Janamejaya said, "Bhishma and Drona, those two high-souled persons, king Dhritarashtra, and Virata and Drupada, and Sankha and Uttara. Dhrishtaketu and Jayatsena and king Satyajit, the sons of Duryodhana, and Shakuni the son of Subala, Karnas sons of great prowess, king Jayadratha, Ghatotkaca and others whom thou hast not mentioned, the other heroic kings of blazing formstell me for what period they remained in Heaven. O foremost of regenerate persons, was theirs an eternal place in Heaven? What was the end attained to by those foremost of men when their acts came to an end? I desire to hear this, O foremost of regenerate persons, and therefore have I asked thee. Through thy blazing penances thou seest all things.
Sauti said: Thus questioned, that regenerate Rishi, receiving the permission of the high-souled Vyasa, set himself to answer the question of the king.
Vaishampayana said, "Every one, O king of men, is not capable of returning to his own nature at the end of his deeds. Whether this is so or not, is, indeed a good question asked by thee. Hear, O king, this which is a mystery of the gods, O chief of Bharatas race. It was explained (to us) by Vyasa of mighty energy, celestial vision and great prowess, that ancient ascetic, O Kauravya, who is the son of Parasara and who always observes high vows, who is of immeasurable understanding, who is omniscient, and who, therefore knows the end attached to all acts.
"Bhishma of mighty energy and great effulgence attained to the status of the Vasus. Eight Vasus, O chief of Bharatas race, are now seen. Drona entered into Brihaspati, that foremost one of Angirasas descendants. Hridikas son Kritavarma entered the Maruts. Pradyumna entered Sanatkumara whence he had issued. Dhritarashtra obtained the regions, so difficult of acquisition, that belong to the Lord of treasures. The famous Gandhari obtained the same regions with her husband Dhritarashtra. With his two wives, Pandu proceeded to the abode of the great Indra. Both Virata and Drupada, the king Dhrishtaketu, as also Nishatha, Akrura, Samva, Bhanukampa, and Viduratha, and Bhurishrava and Sala and king Bhuri, and Kansa, and Ugrasena, and Vasudeva, and Uttara, that foremost of men, with his brother Sankhaall these foremost of persons entered the deities. Somas son of great prowess, named Varchas of mighty energy, became Abhimanyu, the son of Phalguna, that lion among men. Having fought, agreeably to Kshatriya practices, with bravery such as none else had ever been able to show, that mighty-armed and righteous-souled being entered Soma. Slain on the field of battle, O foremost of men, Karna entered Surya. Shakuni obtained absorption into Dwapara, and Dhrishtadyumna into the deity of fire. The sons of Dhritarashtra were all Rakshasas of fierce might. Sanctified by death caused by weapons, those high-souled beings of prosperity all succeeded in attaining to Heaven. Both Kshattri and king Yudhishthira entered into the god of Righteousness. The holy and illustrious Ananta (who had taken birth as Balarama) proceeded to the region below the Earth. Through the command of the Grandsire, he, aided by his Yoga power, supported the Earth. Vasudeva was a portion of that eternal god of gods called Narayana. Accordingly, he entered into Narayana. 16,000 women had been married to Vasudeva as his wives. When the time came, O Janamejaya, they, plunged into the Sarasvati. Casting off their (human) bodies there, they re-ascended to Heaven. Transformed into Apsaras, they approached the presence of Vasudeva. Those heroic and mighty car-warriors, Ghatotkaca and others, who were slain in the great battle, attained to the status, some of gods and some of Yakshas. Those that had fought on the side of Duryodhana are said to have been Rakshasas. Gradually, O king, they have all attained to excellent regions of felicity. Those foremost of men have proceeded, some to the abode of Indra, some to that of Kuvera of great intelligence, and some to that of Varuna. I have now told thee, O thou of great splendour, everything about the acts, O Bharata, of both the Kurus and the Pandavas.
Sauti said: Hearing this, ye foremost of regenerate ones, at the intervals of sacrificial rites, king Janamejaya became filled with wonder. The sacrificial priests then finished the rites that remained to be gone through. Astika, having rescued the snakes (from fiery death), became filled with joy. King Janamejaya then gratified all the Brahmanas with copious presents. Thus worshipped by the king, they returned to their respective abodes. Having dismissed those learned Brahmanas, king Janamejaya came back from Takshasila to the city named after the elephant.
I have now told everything that Vaishampayana narrated, at the command of Vyasa, unto the king at his snake sacrifice. Called a history, it is sacred, sanctifying and excellent. It has been composed by the ascetic Krishna, O Brahmana, of truthful speech. He is omniscient, conversant with all ordinances, possessed of a knowledge of all duties, endued with piety, capable of perceiving what is beyond the ken of the senses, pure, having a soul cleansed by penances, possessed of the six high attributes, and devoted to Sankhya Yoga. He has composed this, beholding everything with a celestial eye that has been cleansed (strengthened) by varied lore. He has done this, desiring to spread the fame, throughout the world, of the high-souled Pandavas, as also of other Kshatriyas possessed of abundant wealth of energy.
That learned man who recites this history of sacred days in the midst of a listening auditory becomes cleansed of every sin, conquers Heaven, and attains to the status of Brahma. Of that man who listens with rapt attention to the recitation of the whole of this Veda composed by (the Island-born) Krishna, a million sins, numbering such grave ones as Brahmanicide and the rest, are washed off. The Pitris of that man who recites even a small portion of this history at a Sraddha, obtain inexhaustible food and drink. The sins that one commits during the day by ones senses or the mind are all washed off before evening by reciting a portion of the Mahabharata. Whatever sins a Brahmana may commit at night in the midst of women are all washed off before dawn by reciting a portion of the Mahabharata.
The high race of the Bharatas is its topic. Hence it is called Bharata. And because of its grave import, as also of the Bharatas being its topic, it is called Mahabharata. He who is versed in interpretations of this great treatise, becomes cleansed of every sin. Such a man lives in righteousness, wealth, and pleasure, and attains to Emancipation also, O chief of Bharatas race.
That which occurs here occurs elsewhere. That which does not occur here occurs nowhere else. This history is known by the name of Jaya. It should be heard by every one desirous of Emancipation. It should be read by Brahmanas, by kings, and by women quick with children. He that desires Heaven attains to Heaven; and he that desires victory attains to victory. The woman quick with child gets either a son or a daughter highly blessed. The puissant Island-born Krishna, who will not have to come back, and who is Emancipation incarnate, made an abstract of the Bharata, moved by the desire of aiding the cause of righteousness. He made another compilation consisting of sixty lakhs of verses. Thirty lakhs of these were placed in the region of the deities. In the region of the Pitris fifteen lakhs, it should be known, are current; while in that of the Yakshas fourteen lakhs are in vogue. One lakh is current among human beings.
Narada recited the Mahabharata to the gods; Asita-Devala to the Pitris; Suka to the Rakshasas and the Yakshas; and Vaishampayana to human beings. This history is sacred, and of high import, and regarded as equal to the Vedas. That man, O Saunaka, who hears this history, placing a Brahmana before him, acquires both fame and the fruition of all his wishes. He who, with fervid devotion, listens to a recitation of the Mahabharata, attains (hereafter) to high success in consequence of the merit that becomes his through understanding even a very small portion thereof. All the sins of that man who recites or listens to this history with devotion are washed off.
In former times, the great Rishi Vyasa, having composed this treatise, caused his son Suka to read it with him, along with these four Verses. Thousands of mothers and fathers, and hundreds of sons and wives arise in the world and depart from it. Others will (arise and) similarly depart. There are thousands of occasions for joy and hundreds of occasions for fear. These affect only him that is ignorant but never him that is wise. With uplifted arms I am crying aloud but nobody hears me. From Righteousness is Wealth as also Pleasure. Why should not Righteousness, therefore, be courted? For the sake neither of pleasure, nor of fear, nor of cupidity should any one cast off Righteousness. Indeed, for the sake of even life one should not cast off Righteousness. Righteousness is eternal. Pleasure and Pain are not eternal. Jiva is eternal. The cause, however, of Jivas being invested with a body is not so.
That man who, waking up at dawn, reads this Savittri of the Bharata, acquires all the rewards attached to a recitation of this history and ultimately attains to the highest Brahma. As the sacred Ocean, as the Himavat mountain, are both regarded as mines of precious gems, even so is this Bharata (regarded as a mine of precious gems). The man of learning, by reciting to others this Veda or Agama composed by (the Island-born) Krishna, earns wealth. There is no doubt in this that he who, with rapt attention, recites this history called Bharata, attains to high success. What need has that man of a sprinkling of the waters of Pushkara who attentively listens to this Bharata, while it is recited to him? It represents the nectar that fell from the lips of the Island-born. It is immeasurable, sacred, sanctifying, sin-cleansing, and auspicious.