106. Yudhishthira's Final Trial

To Hastinapura came the sad tidings of the death of Vasudeva and the destruction of the Yadavas. When the Pandavas received the news, they lost all remaining attachment to life on earth.

They crowned Parikshit, son ofAbhimanyu, as emperor and the five brothers left the city with Draupadi. They went out on a pilgrimage, visiting holy places and finally reached the Himalayas.

A dog joined them somewhere and kept them company all along. And the seven of them climbed the mountain on their last pilgrimage. As they toiled up the mountain path one by one fell exhausted and died.

The youngest succumbed first. Draupadi, Sahadeva and Nakula were released from the burden of the flesh one after another. Then followed Arjuna and then great Bhima too.

Yudhishthira saw his dear ones fall and die. Yet, serenely he went on not giving way to grief, for the light of Truth burned bright before him. Yudhishthira knew what was shadow and what was substance.

The dog still followed Yudhishthira. The lesson enforced by the poet in this episode of the dog is that dharma is the only constant companion in life's journey.

It was dharma who, in the shape of the dog, followed Yudhishthira up the wearisome mountain path, when his brothers and wife had gone leaving him alone.

Finally, when he reached a great height, Indra appeared in his chariot.

"Your brothers and Draupadi have arrived before you. You have lagged behind, burdened with your body. Ascend my chariot and go with me in the flesh. I have come to take you," said Indra. But when Yudhishthira went up to take his seat in Indra's chariot, the dog also climbed up.

"No, no," said Indra. "There is no place for dogs in swarga," and pushed the dog away.

"Then there is no room for me either," said Yudhishthira, and refused to enter the heavenly chariot if he had to leave his faithful companion behind.

Dharma had come to test Yudhishthira's loyalty and he was pleased with his son's conduct. The dog vanished from sight. Yudhishthira reached swarga. There, he saw Duryodhana.

The Kuru prince was seated on a beautiful throne and he shone with the splendor of the sun and around him stood in attendance the goddess of heroism and other angels. He did not see his brothers or anyone else. Yudhishthira was astonished.

"Where are my brothers, ye denizens of swarga?" asked Yudhishthira. "This man of greed, of limited vision, is here. I do not care to spend my time in his company. We were driven by this man's envy and spite to kill friends and relatives. We stood tied by dharma to inaction when, before our eyes, innocent Panchali, united to us in sacred wedlock, was dragged to the Hall of the Assembly and insulted under the orders of this wicked man. I cannot bear the sight of this man. Tell me, where are my brothers? I wish to go where they are." Saying this Yudhishthira averted his eyes from where Duryodhana was seated in glory.

Then Narada, the heavenly rishi of encyclopedic knowledge, smiled disapprovingly at Yudhishthira and said: "Renowned prince, this is not right. In swarga, we harbor no ill will. Do not speak in this manner about Duryodhana. The brave Duryodhana has attained his present state by force of kshatriya dharma. It is not right to let the things of the flesh stay in the mind and breed ill will. Do follow the law and stay here with king Duryodhana. There is no place in swarga for hatred. You have arrived here with your human body; so it is that you have these inappropriate feelings. Discard them, son!"

Yudhishthira replied:

"O sage, Duryodhana, who did not know right from wrong, who was a sinner, who caused suffering to good men, who fed enmity and anger and who brought death to countless men, has attained this swarga of warriors. Where is that region of greater glory, which must be the abode of my brave and good brothers and Draupadi? I am eager to see them and Karna, and also all the friends and princes who gave up their lives in battle for me. I do not see them here. I desire to meet again Virata, Drupada, Dhrishtaketu and Sikhandin, the Panchala prince. I long to see the dear sons of Draupadi and Abhimanyu. I do not see them here. Where are they, who threw their bodies into the blazing fire of battle for my sake, like ghee in the sacrifice? I do not see any of them here. Where are they all? My place must be among them. At the close of the battle, my mother Kunti wanted me to offer libations for Karna also. When I think of it, even now, grief overwhelms me. In ignorance of his being my own blood brother, I caused Karna to be slain. I am eager to see him. Bhima, dearer to me than life, Arjuna, who was like Indra him self, the twins Nakula and Sahadeva and our dear Panchali, steadfast in dharma, I long to see and be with them all. I do not wish to be in heaven, for what good is it for me to be here, away from my brothers? Wherever they may be, that me is swarga; not this place!"

The angels, who heard this, replied:

"O Yudhishthira, if you indeed desire to be with them, by all means, you may go at once. There is no need to delay," and they ordered an attendant to take Yudhishthira.

So, the messenger proceeded in front and Yudhishthira followed him. As they went along, it soon became dark and in the gathering gloom could be dimly seen things weird and revolting.

He waded through slippery slime of blood and offal. The path was strewn with carrion and bones and dead men's hair. Worms were wriggling everywhere and there was an insufferable stench in the air. He saw mutilated human bodies everywhere.

Yudhishthira was horrified and confused. A thousand thoughts tortured his mind as he proceeded.

"How far have we to go yet on this road? Where indeed are my brothers? Tell me, my friend," he enquired of the messenger in deep anguish.

The messenger quietly replied: "If you so desire, we may turn back." The foul odors of the place were so sickening that for a moment Yudhishthira was minded to go back.

But just then, as if divining his intention, vaguely familiar voices rose all around in loud lamentation. "O Dharmaputra, do not go back! Stay here for a few minutes at least. Your presence has given us momentary relief from torture. As you came, you have brought with you a whiff of air so sweet and pure that we have found a little relief in our agony. Son of Kunti, the very sight of you gives us comfort and mitigates our suffering. O stay, be it for ever so short a time. Do not go back. While you are here, we enjoy a respite in our torture." Thus the voices pleaded.

Hearing the loud lamentations that thus came from all around him, Yudhishthira stood in painful bewilderment. Overwhelmed with pity at the poignant anguish in faintly remembered voices, he exclaimed:

"Alas wretched souls! Who are ye that lament like this? Why are you here?"

"Lord, I am Karna," said a voice.

"I am Bhima," said another.

"I am Arjuna," cried a third voice.

"Draupadi," cried another voice in piteous tone.

"I am Nakula," "I am Sahadeva," "We are Draupadi's sons," and so on, came mournful voices from all around, till the accumulated pain was more that Yudhishthira could bear.

"What sin indeed have these been guilty of?" cried he. "Dhritarashtra's son Duryodhana, what good deeds did he do to sit like Mahendra in heaven, while these are in hell? Am I dreaming or am I awake? Is my mind deranged? Have I gone crazy?"

Overwhelmed by anger, Yudhishthira cursed the gods and denounced dharma. He turned to the angel attendant and said sharply: "Go back to your masters. I shall stay here where my dear brothers, for no other sin than devotion to me, are consigned to the tortures of hell. Let me be with them."

The messenger went back and conveyed to Indra what Yudhishthira had said.

Thus passed the thirteenth part of a day. Then Indra and Yama appeared before Yudhishthira where he stood in anguish. When they came, the darkness rolled away and the horrid sights disappeared. The sinners and their suffering were no more to be seen. A fragrant breeze blew as Yama, the god of dharma, smiled on his son Yudhishthira.

"Wisest of men, this is the third time I have tested you. You chose to remain in hell for the sake of your brothers. It is inevitable that kings and rulers must go through hell if only for a while. So it was that for the thirtieth part of a day you too were doomed to suffer the pangs of hell. Neither the illustrious Savyasachi (Arjuna) nor your beloved brother Bhima is really in hell. Nor Karna the just, nor anyone else who you thought had been consigned to suffering. It was an illusion designed to test you. This is not hell, but swarga. Do you not see there Narada whose travels cover the three worlds? Cease grieving."

Thus said Yama to Dharmaputra, who, thereupon, was transfigured. The mortal frame was gone and he was a god. With the disappearance of the human body, also disappeared all trace of anger and hatred.

Then Yudhishthira saw their Karna and all his brothers and the sons of Dhritarashtra also, serene and free from anger, all having attained the state of the gods. In this reunion, Yudhishthira at last found peace and real happiness.


GLOSSARY

 

Abhimanyu : Son of Arjuna and Subhadra who was married to Uttara, daughter of King Virata.

Acharya : Teacher or Guru.

Achuta : A synonym of Sri Krishna.

Adhiratha  : Karna's foster-father.

Agastya  : A great sage whose life-story the Pandavas learnt while on pilgrimage to holy places is wife Lopamudra was equally a great sage in her own right.

Agnihotra : A sacrifice to God Agni.

Airavata  : Indra's elephant.

Ajatasatru  : Having no enemy, friend of all born things, an epithet of Yudhishthira.

Akshayapatra :  A wonderful vessel given to Yudhishthira by the Sun god which held a never-failing supply of food.

Alambasa  : A Rakshasa friend of Duryodhana who had joined his forces but Satyaki compelled him to flee from the battlefield.

Amrit :  Ambrosia, the food of the gods, which makes the partaker immortal.

Anga  : Mlechchha kings, a Kaurava supporter.

Arani :  An upper and a lower piece of wood used for producing fire by attrition.

Artha (Wealth) : one of the objects of human life, the others being Dharma, (righteous- ness), Kama (satisfaction of desires), Moksha (spiritual salvation).

Arundhati :  Wife of sage Vasishtha.

Ashtavakra : A towering scholar while still in his teens.

Asita :  A sage who held that gambling was ruinous and should be avoided by all wise people.

Asmaka  : A Kaurava warrior who attacked Abhimanyu.

Astra :  A missile charged with power by a holy incantation.

Aswamedha Yajna  : A horse sacrifice.

Aswathama :  Son of Dronacharya and last supreme commander of the Kaurava force.

Bahlika, Dasharna, : States the kings of which were Kalinga, Magadha, friendly to the Pandavas, Matsya, Panchala, Salva

Baladev  : Balarama, elder brother of Sri Krishna.

Balarama  : Elder brother of Sri Krishna.

Balarama  : An avatar or incarnation of Adisesha the thousand-hooded serpent on which Lord Mahavishnu reclines in Vaikuntha.

Bakasura  : A voracious, cruel and terribly strong Rakshasa or demon who lived in a cave near the city  of Ekachakrapura whom Bhima killed to the great relief of the citizens.

Bhagadatta  : King of Pragjyotisha, a Kaurava ally.

Bhagawan :  Form of address to Gods and great rishis, example- Bhagawan Sri Krishna, Narada,  Vyasa.

Bharata : Son of Kaikeyi and King Dashratha, stepbrother of Rama, who was exceptionally devoted to and loved Rama.

Bharadwaja :  A rishi, father of Yavakrida.

Brahma :  Creator of the universe.

Brahmastra :  A divine weapon, irresistible, one given by Lord Brahma himself.

Brahmacharin  : A religious student, unmarried, who lives with his spiritual guide, devoted to study and service.

Brahmacharya : Celibacy, chastity; the stage of life of Vedic study in which chastity and service are essential.

Brihadaswa  : A great sage who visited the Pandavas in their forest hermitage and reminded them of King Nala of Nishadha who also lost his kingdom in the game of dice and who deserted his wife Damayanti because of a curse but ultimately regained both,

Brihadratha : Commander of three regiments reigned over Magadha and attained celebrity as a great hero, married the twin daughters of the Raja of Kasi. His two wives ate each half of a mango given by sage Kausika and begot half a child each. A Rakshasi recovered the two portions from a dustbin wherein they were thrown and when they accidentally came together, they became a chubby baby, which she presented to the king, saying it was his child, which later became known as Jarasandha.

Brihadyumna :  A King, a disciple of sage Raibhya.

Brihannola :  Name assumed by Arjuna while living at Virata's court in incognito.

Brihatbala  : A daring warrior who charged at Abhimanyu caught in the Kaurava army's net.

Bhima : The second Pandava brother who excelled in physical prowess as he was born of the wind-god.

Bhishmaka : King of Vidarbha, father of Rukmini and Rukma.

Bhishma  : The old grandsire to whose care were committed the five Pandavas by the rishis when the eldest Yudhishthira attained the age of sixteen for their proper upbringing including mastery of the Vedas, Vedanta and various arts especially those pertaining to the Kshatriyas. Later he intervened  but without success to bring about peace and understanding between the Kauravas and the Pandavas who ruled separately from Hastinapura and Indraprastha respectively. He was the eighth child of King Santanu and Ganga. Appointed supreme commander of the Kaurava armies.

Bhojas : A branch of the Yadava clan belonging to Krishna's tribe.

Bhuminjaya :   Another name of prince Uttara son of Virata who had proceeded to fight the Kaurava armies, with Brihannala as his charioteer.

Burisrwas :  One of the powerful kings on the side of the Kauravas.

Bibhatsu  : One of Arjuna's name meaning a hater of unworthy acts.

Chala :  A Kaurava warrior.

Chandala :  A person of a degraded caste, whose conduct was much below standard and whose cause pollution.

Charachitra :  A son of King Dhritarashtra who perished in the war

Chavadi  : Place of public assembly of the village. It is the property of the entire community. In it all  public business is transacted, and it serves also as the village club the headquarters of the village police and guest house for travellers.

Chekitana  : Head of one division of the Pandava army.

Chitra : A son of Dhritarashtra killed in the war.

Chitraksha  : One of the many sons of King Dhritarashtra who fell in the war

Chitrasena :  King of the Gandharvas who prevented the Kauravas from putting up their camp near  the pond where he himself had encamped.

Chitrayudha  : A Kaurava prince who laid down his life in the war.

Chitravarma  : A brother of Duryodhana who was killed in the war

Chitrangada  : Elder son of Santanu born of Matsyagandhi (Satyavati) who succeeded his father on the throne of Hastinapura.

Chitrasena :  A Kaurava warrior.

Daruka  : Sri Krishna's charioteer.

Dasaratha  : King of Ayodhya and Rama's father.

Darshana  : A country whose king attacked Bhagadatta's elephant in an effort to save Bhima.

Devadatta : Name of Arjuna's conch.

Devaki :  Mother of Sri Krishna.

Devata  : A sage who condemned the game of dice as an evil form of gambling and declared it unfit as entertainment for good people, as it usually offered scope for deceit and dishonesty.

Devavrata :  The eighth child of Santanu and Ganga who in time mastered the art yielding arms and learned the Vedas and Vedanta as also the sciences known to Sukra was crowned Yuvaraja  (heir apparent), but later vowed to celibacy and was known as Bhishma.

Devayani :  The beautiful daughter of Sukracharaya, preceptor of the demons, who fell in love with  Kacha, son of Brihaspati, preceptor of the Devas.

Devendra  : King of the Gods.

Dharma : Righteous course of conduct.

Dharmagranthi : Assumed named of Nakula at Virata's court.

Dharmananda :The delighted of Dharma, a name of Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma or Yama.

Dharmavyadha :  He possessed the secret of good life and lived in the city of Mithila. He was a meat-seller.

Dhananjaya  : One of the names of Arjuna.

Dhanusaksha  : A great sage whom Medhavi, son of sage Baladhi, once insulted. He took the form of a bull and butted at that mountain and broke it to pieces. Then Medhavi fell down dead.

Dhaumya :  Preceptor of the Pandavas, who accompanied them during their exile to the Kurijangala forest, singing Sama hymns addressed to Yama, Lord of Death.

Dhrishtadyumna : Supreme commander of the Pandava forces eldest brother of Draupadi.

Dhrishtaketu  : A kinsman of the Pandavas.

Dhritarashtra  : Elder son of Vichitravirya and Ambika, born blind, father of Duryodhana.

Dharmaputra  : The son of Yama, epithet of Yudhishthira.

Dhartarashtras : Sons of Dhritarashtra

Draupadi : Daughter of King Drupada, King of Panchala, who married all the five Pandavas though  Arjuna had won her in the Swayamvara, because of the vow that they would share everything in common.

Drona : Son of a Brahmana named Bharadwaja; married a sister of Kripa and a son Aswathama was born to them; learnt military art from Parasurama, the maser. Later he became the instructor to of the Kaurava and Pandava princes in the use of arms.

Drupada : King of Panchala, father of Draupadi who became the wife of the Pandavas

Duhsasana  : Duryodhana's brother who dragged Draupadi to the hall of assembly pulling her by her hair.

Durdhara :  A son of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima in the war.

Durjaya  : A brother of Duryodhana who was sent to attack Bhima, to save Karna's life but lost his  own.

Durmarsha :  A son of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima.

Durmata  : A son of Dhritarashtra who got killed by Bhima.

Durmukha  : A chariot-borne warrior on the Kaurava side.

Durvasa  : A sage known for his anger who visited the Kauravas.

Durvishaha :  A warrior fighting on the Kaurava side.

Dushkarma  : A warrior belonging to the Kaurava side.

Dussaha :  A son of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima.

Dwaitayana  : A forest where the Kaurava, cows were being bred and housed.

Ganapati  : Amanuensis of Vvasa who agreed to write down without pause or hesitation the story of  the Mahabharata dictated by Vyasa.

Gandhari :  Dhritarashtra's wife and queen mother of the Kauravas.

Gandharvas :  A class of celestial beings regarded as specialists in music.

Gandiva : Arjuna's most potent bow.

Gangadwara : A place where sage Agastya and his wife performed penance.

Ghalotkacha  : Son of Bhima from demoness Hidimba.

Govinda : One of the epithets of Sri Krishna and Vishnu; it means a cow-keeper and refers to Krishna's occupation in Gokula, the colony of cowherds.

Guru : Revered preceptor, teacher.

Hamsa, Hidimbaka, Kamsa. : Allies of King Jarasandha; the last married the two daughters of Jarasandha. Also Krishna's step-uncle whom Krishna killed.

Halayudha : Plough-weaponed, an epithet of Balarama who wielded a plough as his weapon.

Hanuman :  Wise and learned monkey devotee of Sri Rama, who possessed extraordinary powers of discrimination and wisdom and who searched and found Sita in her confinement in Lanka.

Hastinapura : Capital city of the Kauravas.

Hrishikesha : Krishna.

Ilvala : This demon and his brother Vatapi hated brahmanas implacably. Ilvala would invite a brahman to a feast at which he would serve the meat of the goat into which his brother had turned he. After the brahmin had partaken of the feast he would call his brother out who would rend his way back to life, tearing the belly of the guest.

Indra : King of the Gods.

Indrajit : Son of Ravana, King of Lanka, who conquered Indra, the Lord of Gods and who was killed by Rama's brother Lakshmana.

Indrasena  : A kinsman of the Pandavas.

Indrakila :  A mountain Arjuna passed on his way to the Himalayas to practise austerities to acquire powerful new weapons from Lord Mahadeva.

Iravan :  Arjuna's son by a Naga wife who fell in the battle on the eighth day.

Janaka : King of Mithila, a great Rajarishi; father of Sita, wife of Sri Rama.

Janamejaya : A king who conducted a great sacrifice for the well being of the human race.

Janardana : A name of Krishna

Jarasandha  : Mighty king of Magadha of whose prowess all Kshatriyas were afraid. Killed by Bhima  in a thirteen-day non-stop physical combat: with Sri Krishna and Arjuna as witnesses.

Jarita,  Laputa : Female companions of a saranga bird, who was a rishi named Mandapala in his  previous birth when he was refused admission to heaven be cause he was childless.

Jalasura :  A demon killed by Bhima.

Jaya  : A son of King Dhritarashtra who was killed by Bhima in the war

Jayadratha :  A warrior on the side of Kauravas who closed the breach effected by Abhimanyu in the Chakravyuha military formation by Dronacharya and trapped him inside.

Jayatsena  : A kinsman of the Pandavas.

Jayatsena :  A warrior fighting on the side of Kauravas.

Jnana :  Knowledge of the eternal and real

Kacha :  Grandson of sage Angiras and son of Brihaspati, who went to seek knowledge under Sukracharya as a brahmacharin. Devayani, the preceptor's lovely daughter, fell in love with him. The Asuras (demons) suspecting him of wanting to steal the secret of reviving the dead, killed him a number of times. But due to Devayani's love for him, her father brought him back to life every time he was killed. Ultimately the secret was learnt by the devas who then succeeded in defeating the asuras.

Kagola : A disciple of the great sage and teacher of Vedanta, Uddalaka.

Kambojas : Enemies of the Kauravas whom Karna had defeated

Kamsa : Maternal Uncle of Sri Krishna and son of Ugrasena, also son-in-law of Jarasandha, whom  Sri Krishna killed.

Kanika : Minister of Sakuni.

Kanka : Assumed name of Yudhishthira at Virata's court.

Kausikam : A sage who learnt from Dharmavyadha the secret of Dharma, of performing one's duty.

Karna : A matchless warrior, son of the Sun god and Kunti. Disciple of Parasurama. Also son of  Radha, his foster-mother, and was known as Radheya.

Kartavirya : A great warrior who defeated Ravana, King of Lanka.

Kartikeya : Commander of the armies of the devas.

Kekaya : A brave warrior on the Pandava side into whose chariot Bhima got during the fighting on  the sixth day.

Kesava : One of the names of Sri Krishna.

Ketama : Another chief whose head was cut off by Drona.

Khandavaprastha : The ancient capital from where the ancestors of Pandavas, Nahusha and Yayati  ruled. The Pandavas rebuilt the ruined city and erected palaces and forts and renamed it Indraprastha.

Kichaka : Sudeshna's brother, commander-in-chief of Virata's army, who made advances to Sairandhri (Draupadi). He was invited to meet her at night at the ladies dancing hall and was met instead by Valala (Bhima) dressed up as a female who killed him (Kichaka).

Kripacharya : Aswathama's uncle who advocated a combined assault on Arjuna in battle as against Karna's boast that he could take him on single-handed.

Krishna-Dwaipayana : Sage Vyasa.

Krauncha : Curlew-heron.

Krauncha-Vyuha : military formation on a pattern supposed to resemble a heron with outstretched beak and spreading wings. In ancient Indian practice, armies were arrayed for battle in formations of definite patterns, each of which had a name such as Chakra, or Kurma or Krauncha, or Makara according to a real or fancied resemblance.

Kritavarma : A notable Yadava warrior fighting on the side of Kaurava forces.

Kshatradharma : A great warrior on the side of Pandavas.

Kuchasthala : A city where Krishna stayed the night on his way to the court of Dhritarashtra.

Kumbhakarna : Brother of Ravana, King of Lanka, who was asleep most of the time because of the curse of Brahma.

Kundinapura : Capital of Vidarbha.

Kunti : She was the daughter of Sura and was known as Pritha. She was given in adoption to the king's childless cousin Kuntibhoja and was named Kunti after her adoptive father. Sage Durvasa, whom she had served while he was a guest at her father's house, gave her a divine mantra which when repeated would give her a son from any god whom she would call upon. Out of childish curiosity, she invoked the Sun god by repeating the Mantra and then she gave birth to a son born with divine armor and earrings. Ashamed, she placed the child in a sealed box and set it afloat on a river. The box was picked up by a childless charioteer and brought up as his own and became known as Karna. Later, Kunti chose Pandu as her husband at a Swayamvara.

Kunti-Madri :  Queens of King Pandu who gave birth to three and two sons known as the Pandavas in the forest where he spent many years for having committed some sin. The sons were known as Yudhishthira, Bhima. Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva.

Kurma : Tortoise.

Lakshmana : Younger step-brother of Rama and son of Sumitra and King Dasaratha. Duryodhana's gallant young son also bore this name.

Lomasa : A brahmana sage who advised the Pandavas to reduce their retinue while repairing to the forest. Those unable to bear the hardships of exile were free to go to the court of Dhritarashtra or Drupada, king of Panchala. He accompanied Yudhishthira on his wanderings.

Lopamudra : Daughter of the king of Vidarbha who married the sage Agastya.

Lord Narayana : Refuge of men; Mahavishnu.

Madhava : One of the names of Krishna. It means the Lord of Lakshmi.

Madhusudana  : Another name of Krishna, the slayer of the asura Madhu.

Mahavishnu : Lord of the Universe who took human birth in order to wrest his kingdom from Emperor Bali for the salvation of the world. Lord Vishnu also took birth as Rama, son of Dasaratha, to kill Ravana, King of Lanka.

Mahendra : A King who had attained heaven.

Maitreya : A sage who visited the court of Dhritarashtra, expressed sorrow at the Pandava's plight, advised Duryodhana not to injure the Pandavas for his own good.

Mantra : An incantation with words of power.

Manasarovar : A sacred lake in the Himalayas

Mandavya : A sage wrongly punished by the king by being impaled as the chief of robbers who had clandestinely hidden their stolen goods in a corner of his hermitage when he was in deep  contemplation. Lord Dharma gave him this punishment for having tortured birds and bees in his  childhood. At this Mandavya cursed Dharma who was born as Vidura, the wise, to the servant maid of Ambalika, wife of King Vichitravirya, who offered her to Sage Vyasa in place of Ambalika.

Maricha :  A character in the Ramayan, uncle of Ravana who transformed him self into a golden deer at the behest of Ravana to entice Sita.

Markandeya : A sage who told Yudhishthira the story of a brahmana, Kausika.

Marutta : A king of the Ikshwaku dynasty whose sacrifice was performed by Samvarta in defiance of Indra and Brihaspati.

Matali : Charioteer of Indra who took Arjuna to the kingdom of gods.

Medhavi : Son of Sage Baladhi who desired that his son should live as long as a certain mountain lasted.

Meru : An ancient mountain. Becoming jealous of Meru, the Vindya began to grow very high obstructing the sun, the moon and the planets. Agastya whom the Vindhya mountain respected asked it to stop growing until he crossed it on his way to the south and returned to the north again. But he did not return at all, having settled in the south.

Nahusha : A mighty king who was made king of the gods because Indra had disappeared due to his killing Vritra through sin and deceit.

Nakula : Fourth brother of the Pandavas.

Nala : King of Nishadha who lost his kingdom in a game of dice and deserted his wife Damayanti because of a curse.

Nandini : Vasishtha's divinely beautiful cow.

Nara : Arjuna or Dhananjaya.

Narada : The sage who suddenly appeared before Dhritarashtra and Vidura as the latter was describing the departure of the Pandavas to the forest and uttered a prophecy that after fourteen years the Kauravas would be extinct as a result of Duryodhana's crimes and vanished as suddenly.

Narayana  : Sri Krishna or Krishna; Vishnu.

Narayanas : Krishna's kinsmen.

Narayanasrama : A charming forest where the Pandavas had halted during their wanderings.

Nishadha : A country where Indra, Lord of the gods had lived once disguised as a brahmana.

Nishada : An aboriginal hunter orfisherman: a man of low or degraded tribe in general; an outcaste.

Panchajanya : Name of Krishna's conch.

Palasa : Butea frondosa, "flame of the forest".

Panchali : Another name of Draupadi Queen of the Pandavas and daughter of King Drupada.

Panchalya : A son of King Drupada who died in the war.

Pandu : Second son of Vichitravirya and Ambalika who succeeded to the throne of Hastinapura on his father's death, as his elder brother Dhritarashtra was born blind, father of the Pandavas.

Parasara : A great sage, father of Veda Vvasa.

Paravasu : Son of Raibhva and elder brother of Arvavasu whose wife was violated by Yavakrida, who was killed with a spear by a fiend for his sin.

Parikshit : Son of Abhimanyu and grandson of the Pandavas who was crowned king after the holocaust claimed the Kauravas and the Pandavas.

Partha : Arjuna.

Parvati : Consort of Siva. Rukmini prayed to her for saving her from the cruel Sisupala king of Chedi, as she had set her heart on marrying Krishna.

Paurava : A Kaurava hero.

Phalguna : Arjuna.

Prabhasa : The Vasu who seized Vasishtha's divine cow.

Pradyumna : Sri Krishna's son.

Pratikhami : Duryodhana's charioteer.

Pritha : Mother of Karna, Kunti before her marriage.

Pundarikaksha : Krishna, the lotus-eyed one.

Purochana : An architect who built a beautiful wax palace named "Sivam" in Varanavata.

Purumitra : A Kaurava warrior

Pitamaha : Literally grandfather, which however carried no imputation of senile infirmity but denotes the status of the pater familias.

Ptirushottama : An epithet of Sri Krishna. It is one of the names of Vishnu and means the Supreme Being.

Raibhya : A sage whose hermitage was situated on the banks of the Ganga. The Pandavas during their wanderings visited it. This ghat was very holy. Bharata, son of Dasaratha bathed here. Indra was cleansed of his sin of killing Vritra unfairly by bathing in this ghat. Sanatkumar became one with God. Aditi, mother of the gods, prayed here to be blessed with a son.

Radheya : Son of Radha, a name of Karna, who as a foundling was brought up as a son by Radha, the wife of the Charioteer Adhiratha.

Rajasuya : A sacrifice performed by a king to be entitled to assume the title of "Emperor".

Ravana : King of Lanka who abducted Sita, the beautiful wife of Ramachandra.

Rishabha : The second note of the Indian gamut (Shadja, rishabha, gandhara, madhyama, panchama, daivata, nishada -sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni.)

Rishyasringa : Son of sage Vibhandaka, who had grown up seeing no mortal except his father. The king of Anga, which was afflicted with a dire famine, to bring rain and plenty, invited him.

Romapada : King of Anga which was once visited by a great drought.

Rudra : One of the names of Siva.

Rudra dance : Siva's cosmic dance of destruction.

Rukma : Heir apparent to the throne of Vidarbha. When defeated by Balarama and Krishna he established a new city Bhojakata, ashamed to return to Kundinapura, the capital of Vidarbha, and ruled over it.

Sachidevi : Wife of Indra, king of the gods on whom Nahusha's evil eye fell. She was also known as Indrani.

Sahadeva : Youngest of the Pandava princes who offered the first honors to Krishna at the Rajasuya sacrifices.

Saibya : A ruler friendly to the Pandavas.

Sairandhri : A maid servant or female attendant employed in royal female apartments.

Sakuni : He played dice on behalf of the Kauravas and succeeded in defeating the Pandavas by a stratagem. As a result the latter had to go and live in the forest for thirteen years. According to the conditions of the game, the thirteenth and last year of exile was to be spent incognito. If discovered by anyone they were again to repair to the forests for a like term. He was considered to be the evil genius, who beguiled Duryodhana to take to evil ways.

Salva : Friend of Sisupala, who besieged Dwaraka Sri Krishna's kingdom to avenge Sisupala's death at the latter's hand.

Salya : Ruler of Madradesa and brother of Madri and uncle of the Pandavas who because of having received hospitality from Duryodhana went over to his side.

Samsaptaka : One who has taken a vow to conquer or die, and never to retreat. The Samsaptakas were suicide-squads, vowed to some desperate deed of daring.

Samvarta : Brihaspati's younger brother, a person of great learning.

Samba : A Yadava youngster dressed as a woman who gave birth to a mace, as foretold by rishis.

Sanga : Son of Virata. When king Virata was wounded, he had to get into Sanga's chariot, having lost his chariot, horses and charioteer

Sanjaya : The narrator who tells blind Dhritarashtra the progress of the war from day to day. He told the king that a victim of adverse fate would first become perverted and loses his sense of right and wrong. Time would destroy his reason and drive him to his own destruction.

Sankula Yuddha : A melee, confused fight, a soldiers battle as distinguished from the combats of heroes.

Shanta : Wife of sage Rishyasringa.

Santanu : King of Hastinapura, father of Bhishma.

Sanyasin: One who has renounced the world and its concerns.

Sarasana : One of the Kaurava brothers who died in the war.

Sarmishtha : Princes and daughter of king Vrishaparva who got angry with Devayani and slapped and pushed her into a dry well.

Satanika : Virata's son whose bead was severed by Drona.

Satyajit : A Panchala prince, a hero who stood by Yudhishthira to prevent his being taken prisoner by Drona, while Arjuna was away answering a challenge by the Samsaptakas (the Trigartas).

Satyaki : A Yadava warrior, friend of Krishna and the Pandavas who advocated collecting their forces and defeating the unrighteous Duryodhana.

Satyavati :  A fisherman's daughter who possessed uncommon beauty and emanated a divinely sweet fragrance and king Santanu became enamored of her, married her and made her his queen.

Satyavrata : Warrior on the Kaurava side.

Saugandhika : A plant that produced a very beautiful and fragrant flower that Bhima went to get for Draupadi.

Savyasachin : Ambidexter, one who can use both hands with equal facility and effect. A name of Arjuna who could use his bow with the same skill with either hands.

Sikhandin : A girl turned man, warrior on the Pandava side who restored order among scattered, subdued soldiers, Drupada's son.

Simhanada : A lion-note or roar; a deep roar of defiance or triumph which warriors were wont to utter to inspire confidence in their friends, of terror in their enemies.

Saindhava  : Jayadratha.

Sini : One of the suitors to Devakiís hand. A kinsman of the Kauravas.

Sisupala : King of Chedi. Died at the hands of Krishna at the time of Dharmaputra's Rajasuya sacrifice.

Somadutta : One of the suitors to Devaki's hand. A kinsman of the Kauravas.

Subahu : King of Kulinda in the Himalayas, ally of the Kauravas.

Subhadra : Wife of Arjuna, sister of Sri Krishna and mother of Abhimanyu.

Sudakshina : A warrior on the Kaurava side.

Sudarsana : A warrior on the Kaurava army.

Sudeshna : Queen of King Virata whom Sairandhri (Draupadi) served.

Sugriva : Monkey-king, friend of Sri Rama, and brother of mighty Vali whom Sri Rama killed.

Sujata : Daughter of Sage Uddalaka and wife of Kagola, his disciple who had virtue and devotion but not much of erudition, mother of Ashtavakra.

Suka : A sage, son of Vyasa, who related the Srimad Bhagavata to King Parikshit, grandson of Arjuna.

Sumitra : Abhimanyu's charioteer.

Supratika : Name of King Bhagadatta's elephant.

Susarma : King of Trigarta, a supporter of the Kauravas who backed the proposal to invade Matsya, Virata's country.

Suvarna : A soldier on the Kaurava side.

Sri Rama : Also knew as Rama, Ramachandra or Sri Rama. Hanumana tells Bhima how he was deeply thrilled when he happened to touch Rama's body. This king of Ayodhya was banished to the forest for fourteen years, killed Ravana the king of Lanka who abducted his wife, Sita.

Srinjayas : Pandava supporters.

Srutayu, Astutayu : Two brothers fighting on the Kaurava side attacked Arjuna but were

killed.

Srutayudha : A Kaurava warrior whose mace hurled at Krishna rebounded fiercely, killing Srutayudha himself. Her mother Parnasa had obtained that gift from Varuna who had specified that the mace should not be used against one who does not fight, else it would kill the person who hurls it.

Swarga : The heaven of Indra where mortals after death enjoy the results of their good deeds on earth.

Sveta : A son of King Virata who fell in battle to Bhishma's arrow.

Tantripala : Assumed name of Sahadeva at Virata's court.

Uddalaka : A great sage and teacher of Vedanta.

Umadevi : Wife of Siva.

Unchhavritti : The life of a mendicant, begging his food.

Upachitra : One of King Dhritarashtra's sons who perished in the war.

Upaplavya : A place in Matsya Kingdom, where the Pandavas settled after their exile of thirteen years.

Urvasi : An apsara in Indra's court, whose amorous overtures Arjuna declined.

Vaisampayana : Chief disciple of sage Vyasa who revealed the epic for the benefit humanity.

Vaishnava : A sacrifice performed by Duryodhana in the forest. Yayati, Mandhata, Bharata and others also performed it.

Vaishnava mantra : An invocation which endows a missile with some of the irresistible power of Vishnu.

Vajrayudha : The weapon with which Indra killed Visvarupa on suspicion because his mother belonged to the asura tribe of daityas.

Valala : Assumed name of Bhima when, he worked as a cook at Virata's court.

Vali : Monkey-king, brother of Sugriva.

Vanaprastha : The third stage of the dvija's life, when he is required to relinquish worldly responsibilities to his heirs and retires to the woods with his wife for an anchorite's life.

Vandi : Court poet of Mithila who on being defeated by Sage Ashtavakra in debate drowned himself in the ocean and went to the abode of Varuna.

Varanavata : A forest in which the Pandavas were asked to stay in a wax-house which was to be set on fire at midnight in order to kill the Pandavas while they were asleep.

Vasishtha : A sage who had cursed the eight Vasus to be born in the world of men as sons of Ganga and Santanu. Ganga threw her seven children in to the river with a smiling face.

Vasudhana : Another warrior who perished in the battle on the Twelfth Day.

Vasudeva : An epithet of Krishna. It means both son of Vasudeva and the supreme spirit that pervades the universe.

Vedavyasa : Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata.

Vichitravirya: Younger son of Santanu who succeeded King Chitrangada on the throne of Hastinapura. He had two sons, Dhritarashtra and Pandu.

Vikarna : A son of Dhritarashtra who declared the staking of Draupadi illegal, as Yudhishthira himself was a slave and had lost all his rights. Therefore the Kauravas had not won Draupadi legally, he held

Vinda, Anuvinda : Two brothers kings of Avanti, great soldiers whom were on the Kaurava side, they suffered defeat at the hands of Yudhamanyu

Virata : King of Matsya, the country which was suggested by Bhima to live in incognito during the thirteenth year of their exile.

Visoka : Bhima's charioteer.

Visvarupa : Name of Twashta's son who became the preceptor of the gods, Brihaspati having left when insulted by Indra.

Vivimsati : A Kaurava hero.

Viswarupa : All-pervading, all-including form. See the description in the Bhagavad Gita chapter eleven.

Vriddhakshatra : King of the Sindhus, father of Jayadratha into whose lap his son Jayadratha's head was caused to fall by Arjuna after cutting off Jayadratha's head.

Vrika : A Panchala prince who fell in battle.

Vrisha, Achala : Sakuni's brothers.

Vrishnis, Kekayas : Tribals who were devoted to the Pandavas, who with Sri Krishna visited the Pandavas in their exile.

Vrishasena : A warrior on the Kaurava side.

Vritra : Son of Twashta who was defeated by Indra's weapons Vajrayudha. He was born out of his father's sacrificial flames and became Indra's mortal enemy.

Vrikodara : Wolf-bellied, an epithet of Bhima, denoting his slimness of waist and insatiable hunger.

Vyasa : Compiler of the Vedas, son of sage Parasara.

Vyuha : Battle arrays.

Yama : God of death. God of dharma, whose son was Yudhishthira. It is he whose questions Yudhishthira answered correctly whereupon his dead brothers were brought back to life on the banks of the enchanted pool.

Yajna : A sacrifice.

Yaksha : A class of demi-gods, subjects of Kubera, the god of wealth.

Yavakrida : Son of Sage Bharadwaja who was bent upon mastering the Vedas.

Yayati : Emperor of the Bharata race who rescued Devayani from the well into which she had been thrown by Sarmishtha. He later married both Devayani and Sarmishtha. One of the ancestors of the Pandavas who became prematurely old due to Sukracharya's curse.

Yudhamanyu : A prince supporting the Pandavas.

Yuyudhana : Another name of Satyaki.

Yuyutsu : A noble son of Dhritarashtra who bent his head in shame and sorrow when Yudhishthira lost Draupadi. He also disapproved of the unfair way in which Abhimanyu was killed.


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