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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Epic Literature
Indian Literature
 
Arjuna’s Journey to Heaven

From the ‘Mahābhārata’: After the Translation of Franz Bopp

AS he went up in the chariot of Indra, which no mortal can see, he beheld many wonders in heaven. There neither the sun shines, nor the moon, nor is there any light of fire, but self-illuminated is all, through the power of goodness. The stars, which appear small as lamps from the earth on account of the great distance, are in reality great bodies. These, the great souls of departed saints, look ever down on earth, and are full of beauty, shining each in its own place and with its own glory. Saints, and heroes who died in battle, wise kings, and hermits, were there, visible by thousands, angels by thousands, heavenly singers, like to the sun in glory. And there he saw the water nymphs, half-gods, and other heavenly beings, all self-luminous. And as he saw them, Arjuna questioned the charioteer of Indra’s chariot and asked who these glorious creatures might be. Him answered Mātali, Indra’s charioteer: “These are the spirits of them that have done noble deeds. As stars thou hast seen them when thou wast upon the earth.”  1
 
The Fatal Gambling

Condensed from the ‘Mahābhārata’: Translation of Edward Washburn Hopkins

THEN came together into the gaming-hall the wicked Duryodhana with his brothers, and Yudhisthira with his brothers. And round about the hall the elders sat on costly benches and watched the play. But when they were about to begin, then said the wicked Duryodhana to Yudhisthira, “Behold the gage shall be mine, but my uncle Çakuni shall cast the dice.” Then answered Yudhisthira and said, “Unheard of is such a play as this, that one should offer the stake and another should cast the dice. Is there then treachery here? But if thou wilt, play so.” Then Duryodhana laughed and said, “Who speaks of treachery? My uncle plays for me.” Now Çakuni was a gamester and deceitful, and he played dice without honor. But Duryodhana began the play, and challenged Yudhisthira, “Here is a pearl of great price. This is my stake. What wilt thou place against it?” And Yudhisthira said, “I have a chariot and steeds, and the chariot is golden and the steeds are above price. This is my stake.” And the dice rolled on the board, and Duryodhana, mocking, said, “Thou hast lost.” And Yudhisthira answered calmly, “A treasury of gems have I; they are stored in jars at home. This is now my stake.” And the dice rolled, and Duryodhana mocked and said, “Thou hast lost.” Then said Yudhisthira, “A kingdom have I: this is my stake.” And Duryodhana mocked as the dice rolled, and he said, “Thou hast lost thy kingdom, great king: what stake is now thine?” And Yudhisthira said, “Here are my brothers—” But Bhīma [the second brother] roared with rage as he heard this, and would have torn Duryodhana limb from limb. But Arjuna rebuked his brother and said, “Is not our father dead, and Yudhisthira our eldest brother? Is he not then the same as our father? And shall a father not stake his son?” Then Bhīma became ashamed. And the dice rolled and Yudhisthira lost, and Duryodhana laughed and said, “What more?” And Yudhisthira said, “I play myself as stake.” And they all sat about with white faces and looked on. And Yudhisthira lost. Then Duryodhana said, “The great king has staked his own self and lost. What more will the great king stake?” But Yudhisthira said, “I have nothing more.” Then Duryodhana said, “Nay, great king, thou hast much still. For thou hast thy wife. I challenge thee again.” Then Yudhisthira groaned in his heart, but because of his knightly vow he could not turn aside when he was challenged, and yet he could not bring it over his heart to play his wife, who was Krishnā, the fairest of all women. And he sat silent, saying unto himself, “She is the fairest of women, fair as the autumn lotus, and best beloved of all women. Slender is her waist, dark are her eyes, and fragrant as the woods of autumn is her hair; and she is best beloved of all women.”… But he looked upon Duryodhana and said, “Be she the stake.” And all men held their breath and gazed with great eyes while the dice rolled and Krishnā was the stake. Then Duryodhana, watching the dice as they rolled from the hand of crafty Çakuni, laughed and said, “Now hath the great king lost all—his treasure, his brother, his kingdom, his self, and even his wife Krishnā, the best beloved of women. Let some one bind these slaves and lead them away, but bring Krishnā to this hall.” And all the elders wept as they heard, and cried “Shame,” but Yudhisthira and Arjuna sat silent. Then they put chains upon Yudhisthira and his brothers, and sent for Krishnā.
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