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 CXLIX

"Sanjaya said,

'Upon the fall, O king, of the ruler of the Sindhus, your son Suyodhana, his face bedewed with tears, and himself filled with grief and breathing hot sighs like a snake whose fangs have been broken, that offender against the whole world, viz., your son, experienced bitter affliction. Beholding that great terrible slaughter of his troops caused by Jishnu and Bhimasena and Satwata in battle, he became pale, dejected and melancholy, and his eyes became filled with tears. And he came to think no warrior existed on the earth that could be compared with Arjuna.

Neither Drona, nor the son of Radha, nor Asvatthaman, nor Kripa, O sire, is competent to stand before Arjuna when the latter is excited with wrath, And Suyodhana, said unto himself,

'Having vanquished in battle all the mighty car-warriors of my army, Partha slew the ruler of the Sindhus. None could resist him. This my vast host has almost been exterminated by the Pandavas. I think, there is no one that can protect my army, no, not even Purandara himself. He, relying upon whom I have been engaged in this passage-at-arms in battle, alas, that Karna has been defeated in battle and Jayadratha slain. That Karna relying upon whose energy I regarded Krishna as straw who came to sue me for peace, alas, that Karna has been vanquished in battle.'

Grieving so within his heart, that offender against the whole world, O king, went to Drona, O bull of Bharata’s race, for seeing him. Repairing unto him, he informed Drona of that immense slaughter of the Kurus, the victory of his foes, and the dire calamity of the Dhartarashtras.[1] And Suyodhana said, 'Behold, O preceptor, this immense slaughter of kings.[2] I came to battle, placing that grandsire of mine, viz., the heroic Bhishma, at our head. Having slain him, Sikhandin, his aspiration fulfilled, stays at the very van of all the troops, surrounded by all the Pancalas, covetous of another triumph.[3]

Another disciple of thine, viz., the invincible Savyasacin, having slain seven. Akshauhinis of troops has despatched king Jayadratha to Yama’s abode. How, O preceptor, shall I be freed from the debt I owe to those allies of mine who, desirous of victory to me and ever engaged in my good, have gone to Yama’s abode? Those lords of earth who had desired the sovereignty of the earth, are now lying on the earth, abandoning all their earthly prosperity. Truly, I am a coward. Having caused such a slaughter of friends, I dare not think that I shall be sanctified by performing even a hundred horse-sacrifices. I am covetous and sinful and a transgressor against righteousness.

Through my acts alone, these lords of earth, in their desire for victory, have gone to Yama’s abode. Why, in presence of those kings, does not the earth yield me a hole (through which to sink), since I am so sinful in behaviour and such a fomenter of internecine dissensions![4] Alas, what will the grandsire with blood-red eyes, that invincible hero who has conquered the other world, tell me in the midst of the kings when he meets me?[5] Behold that mighty bowman, Jalasandha, slain by Satyaki. T

hat great car-warrior, that hero, came proudly to battle for my sake, prepared to lay down his life. Beholding the ruler of the Kamvojas slain, as also Alamvusha and many other allies of mine, what object can I have for preserving my life? Those unretreating heroes who, fighting for my sake and struggling to the utmost of their powers to vanquish my foes, have laid down their lives. I shall today, O scorcher of foes, exerting the utmost measure of my might, free myself from the debt that I owe them and gratify them with oblations of water by repairing to the Yamuna.

O foremost of all bearers of arms, I tell you truly and swear by the good acts I have performed, by the prowess I possess and by my sons, that slaying all the Pancalas with the Pandavas, I shall obtain peace of mind, or slain by them in battle I shall repair to those regions whither those allies of mine have gone. I shall certainly proceed thither whither those bulls among men, slain, while engaged in battle for my sake, by Arjuna have gone! Our allies, seeing that they are not well-protected by us, no longer desire to stand by us. O you of mighty arms, they now regard the Pandavas to be preferable to ourselves. Thyself, of sure aim, hast ordained our extermination in battle, for you treatest Arjuna leniently, since he is your disciple. It is for this that all those have been slain who had endeavoured to secure victory to us. It seems that only Karna now wishes us victory.

The man of weak understanding who without duly examining another, accepts him for a friend and engages him in concerns that require friends for their accomplishment, is certain to suffer injury even so has this affair of mine been managed by my best friend![6] I am exceedingly covetous, sinful, crooked-hearted, and characterised by avarice! Alas, king Jayadratha has been slain, and Somadatta’s son also of great energy, and the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis! I shall go thither today whither those bulls among men, slain, while engaged in battle for my sake, by Arjuna, have gone. In the absence of those bulls among men, I have no need for life. O preceptor of the sons of Pandu, let me have your permission in this.

Footnotes and references:


Literally, 'the fact of the Dhartarashtras having sunk (into distress).'


Literally, 'of persons whose coronal locks have undergone the sacred bath.'


Praluvdhas is explained by Nilakantha differently. He supposes that Duryodhana here characterises Sikhandin to be a deceitful fowler or hunter in consequence of the deceit with which he caused Bhishma’s fall. This is far-fetched.


I adopt the Bombay reading.


The Bombay edition reads this verse differently and introduces another after it which does not occur in the Bengal texts.


I am not sure whether I have rendered the 31st and the first half of 32nd correctly. The vernacular translators have made a mess of the passage. The difficulty lies with Surhittamais. I take it to mean that Duryodhana says, 'Karna, Sakuni, Duhsasana, with myself, had taken you, O preceptor, for a friend, and had engaged you in this battle. We did not, however, then know that you are an enemy in disguise.'


This concludes Section CXLIX of Book 7 (Drona 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 7 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

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