Chapter 3

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

“Vyasa said,–‘Asses are taking births in kine. Some are having sexualpleasure with mothers. The trees in the forests are exhibitingunseasonable flowers and fruits. Women quick with child, and even thosethat are not so, are giving birth to monsters. Carnivorous beasts,mingling with (carnivorous) birds, are feeding together. Ill-omenedbeasts, some having three horns, some with four eyes, some with fivelegs, some with two sexual organs, some with two heads, some with twotails, some having fierce teeth, are being born, and with mouths wideopen are uttering unholy cries. Horses with three legs, furnished withcrests, having four teeth, and endued with horns, are also being born. Oking! in thy city is also seen that the wives of many utterers of Brahmaare bringing forth Garudas and peacocks. The mare is bringing forth thecow-calf and the bitch is bringing forth, O king, jackals and cocks, andantelopes and parrots are all uttering inauspicious cries.[12] Certainwomen are bringing forth four or five daughters (at a time), and these assoon as they are born, dance and sing and laugh. The members of thelowest orders are laughing and dancing and singing, and thus indicatingdireful consequences. Infants, as if urged by death, are drawing armedimages, and are running against one another, armed with clubs, anddesirous of battle are also breaking down the towns (they erect insport). Lotuses of different kinds and lilies are growing on trees.Strong winds are blowing fiercely and the dust ceaseth not. The earth isfrequently trembling, and Rahu approacheth towards the sun. The whiteplanet (Ketu) stayeth, having passed beyond the constellation Chitra. Allthis particularly bodeth the destruction of the Kurus. A fierce cometriseth, afflicting the constellation Pusya. This great planet will causefrightful mischief to both the armies. Mars wheeleth towards Magha andVrihaspati (Jupiter) towards Sravana. The Sun’s offspring (Sani)approaching towards the constellation Bhaga, afflicteth it. The planetSukra, ascending towards Purva Bhadra, shineth brilliantly, and wheelingtowards the Uttara Bhadra, looketh towards it, having effected a junction(with a smaller planet). The white planet (Ketu), blazing up like firemixed with smoke, stayeth, having attacked the bright constellationJeshtha that is sacred to Indra. The constellation Dhruva, blazingfiercely, wheeleth towards the right. Both the Moon and the Sun areafflicting Rohini. The fierce planet (Rahu) hath taken up its positionbetween the constellations Chitra and Swati.[13] The red-bodied (Mars)possessed of the effulgence of fire, wheeling circuitously, stayeth in aline with the constellation Sravana over-ridden by Vrihaspati. The earththat produceth particular crops at particular seasons is now covered withthe crops of every season.[14] Every barley-stalk is graced with fiveears, and every paddy-stalk with a hundred. They that are the best ofcreatures in the worlds and upon whom depends the universe, viz., kine,when milked after the calves have their suck, yield only blood. Radiantrays of light emanate from bows, and swords blaze forth brilliantly. Itis evident that the weapons behold (before them) the battle, as if itwere already arrived. The hue of weapons and the water, as also of coatsof mail and standards, is like that of fire. A great slaughter will takeplace. In this battle,[15] O Bharata, of the Kurus with the Pandavas, theearth, O monarch, will be a river of blood with the standards (ofwarriors) as its rafts. Animals and birds on all sides, with mouthsblazing like fire, uttering fierce cries, and displaying these evilomens, are foreboding terrible consequences. A (fierce) bird with but onewing, one eye, and one leg, hovering over the sky in the night, screamethfrightfully in wrath, as if for making the hearers vomit blood? Itseemeth, O great king, that all weapons are now blazing with radiance.The effulgence of the constellation known by the name of the sevenhigh-souled Rishis, hath been dimmed. Those two blazing planets, viz.,Vrihaspati and Sani, having approached the constellation called Visakha,have become stationary there for a whole year. Three lunations twicemeeting together in course of the same lunar fortnight, the duration ofthe latter is shortened by two days.[16] On the thirteenth day therefore,from the first lunation, according as it is the day of the full moon orthe new moon, the moon and the sun are afflicted by Rahu. Such strangeeclipses, both lunar and solar, forebode a great slaughter.[17] All thequarters of the earth, being overwhelmed by showers of dust, lookinauspicious. Fierce clouds, portentous of danger, drop bloody showersduring the night. Rahu of fierce deeds is also, O monarch, afflicting theconstellation Kirtika. Rough winds, portending fierce danger, areconstantly blowing. All these beget a war characterised by many sadincidents.[18] The constellations are divided into three classes. Uponone or another of each class, a planet of evil omen has shed itsinfluence, foreboding terrible dangers.[19] A lunar fortnight hadhitherto consisted of fourteen days, or fifteen days (as usual), orsixteen days. This, however, I never knew that the day of new-moon wouldbe on the thirteenth day from the first lunation, or the day of full-moonon the thirteenth day from the same. And yet in course of the same monthboth the Moon and the Sun have undergone eclipses on the thirteenth daysfrom the day of the first lunation.[20] The Sun and the Moon therefore,by undergoing eclipses on unusual days,[21] will cause a great slaughterof the creatures of the earth. Indeed, Rakshasas, though drinking bloodby mouthful, will yet not be satiated. The great rivers are flowing inopposite directions. The waters of rivers have become bloody. The wells,foaming up, are bellowing like bulls.[22] Meteors, effulgent like Indra’sthunder-bolt, fall with loud hisses.[23] When this night passeth away,evil consequences will overtake you. People, for meeting together, comingout of their houses with lighted brands, have still to encounter a thickgloom all round.[24] Great Rishis have said that in view of suchcircumstances the earth drinks the blood of thousands of kings. From themountains of Kailasa and Mandara and Himavat thousands of explosions areheard and thousands of summits are tumbling down. In consequence of theEarth’s trembling, each of the four oceans having swelled greatly, seemsready to transgress its continents for afflicting the Earth.[25] Fiercewinds charged with pointed pebbles are blowing, crushing mighty trees. Invillages and towns trees, ordinary and sacred, are falling down, crushedby mighty winds and struck by lightning. The (sacrificial) fire, whenBrahmanas pour libations on it, becomes blue, or red, or yellow. Itsflames bend towards the left, yielding a bad scent, accompanied by loudreports. Touch, smell, and taste have, O monarch, become what they werenot. The standards (of warriors), repeatedly trembling are emittingsmoke. Drums and cymbals are throwing off showers of coal-dust. And fromthe tops of tall trees all around, crows, wheeling in circles from theleft, are uttering fierce cries. All of them again are uttering frightfulcries of pakka, pakka and are perching upon the tops of standards for thedestruction of the kings. Vicious elephants, trembling all over, arerunning hither and thither, urinating and ejecting excreta. The horsesare all melancholy, while the elephants are resorting to the water.Hearing all this, let that be done which is suitable, so that, O Bharata,the world may not be depopulated.'”

Vaisampayana continued,–“Hearing these words of his father,Dhritarashtra said,–‘I think all this hath been ordained of old. A greatslaughter of human beings will take place. If the kings die in battleobserving the duties of the Kshatriya order, they will then, attaining tothe regions reserved for heroes, obtain only happiness. These tigersamong men, casting away their lives in great battle, will win fame inthis and great bliss for ever in the next world.’

Vaisampayana continued,–“O best of kings, thus addressed by his sonDhritarashtra, that prince of poets, the Muni (Vyasa) concentrated hismind in supreme Yoga. Having contemplated for only a short space of time,Vyasa once more said,–‘Without doubt, O king of kings, it is Time thatdestroyeth the universe. It is Time also that createth the worlds. Thereis nothing here that is eternal. Show the path of righteousness to theKurus, to thy kinsmen, relatives, and friends. Thou art competent torestrain them. The slaughter of kinsmen hath been said to be sinful. Donot do that which is disagreeable to me. O king, Death himself hath beenborn in the shape of thy son. Slaughter is never applauded in the Vedas.It can never be beneficial. The usages of one’s race are as one’s ownbody. Those usages slay him that destroyeth them. For the destruction ofthis race and of those kings of the earth it is Time that maketh theedeviate into the wrong path like one in distress, although thou artcompetent (to walk along the path of righteousness). O king, in the shapeof thy kingdom hath calamity come to thee. Thy virtue is sustaining avery great diminution.[26] Show what righteousness is unto thy sons. Othou that art invincible, of what value is that kingdom to thee whichbringeth sin to thee? Take care of thy good name, thy virtue, and thyfame. Thou wilt then win heaven. Let the Pandavas have their kingdom, andlet the Kauravas have peace.”

“While that best of Brahmanas was saying these words in a sorrowful tone,Dhritarashtra, the son of Ambika, accomplished in speech, once moreaddressed him, saying.—‘My knowledge of life and death is similar tothine. The truth is known to me as regards these. Man, however, in whatconcerns his own interests, is deprived of judgment. O sire, know me tobe one who is an ordinary person. Of immeasurable power thou art. I praythee to extend thine towards us. Of soul under complete control, thou artour refuge and instructor. My sons are not obedient to me, O great Rishi.My understanding too is not inclined to commit sin.[27] Thou art thecause of the fame, the achievements, and the inclination for virtue, ofthe Bharatas. Thou art the reverend grandsire of both the Kurus and thePandavas.’

“Vyasa said,–‘O royal son of Vichitravirya, tell me freely what is inthy mind. I will remove thy doubts.”

“Dhritarashtra said,–‘O holy one, I desire to hear from thee of allthose indications that happen unto those that become victorious inbattle.”

“Vyasa said,–‘The (sacred) fire assumes a cheerful radiance. Its lightascends upwards. Its flame bends towards the right. It blazes up withoutbeing smoky. The libations poured on it yield a fragrant scent. It issaid that these are the indications of future success. The conches andcymbals yield sounds that are deep and loud. The Sun as well as the Moongives pure rays. It is said that these are the indications of futuresuccess. Crows, whether stationary or on their wings, utter cries thatare agreeable. They again that are behind, urge the warriors to advance;while they that are ahead, forbid all advance.[28] Where vultures, swans,parrots, cranes, and wood-peckers utter delightful cries, and wheeltowards the right, the Brahmanas say that their victory in battle iscertain. They whose divisions, in consequence of ornaments, coats ofmail, and standards, or the melodious neigh of their steeds, becomeresplendent and incapable of being gazed at, always conquer their foes.They who utter cheerful shouts, those warriors, O Bharata, whose energiesare not damped and whose garlands do not fade, always cross the ocean ofbattle. They who utter cheerful shouts having penetrated into thedivisions of the foe, who utter even kind words,[29] to the enemy, andwho, before striking, forewarn the foe, win victory. The objects ofhearing, vision, taste, touch, and smell, without undergoing any changefor the worse, become auspicious. This also is another indication of avictorious army, viz., there is joy among the combatants at all time.This also is another indication of success, viz. the winds that blow, theclouds, and the birds, all become favourable; while the clouds (sofavourable) and the rain-bows drop beneficial showers. These, O king, arethe indications of armies to be crowned with victory, while O monarch,all these become otherwise in the case of those that are about to bedestroyed. Whether the army be small or large, cheerfulness, as anattribute of the combatants, is said to be a certain indication ofvictory. One soldier, struck with panic, can cause even a large army totake fright and fly. And when an army, struck with panic, takes toflight, it causes even heroic warriors to take fright. If a large army isonce broken and put to rout, it cannot like a herd of deer disordered infright or a mighty current of water be easily checked. If a large army isonce routed, it is incapable of being rallied; on the other hand,beholding it broken, even those well-skilled in battle, O Bharata, becomeheartless. Beholding soldiers struck with fear and flying, the panicspreads in other directions, and soon, O king, the whole army is brokenand flies in all directions. And when an army is routed, even braveleaders, O king, at the head of large divisions consisting of the fourkinds of forces, are incapable of rallying them. An intelligent man,always exerting himself with activity, should strive (to win success) bythe aid of means. It is said that that success which is won bynegotiation and other means is the very best. That which is achieved byproducing disunion (among the foe) is indifferent. While that success, Oking, which is won by battle, is the worst. In battle are many evils, theinitial one, as it is said, being slaughter. Even fifty brave men whoknow one another, who are underpressed, who are free from family ties,and who are firmly resolved, can crush a large army. Even five, six,seven men, who are unretreating, win victory. Vinata’s son Garuda, OBharata, beholding even a large concourse of birds, asketh not the aid ofmany followers (to vanquish them). The strength in number, therefore ofan army is not always the cause of victory. Victory is uncertain. Itdepends on chance. Even they that become victorious have to sustainloss.'”

Chapter 4
Chapter 2