Mahabharata – Vana Parva – Aranyaka Parva – 1-10
(Translated literally from the original sanskrit text)
Edited and published by Manmatha Nath Dutt, M.A. M.B.A.S. Rector, Keshub Academy. Author of the English Translations of the Ramayana, Vishnu Purana, Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavat Gita and other works.
Aranyaka Parva – 1
The Pandava’s reflections
0Having saluted the Supreme Deity (Narayana) and the highest of all male beings (Nara) and also the Goddess of Learning (Sarasvati), Let us cry “success!”
1-2Janamcjaya said: O best of Brahmanas, having been deceitfully defeated at dice by the sons of Dhritarashtra with their counsellors and having been provoked by the wicked-minded ones (the Kuru princes), who thus brought about a fearful hostility by addressing them in cruel words, what did the Kurus, my grandsires do?
3How did the sons of Pritha (the Pandavas), equal to Shakra (Indra) in effulgence, thus suddenly robbed of their affluence and overwhelmed with misery, pass their days in the forest?
4Who are the men that followed them, (the Pandavas) that were plunged in great affliction. What was their conduct, what was their food and where did those illustrious ones live?
5O great Rishi, O best of the Brahmanas, how did the twelve years of those heroes, those slayers of foes, pass away in the forest?
6-7How did that foremost of all women, the royal princess (Draupadi), ever devoted to her husbands, greatly fortunate and truthful, undeserving of suffering misery, endure that painful exile in the forest? O great ascetic, tell me all this in detail.
😯 Brahmana, I desire to hear the history of those greatly effulgent heroes narrated by you. I am in great curiosity.
9Vaishampayana said: Having been thus defeated at dice and provoked by the wicked-minded sons of Dhritarashtra with their counsellors, the sons of Pritha (the Pandavas) set out from Hastinapur.
10Coming out through the Vardhamana gate of the city, the Pandavas with Krishna and with their arms went away in a northerly direction.
11Indrasena and others, taking with them their fourteen servants with all their wives, followed them on their swift cars.
12-13aHaving learnt that they had gone away, the citizens were overwhelmed with great grief; and having all met together, they began without fear to censure among themselves Bhishma, Drona, Vidura and the son of Gautama (Kripa).
13b-14The citizens said: When the sinful Duryodhana, helped by the son of Subala (Shakuni), Kama and Dushasana, aspires to this kingdom, our families, our homes, nay we ourselves are all gone.
15When this sinful man with the help of other sinful men aspires to the kingdom, our families, usages, virtue and prosperity are all doomed. How can there be happiness (where these are destroyed)?
16Duryodhana is malicious towards his superiors; he has abandoned all good conduct; he is covetous, vain, mean and by nature cruel.
17Where Duryodhana is the king, there the whole earth is doomed. Let us proceed there where the virtuous Pandavas are going.
18They are self-controlled, high-souled, victorious over foes, endued with modesty and renown and devoted to virtue.
19Vaishampayana said: Having said this, they all went together after the Pandavas. With joined hands, they thus spoke to the sons of Kunti and Madri.
20The citizens said: Be blessed. Where will you go leaving us (behind) who are in great grief? We shall go where you will go.
21-22We have been greatly distressed in learning that you have been defeated with sinful means by the cruel enemies. You should not forsake us. Who are your devoted and loving friends and who are ever engaged in doing your good and seeking your welfare. We all do not desire to meet destruction by living in the kingdom of a bad king.
23O foremost of men, listen to the merits and demerits, as we indicate, that respectively arise from associating with what is good and what is bad.
24As cloth, water, sesame-seeds and ground are perfumed by their association with flowers, so qualities are derived from association.
25Association with the fools produces delusion, as daily association with the honest and good produces virtue.
26Therefore those who are virtuously inclined should associate with men who are wise, old, honest and pure in conduct and who are ascetics.
27-28Those whose triple possessions, namely knowledge, birth and acts, are pure, should be waited upon. To associate with them is superior to the study of the Shastras. Without performing any special virtuous act, we shall be able to reap religious merits by associating with the righteous. We shall (assuredly) get sin by serving the sinful (Duryodhana and others).
29The very sight and the touch of the sinful and conversation and association with them, cause diminution of virtue. Men (who act thus) never attain purity of soul.
30Association with the mean and the low makes one’s understanding mean and low; association with the indifferent makes it indifferent and association with the good makes it good.
31-32All those attributes, which are spoken of in the world as the source of religious merit, worldly prosperity and sensual pleasure, which are highly regarded by men, extolled in the Vedas and approved by the good, exist in you separately and jointly. Desiring our own welfare, we wish to live among men who possess such attributes.
33Yudhishthira said: Blessed are we, since moved by affection and compassion, our subjects, headed by the Brahmanas, credit us with merits we do not possess.
34I with my brothers, would ask all of you to do one thing. For the sake of the love you bear for us, you should not act otherwise.
35Our grandfather Bhishma, the king (Dhritarashtra), Vidura, our mother (Kunti) and our other friends are all in Hastinapur.
36They are overwhelmed with sorrow and afflictions; if you want to please me, uniting all together, (go and) cherish them with care.
37Grieved at my departure, you have come far away. Go back. Let your heart be affectionately directed towards the relatives whom we leave behind as our pledges to you.
38This is the one act on which my heart is set. If you do it, you will give me the greatest satisfaction and pay your best regards.
39Having been thus exhorted by Dharmaraja (Yudhishthira), the subjects raised up all together a fearful wail, exclaiming “Alas, 0 king!”
40Afflicted and overwhelmed with grief, they unwillingly retraced their steps after asking leave of the Pandavas and remembering the virtues of Pritha’s sons.
41At the departure of the citizens, the Pandavas ascended their cars and came to a great banian tree, named Priraana, on the banks of the Ganges.
42Coming to the banian tree at the close of the day, the heroic Pandavas became purified by touching the water. They then passed the night there.
43-44Afflicted with grief, they passed that night, living on water only. Some Brahmanas, both those that maintained fire and those that did not, followed the Pandavas there for the love they bore for them. Surrounded by those Brahma-knowing men, the king (Yudhishthira) shone resplendent.
45That terrible evening hours became in a moment delightful on account of those Brahmana’s lighting their fire, chanting the Vedas and holding mutual conversations.
46Those foremost of Brahmanas with their swan-like sweet voices spent the night in comforting that best of Kurus, the king (Yudhishthira).