Translated by Justin Meiland

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“The Book of Shalya” is the ninth book of the Maha·bhárata. It portrays, in grand epic style, the last day of the great battle between the Káuravas and the Pándavas, recounting in gory detail the final destruction of King Duryódhana and his army. This, the first of the Book’s two volumes, focuses on Shalya’s short-lived role as general of Duryódhana’s army. Tempted over to the Káuravas’ side by his weakness for luxury and wealth, Shalya had previously fought as the charioteer of the great hero Karna. However, after Árjuna’s slaughter of Karna—to which Shalya himself contributed as a favor to the Pándavas—the Káurava army becomes leaderless and Shalya is consecrated as its general. Martial speeches, heroic duels, and bloody massacres abound on the battlefield, until finally Shalya is killed by king Yudhi·shthira, in accordance with the inexorable proceedings of fate. At Shalya’s death, king Duryódhana flees and takes refuge in a lake.


A river arose on the battlefield that flowed to the other world. Its waters were blood, its eddies were chariots, its trees were banners, and its pebbles were bones. Its crocodiles were arms, its streams were bows, its rocks were elephants, and its stones were horses. Its marshes were fat and marrow, its swans were parasols, and its rafts were maces. Littered with armour and turbans, its beautiful trees were flags. Abounding in wheels and teeming with three-bannered chariots and poles, this horrifying river flowed full of Kurus and Srínjayas, inspiring delight in heroes and filling the timid with dread.

371 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-5706-2  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-5706-5  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Justin Meiland has also translated Maha·bhárata IX: Shalya (volume two), Garland of the Buddha’s Past Lives (volume one) and volume two.