existent. What cause of sorrow is there in
all this? By indulging in grief, one cannot get back the dead. By
indulging in grief, one cannot die himself. When such is the course of
the world, why dost thou indulge in grief? One may die without having
been engaged in battle. One also escapes with life after being engaged in
battle. When ones Time comes, O king, one cannot escape! Time drags all
kinds of creatures. There is none dear or hateful to Time, O best of the
Kurus! As the wind tears off the ends of all blades of grass, even so all
creatures, O bull of Bharatas race, are brought by Time under its
influence. All creatures are like members of the same caravan bound for
the same destination. What cause of sorrow is there if Time meets with
one a little earlier than with another? Those again, O king, that have
fallen in battle and for whom thou grievest, are not really objects of
thy grief, since all those illustrious ones have gone to heaven. By
sacrifices with profuse presents, by ascetic austerities, and by
knowledge, people cannot so easily repair to heaven as heroes by courage
in battle. All those heroes were conversant with the Vedas; all of them
were observant of vows; all of them have perished, facing the foe in
battle. What cause of sorrow then is there? They poured their arrowy
libations upon the bodies of their brave foes as upon a fire. Foremost of
men, they bore in return the arrowy libations poured upon themselves. I
tell thee, O king, that there is no better way to heaven for a Kshatriya
than through battle. All of them were high-souled Kshatriyas, all of them
were heroes and ornaments of assemblies. They have attained to a high
state of blessedness. One should not grieve for them. Do thou comfort thy
own self. Do not grieve, O bull among men! It behoveth thee not to suffer
thyself to be overwhelmed with sorrow and abandon all action.”

10

Vaishampayana said, “Hearing these words of Vidura, that bull of Bharatas
race (Dhritarashtra) ordered his car to be yoked. The king once more
said, Bring Gandhari hither without delay, and all the Bharata ladies.
Bring hither Kunti also, as well as all the other ladies with her. Having
said these words unto Vidura, conversant with every duty, Dhritarashtra
of righteous soul, deprived of his senses by sorrow, ascended on his car.
Then Gandhari, afflicted with grief on account of the death of her sons,
accompanied by Kunti and the other ladies of the royal household, came at
the command of her lord to that spot where the latter was waiting for
her. Afflicted with grief, they came together to the king. As they met,
they accosted each other and uttered loud wails of woe. Then Vidura, who
had become more afflicted than those ladies, began to comfort them.
Placing those weeping fair ones on the cars that stood ready for them, he
set out (with them) from the city. At that time a loud wail of woe arose
from every Kuru house. The whole city, including the very children,
became exceedingly afflicted with grief. Thoseladies that had not before
this been seen by the very gods were now helpless, as they were, for the
loss of their lords, seen by the common people. With their beautiful
tresses all dishevelled and their ornaments cast off, those ladies, each
attired in a single piece of raiment, proceeded most woefully. Indeed,
they issued from their houses resembling white mountains, like a dappled
herd of deer from their mountain caves after the fall of their leader.
These fair ladies, in successive bevies, O king, came out, filled with
sorrow, and ran hither and thither like a herd of fillies on a circus
yard. Seizing each other by the hand, they uttered loud wails after their
sons and brothers and sires. They seemed to exhibit the scene that takes
place on the occasion of the universal destruction at the end of the
Yuga. Weeping and crying and running hither and thither, and deprived of
their senses by grief, they knew not what to do. Those ladies who
formerly felt the blush of modesty in the presence of even companions of
their own sex, now felt no blush of shame, though scantily clad, in
appearing before their mothers-in-law. Formerly they used to comfort each
other while afflicted with even slight causes of woe. Stupefied by grief,
they now, O king, refrained from even casting their eyes upon each other.
Surrounded by those thousands of wailing ladies, the king cheerlessly
issued out of the city and proceeded with speed towards the field of
battle. Artisans and traders and Vaishyas and all kinds of mechanics,
issuing out of the city, followed in the wake of the king. As those
ladies, afflicted by the wholesale destruction that had overtaken the
Kurus, cried in sorrow, a loud wail arose from among them that seemed to
pierce all the worlds. All creatures that heard that wail thought that
the hour of universal destruction had come when all things would be
consumed by the fire that arises at the end of the Yuga. The citizens
also (of Hastinapura), devoted to the house of Kuru, with hearts filled
with anxiety at the destruction that had overtaken their rules, set up, O
king, a wail that was as loud as that uttered by those ladies.”

11

Vaishampayana said, “Dhritarashtra had not proceeded for more than two
miles when he met with those three great car-warriors, Sharadvatas son
Kripa, Dronas son (Ashvatthama), and Kritavarma. As soon as the latter
obtained a sight of the blind monarch possessed of great power, the three
heroes sighed in grief and with voices choked in tears weepingly
addressed him, saying, Thy royal son, O king, having achieved the most
difficult feats, has, with all his followers, gone to the region of
Indra. We are the only three car-warriors of Duryodhanas army that have
escaped with life. All the others, O bull of Bharatas race, have
perished. Having said these words unto the king, Sharadvatas son Kripa,
addressing the grief-afflicted Gandhari, said these words unto her, Thy
sons have fallen while engaged in achieving feats worthy of heroes, while
fearlessly fighting in battle and striking down large numbers of foes.
Without doubt, having obtained those bright worlds that are attainable
only by the use of weapons, they are sporting there like celestials,
having assumed resplendent forms. Amongst those heroes there was no one
that turned back from battle. Every one of them has fallen at the end or
edge of weapons. None of them joined his hands, begging for quarter.
Death in battle at the end or edge of weapons has been said by the
ancients to be the highest end that a Kshatriya can obtain. It behoveth
thee not, therefore, to grieve for any of them. Their foes, O queen, the
Pandavas, too, have not been more fortunate. Listen, what we, headed by
Ashvatthama, have done unto them. Learning that thy son had been slain
unrighteously by Bhima, we slaughtered the Pandavas after entering their
camp buried in sleep. All the Pancalas have been slain. Indeed, all the
sons of Drupada, as also all the sons of Draupadi, have been slaughtered.
Having caused this carnage of the sons of our foes, we are flying away
since we three are incapable of standing in battle with them. Our foes,
the Pandavas, are all heroes and mighty bowmen. They will soon come up
with us, filled with rage, for taking vengeance on us. Hearing the
slaughter of their sons, those bulls among men, infuriated with rage,
those heroes, O illustrious lady, will speedily pursue our track. Having
caused a carnage (in their sleeping camp) we dare not stay. Grant us
permission, O queen! It behoveth thee not to set thy heart on sorrow.
Grant us thy permission also, O king! Summon all thy fortitude. Do thou
also observe the duties of a Kshatriya in their highest form. Having said
these words unto the king, and circumambulating him, Kripa and Kritavarma
and Dronas son, O Bharata, without being able to withdraw their eyes from
king Dhritarashtra possessed of great wisdom, urged their steeds towards
the banks of the Ganga. Moving away from that spot, O king, those great
car-warriors, with hearts plunged in anxiety, took one anothers leave and
separated from one another. Sharadvatas son, Kripa, went to Hastinapura;
Hridikas son repaired to his own kingdom; while the son of Drona set for
the asylum of Vyasa. Even thus those heroes, who had offended the
high-souled sons of Pandu, respectively proceeded to the places they
selected, afflicted with fear and casting their eyes on one another.
Having met the king thus, those brave chastisers of foes, before the sun
rose, went away, O monarch, to the places they chose. It was after this,
O king, that the sons of Pandu, those great car-warriors, encountered the
son of Drona, and putting forth their prowess, vanquished him, O monarch,
(in the way already related).”

12

Vaishampayana said, “After all the warriors had been slaughtered, king
Yudhishthira the just heard that his uncle Dhritarashtra had set out from
the city called after the elephant. Afflicted with grief on account of
the death of his sons, Yudhishthira, O king, accompanied by his brothers,
set out for meeting his uncle, filled with sorrow and overwhelmed with
grief for the slaughter of his (hundred) sons. The son of Kunti was
followed by the high-souled and heroic Krishna of Dasharhas race, and by
Yuyudhana, as also by Yuyutsu. The princess Draupadi also, burning with
grief, and accompanied by those Pancala ladies that were with her,
sorrowfully followed her lord. Yudhishthira beheld near the banks of the
Ganga, O king, the crowd of Bharata ladies afflicted with woe and crying
like a flight of she-ospreys. The king was soon surrounded by those
thousands of ladies who, with arms raised aloft in grief, were indulging
in loud lamentations and giving expression to all kinds of words,
agreeable and disagreeable: Where, indeed, is that righteousness of the
king, where is truth and compassion, since he has slain sires and
brothers and preceptors and sons and friends? How, O mighty-armed one,
hath thy heart become tranquil after causing Drona, and thy grandsire
Bhishma, and Jayadratha, to be slaughtered? What need hast thou of
sovereignty, after having seen thy sires and brothers, O Bharata, and the
irresistible Abhimanyu and the sons of Draupadi, thus slaughtered?
Passing over those ladies crying like a flight of she-ospreys, the
mighty-armed king Yudhishthira the just saluted the feet of his eldest
uncle. Having saluted their sire according to custom, those slayers of
foes, the Pandavas, announced themselves to him, each uttering his own
name. Dhritarashtra, exceedingly afflicted with grief on account of the
slaughter of his sons, then reluctantly embraced the eldest son of Pandu,
who was the cause of that slaughter. Having embraced Yudhishthira the
just and spoken a few words of comfort to him, O Bharata, the
wicked-souled Dhritarashtra sought for Bhima, like a blazing fire ready
to burn everything that would approach it. Indeed, that fire of his
wrath, fanned by the wind of his grief, seemed then to be ready to
consume the Bhima-forest. Ascertaining the evil intentions cherished by
him towards Bhima, Krishna, dragging away the real Bhima, presented an
iron statue of the second son of Pandu to the old king. Possessed of
great intelligence, Krishna had, at the very outset, understood the
intentions of Dhritarashtra, and had, therefore, kept such a contrivance
ready for baffling them. Seizing with his two arms that iron Bhima, king
Dhritarashtra, possessed of great strength, broke into pieces, thinking
it to be Bhima himself in flesh and blood. Endued with might equal to
that of 10,000 elephants, the king reduced that statue into fragments.
His own breast, however, became considerably bruised and he began to
vomit blood. Covered with blood, the king fell down on the ground like a
parijata tree topped with its flowery burden. His learned charioteer
Sanjaya, the son of Gavalgana, raised the monarch and soothing and
comforting him, said, Do not act so. The king then, having cast off his
wrath and returned to his normal disposition, became filled with grief
and began to weep aloud, saying, Alas, oh Bhima, alas, oh Bhima!
Understanding that he was no longer under the influence of wrath, and
that he was truly sorry for having (as he believed) killed Bhima,
Vasudeva, that foremost of men, said these words, Do not grieve, O
Dhritarashtra, for thou hast not slain Bhimasena! That is an iron statue,
O king, which has been broken by thee! Understanding that thou wert
filled with rage, O bull of Bharatas race, I dragged the son of Kunti
away from within the jaws of Death. O tiger among kings, there is none
equal to thee in strength of body. What man is there, O mighty-armed one,
that would endure pressure of thy arms? Indeed, as no one can escape with
life from an encounter with the Destroyer himself, even so no body can
come out safe from within thy embrace. It was for this that yonder iron
statue of Bhima, which had been caused to be made by thy son, had been
kept ready for thee. Through grief for the death of thy sons, thy mind
has fallen off from righteousness. It is for this, O great king, that
thou seekest to slay Bhimasena. The slaughter of Bhima, however, O king,
would do thee no good. Thy sons, O monarch, would not be revived by it.
Therefore, do thou approve of what has been by us with a view to secure
peace and do not set thy heart on grief!”

Section 13

Vaishampayana said, “Certain maid-servants then came to the king for
washing him. After he had been duly washed, the slayer of Madhu again
addressed him, saying, Thou hast, O king, read the Vedas and diverse
scriptures. Thou hast heard all old histories, and everything about the
duties of kings. Thou art learned, possessed of great wisdom, and
indifferent to strength and weakness. Why then dost thou cherish such
wrath when all that has overtaken thee is the result of thy own fault? I
spoke to thee before the battle. Both Bhishma and Drona, O Bharata, did
the same, as also Vidura and Sanjaya. Thou didst not, however, then
follow our advice. Indeed, though exhorted by us, thou didst not yet act
according to the counsels we offered, knowing that the Pandavas were
superior to thee and thine, O Kauravya, in strength and courage. That
king who is capable of seeing his own faults and knows the distinctions
of place and time, obtains great prosperity. That person, however, who,
though counselled by well-wishers, does not accept their words, good or
bad, meets with distress and is obliged to grieve in consequence of the
evil policy he pursues. Observe thou a different course of life now, O
Bharata! Thou didst not keep thy soul under restraint, but suffered
thyself to be ruled by Duryodhana. That which has come upon thee is due
to thy own fault. Why then dost thou seek to slay Bhima? Recollecting thy
own faults, govern thy wrath now. That mean wretch who had, from pride,
caused the princess of Pancala to be brought into the assembly has been
slain by Bhimasena in just revenge. Look at thy own evil acts as also at
those of thy wicked-souled son. The sons of Pandu are perfectly innocent.
Yet have they been treated most cruelly by thee and him.”

Vaishampayana continued, “After he had thus been told nothing but the
truth by Krishna, O monarch, king Dhritarashtra replied unto Devakis son,
saying, It is even so, O thou of mighty arms! What thou sayest, O
Madhava, is perfectly true. It is parental affection, O thou of righteous
soul, that caused me to fall away from righteousness. By good luck, that
tiger among men, the mighty Bhima of true prowess, protected by thee,
came not within my embrace. Now, however, I am free from wrath and fever.
I desire eagerly, O Madhava, to embrace that hero, the second son of
Pandu. When all the kings have been dead, when my children are no more,
upon the sons of Pandu depend my welfare and happiness. Having said these
words, the old king then embraced those princes of excellent frames,
Bhima and Dhananjaya, and those two foremost of men, the two sons of
Madri, and wept, and comforted and pronounced blessings upon them.”

14

Vaishampayana said, “Commanded by Dhritarashtra, those bulls of Kurus
race, the Pandava brothers, accompanied by Keshava, then proceeded to see
Gandhari. The faultless Gandhari, afflicted with grief on account of the
death of her hundred sons, recollecting that king Yudhishthira the just
had slain all his enemies, wished to curse him. Understanding her evil
intentions towards the Pandavas, the son of Satyavati addressed himself
for counteracting them at the very outset. Having cleansed himself by the
sacred and fresh water of the Ganga, the great rishi, capable of
proceeding everywhere at will with the fleetness of the mind, came to
that spot. Capable of seeing the heart of every creature with his
spiritual vision and with his mind directed towards it, the sage made his
appearance there. Endued with great ascetic merit and ever intent on
saying what was for the benefit of creatures, the rishi, addressing his
daughter-in-law at the proper moment, said, Do not avail thyself of this
opportunity for denouncing a curse. On the other hand, utilize it for
showing thy forgiveness. Thou shouldst not be angry with the Pandavas, O
Gandhari! Set thy heart on peace. Restrain the words that are about to
fall from thy lips. Listen to my advice. Thy son, desirous of victory,
had besought thee every day for the eighteen days that battle lasted,
saying, “O mother, bless me who am fighting with my foes.” Implored every
day in these words by thy son desirous of victory, the answer thou always
gavest him was, “Thither is victory where righteousness is!” I do not, O
Gandhari, remember that any words spoken by thee have become false. Those
words, therefore, that thou, implored by Duryodhana, saidst unto him,
could not be false. Thou art always employed in the good of all
creatures. Having without doubt reached the other shore in that dreadful
battle of Kshatriyas, the sons of Pandu have certainly won the victory
and a measure of righteousness that is much greater. Thou wert formerly
observant of the virtue of forgiveness. Why wouldst thou not observe it
now? Subdue unrighteousness, O thou that art conversant with
righteousness. There is victory where righteousness is. Remembering thy
own righteousness and the words spoken by thyself, restrain thy wrath, O
Gandhari! Do not act otherwise, O thou that art beautiful in speech.
Hearing these words, Gandhari said, O holy one, I do not cherish any ill
feelings towards the Pandavas, nor do I wish that they should perish. In
consequence, however, of grief for the death of my sons, my heart is very
much agitated. I know that I should protect the Pandavas with as much
care as Kunti herself protects them, and that Dhritarashtra also should
protect them as I should. Through the fault of Duryodhana and of Shakuni
the son of Subala, and through the action of Karna and Duhshasana,
extermination of the Kurus hath taken place. In this matter the slightest
blame cannot attach to Vibhatsu or to Prithas son Vrikodara, or to Nakula
or Sahadeva, or to Yudhishthira himself. While engaged in battle, the
Kauravas, swelling with arrogance and pride, have fallen along with many
others (that came to their aid). I am not grieved at this. But there has
been one act done by Bhima in the very presence of Vasudeva (that moves
my resentment). The high-souled Vrikodara, having challenged Duryodhana
to a dreadful encounter with mace, and having come to know that my son,
while careering in diverse kinds of motion in the battle, was superior to
him in skill, struck the latter below the navel. It is this that moves my
wrath. Why should heroes, for the sake of their lives, cast off
obligations of duty that have been determined by high-souled persons
conversant with every duty?”

15

Vaishampayana said, “Hearing these words of Gandhari, Bhimasena, looking
like one in fright, said these words for soothing her, Be the act
righteous or unrighteous, it was done by me through fear and for the
object of protecting my own self. It behoveth thee therefore, to forgive
me now. Thy mighty son was incapable of being slain by anybody in a fair
and righteous battle. It was for this that I did what was unfair.
Duryodhana himself had formerly vanquished Yudhishthira unrighteously. He
used always to behave guilefully towards us. It was for this that I had
recourse to an unfair act. Thy son was then the sole unslain warrior on
his side. In order that that valiant prince might not slay me in the
mace-encounter and once more deprive us of our kingdom, I acted in that
way. Thou knowest all that thy son had said unto the princess of Pancala
while the latter, in her season, was clad in a single piece of raiment.
Without having disposed of Suyodhana it was impossible for us to rule
peacefully the whole earth with her seas. It was for this that I acted in
that way. Thy son inflicted many wrongs on us. In the midst of the
assembly he had shown his left thigh unto Draupadi. For that wicked
behaviour, thy son deserved to be slain by us even then. At the command,
however, of king Yudhishthira the just, we suffered ourselves to be
restrained by the compact that had been made. By this means, O queen, thy
son provoked deadly hostilities with us. Great were our sufferings in the
forest (whither we were driven by thy son). Remembering all this, I acted
in that way. Having slain Duryodhana in battle, we have reached the end
of our hostilities. Yudhishthira has got back his kingdom, and we also
have been freed from wrath. Hearing these words of Bhima, Gandhari said,
Since thou praisest my son thus (for his skill in battle), he did not
deserve such a death. He, however, did all that thou tellest me. When
Vrishasena, however, had deprived Nakula of his steeds, O Bharata, thou
quaffedst in battle the blood from Duhshasanas body! Such an act is cruel
and is censured by the good. It suits only a person that is most
disrespectable. It was a wicked act, O Vrikodara, that was then
accomplished by thee! It was undeserving of thee. Bhima replied, saying,
It is improper to quaff the blood of even a stranger, what then need be
said about quaffing the blood of ones own self? Ones brother, again, is
like ones own self. There is no difference between them. The blood,
however, (that I am regarded to have quaffed) did not, O mother, pass
down my lips and teeth. Karna knew this well. My hands only were smeared
with (Duhshasanas) blood. Seeing Nakula deprived of his steeds by
Vrishasena in battle, I caused the rejoicing (Kaurava) brothers to be
filled with dread. When after the match at dice the tresses of Draupadi
were seized, I uttered certain words in rage. Those words are still in my
remembrance, I would, for all years to come, have been regarded to have
swerved from the duties of a Kshatriya if I had left that vow
unaccomplished. It was for this, O queen, that I did that act. It
behoveth thee not, O Gandhari, to impute any fault to me. Without having
restrained thy sons in former days, doth it behove thee to impute any
fault to our innocent selves?

“Gandhari said, Unvanquished by anyone, thou hast slain a hundred sons of
this old man. Oh, why didst thou not spare, O child, even one son of this
old couple deprived of kingdom, one whose offences were lighter? Why
didst thou not leave even one crutch for this blind couple? O child,
although thou livest unharmed, having slain all my children, yet no grief
would have been mine if thou hadst adopted the path of righteousness (in
slaying them).”

Vaishampayana continued, “Having said these words, Gandhari, filled with
wrath at the slaughter of all her sons and grandsons, enquired after
Yudhishthira, saying, Where is the king? After she had said these words
king Yudhishthira, trembling and with joined hands, approached her and
said these soft words unto her, Here is Yudhishthira, O goddess, that
cruel slayer of thy sons! I deserve thy curses, for I am the cause of
this universal destruction. Oh, curse me! I have no longer any need for
life, for kingdom, for wealth! Having caused such friends to be slain, I
have proved myself to be a great fool and a hater of friends. Unto
Yudhishthira who spoke such words, who was overcome with fear, and who
stood in her presence, Gandhari, drawing long sighs, said nothing.
Conversant with the rules of righteousness, the Kuru queen, possessed of
great foresight, directed her eyes, from within the folds of the cloth
that covered them, to the tip of Yudhishthiras toe, as the prince, with
body bent forwards, was about to fall down at her feet. At this, the
king, whose nails had before this been all very beautiful, came to have a
sore nail on his toe. Beholding this, Arjuna moved away to the rear of
Vasudeva. and the other sons of Pandu became restless and moved from one
spot to another. Gandhari then, having cast off her wrath, comforted the
Pandavas as a mother should. Obtaining her leave, those heroes of broad
chests then proceeded together to present themselves to their mother,
that parent of heroes. Having seen her sons after a long time, Kunti, who
had been filled with anxiety on their account, covered her face with her
cloth and began to weep. Having wept for some time with her children,
Pritha beheld the wounds and scars of many weapons on their bodies. She
then repeatedly embraced and patted each of her sons, and afflicted with
grief wept with Draupadi who had lost all her children and whom she saw
lying on the bare earth, indulging in piteous lamentations.

“Draupadi said, O venerable dame, where have all your grandsons, with
Abhimanyu among them, gone? Beholding thee in such distress, why are they
delaying in making their appearance before thee? Deprived as I am of my
children, what need have I of kingdom? Raising the grief-stricken
princess of Pancala who was weeping thus, Pritha began to comfort that
lady of large eyes. Then Kunti, accompanied by the princess of Pancala
and followed by her sons, proceeded towards the grief-afflicted Gandhari
herself in greater affliction still. Beholding that illustrious lady with
her daughter-in-law, Gandhari addressed her, saying, Do not, O daughter,
grieve so. Behold, I too am as much stricken with grief as thou. I think
this universal destruction has been brought about by the irresistible
course of Time. Inevitable as it was, this dreadful slaughter has not
been due to the voluntary agency of human beings. Even that has come to
pass which Vidura of great wisdom foretold after Krishnas supplication
for peace had failed. Do not, therefore, grieve, in a matter that was
inevitable, especially after its occurrence. Having fallen in battle,
they should not be grieved for. I am in the same predicament with thee.
(If thou actest in such a way) who then will comfort us? Through my
fault, this foremost of races has been destroyed.”

Here ends the Jalapradanika-parva in the Stri-parva.

16

(Stri-vilapa-parva)

Vaishampayana said, “Having said these words, Gandhari, though staying on
that spot which was distant from the field of battle, beheld, with her
spiritual eye, the slaughter of the Kurus. Devoted to her lord, that
highly blessed lady had always practised high vows. Undergoing the
severest penances, she was always truthful in her speech. In consequence
of the gift of the boon by the great rishi Vyasa of sanctified deeds, she
became possessed of spiritual knowledge and power. Piteous were the
lamentations in which that dame then indulged. Endued with great
intelligence, the Kuru dame saw, from a distance, but as if from a near
point, that field of battle, terrible to behold and full of wonderful
sights, of those foremost of fighters. Scattered all over with bones and
hair, and covered with streams of blood, that field was strewn with
thousands upon thousands of dead bodies on every side. Covered with the
blood of elephants and horses and car-warriors and combatants of other
kinds, it teemed with headless trunks and trunkless heads. And it
resounded with the cries of elephants and steeds and men and women and
abounded with jackals and cranes and ravens and kankas and crows. And it
was the sporting ground of rakshasas subsisting on human flesh. And it
swarmed with ospreys and vultures and resounded with the inauspicious
howls of jackals. Then king Dhritarashtra, at the command of Vyasa, and
all the sons of Pandu with Yudhishthira at their head, with Vasudeva and
all the Kuru ladies, proceeded to the field of battle. Those ladies,
bereaved of their lords, having reached Kurukshetra, beheld their slain
brothers and sons and sires and husbands lying on the ground, and in
course of being devoured by beasts of prey and wolves and ravens and
crows and ghosts and pishacas and rakshasas and diverse other wanderers
of the night. Beholding that carnage which resembled the sights seen on
the sporting ground of Rudra, the ladies uttered loud shrieks and quickly
alighted from their costly vehicles. Witnessing sights the like of which
they had never before witnessed, the Bharata ladies felt their limbs to
be deprived of strength and fell down on the ground. Others became so
stupefied that they lost all their senses. Indeed, the Pancala and the
Kuru ladies were plunged into unutterable distress. Beholding that
dreadful field of battle resounding on every direction with the cries of
those grief-stricken ladies, the daughter of Subala, acquainted with
every duty, addressed the lotus-eyed Keshava, that foremost of all men.
Witnessing that universal slaughter of the Kurus and filled with grief at
the sight, she said these words: Behold, O lotus-eyed Madhava, these
daughters-in-law of mine! Deprived of their lords, they are uttering,
with dishevelled hair, piteous cries of woe like a flight of she-ospreys.
Meeting with those dead bodies, they are calling back to their memories
the great Bharata chiefs. They are running hither and thither in large
bands towards their sons and brothers and sires and husbands. Behold, O
mighty-armed one, the field is covered with mothers of heroes, all of
whom, however, have been bereaved of children. There, those portions
again are covered with spouses of heroes, who have, however, been
bereaved of their spouses! Behold, the field of battle is adorned with
those tigers among men, Bhishma and Karna and Abhimanyu and Drona and
Drupada and Shalya, as if with blazing fires. Behold, it is adorned also
with the golden coats of mail, and with the costly gems, of high-souled
warriors, and with their angadas, and keyuras and garlands. Behold, it is
strewn with darts and spiked clubs hurled by heroic hands, and swords and
diverse kinds of keen shafts and bows. Beasts of prey, assembled
together, are standing or sporting or lying down as it likes them!
Behold, O puissant hero, the field of battle is even such. At this sight,
O Janardana, I am burning with grief. In the destruction of the Pancalas
and the Kurus, O slayer of Madhu, I think, the five elements (of which
everything is made) have been destroyed. Fierce vultures and other birds,
in thousands, are dragging those blood-dyed bodies, and seizing them by
their armour, are devouring them. Who is there that could think of the
death of such heroes as Jayadratha and Karna and Drona and Bhishma and
Abhimanyu? Alas, though incapable of being slain, they have yet been
slain, O destroyer of Madhu! Behold, vultures and kankas and ravens and
hawks and dogs and jackals are feasting upon them. There, those tigers
among men, that fought on Duryodhanas side, and took the field in wrath,
are now lying like extinguished fires. All of them are worthy of sleeping
on soft and clean beds. But, alas, plunged into distress, they are
sleeping today on the bare ground. Bards reciting their praises used to
delight them before at proper times. They are now listening to the fierce
and inauspicious cries of jackals. Those illustrious heroes who used
formerly to sleep on costly beds with their limbs smeared with sandal
paste and powdered aloe, alas, now sleep on the dust! These vultures and
wolves and ravens have now become their ornaments. Repeatedly uttering
inauspicious and fierce cries those creatures are now dragging their
bodies. Delighting in battle, those heroes, looking cheerful, have still
beside them their keen shafts, well-tempered swords, and bright maces, as
if life has not yet departed from them. Many foremost of heroes,
possessed of beauty and fair complexions and adorned with garlands of
gold, are sleeping on the ground. Behold, beasts of prey are dragging and
tearing them. Others, with massive arms, are sleeping with maces in their
embrace, as if those were beloved wives. Others, still cased in armour,
are holding in their hands their bright weapons. Beasts of prey are not
mangling them, O Janardana, regarding them to be still alive. The
beautiful garlands of pure gold on the necks of other illustrious heroes,
as the latter are being dragged by carnivorous creatures, are scattered
about on every side. There, those fierce wolves, numbering in thousands,
are dragging the golden chains round the necks of many illustrious heroes
stilled by death. Many, whom bards well-trained to their work formerly
used, with their hymns and eulogies of grave import, to delight every
morning, are now surrounded by fair ladies stricken with grief and
weeping and crying around them in woe, O tiger of Vrishnis race! The
faces of those beautiful ladies, O Keshava, though pale, look resplendent
still, like an assemblage of red lotuses! Those Kuru ladies have ceased
to weep, with their respective followers and companions. They are all
filled with anxiety. Overwhelmed with sorrow, they are running hither and
thither. The faces of those fair ones have, with weeping and anger,
become resplendent as the morning sun or gold or burnished copper.
Hearing each others lamentations of incomplete sense, those ladies, in
consequence of the loud wails of woe bursting from every side, are unable
to catch each others meaning. Some amongst them, drawing long sighs and
indulging in repeated lamentations, are stupefied by grief and are
abondoning their life-breaths. Many of them, beholding the bodies (of
their sons, husbands, or sires), are weeping and setting up loud wails.
Others are striking their heads with their own soft hands. The earth,
strewn with severed heads and hands and other limbs mingled together and
gathered in large heaps, looks resplendent with these signs of havoc!
Beholding many headless trunks of great beauty, and many heads without
trunks, those fair ones have been lying senseless on the ground for a
long while. Uniting particular heads with particular trunks, those
ladies, senseless with grief, are again discovering their mistakes and
saying, “This is not this ones,” and are weeping more bitterly! Others,
uniting arms and thighs and feet, cut off with shafts, are giving way to
grief and losing their senses repeatedly (at the sight of the restored
forms). Some amongst the Bharata ladies, beholding the bodies of their
lords,–bodies that have been mangled by animals and birds and severed of
their heads,–are not succeeding in recognising them. Others, beholding
their brothers, sires, sons, and husbands slain by foes, are, O destroyer
of Madhu, striking their heads with their own hands. Miry with flesh and
blood, the Earth has become impassable with arms still holding swords in
their grasp, and with heads adorned with earrings. Beholding the field
strewn with their brothers and sires, and sons, those faultless ladies,
who had never before suffered the least distress, are now plunged into
unutterable woe. Behold, O Janardana, those numerous bevies of
Dhritarashtras daughters-in-law, resembling successive multitudes of
handsome fillies adorned with excellent manes! What, O Keshava, can be a
sadder spectacle for me to behold than that presented by those ladies of
fair forms who have assumed such an aspect? Without doubt, I must have
perpetrated great sins in my former lives, since I am beholding, O
Keshava, my sons and grandsons and brothers all slain by foes. While
indulging in such lamentations in grief, Gandharis eyes fell upon her son
(Duryodhana).”

17

Vaishampayana said, “Beholding Duryodhana, Gandhari, deprived of her
senses by grief, suddenly fell down on the earth like an uprooted
plantain tree. Having regained her senses soon, she began to weep,
repeatedly uttering loud wails at the sight of her son lying on the bare
ground, covered with blood. Embracing her son, Gandhari indulged in
piteous lamentations for him. Stricken with grief, and with senses
exceedingly agitated, the Kuru queen exclaimed, Alas, O son! Alas, O son!
Burning with sorrow, the queen drenched with her tears the body of her
son, possessed of massive and broad shoulders, and adorned with garlands
and collar. Addressing Hrishikesha who stood near, she said, On the eve
of this battle, O puissant one, that has exterminated this race, this
foremost of kings, O thou of Vrishnis race, said unto me, “In this
internecine battle, O mother, wish me victory!” When he had said these
words, I myself, knowing that a great calamity had come upon us, told him
even this, tiger among men, “Thither is victory where righteousness is.
And since, son, thy heart is set on battle, thou wilt, without doubt,
obtain those regions that are attainable by (the use of) weapons (and
sport there) like a celestial.” Even these were the words that I then
said unto him. I did not then grieve for my son. I grieve, however, for
the helpless Dhritarashtra bereaved of friends and kinsmen. Behold, O
Madhava, my son, that foremost of warriors, wrathful, skilled in weapons,
and irresistible in battle, sleeping on the bed of heroes. Behold the
reverses brought about by Time. This scorcher of foes that used of old to
walk at the head of all crowned persons now sleepeth on the dust. Without
doubt, the heroic Duryodhana, when he sleeps on that bed which is the
heros hath obtained the most unattainable end. Inauspicious jackals are
now delighting that prince asleep on the heros bed, who was formerly
delighted by the fairest of ladies sitting round him. He who was formerly
encircled by kings vying with one another to give him pleasure, alas, he,
slain and lying on the ground, is now encircled by vultures! He who was
formerly fanned with beautiful fans by fair ladies is now fanned by
(carnivorous) birds with flaps of their wings! Possessed of great
strength and true prowess, this mighty-armed prince, slain by Bhimasena
in battle, sleeps like an elephant slain by a lion! Behold Duryodhana, O
Krishna, lying on the bare ground, covered with blood, slain by Bhimasena
with his mace. That mighty-armed one who had in battle assembled together
eleven akshauhinis of troops, O Keshava, hath, in consequence of his own
evil policy, been now slain. Alas, there that great bowman and mighty
car-warrior sleeps, slain by Bhimasena, like a tiger slain by a lion!
Having disregarded Vidura, as also his own sire, this reckless, foolish,
and wicked prince hath succumbed to death, in consequence of his
disregard of the old. He who had ruled the earth, without a rival, for
thirteen years, alas, that prince, that son of mine, sleepeth to-day on
the bare ground, slain by his foes. Not long before, O Krishna, I beheld
the Earth, full of elephants and kine and horses, ruled by Duryodhana!
Today, O thou of mighty arms, I see her ruled by another, and destitute
of elephants and kine and horses! What need have I, O Madhava, of life?
Behold, again, this sight that is more painful than the death of my son,
the sight of these fair ladies weeping by the side of the slain heroes!
Behold, O Krishna, the mother of Lakshmana, that lady of large hips, with
her tresses dishevelled, that dear spouse of Duryodhana, resembling a
sacrificial altar of gold. Without doubt, this damsel of great
intelligence, while her mighty-armed lord was formerly alive, used to
sport within the embrace of her lords handsome arms! Why, indeed, does
not this heart of mine break into a hundred fragments at the sight of my
son and grandson slain in battle? Alas, that faultless lady now smells
(the head of) her son covered with blood. Now, again, that lady of fair
thighs is gently rubbing Duryodhanas body with her fair hand. At one time
she is sorrowing for her lord and at another for her son. At one time she
looketh on her lord, at another on her son. Behold, O Madhava, striking
her head with her hands, she falls upon the breast of her heroic spouse,
the king of the Kurus. Possessed of complexion like that of the filaments
of the lotus, she still looketh beautiful like a lotus. The unfortunate
princess now rubbeth the face of her son and now that of her lord. If the
scriptures and the shrutis be true, without doubt, this king has obtained
those regions (of blessedness) that one may win by the use of weapons!”

18

“Gandhari said, Behold, O Madhava, my century of sons, incapable of
fatigue (from exertion in battle), have all been slain by Bhimasena with
his mace in battle! That which grieves me more today is that these my
daughters-in-law, of tender years, deprived of sons and with dishevelled
hair, are wandering on the field today. Alas, they who formerly walked
only on the terraces of goodly mansions with feet adorned with many
ornaments, are now, in great affliction of heart, obliged to touch with
those feet of theirs this hard earth, miry with blood! Reeling in sorrow,
they are wandering like inebriated persons, driving away vultures and
jackals and crows with difficulty. Behold, that lady of faultless limbs
and slender waist, seeing this terrible carnage, falleth down,
overwhelmed with grief. Beholding this princess, this mother of
Lakshmana, O thou of mighty arms, my heart is torn with grief. These
beautiful ladies of fair arms, some seeing their brothers, some their
husbands, and some their sons, lying down in death on the bare ground,
are themselves falling down, seizing the arms of the slain. Listen, O
unvanquished one, to the loud wails of those elderly ladies and those
others of middle age at sight of this terrible carnage. Supporting
themselves against broken boxes of cars and the bodies of slain elephants
and steeds, behold, O thou of great might, those ladies, worn out with
fatigue, are resting themselves. Behold, O Krishna, some one amongst
them, taking up some kinsmans severed head decked with beautiful nose and
earrings, is standing in grief. I think, O sinless one, that both those
and myself of little understanding must have committed great sins in our
former lives, since, O Janardana, all our relatives and kinsmen have thus
been slain by king Yudhishthira the just! Our acts, righteous or
unrighteous, cannot go for nothing, O thou of Vrishnis race! Behold, O
Madhava, those young ladies of beautiful bosoms and abdomen, well-born,
possessed of modesty, having black eye-lashes and tresses of the same
colour on their heads, endued with voice sweet and dear like that of
swans, are falling down, deprived of their senses in great grief and
uttering piteous cries like flights of cranes. Behold, O lotus-eyed hero,
their beautiful faces resembling full-blown lotuses, are scorched by the
sun. Alas, O Vasudeva, the wives of my proud children possessed of
prowess like that of infuriated elephants, are now exposed to the gaze of
common people. Behold, O Govinda, the shields decked with hundred moons,
the standards of solar effulgence, the golden coats of mail, and the
collars and cuirasses made of gold, and the head-gears, of my sons,
scattered on the earth, are blazing with splendour like sacrificial fires
over which have been poured libations, of clarified butter. There,
Duhshasana sleepeth, felled by Bhima, and the blood of all his limbs
quaffed by that heroic slayer of foes. Behold that other son of mine, O
Madhava, slain by Bhima with his mace, impelled by Draupadi and the
recollection of his woes at the time of the match at dice. Addressing the
dice-won princess of Pancala in the midst of the assembly, this
Duhshasana, desirous of doing what was agreeable to his (elder) brother
as also to Karna, O Janardana, had said, “Thou art now the wife of a
slave! With Sahadeva and Nakula and Arjuna, O lady, enter our household
now!” On that occasion, O Krishna, I said unto king Duryodhana, “O son,
cast off (from thy side) the wrathful Shakuni. Know that thy maternal
uncle is of very wicked soul and exceedingly fond of quarrel. Casting him
off without delay, make peace with the Pandavas, O son! O thou of little
intelligence, thinkest thou not of Bhimasena filled with wrath? Thou art
piercing him with thy wordy shafts like a person striking an elephant
with burning brands.” Alas, disregarding my words, he vomitted his wordy
poison at them, like a snake vomitting its poison at a bull,–at them who
had already been pierced with his wordy darts. There, that Duhshasana
sleepeth, stretching his two massive arms, slain by Bhimasena like a
mighty elephant by a lion. The very wrathful Bhimasena perpetrated a most
horrible act by drinking in battle the blood of his foe!”

19

“Gandhari said, There, O Madhava, my son Vikarna, applauded by the wise,
lieth on the bare ground, slain by Bhima and mangled horribly! Deprived
of life, O slayer of Madhu, Vikarna lieth in the midst of (slain)
elephants like the moon in the autumnal sky surrounded by blue clouds.
His broad palm, cased in leathern fence, and scarred by constant wielding
of the bow, is pierced with difficulty by vultures desirous of feeding
upon it. His helpless young wife, O Madhava, is continually endeavouring,
without success, to drive away those vultures desirous of feeding on
carrion. The youthful and brave and handsome Vikarna, O bull among men,
brought up in luxury and deserving of every kind of weal, now sleepeth
amid the dust, O Madhava! Though all his vital parts have been pierced
with clothyard shafts and bearded arrows and nalikas, yet that beauty of
person which was his hath not forsaken this best of the Bharatas. There,
my son Durmukha, that slayer of large band of foes, sleepeth, with face
towards the enemy, slain by the heroic Bhimasena in observance of his
vow. His face, O Krishna, half-eaten away by beasts of prey, looketh more
handsome, O child, even like the moon on the seventh day of the lighted
fortnight. Behold, O Krishna, the face of that heroic son of mine, which
is even such. How could that son of mine be slain by foes and thus made
to eat the dust? O amiable one, how could that Durmukha, before whom no
foe could stand, be slain by foes, O subjugator of celestial regions!
Behold, O slayer of Madhu, that other son of Dhritarashtra, Citrasena,
slain and lying on the ground, that hero who was the model of all bowmen?
Those young ladies, afflicted with grief and uttering piteous cries, are
now sitting, with beasts of prey, around his fair form adorned with
wreaths and garlands. These loud wails of woe, uttered by women, and
these cries and roars of beasts of prey, seem exceedingly wonderful to
me, O Krishna! Youthful and handsome, and always waited upon and served
by the most beautiful ladies, my son Vivinsati, O Madhava, sleepeth
there, stained with dust. His armour hath been pierced with arrows. Slain
in the midst of the carnage, alas, the heroic Vivimshati is now
surrounded and waited upon by vultures! Having in battle penetrated the
ranks of the Pandava army, that hero now lieth on the bed of a hero,–on
the bed, that is, of an exalted Kshatriya! Behold, O Krishna, his very
beautiful face, with a smile playing on it, adorned with excellent nose
and fair eyebrows, and resembling the resplendent Moon himself! Formerly
a large number of the most beautiful ladies used to wait upon him, like
thousands of celestial girls upon a sporting gandharva. Who again could
endure my son Duhsaha, that slayer of heroic foes, that hero, that
ornament of assemblies, that irresistible warrior, that resister of foes?
The body of Duhsaha, covered with arrows, looks resplendent like a
mountain overgrown with flowering karnikaras. With his garland of gold
and his bright armour, Duhsaha, though deprived of life, looks
resplendent yet, like a white mountain of fire!”

20

“Gandhari said, He whose might and courage were regarded, O Keshava, as a
one and half times superior to those of his sire and thee, he who
resembled a fierce and proud lion, he who, without a follower, alone
pierced the impenetrable array of my son, he who proved to be the death
of many, alas, he now sleepeth there, having himself succumbed to death!
I see, O Krishna, the splendour of that son of Arjuna, of that hero of
immeasurable energy, Abhimanyu, hath not been dimmed even in death.
There, the daughter of Virata, the daughter-in-law of the wielder of
gandiva, that girl of faultless beauty overwhelmed with grief at sight of
her heroic husband, is indulging in lamentations! That young wife, the
daughter of Virata, approaching her lord, is gently rubbing him, O
Krishna, with her hand. Formerly, that highly intelligent and exceedingly
beautiful girl, inebriated with honeyed wines, used bashfully to embrace
her lord, and kiss the face of Subhadras son, that face which resembled a
full-blown lotus and which was supported on a neck adorned with three
lines like those of a conch-shell. Taking of her lords golden coat of
mail, O hero, that damsel is gazing now on the blood-dyed body of her
spouse. Beholding her lord, O Krishna, that girl addresses thee and says,
“O lotus-eyed one, this hero whose eyes resembled thine, hath been slain.
In might and energy, and prowess also, he was thy equal, O sinless one!
He resembled thee very much in beauty. Yet he sleeps on the ground, slain
by the enemy!” Addressing her own lord, the damsel says again, “Thou wert
brought up in every luxury. Thou usedst to sleep on soft skins of the
ranku deer. Alas, does not thy body feel pain today by lying thus on the
bare ground? Stretching thy massive arms adorned with golden angadas,
resembling a couple of elephants trunks and covered with skin hardened by
frequent use of the bow, thou sleepest, O lord, in peace, as if exhausted
with the toil of too much exercise in the gymnasium. Alas, why dost thou
not address me that am weeping so? I do not remember to have ever
offended thee. Why dost thou not speak to me then? Formerly, thou usedst
to address me even when thou wouldst see me at a distance. O reverend
sir, whither wilt thou go, leaving behind thee the much-respected
Subhadra, these thy sires that resemble the very celestials, and my own
wretched self distracted with woe?” Behold, O Krishna, gathering with her
hands the blood-dyed locks of her lord and placing his head on her lap,
the beautiful damsel is speaking to him as if he were alive, “How couldst
those great car-warriors slay thee in the midst of battle,–thee that art
the sisters son of Vasudeva and the son of the wielder of gandiva? Alas,
fie on those warriors of wicked deeds, Kripa and Karna and Jayadratha and
Drona and Dronas son, by whom thou wert deprived of life. What was the
state of mind of those great car-warriors at that time when they
surrounded thee, a warrior of tender years, and slew thee to my grief?
How couldst thou, O hero, who had so many protectors, be slain so
helplessly in the very sight of the Pandavas and the Pancalas? Beholding
thee, O hero, slain in battle by many persons united together, how is
that tiger among men, that son of Pandu, thy sire, able to bear the
burden of life? Neither the acquisition of a vast kingdom nor the defeat
of their foes conduces to the joy of the Parthas bereft of thee, O
lotus-eyed one! By the practice of virtue and self-restraint, I shall
very soon repair to those regions of bliss which thou hast acquired by
the use of weapons. Protect me, O hero, when I repair to those regions.
When ones hour does not come, one cannot die, since, wretched that I am,
I still draw breath after seeing thee slain in battle. Having repaired to
the region of the pitris, whom else, like me, dost thou address now, O
tiger among men, in sweet words mingled with smiles? Without doubt, thou
wilt agitate the hearts of the apsaras in heaven, with thy great beauty
and thy soft words mingled with smiles! Having obtained the regions
reserved for persons of righteous deeds, thou art now united, O son of
Subhadra, with the apsaras! While sporting with them, recollect at times
my good acts towards thee. Thy union with me in this world had, it seems,
been ordained for only six months, for in the seventh, O hero, thou hast
been bereft of life!” O Krishna, the ladies of the royal house of Matsya
are dragging away the afflicted Uttara, baffled of all her purposes,
while lamenting in this strain. Those ladies, dragging away the afflicted
Uttara, themselves still more afflicted than that girl, are weeping and
uttering loud wails at sight of the slain Virata. Mangled with the
weapons and shafts of Drona, prostrate on the ground, and covered with
blood, Virata is encompassed by screaming vultures and howling jackals
and crowing ravens. Those black-eyed ladies, approaching the prostrate
form of the Matsya king over which carnivorous birds are uttering cries
of joy, are endeavouring to turn the body. Weakened by grief and
exceedingly afflicted, they are unable to do what they intend. Scorched
by the Sun, and worn out with exertion and toil, their faces have become
colourless and pale. Behold also, O Madhava, those other children besides
Abhimanyu–Uttara, Sudakshina the prince of the Kambhojas, and the
handsome Lakshmana–all lying on the field of battle!”

21

“Gandhari said, Then the mighty Karna, that great bowman, lieth on the
ground! In battle he was like a blazing fire! That fire, however, hath
now been extinguished by the energy of Partha. Behold, Vikartanas son
Karna, after having slain many atirathas, has been prostrated on the bare
ground, and is drenched with blood. Wrathful and possessed of great
energy, he was a great bowman and a mighty car-warrior. Slain in battle
by the wielder of gandiva, that hero now sleepeth on the ground. My sons,
those mighty car-warriors, from fear of the Pandavas, fought, placing
Karna at their head, like a herd of elephants with its leader to the
fore. Alas, like a tiger slain by a lion, or an elephant by an infuriated
elephant, that warrior hath been slain in battle by Savyasaci. Assembled
together, O tiger among men, the wives of that warrior, with dishevelled
tresses and loud wails of grief, are sitting around that fallen hero!
Filled with anxiety caused by the thoughts of that warrior, king
Yudhishthira the just could not, for thirteen years, obtain a wink of
sleep! Incapable of being checked by foes in battle like Maghavat himself
who is invincible by enemies, Karna was like the all-destroying fire of
fierce flames at the end of the yuga, and immovable like Himavat himself!
That hero became the protector of Dhritarashtras son, O Madhava! Alas,
deprived of life, he now lieth on the bare ground, like a tree prostrated
by the wind! Behold, the wife of Karna and mother of Vrishasena, is
indulging in piteous lamentations and crying and weeping and falling upon
the ground! Even now she exclaims, “Without doubt, thy preceptors curse
hath pursued thee! When the wheel of thy car was swallowed up by the
Earth, the cruel Dhananjaya cut off thy head with an arrow! Alas, fie (on
the heroism and skill)!” That lady, the mother of Sushena, exceedingly
afflicted and uttering cries of woe, is falling down, deprived of her
senses, at the sight of the mighty-armed and brave Karna prostrated on
the earth, with his waist still encircled with a belt of gold.
Carnivorous creatures, feeding on the body of that illustrious hero, have
reduced it to very small dimensions. The sight is not gladdening, like
that of the moon on the fourteenth night of the dark fortnight. Falling
down on the earth, the cheerless dame is rising up again. Burning with
grief on account of the death of her son also, she cometh and smelleth
the face of her lord!”

22

“Gandhari said, Slain by Bhimasena, behold, the lord of Avanti lies
there! Vultures and jackals and crows are feeding upon that hero! Though
possessed of many friends, he lies now perfectly friendless! Behold, O
slayer of Madhu, having made a great slaughter of foes, that warrior is
now lying on the bed of a hero, covered with blood. Jackals, and kankas,
and other carnivorous creatures of diverse kinds, are dragging him now.
Behold the reverses brought about by Time. His wives, assembled together,
and crying in grief, are sitting around that hero who in life was a
terrible slayer of foes but who now lies on the bed of a hero. Behold,
Pratipas son Bahlika, that mighty bowman possessed of great energy, slain
with a broad-headed shaft, is now lying on the ground like a sleeping
tiger. Though deprived of life, the colour of his face is still
exceedingly bright, like that of the moon at full, risen on the fifteenth
day of the lighted fortnight! Burning with grief on account of the death
of his son, and desirous of accomplishing his vow, Indras son (Arjuna)
hath slain there that son of Vriddhakshatra! Behold that Jayadratha, who
was protected by the illustrious Drona, slain by Partha bent on
accomplishing his vow, after penetrating through eleven Akshauhinis of
troops. Inauspicious vultures, O Janardana, are feeding upon Jayadratha,
the lord of the Sindhu-Sauviras, full of pride and energy! Though sought
to be protected by his devoted wives, see, O Acyuta, carnivorous
creatures are dragging his body away to a jungle in the vicinity. The
Kamboja and Yavana wives of that mighty-armed lord of the Sindhus and the
Sauviras are waiting upon him for protecting him (from the wild beasts).
At that time, O Janardana, when Jayadratha, assisted by the Kekayas,
endeavoured to ravish Draupadi, he deserved to be slain by the Pandavas!
From regard, however, for Duhshala, they set him free on that occasion.
Why, O Krishna, did they not show some regard for that Duhshala once
more? That daughter of mine, of tender years, is now crying in grief. She
is striking her body with her own hands and censuring the Pandavas. What,
O Krishna, can be a greater grief to me than that my daughter of tender
years should be a widow and all my daughters-in-law should become
lordless. Alas, alas, behold, my daughter Duhshala, having cast off her
grief and fears, is running hither and thither in search of the head of
her husband. He who had checked all the Pandavas desirous of rescuing
their son, after causing the slaughter of a vast force, at last himself
succumbed to death. Alas, those wives of his, with faces as beautiful as
the moon, are crying, sitting around that irresistible hero who resembled
an infuriated elephant!”

23

“Gandhari said, There lies Shalya, the maternal uncle himself of Nakula,
slain in battle, O sire, by the pious and virtuous Yudhishthira! He used
everywhere, O bull among men, to boast of his equality with thee! That
mighty car-warrior, the ruler of the Madras, now lieth, deprived of life.
When he accepted the drivership of Karnas car in battle, he sought to
damp the energy of Karna for giving victory to the sons of Pandu! Alas,
alas, behold the smooth face of Shalya, beautiful as the moon, and
adorned with eyes resembling the petals of the lotus, eaten away by
crows! There, the tongue of that king, of the complexion of heated gold,
rolling out of his mouth, is, O Krishna, being eaten away by carnivorous
birds! The ladies of the royal house of Madra, uttering loud wails of
woe, are sitting around the body of that king, that ornament of
assemblies, deprived of life by Yudhishthira! Those ladies are sitting
around that fallen hero like a herd of she-elephants in their season
around their leader sunk in a slough. Behold the brave Shalya, that giver
of protection, that foremost of car-warriors, stretched on the bed of
heroes, his body mangled with shafts. There, king Bhagadatta of great
prowess, the ruler of a mountainous kingdom, the foremost of all wielders
of the elephant-hook, lieth on the ground, deprived of life. Behold the
garland of gold that he still wears on his head, looketh resplendent.
Though the body is being eaten away by beasts of prey, that garland still
adorns the fair locks on his head. Fierce was the battle that took place
between this king and Partha, making the very hair stand on end, like
that between Shakra and the Asura Vritra. This mighty-armed one, having
fought Dhananjaya, the son of Pritha, and having reduced him to great
straits, was at last slain by his antagonist. He who had no equal on
earth in heroism and energy, that achiever of terrible feats in battle,
Bhishma, lieth there, deprived of life. Behold the son of Shantanu, O
Krishna, that warrior of solar effulgence, stretched on the earth, like
the Sun himself fallen from the firmament at the end of the yuga. Having
scorched his foes with the fire of his weapons in battle, that valiant
warrior, that Sun among men, O Keshava, hath set like the real Sun at
evening. Behold that hero, O Krishna, who in knowledge of duty was equal
to Devapi himself, now lying on a bed of arrows, so worthy of heroes.
Having spread his excellent bed of barbed and unbarbed arrows, that hero
lieth on it like the divine Skanda on a clump of heath. Indeed, the son
of Ganga lieth, resting his head on that excellent pillow, consisting of
three arrows,–becoming complement of his bed–given him by the wielder
of gandiva. For obeying the command of his sire, this illustrious one
drew up his vital seed. Unrivalled in battle, that son of Shantanu lieth
there, O Madhava! Of righteous soul and acquainted with every duty, by
the aid of his knowledge relating to both the worlds, that hero, though
mortal, is still bearing his life like an immortal. When Shantanus son
lieth today, struck down with arrows, it seems that no other person is
alive on earth that possesseth learning and prowess that is competent to
achieve great feats in battle. Truthful in speech, this righteous and
virtuous hero, solicited by the Pandavas, told them the means of his own
death. Alas, he who had revived the line of Kuru that had become extinct,
that illustrious person possessed of great intelligence, hath left the
world with all the Kurus in his company. Of whom, O Madhava, will the
Kurus enquire of religion and duty after that bull among men, Devavrata,
who resembles a god, shall have gone to heaven? Behold Drona, that
foremost of brahmanas, that preceptor of Arjuna, of Satyaki, and of the
Kurus, lying on the ground! Endued with mighty energy, Drona, O Madhava,
was as conversant with the four kinds of arms as the chief of the
celestials or Shukra of Bhrigus race. Through his grace, Vibhatsu the son
of Pandu, hath achieved the most difficult feats. Deprived of life, he
now lies on the ground. Weapons refused to come (at last) at his bidding.
Placing him at their head, the Kauravas had challenged the Pandavas. That
foremost of all wielders of weapons was at last mangled with weapons. As
he careered in battle, scorching his foes in every direction, his course
resembled that of a blazing conflagration. Alas, deprived of life, he now
lieth on the ground, like an extinguished fire. The handle of the bow is
yet in his grasp. The leathern fences, O Madhava, still encase his
fingers. Though slain, he still looketh as if alive. The four Vedas, and
all kinds of weapons, O Keshava, did not abandon that hero even as these
do not abandon the Lord Prajapati himself. His auspicious feet, deserving
of every adoration and adored as a matter of fact by bards and eulogists
and worshipped by disciples, are now being dragged by jackals. Deprived
of her senses by grief, Kripi woefully attendeth, O slayer of Madhu, on
that Drona who hath been slain Drupadas son. Behold that afflicted lady,
fallen upon the Earth, with dishevelled hair and face hanging down. Alas,
she attendeth in sorrow upon her lifeless lord, that foremost of all
wielders of weapons, lying on the ground. Many brahmacaris, with matted
locks on their head, are attending upon the body of Drona that is cased
in armour rent through and through, O Keshava, with the shafts of
Dhrishtadyumna. The illustrious and delicate Kripi, cheerless and
afflicted, is endeavouring to perform the last rites on the body of her
lord slain in battle. There, those reciters of Samas, having placed the
body of Drona on the funeral pyre and having ignited the fire with due
rites, are singing the three (well-known) Samas. Those brahmacaris, with
matted locks on their heads, have piled the funeral pyre of that brahmana
with bows and darts and car-boxes, O Madhava! Having collected diverse
other kinds of shafts, that hero of great energy is being consumed by
them. Indeed, having placed him on the pyre, they are singing and
weeping. Others are reciting the three (well-known) Samas that are used
on such occasions. Consuming Drona on that fire, like fire in fire, those
disciples of his of the regenerate class are proceeding towards the banks
of the Ganga, along the left side of the pyre and having placed Kripi at
their head!”

24

“Gandhari said, Behold the son of Somadatta, who was slain by Yuyudhana,
pecked at and torn by a large number of birds! Burning with grief at the
death of his son, Somadatta, O Janardana, (as he lies there) seems to
censure the great bowman Yuyudhana. There the mother of Bhurishrava, that
faultless lady, overcome with grief, is addressing her lord Somadatta,
saying, “By good luck, O king, thou seest not this terrible carnage of
the Bharatas, this extermination of the Kurus, this sight that resembles
the scenes occurring at the end of the yuga. By good luck, thou seest not
thy heroic son, who bore the device of the sacrificial stake on his
banner and who performed numerous sacrifices with profuse presents to
all, slain on the field of battle. By good luck, thou hearest not those
frightful wails of woe uttered amidst this carnage by thy
daughters-in-law like the screams of a flight of cranes on the bosom of
the sea. Thy daughters-in-law, bereaved of both husbands and sons, are
running hither and thither, each clad in a single piece of raiment and
each with her black tresses all dishevelled. By good luck, thou seest not
thy son, that tiger among men, deprived of one of his arms, overthrown by
Arjuna, and even now in course of being devoured by beasts of prey. By
good luck, thou seest not today thy son slain in battle, and Bhurishrava
deprived of life, and thy widowed daughters-in-law plunged into grief. By
good luck, thou seest not the golden umbrella of that illustrious warrior
who had the sacrificial stake for the device on his banner, torn and
broken on the terrace of his car. There the black-eyed wives of
Bhurishrava are indulging in piteous lamentations, surrounding their lord
slain by Satyaki. Afflicted with grief on account of the slaughter of
their lords, those ladies, indulging in copious lamentations, are falling
down on the earth with their faces towards the ground, and slowly
approaching thee, O Keshava! Alas, why did Arjuna of pure deeds
perpetrate such a censurable act, since he struck off the arm of a
heedless warrior who was brave and devoted to the performance of
sacrifices. Alas, Satyaki did an act that was still more sinful, for he
took the life of a person of restrained soul while sitting in the
observance of the praya vow. Alas, O righteous one, thou liest on the
ground, slain unfairly by two foes.” Even thus, O Madhava, those wives of
Bhurishrava are crying aloud in woe. There, those wives of that warrior,
all possessed of slender waists, are placing upon their laps the lopped
off arm of their lord and weeping bitterly!

“Here is that arm which used to invade the girdles, grind the deep
bosoms, and touch the navel, the thighs, and the hips, of fair women, and
loosen the ties of the drawers worn by them! Here is that arm which slew
foes and dispelled the fears of friends, which gave thousands of kine and
exterminated Kshatriyas in battle! In the presence of Vasudeva himself,
Arjuna of unstained deeds, lopped it off thy heedless self while thou
wert engaged with another in battle. What, indeed, wilt thou, O
Janardana, say of this great feat of Arjuna while speaking of it in the
midst of assemblies. What also will the diadem-decked Arjuna himself say
of it?” Censuring thee in this way, that foremost of ladies hath stopped
at last. The co-wives of that lady are piteously lamenting with her as if
she were their daughter-in-law!

“There the mighty Shakuni, the chief of gandharvas, of prowess incapable
of being baffled, hath been slain by Sahadeva, the maternal uncle by the
sisters son! Formerly, he used to be fanned with a couple of gold-handed
fans! Alas, now, his prostrate form is being fanned by birds with their
wings! He used to assume hundreds and thousands of forms. All the
illusions, however, of that individual possessed of great deceptive
powers, have been burnt by the energy of the son of Pandu. An expert in
guile, he had vanquished Yudhishthira in the assembly by his powers of
deception and won from him his vast kingdom. The son of Pandu, however,
hath now won Shakunis life-breaths. Behold, O Krishna, a large number of
birds is now sitting around Shakuni. An expert in dice, alas, he had
acquired that skill for the destruction of my sons. This fire of
hostility with the Pandavas had been ignited by Shakuni for the
destruction of my children as also of himself and his followers and
kinsmen. Like those acquired by my sons, O puissant one, by the use of
weapons, this one too, however wicked-souled, has acquired many regions
of bliss by the use of weapons. My fear, O slayer of Madhu, is that that
crooked person may not succeed in fomenting dissensions even (there, the
region attained by them) between my children, all of whom are confiding
and possessed of candour!”

25

“Gandhari said, Behold that irresistible ruler of the Kambojas, that
bull-necked hero, lying amid the dust, O Madhava, though deserving of
being stretched at his ease on Kamboja blankets. Stricken with great
grief, his wife is weeping bitterly at sight of his blood-stained arms,
which, however, formerly used to be smeared with sandal-paste. Indeed,
the beauteous one exclaims, “Even now adorned with beautiful palms and
graceful fingers, these two arms of thine resemble a couple of spiked
maces, getting within whose clasp, joy never left me for a moment! What
will be my end, O ruler of men, when I am deprived of thee?” Endued with
a melodious voice, the Kamboja queen is weeping helplessly and quivering
with emotion. Behold that bevy of fair ladies there. Although tired with
exertion and worn out with heat, yet beauty leaves not their forms, like
the sightliness of the wreaths worn by the celestials although exposed to
the Sun. Behold, O slayer of Madhu, the heroic ruler of the Kalingas
lying there on the ground with his mighty arms adorned with a couple of
angadas. Behold, O Janardana, those Magadha ladies crying and standing
around Jayatsena, the ruler of the Magadhas. The charming and melodious
wails of those long-eyed and sweet-voiced girls, O Krishna, are
stupefying my heart exceedingly. With all their ornaments displaced,
crying, and afflicted with grief, alas, those ladies of Magadha, worthy
of resting on costly beds, are now lying down on the bare ground! There,
again, those other ladies, surrounding their lord, the ruler of the
Kosalas, prince Brihadbala, are indulging in loud wails. Engaged in
plucking from his body the shafts with which it was pierced by Abhimanyu
with the full might of his arms, those ladies are repeatedly losing their
senses. The faces of those beautiful ladies, O Madhava, through toil and
the rays of the Sun, are looking like faded lotuses. There, the brave
sons of Dhrishtadyumna, of tender years and all adorned with garlands of
gold and beautiful angadas, are lying, slain by Drona. Like insects on a
blazing fire, they have all been burnt by falling upon Drona, whose car
was the chamber of fire, having the bow for its flame and shafts and
darts and maces for its fuel. Similarly, the five Kekaya brothers,
possessed of great courage, and adorned with beautiful angadas, are lying
on the ground, slain by Drona and with their faces turned towards that
hero. Their coats of mail, of the splendour of heated gold, and their
tall standards and cars and garlands, all made of the same metal, are
shedding a bright light on the earth like so many blazing fires. Behold,
O Madhava, king Drupada overthrown in battle by Drona, like a mighty
elephant in the forest slain by a huge lion. The bright umbrella, white
in hue of the king of the Pancalas, shines, O lotus-eyed one, like the
moon in the autumnal firmament. The daughters-in-law and the wives of the
old king, afflicted with grief, having burnt his body on the funeral
pyre, are proceeding, keeping the pyre to their right. There those
ladies, deprived of their senses, are removing the brave and great bowman
Dhrishtaketu, that bull among the Cedis, slain by Drona. This crusher of
foes, O slayer of Madhu, this great bowman, having baffled many weapons
of Drona, lieth there, deprived of life, like a tree uprooted by the
wind. Alas, that brave ruler of the Cedis, that mighty car-warrior
Dhrishtaketu, after having slain thousands of foes, lies himself deprived
of life! There, O Hrishikesha, the wives of the ruler of the Cedis are
sitting around his body still decked with fair locks and beautiful
earrings, though torn by carnivorous birds. Those foremost of ladies
placing upon their laps the prostrate form of the heroic Dhrishtaketu
born of the Dasharha race, are crying in sorrow. Behold, O Hrishikesha,
the son, possessed of fair locks and excellent earrings, of that
Dhrishtaketu, hacked in battle by Drona with his shafts. He never
deserted his sire while the latter battled with his foes. Mark, O slayer
of Madhu, he does not, even in death, desert that heroic parent. Even
thus, my sons son, that slayer of hostile heroes, the mighty-armed
Lakshmana, hath followed his sire Duryodhana! Behold, O Keshava, the two
brothers of Avanti, Vinda and Anuvinda, lying there on the field, like
two blossoming shala trees in the spring overthrown by the tempest. Clad
in golden armour and adorned with Angadas of gold, they are still armed
with swords and bows. Possessed of eyes like those of a bull, and decked
with bright garlands, both of them are stretched on the field. The
Pandavas, O Krishna, with thyself, are surely unslayable, since they and
thou have escaped from Drona, from Bhishma, from Karna the son of
Vikartana, from Kripa, from Duryodhana, from the son of Drona, from the
mighty car-warrior Jayadratha, from Somadatta, from Vikarna, and from the
brave Kritavarma. Behold the reverses brought about by Time! Those bulls
among men that were capable of slaying the very celestials by force of
their weapons have themselves been slain. Without doubt, O Madhava, there
is nothing difficult for destiny to bring about, since even these bulls
among men, these heroes, have been slain by Kshatriya warriors. My sons
endued with great activity were (regarded by me as) slain even then, O
Krishna, when thou returnedst unsuccessfully to Upaplavya. Shantanus son
and the wise Vidura told me then, “Cease to bear affection for thy
children!” The interviews of those persons could not go for nothing.
Soon, O Janardana, have my sons been consumed into ashes!”

Vaishampayana continued, “Having said these words, Gandhari, deprived of
her senses by grief, fell down on the earth! Casting off her fortitude,
she suffered her senses to be stupefied by grief. Filled with wrath and
with sorrow at the death of her sons, Gandhari, with agitated heart,
ascribed every fault to Keshava.

“Gandhari said, The Pandavas and the Dhartarashtras, O Krishna, have both
been burnt. Whilst they were thus being exterminated, O Janardana, why
wert thou indifferent to them? Thou wert competent to prevent the
slaughter, for thou hast a large number of followers and a vast force.
Thou hadst eloquence, and thou hadst the power (for bringing about
peace). Since deliberately, O slayer of Madhu, thou wert indifferent to
this universal carnage, therefore, O mighty-armed one, thou shouldst reap
the fruit of this act. By the little merit I have acquired through
waiting dutifully on my husband, by that merit so difficult to attain, I
shall curse thee, O wielder of the discus and the mace! Since thou wert
indifferent to the Kurus and the Pandavas whilst they slew each other,
therefore, O Govinda, thou shalt be the slayer of thy own kinsmen! In the
thirty-sixth year from this, O slayer of Madhu, thou shalt, after causing
the slaughter of thy kinsmen and friends and sons, perish by disgusting
means in the wilderness. The ladies of thy race, deprived of sons,
kinsmen, and friends, shall weep and cry even as these ladies of the
Bharata race!”

Vaishampayana continued, “Hearing these words, the high-souled Vasudeva,
addressing the venerable Gandhari, said unto her these words, with a
faint smile, There is none in the world, save myself, that is capable of
exterminating the Vrishnis. I know this well. I am endeavouring to bring
it about. In uttering this curse, O thou of excellent vows, thou hast
aided me in the accomplishment of that task. The Vrishnis are incapable
of being slain by others, be they human beings or gods or Danavas. The
Yadavas, therefore shall fall by one anothers hand. After he of Dasharhas
race had said these words, the Pandavas became stupefied. Filled with
anxiety all of them became hopeless of life!”

26

“The holy one said, Arise, arise, O Gandhari, do not set thy heart on
grief! Through thy fault, this vast carnage has taken place! Thy son
Duryodhana was wicked-souled, envious, and exceedingly arrogant.
Applauding his wicked acts, thou regardest them to be good. Exceedingly
cruel, he was the embodiment of hostilities, and disobedient to the
injunctions of the old. Why dost thou wish to ascribe thy own faults to
me? Dead or lost, the person that grieves for what has already occurred,
obtaineth more grief. By indulging in grief, one increases it two-fold. A
woman of the regenerate class bears children for the practice of
austerities; the cow brings forth offspring for bearing burdens; the mare
brings forth her young for acquiring speed of motion; the Shudra woman
bears a child for adding to the number of servitors; the Vaishya woman
for adding to the number of keepers of cattle. A princess, however, like
thee, brings forth sons for being slaughtered!”

Vaishampayana said, “Hearing these words of Vasudeva that were
disagreeable to her, Gandhari, with heart exceedingly agitated by grief,
remained silent. The royal sage Dhritarashtra, however, restraining the
grief that arises from folly, enquired of Yudhishthira the just, saying,
If, O son of Pandu, thou knowest it, tell me the number of those that
have fallen in this battle, as also of those that have escaped with life!

“Yudhishthira answered, One billion 660 million and 20,000 men have
fallen in this battle. Of the heroes that have escaped, the number is
240,165.

“Dhritarashtra said, Tell me, O mighty-armed one, for thou art conversant
with everything, what ends have those foremost of men attained.

“Yudhishthira said, Those warriors of true prowess that have cheerfully
cast off their bodies in fierce battle have all attained regions like
those of Indra. Knowing death to be inevitable, they that have
encountered it cheerlessly have attained the companionship of the
gandharvas. Those warriors that have fallen at the edge of weapons, while
turning away from the field or begging for quarter, have attained the
world of the guhyakas. Those high-souled warriors who, observant of the
duties of kshatriya-hood and regarding flight from battle to be shameful,
have fallen, mangled with keen weapons, while advancing unarmed against
fighting foes, have all assumed bright forms and attained the regions of
Brahman. The remaining warriors, that have in anyhow met with death on
the precincts of the field of battle, have attained the region of the
Uttara-Kurus.”

“Dhritarashtra said, By the power of what knowledge, O son, thou seest
these things like one crowned with ascetic success? Tell me this, O
mighty-armed one, if thou thinkest that I can listen to it without
impropriety!

“Yudhishthira said, While at thy command I wandered in the forest, I
obtained this boon on the occasion of sojourning to the sacred places. I
met with the celestial rishi Lomasa and obtained from him the boon of
spiritual vision. Thus on a former occasion I obtained second sight
through the power of knowledge!

“Dhritarashtra said, It is necessary that our people should burn, with
due rites, the bodies of both the friendless and the friended slain. What
shall we do with those that have none to look after them and that have no
sacred fires? The duties that await us are many. Who are those whose
(last) rites we should perform? O Yudhishthira, will they obtain regions
of blessedness by the merit of their acts, they whose bodies are now
being torn and dragged by vultures and other birds?”

Vaishampayana continued, “Thus addressed, Kuntis son Yudhishthira of
great wisdom commanded Sudharma (the priest of the Kauravas) and Dhaumya,
and Sanjaya of the suta order, and Vidura of great wisdom, and Yuyutsu of
Kurus race, and all his servants headed by Indrasena, and all the other
sutas that were with him, saying, Cause the funeral rites of the slain,
numbering by thousands, to be duly performed, so that nobody may perish
for want of persons to take care of them! At this command of king
Yudhishthira the just, Vidura and Sanjaya and Sudharma and Dhaumya and
Indrasena and others, procuring sandal, aloe and other kinds of wood used
on such occasions, as also clarified butter and oil and perfumes and
costly silken robes and other kinds of cloth, and large heaps of dry
wood, and broken cars and diverse kinds of weapons, caused funeral pyres
to be duly made and lighted and then without haste burnt, with due rites
the slain kings in proper order. They properly burned upon those fires
that blazed forth with libations of clarified butter in torrents over
them, the bodies of Duryodhana and his hundred brothers, of Shalya, and
king Bhurishrava; of king Jayadratha and Abhimanyu, O Bharata; of
Duhshasanas son and Lakshmana and king Dhrishtaketu; of Vrihanta and
Somadatta and the hundreds of Srinjayas; of king Kshemadhanva and Virata
and Drupada; of Shikhandi the prince of Pancalas, and Dhrishtadyumna of
Prishatas race; of the valiant Yudhamanyu and Uttamauja; of the ruler of
the Kosalas, the sons of Draupadi, and Shakuni the son of Subala; of
Acala and Vrishaka, and king Bhagadatta; of Karna and his son of great
wrath; of those great bowmen, the Kekaya princes, and those mighty
car-warriors, the Trigartas; of Ghatotkaca the prince of rakshasas, and
the brother of Vaka, of Alambusha, the foremost of rakshasas, and king
Jalasandha; and of hundreds and thousands of other kings. The pitri-medha
rites in honour of some of the illustrious dead were performed there,
while some sang Samas, and some uttered lamentations for the dead. With
the loud noise of Samas and Riks, and the lamentations of the women, all
creatures became stupefied that night. The funeral fires, smokeless and
blazing brightly (amid the surrounding darkness), looked like luminous
planets in the firmament enveloped by clouds. Those among the dead that
had come from diverse realms and were utterly friendless were piled
together in thousands of heaps and, at the command of Yudhishthira, were
caused to be burnt by Vidura through a large number of persons acting
coolly and influenced by good-will and affection, on pyres made of dry
wood. Having caused their last rites to be performed, the Kuru king
Yudhishthira, placing Dhritarashtra at his head, proceeded towards the
river Ganga.”

27

Vaishampayana said, “Arrived at the auspicious Ganga full of sacred
water, containing many lakes, adorned with high banks and broad shores,
and having a vast bed, they cast off their ornaments, upper garments, and
belts and girdles. The Kuru ladies, crying and afflicted with great
grief, offered oblations of water unto their sires and grandsons and
brothers and kinsmen and sons and reverend seniors and husbands.
Conversant with duties, they also performed the water-rite in honour of
their friends. While those wives of heroes were performing this rite in
honour of their heroic lords, the access to the stream became easy,
although the paths (made by the tread of many feet) disappeared
afterwards. The shores of the stream, though crowded with those spouses
of heroes, looked as broad as the ocean and presented a spectacle of
sorrow and cheerlessness. Then Kunti, O king, in a sudden paroxysm of
grief, weepingly addressed her sons in these soft words, That hero and
great bowman, that leader of leaders of car-divisions, that warrior
distinguished by every mark of heroism, who hath been slain by Arjuna in
battle, that warrior whom, ye sons of Pandu, ye took forth, Sutas child
born of Radha, that hero who shone in the midst of his forces like the
lord Surya himself, who battled with all of you and your followers, who
looked resplendent as he commanded the vast force of the Duryodhana, who
had no equal on earth for energy, that hero who preferred glory to life,
that unretiring warrior firm in truth and never fatigued with exertion,
was your eldest brother. Offer oblations of water unto that eldest
brother of yours who was born of me by the god of day. That hero was born
with a pair of earrings and clad in armour, and resembled Surya himself
in splendour! Hearing these painful words of their mother, the Pandavas
began to express their grief for Karna. Indeed, they became more
afflicted than ever. Then that tiger among men, the heroic Yudhishthira,
sighing like a snake, asked his mother, That Karna who was like an ocean
having shafts for his billows, his tall standard for his vortex, his own
mighty arms for a couple of huge alligators, his large car for his deep
lake, and the sound of his palms for his tempestuous roar, and whose
impetuosity none could withstand save Dhananjaya, O mother, wert thou the
authoress of that heroic being? How was that son, resembling a very
celestial, born of thee in former days? The energy of his arms scorched
all of us. How, mother, couldst thou conceal him like a person concealing
a fire within the folds of his cloth? His might of arms was always
worshipped by the Dhartarashtras even as we always worship the might of
the wielder of gandiva! How was that foremost of mighty men, that first
of car-warriors, who endured the united force of all lords of earth in
battle, how was he a son of thine? Was that foremost of all wielders of
weapons our eldest brother? How didst thou bring forth that child of
wonderful prowess? Alas, in consequence of the concealment of this affair
by thee, we have been undone! By the death of Karna, ourselves with all
our friends have been exceedingly afflicted. The grief I feel at Karnas
death is a hundred times greater than that which was caused by the death
of Abhimanyu and the sons of Draupadi, and the destruction of the
Pancalas and the Kurus. Thinking of Karna, I am burning with grief, like
a person thrown into a blazing fire. Nothing could have been unattainable
by us, not excepting things belonging to heaven. Alas, this terrible
carnage, so destructive of the Kurus, would not have occurred. Copiously
indulging in lamentations like these, king Yudhishthira the just uttered
loud wails of woe. The puissant monarch then offered oblations of water
unto his deceased elder brother. Then all the ladies that crowded the
shores of the river suddenly sent up a loud wail of grief. The
intelligent king of the Kurus, Yudhishthira, caused the wives and members
of Karnas family to be brought before him. Of righteous soul, he
performed, with them, the water-rite in honour of his eldest brother.
Having finished the ceremony, the king with his senses exceedingly
agitated, rose from the waters of Ganga.”

The end of Stri-parv

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