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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA

‘In the Adi parva are contained Paushya, Pauloma, Astika, Adivansavatara, Samva, the burning of the house of lac, the slaying of Hidimba, the destruction of the Asura Vaka, Chitraratha, the Swayamvara of Draupadi, her marriage after the overthrow of rivals in war, the arrival of Vidura, the restoration, Arjuna’s exile, the abduction of Subhadra, the gift and receipt of the marriage dower, the burning of the Khandava forest, and the meeting with (the Asura-architect) Maya. The Paushya parva treats of the greatness of Utanka, and the Pauloma, of the sons of Bhrigu. The Astika describes the birth of Garuda and of the Nagas (snakes), the churning of the ocean, the incidents relating to the birth of the celestial steed Uchchaihsrava, and finally, the dynasty of Bharata, as described in the Snake-sacrifice of king Janamejaya. The Sambhava parva narrates the birth of various kings and heroes, and that of the sage, Krishna Dwaipayana: the partial incarnations of deities, the generation of Danavas and Yakshas of great prowess, and serpents, Gandharvas, birds, and of all creatures; and lastly, of the life and adventures of king Bharata–the progenitor of the line that goes by his name–the son born of Sakuntala in the hermitage of the ascetic Kanwa. This parva also describes the greatness of Bhagirathi, and the births of the Vasus in the house of Santanu and their ascension to heaven. In this parva is also narrated the birth of Bhishma uniting in himself portions of the energies of the other Vasus, his renunciation of royalty and adoption of the Brahmacharya mode of life, his adherence to his vows, his protection of Chitrangada, and after the death of Chitrangada, his protection of his younger brother, Vichitravirya, and his placing the latter on the throne: the birth of Dharma among men in consequence of the curse of Animondavya; the births of Dhritarashtra and Pandu through the potency of Vyasa’s blessings (?) and also the birth of the Pandavas; the plottings of Duryodhana to send the sons of Pandu to Varanavata, and the other dark counsels of the sons of Dhritarashtra in regard to the Pandavas; then the advice administered to Yudhishthira on his way by that well-wisher of the Pandavas–Vidura–in the mlechchha language–the digging of the hole, the burning of Purochana and the sleeping woman of the fowler caste, with her five sons, in the house of lac; the meeting of the Pandavas in the dreadful forest with Hidimba, and the slaying of her brother Hidimba by Bhima of great prowess. The birth of Ghatotkacha; the meeting of the Pandavas with Vyasa and in accordance with his advice their stay in disguise in the house of a Brahmana in the city of Ekachakra; the destruction of the Asura Vaka, and the amazement of the populace at the sight; the extra-ordinary births of Krishna and Dhrishtadyumna; the departure of the Pandavas for Panchala in obedience to the injunction of Vyasa, and moved equally by the desire of winning the hand of Draupadi on learning the tidings of the Swayamvara from the lips of a Brahmana; victory of Arjuna over a Gandharva, called Angaraparna, on the banks of the Bhagirathi, his contraction of friendship with his adversary, and his hearing from the Gandharva the history of Tapati, Vasishtha and Aurva. This parva treats of the journey of the Pandavas towards Panchala, the acquisition of Draupadi in the midst of all the Rajas, by Arjuna, after having successfully pierced the mark; and in the ensuing fight, the defeat of Salya, Kama, and all the other crowned heads at the hands of Bhima and Arjuna of great prowess; the ascertainment by Balarama and Krishna, at the sight of these matchless exploits, that the heroes were the Pandavas, and the arrival of the brothers at the house of the potter where the Pandavas were staying; the dejection of Drupada on learning that Draupadi was to be wedded to five husbands; the wonderful story of the five Indras related in consequence; the extraordinary and divinely-ordained wedding of Draupadi; the sending of Vidura by the sons of Dhritarashtra as envoy to the Pandavas; the arrival of Vidura and his sight to Krishna; the abode of the Pandavas in Khandava-prastha, and then their rule over one half of the kingdom; the fixing of turns by the sons of Pandu, in obedience to the injunction of Narada, for connubial companionship with Krishna. In like manner hath the history of Sunda and Upasunda been recited in this. This parva then treats of the departure of Arjuna for the forest according to the vow, he having seen Draupadi and Yudhishthira sitting together as he entered the chamber to take out arms for delivering the kine of a certain Brahmana. This parva then describes Arjuna’s meeting on the way with Ulupi, the daughter of a Naga (serpent); it then relates his visits to several sacred spots; the birth of Vabhruvahana; the deliverance by Arjuna of the five celestial damsels who had been turned into alligators by the imprecation of a Brahmana, the meeting of Madhava and Arjuna on the holy spot called Prabhasa; the carrying away of Subhadra by Arjuna, incited thereto by her brother Krishna, in the wonderful car moving on land and water, and through mid-air, according to the wish of the rider; the departure for Indraprastha, with the dower; the conception in the womb of Subhadra of that prodigy of prowess, Abhimanyu; Yajnaseni’s giving birth to children; then follows the pleasure-trip of Krishna and Arjuna to the banks of the Jamuna and the acquisition by them of the discus and the celebrated bow Gandiva; the burning of the forest of Khandava; the rescue of Maya by Arjuna, and the escape of the serpent,–and the begetting of a son by that best of Rishis, Mandapala, in the womb of the bird Sarngi. This parva is divided by Vyasa into two hundred and twenty-seven chapters. These two hundred and twenty-seven chapters contain eight thousand eight hundred and eighty-four slokas.


The second is the extensive parva called Sabha or the assembly, full of matter. The subjects of this parva are the establishment of the grand hall by the Pandavas; their review of their retainers; the description of the lokapalas by Narada well-acquainted with the celestial regions; the preparations for the Rajasuya sacrifice; the destruction of Jarasandha; the deliverance by Vasudeva of the princes confined in the mountain-pass; the campaign of universal conquest by the Pandavas; the arrival of the princes at the Rajasuya sacrifice with tribute; the destruction of Sisupala on the occasion of the sacrifice, in connection with offering of arghya; Bhimasena’s ridicule of Duryodhana in the assembly; Duryodhana’s sorrow and envy at the sight of the magnificent scale on which the arrangements had been made; the indignation of Duryodhana in consequence, and the preparations for the game of dice; the defeat of Yudhishthira at play by the wily Sakuni; the deliverance by Dhritarashtra of his afflicted daughter-in-law Draupadi plunged in the sea of distress caused by the gambling, as of a boat tossed about by the tempestuous waves. The endeavours of Duryodhana to engage Yudhishthira again in the game; and the exile of the defeated Yudhishthira with his brothers. These constitute what has been called by the great Vyasa the Sabha Parva. This parva is divided into seventh-eight sections, O best of Brahmanas, of two thousand, five hundred and seven slokas.

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