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Chapter 10

Mahabharata English - SAUPTIKA PARVA

Vaishampayana said, “After that night had gone away, the driver ofDhrishtadyumna’s car gave intelligence to king Yudhishthira of the greatslaughter that had been caused during the hour of sleep.

The driver said, “The sons of Draupadi, O king, have been slain, with allthe children of Drupada himself, while they were heedless and trustfullyasleep in their own camp! During the night, O king, thy camp has beenexterminated by the cruel Kritavarma, and Kripa, the son of Gautama, andthe sinful Ashvatthama! Slaying thousands of men and elephants and steedswith lances and darts and battle-axes, those men have exterminated thyarmy. While thy army was being slaughtered like a forest cut down withaxes, a loud wail was heard rising from thy camp. I am the sole survivor,O monarch, of that vast force. I have, O thou of virtuous soul, escapedwith difficulty from Kritavarma at a time when he was heedless!”

Hearing these evil tidings, Kunti’s son Yudhishthira, however, capable ofbearing up (against foes), fell down on the earth, afflicted with griefat the loss of his sons. Advancing forward, Satyaki held the king in hisembrace. Bhimasena and Arjuna and the two sons of Madri also stretchedforth their arms. Having recovered his senses, the son of Kunti lamentedin great affliction, uttering these words rendered indistinct by sorrow:”Alas, having vanquished the foe, we have ourselves been vanquished inthe end! The course of events is difficult to be ascertained even bypersons endued with spiritual sight. The foes, who were vanquished havebecome victorious! Ourselves, again, while victorious, are vanquished!Having slain brothers and friends and sires and sons and well-wishers,and kinsmen, and counsellors, and having vanquished them all, weourselves are vanquished at last! Misery looks like prosperity andprosperity looks like misery! This our victory has assumed the shape ofdefeat. Our victory, therefore, has ended in defeat! Having won thevictory, I am obliged to grieve as an afflicted wretch. How, then, can Iregard it as a victory? In reality, I have been doubly defeated by thefoe. They for whose sake we have incurred the sin of victory by slayingour kinsmen and friends, alas, they, after victory had crowned them, havebeen vanquished by defeated foes that were heedful!

Alas, through heedlessness have they been slain that had escaped fromeven Karna, that warrior who had barbed arrows and nalikas for his teeth,the sword for his tongue, the bow for his gaping mouth, and the twang ofthe bowstring and the sound of palms for his roars–that angry Karna whonever retreated from battle, and who was a very lion among men! Alas,those princes that succeeded in crossing, by boats constituted by theirown excellent weapons, the great Drona-ocean having cars for its deeplakes, showers of arrows for its waves, the ornaments of warriors for itsgems, car-steeds for its animals, darts and swords for its fishes,elephants for its alligators, bows for its whirlpools, mighty weapons forits foam, and the signal of battle for its moonrise causing it to swellwith energy, and the twang of the bowstring and the sound of palms forits roar,–alas, even those princes have from heedlessness been slain!

There is, in this world, no more powerful cause of death, as regards men,than heedlessness! Prosperity abandons a heedless man from every side,and every kind of misery overtakes him. The tall standard with excellenttop that stood on his car was the wreath of smoke that infalliblyindicated the Bhishma-fire. Shafts constituted its flames, and wrath wasthe wind that fanned it! The twang of his formidable bow and the sound ofhis palms constituted the roar of that fire. Armour and diverse kinds ofweapons were the homa libations that were poured into it. The vasthostile army was the heap of dry forest-grass that was assailed by thatfire. Alas, even they that had endured that fierce fire whose terribleenergy was represented by the mighty weapons in Bhishma’s hand have atlast fallen through heedlessness.

A heedless person can never acquire knowledge, asceticism, prosperity, orgreat renown. Behold, Indra has obtained great happiness after slayingall his foes heedfully. Behold the survivors among our foes have, throughour heedlessness, slain so many sons and grandsons of kings, each of whomwas really like Indra himself. Alas, they have perished like merchantswith rich freight perishing through carelessness in a shallow streamafter having crossed the great ocean. They whose bodies are now lying onthe bare ground, slain by those vindictive wretches, have without doubtascended to heaven.

I grieve, however, for the princess Krishna. Alas, she will be plungedtoday in an ocean of grief. Hearing of the slaughter of her brothers andsons and her venerable sire, the king of the Pancalas, without doubt shewill fall down senseless on the earth. Her body emaciated by grief, shewill not rise again. Unable to bear the grief resulting from suchaffliction, and worthy as she is of happiness, alas, what will be herplight? Cut to the quick by the slaughter of her sons and brothers, shewill be like one scorched by fire.’

Having in deep affliction indulged in these lamentations, that king ofKuru’s race then addressed Nakula, saying, Go and bring the unfortunateprincess Draupadi here along with all her maternal relations.’ Obedientlyaccepting that command of the king who equalled Yama himself inrighteousness, Nakula speedily proceeded on his car to the quarters ofDraupadi where that princess resided with all the wives of the Pancalaking. Having despatched the son of Madri, Yudhishthira, crushed by grief,proceeded with tears in his eyes accompanied by those friends of his, tothe field on which his sons had battled and which still teemed withdiverse kinds of creatures. Having entered that cursed field aboundingwith fierce sights, the king saw his sons, well-wishers, and friends, alllying on the ground, covered with blood, their bodies mangled, and headsseparated from their trunks. Beholding them in that plight, Yudhishthira,that foremost of righteous men, became deeply afflicted. That chief ofthe Kurus then began to weep aloud and fell down on the earth, deprivedof his senses, along with all his followers.”

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