Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 3:2

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Jamvu-khanda Nirmana Parva) Chapter 3:2

A great slaughter will take place. In this battle,[1] O Bharata, of the Kurus with the Pandavas, the earth, O monarch, will be a river of blood with the standards (of warriors) as its rafts. Animals and birds on all sides, with mouths blazing like fire, uttering fierce cries, and displaying these evil omens, are foreboding terrible consequences. A (fierce) bird with but one wing, one eye, and one leg, hovering over the sky in the night, screameth frightfully in wrath, as if for making the hearers vomit blood. It seemeth, O great king, that all weapons are now blazing with radiance. The effulgence of the constellation known by the name of the seven high-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 twice meeting together in course of the same lunar fortnight, the duration of the latter is shortened by two days.[2] On the thirteenth day therefore, from the first lunation, according as it is the day of the full moon or the new moon, the moon and the sun are afflicted by Rahu. Such strange eclipses, both lunar and solar, forebode a great slaughter.[3] All the quarters of the earth, being overwhelmed by showers of dust, look inauspicious. Fierce clouds, portentous of danger, drop bloody showers during the night. Rahu of fierce deeds is also, O monarch, afflicting the constellation Kirtika. Rough winds, portending fierce danger, are constantly blowing. All these beget a war characterised by many sad incidents.[4] The constellations are divided into three classes. Upon one or another of each class, a planet of evil omen has shed its influence, foreboding terrible dangers.[5] A lunar fortnight had hitherto consisted of fourteen days, or fifteen days (as usual), or sixteen days. This, however, I never knew that the day of new-moon would be on the thirteenth day from the first lunation, or the day of full-moon on the thirteenth day from the same. And yet in course of the same month both the Moon and the Sun have undergone eclipses on the thirteenth days from the day of the first lunation.[6] The Sun and the Moon therefore, by undergoing eclipses on unusual days,[7] will cause a great slaughter of the creatures of the earth. Indeed, Rakshasas, though drinking blood by mouthful, will yet not be satiated. The great rivers are flowing in opposite directions.

The waters of rivers have become bloody. The wells, foaming up, are bellowing like bulls.[8] Meteors, effulgent like Indra's thunder-bolt, fall with loud hisses.[9] When this night passeth away, evil consequences will overtake you. People, for meeting together, coming out of their houses with lighted brands, have still to encounter a thick gloom all round.[10] Great Rishis have said that in view of such circumstances the earth drinks the blood of thousands of kings. From the mountains of Kailasa and Mandara and Himavat thousands of explosions are heard and thousands of summits are tumbling down.



  1. Vaisase is explained by Nilakantha as Virodhe. Conttavarta—a river having bloody eddies.
  2. Conitam cchardayanniva. I have adopted Nilakantha's explanation. The Burdwan Pundits take it as referring to "weapons" instead of "hearers." The passage, however, may mean that the bird screams so frightfully as if it vomits blood. The only thing that militates against this interpretation is that cchardayan is a causal verb. In the Mahabharata, however, causal forms are frequently used without causal meaning.
  3. This sloka is omitted in many editions, though it is certainly genuine. I have rendered it very freely, as otherwise it would be unintelligible. The fact is, three lunations twice meeting together in course of the same lunar fortnight is very rare. The lunar-fortnight (Paksha) being then reduced by two days, the day of full-moon or that of new moon, instead of being (as usual) the fifteenth day from the first lunation becomes the thirteenth day. Lunar-eclipses always occur on days of the full-moon, while solar-eclipses on those of the new moon. Such eclipses, therefore, occurring on days removed from the days of the first lunation by thirteen instead of (as usual) fifteen days, are very extraordinary occurrences.
  4. Vishamam is battle or war, and akranda is weeping or productive of grief. The latter word may also mean a fierce battle. If understood in this sense, Vishamam may be taken as indicating hostility, or absence of peace.
  5. Nilakantha explains this in a long note the substance of which is appended below. Kings are divided into three classes, viz., owners of elephants (Gajapati), owners of horses (Aswapati), and owners of men (Narapati). If an evil-omened planet (papa-graha) sheds its influence upon any of the nine constellations beginning with Aswini, it forebodes danger to Aswapatis; if on any of the nine beginning with Magha, it forebodes danger to Gajapatis; and if on any of the nine beginning with Mula, it forebodes danger to Narapatis. What Vyasa says here, therefore, is that one or another papa-graha has shed its influence upon one another of each of the three classes of constellations, thus foreboding danger to all classes of kings.
  6. Vide note ante.
  7. Aparvani, i.e., not on Parva days or days of full-moon and new-moon as ordinarily coming. The Bombay edition, after aparvani, reads grahenau tau. A better reading unquestionably grastavetau, as many Bengal texts have.
  8. Pratisrotas; strict grammar would require pratisrotasas; the meaning is that those that flowed east to west now flow west to east, &c. For kurddanti some texts have narddanti which is certainly better. Kurddanti means play or sport; wells playing like bulls would be unmeaning, unless the sport is accompanied by bellowing.
  9. The Burdwan Pundits reads suskasani for sakrasani. The latter, however, is the true reading.
  10. The original is very obscure. Uluka is explained by Nilakantha as a brand (used for want of lambs). The line, however, is elliptical. The Burdwan Pundits introduce an entirely new line.