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...

"Yudhishthira said, 'How should a righteous king, who is opposed by his own officers, whose treasury and army are no longer under his control, and who has no wealth, conduct himself for acquiring happiness?'

"Bhishma said, 'In this connection, the story of Kshemadarsin is often recited. I shall narrate that story to you. Listen to it, O Yudhishthira! It has been heard by us that in days of old, when prince Kshemadarsin became weak in strength and fell into great distress, he repaired to the sage Kalakavrikshiya, and saluting him humbly, said unto him these words.'[1]

"The king said, 'What should a person like me who deserves wealth but who has, after repeated efforts, failed to recover his kingdom, do, O Brahmana, excepting suicide, thieving and robbery, acceptance of refuge with others, and other acts of meanness of a similar kind? O best of men, tell me this. One like you that is conversant with morality and full of gratefulness is the refuge of a person afflicted by disease either mental or physical. Man should cast off his desires. By acting in that way, by abandoning joy and sorrow, and earning the wealth of knowledge, he succeeds in obtaining felicity.[2] I grieve for them that adhere to worldly happiness as dependent on wealth. All that, however, vanishes like a dream. They that can abandon vast wealth achieve a very difficult feat. As regards ourselves we are unable to abandon that wealth which is even no longer existent.[3] I am divested of prosperity and have fallen into a miserable and joyless plight. Instruct me, O Brahmana, what happiness I may yet strive for.' Thus addressed by the intelligent prince of Kosala, the sage Kalakavrikshiya of great splendour made the following answer.'

"The sage said, 'You have, it seems, already understood it. Possessed of knowledge as you are, you should act as you think. Your belief is right, viz., All this that I see is unstable, myself as also everything that I have. Know, O prince, that those things which you regardest as existing are in reality non-existent. The man of wisdom knows this, and accordingly is never pained whatever the distress that may overwhelm him. Whatever has taken place and whatever will take place are all unreal. When you will know this which should be known by all, you shalt be freed from unrighteousness. Whatever things had been earned and acquired by those that came before, and whatever was earned and acquired by those that succeeded them, have all perished. Reflecting on this, who is there that will yield to grief? Things that were, are no more. Things that are, will again be (no more). Grief has no power to restore them. One should not, therefore, indulge in grief. Where, O king, is your sire to-day, and where your grandsire? You seest them not today, nor do they see you now. Reflecting on your own instability, who dost you grieve for them? Reflect with the aid of your intelligence, and you will understand that verily you shalt cease to be. Myself, thyself, O king, your friends, and your foes, shall, without doubt, cease to be. Indeed, everything will cease to be. Those men that are now of twenty or thirty years of age will, without doubt, all die within the next hundred years. If a man cannot have the heart to give up his vast possessions, he should then endeavour to think his possessions are not his own and by that means seek to do good to himself.[4] Acquisitions that are future should be regarded by one as not one’s own. Acquisitions that have disappeared, should also be regarded by one as not one’s own. Destiny should be regarded as all powerful. They that think in this strain are said to be possessed of wisdom. Such a habit of looking at things is an attribute of the good. Many persons who are equal or superior to you in intelligence and exertion, though deprived of wealth, are not only alive but are never ruling kingdoms. They are not, like you. They do not indulge in grief like you. Therefore, cease you to grieve in this way. Art you not Superior to those men, or at least equal to them in intelligence and exertion?'" The king said, 'I regard the kingdom which I had with all its appendages to have been won by me without any exertion. All-powerful Time, however, O regenerate one, has swept it away. The consequence, however, that I see, of my kingdom having been swept away by Time as by a stream, is that I am obliged to support upon whatever I obtain (by charity).'

"The sage said, 'Moved by the knowledge of what is true (in life) one should never grieve for either the past or the future. Be you of such a frame of mind. O prince of Kosala, in respect of every affair that may engage your attention. Desiring to obtain only that which is obtainable and not that which is unobtainable, do you enjoy your present possessions and never grieved for that which is absent. Be you delighted, O prince of Kosala, with whatever you succeedest in winning with ease. Even if divested of prosperity, do not grieve for Abut seek to preserve a pure disposition. Only an unfortunate man who is of a foolish understanding, when deprived of former prosperity, censures the supreme Ordainer, without being contented with his present possessions. Such a person regards others, however undeserving, as men blessed with prosperity. For this reason, they that are possessed of malice and vanity and filled with a sense of their own importance, suffer more misery still. You however, O king, art not stained by such vices. Endure the prosperity of others although you are thyself divested of prosperity. They that are possessed of dexterity succeed in enjoying that prosperity which is vested in others.[5] Prosperity leaves the person that hates others. Men possessed of righteous behaviour and wisdom and conversant with the duties of Yoga renounce prosperity and sons and grandsons of their own accord. Others, regarding earthly wealth to be exceedingly unstable and unattainable, dependent as it is upon ceaseless action and effort, are also seen to renounce it.[6] You seemest to be possessed of wisdom. Why dost you then grieve so piteously, desiring things that should not be desired, that are unstable, and that are dependent on others? You desirest to enquire after that particular frame of mind (which would enable you to enjoy felicity notwithstanding the loss of your possessions). The advice I give you is to renounce all those objects of desire. Objects that should be avoided appear in the guise of those that should be striven for, while those that should be striven for appear in the guise of objects that should be avoided. Some lose their wealth in the pursuit of wealth. Others regard wealth as the root of infinite happiness, and, therefore pursue it eagerly. Some again, delighted with wealth, think that there is nothing superior to it. In his eager desire for the acquisition of wealth, such a person loses all other objects of life. If, O prince of Kosala, a person loses that wealth which had been earned with difficulty and which had been proportionate to his desires, he then, overcome by the inactivity of despair, gives up all desire of wealth. Some persons of righteous souls and high birth betake themselves to the acquisition of virtue. These renounce every kind of worldly happiness from desire of winning felicity in the other world. Some persons lay down life itself, moved by the desire of acquiring wealth. These do not think that life has any use if dissociated from wealth. Behold their pitiable condition. Behold their foolishness. When life is so short and uncertain, these men, moved by ignorance, set their eyes on wealth. Who is there that would set his heart upon hoarding when destruction is its end, upon life when death is its end, and upon union when separation is its end? sometimes man renounces wealth, and sometimes wealth renounces man. What man possessed of knowledge is there that would feel grieved at the loss of wealth? There are many other persons in the world that lose wealth and friends. Behold, O king, with your intelligence, and you will understand that the calamities which overtake men are all due to the conduct of men themselves. Do you, therefore, (as a remedy), restrain your senses and mind and speech. For, if those become weak and productive of evil there is no man who can keep himself free from temptation of external objects by which he is always surrounded. As no one can form an adequate idea of the past nor can foresee the future, there being many intervals of time and place, a person like you who is possessed of such wisdom and such prowess, never indulges in grief for union and separation, for good or evil. A person of such mildness of disposition, well-restrained soul, and settled conclusions, and observant of Brahmacarya vows, never indulges in grief and never becomes restless from desire of acquiring or fear of losing anything of small value. It is not fit that such a man should adopt a deceitful life of mendicancy, a life that is sinful and wicked and cruel and worthy of only a wretch among men. Do you repair to the great forest and lead a life of happiness there, all alone and subsisting upon fruit and roots, restraining speech and soul, and filled with compassion for all creatures. He that cheerfully leads such a life in the forest, with large-tusked elephants for companions, with no human being by his side, and contented with the produce of the wilderness, is said to act after the manner of the wise. A large lake when it becomes turbid, resumes its tranquillity of itself. Similarly, a man of wisdom, when disturbed in such matters, becomes tranquil of himself. I see that a person that has fallen into such a plight as thine may live happily even thus. When your prosperity is almost impossible to recover, and when you are without ministers and counsellors, such a course is open to you. Dost you hope to reap any benefit by depending upon destiny?'"

Footnotes and references:


In the Bengal texts there is an error of reading viz., Satru for Yatra in the first line of verse 3. The Burdwan Pundits repeat the error in their vernacular version. K.P. Singha, of course, avoids it.


The Bengal texts, in the second line of verse 7, contain an error, Saktincha is evidently a misreading for Sokanca. The Burdwan version, as a matter of course, repeats the error, While K.P. Singha avoids it.


i.e., though dispossessed of my kingdom, I cannot yet cast off the hope of recovering it.


i.e., he should think that his wealth has been given to him for the sake of friends and relatives and others. He will then succeed in practising charity.


Nilakantha explains Kusalah as niamatsarah and anyatra as Satrau. I do not follow him.


The Bengal texts read Vidhitsa dhanameva ca. This is evidently erroneous. The correct reading, as given in the Bombay text, is Vidhitsasadhanena ca. Both the Bengali versions are incorrect.


This concludes Section CIV of Book 12 (Shanti 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 12 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

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