The Mahabharata Home
"Jarasandha said,--'I do not recollect if I ever acted injuriously towards ye! Even upon a careful mental scrutiny I fail to see the injury I did unto ye. When I have never done ye an injury, why, ye Brahmanas do ye regard me, who am innocent, as your foe? O, answer me truly, for this, indeed, is the rule followed by the honest. The mind is pained at the injury to one's pleasure and morality. That Kshatriya who injures an innocent man's (sources of) pleasure and morality even if he be otherwise a great warrior and well-versed in all rules of morality, obtains, without any doubt the fate of sinners (hereafter) and falls off from prosperity. The practices of the Kshatriyas are the best of those that are honest in the three worlds Indeed, those that are acquainted with morality applaud the Kshatriya
practices. Adhering to those practices of my order with steady soul, I never injure those that are under me. In bringing this charge, therefore, against me, it appears that ye speak erroneously!'
"Krishna said,--'O thou of mighty arms, there is a certain person of the head of a (royal) line who upholdeth the dignity of his race At his command have we come against thee. Thou hast brought, O king, many of the Kshatriyas of the world as captives (to thy city.) Having perpetrated that wicked wrong how dost thou regard thyself as innocent? O best of monarchs, how can a king act wrongfully towards other virtuous kings? But thou, O king, treating other kings with cruelty, seekest to offer them as sacrifice unto the god Rudra! O son of Vrihadratha, this sin committed by thee may touch even us, for as we are virtuous in our practices, we are capable of protecting virtue. The slaughter of human being as sacrifice unto the gods is never seen. Why dost thou, therefore, seek to perform a sacrifice unto god Sankara by slaughtering human beings? Thou art addressing persons belonging to thy own order as animals (fit for sacrifice)! Fool as thou art, who else, O Jarasandha, is capable of behaving in this way? One always obtaineth the fruits of whatever acts one performeth under whatever circumstances. Therefore, desirous as we are of helping all distressed people, we have, for the prosperity of our race, come hither to slay thee, the slaughterer of our relatives. Thou thinkest that there is no man among the Kshatriyas (equal to thee). This, O king, is a great error of judgment on thy part. What Kshatriya is there, O king, who endued with greatness of soul and recollecting the dignity of his own parentage, would not ascend to eternal heaven that hath not its like anywhere, falling in open fight? Know O bull among men, that Kshatriyas engage themselves in battle, as persons installed in sacrifices, with heaven in view, and vanquish the whole world! Study of the Vedas, great fame, ascetic penances, and death in battle, are all acts that lead to heaven. The attainment of heaven by the three other acts may be uncertain, but death in battle hath that for its certain consequence. Death in battle is the sure cause of triumph like Indra's. It is graced by numerous merits. It is for this reason that he of a hundred sacrifices (Indra) hath become what he is, and by vanquishing the Asuras he ruleth the universe. Hostility with whom else than thee is so sure of leading to heaven, proud as thou art of the excessive strength of thy vast Magadha host? Don't disregard others, O king. Valour dwelleth in every man. O king of men, there are many men whose valour may be equal or superior to thine. As long as these are not known, so long only art thou noted for thy valour. Thy prowess, O king, can be borne by us. It is, therefore, that I say so. O king of Magadha, cast off thy superiority and pride in the presence of those that are thy equals. Go not, O king, with thy children and ministers and army, into the regions of Yama. Damvodhava, Kartavirya, Uttara, and Vrihadratha, were kings that met with destruction, along with all their forces, for having disregarded their superiors. Desirous of liberating the captive monarchs
from thee, know that we are certainly not Brahmanas. I am Hrishesha otherwise called Sauri, and these two heroes among men are the sons of Pandu. O king of Magadha, we challenge thee. Fight standing before us. Either set free all the monarchs, or go thou to the abode of Yama.
"Jarasandha said,--'I never make a captive of a king without first vanquishing him. Who hath been kept here that hath not been defeated in war? This, O Krishna, it hath been said, is the duty that should be followed by the Kshatriyas, viz., to bring others under sway by the exhibition of prowess and then to treat them as slaves. Having gathered these monarchs with the intention of offering them as sacrifices unto the god, how shall I, O Krishna, from fear liberate them to-day, when I recollect also the duty I have recited of a Kshatriya? With troops against troops arrayed in order of battle, or alone against one, or against two, or against three, at the same time or separately, I am ready to fight.'"
Vaisampayana said,--"Having spoken thus, and desiring to fight with those heroes of terrible achievements, king Jarasandha ordered (his son) Sahadeva to be installed on the throne. Then, O bull of the Bharata race, the king, on the eve of battle, thought of his two generals Kausika and Chitrasena. These two, O king, were formerly called by everybody in the world of men by the respectful appellations of Hansa and Dimvaka. And, O monarch, that tiger among men, the lord Sauri ever devoted to truth, the slayer of Madhu, the younger brother of Haladhara, the foremost of all persons having their senses under complete control, keeping in view the command of Brahma and remembering that the ruler of Magadha was destined to be slain in battle by Bhima and not by the descendant of Madhu (Yadavas), desired not to slay himself king Jarasandha, that foremost of all men endued with strength, that hero possessed of the prowess of a tiger, that warrior of terrible valour."
Next: Section XXIII