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Chapter I

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said:

What did my (people) and the Pāṇḍavas do, O Sañjaya! when they assembled together on the holy field of Kurukṣetra, desirous to do battle?

Sañjaya said:

Seeing the army of the Pāṇḍavas drawn up in battle-array[1], the prince Duryodhana approached the preceptor, and spoke (these) words: 'O preceptor! observe this grand army of the sons of Pāṇḍu, drawn up in battle-array by your talented pupil, the son of Drupada. In it are heroes (bearing) large bows, the equals of Bhīma and Arjuna in battle--(namely), Yuyudhāna, Virāṭa, and Drupada, the master of a great car[2], and Dhṛṣṭaketu, Cekitāna, and the valiant king of Kāsī, Purujit and Kuntibhoja, and that eminent man Śaibya; the heroic Yudhāmanyu, the valiant Uttamaujas, the son of Subhadrā, and the sons of Draupadī--all masters of great cars. And now, O best of Brāhmaṇas!

learn who are most distinguished among us, and are leaders of my army. I will name them to you, in order that you may know them well. Yourself, and Bhīṣma, and Karṇa, and Kṛpa the victor of (many) battles; Aśvatthāman, and Vikarṇa, and also the son of Somadatta, and many other brave men, who have given up their lives for me, who fight with various weapons, (and are) all dexterous in battle. Thus our army which is protected by Bhīṣma is unlimited; while this army of theirs which is protected by Bhīma is very limited. And therefore do ye all, occupying respectively the positions[3] assigned to you, protect Bhīṣma[4] only.'

Then his powerful grandsire, Bhīṣma, the oldest of the Kauravas, roaring aloud like a lion, blew his conch, (thereby) affording delight to Duryodhana. And then all at once, conchs, and kettledrums, and tabors, and trumpets were played upon; and there was a tumultuous din. Then, too, Mādhava and the son of Pāṇḍu (Arjuna), seated in a grand chariot to which white steeds were yoked, blew their heavenly conchs. Hṛṣīkeśa[5] blew the Pāñcajanya[6], and Dhanañjaya the Devadatta, and Bhīma, (the doer) of fearful deeds, blew the great conch Pauṇḍra. King Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Kuntī[7], blew the Anantavijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva (respectively) the Sughoṣa and Maṇipuṣpaka. And the king of Kāśī, too, who has an excellent bow, and Sikhaṇḍin, the master of a great car, and Dhṛṣṭadyumna, Virāṭa, and the unconquered Sātyaki, and Drupada, and the sons of Draupadī, and the son of Subhadrā, of mighty arms, blew conchs severally from all sides, O king of the earth! That tumultuous din rent the hearts of all (the people) of Dhṛtarāṣṭra's (party), causing reverberations throughout heaven and earth. Then seeing (the people of ) Dhṛtarāṣṭra's party regularly marshalled, the son of Pāṇḍu, whose standard is the ape, raised his bow[8], after the discharge of missiles had commenced, and O king of the earth! spake these words to Hṛṣīkeśa: 'O undegraded one! station my chariot between the two armies, while I observe those, who stand here desirous to engage in battle, and with whom, in the labours of this struggle, I must do battle. I will observe those who are assembled here and who are about to engage in battle, wishing to do service in battle[9] to the evil-minded son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra.'

Sañjaya said:

Thus addressed by Guḍākeśa[10], O descendant of Bharata[11]! Hṛṣīkeśa stationed that excellent chariot between the two armies, in front of Bhīṣma and Droṇa and of all the kings of the earth, and said O son of Pṛthā! look at these assembled Kauravas.' There the son of Pṛthā saw in both armies, fathers and grandfathers, preceptors, maternal uncles, brothers, sons[12], grandsons, companions, fathers-in-law, as well as friends. And seeing all those kinsmen standing (there), the son of Kuntī was overcome by excessive pity, and spake thus despondingly.

Arjuna said:

Seeing these kinsmen, O Kṛṣṇa! standing (here) desirous to engage in battle, my limbs droop down; my mouth is quite dried up; a tremor comes on my body; and my hairs stand on end; the Gāṇḍīva (bow) slips from my hand; my skin burns intensely. I am unable, too, to stand up; my mind whirls round, as it were; O Keśava! I see adverse omens[13]; and I do not perceive any good (to accrue) after killing (my) kinsmen in the battle. I do not wish for victory, O Kṛṣṇa! nor sovereignty, nor pleasures: what is sovereignty to us, O Govinda! what enjoyments, and even life? Even those, for whose sake we desire sovereignty, enjoyments, and pleasures, are standing here for battle, abandoning life and wealth-preceptors, fathers, sons as well as grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, as also (other) relatives. These I do not wish to kill, though they kill (me), O destroyer of Madhu[14]! even for the sake of sovereignty over the three worlds, how much less then for this earth (alone)? What joy shall be ours, O Janārdana! after killing Dhṛtarāṣṭra's sons? Killing these felons[15] we shall only incur sin. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill our own kinsmen, the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. For how, O Mādhava! shall we be happy after killing our own relatives? Although having their consciences corrupted by avarice, they do not see the evils flowing from the extinction of a family, and the sin in treachery to friends, still, O Ganārdana! should not we, who do see the evils flowing from the extinction of a family, learn to refrain from that sin? On the extinction of a family, the eternal rites of families are destroyed[16]. Those rites being destroyed, impiety predominates over the whole family[17]. In consequence of the predominance of impiety, O Kṛṣṇa! the women of the family become corrupt[18]; and the women becoming corrupt, O descendant of Vṛṣṇi! intermingling of castes results; that intermingling necessarily leads the family and the destroyers of the family to hell; for when the ceremonies of (offering) the balls of food and water (to them) fail[19], their ancestors fall down (to hell). By these transgressions of the destroyers of families, which occasion interminglings of castes, the eternal rites of castes and rites, of families are subverted. And O Janārdana! we have heard that men whose family-rites are subverted, must necessarily live in hell. Alas! we are engaged in committing a heinous sin, seeing that we are making efforts for killing our own kinsmen out of greed of the pleasures of sovereignty. If the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, weapon in hand, should kill me in battle, me weaponless and not defending (myself), that would be better for me.

Sañjaya said:

Having spoken thus, Arjuna cast aside his bow together with the arrows, on the battle-field, and sat down in (his) chariot, with a mind agitated by grief.

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Footnotes and references:

1.

Several of these modes of array are described in Manu VII, 187, like a staff, like a wain, like a boar, &c. That of the Pāṇḍavas, here referred to, appears to have been like the thunderbolt, as to which see Manu VII, 191.

2.

This is a literal rendering; the technical meaning is 'a warrior proficient in military science, who can fight single-handed a thousand archers.'

3.

The original word means, according to Śrīdhara, 'the ways of entrance into a Vyūha or phalanx.'

4.

Who, as generalissimo, remained in the centre of the army.

5.

Literally, according to the commentators, 'lord of the senses of perception.'

6.

Schlegel renders the names of these conchs by Gigantea, Theodotes, Arundinea, Triumphatrix, Dulcisona, and Gemmiflorea respectively.

7.

So called, par excellence, apparently.

8.

I. e. to join in the fight.

9.

In the original, several derivatives from the root yudh, meaning 'to fight,' occur with the same frequency as 'battle' here.

10.

Generally interpreted 'lord of sleep,' i. e. not indolent. Nīlakaṇṭha also suggests, that it may mean 'of thick hair.'

11.

The son of Dushyanta and Śakuntalā, after whom India is called 'Bhāratavarṣa,' and from whom both Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas were descended.

12.

The words in this list include all standing in similar relationships to those directly signified.

13.

Such as the appearance of vultures, cars moving without horses, &c., mentioned in the Bhīṣma Parvan II, 17. Cf. Sutta Nipāta, p. 100.

14.

A demon of this name.

15.

Six classes are mentioned: an incendiary; one who administers poison; one who assaults another--weapon in hand; one who destroys property; one who robs another of his wife; or his fields.

16.

I. e. there being none to attend to the 'rites,' women being ineligible.

17.

I. e. the surviving members.

18.

I. e. either by the mere fact of relationship to such men, or by following their bad example.

19.

There being no qualified person to perform them; 'their ancestors'--that is to say, of the 'destroyers of families.'

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