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Chapter 33

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Sons and grandsons and brothers and sires andfathers-in-law and preceptors and maternal uncles and grandsires, manyhigh-souled Kshatriyas, many relatives (by marriage), friends,companions, sister’s sons, and kinsmen, O grandsire, and many foremost ofmen coming from diverse countries, have fallen. All these, O grandsire,have been caused to be slain by myself alone, from desire of kingdom.Having caused so many heroic kings who were always devoted torighteousness and all of whom had quaffed Soma in sacrifices, what endshall I attain, O great ascetic! Thinking that this earth has been bereftof many lions among kings, all of whom were in the enjoyment of greatprosperity, I burn continually to this day. Having witnessed thisslaughter of kinsmen and millions of other men, I burn with grief, Ograndsire! Oh, what will be the plight of those foremost of ladies whohave been deprived of sons, of husbands, and of brothers. Reproaching thePandavas and the Vrishnis as cruel murderers, those ladies, withemaciated features and plunged in grief, will throw themselves on theearth! Not beholding their sires and brothers and husbands and sons,those ladies, through affliction, casting off their life-breath, will goto the abode of Yama, O foremost of Brahmanas! I have no doubt of this.The course of morality is very subtle. It is plain that we shall bestained with the guilt of slaughtering women for this. Having slain ourkinsmen and friends and thereby committed an inexpiable sin, we shallhave to fall into hell with heads downwards. O best of men, we shall,therefore, waste our limbs with the austerest of penances. Tell me, Ograndsire, to what mode of life I should betake myself then.'”

Vaisampayana continued, “Hearing these words of Yudhishthira, theIsland-born Rishi, having reflected keenly for some time, addressed theson of Pandu as follows:

“Vyasa said, ‘Remembering the duties of a Kshatriya, O king, do not giveway to grief. All those Kshatriyas, O bull among Kshatriyas, have fallenin the observance of their proper duties. In the pursuit of greatprosperity and of great fame on earth, those foremost of men, all of whomwere liable to death,[109] have perished through the influence of Time.Thou hast not been their slayer, nor this Bhima, nor Arjuna, nor thetwins. It is Time that took away their life-breaths according to thegreat law of change. Time hath neither mother, nor father, nor anybodyfor whom he is disposed to show any favour. He is the witness of the actsof all creatures. By him have they been taken away. This battle, O bullof Bharata’s race, was only an occasion ordained by him. He causescreatures to be slain through the instrumentality of creatures. This isthe manner in which it puts forth its irresistible power. Know that Time(in his dealings with creatures) is dependent upon the bond of action andis the witness of all actions good and bad. It is Time that brings aboutthe fruits, fraught with bliss or woe, of our actions. Think, Omighty-armed one, of the acts of those Kshatriyas that have fallen. Thoseacts were the causes of their destruction and it is in consequence ofthem that they have perished. Think also of thy own acts consisting ofobservances of vows with restrained soul. And think also how thou hastbeen forced by the Supreme Ordainer to do such an act (as the slaughterof so many human beings). As a weapon made by a smith or carpenter isunder the control of the person that is handling it, and moves as hemoves it, similarly this universe, controlled by actions done in Time,moves as those actions move it. Seeing that the births and deaths ofcreatures take place without any (assignable) cause and in perfectwantonness, grief and joy are perfectly needless. Although thisentanglement of thy heart is a mere delusion, still, if it pleaseth thee,O king, perform expiatory rites (for washing thyself free of thyso-called sin). It is heard, O Partha, that the gods and the Asurasfought against each other. The Asuras were the elder, and the gods theyounger brothers. Covetous of prosperity, fierce was the battle foughtbetween them. The fight lasted for two and thirty thousand years. Makingthe earth one vast expanse of blood, the gods slew the Daityas and gainedpossession of heaven. Having obtained possession of the earth, a (large)number of Brahmanas, conversant with the Vedas, armed themselves,stupefied with pride, with the Danavas for giving them help in the fight.They were known by the name of Salavrika and numbered eight and eightythousand. All of them, however, were slain by the gods. Thosewicked-souled persons who desire the extinction of virtue and who setsinfulness agoing deserve to be slain even as the furious Daityas wereslain by the gods. If by slaying a single individual a family may besaved, or, if by slaying a single family the whole kingdom may be saved,such an act of slaughter will not be a transgression. Sin, O king,sometimes assumes the form of virtue, and virtue sometimes assumes theform of sin. They, however, that are learned, know which is which.Therefore, console thyself, O son of Pandu, for thou art well versed inthe scriptures. Thou hast, O Bharata, only followed the path formerlytrodden by the very gods. Men like yourselves never go to hell, O bull ofPandu’s race! Comfort these thy brothers and all thy friends, O scorcherof foes! He who deliberately engages himself in sinful acts, andcommitting sinful acts feels no shame but continues the same as before,is called (in the scripture) a great sinner. There is no expiation forhim and his sins know no diminution. Thou art born in noble race. Forcedby the faults of others, thou hast most unwillingly done this, and havingdone this thou repentest of it. The Horse-sacrifice, that grand rite, hasbeen indicated as an expiation for thee. Make preparations for thatsacrifice, O monarch, and thou shalt be freed from thy sins. The divinechastiser of Paka, having vanquished his foes with the assistance of theMaruts, gradually performed a hundred sacrifices and becameSatakratu.[110] Freed from sin, possessed of heaven, and having obtainedmany regions of bliss and great happiness and prosperity, Sakra,surrounded by the Maruts, is shining in beauty, and illuminating all thequarters with his splendour. The lord of Sachi is adored in the heavensby the Apsaras. The Rishis and the other gods all worship him withreverence. Thou hast got the earth through thy prowess. All the kingshave been vanquished by thee, O sinless one, through thy prowess.Proceeding with thy friends to their kingdom, O king, install theirbrothers, sons, or grandsons on their thrones. Behaving with kindnesstowards even the children in the womb, make thy subjects glad and happy,and rule the earth. Install on their thrones the daughters of those thathave no sons. Women are fond of pleasure and power. Through this meansthey will castoff their sorrows and become happy. Having comforted thewhole empire in this way, O Bharata, adore the gods in a Horse-sacrificeas the virtuous Indra did in days of old. It is not proper for us togrieve for those high-souled Kshatriyas, O bull of thy order (that havefallen in battle). Stupefied by the power of the destroyer, they haveperished in the observance of the duties of their own order. Thou hastdischarged the duties of a Kshatriya and obtained the earth without athorn in it. Observe thy own duties, O son of Kunti, for then, O Bharata,thou shalt be able to obtain happiness in the other world.'”

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