Mahabharata, Book Iii - Sisupala's Fall - Poem by Veda Vyasa
Tiger-hearted Sisupala spake in anger stem and high,
Calm unto him Krishna answered, but a light was in his eye:
'List, O chiefs and righteous monarchs! from a daughter of our race
Evil-destined Sisupala doth his noble lineage trace,
Spite of wrong and frequent outrage, spite of insult often flung,
Never in his heart hath Krishna sought to do his kinsman wrong!
Once I went to eastern regions, Sisupala like a foe
Burnt my far-famed seaport Dwarka, laid the mart and temple low,
Once on Bhoja's trusting monarch faithless Sisupala fell,
Slew his men and threw him captive in his castle's dungeon cell,
Once for holy aswamedha Vasudeva sent his steed,
Sisupala stole the charger, sought to stop the righteous deed,
Once on saintly Babhru's consort, pious-hearted, pure and just,
Sisupala fell in madness, forced the lady to his lust,
Once Visala's beauteous princess went to seek her husband's side,
In her husband's garb disguiséd Sisupala olasped the bride,
This and more hath Krishna suffered, for his mother is our kin,
But the sickening tale appalleth, and he addeth sin to sin!
One more tale of sin I mention: by his impious passion fired,
To my saintly wife, Rukmini, Sisupala hath aspired,
As the low-born seeks the Veda, soiling it with impure breath,
Sisupala sought my consort, and his righteous doom is Death!'
Krishna spake; the rising red blood speaks each angry hero's shame,
Shame for Chedi's impious actions, grief for Sisupala's fame!
Loudly laughed proud Sisupala, spake with bitter taunt and jeer,
Answered Krishna's lofty menace with disdain and cruel sneer:
'Wherefore in this vast assembly thus proclaim thy tale of shame,
If thy wedded wife and consort did inspire my youthful flame?
Doth a man of sense and honour, blest with wisdom and with pride,
Thus proclaim his wedded consort was another's loving bride?
Do thy worst! Or if by anger or by weak forbearance led,
Sisupala seeks no mercy, nor doth Krishna's anger dread!'
Lowered Krishna's eye and forehead, and unto his hands there came
Fatal disc, the dread of sinners, disc that never missed its aim,
'Monarchs in this hall assembled!' Krishna in his anger cried,
'Oft hath Chedi's impious monarch Krishna's noble rage defied,
For unto his pious mother plighted word and troth was given,
Sisupala's hundred follies would by Krishna be forgiven,
I have kept the plighted promise, but his crimes exceed the tale,
And beneath this vengeful weapon Sisupala now shall quail!'
Then the bright and whirling discus, as this mandate Krishna said,
Fell on impious Sisupala, from his body smote his head,
Fell the mighty-arméd monarch like a thunder-riven rock,
Severed from the parent mountain by the bolt's resistless shook!
And his soul be-cleansedof passions came forth from its mortal shroud,
Like the radiant sun in splendour from a dark and mantling cloud,
Unto Krishna good and gracious, like a lurid spark aflame,
Chastened of its sin and anger, Sisupala's spirit came!
Rain descends in copious torrents, quick the lurid lightnings fly,
And the wide earth feels a tremor, restless thunders shake the sky,
Various feelings away the monarchs as they stand in hushed amaze,
Mutely in those speechless moments on the lifeless warrior gaze!
Some there are who seek their weapons, and their nervous fingers shake,
And their lips they bite in anger, and their frames in tremor quake,
Others in their inmost bosom welcome Krishna's righteous deed,
Look on death of Sisupala as a sinner's proper meed,
Rishis bless the deed of Krishna as they wend their various ways,
Brahmans pure and pious-hearted chant the righteous Krishna's praise!
Sad Yudhishthir, gentle-hearted, thus unto his brothers said:
'Funeral rites and regal honours be performed unto the dead,'
Duteously his faithful brothers then performed each pious rite,
Honours due to Chedi's monarch, to his rank and peerless might,
Sisupala's son they seated in his mighty father's place,
And with holy abhisheka hailed him king of Chedi's race!
Poet's Notes about The Poem
By Romesh C. Dutt (1899)
THE EPIC OF THE BHARATAS
BOOK III: RAJASUYA
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