Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 49

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 49

Dhritarashtra said, "When the generalissimo Sweta, O son, was slain in battle by the enemy, what did those mighty bowmen, the Panchalas with the Pandavas, do? Hearing their commander Sweta slain, what happened between those that strove for his sake and their foes that retreated before them? O Sanjaya, hearing of our victory, (thy) words please my heart. Nor doth my heart feel any shame in remembering our transgression.[1] The old chief of Kuru's race is ever cheerful and devoted (to us). (As regards Duryodhana), having provoked hostilities with that intelligent son of his uncle, he sought at one time the protection of the sons of Pandu in consequence of his anxiety and fear due to Yudhishthira. At that time, abandoning everything he lived in misery. In consequence of the prowess of the sons of Pandu, and everywhere receiving checks—having placed himself amid entanglements—from his enemies Duryodhana had (for some time) recourse to honourable behaviour. Formerly that wicked-minded king had placed himself under their protection. Why, therefore, O Sanjaya, hath Sweta who was devoted to Yudhishthira, been slain. Indeed, this narrow-minded prince, with all his prospects, hath been hurled to the nether regions by a number of wretches. Bhishma liked not the war, nor even did the preceptor.[2] Nor Kripa, nor Gandhari liked it, O Sanjaya, nor do I like it, nor Vasudeva of Vrishni's race, nor that just king the son of Pandu; nor Bhima, nor Arjuna, nor those bulls among men, the twins (liked it.) Always forbidden by me, by Gandhari, by Vidura, by Rama the son of Jamadagni, and by the high-souled Vyasa also, the wicked-minded and sinful Duryodhana, with Dussasana, O Sanjaya, always following the counsels of Karna and Suvala's son, behaved maliciously towards the Pandavas. I think, O Sanjaya, that he has fallen into great distress. After the slaughter of Sweta and the victory of Bhishma what did Partha, excited with rage, do in battle accompanied by Krishna? Indeed, it is from Arjuna that my fears arise, and those fears, O Sanjaya, cannot be dispelled. He, Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, is brave and endued with great activity. I think, with his arrows he will cut into fragments the bodies of his enemies.

The son of Indra, and in battle equal unto Upendra the younger brother of Indra, a warrior whose wrath and purposes are never futile, alas, beholding him what becomes the state of your minds? Brave, acquainted with Vedas, resembling the fire and the Sun in splendour, and possessing a knowledge of the Aindra weapon, that warrior of immeasurable soul is ever victorious when he falleth upon the foe. His weapons always falling upon the foe with the force of the thunderbolt and his arms wonderfully quick in drawing the bowstring, the son of Kunti is a mighty car-warrior. The formidable son of Drupada also, O Sanjaya, is endued with great wisdom. What, indeed, did Dhristadyumna do when Sweta was slain in battle? I think that in consequence of the wrongs they sustained of old, and of the slaughter of their commander, the hearts of the high-souled Pandavas blazed up. Thinking of their wrath I am never at my ease, by day or by night, on account of Duryodhana. How did the great battle take place? Tell me all about it, O Sanjaya."



  1. The transgression of which Dhritarashtra alludes is the slaughter by Bhishma from his car, of Sweta who was then a combatant on foot. Or, it may be the very slaughter of Sweta, who was dear to the Pandavas and which act would, the king thought, provoke them more.
  2. Verses 4 to 7 are exceedingly difficult. I am not sure that I have understood them correctly. They are of the nature of Vyasakutas, i.e., deliberate obscurities for puzzling Ganesa, who acted as the scribe, for enabling Vyasa to gain time for compositions. In verse 4 'Pitus' means uncle's and not father's; so also 'durga decam' in verse 6 means entanglements, like Duryodhana's hostility with the Gandharvas on the occasion of the tale of cattle. In verse 7 of the Bengal reading is Yudhishthiram bhaktya. The Bombay reading which I adopt, is Yudhishthire bhaktas. In 8, the purushadhamas are Sakuni and Karna. &c.