The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "After this, Arjuna once more addressed his eldest brother of unfading glory, viz., king Yudhishthira of cheerless heart, and said these words: 'O thou that art conversant with every kind of duty, having by the practice of Kshatriya duties obtained sovereignty that is so very difficult of acquisition, and having conquered all thy foes, why dost thou burn in grief? O king, as regards Kshatriyas, death in battle is regarded more meritorious for them than the performance of diverse sacrifices. It is so declared in the ordinance that lays down the duties of Kshatriyas. Penances and Renunciation are the duties of Brahmanas. Even this is the ordinance (affecting the two orders) about the next world. Indeed, O puissant one, death in battle is laid down for Kshatriyas. The duties of Kshatriyas are exceedingly fierce and are always connected with the use of weapons, and it has been laid down, O chief of the Bharatas, that they should, when the time comes, perish by weapons on the field of battle. The life of even a Brahmana, O king, that lives in the observance of Kshatriya duties, is not censurable, for Kshatriyas also have sprung from Brahmana. Neither Renunciation, nor Sacrifice, nor Penances, nor dependence on the wealth of others, O ruler of men, has been ordained for Kshatriyas. Thou art acquainted with all duties, and thou art of righteous soul, O bull of Bharata's race! Thou art a wise king, skilled in all acts. Thou canst distinguish what is right in this world from what is wrong. Casting off this cheerlessness by repentance, address thyself with a strong will to action. The heart of a Kshatriya especially is hard as thunder. Having by the exercise of Kshatriya duties vanquished thy foes and acquired empire without a thorn in its side, conquer thy soul, O ruler of men, and be engaged in the performance of sacrifices and the practice of charity. Indra himself, though a Brahmana, became a Kshatriya in his acts, and battled with his sinful kinsfolk for eight hundred and ten times. Those acts of his, O monarch, are adorable and worthy of praise. Through them he obtained, as we have heard, the chiefship of the gods. Do thou, therefore, O monarch, perform sacrifices with profuse presents even as Indra did, O ruler of men, and thereby free thyself from thy fever. Do not, O bull among Kshatriyas, grieve thus for what is past. They that have been slain have attained to the highest
end, sanctified by weapons and agreeably to the ordinances of the Kshatriya religion. That which has happened was ordained to happen. Destiny, O tiger among kings, is incapable of being resisted.'"
Next: Section XXIII