MAHABHARATA: CONDENSED INTO ENGLISH VERSE
Adapted from http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/extra/bl-mahabharata1.htm
THE scene of the Epic is the ancient kingdom of the Kurus which flourished along the upper course of the Ganges; and the historical fact on which the Epic is based is a great war which took place between the Kurus and a neighbouring tribe, the Panchalas, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century before Christ.
According to the Epic, Pandu and Dhrita-rashtra, who was born blind, were brothers. Pandu died early, and Dhrita-rashtra became king of the Kurus, and brought up the five sons of Pandu along with his hundred sons.
Yudhishthir, the eldest son of Pandu, was a man of truth and piety; Bhima, the second, was a stalwart fighter; and Arjun, the third son, distinguished himself above all the other princes in arms. The two youngest brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva, were twins. Duryodhan was the eldest son of Dhrita-rashtra and was jealous of his cousins, the sons of Pandu. A tournament was held, and in the course of the day a warrior named Karna., of unknown origin, appeared on the scene and proved himself a worthy rival of Arjun. The rivalry between Arjun and Karna is the leading thought of the Epic, as the rivalry between Achilles and Hector is the leading thought of the Iliad.
It is only necessary to add that the sons of Pandu. as well as Karna, were, like the heroes of Homer, god-born chiefs. Some god inspired the birth of each. Yudhishthir was the son of Dharma or Virtue, Bhima of Vayu or Wind, Arjun of Indra or Rain-god, the twin youngest were the sons of the Aswin twins, and Karna was the son of Surya the Sun, but was believed by himself and by all others to be the son of a simple chariot-driver.
The portion translated in this Book forms Sections cxxxiv. to cxxxvii. of Book i. of the original Epic in Sanskrit (Calcutta edition of 1834).
sons of Dhrita-rashtra, born of Kuru's royal race,
Righteous sons of noble Pandu, god-born men of godlike grace,
arms attained these princes from a Brahman warrior bold,
Drona, priest and proud preceptor, peerless chief of days of old!
Drona to the monarch in Hastina's royal hall,
Spake to Bhishma and to Kripa, spake to lords and courtiers all:
gallant princes, monarch, trained in arms and warlike art,
Let them prove their skill and valour, rein the steed and throw the dart."
then the ancient monarch, joyful was his royal heart.
"Best of Brahmans and of warriors, nobly hast thou done thy part,
place and fix the moment, hold a royal tournament,
Publish wide the laws of combat, publish far thy king's consent.
roll these orbs of vision, dark to me is noonday light,
Happier men will mark the tourney and the peerless princes' fight,
Let the good
and wise Vidura serve thy mandate and behest,
Let a father's pride and gladness fill this old and cheerless breast."
went the wise Vidura to his sacred duties bound,
Drona, blessed with skill and wisdom, measured out the tourney ground,
jungle was the meadow, by a crystal fountain graced,
Drona on the lighted altar holy gifts and offerings placed,
the star auspicious, and the hour was calm and bright,
Men from distant town and hamlet came to view the sacred rite.
white stately mansions, built by architects of fame,
Decked with arms for Kuru's monarch and for every royal dame,
And the people
built their stages circling round the listed green,
And the nobles with their white tents graced the fair and festive scene.
dawned the festal morning, and the monarch left his hall,
Bhishma and the pious Kripa with the lords and courtiers all,
came unto the mansions, gay and glittering, gold-encased,
Decked with gems and rich baidurya, and with strings of pearls be-laced.
queen of Kuru, Pritha, Pandu's widowed dame,
Ladies in their gorgeous garments, maids of beauty and of fame,
their glittering mansions where the tints harmonious blend,
As, on Meru's golden mountain, queens of heavenly gods ascend!
And the people
of the city, Brahmans, Vaisvas, Kshatras bold,
Men from stall and loom and anvil gathered thick, the young and old,
the sound of trumpet and the surging people's cry.
Like the voice of angry ocean, tempest-lashed, sublime and high!
saintly white-robed Drona, white his sacrificial thread,
White his sandal-mark and garlands, white the locks that crowned his head,
son renowned for valour walked forth Drona, radiant, high,
So the Moon with Mars conjoinéd walks upon the cloudless sky!
to the gods immortal then the priestly warrior made,
Brahmans with their chanted mantra worship and obeisance paid,
And the festive
note of sankha mingled with the trumpet's sound,
Throngs of warriors, various-arméd, came unto the listed ground.
and jewel-girdled, now the warlike princes came,
With their stately bows and quivers, and their swords like wreaths of flame,
his elder stepping, good Yudhishthir first of all,
Each his wondrous skill displaying held the silent crowds in thrall.
And the men
in admiration marked them with a joyful eye,
Or by sudden panic stricken stooped to let the arrow fly!
their rapid coursers oft the princes proved their aim,
Racing, hit the target with arrows lettered with their royal name,
glinting sunlit weapons shone the youths sublime and high,
More than mortals seemed the princes, bright Gandharvas of the sky!
joy the people uttered as by sudden impulse driven.
Mingled voice of tens of thousands struck the pealing vault of heaven.
princes shook their weapons, drove the deep resounding car,
Or on steed or tusker mounted waged the glorious mimic war!
and ample buckler, ponderous mace the princes wield,
Brightly gleam their lightning rapiers as they range the listed field,
fearless is their action, and their movement quick and light
Skilled and true the thrust and parry of their weapons flaming bright!
and proud Duryodhan with their maces lifted high,
Like two cliffs with lofty turrets cleaving through the azure sky,
warlike arms accoutred with their girded loins they stood,
Like two untamed jungle tuskers in the deep and echoing wood!
And as tuskers
range the forest, so they range the spacious field,
Right to left and back they wander and their ponderous maces wield,
sightless monarch wise Vidura drew the scene,
Pritha proudly of the princes spake unto the Kuru queen.
stalwart Bhima battled with Duryodhan brave and strong,
Fierce in wrath, for one or other, shouted forth the maddened throng,
Kuru prince Duryodhan!" "Hail to Bhima hero proud!"
Sounds like these from surging myriads rose in tumult deep and loud,
troubled vision Drona marked the heaving restless plain,
Marked the crowd by anger shaken, like the tempest-shaken main,
To his son
he softly whispered quick the tumult to appease,
Part the armed and angry wrestlers, bid the deadly combat cease,
lifted clubs the princes slow retired on signal given,
Like the parting of the billows, mighty-heaving, tempest-driven!
then the ancient Drona on the open battle-ground,
Stopped the drum and lofty trumpet, spake in voice like thunder's sound:
come, the gallant Arjun! pious prince and warrior skilled,
Arjun, born of mighty INDRA, and with VISHNU'S prowess filled."
and jewel-girdled, with his bow of ample height,
Archer Arjun pious-hearted to the gods performed a rite,
Then he stepped
forth proud and stately in his golden mail encased,
Like the sunlit cloud of evening with the golden rainbow graced,
And a gladness
stirred the people all around the listed plain,
Voice of drum and blare of trumpet rose with sankha's festive strain!
gallant son of Pandu, whom the happy Pritha bore,
Mark! the heir of INDRA'S valour, matchless in his arms and lore,
warrior young and valiant, peerless in his skill of arms,
Mark! the prince of stainless virtue, decked with grace and varied charms!"
such grateful voices borne aloft unto the sky,
Milk of love suffused her bosom, tear of joy was in her eye!
rested Kuru's monarch, joyous accents struck his ear,
And he turned to wise Vidura seeking for the cause to hear:
like the voice of ocean, when the tempest winds prevail,
Rise the voices of the people and the spacious skies assail?"
him the wise Vidura, "It is Pritha's gallant boy,
Godlike moves in golden armour, and the people shout for joy!"
am I." so spake the monarch," and I bless my happy fate,
Pritha's sons like fires of yajna sanctify this mighty State!"
Now the voices
of the people died away and all was still,
Arjun to his proud preceptor showed his might and matchless skill.
high or lowly bending, on the turf or on his car,
With his bow and glist'ning arrows. Arjun waged the mimic war,
the wide arena, mighty tough or wondrous small,
With his arrows still unfailing, Arjun pierced them one and all!
shaped in plates of iron coursed the wide-extending field,
In its jaws five glist'ning arrows sent the archer wondrous -skilled,
by a thread suspended was by winds unceasing swayed,
One and twenty well-aimed arrows on this moving mark he laid,
equal skill his rapier did the godlike Arjun wield,
Whirling round the mace of battle ranged the spacious tourney field!
Now the feats
of arm are ended, and the closing hour draws nigh,
Music's voice is hushed in silence, and dispersing crowds pass by,
welkin-shaking thunder wakes a deep and deadly sound,
Clank and din of warlike weapons burst upon the tented ground!
Are the solid
mountains splitting, is it bursting of the earth.
Is it tempest's pealing accent whence the lightning takes its birth?
like these alarm the people for the sound is dread and high,
To the gaze of the arena turns the crowd with anxious eye!
round preceptor Drona, Pandu's sons in armour bright,
Like the five-starred constellation round the radiant Queen of Night,
round the proud Duryodhan, dreaded for his exploits done,
All his brave and warlike brothers and preceptor Drona's son,
So the gods
encircled INDRA, thunder-wielding, fierce and bold,
When he scattered Danu's children in the misty days of old!
the unknown warrior, gathered nations part in twain,
Conqueror of hostile cities, lofty Karna treads the plain,
In his golden
mail accoutred. and his rings of yellow gold,
Like a moving cliff in stature, arméd comes the chieftain bold,
unwedded, bore him, peerless archer on the earth,
Portion of the solar radiance, for the Sun inspired his birth!
Like a tusker
in his fury, like a lion in his ire,
Like the sun in noontide radiance, like the all-consuming fire,
in build and muscle, stately as a golden palm,
Blessed with every very manly virtue, peerless, dauntless, proud and calm!
looks serene and lofty field of war the chief surveyed,
Scarce to Kripa or to Drona honour and obeisance made,
panic-stricken people viewed him with unmoving gaze,
Who maybe this unknown warrior, questioned theyin hushed amaze!
Then in voice
of pealing thunder spake fair Pritha's eldest son
Unto Arjun, Pritha's youngest, each, alas! to each unknown:
feats of weapons, Arjun, done with vain and needless boast,
These and greater I accomplish-witness be this mighty host!"
proud and peerless Karna in his accents deep and loud,
And as moved by sudden impulse joyous rose the listening crowd,
And a gleam
of mighty transport glows in proud Duryodhan's heart,
Flames of wrath and jealous anger from the eyes of Arjun start,
the word, and Karna, Pritha's war-beloving son,
With his sword and with his arrows did the feats by Arjun done!
the proud Duryodhan, gladness gleamed upon his face,
And he spake to gallant Karna with a loving fond embrace:
mighty arméd chieftain! thou hast victor's honours won,
Thine is all my wealth and kingdom, name thy wish and it is done!"
Karna to Duryodhan, " Prince! thy word is good as deed,
But I seek to combat Arjun and to win the victor's meed,"
the boon thou seekest," answered Kuru's prince of fame,
"Be a joy unto your comrades, let the foeman dread thy name!
in Arjun's bosom, and he spake in accents rude
Unto Karna who in triumph calm and proud and fearless stood:
eomest uninvited, pratest in thy lying boast,
Thou shalt die the death of braggarts-witness be this mighty host!
calm and proudly, "Free this listed field to all,
Warriors enter by their prowess, wait not, Arjun, for thy call,
take their places by their strength of arm and might,
And their warrant is their falchion, valour sanctifies their right,
is coward's weapon, Arjun, speak with arrows keen,
Till I lay thee, witness Drona, low upon the listed green!"
the word impartial, wrathful Arjun, dread of foes,
Parted from his lovina brothers, in his glist'ning arms arose,
the Kuru's princes, parted from them one and all,
With his bow and ample quiver proudly stepped the warrior tall.
Now the clouds
with lurid flashes gathered darkling, thick and high,
Lines of cranes like gleams of laughter sailed across the gloomy sky.
INDRA over Arjun watched with father's partial love,
Sun-god SURYA over Karna shed his light from far above,
in darkening shadow by the inky clouds concealed,
Bold and bright in open sunshine radiant Karna stood revealed!
and his brothers stood by Karna calm and bold
Drona stood by gallant Arjun, and brave Bhishma warrior old,
with partial glances viewed the one or other chief,
But by equal love divided silent Pritha swooned in grief!
true to duty, with an anxious hurry came,
Sandal-drops and sprinkled waters roused the woe-distracted dame,
And she saw
her sons in combat, words of woe she uttered none,
Speechless wept, for none must fathom Karna was her eldest son!
helméd Arjun, proudly trod the spacious green,
Kripa, skilled in herald's duties, spake upon the dreadful scene:
is helmet-wearing Arjun, sprung of Kuru's mighty race,
Pandu's son and borne by Pritha, prince of worth and warlike grace,
Chief! declare thy lineage, and the race thou dost adorn,
Name thy mother and thy father, and the house that saw thee born,
rules of war Prince Arjun claims his rival chief to know,
Princes may not draw their weapon 'gainst a base and nameless foe!"
heard this mandate, rank nor lineage could he claim,
Like a raindrop-pelted lotus bent his humble head in shame!
reckon," cried Duryodhan, "not the man of birth alone
Warlike leader of his forces as a prince and chief we own,
his warlike valour is of crownéd kings the peer,
Karna shall be crownéd monarch, nations shall his mandate hear!"
brought the corn and treasure, golden coin and water jar,
On the throne they seated Karna famed in many a deathful war,
chanted sacred mantra which the holy books ordain,
And anointed crownéd Karna king of Anga's fair domain,
raised the red umbrella, and they waved the chowri fan,
"Blessings on the crownéd monarch! honour to the bravest man!"
holy rites accomplished, in his kingly robes arrayed
Karna unto prince Duryodhan thus in grateful accents prayed:
kingdom, good Duryodhan, speaketh well thy noble heart,
What return can grateful Karna humbly render on his part?"
friendship," cried Duryodhan, "for no other boon crave,
Be Duryodhan's dearest comrade, be his helper true and brave,"
"Be it so!"
responded Karna, with a proud and noble grace,
And he sealed his loyal friendship in a loving fond embrace!
drops of toil and languor, lo,! a chariot-driver came,
Loosely hung his scanty garments, and a staff upheld his frame,
a crownéd monarch, to the humble Suta sped,
As a son unto a father, reverently bent his head!
scanty cloth the driver sought his dusty feet to hide,
And he hailed him as a father hails his offspring in his pride,
And he clasped
unto his bosom crownéd Karna's noble head,
And on Karna's dripping forehead, fresh and loving tear-drops shed!
Is he soil
of chariot-driver? Doubts arose in Bhima's mind,
And he sought to humble Karna with reproachful words unkind
high-descended hero, with a Kuru cross thy brand?
But the goad of cattle-drivers better suits, my friend, thy hand!
as a crownéd monarch rule a mighty nation's weal?
As the jackals of the jungle sacrificial offerings steal!"
Karna's lips in anger, word of answer spake he none,
But a deep sigh shook his bosom, and he gazed upon the sun!
CLOSE OF THE DAY
Like a lordly
tusker rising from a beauteous lotus lake,
Rose Duryodhan from his brothers, proudly thus to Bhima spake:
insults seek not, Bhima, thus to cause a warrior grief,
Bitter taunts but ill befit thee, warlike tiger-waisted chief,
chief may fight the humblest, for like river's noble course,
Noble deeds proclaim the warrior, and we question not their source!
priest and warrior, owns a poor and humble birth,
Kripa, noblest of Gautamas, springeth from the lowly earth,
me thy lineage Bhima, thine and of thy brothers four,
Amorous gods your birth imparted, so they say, in days of yore!
great and gallant Karna decked in rings and weapons fair
She-deer breeds not lordly tigers in her poor and lowly lair,
to rule the wide earth, not fair Anga's realms alone,
By his valour and his virtue, by the homage which I own,
And if prince
or arméd chieftain doth my word or deed gainsay,
Let him take his bow and quiver, meet me in a deadly fray!"
greet the challenge and the people's joyful cry,
But the thickening shades of darkness fill the earth and evening sky
And the red
lamp's fitful lustre shone upon the field around,
Slowly with the peerless Karna proud Duryodhan left the ground.
with warlike Drona marked the darksome close of day
And with Kripa and with Bhishma homeward silent bent their way
the gallant victor!" "Valiant Karna's won the day!"
"Prince Duryodhan is the winner!" Various thus the people say
By some secret
sign appriséd Pritha knew her gallant boy,
Saw him crownéd king of Anga, with a mother's secret joy,
greater joy Duryodhan fastened Karna to his side,
Feared no longer Arjun's prowess, Arjun's skill of arms and pride
reckoned Karna mightiest warrior on the earth,
Half misdoubted Arjun's prowess, Arjun's, skill and warlike worth!
(The Fatal Dice)
DURYODHAN came back from the Imperial Sacrifice filled with jealousy against Yudhishthir, and devised plans to effect his fall. Sakuni, prince of Gandhara, shared Duryodhan's hatred towards the sons of Pandu, and helped him in his dark scheme. Yudhishthir with all his piety and righteousness had one weakness, the love of gambling, which was one of the besetting sins of the monarchs of the day. Sakuni was an expert at false dice, and challenged Yudhishthir, and Yudhishthir held it a point of honour not to decline such a challenge.
He came from his new capital, Indra-prastha, to Hastina-pura the capital of Duryodhan, with his mother and brothers and Draupadi. And as Yudhishthir lost game after game, he was stung with his losses, and with the recklessness of a gambler still went on with the fatal game. His wealth and hoarded gold and jewels, his steeds, elephants and cars, his slaves male and female, his empire and possessions, were all staked and lost!
The madness increased, and Yudhishthir staked his brothers, and then himself, and then the fair Draupadi, and lost! And thus the Emperor of Indra-prastha and his family were deprived of every possession on earth, and became the bond-slaves of Duryodhan. The old king Dhrita-rashtra released them from actual slavery, but the five brothers retired to forests as homeless exiles.
Portions of Section lxv. and the whole of Sections lxix., lxxvi., and lxxvii. of Book ii. of the original text have been translated in this Book.
Ganga's limpid waters brightly shine Hastina's walls
Queen Draupadi duly honoured lives within the palace halls,
But as steals
a lowly jackal in a lordly lion's den,
Base Duryodhan's humble menial came to proud Draupadi's ken.
quoth the menial, "royal Pandu's righteous son,
Lost his game and lost his reason, Empress, thou art staked and won,
claims thee, lady, and the victor bids me say,
Thou shalt serve him as his vassal, as his slave in palace stay!"
"Have I heard
thee, menial, rightly?" questioned she in anguish keen,
"Doth a crownéd king and husband stake his wife and lose his queen,
Did my noble
lord and monarch sense and reason lose at dice,
Other stake he did not wager, wedded wife to sacrifice!"
were duly wagered," so he spake with bitter groan,
"Wealth and empire, every object which Yudhishthir called his own,
and all his brothers, bondsmen are those princes brave,
Then he staked his wife and empress, thou art prince Duryodhan's slave!"
queen in queenly anger, and with woman's pride she spake
"Hie thee, menial, to thy master, Queen Draupadi's answer take,
If my lord,
himself a bondsman, then hath staked his queen and wife,
False the stake, for owns a bondsman neither wealth nor other's life,
wager wife nor children, and such action is undone,
Take my word to prince Duryodhan, Queen Draupadi is unwon!"
was the proud Duryodhan when he heard the answer bold,
To his younger, wild Duhsasan, this his angry mandate told:
is the menial, and his heart in terror fails,
For the fear of wrathful Bhima, lo! his coward-bosom quails,
bid the princess as our humble slave appear,
Pandu's sons are humble bondsmen, and thy heart it owns no fear!"
heard the mandate, blood-shot was his flaming eye,
Forthwith to the inner chambers did with eager footsteps hie,
the fair Draupadi, monarch's daughter, monarch's wife,
Unto her the base Du4sasan spake the message, insult-rife:
Panchala-princess! fairly staked and won at game.
Come and meet thy lord Duryodhan, chase that mantling blush of shame,
as thy lords and masters, be our beauteous bright-eyed slave,
Come unto the Council Chamber, wait upon the young and brave!"
shakes with tremor at Duhsasan's hateful sight,
And she shades her eye and forehead, and her bloodless cheeks are white,
At his words
her chaste heart sickens, and with wild averted eye.
Unto rooms where dwelt the women, Queen Draupadi seeks to fly.
the trembling princess in her fear and in her shame,
By her streaming wavy tresses fierce Duhsasan held the dame!
with holy water dewed at rajasuya rite,
And by mantra consecrated, fragrant, flowing, raven-bright,
by those tresses held the faint and flying queen,
Feared no more the sons of Pandu, nor their vengeance fierce and keen,
in her slipping garments by her long and trailing hair,
And like sapling tempest-shaken, wept and shook the trembling fair!
in her shame and anguish, pale with wrath and woman's fear,
Trembling and in stifled accents, thus she spake with streaming tear:
shameless prince Duhsasan! elders, noble lords are here,
Can a modest wedded woman thus in loose attire appear?"
words and soft entreaty which the weeping princess made,
Vainly to the gods and mortals she in bitter anguish prayed,
cruel words of insult still Duhsasan mocked her woo:
"Loosely clad or void of clothing,--to the council hall you go,
fairly staked and conquered, wait upon thy masters brave,
Live among our household menials, serve us as our willing slave!
with trailing tresses, came Draupadi weak and faint,
Stood within the Council Chamber, tearful made her piteous plaint:
versed in holy sastra, and in every holy rite,
Pardon if Draupadi cometh in this sad unseemly plight,
sinful deed, Duhsasan, nameless wrongs and insults spare,
Touch me not with hands uncleanly, sacred is a woman's hair,
elders, righteous nobles, have on me protection given,
Tremble sinner, seek no mercy from the wrathful gods in heaven!
Here in glory,
son of DHARMA, sits my noble righteous lord,
Sin nor shame nor human frailty staims Yudhishthir's deed or word,
and will no chieftain rise to save a woman's life,
Not a hand or voice is lifted to defend a virtuous wife?
Lost is Kuru's
righteous glory, lost is Bharat's ancient name,
Lost is Kshatra's kingly prowess, warlike worth and knightly fame,
else do Kuru warriors tamely view this impious scene,
Wherefore gleam not righteous weapons to protect an outraged queen?
hath he lost his virtue, Drona, hath he lost his might,
Hath the monarch of the Kurus ceased to battle for the right,
are ye mute and voiceless, councillors of mighty fame,
Vacant eye and palsied right arm watch this deed of Kum's shame?
slender-waisted, and her words were stern and high,
Anger flamed within her bosom and the tear was in her eye,
And her sparkling
speaking glances fell on Pandu's sons like fire,
Stirred in them a mighty passion and a thirst for vengeance dire,
empire wealth and fortune, little reeked they for the fall,
But Draupadi's pleading glances like a poniard smote them all!
the ancient Bhishma, wrathful Drona bit his tongue,
Pale Vidura marked with anger insults on Draupadi flung,
nor foul dishonour could their truthful utterance taint,
And they cursed Duhsasan's action, when they heard Draupadi's plaint.
Karna, though a warrior,--Arjun's deadly foe was he,
'Gainst the humbled sons of Pandu spake his scorn in scornful glee:
fault of thine, fair princess, fallen to this servile state,
Wife and son rule not their actions, others rule their hapless fate,
sold his birthright, sold thee at the impious play,
And the wife falls with the husband, and her duty-to obey
in this Kuru household, do the Kuru princes' will,
Serve them as thy lords and masters, with thy beauty please them still,
seek another husband who in foolish reckless game
Will not stake a loving woman, will not cast her forth in shame!
censure not a woman, when she is a menial slave,
If her woman's fancy wanders to the young and to the brave,
For thy lord
is not thy husband, as a slave he hath no wife,
Thou art free with truer lover to enjoy a wedded life,
at the swayamvara, thou had'st chose, Panchala's bride,
They have lost thee, sweet Draupadi, lost their empire and their pride!"
and quick and fiercely heaved his bosom in his shame,
And his red glance fell on Karna like a tongue of withering flame,
elder's plighted promise Bhima could not smite in ire,
Looked the painted form of Anger flaming with an anguish dire!
"King and elder! " uttered Bhima, and his words were few and brave,
"Vain were wrath and righteous passion in the sold and bounden slave,
son of chariot-driver fling on us this insult keen,
Hadst thou, noble king and elder, staked nor freedom nor our queen?"
heard in anguish, bent in shame his lowly head,
Proud Duryodhan laughed in triumph, and in scornful accents said:
for thy brothers own their elder's righteous away,
Speak, for truth in thee abideth, virtue ever marks thy way,
lost thy new-built empire, and thy brothers proud and brave,
Hast thou lost thy fair Draupadi, is thy wedded wife our slave?
Lip nor eye
did move Yudhishthir, hateful truth might not deny,
Karna laughed, but saintly Bhishma wiped his old and manly eye.
the proud Duryodhan, and inflamed by passion base,
Sought the prince to stain Draupadi with a deep and dire disgrace,
On the proud
and peerless woman cast his wicked lustful eye,
Sought to hold the high-born princess as his slave upon his knee!
his wrath no longer, lightning-like his glance he flung
And the ancient hall of Kurns with his thunder accents rung:
May I never
reach those mansions where my fathers live on high,
May I never meet ancestors in the bright and happy sky,
knee, by which thou sinnest, Bhima breaks not in his ire,
In the battle's red arena with his weapon, deathful, dire!"
flamed on Bhima's forehead, sparkled from his angry eye,
As from tough and gnarléd branches fast the crackling red sparks fly!
the sacred chamber, where the priests in white attire
With libations morn and evening feed the sacrificial fire,
sacred rights of homa Brahmans chant their mantra high,
There is heard the jackal's wailing and the raven's ominous cry!
knew that omen, and the Queen Gandhari knew,
Bhishma muttered "svasti! svasti!" at this portent strange and new,
preceptor Kripa uttered too that holy word,
Spake her fears the Queen Gandhari to her spouse and royal lord.
heard and trembled with a sudden holy fear,
And his feeble accents quavered, and his eyes were dimmed by tear:
ever luckless, godless, graceless, witless child,
Hast thou Drupad's virtuous daughter thus insulted and reviled,
courted death and danger, for destruction clouds our path,
Can an old man's soft entreaties still avert this sign of wrath?
gently to Draupadi was the sightless monarch led,
And in kind and gentle accents unto her the old man said:
dearest daughter, good Yudhishthir's stainless wife,
Purest of the Kuru ladies, nearest to my heart and life,
and cruel insult and avert the wrath of Heaven,
Voice thy wish and ask for blessing, be my son's misdeed forgiven!"
him the fair Draupadi: "Monarch of the Kuru's line,
For thy grace and for thy mercy every joy on earth be thine,
bid'st me name my wishes, this the boon I ask of thee,
That my gracious lord Yudhishthir once again be bondage-free!
I have borne
a child unto him, noble boy and fair and brave,
Be he prince of royal station, not the son of bounden slave,
Let not light
unthinking children point to him in utter scorn,
Call him slave and dasaputra, of a slave and bondsman born!
daughter, have thy wishes," thus the ancient monarch cried,
"Name a second boon and blessing, and it shall be gratified."
then, O gracious father! mighty Bhima, Arjun brave,
And the youngest twin-born brothers,--none of them may be a slave
arms and with their chariots let the noble princes part,
Freemen let them range the country, strong of hand and stout of heart!"
"Be it so,
high-destined princess ancient Dhrita-rashtra cried,
"Name another boon and blessing, and it shall be gratified,
of my queenly daughters, dearest-cherished and the best,
Meeting thus thy gentle wishes now I feel my house is blest!"
answered him the princess, "other boon I may not seek,
Thou art bounteous, and a woman should be modest, wise and meek,
Twice I asked,
and twice you granted, and a Kshatra asks no more,
Unto Brahmans it is given, asking favours evermore,
Now my lord
and warlike brothers, from their hateful bondage freed,
Seek their fortune by their prowess and by brave and virtuous deed!"
'reft of empire, far from kinsmen, hearth and home,
With his wife and faithful brothers must as houseless exiles roam,
spake Yudhishthir, "Elder of the Kuru line,
Noble grandsire stainless Bhishma, may thy glories ever shine,
and great preceptor, saintly Kripa true and brave,
Kuru's monarch Dhrita-rashtra, may the gods thy empire save,
true and faithful, may thy virtue serve thee well.
Warlike sons of Dhrita-rashtra, let me bid you all farewell!
So he spake
unto his kinsmen, wishing good for evil done,
And in silent shame they listened, parting words they uttered none,
heart was good Vidura, and he asked in sore distress:
"Noble Pritha, will she wander in the pathless wilderness?
unused to hardship, weak and long unused to roam,
Agéd is thy saintly mother, let fair Pritha stay at home,
And by all
beloved, respected, in my house shall Pritha dwell,
Till your years of exile over, ye shall greet her safe and well."
him the sons of Pandu: " Be it even as you say,
Unto us thou art a father, we thy sacred will obey,
Give us then
thy holy blessings, friend and father, ere we part,
Blessings from the true and righteous brace the feeble, fainting heart."
pious-hearted: "Best of Bharat's ancient race,
Let me bless thee and thy brothers, souls of truth and righteous grace,
no weal to mortals who may win by wicked wile,
Sorrow brings no shame to mortals who are free froin sin and guile!
trained in laws of duty, Arjun is unmatched in war,
And on Bhima in the battle kindly shines his faithful star,
And the Twins
excel in wisdom, born to rule a mighty State,
Fair Draupadi, ever faithful. wins the smiles of fickle Fate!
varied gifts encircled, each beloved of one and all,
Ye shall win a spacious empire. greater, mightier, after fall.
exile, good Yudhishthir, is ordained to serve your kveal,
Is a trial and samadhi, for it chastens but to heal!
thee righteous maxims where Himalay soars above,
And in Varnavata's forest Vyasa taught thee holy love,
the laws of duty far on Bhrigu's lofty hill,
Sambhu showed the path of virtue by fair Drisad-vati's rill,
lips of saint Asita, words of wisdom deep and grave,
Bhrigu touched with fire thy bosorn by the dark Kalmashi's wave!
more the teaching cometh, purer, brighter, oftener taught,
Learn the truth from heavenly Narad, happy is thy mortal lot,
the son of Ila, than the kings of earth in might,
Holier than the holy rishis, be thou in thy virtue bright!
thee in thy battles, proud subduer of mankind,
YAMA in the mightier duty, in the conquest of thy mind,
teach thee kindness, hungry and the poor to feed,
King VARNUA quell thy passions, free thy heart from sin and greed,
Moon in holy lustre, like the Earth in patience deep,
Like the Sun be full of radiance, strong like Wind's resistless sweep!
In thy sorrow,
in affliction, ever deeper lessons learn,
Righteous be your life in exile, happy be your safe return,
eyes again behold thee in Hastina's ancient town,
Conqueror of earthly trials, crowned with virtue's heavenly crown!"
to the brothers, and they felt their might increase,
Bowed to him in salutation, filled with deeper, holier peace,
Bhishma and to Drona, and to chiefs and elders all,
Exiles to the pathless jungle, left their father's ancient hall!
In the inner
palace chambers where the royal ladies dwell,
Unto Pritha, came Draupadi, came to speak her sad farewell,
daughter, monarch's consort, as an exile she must go,
Pritha wept and in the chambers rose the wailing voice of woe!
convulsed her bosom as a silent prayer she prayed,
And in accents choked by anguish thus her parting words she said:
child, if bitter fortune so ordains that we must part,
Virtue hath her consolations for the true and loving heart,
And I need
not tell thee, daughter, duties of a faithful wife,
Drupad's and thy husband's mansions thou hast brightened by thy life!
the sinning Kurus thou hast turned thy righteous wrath,
Safely, with a mother's blessing, tread the trackless jungle path,
no woe or sorrow to the true and faithful wife,
Sinless deed and holy conduct ever guard her charméd life,
lord with woman's kindness, and his brothers, where ye go,
Young in years in Sahadeva, gentle and unused to woo!"
blessings help me, mother," so the fair Draupadi said,
"Safe in righteous truth and virtue, forest paths we fearless tread!"
Wet her eyes
and loose her tresses, fair Draupadi bowed and left,
Ancient Pritha weeping followed of all earthly joy bereft,
As she went,
her duteous children now before their mother came,
Clad in garments of the deer-skin, and their heads were bent in shame!
in her bosom choked her voice and filled her eye,
Till in broken stifled accents faintly thus did Pritha cry:
to path of duty, noble children void of stain,
True to gods, to mortals faithful, why this undeservéd pain,
hath untimely sorrow like a darksome cloud above,
Cast its pale and deathful shadow on the children of my love?
Woe to me,
your wretched mother, woe to her who gave you birth,
Stainless sons, for sins of Pritha have ye suffered on this earth,
range the pathless forest dreary day and darksome night,
'Reft of all save native virtue, clad in native, inborn might?
Woe to me,
from rocky mountains where I dwelt by Pandu's side,
When I lost him, to Hastina wherefore came I in my pride,
your sainted father, dwells in regions of the sky,
Sees nor feels these earthly sorrows gathering on us thick and high,
is faithful Madri, for she trod the virtuous way,
Followed Pandu to the bright sky, and is now his joy and stay!
are left to Pritha, dear unto her joyless heart,
Mother's hope and widow's treasure, and ye may not, shall not part,
not alone on wide earth, loving sons, your virtues prove,
Dear Draupadi, loving daughter, lot a mother's tear-drops move,
mercy, kind Creator, and my days in mercy close,
End my sorrows, kind VIDHATA, end my life with all my woes!
pious-hearted Krishna, friend of friendless, wipe my pain,
All who suffer pray unto thee and they never pray in vain,
Bhishma, warlike Drona, Kripa ever good and wise,
Ye are friends of truth and virtue, righteous truth ye ever prize,
Help me from
thy starry mansions, husband, wherefore dost thou wait,
Seest thou not thy godlike children exiled by a bitter fate!
leave me not, my children, seek ye not the trackless way,
Stay but one, if one child only, as your mother's hope and stay,
gentlest Sahadeva, dearest to this widowed heart,
Wilt thou watch beside thy mother, while thy cruel brothers part?"
words of consolation, Pritha's children wiped her tear,
Then unto the pathless jungle turned their footsteps lone and drear!
with fainting Pritha to Vidura's palace hie,
Kuru queens for weeping Pritha raise their voice in answering cry,
for fair Draupadi fortune's fitful will upbraid,
And their tear-dewed lotus -faces with their streaming fingers shade,
ancient monarch, is by sad misgivings pained,
Questions oft with anxious bosom what the cruel fates ordained.