The Garuda Purana

by Manmatha Nath Dutt | 1908 | 245,256 words | ISBN-13: 9788183150736

The English translation of the Garuda Purana: contents include a creation theory, description of vratas (religious observances), sacred holidays, sacred places dedicated to the sun, but also prayers from the Tantrika ritual, addressed to the sun, to Shiva, and to Vishnu. The Garuda Purana also contains treatises on astrology, palmistry, and preci...

Chapter CXLV - The Mahabharatam

Brahma said:—Now hear me narrate the story of the Mahabharatam. It is so called (Bharatam) from the fact of Krishna’s espousing the cause the Pandavas in battle, for relieving the earth of its weight of sin (Bhubhara). Brahma sprang out of the lotus navel of Hari. The son of Brahma was Atri. The son of Atri was the Moon-God, and in the line that sprang from him was born Pururava, who begot on the nymph Urvasi a son, named ayu. Yayati, Bharat, Kuru, and Shantanu were of the race of ayu. The divinely wise Bhishma was the son of Shantanu by his wife Ganga. This Shantanu had two other sons named Chitrangada and Vichitravirya by his wife Satyavati. This Chitranguda was killed in battle by a Gandharva of the same name. The secoud son, Vichitravirya married Amvica and Amvalika, the daughters of the king of Kashi. After the death of Vichitravirya, the holy Vyasa begot sons on the wives of Vichitravirya. Amvika became the mother of Dhritarashtra; Amvalika, of Pandu; and Bhujisya, of Vidura. Dhritarashtra had a hundred sons by his wife Gandhari such as Duryodhana, etc., while the five sons, who were begotten on Kunti and Madri, the two wives of Pandu, were Yudhishthira, etc.

By a preordinance of fate there sprang up a bitter animosity between the Kurus (sons of Dhritarashtra) and the Pandavas (sons of Pandu). Duryodhana, a man of fickle temperament and unstable principles, was not slow to devise means for harrassing the Pandavas. He attempted to kill them by burning them down in a house of shellac. The guileless Pandavas, saved through the merit of their faith and innocence, sojourned to the village of Ekachakra, and took shelter in the house of a Brahmana. These mighty Pandavas stayed for a while in the house of that Brahmana, and, while there, the redoubtable Bhimasena killed the monster Vaka. Thence they went to the country of Panchala and married Draupadi, the princess of that country, whose hands had to be won by a competition in skilful archery, and by showing matchless proficiency in that art.

In the meantime, Dhritarashtra, who had been prevailed upon by Bhishma and Drona to grant them the sovereignty of half the kingdom, called the Pandavas over to his capital, and installed them as kings in the city of Indraprastha. Then the self-controlled Pandavas caused a splendid pavilion to be raised at Indraprastha, and there they celebrated the Rajasuya sacrifice. At Dvaraka, Arjuna wedded his bride Subhadra, the sister of Krishna, and secured the friendship of that great personage, who stood by him as his staunchest ally all through life. From the Fire-God Arjuna obtained a car named Nandighosa, the invincible bow named Gandiva, the inexhaustible quiver, and a suit of unpierceable armour. With Krishna as his second, and with the help of this invincible bow, Arjuna was able to appease the hunger of the Fire-God. In his campaigns of world-conquest, Arjuna defeated many kings, and made over their treasures to his brother Yudhishthira, the master of politics and statecraft. In a fraudulent game of dice, Duryodhana managed to win all that belonged to Yudhishthira, and, through the machination of the evil-souled Kama and Shakuni, pursuaded him to continue the play, pledging a residence incognito for one year out of an exile of twelve as his stake. Yudhishthira lost this last stake, and went out as a voluntary exile in the company of his faithful and devoted brothers and their beloved Draupadi, Dhaumya and a concourse of other holy sages. For one year, they lived incognito in the house of the king of Virat, serving as cowherds and menials in his household. After one year, they declared themselves, and asked for their moiety of the country, or a proprietary right in only five villages in its stead, which Duryodhana, in an evil hour and through the machination of his evil-grained courtiers, refused to grant.

The five brothers, thus insulted and ousted of their legitimate birthright, began to collect troops and secure powerful allies. With an army of seven Akshauhinis of soldiers they met Duryodhana at the head of eleven Ashauhinis at the field of Kurukshetra. So there ensued a cruel and dreadful war between the Kurus and the Pandavas, similar to the one that was waged by the gods against the demons of yore. Bhishma was the leader of Duryodhana’s forces just as the hostilities commenced, while the armies of the Pandavas were led bv Shikhandi.

Shikhandi chose out Bhishma, the commandant of the Kaurava-forces as his opponent in battle, which lasted for ten consecutive davs, the archers posted against archers, and swordsmen and spearsmen picked against soldiers similarly equipped as themselves. Bhishma, pierced through and through by the arrows of Shikhandi and Arjuna, saw that the sun had just then entered the summer solstice, and having meditated upon the divine self of the mace-bearing Deity and discoursed on many a topic of ethical and political philosophy, propitiated his departed Manes with suitable oblations; and the spirit, of that brave and righteous soldier, who bad never swerved from truth in his life, joyfully abandoned its earthly tenement and merged itself in that infinite joy, knowledge and purity, which the wise men worship as the Supreme Brahma.

Then Drona, the preceptor of the race of Kuru, took up the command of the Kaurava’s army, and went out to fight the valiant Dhrishtadyumna, the commander of the Pandava’s troops. For five days the battle raged furious and undecided, and many gallant chiefs fell on both the sides like sear leaves before the winter wind. Drona sadly dejected by the news of his son’s death, fell an easy victim to the sword thursts of Dhrishtadyumna. After that, Kama became the leader of the Kuru’s forces, and picked out Arjuna as his opponent in battle. For two days the battle raged furious, and victory oscillated between the banners of the Kurus and the Pandavas. At last, Kama, tossed about like a weed in the seathing sea of Arjuna’s arrows, breathed his last and entered the region of the Sun-God. After that, Salya was elected commander of the Kuru’s forces and fell at the hands of Yudhishthira at the middle of the day of battle. Then Duryodhana, mad with despair and ignominy, ran, club in hand, towards the redoubtable Bhimasena, like the God of Death bent on stifling out the life of Time and Space. But the redoubtable Bhimasena proved too much of a match for him and killed him quick with one stroke of his deadly club.

After that, Ashvathama, the son of Drona, determined to storm the Pandava’s camp by surprise at night, and to annihilate the Pandava-army while peacefully lulled in the lap of sleep. Bent on avenging the death of his father Drona, he stealthily entered the Pandava’s camp, and brooding over the death of his illustrious progenitor, he severed with his sword the heads of Dhrishtadyumna and the five sons of Draupadi. Arjuna, maddened by the agonising wailings of Draupadi, took the fugitive miscreant a captive, and cut out of his (Ashvathaman’s) head the famous gem with the means of his Aishika-weapon. Arjuna consoled the widows of the killed warriors and performed funeral obsequies in honour of his departed friends, relations and cognates. Yudhishthira, consoled and advised by Bhishma in his last moments, ascended the throne, and ruled the kingdom according to the injunctions of the Scriptures. He propitiated the God Vishnu by celebrating a Horse-Sacrifice, and having heard of the annihilation of the race of Jadava by that cursed club, made over the sovereignty to his grandson Parikshita, and ascended to the region of Vishnu in the company of his brother, while repeating the sacred name of that Deity.

After that, for the furtherance of the divine good, as well as for the punishment of the wicked and elevation of the righteous, the God Vasudeva was incarnated on earth. He comes down on earth, at intervals of centuries and in the shape of man, to chastise the wrong-doers and to set right the path of truth and piety. In the twentieth Manvantara (age of the twentieth Manu), he sprang out, in the guise of Dhanvantari, of the ocean of milk, as it was churned by the gods and demons for the divine ambrosia, and taught the science of life (Medical Science) to Sushruta, the son of Vishvamitra. He, who hears of the genesis (evolution) of this grand idealist and his adjunct ideas, goes to heaven after death.

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