The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Hearing in that assembly of the Kurus these words that were disagreeable to him, Duryodhana replied unto the mighty-armed Kesava of great fame, saying. 'It behoveth thee, O Kesava, to speak after reflecting on all circumstances. Indeed, uttering such harsh words, thou, without any reason, findest fault with me alone, addressed regardfully as thou always art by the sons of Pritha, O slayer of Madhu. But dost thou censure me, having surveyed the strength and weakness (of both sides)? Indeed, thyself and Kshattri, the King, the Preceptor, and the Grandsire, all reproach me alone and not any other monarch. I, however, do not find the least fault in myself. Yet all of you, including the (old) king himself, hate me. O repressor of foes, I do not, even after reflection, behold any grave fault in me, or even O Kesava, any fault however minute. In the game at dice, O slayer of Madhu, that was joyfully accepted by them, the Pandavas were vanquished and their kingdom was won by Sakuni. What blame can be mine as regards that? On the other hand, O slayer of Madhu, the wealth that was won from the Pandavas then, was ordered by me, to be returned unto them. It cannot, again, O foremost of victors, be any fault of ours that the invincible Pandavas, were defeated once again at dice and had to go to the Woods. Imputing what fault to us, do they regard us as their enemies? And, O Krishna, though (really) weak, why do the Pandavas yet so cheerfully seek a quarrel with us, as if they were strong? What have we done to them? For what injury (done to them) do the sons of Pandu, along with the Srinjayas, seek to slaughter the sons of Dhritarashtra? We shall not in consequence of any fierce deed, or (alarming) word (of theirs), bow down to them in fear, deprived of our senses. We cannot bow down to Indra himself, let alone the sons of Pandu. I do not, O Krishna, see the man, observant of Kshatriya virtues, who can, O slayer of foes, venture to conquer us in battle. Let alone the Pandavas, O slayer of Madhu, the very gods are not competent to vanquish Bhishma, Kripa, Drona and Karna, in battle. If, O Madhava, we are, in the observance of the practices of our order, cut off with weapons in battle, when our end comes, even that will lead us to heaven. Even this, O Janardana, is
our highest duty as Kshatriyas, viz., that we should lay ourselves down on the field of battle on a bed of arrows. If, without bowing to our enemies, ours be the bed of arrows in battle, that, O Madhava, will never grieve us. Who is there, born in a noble race and conforming to Kshatriya practices, that would from fear bow to an enemy, desirous only of saving his life? Those Kshatriyas that desire their own good, accept regardfully this saying of Matanga, viz., that (as regards a Kshatriya), one should always keep himself erect, and never bow down, for exertion alone is manliness; one should rather break at the knots than bend. A person like me should only bow down to the Brahmanas for the sake of piety, without regarding anybody else. (As regards persons other than Brahmanas), one should, as long as one lives, act according to Matanga's saying. Even this is the duty of Kshatriyas; even this is ever my opinion. That share in the kingdom which was formerly given them by my father shall never again, O Kesava, be obtainable by them as long as I live. As long, O Janardana, as king Dhritarashtra liveth, both ourselves and they, sheathing our weapons, O Madhava, should live in dependence on him. Given away formerly from ignorance or fear, when I was a child and dependent on others, the kingdom, O Janardana, incapable of being given away again, shall not, O delighter of Vrishni's race, be obtainable by the Pandavas. At present, O Kesava of mighty arms, as long as I live, even that much of our land which may be covered by the point of a sharp needle shall not, O Madhava, be given by us unto the Pandavas.'"
Next: section CXXVIII