The Mahabharata Home
"Kunti said, 'Hearing these words of his mother the son said, O ruthless and wrathful mother, O thou that thinkest highly of martial heroism, thy heart is surely made of steel beat into that shape. Fie on Kshatriya practices, in accordance with which thou urgest me to battle, as if I were a stranger to thee, and for the sake of which thou speakest to me--thy only son--such words as if thou wert not my mother. If thou beholdest me not, if thou art dissociated with me--thy son, of what use then would the whole earth be to thee, of what use all thy ornaments and all the means of enjoyment, indeed, of what use would life itself be to thee?'
"The mother said, 'All the acts of those that are wise, are (undertaken), O son, for the sake of virtue and profit. Eyeing these (virtue and profit) only, I urge thee, O Sanjaya, to battle. The fit hour hath come for exhibiting thy prowess. If at such a time thou dost not resort to action, then disrespected by the people thou wouldst do that which would be most disagreeable to me. If, O Sanjaya, thou art about to be stained with infamy and I do not (from affection) tell thee anything, then that affection, worthless and unreasonable, would be like that of the she-ass's for her young. Do not tread the path that is disapproved by the wise and adopted by the fool. Great is the ignorance here. Innumerable creatures of the world have taken refuge in it. If thou, however, adoptest the behaviour of the wise, thou wilt then be dear to me. Indeed, if thou hast recourse to virtue and profit, if with God above thou reliest upon human exertion, if thy conduct becometh like that of the good, then it is by this and not by any other means that thou wilt become dear to me. He that taketh delight in sons and grandsons that are well-instructed (enjoyeth a delight that is real). He, on the other hand, that taketh delight in a son who is destitute of exertion, refractory, and wicked minded, hath not the very object accomplished for which a son is desired. Those worst of men that never do what is proper and always do what is censurable, do not obtain happiness here or hereafter. A Kshatriya, O Sanjaya, hath been created for battle and victory. Whether he winneth or perisheth, he obtaineth the region of Indra. The happiness that a Kshatriya obtaineth by reducing his foes to subjection is such that the like of it doth not exist in heaven in the sacred region of Indra. Burning with wrath, a Kshatriya of great energy, if vanquished many times, should wait desiring to vanquish his foes. Without either casting
away his own life or slaying his foes, how can he obtain peace of mind by any other course? He that is possessed of wisdom regardeth anything little as disagreeable. Unto that person to whom anything little becomes agreeable, that little (ultimately) becometh a source of pain. The man that hath not what is desirable soon becometh wretched. Indeed, he soon feeleth every want and is lost like the Ganga on entering the ocean.'
"The son said, 'Thou shouldst not, O mother, give expression to such views before thy son. Show him kindness now, staying by his side, like a silent and dumb being.'
"The mother said, 'Great is my gratification since thou sayest so. I who may be urged (by thee to what is my duty) am thus urged by thee. I shall, therefore, urge thee more (for doing what thou shouldst do). I will, indeed, honour thee then when I will behold thee, crowned with complete success after the slaughter of all the Saindhavas.'
"The son said, 'Without wealth, without allies, how can success and victory be mine? Conscious of this exceedingly miserable state of mine, I have myself abstained from desire of kingdom, like an evil-doer abstaining from desire of heaven. If, therefore, O thou of mature wisdom, thou seest any means (by which all this can be effected), speak fully of it to me as I ask thee, for I shall do all that thou mayst command me to do.'
"The mother said, 'Do not disgrace thy soul, O son, by anticipations of failure. Objects unattained have been attained; while those attained have been lost. The accomplishment of objects should never be sought with wrath and folly. In all acts, O son, the attainment of success is always uncertain. Knowing that success is uncertain, people still act, so that they sometimes succeed, and sometimes do not. They, however, who abstain from action, never obtain success. In the absence of exertion, there is but one result, viz., the absence of success. There are, however, two results in the case of exertion, viz., the acquisition of success or its non-acquisition. He, O prince, who hath settled beforehand that all acts are uncertain in respect of their results, maketh both success and prosperity unattainable by himself. This will be,--with such a belief should one, casting off all sloth, exert and wake up and address himself to every act. That wise king, who, O son, engageth in acts, having performed all auspicious rites and with the gods and the Brahmanas on his side, soon winneth success. Like the sun embracing the east, the goddess of prosperity embraceth him. I see thou hast shown thyself fit for the various suggestions and means and encouraging speeches thou hast had from me. Display (now) thy prowess. It behoveth thee to win, by every exertion, the object thou hast in view. Bring together to thy own side those that are angry (with thy foes), those that are covetous, those that have been weakened (by thy foes), those that are jealous (of thy foes), those that have been humiliated (by them), those that always challenge (them) from excess of pride, and all others of this class. By this means thou wilt be able to break the mighty host (of thy enemy) like an impetuous and fierce-rising tempest scattering the clouds. Give them (thy
would be allies) wealth before it is due, seek their food, be up and doing, and speak sweetly unto them all. They will then do the good, and place thee at their head. When the enemy cometh to know that his foe hath become reckless of his life, then is he troubled on the latter's account, from a snake living in his chamber? If, knowing one to be powerful, one's enemy doth not strive to subjugate him, he should at least make one friendly by the application of the arts of conciliation, gift, and the like. Even that would be tantamount to subjugation. Obtaining a respite by means of the art of conciliation, one's wealth may increase. And if one's wealth increaseth, one is worshipped and sought as a refuge by one's friends. If, again, one is deprived of wealth, one is abandoned by friends and relatives, and more than that mistrusted and even despised by them. It is perfectly impossible for him to ever regain his kingdom, who, having united himself with his foe, liveth confidently.'"
Next: Section CXXXVI