RANGED thus for battle on the sacred plain—

On Kurukshetra—say, Sanjaya! say

What wrought my people, and the Pandavas?


When he beheld the host of Pandavas

Raja Duryôdhana to Drona drew,

And spake these words: “Ah, Guru! see this line,

How vast it is of Pandu fighting-men,

Embattled by the son of Drupada,

Thy scholar in the war! Therein stand ranked

Chiefs like Arjuna, like to Bhîma chiefs,

Benders of bows; Virâta, Yuyudhân,

Drupada, eminent upon his car,

Dhrishtaket, Chekitân, Kasi's stout lord,

Purujit, Kuntibhôj, and Saivya,

With Yudhâmanyu, and Uttamauj

Subhadra's child; and Drupadi's;—all famed!

All mounted on their shining chariots!

On our side, too,—thou best of Brahmans! see

Excellent chiefs, commanders of my line,

Whose names I joy to count: thyself the first,

Then Bhishma, Karna, Kripa fierce in fight,

Vikarna, Aswatthâman; next to these

Strong Saumadatti, with full many more

Valiant and tried, ready this day to die

For me their king, each with his weapon grasped,

Each skilful in the field. Weakest—meseems—

Our battle shows where Bhishma holds command,

And Bhima, fronting him, something too strong!

Have care our captains nigh to Bhishma's ranks

Prepare what help they may! Now, blow my shell!”

Then, at the signal of the aged king,

With blare to wake the blood, rolling around

Like to a lion's roar, the trumpeter

Blew the great Conch; and, at the noise of it,

Trumpets and drums, cymbals and gongs and horns

Burst into sudden clamor; as the blasts

Of loosened tempest, such the tumult seemed!

Then might be seen, upon their car of gold

Yoked with white steeds, blowing their battle-shells,

Krishna the God, Arjuna at his side:

Krishna, with knotted locks, blew his great conch

Carved of the “Gaint's bone;” Arjuna blew

Indra's loud gift; Bhima the terrible—

Wolf-bellied Bhima—blew a long reed-conch;

And Yudhisthira, Kunti's blameless son,

Winded a mighty shell, “Victory's Voice;”

And Nakula blew shrill upon his conch

Named the “Sweet-sounding,” Sahadev on his

Called “Gem-bedecked,” and Kasi's Prince on his.

Sikhandi on his car, Dhrishtadyumn,

Virâta, Sâtyaki the Unsubdued,

Drupada, with his sons, (O Lord of Earth!)

Long-armed Subhadra's children, all blew loud

So that the clangor shook their foemen's hearts,

With quaking earth and thundering heav'n.

Then 'twas—

Beholding Dhritirashtra's battle set,

Weapons unsheathing, bows drawn forth, the war

Instant to break—Arjun, whose ensign-badge

Was Hanuman the monkey, spake this thing

To Krishna the Divine, his charioteer:

“Drive, Dauntless One! to yonder open ground

Betwixt the armies; I would see more nigh

These who will fight with us, those we must slay

To-day, in war's arbitrament; for, sure,

On bloodshed all are bent who throng this plain,

Obeying Dhritirashtra's sinful son.”

Thus, by Arjuna prayed (O Bharata!)

Between the hosts that heavenly Charioteer

Drove the bright car, reining its milk-white steeds

Where Bhishma led, and Drona, and their Lords.

“See!” spake he to Arjuna, “where they stand,

Thy kindred of the Kurus:” and the Prince

Marked on each hand the kinsmen of his house,

Grandsires and sires, uncles and brothers and sons,

Cousins and sons-in-law and nephews, mixed

With friends and honored elders; some this side,

Some that side ranged: and, seeing those opposed,

Such kith grown enemies—Arjuna's heart

Melted with pity, while he uttered this:


Krishna! as I behold, come here to shed

Their common blood, yon concourse of our kin,

My members fail, my tongue dries in my mouth,

A shudder thrills my body, and my hair

Bristles with horror; from my weak hand slips

Gandîv, the goodly bow; a fever burns

My skin to parching; hardly may I stand;

The life within me seems to swim and faint;

Nothing do I foresee save woe and wail!

It is not good, O Keshav! nought of good

Can spring from mutual slaughter! Lo, I hate

Triumph and domination, wealth and ease,

Thus sadly won! Aho! what victory

Can bring delight, Govinda! what rich spoils

Could profit; what rule recompense; what span

Of life itself seem sweet, bought with such blood?

Seeing that these stand here, ready to die,

For whose sake life was fair, and pleasure pleased,

And power grew precious:—grandsires, sires, and sons.

Brothers, and fathers-in-law, and sons-in-law,

Elders and friends! Shall I deal death on these

Even though they seek to slay us? Not one blow,

O Madhusudan! will I strike to gain

The rule of all Three Worlds; then, how much less

To seize an earthly kingdom! Killing these

Must breed but anguish, Krishna! If they be

Guilty, we shall grow guilty by their deaths;

Their sins will light on us, if we shall slay

Those sons of Dhritirashtra, and our kin;

What peace could come of that, O Madhava?

For if indeed, blinded by lust and wrath,

These cannot see, or will not see, the sin

Of kingly lines o'erthrown and kinsmen slain,

How should not we, who see, shun such a crime—

We who perceive the guilt and feel the shame—

Oh, thou Delight of Men, Janârdana?

By overthrow of houses perisheth

Their sweet continuous household piety,

And—rites neglected, piety extinct—

Enters impiety upon that home;

Its women grow unwomaned, whence there spring

Mad passions, and the mingling-up of castes,

Sending a Hell-ward road that family,

And whoso wrought its doom by wicked wrath.

Nay, and the souls of honored ancestors

Fall from their place of peace, being bereft

Of funeral-cakes and the wan death-water.〖Some repetitionary lines are here omitted.〗

So teach our holy hymns. Thus, if we slay

Kinsfolk and friends for love of earthly power,

Ahovat! what an evil fault it were!

Better I deem it, if my kinsmen strike,

To face them weaponless, and bare my breast

To shaft and spear, than answer blow with blow.

So speaking, in the face of those two hosts,

Arjuna sank upon his chariot-seat,

And let fall bow and arrows, sick at heart.

Here endeth Chapter I. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, entitled

“Arjun-Vishâd,” or “The Book of the

Distress of Arjuna.”

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