Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter XXXIV - Description of the battle

1. Now the generals and ministers of the belligerent powers, and the aerial spectators of the war, were thus talking among themselves.

2. Lo! here the ground has become a lake of blood, with the heads of the slaughtered hosts floating as lotuses upon it; and there the air has become as the starry heaven, glittering with broken weapons, flying like birds in the sky.

3. Behold the air is reddened with the particles of vermeil blood, borne above by the winds, and the sky presenting the evening clouds, with the glow of the setting sun at midday.

4. What are these, says one, that are flying as straws in the firmament? They are, says the other, no straws, but the flight of arrows, that have filled the atmosphere.

5. As long as the dust of the earth, cries another, is moistened by the bloodshed of the brave, so long are the heroes entitled to glory, and have their abode in heaven for myriads of years.[1]

6. Fear not these sable swords, says the sastra, whose blades are worn by the brave like petals of blue lotuses about their hecks and breasts;and bravoes are favourites in the eyes of the goddess of fortune. (Fortune favours the brave).

7. The heavenly nymphs that beheld the fighting, felt a desire to embrace the brave, and the god of the flowery bow (Kama or Cupid), was busy to loosen their waist bands. (Cupid by inversion is Dipuc, another name of the Indian Kama. And Fairies or Paries and Huries are said to fall to the lot of the fighters in Jehad-battle. So says Dryden:"None but the brave deserve the fair").

8. They beckoned their welcome by the waving of their reddish palms, in the shaking of the ruddy leaves of trees, and by the round glances of their eyes, in the blooming blossoms of plants, and by the perfume of their breath in the honied fragrance of flowers.

9. The geniuses of the garden of Paradise, were singing sweetly in the notes of the sylvan choir, and betook themselves to dancing in the wagging tails of peacocks.

10. As the brave warrior was breaking the line of the enemy with his hardy axe; so was his beloved breaking his hard heart and spirit, with the soft glances of her eyes.

11. It is by my lance, says the lancer, that I have severed the head of my adversary with the rings in his ears, like the head of the ascending node of Rahu, approaching the disk of the sun.

12. Lo! There is a champion, hurling the blocks of stones, attached to the end of a chain reaching his feet; and another whirling his wheel with a wondrous log of wood, held in his uplifted arm.

13. There comes that combatant in the form of Yama, appearing from the region of Pluto (Preta), and spreading a horrid devastation all around. Come let us go hence as we came.

14. Look there the ravenous birds, greedily plunging their long necks in the cells of bodies just separated from their heads, and glutting themselves with the gushing blood; and see there the headless trunk of the slain, moving to and fro in the field of battle.

15. The eloquent among the spectators were talking to one another, about the frailty of human life, and the uncertainty of the time of their meeting in the next world.

16. Oh! the stern cannibal of death, says one, that devours in one swoop, whole bodies of the assembled armies, now weltering in blood; and levels the levelling hosts to the ground.

17. The showers of arrows falling on the bodies of elephants, resemble the showers of rain drops on mountain tops; and the darts sticking to their frontal bones, liken the bolts of lightning piercing the peaks of cliffs.

18. While the headless body of the beheaded, was grovelling grievously on the ground for want of its head, the pate flying on high as a bird of air, proclaimed its immortality in heaven.

19. The army harassed by stones slung on their heads, cried to entrap the enemy in the snares set at their feet.

20. Wives that had become Apsaras (heavenly nymphs) after death, were now eager to claim their husbands, who were restored to their youth, by virtue of their falling in the field of battle.

21. The glaring light of the line of lances that had reached the skies, seemed as a flight of stairs or golden vistas, for the ascent of the brave to the gates of heaven.

22. The wife of the slain soldier, seeing now a heavenly goddess, taking possession of her husband's fair gold-like breast, was looking about in search of another.

23. Generals, wailing loudly with their uplifted arms, over their fallen armies in the field, appeared as the cliffs of rocks, resounding to the clamorous surges below.

24. They cried out to fight the foremost in war, and to remove the wounded to the rear; and not to trample over the bodies of their own soldiers, now lying low on the ground.

25. Behold! there the Apsaras eagerly tying their loosened locks, and advancing with sobbing bosoms to receive the departed warriors, joining their company in their celestial forms.

26. Ah! receive them says one, who are our guests from afar, on the banks of the rivers of Paradise, decorated with lotus blossoms of golden hue, and entertain them with fresh water and cooling breeze.

27. Look! there the groups of weapons, broken into pieces like bones by their concussion, are huddled in the air with a jingling sound (kanatkara), and shining as stars in the sky.

28. Lo! the stream of deceased souls, flowing in arrowy currents and rolling in whirlpools of the flying disks, is rapidly gliding with the pebbles and stones, flung from the slings in the air.

29. The sky is become as a lake of lotuses with the lotiform heads of warriors flung aloft in the air, while the flying weapons are floating like their stalks in it, with the broken swords as their thorns all around.

30. The flying fragments of the flags, forming the folia of the plants, and the darts sticking to them, appear as big black bees fluttering about the flowers moving with the breeze.

31. The arrows sticking to the dead bodies of elephants, are as emmets on mountain tops, and as timid girls clinging to the bosoms of men.

32. The winds unfurling the curling locks of Vidyadhara females, indicate their approaching spousals, as the unfolding plumage of fowls are predictions of success in augury.

33. The lifted umbrellas are shining as so many moons on high and the moon shining above in the form of fair fame, spreads her light as a white canopy on earth.

34. The brave warrior, soon after his death, assumes a celestial form framed by his own merit, as a man in his sleep, attains to a state, he has imagined to himself in his waking.

35. The flying spears and lances and clubs and disks are hurtling in the air, like shoals of restless fishes and sharks, moving about incessantly in the troubled waters of the sea.

36. The milk-white rags of umbrellas, tattered and shattered by arrowy shafts, are flying as cranes in the crowded air, and appearing as the disk of the moon broken into a thousand pieces.

37. These waving flappers flying in the air with a hoarse gurgling (gharghara), seem as the waves of the sea lifted in the air, and undulating with a babbling noise in the ocean of the sky.

38. Those slips of the flappers and umbrellas, hashed by the slashing arms, appear as the laurels of glory flung aloft and flying in the regions of air.

39. Behold ye friends! how these flying arrows and showering spears, are approaching to us with hits of their spoil, like bodies of locusts, bearing away their verdant booty in the air.

40. Hearken to the clanking sound of the striking steel, in the uplifted arm of the armoured soldier, resounding like the loud larum of the regent of death.

41. Hear the tremendous blows of weapons, like the blowing of an all destroying tornado, throwing down the elephants like crags of mountains, with their long stretching tusks lying like water falls on the ground.

42. Lo! there the drivers of war chariots are stopped in their course, and striving to make their way through the puddles of blood, in which the wheels and horses of the car, are huddled together as in a bog of quagmire.

43. The jingling of arms and armours, and the jangling of swords and steel, resound, as the tingling of the lute at the dancing of the dire and dreaded dame of death.

44. See the skirts of the sky reddened by the roseate particles, borne by the winds from the streams of blood, issuing out of the wounds in the bodies of men, horses and elephants lying dead in the field.

45. Look at the array of arrows formed in the air as a wreath of blossoms, and falling as the rays of lightnings from the dark black clouds of weapons hanging on high.

46. Lo! the surface of the earth filled with blood-red weapons, appearing as faggots of fire strewn over the ground in an universal conflagration.

47. The multitudes of commingled weapons, clashing with and breaking one another into pieces, are falling down in showers, like the innumerable rays of the sun.

48. The fighting of one man among the motionless many, is like the magic play of a magician[2] where the conjurer acts his parts amidst the bewitched beholders, Lo! there the indifferent spectators viewing the warfare as a dream (by their prajna or inward vision of the mind).

49. The field of battle, where all other sounds are hushed under the clashing of arms, resembles the stage of the martial god Bhairava, chanting his pitiless war song in jarring cacophony.

50. The battlefield is turned to a sea of blood, filled with the sands of pounded weapons, and rolling with the waves of broken discuses.

51. All the quarters under the regents of the sky, are filled with martial music loudly resounding on all sides; and the rebellowing hills seem to challenge one another, in their aerial flight and fighting (as in contest of the gods and titans of old).

52. Alas for shame! says one, that these arrows flung with such force from the bow strings, and flying with such loud hissing, and glittering as red hot lightnings in the air, are foiled in their aim of piercing the impenetrable armours, and driven back by them to hit at the stony hills.

53. Hear me friend, that art tired with the sight, that it is time for us to depart from this place, ere we are pierced in our bodies by these sharp arrows flashing as fire, and before the day runs its course of the fourth watch (evening).

Footnotes and references:


Notwithstanding the reward of heavenly abodes promised to the slayer and slain in war, in the Sāstra and Koran, the Asiatics are far backward now-a-days, both to kill and to be killed than the Europeans, who are forbidden by the Holy writ, to slay and shed human blood. Thus there is a laxity of the injunction and prohibition on both sides.


P. mujosi S. Yātudhāna, H. Jādugar = juggler.