The Mahabharata Home
'Vaisampayana said, "Hearing these words of Yajnaseni, Bhimasena, sighing in wrath, approached the king and addressed him, saying, 'Walk, O monarch, in the customary path trodden by good men, (before thee) in respect of kingdoms. What do we gain by living in the asylum of ascetics, thus deprived of virtue, pleasure, and profit? It is not by virtue, nor by honesty, nor by might, but by unfair dice, that our kingdom hath been snatched by Duryodhana. Like a weak offal-eating jackal snatching the prey from mighty lions, he hath snatched away our kingdom. Why, O monarch, in obedience to the trite merit of sticking to a promise, dost thou suffer such distress, abandoning that wealth which is the source of both virtue and enjoyments? It was for thy carelessness, O king, that our kingdom protected by the wielder of the Gandiva and therefore, incapable of being wrested by Indra himself, was snatched from us in our very sight. It was for thee, O monarch, that, ourselves living, our prosperity was snatched away from us like a fruit from one unable to use his arms,
or like kine from one incapable of using his legs. Thou art faithful in the acquisition of virtue. It was to please thee, O Bharata, that we have suffered ourselves to be overwhelmed with such dire calamity. O bull of the Bharata race, it was because we were subject to thy control that we are thus tearing the hearts of our friends and gratifying our foes. That we did not, in obedience to thee, even then slay the sons of Dhritarashtra, is an act of folly on our part that grieveth me sorely. This thy abode, O king, in the woods, like that of any wild animal, is what a man of weakness alone would submit to. Surely, no man of might would ever lead such a life. This thy course of life is approved neither by Krishna, nor Vibhatsu, nor by Abhimanyu, nor by the Srinjayas, nor by myself, nor by the sons of Madri. Afflicted with the vows, thy cry is Religion! Religion! Hast thou from despair been deprived of thy manliness? Cowards alone, unable to win back their prosperity, cherish despair, which is fruitless and destructive of one's purposes. Thou hast ability and eyes. Thou seest that manliness dwelleth in us. It is because thou hast adopted a life of peace that thou feelest not this distress. These Dhritarashtras regard us who are forgiving, as really incompetent. This, O king, grieveth me more than death in battle. If we all die in fair fight without turning our backs on the foe, even that would be better than this exile, for then we should obtain regions of bliss in the other world. Or, if, O bull of the Bharata race, having slain them all, we acquire the entire earth, that would be prosperity worth the trial. We who ever adhere to the customs of our order, who ever desire grand achievements, who wish to avenge our wrongs, have this for our bounden duty. Our kingdom wrested from us, if we engage in battle, our deeds when known to the world will procure for us fame and not slander. And that virtue, O king, which tortureth one's own self and friends, is really no virtue. It is rather vice, producing calamities. Virtue is sometimes also the weakness of men. And though such a man might ever be engaged in the practice of virtue, yet both virtue and profit forsake him, like pleasure and pain forsaking a person that is dead. He that practiseth virtue for virtue's sake always suffereth. He can scarcely be called a wise man, for he knoweth not the purposes of virtue like a blind man incapable of perceiving the solar light. He that regardeth his wealth to exist for himself alone, scarcely understandeth the purposes of wealth. He is really like a servant that tendeth kine in a forest. He again that pursueth wealth too much without pursuing virtue and enjoyments, deserveth to be censured and slain by all men. He also that ever pursueth enjoyments without pursuing virtue and wealth, loseth his friends and virtue and wealth also. Destitute of virtue and wealth such a man, indulging in pleasure at will, at the expiration of his period of indulgence, meeteth with certain death, like a fish when the water in which it liveth hath been dried up. It is for these reasons that they that are wise are ever careful of both virtue and wealth, for a
union of virtue and wealth is the essential requisite of pleasure, as fuel is the essential requisite of fire. Pleasure hath always virtue for its root, and virtue also is united with pleasure. Know, O monarch, that both are dependent on each other like the ocean and the clouds, the ocean causing the clouds and the clouds filling the ocean. The joy that one feeleth in consequence of contact with objects of touch or of possession of wealth, is what is called pleasure. It existeth in the mind, having no corporeal existence that one can see. He that wisheth (to obtain) wealth, seeketh for a large share of virtue to crown his wish with success. He that wisheth for pleasure, seeketh wealth, (so that his wish may be realised). Pleasure however, yieldeth nothing in its turn. One pleasure cannot lead to another, being its own fruit, as ashes may be had from wood, but nothing from those ashes in their turn. And, O king, as a fowler killeth the birds we see, so doth sin slay the creatures of the world. He, therefore, who misled by pleasure or covetousness, beholdeth not the nature of virtue, deserveth to be slain by all, and becometh wretched both here and here-after. It is evident, O king, that thou knowest that pleasure may be derived from the possession of various objects of enjoyment. Thou also well knowest their ordinary states, as well as the great changes they undergo. At their loss or disappearance occasioned by decrepitude or death, ariseth what is called distress. That distress, O king, hath now overtaken us. The joy that ariseth from the five senses, the intellect and the heart, being directed to the objects proper to each, is called pleasure. That pleasure, O king, is, as I think, one of the best fruits of our actions.
"Thus, O monarch, one should regard virtue, wealth and pleasure one after another. One should not devote one self to virtue alone, nor regard wealth as the highest object of one's wishes, nor pleasure, but should ever pursue all three. The scriptures ordain that one should seek virtue in the morning, wealth at noon, and pleasure in the evening. The scriptures also ordain that one should seek pleasure in the first portion of life, wealth in the second, and virtue in the last. And, O thou foremost of speakers, they that are wise and fully conversant with proper division of time, pursue all three, virtue, wealth, and pleasure, dividing their time duly. O son of the Kuru race, whether independence of these (three), or their possession is the better for those that desire happiness, should be settled by thee after careful thought. And thou shouldst then, O king, unhesitatingly act either for acquiring them, or abandoning them all. For he who liveth wavering between the two doubtingly, leadeth a wretched life. It is well known that thy behaviour is ever regulated by virtue. Knowing this thy friends counsel thee to act. Gift, sacrifice, respect for the wise, study of the Vedas, and honesty, these, O king, constitute the highest virtue and are efficacious both here and hereafter. These virtues, however, cannot be attained by one that hath no wealth, even if, O tiger among men, he may have infinite other accomplishments. The whole
universe, O king, dependeth upon virtue. There is nothing higher than virtue. And virtue, O king, is attainable by one that hath plenty of wealth. Wealth cannot be earned by leading a mendicant life, nor by a life of feebleness. Wealth, however, can be earned by intelligence directed by virtue. In thy case, O king, begging, which is successful with Brahmanas, hath been forbidden. Therefore, O bull amongst men, strive for the acquisition of wealth by exerting thy might and energy. Neither mendicancy, nor the life of a Sudra is what is proper for thee. Might and energy constitute the virtue of the Kshatriya in especial. Adopt thou, therefore, the virtue of thy order and slay the enemies. Destroy the might of Dhritarashtra's sons, O son of Pritha, with my and Arjuna's aid. They that are learned and wise say that sovereignty is virtue. Acquire sovereignty, therefore, for it behoveth thee not to live in a state of inferiority. Awake, O king, and understand the eternal virtues (of the order). By birth thou belongest to an order whose deeds are cruel and are a source of pain to man. Cherish thy subjects and reap the fruit thereof. That can never be a reproach. Even this, O king, is the virtue ordained by God himself for the order to which thou belongest! If thou tallest away therefrom, thou wilt make thyself ridiculous. Deviation from the virtues of one's own order is never applauded. Therefore, O thou of the Kuru race, making thy heart what it ought to be, agreeably to the order to which thou belongest, and casting away this course of feebleness, summon thy energy and bear thy weight like one that beareth it manfully. No king, O monarch, could ever acquire the sovereignty of the earth or prosperity or affluence by means of virtue alone. Like a fowler earning his food in the shape of swarms of little easily-tempted game, by offering them some attractive food, doth one that is intelligent acquire a kingdom, by offering bribes unto low and covetous enemies. Behold, O bull among kings, the Asuras, though elder brothers in possession of power and affluence, were all vanquished by the gods through stratagem. Thus, O king, everything belongeth to those that are mighty. And, O mighty-armed one, slay thy foes, having recourse to stratagem. There is none equal unto Arjuna in wielding the bow in battle. Nor is there anybody that may be equal unto me in wielding the mace. Strong men, O monarch, engage in battle depending on their might, and not on the force of numbers nor on information of the enemy's plans procured through spies. Therefore, O son of Pandu exert thy might. Might is the root of wealth. Whatever else is said to be its root is really not such. As the shade of the tree in winter goeth for nothing, so without might everything else becometh fruitless. Wealth should be spent by one who wisheth to increase his wealth, after the manner, O son of Kunti, of scattering seeds on the ground. Let there be no doubt then in thy mind. Where, however, wealth that is more or even equal is not to be gained, there should be no expenditure of wealth. For investment of wealth are like
the ass, scratching, pleasurable at first but painful afterwards. Thus, O king of men, the person who throweth away like seeds a little of his virtue in order to gain a larger measure of virtue, is regarded as wise. Beyond doubt, it is as I say. They that are wise alienate the friends of the foe that owneth such, and having weakened him by causing those friends to abandon him thus, they then reduce him to subjection. Even they that are strong, engage in battle depending on their courage. One cannot by even continued efforts (uninspired by courage) or by the arts of conciliation, always conquer a kingdom. Sometimes, O king, men that are weak, uniting in large numbers, slay even a powerful foe, like bees killing the despoiler of the honey by force of numbers alone. (As regards thyself), O king, like the sun that sustaineth as well as slayeth creatures by his rays, adopt thou the ways of the sun. To protect one's kingdom and cherish the people duly, as done by our ancestors, O king, is, it hath been heard by us, a kind of asceticism mentioned even in the Vedas. By ascetism, O king, a Kshatriya cannot acquire such regions of blessedness as he can by fair fight whether ending in victory or defeat. Beholding, O king, this thy distress, the world hath come to the conclusion that light may forsake the Sun and grace the Moon. And, O king, good men separately as well as assembling together, converse with one another, applauding thee and blaming the other. There is this, moreover, O monarch, viz., that both the Kurus and the Brahmanas, assembling together, gladly speak of thy firm adherence to truth, in that thou hast never, from ignorance, from meanness, from covetousness, or from fear, uttered an untruth. Whatever sin, O monarch, a king committeth in acquiring dominion, he consumeth it all afterwards by means of sacrifices distinguished by large gifts. Like the Moon emerging from the clouds, the king is purified from all sins by bestowing villages on Brahmanas and kine by thousands. Almost all the citizens as well as the inhabitants of the country, young or old, O son of the Kuru race, praise thee, O Yudhishthira! This also, O Bharata, the people are saying amongst themselves, viz., that as milk in a bag of dog's hide, as the Vedas in a Sudra, as truth in a robber, as strength in a woman, so is sovereignty in Duryodhana. Even women and children are repeating this, as if it were a lesson they seek to commit to memory. O represser of foes, thou hast fallen into this state along with ourselves. Alas, we also are lost with thee for this calamity of thine. Therefore, ascending in thy car furnished with every implement, and making the superior Brahmanas utter benedictions on thee, march thou with speed, even this very day, upon Hastinapura, in order that thou mayst be able to give unto Brahmanas the spoils of victory. Surrounded by thy brothers, who are firm wielders of the bow, and by heroes skilled in weapons and like unto snakes of virulent poison, set thou out even like the slayer Vritra surounded by the Marutas. And, O son of Kunti, as thou art powerful, grind thou with thy might thy
weak enemies, like Indra grinding the Asuras; and snatch thou from Dhritarashtra's son the prosperity he enjoyeth. There is no mortal that can bear the touch of the shafts furnished with the feathers of the vulture and resembling snakes of virulent poison, that would be shot from the Gandiva. And, O Bharata, there is not a warrior, nor an elephant, nor a horse, that is able to bear the impetus of my mace when I am angry in battle. Why, O son of Kunti, should we not wrest our kingdom from the foe, fighting with the aid of the Srinjayas and Kaikeyas, and the bull of the Vrishni race? Why, O king, should we not succeed in wresting the (sovereignty of the) earth that is now in the hands of the foe, if, aided by a large force, we do but strive?"
Next: Section XXXIV