Kunti Maharani

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Vedic histories tell us that the civilization of India or Bharatavarsa, as it was called once extended throughout the world. Mahabharata is the great history of that greater India. It is an epic poem of more than 100,000 verses, composed in Sanskrit by the sage Vyasa.

The Mahabharata is full of dramatic and instructive incidents, which reach their philosophical high point in the Bhagavad-gita. Through the pages of the Mahabharata we can gain a deeper understanding of the knowledge, the values, and the culture of the Vedic way of life.

Thus far, the editions of the Mahabharata available in English have been either drastically abridged or difficult to penetrate. Often, the translator regards the Mahabharata as a fascinating literary work, an object about which to speculate, but not as what the followers of the Vedic culture accept it to be: a work of truth, a doorway to ultimate understanding.

But now a new translation has been undertaken by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, a leading disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. This new translation brings to us an English text that is scholarly, devotional, and eminently readable.

The translation of the Adi Parva the first "book" of the Mahabharata is now complete and being readied for press, as Hridayananda Dasa Goswami proceeds with the next book.

In this issue of BTG we present a selection from Hridayananda Dasa Goswami's new translation of the Mahabharata. This is the first of what will be an ongoing series. To introduce the series, we begin with a large installment. The future installments will be smaller, but steady.

In India, for generations people in towns and villages have gathered in the evening to hear readings from Vedic histories like the Mahabharata. Now, in each issue of BTG, we'll be able to relish and learn from this valuable wellspring of Vedic culture and wisdom.

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As this selection begins, we find the sage Vaisampayana speaking the Mahabharata in the court of King Janamejaya, the emperor of the world. Here, Vaisampayana tells of the boon granted to Kunti Devi, who will become the mother of the Pandavas, the heroes of the Mahabharata.

The Curse of Pandu

Vaisampayana said:

King Sura, the leader of the Yadu dynasty, was the father of Vasudeva [who later became the father of Lord Krsna]. Sura's daughter was named Prtha, and no woman on earth had beauty like hers.

Lord Indra and Vasusena

Lord Indra and Vasusena

The sister of King Sura's father had a son named Kuntibhoja who was unable to beget children, and so the mighty Sura promised to give his first child to his cousin. Thus when Prtha was born, Sura declared, "This girl is my first child," and acting as a true friend, he gave the baby girl to his friend Kuntibhoja, a great soul who yearned for the gift of a child.

Kuntibhoja was a saintly king, and as his daughter began to grow up, he engaged her in worshiping the Supreme Lord and respectfully serving guests who came to the palace. Once Prtha was asked to take care of a fierce brahmana named Durvasa, who was strict in his vows but possessed a frightening temper and an inscrutable sense of propriety. Prtha made every effort to please the brahmana, and he was fully satisfied with her service. Foreseeing her need for a lawful means to overcome her future problems, the sage gave her a mantra endowed with mystic power and said to her, "Whichever god you summon with this mantra, that god will bless you with a child."

When the brahmana had thus instructed her, that chaste maiden of high reputation was filled with curiosity. [She wondered how the mantra worked, and when she was alone decided to see for herself.] Thus she summoned the sun-god, and at once saw coming toward her the great light-maker, maintainer of the world. Shapely Prtha gazed upon this wonder and was astonished, and the resplendent sun, who reveals all visible things, then gave her a child.

Prtha then gave birth to a heroic son destined to be the best of all who bear arms. Covered with armor, that handsome child of a god abounded in natural opulence, for he was born with a natural armor and glowing earrings that illuminated his face. One day this son would be famous throughout the world as Karna.

The supremely splendid sun then returned to the girl her virginity, and having given this, that most generous god returned to his celestial abode. Seeing her newborn son, the Vrsni princess became wretched with worry, and her mind could think of only one thing: "What is to be done? What can I do to become virtuous?" Kunti was terrified to face her relatives, and to conceal (what she felt to be) her improper deed, she sent her child, born with extraordinary armor and earrings, to float alone down the river. Just then a man who was the respectable son of a chariot driver, and the husband of Radha, found the abandoned child and with his wife accepted the babe as his own son. The two of them fashioned a name for the child: "This child has taken birth with riches, so his name shall be Vasusena."

Vasusena matured into a powerful and heroic youth who excelled in all kinds of weapons, and he would stand and worship the sun-god until his back was burning. He was true to his word, and at the time when he chanted his prayers to the sun, there was nothing that great soul and hero would not give to the brahmanas.

Once the effulgent Indra, who maintains this world, assumed the form of a brahmana and begged Vasusena for his natural armor and earrings. Though discouraged at this request, Vasusena cut off his armor and earrings and offered them with folded hands. Amazed at this act, Indra gave him the sakti weapon and said; "Whomever you desire to conquer, whether he be a god, a demon, or a man, whether a Gandharva, a celestial snake, or a horrible Raksasa at whomever you angrily hurl this weapon, that person shall be no longer."

Before, his name was known to be Vasusena, but now by this deed, he was known as Vaikartana Karna.*

* vaikartana: "the child of the sun," or "the one who cut (himself to keep his vow.)

Kunti's Marriage

Vaisampayana continued:

The daughter of Kuntibhoja could take great vows and carry them out faithfully, for she delighted in following the laws of God. She possessed a natural goodness, and her beauty was beyond compare. Prtha was endowed with an extraordinary feminine grace, but although she was in the full bloom of her radiant youth, no suitable prince had dared to come forward to request her hand in marriage. Prtha, also known as Kunti, was thoughtful about her future. Acting through her father, she called all the best kings and princes by having it announced that her father the king would give her away at a svayamvara ceremony. Then when the day arrived, and in the middle of the arena, that thoughtful young lady beheld the tiger of all kings, Pandu, the great son of the Bharata clan.

Out of the thousands of monarchs who eagerly courted her, Kunti selected the young and powerful Pandu, the beloved Kuru prince who had the chest of a lion, shoulders like a bull elephant, and large, handsome eyes as fearless as those of an angry bull. As the sun covers the splendor of the innumerable stars, so Pandu covered the splendor of all the other kings of the earth simply by standing in the festive arena. In that royal assembly he seemed like a new Indra.

The daughter of Kuntibhoja was radiantly beautiful, and her youthful body was a flawless creation. When she finally saw Pandu, that best of men, in the royal assembly, there was a strong fluttering in her heart, her entire body was filled with romantic desire, and her steady mind was disturbed. Kunti took the ceremonial garland and shyly approached the Kuru king and placed it on his shoulders, thus accepting him alone as her beloved husband.

When all the assembled kings heard that Kunti had chosen Pandu, they left that place as they had come, on elephants, horses, and chariots. Kunti's father then held an opulent wedding ceremony worthy of a king's daughter. [Often at a svayamvaraceremony the other kings would challenge the chosen groom to test his strength, but not a single warrior dared step forward against the young Pandu.]

Pandu accepted Kunti's hand with grace and charm, and all agreed that his was a blessed life and that no one could estimate the fortune and happiness of a man who had gained such a qualified wife. Pandu joined with Kuntibhoja's daughter in sacred marriage just as mighty Indra had joined with the goddess Paulomi.

King Kuntibhoja, a lord of the earth, married his daughter Kunti to Pandu, and then he honored his son-in-law with all kinds of valuable gifts and sent Pandu and his new wife back to the city of the Kurus. With fatherly concern for the royal couple, he also arranged for a powerful military escort colorfully bedecked with varieties of official flags and festoons.

When Pandu reached his own city, he was met with an equally festive reception. Great sages and qualified brahmanas escorted him into the majestic capital city, all the while blessing and praising him with beautiful hymns. After completing brief formalities, King Pandu saw to it that his wife Kunti was comfortably settled in their new home.

Thereafter he journeyed with Devavrata Bhisma to the capital of Madra, for Madri, the daughter of the Madra ruler, was renowned throughout the three worlds as a woman of incomparable beauty. She was acquired, on Pandu's behalf, with the payment of a large treasure. Bhisma then arranged her marriage with that great soul, Pandu.

Pandu's Conquest

The wise Pandu was a tiger among men. Throughout the earth all men who saw him were amazed, for he had the chest of a lion, shoulders like a mighty elephant, and large, handsome eyes as fearless as those of an angry bull. Satisfied with his marriages, endowed with extraordinary strength and daring, Pandu now desired to conquer the world, and he lashed out against the many enemies of the House of Kuru. Pandu first marched upon the wicked Dasarnas and defeated them in battle. Pandu fought like a lion, for he knew that the honor of the Kuru dynasty rested on him. The Kuru army was a colorful sight with its many bright banners whipping in the wind.

Pandu next directed this powerful force of elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry toward the kingdom of Magadha. King Darva of Magadha was the declared enemy of all the world's kings, whom he cruelly harassed in many ways, but Pandu boldly struck him down in his royal palace. [The kingdom of Magadha had grown wealthy and powerful by its constant aggression.] Pandu now carried away the inflated treasury as well as many fine animals and soldiers. Next Pandu went to Mithila and defeated the Videha army in battle, and then in direct combat with the fighting men of Kasi, Suhma, and Pundra, Pandu established the glory of the Kurus by the frightening strength of his own two arms. Young Pandu, with his blazing volleys of arrows and the shooting flames of his lances, was like a scorching fire, and when the kings of men approached that fire they were burned to ashes. The kings with their armies were devastated by Pandu and his army, and they were brought under Pandu's government and integrated into the central tax structure.

When Pandu conquered all the kings of the world, the rulers themselves unanimously agreed that Pandu alone was a great hero, just like Indra, who overshadows all other cosmic rulers. Thus all the leaders of this abundant earth came before Pandu with their hands folded in respect, bringing as tribute to the world's leader varieties of jewels, precious pearls, coral, gold, and silver, and a wealth of cows, bulls, horses, chariots, and elephants. The kings also delivered asses, camels, buffalo, and goats and sheep. The great ruler of Hastinapura graciously accepted all these offerings and again set out with his spirited mounts, touring and engladdening the lands of his kingdom, and finally returning to his capital city, Hastinapura.

[The people exclaimed:]

"Santanu was a lion among kings, and steeped in wisdom was the fabled Bharata, but their glorious victory cry had perished, but now Pandu has again raised up that celebrated sound. Those who stole the royal lands and treasures of the Kurus are now dutiful subjects who pay tax to their lord, the lion of Hastinapura."

Thus with trusting hearts, jubilant kings and royal ministers joined the citizens of town and country in praise of King Pandu. When Pandu returned to the capital after conquering the entire world, all the citizens, along with the royal family, were overwhelmed with happiness. Headed by Bhisma they all hurried out to meet him. Before they had gone very far, the citizens of Hastinapura were thrilled to see that the earth was crowded with many types of people who had returned with the victorious Pandu. Bhisma and the other Kurus could see no end to the fabulous wealth carried by the victorious army. Varieties of vehicles were being employed simply to carry the jewels and precious stones. There seemed to be unlimited herds of elephants, horses, bulls, and cows, and there were numberless camels and sheep and countless chariots and wagons.

When Pandu caught sight of Bhisma, who was like his father, he immediately came forward and offered respect at his feet. Then Pandu gave great joy to his mother and duly honored even the simple citizens of the town and country.

Pandu had brought the entire world back into order and had smashed cruel and wicked kingdoms. His mission accomplished, he had now come home. Approaching his beloved son, the mighty Bhisma shed tears of joy.

To the stirring sounds of hundreds of musical instruments being played together, and with the deep rumbling of kettledrums, King Pandu, lifting the hearts of the citizens, entered the royal city of Hastinapura.

Vaisampayana said:

With his own hands Pandu had conquered great riches, but he did not keep them for himself. After consulting with his older brother, Dhrtarastra, Pandu offered the wealth to Bhisma, Satyavati, and his own mother, Ambalika, and he set aside riches for his wise brother Vidura.

Pandu was generous by nature, and he fully satisfied his well-wishing friends with opulent gifts. In that festive atmosphere, Bhisma also pleased Satyavati by presenting her with a gift of beautiful gems won by Pandu. With great affection Ambalika embraced her mighty son Pandu, the best of men, just as Paulomi embraces Jayanta.

With the vast wealth amassed by Pandu, Dhrtarastra performed the five great sacrifices that are ultimately meant to satisfy the Supreme Lord. At these powerful events, which were equal to a hundred horse sacrifices, hundreds and thousands of precious gifts were offered to the teachers of mankind and to other respectable citizens.

Although Pandu had truly conquered the world, he was nevertheless uninterested in a life of leisure and royal opulence. Taking his wives, Kunti and Madri, he left his palatial residence, with its gorgeous beds and couches, and went to the forest. Pandu always liked to wander through the beautiful forests and woods, and he would spend most of his time away from the city engaged in hunting.

King Pandu especially enjoyed the delightful foothills and valleys south of the Himalayan range, and he established a dwelling there in a forest of giant Sala trees. Accompanied by his charming wives, Kunti and Madri, Pandu shone in that forest setting like Indra's lordly elephant in the midst of two she-elephants.

Pandu was large and handsome and a consummate master of weapons. When the simple inhabitants of the forest saw the heroic Bharata king with his two wives, wielding his arrows, sword, and bow, and dressed in his fabulous armor, they considered him to be a god on earth. Encouraged by Dhrtarastra, the forest dwellers always brought to Pandu whatever he needed or desired, immediately carrying it to him even to the far ends of the forest.

Meanwhile in the Kuru capital of Hastinapura, Bhisma heard that King Devaka had a beautiful young daughter named Parasavi, who was eligible for marriage to a royal family. After studying the matter, Bhisma decided that she was a most desirable bride for a Kuru prince, and so he arranged to bring her to the Kuru capital, where he married her with the great-minded Vidura. Indeed, her birth was similar to that of Vidura. Vidura was especially admired by the Kuru royalty for his wisdom and kindness, and with his faithful wife he begot fine sons who shared all the sublime qualities of their father.

Gandhari Gives Birth

Sri Vaisampayana said:

O king, then Dhrtarastra begot a hundred sons in his wife, Gandhari, and his one hundred and first child was born from the daughter of a merchant. And Pandu, to expand his royal lineage, obtained five sons, all Maharatha warriors, through his two wives, Kunti and Madri. These five sons were all fathered by the gods themselves.

King Janamejaya said:

O best of the twice-born, how did a hundred sons take birth from Gandhari? How long did it take to beget them all, and who was the eldest of the boys? How was a single child born to Dhrtarastra from a merchant's daughter? And how could Dhrtarastra disregard in that way a wife like Gandhari, who was always devoted to his happiness, and who ever walked in the path of righteousness?

How is it that Pandu, though cursed by a saintly sage, obtained from the gods five sons who were all Maharatha warriors? O ascetic whose wealth is austerity, you know the answers to my questions. Explain, then, in detail these events as they actually took place, for I never grow tired of hearing about my ancestors.

Kunti Maharani with Gandhari

Kunti Maharani with Gandhari

Sri Vaisampayana said:

Once the great sage Dvaipayana, known as Vyasa, happened to be troubled by hunger and fatigue. Gandhari, the chaste wife of Dhrtarastra, met him in that exhausted state and fully satisfied him with her devoted service. Vyasa then offered her a boon, and she chose to have a hundred sons of the same character as her husband. Vyasa blessed her as she desired, and in times he became pregnant by her husband, Dhrtarastra.

Gandhari carried her pregnancy for two full years, and still she was childless. Gradually, grief took hold of her mind. Hearing that her sister-in-law Kunti had given birth to a son who was like a little sun-god, and seeing no progress in her own pregnancy, Gandhari desperately thought of what to do. Unable to bear her frustration, she repeatedly struck her womb with great effort, causing the embryo to fall out. A hard lump of flesh, like a red iron ball, fell from her womb. After two years of suffering, this was the result. Pain and anger grew in her chest, and without saying anything to her husband, Gandhari was about to throw away the lump of flesh.

The great sage Vyasa had blessed Gandhari to have one hundred sons. Now by his powerful vision he understood that Gandhari was about to destroy her embryo, and so that eloquent sage quickly came to her and saw the fleshy mass. He then said to her, "O daughter of Subala, what are you planning to do?"

Gandhari truthfully revealed her plan to the great sage. "When I heard," she said, "that Kunti was the first to have a son and that her child was as beautiful as the sun-god himself, I could not bear the frustration and struck down this embryo from my womb. My lord, you once blessed me to have a hundred children. But now, for my hundred sons, this mere lump of flesh has taken birth."

Vyasadeva said:

Dear daughter of Subala, it is even so, and cannot be otherwise, for my words never prove false, even when spoken in jest. Certainly whatever I promised you must come true. Quickly, prepare a hundred bowls and fill them with clarified butter. Then we shall sprinkle cold water over this ball of flesh and keep it, along with the bowls, in a carefully guarded place.

Sri Vaisampayana said:

When the fleshy ball was sprinkled with cold water, it divided itself in time into 101 little embryos, each the size of a thumb. Vyasadeva then placed these embryos in the bowls filled with clarified butter and arranged for the bowls to be carefully guarded. Vyasa instructed Gandhari that the pots should be opened only after a certain amount of time had elapsed. The arrangement thus completed, the great soul Vyasadeva returned to the mighty Himalaya mountains to continue his austerities.

Gandhari carefully followed the instructions of the great sage and eventually her first child, known as Duryodhana, took birth. Although Duryodhana was the first son born to Gandhari and Dhrtarastra, Pandu's son Yudhisthira was clearly his senior, being by birth the eldest Kuru prince.

Indeed, the moment his son was born, Dhrtarastra called for many learned brahmanas, along with Bhisma and Vidura, and said to them, "Let me first acknowledge that among the Kuru princes, Yudhisthira, the son of Pandu, is the eldest, and I am certain that he will bring nothing but fortune to our family. By his own excellent qualities he has earned the right to rule our kingdom, and we cannot speak even a word against him. But will my son Duryodhana, who was born immediately after Yudhisthira, also become a worthy king? All of you, tell me truly and precisely what the future is for my son."

No sooner had Dhrtarastra finished speaking, when evil omens appeared in all directions. Jackals and other scavenging beasts began howling, and observing such fearful signs everywhere, the brahmanas, along with the wise Vidura, said to Dhrtarastra, "O king, it is manifest from the signs that this son of yours will destroy the entire dynasty! If you want any peace for your family, we urge you to reject this child. If you raise him as your son, you will commit a grievous mistake. O king, be satisfied with ninety-nine sons. Sacrifice one to save the world and to protect your own family. One relative may be rejected to save the family, and one family may be given up to save a village. A single village may be sacrificed to save the state, and the whole world should be renounced to save one's soul."

Even when thus addressed by Vidura and all the learned brahmanas, Dhrtarastra was unable follow their advice, bewildered as he was by affection for his infant son. And in the following month, all of Dhrtarastra's hundred sons were born, as well as a single daughter, his hundred-and-first child.

During the time that Gandhari had been suffering and incapacitated with the burden of her large and prolonged pregnancy, a merchant's daughter had taken care of the mighty-armed Dhrtarastra, who was blind and always needed a nurse. After serving the king for one year, the woman gave birth to his child, the famous and wise Yuyutsu, also named Karana because of his mixed birth by a royal father and a mother of a vaisya, or mercantile, family.

Thus the learned Dhrtarastra begot a hundred warrior sons in the royal line along with a single lovely daughter named Duhsala [and an additional son begotten in a vaisya maiden]. Each of these hundred sons would become masters of chariot fighting, able to fight alone with thousands of enemy warriors.

Janamejaya said:

You have told us how by the mercy of saintly Vyasa, Dhrtarastra had a hundred sons. You have also mentioned that Dhrtarastra begot a son named Yuyutsu with a nurse born of the merchant community. But you have not explained about Dhrtarastra's daughter.

It is well known, O sinless one, that Gandhari was blessed by Vyasadeva, the seer of measureless might, to have a hundred sons. Now, my lord, please describe how that single daughter was born. If saintly Vyasa divided the lump of flesh into one hundred parts, and Gandhari had no other children after that, how was her daughter Duhsala born? Please tell me what happened. O learned sage, I am extremely curious to hear about this.

Vaisampayana said:

Dear descendant of Pandu, you have raised a very good question, and I shall answer you.

The great ascetic Vyasa had sprinkled cold water on the lump of flesh, thus dividing it into different living parts. As each new embryo appeared, Gandhari's nurse placed them one by one into bowls filled with clarified butter. As this continued the pious Gandhari, always firm in her religious vows, began to meditate on what it would be like to have a daughter. That lovely woman had been blessed to have a hundred sons, but now within her mind she felt a mother's natural affection for a daughter. The more she thought about it, the more her desire grew.

"Undoubtedly," she thought, "the holy sage will fulfill his promise and I will have a hundred sons, but if I could have just one daughter, I would feel the greatest satisfaction. Just one little daughter, younger than all her one hundred brothers, would be so nice. Then my husband could enjoy the pious rewards given to those whose daughters beget good sons.

"Women cherish a special love for a son-in-law. I have been blessed with one hundred sons, but if I just had one daughter (whom I'd marry with a fine son-in-law), then, surrounded by my sons and my daughter's sons, I would certainly fulfill all my duties in life.

[Gandhari's mind was fixed in her desire to have a daughter, and she offered this prayer to God:]

"If I have been truthful in life, if I have performed austerities, given charity, or ignited the fire of sacrifice, if ever I have pleased my respectable superiors, then may I please have a daughter."

Just as Gandhari was praying in that way, the illustrious sage Dvaipayana Vyasa finished dividing the lump of flesh, counting the pieces to make sure there were a hundred. He then addressed Gandhari, the daughter of King Subala: "Dear lady," he said, "There are a full hundred sons here and so I did not make you a false promise. But somehow by the arrangement of providence there is one extra part, in addition to the hundred, and it shall become the daughter you so much desire, O fortunate woman."

Vaisampayana said:

The grand ascetic Vyasa then had one more pot full of clarified butter brought to that place, and he placed within it the embryo that was Gandhari's daughter. And so, dear Bharata king, I have now explained to you how Gandhari gave birth to a single daughter named Duhsala. Now tell me, sinless king, what else shall I narrate to you?

Pandu's Deadly Mistake

King Janamejaya said:

O master of Vedic knowledge, you have told how, by the arrangement of the sage Vyasadeva, the human sons of Dhrtarastra took birth in a nonhuman and extraordinary way. And I have heard you systematically recite their names, O brahmana. Now please describe the sons of Pandu, who were great souls, as mighty as the king of the gods, for as mentioned by you, the gods incarnated in this world by investing their own potency in the sons of Pandu. Therefore, I want to hear all about their birth, for their deeds were superhuman. O narrate it, Vaisampayana!

Pandu's Deadly Mistake

Pandu's Deadly Mistake

Sri Vaisampayana said:

While living in the woodlands, King Pandu once entered a vast forested area that teemed with wild and dangerous beasts. There he saw a large male deer about to mate with his doe, and with five quick, deadly arrows of golden shafts and handsome plumes, Pandu pierced both the deer and his female companion. The deer was actually a sage's son who had grown powerful by practice of severe austerities. Just as that young and mighty ascetic was having intercourse with his wife, who had taken the shape of a lovely doe, he was struck down by Pandu's arrows. Giving out a human shriek, he fell to the ground in shock and anguish, and realizing what had happened, he cried out to the king.

The deer said:

Even the most sinful men filled with lust and anger and lacking all reason and sanity would never act as cruelly as you have! Your judgment is not above the law! It is the law that is above you! Wisdom does not agree to purposes forbidden by law and providence. You took birth in a leading family, a family that has always been devoted to religious principles. How could you be so overwhelmed by desire and greed that your mind could deviate so far from those principles?

Pandu said:

It is the function of kings to personally kill enemies in battle, and kings are also authorized to hunt wild animals. O deer, you should not wrongly condemn me. Kings are allowed to kill deer when they do so without concealment or trickery. You know this to be the law, so why do you condemn me?

The great sage Agastya,* while seated in sacrifice, went to the deep forest and hunted for deer, which he then consecrated and offered to all the appropriate deities. If you wish to blame someone for my act, then it is Agastya's fault that you are being offered in sacrifice to God.

* Agastya was a great soul who would never harm another living being. He knew that by Vedic sacrifice even an ordinary animal is quickly elevated and ultimately achieves liberation.

The deer replied:

Although you cite the example of Agastya, kings traditionally do not shoot their arrows at enemies who are caught in a moment of weakness. There are very specific times at which one is allowed to kill one's enemies.

Pandu said:

But kings slay deer whether they are alert or not, wherever they find them, using their sharp arrows and strength. Therefore, why do you condemn me?

The deer said:

I do not condemn you for my own sake simply because you were hunting deer. But you should have waited while I begot a child in my beloved wife. You did not have to be so cruel. All God's creatures desire to beget children, for the begetting of life is a blessing for all. What truly wise man would slay a deer who was in the very act of begetting a child? We wanted to beget a religious child. That was the goal of our life, and now you have ruined everything.

You took birth in the great Kuru dynasty. The wise Kuru kings never caused suffering or harm to an innocent person. Therefore you have done something that does not befit you. You have committed the cruelest of all acts, something the whole world condemns. What you have done will not lead you to heaven, nor will it spread your good fame, for it is a most irreligious deed, O ruler of the Bharatas.

O Pandu, you know quite well about affairs with women, and you have learned the truth and meaning of the law from our scriptures. O Pandu, you who shine like a god should never have committed such an unholy act! Indeed it is you who are meant to subdue the perpetrators of cruelty, the sinful men who care nothing for civilized life, who seek money and pleasure without regard for the rights or happiness of others. What have you done? O best of kings, you have struck me down, a simple sage who offended no one, who asked nothing from others. I lived in this forest eating roots and wild fruit, always peaceful and kind to all creatures.

Hear my words, Pandu! Because you have cruelly slain us, a married couple joined in the act of begetting, I declare that one day when you are helplessly driven by desire, the act of begetting will most surely bring your life to an end!

I am Kindama, a sage of unrivaled austerities. Feeling embarrassed among human beings, I took the form of a stag and wandered with the deer in the deep woods, engaging in conjugal affairs with my wife, who took the form of a doe. You will not incur the sin of killing a brahmana, for you did not understand my identity. Nevertheless, you slayed me when I was lost in conjugal desire. You fool! For that sin you must suffer. Indeed, you will suffer the very same fate, for when you go to lie with your dear one, enchanted by desire, in that very situation you will go to the world of the departed! And the lover with whom you lay in your final moment will follow you with great devotion as you fall into the hands of the lord of death, whom all creatures must obey. O wisest of men, as I was hurled into distress, even as I was experiencing such happiness, so will you, at a time of happiness, come to a painful end.

Vaisampayana said:

Having spoken thus, the griefstricken ascetic lost his life, and in that instant Pandu fell into utter despair.

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami led the team of devotee-scholars who completed the translation and commentary of Srimad-Bhagavatam begun by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Fluent in several languages, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has extensively taught Krsna consciousness in India, Europe, the United States, and Latin America. He is a member of the Governing Body Commission, the ultimate managing authority of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He is now doing graduate work in Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University.