Ancient India
Arjuna

Dhritarashtra

   What did my sons and the sons of Pandu do, O Sanjaya, when they assembled together on the holy field of Kurukshetra, eager to do battle? 1


Sanjaya

   Seeing the army of the Pandavas 2 drawn up in battle-array, the prince Duryodhana 3 approached his teacher, and spoke these words:

   O teacher! Look at this great army of the sons of Pandu, drawn up in battle-array by your talented pupil, the son of Drupada. In it are heroes bearing large bows, the equals of Bhima and Arjuna in battl—Yuyudhana, Virata, and Drupada, the master of a great chariot, and Dhrishtaketu, Kekitana, and the valiant king of Benares, Purujit and Kuntibhoga, and that eminent man Saibya, the heroic Yudhamanyu, the valiant Uttamaujas, the son of Subhadra, and the sons of Draupada—all masters of great chariots.

   "And now, O best of Brahmanas, 4 you will learn who are most distinguished among us, and are leaders of my army. I will name them to you, in order that you may know them well. Yourself, and Bhishma, and Karna, and Kripa the victor of many battles; Ashvatthaman, and Vikarna, and also the son of Somadatta, and many other brave men, who have given up their lives for me, who fight with various weapons, and are all skilled in battle. Thus our army which is protected by Bhishma is unlimited; while this army of theirs which is protected by Bhima is very limited. And, therefore, you should all, occupying respectively the positions I assigned to you, protect Bhishma only."

   Then his powerful elder, Bhishma, the oldest of the Kauravas, roaring aloud like a lion, blew his conch and gave delight to Duryodhana. And then all at once, conches and keltledrums and tabors and trumpets were played upon; and there was a noise like thunder. Then, too, Krishna and Arjuna, the son of Pandu, seated in a grand chariot to which white steeds were yoked, blew their heavenly conches. Krishna, the lord of the senses of perception, blew the Pancajanya, and Arjuna the Devadatta, and Bhima, the doer of fearful deeds, blew the great conch Paundra. King Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, blew the Anantavijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva the Sughosha and Manipushpaka. And the king of Kasi, too, who has an excellent bow, and Sikhandin, the master of a great chariot, and Drishtadyumna, Virata, and the unconquered Satyaki, and Drupada, and the sons of Draupadi, and the son of Subhadra, of mighty arms—all blew their conches from all sides, O king of the earth! That tumultuous din tore the hearts of all the people of Dhritarashtra's army, causing reverberations throughout heaven and earth.

   Then seeing the people of Dhritarashtra's party all set in array, the son of Pandu, whose standard is the ape, raised his bow, after the discharge of missiles had commenced, and, O king of the earth, 5 spoke these words to Krishna:

   "O undegraded one! station my chariot between the two armies while I observe those, who stand here eager to engage in battle, and with whom, in the labors of this struggle, I must do battle; I will observe those who are assembled here and who are about to engage in batt!e, wishing to do service in battle to the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra." 6

   Thus addressed by Arjuna, O descendant of Bharata, 7 Krishna stationed that excellent chariot between the two armies, in front of Bhishma and Drona 8 and of all the kings of the earth, and said:

   O son of Pandu! Look at these assembled Kauravas." 9

   There Arjuna saw in both armies fathers and grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, companions, fathers-in-law, as well as friends. And seeing all those kinsmen standing there, Arjuna was overcome by excessive pity, and spoke in great grief:


Arjuna

   Seeing these kinsmen, O Krishna, I am standing here eager for war, but my limbs droop down and my mouth is quite dried up; a tremor creeps over my body; and my hairs stand on end; the Gandiva bow slips from my hand; my skin burns intensely. I am unable, too, to stand up; my mind whirls round; O Krishna! I see bad omens, and I do not perceive any good that will come from killing my kinsmen in battle. I do not wish for victory, O Krishna, nor sovereignty, nor pleasures: what is sovereignty to us, O Govinda, what are enjoyments, and even life? Even those, for whose sake we desire sovereignty, enjoyments, and pleasures, are standing here for battle, abandoning life and wealth—teachers, fathers, sons as well as grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons,brothers-in-law, and other relatives. These I do not wish to kill, though they kill me, O destroyer of Madhu, 10 even for the sake of sovereignty over the three worlds, how much less then for this earth?

   What joy shall be ours, O Krishna, after killing Dhritarashtra's sons? By killing these felons we shall only become sinners ourselves. Therefore, it is not proper for us to kill our own kinsmen, the sons of Dhritarashtra. For how, Krishna, shall we be happy after killing our own relatives? Although having their consciences corrupted by avarice, they do not see the evils flowing from the extinction of a family, and the sin in treachery to friends, still, Krishna, should not we, who do see the evils flowing from the extinction of a family, learn to refrain from that sin ?

   On the extinction of a family, the eternal rites of families are destroyed. 11 Those rites being destroyed, impiety predominates over the whole family. In consequence of the predominance of impiety, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupt, and the women becoming corrupt, O descendant of Vishnu, intermingling of castes results; 12 that intermingling necessarily leads the family and the destroyers of the family to hell; for when the ceremonies of offering the balls of food and water to the ancestors fail, the ancestors fall down to hell. By these transgressions of the destroyers of families, which occasion interminglings of castes, the eternal rites of castes and rites of families are subverted.

   And, O Krishna, I we have heard that men whose family-rites are subverted must necessarily live in hell. Alas! we are engaged in committing a heinous sin, seeing that we are making efforts for killing our own kinsmen out of greed of the pleasures of sovereignty. If the sons of Dhritarashtra, weapon in hand, should kill me in battle, me weaponless and not defending myself, that would be better for me.


Sanjaya

   Having spoken thus, Arjuna cast aside his bow together with the arrows on the battle-field, and sat down in his chariot, with a mind overcome by grieŁ

Translated by Kashinath Trimbak Telano, 1882
Edited and annotated by Richard Hooker



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