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Mahabharat: Ambopakhyana Parva

Ambopakhyana Parva is the sixtieth Upa parva included in the sixth Maha parva named as Bhishma parva. Vaishampayana continued narration to Janamejaya in reply to his queries as follows.

Duryodhana desired to know the reasons from Bhishma for not fighting with Shikhandi and requested with him to clarify his doubts in the court.

What reasons Bhishma told to Duryodhana for not fighting with Shikhandi?

Bhishma started to tell the Ambopakhyana to Duryodhana in detail.

The king of Kashi or Varanasi had three daughters. After they had grown up and completed their royal education, the king desired to give them away by arranging their marriage through Swayamvara system.  The names of the three daughters were Amba, Ambika and Ambalika.

Who was the father of Amba?

The King of Kashi or Varanasi was the father of Amba. He was known as Kasha.

Why Bhishma had carried away Amba to Hastinavati from Kashi?

In Hastinavati, then Vichitraveerya was installed on the throne. He was young but not had gained name and fame, and also younger than Bhishma. Bhishma had already taken a vow not to get married and his former name was Devavrata. The King of Kashi had not sent invitation for the Swayamvara marriage of his three daughters to Hastinavati Palace but had sent to all other princes of the Bharatavarsha.

Bhishma fights while returning from Swayamvara
Bhishma fights while returning from Swayamvara

Bhishma got the news of the Swayamvara at Kashi and felt as an insult to his status since Vichitraveerya could also be invited. Bhishma had travelled to Kashi and carried away Amba, Ambika and Ambalika forcefully on the day of marriage in his chariot. Bhishma was an able warrior and had good capacity to face the enemies. So the three daughters reached the Palace of Hastinavati from Kashi. Other princes came on protesting with their soldiers but Bhishma had defeated them and moved ahead. The king Shalva had followed him but due to the striking of Bhishma, returned to Shalva’s own kingdom. This part has already been narrated in Sambhava Upa parva of Mahabharat on this website.

Why Amba had gone to the Palace of Shalva?

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Mahabharat: Rathatiratha Sankhyam

Rathatiratha-Sankhya Parva is the fifty ninth Upa parva included in the fifth Maha parva named as Udyoga parva. Vaishampayana continued narration to Janamejaya in reply to his queries as follows.

Immediately after the return of Uluka, Yudhishtira had opined with Drishtadyuma to be the Senapathi, means the commander for his leading active army. Drishtadyumna was given army camping order at his choice. Yudhishtira had announced Drona as his enemy target and had suggested to his other six commanders the various other enemy war targets. During the war, surrendering of enemies was the main aim but self-defense was inevitable. Killing was not desired from the side of Yudhishtira. Everybody on the side of Yudhishtira would follow war time rules. Each commanders would blow the conch to start or stop the war. 

Why Yudhishtira allotted the seven commanders in chief with enemy targets?

The seven commanders on the side of Yudhishtira were assigned enemy targets on the co-option methods. Drishtadyuma had already got Drona as the opposite target of the war suggested by Yudhishtira. This process is called as Senapati Niyoga before starting the war. Shikhandi was assigned Bhishma. Sahadeva got Shakuni. The five Upapandavas, means the five sons of Draupadi were kept in the reserve against the five Trigarta Princes. Chekitana was against Shala. Shaibhya got Kritavarma. Arjuna got Karna. Bhima got Duryodhana. Abhimanyu was kept in reserve but arranged against Vrishasena and other strong kings since he was more able than his father Arjuna. These were flexible assignments; in the field, each and every fighting soldier has to face any kind of enemies who came in his front row. Drishtadyumna was free to lead in the war taking his own war-time decisions.   

Pandavas accompanied by Krishna ask Bhishma permission to start the war
Pandavas accompanied by Krishna ask Bhishma permission to start the war

What information from Bhishma was desired by Duryodhana?

Duryodhana had already assigned Bhishma as the commander-in-chief for his army troops. Hence he desired to know from his open mouth and loud voice about the capabilities of his side, details of leading and succeeding soldiers. The army ranks were referred as Atirathas, Rathas and Ardha Rathas. 

As per Bhishma, who were Athirathas?

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Mahabharat: Ulukadutagamana Parva

Ulukadutagamana Parva is the fifty eighth Upa Parva included in the fifth Maha Parva named as Udyoga Parva. Vaishampayana continued narration to Janamejaya in reply to his queries as follows.

Kauravas and Pandavas had arranged for the Mahabharata war in Kurukshetra separately in two large camps with their own huge army troops. 

Who was Uluka? 

Uluka was the son of Shakuni. He was young, energetic and very clever. In Sanskrit, Uluka means fox. Uluka was residing with his father Shakuni.

What was the message sent to Yudhistira through Uluka from Duryodhana?

Duryodhana had sent Uluka as his messenger, with the declaration of war. The wordings used were full of insulting the Pandava brothers, and there was no respect for Krishna. It was like a challenge for Yudhishtira. In the message, there was a brief mention of heroism of Duryodhana and old dice games.  

Krishna conveying message to Ulaka
Krishna conveying message to Ulaka

How the Pandavas responded to the war declaration message of Uluka?

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Mahabharat: Bhishmabhisechana Parva

Bhishmabhishechana Parva is the fifty seventh Upa parva included in the fifth Maha parva named as Udyoga parva. Vaishampayana continued narration to Janamejaya in reply to his queries as follows.

Yudhishtira had arranged for his army intelligence for reporting every minute detail of the activities on the side of Duryodhana. The messengers had already reported about the camping of Yudhishtira in Kurukshetra with his seven Akshohini Soldiers to Duryodhana and their army set up details. Hence Duryodhana had decided to install Bhishma as the Commander in chief.

What Duryodhana had requested with Bhishma?

Duryodhana had requested with Bhishma to be the Commander in Chief for his entire troops. In the court session, there were Dritarashtra, Shakuni and Karna.  

What were the conditions put forward by Bhishma?  

Bhishma had agreed to be the Chief for the army troops of Duryodhana under few conditions. Bhishma would not fight with any ladies. He later clarified about Shikhandi and told he would not fight if Shikhandi appeared in the front row of enemy troops. If Karna wished to be an active soldier, Karna may be considered for the post of the commander-in-chief with preference. Bhishma also promised to kill ten thousand enemy soldiers daily if he was not killed by them.

A conversation between Bhishma and Duryodhana
A conversation between Bhishma and Duryodhana

What was the precaution taken by Duryodhana during the war for Bhishma?

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Mahabharat: Sena Niryana Parva

Sena Niryana Parva is the fifty sixth Upa parva included in the fifth Maha parva named as Udyoga parva. Vaishampayana continued narration to Janamejaya in reply to his queries as follows.

What Krishna told to Yudhishtira after returning from Hastinavati?

Krishna returned from Hastinavati, reached Upaplava and resided in the camp of Satyaki. After his evening prayers and having food, he met with Yudhishtira. Krishna started discussions with him and called his Pandava brothers. Krishna told Yudhishtira about his attempts for avoiding war and to maintain peace in the society. He explained how he had come out of the court session hall when Duryodhana was about to order his arrest by Dushasana and Shakuni. He also explained about the helplessness of Karna and Vidura.

Then he announced the message of Kunti for Yudhishtira and her Pandava sons. Kunti had taught them with good education for conducting efficient public administration and social services but not for begging. He also conveyed the entire message to Draupadi. Since the military defensive arts were imparted to them by Drona, they were his disciples. The student should be more shining in the field of learnt subjects and the teacher when defeated by his own students in the same pedagogical field, he would certainly feel happier. The time for using the skills of Pandava brothers would be fast approaching, so conveyed to be cautious and prepared.   

Who were the seven commanders in chief of the seven Akshohini soldiers?

The seven commanders in chief of the seven Akshohini soldiers were identified in consultations mutually. Yudhishtira was a capable warrior but not allotted any army leadership. Karna and Krishna were not participating as active soldiers in the war, hence Arjuna was also not allotted any army leadership. After honouring Krishna, Yudhishtira ordered the word ‘yoga’ as the soldiers would be aligned to march in the troops. Arjuna was in the front, leading the troops towards Kurukshetra. Yudhishtira was in the middle, sitting on the chariot fixed with a white umbrella to be seen by the entire troops, marching towards the Kurukshetra.  

द्रुपदश्च विराटश्च दृष्टद्युम्नशिखण्डिनौ ।
सात्यकिश्चेकितानश्च भीमसेनश्च वीर्यवान् ॥

Meaning: Drupada, Virata, Drishtadyumna, Shikhandi, Satyaki, Chekitana and Bhima were the seven Commanders in chief for the soldiers for Yudhishtira. 

Representative image of the Kurukshetra battlefield
Representative image of the Kurukshetra battlefield

The troops started, and were marching from Upaplava to Kuruksheta for a few days camping in the middle where water was available for them sufficiently. 

What Duryodhana told to Bhishma after return of Krishna from Hastinavati?

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Veda in Sanskrit means the science of knowledge. It has other names such as Shruti, Agama, Amnaya etc. The contents are very huge and it was initially divided into four divisions for the convenience of teaching and learning, with the names as Rigveda, Atharvaveda, Samaveda  and Yajurveda. In due course of time, each division were further classified as main branches and auxiliaries or Vedashakhas and Upa-Vedas, dealing with different specialized subjects.

Bharadvaja Ashrama was like a University in olden days. Gauthama Ashrama was another such example. The classification of a particular Veda has no particular date and time. Sushruta was the son of Vishwamitra Rishi. He had written books on medicines. One Rishi with the formal name as Bharata had composed verses on Natya shastras. Chanakya had composed books on Arthashastra. Maya had contributed to archeology and artilleries. All are in Sanskrit. These developments were concluded as the basics for job oriented courses.

Representive image for Upaveda
Representive image for Upaveda

Gradually, the four branches of Vedas were learnt by the students separately according to their aptitudes, further evolving into ten clear branches. Surgery and medicines were studied by the students of Rigveda having the branch name as Shakhala Shakha and those verses pertaining to their aptitudes were termed as Ayurveda and later, that auxiliary branch continued as Upaveda of Rigveda. Thus medical field got the name evolved as Ayurveda. Rigveda had only one branch, so one wing Ayurveda is the one assumed Upaveda, continuing even now .

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Japa Yajna

Japa means chanting divine name of God or repeatedly reciting the same powerful mantras. There are several compound words such as Japayoga, Japa sadhana, Japayajna etc. This is most commonly known as Japayajna or simply Japa. Japayajna is sometimes done without any purpose or without desire also. But Japayajna is usually done to achieve a desired result within a least time.

Rudraksha Japa Mala or prayer beads
Rudraksha Japa Mala or prayer beads

Earning money may be a difficult project work but earning virtue through Japayajna is an easier project than it. It can be practiced individually, within family members or within a group of people together. A garland with 54 (fifty four) beads or 108 (one hundred and eight) beads to keep the counts of repetitions is helpful for the Japa practitioner of Sanatana follower. There are also people, using 100 beads, 33×3+1 chanting for thrice a day.  The words Japa or Tapa are colloquial phrases but Tapa is not as easy as Japa since Tapa is penance and not recommended for all.

यज्नानां जपयज्नो ऽस्मि

Meaning of Yajnanam japa yajno asmi: God Krishna had explained his various forms of recognized, special exhibitions or proof of divine perceivable existences. Among the several visible forms, sacrifices or rituals are considered as causes for virtues. Japa, the God’s name chanting or mantra reciting system is the best or divine form, most pleased by God. This narration is available in the twenty fifth verse of the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Geetha. It is available in Mahabharata. Vyasa Rishi had written it in Sanskrit, for the guidance of all desiring welfare, and recommendable for all, without any restrictions.  

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Mahabharat: Karna Vivada Parva

Karna Vivada Parva or Karnopanivada Parva is the fifty fifth Upa Parva included in the fifth Maha Parva named as Udyoga Parva in Mahabharata.

The story of Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana were written by the sage Vyasa Maharshi. Vyasa was the teacher of Vaishampayana Rishi and Krishna was depicted as the incarnation of God Vishnu in both of them. In Purana, devotion to God was described as the main theme. Here in Mahabharata, Arjuna had been depicted as the main hero; he was the father of the grandfather of the listener of the story, Janamejaya and he was free to ask any doubtful queries in between the narrations of his ancestor’s life.  After the actual events, more than one century time had already passed then, and the Ashwamedha Yaga was going on at the palace in the Town of Takshashila. 

Kripa was the old family priest of Pandavas and Krishna instructed him to give good education to Pareekshit, then child, the Prince of Abhimanyu was being very young. Krishna blessed Kripa to be living always as a Chiranjeevi. After the great Mahabharata war, the palace at Hastinavati needed renovation and was getting it done slowly. The Dwapara Yuga had ended and after Krishna Niryana, Kaliyuga had started. Kripa had left for his penance at Himalaya in Badarikashram with Veda Vyasa Maharshi, after completion of his teachings to Pareekshit and installing him on the throne as king. Pareekshit had shifted his palace to Takshashila but died at the age of sixty.

Later, the young Janamejaya had assumed the kingship at Takshashila with the blessings of his people. After stopping the Sarpa Yaga, this Ashvamedha Yaga was started in this palace of Janamejaya at the Town of Takshashila. There was no animal sacrifice in that yaga, but this story of ‘Mahabharata’ was narrated by Rishi Vaishampayana, as a virtuous hearing to pass the holy time for the king and the Suta Puranikas of Naimisharanya  had also attended the auspicious occacion.

Vaishampayana continued his narrations to Janamejaya as follows.

Conversation between Krishna and Karna
Conversation between Lord Krishna & Karna
What Krishna discussed with Karna and how did Sanjaya narrate it to Dritarashtra?

After coming out of the court hall with Satyaki and Kritavarma, Krishna desired to ascend his chariot accompanying Karna and hence called him to come along with him. So Karna came and sat near Krishna on the chariot and started their discussions. Krishna told Karna about his birth stories and Karna agreed with him but also replied that the old events were known to him. Krishna requested Karna to join with Yudhishtira and start to rule as an Emperor. Yudhistira would be the prince and all Pandavas would be his servants. Being the eldest son of Kunti, he could shine as an Emperor in the whole world. He could lead a pleasant, glorious future life and avoid the war. Sanjaya told it to Dritarashtra later. 

What was the answer of Karna to Krishna for his tempting offers?
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Mahabharat: Bhagavad Yana Parva

Bhagavad Yana Parva is the fifty fourth upa parva included in the fifth maha parva, named as Udyoga parva. This upa parva is also called as Krishna Anusandhana parva. This is the third most popular upa parva in the Mahabharat, with the first one being Bhagavad Geetha parva and the second one being Vishnu Sahasranama of Shanthi Parva. Vaishampayana continued the narration to Janamejaya as follows.

After sending Sanjaya back to Kurukshetra from Upaplava, Yudhishtira thought, his one reliable person was always Krishna, so his next turn and task would be to beg for his help. Before starting the dice game with Shakuni, Yudhishtira had forgotten Krishna. That lapse or mistake was very serious and resulted in thirteen years of sufferings. Hence Yudhishtira thought if Krishna was consulted before telling anything to anybody, or to order before the seven Akshohini soldiers, better results would be guaranteed.

Krishna as the ambassador to Yudhistira in the court session with Duryodhana and Dritarashtra
Krishna as the ambassador to Yudhistira in the court session

In this parva, Krishna was chosen as an ambassador of peace treaty for the side of Yudhishtira at Upaplava. At Nagasahvaya, on the same day, Duryodhana showed his egoistic nature of power in the court debate leading to the boycotting of Bhishma from his court session for that day. 

Why didn’t Yudhishtira initially show interest in sending Krishna?

Yudhishtira had desired only to consult Krishna after the returning of Sanjaya to Kurukshetra. But he had not shown any interest or intention in sending him to the Palace of Duryodhana or to his court session. Yudhishtira thought Krishna would be physically hurt or insulted if sent alone to the court of Duryodhana, since for the past many years, his experience showed the negligence of Krishna by the Kauravas and their companions.

What Yudhishtira told to Krishna before sending him as an ambassador?
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Hayagriva: The Divine Equine

Hayagiva is a Sanskrit word for the depiction of Vishnu God.  In the ancient Sanatanic texts like Shruti, Smriti and Puranas, the reference of Hayagriva is available. Hayagriva is the form of an idol selected by the devotees for worshipping the divine energy and motivating God as per the freedom of the believers and to have a better life of blessings. In all the branches of the Sanatanic beliefs, worshipping of Hayagriva is found.

Which idol is worshipped as Hayagriva in India?

Hayagriva idol has human body up to the neck and the head portion along with the face resembles that of a horse. Haya means horse. Various Sanskrit names are in use sensing the synonym of horse faced idol of God. Some idols are found with a decorated crown also. Like God Vishnu, Hayagriva in his four hands holds Shankha, Chakra, Gadha and Padma.  Some idols may vary in dress codes having yellow or white in colour. All other displaying of the idol is similar to Vishnu. In India, generally, Vishnu Chaitanya (energy) is worshipped in the idol form of Hayagriva, made of gold, silver, or alloys.    

Lord Hayagriva sitting under a tree
Hayagriva sitting under a tree
How many types of Hayagriva are found in Puranas? 

In Puranas, mainly two types of references to Hayagriva are found. In one type of its story, Hayagriva is a demon and he had stolen Vedas and hidden them in Patala, or in the hell. This demon bandit was using a wheel of iron called Chakra as his strong weapon. So Vishnu, assuming the fish form called as Matsya Avatara, killed the demon and brought back the Vedas again into this world. Then his wheel was abandoned. In the Dwapara Yuga, Krishna got the wheel but he named it as Sudarshana Chakra being made of gold and he used it to behead the Shankhasura and got the Pachajanya conch.

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