The Mahabharata (English)

by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | 1,309,022 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...

"Vasudeva said,—

'behold, O Partha, the great capital of Magadha, standing in all its beauty. Filled with flocks and herds and its stock of water never exhausted, and adorned also with fine mansions standing in excellent array, it is free from every kind of calamity. The five large hills of Vaihara, Varaha, Vrishava, Rishigiri, and the delightful Caitya, all of high peaks and overgrown with tall trees of cool shade and connected with one another, seem to be jointly protecting the city of Girivraja. The breasts of the hills are concealed by forests of delightful and fragrant Lodhras having the ends of their branches covered with flowers.

It was here that the illustrious Gautama of rigid vows begat on the Sudra woman Ausinari (the daughter of Usinara) Kakshivat and other celebrated sons. That the race sprung from Gautama does yet live under the sway of an ordinary human race (of monarchs) is only evidence of Gautama’s kindness to kings.

And, O Arjuna, it was here that in olden times the mighty monarchs of Anga, and Vanga and other countries, came to the abode of Gautama, and passed their days in joy and happiness.

Behold, O Partha, those forests of delightful Pippalas and beautiful Lodhras standing near the side of Gautama’s abode. There dwelt in old days those Nagas, Arvuda and Sakravapin, those persecutors of all enemies, as also the Naga Svastika and that other excellent Naga called Manu. Manu himself had ordered the country of the Magadhas to be never afflicted with drought, and Kaushika and Manimat also have favoured the country. Owning such a delightful and impregnable city, Jarasandha is ever bent on seeking the fruition of his purposes unlike other monarchs. We shall, however, by slaying him to-day humble his pride."

Vaisampayana said,—Thus saying those brothers of abundant energy, viz., he of the Vrishni race and the two Pandavas entered the city of Magadha. They then approached towards the impregnable city of Girivraja that was full of cheerful and well-fed inhabitants belonging to all the four orders, and where festivities were perennial. On arriving then at the gate of the city, the brothers (instead of passing through it) began to pierce (with their shafts) the heart of the high Caityaka peak that was worshipped by the race of Vrihadratha, as also by the citizens and which delighted the hearts of all the Magadhas. There Vrihadratha had slain a cannibal called Rishava and having slain the monster made of his hide three drums which he placed in his own city.

And those drums were such that once beaten their sound lasted one full month.
And the brothers broke down the Caityaka peak that was delightful to all the Magadhas, at that point where those drums covered with celestial flowers used to yield their continuous sound.
And desirous of slaying Jarasandha they seemed by that act of theirs to place their feet upon the head of their foe.
And attacking with their mighty arms that immovable and huge and high and old and celebrated peak always worshipped with perfumes and floral wreaths, those heroes broke it down.
And with joyful hearts they then entered the city.
And it so happened that the learned Brahmanas residing within the city saw many evil omens which they reported to Jarasandha. ?
And the priest making the king mount an elephant whirled lighted brands about him.
And king Jarasandha also, possessed of great prowess, with a view to warding of those evils, entered upon the celebration of a sacrifice, with proper vows and fasts.

Meanwhile, O Bharata, the brothers unarmed, or rather with their bare arms as their only weapons, desirous of fighting with Jarasandha, entered the capital in the guise of Brahmanas. They beheld the extraordinary beauty of the shops full of various edibles and floral wreaths, and supplied with articles of every variety of various qualities that man can desire. Those best of men, Krishna, Bhima, and Dhananjaya, beholding in those shops their affluence, passed along the public road. And endued with great strength they snatched forcibly from the flower-vendors the garlands they had exposed for sale. And attired in robes of various colours and decked in garlands and ear-rings the heroes entered the abode of Jarasandha possessed of great intelligence, like Himalayan lions eyeing cattle-folds.

And the arms of those warriors, O king, besmeared with sandal paste, looked like the trunks of sala trees. The people of Magadha, beholding those heroes looking like elephants, with necks broad like those of trees and wide chests, began to wonder much. Those bull among men, passing through three gates that were crowded with men, proudly and cheerfully approached the king.

And Jarasandha rising up in haste received them with water to wash their feet with, and honey and the other ingredients of the Arghya—with gifts of kine, and with other forms of respect.

The great king addressing them said,—

'You are welcome'!

And, O Janamejaya, both Partha and Bhima remained silent at this. And addressing the monarch Krishna said,—

'O king of kings these two are now in the observance of a vow. Therefore they will not speak. Silent they will remain till midnight After that hour they will speak with you!'

The king then quartering his guests in the sacrificial apartments retired into his private chambers. And when midnight arrived, the monarch arrived at the place where his guests attired as Brahmanas were. For, O King, that ever victorious monarch observed this vow which was known throughout the Worlds that as soon as he should hear of the arrival of Snataka Brahmanas at his place, should it be even at midnight, he would immediately, O Bharata, come out and grant them an audience. Beholding the strange attire of his guests that best of kings wondered much. For all that, however, he waited on them respectfully.

Those bulls among men, those slayers of all foes, on the other hand, O you best of the Bharata race, beholding king Jarasandha, said,—

'Let salvation be attained by you, O king, without difficulty.'

And, O tiger among kings, having said this unto the monarch, they stood looking at each other.

And, O king of kings, Jarasandha then said unto those sons of Pandu and him of the Yadu race, all disguised as Brahmanas—

'Take your seats.'

And those bulls among men sat themselves down, and like the three priests of a great sacrifice blazed forth in their beauty.

And king Jarasandha, O you of the Kuru race, firmly devoted to truth, censuring the disguised guests, said unto them,—

'It is well known to me that in the whole world Brahmanas in the observance of Snataka vow never deck their persons with garlands and fragrant paste unseasonably.

Who are you, therefore, thus decked with flowers, and with hands bearing the marks of the bow-string? Attired in coloured robes and decked unseasonably with flowers and paste, you give me to understand that you are Brahmanas, although you bear Kshatriya energy.

Tell me truly who you are. Truth decks even kings. Breaking down the peak of the Caityaka hill, why have you, in disguise, entered (the city) by an improper gate without fear of the royal wrath? The energy of a Brahmana dwells in his speech, (not in act). This your feat is not suited to the order to which you profess to belong.

Tell us therefore, the end you have in view. Arrived here by such an improper way, why accept you not the worship I offer? What is your motive for coming to me?

Thus addressed by the king, the high-souled Krishna, well-skilled in speech, thus replied unto the monarch in a calm and grave voice.

"Krishna said,—

'O king, know us for Snataka Brahmanas. Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are all, O monarch, competent to observe the vow of Snataka. This vow, besides, has (many) especial and general rules. A Kshatriya observing this vow with especial rules always achieve prosperity. Therefore, have we decked ourselves with flowers.

Kshatriyas again, O king, exhibit their energy by their arms and not in speech. It is, therefore, O son of Vrihadratha, that the speeches uttered by a Kshatriya are never audacious.

O monarch, the creator has planted his own energy in the aim of the Kshatriya. If you wishest to behold it, you shalt certainly behold it today. These are the rules of the ordinance, viz., that an enemy’s abode should be entered through a wrong gate and a friend’s abode through the right one.

And know, O monarch, that this also is our eternal vow that having entered the foe’s abode for the accomplishment of our purpose, we accept not the worship offered to us!"


This concludes Section XXI of Book 2 (Sabha 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 2 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

FAQ (frequently asked questions):

Which keywords occur in Section XXI of Book 2 of the Mahabharata?

The most relevant definitions are: Jarasandha, Brahmana, Brahmanas, Magadha, Kshatriya, Gautama; since these occur the most in Book 2, Section XXI. There are a total of 49 unique keywords found in this section mentioned 110 times.

What is the name of the Parva containing Section XXI of Book 2?

Section XXI is part of the Jarasandha-badha Parva which itself is a sub-section of Book 2 (Sabha Parva). The Jarasandha-badha Parva contains a total of 5 sections while Book 2 contains a total of 7 such Parvas.

Can I buy a print edition of Section XXI as contained in Book 2?

Yes! The print edition of the Mahabharata contains the English translation of Section XXI of Book 2 and can be bought on the main page. The author is Kisari Mohan Ganguli and the latest edition (including Section XXI) is from 2012.

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