Maha-bharata - The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse
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[Frontespiece: The Banishment]




By Romesh C. Dutt C.I.E.

MDCCCXCIX Published by J. M. Dent and Co. Aldine House London W. C.

To THE MARQUIS OF RIPON Ever gratefully remembered by my countrymen for his just and benevolent administration and for his generous and helpful measures for the introduction of self-government in India

This translation of the ancient epic of my country is respectfully dedicated


BOOK PAGE I. Astra Darsana (The Tournament) 1 II. Swayamvara (The Bride's Choice) 14 III. Rajasuya (The Imperial Sacrifice) 28 IV. Dyuta (The Fatal Dice) 42 V. Pativrata-Mahatmya (Woman's Love) 55 VI. Go-Harana (Cattle-Lifting) 73 VII. Udyoga (The Preparation) 86 VIII. Bhishma-Badha (Fall of Bhishma) 100 IX. Drona-Badha (Fall of Drona) 119 X. Karna-Badha (Fall of Karna) 136 XI. Sraddha (Funeral Rites) 151 XII. Aswa-Medha (Sacrifice of the Horse) 161 Conclusion 171 Translator's Epilogue 174




(The Tournament)

The scene of the Epic is the ancient kingdom of the Kurus which flourished along the upper course of the Ganges; and the historical fact on which the Epic is based is a great war which took place between the Kurus and a neighbouring tribe, the Panchalas, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century before Christ.

According to the Epic, Pandu and Dhrita-rashtra, who was born blind, were brothers. Pandu died early, and Dhrita-rashtra became king of the Kurus, and brought up the five sons of Pandu along with his hundred sons.

Yudhishthir, the eldest son of Pandu, was a man of truth and piety; Bhima, the second, was a stalwart fighter; and Arjun, the third son, distinguished himself above all the other princes in arms. The two youngest brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva, were twins. Duryodhan was the eldest son of Dhrita-rashtra and was jealous of his cousins, the sons of Pandu. A tournament was held, and in the course of the day a warrior named Karna, of unknown origin, appeared on the scene and proved himself a worthy rival of Arjun. The rivalry between Arjun and Karna is the leading thought of the Epic, as the rivalry between Achilles and Hector is the leading thought of the Iliad.

It is only necessary to add that the sons of Pandu as well as Karna, were, like the heroes of Homer, god-born chiefs. Some god inspired the birth of each. Yudhishthir was the son of Dharma or Virtue, Bhima of Vayu or Wind, Arjun of Indra or Rain-god, the twin youngest were the sons of the Aswin twins, and Karna was the son of Surya the Sun, but was believed by himself and by all others to be the son of a simple chariot-driver.

The portion translated in this Book forms Sections cxxxiv. to cxxxvii. of Book i. of the original Epic in Sanscrit (Calcutta edition of 1834).


The Gathering

Wrathful sons of Dhrita-rashtra, born of Kuru's royal race! Righteous sons of noble Pandu, god-born men of godlike grace!

Skill in arms attained these princes from a Brahman warrior bold, Drona, priest and proud preceptor, peerless chief of days of old!

Out spake Drona to the monarch in Hastina's royal hall, Spake to Bhishma and to Kripa, spake to lords and courtiers all:

"Mark the gallant princes, monarch, trained in arms and warlike art, Let them prove their skill and valour, rein the steed and throw the dart."

Answered then the ancient monarch, joyful was his royal heart, "Best of Brahmans and of warriors, nobly hast thou done thy part!

Name the place and fix the moment, hold a royal tournament, Publish wide the laws of combat, publish far thy king's consent.

Sightless roll these orbs of vision, dark to me is noonday light, Happier men will mark the tourney and the peerless princes' fight.

Let the good and wise Vidura serve thy mandate and behest, Let a father's pride and gladness fill this old and cheerless breast."

Then the good and wise Vidura unto his duties bound, Drona, blessed with skill and wisdom, measured out the tourney ground,

Clear of jungle was the meadow, by a crystal fountain graced, Drona on the lighted altar holy gifts and offerings placed,

Holy was the star auspicious, and the hour was calm and bright, Men from distant town and hamlet came to view the sacred rite.

Then arose white stately mansions, built by architects of fame, Decked with arms for Kuru's monarch and for every royal dame,

And the people built their stages circling round the listed green, And the nobles with their white tents graced the fair and festive scene.

Brightly dawned the festal morning, and the monarch left his hall, Bhishma and the pious Kripa with the lords and courtiers all,

And they came unto the mansions, gay and glittering, gold-encased, Decked with gems and rich baidurya, and with strings of pearls be-laced.

Fair Gandhari, queen of Kuru, Pritha, Pandu's widowed dame, Ladies in their gorgeous garments, maids of beauty and of fame,

Mounted on their glittering mansions where the tints harmonious blend, As, on Meru's golden mountain, queens of heavenly gods ascend!

And the people of the city, Brahmans, Vaisyas, Kshatras bold, Men from stall and loom and anvil gathered thick, the young and old,

And arose the sound of trumpet and the surging people's cry, Like the voice of angry ocean, tempest-lashed, sublime and high!

Came the saintly white-robed Drona, white his sacrificial thread, White his sandal-mark and garlands, white the locks that crowned his head,

With his son renowned for valour walked forth Drona, radiant, high, So the Moon with Mars conjoined walks upon the cloudless sky!

Offerings to the gods immortal then the priestly warrior made, Brahmans with their chanted mantra worship and obeisance paid,

And the festive note of sankha mingled with the trumpet's sound, Throngs of warriors, various-armed, came unto the listed ground.


The Princes

Gauntleted and jewel-girdled, now the warlike princes came, With their stately bows and quivers and their swords like wreaths of flame,

Each behind his elder stepping, good Yudhishthir first of all, Each his wondrous skill displaying held the silent crowds in thrall.

And the men in admiration marked them with a joyful eye, Or by sudden panic stricken stooped to let the arrow fly!

Mounted on their rapid coursers oft the princes proved their aim, Racing, hit the targe with arrows lettered with their royal name,

With their glinting sunlit weapons shone the youths sublime and high, More than mortals seemed the princes, like gandharvas of the sky!

Shouts of joy the people uttered as by sudden impulse driven, Mingled voice of tens of thousands struck the pealing vault of heaven!

Still the princes shook their weapons, drove the deep resounding car, Or on steed or tusker mounted waged the glorious mimic war!

Mighty sword and ample buckler, ponderous mace the princes wield, Brightly gleam their lightning rapiers as they range the listed field,

Brave and fearless is their action, and their movement quick and light, Skilled and true the thrust and parry of their weapons flaming bright!


Bhima and Duryodhan

Bhima came and proud Duryodhan with their maces held on high, Like two cliffs with lofty turrets cleaving through the azure sky!

In their warlike arms accoutred with their girded loins they stood, Like two untamed jungle tuskers in the deep and echoing wood!

And as tuskers range the forest, so they range the spacious field, Right to left and back they wander and their ponderous maces wield!

Unto Kuru's sightless monarch wise Vidura drew the scene, Pritha proudly of the princes spake unto the Kuru queen.

While the stalwart Bhima battled with Duryodhan brave and strong, Fierce in wrath, for one or other, shouted forth the maddened throng,

"Hail to Kuru prince Duryodhan!" "Hail to Bhima hero proud!" Sounds like these from surging myriads rose in tumult deep and loud.

And with troubled vision Drona marked the heaving restless plain, Marked the crowd by anger shaken, like the tempest-shaken main,

To his son then whispered Drona quick the tumult to appease, Part the armed and angry wrestlers, bid the deadly combat cease,

With their lifted clubs the princes slow retired on signal given, Like the parting of the billows, mighty-heaving, tempest-driven!

Came forth then the ancient Drona on the open battle-ground, Stopped the drum and lofty trumpet, spake in voice like thunder's sound:

"Bid him come, the gallant Arjun! pious prince and warrior skilled, Arjun, born of mighty INDRA, and with VISHNU'S prowess filled."


The Advent of Arjun

Gauntleted and jewel-girdled, with his bow of ample height, Archer Arjun pious-hearted to the gods performed a rite,

Then he stepped forth proud and stately in his golden mail encased, Like the sunlit cloud of evening with the golden rainbow graced!

And a gladness stirred the people all around the listed plain, Voice of drum and blare of trumpet rose with sankha's festive strain!

"Mark! the gallant son of Pandu, whom the happy Pritha bore, Mark! the heir of INDRA'S valour, matchless in his arms and lore,

Mark! the warrior young and valiant, peerless in his skill of arms, Mark! the pure-souled, pious chieftain, decked with grace and varied charms!"

Pritha heard such grateful voices borne aloft unto the sky, Milk of love suffused her bosom, tear of joy was in her eye!

And where rested Kuru's monarch, joyous accents struck his ear, And he turned to wise Vidura seeking for the cause to hear:

"Wherefore like the voice of ocean, when the tempest winds prevail, Rise these voices of the people and the spacious skies assail?"

Answered him the wise Vidura, "It is Pritha's gallant boy, Godlike moves in golden armour, and the people shout for joy!"

"Pleased am I," so spake the monarch, "and I bless my happy fate, Pritha's sons like fires of yajna sanctify this mighty State!"

Now the voices of the people died away and all was still, Arjun to his proud preceptor showed his might and matchless skill.

Towering high or lowly bending, on the turf or on his car, With his bow and glist'ning arrows Arjun waged the mimic war,

Targets on the wide arena, mighty tough or wondrous small, With his arrows bright, unfailing, Arjun pierced them one and all!

Wild-boar shaped of solid iron coursed the wide-extending field, In its jaws five glist'ning arrows sent the archer wondrous-skilled,

Cow-horn by a thread suspended, was by winds unceasing swayed, One and twenty well-aimed arrows on this moving mark he laid,

And with equal skill his rapier did the godlike Arjun wield, Whirling round his mace of battle ranged the spacious tourney field!


The Advent of Karna

Now the feats of arm are ended, and the closing hour draws nigh, Music's voice is hushed in silence, and dispersing crowds pass by,

Hark! Like welkin-shaking thunder wakes a deep and deadly sound, Clank and din of warlike weapons burst upon the tented ground!

Are the solid mountains splitting, is it bursting of the earth, Is it tempest's pealing accent whence the lightning takes its birth?

Thoughts like these alarm the people for the sound is dread and high, To the gate of the arena turns the crowd with anxious eye!

Gathered round preceptor Drona, Pandu's sons in armour bright, Like the five-starred constellation round the radiant Queen of Night,

Gathered round the proud Duryodhan, dreaded for his exploits done, All his brave and warlike brothers and preceptor Drona's son,

So the gods encircled INDRA, thunder-wielding, fierce and bold, When he scattered Danu's children in the misty days of old!

Pale, before the unknown warrior, gathered nations part in twain, Conqueror of hostile cities, lofty Karna treads the plain!

In his golden mail accoutred and his rings of yellow gold, Like a moving cliff in stature, armed comes the chieftain bold!

Pritha, yet unwedded, bore him, peerless archer on the earth, Portion of the solar radiance, for the Sun inspired his birth!

Like a tusker in his fury, like a lion in his ire, Like the sun in noontide radiance, like the all-consuming fire!

Lion-like in build and muscle, stately as a golden palm, Blessed with every very manly virtue, peerless warrior proud and calm!

With his looks serene and lofty field of war the chief surveyed, Scarce to Kripa or to Drona honour and obeisance made!

Still the panic-stricken people viewed him with unmoving gaze, Who may be this unknown warrior, questioned they in hushed amaze!

Then in voice of pealing thunder spake fair Pritha's eldest son Unto Arjun, Pritha's youngest, each, alas! to each unknown!

"All thy feats of weapons, Arjun, done with vain and needless boast, These and greater I accomplish—witness be this mighty host!"

Thus spake proud and peerless Karna in his accents deep and loud, And as moved by sudden impulse leaped in joy the listening crowd!

And a gleam of mighty transport glows in proud Duryodhan's heart, Flames of wrath and jealous anger from the eyes of Arjun start!

Drona gave the word, and Karna, Pritha's war-beloving son, With his sword and with his arrows did the feats by Arjun done!


The Rival Warriors

Joyful was the proud Duryodhan, gladness gleamed upon his face, And he spake to gallant Karna with a dear and fond embrace:

"Welcome, mighty armed chieftain! thou hast victor's honours won! Thine is all my wealth and kingdom, name thy wish and it is done!"

Answered Karna to Duryodhan, "Prince! thy word is good as deed, But I seek to combat Arjun and to win the victor's meed!"

"Noble is the boon thou seekest," answered Kuru's prince of fame, "Be a joy unto your comrades, let the foeman dread thy name!"

Anger flamed in Arjun's bosom, and he spake in accents rude Unto Karna who in triumph calm and proud and fearless stood:

"Chief! who comest uninvited, pratest in thy lying boast, Thou shalt die the death of braggarts—witness be this mighty host!"

Karna answered calm and proudly, "Free this listed field to all, Warriors enter by their prowess, wait not, Arjun, for thy call!

Warlike chieftains take their places by their strength of arm and might, And their warrant is their falchion, valour sanctifies their right!

Angry word is coward's weapon, Arjun, speak with arrows keen, Till I lay thee, witness Drona, low upon the listed green!"

Drona gave the word impartial, wrathful Arjun, dread of foes, Parted from his loving brothers, with his glist'ning arms arose,

Karna clasped the Kuru's princes, parted from them one and all, With his bow and ample quiver proudly stepped the warrior tall.

Now the clouds with lurid flashes gathered darkling, thick and high, Lines of cranes like gleams of laughter sailed across the gloomy sky.

Rain-god INDRA over Arjun watched with father's partial love, Sun-god SURYA over Karna shed his light from far above,

Arjun stood in darkening shadow by the inky clouds concealed, Bold and bright in open sunshine radiant Karna stood revealed!

Proud Duryodhan and his brothers stood by Karna calm and bold, Drona stood by gallant Arjun, and brave Bhishma, warrior old,

Women too with partial glances viewed the one or other chief, But by equal love divided silent Pritha swooned in grief!

Wise Vidura, true to duty, with an anxious hurry came, Sandal-drops and sprinkled waters roused the woe-distracted dame,

And she saw her sons in combat, words of woe she uttered none, Speechless wept, for none must fathom Karna was her eldest son!


The Anointment of Karna

Crested Karna, helmed Arjun, proudly trod the spacious green, Kripa, skilled in herald's duties, spake upon the dreadful scene:

"This is helmet-wearing Arjun, sprung of Kuru's mighty race, Pandu's son and borne by Pritha, prince of worth and warlike grace,

Long-armed Chief! declare thy lineage, and the race thou dost adorn, Name thy mother and thy father, and the house that saw thee born,

By the rules of war Prince Arjun claims his rival chief to know, Princes may not draw their weapon 'gainst a base and nameless foe!"

Karna silent heard this mandate but his birth could not proclaim, Like a raindrop-pelted lotus bent his humble head in shame!

"Prince we reckon," cried Duryodhan, "not the man of birth alone, Warlike leader of his forces as a prince and chief we own!

Karna by his warlike valour is of crowned kings the peer, Karna shall be crowned monarch, nations shall his mandate hear!"

Forth they brought the corn and treasure, golden coin and water jar, On the throne they seated Karna famed in many a deathful war,

Brahmans chanted sacred mantra which the holy books ordain, And anointed Karna monarch, king of Anga's fair domain,

And they raised the red umbrella, and they waved the chowri fan, "Blessings on the crowned monarch! honour to the bravest man!"

Now the holy rites accomplished, in his kingly robes arrayed Karna unto prince Duryodhan thus in grateful accents prayed:

"Gift of kingdom, good Duryodhan, speaketh well thy noble heart, What return can grateful Karna humbly render on his part?"

"Grant thy friendship," cried Duryodhan, "for no other boon I crave, Be Duryodhan's dearest comrade be his helper true and brave!"

"Be it so!" responded Karna, with a proud and noble grace, And he sealed his loyal friendship in a dear and fond embrace!


The Chariot-driver

Wet with drops of toil and languor, lo! a chariot-driver came, Loosely hung his scanty garments, and a staff upheld his frame,

Karna, now a crowned monarch, to the humble charioteer, Bent his head, still moist with water, as unto a parent dear!

With his scanty cloth the driver sought his dusty feet to hide, And he hailed the gallant Karna as his son and as his pride,

And he clasped unto his bosom crowned Karna's noble head, And on Karna's dripping forehead, fresh and loving tear-drops shed!

Is he son of chariot-driver? Doubts arose in Bhima's mind, And he sought to humble Karna with reproachful words unkind:

"Wilt thou, high-descended hero, with a Kuru cross thy brand? But the goad of cattle-drivers better suits, my friend, thy hand!

Wilt thou as a crowned monarch rule a mighty nation's weal? As the jackals of the jungle sacrificial offerings steal!"

Quivered Karna's lips in anger, word of answer spake he none, But a deep sigh shook his bosom, and he gazed upon the sun!


Close of the Day

Like a lordly tusker rising from a beauteous lotus lake, Rose Duryodhan from his brothers, proudly thus to Bhima spake:

"With such insults seek not, Bhima, thus to cause a warrior grief, Bitter taunts but ill befit thee, warlike tiger-waisted chief!

Proudest chief may fight the humblest, for like river's noble course, Noble deeds proclaim the warrior, and we question not their source!

Teacher Drona, priest and warrior, owns a poor and humble birth, Kripa, noblest of Gautamas, springeth from the lowly earth!

Known to me thy lineage Bhima, thine and of thy brothers four, Amorous gods your birth inspired, so they say, in days of yore!

Mark the great and gallant Karna decked in rings and weapons fair, She-deer breeds not lordly tigers in her poor and lowly lair!

Karna comes to rule the wide earth, not fair Anga's realms alone, By his valour and his weapons, by the homage which I own!

And if prince or armed chieftain doth my word or deed gainsay, Let him take his bow and quiver, meet me in a deadly fray!"

Loud applauses greet the challenge and the people's joyful cry, But the thickening shades of darkness fill the earth and evening sky,

And the red lamp's fitful lustre shone upon the field around, Slowly with the peerless Karna proud Duryodhan left the ground.

Pandu's sons with warlike Drona marked the darksome close of day, And with Kripa and with Bhishma homeward silent bent their way.

"Arjun is the gallant victor!" "Valiant Karna's won the day!" "Prince Duryodhan is the winner!" Various thus the people say.

By some secret sign apprised Pritha knew her gallant boy, Saw him crowned king of Anga, with a mother's secret joy,

And with greater joy Duryodhan fastened Karna to his side, Feared no longer Arjun's prowess, Arjun's skill of arms and pride,

E'en Yudhishthir reckoned Karna mightiest warrior on the earth, Half misdoubted Arjun's prowess, Arjun's skill and warlike worth!



(The Bride's Choice)

The mutual jealousies of the princes increased from day to day, and when Yudhishthir, the eldest of all the princes and the eldest son of the late Pandu, was recognised heir-apparent, the anger of Duryodhan and his brothers knew no bounds. And they formed a dark scheme to kill the sons of Pandu.

The sons of Pandu were induced with their mother to pay a visit to a distant town called Varanavata. A house had been built there for their residence, constructed of inflammable materials. At the appointed time fire was set to the house; but the five brothers and their mother escaped the conflagration through a subterranean passage, retired into forests, and lived in the disguise of Brahmans.

In course of time they heard of the approaching celebrations of the marriage of the princess of Panchala, an ancient kingdom in the vicinity of modern Kanouj. All the monarchs of Northern India were invited, and the bride would choose her husband from among the assembled kings according to the ancient Swayamvara custom. The five sons of Pandu decided to go and witness the ceremony.

The portion translated in this Book formed Sections clxxxiv. to cxxxix. of Book i. of the original text.


Journey to Panchala

Now the righteous sons of Pandu, wand'ring far from day to day, Unto South Panchala's country glad and joyful held their way,

For when travelling with their mother, so it chanced by will of fate, They were met by pious Brahmans bound for South Panchala's State,

And the pure and holy Brahmans hailed the youths of noble fame, Asked them whither they would journey, from what distant land they came.

"From the land of Ekachakra," good Yudhishthir answered so, "With our ancient mother travelling unto distant lands we go."

"Heard ye not," the Brahmans questioned, "in Panchala's fair domain, Drupad, good and gracious monarch, doth a mighty feast ordain?

To that festive land we journey, Drupad's bounteous gifts to share, And to see the swayamvara of Panchala's princess fair,—

Human mother never bore her, human bosom never fed, From the Altar sprang the maiden who some noble prince will wed!

Soft her eyes like lotus-petal, sweet her tender jasmine form, And a maiden's stainless honour doth her gentle soul inform!

And her brother, mailed and armed with his bow and arrows dire, Radiant as the blazing altar, sprang from Sacrificial Fire!

Fair the sister slender-waisted, dowered with beauty rich and rare, And like fragrance of blue lotus, perfumes all the sweetened air!

She will choose from noble suitors gathered from the west and east, Bright and fair shall be the wedding, rich and bounteous be the feast!

Kings will come from distant regions sacrificing wealth and gold, Stainless monarchs versed in sastra, pious-hearted, mighty-souled,

Handsome youths and noble princes from each near and distant land, Car-borne chieftains bold and skilful, brave of heart and stout of hand!

And to win the peerless princess they will scatter presents rare, Food and milch-kine, wealth and jewels, gold and gifts and garments fair,

Noble gifts we take as Brahmans, bless the rite with gladsome heart, Share the feast so rich and bounteous, then with joyful minds depart.

Actors, mimes, and tuneful minstrels fair Panchala's court will throng, Famed reciters of puranas, dancers skilled and wrestlers strong,

Come with us, the wedding witness, share the banquet rich and rare, Pleased with gifts and noble presents to your distant home repair.

Dowered ye are with princely beauty, like the radiant gods above, Even on you the partial princess may surrender heart and love!

And this youth so tall and stalwart, mighty-armed, strong and bold, He may win in feats of valour, and acquire much wealth and gold!"

"Be it so," Yudhishthir answered, "to Panchala we repair, View the wedding of the princess and the royal bounty share."

Thus the righteous sons of Pandu with the Brahmans took their way, Where in South Panchala's kingdom mighty Drupad held his sway.

Now the sinless saintly rishi, deathless bard of deathless lay, Herald of the holy Vedas, Vyasa stood before their way!

And the princes bowed unto him and received his blessings kind, By his mandate to Panchala went with pleased and joyful mind!

Jungle woods and silver waters round their sylvan pathway lay, Halting at each wayside station marched the princes day by day,

Stainless and intent on sastra, fair in speech and pure in heart, Travelling slow they reached Panchala, saw its spacious town and mart,

Saw the fort, bazaar and city, saw the spire and shining dome, In a potter's distant cottage made their humble unknown home,

And disguised as pious Brahmans sons of Pandu begged their food, People knew not Kuru's princes in that dwelling poor and rude.


The Wedding Assembly

To the helmed son of Pandu, Arjun pride of Kuru's race, Drupad longed to give his daughter peerless in her maiden grace,

And of massive wood unbending, Drupad made a stubborn bow, Saving Arjun prince or chieftain might not bend the weapon low,

And he made a whirling discus, hung it 'neath the open sky, And beyond the whirling discus placed a target far and high,

"Whose strings this bow," said Drupad, "hits the target in his pride Through the high and circling discus, wins Panchala's princely bride!"

And they spake the monarch's mandate in the kingdoms near and far, And from every town and country princes came and chiefs of war,

Came the pure and saintly rishis for to bless the holy rite, Came the Kurus with brave Karna in their pride and matchless might,

Brahmans came from distant regions with their sacred learning blest, Drupad with a royal welcome greeted every honoured guest.

Now the festal day approacheth! Gathering men with ocean's voice, Filled the wide and circling stages to behold the maiden's choice,

Royal guests and princely suitors came in pomp of wealth and pride, Car-borne chiefs and mailed warriors came to win the beauteous bride!

North-east of the festive city they enclosed a level ground, Many a dome and stately palace cunning builders built around,

And by moat and wall surrounded, pierced by gate and arched door, By a canopy of splendour was the red field covered o'er!

Now the festive trumpets sounded and the censer fragrance lent, Sprinkled chandan spread its coolness, wreaths were hung of sweetest scent,

All around were swan-white mansions, lofty domes and turrets high, Like the peaks of white Kailasa cleaving through the azure sky!

Sparkling gems the chambers lighted, golden nets the windows laced, Spacious stairs so wide and lofty were with beauteous carpets graced,

Rich festoons and graceful garlands gently waved like streamers gay, And the swan-like silver mansions glinted in the light of day,

Gates below were thronged with people, far above the chambers lay, With their lofty gilded turrets like the peaks of Himalay!

In these halls in pride and splendour dwelt each rich and royal guest, Fired by mutual emulation, and in costly jewels drest,

Decked and perfumed sat these rulers, mighty-armed, rich in fame, Lion-monarchs, noble-destined, chiefs of pure and spotless name,

Pious to the mighty BRAHMA, and their subjects' hope and stay, Loved of all for noble actions, kind and virtuous in their sway.

Now the festal day approacheth! like the heaving of the main, Surge the ranks of gathered nations o'er the wide and spacious plain,

Pandu's sons in guise of Brahmans mix with Brahmans versed in lore, Mark proud Drupad's wealth and splendour, gazing, wondering evermore,

Dancers charm the gathered people, singers sing and actors play, Fifteen days of festive splendour greet the concourse rich and gay.


The Bride

Sound the drum and voice the sankha! Brightly dawns the bridal day, Fresh from morning's pure ablutions comes the bride in garments gay!

And her golden bridal garland carries on her graceful arm, Softly, sweetly, steps Draupadi, queen of every winning charm!

Then a Brahman versed in mantra, ancient priest of lunar race, Lights the Fire, with pious offerings seeks its blessings and its grace,

Whispered words of benediction saints and holy men repeat, Conch and trumpet's voice is silent, hushed the lofty war-drum's beat,

And there reigns a solemn silence, and in stately pomp and pride, Drupad's son leads forth his sister, fair Panchala's beauteous bride!

In his loud and lofty accents like the distant thunder's sound, Drupad's son his father's wishes thus proclaims to all around:

"Mark this bow, assembled monarchs, and the target hung an high, Through yon whirling pierced discus let five glist'ning arrows fly!

Whoso born of noble lineage, hits the far suspended aim, Let him stand and as his guerdon Drupad's beauteous maiden claim!"

Then he turns unto Draupadi, tells each prince and suitor's name, Tells his race and lofty lineage, and his warlike deeds of fame.


The Suitors

"Brave Duryodhan and his brothers, princes of the Kuruland, Karna proud and peerless archer, sister! seek thy noble hand,

And Gandhara's warlike princes, Bhoja's monarch true and bold, And the son of mighty Drona, all bedecked in gems and gold!

King and prince from Matsya kingdom grace this noble wedding-feast, Monarchs from more distant regions north and south and west and east,

Tamralipta and Kalinga on the eastern ocean wave, Pattan's port whose hardy children western ocean's dangers brave!

From the distant land of Madra car-borne monarch Salya came, And from Dwarka's sea-girt regions Valadeva known to fame,

Valadeva and his brother Krishna sprung from Yadu's race, Of the Vrishni clan descended, soul of truth and righteous grace!

This is mighty Jayadratha come from Sindhu's sounding shore, Famed for warlike feats of valour, famed alike for sacred lore,

This is fair Kosala's monarch whose bright deeds our heralds sing, From the sturdy soil of Chedi, Sisupala peerless king,

This is mighty Jarasandha, come from far Magadha's land, These are other princely suitors, sister! eager for thy hand!

All the wide earth's warlike rulers seek to shoot the distant aim, Princess, whoso hits the target, choose as thine that prince of fame!"

Decked with jewels, young and valiant, all aflame with soft desire, Conscious of their worth and valour, all the suitors rose in ire,

Nobly born, of lofty presence, full of young unyielding pride, Like the tuskers wild and lordly on Himalay's wooded side!

Each his rival marks as foeman as in field of deadly strife, Each regards the fair Draupadi as his own his queenly wife,

On the gorgeous field they gather by a maddening passion fired, And they strive as strove the bright gods, when by Uma's love inspired!

And the gods in cloud-borne chariots came to view the scene so fair, Bright ADITYAS in their splendour, MARUTS in the moving air,

Winged suparnas, scaly nagas, deva-rishis pure and high, For their music famed, gandharvas, fair apsaras of the sky!

Valadeva armed with ploughshare, Krishna chief of righteous fame, With the other Yadu chieftains to that wondrous bridal came,

Krishna marked the sons of Pandu eager for the queenly bride, Like wild tuskers for a lotus, like the fire that ashes hide,

And he knew the warlike brothers in their holy Brahman guise, Pointed them to Valadeva, gazing with a glad surprise!

But the other chiefs and monarchs with their eyes upon the bride, Marked nor knew the sons of Pandu sitting speechless by their side,

And the long-armed sons of Pandu smitten by KANDARPA'S dart, Looked on her with longing languor and with love-impassioned heart!

Bright immortals gaily crowding viewed the scene surpassing fair, Heavenly blossoms soft descending with a perfume filled the air,

Bright celestial cars in concourse sailed upon the cloudless sky, Drum and flute and harp and tabor sounded deep and sounded high!


Trial of Skill

Uprose one by one the suitors, marking still the distant aim, Mighty monarchs, gallant princes, chiefs of proud and warlike fame,

Decked in golden crown and necklace, and inflamed by pride and love, Stoutly strove the eager suitors viewing well the target above,

Strove to string the weapon vainly, tough unbending was the bow, Slightly bent, rebounding quickly, laid the gallant princes low!

Strove the handsome suitors vainly, decked in gem and burnished gold, Reft of diadem and necklace, fell each chief and warrior bold,

Reft of golden crown and garland, shamed and humbled in their pride, Groaned the suitors in their anguish, sought no more Panchala's bride!

Uprose Karna, peerless archer, proudest of the archers he, And he went and strung the weapon, fixed the arrows gallantly,

Stood like SURYA in his splendour and like AGNI in his flame,— Pandu's sons in terror whispered, Karna sure must hit the aim!

But in proud and queenly accents Drupad's queenly daughter said: "Monarch's daughter, born a Kshatra, Suta's son I will not wed!"

Karna heard with crimsoned forehead, left the emprise almost done, Left the bow already circled, silent gazed upon the Sun!

Uprose Chedi's haughty monarch, mightiest of the monarchs he, Other kings had failed inglorious, Sisupala stood forth free,

Firm in heart and fixed in purpose, bent the tough unbending bow, Vainly! for the bow rebounding laid the haughty monarch low!

Uprose sturdy Jarasandha, far Magadha's mighty chief, Held the bow and stood undaunted, tall and stately as a cliff,

But once more the bow rebounded, fell the monarch in his shame, Left in haste Panchala's mansions for the region whence he came!

Uprose Salya, king of Madra, with his wondrous skill and might, Faltering, on his knees descending, fell in sad inglorious plight,

Thus each monarch fell and faltered, merry whispers went around, And the sound of stifled laughter circled round the festive ground!


The Disguised Arjun

Hushed the merry sound of laughter, hushed each suitor in his shame, Arjun, godlike son of Pritha, from the ranks of Brahmans came,

Guised as priest serene and holy, fair as INDRA'S rainbow bright, All the Brahmans shook their deerskins, cheered him in their hearts' delight!

Some there were with sad misgivings heard the sound of joyous cheer And their minds were strangely anxious, whispered murmurs spake their fear:

"Wondrous bow which Sisupala, mighty Salya could not strain, Jarasandha famed for prowess strove to bend the string in vain,

Can a Brahman weak by nature, and in warlike arms untrained, Wield the bow which crowned monarchs, long-armed chieftains have not strained?

Sure the Brahman boy in folly dares a foolish thoughtless deed, Shame amidst this throng of monarchs, shall it be the Brahman's meed?

Youth in youthful pride or madness will a foolish emprise dare, Sager men should stop his rashness and the Brahman's honour spare!"

"Shame he will not bring unto us," other Brahmans made reply, "Rather, in this throng of monarchs, rich renown and honour high,

Like a tusker strong and stately, like Himalay's towering crest, Stands unmoved the youthful Brahman, ample-shouldered, deep in chest,

Lion-like his gait is agile, and determined is his air, Trust me he can do an emprise who hath lofty will to dare!

He will do the feat of valour, will not bring disgrace and stain, Nor is task in all this wide earth which a Brahman tries in vain,

Holy men subsist on wild fruits, in the strength of penance strong, Spare in form, in spirit mightier than the mightiest warlike throng!

Ask not if 'tis right or foolish when a Brahman tries his fate, If it leads to woe or glory, fatal fall or fortune great,

Son of rishi Jamadagni baffled kings and chieftains high, And Agastya stainless rishi drained the boundless ocean dry,

Let this young and daring Brahman undertake the warlike deed, Let him try and by his prowess win the victor's noble meed!"

While the Brahmans deep revolving hopes and timid fears expressed, By the bow the youthful Arjun stood unmoved like mountain crest,

Silent round the wondrous weapon thrice the mighty warrior went, To the Lord of Gods, ISANA, in a silent prayer he bent!

Then the bow which gathered warriors vainly tried to bend and strain, And the monarchs of the wide earth sought to string and wield in vain,

Godlike Arjun born of INDRA, filled with VISHNU'S matchless might, Bent the wondrous bow of Drupad, fixed the shining darts aright,

Through the disc the shining arrows fly with strange and hissing sound, Hit and pierce the distant target, bring it thundering on the ground!

Shouts of joy and loud applauses did the mighty feat declare, Heavenly blossoms soft descended, heavenly music thrilled the air,

And the Brahmans shook their deerskins, but each irritated chief In a lowly muttered whisper spake his rising rage and grief,

Sankha's note and voice of trumpet Arjun's glorious deed prolong, Bards and heralds chant his praises in a proud and deathless song!

Drupad in the Brahman's mantle knew the hero proud and brave, 'Gainst the rage of baffled suitors sought the gallant prince to save,

With his twin-born youngest brothers left Yudhishthir, peaceful, good, Bhima marked the gathering tempest and by gallant Arjun stood!

Like a queen the beauteous maiden smiled upon the archer brave, Flung on him the bridal garland and the bridal robe she gave,

Arjun by his skill and prowess won Panchala's princess-bride, People's shouts and Brahmans' blessings sounded joyful far and wide!


The Tumult

Spake the suitors, anger-shaken, like a forest tempest-torn, As Panchala's courteous monarch came to greet a Brahman-born:

"Shall he like the grass of jungle trample us in haughty pride, To a prating priest and Brahman wed the proud and peerless bride?

To our hopes like nourished saplings shall he now the fruit deny, Monarch proud who insults monarchs sure a traitor's death shall die,

Honour for his rank we know not, have no mercy for his age, Perish foe of crowned monarchs, victim to our righteous rage!

Hath he asked us to his palace, favoured us with royal grace, Feasted us with princely bounty, but to compass our disgrace,

In this concourse of great monarchs, glorious like a heavenly band, Doth he find no likely suitor for his beauteous daughter's hand?

And this rite of swayamvara, so our sacred laws ordain, Is for warlike Kshatras only, priests that custom shall not stain,

If this maiden on a Brahman casts her eye, devoid of shame, Let her expiate her folly in a pyre of blazing flame!

Leave the priestling in his folly sinning through a Brahman's greed, For we wage no war with Brahmans and forgive a foolish deed,

Much we owe to holy Brahmans for our realm and wealth and life, Blood of priest or wise preceptor shall not stain our noble strife,

In the blood of sinful Drupad we the righteous laws maintain, Such disgrace in future ages monarchs shall not meet again!"

Spake the suitors, tiger-hearted, iron-handed, bold and strong' Fiercely bent on blood and vengeance blindly rose the maddened throng,

On they came, the angry monarchs, armed for cruel vengeful strife, Drupad midst the holy Brahmans trembling fled for fear of life,

Like wild elephants of jungle rushed the kings upon their foes, Calm and stately, stalwart Bhima and the gallant Arjun rose!

With a wilder rage the monarchs viewed these brothers cross their path, Rushed upon the daring warriors for to slay them in their wrath,

Weaponless was noble Bhima, but in strength like lightning's brand, Tore a tree with peerless prowess, shook it as a mighty wand!

And the foe-compelling warrior held that mace of living wood, Strong as death with deadly weapon, facing all his foes he stood,

Arjun too with godlike valour stood unmoved, his bow in hand, Side by side the dauntless brothers faced the fierce and fiery band!


Krishna to the Rescue

Krishna knew the sons of Pandu though in robes of Brahmans dressed, To his elder, Valadeva, thus his inner thoughts expressed:

"Mark that youth with bow and arrow and with lion's lordly gait, He is helmet-wearing Arjun! greatest warrior midst the great,

Mark his mate, with tree uprooted how he meets the suitor band, Save the tiger-waisted Bhima none can claim such strength of hand!

And the youth with eyes like lotus, he who left the court erewhile, He is pious-souled Yudhishthir, man without a sin or guile,

And the others by Yudhishthir, Pandu's twin-born sons are they, With these sons the righteous Pritha 'scaped where death and danger lay,

For the jealous, fierce Duryodhan darkly schemed their death by fire, But the righteous sons of Pandu 'scaped his unrelenting ire!"

Krishna rose amidst the monarchs, strove the tumult to appease, And unto the angry suitors spake in words of righteous peace,

Monarchs bowed to Krishna's mandate, left Panchala's festive land, Arjun took the beauteous princess, gently led her by the hand.



(The Imperial Sacrifice)

A curious incident followed the bridal of Draupadi. The five sons of Pandu returned with her to the potter's house, where they were living on alms according to the custom of Brahmans, and the brothers reported to their mother that they had received a great gift on that day. "Enjoy ye the gift in common," replied their mother, not knowing what it was. And as a mother's mandate cannot be disregarded, Draupadi became the common wife of the five brothers.

The real significance of this strange legend is unknown. The custom of brothers marrying a common wife prevails to this day in Thibet and among the hill-tribes of the Himalayas, but it never prevailed among the Aryan Hindus of India. It is distinctly prohibited in their laws and institutes, and finds no sanction in their literature, ancient or modern. The legend in the Maha-bharata, of brothers marrying a wife in common, stands alone and without a parallel in Hindu traditions and literature.

Judging from the main incidents of the Epic, Draupadi might rather be regarded as the wife of the eldest brother Yudhishthir. Bhima had already mated himself to a female in a forest, by whom he had a son, Ghatotkacha, who distinguished himself in war later on. Arjun too married the sister of Krishna, shortly after Draupadi's bridal, and had by her a son, Abhimanyu, who was one of the heroes of the war. On the other hand, Yudhishthir took to him self no wife save Draupadi, and she was crowned with Yudhishthir in the Rajasuya or Imperial Sacrifice. Notwithstanding the legend, therefore, Draupadi might be regarded as wedded to Yudhishthir, though won by the skill of Arjun, and this assumption would be in keeping with Hindu customs and laws, ancient and modern.

The jealous Duryodhan heard that his contrivance to kill his cousins at Varanavata had failed. He also heard that they had found a powerful friend in Drupad, and had formed an alliance with him. It was no longer possible to keep them from their rightful inheritance. The Kuru kingdom was accordingly parcelled; Duryodhan retained the eastern and richer portion with its ancient capital Hastina-pura on the Ganges; and the sons of Pandu were given the western portion on the Jumna, which was then a forest and a wilderness. The sons of Pandu cleared the forest and built a new capital Indra-prastha, the supposed ruins of which, near modern Delhi, are still pointed out to the curious traveller.

Yudhishthir, the eldest of the five sons of Pandu, and now king of Indra-prastha, resolved to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice, which was a formal assumption of the Imperial title over all the kings of ancient India. His brothers went out with troops in all directions to proclaim his supremacy over all surrounding kings. Jarasandha, the powerful and semi-civilised king of Magadha or South Behar, opposed and was killed; but other monarchs recognised the supremacy of Yudhishthir and came to the sacrifice with tributes. King Dhrita-rashtra and his sons, now reigning at Hastina-pura, were politely invited to take a share in the performance of the sacrifice.

The portion translated in this Book forms Sections xxxiii. To xxxvi. and Section xliv. of Book ii. of the original.


The Assemblage of Kings

Ancient halls of proud Hastina mirrored bright on Ganga's wave! Thither came the son of Pandu, young Nakula true and brave,

Came to ask Hastina's monarch, chief of Kuru's royal race, To partake Yudhishthir's banquet and his sacrifice to grace.

Dhrita-rashtra came in gladness unto Indra-prastha's town, Marked its new-built tower and turret on the azure Jumna frown,

With him came preceptor Kripa, and the ancient Bhishma came, Elders of the race of Kuru, chiefs and Brahmans known to fame.

Monarchs came from distant regions to partake the holy rite, Warlike chiefs from court and castle in their arms accoutred bright,

Kshatras came with ample tribute for the holy sacrifice, Precious gems and costly jewels, gold and gifts of untold price.

Proud Duryodhan and his brothers came in fair and friendly guise, With the ancient Kuru monarch and Vidura, good and wise,

With his son came brave Suvala from Gandhara's distant land, Car-borne Salya, peerless Karna, came with bow and spear and brand.

Came the priest and proud preceptor Drona skilled in arms and lore, Jayadratha famed for valour came from Sindhu's sounding shore,

Drupad came with gallant princes from Panchala's land of fame, Salwa lord of outer nations to the mighty gathering came.

Bhagadatta came in chariot from the land of nations brave, Prag-jyotisha, where the red sun wakes on Brahma-putra's wave,

With him came untutored mlechchas who beside the ocean dwell, Uncouth chiefs of dusky nations from the lands where mountains swell,

Came Virata, Matsya's monarch, and his warlike sons and bold, Sisupala, king of Chedi, with his son bedecked in gold.

Came the warlike chiefs of Vrishni from the shores of Western Sea, And the lords of Madhya-desa, ever warlike ever free!


Feast and Sacrifice

Jumna's dark and limpid waters laved Yudhishthir's palace walls And to hail him Dharma-raja, monarchs thronged his royal halls,

He to honoured kings and chieftains with a royal grace assigned Palaces with sparkling waters and with trees umbrageous lined,

Honoured thus, the mighty monarchs lived in mansions milky white, Like the peaks of famed Kailasa lifting proud their snowy height!

Graceful walls that swept the meadows circled round the royal halls, Nets of gold belaced the casements, gems bedecked the shining walls,

Flights of steps led up to chambers many-tinted-carpet-graced, And festooning fragrant garlands were harmonious interlaced!

Far below from spacious gateways rose the people's gathering cry, And from far the swan-white mansions caught the ravished gazer's eye,

Richly graced with precious metals shone the turrets bright and gay, Like the rich-ored shining turrets of the lofty Himalay.

And the scene bedecked by rishis and by priests and kings of might, Shone like azure sky in splendour, graced by deathless Sons of Light!

Spake Yudhishthir unto Bhishma, elder of the Kuru race, Unto Drona proud preceptor, rich in lore and warlike grace,

Spake to wise preceptor Kripa, versed in sacred rites of old, To Duryodhan and his brothers, honoured guests and kinsmen bold:

"Friends and kinsmen, grant your favour and your sweet affection lend, May your kindness ever helpful poor Yudhishthir's rite attend,

As your own, command my treasure, costly gifts and wealth untold, To the poor and to the worthy scatter free my gems and gold!"

Speaking thus he made his diksha, and to holy work inclined, To his friends and to his kinsmen all their various tasks assigned:

Proud Duhsasan in his bounty spread the rich and sumptuous feast, Drona's son with due devotion greeted saint and holy priest,

Sanjay with a regal honour welcomed king and chief of might, Bhishma and the pious Drona watched the sacrificial rite,

Kripa guarded wealth and treasure, gold and gems of untold price, And with presents unto Brahmans sanctified the sacrifice,

Dhrita-rashtra, old and sightless, through the scene of gladness strayed, With a careful hand Vidura all the mighty cost defrayed,

Proud Duryodhan took the tribute which the chiefs and monarchs paid, Pious Krishna unto Brahmans honour and obeisance made.

'Twas a gathering fair and wondrous on fair Jumna's sacred shore, Tributes in a thousand nishkas every willing monarch bore,

Costly gifts proclaimed the homage of each prince of warlike might, Chieftains vied with rival chieftains to assist the holy rite.

Bright Immortals, robed in sunlight, sailed across the liquid sky, And their gleaming cloud-borne chariots rested on the turrets high!

Hero-monarchs, holy Brahmans, filled the halls bedecked in gold, White-robed priests adept in mantra mingled with the chieftains bold.

And amidst this scene of splendour, pious-hearted, pure and good, Like the sinless god VARUNA, gentle-souled Yudhishthir stood,

Six bright fires Yudhishthir lighted, offerings made to gods above, Gifts unto the poor and lowly spake the monarch's boundless love.

Hungry men were fed and feasted with an ample feast of rice, Costly gifts to holy Brahmans graced the noble sacrifice,

Ida, ajya, homa offerings, pleased the "Shining Ones" on high, Brahmans pleased with costly presents with their blessings filled the sky!


Glimpses of the Truth

Dawned the day of abhisheka, proud anointment, sacred bath, Crowned kings and learned Brahmans crowded on Yudhishthir's path,

And as gods and heavenly rishis throng in BRAHMA'S mansions bright, Holy priests and noble monarchs graced the inner sacred site!

Measureless their fame and virtue, great their penance and their power, And in converse deep and learned Brahmans passed the radiant hour,

And on subjects great and sacred, oft divided in their thought, Various sages in their wisdom various diverse maxims taught,

Weaker reasons seemed the stronger, faultless reasons often failed, Keen disputants like the falcon fell on views their rivals held!

Some were versed in Laws of Duty, some the Holy Vows professed, Some with gloss and varied comment still his learned rival pressed,

Bright the concourse of the Brahmans unto sacred learning given, Like the concourse of the bright stars in the glorious vault of heaven,

None of impure caste and conduct trespassed on the holy site, None of impure life and manners stained Yudhishthir's sacred rite!

Deva-rishi, saintly Narad, marked the sacrificial rite, Sanctifying by its lustre good Yudhishthir's royal might,

And a ray of heavenly wisdom lit the rishi's inner eye, As he saw the gathered monarchs in the concourse proud and high!

He had heard from lips celestial in the heavenly mansions bright, All these kings were god incarnate, portions of Celestial Light,

And he saw in them embodied beings of the upper sky, And in lotus-eyed Krishna saw the Highest of the High!

Saw the ancient NARAYANA, great Creation's Primal Cause, Who had sent the gods as monarchs to uphold his righteous laws,

Battle for the cause of virtue, perish in a deadly war, Then to seek their upper mansions in the radiant realms afar!

"NARAYANA, World's Preserver, sent immortal gods on earth, He himself in race of Yadu hath assumed his mortal birth,

Like the moon among the planets born in Vrishni's noble clan,— He whom bright gods render worship,—NARAYANA, Son of Man,

Primal Cause and Self-created! when is done his purpose high, NARAYANA leads Immortals to their dwelling in the sky."

Such bright glimpses of the Secret flashed upon his inner sight, As in lofty contemplation Narad gazed upon the rite.


The Arghya

Outspake Bhishma to Yudhishthir: "Monarch of this wide domain, Honour due to crowned monarchs doth our sacred law ordain,

Arghya to the wise Preceptor, to the Kinsman and to Priest, To the Friend and to the Scholar, to the King as lord of feast,

Unto these is due the arghya, so our holy writs have said, Therefore to these kings assembled be the highest honour paid,

Noble are these crowned monarchs, radiant like the noonday sun, To the noblest, first in virtue, be the foremost honour done!"

"Who is noblest," quoth Yudhishthir, "in this galaxy of fame, Who of chiefs and crowned monarchs doth our foremost honour claim?"

Pond'ring spake the ancient Bhishma in his accents deep and clear: "Greatest midst the great is Krishna! chief of men without a peer!

Midst these monarchs pure in lustre, purest-hearted and most high Like the radiant sun is Krishna midst the planets of the sky,

Sunless climes are warmed to verdure by the sun's returning ray, Windless wastes are waked to gladness when reviving breezes play,

Even so this rajasuya, this thy sacrificial rite, Owes its sanctity and splendour unto Krishna's holy might!"

Bhishma spake and Sahadeva served his mandate quick as thought, And the arghya duly flavoured unto peerless Krishna brought,

Krishna trained in rules of virtue then the offered arghya took, Darkened Sisupala's forehead and his frame in tremor shook,

To Yudhishthir and to Bhishma turns the chief his flaming eyes, To the great and honoured Krishna, Sisupala wrathful cries.


Sisupala's Pride

"Not to Vrishni's uncrowned hero should this reverence be paid, Midst these mighty crowned monarchs in their kingly pomp arrayed,

Ill beseems the good Yudhishthir, royal Pandu's righteous son, Homage to an uncrowned chieftain, to the lowly honour done!

Pandu's sons are yet untutored, and with knowledge yet unblessed, Knowing Bhishma blessed with wisdom hath the rules of courts transgressed,

Learned in the Laws of Duty he hath sinned from partial love, Conscious breach of rules of honour doth our deeper hatred move!

In this throng of crowned monarchs, ruling kings of righteous fame, Can this uncrowned Vrishni chieftain foremost rank and honour claim?

Doth he as a sage and elder claim the homage to him done? Sure his father Vasudeva hath his claims before his son!

Doth he as Yudhishthir's kinsman count as foremost and the best? Royal Drupad by alliance surely might the claim contest!

Doth he as a wise preceptor claim the highest, foremost place, When the great preceptor Drona doth his royal mansion grace?

Unto Krishna as a rishi should the foremost rank be given? Saintly Vyasa claims the honour, Vedic bard inspired by Heaven!

Unto Krishna should we render honour for his warlike fame? Thou, O Bhishma! Death's Subduer, surely might precedence claim!

Unto Krishna for his knowledge should the noble prize we yield? Drona's son unmatched in learning surely might contest the field!

Great Duryodhan midst the princes stands alone without a peer, Kripa priest of royal Kurus, holiest of all priests is here!

Archer Karna—braver archer none there is of mortal birth— Karna learnt his arms from Rama, he who slew the kings of earth!

Wherefore then to unknown Krishna render we this homage free! Saintly priest, nor wise preceptor, king nor foremost chief is he!"


Sisupala's Fall

Tiger-hearted Sisupala spake in anger stem and high, Calm unto him Krishna answered, but a light was in his eye:

"List, O chiefs and righteous monarchs! from a daughter of our race Evil-destined Sisupala doth his noble lineage trace,

Spite of wrong and frequent outrage, spite of insult often flung, Never in his heart hath Krishna sought to do his kinsman wrong!

Once I went to eastern regions, Sisupala like a foe Burnt my far-famed seaport Dwarka, laid the mart and temple low!

Once on Bhoja's trusting monarch faithless Sisupala fell, Slew his men and threw him captive in his castle's dungeon cell!

Once for holy aswamedha Vasudeva sent his steed, Sisupala stole the charger, sought to stop the righteous deed,

Once on saintly Babhru's consort, pious-hearted, pure and just, Sisupala fell in madness, forced the lady to his lust,

Once Visala's beauteous princess went to seek her husband's side, In her husband's garb disguised Sisupala clasped the bride!

This and more hath Krishna suffered, for his mother is our kin, But the sickening tale appalleth, and he addeth sin to sin!

One more tale of sin I mention: by his impious passion fired, To my saintly wife, Rukmini, Sisupala hath aspired,

As the low-born seeks the Veda, soiling it with impure breath, Sisupala sought my consort, and his righteous doom is Death!"

Krishna spake; the rising red blood speaks each angry hero's shame, Shame for Chedi's impious actions, grief for Sisupala's fame!

Loudly laughed proud Sisupala, spake with bitter taunt and jeer, Answered Krishna's lofty menace with disdain and cruel sneer:

"Wherefore in this vast assembly thus proclaim thy tale of shame, If thy wedded wife and consort did inspire my youthful flame?

Doth a man of sense and honour, blest with wisdom and with pride, Thus proclaim his wedded consort was another's loving bride?

Do thy worst! Or if by anger or by weak forbearance led, Sisupala seeks no mercy, nor doth Krishna's anger dread!"

Lowered Krishna's eye and forehead, and unto his hands there came Fatal disc, the dread of sinners, disc that never missed its aim,

"Monarchs in this hall assembled!" Krishna in his anger cried, "Oft hath Chedi's impious monarch Krishna's noble rage defied,

For unto his pious mother plighted word and troth was given, Sisupala's hundred follies would by Krishna be forgiven,

I have kept the plighted promise, but his crimes exceed the tale, And beneath this vengeful weapon Sisupala now shall quail!"

Then the bright and whirling discus, as this mandate Krishna said, Fell on impious Sisupala, from his body smote his head,

Fell the mighty-armed monarch like a thunder-riven rock, Severed from the parent mountain by the bolt's resistless shook!

And his soul be-cleansed of passions came forth from its mortal shroud, Like the radiant sun in splendour from a dark and mantling cloud,

Unto Krishna good and gracious, like a lurid spark aflame, Chastened of its sin and anger, Sisupala's spirit came!

Rain descends in copious torrents, quick the lurid lightnings fly, And the wide earth feels a tremor, restless thunders shake the sky,

Various feelings away the monarchs as they stand in hushed amaze, Mutely in those speechless moments on the lifeless warrior gaze!

Some there are who seek their weapons, and their nervous fingers shake, And their lips they bite in anger, and their frames in tremor quake,

Others in their inmost bosom welcome Krishna's righteous deed, Look on death of Sisupala as a sinner's proper meed,

Rishis bless the deed of Krishna as they wend their various ways, Brahmans pure and pious-hearted chant the righteous Krishna's praise!

Sad Yudhishthir, gentle-hearted, thus unto his brothers said: "Funeral rites and regal honours be performed unto the dead,"

Duteously his faithful brothers then performed each pious rite, Honours due to Chedi's monarch, to his rank and peerless might,

Sisupala's son they seated in his mighty father's place, And with holy abhisheka hailed him king of Chedi's race!


Yudhishthir Emperor

Thus removed the hapless hindrance, now the holy sacrifice Was performed with joy and splendour and with gifts of gold and rice,

Godlike Krishna watched benignly with his bow and disc and mace, And Yudhishthir closed the feasting with his kindliness and grace.

Brahmans sprinkled holy water on the empire's righteous lord, All the monarchs made obeisance, spake in sweet and graceful word:

"Born of race of Ajamidha! thou hast spread thy father's fame, Rising by thy native virtue thou hast won a mightier name,

And this rite unto thy station doth a holier grace instil, And thy royal grace and kindness all our hope and wish fulfil,

Grant us, king of mighty monarchs, now unto our realms we go, Emperor o'er earthly rulers, blessings and thy grace bestow!"

Good Yudhishthir to the monarchs parting grace and honours paid, And unto his duteous brothers thus in loving-kindness said:

"To our feast these noble monarchs came from loyal love they bear, Far as confines of their kingdoms, with them let our friends repair."

And his brothers and his kinsmen duteously his hest obey, With each parting guest and monarch journey on the home ward way.

Arjun wends with high-souled Drupad, famed for lofty warlike grace, Dhrishta-dyumna with Virata, monarch of the Matsya race,

Bhima on the ancient Bhishma and on Kuru's king doth wait, Sahadeva waits on Drona, great in arms, in virtue great,

With Gandhara's warlike monarch brave Nakula holds his way, Other chiefs with other monarchs where their distant kingdoms lay.

Last of all Yudhishthir's kinsman, righteous Krishna fain would part, And unto the good Yudhishthir opens thus his joyful heart:

"Done this glorious rajasuya, joy and pride of Kuru's race, Grant, O friend! to sea-girt Dwarka, Krishna now his steps must trace."

"By thy grace and by thy valour," sad Yudhishthir thus replies, "By thy presence, noble Krishna, I performed this high emprise,

By thy all-subduing glory monarchs bore Yudhishthir's sway, Came with gifts and costly presents, came their tributes rich to pay,

Must thou part? my uttered accents may not bid thee, friend, to go, In thy absence vain were empire, and this life were full of woe,

Yet thou partest, sinless Krishna, dearest, best beloved friend, And to Dwarka's sea-washed mansions Krishna must his footsteps bend!"

Then unto Yudhishthir's mother, pious-hearted Krishna hies, And in accents love-inspiring thus to ancient Pritha cries:

"Regal fame and righteous glory crown thy sons, revered dame, Joy thee in their peerless prowess, in their holy spotless fame,

May thy sons' success and triumph cheer a widowed mother's heart, Grant me leave, O noble lady! for to Dwarka I depart."

From Yudhishthir's queen Draupadi parts the chief with many a tear, And from Arjun's wife Subhadra, Krishna's sister ever dear,

Then with rites and due ablutions to the gods are offerings made, Priests repeat their benedictions, for the righteous Krishna said,

And his faithful chariot-driver brings his falcon-bannered car, Like the clouds in massive splendour and resistless in the war,

Pious Krishna mounts the chariot, fondly greets his friends once more, Leaves blue Jumna's sacred waters for his Dwarka's dear-loved shore,

Still Yudhishthir and his brothers, sad and sore and grieved at heart, Followed Krishna's moving chariot, for they could not see him part,

Krishna stopped once more his chariot, and his parting blessing gave, Thus the chief with eyes of lotus spake in accents calm and brave:

"King of men! with sleepless watching ever guard thy kingdom flair, Like a father tend thy subjects with a father's love and care,

Be unto them like the rain-drop nourishing the thirsty ground, Be unto them tree of shelter shading them from heat around,

Like the blue sky ever bending be unto them ever kind, Free from pride and free from passion rule them with a virtuous mind!"

Spake and left the saintly Krishna, pure and pious-hearted chief, Sad Yudhishthir wended homeward and his heart was filled with grief.



(The Fatal Dice)

Duryodhan came back from the Imperial Sacrifice filled with jealousy against Yudhishthir, and devised plans to effect his fall. Sakuni, prince of Gandhara, shared Duryodhan's hatred towards the sons of Pandu, and helped him in his dark scheme. Yudhishthir with all his piety and righteousness had one weakness, the love of gambling, which was one of the besetting sins of the monarchs of the day. Sakuni was an expert at false dice, and challenged Yudhishthir, and Yudhishthir held it a point of honour not to decline such a challenge.

He came from his new capital, Indra-prastha, to Hastina-pura the capital of Duryodhan, with his mother and brothers and Draupadi. And as Yudhishthir lost game after game, he was stung with his losses, and with the recklessness of a gambler still went on with the fatal game. His wealth and hoarded gold and jewels, his steeds, elephants and cars, his slaves male and female, his empire and possessions, were all staked and lost!

The madness increased, and Yudhishthir staked his brothers, and then himself, and then the fair Draupadi, and lost! And thus the Emperor of Indra-prastha and his family were deprived of every possession on earth, and became the bond-slaves of Duryodhan. The old king Dhrita-rashtra released them from actual slavery, but the five brothers retired to forests as homeless exiles.

Portions of Section lxv. and the whole of Sections lxix., lxxvi., and lxxvii. of Book ii. of the original text have been translated in this Book.


Draupadi in the Council Hall

Glassed on Ganga's limpid waters brightly shine Hastina's walls Queen Draupadi duly honoured lives within the palace halls,

But as steals a lowly jackal in a lordly lion's den, Base Duryodhan's humble menial came to proud Draupadi's ken.

"Pardon, Empress," quoth the menial, "royal Pandu's righteous son, Lost his game and lost his reason, Empress, thou art staked and won,

Prince Duryodhan claims thee, lady, and the victor bids me say, Thou shalt serve him as his vassal, as his slave in palace stay!"

"Have I heard thee, menial, rightly?" questioned she in anguish keen, "Doth a crowned king and husband stake his wife and lose his queen,

Did my noble lord and monarch sense and reason lose at dice, Other stake he did not wager, wedded wife to sacrifice!"

"Other stakes were duly wagered," so he spake with bitter groan, "Wealth and empire, every object which Yudhishthir called his own,

Lost himself and all his brothers, bondsmen are those princes brave, Then he staked his wife and empress, thou art prince Duryodhan's slave!"

Rose the queen in queenly anger, and with woman's pride she spake "Hie thee, menial, to thy master, Queen Draupadi's answer take,

If my lord, himself a bondsman, then hath staked his queen and wife, False the stake, for owns a bondsman neither wealth nor other's life,

Slave can wager wife nor children, and such action is undone, Take my word to prince Duryodhan, Queen Draupadi is unwon!"

Wrathful was the proud Duryodhan when he heard the answer bold, To his younger, wild Duhsasan, this his angry mandate told:

"Little-minded is the menial, and his heart in terror fails, For the fear of wrathful Bhima, lo! his coward-bosom quails,

Thou Duhsasan, bid the princess as our humble slave appear, Pandu's sons are humble bondsmen, and thy heart it owns no fear!"

Fierce Duhsasan heard the mandate, blood-shot was his flaming eye, Forthwith to the inner chambers did with eager footsteps hie,

Proudly sat the fair Draupadi, monarch's daughter, monarch's wife, Unto her the base Duhsasan spake the message, insult-rife:

"Lotus-eyed Panchala-princess! fairly staked and won at game, Come and meet thy lord Duryodhan, chase that mantling blush of shame!

Serve us as thy lords and masters, be our beauteous bright-eyed slave, Come unto the Council Chamber, wait upon the young and brave!"

Proud Draupadi shakes with tremor at Duhsasan's hateful sight, And she shades her eye and forehead, and her bloodless cheeks are white,

At his words her chaste heart sickens, and with wild averted eye, Unto rooms where dwelt the women, Queen Draupadi seeks to fly.

Vainly sped the trembling princess in her fear and in her shame, By her streaming wavy tresses fierce Duhsasan held the dame!

Sacred looks! with holy water dewed at rajasuya rite, And by mantra consecrated, fragrant, flowing, raven-bright,

Base Duhsasan by those tresses held the faint and flying queen, Feared no more the sons of Pandu, nor their vengeance fierce and keen,

Dragged her in her slipping garments by her long and trailing hair, And like sapling tempest-shaken, wept and shook the trembling fair!

Stooping in her shame and anguish, pale with wrath and woman's fear, Trembling and in stifled accents, thus she spake with streaming tear:

"Leave me, shameless prince Duhsasan! elders, noble lords are here, Can a modest wedded woman thus in loose attire appear?"

Vain the words and soft entreaty which the weeping princess made, Vainly to the gods and mortals she in bitter anguish prayed,

For with cruel words of insult still Duhsasan mocked her woo: "Loosely clad or void of clothing,—to the council hall you go,

Slave-wench fairly staked and conquered, wait upon thy masters brave, Live among our household menials, serve us as our willing slave!"


Draupadi's Plaint

Loose-attired, with trailing tresses, came Draupadi weak and faint, Stood within the Council Chamber, tearful made her piteous plaint:

"Elders! versed in holy sastra, and in every holy rite, Pardon if Draupadi cometh in this sad unseemly plight,

Stay thy sinful deed, Duhsasan, nameless wrongs and insults spare, Touch me not with hands uncleanly, sacred is a woman's hair,

Honoured elders, righteous nobles, have on me protection given, Tremble sinner, seek no mercy from the wrathful gods in heaven!

Here in glory, son of DHARMA, sits my noble righteous lord, Sin nor shame nor human frailty stains Yudhishthir's deed or word,

Silent all? and will no chieftain rise to save a woman's life, Not a hand or voice is lifted to defend a virtuous wife?

Lost is Kuru's righteous glory, lost is Bharat's ancient name, Lost is Kshatra's kingly prowess, warlike worth and knightly fame,

Wherefore else do Kuru warriors tamely view this impious scene, Wherefore gleam not righteous weapons to protect an outraged queen?

Bhishma, hath he lost his virtue, Drona, hath he lost his might, Hath the monarch of the Kurus ceased to battle for the right,

Wherefore are ye mute and voiceless, councillors of mighty fame? Vacant eye and palsied right arm watch this deed of Kuru's shame!"


Insult and Vow of Revenge

Spake Draupadi slender-waisted, and her words were stern and high, Anger flamed within her bosom and the tear was in her eye!

And her sparkling, speaking glances fell on Pandu's sons like fire, Stirred in them a mighty passion and a thirst for vengeance dire!

Lost their empire, wealth and fortune, little recked they for the fall, But Draupadi's pleading glances like a poniard smote them all!

Darkly frowned the ancient Bhishma, wrathful Drona bit his tongue, Pale Vidura marked with anger insults on Draupadi flung!

Fulsome word nor foul dishonour could their truthful utterance taint, And they cursed Duhsasan's action, when they heard Draupadi's plaint!

But brave Karna, though a warrior,—Arjun's deadly foe was he,— 'Gainst the humbled sons of Pandu spake his scorn thus bitterly:

"'Tis no fault of thine, fair princess! fallen to this servile state, Wife and son rule not their actions, others rule their hapless fate!

Thy Yudhishthir sold his birthright, sold thee at the impious play, And the wife falls with the husband, and her duty—to obey!

Live thou in this Kuru household, do the Kuru princes' will, Serve them as thy lords and masters, with thy beauty please them still!

Fair One! seek another husband who in foolish reckless game Will not stake a loving woman, will not cast her forth in shame!

For they censure not a woman, when she is a menial slave, If her woman's fancy wanders to the young and to the brave!

For thy lord is not thy husband, as a slave he hath no wife, Thou art free with truer lover to enjoy a wedded life!

They whom at the swayamvara, chose ye, fair Panchala's bride, They have lost thee, sweet Draupadi, lost their empire and their pride!"

Bhima heard, and quick and fiercely heaved his bosom in his shame, And his red glance fell on Karna like a tongue of withering flame!

Bound by elder's plighted promise Bhima could not smite in ire, Looked a painted form of Anger flaming with an anguish dire!

"King and elder!" uttered Bhima, and his words were few and brave, "Vain were wrath and righteous passion in the sold and bounden slave!

Would that son of chariot-driver fling on us this insult keen, Hadst thou, noble king and elder, staked nor freedom nor our queen?"

Sad Yudhishthir heard in anguish, bent in shame his lowly head, Proud Duryodhan laughed in triumph, and in scornful accents said:

"Speak, Yudhishthir, for thy brothers own their elder's righteous sway, Speak, for truth in thee abideth, virtue ever marks thy way,

Hast thou lost thy new-built empire, and thy brothers proud and brave? Hast thou lost thy fair Draupadi, is thy wedded wife our slave?"

Lip nor eye did move Yudhishthir, hateful truth would not deny, Karna laughed, but saintly Bhishma wiped his old and manly eye!

Madness seized the proud Duryodhan, and inflamed by passion base, Sought the prince to stain Draupadi with a deep and foul disgrace!

On the proud and peerless woman cast his loving, lustful eye, Sought to hold the high-born princess as his slave upon his knee!

Bhima penned his wrath no longer, lightning-like his glance he flung, And the ancient hall of Kurus with his thunder accents rung:

"May I never reach those mansions where my fathers live on high, May I never meet ancestors in the bright and happy sky,

If that knee, by which thou sinnest, Bhima breaks not in his ire, In the battle's red arena with his weapon, deathful, dire!"

Red fire flamed on Bhima's forehead, sparkled from his angry eye, As from tough and gnarled branches fast the crackling red sparks fly!


Dhrita-rastra's Kindness

Hark! within the sacred chamber, where the priests in white attire With libations morn and evening feed the sacrificial fire,

And o'er sacred rights of homa Brahmans chant their mantra high, There is heard the jackal's wailing and the raven's ominous cry!

Wise Vidura knew that omen, and the Queen Gandhari knew, Bhishma muttered "svasti! svasti!" at this portent strange and new,

Drona and preceptor Kripa uttered too that holy word, Spake her fears the Queen Gandhari to her spouse and royal lord.

Dhrita-rashtra heard and trembled with a sudden holy fear, And his feeble accents quavered, and his eyes were dimmed by tear:

"Son Duryodhan, ever luckless, godless, graceless, witless child, Hast thou Drupad's virtuous daughter thus insulted and reviled,

Hast thou courted death and danger, for destruction clouds our path? May an old man's soft entreaties still avert this sign of wrath!"

Slow and gently to Draupadi was the sightless monarch led, And in kind and gentle accents unto her the old man said:

"Noblest empress, dearest daughter, good Yudhishthir's stainless wife, Purest of the Kuru ladies, nearest to my heart and life,

Pardon wrong and cruel insult and avert the wrath of Heaven, Voice thy wish and ask for blessing, be my son's misdeed forgiven!"

Answered him the fair Draupadi: "Monarch of the Kuru's line, For thy grace and for thy mercy every joy on earth be thine!

Since thou bid'st me name my wishes, this the boon I ask of thee, That my gracious lord Yudhishthir once again be bondage-free!

I have borne a child unto him, noble boy and fair and brave, Be he prince of royal station, not the son of bounden slave!

Let not light unthinking children point to him in utter scorn, Call him slave and dasaputra, of a slave and bondsman born!"

"Virtuous daughter, have thy wishes," thus the ancient monarch cried, "Name a second boon and blessing, and it shall be gratified."

"Grant me then, O gracious father! mighty Bhima, Arjun brave, And the youngest twin-born brothers,—none of them may be a slave!

With their arms and with their chariots let the noble princes part, Freemen let them range the country, strong of hand and stout of heart!"

"Be it so, high-destined princess!" ancient Dhrita-rashtra cried, "Name another boon and blessing, and it shall be gratified,

Foremost of my queenly daughters, dearest-cherished and the best, Meeting thus thy gentle wishes now I feel my house is blest!"

"Not so," answered him the princess, "other boon I may not seek, Thou art bounteous, and Draupadi should be modest, wise and meek,

Twice I asked, and twice you granted, and a Kshatra asks no more, Unto Brahmans it is given, asking favours evermore!

Now my lord and warlike brothers, from their hateful bondage freed, Seek their fortune by their prowess and by brave and virtuous deed!"


The Banishment

Now Yudhishthir 'reft of empire, far from kinsmen, hearth and home, With his wife and faithful brothers must as houseless exiles roam.

Parting blessings spake Yudhishthir, "Elder of the Kuru line, Noble grandsire stainless Bhishma, may thy glories ever shine!

Drona priest and great preceptor, saintly Kripa true and brave, Kuru's monarch Dhrita-rashtra, may the gods thy empire save!

Good Vidura true and faithful, may thy virtue serve thee well! Warlike sons of Dhrita-rashtra, let me bid you all farewell!"

So he spake unto his kinsmen, wishing good for evil done, And in silent shame they listened, parting words they uttered none!

Pained at heart was good Vidura, and he asked in sore distress: "Arya Pritha, will she wander in the pathless wilderness?

Royal-born, unused to hardship, weak and long unused to roam, Aged is thy saintly mother, let fair Pritha stay at home.

And by all beloved, respected, in my house shall Pritha dwell, Till your years of exile over, ye shall greet her safe and well."

Answered him the sons of Pandu: "Be it even as you say, Unto us thou art a father, we thy sacred will obey,

Give us then thy holy blessings, friend and father, ere we part, Blessings from the true and righteous brace the feeble, fainting heart."

Spake Vidura, pious-hearted: "Best of Bharat's ancient race, Let me bless thee and thy brothers, souls of truth and righteous grace!

Fortune brings no weal to mortals who may win by wicked wile, Sorrow brings no shame to mortals who are free from sin and guile!

Thou art trained in laws of duty, Arjun is unmatched in war, And on Bhima in the battle kindly shines his faithful star,

And the Twins excel in wisdom, born to rule a mighty State, Fair Draupadi, ever faithful, wins the smiles of fickle Fate!

Each with varied gifts endowed, each beloved of one and all, Ye shall win a spacious empire, greater, mightier, after fall.

This your exile, good Yudhishthir, is ordained to serve your weal, Is a trial and samadhi, for it chastens but to heal!

Meru taught thee righteous maxims where Himalay soars above, And in Varnavata's forest Vyasa taught thee holy love,

Rama preached the laws of duty far on Bhrigu's lofty hill, Sambhu showed the 'way' where floweth Drisad-vati's limpid rill,

Fell from lips of saint Asita, words of wisdom deep and grave, Bhrigu touched with fire thy bosom by the dark Kalmashi's wave,

Now once more the teaching cometh, purer, brighter, oftener taught, Learn the truth from heavenly Narad, happy is thy mortal lot!

Greater than the son of Ila, than the kings of earth in might, Holier than the holy rishis, be thou in thy virtue bright!

INDRA help thee in thy battles, proud subduer of mankind, YAMA in the mightier duty, in the conquest of thy mind!

Good KUVERA teach thee kindness, hungry and the poor to feed, King VARNUA quell thy passions, free thy heart from sin and greed!

Like the Moon in holy lustre, like the Earth in patience deep, Like the Sun be full of radiance, strong like wind's resistless sweep!

In thy sorrow, in affliction, ever deeper lessons learn, Righteous be your life in exile, happy be your safe return!

May these eyes again behold thee in Hastina's ancient town, Conqueror of earthly trials, crowned with virtue's heavenly crown!"

Spake Vidura to the brothers, and they felt their might increase, Bowed to him in salutation, filled with deeper, holier peace,

Bowed to Bhishma and to Drona, and to chiefs and elders all, Exiles to the pathless jungle left their father's ancient hall!


Pritha's Lament

In the inner palace chambers where the royal ladies dwell, Unto Pritha, came Draupadi, came to speak her sad farewell,

Monarch's daughter, monarch's consort, as an exile she must go, Pritha wept and in the chambers rose the wailing voice of woe!

Heaving sobs convulsed her bosom as a silent prayer she prayed, And in accents choked by anguish thus her parting words she said:

"Grieve not, child, if bitter fortune so ordains that we must part, Virtue hath her consolations for the true and loving heart!

And I need not tell thee, daughter, duties of a faithful wife, Drupad's and thy husband's mansions thou hast brightened by thy life!

Nobly from the sinning Kurus thou hast turned thy righteous wrath, Safely, with a mother's blessing, tread the trackless jungle path!

Dangers bring no woe or sorrow to the true and faithful wife, Sinless deed and holy conduct ever guard her charmed life!

Nurse thy lord with woman's kindness, and his brothers, where ye go, Young in years in Sahadeva, gentle and unused to woe!"

"Thy fond blessings help me, mother," so the fair Draupadi said, "Safe in righteous truth and virtue, forest paths we fearless tread!"

Wet her eyes and loose her tresses, fair Draupadi bowed and left, Ancient Pritha weeping followed of all earthly joy bereft,

As she went, her duteous children now before their mother came, Clad in garments of the deer-skin, and their heads were bent in shame!

Sorrow welling in her bosom choked her voice and filled her eye, Till in broken stifled accents faintly thus did Pritha cry:

"Ever true to path of duty, noble children void of stain, True to gods, to mortals faithful, why this unmerited pain,

Wherefore hath untimely sorrow like a darksome cloud above, Cast its pale and deathful shadow on the children of my love?

Woe to me, your wretched mother, woe to her who gave you birth, Stainless sons, for sins of Pritha have ye suffered on this earth!

Shall ye range the pathless forest dreary day and darksome night, Reft of all save native virtue, clad in native, inborn might?

Woe to me, from rocky mountains where I dwelt by Pandu's side, When I lost him, to Hastina wherefore came I in my pride?

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