The Mahabharata Home
"Vasudeva said, 'After Gandhari had said this, that ruler of men, Dhritarashtra, then said these words to Duryodhana in the midst of the
[paragraph continues] (assembled) monarchs, 'O Duryodhana, listen, O son, to what I say, and blessed be thou; do that if thou hast any respect for thy father. The lord of creatures, Soma, was the original progenitor of the Kuru race. Sixth in descent from Soma, was Yayati, the son of Nahusha. Yayati had five best of royal sages as his sons. Amongst them, lord Yadu of mighty energy was the eldest-born. Younger to Yadu was Puru, who, as our progenitor, brought forth by Sarmistha the daughter of Vrishaparvan. Yadu, O best of the Bharatas, was born of Devayani and, therefore, O sire, was the daughter's son of Sukra, otherwise called Kavya, of immeasurable energy. Endued with great strength and prowess, that progenitor of the Yadavas, filled with pride and possessed of wicked understanding, humiliated all the Kshatriyas. Intoxicated with pride of strength, he obeyed not the injunctions of his father. Invincible in battle, he insulted his father and brother. On this earth girt on four sides by the sea, Yadu became all-powerful, and reducing all to subjection, he established himself in this city called after the elephant. His father Yayati, the son of Nahusha, enraged with him, cursed that son of his, and, O son of Gandhari, even expelled him from the kingdom. Angry Yayati also cursed those brothers of Yadu who were obedient to that eldest brother of theirs, who was so proud of his strength. And having cursed his these sons, that best of kings placed on his throne his youngest son Puru who was docile and obedient to him. Thus even the eldest son may be passed over and deprived of the kingdom, and younger sons may, in consequence of their respectful behaviour to the aged, obtain the kingdom. So also, conversant with every virtue there was my father's grandfather, king Pratipa, who was celebrated over the three worlds. Unto that lion among kings, who ruled his kingdom virtuously were born three sons of great fame and resembling three gods. Of them, Devapi was the eldest, Vahlika the next and Santanu of great intelligence, who, O sire, was my grandfather, was the youngest. Devapi, endued with great energy, was virtuous, truthful in speech, and ever engaged in waiting upon his father. But that best of kings had a skin-disease. Popular with both the citizens and the subjects of the provinces, respected by the good, and dearly loved by the young and the old, Devapi was liberal firmly adhering to truth, engaged in the good of all creatures, and obedient to the instructions of his father as also of the Brahmanas. He was dearly loved by his brother Vahlika as also the high-souled Santanu. Great, indeed, was the brotherly love that prevailed between him and his high-souled brothers. In course of time, the old and best of kings, Pratipa, caused all preparations to be made according to the scriptures for the installation of Devapi (on the throne). Indeed, the lord Pratipa caused every auspicious preparation. The installation of Devapi, however, was forbidden by the Brahmanas and all aged persons amongst the citizens and the inhabitants of the provinces. Hearing that the installation of his son was forbidden, the voice of the old king became choked with tears and he began to grieve for his son. Thus,
though Devapi was liberal, virtuous, devoted to truth, and loved by the subjects, yet in consequence of his skin-disease, he was excluded from his inheritance. The gods do not approve of a king that is defective of a limb. Thinking of this, those bulls among Brahmanas forbade king Pratipa to install his eldest son. Devapi then, who was defective of one limb, beholding the king (his father) prevented (from installing him on the throne) and filled with sorrow on his account, retired into the woods. As regards Vahlika, abandoning his (paternal) kingdom he dwelt with his maternal uncle. Abandoning his father and brother, he obtained the highly wealthy kingdom of his maternal grandfather. With Vahlika's permission, O prince, Santanu of world-wide fame, on the death of his father (Pratipa), became king and ruled the kingdom. In this way also, O Bharata, though I am the eldest, yet being defective of a limb, I was excluded from the kingdom by intelligent Pandu, no doubt, after much reflection. And Pandu himself, though younger to me in age, obtained the kingdom and became king. At his death, O chastiser of foes, that kingdom must pass to his sons. When I could not obtain the kingdom, how canst thou covet it? Thou art not the son of a king, and, therefore, hast no right to this kingdom. Thou, however, desirest to appropriate the property of others. High-souled Yudhishthira is the son of a king. This kingdom is lawfully his. Of magnanimous soul, even he is the ruler and lord of this race of Kuru. He is devoted to truth, of clear perception, obedient to the counsels of friends, honest, loved by the subjects, kind to all well-wishers, master of his passions, and the chastiser of all that are not good. Forgiveness, renunciation, self-control, knowledge of the scriptures, mercy to all creatures, competence to rule according to the dictates of virtue, of all these attributes of royalty exist in Yudhishthira. Thou art not the son of a king, and art always sinfully inclined towards thy relatives. O wretch, how canst thou succeed in appropriating this kingdom that lawfully belongeth to others? Dispelling this delusion, give half the kingdom with (a share of the) animals and other possessions. Then, O king, mayest thou hope to live for some time with thy younger brothers.'"
Next: Section CXLX