“Rishis said, ‘O son of Soota (Rishi Soota), we wish to hear a full and detailed account of the place mentioned by you as Samanta-panchaka (modern day Kurukshetra, Haryana state, India).’

“Soota said, ‘O you Brahmanas, listen to the sacred descriptions I say. O you best of men, you deserve to hear of the place known as Samanta-panchaka. In the interval between the Treta and Dwaapara Yugas, (Parashu)Rama (the son of Rishi Jamadagni) – great among all who have carrying weapons, driven by impatience of wrongs, repeatedly attacked the noble race of Kshatriyas.

“When that brilliant fireball (Parashurama), by his own courage, destroyed the entire class of Kshatriyas, he formed at Samanta-panchaka five lakes of blood. We are told that his reason being overpowered by anger he offered Tarpana of blood to his Pitris, standing in the middle of the blood-red waters of those lakes.

“It was then that his (Parashurama’s) ancestors of whom (Rishi) Richika was the first having arrived there addressed him thus, ‘O (Parashu)Rama, O blessed Rama, O offspring of Bhrigu, we have been pleased with the respect you have shown for your ancestors and with your courage, O mighty one! Blessings be upon you. O you respected one, ask the boon that you may desire.’

“(Parashu)Rama said, ‘O fathers (ancestors), if you are favourably inclined towards me, the boon I ask is that I may be removed from the sins born of me having destroyed the Kshatriyas in anger, and that the lakes (Samanta-panchaka) I have formed may become famous in the world as holy shrines.’

“The Pitris then said, ‘So shall it be. But you be pacified.’

“(Parashu)Rama was pacified accordingly. The region that lies near to those lakes of bloody water, from that time has been celebrated as the holy Samanta-panchaka. The wise have declared that every country should be distinguished by a name significant of some event which may have rendered it famous.

“In the interval between the Dwaapara and the Kali Yugas, there happened at Samanta-panchaka, the encounter between the armies of Kauravaaaas and Paandavaas. In that holy region, without hard terrain of any kind, were assembled eighteen Akshauhinis (3,93,660 chariots; 3,93,660 elephants; 11,80,980 cavalry; 19,68,300 infantry) of soldiers eager for battle.

“O Brahmanas, having come to that place, they (the eighteen Akshauhinis) were all slain on the spot. O Brahmanas, thus the name of that region has been explained, and the country described to you as a sacred and delightful one. I have mentioned the whole of what relates to it as the region is celebrated throughout the three worlds.’

“Rishis said, ‘We have a desire to know, O son of Soota (Ugrasrava also known as Soota), what is implied by the term Akshauhini that has been used by you. Tell us in full what is the number of horse and foot, chariots and elephants, which compose an Akshauhini for you are fully informed.’

“Soota (also known as Ugrasrava) said, ‘One chariot, one elephant, five foot-soldiers, and three horses form one Patti; three Pattis (3 chariots, 3 elephants, 15 foot-soldiers and 9 horses) make one Sena-mukha; three Sena-mukhas (9 chariots, 9 elephants, 45 foot-soldiers and 27 horses) are called a Gulma; three Gulmas (27 chariots, 27 elephants, 135 foot-soldiers and 81 horses) is known as a Gana; three Ganas (81 chariots, 81 elephants, 405 foot-soldiers and 243 horses) is known as a Vaahini; three Vaahinis (243 chariots, 243 elephants, 1215 foot-soldiers and 729 horses) together are called a Pritana; three Pritanas (729 chariots, 729 elephants, 3645 foot-soldiers and 2187 horses) form a Chamu; three Chamus (2187 chariots, 2187 elephants, 10935 foot-soldiers and 6561 horses) is known as one Anikini; and an Anikini taken ten times forms (21870 chariots, 21870 elephants, 109350 foot-soldiers and 65610 horses), as it is styled by those who know, an Akshauhini.

“O you best of Brahmanas, arithmeticians have calculated that the number of chariots in an Akshauhini is twenty-one thousand eight hundred and seventy (21,870 chariots). The measure of elephants must be fixed at the same number (21,870 elephants). O you pure, you must know that the number of foot-soldiers is one hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and fifty (1,09,350 foot soldiers), the number of horse is sixty-five thousand, six hundred and ten (65,610 horses).

“O Brahmanas, these as fully explained by me, are the numbers of an Akshauhini as said by those knowledgeable with the principles of numbers. O best of Brahmanas, according to this calculation were composed the eighteen Akshauhinis of the Kauravaaa and the Paandavaa army.

“Time, whose acts are wonderful, assembled them on that spot and having made Kauravaaaas the cause, destroyed them all. Bhishma, very familiar with choice of weapons, fought for ten days. Drona protected the Kauravaaa Vaahinis for five days. Karna, the destroyer of hostile armies, fought for two days; and Shalya for half a day. After that lasted for half a day the encounter with clubs (Gada in Sanskrit) between Duryodhana and Bhima. At the close of that day, Ashwatthaama (son of Drona) and Kripa destroyed the army of Yudhishthira in the night while sleeping without suspicion of danger.

“O (Rishi) Shaunaka, this best of narrations called (Maha)Bharata which has begun to be repeated at your yagna, was previously repeated at the (Sarpa) Satra of (King) Janamejaya by an intelligent disciple of Vyaasa (named Sri Vaishampaayana).

“It is divided into several sections; in the beginning are Paushya, Pauloma, and Aastika parvas, describing in full the courage and fame of kings. It is a work whose description, style of writing, and sense are varied and wonderful. It contains an account of various manners and rites. It is accepted by the wise, as the state called Vairaagya is by men desirous of final release (salvation or moksha in Sanskrit).

“As Self among things to be known (is the dearest), as life among things that are dear, so is this history (Mahabharata) that furnishes the means of arriving at the knowledge of Brahma, the first among all Shaastraas. There is not a story current in this world but do depend upon this history as the body upon the food that it takes. As masters of good lineage (vamsha in Sanskrit) are ever attended upon by servants desirous of promotion, so is the (Maha)Bharata cherished by all poets. As the words constituting the several branches of knowledge belonging to the world and the Veda display only vowels and consonants, so this excellent history (Mahabharata) displays only the highest wisdom.

‘Listen, O you Rishis, to the outlines of the several divisions (parvas) of this history called (Maha)Bharata, endued with great knowledge, of sections and feet that are wonderful and various, of subtle meanings and logical connections, and decorated with the substance of Vedas.


“The first parva (with in the Aadi Parva) is called Anukramanika; the second, Sangraha (parva); then Paushya (parva); then Pauloma (parva); the Aastika (parva); then Aadivamshaavataarana (parva). Then comes the Sambhava (parva) of wonderful and thrilling incidents. Then comes Jatugrihadaha (setting fire to the house of lac) and then Hidimba-vadha (the killing of Hidimba) parvas; then comes Baka-vadha (slaughter of Baka) and then Chitraratha.

“The next is called Swayamvara (selection of husband by Paanchaali), in which Arjuna by the exercise of Kshatriya Dharma, won Draupadi for wife. Then comes Vaivaahika (marriage). Then comes Viduraagamana (arrival of Vidura), Rajyalaabha (acquirement of kingdom), Arjuna-vanavaasa (forest exile of Arjuna) and Subhadraa-harana (the carrying away of Subhadra). After these come Harana-haarika, Khandava-daaha (the burning of the Khaandava forest) and Maya-darshana (meeting with Maya, the Asura architect).

“Then come Sabhaa, Mantra, Jaraasandha-vadha, Digvijaya (general campaign on all geographical directions). After Digvijaya come Raajasooyaka, Arghyaviharana (the robbing of the Arghya) and Sishupaala-vadha (the killing of Sisupala). After these, Dyuta (gambling), Anudyuta (subsequent to gambling); Aaranyaka, and Kirmira-vadha (destruction of Kirmira Asura). The Arjuna-bhigamana (the travels of Arjuna), Kairaati. In the last has been described the battle between Arjuna and Mahadeva (Lord Shiva) in the form of a hunter.

“After this Indra-lokabhigamana (the journey of Arjuna to Indraloka); then that mine of Dharma and virtue, the highly pathetic Nalopakhyana (the story of Nala). After this last, Tirtha-yatra or the pilgrimage of the wise prince of Kurus, the death of Jataasura, and the battle of Yakshas. Then the battle with Nivata-kavachas, Ajaagara, and Maarkandeya-Samasya (meeting with Rishi Maarkandeya).

“Then the meeting of Draupadi and Satyabhama, Ghoshayatra, Mriga-Swapna (dream of the deer by Yudhishthira). Then the story of BrihadAaranyaka and then Aindradrumna. Then Draupadi-harana (the abduction of Draupadi by Jayadratha), Jayadratha-vimokshana (the release of Jayadratha). Then the story of ‘Saavitri’ illustrating the great merit of the marriage-related purity. After this last, the story of ‘(Sri) Rama’. The parva that comes next is called ‘Kundalaa-harana’ (the theft of the ear-rings).

“That which comes next is ‘Aaranya’ and then ‘Vairaata’. Then the entry of Paandavaas and the fulfilment of their promise (of living unknown to the outer world for one year). Then the destruction of Kichakas’, then the attempt to take cows (of Viraata by Kauravaaaas). The next is called the marriage of Abhimanyu with the daughter of Viraata (Uttara).

“The next you must know is the most wonderful parva called Udyoga. The next must be known by the name of ‘Sanjaya-yaana’ (the arrival of Sanjaya). Then comes ‘Prajaagara’ (the sleeplessness of Dhritarashtra owing to his anxiety). Then Saanatsujaata, in which are the mysteries of spiritual philosophy. Then ‘Yaanasandhi’, and then the arrival of (Sri) Krishna.

“Then the story of ‘Maatali’ and then of ‘Galava’. Then the stories of ‘Saavitri’, ‘Vaamadeva’, and ‘Vainya’. Then the story of ‘Jamadagnya’ and ‘Shodasarajika’. Then the arrival of (Sri) Krishna at the court, and then Bidulaputrasasana. Then the assembly of troops and the story of Sheta. Then, you must know, comes the quarrel of the high-souled Karna. Then the march to the field of the troops of both sides. The next has been called numbering the Rathis and Atirathas. Then comes the arrival of the messenger Uluka which kindled the anger (of Paandavaas).

“The next that comes, you must know, is the story of Amba. Then comes the thrilling story of the installation of Bhishma as commander-in-chief. The next is called the creation of the insular region Jambu (Jambudweepa in Sanskrit); then Bhumi (Earth); then the account about the formation of islands (possibly continents). Then comes the ‘Bhagavat-Gita’; and then the death of Bhishma. Then the installation of Drona (as the commander-in-chief); then the destruction of the ‘Samshaptakas’. Then the death of Abhimanyu; and then the vow of Arjuna (to slay Jayadratha). Then the death of Jayadratha, and then of Ghatotkacha. Then, you must know, comes the story of the death of Drona of surprising interest. The next that comes is called the discharge of the weapon (astra in Sanskrit) called Narayana (by Ashwatthaama – the son of Drona).

“Then, you know, is Karna (being appointed as the commander-in-chief), and then Shalya (being appointed as the commander-in-chief). Then comes the (Duryodhana’s) immersion in the lake, and then the encounter (between Bhima and Duryodhana) with clubs (Gada in Sanskrit). Then comes Saaraswata, and then the descriptions of holy shrines, and then genealogies.

“Then comes Sauptika describing incidents disgraceful (to the honour of Kurus). Then comes the ‘Aishika’ of acutely distressing incidents. Then comes ‘Jalapraadana’ Tarpana of water to the manes (atma in Sanskrit) of the deceased, and then the wailings of the women. The next must be known as ‘Sraaddha’ describing the funeral rites performed for the slain Kauravaaaas.

“Then comes the destruction of the Raakshasaa Chaarvaaka who had assumed the disguise of a Brahmana (for deceiving Yudhishthira). Then the coronation of the wise Yudhishthira. The next is called the ‘Grihapravibhaga’. Then comes ‘Shaanti’, then ‘Rajadharmanushaasana’, then ‘Aapaddharma’, then ‘Mokshadharma’. Those that follow are called respectively ‘Shuka-prashna-abhigamana’, ‘Brahma-prashnaanusana’, the origin of ‘Durvaasa’, the disputations with Maaya.

“The next is to be known as ‘Anushaasanika’. Then the ascension of Bhishma to heaven. Then the Ashwamedha yagna, which when read removes all sins away. The next must be known as the ‘Anugeeta’ in which are words of spiritual philosophy. Those that follow are called ‘Ashramasaakhya’, ‘Puttradarshana’ (meeting with the soul of the deceased sons), and the arrival of (Devarishi) Naarada.

“The next is called ‘Mausala’ which abounds with terrible and cruel incidents. Then comes ‘Mahaaprasthaanika’ and ascension to heaven. Then comes the Puraanaa which is called Harivamshaa. In this last are contained ‘Vishnuparva’, Vishnu’s play and feats as a child, the destruction of ‘Kamsa’, and lastly, the very wonderful ‘Bhavishyaparva’ (in which there are prophecies regarding the future).

“The high-souled Vyaasa composed these hundred parvas of which the above is only an abridgement; having distributed them into eighteen, the son of Soota (Ugrasrava also known as Soota) recited them consecutively in the forest of Naimisha (NaimishaAaranya) as follows:


“In the Aadi parva are contained Paushya, Pauloma, Aastika, Aadivamshaavatara, Sambhava, the burning of the house of lac (Jatugriha-daha), the slaying of Hidimba (Hidimba vadha), the destruction of the Asura Baka (Baka-vadha), Chitraratha, the Swayamvara of Draupadi, her marriage after the overthrow of rivals in war, the arrival of Vidura, the restoration (of kingdom to Yudhishthira), Arjuna’s exile (to the forest), the abduction of Subhadra (by Arjuna), the gift and receipt of the marriage dowry, 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 Aastika describes the birth of Garuda and of the Naagaas (snakes), the churning of the ocean, the incidents relating to the birth of the divine horse Uchchaihsrava, and finally, the dynasty of Bharata, as described in the Sarpa Satra of king Janamejaya. The Sambhava parva narrates the birth of various kings and heroes, and that of the sage Krishna Dwaipaayana (Veda Vyaasa); the partial incarnations of Devas, the generation of Daanavaas and Yakshas of great capabilities, and Naagaas, Gandharvas, birds, and of all creatures; and lastly, of the life and adventures of king Bharata — the ancestor of the line that goes by his name — the son (King Bharata) born of Shakuntala in the ashrama of the Rishi Kanwa.

“This (Aadi) parva also describes the greatness of Bhagirathi (River Ganga), and the births of (eight) Vasus in the house of Shantanu and their ascension to heaven. In this parva, is also narrated the birth of Bhishma uniting in himself portions of the energies of other Vasus, his (Bhishma’s) rejection of royalty and adoption of the Brahmacharya mode of life, his adherence to his vows, his protection of Chitraangada, and after the death of Chitraangada, his protection of his younger brother, Vichitraveerya, and his placing the latter on the throne; the birth of Dharma among men in consequence of the curse of Aanimaandavya; the births of Dhritarashtra and Paandu through the power of Vyaasa’s blessings and also the birth of the Paandavaas; the plottings of Duryodhana to send Paandavaas to Vaaranaavata, and the other dark advice of the sons of Dhritarashtra in regard to the Paandavaas; then the advice given to Yudhishthira on his way by that well-wisher of the Paandavaas—Vidura – in the mlechchha language – the digging of the hole, the burning of Purochana and the sleeping Nishada woman, with her five sons, in the house of lac; the meeting of Paandavaas in the dreadful forest with Hidimba, and the slaying of her brother Hidimba by Bhima of great skills.

“The birth of Ghatotkacha; the meeting of Paandavaas with Vyaasa 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 Baka, and the amazement of the population at the sight (of the dead body of Asura Baka); the extra-ordinary births of Krishna (Draupadi) and Dhrishtadyumna; the departure of Paandavaas for Paanchaala in obedience to the direction of Vyaasa, and moved equally by the desire of winning the hand of Draupadi on learning the news of the Swayamvara from the lips of a Brahmana; victory of Arjuna over a Gandharva, called Angaaraparna on the banks of the Bhagirathi (River Ganga), his (Arjuna’s) agreement of friendship with his adversary (Angaaraparna), and his hearing from the Gandharva the history of Tapati, Vasishtha and Aurva.

“This (Aadi) parva treats of the journey of Paandavaas towards Paanchaala, the acquisition of Draupadi in the middle of all Rajas, by Arjuna, after having successfully pierced the mark; and in the ensuing fight, the defeat of Shalya, Karna, and all the other crowned heads (kings) at the hands of Bhima and Arjuna of great skills; the confirmation by Balarama and (Sri) Krishna, at the sight of these matchless actions, that the heroes were Paandavaas, and the arrival of the brothers (Balarama and Sri Krishna) at the house of the potter where Paandavaas were staying; the dejection of Drupada on learning that Draupadi was to be wedded to five husbands; the wonderful story of the five Indras narrated in consequence; the extraordinary and divinely-decided wedding of Draupadi; the sending of Vidura by the sons of Dhritarashtra as messenger to Paandavaas; the arrival of Vidura and his sight to (Sri) Krishna; the abode of Paandavaas in Khaandava-prastha, and then their rule over one half of the kingdom; the fixing of turns by Paandavaas, in obedience to the directions of Naarada, for marriage companionship with Krishna (Draupadi). In like manner, the history of Sunda and Upasunda have 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 weapons for delivering cows of a certain Brahmana.

“This (Aadi) parva then describes Arjuna’s meeting on the way with Ulupi, the daughter of a Naagaa (snake); it then narrates his (Arjuna’s) visits to several sacred spots; the birth of Babhruvaahana; the relieving by Arjuna of five divine ladies (Apsaras) who had been turned into crocodiles by the curse of a Brahmana, the meeting of Maadhava (Sri Krishna) and Arjuna on the holy spot called Prabhasa (possibly Prabhas Patan, Gujarat state, India); the carrying away of Subhadra by Arjuna, encouraged thereto by her (Subhadra’s) brother (Sri) Krishna, in the wonderful chariot moving on land and water, and through mid-air, according to the wish of the rider; the departure for Indraprastha, with dowry; the formation in the womb of Subhadra of that child genius of skills, Abhimanyu; Yagnaseni’s (Draupadi’s) giving birth to children; then follows the pleasure-trip of (Sri) Krishna and Arjuna to the banks of Yamuna and the acquisition by them (Sri Krishna and Arjuna) of the (Sudharshana) Chakra and the celebrated bow Gandiva; the burning of the forest of Khaandava; the rescue of Maya by Arjuna, and the escape of the Naagaa,–and the fathering of a son by that best of Rishis, Mandapala, in the womb of the bird Saarangi.

“This (Aadi) parva is divided by Vyaasa into two hundred and twenty-seven (227) chapters. These two hundred and twenty-seven chapters contain eight thousand eight hundred and eighty-four (8,884) shlokas.



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1 Comment

  • Vaishnavi , November 16, 2017 @ 9:05 pm

    There is a reason to why the Pandavas did not say anything about Draupadi getting stripped out of her cloths but what surprises me more is why Bhishma or the other courtiers did not say anything about it and that too in the royal assembly in front of everyone!

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