Translated by Kathleen Garbutt


‘Viráta’ is the fourth book of the Maha·bhárata and details the Pándavas’ 13th year in exile, when they live disguised in King Virata’s court.

The Pandavas suffer the humiliation of becoming servants; a topic explored both through comedy and pathos. They manage to maintain their disguise until the very end of the year, when their troubles really begin. Bhima is forced to come to Dráupadi’s rescue when King Viráta’s general, Kíchaka, sets his sights on her. Later, taking advantage of his demise, Duryódhana and the Tri·gartas decide to invade Viráta’s kingdom, unaware the Pándavas are hidden there. In the ensuing battles the Pándavas play a crucial role and, after saving Viráta, reveal their true identities to him.

The book ends on a note of celebration, with the Pándavas ready to return from exile and reclaim their kingdom. However, the ‘Viráta’’s battles foreshadow the war to come, proving it will not be easy.

The winds blow fierce and dry, raining down gravel, and the sky is covered with darkness and an ashen luminescence. The clouds have taken on a strange form; both water laden and yet dry in their appearance. Various weapons are slipping out of their sheaths. Pitiless jackals howl on all sides of the blazing horizon. The horses are weeping and our banners tremble without any visible cause.

When such numerous omens appear great danger is at hand, so protect yourself, and arrange your army. Expect butchery and protect the wealth of cattle! This hero, the great archer, the best of all who wield weapons, who has come wearing eunuch’s clothes, is in fact Partha, no doubt about it!

516 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-3183-3  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-3183-X  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Kathleen Garbutt translates and edits Sanskrit literature for the JJC Foundation, co-publishers (with NYU Press) of the Clay Sanskrit Library. She also translated Maha·bhárata V: Preparations for War (volume one of two) and Maha·bhárata V: Preparations for War (volume two of two) for the CSL.