Mahabharata 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.


  • "With the intentions of the enemy not being known, how can one decide on an appropriate course of action?"
    [Krishna at Virata's assembly hall, Udyoga Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 1] (the first sub-Parva in the Udyoga Parva is also named "Udyoga Parva")


  • "I am not censuring your words. I am censuring the ones who are listening to your words."
    [Satyaki responding to Balarama at Virata's assembly hall, Udyoga Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 3]


  • "A eunuch and an extremely powerful man may be born in the same lineage." [Satyaki responding to Balarama at Virata's assembly hall, Udyoga Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 3]




  • "At the right time, whatever you think should be said for the welfare of the Bharatas, say that in the midst of the kings, but do not say anything that incites them to the war."
    [Dhritarashtra to Sanjaya before he leaves for Upalavya, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 22]


  • "The way one behaves towards others, is exactly reflected in the way others behave towards one's own self."
    [Yudhishtra to Sanjaya at Uplavya, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 26]


  • "The good and evil deeds preced the doer. The doer only follows them from behind."
    [Sanjaya to Yudhishtra, arguing against war, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 27]


  • "When there is a time of calamity, those who do not act, or those who do not act correctly, are both reprehensible."
    [Sanjaya to YudhishtraSanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 28]


  • "Some say that deeds bring success in the hereafter. Others discard deeds and say that success comes from learning. It is known to brahmans that those who have food, but fail to eat it, will remain hungry. It is only knowledge which leads to deeds that bears fruit, not other kinds."
    [Krishna speaks at Upalavya, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 29]


  • "Whether riches are stolen secretly in private, or whether they are stolen forcibly in public, the two crimes are equally reprehensible. O Sanjaya! How is the act of Dhritarashtra's son different?"
    [Krishna at Upalavya, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 29]


  • "You did not speak in that assembly hall. But you see it fit to instruct the Pandavas now."
    [Krishna to Sanjaya at Upalavya, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 29]


  • "King Dhritarashtra and his sons are the forest. O Sanjaya! The Pandavas are the tigers. Do not cut down the forest with its tigers. Do not banish the tigers from the forest."
    [Krishna to Sanjaya at Upalavya, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 29]


  • "He is unmatched in deluding the deluded."
    [Yudhishtra to Sanjaya, about Karna, Sanjaya-yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 30]


  • "He postpones tasks that should be performed. He procrastinates in every way. He takes a long tome over something that should be done fast. ... He enters when he is no invited. He speaks a lot, even though he has not been asked. ... Though he is the one to be blamed, he is quick to blame others. He is angered, though he has no powers."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, on "stupid" persons, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • "Only one is killed with a weapon. But the disclosure of counsel destroys a kingdom and a king."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • "The earth destroys two, like a snake destroys those who live in holes - a king who is not aggressive, and a brahamana who has dwelt away from home."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • "There are two sharp thorns that dry up the body - desire on the part of those who are poor, and anger on the part of those who are powerless."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • "... a greatly strong king should avoid consultations with four - those who have limited intelligence, those who procrastinate, those who are lazy, and those who are flatterers."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • "There are five who follow, wherever you go - friends, enemies, those who are neutral, those you live on, and those who are supported by you."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • "There are six who live off six others and there isn't a seventh like this - thieves live on those who are careless, physicians on diseases, wayward women on lechers, priests on those who offer sacrifices, kings on those who quarrel, and the learned always live on fools."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • ""The king who gives up desire and anger and donates riches to worthy ones is discriminating, learned and is quick to act. ... He does not have excessive arrogance, or excessive humility. ... After having donated, he does not repent.""
    [Vidura recounting what Indra told Sudhanva, to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 33]


  • "One who desires prosperity should consider what can be swallowed, whether it can be ingested if swallowed, and whether it will ensure welfare if digested."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "The efforts made to protect one's own kingdom should be similar to those that are made to destroy another one's kingdom."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "That which is bent without heating, is not heated. The wood is that is bent on its own is never heated. Because of this image, aa wise one bends to one who is stronger."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "Lineage is sustained through conduct. Grain is sustained through it being measured."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "It is my view that if there is inferior conduct, noble lineage signifies nothing."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "Those who are prone to intoxication get drunk because of knowledge, get drunk because of riches, and as a third reason, get drunk because of noble birth."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "But the poor always have the best of food. Hunger generates succulence in the food, extremely rare among those who are opulent."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "Those who commit sin and those who do not commit sin receive equal punishment if they consort with each other, just as wet kindling burns when it is mixed with the dry."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "When the gods wish to vanquish a man, they distract his intelligence..."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 34]


  • "Old age destroys beauty, hope destroys steadfastness, ... and vanity destroys everything."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 35]


  • "They are not elders if they do not speak about dharma."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 35]


  • "If one tries to cover a hole with riches that have been obtained through adharma, it will remain uncovered and another will surface elsewhere."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 35]


  • "First, it is better not to speak than to speak. Second, if one speaks, one should speak the truth. Third, if one speaks, one should say that which is pleasant. Fourth, if one speaks, it should be in accordance with dharma. A man becomes like the one he converses with, like the one he serves, and like the one he wishes to be."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 36]


  • "Nothing is gained through sorrow, only the body is tormented. This only delights the enemies. Therefore, do not sorrow in your mind."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 36]


  • "Relatives are like kindling. When separated, they produce smoke. But when they are together, they blaze."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 36]


  • "Whatever be the qualities he may possess, enemies think that a single man is capable of being harmed, like a single tree against the wind."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 36]


  • "Women are the prosperity of a household. They deserve respect. They are immensely fortunate. They are pure. They light up the house."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 38]


  • "Intelligence does not always lead to riches. Stupidity does not always lead to poverty."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 38]


  • "A weak person must forgive everything. A strong person must do that for the sake of dharma."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 39]


  • "Brahmanas are tarnished from lack of vows. Curiosity tarnishes chaste women. ... Silver tarnishes gold. Tin tarnishes silver. Lead tarnishes tin. Dust tarnishes lead. Do not vanquish sleep with more sleep. ... Do not conquer liquor with more liquor."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 39]


  • "After casting it [the body] away, relatives, well-wishers and sons return. But for the man who has been flung into the fire, his own deeds follow him."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 40]


  • "The soul is a river. Purity represents its tirthas. Truthfulness is its water. Steadfastness constitutes the banks. Self-control represents the waves. Bathing in these, a performere of pure deeds purifies himself. ... There is a river in which the five senses are the water and desire and anger are the crocodiles. Make a boat out of steadfastness and cross the difficult eddies of repeated birth."
    [Vidura to Dhritarashtra, Prajagara Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 40]


  • "The sense of ego kills such a person first. Desire and anger grasp him and kill him later."
    [Sanatsujata to Dhritarashtra, Sanatsujata Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 42]


  • "A dog always eats its own vomit and causes injury to its own self. Like that, those who proclaim their own valour, eat their own vomit."
    [Sanatsujata to Dhritarashtra, Sanatsujata Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 42]


  • "Therefore, do not regard as a brahama to be superior only because he recites. He who has not deviated from the truth should be known as a brahmana."
    [Sanatsujata to Dhritarashtra, Sanatsujata Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 43]


  • "Yudhishtra is frightened of my army and my prowess. Earlier, he only asked for five villages."
    [Duryodhana to Dhritarashtra, Yana-sandhi Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 54]


  • "I will not give up to the Pandavas as much land as can be pricked with the point of a sharp needle."
    [Duryodhana to DhritarashtraYana-sandhi Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 57]


  • "It seems to me extraordinary that with your feet on the ground, you are chasing those in the sky."
    [Vidura recounts the story of the hunter and the birds to DuryodhanaYana-sandhi Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 57]


  • "When one faces great hardship because of one's own crimes, one blames Indra and the other gods, but never one's own self."
    [Yudhishtra to Krishna, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 70]


  • "One who is without modesty, and without senses, is neither a woman, nor a man."
    [Yudhishtra to Krishna, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 70]


  • "Food should be accepted because of love, or because of necessity. O king! But I do not have affection for you. Nor am I in need of food."
    [Krishna to Duryodhana, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 89]


  • "O Madhusudana! When good and bad advice is equal, a wise man does not speak, like a singer who is restrained in the midst of the deaf."
    [Vidura to Krishna, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 90]


  • "The undertakings of wise ones follow the three [dharma, artha, and kama] objectives. If all three objectives cannot be pursued at the same time, men follow dharma and artha. If those two cannot be reconciled, a wise man follows dharma. A medium person opts for artha. A child chooses kama."
    [Krishna addresses Duryodhana, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 122]


  • "You should have no doubts about whether the era creates the king, or the king creates the era. It is the king who creates the era."
    [Kunti gives her message for Yudhishtra to Krishna, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 130]


  • "It is better to blaze for an instant, than to only yield smoke for a long time."
    [Kunti recounts Vidula's message to her son to Krishna, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 131]


  • "Lack of trying has only one consequence - failure. However, for those who try, there are two consequences - success or failure."
    [Kunti recounts Vidula's conversation with her son to Krishna, Bhagavat-Yana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 133]


  • "But he has a single taint and because of that, I do not regard him as a ratha or an atiratha. He loves his own life too much. This brahmana always wishes for a long life."
    [Bheeshma evaluating Ashwatthama, Ratha-atiratha-samkhya Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 164]


  • "You have often boasted in assemblies that you have exterminated kshatriyas from the world. But listen to my words. At that time, Bhishma had not been born and there were no kshatriyas like me."
    [Bheeshma to Parashurama, Amba-upakhyana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 178]


  • "'The earth is my chariot. O Bhishma! The Vedas bear me, like well-trained horses. The wind is my charioteer. The mother if the Vedas is my armour.'" [Bibek Debroy's footnote: The mother of the Vedas is a reference to the metres Gayatri, Savitri, and Sarasvati.]
    [Parashurama to BheeshmaAmba-upakhyana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 179]


  • "When the fire was blazing, with rage igniting her senses, she said, 'This is for Bhishma's destruction.' O king! On the banks of the Yamuna, the eldest daughter of Kashi entered the fire."
    [Amba's endAmba-upakhyana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 188]


  • "I will not shoot arrows at a woman, one who has earlier been a woman, one who has the name of a woman and one who has the form of a woman. Because of this reason, I will not kill Shikhandi."
    [Bhishma to Duryodhana, Amba-upakhyana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 193]


  • "You are capable of speaking a lot and saying anything that you want."
    [Bhishma to Karna upon hearing his estimate of destroying the Pandava army in five nights. Amba-upakhyana Parva, Udyoga Parva, Ch 194]



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