The Greatest Teachings of Vyasa’s Mahabharata

Translated by U. Mahesh Prabhu

“Look how creatures of the highest, middle as well as the lowest degrees are everywhere here enmeshed in grief because of their Karma (actions). Even my body though it seems ,at first glance by the Atman, is not me it is also the Atman  ; or rather, the whole earth is in that respect mine, and as it is mine, so it belongs likewise to others, as the Atman is me , everyone and everything at the same time ; thus, I think, and abide undisturbed. Having gained this vision, I rejoice not and grieve not. As in the great ocean one piece of wood meets another, and after meeting they again part from one another, such is the meeting of creatures.”

Bhishma to Yudhishthira in Shanti Parva of Mahabharata.


“With children and children’s children, with friends and kinsmen; it is not well to have extreme attachment with them, for parting from them is inevitable. They’ve come from nowhere – to go nowhere; who then are you, and what is anything, that you lament for? From the stress caused by desire arises grief , from stress of grief arises new desires  and pleasure, and from desires again arises grief of pleasures not enjoyed. The immediate result of pleasure is grief, the immediate consequence of grief is pleasure; pleasure and grief among men roll round like a wheel. When you have passed from pleasure to grief, you will then pass once more into pleasure; men cannot forever have grief, nor forever have pleasure. The body is the seat, alike, of grief and pleasure. Life also arises together with this body; both wax together, and both together decay. Men are held by the manifold snares of the desires in the world of sense, and they fall away without winning to their end, like dykes of sand in water.”

Vidura to Dhritarashtra on his blind love for his son Duryodhana.


“On the loss of children, on the loss of substance or of friends and kinsmen, men suffer exceeding anguish, like the fire of a burning forest. This whole world depends upon Prarabdha Karma (past actions) in pleasure and pain, in birth and unborn being. Whether a man has friends or not, whether he has foes or allies, whether he is wise or void of wisdom, he gets his happiness through Prarabdha Karma.

Krishna to Gandhari after witnessing her lamentations on passing of her 100 sons.


“Friends suffice not to make one happy, nor foes to make one unhappy; wisdom suffices not to make one wealthy, wealth suffices not to make happy. Prudence is not enough to attain wealth, foolishness hinders not success; the wise man, not the fool, understands this course of the world’s way. Fortune follows whomsoever she meets, the understanding and bold, the silly and cowardly, the dull and the wise, the weakly and the strong. The cow belongs to the calf, to the herdsman, to the master, and to the thief; to him who drinks her milk the cow also belongs. The most foolish in the world and the most prudent easily win success; but he who stands midway between them is afflicted.”

Sahadeva’s advice to Yudhisthira just before turning Khandavprastha to their capital – Indraprastha.


“Pleasure, when it is of the lazy person, ends in grief; grief, when it is of the person full of energy, leads to pleasure; prosperity and happiness dwell with the man of energy, not with the lazy person. But whether it is pleasure or pain, sweet or bitter, a man should bear what befalls, unconquered of spirit. A thousand motives of sorrows and a hundred motives of fear fall daily upon the erring, but none upon the wise.”

Krishna to Yudhisthira after his feeling of dismay and dejection after the great war.


“Grief touches him not who is understanding, who has won realization, who seeks for knowledge of scripture, and is free from envy, is self-controlled and master of his senses. The wise man should hold fast to his wisdom and keep watch over his thoughts; then he knows how the world arises and dissolves, and no grief can touch him. Whatsoever be the cause of grief or an affliction or a sorrow or a labour of spirit, a man should put away that from which these may spring, even though it might be a limb of his own body. Whenever any work is done from a spirit of selfishness, its result becomes a source of grief. Whatever desires are cast out, their place is filled up by happiness; but the man who runs after desires is destroyed by his desires.”

Vidura to Duryodhana while requesting him to avert war by giving the Pandavas their rightful share.


“All happiness that may come from the fulfillment of wishes in the world, and all the exceeding bliss that there may be in heaven, do not together weigh the sixteenth part of the happiness that consists in the destruction of the root from which all desires spring. On the head of each man, be he wise or foolish or valiant, comes every good and evil work that has been done by him in former life, as per the manner of its doing. Thus, truly all these sweets and bitterness, sorrows and joys in souls roll round and round.”

Vidura to Dhritarashtra a day before the commencement of great war.


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