Mahabharata 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]
  • "This single strand of grass that you see, the one from which we are hanging, is the strand of our family lineage. O Brahmana! The strands that you see being eaten up, are being eaten up by time. O Brahmana! The half-eaten root from which we are all hanging is the last of our lineage, practising austerities. O Brahmana! The rat that you see is time, immensely powerful. He is slowly killing the misguided Jaratkaru, engaged in austerities, who is greedy for austerities, but has lost his mind and senses."
    [Ancestors to Jaratkaru, Astika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 41]
  • "According to the sacred texts, there are three kinds of fathers. In proper order, they are the one who gives a body, the one who protects and the one who provides food."
    [Shakuntala describing to King Duhshanta what Sage Kanwa told her about her birth. Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 66]
  • "Those who have wives can be householders. Those who have wives are happy. Those who have wives have good fortune. Sweet-spoken wives are friends in solitude, fathers in religious acts and mothers in suffering."
    [Shakuntala to Duhshanta, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 68]
  • "The wise have said that a man is himself born as his son. Therefore, a man should regard the mother of his son as his own mother. ... The wife is the sacred ground in which the husband is born again. Even sages are unable to have offspring without wives."
    [Shakuntala to Duhshanta, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 68]
  • "You see the faults of others, even though they are as small as a mustard seed. But you do not see your own, even though they can be seen as large as a bilva fruit. ... O Duhshanta! My birth is nobler than your own. O lord of kings! You are established on earth. But I roam the sky. Know that the difference between you and me is that between a mustard seed and Mount Meru."
    [Shakuntala to King Duhshanta, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 69]
  • "Like a pig searches out filth, the fool seeks out evil words, when he hears good and evil in men's speech. ... Those who seek no evil live happily. But fools are happy when they find evil."
    [Shakuntala to King Duhshanta, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 69]
  • "From this day, if a stupid Brahmana commits the crime of drinking wine, he will be considered to have committed the crime of killing a brahmana."
    [Kavya (Shukra) after bringing Kacha back to lifeSambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 71]
  • "Nevertheless, you have cursed me, not out of dharma, but out of desire. Therefore, your desire will never be satisfied. No rishi's son will ever accept your hand. You have said that my knowledge will never bear fruit. So be it. But it will bear fruit for the one I teach it to."
    [Kacha to DevayaniSambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 72]
  • "I also know the difference between anger and forgiveness and the strength and weakness of each. But when a disciple behaves disrespectfully towards a preceptor, it should not be condoned."
    [Devayani to Shukra, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 74]
  • "Unlike a cow, the fruits of evil actions are not immediate. Such fruits are certainly manifested, if not in one's own life, in one's son or in one's grandson. They are like a heavy meal in the stomach."
    [Shukra to King Vrishaparva, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 75]
  • "Sharmishtha said, "O king! It is no sin to commit a falsehood in five cases - in jest, to women, at the time of marriage, when confronting death and when all one's riches are liable to be lost."
    [Sharmishtha to Yayati, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 77]
  • "Here, friends and relatives forsake a man who has lost his wealth. There, the gods and their lord forsake one whose merit has been diminished."
    [Yayati to Ashtaka, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 85]

  • "Today, I will lay down a law in this world for the fruits of one's deeds. No sin will be committed by anyone who is below the age of fourteen years."
    [Animandavya to Dharma, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 101]

  • "It is said that abandon one for the sake of the lineage. Abandon a lineage for the sake of a village. Abandon a village for the sake of a country. Abandon the earth for the sake of the soul."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 107]

  • "A man's judgment does not swallow destiny. Destiny swallows judgment."
    [Sage Kimdama to Pandu, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 109]

  • "Time decays everything, including friendship. ... No friendship can be found in the world that does not age; desire and anger both destroy it."
    [Drupada to Drona, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 122]

  • "Altercations are nothing but the resort of the weak."
    [Karna to Arjuna, Jatugriha-daha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 126]

  • "A wife's love is stronger than affection for a brother."
    [Hidimbaa, while looking at Bhima, Hidimba-vadha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 139]

  • "What preserves life is holy and, therefore, what grants life is what is holy."
    [Hidimbaa to Kunti, Hidimba-vadha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 143]

  • "The atman may be one, but one has to serve dharma, artha and kama."
    [Brahamana lamentingBaka-vadha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 145]

  • "Great is unhappiness for those who desire wealth, greater for those who have acquired it."
    [Brahamana lamentingBaka-vadha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 145]

  • "Like birds grabbing a lump of meat thrown on the ground, all men crave women without their husbands."
    [Brahamani lamentingBaka-vadha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 146]

  • "It is said that first one should find a king, then a wife, and then riches."
    [Brahamana to Kunti, Baka-vadha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 148]

  • "One who does not see impurities in one's acts, is not expected to see it in another."
    [Upajaya to Drupada, Chaitraratha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 155]

  • "Which hero will kill an enemy who has been defeated in battle, has lost his fame and is now protected by a woman?"
    [Yudhishtra to Arjuna, Chaitraratha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 158]

  • "But if a crime doesn't find a punisher, many in the world will commit crimes. A man who has the power to punish a crime and doesn't do so, despite knowing that a crime has been committed, is himself tainted by the deed, even if he is the lord."
    [Ourva to ancestors, Chaitraratha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 171]

  • "On seeing Droupadi, Pritha's mighty-armed sons and the brave and great-natured twins were struck with the arrows of the god of love."
  • [Droupadi-svayamvara Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 178]

  • "Then they all looked at the illustrious Krishna who was standing there. They looked at each other and sat down, her image in their hearts."
    [Droupadi-svayamvara Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 182]

  • "Where has Krishna gone? Who has taken her away? Is it a Shudra or one of low birth? Has a Vaishya who pays taxes placed his feet on my head?"
    [Drupada asks Dhrishtadyumna, Droupadi-svayamvara Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 184]
  • "He was a king who had no abilities. All that he did was breathe air in and out."
    [Karna on King Amuvicha, Viduragamana Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 196]
  • "But there is no defeat in appeasement."
    [Krishna to Balarama, Harana Harika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 213]
  • "A second load always loosens the first tie, however strong."
    [Droupadi to Arjuna, Harana Harika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 213]
  • "He who casts off that which he has, for the sake of that which might be there, is stupid and the world disregards him."
    [Mandala to Lapita, Khandava-daha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 224]
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© 2013, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.