A Summary of the Mausala Parva

The 16th parva of the Mahabharata is called the Mausala Parva. It is a parva of painful incidents. This parva contains 320 shlokas divided into 8 sections.

The Mausala Parva describes how the Vrishni race met its end and the impact this painful event had on Arjuna.

The brave warriors of the Vrishni race, who bore as trophies several scara on their bodies from all the battles they had fought, were compelled by the fates to drink alcohol and behave in a way that incurred the wrath of a brahmana. This brahmana cursed them, as a result of which they killed each other with eraka grass. It seems surprising that warriors could slay each other with grass, but such was destiny that blades of eraka grass became fatal and thunderous weapons in their hands.

In the fight that ensued, Balarama and Krishna caused the extermination of their race. However, after the destined actions were performed, they themselves had to succumb to the path laid out by the all-destroying time and breathed their last with the rest of the Vrishni warriors.

Arjuna went to Dwaraka upon hearing the sad news. After performing his maternal uncle Vasudeva’s funeral, he saw several heroes of the Vrishni race lying dead in the place they had been drinking. Arjuna also cremated the great Krishna, Balarama, and other main members of the Vrishni race. These events left a deep impact on Arjuna’s mind.

After creating the dead, Arjun returned to his kingdom with the survivors of the Vrishnis – the women, children, the aged, and other people. This journey back to his kingdom too was filled with difficult events. They faced a major calamity, Arjuna’s bow (Gandiva) was disgraced, and so were his celestial weapons.

Witnessing so many unhappy events, and being unable to protect the remaining Vrishnis, Arjuna became depressed. He lost all sense of hope and meaning in life. Seeing Arjuna’s state, Vyasa Muni advised him to meet Yudhishthira.

The parva ends with Arjuna asking Yudhishthira’s permission to leave worldly life and adopt the sanyasi’s way of living. 

Table of Contents

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Credits: Image credit to M. V. Dhurandhar who made the original image available in the public domain.