Sauptika Parva

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Sauptika parva describes the night after the 18-day war is over. At the end of war, Arjuna's chariot burns (shown).

The Sauptika Parva (Sanskrit: सौप्तिक पर्व), or the "Book of the Sleepers," is the tenth of eighteen books of the Indian Epic Mahabharata. Sauptika Parva traditionally has 2 sub-books and 18 chapters, as does the critical edition.[1][2][3][4]

Sauptika Parva describes the revenge of Aswatthama, Kritavarman and Kripa, three of the five Kaurava survivors (the others being Vrishkethu and Yuyutsu). On the night after the 18th day of the Kurukshetra War,[2]Ashwatthama takes revenge for his father's death during the war by going to the Pandavas' camp and unleashing weapons that kill all those who are sleeping.[5] The only survivors are those who were not in the camp - the five Pandava brothers, Satyaki and Krishna and Draupadi and all the ladies and Indrasena, Visoka and Karamataya grandson of Yudhishthara, Yaudheya grandson of Yudhishthara, several others like Sasikirana, grandsons of Bhima et all and twenty nephews of Baladeva and Sarvaga et all as well. Also Several Akshauhinis of Pandava army which in less than a year again conquered world in Ashwamedhika Parva. Sauptika Parva may be chronologically very late as near Mausala Parva because Satyaki co-existed with Krtavarmma for Thirty Six years before accusing him of crimes in Sauptika Parva.

Structure and chapters[edit]

Bhima brings Aswatthama's crown gem to Draupadi (shown). It is presented as proof of Aswatthama's defeat and justice delivered for the night massacre of Pandava's sons and thousands of people by Aswatthama.

This Parva (book) has 2 sub-parvas (sub-books or little books) and 18 adhyayas (sections, chapters).[1][6] The 2 sub-parvas are:[7]

1. Sauptika parva
2. Aishika parva

Sauptika Parva describes the actions of Aswatthama, Kritavarman and Kripa - the three out of four Kaurava survivors - after the 18th day of the Kurukshetra War.[2] The three escape and retire in a forest. Aswatthama is angry for his father's death and the deaths caused by the war. He comes up with a plan to massacre the remaining Pandava army while they sleep, on the night after the war is over. Kripa urges delay, questions the morality of killing those who sleep, and whether Aswatthama's plan to take revenge has any productive purpose.[5] Aswatthama argues the whole war was unfair, everyone was unfair, and revenge is the only release. Aswatthama leaves to kill the sleeping, Kritavarman and Kripa follow him. They reach the Pandava's camp and unleash weapons that kills all those who sleep.[5] The only survivors are those who were not at the camp - the five Pandava brothers, Satyaki and Krishna.

The news of the massacre of sleeping sons of Pandavas and all the people who supported Pandavas, shocks Draupadi and Pandava brothers. Draupadi demands justice. Bhima pursues Aswatthama for justice. Aswatthama accepts defeat.[2]

English translations[edit]

Shalya Parva was composed in Sanskrit. Several translations of the book in English are available. Two translations from 19th century, now in public domain, are those by Kisari Mohan Ganguli[1] and Manmatha Nath Dutt.[2] The translations vary with each translator's interpretations.

Clay Sanskrit Library has published a 15 volume set of the Mahabharata which includes a translation of Souptika Parva by Kate Crosby. This translation is modern and uses an old manuscript of the Epic. The translation does not remove verses and chapters now widely believed to be spurious and smuggled into the Epic in 1st or 2nd millennium AD.[8]

Debroy, in 2011, notes[7] that updated critical edition of Shalya Parva, after removing verses and chapters generally accepted so far as spurious and inserted into the original, has 2 sub-books, 18 adhyayas (chapters) and 771 shlokas (verses).

Quotes and teachings[edit]

Sauptika Parva, Chapter 2:

All men are subjected to and governed by these two forces: Destiny and Exertion (Free will).
There is nothing higher than these two. Our acts do not become successful in consequence of destiny alone, nor of exertion alone;
Success springs from the union of the two.
It is through these two that men are seen to act as also to abstain.

What result is produced by the clouds pouring upon a mountain?
What results are not produced by them pouring upon a cultivated field?
Exertion, where destiny is not auspicious, and absence of exertion where destiny is auspicious, both these are fruitless!
If the rains properly moisten a well-tilled soil, the seed produces great results. Human success is of this nature.

Sometimes, Destiny, having settled a course of events, acts of itself (without waiting for exertion).
The wise, aided by skill have recourse to exertion.
All the purposes of human acts are accomplished by the aid of those two together.
Influenced by these two, men are seen to strive or abstain.
Those among men, that are idle and without intelligence, disapprove of exertion.

— Kripa after losing the war, Sauptika Parva, Mahabharata Book x.2.2-12[2][1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ganguli, K.M. (1883-1896) "Sauptika Parva" in The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (12 Volumes). Calcutta
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dutt, M.N. (1902) The Mahabharata (Volume 10): Sauptika Parva. Calcutta: Elysium Press
  3. ^ van Buitenen, J.A.B. (1973) The Mahabharata: Book 1: The Book of the Beginning. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, p 477
  4. ^ Debroy, B. (2010) The Mahabharata, Volume 1. Gurgaon: Penguin Books India, pp xxiii - xxvi
  5. ^ a b c John Murdoch (1898), The Mahabharata - An English Abridgment, Christian Literature Society for India, London, pages 101-105
  6. ^ Sauptika Parva The Mahabharata, Translated by Manmatha Nath Dutt (1897)
  7. ^ a b Bibek Debroy, The Mahabharata : Volume 3, ISBN 978-0143100157, Penguin Books, page xxiii - xxiv of Introduction
  8. ^ Kate Crosby, Book X and XI, The Clay Sanskrit Library, Mahabharata: 15-volume Set, ISBN 978-0-8147-1727-1, New York University Press, Bilingual Edition

External links[edit]