Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quotes - Drona Parva

After Bhishma falls in battle on the tenth day, there are two important decisions taken. The first is Karna's entry into the war, and the second is the appointment of Drona as the commander of the Kaurava army. The fiercest, bloodiest battle takes place in this parva. It is perhaps most famous for the killing of Abhimanyu, the sixteen year old son of Arjuna, but there are several other incidents that are noteworthy, especially for the way in which they bring out the utter despair of war.



  • "Learned ones say that in this world, association with the virtuous is more important that a relationship resulting from birth. Do not make your association with the Kurus false."
    [Bhishma to Karna, Dronabhisheka Parva, Drona Parva, Ch 4]



  • "Someone whose objective is at stake, sees things in a different way that another person never can."
    [Karna to Duryodhana, Dronabhisheka Parva, Drona Parva, Ch 5]
  • Sunday, June 23, 2013

    Quotes - Bhishma Parva

    The names of Parvas six through nine of the Mahabharata are easy enough to remember. They are each named after the commander of the Kaurava army during the eighteen day war - Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Shalya. Bhishma Parva then is the name of the sixth parva in the Mahabharata, and it covers the first ten days of the war. More pertinently, the sixty third parva of the Mahabharata, which is the third parva in the Bhishma Parva, is the Bhagavad Gita parva - which contains the song of the lord. I have not included quotes from that parva in this post. That needs to go into a separate post of its own. Here then are selected quotes from the Bhishma Parva.

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    Mahabharata Vol.7 - Translated by Bibek Debroy


    Mahabharata, Vol. 7. Translated by Bibek Debroy

    5 stars
    Weapons kill, but words will hurt much, much before that
    (FlipkartAmazon US, Kindle US, Amazon UKAmazon CA)
    One-line review: The war ends, but the carnage will take a night more to stop.

    Short review: This seventh volume sees the war come to an end, with the fulfillment of vows, the killing of family, the drinking of blood, and the breaking of thighs. The Pandavas have won this terrible war, but the final price they would have paid for this victory will be known only in the eighth volume.

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Quotes - Udyoga Parva

    After the Pandavas' thirteen year exile was over, they packed up from Virata and headed off to Kurukshetra to wage war against their cousins, finished off the battle in eighteen nights.
    Not quite. The path to war was by no means certain, by no means inevitable. It is a tragedy when one reads the several opportunities for peace that went abegging. The story of the terrible eighteen day war often relegates the tale of the Udyoga Parva to a mere footnote. The other story in the Udyoga Parva notable in its own right is that of Amba. In between the several parleys that went on between the Pandavas and Kauravas, there is the staggering Prajagara Parva, where Vidura expounds an entire treatise on statecraft in the middle of the night to Dhritarashtra. It is the presence of such nuggets that make the Mahabharata another reason to read in its entirety.

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    Quotes - Virata Parva

    The Virata Parva is the fourth parva in the Mahabharata, and the shortest of the first four, clocking in at under two thousand shlokas, and covers the thirteenth year of exile in incognito the Pandavas have to spend, which they do in the King Virata's kingdom.
    Covers of Vols 1 - 6
    These quotes are from the unabridged translation of the Mahabharata by Dr Bibek Debroy (my reviews: Vol.1Vol.2Vol. 3Vol. 4Vol.5 (12), Vol. 6 (123)). The Virata Parva begins with the fourth volume of the translation, and ends someway around the half-way mark. Then starts the Udyoga Parva, which also features the story of Amba.
    The start of the parva, where the Pandava's consiglieri, Sage Dhoumya, advises them on how to conduct themselves while in exile, could well have been taken from an HR manual for executives at a Fortune 500 company.
    On to the quotes.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013

    Quotes - Aranyaka Parva

    The Aranyaka Parva is the third parva in the Mahabharata, and in my reckoning one of the riches in terms of content. While the Adi Parva is literally the book of the beginning, and contains stories few may have heard of of the origins of few know of, and even fewer associate as belonging in the Mahabharata (like that of Uddalaka Aruni), and the Sabha Parva is perhaps the most pivotal of all parvas, as it lays the foundations of the destruction to be wrought thirteen and some years hence, the Aranyaka Parva is literally a goldmine of stories - a veritable forest of tales and philosophical discourses. Stories that are told, most of them by Sage Markandeya - and who himself has a story behind his everlasting life, as the Pandavas spend the twelve years of their exile in the forest, waiting, preparing, pondering. The thirteenth year, to be spent incognito while living among people, forms the fourth parva, the Virata Parva.

    Covers of Vols 1 - 6
    This post then collates quotable quotes from the third parva, the Aranyaka Parva, which at more than 10,000 shlokas, also happens to be the second longest parva in the epic, right behind Shanti Parva. This Parva starts in Vol. 2 of the unabridged translation of the Mahabharata by Dr Bibek Debroy (my reviews: Vol.1Vol.2Vol. 3Vol. 4Vol.5 (12), Vol. 6 (123)), and continues into Vol. 3.

    The second chapter in the parva is itself an exposition of Samkhya Yoga, and in the words of Dr Debroy, "This entire section is reminiscent of the Bhagvad Gita."
    On to the quotes then.
    • "There are four kinds of reasons behind physical sorrow - disease, the touch of something painful, labour, and distance from loved things."
      [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas  to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2] (the first sub-parva in the Aranyaka Parva is also named Aranyaka Parva)

    Sunday, March 31, 2013

    Quotes - Sabha Parva

    Covers of Vols 1 - 6
    My earlier post, collected some of the more interesting quotes from the first Parva of the Mahabharata, the Adi Parva. This post continues with a collection collated from the second Parva, the Sabha Parva. This Parva is contained entirely in Vol. 2 of the unabridged translation of the Mahabharata by Dr Bibek Debroy (My reviewsVol.1Vol.2Vol. 3Vol. 4Vol.5 (12), Vol. 6 (123)).

    Narad muni's discourse to Yudhishtra, after the latter had settled down in the grand palace at Indraprastha, architected by the asura architect Maya, is quite notable as a piece of mini niti-shastra. I have taken the liberty of including many quotes from it, though I would recommend that people read it in its entirety.


  • "Do you hurt dharma by artha or artha by dharma or both for the sake of pleasures that kama brings?"
    [Sage Narada to Yudhishtra, Sabha Parva, Sabha Parva, Ch 5] (the first sub-Parva in the Sabha Parva is also named "Sabha Parva")


  • "Surely you do not seek the advice from only one, or from too many."
    [Sage Narada to Yudhishtra, Sabha Parva, Sabha Parva, Ch 5]


  • "Do you purchase a single learned man for one thousand foolish ones?"
    [Sage Narada to Yudhishtra, Sabha Parva, Sabha Parva, Ch 5]


  • "Have you appointed superior men in superior positions and medium ones in medium positions?"
    [Sage Narada to Yudhishtra, Sabha Parva, Sabha Parva, Ch 5]

  • Saturday, March 30, 2013

    Quotes - Adi Parva

    The Mahabharata is a goldmine of stories, episodes, conversations, and incidents. As I read the Mahabharata - specifically the unabridged translation by Dr Bibek Debroy (it is a task as yet unfinished, primarily because Dr Debroy has completed six volumes of the translation and Penguin is expected to publish the seventh volume in April), I underlined passages, excerpts, dialogues, quotes that caught my eye. Yes, many of the books I read (and own) are littered with these underlinings. A book once owned and read is rarely left in a pristine condition, severely affecting its resale value I suppose.

    I thought of how to collect some of these memorable excerpts into one place, and then decided that organizing them by parva, one post for each of the eighteen major parvas in the epic, would be as good a way as any. Now, based on the first parva, the Adi Parva, it seems that publishing them by parva may indeed work. If it turns out to be impractical, because of the length - too short or too long, then I will adopt a horses for courses strategy. If dharma can be subtle, so can a blog strategy.

    The very first parva is the Adi Parva, and is contained mostly in the first volume of the translation. In this post, I have collected some of the notable quotes from this parva.
    • "Time brings existence and non-existence, pleasure and pain. Time creates all elements and time destroys all beings. ... Time cannot be conquered. Time walks in all elements, pervasive and impartial."
      [Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra, Anukramanika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 1]
    • "There is no curse that does not have a remedy. O snakes! But he who has been cursed by his mother has no remedy."
      [Vasuki, Astika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 33]
    • "One who is afflicted by destiny can find a remedy in destiny alone."
      [Elapatra to Vasuki, Astika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 34]

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    Mahabharata Volume 6 - Review


    The Incredible Savagery of War, to Restore & Uphold Dharma

    Mahabharata, Vol. 6. Translated by Bibek Debroy
    (Amazon USKindle US Flipkart, Flipkart e-bookKindle UKAmazon UK, my review on Amazon)

    The sixth installment of Bibek Debroy's translation of the unabridged Mahabharata, based on the Critical Edition by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, (my review of Vols 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) features perhaps the fiercest fighting in the 18-day war, as well as a descent into an all-out, no-holds barred bloodfest with no rules left unbroken. Many warriors ganging up against one. Beheading an unarmed warrior who had given up his arms, twice. Fighting at night. The wanton killing of warriors retreating. The killing of warriors who had laid down their arms. Abuses. Much more, and much worse takes place in these three days of the 18-day war that this book covers. Specifically, this book covers days thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen of the war, and contains six sub-Parvas (Upa Parvas): Abhimanyu-Vadha Parva (67), Pratijnya Parva (68), Jayadratha-Vadha Parva (69, and at 210 pages, also the longest in this book), Ghatotakacha-Vadha Parva (70, and 120 pages long), Drona-Vadha Parva (71), and Narayana-Astra Moksha Parva (72).