The Mahabharata Home
"Vidura said, 'We have heard, O sire, from old men, that once on a time a fowler spread his net on the ground for catching feathery denizens of the air. And in that net were ensnared at the same time two birds that lived together. And taking the net up, the two winged creatures soared together into the air. And seeing them soar into the sky, the fowler, without giving way to despair, began to follow them in the direction they flew, Just then, an ascetic living in a hermitage (close by), who had finished his morning prayers, saw the fowler running in that manner hoping still to secure the feathery creatures. And seeing that tenant of the earth quickly pursuing those tenants of the air, the ascetic, O Kaurava, addressed him in this Sloka,--O fowler, it appears very strange and wonderful to me that thou, that art a treader of the earth, pursuest yet a couple of creatures that are tenants of the air. The fowler said, 'These two, united together, are taking away my snare. There, however, where they will quarrel they will come under my control.'
"Vidura continued, 'The two birds, doomed to death, soon after quarrelled. And when the foolish pair quarrelled, they both fell on the earth. And when, ensnared in the meshes of death, they began to contend angrily against each other, the fowler approached unperceived and sized them both. Even thus those kinsmen who fall out with one another for the sake of wealth fall into the hands of the enemy like the birds I have cited, in consequence of their quarrel. Eating together, talking together,--these are the duties of kinsmen, and not contention under any circumstances. Those kinsmen, that with loving hearts wait on the old, become unconquerable like a forest guarded by lions. While those, O bull of the Bharata race, that having won enormous riches nevertheless, behave like
mean-minded men, always contribute to the prosperity of their foes. Kinsmen, O Dhritarashtra, O bull of the Bharata race, are like charred brands, which blaze up when united but only smoke when disunited. I will now tell thee something else that I saw on a mountain-breast. Having listened to that also, do, O Kaurava, what is for thy best. Once on a time we repaired to the northern mountain, accompanied by some hunters and a number of Brahmanas, fond of discoursing on charms and medicinal plants. That northern mountain, Gandhamadana, looked like a grove. As its breast was overgrown on all sides with trees and diverse kinds of luminous medicinal herbs, it was inhabited by Siddhas and Gandharvas. And there we all saw a quantity of honey, of a bright yellow colour and of the measure of a jar, placed on an inaccessible precipice of the mountain. That honey, which was Kuvera's favourite drink, was guarded by snakes of virulent poison. And it was such that a mortal, drinking of it would win immortality, a sightless man obtain sight, and an old man would become a youth. It was that those Brahmanas conversant with sorcery spoke about that honey. And the hunters' seeing that honey, desired, O king, to obtain it. And they all perished in that inaccessible mountain-cave abounding with snakes. In the same way, this thy son desireth to enjoy the whole earth without a rival. He beholdeth the honey, but seeth not, from folly, the terrible fall. It is true, Duryodhana desireth an encounter in battle with Savyasachin, but I do not see that energy or prowess in him which may carry him safe through it. On a single car Arjuna conquered the whole earth. At the head of their hosts Bhishma and Drona and others were frightened by Arjuna and utterly routed at the city of Virata. Remember what took place on that occasion. He forgiveth still, looking up to thy face and waiting to know what thou wouldst do. Drupada, and the king of Matsyas, and Dhananjaya, when angry, will, like flames of fire urged by the wind, leave no remnant (of thy army). O Dhritarashtra, take king Yudhishthira on thy lap since both parties can, under no circumstances, have victory when thy will be engaged in battle.'"
Next: Section LXV