came back from the Imperial Sacrifice filled with jealousy against
Yudhishthir, and devised plans to effect his fall. Sakuni, prince
of Gandhara, shared Duryodhan's hatred towards the sons of Pandu,
and helped him in his dark scheme. Yudhishthir with all his piety
and righteousness had one weakness, the love of gambling, which
was one of the besetting sins of the monarchs of the day. Sakuni
was an expert at false dice, and challenged Yudhishthir, and Yudhishthir
held it a point of honour not to decline such a challenge.
came from his new capital, Indra-prastha, to Hastina-pura the capital
of Duryodhan, with his mother and brothers and Draupadi. And as
Yudhishthir lost game after game, he was stung with his losses,
and with the recklessness of a gambler still went on with the fatal
game. His wealth and hoarded gold and jewels, his steeds, elephants
and cars, his slaves male and female, his empire and possessions,
were all staked and lost!
madness increased, and Yudhishthir staked his brothers, and then
himself, and then the fair Draupadi, and lost! And thus the Emperor
of Indra-prastha and his family were deprived of every possession
on earth, and became the bond-slaves of Duryodhan. The old king
Dhrita-rashtra released them from actual slavery, but the five brothers
retired to forests as homeless exiles.
of Section lxv. and the whole of Sections lxix., lxxvi., and lxxvii.
of Book ii. of the original text have been translated in this Book.
DRAUPADI IN THE COUNCIL HALL
Glassed on Ganga's limpid waters brightly shine Hastina's walls
Queen Draupadi duly honoured lives within the palace halls,
as steals a lowly jackal in a lordly lion's den,
Base Duryodhan's humble menial came to proud Draupadi's ken.
Empress," quoth the menial, "royal Pandu's righteous son,
Lost his game and lost his reason, Empress, thou art staked and
Duryodhan claims thee, lady, and the victor bids me say,
Thou shalt serve him as his vassal, as his slave in palace stay!"
I heard thee, menial, rightly?" questioned she in anguish keen,
"Doth a crownéd king and husband stake his wife and
lose his queen,
my noble lord and monarch sense and reason lose at dice,
Other stake he did not wager, wedded wife to sacrifice!"
stakes were duly wagered," so he spake with bitter groan,
"Wealth and empire, every object which Yudhishthir called his
himself and all his brothers, bondsmen are those princes brave,
Then he staked his wife and empress, thou art prince Duryodhan's
the queen in queenly anger, and with woman's pride she spake
"Hie thee, menial, to thy master, Queen Draupadi's answer take,
my lord, himself a bondsman, then hath staked his queen and wife,
False the stake, for owns a bondsman neither wealth nor other's
can wager wife nor children, and such action is undone,
Take my word to prince Duryodhan, Queen Draupadi is unwon!"
was the proud Duryodhan when he heard the answer bold,
To his younger, wild Duhsasan, this his angry mandate told:
is the menial, and his heart in terror fails,
For the fear of wrathful Bhima, lo! his coward-bosom quails,
Duhsasan, bid the princess as our humble slave appear,
Pandu's sons are humble bondsmen, and thy heart it owns no fear!"
Duhsasan heard the mandate, blood-shot was his flaming eye,
Forthwith to the inner chambers did with eager footsteps hie,
sat the fair Draupadi, monarch's daughter, monarch's wife,
Unto her the base Du4sasan spake the message, insult-rife:
Panchala-princess! fairly staked and won at game.
Come and meet thy lord Duryodhan, chase that mantling blush of shame,
us as thy lords and masters, be our beauteous bright-eyed slave,
Come unto the Council Chamber, wait upon the young and brave!"
Draupadi shakes with tremor at Duhsasan's hateful sight,
And she shades her eye and forehead, and her bloodless cheeks are
his words her chaste heart sickens, and with wild averted eye.
Unto rooms where dwelt the women, Queen Draupadi seeks to fly.
sped the trembling princess in her fear and in her shame,
By her streaming wavy tresses fierce Duhsasan held the dame!
looks! with holy water dewed at rajasuya rite,
And by mantra consecrated, fragrant, flowing, raven-bright,
Duhsasan by those tresses held the faint and flying queen,
Feared no more the sons of Pandu, nor their vengeance fierce and
her in her slipping garments by her long and trailing hair,
And like sapling tempest-shaken, wept and shook the trembling fair!
in her shame and anguish, pale with wrath and woman's fear,
Trembling and in stifled accents, thus she spake with streaming
me, shameless prince Duhsasan! elders, noble lords are here,
Can a modest wedded woman thus in loose attire appear?"
the words and soft entreaty which the weeping princess made,
Vainly to the gods and mortals she in bitter anguish prayed,
with cruel words of insult still Duhsasan mocked her woo:
"Loosely clad or void of clothing,--to the council hall you
fairly staked and conquered, wait upon thy masters brave,
Live among our household menials, serve us as our willing slave!
Loose-attired, with trailing tresses, came Draupadi weak and faint,
Stood within the Council Chamber, tearful made her piteous plaint:
versed in holy sastra, and in every holy rite,
Pardon if Draupadi cometh in this sad unseemly plight,
thy sinful deed, Duhsasan, nameless wrongs and insults spare,
Touch me not with hands uncleanly, sacred is a woman's hair,
elders, righteous nobles, have on me protection given,
Tremble sinner, seek no mercy from the wrathful gods in heaven!
in glory, son of DHARMA, sits my noble righteous lord,
Sin nor shame nor human frailty staims Yudhishthir's deed or word,
all? and will no chieftain rise to save a woman's life,
Not a hand or voice is lifted to defend a virtuous wife?
is Kuru's righteous glory, lost is Bharat's ancient name,
Lost is Kshatra's kingly prowess, warlike worth and knightly fame,
else do Kuru warriors tamely view this impious scene,
Wherefore gleam not righteous weapons to protect an outraged queen?
hath he lost his virtue, Drona, hath he lost his might,
Hath the monarch of the Kurus ceased to battle for the right,
are ye mute and voiceless, councillors of mighty fame,
Vacant eye and palsied right arm watch this deed of Kum's shame?
INSULT AND VOW OF REVENGE
Spake Draupadi slender-waisted, and her words were stern and high,
Anger flamed within her bosom and the tear was in her eye,
her sparkling speaking glances fell on Pandu's sons like fire,
Stirred in them a mighty passion and a thirst for vengeance dire,
their empire wealth and fortune, little reeked they for the fall,
But Draupadi's pleading glances like a poniard smote them all!
frowned the ancient Bhishma, wrathful Drona bit his tongue,
Pale Vidura marked with anger insults on Draupadi flung,
word nor foul dishonour could their truthful utterance taint,
And they cursed Duhsasan's action, when they heard Draupadi's plaint.
brave Karna, though a warrior,--Arjun's deadly foe was he,
'Gainst the humbled sons of Pandu spake his scorn in scornful glee:
no fault of thine, fair princess, fallen to this servile state,
Wife and son rule not their actions, others rule their hapless fate,
Yudhishthir sold his birthright, sold thee at the impious play,
And the wife falls with the husband, and her duty-to obey
thou in this Kuru household, do the Kuru princes' will,
Serve them as thy lords and masters, with thy beauty please them
One! seek another husband who in foolish reckless game
Will not stake a loving woman, will not cast her forth in shame!
they censure not a woman, when she is a menial slave,
If her woman's fancy wanders to the young and to the brave,
thy lord is not thy husband, as a slave he hath no wife,
Thou art free with truer lover to enjoy a wedded life,
whom at the swayamvara, thou had'st chose, Panchala's bride,
They have lost thee, sweet Draupadi, lost their empire and their
heard, and quick and fiercely heaved his bosom in his shame,
And his red glance fell on Karna like a tongue of withering flame,
by elder's plighted promise Bhima could not smite in ire,
Looked the painted form of Anger flaming with an anguish dire!
and elder! " uttered Bhima, and his words were few and brave,
were wrath and righteous passion in the sold and bounden slave,
that son of chariot-driver fling on us this insult keen,
Hadst thou, noble king and elder, staked nor freedom nor our queen?"
Yudhishthir heard in anguish, bent in shame his lowly head,
Proud Duryodhan laughed in triumph, and in scornful accents said:
Yudhishthir, for thy brothers own their elder's righteous away,
Speak, for truth in thee abideth, virtue ever marks thy way,
thou lost thy new-built empire, and thy brothers proud and brave,
Hast thou lost thy fair Draupadi, is thy wedded wife our slave?
nor eye did move Yudhishthir, hateful truth might not deny,
Karna laughed, but saintly Bhishma wiped his old and manly eye.
seized the proud Duryodhan, and inflamed by passion base,
Sought the prince to stain Draupadi with a deep and dire disgrace,
the proud and peerless woman cast his wicked lustful eye,
Sought to hold the high-born princess as his slave upon his knee!
penned his wrath no longer, lightning-like his glance he flung
And the ancient hall of Kurns with his thunder accents rung:
I never reach those mansions where my fathers live on high,
May I never meet ancestors in the bright and happy sky,
that knee, by which thou sinnest, Bhima breaks not in his ire,
In the battle's red arena with his weapon, deathful, dire!"
fire flamed on Bhima's forehead, sparkled from his angry eye,
As from tough and gnarléd branches fast the crackling red
Hark! within the sacred chamber, where the priests in white attire
With libations morn and evening feed the sacrificial fire,
o'er sacred rights of homa Brahmans chant their mantra high,
There is heard the jackal's wailing and the raven's ominous cry!
Vidura knew that omen, and the Queen Gandhari knew,
Bhishma muttered "svasti! svasti!" at this portent strange
and preceptor Kripa uttered too that holy word,
Spake her fears the Queen Gandhari to her spouse and royal lord.
heard and trembled with a sudden holy fear,
And his feeble accents quavered, and his eyes were dimmed by tear:
Duryodhan, ever luckless, godless, graceless, witless child,
Hast thou Drupad's virtuous daughter thus insulted and reviled,
thou courted death and danger, for destruction clouds our path,
Can an old man's soft entreaties still avert this sign of wrath?
and gently to Draupadi was the sightless monarch led,
And in kind and gentle accents unto her the old man said:
empress, dearest daughter, good Yudhishthir's stainless wife,
Purest of the Kuru ladies, nearest to my heart and life,
wrong and cruel insult and avert the wrath of Heaven,
Voice thy wish and ask for blessing, be my son's misdeed forgiven!"
him the fair Draupadi: "Monarch of the Kuru's line,
For thy grace and for thy mercy every joy on earth be thine,
thou bid'st me name my wishes, this the boon I ask of thee,
That my gracious lord Yudhishthir once again be bondage-free!
have borne a child unto him, noble boy and fair and brave,
Be he prince of royal station, not the son of bounden slave,
not light unthinking children point to him in utter scorn,
Call him slave and dasaputra, of a slave and bondsman born!
daughter, have thy wishes," thus the ancient monarch cried,
"Name a second boon and blessing, and it shall be gratified."
me then, O gracious father! mighty Bhima, Arjun brave,
And the youngest twin-born brothers,--none of them may be a slave
their arms and with their chariots let the noble princes part,
Freemen let them range the country, strong of hand and stout of
it so, high-destined princess ancient Dhrita-rashtra cried,
"Name another boon and blessing, and it shall be gratified,
of my queenly daughters, dearest-cherished and the best,
Meeting thus thy gentle wishes now I feel my house is blest!"
so," answered him the princess, "other boon I may not
Thou art bounteous, and a woman should be modest, wise and meek,
I asked, and twice you granted, and a Kshatra asks no more,
Unto Brahmans it is given, asking favours evermore,
my lord and warlike brothers, from their hateful bondage freed,
Seek their fortune by their prowess and by brave and virtuous deed!"
Now Yudhishthir 'reft of empire, far from kinsmen, hearth and home,
With his wife and faithful brothers must as houseless exiles roam,
blessings spake Yudhishthir, "Elder of the Kuru line,
Noble grandsire stainless Bhishma, may thy glories ever shine,
priest and great preceptor, saintly Kripa true and brave,
Kuru's monarch Dhrita-rashtra, may the gods thy empire save,
Vidura true and faithful, may thy virtue serve thee well.
Warlike sons of Dhrita-rashtra, let me bid you all farewell!
he spake unto his kinsmen, wishing good for evil done,
And in silent shame they listened, parting words they uttered none,
at heart was good Vidura, and he asked in sore distress:
"Noble Pritha, will she wander in the pathless wilderness?
unused to hardship, weak and long unused to roam,
Agéd is thy saintly mother, let fair Pritha stay at home,
by all beloved, respected, in my house shall Pritha dwell,
Till your years of exile over, ye shall greet her safe and well."
him the sons of Pandu: " Be it even as you say,
Unto us thou art a father, we thy sacred will obey,
us then thy holy blessings, friend and father, ere we part,
Blessings from the true and righteous brace the feeble, fainting
Vidura, pious-hearted: "Best of Bharat's ancient race,
Let me bless thee and thy brothers, souls of truth and righteous
brings no weal to mortals who may win by wicked wile,
Sorrow brings no shame to mortals who are free froin sin and guile!
art trained in laws of duty, Arjun is unmatched in war,
And on Bhima in the battle kindly shines his faithful star,
the Twins excel in wisdom, born to rule a mighty State,
Fair Draupadi, ever faithful. wins the smiles of fickle Fate!
with varied gifts encircled, each beloved of one and all,
Ye shall win a spacious empire. greater, mightier, after fall.
your exile, good Yudhishthir, is ordained to serve your kveal,
Is a trial and samadhi, for it chastens but to heal!
taught thee righteous maxims where Himalay soars above,
And in Varnavata's forest Vyasa taught thee holy love,
preached the laws of duty far on Bhrigu's lofty hill,
Sambhu showed the path of virtue by fair Drisad-vati's rill,
from lips of saint Asita, words of wisdom deep and grave,
Bhrigu touched with fire thy bosorn by the dark Kalmashi's wave!
once more the teaching cometh, purer, brighter, oftener taught,
Learn the truth from heavenly Narad, happy is thy mortal lot,
than the son of Ila, than the kings of earth in might,
Holier than the holy rishis, be thou in thy virtue bright!
help thee in thy battles, proud subduer of mankind,
YAMA in the mightier duty, in the conquest of thy mind,
KUVERA teach thee kindness, hungry and the poor to feed,
King VARNUA quell thy passions, free thy heart from sin and greed,
the Moon in holy lustre, like the Earth in patience deep,
Like the Sun be full of radiance, strong like Wind's resistless
thy sorrow, in affliction, ever deeper lessons learn,
Righteous be your life in exile, happy be your safe return,
these eyes again behold thee in Hastina's ancient town,
Conqueror of earthly trials, crowned with virtue's heavenly crown!"
Vidura to the brothers, and they felt their might increase,
Bowed to him in salutation, filled with deeper, holier peace,
to Bhishma and to Drona, and to chiefs and elders all,
Exiles to the pathless jungle, left their father's ancient hall!
In the inner palace chambers where the royal ladies dwell,
Unto Pritha, came Draupadi, came to speak her sad farewell,
daughter, monarch's consort, as an exile she must go,
Pritha wept and in the chambers rose the wailing voice of woe!
sobs convulsed her bosom as a silent prayer she prayed,
And in accents choked by anguish thus her parting words she said:
not, child, if bitter fortune so ordains that we must part,
Virtue hath her consolations for the true and loving heart,
I need not tell thee, daughter, duties of a faithful wife,
Drupad's and thy husband's mansions thou hast brightened by thy
from the sinning Kurus thou hast turned thy righteous wrath,
Safely, with a mother's blessing, tread the trackless jungle path,
bring no woe or sorrow to the true and faithful wife,
Sinless deed and holy conduct ever guard her charméd life,
thy lord with woman's kindness, and his brothers, where ye go,
Young in years in Sahadeva, gentle and unused to woo!"
thy blessings help me, mother," so the fair Draupadi said,
"Safe in righteous truth and virtue, forest paths we fearless
her eyes and loose her tresses, fair Draupadi bowed and left,
Ancient Pritha weeping followed of all earthly joy bereft,
she went, her duteous children now before their mother came,
Clad in garments of the deer-skin, and their heads were bent in
welling in her bosom choked her voice and filled her eye,
Till in broken stifled accents faintly thus did Pritha cry:
true to path of duty, noble children void of stain,
True to gods, to mortals faithful, why this undeservéd pain,
hath untimely sorrow like a darksome cloud above,
Cast its pale and deathful shadow on the children of my love?
to me, your wretched mother, woe to her who gave you birth,
Stainless sons, for sins of Pritha have ye suffered on this earth,
ye range the pathless forest dreary day and darksome night,
'Reft of all save native virtue, clad in native, inborn might?
to me, from rocky mountains where I dwelt by Pandu's side,
When I lost him, to Hastina wherefore came I in my pride,
is your sainted father, dwells in regions of the sky,
Sees nor feels these earthly sorrows gathering on us thick and high,
too is faithful Madri, for she trod the virtuous way,
Followed Pandu to the bright sky, and is now his joy and stay!
alone are left to Pritha, dear unto her joyless heart,
Mother's hope and widow's treasure, and ye may not, shall not part,
me not alone on wide earth, loving sons, your virtues prove,
Dear Draupadi, loving daughter, lot a mother's tear-drops move,
me mercy, kind Creator, and my days in mercy close,
End my sorrows, kind VIDHATA, end my life with all my woes!
me, pious-hearted Krishna, friend of friendless, wipe my pain,
All who suffer pray unto thee and they never pray in vain,
me, Bhishma, warlike Drona, Kripa ever good and wise,
Ye are friends of truth and virtue, righteous truth ye ever prize,
me from thy starry mansions, husband, wherefore dost thou wait,
Seest thou not thy godlike children exiled by a bitter fate!
not, leave me not, my children, seek ye not the trackless way,
Stay but one, if one child only, as your mother's hope and stay,
gentlest Sahadeva, dearest to this widowed heart,
Wilt thou watch beside thy mother, while thy cruel brothers part?"
words of consolation, Pritha's children wiped her tear,
Then unto the pathless jungle turned their footsteps lone and drear!
dames with fainting Pritha to Vidura's palace hie,
Kuru queens for weeping Pritha raise their voice in answering cry,
maids for fair Draupadi fortune's fitful will upbraid,
And their tear-dewed lotus -faces with their streaming fingers shade,
ancient monarch, is by sad misgivings pained,
Questions oft with anxious bosom what the cruel fates ordained,