The Mahabharata Home
Bhima said, 'O king, unsubstantial as thou art like froth, unstable like a fruit (falling when ripe), dependent on time, and mortal, having entered into an agreement in respect of time, which is infinite and immeasurable, quick like a shaft or flowing like a stream, and carrying everything before it like death itself, how canst regard it as available by thee? How can he, O son of Kunti, wait whose life is shortened every moment, even like a quantity of collyrium that is lessened each time a grain is taken up by the needle? He only whose life is unlimited or who knoweth with certitude what the period of his life is, and who knoweth the future as if it were before his eyes, can indeed wait for the arrival of (an expected) time. If we wait, O king, for thirteen years, that period, shortening our lives, will bring us nearer to death. Death is sure to overtake every creature having a corporeal existence. Therefore, we should strive for the possession of our kingdom before we die. He that faileth to achieve fame, by failing to chastise his foes, is like an unclean thing. He is a useless burden on the earth like an incapacitated bull and perisheth ingloriously. The man who, destitute of strength, and courage, chastiseth not his foes, liveth in vain, I regard such a one as low-born. Thy hand can rain gold; thy fame spreadeth over the whole earth; slaying thy foes, therefore, in battle, enjoy thou the wealth acquired by the might of thy arms. O repressor of all foes, O king, if a man slaying his injurer, goeth the very day into hell, that hell becometh heaven to him. O king, the pain one feeleth in having to suppress one's wrath is more burning than fire itself. Even now I burn with it and cannot sleep in the day or the night. This son of Pritha, called Vibhatsu, is foremost in drawing the bow-string. He certainly burneth with grief, though he liveth here like a lion in his den. This one that desireth to slay without aid all wielders of the bow on earth, represseth the wrath that riseth in his breast, like a mighty elephant. Nakula, Sahadeva, and old Kunti--that mother of heroes, are all dumb, desiring to please thee. And all our friends along with the Srinjayas equally desire to please thee. I alone, and Prativindhya's mother speak unto thee burning with grief. Whatever I speak unto thee is agreeable to all of them, for all of them plunged in distress, eagerly wish for battle. Then, O monarch, what more wretched a calamity can overtake us that our kingdom should be wrested from us by weak and contemptible foes and enjoyed by them? O king, from the weakness of thy disposition thou feelest shame in violating thy pledge. But, O slayer of foes, no one applaudeth thee for thus suffering such pain in consequence of the kindliness of thy disposition. Thy intellect, O king, seeth not the truth, like that of a foolish and ignorant person of high birth who hath
committed the words of the Vedas to memory without understanding their sense. Thou art kind like a Brahmana. How hast thou been born in the Kshatriya order? They that are born in the Kshatriya order are generally of crooked hearts. Thou hast heard (recited) the duties of kings, as promulgated by Manu, fraught with crookedness and unfairness and precepts opposed to tranquillity and virtue. Why dost thou then, O king, forgive the wicked sons of Dhritarashtra? Thou hast intelligence, prowess, learning and high birth. Why dost thou then, O tiger among men, act in respect of thy duties, like a huge snake that is destitute of motion? O son of Kunti, he that desireth to conceal us, only wisheth to conceal the mountains of Himavat by means of a handful of grass. O son of Pritha, known as thou art over whole earth, thou wilt not be able to live unknown, like the sun that can never course through the sky unknown to men. Like a large tree in a well-watered region with spreading branches and flowers and leaves, or like Indra's elephant, how will Jishnu live unknown? How also will these children, the brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva, equal unto a couple of young lions, both live in secret? How, O son of Pritha, will Krishna--the daughter of Drupada--a princess and mother of heroes, of virtuous deeds and known over all the world, live unknown? Me also, everybody knoweth from my boyhood. I do not see how I can live unknown. As well mighty mountains of Meru be sought to be concealed. Then, again, many kings had been expelled by us from their kingdom. These kings and princes will all follow the bad son of Dhritarashtra, for robbed and exiled by us, they have not still become friendly. Desiring to do good unto Dhritarashtra, they will certainly seek to injure us. They will certainly set against us numerous spies in disguise. If these discover us and report their discovery, a great danger will overtake us. We have already lived in the woods full thirteen months. Regard them, O king, for their length as thirteen years. The wise have said that a month is a substitute for a year, like the pot-herb that is regarded as a substitute for the Soma. Or, (if thou breakest thy pledge), O king, thou mayst free thyself from this sin by offering good savoury food to a quiet bull carrying sacred burdens. Therefore, O king resolve thou to slay thy enemies. There is no virtue higher than fighting, for every Kshatriya!"
Next: Section XXXVI