The Mahabharata Home
"Krishna said, 'I desire, O Sanjaya, that the sons of Pandu may not be ruined; that they may prosper, and attain their wishes. Similarly, I pray for the prosperity of king Dhritarashtra whose sons are many. For evermore, O Sanjaya, my desire hath been that I should tell them nothing else than that peace would be acceptable to king Dhritarashtra. I also deem it proper for the sons of Pandu. A peaceful disposition of an exceedingly rare character hath been displayed by Pandu's son in this matter. When Dhritarashtra and his sons, however, are so covetous, I do not see why hostility should not run high? Thou canst not pretend, O Sanjaya, to be more versed than I am or Yudhishthira. is, in the niceties of right and wrong. Then why dost thou speak words of reproach with reference to the conduct of Yudhishthira who is enterprising, mindful of his own duty, and thoughtful, from the very beginning, of the welfare of his family, agreeably to the injunctions (of treatises of morality)? With regard to the topic at hand, the Brahmanas have held opinions of various kinds. Some say that success in the world to come depends upon work. Some declare that action should be shunned and that salvation is attainable by knowledge. The Brahmanas say--that though one may have a knowledge of eatable things, yet his hunger will not be appeased unless he actually eats. Those branches of knowledge that help the doing of work, bear fruit, but not other kinds, for the fruit of work is of ocular demonstration. A thirsty person drinks water, and by that act his thirst is allayed. This result proceeds, no doubt, from work. Therein lies the efficacy of work. If anyone thinks that something else is better than work, I deem, his work and his words are meaningless. In the other world, it is by virtue of work that the gods flourish. It is by work that the wind blows. It is by virtue of work that the sleepless Surya rises every day and becomes the cause of day and
night, and Soma passes through the months and the fortnights and the combinations of constellations. Fire is kindled of itself and burns by virtue of work, doing good to mankind. The sleepless goddess Earth, sustains by force this very great burden. The sleepless rivers, giving satisfaction to all (organised) beings, carry their waters with speed. The sleepless Indra, possessed of a mighty force, pours down rain, resounding the heaven and the cardinal points. Desirous of being the greatest of the gods, he led a life of austerities such as a holy Brahmana leads. Indra gave up pleasure, and all things agreeable to the heart. He sedulously cherished virtue and truth and self-control, and forbearance, and impartiality, and humanity. It was by work that he attained a position the highest (of all). Following the above course of life, Indra attained the high sovereignty over the gods. Vrihaspati, intently and with self-control, led in a proper manner that life of austerities which a Brahmana leads. He gave up pleasure and controlled his senses and thereby attained the position of the preceptor of the celestials. Similarly, the constellations in the other world, by virtue of work, and the Rudras, the Adityas, the Vasus, king Yama, and Kuvera, and the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the celestial nymphs, all attained their present position by work. In the other world, the saints shine, following a life of study, austerity and work (combined). Knowing, O Sanjaya, that this is the rule followed by the best of Brahmanas, and Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and thou being one of the wisest men,--why art thou making this endeavour on behalf of those sons of Kurus? Thou must know that Yudhishthira is constantly engaged in the study of the Vedas. He is inclined to the horse-sacrifice and the Rajasuya. Again, he rides horses and elephants, is arrayed in armour, mounts a car, and takes up the bow and all kinds of weapons. Now, if the sons of Pritha can see a course of action not involving the slaughter of the sons of Kuru, they would adopt it. Their virtue would then be saved, and an act of religious merit also would be achieved by them, even if they would have then to force Bhima to follow a conduct marked by humanity. On the other hand, if in doing what their forefathers did, they should meet with death under inevitable destiny, then in trying their utmost to discharge their duty, such death would even be worthy of praise. Supposing thou approvest of peace alone I should like to hear what thou mayst have to say to this question,--which way doth the injunction of religious law lie, viz., whether it is proper for the king to fight or not?--Thou must, O Sanjaya, take into thy consideration the division of the four castes, and the scheme of respective duties allotted to each. Thou must hear that course of action the Pandavas are going to adopt. Then mayst thou praise or censure, just as it may please thee. A Brahmana should study, offer sacrifices, make charities, and sojourn to the best of all holy places on the earth; he should teach, minister as a priest in sacrifices offered by others worthy of such help, and accept gifts from persons who are known. Similarly, a Kshatriya should protect the people in accordance
with the injunctions of the law, diligently practise the virtue of charity, offer sacrifices, study the whole Veda, take a wife, and lead a virtuous householder's life. If he be possessed of a virtuous soul, and if he practise the holy virtues, he may easily attain the religion of the Supreme Being. A Vaisya should study and diligently earn and accumulate wealth by means of commerce, agriculture, and the tending of cattle. He should so act as to please the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas, be virtuous, do good works, and be a householder. The following are the duties declared for a Sudra from the olden times. He should serve the Brahmanas and submit to them; should not study; sacrifices are forbidden to him; he should be diligent and be constantly enterprising in doing all that is for his good. The king protects all these with (proper) care, and sets all the castes to perform their respective duties. He should not be given to sensual enjoyments. He should be impartial, and treat all his subjects on an equal footing. The King should never obey the dictates of such desires as are opposed to righteousness. If there be any body who is more praise-worthy than he, who is well-known and gifted with all the virtues, the king should instruct his subjects to see him. A bad (king), however, would not understand this. Growing strong, and inhuman and becoming a mark for destiny's wrath, he would cast covetous eye on the riches of others. Then comes war, for which purpose came into being weapons, and armour, and bows. Indra invented these contrivances, for putting the plunderers to death. He also contrived armours, and weapons, and bows. Religious merit is acquired by putting the robbers to death. Many awful evils have manifested themselves on account of the Kurus having been unrighteous, and unmindful of law and religion. This is not right, O Sanjaya. Now, king Dhritarashtra with his sons, hath unreasonably seized what lawfully belonged to Pandu's son. He minds not the immemorial law observable by kings. All the Kurus are following in the wake. A thief who steals wealth unseen and one who forcibly seizes the same, in open day-light, are both to be condemned, O Sanjaya. What is the difference between them and Dhritarashtra's sons? From avarice he regards that to be righteous which he intends to do, following the dictates of his wrath. The shares of the Pandavas is, no doubt, fixed. Why should that share of theirs be seized by that fool? This being the state of things, it would be praiseworthy for us to be even killed in fight. A paternal kingdom is preferable to sovereignty received from a stranger. These time-honoured rules of law, O Sanjaya, thou must propound to the Kurus, in the midst of the assembled kings,--I mean those dull-headed fools who have been assembled together by Dhritarashtra's son, and who are already under the clutches of death. Look once more at that vilest of all their acts,--the conduct of the Kurus in the council-hall. That those Kurus, at whose head stood Bhishma did not interfere when the beloved wife of the sons of Pandu, daughter of Drupada, of fare fame, pure life, and conduct worthy of praise, was seized, while weeping, by that slave of
lust. The Kurus all, including young and old, were present there. If they had then prevented that indignity offered to her, then I should have been pleased with Dhritarashtra's behaviour. It would have been for the final good of his sons also. Dussasana forcibly took Krishna into the midst of the public hall wherein were seated her fathers-in-law. Carried there, expecting sympathy, she found none to take her part, except Vidura. The kings uttered not a word of protest, solely because they were a set of imbeciles. Vidura alone spoke words of opposition, from a sense of duty,--words conceived in righteousness addressed to that man (Duryodhana) of little sense. Thou didst not, O Sanjaya, then say what law and morality were, but now thou comest to instruct the son of Pandu! Krishna, however, having repaired to the hall at that time made everything right, for like a vessel in the sea, she rescued the Pandavas as also herself, from that gathering ocean (of misfortunes)! Then in that hall, while Krishna stood, the charioteer's son addressed her in the presence of her fathers-in-law saying, 'O Daughter of Drupada thou hast no refuge. Better betake thyself as a bond-woman to the house of Dhritarashtra's son. Thy husbands, being defeated, no longer exist. Thou hast a loving soul, choose some one else for thy lord.' This speech, proceeding from Karna, was a wordy arrow, sharp, cutting all hopes, hitting the tenderest parts of the organisation, and frightful. It buried itself deep in Arjuna's heart. When the sons of Pandu were about to adopt the garments made of the skins of black deer, Dussasana spoke the following pungent words, 'These all are mean eunuchs, ruined, and damned for a lengthened time.' And Sakuni, the king of the Gandhara land, spoke to Yudhishthira at the time of the game of dice the following words by way of a wily trick, 'Nakula hath been won by me from you, what else have you got? Now you should better stake your wife Draupadi'. You know, O Sanjaya, all these words of an approbrious kind which were spoken at the time of the game of dice. I desire to go personally to the Kurus, in order to settle this difficult matter. If without injury to the Pandava cause I succeed in bringing about this peace with the Kurus, an act of religious merit, resulting in very great blessings, will then have been done by me; and the Kurus also will have been extricated from the meshes of death. I hope that when I shall speak to the Kurus words of wisdom, resting on rules of righteousness, words fraught with sense and free from all tendency to inhumanity, Dhritarashtra's son will, in my presence, pay heed to them. I hope that when I arrive, the Kurus will pay me due respect. Else thou mayst rest assured that those vicious sons of Dhritarashtra, already scorched by their own vicious acts, will be burnt up by Arjuna and Bhima ready for battle. When Pandu's sons were defeated (at the play), Dhritarashtra's sons spoke to them words that were harsh and rude. But when the time will come, Bhima will, no doubt, take care to remind Duryodhana of those words. Duryodhana is a big tree of evil passions; Karna is its trunk; Sakuni is its branches; Dussasana forms its abundant blossoms
and fruits; (while) the wise king Dhritarashtra is its toots. Yudhishthira is a big tree of righteousness; Arjuna is its trunk; and Bhima is its branches; the sons of Madri are its abundant flowers and fruits; and its roots are myself and religion and religious men. King Dhritarashtra with his sons constitutes a forest, while, O Sanjaya, the sons of Pandu are its tigers. Do not, oh, cut down the forest with its tigers, and let not the tigers be driven away from the forest. The tiger, out of the woods, is easily slain; the wood also, that is without a tiger, is easily cut down. Therefore, it is the tiger that protects the forest and the forest that shelters the tiger. The Dhritarashtras are as creepers, while, O Sanjaya, the Pandavas are Sala trees. A creeper can never flourish unless it hath a large tree to twine round. The sons of Pritha are ready to wait upon Dhritarashtra as, indeed, those repressors of foes are ready for war. Let king Dhritarashtra now do what may be proper for him to do. The virtuous and the high-souled sons of Pandu, though competent to be engaged in fight, are yet now in place (with their cousins). O learned man, represent all this truly (to Dhritarashtra).'"
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