Translated by Kathleen Garbutt


The fame of this story will exist eternally, for as long as the mountains stand and the rivers flow, Janárdana. When brahmins are gathered together, they will tell the tale of the great war of the Bharatas and tell of the wealth of the warriors’ fame, Varshnéya.

The second volume of the ‘Preparations for War’ (Udyogaparvan) seals the fate of the Pándavas and Kurus. The failure of diplomacy ensures war is now inevitable, and with this realisation come dramatic arguments, miracles and temptations.

This book is the turning point of the entire “Maha·bhárata” epic. The Pándavas’ exile is complete and all uncertainty regarding their future is now gone. The importance of the debate to decide their fate is such that even the celestial sages gather to watch as Krishna attempts to save the world from annihilation. But his attempts are to no avail.

Duryódhana and Karna vainly plot to take Krishna prisoner, and in return Krishna reveals his magnificent majesty in a blinding vision of divinity.

As peace looks increasingly impossible both sides amass forces and organise their troops. Ambassadors are replaced with petty traders of insults and the tone becomes increasingly martial. Karna’s prophetic dream and Bhishma’s explanation of his fate with Shikhándin herald the outcome of the battles to come, and by the close of “Preparations for War” both opposing armies are encamped and ready to begin battle.

The “Maha·bhárata,” like all great literature, explores timeless problems of humanity, and in this particular volume of ‘Preparations for War,’ it explores the realities of human nature in times of conflict. The lust for power and bloodshed overwhelms all attempts at negotiation. These themes are universal and can speak to us as hauntingly today as ever they could in the times the epic was composed. Today, just as then, war-mongerers prevail, and the observations of an ancient culture are far from obsolete. But mixed in with these serious issues come beautiful passages of divinities, magical realms and legendary marvels. This second volume of “Preparations for War” is a rich and entrancing mix of epic war and puranic wonderment.

798 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-3202-1  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-3202-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 has also translated Maha·bhárata V: Preparations for War (volume one) and Maha·bhárata IV: Viráta.