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...


"Vaisampayana said, 'That bull among the Bharatas, Arjuna, hearing these words of the Gandharva, was inspired with feelings of devotion and stood shes (???—JBH), killing deer and wild boars.

Once on a time, while out in quest of deer, the king became weak with exertion and thirst. The monarch arrived in that state at the asylum of Vasishtha, and the blessed and illustrious Rishi beholding him arrive, reverenced with his homage that best of men, king Visvamitra.

And O Bharata, the Rishi saluted the monarch by offering him water to wash his face and feet with, and Arghya, and wild fruits, and clarified butter. For the illustrious Rishi had a cow yielding anything that was desired of her. When she was addressed, saying, 'O give', – she always yielded the article that was sought.

And she yielded various fruits and corn, wild or grown in gardens and fields, and milk, and many excellent nutritive viands full of six different kinds of juice (taste?) and like unto nectar itself, and various other kinds of enjoyable things, O Arjuna, of ambrosial taste for drinking and eating, and for licking and sucking, and also many precious gems and robes of various kinds.

With these desirable objects in profusion the monarch was worshipped. And the king with his minister and troops became highly pleased.

And the monarch wondered much, beholding that cow with six elevated limbs and the beautiful flanks and hips, and five limbs that were broad, and eyes prominent like those of the frog and beautiful in size, and high udders, and faultless make, and straight and uplifted ears, and handsome horns, and well-developed head and neck.

"And, O prince, the son of Gadhi, gratified with everything and applauding the cow named Nandini, addressed the Rishi, saying,

'O Brahmana, O great Muni, give me your Naridini in exchange for ten thousand kine, or my kingdom. Enjoy you my kingdom (giving me your cow).'

"Hearing these words of Visvamitra, Vasishtha said,

'O sinless one, this cow has been kept by me for the sake of the gods, guests, and the Pitris, as also for my sacrifices. I cannot give Nandini in exchange for even your kingdom.' Visvamitra replied, 'I am a Kshatriya, but you are a Brahmana devoted to asceticism and study. Is there any energy in Brahmanas who are peaceful and who have their souls under perfect command? When you givest me not what I desire in exchange even for ten thousand cows, I will not abandon the practice of my order; I will take your cow even by force!'

"Vasishtha said,

'You are a Kshatriya endued with might of arms. You are a powerful monarch. O, do in haste what you desirest; and stop not to consider its propriety.'

"The Gandharva continued,

'Thus addressed by Vasishtha, Visvamitra, O Partha, then forcibly seized Nandini, that cow (white) like the swan or the moon, and attempted to take her away, afflicting her with stripes and persecuting her otherwise.

The innocent Nandini then began, O Partha, to low piteously, and approaching the illustrious Vasishtha stood before him with uplifted face. Though persecuted very cruelly, she refused to leave the Rishi’s asylum.'

"Beholding her in that plight, Vasishtha said,

'O amiable one, you are lowing repeatedly and I am hearing your cries. But, O Nandini, even Visvamitra is taking you away by force, what can I do in this matter, as I am a forgiving Brahmana?'

"The Gandharva continued,

'Then, O bull in Bharata’s race, Nandini, alarmed at the sight of Visvamitra’s troops and terrified by Visvamitra himself, approached the Rishi still closer, and said,

'O illustrious one, why art you so indifferent to my poor self afflicted with the stripes of the cruel troops of Visvamitra and crying so piteously as if I were masterless?'

Hearing these words of the crying and persecuted Nandini, the great Rishi lost not his patience nor turned from his vow of forgiveness.

He replied,

'The Kshatriya’s might lies in physical strength, the Brahmana’s in forgiveness. Because I cannot give up forgiveness, go you, O Nandini, if you choosest.'

Nandini answered,

'Castest you me away, O illustrious one, that you sayest so? If you dost not cast me off, I cannot, O Brahmana, be taken away by force.'

Vasishtha said,

'O blessed one, I do not cast you off! Stay if you canst! O, yonder is your calf, tied with a stout cord, and even now being weakened by it!'

"The Gandharva continued,

'Then the cow of Vasishtha, hearing the word stay, raised her head and neck upward, and became terrible to behold. With eyes red with rage and lowing repeatedly, she then attacked Visvamitra’s troops on all sides.

Afflicted with their stripes and running hither and thither with those red eyes of hers, her wrath increased. Blazing with rage, she soon became terrible to behold like unto the sun in his midday glory. And from her tail she began to rain showers of burning coals all around.

And some moments after, from her tail she brought forth an army of Palhavas, and from her udders, an army of Dravidas and Sakas; and from her womb, an army of Yavanas, and from her dung, an army of Savaras; and from her urine, an army of Kanchis; and from her sides, an army of Savaras.

And from the froth of her mouth came out hosts of Paundras and Kiratas, Yavanas and Sinhalas, and the barbarous tribes of Khasas and Chivukas and Pulindas and Chinas and Hunas with Keralas, and numerous other Mlecchas.

And that vast army of Mlecchas in various uniforms, and armed with various weapons, as soon as it sprang into life, deploying in the very sight of Visvamitra, attacked that monarch’s soldiers.

And so numerous was that Mleccha host that each particular soldier of Visvamitra was attacked by a band of six or seven of their enemies. Assailed with a mighty shower of weapons, Visvamitra’s troops broke and fled, panic-stricken, in all directions, before his very eyes.

But, O bull in Bharata’s race, the troops of Vasishtha, though excited with wrath, took not the life of any of Visvamitra’s troops. Nandini simply caused the monarch’s army to be routed and driven off. And driven (from the asylum) twenty-seven full miles, panic-stricken, they shrieked aloud and beheld not anyone that could protect them.

Visvamitra, beholding this wonderful feat that resulted from Brahmana prowess, became disgusted with Kshatriya prowess and said,

'O, fie on Kshatriya prowess! Brahmana prowess is true prowess! In judging of strength and weakness, I see that asceticism is true strength.'

Saying this, the monarch, abandoning his large domains and regal splendour and turning his back upon all pleasures, set his mind on asceticism. Crowned with success in asceticism and filling the three worlds with the heat of his ascetic penances, he afflicted all creatures and finally became a Brahmana.

The son of Kusika at last drank Soma with Indra himself (in Heaven).'"


This concludes Section CLXXVII of Book 1 (Adi 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 1 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

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