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Chapter 1

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Om! Having bowed down to Narayana, and Nara the foremost of male beings,and the goddess Saraswati also, must the word Jaya be uttered.

“Janamejaya said, ‘O thou foremost of regenerate ones, deceitfullydefeated at dice by the sons of Dhritarashtra and their counsellors,incensed by those wicked ones that thus brought about a fierce animosity,and addressed in language that was so cruel, what did the Kuru princes,my ancestors–the sons of Pritha–(then) do? How also did the sons ofPritha, equal unto Sakra in prowess, deprived of affluence and suddenlyover whelmed with misery, pass their days in the forest? Who followed thesteps of those princes plunged in excess of affliction? And how did thosehigh souled ones bear themselves and derive their sustenance, and wheredid they put up? And, O illustrious ascetic and foremost of Brahmanas,how did those twelve years (of exile) of those warriors who were slayersof foes, pass away in the forest? And undeserving of pain, how did thatprincess, the best of her sex, devoted to her husbands, eminentlyvirtuous, and always speaking the truth, endure that painful exile in theforest? O thou of ascetic wealth tell me all this in detail, for, OBrahmana, I desire to hear thee narrate the history of those heroespossessed of abundant prowess and lustre. Truly my curiosity is great.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus defeated at dice and incensed by the wickedsons of Dhritarashtra and their counsellors, the sons of Pritha set outfrom Hastinapura. And issuing through Vardhamana gate of the city, thePandavas bearing their weapons and accompanied by Draupadi set out in anorthernly direction. Indrasena and others, with servants numberingaltogether fourteen, with their wives, followed them on swift cars. Andthe citizens learning of their departure became overwhelmed with sorrow,and began to censure Bhishma and Vidura and Drona and Gautama. And havingmet together they thus addressed one another fearlessly.

‘Alas, our families, we ourselves, and our homes are all gone, when thewicked Duryodhana, backed by the son of Suvala, by Karna and Dussasana,aspireth to this kingdom. And, Oh, our families, our (ancestral) usages,our virtue and prosperity, are all doomed where this sinful wretchsupported by wretches as sinful aspireth to the kingdom! And, Oh, how canhappiness be there where these are not! Duryodhana beareth malice towardsall superiors, hath taken leave of good conduct, and quarreleth withthose that are near to him in blood. Covetous and vain and mean, he iscruel by nature. The whole earth is doomed when Duryodhana becometh itsruler. Thither, therefore, let us proceed whither the merciful andhigh-minded sons of Pandu with passions under control and victorious overfoes, and possessed of modesty and renown, and devoted to piouspractices, repair!’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘And saying this, the citizens went after thePandavas, and having met them, they all, with joined hands, thusaddressed the sons of Kunti and Madri.

‘Blest be ye! Where will ye go, leaving us in grief? We will follow youwhithersoever ye will go! Surely have we been distressed upon learningthat ye have been deceitfully vanquished by relentless enemies! Itbehoveth you not to forsake us that are your loving subjects and devotedfriends always seeking your welfare and employed in doing what isagreeable to you! We desire not to be overwhelmed in certain destructionliving in the dominions of the Kuru king. Ye bulls among men, listen aswe indicate the merits and demerits springing respectively fromassociation with what is good and bad! As cloth, water, the ground, andsesame seeds are perfumed by association with flowers, even so arequalities ever the product of association. Verily association with foolsproduceth an illusion that entangleth the mind, as daily communion withthe good and the wise leadeth to the practice of virtue. Therefore, theythat desire emancipation should associate with those that are wise andold and honest and pure in conduct and possessed of ascetic merit. Theyshould be waited upon whose triple possessions, viz., knowledge (of theVedas), origin and acts, are all pure, and association with them is evensuperior to (the study of the) scriptures. Devoid of the religious actsas we are, we shall yet reap religious merit by association with therighteous, as we should come by sin by waiting upon the sinful. The verysight and touch of the dishonest, and converse and association with them;cause diminution of virtue, and men (that are doomed to these), neverattain purity of mind. Association with the base impaireth theunderstanding, as, indeed, with the indifferent maketh it indifferent,while communion with the good ever exalteth it. All those attributeswhich are spoken of in the world as the sources of religious merit, ofworldly prosperity and sensual pleasures, which are regarded by thepeople, extolled in the Vedas, and approved by the well-behaved, exist inyou, separately and jointly! Therefore, desirous of our own welfare, wewish to live amongst you who possess those attributes!

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Blessed are we since the people with the Brahmanasat their head, moved by affection and compassion credit us with merits wehave not. I, however, with my brothers, would ask all of you to do onething. Ye should not, through affection and pity for us, act otherwise!Our grandfather Bhishma, the king (Dhritarashtra), Vidura, my mother andmost of my well-wishers, are all in the city of Hastinapura. Therefore,if ye are minded to seek our welfare, cherish ye them with care, unitingtogether as they are overwhelmed with sorrow and afflictions. Grieved atour departure, ye have come far! Go ye back, and let your hearts bedirected with tenderness towards the relatives I entrust to you aspledges! This, of all others, is the one act upon which my heart is set,and by doing this ye would give me great satisfaction and pay me yourbest regards!

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus exhorted by Yudhishthira the just, thepeople in a body set up a loud wail exclaiming,–Alas, O king! Andafflicted and overwhelmed with sorrow on remembering the virtues ofPritha’s son, they unwillingly retraced their steps asking leave of thePandavas.

‘The citizens having ceased to follow, the Pandavas ascended their cars,and setting out reached (the site of) the mighty banian tree calledPramana on the banks of the Ganges. And reaching the site of the baniantree about the close of the day, the heroic sons of Pandu purifiedthemselves by touching the sacred water, and passed the night there. Andafflicted with woe they spent that night taking water alone as their solesustenance. Certain Brahmanas belonging to both classes, viz., those thatmaintained the sacrificial fire and those that maintained it not, whohad, with their disciples and relatives, out of affection followed thePandavas thither also passed the night with them. And surrounded by thoseutterers of Brahma, the king shone resplendent in their midst. And thatevening, at once beautiful and terrible, those Brahmanas having lightedtheir (sacred) fires, began to chant the Vedas and hold mutual converse.And those foremost of Brahmanas, with swan-sweet voices spent the night,comforting that best of Kurus–the king.”

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