Mahabharata

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A manuscript illustration (18th c.?) of the Battle of Kurukshetra, fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, recorded in the Mahabharata Epic.
Sauti recites the slokas of the Mahabharata.

The Mahābhārata is an Sanskrit epic poem written over an extended period from the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD. The fullest form of The Mahābhārata contains about 2,000,000 words, more than the totals of both the King James version of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. It is sometimes said to be the longest poem in world literature. Quotations are cited from the translation by J. A. B. van Buitenen et al. (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1980–), to which page numbers also refer.

Quotes[edit]

  • निर्वनो वध्यते व्याघ्रो निर्व्याघ्रं छिद्यते वनम् ।
    तस्माद्व्याघ्रो वनं रक्षेद्वनं व्याघ्रं च पालयेत् ॥
  • nirvanō vadhyatē vyāghrō nirvyāghraṁ chidyatē vanam
    tasmādvyāghrō vanaṁ rakṣēdvanaṁ vyāghraṁ ca pālayēt.
    • The tiger dies without the forest, and similarly the forest is cut down without the tiger. The tiger should protect the forest, and the forest should defend the tiger.
  • अक्रोधेन जयेत्क्रोधमसाधुं साधुना जयेत् ।
    जयेत्कदर्यं दानेन जयेत्सत्येन चानृतम् ॥
  • akrōdhēna jayētkrōdha-masādhuṁ sādhunā jayēt
    jayētkadaryaṁ dānēna jayētsatyēna cānṛtam.
    • Anger must be conquered by forgiveness; and the wicked must be conquered by honesty; the miser must be conquered by liberality, and falsehood must be conquered by truth.
  • यथा च स्वगृहस्थः श्वा व्याघ्रं वनगतं भषेत् ।
    तथा त्वं भषसे कर्ण नरव्याघ्रं धनंजयम् ॥
  • yathā ca svagṛhasthaḥ śvā vyāghraṁ vanagataṁ bhaṣēt
    tathā tvaṁ bhaṣasē Karṇa naravyāghraṁ Dhanañjayam.
    • As a dog from within the precincts of the house of his master barks at a forest-roaming tiger, even so, O Karna, thou barkest at Dhananjaya, that tiger among men.
  • सृगालोऽपि वने कर्ण शशैः परिवृतो वसन् ।
    मन्यते सिंहमात्मानं यावत्सिंहन पश्यति ॥
  • sṛgālōpi vanē Karṇa śaśaiḥ parivṛtō vasan
    manyatē sinhamātmānaṁ yāvatsinhana paśyati.
    • A jackal, O Karna, residing in the forest in the midst of hares regardeth himself a lion till he actually sees a lion.
  • धर्मादर्थश्च कामश्च स किमर्थं न सेव्यते
  • dharmādarthaśca kāmaśca sa kimarthaṁ na sēvyatē
    • From Righteousness is Wealth as also Pleasure. Why should not Righteousness, therefore, be courted?
  • Non-violence is the highest ethics/righteousness, and righteous violence. (Ahiṁsa paramo dharma, dharma hiṁsa tathaiva ca)
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Hindu Dharma and the Culture Wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa. Chapter 9. Pluralism in Ila's city
People will become atheists and thieves... the kings of the earth, with hearts wedded to sin without knowledge and always boastful of their wisdom, will challenge one another... ~Mahabharata, Book 3, Vana Parva

Sabha Parva (Book 2)[edit]

Vana Parva (Book 3) [edit]

  • With gentleness one defeats the gentle as well as the hard; there is nothing impossible to the gentle; therefore the gentle is the more severe.
    • Sub-parva 31, sect. 29; vol. 2, p. 277.
  • A gray head does not make an elder. The Gods know him to be an elder who knows, be he a child. Not by years, not by gray hairs, not by riches or many relations did the seers make the Law: "He is great to us who has learning."
    • Sub-parva 33, sect. 133; vol. 2, p. 476.
  • Be he ever so wise and strong, wealth confounds a man. In my view, anyone living in comfort fails to reason.
    • Sub-parva 36, sect. 178; vol. 2, p. 566.

Udyoga Parva (Book 5)[edit]

as translated by J. A. B. van Buitenen

  • The poor always eat better: hunger sweetens their dishes, and that is rare among the rich. It is generally found in the world that the rich have no appetite, but the poor, O Indra of kings, digest even wood.
    • Sub-parva 51, sect. 34; vol. 3, pp. 263-4.
  • The intoxication with power is worse than drunkenness with liquor and such, for he who is drunk with power does not come to his senses before he falls.
    • Sub-parva 51, sect. 34; vol. 3, p. 264.
  • People are plagued by their senses if they act without restraint to attain their desires. ... If one is dragged along as the victim of his natural five senses, his adversities wax like the moon in the bright fortnight.
    • 5(51)34:53, p. 264
  • A chariot, king, is a person's body:
    The soul is the driver, the senses his horses;
    Undistracted by his fine horses a driver
    Who is skilled rides happily, if they are trained.
    • 5(51)34:57, p. 264
  • Senses out of control suffice to bring one to grief, as untrained and disobedient horses bring a driver to grief on the road. A fool who, guided by his senses, sees profit arising from the unprofitable and the unprofitable from profit mistakes misery for happiness.
    • 5(51)34:58, p. 264
  • Do not do to another what is disagreeable to yourself: this is the summary Law.
    • Sub-parva 51, sect. 39; vol. 3, pp. 281-2.
    • See also Golden Rule.
  • Once war has been undertaken, no peace is made by pretending there is no war.
    • Sub-parva 54, sect. 86; vol. 3, p. 365.

Shanti Parva (Book 12)[edit]

(Full text)

  • Freedom from fear, purity of heart, perseverance in (pursuit of) knowledge and abstraction of mind, gifts, self-restraint, and sacrifice, study of the Vedas, penance, straightforwardness, harmlessness, truth, freedom from anger, renunciation, tranquillity, freedom from the habit of backbiting, compassion for (all) beings, freedom from avarice, gentleness, modesty, absence of vain activity, noblemindedness, forgiveness, courage, purity, freedom from a desire to injure others, absence of vanity, (these), O descendant of Bharata! are his who is born to godlike endowments. Ostentatiousness, pride, vanity, anger, and also harshness and ignorance (are) his, O son of Prithâ! who is born to demoniac endowments. Godlike endowments are deemed to be (means) for final emancipation, demoniac for bondage. p. 115
  • Entertaining insatiable desire, full of vanity, ostentatiousness, and frenzy, they adopt false notions 7 through delusion, and engage in unholy observances. Indulging in boundless thoughts ending with death, given up to the enjoyment of objects of desire, being resolved that that is all, bound down by nets of hopes in hundreds, given up to anger and desire, they wish to obtain heaps of wealth unfairly for enjoying objects of desire. p. 116
  • Honoured (only) by themselves, void of humility, and full of the pride and frenzy of wealth, these calumniators (of the virtuous) perform sacrifices, which are sacrifices only in name, with ostentatiousness and against prescribed rules; indulging (their) vanity, brute force, arrogance, lust, and anger; and hating me in their own bodies and in those of others. These enemies, ferocious, meanest of men, and unholy, I continually hurl down, to these worlds, only into demoniac wombs. Coming into demoniac wombs, deluded in every birth, they go down to the vilest state, O son of Kuntî! without ever coming to me. Threefold is this way, to hell, ruinous to the self,--lust, anger, and likewise avarice; therefore one should abandon this triad. p. 117
  • Released from these three ways to darkness, O son of Kuntî! a man works out his own welfare, and then proceeds to the highest goal.
  • Tuladhara said, 'O Jajali, I know morality, which is eternal, with all its mysteries. It is nothing else than that ancient morality which is known to all, and which consists of universal friendliness, and is fraught with beneficence to all creatures. That mode of living which is founded upon a total harmlessness towards all creatures or (in case of actual necessity) upon a minimum of such harm, is the highest morality. p. 234
  • This practice of universal harmlessness hath arisen even thus. One may follow it by every means in one's power... It is sure to lead also to prosperity and heaven. In consequence of their ability to dispel the fears of others, men possessed of wealth and followers are regarded as foremost by the learned. They that are for ordinary happiness practise this duty of universal harmlessness for the sake of fame; while they that are truly skilled, practise the same for the sake of attaining to Brahma. p. 236
  • Whatever fruits one enjoys by penances, by sacrifices, by practising liberality, by speaking the truth, and by paying court to wisdom, may all be had by practising the duty of harmlessness. p. 236
  • That person who gives unto all creatures the assurance of harmlessness obtains the merit of all sacrifices and at last wins fearlessness for himself as his reward. There is no duty superior to the duty of abstention from injuring other creatures. He of whom, O great ascetic, no creature is frightened in the least, obtains for himself fearlessness of all creatures. He of whom everybody is frightened as one is of a snake ensconced within one's (sleeping) chamber, never acquires any merit in this world or in the next. p. 236
  • Twice blessed be the man that reflects long before he acts. One that reflects long before he acts is certainly possessed of great intelligence. Such a man never offends in respect of any act. p. 248
  • There is no shelter (protection against the sun) like the mother. There is no refuge like the mother. There is no defence like the mother. There is no one so dear as the mother. p. 248

About the Mahabharata[edit]

  • A Hindu scholar has rated the Mahabharata as “the greatest work of imagination that Asia has produced”; and Sir Charles Eliot has called it “a greater poem than the Iliad”. ... Upon this theme of love and battle a thousand interpolations have been hung. The god Krishna interrupts the slaughter for a canto to discourse on the nobility of war and Krishna; the dying Bhishma postpones his death to expound the laws of caste, bequest, marriage, gifts and funeral rites, to explain the philosophy of the Sankhya and the Upanishads, to narrate a mass of legends, traditions and myths, and to lecture Yudishthira at great length on the duties of a king; dusty stretches of genealogy and geography, of theology and metaphysics, separate the oases of drama and action; fables and fairy-tales, love-stories and lives of the saints contribute to give the Mahabharata a formlessness worse, and a body of thought richer, than can be found in either the Iliad or the Odyssey.
    • Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage : India and Her Neighbors.
  • In the Mahabharata, the ceremony for the oath of a new king includes the admonition: 'Be like a garland-maker, O king, and not like a charcoal burner.' The garland symbolizes social coherence; it is a metaphor for dharmic diversity in which flowers of many colors and forms are strung harmoniously for the most pleasing effect. In contrast, the charcoal burner is a metaphor for the brute-force reduction of diversity into homogeneity, where diverse living substances are transformed into uniformly lifeless ashes.
  • It is precisely due to the lack of the knowledge of cultural subtleties on the part of the mere textual scholars…that their analyses sound worthless and useless to us. A profound literature like the Mahābhārata must essentially be understood by being firmly grounded in the Sanātana-dharma of Bhārata.
    • The Distilled Essence of the Mahabharata: Dr. S.R. Ramaswamy: Kāntaśakti, the Commemorative Volume on Umakanth Bhat (pp. 91–104). Translated by Sandeep Balakrishna [1]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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