The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'And after all the kings had been seated and perfect silence had ensued, Krishna possessing fine teeth and having a voice deep as that of the drum, began to speak. And Madhava although he addressed Dhritarashtra, spoke in a voice deep as the roll of clouds in the rainy season, making the whole assembly hear. And he said, 'In order that, O Bharata, peace may be established between the Kurus and the Pandavas without a slaughter of the heroes, I have come hither. Besides this, O king, I have no other beneficial words to utter, O chastiser of foes, everything that should be learnt in this world is already known to thee. This thy race, O king, owing to its learning and behaviour, and owing also to its being adorned with every accomplishment, is most distinguished among all royal dynasties. Joy in the happiness of others, grief at sight of other people's misery, desire to alleviate distress, abstention from injury, sincerity, forgiveness, and truth,--these, O Bharata, prevail amongst the Kurus. Then thy race, therefore, O king, is so noble, it would be a pity if anything improper were done by any one belonging to it, and greater pity still if it were done by thee. O chief of the Kurus, thou art the first of those that should restrain the Kurus if they behave deceitfully towards strangers or those numbering with themselves. Know, O thou of Kuru's race, that those wicked sons of thine, headed by Duryodhana, abandoning both virtue and profit, disregarding morality, and deprived of their senses by avarice, are now acting most unrighteously towards, O bull of men, their foremost of kinsmen. That terrible danger (which threatens all) hath its origin in the conduct of the Kurus. If thou becomest indifferent to it, it will then produce a universal slaughter. If, O Bharata, thou art willing, thou mayest be able to allay that danger even yet, for, O bull of Bharata's race, peace, I think, is not difficult of acquisition. The establishment of peace, O king, depends on thee and myself, O monarch. Set right thy sons, O thou of Kuru's race, and I will set the Pandavas right. Whatever be thy command, O king, it behoveth thy sons with their followers to obey it. If again they live in obedience to thee, that would be the very best they could do. If thou strivest for peace by restraining thy sons, it will be to thy profit, O king, as also to the benefit of the Pandavas. Having reflected carefully, act thou thyself, O king. Let those sons of Bharata (the Pandavas), be, O ruler of men, thy allies. Supported by the Pandavas, O king, seek thou both religion and profit. By every exertion in thy power, thou canst not have, O king, such allies as they who are such. Protected by the illustrious sons of Pandu, Indra himself at the head of the celestials will not be able to vanquish thee. How would it be possible then for mere earthly kings to withstand thy prowess? If with Bhishma, and Drona, and Kripa, and Karna, and Vivingsati, and Aswatthaman, Vikarna, and Somadatta,
and Vahlika and the chief of the Sindhus, and the ruler of the Kalingas, and Sudakshina, the king of the Kamvojas, there were Yudhishthira, and Bhimasena and Savyasachin, and the twins, and if Satyaki of mighty energy, and Yuyutsu, that mighty car warrior, are stationed, who is there, O bull of Bharata's race, of such misdirected intelligence that would fight these? If, O slayer of foes, thou hast both the Kurus and the Pandavas at thy back, the sovereignty of the whole world and invincibility before all foes will be thine. All the rulers of the earth, O monarch, that are either equal to thee or superior, will then seek alliance with thee. Protected on all sides by sons, grandsons, fathers, brothers, and friends, thou wilt then be able to live in exceeding happiness. Keeping these before thee and treating them with kindness as in days of yore, thou, O monarch, wilt enjoy the sovereignty of the whole earth. With these as thy supporters and with the sons of Pandu also, thou wilt, O Bharata, be able to conquer all thy foes. Even this is thy best advantage. If, O chastiser of foes, thou art united with thy sons and kinsmen and counsellors, thou wilt' enjoy sovereignty of the whole earth won for thee by them. In battle, O great king, nothing but wholesale destruction is visible. Indeed, in the destruction of both the parties, what merit dost thou see? If the Pandavas are slaughtered in battle, or if thy own mighty sons fall, tell me, O bull of Bharata's race, what happiness wilt thou enjoy? All of them are brave and skilled in weapons. All of them are desirous of battle, the Pandavas as also thy sons. Oh, save them from the terrible danger that threatens them. After the battle thou wilt not behold all the Kurus or all the Pandavas, Car-warriors slain by car-warriors, thou wilt behold the heroes of both parties reduced in numbers and strength. All the rulers of the earth, O best of kings, have been assembled together. Inflamed with wrath, they will certainly exterminate the population of the earth. Save, O king, the world. Let not the population of the earth be exterminated. O son of Kuru's race, if thou regainest thy natural disposition, the earth may continue to be peopled as now. Save, O king, these monarchs, who are all of pure descent, endued with modesty and liberality and piety, and connected with on another in bonds of relationship or alliance, from the terrible danger that threatens them. Abandoning wrath and enmity, O chastiser of foes, let these kings, embracing one another in peace, eating and drinking with one another, dressed in excellent robes and decked with garlands, and doing courtesies to one another, return to their respective homes. Let the affection thou hadst for the Pandavas be revived in thy bosom, and let it, O bull of Bharata's race, lead to the establishment of peace. Deprived of their father while they were infants, they were brought up by thee. Cherish them now as becomes thee, O bull of Bharata's race, as if they were thy own sons. It is thy duty to protect them. And especially it is so when they are distressed. O bull of Bharata's race, let not thy virtue and profit be both lost. Saluting and propitiating thee, the Pandavas have said unto thee, 'At
thy command we have, with our followers, suffered great misery. For these twelve years have we lived in the woods, and for the thirteenth year have we lived incognito in an uninhabited part of the world. We broke not our pledge, firmly believing that our father also would abide by his. That we violated not our word is well-known to the Brahman as who were with us. And as we, O bull of the Bharata race, have abided by our promise, also do thou abide by thine. Long have we suffered the greatest misery, but let us now have our share of the kingdom. Fully conversant as thou art with virtue and profit, it behoveth thee to rescue us. Knowing that our obedience is due to thee, we have quietly undergone much misery. Behave thou then unto us like a father or brother. A preceptor should behave as a preceptor towards his disciples, and as disciples we are willing to behave as such towards thee, our preceptor. Act thou, therefore, towards us as a preceptor should. If we go wrong, it is the duty of our father to set us right. Therefore, set us on the way and tread thou also the excellent path of righteousness.' Those sons of thine, O bull of the Bharata race, have also said unto these kings assembled in the court these words, 'If the members of an assembly are conversant with morality, nothing improper should be permitted by them to happen. Where, in the presence of the virtuous members of an assembly, righteousness is sought to be overpowered by unrighteousness, and truth by the untruth, it is those members themselves that are vanquished and slain. When righteousness, pierced by unrighteousness, seeketh the protection of an assembly, if the arrow is not extracted, it is the members themselves that are pierced by that arrow. Indeed, in that case, righteousness slayeth the members of that assembly, like a river eating away the roots of the trees on its bank.' Judge now, O bull of the Bharata race. The Pandavas, with their eyes turned towards righteousness and reflecting on everything, are maintaining a calm attitude, and what they have said is consistent with truth and virtue and justice. O ruler of men, what canst thou say unto them, but that thou art willing to give them back their kingdom? Let these rulers of earth that are sitting here say (what the answer should be)! If it appears to thee that what I have said after reflecting well on virtue to be true, save all these Kshatriyas, O bull of the Bharata race, from the meshes of death. Effect peace, O chief of Bharata's race, and yield not to anger. Giving unto the Pandavas their just share of the paternal kingdom, enjoy thou then, with thy sons, O chastiser of foes, happiness and luxury, thy wishes being all crowned with success. Know that Yudhishthira always treadeth the path that is trod by the righteous. Thou knowest also, O king, what the behaviour of Yudhishthira is towards thee and thy sons. Although thou hadst sought to burn him to death and hadst exiled him from human habitation, yet he came back and once more repose confidence in thee. Again, didst thou with thy sons, banish him to Indraprastha? While there, he brought all the kings of the earth to subjection and yet looked up to
thy face, O king, without seeking to disregard thee. Although he behaved in this way, yet Suvala's son, desirous of robbing him of his dominions and wealth and possessions, applied the very efficacious means of dice. Reduced to that condition and even beholding Krishna dragged into the assembly, Yudhishthira of immeasurable soul, did not yet swerve from the duties of a Kshatriya. As regards myself, I desire, O Bharata, thy good as also theirs. For the sake of virtue, of profit, of happiness, make peace, O king, and do not allow the Earth's population to be slaughtered, regarding evil as good and good as evil. Restrain thy sons, O monarch, who have from covetousness proceeded too far. As regards the sons of Pritha, they are equally ready to wait upon thee in dutiful service or to fight. That which, O chastiser of foes, seems to thee to be for thy good, do thou adopt!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'All the rulers of earth there present highly applauded these words of Kesava within their hearts, but none of them ventured to say anything in the presence of Duryodhana.'
Next: Section XCVI