Mahabharata 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)

  • "Just as water quenches fire, knowledge quenches mental ailments."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas  to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "The root of all mental ailments is affection." (evidently the learned sage had not yet met the pharmaceutical companies of today, who have not yet found a human condition, good or bad, for which they don't have a drug)
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas  to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "It is attachment that leads to the desire for material objects. Both are evil, but the former has been said to be more serious."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas  to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "From the desire that is created, thirst expands."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas  to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "Like kindling is destroyed by the fire that it has created, one who has not controlled his soul is destroyed through his natural avarice."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas, to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "Just as those who are alive are scared of death, those who have riches are always scared of the king, water, fire, thieves and relatives."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas  to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "A meat in the air is devoured by birds, on the ground by predatory beasts and in the water by fish. But one with riches is devoured everywhere."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas  to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "There is misery in earning riches, preserving it and in its decay. Its destruction brings unhappiness. Its expenditure brings unhappiness. Even then, people murder for riches. There is unhappiness in giving up riches. But there is unhappiness also in preserving it."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "It is better not to touch mud than wash after touching it."
    [Shounaka recounting King Janaka's shlokas to Yudhishtra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "The houses of good men should never lack four things - grass, ground, water and welcoming words."
    [Yudhishtra to Sage Shounaka, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 2]

  • "Stay or go, as you please. However much she is pacified, an unchaste wife always leaves."
    [Dhritarashtra to Vidura, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 5]
  • "Surabhi replied, 'I have thousands of sons everywhere and I look upon them equally. O Shakra! But my compassion is truly greater for the son who is oppressed.'"
    [Vyasa counselling to Dhritarashtra; Surabhi to Indra, Aranyaka Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 10]

  • "The husband, however weak he may be, must protect his wife. When the wife is protected, the offspring are protected. When the offspring are protected, one's own soul is protected. One's own self is born in one's wife and that is the reason she is called jaya."
    [Droupadi to Krishna, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 13]

  • "An enemy should be killed with all one's valour and even a weak enemy should not be disregarded by those who are strong, even if he is at one's feet, not to speak of one who standing in battle."
    [Daruka to Krishna, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 23]

  • "The brahmana has unmatched insight. The kshatriya has unmatched strength."
    [Dalbhya's son Baka to Yudhishtra, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 27]

  • "Revenge is not always superior. Nor is forgiveness always superior. ... A man who always forgives suffers from many faults."
    [Droupadi telling Yudhishtra what Prahlada told Bali, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 29]

  • "To be ignored in this world is worse than death."
    [Droupadi telling Yudhishtra what Prahlada told Bali, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 29]

  • "Those who commit an offence out of stupidity and seek pardon should be forgiven, because learning is not easily available everywhere to men."
    [Droupadi telling Yudhishtra what Prahlada told Bali, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 29]

  • "Even if the offence is slight, an offender who commits a crime with full knowledge, but claims he did not know, should be punished, because this crookedness."
    [Droupadi telling Yudhishtra what Prahlada told Bali, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 29]

  • "The first offence should be forgiven for all beings. But when they commit the second one, however slight, it should be punished."
    [Droupadi telling Yudhishtra what Prahlada told Bali, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 29]

  • "An angry one cannot see the course of action accurately. An angry man does not see his tasks or his limits."
    [Yudhishtra to Droupadi, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 30]

  • "'Forgiveness is dharma. Forgiveness is sacrifices. Forgiveness is the Vedas. Forgiveness is the sacred texts. ... Forgiveness is the truth. Forgiveness is the past and the future. Forgiveness is austerities. Forgiveness is purity."
    [Yudhishtra telling Droupadi Sage Kashyapa's hymn, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 30]

  • "Success in a task is the united outcome of many factors. If the required attributes are deficient, the fruit may be incomplete, or non-existent. ... But if the task is not begun, neither fruit nor attributes can be seen."
    [Droupadi to Yudhishtra, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 33]

  • "A man who always resorts to dharma follows weak dharma."
    [Bhima to Yudhishtra, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 34]

  • "Kama yields no fruit other than desire, once that fruit is used up. The learned regard it as ashes from wood."
    [Bhima to Yudhishtra, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 34]

  • "Your gentleness is like that of a brahmana. How have you been born as a kshatriya?"
    [Bhima to Yudhishtra, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 36]

  • "Those are the brilliant regions that are seen in the form of stars. Though they are very large, because of the distance, they appear like lamps."
    [As Arjuna ascends in Indra's chariot, Kairata Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 43]

  • "But in all the three worlds, Kurukshetra is special. Even the dust carried away by the wind in Kurukshetra takes the performer of evil acts to the supreme objective."
    [Pulastya to Yudhishtra, Tirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 81]

  • "Insolence gave birth to vanity and vanity gave birth to anger. Anger resulted in a lack of shame and shamelessness destroyed their conduct."
    [Lomasha to Yudhishtra, Tirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 92]

  • "Shame on having a single son. It is better to have none. All beings are always prone to distress and a single son is cause for misery."
    [King Somaka, Tirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 127]

  • "O king! No one ever obtains the fruits of someone else's action."
    [Dharma to King SomakaTirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 127]

  •  "If touched, a young fire also burns."
    [Ashtavakra to the gatekeeperTirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 133]

  • "The rishis have not decreed that that the merit of dharma depends on years, grey hair, riches or relatives."
    [Ashtavakra to the gatekeeperTirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 133]

  • "The extremely weak man is insolent and strikes a mountain, only to lacerate his hands and nails himself. No wounds can be seen on the mountain."
    [Bandi to AshtavakraTirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 134]

  • "Time was different in krita yuga and it is different in treta and dvapara. This is the time of decay and I no longer possess that form."
    [Hanuman to Bhima, Tirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 148]

  • "As the yugas decay, even tasks performed in the name of dharma lead to perverse outcomes."
    [Hanuman to BhimaTirtha Yatra Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 148]

  • "If these traits, not even found in a brahmana, are seen in a shudra, he is not a shudra. A brahmana in whom as brahmana's traits are not found, is a shudra."
    [Yudhishtra to Nahusha, Ajagara Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 177]

  • "If you assert that a brahmana is known by his conduct, birth has no meaning as long as those characteristics can be seen."
    [Nahusha to YudhishtraAjagara Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 177]

  • "Before initiation into knowledge of the Vedas, everyone is a shudra by conduct."
    [Yudhishtra to NahushaAjagara Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 177]

  • "Between generosity and truthfulness, which is seen to be superior? Between non-violence and good conduct, which is superior and which is inferior?"
    [Yudhishtra to NahushaAjagara Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 178]

  • "The superiority or inferiority of generosity versus truthfulness or non-violence vis-a-vis good conduct is determined whether the effects of these deeds are more or less important.
    ...
    In this fashion, the superiority depends on the effects."
    "
    [Nahusha to YudhishtraAjagara Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 178]

  • "Learn from me that knowledge, intelligence and the mind are faculties that determine a soul's enjoyment of the senses."
    [Nahusha to YudhishtraAjagara Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 178]

  • "When his life is over, he gives up the body that is almost destroyed and is immediately reborn in a different womb, without any gap. In that, his good deeds follow him like a shadow."
    [Sage Markandeya to Yudhishtra, Markandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 179]

  • "Fearful of the burden of taxation, householders become robbers. Others assume the disguise of hermits, but earn a living from trade."
    [Sage Markandeya describing the end of a yuga to YudhishtraMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 186]

  • "At the time of the destruction of the yuga, those who are against dharma have long spans of life and are prosperous."
    [Sage Markandeya to YudhishtraMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 186]

  • "Everything is then reduced to ashes.
    ...
    Then the fire of destruction arrives, together with the wind, in a world that has already been dried up by the suns."
    [Sage Markandeya describing the end of a yuga to YudhishtraMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 186]

  • "Twenty yojanas at a time, the fire of destruction, helped by the inauspicious wind, consumes everything in hundreds and thousands, with all the gods, asuras, gandharvas, yakshas, serpents and rakshasas. That blazing lord burns up the entire universe."
    [Sage Markandeya describing the end of a yuga to YudhishtraMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 186]

  • "At the destruction of the yuga, men will consider their wives to be their enemies."
    [Sage Markandeya to YudhishtraMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 188]

  • "No one will ask for a maiden. No one will give a maiden away. When the end of the yuga is near, women will choose for themselves."
    [Sage Markandeya to YudhishtraMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 188]

  • "Restraining the senses and controlling the mind, it must be very difficult to continuously think of husbands as gods."
    [Yudhishtra asking Sage Markandeya, Markandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 196]

  • "Agriculture is known to be a virtuous occupation. But it has been said that there is a great violence in this. Ploughing kills many beings that lie inside the ground and many other hundreds of beings. What is your view on this?"
    [Hunter of Mithila to Sage KoushikaMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 199]

  • "No one can himself determine his fate."
    [Hunter of Mithila to Sage KoushikaMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 200]

  • "One must always protect austerities from anger. One must protect one's riches from envy, one's learning from vanity and insults and one's soul from distractions. Mildness is the greatest dharma. Forgiveness is the greatest strength."
    [Hunter of Mithila to Sage KoushikaMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 203]

  • "It has been said that a man prospers through five gurus - the father, the mother, the fire, he himself and the preceptor."
    [Hunter of Mithila to Sage KoushikaMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 204]

  • "I think him to be a brahmana who becomes a brahmana because of his conduct."
    [Sage Koushika to Hunter of MithilaMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 206]

  • "Men of limited intelligence are overcome by mental distress when they are confronted with calamities and separated from that which is pleasant."
    [Hunter of Mithila to Sage KoushikaMarkandeya Samasya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 206]

  • "But if the riches have been obtained through unjust means, the deed of observing the dharma of charity does not save the give from great danger."
    [Vyasa to YudhishtraVrihi-drounika Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 245]

  • "The learned ones, enlightened about the truth, have said that friendship is established by walking seven steps with another."
    [Savitri to Yama
    Droupadi harana Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 281]

  • "Men have fame when they are alive. When the body has been reduced to ashes, what use does fame serve one who is dead?"
    [Surya to Karna, Kundala harana Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 285]

  • "The fame of a dead human is like a garland on one who has lost his life."
    [Surya to Karna, Kundala harana Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 285]


  • "'The yaksha asked, "What is heavier than the earth? What is higher than the sky? What is swifter than the wind? What is more numerous than men?
    'Yudhishtra replied, "The mother is heavier than the earth. The father is higher than the sky. The mind is swifter than the wind. Worries are more numerous than men.""
    [Araneya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 297]

  • "A caravan is a friend to the traveller. A wife is a friend at home. A physician is a friend to one who is sick. Charity is a friend to one who is about to die."
    [Yudhishtra to Yaksha, Araneya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 297]

  • "In a single word, dexterity is dharma. In a single word, generosity is fame. In a single word, truth is heaven. In a single word, conduct is happiness."
    [Yudhishtra to Yaksha, Araneya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 297]

  • "The abandoning of pride makes one pleasant. The abandoning of anger does not lead to sorrow. The abandoning of desire ensures prosperity. The abandoning of desire makes one happy."
    [Yudhishtra to Yaksha, Araneya Parva, Aranyaka Parva, Ch 297]

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