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 XLVII

Sanjaya said,—

"After the great part of the forenoon of that awful day had worn out, in that terrific engagement, O king, that was (so) destructive of foremost of men[1], Durmukha and Kritavarman, and Kripa, and Salya, and Vivinsati, urged by your son, approached Bhishma and began to protect him. And protected by those five mighty car-warriors. O bull of Bharata’s race, that great car-warrior penetrated the Pandava host. And the palmyra standard of Bhishma was seen to glide continually, O Bharata, through the Chedis, the Kasis, the Karushas, and the Pancalas. And that hero, with broad-headed shafts of great swiftness which were again perfectly straight, cut off the heads (of foes) and their cars with yokes and standards.

And, O bull of Bharata’s race, Bhishma seemed to dance on his car as it coursed along its track. And some elephants, struck (by him) in their vital parts, shrieked in agony. Then Abhimanyu in great wrath, stationed on his car unto which were yoked excellent steeds of a tawny hue, rushed towards Bhishma’s car. And with his standard adorned with pure gold and resembling a Karnikara tree, he approached Bhishma and those (five) foremost of car-warriors. And striking with a keen-edged shaft the standard of the palmyra-bannered (warrior), that hero engaged in battle with Bhishma and those other car-warriors that protected him.[2]

Piercing Kritavarman with one arrow, and Salya with five, he weakened his great-grandsire with nine arrows. And with one arrow well shot from his bow drawn to its fullest stretch, he cut off (his adversary’s) standard adorned with pure gold. And with one broad-headed shaft capable of penetrating every cover, which was perfectly straight, he cut off from his body the head of Durmukha’s charioteer. And with another keen-edged arrow he cut in twain the gold-decked bow of Kripa. And them also, with many sharp-pointed shafts, that mighty car-warrior smote in great wrath, seeming to dance (the while). And beholding his lightness of hand, the very gods were gratified. And in consequence of Abhimanyu’s sureness of aim, all the car-warriors headed by Bhishma regarded him to be possessed of the capacity of Dhananjaya himself.[3] And his bow, emitting a twang like that of Gandiva, while stretched and re-stretched, seemed to revolve like a circle of fire.[4]

Bhishma then, that slayer of hostile heroes, rushing on him impetuously, speedily pierced the son of Arjuna in that combat with nine arrows. And he also, with three broad-headed shafts, cut off the standard of that warrior of great energy. Of rigid vows, Bhishma also struck his (adversary’s) charioteer. And Kritavarman, and Kripa, and Salya also, O sire, piercing Arjuna’s son, all failed to make him waver, for he stood firm like the Mainaka mountain. And the heroic son of Arjuna, though surrounded by those mighty car-warriors of the Dhartarashtra army, still showered on those five car-warriors arrowy downpours. And baffling their mighty weapons by his arrowy showers, and pouring on Bhishma his shafts, the powerful son of Arjuna set up loud shout.

And struggling in the battle thus and afflicting Bhishma with (his) arrows, the strength we saw of his arms then was very great. But though endued with such prowess Bhishma also shot his arrows at him. But he cut off in that combat the arrows shot from Bhishma’s bow. And then that heroic warrior of arrows that were never lost, cut off with nine arrows, in that combat, the standard of Bhishma. And at that feat the people there set up a loud shout. Decked with jewels and made of silver, that tall standard bearing the device of the palmyra, cut off, O Bharata, by the shafts of Subhadra’s son, fell down on the earth. And beholding, O bull of Bharata’s race, that standard failing in consequence of the shafts of Subhadra’s son, the proud Bhima set up a loud shout for cheering the son of Subhadra. Then in fierce combat, the mighty Bhishma caused many celestial weapons of great efficacy to appear. And the great grandsire of immeasurable soul then covered Subhadra’s son with thousands of arrows.

And at this, ten great bowmen and mighty car-warriors of the Pandavas, quickly rushed on their cars for protecting the son of Subhadra. And those were Virata with his son, and Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata’s race, and Bhima, the five Kekaya brothers, and Satyaki also, O king. And as they were falling upon him with great impetuosity, Bhishma the son of Santanu, in that conflict, pierced the prince of Pancala with three arrows, and Satyaki with ten. And with one winged arrow, whetted and sharp-edged as a razor, and shot from his bow drawn to its fullest stretch, he cut off the standard of Bhimasena. And, O best of men, the standard of Bhimasena, made of gold and bearing the device of a lion, cut off by Bhishma, fell from the car. And Bhima then, piercing Santanu’s son Bhishma in that combat with three arrows, pierced Kripa with one, and Kritavarman with eight. And Uttara also, the son of Virata, on a tusker with upraised trunk, rushed against the ruler of the Madras. Salya, however, succeeded in checking the unparalleled impetuosity of that prince of elephants rushing quickly towards his car. That prince of elephants, in great wrath, placing his leg upon the yoke of (Salya’s) car, killed his four large steeds of excellent speed.

The ruler of the Madras then, staying on that car whose steeds had been slain, hurled a dart, all made of iron, and resembling a snake, for slaying Uttara outright. The latter’s coat of mail being cut through by that dart, he became totally deprived of his senses and fell down from his elephant’s neck, with the hook and the lance loosened from his grasp. And Salya then, taking up his sword and jumping down from his excellent car, and putting forth his prowess, cut off the large trunk of that prince of elephants. His coat of mail pierced all over with a shower of arrows, and his trunk cut off, that elephant uttered a loud shriek and fell down and expired. Achieving such a feat, O king, the ruler of the Madras speedily mounted on the splendid car of Kritavarman. And beholding his brother Uttara slain and seeing Salya staying with Kritavarman, Virata’s son Sveta blazed up in wrath, like fire (blazing up) with clarified butter. And that mighty warrior, stretching his large bow that resembled the bow of Sakra himself, rushed with the desire of slaying Salya the ruler of the Madras. Surrounded on all sides with a mighty division of cars, he advanced towards Salya’s car pouring an arrowy shower.

And beholding him rush to the fight with prowess equal to that of an infuriate elephant, seven car-warriors of your side surrounded him on all sides, desirous of protecting the ruler of Madras who seemed to be already within the jaws of Death. And those seven warriors were Vrihadvala the ruler of the Kosalas, and Jayatsena of Magadha, and Rukmaratha, O king, who was the valourous son of Salya, and Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti, and Sudakshina the king of the Kamvojas, and Jayadratha, the ruler of the Sindhus and the kinsman of Vrihadkshatra. And the stretched bows of those high-souled warriors, decorated with diverse colours, looked like the lightning’s flashes in the clouds. And they all poured on Sveta’s head ceaseless showers of arrows like the clouds tossed by the wind dropping rain on the mountain breast on the expiry of summer. That mighty bowman and commander of the forces, enraged at this, with seven broad-headed arrows of great impetuosity, struck their bows, and then continued to grind them. And those bows we saw were cut off, O Bharata, and thereupon they all took up, within half the time taken up in a wink of the eye, other bows. And they then shot at Sveta seven arrows. And once again that mighty-armed warrior of immeasurable soul, with seven fleet shafts, cut off those (other) bows of these bowmen. Those warriors then, whose large bows had been cut off, those mighty car-warriors swelling (with rage), grasping (seven) darts, set up a loud shout.

And, O chief of the Bharatas, they hurled those seven darts at Sveta’s car. And those blazing darts which coursed (through the air) like large meteors, with the sound of thunder, were all cut off, before they could reach him, that warrior conversant with mighty weapons, by means of seven broad-headed arrows. Then taking up an arrow capable of penetrating into every part of the body, he shot it, O chief of the Bharatas, at Rukmaratha. And that mighty arrow, surpassing (the force of) the thunder-bolt, penetrated into the latter’s body.

Then, O king, forcibly struck by that arrow, Rukmaratha sat down on the terrace of his car and fell into a deadly swoon. His charioteer then, without betraying any fear, bore him away, senseless and in a swoon, in the very sight of all. Then taking up six other (arrows) adorned with gold, the mighty-armed Sveta cut off the standard-tops of his six adversaries. And that chastiser of foes then, piercing their steeds and charioteers also, and covering those six warriors themselves with ceaseless shafts, proceeded towards the car of Salya. And beholding that generalissimo of the (Pandava) forces proceeding quickly towards Salya’s car, a loud uproar of oh and alas arose in your army, O Bharata. Then your mighty son, with Bhishma at the head, and supported by heroic warriors and many troops, proceeded towards Sveta’s car.[5]

And he (thus) rescued the ruler of the Madras who had already entered the jaws of Death. And then commenced a battle, terrific and making the hair stand on end, between your troops and those of the enemy, in which cars and elephants all got mixed up in confusion. And upon Subhadra’s son and Bhimasena, and that mighty car-warrior Satyaki, and upon the ruler of the Kekayas, and Virata, and Dhrishtadyumna of Prishatas' race, and upon the Chedi troops, the old Kuru grandsire poured showers of arrows.[6]

Footnotes and references:


The Bengal reading 'narvarakshaye' seems to be better than 'Mahavirakshaye' of the Bombay text.


Talaketu is lit. Palmyra-bannered. Without using such compounds, the 'brevity' of the sentences cannot be maintained.


Karshni is Krishna’s or Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu. Arjuna was sometimes called Krishna.


Laghavamargasya is a mis-reading for Laghavamargastham'; then again chapi is incorrect, the correct reading chapam as in the Bombay text.


The Bengal reading is 'Suaris Vritascha Sainyena'. The Bombay reading (which I do not adopt) is 'Vritastu Sarva Sainyena.'


Nine slokas and a half, from the second half of the 43rd verse to the 52nd verse (as above), are omitted in the Bengal texts. These, however, occur subsequently in section 46 following. The fact is, the whole of the passage in this section and the 116 verses in the following section, and the first 24 verses in the section 49, are regarded as an interpolation. In those sections of the Udyoga Parvam where the Rathas and the Atirathas, &c, are counted by Bhishma, no mention is made of any warrior of the name of Sveta. The Burdwan Pundits omit these passages altogether. I myself believe them to be an interpolation. Occurring, however, as it does in both the Bengal and the Bombay texts, I cannot omit in the English version.


This concludes Section XLVII 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 XLVII of Book 6 of the Mahabharata?

The most relevant definitions are: Bhishma, Salya, Bharata, Subhadra, Madras, Kritavarman; since these occur the most in Book 6, Section XLVII. There are a total of 50 unique keywords found in this section mentioned 137 times.

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

Section XLVII is part of the Bhagavat-Gita Parva which itself is a sub-section of Book 6 (Bhishma Parva). The Bhagavat-Gita Parva contains a total of 112 sections while Book 6 contains a total of 3 such Parvas.

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

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

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