The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Having despatched the priest to the city called after the elephant they sent messengers to the kings of various countries. And having sent messengers to other places, the Kuru hero Dhananjaya, that bull among men and son of Kunti, himself set out for Dwaraka. And after Krishna and Valadeva, the descendants of Madhu, had both departed for Dwaraka with all the Vrishnis, the Andhakas and the Bhojas, by hundreds, the royal son of Dhritarashtra had, by sending secret emissaries, furnished himself with information of all the doings of
the Pandavas. And learning that Krishna was on his way, the prince went to the city of Dwaraka by means of fine horses possessing the speed of the wind, and taking with him a small number of troops. And on that very day the son of Kunti and Pandu, Dhananjaya, also speedily arrived at the beautiful city of the Anarta land. And the two scions of the Kuru race, those tigers among men, on arriving there saw that Krishna was asleep, and drew near him as he lay down. And as Krishna was sleeping, Duryodhana entered the room, and sat down on a fine seat at the head of the bed. And after him entered that wearer of the diadem the magnanimous Arjuna. And stood at the back of the bed, bowing and joining his hands. And when the descendant of Vrishni, Krishna awoke, he first cast his eyes on Arjuna. And having asked them as to the safety of their journey, and having fitly bestowed his greetings upon them, the slayer of Madhu questioned them as to the occasion of their visit. Then Duryodhana addressed Krishna, with a cheerful countenance, saying, It behoveth you to lend me your help in the impending war. Arjuna and myself are both equally your friends. And, O descendant of Madhu, you also bear the same relationship to both of us. And today, O slayer of Madhu, I have been the first to come to you. Right-minded persons take up the cause of him who comes first to them. This is how the ancients acted. And, O Krishna, you stand at the very top of all right-minded persons in the world, and are always respected. I ask you to follow the rule of conduct observed by rightminded men.' Thereat Krishna replied, 'That you have come first, O king, I do not in the least doubt. But, O king, the son of Kunti, Dhananjaya, has been first beheld by me. On account of your first arrival, and on account of my having beheld Arjuna first, I shall, no doubt, lend my assistance, O Suyodhana, to both. But it is said that those who are junior in years should have the first choice. Therefore, Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, is entitled to first choice. There is a large body of cowherds numbering ten crores, rivalling me in strength and known as the Narayanas, all of whom are able to fight in the thick of battle. These soldiers, irresistible in battle, shall be sent to one of you and I alone, resolved not to fight on the field, and laying down my arms, will go to the other. You may, O son of Kunti, first select whichever of these two commends itself to you. For, according to law, you have the right to the first choice.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Krishna, Dhananjaya the son of Kunti selected Kesava who was not to fight on the battle-field, even Narayana himself, the slayer of foes, increate, born among men at his own will,--the foremost of all Kshatriyas and above all the gods and the Danavas. And Duryodhana selected for himself that entire army (composed of the Narayanas). And, O descendant of Bharata, having obtained those troops numbering thousands upon thousands, he was exceedingly delighted, although he knew that Krishna was not on his side. And having secured that army possessed of terrible prowess,
[paragraph continues] Duryodhana went to the son of Rohini of great strength, and explained to him, the object of his visit. The descendant of Sura in reply addressed the following words to Dhritarashtra's son, 'Thou shouldst remember, O tiger among men, all that I said at the marriage ceremony celebrated by Vitrata. O thou delighter of the race of Kuru, for thy sake I then contradicted Krishna and spoke against his opinions. And again and again I alluded to the equality of our relationship to both the parties. But Krishna did not adopt the views I then expressed; nor can I separate myself from Krishna for even a single moment. And seeing that I cannot act against Krishna even this is resolution formed by me, viz., that I will fight neither for Kunti's sons nor for you. And, O bull of the Bharatas, born as thou art in Bharata's race that is honoured by all the kings, go and fight in accordance with the rules of propriety.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed, Duryodhana embraced that hero wielding a plough for his weapon of battle, and although knowing that Krishna had been taken away from his side, he yet regarded Arjuna as already vanquished. And the royal son of Dhritarashtra then went to Kritavarman. And Kritavarman gave him a body of troops numbering an Akshauhini. And surrounded by that military host, terrible to behold, the Kaurava marched forth delighting his friends. And after Duryodhana had departed, Krishna, the Creator of the world, clad in yellow attire, addressed Kiritin, saying, 'For what reason is it that you have selected me who will not fight at all?'
"Thereupon Arjuna answered, 'I question not that you are able to slay them all. I also am alone capable of slaying them, O best of men. But you are an illustrious person in the world; and this renown will accompany you. I also am a suitor for fame; therefore, you have been selected by me. It hath been always my desire to have you for driving my car. I, therefore, ask you to fulfil my desire cherished for a long time.'
"Vasudeva's son thereupon said, It beseems thee well, O Kunti's son, that thou measurest thyself with me. I will act as thy charioteer; let thy wish be fulfilled.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then with a glad heart, Kunti's son, accompanied by Krishna as well as by the flower of the Dasarha race, came back to Yudhishthira.'
Next: Section VIII