The Mahabharata Home
"Vidula said, 'If, having fallen into such a plight, thou wishest to give up manliness, thou shalt then have, in no time, to tread the path that is trod by those that are low and wretched. That Kshatriya, who, from desire of life, displayeth not his energy according to the best of his might and prowess, is regarded as a thief. Alas, like medicine to a dying man, these words that are fraught with grave import, and are proper and reasonable, do not make any impression on thee! It is true, the king of the Sindhus hath many followers. They are, however, all discounted. From weakness, and ignorance of proper means, they are waiting for the distress of their master (without being able to effect a deliverance for themselves by their own exertions). As regards others (his open enemies), they will come to thee with their auxiliaries if they behold thee put forth thy prowess. Uniting with them, seek refuge now in mountain fastness, waiting for that season when calamity will overtake the foe, as it must, for he is not free from disease and death. By name thou art Sanjaya (the victorious). I do not, however, behold any such indication in thee. Be true to thy name. Be my son. Oh, do not make thy name untrue. Beholding thee while a child, a Brahmana of great foresight and wisdom, said, 'This one falling into great distress will again win greatness.' Remembering his words, I hope for thy victory. It is for that, O son, I tell thee so, and shall tell thee again and again. That man who pursueth the fruition of his objects according to the ways of policy and for the success of whose objects other people strive cordially, is always sure to win success. Whether what I have is gained or lost, I will not desist, with such a resolve, O Sanjaya, O learned one, engage in war, without withdrawing thyself from it. Samvara hath said, 'There is no more miserable state than that in which one is anxious for his food from day to day.' A state such as his hath beer said to be more unhappy than the death of one's husband and sons. That which hath been called poverty is only a form of death. As regards myself, born in a high race, I have been transplanted from one take into another. Possessed of every auspicious thing, and worshipped by my husband, my power extended over all. Staying in the midst of friends, our friends formerly beheld me decked in costly garlands and ornaments, with body well-washed, attired in excellent robes, and myself always cheerful. When thou wilt behold both me and thy wife weakened (from want of food), thou wilt then, O Sanjaya, scarcely desire to live. Of what use will life be to thee when thou wilt behold all our servants engaged in attending on us, our preceptors and our ordinary and extraordinary priests, leaving us from want of sustenance? If, again, I do not now see in thee those laudable and famous achievements in which thou wert formerly engaged, what peace can my heart know? If I have to say--Nay--to a Brahmana, my heart will burst, for neither I nor my husband ever said--Nay--to a Brahmana before. We were the refuge
of others, without ourselves having ever taken refuge with others. Having been such, if I have to support life by depending on another, I will surely cast off my life. Be thou our means of crossing the ocean that is difficult to cross. In the absence of boats, be thou our boat. Make for us a place where place there is none. Revive us that are dead. Thou art competent to encounter all foes if thou dost not cherish the desire of life. If, however, thou art for adopting this mode of life that is fit only for a eunuch, then with troubled soul and depressed heart it would be better for thee to sacrifice thy life. A brave man winneth fame by slaying even a single foe. By slaying Vritra, Indra became the great Indra and acquired the sovereignty of all the gods and the cup for drinking Soma, and the lordship of all the worlds. Proclaiming his name in battle, challenging his foes accoutred in steel, and grinding or slaying the foremost warriors of hostile ranks, when a hero winneth far-extending fame in fair fight, his enemies then are pained and bow down unto him. They that are cowards become helpless and contribute by their own conduct to bestow every object of desire on those that are skilled and brave and that fight reckless of their lives. Whether kingdoms be overtaken by mighty ruin, or whether life itself be endangered, they that are noble never desist till they exterminate the foes within their reach. Sovereignty is either the door of heaven or Amrita. Regarding it as one of these, and bearing it in mind that is now shut against thee, fall thou like a burning brand in the midst of thy foes. O king, slay thy foes in battle. Observe the duties of thy order. Let me not behold thee cheerless, O enhancer of the fears of thy foes. Let me not in dejection behold thee standing in misery, surrounded by our sorrowing selves and rejoicing foes. Rejoice, O son, and make thyself happy in the possession of wealth in the company of the daughters of the Sauviras and do not, in weakness of heart, be ruled over by the daughters of the Saindhavas. If a young man like thee, who is possessed of beauty of person, learning and high birth, and world-wide fame, acteth in such unbecoming a way, like a vicious bull in the matter of bearing its burthen, then that, I think, would be equal to death itself. What peace can my heart know if I behold thee uttering laudatory speeches in honour of others or walking (submissively) behind them? Oh, never was one born in this race that walked behind another. O son, it behoveth thee not to live as a dependant on another. I know what the eternal essence of Kshatriya virtues is as spoken of by the old and the older ones and by those coming late and later still. Eternal and unswerving, it hath been ordained by the Creator himself. He that hath, in this world, been born as a Kshatriya in any high race and hath acquired a knowledge of the duties of that order, will never from fear or the sake of sustenance, bow down to any body on earth. One should stand erect with courage and not bow down, for exertion is manliness. One should rather break in the joints than yield in this world here to any body. A high-souled Kshatriya should always roam like an infuriated elephant. He should, O Sanjaya, bow down unto
[paragraph continues] Brahmanas only, for the sake of virtue. He should rule over all other orders, destroying all evil-doers. Possessed of allies, or destitute of them, he should be so as long as he liveth.'"
Next: Section CXXXV