Mahabharata Sthri Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva


Vaishampayana said, "Even after hearing the words of Vidura, the chief of the Kurus, afflicted with grief on account of the death of his sons, fell down senseless on the Earth. Beholding him fall down in that state, his friends, as also the island-born Vyasa, and Vidura, and Sanjaya, and other well-wishers, and the attendants who used to wait at the gates and who enjoyed his confidence, sprinkled cool water over his body, and fanned him with palm leaves, and gently rubbed him with their hands. For a long while they comforted the king while in that condition. The monarch, recovering his senses after a long time, wept for a long while, overwhelmed with grief on account of the death of his sons. He said, ‘Fie on the state of humanity! Fie on the human body! The woes that are suffered in this life frequently arise from the very state of humanity. Alas, O lord, great is the grief, like poison or fire, that one suffers at the loss of sons, of wealth, of kinsmen, and relatives. That grief causes the limbs to burn and our wisdom to be destroyed. Overwhelmed with that grief, a person regards death to be preferable. This calamity that has overtaken me through ill-luck is even like that. It will not, I see, end except with life itself. O best of regenerate ones, I shall, therefore, put an end to my life this very day.’ Having said these words unto his high-souled sire, that foremost of all persons conversant with Brahman, Dhritarashtra, overwhelmed with grief, became stupefied. The king, O monarch reflecting on his woes, became speechless. Hearing these words of his, the puissant Vyasa thus spoke unto his son afflicted with grief on account of the death of his children.

"Vyasa said, ‘O mighty-armed Dhritarashtra, listen to what I say. Thou art possessed of learning, thou hast great intelligence, and thou, O puissant one, art skilled in understanding duties. Nothing of that which should be known is unknown to thee, O scorcher of foes! Without doubt, thou knowest the instability of all things doomed to death. When the world of life is unstable when this world itself is not eternal, when life is sure to end in death, why then, O Bharata, dost thou grieve? Before thy very eyes, O king, the concatenation of facts brought about by Time making thy son the cause, produced this hostility. This destruction of the Kurus, O king, was inevitable. Why then dost thou grieve for those heroes that have attained to the highest end? O thou of mighty arms, the high-souled Vidura knew everything. With all his might he had endeavoured, O king, to bring about peace. It is my opinion that the course marked out by Destiny cannot be controlled by anyone, even if one struggles for eternity. The course that was settled by the gods was heard directly by me. I will recite it to thee, so that tranquillity of mind may be thine. Once before, without any fatigue, I repaired very quickly to the court of Indra. There I beheld all the denizens of heaven assembled together. There were, O sinless one, all the celestial rishis also, headed by Narada. There, O monarch, I saw also the Earth (in her embodied form). The latter had repaired to the gods for the accomplishment of a particular mission. Approaching the gods, she said, "That which ye all should do for me hath, ye blessed ones, been already promised by you while you were in Brahma’s abode. Let that be accomplished soon." Hearing these words of hers, Vishnu, the adored of all the worlds, smilingly addressed her in the midst of the celestial conclave, saying, "The eldest of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, who is known by the name of Duryodhana, will accomplish thy business. Through that king, thy purpose will be achieved. For his sake, many kings will assemble together on the field of Kuru. Capable of smiting, they will cause one another to be slain through the instrumentality of hard weapons. It is evident, O goddess, that thy burthen will then be lightened in battle. Go quickly to thy own place and continue to bear the weight of creatures, O beauteous one!" From this thou wilt understand, O king, that thy son Duryodhana, born in Gandhari’s womb, was a portion of Kali, sprung for the object of causing a universal slaughter. He was vindictive, restless, wrathful, and difficult of being gratified. Through the influence of Destiny his brothers also became like him. Shakuni became his maternal uncle and Karna his great friend. Many other kings were born on earth for aiding in the work of destruction. As the king is, so do his subjects become. If the king becomes righteous, even unrighteousness (in his dominions) assumes the shape of righteousness. Servants, without doubt, are affected by the merits and defects of their masters. Those sons of thine, O king, having obtained a bad king, have all been destroyed. Conversant with truth, Narada, knew all this. Thy sons, through their own faults, have been destroyed, O king! Do not grieve for them, O monarch! There is no cause for grief. The Pandavas have not, O Bharata, the least fault in what has happened. Thy sons were all of wicked souls. It is they that caused this destruction on earth. Blessed be thou; Narada had truly informed Yudhishthira of all this in his court on the occasion of the rajasuya sacrifice, saying, "The Pandavas and the Kauravas, encountering each other, will meet with destruction. Do that, O son of Kunti, which thou shouldst!" Upon these words of Narada, the Pandavas became filled with grief. I have thus told thee that which is an eternal secret of the gods. This will destroy thy grief and restore to thee a love of thy life-breath, and cause thee to cherish affection for the Pandavas, for all that has happened has been due to what had been ordained by the gods. O thou of mighty arms, I had learnt all this sometime before. I also spoke of it to king Yudhishthira the just on the occasion of his foremost of sacrifices, the rajasuya. When I secretly informed him of all this, Dharma’s son endeavoured his best for preserving peace with the Kauravas. That, however, which is ordained by the gods proved too powerful (to be frustrated by him). The fiat, O king of the Destroyer, is incapable of being baffled anyhow by mobile and immobile creatures. Thou art devoted to virtue and possessed of superior intelligence, O Bharata! Thou knowest also that which is the way and that which is not the way of all creatures. If king Yudhishthira learns that thou art burning with grief and losing thy senses frequently, he will cast off his very life-breath. He is always compassionate and possessed of wisdom. His kindness extends even to all the inferior creatures. How is it possible, O king, that he will not show compassion to thee, O monarch? At my command, and knowing that what is ordained is inevitable, as also from kindness to the Pandavas, continue to bear thy life, O Bharata! If thou livest thus, thy fame will spread in the world. Thou shalt then be able to acquire a knowledge of all duties and find many years for obtaining ascetic merit. This grief for the death of thy sons that has arisen in thy heart, like a blazing fire, should always be extinguished, O king, by the water of wisdom!"’"

Vaishampayana continued, "Hearing these words of Vyasa of immeasurable energy and reflecting upon them for a little while, Dhritarashtra said, ‘O best of regenerate ones, I am exceedingly afflicted by a heavy load of grief. My senses are repeatedly forsaking me and I am unable to bear up my own self. Hearing, however, these words of thine about what had been ordained by the gods, I shall not think of casting off my life-breath and shall live and act without indulging in grief!’ Hearing these words of Dhritarashtra, O monarch, Satyavati’s son, Vyasa, disappeared then and there."