Mahabharata (English)

by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | 2,566,952 words | ISBN-10: 8121505933

The English translation of the Mahabharata is a large text describing ancient India. It is authored by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa and contains the records of ancient humans. Also, it documents the fate of the Kauravas and the Pandavas family. Another part of the large contents, deal with many philosophical dialogues such as the goals of life. Book...

Section XI

"Dhritarashtra said,—

'You have, O Sanjaya, duly described Jamvukhanda to me. Tell me now its dimensions and extent truly. Tell me also, O Sanjaya, of the extent of the ocean of Sakadvipa, and Kusadvipa, of Salmalidvipa and Kraunchadvipa, truly and without leaving anything and tell me also, O son of Gavalgani, of Rahu and Soma and Surya.'

"Sanjaya said,—

'There are, O king, many islands, over which the Earth extended. I will describe to you, however, only seven islands, and the moon, and the sun, and the planet (Rahu), also. The Jamvu mountain, O king, extends over full eighteen thousand and six hundred Yojanas. The extent of the salt ocean is said to be twice this. That ocean is covered with many kingdoms, and is adorned with gems and corals. It is, besides, decked with many mountains that are variegated with metals of diverse kinds. Thickly peopled by Siddhas and Charanas, the ocean is circular in form.

"I will now tell you truly of Sakadvipa, O Bharata. Listen to me, O son of Kuru’s race, as I describe it to you duly. That island, O ruler of men, is of twice the extent of Jamvudvipa. And the ocean also, O great king, is of twice the extent of that island. Indeed, O best of the Bharatas, Sakadvipa is surrounded on all sides by the ocean. The kingdoms there are full of righteousness, and the men there never die. How can famine take place there? The people are all endued with forgiveness and great energy. I have now, O bull of Bharata’s race, given you duly a brief description of Sakadvipa. What else, O king, dost you wish to hear?'"[1]

"Dhritarashtra said,—

'You have given me, O Sanjaya, a description of Sakadvipa in brief. O you that art possessed of great wisdom, tell me now everything in detail truly.'

"Sanjaya said,—

'In that island, O king, there are seven mountains that are decked with jewels and that are mines of gems, precious stones. There are many rivers also in that island. Listen to me as I recount their names. Everything there, O king, is excellent and delightful, The first of these mountains is called Meru. It is the abode of the gods, Rishis, and Gandharvas. The next mountain, O king, is called Malaya stretching towards the east. It is there that the clouds are generated and it is thence that they disperse on all sides. The next, O you of Kuru’s race, is the large mountain called Jaladhara.[2]

Thence Indra daily takes water of the best quality. It is from that water that we get showers in the season of rains, O ruler of men. Next comes the high mountain called Raivataka, over which, in the firmament, has been permanently placed the constellation called Revati. This arrangement has been made by the Grandsire himself. On the north of this, O great king, is the large mountain called Syama. It has the splendour of newly-risen clouds, is very high, beautiful and of bright body. And since the hue of those mountains is dark, the people residing there are all dark in complexion, O king.'

"Dhritarashtra said,—

'A great doubt arises in my mind, O Sanjaya, from what you have said. Why, O Suta’s son, would the people there be of dark complexion?'

"Sanjaya said,—

'O great king, in all islands, O son of Kuru’s race, men may be found that are fair, and those that are dark, and those also that are produced by a union of the fair and the dark races. But because the people there are all dark, therefore is that mountain called the Dark Mountain. After this, O chief of the Kurus, is the large mountain called Durgasaila. And then comes the mountain called Kesari. The breezes that blow from that mountain are all charged with (odoriferous) effluvia. The measure of each of these mountains is double that of the one mentioned immediately before.

O you of Kuru’s race, it has been said by the wise that there are seven Varshas in that island. The Varsha of Meru is called Mahakasa; that of the water-giving (Malaya) is called Kumudottara. The Varsha of Jaladhara is called Sukumara: while that of Raivatak is called Kaumara; and of Syama, Manikancana. The Varsha of Kesara is called Mandaki, and that called after the next mountain is called Mahapuman.

In the midst of that island is a large tree called Saka. In height and breadth the measure of that tree is equal to that of the Jamvu tree in Jamvudvipa. And the people there always adore that tree. There in that island are, many delightful provinces where Siva is worshipped, and thither repair the Siddhas, the Charanas, and the celestials. The people there, O king, are virtuous, and all the four orders, O Bharata, are devoted to their respective occupation. No instance of theft can be seen there. Freed from decrepitude and death and gifted with long life, the people there, O king, grow like rivers during the season of rains. The rivers there are full of sacred water, and Ganga herself, distributed as she has been into various currents, is there, Sukumari, and Kumari, and Seta, and Keveraka, and Mahanadi, O Kauravya, and the river Manijala, and Cakshus, and the river Vardhanika, O you best of the Bharatas,—these and many other rivers by thousands and hundreds, all full of sacred water, are there, O perpetuator of Kuru’s race, from which Vasava draws water for showering it as rain. It is impossible to recount the names and lengths of rivers. All of them are foremost of rivers and sin-cleansing.

As heard by all men there, in that island of Saka, are four sacred provinces. They are the Mrigas, the Masakas, the Manasas, and the Mandagas.

(1) The Mrigas for the most part are Brahmanas devoted to the occupations of their order.

(2) Amongst the Masakas are virtuous Kshatriyas granting (unto Brahmanas) every wish (entertained by them).

(3) The Manasas, O king, live by following the duties of the Vaisya order. Having every wish of theirs gratified, they are also brave and firmly devoted to virtue and profit.

(4) The Mandagas are all brave Sudras of virtuous behaviour. In these provinces, O monarch, there is no king, no punishment, no person that deserves to be punished. Conversant with the dictates of duty they are all engaged in the practice of their respective duties and protect one another.

This much is capable of being said of the island called Saka. This much also should be listened to about that island endued with great energy."[3]

Footnotes and references:


The Bombay text reads Kimanyat Kathayami te. The Bengal reading is Kimanyat srotumicchasi.


The Bombay text reads Tatas parena; the Bengal reading is Tatas purvena. I adopt the former.


Probably this mythical account of Sakadvipa embodies some vague tradition current in ancient India of some republic in Eastern Asia or Oceanic Asia (further east in the Pacific). Accustomed as the Hindus were to kingly form of government, a government without a king, would strike them exactly in the way described in the last two slokas.


This concludes Section XI of Book 6 (Bhishma Parva) of the Mahabharata, of which an English translation is presented on this page. This book is famous as one of the Itihasa, similair in content to the eighteen Puranas. Book 6 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

FAQ (frequently asked questions):

Which keywords occur in Section XI of Book 6 of the Mahabharata?

The most relevant definitions are: Sanjaya, Kuru, Bharata, Sakadvipa, Varsha, Dhritarashtra; since these occur the most in Book 6, Section XI. There are a total of 55 unique keywords found in this section mentioned 94 times.

What is the name of the Parva containing Section XI of Book 6?

Section XI is part of the Bhumi Parva which itself is a sub-section of Book 6 (Bhishma Parva). The Bhumi Parva contains a total of 2 sections while Book 6 contains a total of 3 such Parvas.

Can I buy a print edition of Section XI as contained in Book 6?

Yes! The print edition of the Mahabharata contains the English translation of Section XI of Book 6 and can be bought on the main page. The author is Kisari Mohan Ganguli and the latest edition (including Section XI) is from 2012.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: