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...

Sanjaya said,

"When the troops, O bull of Bharata’s race, were withdrawn on the first day, and when Duryodhana was filled with delight upon (beholding) Bhishma excited with wrath in battle, king Yudhisthira the just, speedily repaired unto Janardana, accompanied by all his brothers and all the kings (on his side).

Filled with great grief thinking of his defeat, and beholding Bhishma’s prowess, O king, he addressed that scion of Vrishni’s race, saying,

'Behold, O Krishna, that mighty bowman Bhishma of terrible prowess. He consumes with his arrow my troops like fire (consuming) dry grass. How shall we even look at that high-souled (warrior) who is licking up my troops like fire fed with clarified butter? Beholding; that tiger among men, that mighty warrior armed with the bow, my troops fly away, afflicted with arrows. Enraged Yama himself, or He armed with the thunder, or even Varuna noose in hand, or Kuvera armed with mace, may be vanquished in battle but the mighty car-warrior Bhishma, of great energy is incapable of being vanquished. Such being the case, I am sinking in the fathomless ocean represented by Bhishma, without a boat (to rescue me).[1]

In consequence, O Kesava, of the weakness of my understanding, having obtained Bhishma (for a foe in battle), I shall, O Govinda, retire into woods. To live there is preferable to devoting these lords of earth to Death in the form of Bhishma. Conversant with mighty weapons, Bhishma, O Krishna, will annihilate my army. As insects rush into the blazing fire for their own destruction, the combatants of my army are even so. In putting forth prowess for the sake of kingdom, O you of Vrishni’s race, I am being led to destruction. My heroic brothers also are pained and afflicted with arrows for my sake, having been deprived of both sovereignty and happiness in consequence of their love for their eldest brother.

We regard life very highly, for, under these circumstances, life is too precious (to be sacrificed). During the remainder of my days I will practise the severest of ascetic austerities. I will not, O Kesava, cause these friends of mine to be slain.[2] The mighty Bhishma incessantly stays, with his celestial weapon, many thousands of my car-warriors who are foremost of smiters.

Tell me, O Madhava, without delay, what should be done that might do me good. As regards Arjuna, I see that he is an indifferent spectator in this battle. Endued with great might, this Bhima alone, remembering Kshatriya duties, fights putting forth the prowess of his arms and to the utmost of his power. With his hero-slaying mace, this high-souled (warrior), to the full measure of his powers, achieves the most difficult feats upon foot-soldiers and steeds and cars and elephants.

This hero, however, is incapable, O sire, of destroying in fair fight the hostile host in even a century. This your friend (Arjuna) alone (amongst) is conversant with (mighty) weapons. He, however, beholding us consumed by Bhishma and the high-souled Drona, looks indifferently on us. The celestial weapons of Bhishma and the high-souled Drona, incessantly applied, are consuming all the Kshatriyas. O Krishna, such is his prowess, that Bhishma, with wrath excited, aided by the kings (on his side), will, without doubt annihilate us. O Lord of Yoga, look for that great bowman, that mighty car-warrior, who will give Bhishma his quietus like rain-charged clouds quenching a forest conflagration. (Then) through your grace, O Govinda, the son of Pandu, their foes being slain, will, after recovery of their kingdom, be happy with their kinsmen.

"Having said this, the high-souled son of Pritha, with heart afflicted by grief and mind turned within, remained silent for a long while in a reflected mood.

Beholding the son of Pandu stricken with grief and deprived of his senses by sorrow, Govinda then gladdening all the Pandavas said,

'Do not grieve, O chief of the Bharatas. It behoves you not to grieve, when your brothers are all heroes and renowned bowmen in the world. I also am employed in doing you good, as also that mighty car-warrior Satyaki and Virata and Drupada, both reverend in years, and Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata’s line. And so also, O best of kings, all these monarchs with their (respective) troops are expectant of your favour and devoted to you, O king. This mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata’s race placed in command of your army is always desirous of your welfare and engaged in doing that which is agreeable to you, as also this Sikhandin, O you of mighty arms, who is certainly the slayer of Bhishma.'

Hearing these words, the king (Yudhishthira), said, unto that mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna, in that very assembly and in the hearing of Vasudeva, these words,

'O Dhrishtadyumna, mark these words that I say unto you, O you of Prishata’s line. The words uttered by me should not be transgressed. Approved by Vasudeva, you have been the commander of our forces. As Kartikeya, in days of old, was ever the commander of the celestial host, so also art you, O bull among men, the commander of the Pandava host. Putting forth your prowess, O tiger among men, slay the Kauravas. I will follow you, and Bhima, and Krishna also, O sire, and the sons of Madri united together, and the sons of Draupadi accoutred in mail, and all the other foremost of kings, O bull among men.'

Then gladdening (the listeners) Dhrishtadyumna said,

'Ordained of old by Sambhu himself, I am, O son of Pritha, the slayer of Drona. I shall now fight in battle against Bhishma, and Drona and Kripa and Salya and Jayadratha and all the proud monarchs (on the Kuru side)'.

When that foremost of princes, that slayer of foes, the son of Prishata, said this defiantly, the Pandava warriors, endued with great energy and incapable of being defeated in battle, all set up a loud shout.

And then Pritha’s son Yudhishthira said unto the commander of his army, the son of Prishata, (these words),

'An array known by the name of Krauncharuma, that is destructive of all foes, and that was spoken of by Vrihaspati unto Indra in days of old when the gods and the Asuras fought,—that array destructive of hostile divisions, do you form. Unseen before, the kings behold it, along with the Kurus.'

Thus addressed by that god among men, like Vishnu addressed by the wielder of the thunderbolt,[3] he (Dhrishtadyumna), when morning dawned, placed Dhananjaya in the van of the whole army. And Dhananjaya’s standard, created at Indra’s command by the celestial artificer, while moving through the skies, seemed wonderfully beautiful. Decked with banners bearing hues resembling those of Indra’s bow,[4] coursing through the air like a ranger of the skies, and looking like the fleeting edifice of vapour in the welkin, it seemed, O sire to glide dancingly along the track of the car (to which it was attached). And the bearer of Gandiva with that (standard) graced with gems, and that standard itself with the bearer of Gandiva, looked highly adorned, like the Self-create with the Sun (and the Sun with the Self-create).[5]

And king Drupada, surrounded by a large number of troops, became the head (of that array). And the two kings Kuntibhoja and Saivya became its two eyes. And the ruler of the Dasarnas, and the Prayagas, with the Daserakas, and the Anupakas, and the Kiratas were placed in its neck, O bull of Bharata’s race.

And Yudhishthira, O king, with the Pataccaras, the Hunas, the Pauravakas and the Nishadas, became its two wings, so also the Pisachas, with the Kundavishas, and the Mandakas, the Ladakas, the Tanganas, and the Uddras, O Bharata, and the Saravas, the Tumbhumas, the Vatsas, and the Nakulas. And Nakula and Sahadeva placed themselves on the left wing.

And on the joints of the wings were placed ten thousand cars and on the head a hundred thousand, and on the back a hundred millions and twenty thousand and on the neck a hundred and seventy thousand. And on the joints of the wings, the wings and the extremities of the wings proceeded elephants in large bodies, looking, O king, like blazing mountains. And the rear was protected by Virata aided by the Kekayas, and the ruler of Kasi and the king of the Chedis, with thirty thousand cars.[6]

Forming, O Bharata, their mighty array thus, the Pandavas, expectant of sunrise, waited for battle, all cased in armour. And their white umbrellas, clean and costly, and brilliant as the sun, shone resplendent on their elephants and cars."[7]

Footnotes and references:


Aplavas and Alpave are both correct.


In the first line of the 14th verse Aviseshana seems to be incorrect. The Bombay text reads Avaseshena which I adopt.


The correct reading is Vishnu, and not Jishnu as in many of the Bengal texts.


Indrayudha is Indra’s bow or the rainbow. Akasaga (literally a ranger of the skies) is a bird. The vapoury edifices and forms, constantly melting away and reappearing in new shapes, are called Gandharvanagar as (lit. towns of the Gandharvas or celestial choiristers).


The Bengal reading is Savayambhuriva bhanuna which I have adopted. The Bombay reading is Merurivabhanuna, which means "like the mountain Meru with Sun." It is difficult to make a choice between the two.


The Bombay text differs in many respects from the Bengal texts as regards the positions assigned to the several warriors and races in the Pandava host. It is impossible to settle the true readings. I have, therefore, without any attempt at correction, followed the Bengal text.


The last word of the 28th verse is 'Ratheshu ca', and not 'Dhajeshu ca' for umbrellas could not possibly be fastened to standards.


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

The most relevant definitions are: Bhishma, Dhrishtadyumna, Prishata, Bharata, Drona, Pandava; since these occur the most in Book 6, Section L. There are a total of 69 unique keywords found in this section mentioned 127 times.

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

Section L 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 L as contained in Book 6?

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

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