The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'O Pandava, the world hath heard thy conduct being righteous. I see it also to be so, O son of Pritha. Life is transient, that may end in great infamy; considering this, thou shouldst not perish. O Ajatasatru, if without war, the Kurus will not yield thy share, I think, it is far better for thee to live upon alms in the kingdom of the Andhakas and the Vrishnis than obtain sovereignty by war. Since this mortal existence is for only a short period, and greatly liable to blame, subject to constant suffering, and unstable, and since it is never comparable to a good name, therefore, O Pandava, never perpetrate a sin. It is the desires, O ruler of men, which adhere to mortal men and are an obstruction to a virtuous life. Therefore, a wise man should beforehand kill them all and thereby gain a stainless fame in the world, O son of Pritha. The thirst after wealth is but like fetter in this world; the virtue of those that seek it is sure to suffer. He is wise who seeketh virtue alone; desires being increased, a man must suffer in his temporal concerns, O sire. Placing virtue before all other concerns of life, a man shineth like the sun when its splendour is great. A man devoid of virtue, and of vicious soul, is overtaken by ruin, although he may obtain the whole of this earth. Thou hast studied the Vedas, lived the life of a saintly Brahman, hast performed sacrificial rites, made charities to Brahmanas. Even remembering the highest position (attainable by beings), thou hast also devoted thy soul for years and years to the pursuit of pleasure. He who, devoting himself excessively to the pleasures and joys of life, never employeth himself in the practice of religious meditation, must be exceedingly miserable. His joys forsake him after his wealth is gone and his strong instincts goad him on towards his wonted pursuit of pleasure. Similarly, he who, never having lived a continent life, forsaketh the path of virtue and commiteth sin, hath no faith in existence of a world to come. Dull as he is after death he hath torment (for his lot). In the world to come, whether one's deeds be good or evil these deeds are in no case, annihilated. Deeds, good and evil, precede the agent (in his journey to the world to come); the agent is sure to follow in their path. Your work (in this life) is celebrated by all as comparable to that food, savoury and dainty, which is proper to be offered with reverence to the Brahmanas--the food which is offered in religious ceremonies with large donations (to the officiating priests). All acts are done, so long as this body lasts, O son of Pritha. After death there is nothing to be done. And thou hast done mighty deeds that will do good to thee in the world to come, and they are admired by righteous men. There (in the next world) one is free from death and decrepitude and fear, and from hunger and thirst, and from all that is disagreeable to the mind; there is nothing to be done in that place, unless it be to delight one's senses. Of this kind, O ruler of men, is the result of our deeds. Therefore, do not
from desire act any longer in this world. Do not, O Pandu's son, betake to action in this world and thereby thus take leave of truth and sobriety and candour and humanity. Thou mayst perform the Rajasuya and the Aswamedha sacrifices, but do not even come near an action which in itself is sin! If after such a length of time, ye sons of Pritha, you now give way to hate, and commit the sinful deed, in vain, for virtue's sake, did ye dwell for years and years in the woods in such misery! It was in vain that you went to exile, after parting with all your army; for this army was entirely in your control then. And these persons who are now assisting you, have been always obedient to you,--this Krishna, and Satyaki, and Virata of the golden car, of Matsya land, with his son at the head of martial warriors. All the kings, formerly vanquished by you would have espoused your cause at first. Possessed of mighty resources, dreaded by all, having an army, and followed behind by Krishna and Arjuna, you might have slain your foremost of foes on the field of battle. You might have (then) brought low Duryodhana's pride. O Pandava, why have you allowed your foes to grow so powerful? Why have you weakened your friends? Why have you sojourned in the woods for years and years? Why are you now desirous of fighting, having let the proper opportunity slip? An unwise or an unrighteous man may win prosperity by means of fighting; but a wise and a righteous man, were he free from pride to betake to fight (against better instinct), doth only fall away from a prosperous path. O Pritha's son, your understanding inclines not to an unrighteous course. From wrath you ever committed a sinful act. Then what is the cause, and what is the reason, for which you are now intent to do this deed, against the dictates of wisdom? Wrath, O mighty king, is a bitter drug, though it has nothing to do with disease; it brings on a disease of the head, robs one of his fair fame, and leads to sinful acts. It is drunk up (controlled) by those that are righteous and not by those that are unrighteous. I ask you to swallow it and to desist from war. Who would incline himself to wrath which leads to sin? Forbearance would be more beneficial to you than love of enjoyments where Bhishma would be slain, and Drona with his son, and Kripa, and Somadatta's son, and Vikarna and Vivingsati, and Karna and Duryodhana. Having slain all these, what bliss may that be, O Pritha's son, which you will get? Tell me that! Even having won the entire sea-girt earth, you will never be free from decrepitude and death, pleasure and pain, bliss and misery. Knowing all this, do not be engaged in war. If you are desirous of taking this course, because your counsellors desire the same, then give up (everything) to them, and run away. You should not fall away from this path which leads to the region of the gods!'"
Next: Section XXVIII