The Mahabharata Home
"Kunti said, 'In this connection, O chastiser of foes, is cited an old story of the conversation between Vidula and her son. It behoveth thee to say unto Yudhishthira anything that can be gathered from this or anything more beneficial than that.
'There was a high-born dame of great foresight, named Vidula. She was famous, slightly wrathful, of crooked disposition, and devoted to Kshatriya virtues. Well-educated, she was known to all the kings of the earth. Of great learning, she had listened to the speeches and instructions of diverse mien. And the princess Vidula, one day, rebuked her own son, who, after his defeat by the king of the Sindhus, lay prostrate with heart depressed by despair. And she said, 'Thou art not my son, O enhancer of the joys of foes. Begotten thou hast not been by myself and thy father! Whence hast thou come? Without wrath as thou art, thou canst not be counted as a man. Thy features betray thee to be a eunuch. Sinkest thou in despair as long as thou livest? If thou art desirous of thy own welfare, bear thou the burthen (of thy affairs on thy shoulders), Do not disgrace thy soul. Do not suffer it to be gratified with a little. Set thy heart on thy
welfare, and be not afraid. Abandon thy fears. Rise, O coward. Do not lie down thus, after thy defeat, delighting all thy foes and grieving the friends, and reft of all sense of honour. Little streams are filled up with only a quantity of water. The palms of a mouse are filled with only a small quantity. A coward is soon gratified, with acquisitions that are small. Rather perish in plucking the fangs of a snake than die miserable like a dog. Put forth thy prowess even at the risk of thy life. Like a hawk that fearlessly rangeth the sky, do thou also wander fearlessly or put forth thy prowess, or silently watch thy foes for an opportunity. Why dost thou lie down like a carcass or like one smitten by thunder? Rise, O coward, do not slumber after having been vanquished by the foe. Do not disappear from the sight of all so miserably. Make thyself known by thy deeds. Never occupy the intermediate, the low, or the lowest station. Blaze up (like a well-fed fire). Like a brand of Tinduka wood, blaze up even for a moment, but never smoulder from desire, like a flameless fire of paddy chaff. It is better to blaze up for a moment than smoke for ever and ever. Let no son be born in a royal race, who is either exceedingly fierce or exceedingly mild. Repairing to the field of battle and achieving every great feat that is possible for man to achieve, a brave man is freed from the debt he oweth to the duties of the Kshatriya order. Such a person never disgraceth his own self. Whether he gaineth his object or not, he that is possessed of sense never indulgeth in grief. On the other hand, such a person accomplisheth what should be next done, without caring for even his life. Therefore, O son, display thy prowess, or obtain that end which is inevitable. Why, Indeed, dost thou live, disregarding the duties of thy order? All thy religious rites, O eunuch, and all thy achievements are gone. The every root of all thy enjoyments is cut off. What for then dost thou live? If fall and sink one must, he should seize the foe by the hips (and thus fall with the foe). Even if one's roots are cut off, he should not yet give way to despair. Horse of high mettle put forth all their prowess for dragging or bearing heavy weights. Remembering their behaviour, muster, all thy strength and sense of honour. Know also in what thy manliness consists. Exert thyself in raising that race which hath sunk, in consequence of thee. He that hath not achieved a great feat forming the subject of men's conversation, only increaseth the number of population. He is neither man nor woman. He whose fame is not founded in respect of charity, asceticism, truth, learning and acquisition of wealth, is only his mother's excreta. On the other hand, he that surpasseth others in learning, asceticism, wealth, prowess, and deeds, is (truly) a man. It behoveth thee not to adopt the idle, wretched, infamous, and miserable profession of mendicancy that is worthy only of a coward. Friends never derive any happiness on obtaining that weak person for a friend, at whose sight foes are delighted, who is despised by men, who is without seats and robes, who is gratified with small acquisitions, who is destitute, and who hath no courage, and is low. Alas, exiled from our kingdom, driven from
home, deprived of all means of enjoyment and pleasure, and destitute, of resources, we shall have to perish from want of the very means of life! Misbehaving in the midst of those that are good, and the destroyer of thy race and family, by bringing thee forth, O Sanjaya, I have brought forth Kali himself in the shape of a son. Oh, let no woman bring forth such a son (as thou) that art without wrath, without exertion, without energy, and that art the joy of foes. Do not smoulder. Blaze thou up, effectively displaying thy prowess. Slay thy foes. For but a moment, for ever so small a space of time, blaze thou up on the heads of thy enemies. He is a man who cherisheth wrath and forgiveth not. He, on the other hand, who is forgiving and without wrath, is neither a man nor woman. Contentment and softness of heart and these two, viz., want of exertion and fear, are destructive of prosperity. He that is without exertion never winneth what is great. Therefore, O son, free thyself, by thy own exertions, from these faults that lead to defeat and downfall. Steel thy heart and seek to recover thy own. A man is called Purusha because he is competent to trouble his foe (param). He, therefore, who liveth like a woman is misnamed Purusha (man). A brave king of mighty strength, and who moveth like a lion, may go the way of all creatures. The subjects, however, that reside in his dominions do not yet become unhappy. That king, who, disregarding his own happiness and pleasures, seeketh the prosperity of his kingdom, succeedeth soon in gladdening his counsellors and friends.'
"Hearing these words, the son said, 'If thou dost not behold me, of what use would the whole earth be to thee, of what use thy ornaments, of what use all the means of pleasure and even life itself?' The mother said, 'Let those regions be obtained by our foes which belong to those that are low. Let those again that are friends go to those regions which are obtainable by persons whose souls are held in respect. Do not adopt the course of life that is followed by those wretched persons, who, destitute of strength, and without servants and attendants (to do their bidding) live upon the food supplied by others. Like the creatures of the earth that depend on the clouds, or the gods depending on Indra, let the Brahmanas and thy friends all depend on thee for their sustenance. His life, O Sanjaya, is not vain on whom all creatures depend for their sustenance, like birds repairing to a tree abounding with ripe fruits. The life of that brave man is, indeed, praiseworthy, through whose prowess friends derive happiness, like the gods deriving happiness through the prowess of Sakra. That man who liveth in greatness depending on the prowess of his own arms, succeedeth in winning fame in this world and blessed state in the next!'"
Next: Section CXXXIV