Maha·bhárata II: The Great Hall

Translated by Paul Wilmot

Maha·bhárata II: The Great Hall

The ‘Great Hall’ is Book Two of the Maha·bhárata, one of India’s two national epics. This magnificent book relates some of the most seminal events of the epic, culminating in the famous game of dice between the Pándavas and the Káuravas.

The Pándavas, happily settled in Indra·prastha, enjoy one glorious success after another. Yudhi·shthira, after erecting the most magnificent hall on earth, decides to perform the Royal Consecration Sacrifice, which will raise his status to that of the world’s greatest sovereign. His brothers travel far and wide and conquer all known kingdoms; the existing world sovereign is vanquished. Yet just when the Pándavas are beginning to seem invincible, Yudhi·shthira mysteriously gambles everything away in a fateful game of dice to his cousin Duryódhana.

The story is but a fraction of the infinite expanse of the Maha·bhárata, yet a pivotal one; the various changes in fortune set the scene for further conflict between the cousins. The grand narrative, rich in lingering, extravagant description, is a monument to the splendor of ancient India.

That great hall, O Bhárata, was built of pillars of pure gold; it covered a vast area ten thousand cubits long and wide; it blazed with a fiery light as intense as the sun, white as Soma. That bright light, which dimmed even the sun’s brilliance, revealed an exquisite structure unsurpassed in its architectural perfection, shining as from within a celestial cloud of fire, glowing with the divine radiance of the heavens. Like a thick monsoon cloud it dominated the sky far and wide, uplifting the spirit, sublime in its loveliness. Fashioned from only the finest materials, its walls and gateways studded with fabulous jewels, so well-built and richly decorated was Maya’s creation that it reduced to a pale shadow the Su·dharma Hall of the Dashárhas and the mansion of Brahma…

588 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-9406-7  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-9406-8  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation


“The Dice Game” (Canto 56–61, pp. 372–393)
(28 pp, 1.17mb)

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Download the title page and table of contents and one chapter of the book (in English and Sanskrit on facing pages), bundled together as a .pdf file. You can also download the CSL Front Matter (6pp, 1.3mb). It describes how we transliterate the Sanskrit text in the Roman alphabet and includes a guide to pronunciation. It also explains our system of representing phonetic fusion (sandhi).

You can set Adobe Acrobat Reader to display the Sanskrit text and translation in facing page view. Simply go to “View” in the toolbar, select “Page Layout” and click on “Facing.”

About the Translator

Paul Wilmot translates and edits Sanskrit literature for the JJC Foundation, co-publishers (with NYU Press) of the Clay Sanskrit Library.