Mahabharata Parva 25: The Rajasuyika Parva

Mahabharata Parvas - Rajasuyika - Featured Image - Picture of a royal lion. Representing Yudhishthir as emperor

The Mahabharata is a collection of hundred Parvas (or ‘sections’) that tell the story of a long-standing family feud between two sets of cousins – the Kauravas and the Pandavas – for control of the Kuru throne in Hastinapur.

The climactic event of the story is an eighteen-day war that happens between the two factions on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

It is commonly understood that the Pandavas are the protagonists of this tale and the Kauravas the antagonists – though many retellings have appeared over the years that flip this structure.

In this post, we will summarize the Rajasuyika Parva.

(For a full summary of the Mahabharata with all hundred Parvas, see Mahabharata Summary: All 100 Parvas Explained.)

A Happy Kingdom

Under the protection afforded by Yudhisthir, all the citizens of the kingdom that he establishes flourish in their respective lives. We’re told that Yudhishthir’s tax laws are equitable and just. His rule is virtuous.

Every affair of the kingdom, especially cattle bleeding, agriculture and trade prosper highly.

During these days even robbers and cheats never speak lies amongst themselves, nor they that were the favourites of the monarch. There are no droughts and floods and plagues and fires and premature deaths.

The treasury of Indraprastha fills up completely. At this point, a number of Yudhishthir’s friends and advisors tell him that the time has come to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice.

At this point, he gets a visit from Krishna who also reiterates the same thing.

Krishna Visits

Krishna brings with him a large mass of treasure to add the ocean of gold that the Pandavas hold in their treasury. After having given his gift, and after having accepted Yudhishthir’s welcome, Krishna says:

Yudhishthir, you deserve the highest imperial dignity available to man! Perform the great sacrifice without delay, so that we all may obtain its fruits and become fortunate under your guardianship.

‘Employ me in some role that you think is suitable. Give me the opportunity to obey all of your commands.’

Yudhishthir replies, ‘The fact that you have come here when I invited you is success enough for me, O Hrishikesha. As for the sacrifice, let preparations for the event begin immediately!’

Yudhishthir appoints Sahadeva the chief manager for the event. Sahadeva immediately begins to oversee the clearing of the sacrificial compound and erecting of numerous edifices within it.

Brahmin Appointees

One of the first things that Sahadeva does is to approach the great sages and enlist their help in finishing the sacrifice successfully.

Vyasa, the son of Satyavati, functions as the Brahma of the sacrifice, which means he is the chief preceptor. Susama, born in the Dhananjaya race, is the designated chanter of hymns.

Yajnavalkya becomes the Adhyaryu and Paila became the Hotri. All these sages have their disciples and sons accompanying them, fulfilling their roles as Hotragats.

After these preliminaries are taken care of, Yudhishthir tells Sahadeva to go out with messengers and invite everyone to the event.

Numerous Brahmins, well-skilled in all branches of knowledge and versed in the Vedas and their several branches, begin to pour in from various countries.

Thousands of craftsmen, at the command of king Yudhishthira the just, erect for those Brahmins with their attendants separate habitations well-provided with food and clothes, and the fruits and flowers of every season.

Nakula Invites the Kuru Elders

As the sacrifice commences in Indraprastha, Yudhishthir sends Nakula to Hastinapur for personally inviting the elders of the family: Dhritarashtra, Kripa, Bhishma, Vidura and Drona.

Nakula goes to Hastinapur and formally invites his kinsmen. Bhishma is overjoyed at the knowledge that Yudhishthir’s star is rising. He arrives in Indraprastha in all his finery, accompanied by many Brahmins.

Meanwhile, a number of Kshatriyas arrive from all over the world Chief among them are the following:

  • Jayadratha, the ruler of Sindhu
  • Bhagadatta, the king of the Pragjyotishas
  • Bahlika, Somadatta and Bhurishrava of the Kuru dynasty – Bahlika is Shantanu’s own elder brother.
  • Suvala, the king of Gandhara, and his son Shakuni
  • All the Kaurava brothers with Duryodhana at their head, and Karna by his side.
  • Shishupala of Chedi, and Sahadeva of Magadha – who is the son of the late Jarasandha.

With all these kings and more arriving in Indraprastha, Yudhishthir begins his Rajasuya sacrifice in the company of his sadasyas.

More Appointees

The Pandavas then seek the help and support of their family members in performing this event smoothly.

Yudhishthir appoints Duhsasana to supervise the department of food and other enjoyments that are to be served to attending guests.

Ashwatthama is asked to attend to all the Brahmins that have come to the event. Sanjaya is given the task of giving return-gifts to all the kings that have brought presents.

Bhishma and Drona undertake to keep an eye on what is going well and what is yet to be done. Kripa oversees the project of giving gifts of gems gold to attending Brahmin guests.

Duryodhana becomes the receiver of gifts brought there by the arriving kings. Krishna, meanwhile, busies himself with the act of washing the feet of Brahmins.

The Six Fires

Finally, Yudhishthir lights the six sacred fires and takes his spot at the head of the ceremony, with Draupadi by his side. Surrounding him are the sages that have been appointed to lead him through the event.

The wealth that is accumulated by Yudhishthir for this ceremony is massive in the extreme. It is said that even Varuna becomes envious of what the Pandavas have managed to accomplish.

All the gods are gratified at the sacrifice by means of sacred offerings. No stone is left unturned to ensure that the Rajasuya of Yudhishthir will rival the age-old sacrifice undertaken by Harishchandra.

As the sages chant verses, and as bags upon bags of gold is received on the one hand and given away on the other, all the four orders of men who are in attendance are filled with pleasure and joy.

Thus ends the Rajasuyika Parva.