sábado, 17 de abril de 2010


Contenido - Contents

Fotos de KRISHNA I LOVE YOU!!!!!!! - Fotos del muro

Dedicated to Romapada swami
"Most artwork courtesy of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International. www.krishna.com"

Añadida el 08 de abril

Añadida el 05 de abril

Rakhi is the festival which is celebrated throughout "INDIA".....in which the sister ties a rakhi to her strong brother and in return brother promises his sister to protect her from the dangers..........Let us all Offer a Devotional Rakhi to Omnipotent Almighty Lord KRISHNA ..........As Krishna always saves us from the evil clutches of "MAYA"......................Oh my Shyamsundara , How much blessed we are under your protection...........Please bless us all to serve you till eternity .............Hare Krishna
Añadida el 23 de agosto

means that which does not exist. It seems to be a fact that we are
these bodies, but we are not. We think that we are these bodies; this is
maya. It is maya to be attached to the body and not to Krsna, and it is
because of this maya that we are suffering from the endless pain of
birth and death. We know that our f...orefathers
have died, but we think that we will not die. This is all maya.
Creation, maintenance and destruction of this world are all maya.
Añadida el 24 de agosto

"In the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, there are two principal
instructions: developing the taste for chanting of holy names and
displaying compassion for the fallen souls."

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur – Sri Caitanya Siksamrita 1.7
Añadida el 25 de agosto

"One who always sees all living entities as spiritual
sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things.
What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?"
Añadida el 27 de agosto

"It is very much regrettable that unfortunate people do not discuss the
description of the Vaikuntha [spiritual] planets but engage in topics
that are unworthy to hear and bewilder one’s intelligence. Those who
give up the topics of Vaikuntha and take to talk of the material world
are thrown into the darkest region of ignorance."

Lord Brahma – Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.15.23
Agregado hace 4 horas

Apûrva: (sáns. vaiëòava). inaudito, extraordinario, incomparable.

Apûrva: (sáns. vaiëòava). unprecedented, extraordinary, unparalleled.

trans. by


1 - Adi Parva AP 01 - AP 07

AP 01

narayanam namas-krtya, naram caiva narottamam

devim sarasvatim vyasam, tato jayam udirayet

"Before reciting this Mahabharata, which is the very means of conquest, one should first offer respectful obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, Narayana, unto Nara-narayana Rsi, the supermost human being, unto mother Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, and unto Srila Vyasadeva, the author."

Suta Gosvami, son of Romaharsana, was widely renowned for his knowledge of the sacred histories called Puranas. Once he journeyed to the holy forest of Naimisaranya, where the learned Saunaka, assisted by strict and powerful sages, was conducting a twelve-year sacrifice. Humbly bowing his head, Suta approached the sages seated in the sacrificial arena, greeting them with folded hands, and then inquired about the progress of their austerities. The forest ascetics welcomed him into their midst, eager to hear the fascinating histories he knew so well.

As all the ascetics again sat down together, they offered Suta Gosvami the speaker's seat of honor, and he humbly accepted in deference to their request. Seeing that Suta was comfortable and well-rested, one of the sages, eager to begin their talks, inquired of him:

"Dear Suta, where are you coming from, and how have you been spending your time? O lotus-eyed one, please tell us."

Suta Gosvami replied:

I recently attended the sacrifice of the saintly King Janamejaya, who is a great soul among earthly rulers and a most worthy son of his great father, Pariksit. In that sacrifice King Janamejaya tried to destroy all the serpents in the universe in order to avenge his father's death. During the ceremony, the learned Vaisampayana spoke on various topics he had learned from his teacher, the great Krsna Dvaipayana. Being present, I heard many wonderful and pious stories known together as the Mahabharata.

Thereafter, I traveled about and visited many holy sites and sanctuaries, until at last I reached the sacred land of Samanta-pancaka, where many qualified brahmanas reside. In that very land some time ago, the great war between the Pandavas and Kurus and all the kings of the earth took place.

I then journeyed here to Naimisaranya, desiring to see all of you, whom I consider to be self-realized sages. Indeed, having purified yourselves by this sacrifice, you great souls shine like the sun or fire. You have chanted the proper hymns, ignited the sacred fire, and have thus become fixed in your real identity as spiritual beings. Dear brahmana, you have spent your lives well. On what subject would you now have me speak? Shall I narrate pious histories of antiquity, or shall we discuss universal principles of justice-- or perhaps the lives of great souls, the saintly kings and sages?

The sages replied:

We would like to hear that historical narrative which was first spoken by Srila Vyasadeva, the greatest of sages. Indeed, when the godly and wise hear this best of chronicles with its variety of topics and its exquisite composition, they instantly honor it. This sacred work known as the Mahabharata fulfills the very noblest aims of literature, for it is invested with subtlety, logic, and Vedic knowledge, enlivening the soul with the wisdom of many scriptures.

We would hear that work which Vaisampayana, on the order of Vyasadeva, joyfully narrated at the sacrifice of King Janamejaya. Vyasadeva himself, whose deeds are marvelous, considers the Mahabharata equal to all the four Vedas. Dear Suta, we wish to hear the glorious Mahabharata, which drives away the fear that flows from sin.

Suta replied:

Let me first pay my respectful obeisances unto the source of all that exists, the indestructible reality called by many names and praised in many prayers, the Absolute Truth, who is eternally present, although at times manifest and at times unmanifest. Unto Him I bow down.

Matter and spirit are His potencies, and therefore He is one with the universe. Yet He is transcendental and supreme, the prime creator of all things great and small. Standing above all, His power is never diminished.

My obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, who is celebrated as Visnu and who is the purest and most desireable being. Full of spiritual bliss, He enlivens each of us with His own happiness. That sinless one is called Hari, for He dispells His devotee's anxiety, and Hrsikesa, for He alone is the master of all the senses. He is the original teacher of all the creatures who move in this world and of those, like the trees, that cannot move.

I shall now narrate the complete epic as taught by Vyasadeva, that great and broadminded sage honored by all. Learned poets recited this chronicle in the past, others declare it even today, and still others will certainly recite it in times to come. This great teaching is firmly established in all the three worlds, and advanced scholars study its broad outline as well as its many details. The learned consider the Mahabharata a veritable pleasure to read, for it is embellished with beautiful language and a variety of charming meters, both divine and human.

To write this history Vyasadeva retired to a sanctified region, high in the Himalayas in a secluded mountain valley, fit for performing religious sacrifices, and he reflected deeply on how best to explain this great history to the people of the present age. Rising early and cleansing his body, and then taking his seat on a simple mat of kusa grass, Vyasadeva remained strictly celibate, peaceful, and pure, and entered into a state of yoga by linking his own consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. Thus he beheld, within himself, all things.-

Vyasa could see that in the beginning of universal time, when the world was covered with darkness and nothing could be seen, there arose a single cosmic seed, round and potent like an egg, yet vast and indestructible, pregnant with the bodies of all creatures. As authorities have it, this divine instrument was the great principle of creation.

Within that single seed shown the eternal light of the Absolute Truth, primordial, wonderful, inconceivable, and everywhere the same. Housing both matter and spirit, it was the subtle and invisible cause of the universe.

From that same Absolute Truth the grandsire, Brahma, took birth, he who is the master of creatures and guru to the gods; who is known as Sthanu, Manu, Ka, and Paramesthi; [who arose directly from the spiritual body of Lord Maha-visnu.] Lord Siva, Manu, the ten Pracetas, and Daksa with his seven sons, also appeared, followed by the twenty-one Prajapatis. All of these gods are partial manifestations of the immeasureable Personality of Godhead. This is known to all enlightened philosophers.

Various demigods then took birth to assist the cosmic rule: the Visve-devas, the Adityas, the Vasus, and the twin Asvins. Among them, illustrious Vivasvan rules the fiery sun. Acting as the eye of God, he is also celebrated as Atma-vibhavasu, Savita, Rcika, Arka, Bhanu, Asavaha, and Ravi.

Mahya is the youngest son of the sun-god. Mahya's son is Devavrata, and Devavrata's son is Subhraj, who had three well- known sons named Dasajyoti, Satajyoti, and Sahasrajyoti, all of whom produced many children.

The great soul Dasajyoti (whose name means "Ten Lights") had ten thousand children. Satajyoti ("Hundred Lights") had children numbering one hundred thousand, and Sahasra-jyoti ("Thousand Lights") had a thousand times a thousand children.

From these godly beings, the great royal dynasties descended on the earth, dynasties like the Kurus, Yadus, and Bharatas, as well as the great dynasties of Yayati, Iksvaku, and many other saintly kings. Thus by the power of the Sun and his descendants, many civilizations flourished and found a home in this world.

Vyasadeva could thus see the complete history of the cosmos and all its mysterious inner workings, which he explained in the Mahabharata, that others might learn and profit. Vyasadeva understood that in this world souls pass through cycles of piety, prosperity, pleasure-seeking, and salvation. In his authoritative books of knowledge, he therefore explained how human beings could live piously, become prosperous, satisfy their desires, and at the same time make spiritual progress. The special mark of the Mahabharata, therefore, is its clear focus on all important aspects of human endeavor.

After expanding this great knowledge Vyasadeva then prepared a condensed version, because learned scholars in this world would study it both in summary as well as in detail. Some wise brahmanas study the Mahabharata from the opening stanza, while others begin from the story of Astika; still others begin with the story of King Uparicara.

Different thinkers illuminate different aspects of the work, some by expertly analyzing its meaning, others by committing the entire text to memory. But it was Vyasa, celibate and austere, who divided the eternal Veda and then composed this sacred history.

The sage Parasara begot Vyasa in the womb of the maiden Satyavati. Later, on the plea of his mother and his stepbrother Bhisma, the wise Vyasadeva, ever-strict in his vows, begot three sons in the childless widows of his stepbrother Vicitravirya, each of whom was as brilliant as fire. Having fathered the three Kuru princes, Dhrtarastra, Pandu, and Vidura, thoughtful Vyasa went to his own asrama and again dedicated himself to the practice of austerity. After the three Kuru princes matured and eventually went on to their final destinations, the same great sage told their story to all mankind by narrating the Mahabharata.

At the urging of Emperor Janamejaya and thousands of brahmanas, Vyasadeva taught this great history to his disciple Vaisampayana, who sat close by his teacher. Later, sitting in the learned assembly at Janamejaya's sacrifice, the sage Vaisampayana, after repeated requests, spoke the Mahabharata at intervals in the sacrifice.

This great chronicle, spoken by the exalted sage Vyasa, thus records the powerful growth of the Kuru dynasty, the extraordinary chastity of Gandhari, Vidura's wisdom, Kunti's determination, the glory of Sri Krsna, the unswerving fidelity of the Pandavas, and the wicked deeds of the sons of Dhrtarastra. The learned say that Vyasa first recorded the essential story of the Mahabharata, less the minor episodes, in 24,000 verses, summarizing the major events and sections of the history in a single chapter of 150 verses. He then taught the history to his own son Suka and to other qualified disciples.

The sage compiled versions of the Mahabharata for the demigods in six million verses and in three million verses. The forefathers received 1,500,000 verses, the Raksasas and Yaksas 1,400,000, and human society 100,000. Narada Muni revealed it to the demigods, Asita Devala to the forefathers, and Suka, the son of Vyasa, taught it to the Gandharvas and Yaksas.

AP 01a

Full of anger, Duryodhana was like a great tree whose trunk was Karna, its branches Sakuni, its fully ripened fruits and flowers the evil Duhsasana, and its root King Dhrtarastra, who was not a thoughtful man.

The thoroughly just Yudhisthira was like a great tree whose trunk was Arjuna, its branches Bhimasena, its fully ripened fruits and flowers the twin sons of Madri, and its roots were Sri Krsna, knowledge of the Vedas, and saintly brahmanas.

After conquering many lands by his courage and fighting strength, King Pandu dwelled in the forest with his close associates, ever engaged in hunting, until one day he slew a deer couple who were mating. Thereafter he underwent much suffering, spending his life in the forest where he raised his sons from their birth.

Pandu was unable to beget children, thus his two wives gave him five sons by their contact with demigods. On Pandu's order, his first wife Kunti united with Dharma, god of justice; with Vayu, lord of the Wind; and with Indra, ruler of heaven., Arjuna performed a nearly impossible feat and stole her away in the midst of all the greatest warriors of the earth. From that time on Arjuna was honored as the best of bowmen. So brilliant was he on the battlefield that his opponents could not face him, just as they could not stare into the face of the blazing sun.

Many years later, after defeating all the earthly kings who were great and noble, Arjuna enabled his brother Yudhisthira to perform the exalted Rajasuya sacrifice, at which all present were fed sumptuously and gived valuable gifts. The Rajasuya sacrifice of King Yudhisthira was glorious in all respects.

By the good counsel of Lord Krsna and with the strength of Bhima and Arjuna, Yudhisthira arranged to kill Jarasandha, the evil monarch who was slaughtering thousands of innocent rulers. Thus the king performed his sacrifice without fear of harassment. During that great ceremony Lord Krsna took the life of the wicked Sisupala, who was insanely proud of his strength.

Fabulous wealth, jewelry, gems, and gold, valuable herds of cows, elephants, and fine horses, and all manner of opulence came to Duryodhana from all sides. But when Duryodhana saw that the Pandavas acquired the same opulence and riches, his jealousy drove him to deadly rage. And when he saw their unique assembly hall, as splendid as a celestial airship, created by the mystic craftsman Maya, Duryodhana burned in the flames of envy.

In that celestial hall Duryodhana became utterly confused, like an ordinary low-class fool, and slipped and fell in the presence of Lord Krsna and Bhimasena, who openly laughed at him. Soon thereafter Dhrtarastra understood that his son Duryodhana, though enjoying all varieties of wealth, was sick with jealousy and was steadily growing pale and thin.

Dhrtarastra was so attached to his son and so anxious to please him that he gave his permission for the crooked gambling match in which his sons would steal the Pandavas' kingdom. When Sri Krsna heard of it He was greatly angered, but He allowed the deceitful match to take place. As the terrible strife sown by Duryodhana grew between the cousin-brothers, Lord Krsna was not at all pleased, but He did not interfere until, finally, not heeding the pleas of Vidura, Drona, Bhisma, and Krpa, son of Saradvan, the Supreme Lord caused all the burdensome monarchs to destroy each other in the tumultuous war.

Hearing the dreaded news that the Pandavas had defeated his sons in mortal combat, Dhrtarastra could not deny that his eldest son Duryodhana, together with Karna and Sakuni, had provoked the catastrophic war between the cousin-brothers. For a long time Dhrtarastra struggled to understand his great loss, and then at last spoke these words to his intimate secretary, Sanjaya:

"Please, Sanjaya, hear all that I have to say, and do not blame me for all that has happened. You are an intelligent and educated man; the wisest men trust your judgement. Sanjaya, I did not want the war! I did not want to destroy our Kuru dynasty. I knew that there was no difference between my own sons and those of Pandu, but my sons were always so angry and so displeased with me, an old, blind man. Out of weakness and attachment, I tolerated their wicked deeds.

"Duryodhana had no sense of right and wrong, yet whenever he went astray I followed him. When he beheld the opulence of the mighty Pandava king at the Rajasuya sacrifice and then suffered such ridicule during his tour of the new assembly hall, he simply could not tolerate it. He did not have the strength to defeat the Pandavas in battle, nor did he have the initiative and ingenuity to personally acquire opulence as the Pandavas had done. And thus, like a man unworthy to be a warrior, he plotted with the Gandhara king to steal the Pandavas' fortune in an unjust gambling match.

"O Sanjaya, please hear me! All along I understood so many things. Listen to my words, and you will see that I am a reasonable man, that although I am blind, I do have a certain eye of wisdom.

"When I heard that Arjuna had strung the wonderful bow and struck the hidden target, which then fell to the earth, and that he had carried away the lovely Draupadi as all the kings of the earth looked on, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Arjuna had even carried away Lord Krsna's sister, by force, from the city of Dvaraka, and that Krsna and Balarama did not oppose him, but rather went to the Pandavas' city of Indraprastha to celebrate the marriage, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Arjuna with celestial arrows had withstood in battle the king of the demigods, repulsing his angry rain, and had offered the entire Khandava forest as a gift to the god of fire, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Yudhisthira, though utterly defeated, his kingdom stolen by Saubala in a game of dice, was nevertheless faithfully followed into exile by his brothers, who possessed immeasurable strength, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Draupadi, pained and grieving, her throat choked with tears, had been dragged into the Kuru assembly wrapped in a single cloth, and that she who is always protected by Lord Krsna was insulted there as if the lowest of women, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the Pandavas had all gone to the forest, accepting the pain of exile out of love for their eldest brother, and that even in exile those virtuous souls had performed extraordinary deeds, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Yudhisthira, the king of justice, had departed for the forest and was immediately followed there by thousands of learned brahmanas, all of them humble mendicants and great souls, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the three-eyed Siva, god of gods, had come disguised as a lowly Kirata hunter, and that Arjuna fought him and so pleased him that he awarded Arjuna his own mighty weapon, the Pasupata, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Arjuna had actually gone to the heavenly planets and there learned from Indra himself the use of unfailing celestial weapons, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Bhima and the other sons of Prtha had gone with Vaisravana to that land where no man could possibly go, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that my own sons, in taking the advice of Karna and going to visit the remote herdsmen, had all been captured by the Gandharvas, only to be set free by Arjuna, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Dharma, the god of justice, had come in the guise of a Yaksa to speak with Yudhisthira, who is known as Dharma-raja, the king of justice, and that Yudhisthira perfectly answered Dharma's most puzzling questions, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that my sons could not recognize the Pandavas, who, with Draupadi, were living in disguise in the kingdom of Virata, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the sons of Prtha had become so clever --indeed as difficult to grasp as fire --that by so many means they had eluded my sons, who could neither find nor see them, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Bhimasena, defending his dear Draupadi, had slain the greatest of the Kicakas along with his hunred brothers, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the great soul Arjuna, dwelling in disguise in the kingdom of Virata, had broken in battle the very best of my men, while fighting alone on a single chariot, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the King of Matsya had offered his virtuous daughter Uttara to Arjuna, who accepted her not for himself but for his son, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Yudhisthira, utterly defeated in a game of dice, penniless, and banished to the forest with nary a friend or ally, suddenly had command of a mighty force of seven full aksauhini armies, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard from the great sage Narada that Krsna and Arjuna were not ordinary human beings at all, but in fact the two great beings known as Nara and Narayana, and when Narada told me, 'Yes, I always see them in the highest planet of the universe,' I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Lord Krsna, the husband of the goddess of fortune, had wholeheartedly taken the side of the Pandava's, that same Sri Krsna who had once crossed the universe in a single step, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Lord Krsna, desiring to make peace for the benefit of the whole world, had approached the Kurus and begged for peace and had gone away without fulfilling His purpose, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Karna and Duryodhana had made up their minds to subdue Lord Krsna, even after He had revealed Himself in so many ways to be the Supreme Soul of the universe, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the Pandavas' mother Pritha, seeing that Lord Krsna was departing, had stood alone desperately in front of His chariot, begging for His help, and that Lord Krsna had comforted her, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Lord Krsna and Grandfather Bhisma were personally acting as advisors to the Pandavas, and that even the acarya Drona conferred blessings upon them, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Karna had said to Bhisma, 'As long as you are fighting on our side, I shall not fight,' and that he had left the army and gone away, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Lord Krsna, Arjuna, and the invincible Gandiva bow--- all three possessing terrifying strength--- were standing united together, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Arjuna had become overwhelmed by despair and sank down in his chariot, unable to fight, but that Lord Krsna had showed him all the worlds within His own transcendental body, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Bhisma, the tormentor of enemies, was killing ten thousand chariot warriors a day on the battlefield, but that he did not slay a single Pandava, although they were standing there plainly visible before him, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Bhisma himself, ever resigned to God's will, had indicated the means by which he could be killed, and that the Pandavas had understood the clue and happily carried out his execution, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that invincible Bhisma, the greatest hero of all, had been slain on the battlefield by Arjuna, who placed Sikhandi in front as a shield, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that mighty Bhisma, having reduced the race of the Somakas to but a few men, had been brought down by Arjuna's brilliant shafts, and that the eldest warrior had simply lain down upon a bed of arrows, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Bhisma, son of Ganga, was troubled by thirst as he lay on the bed of arrows, and Arjuna understood and immediately pierced the earth with an arrow, bringing forth water for him to drink, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that even the demigods who rule the sun and fire were favorable to the Pandavas and steadily committed to their success, while emboldened beasts of prey stalked and frightened our own soldiers, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Drona, that beautiful fighter, had wielded his weapons in many skillful ways but could not slay the Pandavas, who were the chief of the opposing fighters, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that our allies the Samsaptakas, the most deadly of warriors, who swore to finish the life of Arjuna, had been slain by that very Arjuna, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that our army had formed an impenetrable phalanx, guarded by the great Drona with weapons in hand, but that Abhimanyu, Subhadra's young heroic son, had singlehandedly broken through the formation and fearlessly entered our ranks, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that all our best fighters could not slay Arjuna, but rather had surrounded his son Abhimanyu, who was but a child, and slew him and rejoiced, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that upon killing Abhimanyu my own foolish sons had cried out in joy, and that Arjuna had unleashed his awful wrath on Saindhava, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Arjuna had taken a solemn vow to slay the instigator Saindhava and had made true his word, even in the midst of his enemies, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Arjuna's horses, being exhausted, were untied on the battlefield by his chariot driver, Lord Krsna, and given water, and that when they had recovered Krsna had again yoked them and set out for battle, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that even with his horses unyoked and breathing heavily with fatigue, Arjuna stood firm on his chariot, driving off all the enemy soldiers with his Gandiva bow, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Yuyudhana, the Vrsni hero, had violently harassed the army of Drona and its invincible elephant legions, and then returned safely to where Krsna and Arjuna were standing, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Karna had the powerful Bhima's life in his hands, but that instead of killing him, had merely insulted him with words and struck him with the corner of his bow, and then set him free, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Drona, Krtavarma, Krpa, Karna, Asvatthama, and the courageous king of Madra had all stood by while Saindhava was killed, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Lord Krsna had so bewildered Karna that he hurled his ultimate weapon, the celestial sakti given him by Indra, against the ghastly Ghatotkaca, who was born of a man-eating mother, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that in his fight with Ghatotkaca Karna had released his sakti weapon actually meant to kill Arjuna, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Dhrstadyumna had violated the sacred warrior code and cut down Dronacarya, who was alone in his chariot and resolved upon death, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Madri's son Nakula, locked in single combat with the son of Drona, had matched him in battle in the presence of everyone and had driven circles around him with his chariot, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that upon the death of Drona, his crazed son had released the dreaded nuclear weapon, Narayanastra, but still could not bring an end to the Pandavas, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Karna, that most extraordinary warrior virtually invincible in combat, had been slain by Arjuna in a war between brothers even the gods could not comprehend, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Asvatthama, Krpa, Duhsasana, and Krtavarma together had been unable to overwhelm Yudhisthira, who was standing alone, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the Madra king, that great hero who always challenged Lord Krsna in battle, had been killed in combat by Yudhisthira, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Saubala, that wicked and powerful mystic who had fomented strife through the false gambling match, had been struck down in battle by Sahadeva, son of Pandu, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Duryodhana, exhausted and all alone, had entered a lake and made his shelter there within its waters, his pride shattered, bereft even of his chariot, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that the sons of Pandu had stood on the shore of that Ganges lake and together with Lord Krsna had rebuked my son, who could not tolerate offense, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that my son Duryodhana, engaged in a deadly fight with clubs, had skillfully demonstrated his repertoire of techniques, only to be struck down by the treacherous plan of Lord Krsna, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Drauni (Asvatthama) and his accomplices had heinously murdered the five young sons of Draupadi in their sleep, even daring to perform such an infamous act, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Asvatthama, pursued by Bhimasena, had angrily launched a missle bearing the most deadly weapon, which he aimed at the young and pregnant Uttara, the last female descendant in the Pandava line, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"When I heard that Arjuna nullified Asvatthama's great weapon with a similar weapon, which he had empowered simply by vibrating the sound svasti! and that he proceeded to slash the jewel from the culprit's head, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

When I heard that Asvatthama was destroying the embryo of Princess Uttara with powerful weapons, and that Vyasadeva and Lord Krsna both cursed him, one after the other, with strong curses, I knew then, Sanjaya, that I had no hope for victory.

"O Sanjaya, my poor wife, Gandhari, is to be pitied, for she has lost her sons and grandsons. And I grieve for all the women who have lost their fathers and brothers.

"Only the sons of Pandu could have done what they did. Vanquishing all who plotted against them, they regained their rightful kingdom. Yet it is so painful, Sanjaya, to hear that only ten warriors have survived, that a mere three of our men and seven on the Pandavas' side are all that remain of two mighty armies, that the battle has exhausted the lives of eighteen full aksauhini divisions.

"O Sanjaya, my mind is reeling and I cannot find my reason. Darkness spreads all around me and confusion overwhelms me."

Having spoken thus, the griefstricken Dhrtarastra cried out many times. Nearly unconscious with pain, his chest heaving with long breaths, he again spoke to Sanjaya.

"I want to give up my life, Sanjaya. I have no reason to live."

When Dhrtarastra, who had once ruled the world, was thus speaking and lamenting so wretchedly, the wise Sanjaya spoke to him words of profound meaning.

"Undoubtedly you have heard from Sri Vyasadeva and the wise Narada about kings of great courage and strength who were born in dynasties endowed with all good qualities. They were kings who fought with celestial weapons and who thus were equal in strength to Lord Indra, kings who conquered the world fairly, following the moral law and offering their acquired riches in holy sacrifices, giving generous gifts to all the people. Such kings earned their fame in this world, but even they came under the deadly grip of time.

"There was the heroic Prthu, a great chariot fighter who alone could battle thousands of warriors, and Srnjaya, who stands out among conquerors. There was Suhotra, Rantideva, and the fiery Kaksivan, Ausija; Bahlika, Damana, Saibya, Saryati, Ajita, and Jita, Visvamitra, destroyer of enemies, and the greatly powerful Ambarisa. There was Marutta, Manu, Iksvaku, Gaya, and of course Bharata. And too there was Rama, son of Dasaratha, Sasabindu, and Bhagiratha. And the pious King Yayati, engaged by the demigods, performed so many opulent sacrifices that the entire earth, with her abundant forests, came to be marked with sacrificial pillars and shrines. Formerly the celestial sage Narada described these same twenty-four kings to Saibya, who was lamenting the loss of his son.

"There were other kings besides these who were the strongest of men- magnificent chariot fighters and great souls fully endowed with all good qualities. There were Puru, Kuru, Yadu, Sura, Visvagasva of great determination, Anena, Yuvanasva, Kakutstha, Vikrami, and Raghu. There were also Vijiti, Vitihotra, Bhava, Sveta, Brhadguru, Usinara, Sataratha, Kanka, Duliduha, and Druma.

"There were Dambhodbhava, Para, Vena, Sagara, Sankrti, Nimi, Ajeya, Parasu, Pundra, Sambhu, the sinless Devavrdha, Devahvaya, Supratima, Supratika, Brhadratha, Mahotsaha, Vinitatma, Sukratu, and Nala, king of the Nisadas.

"There were Satyavrata, Santabhaya, Sumitra, and the lordly Subala; Janujangha, Anaranya, Arka, Priyabhrtya, and Subhavrata; Balabandhu, Niramarda, Ketusrnga, and Brhadbala; Dhrstaketu, Brhatketu, Diptaketu, Niramaya; Aviksit, Prabala, Dhurta, Krtabandhu, and Dhrdhesudhi; Mahapurana, Sambhavya, Pratyanga, Paraha, and Sruti.

"These and many other earthly monarchs, hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of them, are all heard about and discussed in this world. These intelligent and powerful kings, the greatest men of their times, passed away from this world leaving behind vast resources, just as your own sons have done. These kings performed godly acts and possessed courage, detachment, and firm faith in God. They were great men who were honest, pure, and straightforward in their dealings. That is why the best and saintliest poets, sages, and historians have all recorded their deeds. Yet even these exalted monarchs, men of wealth and character, still passed away from this world.

"Your sons were wicked and greedy men who burned with needless anger and constantly embroiled themselves in wicked deeds. You should not lament for them, O descendant of Bharata, for you are an intelligent and educated man, a person of discrimination appreciated by the learned. Surely you know that one's intelligence is never bewildered when it follows the dictates of scripture. As you know, there is reward and punishment in this world, O King, and therefore authorities recommend that we not be obsessive in our attempts to protect our children.

"You should not lament for that which is destined to be. Who is so intelligent that he can stop destiny? Surely no one can overcome the course of events that has already been established by the Creator, for time and destiny are the expression of His will. Indeed, time is the basis of the entire world, because by the power of time all things are born and die. Thus we enjoy or suffer.

"Time devours all material bodies and carries away all living beings. Time is like a fire that consumes all creatures, and time itself extinguishes that fire. In this world time transforms all states of existence, both the auspicious and the inauspicious. Time steals away all creatures and then manifests them again in due course of time. No one can stop time as it moves impartially among all creatures. You are not an ordinary man, Dhrtarastra, and therefore you should not forsake your true wisdom. You must remember that all things past, all things that exist at present, and all things that are yet to come are in the grip of time."

Suta Goswami said:

Sanjaya, son of Gavalgana, spoke thus to King Dhrtarastra, who was grieving for his dead children. Consoling him with learned instructions, Sanjaya brought the king to his true consciousness.

Krsna Dvaipayana, Srila Vyasadeva, in composing this sacred literature the Mahabharata, has narrated the full history of all these events. A faithful person who devoutly studies even one verse of the Mahabharata is fully purified of all his sins. The Mahabharata tells of virtuous deeds performed by godly sages and self-realized and saintly kings, and it describes mystic Yaksas and celestial serpents. It glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, who, though eternal, appears as the son of King Vasudeva.

Sri Krsna is truth itself and He is the path that leads to that truth, for He is the supremely pure and the very means of purification. He is the Supreme Absolute Truth, ever-fresh yet unchanging, the everlasting light. He performs transcendental activities, which learned sages then narrate to the whole world.

Cause and effect, spirit and matter, all emanate from the Supreme Godhead alone. He is the origin, and He is the goal, the extent, and sequence of all things. He is birth and death, and He is the life that follows death.

It is to be understood that He is the Supreme Spirit, yet He expands Himself into the material creation of earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Thus by His energy the qualities of goodness, passion, and ignorance are manifested. Yet He is beyond the material creation of subtle and gross matter, and it is He alone who is to be celebrated. The best of the self-controlled sages, absorbed in transcendence and meditating on Him with great yogic power, see that same Supreme Soul within their purified hearts as one sees a reflection in a spotless mirror.

A faithful man always endeavoring on the spiritual path, devoted to the discipline that leads to knowledge, can become freed of sin by careful study of this chapter of the Mahabharata. This chapter is a brief introduction to the substance of the entire epic, and therefore one who hears the entire chapter, while sincerely believing its message, will never be disheartened by the troubles of life. One who regularly recites this chapter at sunrise and at sunset is freed at once from all the sins he has committed in all his days and nights.

Just as fresh butter is the best product of raw milk, or as a saintly brahmana is the best of all two-legged creatures, so this introduction to the Mahabharata, which reveals the highest truth, is the essence of the entire work and is pleasing like nectar. Indeed, as the ocean is the greatest among bodies of water, or as the milk-giving cow is the most valuable creature among quadrupeds, so among all historical epics the Mahabharata is the greatest.

One who recites this chapter for the pleasure of brahmanas at the sraddha ceremony greatly benefits his forefathers, who thus receive perpetual offerings of sacred food and drink, freeing them of all kinds of suffering due them because of their past sins.

Learned scholars enhance their knowledge of the Veda by studying the histories and the Puranas. In fact, the Veda personified is critical of those of small learning who directly approach the Vedas without having understood the great histories and Puranas. The Veda thinks, "Lacking proper study, this so-called scholar will pass over my real meaning and thus deceive himself and others."

One who has learned this Krsna-Veda and who speaks it to others will enjoy a prosperous life and undoubtedly become free of reactions to his past sinful deeds, even that of having killed a child in the womb.

Thus I conclude that one who cleanses his body and, with a pure mind, studies this chapter, section by section, actually studies the entire Mahabharata. And thus one who with full faith regularly hears this work of the sages attains a long life, fame, and at last promotion to the heavenly planets.

Once, the godly sages placed the four Vedas on one side of a scale, and on the other side they placed a single text, the Mahabharata. Both in greatness and weight the Bharata was superior. Being therefore greater than the four Vedas--with all their mysteries--this work came to be known henceforth throughout the world as the Mahabharata (for the word maha means "great"). One who thus understands the purport of the name Mahabharata becomes free of all sinful reactions.

It is not wrong to perform austerity; nor is study of the scriptures a bad thing. Following the strictures of the Vedas according to one's nature is not wrong; nor is it wrong to acquire wealth by strong endeavor. But all these endeavors are actually harmful when they lead us away from our real, spiritual nature.

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The sages said:

In the beginning of your discourse, you mentioned the holy place known as Samanta-pancaka. We would like to hear the details of that site. What is its actual history?

Suta Goswami replied:

Dear learned brahmanas, if you desire to hear me narrate truly auspicious topics, then, O saintly ones, listen to the story of Samanta-pancaka. In the juncture between the second and third great ages, or the Treta and Dvapara yugas, when evil kings ruled the world, Lord Parasu-rama, as brilliant as fire, appeared in this world and in great anger repeatedly slew the wicked monarchs, until by His own power he had destroyed all the kings of the earth. Rama killed so many monarchs at Samanta-pancaka that their blood alone formed five big lakes.

Still shaking with anger over the sins of the wicked kings who had cruelly murdered his father, Lord Rama then worshiped His departed father and forefathers with devotional offerings in which He showed them the blood of the slain tyrants. This we have heard from authorities. Lord Rama's forefathers, headed by Rcika, then approached Lord Rama, the best of the brahmanas, and convinced Him to forgive the royal order, whereupon the Lord desisted from His violent campaign.

The Lord had created five lakes with the blood of the slain rulers, and the pure land surrounding those bloody lakes came to be widely celebrated as Samanta-pancaka, or "that which surrounds the five," for the learned have stated that a region should be named for its visible features [gradually the lakes filled with clear water]. Then, at the juncture of the third and fourth ages, or the Dvapara and Kali yugas, in that most virtuous and sacred place, free of the deficiencies of ordinary places, a war took place between the Kuru and Pandava armies, and eighteen great aksauhini divisions assembled there to fight.

Thus, learned brahmanas, I have explained to you how that pure and charming land was named. Indeed, noble thinkers, I have explained to you in full how that area became widely renowned throughout the three planetary systems.

The sages said:

O Suta, you have just mentioned a military division known as an aksauhini. We would like to hear a full explanation of its size in terms of chariots, horses, men, and elephants. Undoubtedly you know all these things.

Suta Goswami replied:

Authorites state that a small military unit consisting of one chariot, one elephant, five footsoldiers, and three cavalry soldiers is called a patti.

Three pattis form one sena-mukha.

Three sena-mukhas form one gulma.

Three gulmas constitute one gana.

Three ganas form a vahini.

Three vahinis make up a prtana.

Three prtanas are equal to one camu.

Three camus form an anikini.

And ten anikinis constitute an aksauhini.

O best of brahmanas, learned authorities thus say that within an aksauhini, there are a total of 21,870 chariots, and the full census of elephants is again 21,870. O sinless ones, the aksauhini is know to comprise 109,350 infantry men, and the count for cavalry is given at 65,610.

Authoritative persons, learned in such computations, have stated that this, in total, is an aksauhini, and I have explained it to you in detail, O noble twice-born. With such a count, O saintly ones, there were a little more than eighteen such aksauhinis between the Kuru and Pandava legions. Meeting at Samanta-pancaka, they lost their lives and fortunes. The Kaurava kings thus became an instrument of time, which acts in extraordinary ways.

For ten days that supreme knower of weapons, Bhisma, led the Kuru army. Then for five days, Drona protected the Kuru ranks. Karna, punisher of enemies, led the Kurus for two days. For half a day, Salya became the Kuru chief, and for half a day, Bhima and Duryodhana engaged in a mortal club fight. At the end of that half day, Hardikya, Asvatthama, and Gautama murdered Yudhisthira's unsuspecting army as it slept in the dead of night.

Here at Saunaka's sacrifice I shall recite the full Mahabharata from the very beginning, just as Vyasa's learned disciple recited it at the sacrifice of Janamejaya. Just as those seeking liberation seriously cultivate detachment, so the learned devote themselves to the study of this history.

As among things to be known the self is most important, or as life is most dear among dear things, so this profound history is uniquely attractive among all sacred writings. As all speech, both Vedic and worldly, is made entirely of vowels and consonants, so is this book invested throughout with the finest design and reason, having been richly composed by an enlightened sage. Now please hear a summary of its divisions.

1. A summary of the contents in one hundred parts

2. An additional summary of eighteen principle divisions

3. Pausya

4. Pauloma

5. The story of the brahmana Astika

6. Descent of the first created beings

7. Origins, a wondrous narration prepared by the gods

8. The burning of the house of lac

9. The killing of the demon Hidimba

10. The killing of the demon Baka

11. The Gandharva king Citraratha

12. The godly princess Pancali selects a groom

13. After the rival kings are defeated, she marries according to the warrior code

14. The coming of Vidura

15. Gaining a kingdom

16. Arjuna dwells in the forest

17. The kidnapping of Princess Subhadra

18. Bringing the dowry

19. The burning of the Khandava forest and the meeting with the mystic Maya

20. The assembly hall

21. Council is given

22. The killing of Jarasandha

23. World conquest

24. The Raja-suya sacrifice

25. Offerings for guests

26. The killing of Sisupala

27. The gambling match

28. The sequel to the gambling match

29. Life in the forest

30. The killing of Kirmira

31. Arjuna fights with Lord Siva, who comes disguised as a hunter

32. Traveling to the planet of Indra

33. The wise Kuru king travels to holy places

34. The killing of the demon Jatasura

35. Battle with the Yaksas

36. The story of the python

37. The meeting with the sage Markandeya

38. Talks between the two queens Draupadi and Satyabhama

39. The excursion to see the herds

40. The dream of the deer

41. The Vrihi-draunika story

42. Saindhava steals Draupadi from the forest

43. Stealing the earrings

44. Araneya parva

45. Virata

46. The killing of the Kicakas

47. The Kauravas attempt to steal King Virata's cows

48. The marriage of Abhimanyu with Vairati

49. The great endeavor, full of wonders

50. The coming of Sanjaya

51. Dhrtarastra's sleeplessness caused by anxiety

52. The story of Sanat-sujata, which explains the intimate truths of the soul

53. Endeavoring for peace

54. The Supreme Lord's journey

55. The dispute of the great-spirited Karna

56. The Kuru and Pandava armies set out for battle

57. The warriors and the greater (Ati-ratha) warriors

58. The messenger Uluka arrives and infuriates the Pandavas

59. The story of the princess Amba

60. The amazing installation of Bhisma as commander-in- chief

61. The creation of the region of Jambu

62. The earth and its great islands

63. Lord Krsna speaks the Bhagavad-gita

64. The killing of Bhisma

65. Drona is installed as Kuru commander-in-chief

66. The killing of the Samsaptaka warriors

67. The killing of Abhimanyu

68. Arjuna vows to kill Jayadratha

69. The killing of Jayadratha

70. The killing of Ghatotkaca

71. The hair-raising account of the killing of Dronacarya

72. The release of the dreaded Narayana weapon

73. The last days of Karna

74. The last days of Salya

75. Entering the lake

76. The deadly fight with clubs

77. The sacred river Sarasvati, and the special qualities of sacred places

78. The grisly murder of the sleeping warriors

79. The harrowing tale of the Aisika weapon

80. The offering of water to the departed kin

81. The grief of the women

82. The funeral ceremony for departed kin, and the future lives of the slain Kurus

83. Wise Yudhisthira, king of virtue, consecrated as the world's leader

84. The Raksasa Carvaka, disguised as a brahmana, is cut down

85. Distribution of homes

86. Peace and the duties and ethics of kings

87. Duties and ethics in times of trouble

88. Duties and disciplines for the soul's salvation

89. Teachings

90. The wise Bhisma ascends to heaven

91. The Asvamedha sacrifice: a story that destroys all reactions of previous sins

92. The Anugita, which explains spiritual philosophy

93. Living in the asrama

94. Meeting the sons

95. The arrival of the illustrious sage Narada

96. The ghastly incident of the iron club fully described

97. The great departure

98. The ascent to the spiritual planets

99. The supplement known as Hari-vamsa, which describes the childhood activities of Lord Krsna

100. Great and wonderful descriptions of future events

The great soul Vyasadeva narrated these one hundred sections in full, and the son of Romaharsana, Suta Goswami, again described these same contents to the sages at Naimisaranya, dividing them, however, into eighteen divisions, as follows:

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1. Adi-parva, The Beginning:

The first section of the Adi-parva, known as Pausya, narrates the glories of Uttanka, and the Pauloma section fully describes the expansion of the Bhrgu dynasty. Next, the Astika section explains the origin of all snakes and of the great Garuda; the churning of the milk ocean; the birth of the celestial steed Uccaihsrava; tales of the great Bharata kings related at Janamejaya's snake sacrifice; and the origin of various kings and sages and of the great sage Vyasa.

The section entitled Descent of the First Created Beings describes the origin of demigods, Daityas, Danavas, and Yaksas. This section also tells the origin of Naga serpents, snakes, Gandharvas, birds, and various other creatures. The story of the Vasus tells how these great souls were forced to take birth from the womb of goddess Ganga in the house of King Santanu and how they regained their position in heaven. All the Vasus invested a portion of their potency in a single Vasu, and that one took birth as Bhisma, who later renounced his father's kingdom, taking the difficult vow of celibacy, which he kept with great determination. Bhisma's younger step-brother Citrangada assumed the Kuru throne under Bhisma's guidance, but when the young monarch was killed, Bhisma installed Citrangada's younger brother Vicitravirya as king and took care of him.

The first book also tells how Srila Vyasa, to keep his promise to his mother, begot Dhrtarastra, Pandu, and Vidura, who was actually Dharma, lord of justice, forced to take birth as a human being by the curse of the sage Mandavya-of-the-lance. Also described are the births of Pandu's sons, their journey to Varanavata, the wicked plotting of their cousin Duryodhana to kill them, and their effort to escape, based on Vidura's wise counsel, through a secret underground tunnel.

The first book also narrates the meeting of the Pandavas with the demoness Hidimba in the frightful forest; the birth of Ghatotkaca from that forest encounter; the Pandava's activities while living incognito in the house of a brahmana; and the slaying of the monstrous Baka, which amazed the brahmana and all the inhabitants of his city.

Also described in this book are the births of lovely Draupadi and her fiery twin brother, Dhrstadyumna. Hearing about her from a brahmana and encouraged as well by the words of Srila Vyasa, the Pandavas decided to win Draupadi's hand in marriage. They eagerly sett out for the kingdom of Pancala, which was ruled by Draupadi's father, to compete at her svayamvara ceremony, where she was to choose her husband.

On the way, Arjuna defeated the Gandharva king Angaraparna on the banks of the Ganges. Having formed a lasting friendship with him, and having heard many stories from him, Arjuna then traveled on with all his brothers towards the kingdom of the Pancalas. Narrated in this section are the excellent stories of Tapatya, Vasistha, and Aurva.

In the city of Pancala, Arjuna alone among all the kings of the earth could pierce an exceptionally difficult target with his arrow, thus winning Draupadi's hand. The losing kings, headed by Karna and Salya, were furious, but Bhima and Arjuna defeated them in a great battle. Seeing the unfathomable, superhuman prowess of Bhima and Arjuna, Lord Krsna and His elder brother, Lord Balarama, recognized them as the the sons of Pandu, even though all of the Pandavas were carefully disguised as brahmanas. The great minded brothers, Krsna and Balarama, then went to visit the sons of Pandu at their lodgings in the house of a potter. The amazing story of the five Indras is also told.

King Drupada puzzled over the fact that his daughter Draupadi was to marry all five Pandava brothers, but Lord Siva had blessed her to enjoy an extraordinary marriage.

Dhrtarastra sent Vidura to see the Pandavas, and upon his arrival Vidura also met with Lord Krsna. To prevent a quarrel between the Pandavas and Kurus, the kingdom was divided, and the Pandavas went to live in the city of Khandava-prasta. Thereafter comes the story of Sunda and Upasunda. By the order of Narada Muni the five brothers agreed to spend equal time alone with their lovely wife Draupadi (each brother swore that if he ever intruded when another brother was with Draupadi, the intruding brother would voluntarily accept banishment).

Soon thereafter, when the eldest brother, Yudhisthira, was alone with Draupadi, Arjuna unavoidably entered their room to get a weapon that he needed to help a saintly brahmana. After rescuing the stolen property of the brahmana, Arjuna, determined to honor the Pandavas' mutual pact, left the royal palace and went alone to the forest.

Next comes the story of Arjuna's union with the princess Ulupi, whom he met on the path while dwelling in the forest; after that, Arjuna's pilgrimage to many sacred spots and the birth of Babruvahana are described. During that time Arjuna saved five apsaras who have been cursed by an ascetic brahmana to take birth as crocodiles.

Arjuna then met with Lord Krsna at the holy land of Prabhasa-ksetra and went with Him to His capital of Dvaraka, (a fabulous city built on the surface of the ocean). While there Arjuna fell in love with Krsna's lovely young sister, Subhadra, and Subhadra also fell in love with Arjuna. Taking Lord Krsna's permission, Arjuna eloped with her, and Lord Krsna, son of Devaki, brought a dowery for His new brother-in-law. Upon arriving at the Pandava's capital (Khandavaprastha, also known as Indraprastha), Sri Krsna acquired His famous whirling weapon, the Sudarsana disc, and Arjuna acquired his famous Gandiva bow. The Khandava forest was burned to ashes, and Subhadra gave birth to mighty Abhimanyu. Arjuna saved the great mystic Maya from the fiery forest, while a special serpent escaped. The great sage Mandapala begot a son in the womb of the bird Sarngi. All these and many other stories are elaborately explained in the Adi-parva, the first book of the Mahabharata.

The liberated sage Srila Vyasadeva affirms that this book contains 218 chapters composed of 7,984 verses.

2. Sabha Parva, The Great Assembly:

The second book, Sabha-parva, describes many events. The Pandavas establish their magnificent assembly hall and meet with their servants; the sage Narada, who can see God, describes the assembly hall of the demigods; preparations begin for the great Raja-suya sacrifice, and wicked Jarasandha is killed; all the kings whom Jarasandha had cruelly imprisoned in a mountain cave are released by Sri Krsna; the Pandavas' extraordinary wealth, visible in the Raja-suya sacrifice, frustrates and angers Duryodhana; Bhima laughs when Duryodhana slips on the assembly hall floor, and the enraged Duryodhana plots to ruin the Pandavas in a gambling match; crooked Sakuni defeats Yudhisthira in a dishonest gambling match; when the Pandavas are drowning in the sea of gambling, Draupadi, like a sturdy boat, pulls them out of that ocean; King Duryodhana, seeing that the Pandavas have been saved, calls them to participate in yet another false game of chance.

The great soul Vyasa has elaborately explained all these incidents in the Mahabharata's second book, which contains 72 chapters and 2,511 verses.

3. Aranyaka Parva, Life in the Forest:

The auspicious third book contains the following stories: the faithful citizens follow the wise Yudhisthira to the forest; all the Vrsnis and Pancalas come to see the Pandavas in exile; Saubha is slain; Kirmira is slain; hearing that Sakuni has cheated the Pandavas in a game of dice, Lord Krsna is furious, but Arjuna calms His anger; Draupadi laments before Lord Krsna, and Lord Krsna consoles her with encouraging words; Arjuna goes off in search of weapons; Lord Krsna escorts His sister, Subhadra, and her young son to Dvaraka, and Dhrstadyumna similarly escorts the sons of Draupadi; the Pandavas enter the enchanting Dvaita forest; King Yudhisthira converses with Draupadi; Yudhisthira converses with Bhimasena; Srila Vyasa comes to see the sons of Pandu and reveals to King Yudhisthira a special science of recollection; Vyasadeva leaves and the Pandavas travel to the Kamyaka forest; Arjuna fights with Lord Siva, who appears in the guise of a hunter; Arjuna ascends to the heavenly planets and meets the leaders of the universe.

The third book also describes the following: King Yudhisthira, grieving over his misfortune, meets the great and enlightened sage Brhadasva and pours out the story of his suffering; in response, Yudhisthira hears the most pious and moving story of King Nala, whose wife Damayanti remained steadily devoted during King Nala's severe tribulations; the sage Lomasa descends from the heavenly planets to the Pandavas, who are living in the forest, and brings them news that Arjuna has reached the heavenly region; -the sage delivers a message from Arjuna; based on this message sent from the higher planets, the Pandavas begin to visit sacred places to purify themselves and acquire the power of righteousness; the great sage Narada goes on pilgrimage to the hermitage of Pulastya; the demon Jata is killed.

Draupadi engages Bhimasena, who goes to Gandha-madana and there violates a lotus pond in order to acquire a Mandara flower. He also fights a great battle there with the bold and mighty Raksasas and Yaksas, who are led by Maniman. Next comes the narration of the sage Agastya, who eats up Vatapi and then has union with Lopamudra to beget a son. Then is told the story of the hawk and the pigeon, wherein Lords Indra, Agni, and Dharma test King Sibi.

The story is told of the young, celibate student Rsyasrnga, and of the son of Jamadagni, Lord Parasu-rama of awesome and fiery strength. In this context the death of Kartavirya and the Haihayas is described, then the story of Sukanya and Cyavana, son of Bhrgu, who at the sacrifice of Saryati awards the twin Asvins the right to drink the Soma beverage when he regains from them his lost youth.

In this section is the story of Jantu, wherein King Somaka sacrifices his son to obtain more sons and thus acquires one hunred sons. Then the story of Astavakra is told. He defeats Bandi in a logical debate and regains his father, who has fallen into the ocean.

Ambidextrous Arjuna acquires divine weapons for his venerable elder brother and then battles with the Nivata-kavacas, who dwell in the City of Gold, Hiranya-pura. Arjuna rejoins his brothers in Gandha-madana and battles with the Gandharvas during an excursion to pasturing lands. The brothers return to Lake Dvaita-vana, Jayad-ratha steals away Draupadi from within the asrama, and Bhima pursues him with speed like that of the wind. Then the meeting with Markandeya and the stories that ensue are told.

Next comes the narration of Draupadi's meeting and conversation with Satyabhama, the tale of the measure of rice, the story of Indradyumna, the histories of Savitri, Auddalaki, and Vainya, and the elaborate telling of the Ramayana, the history of Lord Ramacandra. Then is told of Lord Indra stealing Karna's two earrings, the story of the fire-sticks, the demigod Dharma instructing his son, and the Pandavas obtaining their boon and heading for the West.

These are the topics of the Aranyaka-parva, the third division of the Mahabharata. The great sage Vyasadeva declares that this section contains a total of 269 chapters, comprising 11,664 verses.

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4. Vairata Parva, Living in the City of Virata:

Suta Gosvami continued:

Dear sages, the fourth book of the Mahabharata describes at length the events that take place while the Pandavas live in the city of Virata. As the five brothers approach the city of Virata, they spy a large Sami tree growing in a cemetary and decide to hide their weapons within the tree. Thereafter they enter the city, having disguised their identities in various ways.

In this section, Vrkodara (Bhima) kills the wicked Kicaka, Arjuna defeats the Kurus in battle, and the king's valuable herd is saved. The Virata king bestows his daughter Uttara upon Arjuna, who accepts her for his son Abhimanyu, a destroyer of his enemies in combat.

These are the contents of the extensive fourth book. The great soul Vyasadeva states that there are 67 chapters and 2,050 verses in this section.

5. Udyoga Parva, Trying for peace, preparing for war:

During the time that the Pandavas are living in Upaplavya, both Duryodhana and Arjuna approach Lord Krsna, each seeking victory for his side. Both say to Sri Krsna, "My Lord, You should help our side in the coming battle," and with great wisdom, Lord Krsna replies, "Both of you are very important men, so I will do the following. I will assist one side as a non-combattant advisor, and I will give one aksauhini, an entire army, to the other side. Now tell me, which shall I give to whom?"

The dull-witted Duryodhana, crooked as he was by nature, chooses Krsna's armed forces, and Arjuna choses Lord Krsna Himself, even though the Lord will only assist Arjuna, without directly fighting. Mighty Dhrtarastra then sends his secretary Sanjaya to negotiate peace with the sons of Pandu. Hearing that Lord Krsna is leading the Pandavas, Dhrtarastra is filled with anxiety and cannot sleep at night. Vidura then speaks eloquent and beneficial words to the troubled king. Sanatsujata also speaks elevated spiritual knowledge to the king, whose mind is burning, his heart tormented with grief.

The next morning Sanjaya openly declares at Dhrtarastra's court that Lord Krsna is actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that Arjuna, as the Lord's surrendered devotee, is not different from the Lord.

The illustrious Lord Krsna, feeling great compassion for the ill-fated warriors and desiring to settle the conflict between the Kurus and Pandavas, comes to Hastinapura and tries to make peace. Duryodhana rejects Lord Krsna, who is pleading for peace for the benefit of both parties. Understanding that Karna and Duryodhana are scheming with impure intelligence, Lord Krsna demonstrates to the Kuru kings that He is the Lord of all mystic power. The Lord then takes Karna onto His own chariot, gives him proper advice, and explains how the escalating conflict can be resolved. Karna, intoxicated with pride, rejects the Lord's sincere advice. Lord Krsna then leaves Hastinapura and meets the Pandavas at Upaplavya, informing them of all that has transpired. Hearing His words and discussing with Him the best course of action, those punishing heroes realize that war is inevitable and therefore begin to make final preparations. Their analysis is correct, and within a short time chariots, cavalry, and infantry begin to pour out of the imperial capital of Hastinapura. A precise analysis is then given of the Kuru military strength.

On the day before the great war is to begin, Duryodhana has a messenger named Uluka deliver to the Pandavas a harsh and insulting message. A description is then given of the regular and extraordinary chariot fighters taking part in the battle. These many events make up the fifth book of the Mahabharata, which tells of the endeavors for war and peace.

Dear ascetics, whose very wealth is austerity, the pure soul Vyasa, that great-minded sage, states that there are 186 chapters and 6,698 verses in this section.

6. Bhisma Parva, Bhisma leads the Kuru army:

The sixth book contains a rich variety of topics: Sanjaya describes the creation and dimension of the earthly region known as Jambukhanda. The frightful war begins with unusual ferocity, continuing unabated for ten full days. Yudhisthira's army falls into a dangerous state of despondency, and Arjuna falls into illusion and wants to leave the battlefield. But the wise Lord Krsna drives away his grief by logically explaining the path of liberation.

The great bowman Arjuna keeps Sikhandi in front of him as a shield and, striking repeatedly with his sharp arrows, knocks Bhisma down from his chariot. All these events are fully described in this sixth book of Mahabharata, in which Srila Vyasa, a knower of the Vedas, has counted 117 chapters and 5,884 verses.

7. Drona Parva, Drona leads the army:

The amazing Drona Parva tells of many important events: herein the warriors known as the Samsaptakas succeed in driving Arjuna away from the battlefield. The mighty King Bhagadatta, who is equal to Indra in battle, and his famous war-elephant Supratika are cut down by Arjuna.

In this section many of the world's greatest chariot fighters, headed by Jayadratha, combine to kill heroic Abhimanyu, who has not yet reached his full youth. Seeing his young son unfairly killed by many older warriors, Arjuna furiously destroys seven armies and kills Jayadratha. By King Yudhisthira's regal order, the mighty-armed Bhima and Satyaki search for Arjuna and enter the ranks of the Kuru army, which is impenetrable even to the demigods. Arjuna then kills all who remain of the powerful Samsaptakas. Ninety million Samsaptakas suffer Arjuna's wrath, and he sends all of those exalted warriors to the lord of death.

In the Drona Parva warriors like Alambusa; Srutayu; the mighty Jalasandhi; Saumadatti; Virata; Drupada, the master of chariot warfare; Ghatotkaca, and others are all slain. When Drona himself is struck down in battle, his raging son unleashes the terrible Narayana weapon.

This section also describes the glorious fire weapon of Lord Siva and tells of the arrival of Vyasadeva, who reveals the glories of Lord Krsna and Arjuna. Thus in the powerful seventh book, most of the world's leaders, who are heroes among men, meet their death. The learned philosopher Vyasa, son of Parasara, after meditating on the Drona Parva, lists for this section 170 chapters, comprising 8,909 verses.

8. Karna Parva, Karna takes the army:

Thereafter comes the most amazing Karna Parva, in which in a moment of crisis the skillful king of Madra is deputed to serve as Karna's charioteer. The old history is told herein of the fall of demonic Tripura and the harsh exchange between Karna and Salya as they set out together for battle. The tale of the swan and the crow is recited in an insulting manner, Yudhisthira and Arjuna become angry at each other, and then, in a chariot duel, Arjuna kills the great chariot fighter Karna.

Those who seriously study the Mahabharata recognize these and other powerful events as composing the eighth book, known as the Karna Parva, which is said to include 69 chapters and 4,900 verses.

9. Salya Parva, Salya leads:

Next is the captivating narration known as the Salya Parva. After the greatest warriors have been slain, Salya, king of Madra, takes command of the Kuru forces. A succession of fierce chariot engagements finishes the best warriors who remain among the Kurus. Then Yudhisthira, king of justice, ends the life of King Salya.

Also described is a tumultuous club fight and the death of Sakuni at the hands of Sahadeva. When most of his army is slain and only a few soldiers remain, Duryodhana enters a lake and by controlling its waters is able to remain there for some time. From some hunters Bhima receives information of Duryodhana's location. Speaking insulting words, intelligent Yudhisthira provokes Duryodhana, who never tolerates an insult, to come out of the lake and engage in a club fight with Bhima. As the fight is going on, Lord Krsna's older brother, Lord Balarama, arrives at the scene.

The holiness of the Sarasvati River even among holy places is explained. The club fight continues and Bhima, with his awful and devastating club blows, deliberately breaks the thighs of King Duryodhana.

From its very beginning, the amazing ninth book narrates many significant events. According to authorities, Srila Vyasa composed this section in 59 chapters and 3,220 verses, which reveal the history of the famous Kuru dynasty.

10. Sauptika Parva, Murder of the sleeping princes:

I shall next describe the frightening events of the tenth book: in the evening, after the Pandavas have retired from the day's fighting, Krtavarma, Krpa, and Drauni (Asvattham) journey on their chariots to see the angry King Duryodhana, who lies covered with blood on the battlefield, his thighs broken. The son of Drona is enraged at the sight, and that great chariot fighter swears to his friends, "I shall not take this armor off my body until I have killed every last Pancala, headed by Dhrstadyumna, and every one of the Pandavas and their ministers!"

Those three powerful men, headed by Drauni, then enter the Pandava camp in the dark of night and cruelly murder the Pancalas, their retinue, and all the sons of Draupadi as they sleep unsuspecting in their camp. Only the five Pandavas, who depend fully on Lord Krsna, are saved, along with Satyaki, the great archer. All the other warriors of the Pandava army are killed in their sleep.

Stunned by the loss of her sons and agonizing over the sudden deaths of her father and brother, Draupadi sits down before her five husbands, resolved to fast until death. Moved by Draupadi's words and determined to please her, Bhima, whose name indicates his frightening power, takes up his club and furiously sets out behind the fleeing Asvatthama, the son of his beloved guru. Frightened by Bhimasena and impelled by destiny, Drauni angrily releases his horrible weapon, bent on ridding the world of the Pandavas.

But Lord Krsna, seeing His beloved devotees in danger, then says, "It shall not be so!" and all of Asvatthamas curses and threats lose their power. Following Lord Krsna's instruction, Arjuna throws a counter-missile, which neutralizes that of the enemy.

Srila Vyasadeva and others condemn the son of Drona, but so blinded is he by pride that he childishly tries to counter-curse such exalted personalities. The Pandavas then capture the son of Drona, although he is a great chariot fighter, and violently cut the jewel from his head, robbing him of his splendor. They gladly present it to Draupadi as tribute. Funeral rites are then performed for all the slain kings with offerings of sacred water.

Also in this section Prtha reveals the mystery of Karna's secret birth as her child. These incidents make up the tenth book of the Mahabharata, called the Sauptika Parva, in which the great soul Vyasa has enumerated 18 chapters, containing a total of 870 verses. In this section the learned sage has combined two Parvas, the Sauptika and the Aisika.

11. Stri Parva, The Women:

Pity and sympathy are aroused in this section, which tells of the heart-rending lament of the female kin of the fallen warriors. As Dhrtarastra and Gandhari struggle with the death of their sons, they are sometimes forgiving, but at times anger and bitterness overwhelm them. Many women of the royal families see those who will never return---sons, brothers, and fathers, all brave warriors----lying dead on the battlefield. Lord Krsna calms the fury of Gandhari, who is sorely afflicted at the killing of her sons and grandsons.

Then the very wise King Yudhisthira arranges for the bodies of all the slain monarchs to be cremated with full religious rites, following the scriptural injunctions. These are the powerful and most piteous events of the eleventh book of the Mahabharata. This section provokes compassion and tears when read by people of good and noble character. According to the author, the great soul Vyasa, this section contains 27 chapters and 775 verses.

12. Santi Parva, Peace:

The twelfth book of the Mahabharata stimulates our intelligence with its profound discussion of ethical and spiritual principles. King Yudhisthira having taken part in a war that caused the death of many of his elders, brothers, and sons, along with other relatives and intimate friends, is plunged into grief. But his grandfather Bhisma, lying undisturbed on a bed of arrows, fully enlightens his tormented grandson with a unique discourse on the material and spiritual principles of life. Kings and other leaders of nations who truly wish to govern their people well must seriously study these principles.

Enunciated herein are special instructions for emergency situations, with careful reasoning in regards to the specific time and circumstances. By thoroughly understanding these teachings a man acquires complete knowledge of how to act in this world. This section also provides an elaborate and attractive discussion of the principles that lead to spiritual salvation.

The wise and learned are especially fond of this twelfth book of the Mahabharata. Dear sages, whose wealth is austerity, in this book there are 339 chapters and 14,525 verses.

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13. Anusasana Parva, Lessons:

In this most elevated book, Yudhisthira, now the undisputed king of the Kuru dynasty, overcomes his despondency by hearing Bhisma's conclusive analysis of spiritual principles, and he is thus restored to his original nature. Bhisma, son of Ganga, thoroughly explains human affairs in terms of material and spiritual needs. He also explains the various results to be achieved by various kinds of charity. The recipients of charity and the ultimate principle that governs all types of charity are then described.

Bhisma further discusses the rules of human conduct, their practical applications, and the highest goal of truth. This very extensive discourse constitutes the Anusasana Parva, which concludes with Bhisma's attainment of the spiritual world. This thirteenth book, with its conclusive knowledge of religious principles, is composed of 146 chapters and 6,700 verses.

14. Asvamedhika Parva, The Great Offering:

The next book, the fourteenth, relates the superb story of Samvarta and Marutta, how the Pandavas secure a treasury of gold needed to perform a sacrifice, and the birth of Pariksit, whom Lord Krsna brings back to life after his body is destroyed by a fiery weapon while he is still in his mother's womb.

When the Pandavas become the most powerful rulers of the earth, they follow the ancient custom of inviting all other rulers to accept their authority or to challenge it through a personal duel. The traditional challenge horse is released to roam freely all over the world, followed by Arjuna. [If a local ruler allowed the horse to pass, he thereby accepted the Pandavas' authority and agreed to pay taxes to the central Kuru government at a standard rate. In return the local ruler and his kingdom would receive full protection from hostile forces and economic subsidies in time of scarcity. A leader who wished to challenge the Pandavas would seize the challenge horse, and a personal duel ensued.] Thus Arjuna accepts the challenges of many proud and angry princes and defeats them in battle, bringing their states under the unified Kuru administration.

Arjuna is put into danger when he fights, unknowingly, with his own son Babruvahana, whom he had begotten with the Princess of Manipur, Citrangada. This section also narrates the story of the great Asvamedha sacrifice, and therein the story of the mongoose is told. The great sage Vyasa, a seer of the truth, has spoken this great and wonderful book, in which there are 133 chapters and 3,320 verses.

15. Asrama-vasa Parva, Life in the Asrama:

Next is the fifteenth book, which relates how Dhrtarastra finally gives up all interest in political affairs and goes with his wife, Gandhari, and step-brother Vidura to spend his last days in an asrama, a saintly hermitage dedicated to spiritual progress. Seeing him about to depart, the saintly Prtha decides to give up living in the opulent kingdom of her son and to follow along. In the last part of her life she wants to fully dedicate herself to serving the self-realized devotees of the Lord, whom she accepts as her spiritual masters.

By the mercy of saintly Vyasa, King Dhrtarastra's sons and grandsons and other heroes and kings who have died and gone to the next world all briefly return to earth, and Dhrtarastra is able to see them. After this astonishing experience, the old king gives up his grief and, understanding his soul to be eternal, achieves spiritual perfection with his faithful wife. Vidura, fixed in his spiritual principles, achieves the goal of life, along with the exalted Sanjaya, the learned and self-controlled son of Gavalgana. Yudhisthira then sees Narada Muni and hears from the sage about the extinction of the Vrsni dynasty.

These are the topics of this most excellent and extraordinary book called the Asrama-vasa Parva. Srila Vyasa, who is a seer of the truth, has composed this section in 42 chapters and 1,506 verses.

16. Mausala Parva, The Story of the Club:

Next is the shocking story of how the princes of Lord Krsna's Yadu dynasty, all tigers among men, suffer a devastating curse by brahmanas and perish near the shore of the ocean. These same mighty warriors have withstood the attacks of many weapons on the battlefield, but then impelled by destiny they lose themselves in drink after a religious celebration and strike each other down with stalks of cane that turn into thunderbolts in their hands.

Sri Krsna and His brother, Balarama, (playing like ordinary human beings), do not counteract the force of time, which takes away all things. Thus when Arjuna arrives at Lord Krsna's capital, he sees not a single man of the Lord's family alive.

Seeing that the Yadu warriors have come to a violent end, having beaten each other to death in a drunken rage, Arjuna, that best of men, experiences the greatest anguish. Lord Krsna, the heroic Yadu chief, has appeared in this world as his maternal cousin, and therefore Arjuna, respecting Lord Krsna's desire to demonstrate the ideal human life, arranges conventional funeral rites for the material bodies which Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama leave behind as they depart from this world in their eternal spiritual forms. Arjuna performs similar rites for all the slain warriors, especially those of the Vrsni dynasty, who are very close to Sri Krsna.

Arjuna then departs Dvaraka, taking with him the ladies, children, and elderly men of the Yadu dynasty, whom he escorts on the way to the Kuru capital, where the Pandavas will take care of them. But he suffers grievous misfortune on the way and has to witness the defeat of his fabled Gandiva bow. In fact, all the celestial weapons he has used to assist Sri Krsna in His earthly mission no longer favor him. The wives of the Vrsni heroes, whom Arjuna is to protect, are taken away, and he is unable to help them. [Arjuna can then understand that all his legendary power has been granted Him by the Lord, and now that the Supreme Godhead is winding up His activities in this universe, the time has also arrived for the Lord's associates to depart with Him.]

Encouraged by the words of Srila Vyasa, Arjuna understands the temporary nature of this world, and his heart becomes peaceful through detachment. Arriving in Hastinapura, he convinces his elder brother Yudhisthira that it is time to leave this world, and Yudhisthira, king of virtue, peacefully sets his mind on complete renunciation.

These are the events of the Mausala Parva, the sixteenth book of the Mahabharata. In this section, there are 8 chapters and 300 verses.

17. Maha-prasthanika Parva, The Great Departure:

In the seventeenth book, known as "The Great Departure," the Pandavas, pure devotees of the Lord, renounce their opulent kingdom, and together with their godly wife, Draupadi, attain the supreme perfection of life. Srila Vyasa, who is a seer of the truth, states that in this section there are 3 chapters and 120 verses.

18. Svarga Parva, Heaven and the Spiritual World:

The eighteenth book describes the ascent to the heavenly planets and beyond to the spiritual sky. This final parva provides information exceeding the range of ordinary human knowledge.

My dear ascetics, whose treasure in life is austerity, there are 5 chapters in this eighteenth book of the Mahabharata, with a total of 200 verses.

I have now given a complete summary of all eighteen parvas. There is also a supplementary work called the Harivamsa, which explains the birth and activities of Lord Krsna, and another book, which explains the future. All of these books constitute the Mahabharata with its various divisions. Eighteen aksauhini armies assembled together, desiring to fight, and a terrible war took place that lasted for eighteen days.

A brahmana who knows the four Vedas, with their various topical divisions and philosophical treatises, the Upanisads, but who does not know the Mahabharata is not considered a truly learned man. Indeed, for one who faithfully hears this narration, ordinary literatures are no longer attractive, just as one who hears the sweet song of the male kokila bird can find no pleasure in the screeching of a crow.

Just as the three planetary systems are created from the five physical elements, so virtually all poetic inspiration finds its first source in this exalted narration. As all creatures, whether born of sperm, eggs, seeds, or sweat, always function within space, similarly the ancient history of this world as found in the Puranas must be understood within the context of this great work called Mahabharata.

As the attractive workings of the mind are the foundation of all sensory activity, so this epic is the foundation of mankind's duties and virtues. As the body cannot be maintained without food, so in this world truly meaningful conversation cannot be sustained without reference to this work. As a servant lives well by working for a noble master, so the best of poets have prospered by drawing upon this narration.

The Mahabharata is immeasurable, pure, and sacred, for it flows from the lips of Dvaipayana Vyasa. Because it destroys one's sins it is most auspicious. Indeed, one who hears this history as it is being recited and understands its message has no need to bathe in the holy waters of Puskara Lake. This most excellent work, great of purpose and meaning, is like a blissful literary ocean, easily traversed if first we hear this chapter with its summary of the entire epic, just as one can cross the vast saltwater ocean with the help of a good boat.

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Once in the land of Kuruksetra, Janamejaya, the son of Pariksit, was performing a long sacrifice assisted by his three brothers, who were named Srutasena, Ugrasena, and Bhimasena. As the four brothers engaged in worship, a dog approached the sacrificial arena. Janamejaya's brothers beat the dog and drove it away, lest it contaminate the sacrifice. The dog went howling and crying to its mother, Sarama. Seeing her son crying loudly, Sarama asked him, "Why are you crying? Who has beaten you?"

The dog replied, "I was beaten by King Janamejaya's brothers."

"Certainly you must have committed some offense," said his mother, "and that's why they beat you."

But the dog again said to his mother, "I didn't commit any offense! I didn't lick up the sacrificial butter, or even look at it!"

Hearing this, Sarama, who was griefstricken to see her child so unhappy, went at once to where the king and his brothers were performing a long sacrifice and angrily said to Janamejaya, "This is my son! He didn't commit any offense, so why was he beaten?" No one replied. "Because my son, who did nothing wrong, was severely beaten, I now declare, King Janamejaya, that in the future an unforeseen danger will come into your life."

Thus addressed by the celestial dog, Janamejaya was overcome by confusion and grief. Completing the sacrifice and returning to Hastinapura, he began to search tirelessly for a person who could neutralize the effects of his family's sin.

The son of Pariksit was once hunting in a corner of his kingdom when he came upon a saintly asrama wherein a sage named Srutasrava lived with his beloved son, Somasrava. Janamejaya carefully observed the sage's son and realized that he was qualified to serve as the royal priest.

Approaching the boy's father, the king offered his respectful obeisances and said: "My lord, your son must be allowed to act as my priest."

Thus addressed, the sage replied, "Dear Janamejaya, my son is a great ascetic, highly learned in Vedic wisdom. In fact, he was conceived and grew in the womb of a serpent who once drank my semen, and because he is born of my seed, he is endowed with my own power, which I have acquired by long austerities. He is fully qualified to relieve your family of all its sins---except, of course, sins committed against Lord Siva.

"I must tell you, however, that my son has made one private vow: that if any brahmana requests anything of him in charity, he will give it. If you can tolerate this, you may take him at once."

Thus addressed by the sage, Janamejaya replied, "My lord, so it shall be."

Taking Somasrava as his priest, the king returned to his capital city and told his brothers, "I have chosen this young brahmana to be our royal priest, and he is to be respected as our teacher. Whatever he says must be done without question."

Faithfully hearing his words, the king's brothers did exactly as told. Janamejaya, having thus instructed his brothers, then journeyed to the kingdom of Taksasila and brought it within the Kuru administration.

During this period there lived a sage of the name Ayodadhaumya, who was teaching three disciples: Upamanyu, Aruni, and Veda. The teacher called upon one of his students, Aruni of Pancala, and instructed him "My dear boy, there is a breach in the dike. Go and close it."

So ordered by his teacher, Aruni of Pancala went to the dike but could not close the breach. Anxiously pondering the problem, he finally thought of a solution.

"So be it!" he said to himself. "I will do it!" And he at once climbed onto the dike, lay down in the breach, and held back the water with his own body.

Some time later, the boy's teacher, Ayodadhaumya, asked his other disciples,

"Where is Aruni of Pancala? Where did he go?" The students replied,

"My lord, you told him, 'There is a breach in the dike. Go and close it!"'

Thus addressed by his students, the teacher replied, "All right, then all of us will go there to find him."

When the teacher arrived in the general area of the dike, he called out to his disciple, "O Aruni of Pancala, where are you? Come here, my son!"

Hearing his teacher calling him, Aruni of Pancala at once got up from the dike, ran to his teacher, and stood before him, saying, "Here I am! I couldn't stop the water from coming over the dike, so I closed the breach with my own body. When I heard my master's voice, I came immediately, and the water again burst through the dike. Yet I am here my lord, ready to serve you. Please instruct me."

The teacher replied, "Because you immediately got up when you heard me calling and thus caused the water to burst through the dike, you will be known by the name Uddalaka, 'one who stood up and let the water burst through'."

Having given him this name, the teacher then blessed his disciple, saying, "Because you always obey my instructions, you will achieve great fortune in life. You shall understand all the Vedas and all the Dharma-sastras, the great books of knowledge."

Uddalaka earned his teacher's blessings by faithful service and was allowed to graduate from the school and go where he desired. Ayodadhaumya had another disciple named Upamanyu, whom he ordered as follows: "My dear son Upamanyu, you should take care of the cows."

Accepting his teacher's instruction, Upamanyu herded the cows during the day, and at day's end he returned to his teacher's house, stood before him, and offered respectful obeisances. Seeing that he was corpulent, the teacher said, "My dear son Upamanyu, how do you maintain yourself? You seem quite heavy."

The student replied to his teacher, "I maintain myself by begging alms."

The teacher replied, "You are a student. You are not to utilize such alms without first offering them to me, your teacher."

"So be it," said Upamanyu obediently, and again he went about herding the cows. Returning in the evening to his teacher's house, he stood before him and offered his respectful obeisances. But seeing that he was still rather fat, the teacher said, "My dear Upamanyu, I take all the alms which you beg, and there is nothing left over. How do you maintain yourself now?"

Thus addressed by his teacher, Upamanyu replied, "My lord, I give you all that I beg in my first shift, and then I live on whatever I collect in my second shift. By this method I maintain myself."

The teacher replied, "That is still not the proper way to serve your guru. You should beg once and offer the alms to your teacher. When you beg from the same people twice, you disturb their livelihood in order to get your own. You are much too anxious for food!"

"So be it," said Upamanyu, and he returned to herding the cows. Coming to his teacher's house at the end of day, he stood before him and offered his respectful obeisances. Seeing that he was still quite heavy, his teacher again said to him,

"I take all the alms that you beg, and you do not beg a second time, and still you are too fat. How do you maintain yourself?"

Upamanyu replied to his teacher, "My dear Gurudeva, I maintain myself by drinking the milk of the cows."

The teacher replied to him, "It is not correct for you, as a student, to utilize the milk of the cows without my permission."

"So be it," said Upamanyu, promising that he would be more careful. He herded the cows and then came again to his teacher's house, standing before him and offering his respectful obeisances. The teacher noticed that his disciple was still too heavy and said to him, "You do not keep the alms you beg for yourself, you do not beg a second time, you do not drink the milk from the cows---and still you are too heavy! How do you maintain yourself now?"

Thus addressed by his teacher, Upamanyu replied, "Sir, after the calves drink from their mother's teats, I drink the milky froth which the calves regurgitate."

The teacher replied, "The calves are very kind, and out of kindness toward you they spit out much more than they ought. You maintain yourself by disturbing the sustenance of the calves. Therefore you should not even drink the froth."

"So be it," said Upamanyu, promising to take greater care. And he continued to herd the cows without any concern for eating. Forbidden by his teacher, he would not take a portion of his teacher's alms, nor would he beg for himself, drink the milk of his teacher's cows, or even take the froth left by the calves.

Once as Upamanyu wandered in the forest afflicted with hunger, he ate the leaves of an arka tree. But the leaves were so acrid and acidic that they caused a terrible burning in his eyes that left Upamanyu blind. Having lost his sight, he began to grope about the forest and fell into an open well.

When Upamanyu failed to return, his teacher said to the other students, "I've restricted Upamanyu in so many ways that he must have become angry, and therefore he doesn't return. He's been so long."

Speaking thus, the teacher went to the forest and began to call Upamanyu, "Hello! Upamanyu! Where are you? My son, please come!"

Hearing his teacher calling him, Upamanyu shouted back: "Teacher! Hello! It's me! I've fallen in a well!

The teacher asked him, "How did you fall into the well?"

The student replied, "I ate the leaves of an arka tree which blinded me; thus I fell into a well."

The teacher replied to his student, "Please pray to the twin Asvins. They will give you back your sight, for they are the physicians of the demigods."

Thus addressed by his teacher, Upamanyu began to pray to the two godly Asvins with the following hymns from the Rg Veda:

"O twin Asvins, O ancient ones of wondrous luster who always precede us, shining and unlimited, I praise you with these words. Pure celestial beings of beautiful effulgence, O measureless beings, you range and dwell everywhere within these worlds.

"Dear Nasatya and Dasra, with handsome noses you are like golden birds, victorious friends in time of need. Coming forth at dawn, you swiftly weave on fine looms the bright light of day.

"Dear twin Asvins, to bring good fortune, by your strength you freed the swallowed quail. Such are your excellent deeds that those who stole the cows of dawn bow to your mystic potency.

"Those 360 milking cows gave birth to a single calf and provided it milk, even though placed in different cow pens, and you Asvins took from them an enjoyable offering of hot milk.

"Seven hundred spokes are fastened to one hub, and twenty other spokes rest upon the wheel's rim. Yet this undying wheel turns and turns without a rim. Dear Asvins, such expert mystic power adorns you.

"The turning wheel is one, with twelve spokes fastened to six rim sections, and a single nectar-bearing axle fitted to the hub. The demigods who rule this world are addicted to that nectar. May the two Asvins not despair of us and thus release that nectar.

"The virtuous Asvins broke open the mountain and released the hidden cows. By day their deed was seen and their strength celebrated. Indeed, they have won the nectar of Indra.

"You two Asvins first generate the ten directions, and as they individually separate and expand equally outward, the sages, gods, and human beings of the earth follow the path of those directions.

"You then transform all the hues of the universe, and they in turn invest all things with variegated colors. Even the cosmic lights shine in accord with your arrangements of color. The gods respect it, as do human beings who act upon the earth.

"O Nasatyas, Asvins, it is you whom I praise and the garland of blue lotuses that you wear. O Nasatyas, immortal upholders of truth, by your encouragement truth goes forth, even without the gods.

"O youthful Asvins, may a man whose life is finished live again through these prayers. As a new-born child takes the mother's teat, so by submitting to you, who freed the cows, may we also live."

When Upamanyu had thus glorified the Asvins, they came to him and said, "We are pleased with your sincere prayers, and to solve your problem we've brought you this medicinal cake. Now eat it."

Thus addressed, Upamanyu replied, "You never speak lies, so I'm sure this cake actually has the power to remove my blindness. But I don't dare accept it without offering it first to my guru."

The two Asvins replied, "In the past your teacher prayed to us, just as you did, and being pleased we awarded him a similar cake, which he accepted and ate without offering it to his guru. You also should accept and eat this cake in the exact same way your teacher did."

Thus addressed, Upamanyu again replied to the Asvins, "Dear sirs, I beg your forgiveness, but I would not dare eat this cake without offering it first to my guru."

The two Asvins replied, "You have pleased us by your great dedication to your guru. His teeth are dark like iron, but yours shall be golden. You shall regain your sight and achieve good fortune in life."

Being thus addressed by the Asvins and regaining his sight, Upamanyu went at once to his teacher and respectfully greeted him, explaining all that had happened. The guru was pleased with his student and told him, "Just as the Asvins said, you shall achieve good fortune in life. All the Vedas will be revealed to you."

Thus Upamanyu passed his guru's test.

Ayodadhaumya had another disciple named Veda. One day the teacher instructed his student, "My dear son Veda, you should stay here for some time and serve in my house, and thus you will achieve good fortune."

"So be it," said Veda, who then lived for a long time in the guru-kula, the guru's house, completely devoted to serving his spiritual master. Indeed, like a faithful ox yoked to a heavy load, Veda tolerated the miseries of heat and cold, hunger and thirst, and was never stubborn or discourteous.

After much time had passed, Veda fully satisfied his guru, and by his guru's full satisfaction Veda achieved good fortune and perfect knowledge, having passed his guru's test.

With his teacher's permission, Veda ended his long stay in the gurukula. Returning to his home, he entered the grhastha--asrama by accepting a wife and strictly following the religious principles for married life. Eventually, Veda took on three students of his own, but he was reluctant to order his disciples. He did not tell them say, "This work must be done," or "You must serve your guru," for he knew intimately the hardship of living in the guru-kula, and he did not want to trouble his disciples by engaging them in service.

After some time two kings, Janamejaya and Pausya, knowing Veda to be a qualified brahmana, both selected him as their royal priest to officiate at sacrifices. Thus one day, when Veda was about to depart to perform sacrificial duties for the kings, he requested his disciple Uttanka as follows: "My dear Uttanka, if anything is needed in my house while I'm away, I want you to arrange for it so that nothing is lacking."

Having carefully instructed Uttanka, Veda departed and lived for some time away from home. Eager to serve his guru, Uttanka lived in his teacher's house faithfully executing his instructions.

One day, the women of the community approached Uttanka and told him, "Your teacher's wife is in her fertile season. It is the time for her to beget a child, but her husband is far from home, and naturally she has become quite depressed about this situation. It is your duty, Uttanka, to help her conceive a child. [After all, you were ordered to provide whatever is needed.] You must do this for your guru's wife!"

Thus addressed, Uttanka replied to the women, "Even if you women say so, I will not do the wrong thing. My teacher never said to me, 'You are now authorized to perform sinful activities."'

Some time later Uttanka's teacher returned from his trip, and upon learning what Uttanka had done was very pleased with him. He said to his student, "Uttanka, my son, tell me what I can do for you. You served me so nicely in accord with religious principles, and thus our love for each other has grown even stronger. I give you permission to go, and I bless you to achieve all success in life."

Thus addressed, Uttanka replied, "Please tell me what I can do to please you. As the authorities say, `If a person asks questions against religious principles, and another speaks against those same principles, hostility will arise between them and one of them will die.'

"Although you have given me permission to return home, I want to do something for you. A disciple must make an offering to his guru after completing his studies."

Thus addressed by his student, the teacher replied, "My dear son Uttanka, if that is how you feel, then you may stay a while longer."

Soon after, Uttanka again approached his teacher and said, "Sir, please tell me, what I can offer that will please you?"

The teacher replied, "My dear Uttanka, so many times you approach me to say, 'I must offer something to my guru.' All right, go to my wife and ask her, 'What can I offer you?' Whatever she requests, you may offer that."

Uttanka went to the teacher's wife and said, "Respected lady, my teacher gave me permission to return home, and I wish to pay my debt to him by offering something that will also be pleasing to you. Please order me. What gift shall I offer to my guru?"

The teacher's wife replied, "Go to King Pausya and beg from his queen the two earrings she is wearing. Four days hence there will be a religious ceremony, and I want to wear those earrings when I serve the brahmanas. Make this arrangement so that I look nice on that occasion, and you will achieve all good fortune."

Uttanka at once departed for the kingdom of Pausya. As he went along the path he saw an extremely large man mounted on an extraordinarily large bull. The man then spoke to Uttanka, "Uttanka, you should eat the dung of this bull."

When addressed in this way, Uttanka did not want to comply. But the man spoke to him again, "Just eat it, Uttanka! Don't analyze the situation. Previously your own teacher ate this dung."

Thus addressed, Uttanka said, "So be it!" and ate the dung and urine of the bull. Again he continued on to the land of King Pausya.

When Uttanka arrived he found the king sitting, and therefore he approached him and greeted him respectfully by offering his blessings. He then said, "I come to you seeking a boon."

The king respectfully greeted Uttanka and replied, "My lord, I am King Pausya. What may I do for you?"

Uttanka said, "I have come on behalf of my guru to beg of you the two earrings your queen is now wearing. It would be most kind of you to give them to me."

King Pausya replied, "Please go to my inner quarters and request them of the queen."

Thus addressed, Uttanka entered those quarters but did not see the queen, so again he spoke to Pausya, "It is not right for you to treat me with lies. Your queen is not in the inner quarters, for I do not see her there."

Thus addressed, Pausya replied, "Then you must be in an impure state. Remember if the last time you ate you failed to wash yourself properly. The queen cannot be seen by one who is in an impure state or by one who has not properly cleansed his body after eating. Since she is a chaste wife, she will not grant an audience to an unclean person."

Uttanka thought for a moment and said, "Yes, it is a fact that after eating I quickly washed my mouth and hands as I was walking."

Pausya replied, "Yes, this is precisely the point: a person who is walking cannot properly wash himself."

"Yes, it is so," said Uttanka, and he sat down facing east.

AP 3a

Uttanka thoroughly washed his hands, feet, and mouth, silently sipped water three times, and wiped his face twice, meditating within his heart on purification. After purifying all his bodily apertures with pure water, he entered the women's quarters and saw the queen. Seeing Uttanka enter, the queen stood up and offered him her respectful greetings. "Welcome, my lord. Please tell me what I may do for you?"

Uttanka replied, "I beg you to give me those two earrings for my guru. Kindly give them to me."

Pleased by Uttanka's saintly demeanor and reflecting that such a worthy recipient should not be refused, the queen took off her earings and offered them to him. She then told him, "Taksaka, the king of serpents, is anxious to get these earrings, so please carry them with great care!"

Uttanka replied to the queen, "My lady, rest assured. Taksaka, the king of serpents, is not able to attack me."

Having thus spoken to the queen, he took her permission and returned to King Pausya and said, "My dear King Pausya, I am satisfied now."

King Pausya replied, "My lord, it has been a long time since a truly deserving visitor has come here. You are a qualified guest, and I want to take advantage of your presence and perform a sraddha ceremony to benefit my forefathers. Please stay with us a while."

Uttanka replied, "I can stay for a short while. Right now I should like whatever food has already been prepared and offered to the Lord."

The king agreed and fed him with food that was available. But Uttanka noticed that the food was cold and mixed with hairs, and finding it to be impure he said to the king, "Because you don't see that you are giving me contaminated food, which could seriously harm me, you shall become blind!"

Pausya angrily replied, "Because you vilify pure food you will never have children!"

Pausya then inspected the food and saw that it was impure. Having been prepared by a woman who had let down her hair, it was indeed mixed with hairs and was unclean. The king then begged Uttanka for mercy,

"My Lord!" he cried, "It was in ignorance that we offered you cold food mixed with hairs. Please forgive me, don't make me blind!"

Uttanka replied, "I do not speak in vain. You will go blind, but you shall quickly regain your sight. Now I should also be spared from your curse."

Pausya replied, "I cannot take back my curse. My anger is still not appeased. Do you not know the famous proverb: `The heart of a brahmana is as soft as newly churned butter, though his speech is like a sharp-edged razor. But the opposite is true for a ksatriya warrior. His speech is as soft and pleasing as newly churned butter, but his heart is like the sharp edge of a razor'? That is a fact. Because my heart is sharp, I cannot adjust my curse. Now please leave my kingdom!"

Uttanka replied, "It was you who gave me impure food, and still I was willing to forgive you and adjust my curse. When you cursed me, you said, `Because you vilify pure food, you will never have children,' but the food was in fact impure, so your curse will therefore not affect me. I think we have settled this matter."

Saying this, Uttanka took the two earrings and departed. On the road he saw a naked mendicant approaching him, but at times he could see the mendicant and at times he could not. Placing the two earrings on the ground, Uttanka was about to drink some water when the mendicant rushed up, grabbed the earrings, and fled. Uttanka chased him and grabbed him, but the apparent mendicant relinquished his disguise and revealed his true form as Taksaka, king of the serpents. The snake ruler sped through a large hole in the earth and reached the land of the mighty Naga serpents, where he entered his own house.

Uttanka pursued him through that very hole and reached the serpent realm, which seemed as though it were boundless, for it boasted hundreds of palaces and mansions, handsomely crowned with pinnacles and turrets and built in various styles. There were many recreational facilities, both large and small, and the serpent land was full of workplaces and sanctuaries. [Beholding what seemed to be a well-developed civilization, Uttanka decided to appeal to the Nagas through eloquent prayer in the hopes that they would quickly return the earrings.]

Thus he approached them and spoke these verses:

"The serpents, whose king is Airavata, shine forth in battle and pour down weapons, just as wind-driven clouds, ablaze with lightning, pour down their waters.

"Handsome, many-colored, and of checkered coils, those born of Airavata have shone like the sun in the heavens.

"On the northern bank of the Ganges are many paths of the lordly Nagas. Who but their leader Airavata could hope to move so freely in the fiery blaze of the neighboring sun?

"When the serpent king named Dhrtarastra goes out walking, 28,008 serpents accompany him.

"To all whose elder brother is Airavata, to those privileged to go near him as well as those who stay off at a distance, I offer obeisances.

"To retrieve the two earrings, I pray to Taksaka, son of Kadru, to him who dwelt at Kuruksetra and in the Khandava forest.

"Taksaka and Asvasena always live together, and they dwell in Kuruksetra along the banks of the Iksumati River.

"And Taksaka's youngest brother, known as Srutasena, lived in sacred Mahaddyuman, aspiring to lead the Nagas."

After Uttanka had thus prayed to the Nagas but still did not get back the two earrings, he looked about him and wondered what he should do. He then beheld two women weaving a cloth they had mounted on a loom. In that loom were black and white threads. He also saw six boys turning a wheel that had twelve spokes, and he saw a handsome man mounted on a horse. Uttanka then prayed to all of them with the following verses composed of Vedic hymns:

"Ever rolling round the pole star is the wheel of time, with its 360 spokes fixed in the center. Six boys keep it turning in divisions of 24.

"The cosmos is formed like a loom upon which two young girls endlessly weave their black and white threads, tirelessly turning the cycles that bring forth all creatures and worlds.

"To the master of the thunderbolt, guardian of the planets, slayer of Vrtra, destroyer of Namuci, the great soul who dresses himself in two dark garments, he who distinguishes truth from illusion, and who obtained for his mount the primordial steed who is born of the sea and empowered by Fire, to him I bow always, to the master of the cosmos, lord of the three worlds, who shatters the enemy's ramparts. My obeisances unto Indra!"

When Uttanka finished his prayers, the man on the horse said to him, "You have pleased me by this prayer. How may I please you?"

Uttanka replied, "May the Naga serpents come under my control."

"Blow into this horse through his vital air," said the man, and as Uttanka blew into the horse every opening in its body poured out smoking flames that threatened to engulf the entire serpent kingdom. Frightened, bewildered, and humbled, Taksaka quickly grabbed the two earrings and emerged from his house and said to Uttanka, "Please sir, take these earrings."

Uttanka took them back, but then he remembered, "Today is the special day when my teacher's wife wanted her gift. But I've come such a great distance, how can I possibly return in time?"

Even as he was pondering, the man said to him, "Uttanka, mount this horse. He'll transport you in a moment to your teacher's house."

Uttanka accepted the offer, and, mounting the horse, he returned to his teacher's home. His guru's wife had already taken her bath in preparation for the day's ceremony, and as she sat combing her hair she thought, "Uttanka has not yet returned," and made up her mind to curse him. Just then Uttanka entered and greeted his teacher's wife and presented her the two earrings. She said to him, "Uttanka, you've come here just in time. Welcome, my child. I was set to curse you, but your good fortune is now assured and you will achieve great success in life."

Uttanka then respectfully greeted his teacher, who said to him, "My dear Uttanka, welcome. What took you so long?"

Uttanka replied, "Sir, Taksaka, the Naga king, disturbed my work, and I had to go to the land of the Nagas. There I saw two women weaving a cloth upon a loom that held black and white threads. What was that? I also saw six boys turning a twelve-spoked wheel. What could that have been? And I saw a man---who was he? What was that unusually large horse? Also, as I was traveling to the kingdom of Pausya I saw on the road a large bull and a man riding on its back. The man very politely said to me, `Uttanka, eat this bull's dung. After all, your teacher ate it.'

"Because of that I accepted the bull dung. I would like to hear what all this means."

Thus addressed, he teacher replied, "Those two women are Destiny and Fate, and the white and black threads are the days and nights. The six boys who turn the wheel are the six short-lived seasons, and the wheel itself is the cycle of a year, whose twelve months are the wheel's spokes. The handsome man is Parjanya, god of rain, and the horse is Agni, god of fire.

"The bull you beheld while journeying to King Pausya's realm was the celestial elephant Airavata, and the man riding him was Lord Indra. The so-called dung you ate was actually nectar of the gods. You remained faithful, and by thus eating godly nectar you could not be defeated in the serpent realm. Indra is my friend, and by his mercy you recovered the earrings and returned safely.

"Now, my dear student, you may go with my blessings. You shall attain good fortune."

Uttanka thus received his teacher's permission to graduate; but he was still angry at Taksaka, and desiring to repay the offense he had suffered he departed for Hastinapura. Uttanka, a most competent brahmana, soon reached Hastinapura and went to meet King Janamejaya, who had just returned from complete victory in Taksasila.

Uttanka saw the undefeated Kuru monarch surrounded on all sides by his ministers, and as he approached him Uttanka first offered traditional blessings for the king's continued victory over his foes, and then at just the right moment he spoke these words in a pleasing and articulate voice: "O best of kings, although there is an urgent duty to be done, out of childish innocence you, the finest of monarchs, are content to do something else."

Being thus addressed the king bestowed full honor upon his guest and replied as follows: "By properly caring for all creatures, I fulfill my duties as a ruler. But please tell me if there is yet something to be done. O best of brahmanas, I am eager to hear your words."

Thus addressed by that noble ruler of men, the noble sage, the best of pious men, then told the mighty monarch exactly what needed to be done.

"O king of kings," said Uttanka, "it was Taksaka who killed your father, and you must now repay that wicked serpent. In my view the time has come to perform a duty that is sanctioned by Vedic principles. You must show your love and gratitude toward your father, who was a great soul. That evil-minded serpent bit your father, who had never offended him, and your father, the king, was felled like a tree struck by a thunderbolt. Taksaka is the lowest of serpents and is puffed--up with pride over his so-called strength. That sinful one dared to do what should never have been done when he bit your father, striking down a king who had upheld the noblest traditions of his saintly family, a king beyond all compare. Moreover, when Kasyapa tried to save your father from death, that sinful Taksaka turned him away.

"Maharaja, you must burn that sinner in the blazing fire of sacrifice! Let there be a snake sacrifice, and you shall be the one to perform it! O king, in this way you shall properly honor your father, and I shall attain something I very much desire. O sinless king, O ruler of the earth, when I was busily engaged in serving my guru, that wicked one, without reason, placed obstacles in my path."

Hearing these words, a terrible anger toward Taksaka welled up within the king. As the offering of pure butter brings the fire of sacrifice to a blaze, so did the words of Uttanka inflame the fire of rage within the heart of Janamejaya. Anguished over his father's death, even in the presence of Uttanka the king asked his wise and elderly minsters about his father's passage to the spiritual abode. Indeed, when he heard from Uttanka about his father's death, that best of kings was overwhelmed with a bitter and searing grief.

AP 04 (5,6)

The son of Romaharsana, who was famous for having mastered the sacred histories called Puranas, approached the sages as they were assisting their leader Saunaka in his twelve--year sacrifice at Naimisaranya. Suta had worked hard to learn the Puranic histories, which he knew so well. Respectfully folding his hands, he said to the sages, "What do you desire to hear? On what shall I speak?"

The sages replied, "Son of Romaharsana, we shall inquire about the highest truth. We are eager to hear topics that connect us with the Supreme, but let us wait for the exalted Saunaka, who is presently tending the sacrificial fire. He is fully conversant with spiritual topics, as well as topics relating to demigods, demons, human beings, snakes, and Gandharvas. Saunaka is the leader of our community at this sacrifice. He is a learned and expert brahmana, firm in his vows, wise, and a qualified teacher of Vedic scriptures such as the Aranyakas. He is honest, serene, austere, and fixed in regulated spiritual practice and is thus the most highly respected among all of us. Let us therefore first consider his preference in regards to our topic. When our teacher takes his honored seat, you may speak on whatever topic that most excellent brahmana requests."

Suta Goswami replied:

"So be it. When that illustrious guru takes his seat and inquires from me, I shall speak on variegated and sacred topics."

Saunaka, the best of brahmanas, finished all his duties in their proper order and propitiated the demigods with the chanting of hymns and the forefathers with the offering of food. He forthwith approached the successful and enlightened sages, who with Suta Goswami in front were sitting on the sacrificial grounds. Seeing that the priests and assembly members, all of them strict in their vows, were properly seated, Saunaka, the leader of that saintly group, then took his seat and spoke to Suta Goswami.

AP 05

Saunaka said:

Dear son, your father studied all the sacred histories. O son of Romaharsana, have you also studied them all? These ancient histories tell spiritual tales of the first generations of wise men and as such have been recounted since ancient times. We heard them in the past from your father. Among all these histories, I would first like to hear about the dynasty of Bhrgu, the original brahmana. Please relate this story, for we are eager to hear from you.

Suta Goswami said:

O best of brahmanas, those histories that great sages like Vaisampayana carefully studied and recited in the past were also thoroughly studied by my father and indeed by myself. Hear, then, of that illustrious dynasty of Bhrgu, you who are a dear descendent of the same Bhrgu. Even the gods, led by Indra, pay tribute to that dynasty, as do Agni and the lords of the wind. I shall describe to you, great seer, the colorful history of the Bhrgu dynasty, as it is found in the ancient histories, O brahmana.

The first descendent of Bhrgu was his own beloved son Cyavana. Cyavana's son and heir was the virtuous sage Pramati. Pramati then begot Ruru in the womb of his wife Ghrtaci, and from Ruru, who is your own great grandfather, the most virtuous Sunaka, master of the Vedas, took birth from the womb of Pramadvara. Sunaka was a learned and famous ascetic, the best of the enlightened sages. He was fully virtuous and always spoke the truth, for he was devout in his worship and self-controlled.

Saunaka said:

O son of a suta, how did Bhrgu's son, the great soul Cyavana, acquire his name, so well known everywhere? Kindly explain this to me.

Suta Goswami said:

Bhrgu had a greatly beloved wife, Puloma, in whom he conceived a son endowed with Bhrgu's own potency. O descendent of Bhrgu, as the child grew normally in the womb of Puloma, that respectable and religious wife who always treated others fairly, Bhrgu, great among the upholders of virtue, left her at home and went out to perform a royal consecration. While he was away, a demonic Raksasa also named Puloma came to his asrama. When he entered the asrama and beheld the faultless wife of Bhrgu, the Raksasa was overwhelmed by lust and lost his mind.

Upon seeing the Raksasa arrive, the lovely Puloma welcomed him with typical forest fare like fruits and roots and other such eatables. But simply by looking at her, the Raksasa Puloma was excited and his heart was fully tormented by lust. O brahmana, he yearned to kidnap that faultless woman.

Noticing the sacrificial fire ablaze on the sacred ground, the demon asked the blazing fire, "Tell me, Agni, whose wife is this? I ask you on your honor, O Fire, for you are the emblem of truth. Speak the truth to one who so inquires. I believe this lady of lovely complexion to be the very woman I once chose as my wife. But her father gave her away to Bhrgu, who improperly accepted her. If this shapely woman, who stands alone here, is indeed Bhrgu's wife, then you must declare it openly, for I wish to steal her from this asrama. My heart has always burned with rage because Bhrgu took that lovely-waisted woman who was first meant to be my wife."

The Raksasa was not sure if the woman was actually Bhrgu's wife, and so again and again he entreated the blazing sacrificial fire, asking him the same question.

"O Agni, you ever exist within all creatures as a witness to their piety and sin. O wise one, speak words of truth. Bhrgu falsely took away my intended wife, and if this is that same woman, then tell me so. You must declare the truth. As soon as I hear from you that she is truly Bhrgu's wife, I shall take her from this asrama before your very eyes, my dear sacred Fire. Now speak the truth!"

Afraid to speak a lie, and fearing too of Bhrgu's curse, Fire began to speak, slowly and carefully, revealing the identity of Bhrgu's wife.

AP 06

[Although the demonic Raksasa insisted that Agni speak the truth, he himself cared nothing for Vedic principles and considered his own selfish will to be the highest law.]

Suta Goswami said:

Upon hearing Agni's statement the demon assumed the form of a huge boar and seized Bhrgu's wife with the speed of the mind and the strength of the wind. But as soon as he grabbed Puloma, her child rolled furiously out of her womb and thus became known as Cyavana, "the one who came forth." Simply seeing this powerful child rush forth from his mother's womb, the Raksasa burst into flames. Releasing Bhrgu's wife, he fell to the ground and burned to ashes.

Shocked and aggrieved by this incident, the shapely Puloma quickly picked up Bhrgu's beloved child and ran. Lord Brahma himself, the grandfather of all the worlds, witnessed Bhrgu's faultless wife crying out, her eyes filled with tears, and he began to comfort that chaste young lady, whose teardrops, as they issued forth, formed a great river that followed her path. Seeing the river flowing along after her, Lord Brahma named it "Bride's Brook," in the place where it ran towards the future asrama of her son Cyavana.

Thus Cyavana, the powerful son of Bhrgu, was born. Upon seeing his son Cyavana and his furious wife, Bhrgu too became angry and asked his faithful Puloma, "When that Raksasa decided to steal you, who told him your name? O sweet-smiling one, the demon surely did not know that you were my wife. Tell me the truth. Who revealed your identity? My anger is such that I wish to curse him this very moment! Who is that person who does not fear my curse? Who committed this offense?"

Puloma said:

My lord, it was Agni who surrendered me to the Raksasa. As I cried out like a kurari bird, the Raksasa led me away. I was saved only by this son of yours. By his power, the demon let go of me as he burned to ashes and fell dead on the earth.

Suta Goswami said:

Hearing this from Puloma, a terrible wrath took hold of Bhrgu Muni, and he cursed Agni, the god of fire, declaring, "You, Fire, shall eat all things!"

AP 07 (08)

Suta Goswami continued:

Cursed by Bhrgu, Agni too grew angry, and spoke these words: "Brahmana! Why have you committed such a reckless act against me, when I strove to follow the law and spoke the truth impartially? When questioned, I spoke the facts. What, then, is my crime? A witness who knowingly speaks lies when questioned ruins seven generations of his family, past and future. And one who knows the truth in a matter of duty, and even knowing does not speak, is tainted by that very sin (of duplicity) without a doubt.

"I also have the power to curse you, but I am bound to honor brahmanas. Although you already know it, I shall clearly explain the situation. Please listen carefully.

"By my mystic potency I divide myself into many flames, and thus I am present in various forms of religious sacrifices, such as the Agni-hotra, Satra, Makha, and in other rituals and ceremonies. Thus even the demigods and forefathers are satisfied by offerings of clarified butter consumed within my flames, following the Vedic rites.

"All the hosts of demigods and forefathers are venerable authorities in this world. Thus religious offerings on the new moon and full moon days are meant for both the gods and the forefathers, for they are generally worshiped as one, but are worshiped separately on the moon days. And even the demigods and forefathers always make offerings through me, hence I am considered to be the mouth of the thirty principle demigods and the forefathers.

"The forefathers are offered sacrifice on the new moon day, and the demigods on the full moon day, and through my mouth they consume offerings of clarified butter. How, then, can my mouth eat all things, clean and unclean?"

Reflecting on the matter, Agni withdrew himself from all the obligatory religious sacrifices and rituals, including the Agni-hotra. There was thus no chanting of the sacred Om, Vasat, Svadha, and Svaha mantrasup6 \chftn rootnote rs20 rs18up6 \chftn mantra: a transcendental sound or Vedic hymn. And thus without Agni all creatures became very aggrieved. The sages, who grew very disturbed, then went to the demigods and spoke: "Now that fire is lost, religious processes have collapsed, and thus the three worlds, blameless in this matter, are falling to ruin. Do what needs to be done while we still have time." The sages and gods then approached Lord Brahma and delivered the news of the curse on Agni and his withdrawal from religious ceremonies.

"O exalted one," they said, "Bhrgu has cursed Agni without reason. How can Agni, the mouth of the demigods, be cursed to eat all things? It is Agni who eats the first portion of that which the whole world offers in sacrifice."

Hearing their speech, Brahma, the creator, called Agni and spoke to him these gentle and immortal words, meant for the welfare of the world: "You are the fountain of all planets and You are their end. You sustain the three worlds and set the sacred rites in motion. O lord of the world, please act so that religious ceremonies are not cut off. Being a universal controller and the consumer of sacrificial offerings, why should you now be so confused? You represent purity in this world, and you pervade all creatures. You shall not eat all things with all your bodies. In your manifestation as a gross material ingredient, O blazing lord, your flames will burn all things. But as the sun purifies all things by the touch of its rays, similarly all that you burn by your flames shall become pure.

"O Fire of awesome potency, with that same potency, please make the sage's curse come true, O mighty one. Accept and consume the demigods' portion and your own when properly offered through your mouth in sacrifice."

"So be it!" replied Agni to the grandsire, and he departed to execute the instruction of the supreme demigod.

The gods and sages happily departed, and all the sages began to perform the essential religious processes, just as they had before. The gods in heaven and all the earthly communities rejoiced. And Agni, his impurity cleansed, experienced the greatest happiness. Such is the very ancient history that arose from the cursing of Agni, the destruction of the demon Puloma, and the birth of the sage Cyavana.

Indice: AP 01, AP 02, AP 03, AP 04, AP 05, AP 06, AP 07, AP 08, AP 09, AP 10, AP 11, AP 12, AP 13, AP 14, AP 15, AP 16, AP 17, AP 18, AP 19, AP 20, AP 21, AP 22, AP 23, AP 24, AP 25, AP 26, AP 27, AP 20


Mahabharata H.J. Resnik

01 -
Adi Parva I - II - Maharaja Shantanu Marries the Celestial Ganga
09 - Salya Parva - The Death of Salya
14 - Ashvamedha Parva
16 - Mausala Parva
17 - Mahaprasthanika Parva - Mahaprasthanika Parva...

1 - Adi Parva AP 01 - AP 07
1 - Adi Parva AP 08 - AP 36
1 - Adi Parva AP 37 - AP 57
1 - Adi Parva AP 99 - AP 121

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