The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then Saradwata's son, Kripa said, 'What the aged Bhishma hath said concerning the Pandavas is reasonable, suited to the occasion, consistent with virtue and profit, agreeable to the ear, fraught with sound reason, and worthy of him. Listen also to what I would say on this subject. It behoveth thee to ascertain the track they have followed and their abode also by means of spies, 1 and to adopt that policy which may bring about thy welfare. O child, he that is solicitous of his welfare should not disregard even an ordinary foe. What shall I say, then, O child, of the Pandavas who are thorough masters of all weapons in battle. When, therefore, the time cometh for the reappearance of the high-souled Pandavas, who, having entered the forest, 2 are now passing their days in close disguise, thou shouldst ascertain thy strength both in thy own kingdom and in those of other kings. Without doubt, the return of the Pandavas is at hand. When their promised term of exile is over, the illustrious and mighty sons of Pritha, endued with immeasurable prowess, will come hither bursting with energy. Do thou, therefore, in order to conclude an advantageous treaty with them, have recourse to sound policy and address thyself to increase thy forces and improve the treasury. O child, ascertaining all these, reckon thou thy own strength in respect of all thy allies weak and strong. 3 Ascertaining the efficiency, and weakness, and indifference of thy forces, as also who amongst them are well-affected and who are disaffected, we should either fight the foe or make treaty with him. Having recourse to the arts of conciliation, disunion, chastisement, bribery, presents and fair behaviour, attack thy foes and subdue the weak by might, and win over thy allies and troops and by soft speeches. When thou hast (by these means) strengthened thy army and filled thy treasury, entire success will be thine. When thou hast done all this, thou wilt be able to fight with powerful enemies that may present themselves, let alone the sons of Pandu deficient in troops animals of their own. By adopting all these expedients according to the customs of thy order, thou wilt, O foremost of men, attain enduring happiness in due time!'"
53:1 The word tirtha here means, as Nilakantha rightly explains spies and not holy spots.
53:2 Satram is explained by Nilakantha to mean here 'false disguise.' I think, however, such an interpretation to be far-fetched. It evidently means 'forest',--the use of 'pravisteshu' in connection with it almost settles the point.
53:3 This sloka is not correctly printed in any of the texts that I have seen. The reading that I adopt is that the second word is the participle of the root budh and not the instrumental of budhi; the last word again of the second line is a compound of valavatsu and avaleshu instead of (as printed in many books) valavatswavaleshu. Any other reading would certainly be incorrect. I have not consulted the Bombay text.
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