lunes, 12 de julio de 2010

1 - Adi Parva II - Maharaja Shantanu Marries the Celestial Ganga


Contenido - Contents

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

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

True and Purest Friends Of the world.........Happy friendship day
Añadida el 31 de julio

As God is good, we are also good. But due to our material association,
we have become bad. So if we revive our old position, Krishna
consciousness, then automatically we shall become all-good.
Añadida el 01 de agosto

Prayers r invisible bt makes impossible things possible.
Its Krishna's job to work the wonder, yours is the simplest part "PRAY".
Añadida el 02 de agosto

One old man and his wife, sitting together. The wife
is requesting the old husband, Chant, chant, chant, and the husband is
replying: Can’t, can’t, can’t. This cartoon we have seen. He will say
three times: Can’t, can’t, can’t. But not Krishna, Krishna, Krishna.

Mayapura, June 29, 1973
Añadida el 03 de agosto

The holy name is so powerful that even by chanting with offense,
gradually he becomes pure. Therefore we should not give up chanting. Any
circumstances, we should go on chanting Hare Krishna.
Añadida el 03 de agosto

when Lord Vishnu leads you to the edge of the cliff.... TRUST Him FULLY.... only one
of two things will happen.... Either He'll Catch U when u fall or He'll
Teach u how to fly.... !
Añadida el 04 de agosto

When our eyes are anointed with love of God, we can see Him everywhere.
We have to develop our seeing power by developing love of Godhead. When
one is sufficiently developed in Krishna consciousness, he can see the
Lord every moment within his heart and everywhere, wherever he goes.
Añadida el 05 de agosto

is true that we are not seeing Krsna, but He sees us, and He may hear
what we say to Him. We do not hear what He is telling us, and we do not
hear His calling us by playing His flute, but our call is heard by Krsna
who is very kind and causelessly merciful. He has sent all our
guru-parampara (lineage) acaryas, He ha...s
also sent Jesus, and sometimes He Himself descends with all His
associates – only because He loves us. He is calling us saying, "Come,
come My sons and daughters. Chant this mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Chant even one time. I will take you to Goloka Vrndavana and you will be
transcendentally happy forever."
Añadida el 05 de agosto


Narration | Translation

Adi Parva 1 aadiparva.n
Sabha Parva 2 sabhaaparva.n
Sabha Parva 3 vanaparva.n
Sabha Parva 4 viraaTaparva.n
Udyoga Parva 5 udyogaparva.n
Bhisma Parva 6 bhiishhmaparva.n
7 droNaparva.n
Karna Parva 8 karNaparva.n
Salya Parva 9 shalyaparva.n
Sauptika Parva 10 sauptikaparva.n
Stree Parva 11 striiparva.n
Shanti Parva 12 shaa.ntiparva.n
Anushasana Parva 13 anushaasanaparva.n
Ashvamedha Parva 14 ashvamedhikaparva.n
Ashramvasika Parva 15 aashramavaasikaparva.n
Mausala Parva 16 mausalaparva.n
Mahaprasthanika Parva 17 mahaaprasthaanikaparva.n

18 svargaarohaNaparva.n

1 - Adi Parva II - Maharaja Shantanu Marries the Celestial Ganga

Kunti, it is I who should enter fire with our lord, Madri replied. He approached me for enjoyment, and his desires being unfulfilled, ascended to the heavens. Therefore, I shall accompany him to Yamaraja's abode to satisfy him. If I survive, I shall certainly not be able to raise your children as if they were my own. But you, O Kunti, shall be able to raise my sons as if they were your own. Therefore, let my body be burnt with his. Kunti reluctantly agreed to the proposal. With tearful eyes and sorrowful hearts, they built a funeral pyre and laid the dead body of Pandu upon it. As the body burned, Madri entered the flames and attained the same destination as her husband.

Thus Ends the Mahabharata Summation to the Sixth Chapter of the Adi Parva, The Pandavas Divine Birth.

Chapter Commentary

In the beginning of this chapter the glories of Maharaja Bhishma are extoled. He was a leader par excellence. Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita, Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. (Bg. 3.21) Because Maharaja Bhishma was a powerful devotee and saintly king, the citizens wanted to follow in his footsteps. By engaging in the Lord's devotional service, the citizens automatically became joyful and radiant. This process is like watering the root of a tree. If the water is applied to the root, then the whole tree prospers. Similarly, if a king engages his citizens in worshipping Lord Vishnu, the root of all creation, then automatically they become happy.

If a head of state engages his subjects in sense gratification, the citizens wither in good qualities, creating an environment of sinful life. Directing our life toward sense gratification is like trying to water the leaves of the tree individually. The whole tree dies from such a watering process. The citizens in Maharaja Bhishma's kingdom loved him as a father, and always extoled his qualities and activities. They knew that Maharaja Bhishma would not utilize them for his sense gratification; for they truly believed that he was God's representative on Earth, and he never let them down in that regard. In today's society, no one trusts the leaders. They now travel in bullet proof cars to protect themselves from the discontented citizens whom they have exploited. Such is the difference between a self motivated leader and a godly king like Maharaja Bhishma.

When Gandhari was married to Dhritarastra, she voluntarily blindfolded herself for the rest of her life. Gandhari was the ideal chaste woman of all time. She did not want to feel superior to her husband in any way. The ornament of a woman is her chastity or faithfulness to her husband. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna told Arjuna, Among women I am fame, fortune, speech, memory, intelligence, faithfulness (chastity) and patience. (Bg.10.34) A woman, who is chaste to her husband, is elevated in transcendental qualities. In the modern world, chasity is not emphasized. Women have been given independence in practically all matters. They can go to war, vote, head the household, or they can even lead a country. Because chastity is not in vogue, women are allowed to sample many men to find the right one according to their estimation. Many unwanted children are born out of such sampling. The whole situation degenerates the quality of the population, but what is to be done? We can only encourage everyone to chant the holy names of God and try to lead a pure life. The holy name alone can change the course of this age.

King Pandu possessed all the good qualities of a heroic and powerful king. The qualities of a brave warrior are given in Bhagavad-gita, Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the qualities of work for the kshatriyas. (Bg.18.43) Maharaja Pandu was decorated with these qualities. He ruled the earth toward the end of the Dvapara Yuga more than five thousand years ago. At that time society was guided by the divine varnashrama system. As Lord Krishna states in Bhagavad-gita, According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable. (Bg.4.13) The four divisions of society are the brahmanas, the kshatriyas, the vaishyas and the shudras. The priestly class was meant to guide all other classes of men in spiritual knowledge. The warrior kings were meant to protect the citizens so that they could peacefully execute their prescribed duties. The mercantile and farming men were meant to till the land, take care of cows and do business. The worker class were meant to serve the other three sections of society. There was no exploitation of one class over another, because the common goal was to please Lord Vishnu. When God is placed in the center of civilization, everyone becomes happy and prosperous, and there is no artificial dominance of one section of society over another.

The varnashrama social system is compared to a human body. The priestly class was like the head that gives direction to the other parts of the body. The kings were like the arms that give protection. The vaishyas were like the stomach that gives nourishment to the head, arms and legs. And the workers were like the legs that give service to the rest of the body. In present day society there are no priestly intelligent men to guide society toward self realization, and thus the social body wanders aimlessly like a headless trunk.

The fall of the divine varnashrama system began when the brahmana boy Shringi cursed the powerful king Maharaja Parikshit. Because Shringi wrongly cursed the saintly King, the priests gradually lost their purity by which they controlled the kings. When the brahmanas lost their power, the kshatriyas became the leaders of society. This is like having a body without a head. The result of this was that the population in general forgot the aim of life+spiritual realization+and gradually became influenced by sensual monarches who simply engaged in the pursuit of material pleasure.

For the last five thousand years, the world has been ruled by monarchies, except in a few rare cases where a powerful ascetic priest directed the ruling kings. Chanakya Pandit directed Maharaja Chandragupta to conquer the major portion of India. Maharaja Patraparudra,the king of Orissa in the 1500's, took inspiration from Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Lord Krishna in this age of Kali. Within the last one hundred years, monarchies have been abolished for the most part. Why? Because the kings became corrupt. They were no longer saintly leaders, but degraded rogues and thieves. Gradually the mercantile men threw out the powerless kings and instituted democracy, or government run by the people. The businessmen and the workers are now competing with one another for the supremacy of the world. There is no trust because the
leaders are simply self motivated. Everyone has forgotten the goal of life, self realization, and as a result people are confused and bewildered. As the businessmen become more degraded, the worker class will take power. Modern communism is a government for the worker class. As Kali yuga progresses, all governments will be run by men with base qualities, leading to nothing but anarchy, or no government at all.

Maharaja Pandu went out to conquer the world, leading his powerful army. He was the first warrior to engage the enemy, and he would not have been considered a king unless he came back from the battle scarred by some weapon. Leaders, who are afraid of fighting and simply sit in their comfortable offices and order others to fight, are not of the warrior class, but businessmen or workers. They have none of the heroic qualities mentioned in Bhagavad-gita. They do not know how to protect the citizens properly, nor do they know how to respect saintly persons. They are like Kali, who dressed like a king, but was found beating a bull and cow. Maharaja Parikshit, a real king, appeared on the spot to kill the pretender. Unfortunately, today there are no pious and powerful kings like Pandu or Parikshit who can make the representatives of Kali tremble at their feet. The whole situation has become chaotic.

When Maharaja Pandu pierced the deer, he did not know that it was a disguised sage named Kindama. The sage had stated to Maharaja Pandu that unrestricted sex was not allowed in human society. At that time in Vedic culture it was understood that this one desire binds all persons to the material world. While Lord Rishabhadeva was instructing his one hundred sons, he told them, The attraction between male and female is the basic principle of material existence. On the basis of this misconception, which ties together the hearts of the male and female, one becomes attracted to his body, home, property, children, relatives and wealth. In this way one increases life's illusions and thinks in terms of ÚI and mine.' (Bhag. 5.5.8) Unrestricted sex life is simply animal life, and it is for this reason that the sage took the body of a deer so he could enjoy like an animal. When a person engages in too much sex, he considers himself to be this body and this life to be all in all. One comes to the human platform when sex life is regulated for producing saintly children. If one is serious about getting out of this material world, one must refrain from four sinful activities: unrestricted sex, meat eating, indulging in intoxication and gambling. After giving these up, one must engage in the devotional service of the Lord in nine different categories: Hearing, chanting and remembering the Supreme Lord, serving His lotus feet, offering prayers, serving Him, worshipping His deity form, making the Lord one's friend and surrendering everything to Him. If one is absorbed in this nine-fold process, he will realize his eternal nature and liberate himself from the path of birth and death.

Maharaja Pandu realized that although he was a powerful king, he had not conquered his real enemy, lust. He was therefore subject to the reactions of his fruitive activities. There is danger in this world at every step and therefore, one can never know when some tragedy will strike. Therefore, one should take close shelter of the Lord. This is confirmed in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the
giver of liberation, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoofprint. The kingdom of God should be our goal, not this material world where there is danger at every step of life. (Bhag. 10.14.58) No matter how comfortable one may be in this world, at Adi Parva

Chapter Seven - The Poisoned Cake

After King Pandu's demise, the sages in the forest assembled and discussed the future of Kunti and her sons. The rishis decided that the Pandavas, along with their mother, should live in Hastinapura and take shelter of Grandfather Bhishma and the Kuru elders. The sages had great compassion upon the people of the world. They were not just interested in their own salvation, but in the protection and advancement of the people in general. Knowing these boys to be future Kings of the earth, the great sages made arrangements for them to be placed under proper guidance.

Accompanied by the sages and the Charanas [a species of celestial beings like the seraphim and cherubim], Kunti and her children appeared outside the city gates of Hastinapura. Upon hearing that Kunti was at the city gate, the members of the Kuru court, headed by Bhishma, Dhritarastra and Vidura, came forward to welcome them. The citizens of Hastinapura also came there to see the sons of Pandu. Everyone was wonder struck to behold the godlike sages accompanied by the celestial Charanas.

The sages then informed the Kuru elders, As you well know the former king of
this world, Pandu, had been living in the forest as an ascetic due to a muni's
curse. The curse has now taken its toll and that great King has ascended to the
heavenly planets. Here are his five children. The oldest is Yudhisthira,
conceived by the controller of religion, Yamaraja himself. He is the future
king. The second son, Bhima, conceived by the demigod Vayu, possesses infinite
strength. The third son is Arjuna, conceived by the noble Indra himself. He
will humble the pride of all archers on earth. The last two children are Nakula
and Sahadeva, begotten by the Asvini-kumara demigods through Madri. The birth,
growth and development of Pandu's children will give great pleasure to all.
King Pandu and his wife Madri departed seventeen days ago. The last funeral
rites need to be performed with honor befitting a king of this earth. After
informing the Kuru elders of all matters, the sages and Charanas disappeared
from sight.

Dhritarastra then requested Vidura, O brother, we must perform the last rites
for this King of kings and arrange charity to be given freely to whomever is in
need. The ashes of Pandu and Madri were then taken in state to the banks of
the Ganges, where the last funeral rites were performed. The ashes were then
cast into the Ganges. All the citizens, young and old, wept over the loss of
their King, and thus passed twelve days in mourning.

One day after the shraddha ceremony (offering of Vishnu prasad to the
forefathers) had been performed, Vyasadeva approached Satyavati and warned her,
Mother, the days of happiness in the Kuru house will set like the evening sun.
The empire of the Kauravas will no longer endure. You should not be a witness
to the annihilation of your dynasty. Therefore, enter the forest and fix your
mind on the Supreme Lord Vishnu, the protector of all. Following the advice of
Vyasa, Satyavati, along with Ambika and Ambalika, entered the forest. When
their meditation attained perfection, they entered the spiritual world,

After the Pandavas settled in their father's palace, they accustomed
themselves to the opulence that was due to them. Whenever Bhima was engaged in
play with the sons of Dhritarastra, his strength became apparent. Bhima proved
superior in speed, striking objects, consuming food and scattering dust. The
son of the wind-god pulled the sons of Dhritarastra by the hair and made them
fight with one another, laughing all the while. Bhima would seize them by the
hair, throw them down, and drag them along the ground. In his playful mood,
Bhima would accidentally break their knees, their heads and their shoulders.
Sometimes while swimming together, the second son of Pandu would hold ten of
them at a time under water until they were almost dead. When the sons of
Dhritarastra would climb a tree to gather fruits, Bhima would shake the tree
until the fruits as well as the one-hundred sons fell to the ground. He would
play with them in childishness, but would never hurt them out of envy.

When it was obvious that Bhima could challenge all the one-hundred sons of
Dhritarastra single-handedly, Duryodhana began to make deceitful plans to harm
him. He thought, There is no person who can compare with Bhima's strength. He
does not think twice of challenging my one-hundred brothers to combat. I will
exterminate him and confine Yudhisthira and Arjuna to imprisonment. Then I
shall be the sole heir to the throne without hindrance.

Possessed with this mentality, the wicked Duryodhana built a palace on the
banks of the Ganges that was just for sporting in the water. His plan was to
invite the Pandavas to this house and feed Bhima a poisoned cake. When Bhima
was unconscious from the poison, Duryodhana and his brothers would throw him in
the Ganges. With this evil plan in mind, Duryodhana began construction. After
the palace was completed, Duryodhana invited his cousins, Let us go to Gange's
bank and sport in the water. We shall have a picnic and enjoy the scenery.

Not understanding Duryodhana's evil intentions, the Pandavas accompanied
Dhritarastra's sons to the banks of the Ganges and inspected the newly
constructed palace by the water. They all sat down to a feast before swimming.
Duryodhana brought Bhima a cake filled with enough poison to kill one hundred
men. That wicked youth, who spoke sweetly, but whose heart was like a razor,
continued to feed Bhima different kinds of food that were filled with poison.
After the feast the boys began playing in the water. Bhima became fatigued from
the poison, and rising from the water, lay down on the ground. Seizing this
opportunity, Duryodhana and some of his brothers bound him with ropes and threw
him into the Ganges. He sank down to the bottom of the river where the Naga
(snake) kingdom is situated. Thousands of Nagas began to bite him, and the
poison from the cake was neutralized by the serpents' venom.

On regaining consciousness, the son of Kunti broke his bonds and began killing
the snakes that were biting him. The rest of the snakes fled and went to their
leader Vasuki, telling him the events that had taken place. Vasuki happened to
be related to Bhima through the wind god Vayu, and upon hearing that Bhima was
present, he went to the spot and embraced him. Bhima then related to Vasuki the
sinister plan of the poisoned cake. Vasuki, wanting to protect him from future
attacks, offered Vayu's son eight bowls of nectar which empowered a person with
the strength of ten thousand elephants. Bhima drank one bowl in one breath, and
after drinking all eight, he lay down on a bed prepared by the serpents.

After Yudhisthira, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva and Dhritarastra's sons were
satiated in their swimming play, they set out for Hastinapura anticipating that
Bhima had already gone there. The wicked Duryodhana was elated thinking that
Bhima was dead, and he appeared very happy on the way back to Hastinapura.
Yudhisthira, who was unacquainted with vice and wickedness, thought nothing of
the matter. Upon entering the palace chambers of his mother, he inquired, O
mother, have you seen Bhima? I cannot find him anywhere. While swimming in the
Ganges, he became tired and slept on the shore. After finishing our water
sports, he had disappeared. Has he come here early because of exhaustion from

Kunti became alarmed when she heard that Bhima was missing. My dear
Yudhisthira, she said, I have not seen Bhima. He has not come here. Return in
haste with your brothers and try to find him. After dismissing her sons, Kunti
summoned Vidura and anxiously spoke to him, O illustrious Vidura, Bhima is
missing. Today the boys went swimming in the Ganges, and they returned without
him. I know that Duryodhana is envious of him. This first son of Dhritarastra
is crooked, malicious, low-minded and cruel. His only desire is to obtain the
throne. I am afraid he might have killed Bhima and this is saddening my

Blessed lady, Vidura replied, do not grieve. Protect your sons with care.
If Duryodhana is accused, he might slay the other sons. The great sage
Vyasadeva has foretold that your sons will be long-lived. Therefore, Bhima will
surely return and gladden your heart. Vidura then left for his residence and
Kunti, unable to shake her anxiety, stayed in her quarters.

Meanwhile, Bhimasena awoke from his deep sleep after eight days. The Nagas
extoled him and tended to his needs. O greatly powerful Bhima, they said,
you are filled with the nectar of the heavenly gods. This will give you the
vitality of ten thousand elephants. No one will be able to defeat you in
battle. You must now return home, for your mother is in deep anxiety over your
absence. The Nagas then dressed him in fine silks and ornaments and returned
him to the palace by the river.

Bhima sprinted to Hastinapura with great haste. He entered the palace of his
mother and bowed at her feet and at the feet of his elder brother. Queen Kunti
took her son on her lap, and as she affectionately embraced him, tears glided
down her face. The other brothers gathered round and welcomed him warmly. Bhima
then briefed them on everything that had happened. He explained how Duryodhana
had tried to poison him, and how the wicked son of Dhritarastra and his
brothers had tied him up and thrown him in the Ganges. Bhima also explained how
the Nagas had bitten him, countering the poison in the cake. He told how he had
been given eight bowls of immortal elixir, and how his strength had increased
thousands of times. Do not speak of this to anyone, Yudhisthira said. From
this day on we should protect one another with care. Under Vidura's guidance,
no harm can come to us.

Thus Ends the Seven Chapter of the Adi Parva to the Summary Study of the
Mahabharata, Entitled, The Poisoned Cake.

Chapter Commentary

After the advice of Vyasa, Queen Satyavati and her daughters-in-law went to
the forest for austerities and meditation. Meditation is meant for the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. As stated in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (Bhag. 12.13.1),
dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah--Yoga or meditation is
meant to focus on the transcendental form of the Lord. In previous ages persons
were so pious that they could go to the forest and meditate on the eternal form
of Lord Krishna. However, in this age of Kali people are not so advanced.
Therefore, the incarnation of Lord Krishna in this age, Sri Krishna Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu has advised us to fix our minds on the Holy Name by chanting Hare
Krishna maha-mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare /
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Duryodhana's only desire was to gain the throne and become king. He was
possessed by greed. This mentality is typical of the demoniac person. Lord
Krishna speaks to Arjuna in the sixteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita about this
state of mind. Lord Krishna says, The demoniac person thinks, ÚSo much wealth
do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine
now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I
have killed him; and my other enemy will also be killed. I am the richest man,
surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I
am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall
rejoice.' In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance. (Bg.13.13-15)
Because Duryodhana was puffed up and arrogant, he had no appreciation for the
spiritual qualities of the Pandavas. He offences against the Pandavas would
soon fructify in the form of annihilation of the entire dynasty.

This was the beginning of many transgressions committed against the Pandavas
by the sinister Duryodhana. The Pandavas and their mother Kunti were completely
helpless; therefore they had to take close shelter of the Lord's lotus feet. In
Queen Kunti's prayers to Lord Krishna, she states, My dear Krishna, Your
Lordship has protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from
cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the
forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved
us from the weapon of Ashvatthama. (Bhag. 1.8.24) The Pandavas and their
mother were destined for political intrigues, but because they took shelter of
Lord Krishna, they were protected in all circumstances. We can also follow in
the footsteps of Queen Kunti and her sons by taking shelter of the lotus feet
of the Lord whenever difficulties arise.

Chapter Eight

The Preceptor Drona

Seeing the princes enter adolescence, Maharaja Bhishma began searching for a
suitable teacher to tutor them in the science of warfare. One day the heroic
princes came out of Hastinapura. to play ball, and they roamed the forest areas
absorbed in the ecstasy of young boys. When the ball fell into a well, they all
tried their best to retrieve it, but found it impossible.

As they were looking in the well, a brahmana appeared who had just finished
his daily performance of agnihotra (fire sacrifice). Seeing the princes
unsuccessful in retrieving the ball, the brahmana, whose name was Dronacharya,
approached them. He was dressed in white robes and looked thin and effulgent
due to his performance of austerity and sacrifice. Shame on your kshatriya
strength! Drona chided the boys, You are born in the dynasty of Bharata and
you cannot recover this ball from the well? Witness the power of my weapons!

Drona slipped off his ring and dropped it into the dry well. The ring landed
on the ball. Taking a handful of grass, he chanted some Vedic mantras, turning
the blades of grass into arrows. He then pierced the ring and the ball
simultaneously. Piercing one arrow after another, he made a chain of arrows
that came up to the top of the well. He then pulled the ball out of the well as
the boys stood watching, struck with wonder. The boys offered their obeisances
to the brahmana and inquired from him, O great brahmana, no one possesses such
skill. Please reveal your identity and how we may render service to you.

Go to Bhishma, the brahmana replied, and describe my likeness and what you
have just seen. He will tell you who I am. The boys ran to Bhishma and
explained to him everything that had happened. Bhishma smiled and exclaimed,
This is Drona! He then went out of the city to receive the elevated brahmana.
Maharaja Bhishma brought him into the palace, and in private inquired from him,
Dear brahmana, please let us know the reason for your arrival in

In my younger years, Drona replied, I lived in the ashrama of my teacher
along with the Panchala prince, Drupada. We made a close friendship, and were
always looking after each other. He always told me that he was the favorite of
his father, and that one day he would inherit the kingdom. Because we were
close friends, he promised me that some day half his kingdom would be mine.
After he finished his studies, he left for his own country.

In time, Drona continued, I married Krpi, the daughter of the sage Gautama,
and begot a son named Ashvatthama. Because of poverty I could not even feed my
son milk, and therefore, I went to the kingdom of the Panchalas to see my old
friend, Drupada. When I entered the royal court, I greeted him joyfully, ÚO
tiger among men, It is Drona, your old friend.' Drupada was angered and derided
me saying, ÚYou are certainly senseless, because you, a poor brahmana, are
addressing me as your friend. My former friendship with you was for a
particular reason. One of impure birth can never be a friend to one who is born
of a high caste. Friendships can only exist between persons of equal rank.
There cannot be friendship between the rich and the poor, or between a coward
and a hero. O simpleton, great kings can never have friendships with poor and
luckless fellows. I do not remember ever promising half my kingdom. I will,
however, give you food and shelter for one night.' Unable to tolerate his
abusive words, I quickly left his kingdom with a vow to win half his
possessions. I have now desire to train competent students who can conquer the
pride of this vain King. I have received all the celestial weapons from
Parashurama, the annihilator of the kshatriyas. Because I am a brahmana, he
taught me the complete science of warfare.

After Dronacharya had detailed his purpose, Maharaja Bhishma humbly implored
him, String your bow, O great brahmana, and take the sons of Pandu and
Dhritarastra as your disciples. When Drona had been appointed the martial
preceptor of his brother's children, Maharaja Bhishma gave him a suitable home
that was furnished with all opulences.

After Drona had been properly situated, he soon began to train the young
princes. Drona taught the sons of Pandu and the sons of Dhritarastra the use of
many weapons, both human and celestial. Although the instruction given to them
was the same, still Arjuna, the third son of Pandu, excelled all students. His
lightness of hand and skill were beyond compare. Arjuna became very faithful to
Drona and always stayed by his side. One day, Drona gave to each of his
students a narrow mouthed vessel to fill with water. However, he gave to his
own son, Ashvatthama, a wide mouthed vessel so by filling it quickly, he could
return to his father and receive special instructions. Arjuna came to know of
this, and filling his vessel by means of the varuna astra (a celestial mantra
that could produce water on the battlefield), he would come to the preceptor at
the same time as Ashvatthama. Arjuna's allegiance and his strong appetite to
learn won the heart of Drona. It soon became evident to everyone that Arjuna
was the preceptor's favorite student.

One day Dronacharya told his cook, Never serve Arjuna food in the dark, nor
tell him that I have given this order. However, one night Arjuna was taking
food in his tent by candlelight and suddenly a turbulent wind rose blowing out
the candle. Arjuna continued to eat, although it was dark, and while he was
eating, he thought, If I can eat in the dark, why can't I practice archery in
the dark? Thus he began training at night, and hearing the twang of Arjuna's
bow, Drona came to him and embraced him lovingly, You are my foremost student,
and I give you the benediction that there will not be an archer your equal in
the world.

Thereafter, Drona began to teach Arjuna the art of fighting from a horse, from
the back of an elephant, on a chariot and on the ground. He instructed him how
to fight with the mace, sword, javelin and the dart. He trained him how to use
many weapons at one time and how to fight with many men at one time.

Hearing reports of Drona's teachings, princes flocked to him by the thousands.
Amongst them came a prince of the Nishadas, named Ekalavya. By caste he was
lower than shudra, and fearing that because he was a Nishada, who in time might
excel his high born students, Drona refused to accept him. After bowing at
Drona's feet, Ekalavya went back to the forest, made a clay image of Drona and
began to worship it. He practiced with great zeal in front of this deity of
Drona, and in due course all the science of weaponry became known to him.

One day the Pandavas and the Kurus set out for the forest on a hunting
excursion. They brought along a dog who could help them search for certain
animals. When the dog was wandering in the forest, it saw Ekalavya, the prince
of the Nishadas, releasing arrows in all directions. The prince wore black
garments and was filthy due to not bathing, as was common among the lower
classes. His hair was matted. Seeing this frightful sight, the dog began to
bark. The Nishada prince, wanting to exhibit his prowess with the bow and
arrow, shut the dog's mouth with seven arrows. The dog then ran back to the
Pandavas. When the princes saw the dog, they were struck with wonder and
immediately began searching the forest for the archer who had performed such a
feat. They soon came upon the unknown bowman and seeing his grim appearance,
questioned him, Who are you and who is your father?

I am Ekalavya, he replied, the son of Hiranyadhanus, the king of the
Nishadas. Please know that I am a disciple of Dronacharya.

After questioning Ekalavya further, the Pandavas went back to Drona and
informed him of what had happened. Arjuna thought that the Nishada prince had
come to Drona in secret and learned the art of weapons. He humbly questioned
Drona, You have embraced me and told me that I would have no equal in archery.
How then has this Ekalavya surpassed me?

After reflecting on a proper course of action, Drona took Arjuna to the
forest. In the woods they soon came upon Ekalavya. Drona saw his matted hair,
ragged clothes and filthy appearance. When Ekalavya saw Drona, he approached
him and offered his prostrated obeisances, touching his preceptor's feet. He
then stood before his teacher waiting for his command.

If you are really my disciple, Drona said, then give me my dakshina
(payment for tutorship). Ekalavya was gladdened to hear the words of his
preceptor and replied, O my teacher, what shall I give you? Command me, for
there is nothing I will not sacrifice.

If you are really intent on making me a gift, Drona said, then please give
me your right thumb. Ekalavya was devoted to obedience, and with an
unflinching mind, cut off his right thumb and gave it to his teacher. When the
prince tried to shoot again with the use of his right hand, he found that he
did not have the same accuracy as before.

One day Drona, the foremost martial teacher, called his disciples together to
test their comparative excellence in the use of arms. He had placed an
artificial bird on a tree top as the proposed target. He then commanded his
students, Take up your bows, aiming at the bird in the tree. Release your
arrow and cut off the bird's head as I give the order.

Drona then called for Yudhisthira and inquired, Do you see the bird at the
top of the tree? Yudhisthira replied to his preceptor, Yes, I do. Drona then
asked him, Do you see anything else? Yudhisthira replied, I see the tree,
myself, my brothers and the bird. Drona was not pleased and ordered, Stand
aside! You are not fit to strike the target.

Drona then repeated the experiment with Duryodhana and the other sons of
Dhritarastra, and the result was the same. He ordered them all to stand aside.
When everyone had failed, Dronacharya called for Arjuna. He commanded him, Fix
your arrow to your bow and await my order. When I say so, cut off the bird's
head. He then asked him, Do you see the bird in the tree. Arjuna replied, I
only see the neck of the bird. Dronacharya again inquired, What else do you
see? Do you see the tree, your brothers or me? Arjuna replied, I only see the
neck of the bird! With his hairs standing on end out of ecstasy, Drona
ordered, Release your arrow! Instantly Partha released his arrow and severed
the head of the false bird. Drona immediately embraced Arjuna to his chest,
considering Drupada already defeated in battle.

On another day Drona called for Yudhisthira and Duryodhana, and ordered them,
My dear Yudhisthira, please follow my instructions. Go among the citizens and
find someone who has some faults. When you have found that person, bring him to
me. Drona then requested Duryodhana, Go among the citizens and find someone
who is superior in quality to you. When you find that person, bring him to me.
Both the students then left, and Drona returned to his quarters.

At the end of the day Duryodhana returned to his teacher and informed him, O
my teacher, I have searched the kingdom for a person who is superior in quality
to me, but I have not found anyone. Having concluded my inspection, I have
returned to your presence. Drona then dismissed Duryodhana.

When the sun had set on the horizon, Yudhisthira arrived and offered
obeisances to his martial teacher. Drona then inquired, Have you found someone
of inferior quality? Yudhisthira replied, I have searched all day, but I
could not find anyone. However, toward the end of the day, I saw a vaishya man
drawing water from a well, and since it was ekadasi (fasting day), I thought to
bring him to you. Just as I was about to arrest him, I saw that he fed the
water to his animals. Therefore, I have not found anyone with inferior
qualities, but I have brought myself for fault finding with others. Drona then
dismissed Yudhisthira and reflected on the qualities of the two princes. He
concluded that Yudhisthira was the personification of humility and fit to rule
the people, whereas Duryodhana was too proud to be a pious king and would
ultimately ruin the Kuru dynasty.

On another day, Drona and his pupils went to the Ganges to bathe in the sacred
waters. When Drona had entered the river, an alligator seized him by the thigh.
Although capable of killing the alligator, he called to his students, Please
kill this animal and rescue me! Instantly Arjuna released five arrows that
struck the alligator and killed it. This happened so fast that the others stood
looking dumbfounded. The alligator released Drona and died within the waters.

When Drona emerged from the river, he embraced Arjuna and said, O best of all
warriors, I award you the brahmastra weapon, which is the most powerful of all
astras (celestial weapons). It can never be used against an inferior opponent,
or it will destroy the whole universe. This weapon has no equal in the three
worlds. Keep it with great care and use it only against an enemy who is equal
to or greater than you. Drona then taught the mantras for this weapon to his
disciple, and Arjuna received them with great respect. He then pronounced
blessings upon Arjuna, There will never be a archer greater than yourself. You
will never be defeated by any enemy, and your achievements will be recorded in
the history of the world.

Thus Drona continued to instruct the sons of Pandu and the sons of
Dhritarastra. When Drona felt he had given sufficient instructions to all the
boys, he informed Bhishma that he would soon collect his dakshina (student
payment) from all whom he had trained.

Thus Ends Mahabharata Summation to Chapter Eight of the Adi Parva, entitled,
The Preceptor Drona.

Chapter Commentary

After Drona tested Yudhisthira, he saw that the prince possessed the qualities
of an exalted personality. He was completely free from envy and was the well
wisher of all. He saw only the good qualities in others. Yudhisthira considered
all others worthy of respect and himself worthy of no respect. This is the most
emphasized teaching of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, trnad api sunicena, taror
api sahisnuna, amanina manadena, kirtaniyah sada harih, One should chant the
holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than
the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all
sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a
state of mind one can chant the holy name constantly. (Shikshastaka 3)

In the material world the predominant mentality is to think oneself better
than others. However, if one is desiring to become a citizen of the spiritual
world, he has to develop the vision to see all others as more worthy of respect
than himself. This mentality is pleasing to Lord Krishna. Maharaja Yudhisthira
possessed this divine vision and therefore had great love for the citizens.
Because of Yudhisthira's humility, Drona considered him to be a fit ruler. On
the other hand, Duryodhana possessed the materialistic mentality of thinking
oneself better than all others. It is unfortunate that in the Kali-yuga, the
Duryodhana mentality has become prominent.

Historians consider the bow and arrow a primitive weapon. However, when seen
in the light of the Mahabharata, it more effective than the gross weapons of
modern times. It is possible to release an arrow faster than a bullet if the
archer is very powerful. The kshatriyas during Drona's time had the strength to
release arrows with tremendous velocity. By the power of mantra, Arjuna was
able to release hundreds of arrows from his bow at a time, and they were so
accurate that each arrow would pierce a warrior or stop an oncoming weapon.

In this chapter we have read how Drona imparted the brahmastra weapon to
Arjuna. This mantra weapon was more powerful than the combined atomic weapons
of the world. It could be directed to a single person or it could destroy the
whole universe. There were many weapons invoked by the power of Vedic mantras;
they were called astras. These astras manipulated the material energy in a
subtle way and were much more powerful than the atomic weapons of our times.
There were astras such as the vayavya astra, which created a hurricane on the
battlefield; the varuna astra, which created tidal waves; and the agneya astra,
which created intense fire capable of burning large numbers of warriors. There
were weapons capable of putting men to sleep and weapons that could bind the
enemy soldiers and stop their movement. There were weapons that could release
thousands of arrows at a time and not one arrow would miss a target. There were
these and many more. This was all possible by the use of Vedic mantras. These
mantras were able to manipulate the material energy by the use of sound
vibration as opposed to the gross manipulation used today. Any of the great
maharathis in the days of yore would be a suitable match for crude tanks,
howitzers, submarines, battleships and atomic weapons.

As Kali yuga progressed, the warrior kings gradually diminished in strength to
the point where they were unable to draw the strings of powerful bows. The
knowledge of different astras became lost, and a warrior was reduced to
releasing one arrow at a time and with not much accuracy or force. Finally, a
few centuries back, the cross bow was invented, which allowed an archer to
mechanically draw back the string. However, this was not very useful because a
bowman could not release many arrows quickly. The bow and the arrow became
obsolete with the invention of gunpowder. To compensate the loss of strength,
the rifle was invented, which, by the use of gun powder, released a bullet with
great velocity.

Adi Parva

Chapter Nine

The Curse of Parashurama

As stated in chapter six of the Adi Parva, Kunti, before her marriage to
Pandu, had conceived a child by the Surya, the sun god. Due to fear of her
relatives, she placed the child in a basket and set it afloat on the river
Ganges. The child was picked up by Adhiratha, a well known carpenter and
chariot driver, and his wife Radha. They were attracted by the beautiful
features of the child, especially his kavacha [natural golden armor] and
kundala [golden earrings]. He was given the name Karna. They raised the child
very carefully for sixteen years.

On Karna's sixteenth birthday, his father offered him a new chariot and
horses. Not feeling a desire to drive the chariot, he addressed his mother,
Today, father has brought me a chariot and horses, but I do not feel the
desire to drive a chariot; I feel the desire to hold a bow and arrow. I cannot
think of anything else. Waking or sleeping, my thoughts are ever fixed on this
desire. I want to be an archer and fight.

Radha then explained to her foster son Karna all that had happened; how she
had found him at the bank of the Ganges wrapped in precious silk and floating
in a basket. Hearing about his mysterious past, he was struck with wonder.
After consulting with his mother and father, he took permission from them and
left for the city of Hastinapura, desiring to find a martial guru.

Karna's goal was to learn archery. He approached the great Drona who was
teaching the Pandavas in Hastinapura. After receiving an audience with him, he
pleaded, My lord, please accept me as your pupil. I want to learn the science
of archery. I am the son of Adhiratha, a carpenter and chariot driver by
caste. Drona did not like the idea of teaching archery to the son of a suta
(chariot driver) and sent him away.

Karna was determined to learn archery. He decided to approach Parashurama, the
chastiser of the kshatriyas. Previously Parashurama had annihilated the warrior
race twenty-one times because of the death of his father. Knowing that the
great sage hated warriors and kings, Karna decided to tell him that he was a
brahmana, a pri st. Actually Karna's foster father was born of a mixed caste, a
brahmana and a kshatriya; therefore he decided to request tutorship from the
rishi despite the fact that he might be cursed or even killed.

With this plan in mind, Karna approached Parashurama's hermitage. When Karna
first saw Parashurama, he was seated in meditation. Upon his head were matted
locks of hair, and his eyes were burning like fire. Falling at the feet of this
awesome personality, Karna requested, I have come to you with a deep longing.
Please do not send me away without granting me your mercy. Karna was weeping
and his body was trembling. Parashurama picked up Karna, and asked him, Are
you a kshatriya? Karna replied, No, my lord, I am a brahmana. Parashurama
smiled at him and said, I will certainly impart to you the military science. I
am pleased with your humility, and because you are a brahmana, I have a natural
affection for you.

Karna's education began, and he spent many months in the ashrama of the
renowned sage. He forgot the pain in his heart of being a carpenter's son. He
even forgot the mystery attached to his birth. Karna was only interested in
education--how to become a powerful warrior. He learned all the astras; even
the brahmastra and the very powerful hhargavastra. He pleased his martial
teacher in all respects. When his education was complete, Parashurama advised
him, Your presence in my ashrama has brightened my life. I have taught you the
complete science of military arts. You are very honest, fond of those who are
elder to you, and you are eager to walk the path of righteousness. You must
never use the knowledge I have given you for an unrighteous cause.

It was now noontime, and the sun was at it's meridian. Feeling tired,
Parashurama told Karna to bring him a roll of deerskin to use as a pillow. My
lord, Karna replied, please use my lap as a pillow. I can at least do this
service for the foremost of men. Parashurama then laid his head in his
disciple's lap and fell fast asleep. Karna was meditating on all that had taken
place over the past year. He had lied to the great sage telling him that he was
a brahmana. Would the reaction to this ever come upon him? His only desire was
to acquire knowledge. The wise declare that the end justifies the means. He had
not tried to commit any sin. Surely his small offense would be forgiven.

As Karna was thinking in this way, he felt a pain in his right thigh. The pain
became unbearable. He looked down and saw a boar-like insect cutting into his
skin. Karna could not stop it from penetrating his flesh. But what could he do?
He did not deem it proper to awaken his guru. The insect bored right through
his thigh and blood touched the face of Parashurama. The great brahmana awoke,
and seeing the blood exclaimed, Where did the blood come from?

My lord, It came from my thigh, Karna answered. While you were sleeping, an
insect bit me on the leg. It caused me pain for some time but I did not want to
awaken you. Parashurama flared up with anger, You say this insect stung you,
and you tolerated it? Why did you not awaken me and stop the pain?

My lord, replied Karna, you were asleep, and I did not want to disturb you.
For this reason I have tolerated this pain. Parashurama was furious, How
could a brahmana bear so much pain? Only a kshatriya could have done so. Have
I, after all this time, taught my astras to a sinful warrior? I will never
forgive you for this deception.

Karna fell at the feet of his teacher and tears flowed from his eyes thinking
that all he had learned would be futile. He held onto the feet of his guru and
pleaded, Forgive me, my lord. You have been more of a father to me than my own
father. A father should forgive the faults of his son. I am not a brahmana, but
neither am I a kshatriya. I am the son of a carpenter named Adhiratha. I only
wanted to learn the science of archery. I told a lie to you, but it was only to
become your student. I have been devoted to you, and you are more dear to me
than anything else in this world. Please show mercy and forgive me.

Parashurama was furious, and he was not moved by Karna's prayers. The only
thought in his mind was that this person had told a lie and a kshatriya is
supposed to be truthful. He then remembered the kshatriyas who had killed his
father and, becoming angry, he cursed Karna, You have learned the science of
archery under false pretenses. I curse you that when you are in desperate need
of an astra, your memory will fail you. You wanted fame, however, and I say
that here after you will be known as one of the greatest archers of all time.
Parashurama then left and went back to his ashrama leaving Karna in tears.

Wiping the tears from his eyes, Karna began walking aimlessly. He walked for
days thinking of the curse of the great rishi. Suddenly, what he thought was a
lion flashed by him, and out of instinct, he took an arrow from his quiver and
shot the animal. However, it was not a lion but a cow. Karna was horrified. He
went to the brahmana who owned it and told him that he had shot the cow in
ignorance. Karna tried to appease him, but the brahmana was not to be pacified.
He cursed Karna saying, When you are fighting with your worst enemy, the wheel
of your chariot will sink into the mud, and just as you killed my poor innocent
cow when she was unaware of danger, you will also be killed by your opponent
when you are least prepared for it. Karna was stunned that all these things
were suddenly happening to him.

Karna then understood that this was his karma. Otherwise how could these
events take place without his control. He took it that he was the chosen target
of providence and thought how cruel she was. He remembered his mysterious birth
and the stigma of his being a sutaputra (son of a chariot driver). He might
have overcome it by being the student of the great Parashurama, but his teacher
had cursed him and gone away. Now he had been cursed by another brahmana. This
was all his fate. He accepted it as such and went back home to his mother. His
mother was proud when she heard that he had learned from the great Parashurama,
but he did not tell her of Parashurama's curse, or of the curse of the
brahmana. After some time he heard about a tournament of weapons at Hastinapura
and decided to go there to enter the competition.

Thus Ends the Mahabharata summation to the Ninth Chapter of the Adi Parva,
Entitled, The Curse of Parashurama.

Chapter Commentary

Materialistic people are very worried about their status in society. If one
takes a high birth, he or she is considered fortunate by common people. In this
world there is always competition to get to the top. Those on top want to push
down those who are rising. Those, who are at the bottom, strive to climb to the
top. Therefore, there is always friction. Fortunately, God does not care for
our pedigree. He is attracted only to loving devotion. The rich man or poor
man, the black or white, the man or woman, the young or the old, all have an
equal opportunity to approach the Lord. Lord Krishna states in the
Bhagavad-gita, One can understand the Supreme Person as He is, only by
devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Lord by such
devotion, he can enter the kingdom of God. (Bg. 18.55) Queen Kunti considered
it an impediment to have a high birth. In her prayers to Lord Krishna she
states, My Lord, Your Lordship can be easily approached, but only by those who
are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of material progress, trying
to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education
and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling. (Bhag. 1.8.26) As
long as one is trying to advance materially, one will experience frustration.
There is only one person at the top and that is Lord Krishna. We should just
desire to remain the servant of His humble servant.

When Karna was cursed by his guru, karma took its effect. Nothing happens by
accident. Everyone in this material world is under the law of Karma--action and
reaction. It is impossible to tell where it begins or where it ends. For every
action we perform, there is an opposite and equal reaction. If a person
performs a sinful act, he gets a sinful reaction. If he performs a pious act,
he gets a pious reaction. Sinful or pious actions cause us to take birth again
in this world. Karna was suffering the reactions to past sinful activities, and
they took the shape of curses from great personalities. The only way to stop
the waves of repeated birth and death is to become Krishna conscious.
Fortunately for Karna, he died on the battlefield with his vision fixed on Lord
Krishna and Arjuna. Thus, ultimately, he was elevated and purified of all the
offences he had committed against the Pandavas. As confirmed by Lord Krishna in
the Bhagavad-gita (8.5), And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body,
remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.

Another point to be learned from this chapter is that a person should be
judged by his quality and not by his birth. Karna's birth was celestial, his
father being Surya and his mother being Kunti. Although he was rasied by lower
caste parents, his quality was that of a kshatriya or warrior. He should have
been accepted by his quality and not by the caste which he was raised in.
Narada Muni states in the Srimad Bhagavatam, "If one shows the symptoms of being
a brahmana, kshatriya, vaisya or sudra, as described above, even if he has
appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those
symptoms of classification (Bhag. 7.11.35). Drona should not have rejected
Karna on the basis of his foster parents. He should have judged him by quality.
It is a fact that in the glorious days of Vedic culture a person born of a
particular caste had the qualities of that caste, but there are always
exceptions to the rule, and Karna was an exception.

Adi Parva

Chapter Ten

The Tournament of Arms

When Dronacharya saw that his students had been sufficiently educated, he
assembled the Kuru elders and informed them, O best of the Kuru kings, your
children have now completed their education. I suggest there be a tournament of
arms where the youths may display their prowess.

O invincible brahmana, King Dhritarastra replied, you have indeed
accomplished something wonderful. I envy those who have eyes and can see the
achievements of my children. Vidura will make the necessary arrangements so
that all will be able to witness the prowess of these mighty youths.
Understanding the intentions of the King, Vidura left the palace and began
making preparations for the tournament of arms.

When the day for the tournament came, all the Kings and elders of the Kuru
dynasty assembled in the arena in their respective seats. The ladies headed by
Kunti and Gandhari also entered the arena and took their seats on the platforms
assigned to each of them. The inhabitants of Hastinapura were so anxious to
witness the exhibition that there was an instant crowd at the arena. The whole
sky was filled with the sounds of conchshells, drums, kettledrums and

Dronacharya entered the arena and announced the students one by one. He then
called them forward in their chariots and ordered them to display their prowess
with different weapons. With Yudhisthira at their head, the boys came forward
and released their arrows at selected targets. Fearing that some of the arrows
might miss their target, some of the spectators lowered their heads. However,
others fearlessly gazed on in wonder. After exhibiting their skill with the bow
and arrow, they showed their ability with other weapons such as the sword and
shield, the javelin and celestial darts.

Then Bhima and Duryodhana, both eager for combat, entered the arena with mace
in hand. They began to exhibit their energy, roaring like two lions. As they
were fighting, Vidura was describing to Dhritarastra and Gandhari all the feats
of the two princes. When the fighting became too intense, Dronacharya ordered
his son, Ashvatthama, to stop the fight. The spectators in the crowd were
taking sides, and the whole atmosphere of the competition became tense.

To ease the mood of the competition, Drona called for Arjuna and announced to
the crowd, Now all behold Partha, who is dearer to me than my own son. He is
the master of all arms, the son of Indra himself. Arjuna then entered the
arena of competition carrying his bow and a quiver of arrows. He was dressed in
golden mail and appeared like a streak of lightning in the bright sun. There
arose a great uproar of appreciation from the assembly exclaiming, This is the
graceful son of Kunti! The son of the mighty Indra! This is the protector of
the Kurus! Unequalled of those versed in arms! The annihilator of all unwanted
elements! Upon hearing those exclamations, tears flowed from Kunti's eyes and
milk filled her breasts.

Arjuna then began to exhibit his celestial weapons. By the agneya weapon, he
created fire, and by the varuna weapon he created water. By the vayavya weapon,
he created a hurricane, and by the parjanya weapon he created clouds. With the
bhauma weapon, he created land, and with the parvatya weapon he brought
mountains into being. By the antardhana weapon all these were made to
disappear. Within a short time, he exhibited all the astras given by Drona, and
the crowd was struck with wonder.

When Arjuna had finished, and the excitement of the crowd had died down, a
personality dazzling like the sun appeared at the gate of the arena. Struck
with wonder, Duryodhana stood up along with his one hundred brothers. Not
knowing who the celestial person was, Drona, as well as the five Pandavas,
stood to receive him. He was actually Karna, Kunti's first born son. He was the
son of Surya, the sun god and was endowed with his power. Natural golden mail
and exquisite golden earrings were a part of his body from birth. The
spectators talked among themselves about the unknown person whose effulgence
was spreading in all directions. Karna offered his obeisances to the preceptors
Kripa and Drona, and then challenged Partha (Arjuna), I shall perform feats
before this crowd that will excel yours. You will be amazed to behold them.

On hearing these challenging words, Duryodhana was delighted, and his
affection for this unknown warrior increased when he saw the rivalry with
Arjuna. Karna introduced himself to all present and then with the permission of
Drona, he accomplished all that Arjuna had accomplished. Witnessing the
superexcellence of this great warrior, Duryodhana and his followers embraced
Karna saying, Welcome, O mighty-armed warrior! I have obtained you as my
friend by good fortune. Live as you please in the kingdom of the Kurus.

Arjuna welcomed the competition and addressed Karna with challenging words,
Exhibit the weapons you have learned from your preceptor. I shall counter all
of them, and prove my superiority with the bow and arrow. Stand and prepare to

O Phalguna [Arjuna], this arena is meant for all, Karna replied, not only
for you. Why do you fight with words only, O Bharata. You may release your
arrows until I strike off your head before the great Drona himself!

Encouraged by his brothers, Partha, with the permission of Drona, advanced for
combat. On the other side, Karna, having been embraced by Duryodhana, took up
his bow and arrows and stood ready for the fight. Indra shaded his son Arjuna
with many clouds, and the sun god dispersed the clouds above his son Karna.
Understanding that a fatal competition was about to take place, Kunti fainted
to the ground. She was brought back to consciousness by Vidura. When she saw
her two sons dressed in armor, she was seized with fear.

Kripa, the son of Saradwat, who was conversant with the rules of fighting,
questioned Karna, This Pandava, the youngest son of Kunti, belongs to the
Kaurava race. But, O mighty-armed one, you must also announce the royal dynasty
to which you belong. Upon hearing this, Partha will fight with you as he sees
fit. Sons of kings never fight with men of lower castes.

When thus addressed by Kripa, Karna's vanity disappeared like a lotus flower
during the rainy season. Rising up from his seat, Duryodhana hastily said, O
Kripa, the scriptures say that there are three classes of persons who lay claim
to royalty: persons of royal blood, heroes, and lastly, those who lead armies.
If Phalguna is unwilling to fight with one who is not a king, I will establish
Karna as the king of the Angas.

At that time Duryodhana called for a golden throne, and seating Karna on it,
anointed him King of the Angas. This was done under the direction of some
brahmanas well versed in Vedic mantras. He was fanned with yak tails, and the
royal umbrella was held over his head. The crowd loudly applauded and signaled
their approval. Feeling grateful to Duryodhana, Karna said, O tiger among men,
what shall I give you that can compare to this gift. I will follow your
instructions and become your faithful friend. And Duryodhana said to Karna, I
am eager for your friendship. Thus the two embraced. This was the beginning of
a strong bond of friendship that would annihilate the Kuru dynasty.

At that time Adhiratha, the foster father of Karna, entered the arena. He
embraced Karna and tears of joy wetted his son's head. Bhimasena thought Karna
to be the son of a charioteer, and thus addressed him, O suta, do you desire
death at the hands of Partha? You are not worthy to rule over the kingdom of
Anga anymore than a dog deserves butter from the sacrificial fire.

Hearing these words, Duryodhana rose up in anger, and addressed Bhimasena,
These are not truthful statements. Heroism and courage in battle are the
symptoms of a kshatriya, and even a kshatriya of inferior birth should be
fought with. Can a she-deer bring forth a tiger like Karna? Can this warrior,
who resembles a demigod, born with natural golden mail and earrings, be the son
of a chariot driver? This prince among men deserves the sovereignty of the
world. If there is anyone who cannot tolerate what I have done for Karna, let
him ascend the chariot and string his bow.

There were mixed feelings in the crowd upon hearing Duryodhana's statements.
The sun, however, set on the horizon signaling the end of the days activities.
Some thought Arjuna to be the victor of the day, and others thought Karna to be
the champion. And Kunti, recognizing her lost son by various auspicious marks,
was pleased to see him alive and faring well. Upon seeing the gifted genius of
Karna, Yudhisthira was convinced that there was no warrior on earth who could
equal his bowmanship.

Thus Ends the Mahabharata summation to Chapter Ten of the Adi Parva, Entitled,
The Regatta of Arms.

Chapter Commentary

When Duryodhana was chastising Bhima for considering Karna's birth, it seems
that for once in his life Duryodhana spoke some truth. A person was placed in
the divine varnashrama (caste) system by quality and not by birth. In the
fourth chapter of Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that he created the divine
varnashrama system according to quality of work. Generally, in those days a
person of priestly quality, warrior quality, business quality or worker quality
took birth in their respective classes. However, as the age of Kali (quarrel)
progressed, men born in priestly families exhibited lower class qualities but
were not put into those classes due to their pride. Also saintly persons were
born in lower families, but not allowed to elevate themselves socially due to
the pride of the priestly class. When this happened the whole system collapsed.
One should be classified by quality and not by birth. Here Duryodhana states
that Karna had the quality of a warrior, and therefore he should be held in
esteem as a warrior. Although what Duryodhana said was truth, he was motivated
by his own ambitions. If it had suited his purpose for Karna to be called a
chariot driver, he would not have hesitated to award him that classification.

In all societies and countires these classifications exist. Some men are
naturally inclined toward priestly activities; some are inclined to be warriors
and fight; some men are attracted to business, farming or banking; and some men
are interested in labor activities. In the Vedic culture some 5,000 years ago
civilization was set up along these lines of brahmana (priest), kshatriya
(warrior), vaishya (merchantile) and shudra (labor). There was also four
divisions of ashrama or spiritual life. The first division was brahmacharya
where a student was trained in spiritual and material knowledge. The brahmana,
kshatriya and vaishya were trained in spiritual knowledge and received the
brahmincal initiation or sacred thread as an indication of second birth or
reformation of character. This teaching was given to instill in a person that
the goal of life was not to be happy in this earthly realm, but to prepare
oneself for entering the kingdom of God. The laboring class was not given this
training due to their inability to control the senses. The student training
lasted for different amounts of time according to a person's classification.
The vaishya spent till his twelfth year in his guru's ashrama. The kshatriya
could spend more years, say to this fifteeth year, and the brahmana could staty
with his guru till his 24th year, and if he remained a brahmacharya, he could
spend the rest of his life in the ashrama.

The next division was the grihasta ashrama where the student took permission
from his teacher and married according to his classification. The marriage
institutition was called an ashrama because it was meant for spiritual
cultivation and not just to enjoy the senses. Marriage was mandatory for all
classes except the brahmanas who could accept the order of sannyasa without
going through the different stages. The third stage was vanaprastha or retired
life. In this stage the children are grown and married. The man and woman visit
different places of pilgrimage for spiritual upliftment and detachment. The
brahmana, kshatriya and vaishya can accept this order. The last stage is the
sannyasa ashrama where the husband leaves the wife with the eldest son and
dedicates his life to preaching the glories of the Lord. This ashrama was meant
for the brahmana class only. This may sound cruel by western standards, to
leave the wife behind, but the reward is very great. If the husband attains
perfection by gaining birth in the kingdom of God, the wife automatically
attains that positon. This is the greatest gift a husband can give his wife.
This ashrama was held in high esteem by the people in general, because the
sannyasis or itenerant preachers were decorated with spiritual qualities such
as compassion, austerity, forgiveness, learning and sense control.

Adi Parva

Chapter Eleven

Tuition for Drona

Drona saw that all his students were now adept in the use of weapons, and
therefore their training period was over. It was time to ask for daksheen
(tuition) from them. One day he assembled them and gave the following order,
Challenge Drupada, the King of the Panchalas, to battle. Capture him and bring
him to me. This will be suitable payment for my teaching.

All the students readily agreed and mounted their chariots eager to fulfill
the desires of their martial teacher. Drona followed them. As the Kurus
approached Drupada's capital, they informed the King of their desire for
battle. The Kuru army was led by Duryodhana, Karna, Yuyutsu, Duhshasana and
Vikarna. King Drupada, not tolerating the attack on his kingdom, mounted his
chariot and along with his brothers met the Kuru army head on. Duryodhana and
his followers then competed with one another to see who could capture King
Drupada first.

Before the battle started, Arjuna saw the vanity of Duryodhana and his
brothers. He therefore informed Drona, O best of the brahmanas, we shall
refrain from fighting until Duryodhana has displayed his prowess. The King of
the Panchalas can never be captured on the battlefield by any of these
warriors. Having made his plan, Arjuna, surrounded by his brothers, waited
outside the town about a mile away.

Meanwhile, King Drupada, beholding the Kuru army, rushed forward releasing
hundreds of arrows from his powerful bow. The Kuru ranks were so afflicted that
they thought that there were many Drupadas opposed to them. There arose from
the Panchala army a war cry that shook the firmament. Duryodhana and his
brothers became furious and began to shower their arrows upon the enemy. But
the mighty bowman Drupada was not affected and began killing the enemy with
greater vigor. He challenged Duryodhana, Vikarna and Karna, and sent them
running from the battlefield. The arrows from the Panchala army began to rain
upon the Kurus, breaking their ranks and causing them to flee for their very

The Pandavas, seeing the fun, offered their obeisances to Drona and mounted
their chariots. Arjuna asked Yudhisthira to stay in the background and
appointed the sons of Madri as the protectors of his chariot wheels. Bhimasena,
mace in hand, rushed into the center of the army. He headed for the elephant
battalion and began to destroy those huge beasts with a single blow from his
powerful club. The elephants screamed and fell to the ground, their heads
cracked in many places. With his invincible club, Bhima began to destroy
chariots, horses, infantrymen and elephants. As a cowherd man controls
countless cows with his staff, so Bhimasena controlled the army of Drupada with
his fierce club.

Meanwhile, Phalguna (Arjuna), wanting to please his martial teacher,
innundated King Drupada with a deluge of arrows and caused him to fall from the
back of his elephant. With his arrows, Arjuna then killed soldiers, elephants,
and horses by the thousands. The Panchala army challenged Arjuna head on with a
downpour of arrows, and sending up courageous shouts, fought desperately with
him. The battle became furious and frightening to behold. The son of Indra was
filled with fury and released thousands of arrows intending to annihilate the
Panchala army. Those who were watching Arjuna could not see any interval
between his fixing the arrows on the bow string and releasing them. The King of
the Panchalas, accompanied by his commander in chief, Satyajit, assaulted
Arjuna with the speed of the wind. Arjuna covered King Drupada with hundreds of
arrows. Partha then rushed at King Drupada to apprehend him. Seeing Arjuna
coming forward, Satyajit tried to stop him. As the two warriors approached for
combat, they began to destroy each other's army. Suddenly Arjuna pierced
Satyajit in the chest with ten arrows. Unaffected by the force of those arrows,
Satyajit released one hundred shafts at the son of Pandu. Arjuna, not wanting
to waste anymore time, released an arrow that cut the bow of Satyajit in two.
Taking up another bow, the commander-in-chief of the Panchalas attacked Arjuna
again. This time Arjuna cut the bow, killed the horses and charioteer, and
shattered the chariot. When Satyajit found his bow useless and his horses
slain, he desisted from fighting.

Seeing his general defeated, the Panchala king began to rain arrows upon the
Pandava prince. Arjuna immediately cut King Drupada's bow and pierced his
chariot driver with five arrows. Setting aside his bow, Arjuna took out a
scimitar and, sending forth a loud battle cry, jumped from his chariot to the
chariot of Drupada. He seized King Drupada as Garuda would seize a snake, and
at the sight of this, the Panchala army fled the field of battle.

Thus Dhananjaya [Arjuna], having exhibited the strength of his arms, sent up a
loud roar and made his way from the battlefield to the presence of Drona. He
asked Bhima to desist from any further slaughter, as the Panchalas were related
to the Kurus. Bhimasena was unsatiated in battle, but agreed to Arjuna's
proposal. They then took the King of the Panchalas to Drona. Drona, seeing King
Drupada brought under his complete control, remembered how Drupada had formerly
humiliated him in his court.

I have now taken possession of your capital and your kingdom, Drona said.
You need not fear for your life. I once again desire your friendship. O mighty
warrior, previously you told me that only one who was a king could be a king's
friend. I therefore will give you half of the kingdom south of the Bhagirathi,
and I shall rule over the land north of that river. And if it pleases you, I
ask again for your friendship.

On hearing these words, Drupada answered, You appear to be an invincible
brahmana, and your prowess is superior to a kshatriya. Therefore, O brahmana, I
am not surprised at what you have accomplished. I am very satisfied with you
and desire your eternal friendship. Drona then released Drupada, and from that
day on the King of the Panchalas resided in the city of Kampilya in the
province of Makandi on the banks of the Ganges.

King Drupada was convinced that by kshatriya strength alone he could not
defeat Drona. He began to wander the earth searching for a sage who could help
him obtain a son to kill Drona. He also desired a daughter who would be a
suitable wife for Arjuna. King Drupada was so impressed with Arjuna that he
thought there was no warrior comparable to him. Therefore, by means of
marriage, he wanted to unite the two families.

Thus Ends the Mahabharata Summation to the Eleventh Chapter of the Adi Parva
Entitled, Tuition For Drona.

Chapter Commentary

Formerly the kings of this earth were endowed with an heroic nature. They
would face the enemy and not retreat. They were convinced that by dying in
battle they would attain a higher state after death. They did not sit behind
the lines and command ordinary soldiers to do their work for them. We have seen
in the course of history that generals began to stay behind the lines and order
their soldiers to fight. These days the leader of a country doesn't even appear
anywhere near the battlefield. He sits behind his comfortable desk in his
capital and orders others to do the job. This is why no one has respect for
modern leaders.

By the push of a button millions of people can be wiped out by atomic weapons,
not just fighting soldiers, but innocent women, children and old men. In the
glorious days of Vedic culture such barbarianism was unheard of. As we see in
this pastime Arjuna and Bhima were the first ones into battle and they would
not retreat. For a great warrior to leave the battlefield would cast him to
shame. He would be unable to face the citizens or his relatives. This spirit of
heroism and chivalry has been lost as human society regresses in quality in
this age of quarrel and hypocrisy. We are not advancing in good qualities but
descending into the mentality of barbarians despite so much progress in the
field of technology.

Adi Parva

Chapter Twelve

The House of Lac at Varanavata

A year after this incident, Dhritarastra decided to appoint Yudhisthira, the
first son of Pandu, as the heir-apparent to the kingship of the world. His
firmness, fortitude, patience, benevolence, straightforwardness and unswerving
honesty won the hearts of the people of the earth. Within a short time, he had
overshadowed the accomplishments of his father, the great Pandu.

The second son of Pandu, Bhimasena, began to receive instructions from
Balarama, the brother of the Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. He received
continued lessons in the use of the mace and sword. After Bhima's education was
finished, his strength and prowess with the mace were unsurpassed except for
the all-powerful Lord Balarama.

Arjuna, the third son of Pandu, was esteemed for his mastery of the bow and
arrow. Drona certified that there was none in the world who was Arjuna's equal
in the use of weapons. Sahadeva obtained the whole science of morality and
duties from Brihaspati, the heavenly priest of the demigods, and Nakula, the
favorite of his brothers, became known as a skillful warrior and a great
chariot fighter.

Indeed, Arjuna and his brothers became so powerful that they killed in battle
the great Sauvira, who was powerful due to his sacrifices to the heavenly gods.
The King of the Yavanas, whom Pandu had failed to subjugate, was conquered by
the mighty bow of Arjuna. While riding on a single chariot, Arjuna and Bhima
conquered the kings of the East backed by ten thousand chariots. The five
Pandavas conquered all the kings of the earth and extended their influence to
all parts of Bharatvarsha. Seeing the great prowess of the sons of Pandu,
Dhritarastra's sentiments towards them suddenly changed. The blind King, who
was also blind spiritually, was overcome with envy and began a plot to kill the

Dhritarastra called to his side one of his chief ministers who was expert in
the art of politics and inquired, O best of the brahmanas, Kanika, the
Pandavas are daily growing in power and influence. I am envious of them. Tell
me whether I should make peace with them or endeavor to destroy them. I will
act on your advice.

Kanika, who was crooked by nature, then ill advised the blind king who was
intent on sovereignty for his own sons, Listen to my words, O sinless King and
do not be angry with me. If your son, friend, brother, father, or even the
spiritual preceptor--anyone who becomes your enemy--should be killed by all
means. By curses or mystic power, by gift of wealth, by poison or fire, or by
deception, the enemy should be slain. To maintain the interests of the Kurus
and your own self, you should not let the enemy know what you are thinking.
Comfort your foe with sweet words, give him a gift of wealth, and then kill him
when he is not looking. You should burn the house of the person you wish to
kill. You should act with the greatest cruelty, and sharpen your teeth to
inflict the greatest pain. You should strike him in such a way that he will
never raise his head again. O King, protect yourself from your brother's sons
for they are stronger than your own sons. The so-called brahmana, Kanika, then
returned to his own chambers, and the King contemplated the ill advice of the
crooked brahmana.

The citizens of Hastinapura became affectionate to the sons of Pandu because
of their good qualities and desired Yudhisthira as their King. In the market
places, in the homes, in the countrysides, the glories of the Pandavas were
spoken. The sinful Duryodhana, hearing the citizen's discussions, became
distressed. Inflamed with envy, he went to King Dhritarastra and said, O
father, I have heard the words of the citizens favoring the Pandavas. They
desire Yudhisthira to rule the kingdom. What then will be our fate? If
Yudhisthira does indeed become King, we and our children shall be excluded from
the royal line. We should act quickly to acquire the kingdom and win the hearts
of the citizens.

Overcome by affection for his sinful son, King Dhritarastra made a plot to
kill the Pandavas by fire in the town of Varanavata. One day, in the court at
Hastinapura, some of the King's counsellors began to speak of the glories of
Varanavata. These counsellors, instructed by Dhritarastra, spoke of the beauty
of the town and its pious citizens. Hearing these descriptions, the Pandavas
became attracted to go there. King Dhritarastra noticed that the curiosity of
the Pandavas had been awakened, and he then advised them, My counsellors have
spoken of Varanavata and the activities that go on there. If you desire to
witness the festivities in this beautiful town, then take your followers and
friends and enjoy the atmosphere. Give away charity to the brahmanas and the
citizens, and after living comfortably for some time, return to the city of

Yudhisthira fully understood the motives of his blind uncle, but because he
was in a helpless condition, he had to agree with the proposal. He took
permission from the leaders of the Kuru dynasty and prepared to leave for
Varanavata. Previously, Duryodhana had summoned his counsellor Purochana and
ordered him, O Purochana, this world is destined to be mine, and you can share
in it equally. It is in our best interests to protect it. I have no more
trustworthy counsellor than you to consult with. Therefore, help me to kill my
enemy by doing as I ask. My father will request the Pandavas to go to
Varanavata to enjoy the festivities there. I want you to construct a palace
made of flammable materials. It should be constructed in such a way as to
deceive the Pandavas. Soak the walls with ghee, resin, oil and a large quantity
of shellac. Do it in such a way that they will not think it flammable. Make
sure the palace is of the finest workmanship, and with the greatest humility,
request the Pandavas to live there. On a certain day chosen by me, you will
burn the palace of lac while the Pandavas and their mother are sleeping.
Agreeing to all of Duryodhana's proposals, the sinful Purochana went to
Varanavata and did all that he was told.

As the Pandavas and their mother were leaving Hastinapura, Vidura approached
Yudhisthira and instructed him in a Mleccha (lower class) language which no one
else could understand. Vidura lovingly said to him, One who knows the schemes
of his enemy should act in such a way as to avoid all danger. He who knows that
there are sharp weapons capable of cutting the body which are not made of
steel, and understands the means of avoiding them, can never be harmed. One who
knows that the consumer of straw and wood and the drier of dew never burns the
inmates of a hole in the forest, lives to see another day. Remembering this, be
on guard. One who is given a weapon by his foes that is not made of steel, can
escape from his enemies by making his abode like unto the jackal [one who lives
underground]. By wandering, a man can acquire certain knowledge, and by the
stars he can ascertain direction, and he who keeps his senses under control can
never be oppressed by his enemies.

When offered good counsel, Yudhisthira replied, I have understood you.
Vidura then bade them farewell and returned to his own house. When Vidura had
left, Kunti approached Yudhisthira and questioned him, What did the pious
Vidura say to you? He spoke in such a way that no one could understand him. If
it is not improper for me to know, then I should like to hear everything that
he has spoken. Yudhisthira replied, The pious Vidura has told me that the
palace in which we are to live is built of flammable materials. He further
said, ÚThe path of escape will be known to us, and that he who has controlled
his senses can acquire sovereignty of the world.' The reply that I gave to him
was, ÚI have understood you.'

The Pandavas had set out on the eighth day of the waning moon in the month of
Phalguna when the star Rohini was in ascendance. Upon arriving in the city of
Varanavata, the townspeople came to greet them. The assembly consisted of many
thousands of people who were anxious to see the pious Pandavas. The sons of
Pandu were presented many auspicious articles and taken on a tour of the town.
The scheming Purochana then took them to the palace made of lac. The foremost
of all virtuous men, Yudhisthira, upon inspecting the palace, said to Bhima, O
chastiser of the enemy, this house is truly made of burnable materials. Our
adversaries, by the aid of trusted artisans, have built this house with hemp,
resin, straw and bamboos, all soaked in ghee. The wicked Purochana is also
staying in this palace to burn us to death when we least expect it. Our well
wishing uncle Vidura has warned me that Duryodhana has had this house
constructed for our death.

If this is the fact, Bhima replied, then we should live in another house in

It seems to me that we should continue living here, Yudhisthira said,
seemingly unsuspicious. However, we should always be on guard and know all
means of escape. If Purochana has found out that we have understood his plans,
he may try to burn the house immediately. If we leave here, Duryodhana may try
to have us killed by spies. While we have no rank and power, Duryodhana has
both. We also have no friends and allies, and Duryodhana has both. While we
have no wealth, Duryodhana has a full treasury. Duryodhana should think that we
have died by fire. Deceiving him in this way, we shall escape from here when
the occasion presents itself.

After some time, a friend of Vidura's, well skilled in excavation, arrived at
the palace of the Pandavas. In private he talked to Yudhisthira, I have been
sent by Vidura for excavating a tunnel under this house. Purochana will set
fire to this palace on the fourteenth day of the dark moon. This is all the
plan of the wicked Duryodhana. Previously, Vidura instructed you in the mleccha
language, and you replied in the same language. I am saying this so you will
know that I am actually acting on Vidura's behalf.

I know you as a trusted friend of our uncle Vidura, Yudhisthira replied.
This large mansion has been built of flammable materials, and there are few
doors. I want you to build a large tunnel beginning from the center of the
house and ending by the river Ganges. We will spend our days hunting in the
forest so that the sinful Purochana will not detect that you are working. Make
sure the floor is covered well, so no one will suspect that there is a

On hearing these instructions, the miner agreed, and the next day he began his
work. Every day the Pandavas would go to the forest accompanied by Purochana,
and they seemed very happy to be under Purochana's care. Thus they lived in
that palace for one full year.

Seeing the Pandavas living in the palace cheerfully and without any suspicion,
Purochana felt content that his plan would be successful. Beholding Purochana
in a happy mood, Yudhisthira, the pious son of Kunti, spoke to his brothers,
The cruel-hearted Purochana has been well deceived. I think the time has come
for our escape. Let us set fire to the mansion and burn Purochana to death.
Then we shall leave here unobserved by anyone.

Yudhisthira planned a festival in the palace of lac and invited many of the
leading citizens of Varanavata. At the end of the night all had left, and
Purochana had become so drunk with wine that he lay on the floor unconscious.
It so happened on that occasion that a nishada (lower class) woman and her five
sons had come to the festival in hopes of receiving charity. They also became
drunk and laid on the floor unable to move. They fell fast asleep in a part of
the palace that few people frequented. When everyone had left the house, it was
late at night and suddenly a violent wind began to blow outside. Yudhisthira
ordered Bhima to set fire to the house. Bhima first of all set fire to the
place where Purochana was sleeping and then to other parts of the house. Soon
the whole mansion was ablaze, and the Pandavas and their mother escaped through
the tunnel excavated by the miner. They came out near the bank of the Yamuna,
and in the distance, as they looked back, they could see the palace of lac high
in flames.

The heat of the fire became intense and awakened the townspeople. Seeing the
house ablaze, the citizens with sorrowful faces began to exclaim, The wicked
Purochana, guided by Duryodhana, has built this death house. O, to hell with
Dhritarastra who has such a wicked heart. He has burnt to death the sinless
sons of Pandu.

The citizens thus lamented the loss of the Pandavas, and waited the whole
night until the flames died down. They extinguished the fire and searched
through the ashes. They then found the burnt body of Purochana and the bodies
of the nishada woman and her five sons. The people began to weep saying,
Indeed, this is the plan of the evil Duryodhana. By his wickedness, he has
brought about the death of the Pandavas. There is little doubt that Duryodhana
has, with Dhritarastra's permission, burnt to death the heirs of Pandu. Let us
send a message to King Dhritarastra saying, ÚYour desire has been achieved! You
have burnt to death the sinless Pandavas!'

Upon receiving news of the supposed death of the Pandavas, Dhritarastra and
Duryodhana were jolly at heart, but outwardly expressed great regret. They
arranged for the last funeral rites of the Pandavas, and Lord Krishna Himself
attended the ceremony. Neither Vidura nor Lord Krishna were in lamentation
because they knew that the Pandavas and their mother were happy and alive. The
deceitful Duryodhana felt his desires had been fulfilled, and in due course of
time began to rule the kingdom under the direction of his father Dhritarastra.

Thus Ends the Mahabharata Summation to Chapter Twelve of the Adi Parva,
Entitled, The House of Lac at Varanavata.

Chapter Commentary

The burning of the Lac house was the second in an ongoing series of attempts
to kill the Pandavas. It is said that whoever God protects, no one can kill,
and whoever God doesn't protect, no one can save. It is obvious that the
Pandavas were divinely protected by Lord Krishna, and therefore, no amount of
scheming plots by Duryodhana could possibly kill them. Asuras cannot understand
the divine protection of the Lord. They think that sheer numbers, power, or
wealth alone can defeat the pious.

Whatever harm we try to do to others always backfires on us. When we try to
hurt someone else, the reaction always comes back to us. Instead of hurting
someone else, we suffer more. Similarly, if we do good to others, good will
come to us. Because Yudhisthira was always looking after the welfare of others,
his welfare was automatically looked after. Everytime Duryodhana tried to to
harm to the Pandavas, the Pandavas simply became stronger. We will see the
result of Duryodhana's attempt to kill the Pandavas in the upcoming chapters.
The Pandavas simply gained by the attempted murder designed by Dhritarastra and

What is required to receive the protection of the Lord? It is simple; one has
to surrender everything to the Lord and become His obedient servant, as did the
Pandavas. Anyone can receive this protection. One has to take the Lord into the
heart and remember Him at all times. Lord Krishna will then carry what we lack.
This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, But those who worship Me with
devotion, meditating on My transcendental form+to them I carry what they lack
and preserve what they have. (B.g. 9.24) If we always think of Krishna,
Krishna will always think of us. The Pandavas were eternal associates of the
Lord and always carried the beautiful form of Lord Krishna in their heart of
hearts. Thus, they could not be harmed under any circumstances.

One may wonder how it was posssible for the Pandavas to allow the nisadha
woman and her five sons to die in the house of lac to cover their own trail.
Yudhisthira has been pictured as a kind hearted soul who could not hurt anyone.
The fact of the matter is that the palace was very big as was most palaces in
those days and it could may have well been that the Pandavas did not know that
they had fallen asleep due to intoxication. Yudhisthira or any of the Pandavas
would not unnecessarily hurt anyone. It is not stated that they knew the woman
and her sons were there. The could have fallen asleep in some room not seen by
any of the Pandavas.

Adi Parva

Chapter Thirteen

Hidimba Slain

While the palace of shellac was burning intensely, the Pandavas escaped
unnoticed. Upon immerging from the tunnel, they looked back and saw the palace
blazing in the distance. They then looked toward the bank of the Ganges and saw
a man sitting in a boat. The man was sent by Vidura, and by signals he
indicated that they should board the boat. He convinced the Pandavas by certain
messages that he was actually sent by their uncle. The Pandavas then boarded
the boat and the boatman lead them across the river Ganges to safety. They
thanked the boatman and sent a message back to Vidura that they were heading in
a southerly direction.

Then Bhimasena, who was endowed with supernatural power, placed his mother on
his shoulders, the twins on his sides, Yudhisthira and Arjuna on his arms, and
proceeded quickly through the darkness. The son of the wind god ran at the
speed of the wind, breaking the trees and bushes before him. With every step he
caused the earth to tremble. The motion of his legs created a wind so intense
that it was comparable to the March winds. Indeed, so great was the force with
which Bhima moved that his brothers and mother seemed to faint on his body.
Before the day was over, Bhima had covered a distance of one hundred and sixty

Towards the evening Bhima reached a densely dark forest where fruits and water
were scarce and which echoed terrible cries of wild birds and beasts. The wind
blew strongly, breaking the branches of the trees. Afflicted with hunger,
thirst, and sleep, they were unable to proceed further. Bhimasena carefully
lifted his mother and brothers off his body. Exhausted, they all lay down to
sleep with the exception of Bhima, who stayed awake to guard against
Duryodhana's spies or any Rakshasas who lived in the forest. As Bhima glanced
over his mother and his brothers, he felt a deep pain in his heart. After all
it was just a night ago that they were sleeping in the finest beds, and eating
the finest foods. Did Queen Kunti, the wife of the great Pandu and the daughter
of King Surasena, deserve to lie on the bare ground? Did the sister of Vasudeva
and the mother of the Pandavas deserve leaves as a bed sheet? Yudhisthira, the
son of Yamaraja, was lying on the bare ground. Did he deserve such a fate? Did
he not deserve sovereignty of the three worlds? Did Arjuna, the greatest bowman
the world has ever known, deserve to lie on the ground like an ordinary man?
Did Nakula and Sahadeva, who are like demigods in appearance, deserve to be
soiled by the dust of the earth? Bhima then spoke as if the sons of
Dhritarastra were present, You sons of Dhritarastra have little foresight. You
wicked fellows may enjoy your temporary success. You still breathe only because
Yudhisthira does not command me to take your lives. If ordered by him, I would
send you all to the region of Yamaraja this very day! Having said this, the
mighty armed Bhima squeezed his palms, breathing heavily in anger. Looking over
his dear brothers and mother, he continued to guard the rest of the night.

Not far from where the Pandavas were sleeping, there lived a rakshasa (man
eater) named Hidimva and his sister Hidimvi. Hidimva was not an ordinary
rakshasa for he ruled over all others in his race. He had sharp teeth and a
protruding belly. His shoulders were like the neck of a tree, and he was
reddish in hue. Longing for human flesh, he sat in a tree along with his
sister. Understanding by the scent in the air that some humans were nearby, he
ordered his sister, O Hidimvi, I smell human flesh close by. My mouth waters
at the thought of eating, for I have not satisfied my hunger all day. Go and
see who has come. Attacking the human throat and opening the veins, I shall
drink to my full satisfaction a large quantity of human blood. Go and bring to
me any human beings who are nearby. We will feast on human flesh and dance
together in happiness.

Thus commanded by Hidimva, Hidimvi proceeded to the spot where the Pandavas
were resting. She saw four brothers lying asleep with their mother and the
invincible Bhima guarding them. Beholding Bhimasena, unrivalled in strength and
handsome appearance, the rakshasi immediately fell in love. She thought to
herself, This person has a body like molten gold, and his shoulders are like
those of a lion. His neck is shaped like a conchshell, and his eyes are like
lotus petals. Truly he is worthy of being my husband. I shall disobey my
brother's order, because affection for one's husband is greater than for one's

The rakshasi, capable of assuming any form at will, assumed the form of a
beautiful celestial woman. Approaching Bhima with a mind enchanting smile, she
said to him, O bull among men, where have you come from and who are you? Who
also, O sinless one, is this lady of transcendent beauty sleeping here so
contently as if in her own chambers? Do you know that this forest is the abode
of a rakshasa named Hidimva? I am his sister, and he has sent me here with the
intention of killing you all. Speaking truthfully, I tell you that after
beholding your celestial handsome features, I can accept no one else as my
husband. My heart as well as my body have been pierced by the arrows of Cupid.
I will rescue you from this brother of mine who eats human flesh. By my mystic
power, I will take you wherever you like. Traveling to the celestial gardens,
we can enjoy to our hearts content.

Hearing the affectionate words of the rakshasi, Bhima replied, O beautiful
woman, how can I leave my brothers and mother simply to satisfy lusty desires.
I will never run from fear of any rakshasa, for Rakshasas are never able to
bear the prowess of my arms. What to speak of Rakshasas, neither mortals nor
Gandharvas nor Yakshas can bear my strength. O celestial lady, you may either
go or send your cannibal brother. I care not.

Hidimva, the chief of the Rakshasas, seeing that his sister had not returned,
got down from the tree and proceeded quickly to where the Pandavas were. He saw
that his sister had taken a celestial form bedecked with garlands of flowers
and silken garments. The rakshasa, beholding her in that charming form,
understood her motives. He was red hot with anger and scolded her, Why, O
sister, have you thrown obstacles on my path when I am now overcome with
hunger? O Hidimvi, don't you fear me in the least? You are desiring to enjoy
intercourse with my evening meal. You are ready to sacrifice the good name and
honor of all the Rakshasas for some gratification of the senses. Therefore, I
will kill you this very moment!

Upon seeing the rakshasa rushing toward Hidimvi, Bhima, the foremost slayer of
man eaters, jumped up and exclaimed, O Hidimva, what need is there to awaken
these sleeping persons. O wicked cannibal, challenge me first, and do not touch
your sister. Why do you want to kill a woman who is scarcely responsible for a
desire that pervades all living entities? She does not deserve to be punished
for this offense. Come and fight with me, O rakshasa, and I shall send you to
the court of Yamaraja without delay!

Replying to Bhima, Hidimva said, What need is there for all this boasting.
Accomplish what you have said and then crow with your tongue! You have wrongly
calculated my strength, or else you would not have challenged me to combat. Let
your brothers sleep comfortably, and after killing you and drinking your blood,
I shall devour them one after another!

The most powerful Hidimva, whose eyes were burning like molten copper, ran at
Bhima desiring to kill him. Very quickly Bhima grabbed the outstretched arms of
Hidimva and began dragging him away from where his brothers and mother were
sleeping. The Rakshasa, humbled by the might of Bhima, became furious, and
squeezing the body of Bhima, sent forth a loud roar. The mighty son of Pandu
then dragged the demon a further distance so the cries of the Rakshasa would
not awaken his brothers. Fighting like two full grown elephants, they
pulverized the nearby trees and bushes.

From the sound of falling trees, the sleeping brothers awoke. Kunti also awoke
from sleep and gazed in wonder at the beautiful woman who was standing before
her. Desirous of knowing her identity, Kunti said, O beautiful woman, whose
complexion resembles the lotus, where have you come from, and what is your
name? Hearing the inquiry of Kunti, Hidimvi replied, The forest that you have
taken shelter in belongs to my brother Hidimva, the powerful Rakshasa. I have
been sent here to kill all of you on his order. However, seeing the handsome
features of your son Bhima, I have fallen in love with him and have chosen him
as my husband. My name is Hidimvi. Presently your son Bhima has dragged my
brother to a great distance, and they are engaged in combat.

Mahabharata H.J. Resnik

09 - Salya Parva - The Death of Salya
14 - Ashvamedha Parva
16 - Mausala Parva
17 - Mahaprasthanika Parva - Mahaprasthanika Parva...

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