Poem – The Wedding

Good Yudhishthir heard the tidings and he gave his free assent,
Unto distant chiefs and monarchs kindly invitations sent,

In the town of Upa-plavya, of fair Matsya’s towns the best,
Made their home the pious brothers to receive each royal guest.

Came unto them Kasi’s monarch and his arméd troopers came,
And the king of fair Panchala with his sons of warlike fame,

Came the sons of fair Draupadi early trained in art of war,
Other chiefs and sacrifices came from regions near and far.

Krishna decked in floral garlands with his elder brother came,
And his sister fair Subhadra, Arjun’s loved and longing dame,

Arjun’s son brave Abhimanyu came upon his flowery car,
With his elephants and chargers, troopers trained in art of war.

Vrishnis from the sea-girt Dwarka, bravo Andhakas known to fame,
Bhojas from the mighty Chumbal with the righteous Krishna came,

He to gallant sons of Pandu made his presents rich and rare,
Gems and gold and costly garments, slaves and damsels passing fair.

With its quaint and festive greetings came at last the bridal day,
Matsya maids were merry-hearted, Pandu’s sons were bright and gay,

Conch and cymbal, horn and trumpet spake forth music soft and sweet
In Virata’s royal palace, in the peopled mart and street!

And they slay the jungle red-deer, and they spread the ample board,
And prepare the cooling palm-drink with the richest viands stored,

Mimes and actors please the people, bards recite the ancient song,
Glories of heroic houses minstrels by their lays prolong!

And deep-bosomed dames of Matsya, jasmine-form and lotus-face,
With their pearls and golden garlands joyously the bridal grace,

Circled by those royal ladies, though they all are bright and fair,
Brightest shines the fair Draupadi with a beauty rich and rare,

Stately dames and merry maidens lead the young and soft-eyed bride,
As the queens of gods encircle INDRA’S daughter in her pride!

Arjun from the Matsya monarch takes the princess passing fair,
For his son by fair Subhadra, nursed by Krishna’s loving care,

With a godlike grace Yudhishthir stands by faithful Arjun’s side,
As a father takes a daughter, takes the young and beauteous bride,

Joins her hands to Abhimanyu’s, and with cake and parchéd rice,
On the altar brightly blazing doth the holy sacrifice.

Matsya’s monarch on the bridegroom rich and costly presents pressed,
Elephants he gave two hundred, steeds seven thousand of the best,

Poured libations on the altar, on the priests bestowed his gold,
Offered to the sons of Pandu rich domain and wealth untold.

With a pious hand Yudhishthir, true in heart and pure in mind,
Made his gifts, in gold and garments, kine and wealth of every kind,

Costly chariots, beds of splendour, robes with thread of gold belaced.
Viands rich and sweet confection, drinks the richest and the best,

Lands he gave unto the Brahman, bullocks to the labouring swain,
Steeds he gave unto the warrior, to the people gifts and grain.

And the city of the Matsyas, teeming with a wealth untold.
Shone with festive joy and gladness and with flags and cloth of gold.w

Poem – Gifts

Unto Brahmans gave Yudhishthir countless nishkas of bright gold,
Unto sage and saintly Vyasa all his realm and wealth untold,

But the bard and ancient rishi who the holy Vedas spake,
Rendered back the monarch’s present, earthly gift he might not take!

‘Thine is Kuru’s ancient empire, rule the nations of the earth,
Gods have destined thee as monarch from the moment of thy birth,

Gold and wealth and costly present let the priests and Brahmans hoard,
Be it thine to rule thy subjects as their father and their lord!

Krishna too in gentle accents to the doubting monarch said:
‘Vyasa. speaketh word of wisdom and his mandate be obeyed! ‘

From the rishi good Yudhishthir then received the Kuru-land,
With a threefold gift of riches gladdened all the priestly band,

Pious priests and grateful nations to their distant regions went,
And his share of presents Vyasa to the ancient Pritha sent.

Fame and virtue Kuru’s monarch by the aswa-medha wins,
And the rite of pure ablution cleanses all Yudhishthir’s sins,

And be stands amid his brothers, brightly beaming, pure and high,
Even as INDRA stands encircled by the dwellers of the sky,

And the concourse of the monarchs grace Yudhishthir’s regal might,
As the stars and radiant planets grace the stillness of the night!

Gems and jewels in his bounty, gold and garnients rich and rare,
Gave Yudhishthir to each monarch, slaves and damsels passing fair,

Loving gifts to dear relations gave the king of righteous fame,
And the grateful parting monarchs blessed Yudhishthir’s hallowed name.

Last of all with many tear-drops Krishna mounts his lofty car,
Faithful still in joy or sorrow, faithful still in peace or war,

Arjun’s comrade. Bhima’s helper, good Yudhishthir’s friend of yore,
Krishna leaves Hastina’s mansions for the sea-girt Dwarka’s shore!

Poem – Sacrifice of Animals

Victor of a hundred battles, Arjun came with conquering steed,
Vyasa herald of the Vedas bade the holy rite proceed:

‘For the day is come, Yudhishthir, let the sacrifice be done,
Let the priests repeat the mantra golden as the morning sun!

Threefold bounteous be thy presents and a threefold merit gain,
For thy wealth of gold is ample, be thy gifts like summer’s rain,

May the threefold rich performance purify the darkening stain,
Blood of warriors and of kinsmen slaughtered on the gory plain,

May the yajna’s pure ablution wash thee of the cruel sin,
And the meed of sacrificers may the good Yudhishthir win!

Vyasa spake; and good Yudhishthir took the diksha of the rite,
And commenced the aswa-medha gladdening every living wight,

Round the altar’s holy lustre moved the priests with sacred awe,
Swerved not from the rule of duty, failed not in the sacred law.

Done the rite of pure pravargya with the pious hymn and lay,
To the task of abhishava priests and Brahmans led the way,

And the holy Soma-drinkers pressed the sacred Soma plant,
And performed the pure savana with the solemn saman chant.

Bounty waits on squalid hunger, gifts dispel the suppliant’s fear,
Gold revives the poor and lowly, mercy wipes the mourner’s tear,

Tender care relieves the stricken by the gracious king’s command,
Charity with loving sweetness spreads her smile o’er all the land!

Day by day the aswa-medha doth with sacred rites proceed,
Day by day on royal bounty poor and grateful myriads feed,

And adept in six Vedangas, strict in vow and rich in lore,
Sage preceptors, holy teachers, grew in virtue ever more!

Six good stakes of vilwa timber, six of hard khadira wood,
Six of seasoned sarvavarnin, on the place of yajna stood,

Two were made of devadaru, pine that on Himalay grows,
One was made of wood of slesha, which the sacrificer knows,

Other stakes of golden lustre quaint with curious carving done,
Draped in silk and gold-brocaded like the constellations shone!

And the consecrated altar built and raised of bricks of gold,
Shone in splendour like the altar Daksha built in days of old,

Eighteen cubits square the structure, four deep layers of brick in height,
With a spacious winged triangle like an eagle in its flight!

Beasts whose flesh is pure and wholesome, dwellers of the lake or sky,
Priests assigned each varied offering to each heavenly power on high,

Bulls of various breed and colour, steeds of mettle true and tried,
Other creatures, full three hundred, to the many stakes were tied.

Deva-rishis viewed the feasting, sweet Gandharvas woke the song,
Apsaras like gleams of sunlight on the greensward tripped along,

Kinnaras and Kim-purushas mingled in the holy rite,
Siddhas of austerest penance stood around the sacred site,

Vyasa’s great and gifted pupils who the holy hymns compiled,
Helped the royal aswa-medha, on the royal yajna smiled!

From the bright ethereal mansions heavenly minstrel Narad came,
Chitra-sena woke the music, singer of celestial fame,

Cheered by more than mortal music priests their holy task begun,
And Yudhishthir’s fame and virtue with a brighter lustre shone!

Poem – Funeral Rite

Victor of a deathful battle, sad Yudhishthir viewed the plain,
Friends and kinsmen, kings and chieftains, countless troops untimely slain,

And he spake to wise Sudharman pious priest of Kuru’s race,
Unto Sanjay, unto Dhaumya, to Vidura full of grace,

Spake unto the brave Yuyutsu, Kuru’s last surviving chief,
Spake to faithful Indrasena, and to warriors sunk in grief:

‘Pious rites are due to foemen and to friends and kinsmen slain,
None shall lack a fitting funeral, none shall perish on the plain.’

Wise Vidura and his comrades sped on sacred duty bound,
Sandalwood and scented aloes, fragrant oil and perfumes found,

Silken robes of costly splendour, fabrics by the artist wove,
Dry wood from the thorny jungle, perfume from the scented grove,

Shattered cars and splintered lances, hewed and ready for the fire,
Piled and ranged in perfect order into many a funeral pyre.

Kings and princes, noble warriors, were in rank and order laid,
And with streams of fragrant ghrita were the rich libations made,

Blazed the fire with wondrous radiance by the rich libations fed,
Sanctifying and consuming mortal remnants of the dead.

Brave Duryodhan and his brothers, Salya of the mighty car,
Bhurisravas king of nations, Jayadratha famed in war,

Abhimanyu son of Arjun, Lakshman proud Duryodhan’s son,
Somadatta and the Srinjays famed for deeds of valour done,

Matsya’s monarch proud Virata, Drupad fair Panchala’s king,
And his sons, Panchala’s princes, whose great deeds the minstrels sing,

Cultured monarch of Kosala and Gandhara’s wily lord,
Karna, proud and peerless archer, matchless with his flaming sword,

Bhagadatta eastern monarch all resistless in his car,
Ghatotkacha son of Bhima, Alambusha famed in war,

And a hundred other monarchs all received the pious rite,
Till the radiance of the fire-light chased the shadows of the night!

Pitri-medha; due to fathers was performed with pious care,
Hymns and wails and lamentations mingled in the midnight air,

Sacred songs of rik and saman rose with women’s piercing wail,
And the creatures of the wide earth heard the sound subdued and pale,

Smokeless and with radiant lustre shone each red and lighted pyre,
Like the planets of the bright sky throbbing with celestial fire!

Men in nations, countless, nameless, from each court and camp afar,
From the east and west collected, fell in Kuru-Kshetra’s war,

Thousand fires for them were lighted, they received the pious rite,
Such was good Yudhishthir’s mandate, such was wise Vidura’s might,

All the dead were burned to ashes and the sacred rite was o’er,
Dhrita-rashtra and Yudhishthir slowly walked to Ganga’s shore!

Poem – Trial of Skill

Uprose one by one the suitors, marking still the distant aim,
Alighty monarchs, gallant princes, chiefs of proud and warlike fame,

Decked in golden crown and necklace, and inflamed by pride and love,
Stoutly strove the eager suitors viewing well the target above,

Strove to string the weapon vainly, tough unbending was the bow,
Slightly bent, rebounding quickly, laid the gallant princes low!

Strove the handsome suitors vainly, decked in gem and burnished gold,
Reft of diadem and necklace, fell each chief and warrior bold,

Reft of golden crown and garland, shamed and humbled in their pride,
Groaned the suitors in their anguish, sought no more Panchala’s bride!

Uprose Karna, peerless archer, proudest of the archers he,
And he went and strung the weapon, fixed the arrows gallantly,

Stood like SURYA in his splendour and like AGNI in his flame,-
Pandu’s sons in terror whispered, Karna sure must hit the aim!

But in proud and queenly accents Drupad’s queenly daughter said:
‘Monarch’s daughter, born a Kshatra, Suta’s son I will not wed,’

Karna heard with crimsoned forehead, left the emprise almost done,
Left the bow already circled, silent gazed upon the Sun!

Uprose Chedi’s haughty monarch, mightiest of the monarchs he,
Other kings had failed inglorious, Sisupala stood forth free,

Firm in heart and fixed in purpose, bent the tough unbending bow,
Vainly! for the bow rebounding laid the haughty monarch low!

Uprose sturdy Jarasandha, far Magadha’s mighty chief,
Held the bow and stood undaunted, tall and stately as a cliff,

But once more the bow rebounded, fell the monarch in his shame,
Left in haste Panchala’s mansions for the region whence he came!

Uprose Salya, king of Madra, with his wondrous skill and might,
Faltering, on his knees descending, fell in sad inglorious plight,

Thus each monarch fell and faltered, merry whispers went around,
And the sound of stifled laughter circled round the festive ground!

Poem – The Bride

Sound the drum and voice the sankha! Brightly dawns; the bridal day,
Fresh from morning s pure ablutions comes the bride in garments gay,

And her golden bridal garland, carrying on her graceful arm.
Softly, sweetly, steps Draupadi, queen of every winning charm!

Then a Brahman versed in mantra, ancient priest of lunar race,
Lights the Fire, with pious offerings seek its blessings and its grace,

Whispered words of benediction saints and holy men repeat,
Conch and trumpet’s voice is silent, hushed the lofty war-drum’s beat.

And there reigns a solemn silence, and in stately pomp and pride,
Drupad’s son leads forth his sister, fair Panchala’ s beauteous bride!

In his loud and lofty accents like the distant thunder’s sound.
Drupad’s son his father’s wishes thus proclaims to all around:

‘Mark this bow, assembled monarchs, and the target hung an high,
Through yon whirling piercéd discus let five glist’ning arrows fly,

Whoso, barn of noble lineage, hits the far suspended aim,
Let him stand and as his guerdon Drupad’s beauteous maiden claim!’

Then he turns unto Draupadi, tells each prince and suitor’s name,
Tells his race and lofty lineage, and his warlike deeds of fame.