The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "When Kunti's son, king Yudhishthira the just, remained speechless after listening to his brothers who were telling these truths of the Vedas, that foremost of women, viz., Draupadi, of large eyes and great beauty, and noble descent, O monarch, said these words unto that bull among kings seated in the midst of his brothers that resembled so many lions and tigers, and like the leader in the midst of a herd of elephants. Ever expectant of loving regards from all her husbands but especially from Yudhishthira, she was always treated with affection and indulgence by the king. Conversant with duties and observant of them in practice, that lady of large hips, casting her eyes on her lord, desired his attention in shooting and sweet words and said as follows.
"Draupadi said, These thy brothers, O Partha, are crying and drying their palates like chatakas but thou dost not gladden them.. O monarch, gladden these thy brothers, that resemble infuriated elephants (in prowess), with proper words,--these heroes that have always drunk of the cup of misery. Why, O king, while living by the side of the Dwaita lake, didst thou say unto these thy brothers then residing with thee, and suffering from cold and wind and sun, even these words, viz.,--' rushing to battle from. desire of victory, we will slay Duryodhana and enjoy the earth that is capable of granting every wish. Depriving great car-warriors of their cars and slaying huge elephants, and strewing the field of battle with the bodies of car-warriors and horsemen and heroes, ye chastisers of foes, ye will perform great sacrifices of diverse kinds with presents in profusion. All these sufferings, due to a life of exile in the woods, will then end in happiness.' O foremost of all practisers of virtue, having thyself said these words unto thy brothers then, why, O hero, dost thou depress our hearts now? A eunuch can never enjoy wealth. A eunuch can never have children even as there can be no fish in a mire (destitute of water). A Kshatriya without the rod of chastisement can never shine. A Kshatriya without the rod of chastisement can never enjoy the earth. The subjects of a king that is without the rod of chastisement can never have happiness. Friendship for all creatures, charity, study of the Vedas, penances,--these constitute the duties of a Brahmana and not of a king, O best of kings! Restraining the wicked, cherishing the honest, and never retreating from battle,--these are the highest duties of kings. He is said to be conversant with duties in whom are forgiveness and wrath, giving and taking, terrors and fearlessness, and chastisement and reward. It was not by study, or gift, or mendicancy, that thou hast acquired the earth. That force of the enemy, O hero, ready to burst upon thee with all its might, abounding with elephants and horse and cars, strong with three kinds of strength 1 protected by Drona
and Karna and Aswatthaman and Kripa, has been defeated and slain by thee, O hero! It is for this that I ask thee to enjoy the earth. Formerly, O puissant one, thou hadst, O monarch, swayed with might, 1 the region called Jambu, O tiger among men, abounding with populous districts. Thou hadst also, O ruler of men, swayed with might that other region called Kraunchadwipa situate on the west of the great Meru and equal unto Jambu-dwipa itself. Thou hadst swayed with might, O king, that other region called Sakadwipa on the east of the great Meru and equal to Krauncha-dwipa itself. The region called Bhadraswa, on the north of the great Meru and equal to Sakadwipa was also swayed by thee, O tiger, among men! Thou hadst even penetrated the ocean and swayed with might other regions, too, O hero, and the very islands begirt by the sea and containing many populous provinces. Having, O Bharata, achieved such immeasurable feats, and having obtained (through them) the adorations of the Brahmanas, how is it that thy soul is not gratified? Seeing these brothers of thine before thee, O Bharata,--these heroes swelling with might and resembling bulls or infuriated elephants (in prowess),--why dost thou not address them in delightful words? All of you are like celestials. All of you are capable of resisting foes. All of you are competent to scorch your enemies. If only one of you had become my husband, my happiness would even then have been very great. What need I say then, O tiger among men, when all of you, numbering five, are my husbands (and look after me) like the five senses inspiring the physical frame? The words of my mother-in-law who is possessed of great knowledge and great foresight, cannot be untrue. Addressing me, she said, 'O princess of Panchala, Yudhishthira will ever keep you in happiness, O excellent lady! Having slain many thousands of kings possessed of active prowess, I see, O monarch, that through thy folly thou art about to make that feat futile. They whose eldest brother becomes mad, have all to follow him in madness. Through thy madness, O king, all the Pandavas are about to become mad. If, O monarch, these thy brothers were in their senses, they would then have immured thee with all unbelievers (in a prison) and taken upon themselves the government of the earth. That person who from dullness of intellect acts in this way never succeeds in winning prosperity. The man that treads along the path of madness should be subjected to medical treatment by the aid of incense and collyrium, of drugs applied through the nose, and of other medicines. O best of the Bharatas, I am the worst of all my sex, since I desire to live on even though I am bereaved of my children. Thou shouldst not disregard the words spoken by me and by these brothers of thine that are endeavouring thus (to dissuade thee from thy purpose). Indeed, abandoning the whole earth, thou art inviting adversity and danger to come upon thee. Thou shinest now, O monarch, even as those two best of kings, viz., Mandhatri and Amvarisha, regarded by all the lords of earth, did in former days. Protecting thy subjects righteously, govern the goddess Earth with her mountains and forests and islands. Do not, O king, become cheerless. Adore the gods in diverse sacrifices. Fight thy foes. Make gifts of
wealth and clothes and other objects of enjoyment unto the Brahmanas, O best of kings!'
23:1 The three kinds of angas referred to, as explained by Nilakantha are (1) the strength that depends on the master, (2) that depending on good counsels, and (3) that depending on the perseverance and the courage of the men themselves.
24:1 Literally, "crushed with the rod of chastisement."
Next: Section XV