Veda Vyasa

(1500 BC? / Kalpi, Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh / India)

Mahabharata, Book XI - Kuru Women Visit The Battle-Field


Spake the ancient Dhrita-rashtra, father of a hundred sons,
Sonless now and sorrow-stricken, dark his ebbing life-tide runs:

'Gods fulfil my life's last wishes! Henchmen, yoke my royal car,
Dhrita-rashtra meets his princes in the silent field of war,

Speed unto the Queen Gandhari, to the dames of Kuru's house,
To each dear departed warrior wends his fair and faithful spouse! '

Queen Gandhari sorrow-laden with the ancient Pritha came,
And each weeping widowed princess and each wailing childless dame,

And they saw the hoary monarch, father of a perished race,
Fresh and loud awoke their sorrow, welling tears suffused their face,

Good Vidura ever gentle whispered comfort unto all,
Placed the dames within their chariots, left Hastina's palace hall!

Loud the wail of woe and sorrow rose from every Kuru house,
Children wept beside their mothers for each widowed royal spouse,

Veiléd dwellers of the palace, scarce the gods their face had seen,
Heedless now through mart and city sped each widowed childless queen,

From their royal brow and bosom gem and jewel cast aside,
Loose their robes and loose their tresses, quenched their haughty queenly pride!

So when falls the antlered monarch, struck by woe and sudden fear
Issuing from their snowy mountains listless stray the dappled deer,

So when smit by sudden panic, milk-white mares that scour the plain,
Wildly toss their flowing tresses, shake their soft and glossy mane!

Clinging to her weeping sister wept each dame in cureless pain,
For the lord the son or father in the deathful battle slain,

Wept and smote her throbbing bosom and in bitter anguish walled,
Till her senses reeled in sorrow, till her woman's reason failed!

Veiléd queens and bashful maidens, erst they shunned the public eye,
Blush nor shame suffused their faces as they passed the city by,

Gentle-bosomed, kindly hearted, erst they wiped each other's tear,
Now by common sorrow laden knew no sister's words of cheer!

With this troop of wailing women, deep in woe, disconsolate,
Slow the monarch of the Kurus passed Hastina's outer gate,

Men from stall and loom and anvil, men of every guild and trade,
Left the city with the monarch, through the open country strayed,

And a universal sorrow filled the air and answering sky,
As when ends the mortal's Yuga and the end of world is nigh!

Submitted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

[MAHABHARATA: CONDENSED INTO ENGLISH VERSE
By Romesh C. Dutt (1899)
THE EPIC OF THE BHARATAS
BOOK XI: Funeral Rites]

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