Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 21

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 21

Sanjaya said,—"Beholding the vast Dhartarashtra army ready for battle, king Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, gave way to grief. Seeing that impenetrable array formed by Bhishma and regarding it as really impenetrable, the king became pale and addressed Arjuna, saying,—'O, mighty-armed Dhananjaya, how shall we be able to fight in battle with the Dhartarashtras who have the Grandsire for their (chief) combatant? Immovable and impenetrable is this array that hath been designed, according to the rules laid down in the scriptures, by that grinder of foes, Bhishma, of transcendent glory. With our troops we have become doubtful (of success), O grinder of foes. How, indeed, will victory be ours in the face of this mighty array?'—Thus addressed, that slayer of foes Arjuna answered Yudhishthira, the son of Pritha, who had been plunged into grief at sight, O king, of thy army, in these words,—'Hear, O king, how soldiers that are few in number may vanquish the many that are possessed of every quality. Thou art without malice; I shall, therefore, tell thee the means, O king. The Rishi Narada knows it, as also both Bhishma and Drona. Referring to this means, the Grandsire himself in days of old on the occasion of the battle between the Gods and the Asuras said unto Indra and the other celestials.—They that are desirous of victory do not conquer by might and energy so much as by truth, compassion, righteousness and energy.[1] Discriminating then between righteousness, and unrighteousness, and understanding what is meant by covetousness and having recourse to exertion fight without arrogance, for victory is there where righteousness is.—For this know, O king, that to us victory is certain in (this) battle. Indeed, as Narada said,—"There is victory where Krishna is."—Victory is inherent to Krishna. Indeed, it followeth Madhava. And as victory is one of its attributes, so humility is his another attribute. Govinda is possessed of energy that is infinite. Even in the midst of immeasurable foes he is without pain. He is the most eternal of male beings. And there victory is where Krishna is. Even he, indestructible and of weapons incapable of being baffled, appearing as Hari in olden days, said in a loud voice unto the Gods and the Asuras,—"Who amongst you would be victorious?"—Even the conquered who said.—"With Krishna in the front we will conquer."[2]—And it was through Hari's grace that the three worlds were obtained by the gods headed by Sakra. I do not, therefore, behold the slightest cause of sorrow in thee, thee that hast the Sovereign of the Universe and the Lord himself of the celestials for wishing victory to thyself.



  1. The Bengal texts read Dharmenikena chanagha which is evidently faulty, remembering that the words are Brahman's to Indra and the celestials. The Bombay reading is Dharmenaivodyamena cha which I have adopted.
  2. The sense is that they, viz., the gods, who accepted Krishna's lead, or selected him for their leader, became victorious. The Bengal reading is evidently superior, viz., Anu Krishna literally "behind Krishna," i.e., "with Krishna in the front," or "with Krishna as a leader." The Bombay reading is Katham Krishna. If this were adopted, the meaning would be, "How O Krishna, shall we conquer?" I do not understand how victory should be theirs who answered in this way. Of course, the answer implies modesty. But modesty is not the sole requisite of victory, nor is modesty inculcated here as the chief means of victory.