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Chapter 61

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Bowing down in the first place to my preceptor withthe eight parts of my body touching the ground, with devotion andreverence, and with all my heart, worshipping the whole assembly ofBrahmanas and other learned persons, I shall recite in full what I haveheard from the high-souled and great Rishi Vyasa, the first ofintelligent men in the three worlds.

And having got it within thy reach,O monarch, thou also art a fit person to hear the composition calledBharata. Encouraged by the command of my preceptor my heart feeleth nofear.

“Hear, O monarch, why that disunion occurred between the Kurus and thePandavas, and why also that exile into the woods immediately proceedingfrom the game at dice prompted by the desire (of the Kurus) for rule. Ishall relate all to thee who askest it thou best of the Bharata race!

“On the death of their father those heroes (the Pandavas) came to theirown home. And within a short time they became well-versed in archery. Andthe Kurus beholding the Pandavas gifted with physical strength, energy,and power of mind, popular also with the citizens, and blessed with goodfortune, became very jealous. Then the crookedminded Duryodhana, andKarna, with (the former’s uncle) the son of Suvala began to persecutethem and devise means for their exile. Then the wicked Duryodhana, guidedby the counsels of Sakuni (his maternal uncle), persecuted the Pandavasin various ways for the acquirement of undisputed sovereignty. The wickedson of Dhritarashtra gave poison to Bhima, but Bhima of the stomach ofthe wolf digested the poison with the food. Then the wretch again tiedthe sleeping Bhima on the margin of the Ganges and, casting him into thewater, went away. But when Bhimasena of strong arms, the son of Kuntiwoke, he tore the strings with which he had been tied and came up, hispains all gone. And while asleep and in the water black snakes ofvirulent poison bit him in every part of his body. But that slayer offoes did not still perish. And in all those persecutions of the Pandavasby their cousins, the Kurus, the high-minded Vidura attentively engagedhimself neutralising those evil designs and rescuing the persecuted ones.And as Sakra from the heavens keeps in happiness the world of men, so didVidura always keep the Pandavas from evil.

“When Duryodhana, with various means, both secret and open, found himselfincapable of destroying the Pandavas who were protected by the fates andkept alive for grave future purposes (such as the extermination of theKuru race), then called together his counsellors consisting of Vrisha(Karna), Duhsasana and others, and with the knowledge of Dhritarashtracaused a house of lac to be constructed. And king Dhritarashtra, fromaffection for his children, and prompted by the desire of sovereignty,sent the Pandavas tactfully into Varanavata. And the Pandavas then wentaway with their mother from Hastinapura. And when they were leaving thecity, Vidura gave them some idea of impending danger and how they couldcome out of it.

‘The sons of Kunti reached the town of Varanavata and lived there withtheir mother. And, agreeably to the command of Dhritarashtra, thoseillustrious slayers of all enemies lived in the palace of lac, while inthat town. And they lived in that place for one year, protectingthemselves from Purochana very wakefully. And causing a subterraneanpassage to be constructed, acting according to the directions of Vidura,they set fire to that house of lac and burnt Purochana (their enemy andthe spy of Duryodhana) to death. Those slayers of all enemies, anxiouswith fear, then fled with their mother. In the woods beside a fountainthey saw a Rakshasa. But, alarmed at the risk they ran of exposure bysuch an act the Pandavas fled in the darkness, out of fear from the sonsof Dhritarashtra. It was here that Bhima gained Hidimva (the sister ofthe Rakshasa he slew) for a wife, and it was of her that Ghatotkacha wasborn. Then the Pandavas, of rigid vows, and conversant with the Vedaswended to a town of the name of Ekachakra and dwelt there in the guise ofBrahmacharins. And those bulls among men dwelt in that town in the houseof a Brahmana for some time, with temperance and abstinence. And it washere that Bhima of mighty arms came upon a hungry and mighty andman-eating Rakshasa of the name of Vaka. And Bhima, the son of Pandu,that tiger among men, slew him speedily with the strength of his arms andmade the citizens safe and free from fear. Then they heard of Krishna(the princess of Panchala) having become disposed to select a husbandfrom among the assembled princes. And, hearing of it, they went toPanchala, and there they obtained the maiden. And having obtainedDraupadi (as their common wife) they then dwelt there for a year. Andafter they became known, those chastisers of all enemies went back toHastinapura. And they were then told by king Dhritarashtra and the son ofSantanu (Bhishma) as follows: ‘In order, O dear ones, dissensions may nottake place between you and your cousins, we have settled thatKhandavaprastha should be your abode. Therefore, go ye, casting off alljealousy, to Khandavaprastha which contains many towns served by manybroad roads, for dwelling there.’ And accordingly the Pandavas went, withall their friends and followers, to Khandavaprastha taking with them manyjewels and precious stones. And the sons of Pritha dwelt there for manyyears. And they brought, by force of arms, many a prince under theirsubjection. And thus, setting their hearts on virtue and firmly adheringto truth, unruffled by affluence, calm in deportment, and putting downnumerous evils, the Pandavas gradually rose to power. And Bhima of greatreputation subjugated the East, the heroic Arjuna, the North, Nakula, theWest; Sahadeva that slayer of all hostile heroes, the South. And thishaving been done, their domination was spread over the whole world. Andwith the five Pandavas, each like unto the Sun, the Earth looked as ifshe had six Suns.

“Then, for some reason, Yudhishthira the just, gifted with great energyand prowess, sent his brother Arjuna who was capable of drawing the bowwith the left hand, dearer unto him than life itself, into the woods. AndArjuna, that tiger among men, of firm soul, and gifted with every virtue,lived in the woods for eleven years and months. And during this period,on a certain occasion, Arjuna went to Krishna in Dwaravati. And Vibhatsu(Arjuna) there obtained for a wife the lotus-eyed and sweet-speechedyounger sister of Vasudeva, Subhadra by name. And she became united, ingladness, with Arjuna, the son of Pandu, like Sachi with the great Indra,or Sri with Krishna himself. And then, O best of monarchs, Arjuna, theson of Kunti, with Vasudeva, gratified Agni; the carrier of thesacrificial butter, in the forest of Khandava (by burning the medicinalplants in that woods to cure Agni of his indigestion). And to Arjuna,assisted as he was by Kesava, the task did not at all appear heavy evenas nothing is heavy to Vishnu with immense design and resources in thematter of destroying his enemies. And Agni gave unto the son of Prithathe excellent bow Gandiva and a quiver that was inexhaustible, and awar-chariot bearing the figure of Garuda on its standard. And it was onthis occasion that Arjuna relieved the great Asura (Maya) from fear (ofbeing consumed in the fire). And Maya, in gratitude, built (for thePandavas) a celestial palace decked with every sort of jewels andprecious stones. And the wicked Duryodhana, beholding that building, wastempted with the desire of possessing it. And deceiving Yudhishthira bymeans of the dice played through the hands of the son of Suvala,Duryodhana sent the Pandavas into the woods for twelve years and oneadditional year to be passed in concealment, thus making the period fullthirteen.

“And the fourteenth year, O monarch, when the Pandavas returned andclaimed their property, they did not obtain it. And thereupon war wasdeclared, and the Pandavas, after exterminating the whole race ofKshatriyas and slaying king Duryodhana, obtained back their devastatedkingdom.

“This is the history of the Pandavas who never acted under the influenceof evil passions; and this the account, O first of victorious monarchs ofthe disunion that ended in the loss of their kingdom by the Kurus and thevictory of the Pandavas.'”

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