poem – return home

Vanished then the Sable Monarch, and Savitri held her way
Where in dense and darksome forest still her husband lifeless lay,

And she sat upon the greensward by the cold unconscious dead,
On her lap with deeper kindness placed her consort’s lifeless head,

And that touch of true affection thrilled him back to waking life,
As returned from distant regions gazed the prince upon his wife,

‘Have I lain too long and slumbered, sweet Savitri, faithful spouse,
But I dreamt a Sable Person took me in a fatal noose! ‘

‘Pillowed on this lap,’ she answered, ‘long upon the earth you lay,
And the Sable Person, husband, he hath come and passed away,

Rise and leave this darksome forest if thou feelest light and strong,
The night is on the jungle and our way is dark and long.’

Rising as from happy slumber looked the young prince on all around,
Saw the wide-extending jungle mantling all the darksome ground,

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I now remember, ever loving faithful dame,
We in search of fruit and fuel to this lonesome forest came,

As I hewed the gnarléd branches, cruel anguish filled my brain,
And I laid me on the greensward with a throbbing piercing pain,

Pillowed on thy gentle bosom, solaced by thy gentle love,
I was soothed, and drowsy slumber fell on me from skies above.

All was dark and then I witnessed, was it but a fleeting dream,
God or Vision, dark and dreadful, in the deepening shadows gleam,

Was this dream my fair Savitri, dost thou of this Vision know,
Tell me, for before my eyesight still the Vision seems to glow! ‘

‘Darkness thickens,’ said Savitri, ‘and the evening waxeth late,
When the morrow’s light returneth I shall all these scenes narrate,

Now arise, for darkness gathers, deeper grows the gloomy night,
And thy loving anxious parents trembling wait thy welcome sight,

Hark the rangers of the forest! how their voices strike the ear,
Prowlers of the darksome jungle! how they fill my breast with fear!

Forest-fire is raging yonder, for I see a distant gleam,
And the rising evening breezes help the red and radiant beam,

Let me fetch a burning faggot and prepare a friendly fight,
With these fallen withered branches chase the shadows of the night,

And if feeble still thy footsteps,-long and weary is our way,-
By the fire repose, my husband, and return by light of day.’

‘For my parents, fondly anxious,’ Satyavan thus made reply,
‘Pains my heart and yearns my bosom, let us to their cottage hie,

When I tarried in the jungle or by day or dewy eve,
Searching in the hermitages often did my parents grieve,

And with father’s soft reproaches and with mother’s loving fears,
Chid me for my tardy footsteps, dewed me with their gentle tears.

Think then of my father’s sorrow, of my mother’s woeful plight,
If afar in wood and jungle pass we now the livelong night,

Wife beloved, I may not fathom what mishap or load of care,
Unknown dangers, unseen sorrows, even now my parents share! ‘

Gentle drops of filial sorrow trickled down his manly eye,
Pond Savitri sweetly speaking softly wiped the tear-drops dry:

‘Trust me, husband, if Savitri hath been faithful in her love,
If she hath with pious offerings served the righteous gods above,

If she hath a sister’s kindness unto brother men performed,
If she hath in speech and action unto holy truth conformed,

Unknown blessings, mighty gladness, trust thy ever faithful wife,
And not sorrows or disasters wait this eve our parents’ life! ‘

Then she rose and tied her tresses, gently helped her lord to rise,
Walked with him the pathless jungle, looked with love into his eyes,

On her neck his clasping left arm sweetly winds in soft embrace,
Round his waist Savitri’s right arm doth sweetly interlace,

Thus they walked the darksome jungle, silent stars looked from above,
And the hushed and throbbing midnight watched Savitri’s deathless love.

poem – fall of salya

Darkly closed the shades of midnight, Karna still and lifeless lay,
Ghast and Pale o’er slaughtered thousands fell the morning’s sickly ray,

Bowman brave and proud preceptor Kripa to Duryodhan said,
Tear bedimmed the warrior’s eyelids and his manly bosom bled:

‘Leaderless are Koru’s forces by a dire misfortune crost,
Like the moonless shades of midnight in their utter darkness lost,

Like a summer-driéd river, weary waste of and sand,
Lost its pride of fresh’ning waters sweeping o’er the grateful land!

As a spark of fire consumeth summer’s parched and sapless wood,
Kuru’s lordless, lifeless forces shall be angry Arjun’s food,

Bhima too shall seek fulfilment of the dreadful vow he made,
Brave Satyaki wreak his vengeance for his sons untimely slayed!

Bid this battle cease, Duryodhan, pale and fitful is thy star,
Blood enough of friendly nations soaks this crimson field of war,

Bid them live,-the few survivors of a vast and countless host,
Let thy few remaining brothers live,-for many are the lost,

Kindly heart hath good Yudhishthir, still he seeks for rightful peace,
Render back his ancient kingdom, bid this war of kinsmen cease! ‘

‘Kripa,’ so Duryodhan answered, ‘in this sad and fatal strife,
Ever foremost of our warriors, ever careless of thy life,

Ever in the council chamber thou hast words of wisdom said,
Needless war and dire destruction by thy peaceful counsel stayed,

Every word thou speakest, Kripa, is a word of truth and weight.
Nathless thy advice for concord, wise preceptor, comes too late!

Hope not that the good Yudhishthir will again our friendship own
Cheated once by deep Sakuni of his kingdom and his throne,

Rugged Bhima will not palter, fatal is the vow he made,
Vengeful Arjun will not pardon gallant Abhimanyu dead!

Fair Draupadi doth her penance, so our ancient matrons say,
In our blood to wash her insult and her proud insulters slay,

Fair Subhadra morn and evening weeps her dear departed son,
Feeds Draupadi’s deathless anger for the hero dead and gone,

Deeply in their bosoms rankle wrongs and insults we have given,
Blood alone can wash it, Kripa, such the cruet will of Heaven!

And the hour for peace is over, for our best sleep on the plain,
Brothers, kinsmen, friends, and elders slumber with the countless slain,

Shall Duryodhan like a recreant now avoid the deathful strife,
After all his bravest warriors have in war surrendered life,

Shall he, sending them to slaughter, now survive and learn to flee,
Shall he, ruler over monarchs, learn to bend the servile knee?

Proud Duryodhan sues no favour even with his dying breath,
Unsubdued and still unconquered, changeless even unto death,

Salya valiant king of Madra. leads our arméd hosts to-day,
Or to perish or to conquer, gallant Kripa, lead the way! ‘

Meanwhile round the brave Yudhishthir calmly stood the Pandav force,
As the final day of battle now began its fatal course,

‘Brothers, kinsmen, hero-warriors,’ so the good Yudhishthir said,
‘Ye have done your share in battle, witness countless foemen dead

Sad Yudhishthir is your eldest, let him end this fatal strife,
Slay the last of Kuru chieftains or surrender throne and life!

Bold Satyaki ever faithful with his arms protects my right,
Drupad’s son with watchful valour guards my left with wonted might.

In the front doth Bhima battle, careful Arjun guards the rear,
I will lead the battle’s centre which shall know nor flight nor fear! ‘

Truly on that fatal morning brave Yudhishthir kept his word,
Long and fiercely waged the combat with fair Madra’s valiant lord,

Thick and fast the arrows whistled and the lances pointed well,
Till with crashing sound of thunder Salya’s mighty standard fell!

Rescued by the son of Drona, Salya rushed again to war,
Slew the noble milk-white coursers of Yudhishthir’s royal car,

And as springs the hungry lion on the spotted jungle-deer,
Salya rushed upon Yudhishthir reckless and unknown to fear!

Brave Yudhishthir marked him coming and he hurled his fatal dart,
Like the fatal curse of Brahman sank the weapon in his heart,

Blood suffused his eye and nostril, quivered still his feeble hand,
Like a cliff by thunder riven Salya fell and shook the land!

Ended was the fatal battle, for the Mlechcha king was slain,
Pierced by angry Sahadeva false Sakuni pressed the plain,

All the brothers of Duryodhan tiger-waisted Bhima slew,
Proud Duryodhan pale and panting from the field of battle flew!

poem – the tumult

Spake the suitors, anger-shaken, like a forest tempest-torn,
As Panchala’s courteous monarch came to greet a Brahman-born:

‘Shall he like the grass of jungle trample us in haughty pride,
To a prating priest and Brahman wed the proud and peerless bride?

To our hopes like nourished saplings shall he now the fruit deny,
Monarch proud who insults monarchs sure a traitor’s death shall die,

Honour for his rank we know not, have no mercy for his age,
Perish foe of crownéd monarchs, victim to our righteous rage!

Hath he asked us to his palace, favoured us with royal grace,
Feasted us with princely bounty, but to compass our disgrace,

In this concourse of great monarchs, glorious like a heavenly band,
Doth he find no likely suitor for his beauteous daughter’s hand?

And this rite of swayamtvra, so our sacred laws ordain,
Is for warlike Kshatras only, priests that custom shall not stain,

If this maiden on a Brahman casts her eye, devoid of shame,
Let her expiate her folly in a pyre of blazing flame!

Leave the priestling in his folly sinning through a Brahman’s greed,
For we wage no war with Brahmans and forgive a foolish deed,

Much we owe to holy Brahmans for our realm and wealth and life,
Blood of priest or wise preceptor shall not stain our noble strife,

In the blood of sinful Drupad we the righteous laws maintain,
Such disgrace in future ages monarchs shall not meet again!’

Spake the suitors, tiger-hearted, iron-handed, bold and strong’
Fiereely bent on blood and vengeance blindly rose the maddened throng,

On they came, the angry monarchs, armed for cruel vengeful strife,
Drupad midst the holy Brahmans trembling fled for fear of life,

Like wild elephants of jungle rushed the kings upon their foes,
Calm and stately, stalwart Bhima and the gallant Arjun rose!

With a wilder rage the monarchs viewed these brothers cross their path,
Rushed upon the daring warriors for to slay them in their wrath,

Weaponless was noble Bhima, but in strength like lightning’s brand,
Tore a tree with peerless prowess, shook it as a mighty wand!

And the foe-compelling warrior held that mace of living wood,
Strong as death with deadly weapon, facing all his foes he stood,

Arjun too with godlike valour stood unmoved, his bow in hand,
Side by side the dauntless brothers faced the fierce and fiery band!

poem – krishna’s speech

Mirth and song and nuptial music waked the echoes of the night,
Youthful bosoms throbbed with pleasure, lovelit glances sparkled bright,

But when young and white -robed USHAS ope’d the golden gates of day,
To Virata’s council chamber chieftains thoughtful held their way,

Stones inlaid in arch and pillar glinted in the glittering dawn,
Gay festoons and graceful garlands o’er the golden cushions shone!

Matsya’s king, Panchala’s monarch, foremost seats of honour claim,
Krishna too and Valadeva, Dwarka’s chiefs of righteous fame,

By them sate the bold Satyaki from the sea-girt western shore,
And the godlike sons of Pandu,-days of dark concealment o’er,

Youthful princes in their splendour graced Virata’s royal hall,
Valiant sons of valiant fathers, brave in war, august and tall,

In their gem-bespangled garments came the warriors proud and high,
Till the council chamber glittered like the star-bespangled sky

Kind the greetings, sweet the converse, soft the golden moments fly,
Till intent on graver questions all on Krishna turn their eye,

Krishna with his inner vision then the state of things surveyed,
And his thoughts before the monarchs thus in weighty accents laid.

‘Known to all, ye mighty monarchs! May your glory ever last,
‘True to plighted word Yudhishthir hath his weary exile passed,

Twelve long years with fair Draupadi in the pathless jungle strayed,
And a year in menial service in Virata’s palace stayed,

He hath kepthis plighted promise, braved affliction, woe, and shame,
And he begs, assembled monarchs, ye shall now his duty name.

For he swerveth not from duty kingdom of the sky to win,
Prizeth hamlet more than empire, so his course be free from sin,

Loss of realm and wealth and glory higher virtues in him prove,
Thoughts of peace and not of anger still the good Yudhishthir move!

Mark again the sleepless anger and the unrelenting hate
Harboured by the proud Duryodhan driven by his luckless fate,

From a child, by fire or poison, impious guile or trick of dice,
He hath compassed dark destruction by deceit and low device!

Ponder well, ye gracious monarchs, with a just and righteous mind,
Help Yudhishthir with your counsel, with your grace and blessings kind,

Should the noble son of Pandu seek his right by open war,
Seek the aid of righteous monarchs and of chieftains near and far?

Should he smite his ancient foemen skilled in each deceitful art,
Unforgiving in their vengeance, unrelenting in their heart?

Should he rather send a message to the proud unbending foe,
And Duryodhan’s haughty purpose seek by messenger to know?

Should he send a noble envoy, trained in virtue, true and wise,
With his greetings to Duryodhan in a meek and friendly guise?

Ask him to restore the kingdom on the sacred Jumna’s shore
Either king may rule his empire as in happy days of yore? ‘

Krishna uttered words of wisdom pregnant with his peaceful thought,
For in peace and not by bloodshed still Yudhishthir’s right he sought.

poem – the princes

Gauntleted and jewel-girdled, now the warlike princes came,
With their stately bows and quivers, and their swords like wreaths of flame,

Each behind his elder stepping, good Yudhishthir first of all,
Each his wondrous skill displaying held the silent crowds in thrall.

And the men in admiration marked them with a joyful eye,
Or by sudden panic stricken stooped to let the arrow fly!

Mounted on their rapid coursers oft the princes proved their aim,
Racing, hit the target with arrows lettered with their royal name,

With their glinting sunlit weapons shone the youths sublime and high,
More than mortals seemed the princes, bright Gandharvas of the sky!

Shouts of joy the people uttered as by sudden impulse driven.
Mingled voice of tens of thousands struck the pealing vault of heaven.

Still the princes shook their weapons, drove the deep resounding car,
Or on steed or tusker mounted waged the glorious mimic war!

Mighty sword and ample buckler, ponderous mace the princes wield,
Brightly gleam their lightning rapiers as they range the listed field,

Brave and fearless is their action, and their movement quick and light
Skilled and true the thrust and parry of their weapons flaming bright!

poem – the suitors

‘Brave Duryodhan and his brothers, princes of the Kuruland,
Karna proud and peerless archer, sister! seek thy noble hand,

And Gandhara’s warlike princes, Bhoja’s monarch true and bold,
And the son of mighty Drona, all bedecked in gems and gold!

King and prince from Matsya kingdom grace this noble wedding feast,
Monarchs from more distant regions north and south and west and east,

Tamralipta and Kalinga on the eastern ocean wave,
Pattan’s port whose hardy children western ocean’s dangers brave!

From the distant land of Madra car-borne monarch Salya came,
Amd from Dwarka’s sea-girt regions Valadeva known to fame,

Valadeva and his brother Krishna sprung from Yadu’s race,
Of the Vrishni clan descended, soul of truth and righteous grace!

This is mighty Jayadratha come from Sindhu’s sounding shore,
Famed for warlike feats of valour, famed alike for sacred lore,

This is fair Kosala’s monarch whose bright deeds our heralds sing,
From the sturdy soil of Chedi, this is Chedi’s peerless king!

This is mighty Jarasandha, come from far Magadha’s land,
These are other princely suitors, sister! eager for thy hand,

All the wide earth’s warlike rulers seek to shoot the distant aim,
Princess, whoso hits the target, choose as thine that prince of fame!’

Decked with jewels, young and valiant, all aflame with soft desire,
Conscious of their worth and valour, all the suitors rose in ire,

Nobly born, of lofty presence, full of young unyielding pride,
Like the tuskers wild and lordly on Himalay’s wooded side!

Each his rival marks as foeman as in field of deadly strife,
Each regards the fair Draupadi as his own his queenly wife,

On the gorgeous field they gather by a maddening passion fired,
And they strive as strove the bright gods, when by Uma’s love inspired!

And the gods in cloud-borne chariots came to view the scene so fair,
Bright ADITYAS in their splendour, MARUTs in the moving air,

Winged Suparnas, scaly Yagas, saints celestial pure and high,
For their music famed, Gandharvas, fair Apsaras of the sky

Valadeva armed with ploughshare, Krishna chief of righteous fame.
With the other Yadu chieftains to that wondrous bridal came,

Krishna marked the sons of Panda eager for the maiden queen,
Like wild tuskers for a lotus, like the fire that lurks unseen,

And he knew the warlike brothers in their holy Brahman guise,
Pointed them to Valadeva, gazing with a glad surprise!

But the other chiefs and monarchs with their eyes upon the bride,
Marked nor knew the sons of Panda sitting speechless by their side,

And the long-armed sons of Panda smitten by KANDARPA’S dart,
Looked on her with longing languor and with love -impassioned heart!

Bright Immortals gaily crowding viewed the scene surpassing fair,
Heavenly blossoms soft descending with a perfume filled the air,

Bright celestial cars in concourse sailed upon the cloudless sky,
Drum and flute and harp and tabor sounded deep and sounded high!

Poem – the arghya

Outspake Bhishma to Yudhishthir: ‘Monarch of this wide domain,
Honour due to crowned monarchs doth our sacred law ordain,

Arghya to the wise Preceptor, to the Kinsman and to Priest,
To the Friend and to the Scholar, to the King as lord of feast,

Unto these is due the arghya, so our holy writs have said,
Therefore to these kings assembled be the highest honour paid,

Noble are these crownéd monarchs, radiant like the noonday sun,
To the noblest, first in virtue, be the foremost honour done!’

‘Who is noblest,’ quoth Yudhishthir, ‘in this galaxy of fame,
Who of chiefs and crownéd monarchs doth our foremost honour claim?’

Pond’ ring spake the ancient Bhishma in his accents deep and clear:
Greatest midst the great is Krishna! chief of men without a peer

Midst these monarchs pure in lustre, purest-hearted and most high
Like the radiant sun is Krishna midst the planets of the sky,

Sunless climes are warmed to verdure by the sun’s returning ray,
Windless wastes are waked to gladness when reviving breezes play,

Even so this rajasuya, this thy sacrificial rite,
Owes its sanctity and splendour unto Krishna’s holy might!’

Bhishma spake and Sahadeva served his mandate quick as thought,
And the arghya duly flavoured unto peerless Krishna brought,

Krishna trained in rules of virtue then the offered arghya took,
Darkened Sisupala’s forehead and his frame in tremor shook,

To Yudhishthir and to Bhishma turns the chief his flaming eyes,
To the great and honoured Krishna, Sisupala wrathful cries.

poem – fest and sacrifice

Jumna’s dark and limpid waters laved Yudhishthir’s palace walls
And to hail him Dharma-raja, monarchs thronged his royal halls,

He to honoured kings and chieftains with a royal grace assigned
Palaces with sparkling waters and with trees umbrageous lined,

Honoured thus, the mighty monarchs lived in mansions milky white,
Like the peaks of famed Kailasa lifting proud their snowy height!

Graceful walls that swept the meadows circled round the royal halls,
Nets of gold belaced the casements, gems bedecked the shining walls,

Flights of steps led up to chambers many-tinted-carpet-graced,
And festooning fragrant garlands were harmonious interlaced!

Far below from spacious gateways rose the people’s gathering cry,
And from far the swan-white mansions caught the ravished gazer’s eye,

Richly graced with precious metals shone the turrets bright and gay,
Like the rich-ored shining turrets of the lofty Himalay.

And the scene bedecked by rishis and by priests and kings of might,
Shone like azure sky in splendourgraced by deathless Sons of Light!

Spake Yudhishthir unto Bhishma, elder of the Kuru race,
Unto Drona proud preceptor, rich in lore and warlike grace,

Spake to wise preceptor Kripa, versed in sacred rites of old,
To Duryodhan and his brothers, honoured guests and kinsmen bold:

‘Friends and kinsmen, grant your favour and your sweet affection lend,
May your kindness ever helpful poor Yudhishthir’s rite attend,

As your own, command my treasure, costly gifts and wealth untold,
To the poor and to the worthy scatter free my gems and gold! ‘

Speaking thus he made his diksha, and to holy work inclined,
To his friends and to his kinsmen all their various tasks assigned:

Proud Duhsasan in his bounty spread the rich and sumptuous feast,
Drona’s son with due devotion greeted saint and holy priest,

Sanjay with a regal honour welcomed king and chief of might,
Bhishma and the pious Drona watched the sacrificial rite,

Kripa guarded wealth and treasure, gold and gems of untold price,
And with presents unto Brahmans sanctified the sacrifice,

Dhrita-rashtra, old and sightless, through the scene of gladness strayed,
With a careful hand Vidura all the mighty cost defrayed,

Proud Duryodhan took the tribute which the chiefs and monarchs paid,
Pious Krishna unto Brahmans honour and obeisance made.

‘Twas a gathering fair and wondrous on fair Jumna’s sacred shore,
Tributes in a thousand nishkas every willing monarch bore,

Costly gifts proclaimed the homage of each prince of warlike might,
Chieftains vied with rival chieftains to assist the holy rite.

Bright Immortals, robed in sunlight, sailed across the liquid sky,
And their gleaming cloud-borne chariots rested on the turrets high,

Hero-monarchs, holy Brahmans, filled the balls bedecked in gold,
White-robed priests adept in mantra mingled with the chieftains bold.

And amidst this scene of splendour, pious-hearted, pure and good,
Like the sinless god VARUNA, gentle-souled Yudhishthir stood,

Six bright fires Yudhishthir lighted, offerings made to gods above,
Gifts unto the poor and lowly spake the monarch’s boundless love.

Hungry men were fed and feasted with an ample feast of rice,
Costly gifts to holy Brahmans graced the noble sacrifice,

Ida, ajya, homa offerings, pleased the ‘Shining Ones’ on high,
Brahmans pleased with costly presents with their blessings filled the sky!

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.

Poem – The Chariot Driver

Dewed with drops of toil and languor, lo,! a chariot-driver came,
Loosely hung his scanty garments, and a staff upheld his frame,

Karna, now a crownéd monarch, to the humble Suta sped,
As a son unto a father, reverently bent his head!

With his scanty cloth the driver sought his dusty feet to hide,
And he hailed him as a father hails his offspring in his pride,

And he clasped unto his bosom crownéd Karna’s noble head,
And on Karna’s dripping forehead, fresh and loving tear-drops shed!

Is he soil of chariot-driver? Doubts arose in Bhima’s mind,
And he sought to humble Karna with reproachful words unkind

‘Wilt thou, high-descended hero, with a Kuru cross thy brand?
But the goad of cattle-drivers better suits, my friend, thy hand!

Wilt thou as a crownéd monarch rule a mighty nation’s weal?
As the jackals of the jungle sacrificial offerings steal!’

Quivered Karna’s lips in anger, word of answer spake he none,
But a deep sigh shook his bosom, and he gazed upon the sun!

Poem – The Anointment of Karna

Crested Karna, helméd Arjun, proudly trod the spacious green,
Kripa, skilled in herald’s duties, spake upon the dreadful scene:

‘This is helmet-wearing Arjun, sprung of Kuru’s mighty race,
Pandu’s son and borne by Pritha, prince of worth and warlike grace,

Long-armed Chief! declare thy lineage, and the race thou dost adorn,
Name thy mother and thy father, and the house that saw thee born,

By the rules of war Prince Arjun claims his rival chief to know,
Princes may not draw their weapon ‘gainst a base and nameless foe!’

Karna silent heard this mandate, rank nor lineage could he claim,
Like a raindrop-pelted lotus bent his humble head in shame!

‘Prince we reckon,’ cried Duryodhan, ‘not the man of birth alone
Warlike leader of his forces as a prince and chief we own,

Karna by his warlike valour is of crownéd kings the peer,
Karna shall be crownéd monarch, nations shall his mandate hear!’

Forth they brought the corn and treasure, golden coin and water jar,
On the throne they seated Karna famed in many a deathful war,

Brahmans chanted sacred mantra which the holy books ordain,
And anointed crownéd Karna king of Anga’s fair domain,

And they raised the red umbrella, and they waved the chowri fan,
‘Blessings on the crownéd monarch! honour to the bravest man!’

‘Now the holy rites accomplished, in his kingly robes arrayed
Karna unto prince Duryodhan thus in grateful accents prayed:

‘Gift of kingdom, good Duryodhan, speaketh well thy noble heart,
What return can grateful Karna humbly render on his part?’

‘Grant thy friendship,’ cried Duryodhan, ‘for no other boon crave,
Be Duryodhan’s dearest comrade, be his helper true and brave,’

‘Be it so!’ responded Karna, with a proud and noble grace,
And he sealed his loyal friendship in a loving fond embrace!

Poem – The Advent of Karna

Now the feats of arm are ended, and the closing hour draws nigh,
Music’s voice is hushed in silence, and dispersing crowds pass by,

Hark! Like welkin-shaking thunder wakes a deep and deadly sound,
Clank and din of warlike weapons burst upon the tented ground!

Are the solid mountains splitting, is it bursting of the earth.
Is it tempest’s pealing accent whence the lightning takes its birth?

Thoughts like these alarm the people for the sound is dread and high,
To the gaze of the arena turns the crowd with anxious eye!

Gathered round preceptor Drona, Pandu’s sons in armour bright,
Like the five-starred constellation round the radiant Queen of Night,

Gathered round the proud Duryodhan, dreaded for his exploits done,
All his brave and warlike brothers and preceptor Drona’s son,

So the gods encircled INDRA, thunder-wielding, fierce and bold,
When he scattered Danu’s children in the misty days of old!

Pale, before the unknown warrior, gathered nations part in twain,
Conqueror of hostile cities, lofty Karna treads the plain,

In his golden mail accoutred. and his rings of yellow gold,
Like a moving cliff in stature, arméd comes the chieftain bold,

Pritha, yet unwedded, bore him, peerless archer on the earth,
Portion of the solar radiance, for the Sun inspired his birth!

Like a tusker in his fury, like a lion in his ire,
Like the sun in noontide radiance, like the all-consuming fire,

Lion-like in build and muscle, stately as a golden palm,
Blessed with every very manly virtue, peerless, dauntless, proud and calm!

With his looks serene and lofty field of war the chief surveyed,
Scarce to Kripa or to Drona honour and obeisance made,

Still the panic-stricken people viewed him with unmoving gaze,
Who maybe this unknown warrior, questioned theyin hushed amaze!

Then in voice of pealing thunder spake fair Pritha’s eldest son
Unto Arjun, Pritha’s youngest, each, alas! to each unknown:

‘All thy feats of weapons, Arjun, done with vain and needless boast,
These and greater I accomplish-witness be this mighty host!’

Thus spake proud and peerless Karna in his accents deep and loud,
And as moved by sudden impulse joyous rose the listening crowd,

And a gleam of mighty transport glows in proud Duryodhan’s heart,
Flames of wrath and jealous anger from the eyes of Arjun start,

Drona gave the word, and Karna, Pritha’s war-beloving son,
With his sword and with his arrows did the feats by Arjun done!

Poem – The Advent of Arjun

Gauntleted and jewel-girdled, with his bow of ample height,
Archer Arjun pious-hearted to the gods performed a rite,

Then he stepped forth proud and stately in his golden mail encased,
Like the sunlit cloud of evening with the golden rainbow graced,

And a gladness stirred the people all around the listed plain,
Voice of drum and blare of trumpet rose with sankha’s festive strain!

‘Mark! the gallant son of Pandu, whom the happy Pritha bore,
Mark! the heir of INDRA’S valour, matchless in his arms and lore,

Mark! the warrior young and valiant, peerless in his skill of arms,
Mark! the prince of stainless virtue, decked with grace and varied charms!’

Pritha heard such grateful voices borne aloft unto the sky,
Milk of love suffused her bosom, tear of joy was in her eye!

And where rested Kuru’s monarch, joyous accents struck his ear,
And he turned to wise Vidura seeking for the cause to hear:

‘Wherefore like the voice of ocean, when the tempest winds prevail,
Rise the voices of the people and the spacious skies assail?’

Answered him the wise Vidura, ‘It is Pritha’s gallant boy,
Godlike moves in golden armour, and the people shout for joy!’

‘Pleased am I.’ so spake the monarch,’ and I bless my happy fate,
Pritha’s sons like fires of yajna sanctify this mighty State!’

Now the voices of the people died away and all was still,
Arjun to his proud preceptor showed his might and matchless skill.

Towering high or lowly bending, on the turf or on his car,
With his bow and glist’ning arrows. Arjun waged the mimic war,

Targets on the wide arena, mighty tough or wondrous small,
With his arrows still unfailing, Arjun pierced them one and all!

Wild-boar shaped in plates of iron coursed the wide-extending field,
In its jaws five glist’ning arrows sent the archer wondrous -skilled,

Cow-horn by a thread suspended was by winds unceasing swayed,
One and twenty well-aimed arrows on this moving mark he laid,

And with equal skill his rapier did the godlike Arjun wield,
Whirling round the mace of battle ranged the spacious tourney field!

Poem – Close of the Day

Like a lordly tusker rising from a beauteous lotus lake,
Rose Duryodhan from his brothers, proudly thus to Bhima spake:

‘With such insults seek not, Bhima, thus to cause a warrior grief,
Bitter taunts but ill befit thee, warlike tiger-waisted chief,

Proudest chief may fight the humblest, for like river’s noble course,
Noble deeds proclaim the warrior, and we question not their source!

Teacher Drona, priest and warrior, owns a poor and humble birth,
Kripa, noblest of Gautamas, springeth from the lowly earth,

Known to me thy lineage Bhima, thine and of thy brothers four,
Amorous gods your birth imparted, so they say, in days of yore!

Mark the great and gallant Karna decked in rings and weapons fair
She-deer breeds not lordly tigers in her poor and lowly lair,

Karna comes to rule the wide earth, not fair Anga’s realms alone,
By his valour and his virtue, by the homage which I own,

And if prince or arméd chieftain doth my word or deed gainsay,
Let him take his bow and quiver, meet me in a deadly fray!’

Loud applauses greet the challenge and the people’s joyful cry,
But the thickening shades of darkness fill the earth and evening sky

And the red lamp’s fitful lustre shone upon the field around,
Slowly with the peerless Karna proud Duryodhan left the ground.

Pandu’s sons with warlike Drona marked the darksome close of day
And with Kripa and with Bhishma homeward silent bent their way

‘Arjun is the gallant victor!’ ‘Valiant Karna’s won the day!’
‘Prince Duryodhan is the winner!’ Various thus the people say

By some secret sign appriséd Pritha knew her gallant boy,
Saw him crownéd king of Anga, with a mother’s secret joy,

And with greater joy Duryodhan fastened Karna to his side,
Feared no longer Arjun’s prowess, Arjun’s skill of arms and pride

E’en Yudhishthir reckoned Karna mightiest warrior on the earth,
Half misdoubted Arjun’s prowess, Arjun’s, skill and warlike worth!

Poem – Bhima and Duryodhan

Bhima came and proud Duryodhan with their maces lifted high,
Like two cliffs with lofty turrets cleaving through the azure sky,

In their warlike arms accoutred with their girded loins they stood,
Like two untamed jungle tuskers in the deep and echoing wood!

And as tuskers range the forest, so they range the spacious field,
Right to left and back they wander and their ponderous maces wield,

Unto Kuru’s sightless monarch wise Vidura drew the scene,
Pritha proudly of the princes spake unto the Kuru queen.

While the stalwart Bhima battled with Duryodhan brave and strong,
Fierce in wrath, for one or other, shouted forth the maddened throng,

‘Hail to Kuru prince Duryodhan!’ ‘Hail to Bhima hero proud!’
Sounds like these from surging myriads rose in tumult deep and loud,

And with troubled vision Drona marked the heaving restless plain,
Marked the crowd by anger shaken, like the tempest-shaken main,

To his son he softly whispered quick the tumult to appease,
Part the armed and angry wrestlers, bid the deadly combat cease,

With their lifted clubs the princes slow retired on signal given,
Like the parting of the billows, mighty-heaving, tempest-driven!

Came forth then the ancient Drona on the open battle-ground,
Stopped the drum and lofty trumpet, spake in voice like thunder’s sound:

‘Bid him come, the gallant Arjun! pious prince and warrior skilled,
Arjun, born of mighty INDRA, and with VISHNU’S prowess filled.’

Poem – Conclusion

‘This is She the fair Immortal! Her no human mother bore,
Sprung from altar as Draupadi human shape for thee she wore,

By the Wielder of the Trident she was waked to form and life,
Bom in royal Drupad’s mansion, righteous man, to be thy wife,

These are bright aérial beings, went for thee to lower earth,
Borne by Drupad’s stainless daughter as thy children took their birth!

This is monarch Dhrita-rashtra who doth o’er Gandharvas reign,
This is peerless archer Karna, erst on earth by Arjun slain,

Like the Sun in ruddy splendour, for the Sun inspired his birth,
As the son of chariot-driver he was known upon the earth!

Mdst the Sadhyas and the Maruts, ‘midst Immortals pure and bright,
Seek thy friends the faithful Vrishnis matchless in their warlike might.

Seek and find the brave Satyaki who upheld thy cause so well,
Seek the Bhojas and Andhakas who in Kuru-kshetra fell!

This is gallant Abhimanyu whom the fair Subhadra bore,
Still unconquered in the battle, slain by fraud in yonder shore,

Abhimanyu son of Arjun, wielding Arjun’s peerless might,
With the Lord of Night he ranges, beauteous as the Lord of Night!

This, Yudhishthir, is thy father, by thy mother joined in heaven,
Oft he comes into my mansions in his flowery chariot driven.

This is Bhishma stainless warrior, by the Vasus is his place,
By the god of heavenly wisdom teacher Drona sits in grace!

These and other mighty warriors in the earthly battle slain,
By their valour and their virtue walk the bright ethereal plain,

They have cast their mortal bodies, crossed the radiant gate of heaven,
For to win celestial mansions unto mortals it is given,

Let them strive by kindly action, gentle speech, endurance long,
Brighter life and holier future into sons of men belong! ‘