OM! HAVING BOWED down to Narayana, and Nara, the foremost of male beings, and unto the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having offered oblations, of water unto all their friends and kinsmen, the sons of Pandu, and Vidura, and Dhritarashtra, and all the Bharata ladies, continued to dwell there (on the banks of the sacred stream). The high-souled sons of Pandu desired to pass the period of mourning, which extended for a month, outside the Kuru city. After king Yudhishthira the just had performed the water-rites, many high-souled sages crowned with ascetic success and many foremost of regenerate Rishis came there to see the monarch. Among them were the Island-born (Vyasa), and Narada, and the great Rishi Devala, and Devasthana, and Kanwa. They were all accompanied by best of their pupils. Many other members of the regenerate order, possessed of wisdom and accomplished in the Vedas, leading lives of domesticity or belonging to the Snataka class, came to behold the Kuru king. Those high-souled ones, as they came, were duly worshipped by Yudhishthira. The great Rishis then took their seats on costly carpets. Accepting the worship suited to that period (of mourning and impurity) that was offered them, they sat in due order around the king. Thousands of Brahmanas offered consolation and comfort to that king of kings residing on the sacred banks of the Bhagirathi with heart exceedingly agitated by grief. Then Narada, after having accosted the Rishis with the Island-born for their first, in due time, addressed Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, saying, ‘Through the might of thy arms and the grace of Madhava, the whole Earth, O Yudhishthira, hath been righteously won by thee. By good luck, thou hast escaped with life from this dreadful battle. Observant as thou art o f the duties of a Kshatriya, dost thou not rejoice, O son of Pandu? Having slain all thy foes, shalt thou not gratify thy friends, O king? Having obtained this prosperity, I hope, grief doth not afflict thee still.’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Indeed the whole Earth hath been subjugated by me through my reliance on the might of Krishna’s arms, through the grace of the Brahmanas, and through the strength of Bhima and Arjuna. This heavy grief, however, is always sitting in my heart, viz., that through covetousness I have caused this dreadful carnage of kinsmen. Having caused the death of the dear son of Subhadra, and of the sons of Draupadi, this victory, O holy one, appears to me in the light of a defeat. What wilt Subhadra of Vrishni’s race, that sister-in-law of mine, say unto me? What also will the people residing in Dwaraka say unto the slayer of Madhu when he goes thither from this place? This Draupadi, again, who is ever engaged in doing what is agreeable to us, bereaved of sons and kinsmen, is paining me exceedingly. This is another topic, O holy Narada, about which I will speak to thee. In consequence of Kunti having kept her counsels close in respect of a very important matter, great has been my grief. That hero who had the strength of ten thousand elephants, who in this world was an unrivalled car-warrior, who was possessed of leonine pride and gait, who was endued with great intelligence and compassion, whose liberality was very great, who practised many high vows, who was the refuge of the Dhartarashtras, who was sensitive about his honour, whose prowess was irresistible, who was ready to pay off all injuries and was always wrathful (in battle), who overthrew us in repeated encounters, who was quick in the use of weapons, conversant with every mode of warfare, possessed of great skill, and endued with wonderful valour (that Karna) was a son of Kunti, born secretly of her, and therefore, a uterine brother of ours. Whilst we were offering oblations of water unto the dead, Kunti spoke of him as the son of Surya. Possessed of every virtue, that child had been cast into the water. Having placed him in a basket made of light materials, Kunti committed him to the current of Ganga. He who was regarded by the world as a Suta’s child born of Radha, was really the eldest son of Kunti and, therefore, our uterine brother. Covetous of kingdom, alas, I have unwittingly caused that brother of mine to be slain. It is this that is burning my limbs like a fire burning a heap of cotton. The white-steeded Arjuna knew him not for a brother. Neither I, nor Bhima, nor the twins, knew him for such. He, however, of excellent bow, knew us (for his brothers). We have heard that on one occasion Pritha went to him for seeking our good and addressed him, saying, ‘Thou art my son!’ That illustrious hero, however, refused to obey Pritha’s wishes. Subsequently, we are informed, he said unto his mother these words, ‘I am unable to desert Duryodhana in battle! If I do so, it would be a dishonourable, cruel, and ungrateful act. If, yielding to thy wishes, I make peace with Yudhishthira, people will say that I am afraid of the white-steeded Arjuna. Having vanquished Arjuna with Kesava, therefore, in battle, I will subsequently make peace with Dharma’s son.’ Even these were his words as we have heard. Thus answered, Pritha once more addressed her son of broad chest and said, ‘Fight Phalguna then, but spare my four other sons.’ The intelligent Karna, with joined hands, then replied unto his trembling mother, saying, ‘If I get thy four other sons even under my power, I will not slay them. Without doubt, O goddess, thou shalt continue to have five sons. If Karna be slain with Arjuna, thou shalt have five! If, on the other hand, Arjuna be slain, thou shalt have five, numbering me.’ Desirous of the good of her children, his mother once more said unto him, ‘Go, O Karna, do good unto those brothers of thine whose good thou always seekest.’ Having said these words, Pritha took his leave and came back to her abode. That hero has been slain by Arjuna,—the uterine brother by the brother! Neither Pritha, nor he, had ever disclosed the secret, O lord! That hero and great bowman was therefore slain by Arjuna in battle. Subsequently I have come to know, O best of regenerate ones, that he was my uterine brother. Indeed, at Pritha’s words I have come to know that Karna was the eldest born! Having caused my brother to be slain, my heart is burning exceedingly. If I had both Karna and Arjuna for aiding me, I could have vanquished Vasudeva himself. Whilst I was tortured in the midst of the assembly by the wicked-souled sons of Dhritarashtra, my wrath, suddenly provoked, became cooled at sight of Karna. Even while listening to the harsh and bitter words of Karna himself on that occasion of our match at dice, to the words, that Karna uttered from desire of doing what was agreeable to Duryodhana, my wrath became cooled at sight of Karna’s feet. It seemed to me that Karna’s feet resembled the feet of our mother Kunti. Desirous of finding out the reason of that resemblance between him and our mother, I reflected for a long time. With even my best exertions I failed to find the cause. Why, indeed, did the earth swallow up the wheels of his car at the time of battle? Why was my brother cursed? It behoveth thee to recite all this to me. I desire to hear everything from thee, O holy one! Thou art acquainted with everything in this world and thou knowest both the past and the future!’
“Vaisampayana said, ‘That foremost of speakers, the sage Narada, thus questioned, narrated everything about the manner in which he who was believed to be a Suta’s son had been cursed (in former days).’
“Narada said, ‘It is even so, O mighty armed one, as thou sayest, O Bharata! Nothing could resist Karna and Arjuna in battle. This, O sinless one, that I am about to tell thee is unknown to the very gods. Listen to me, O mighty-armed one, as it befell in former days. How all the Kshatriyas, cleansed by weapons should attain to regions of bliss, was the question. For this, a child was conceived by Kunti in her maidenhood, capable of provoking a general war. Endued with great energy, that child came to have the status of a Suta. He subsequently acquired the science of weapons from the preceptor (Drona), that foremost descendant of Angirasa’s race. Thinking of the might of Bhimasena, the quickness of Arjuna in the use of weapons, the intelligence of thyself, O king, the humility of the twins, the friendship, from earliest years, between Vasudeva and the wielder of Gandiva, and the affection of the people for you all, that young man burnt with envy. In early age he made friends with king Duryodhana, led by an accident and his own nature and the hate he bore towards you all. Beholding that Dhananjaya was superior to every one in the science of weapons, Karna. one day approached Drona in private and said these words unto him, ‘I desire to be acquainted with the Brahma weapon, with all its mantras and the power of withdrawing it, for I desire to fight Arjuna. Without doubt, the affection thou bearest to every one of thy pupils is equal to what thou bearest to thy own son. I pray that all the masters of the science of weapons may, through thy grace, regard me as one accomplished in weapons!’ Thus addressed by him, Drona, from partiality for Phalguna, as also from his knowledge of the wickedness of Karna, said, ‘None but a Brahmana, who has duly observed all vows, should be acquainted with the Brahma weapon, or a Kshatriya that has practised austere penances, and no other.’ When Drona had answered thus, Karna, having worshipped him, obtained his leave, and proceeded without delay to Rama then residing on the Mahendra mountains. Approaching Rama, he bent his head unto him and said, ‘I am a Brahmana of Bhrigu’s race.’ This procured honour for him. With this knowledge about his birth and family, Rama received him kindly and said, ‘Thou art welcome!’ at which Karna became highly glad. While residing on the Mahendra mountains that resembled heaven itself, Karna met and mixed with many Gandharvas, Yakshas, and gods. Residing there he acquired all the weapons duly, and became a great favourite of the gods, the Gandharvas, and the Rakshasas. One day he roved on the sea-coast by the side of that asylum. Indeed, Surya’s son, armed with bow and sword, wandered alone, While thus employed, O Partha, he inadvertently slew, without witting it, the Homa cow of a certain utterer of Brahma who daily performed his Agnihotra rite. Knowing that he had perpetrated that act from inadvertence, he informed the Brahmana of it. Indeed Karna, for the object of gratifying the owner, repeatedly said, ‘O holy one, I have killed this thy cow without wilting it. Forgive me the act!’ Filled with wrath, the Brahmana, rebuking him, said these words, ‘O thou of wicked conduct, thou deservest to be killed. Let the fruit of this act be thine, O thou of wicked soul. While fighting him, O wretch whom thou always challengest, and for whose sake thou strivest so much every day, the earth shall swallow the wheel of thy car! And while the wheel of thy car shall thus be swallowed up by the earth, thy foe, putting forth his prowess, will cut off thy head, thyself being stupefied the while! Leave me, O vile man! As thou hast heedlessly slain this my cow, even so wilt thy foe cut off thy head while thou shalt be heedless!’ Though cursed, Karna still sought to gratify that foremost of Brahmanas by offering him kine and wealth and gems. The latter, however, once more answered him, ‘All the words will not succeed in falsifying the words spoken by me! Go hence or remain, do whatever thou likest.’ Thus addressed by the Brahmana, Karna, hanging down his head from cheerlessness, returned timidly to Rama, reflecting on that matter.’
“Narada said, ‘That tiger of Bhrigu’s race (viz., Rama), was well-pleased with the might of Karna’s arms, his affection (for him), his self-restraint, and the services he did unto his preceptor. Observant of ascetic penances, Rama cheerfully communicated, with due forms, unto his penance-observing disciple, everything about the Brahma weapon with the mantras for withdrawing it. Having acquired a knowledge of that weapon, Karna began to pass his days happily in Bhrigu’s retreat, and endued with wonderful prowess, he devoted himself with great ardour to the science of weapons. One day Rama of great intelligence, while roving with Karna in the vicinity or his retreat, felt very weak in consequence of the fasts he had undergone. From affection begotten by confidence, the tired son of Jamadagni placing his head on Karna’s lap, slept soundly, White his preceptor was thus sleeping (with head) on his lap, a frightful worm, whose bite was very painful and which subsisted on phlegm and fat and flesh and blood, approached the presence of Karna. That blood-sucking worm, approaching Karna’s thigh, began to pierce it. Through fear of (awaking) his preceptor, Karna became unable to either throw away or kill that worm. Though his limb was bored through by that worm, O Bharata, the son of Surya, lest his preceptor should awake, suffered it to do its pleasure. Though the pain was intolerable, Karna bore it with heroic patience, and continued to hold Bhrigu’s son on his lap, without quivering in the least and without manifesting any sign of pain. When at last Karna’s blood touched the body of Rama of great energy, the latter awoke and said these words in fear, ‘Alas, I have been made impure! What is this that thou art doing, Tell me, casting off all fear, what is the truth of this matter!’ Then Karna informed him of that worm’s bite. Rama saw that worm which resembled a hog in shape. It had eight feet and very keen teeth, and it was covered with bristles that were all pointed like needles. Called by the name of Alarka, its limbs were then shrunk (with fear). As soon as Rama cast his, eyes on it, the worm gave up its life-breath, melting in that blood which it had drawn. All this seemed wonderful. Then in the welkin was seen a Rakshasa of terrible form, dark in hue, of a red neck, capable of assuming any form at wilt, and staying on the clouds,—his object fulfilled, the Rakshasa, with joined hands, addressed Rama, saying, ‘O best of ascetics, thou hast rescued me from this hell! Blessed be thou, I adore thee, thou hast done me good!’ Possessed of great energy, the mighty-armed son of Jamadagni said unto him, ‘Who art thou? And why also didst thou fall into hell? Tell me all about it.’ He answered, ‘Formerly I was a great Asura of the name of Dansa. In the Krita period, O sire, I was of the same age with Bhrigu. I ravished the dearly-loved spouse of that sage. Through his curse I felt down on the earth in the form of a worm. In anger thy ancestors said unto me, ‘Subsisting on urine and phlegm, O wretch, thou shalt lead a life of hell.’ I then besought him, saying, ‘When, O Brahmana, shall this curse end?’ Bhrigu replied unto me, saying. ‘This curse shall end through Rama of my race. It was for this that I had obtained such a course of life like one of uncleansed soul. O righteous one, by thee, however, I have been rescued from that sinful life.’ Having said these words, the great Asura, bending his head unto Rama went away. Then Rama wrathfully addressed Karna, saying, ‘O fool, no Brahmana could endure such agony. Thy patience is like that of a Kshatriya. Tell me the truth, without fear.’ Thus asked, Karna, fearing to be cursed, and seeking to gratify him, said these words, ‘O thou of Bhrigu’s race, know me for a Suta, a race that has sprung from the intermixture of Brahmanas with Kshatriyas. People call me Karna the son of Radha. O thou of Bhrigu’s race, be gratified with my poor self that has acted from the desire of obtaining weapons. There is no doubt in this that a reverend preceptor in the Vedas and other branches of knowledge is one’s father. It was for this that I introduced myself to thee as a person of thy own race.’ Unto the cheerless and trembling Karna, prostrated with joined hands upon earth, that foremost one of Bhrigu’s race, smiling though filled with wrath, answered, ‘Since thou hast, from avarice of weapons, behaved here with falsehood, therefore, O wretch, this Brahma weapon shalt not dwell in thy remembrance Since thou art not a Brahmana, truly this Brahma weapon shall not, up to the time of thy death, dwell in thee when thou shalt be engaged with a warrior equal to thyself! Go hence, this is no place for a person of such false behaviour as thou! On earth, no Kshatriya will be thy equal in battle.’ Thus addressed by Rama, Karna came away, having duty taken his leave. Arriving then before Duryodhana, he informed him, saying, ‘I have mastered all weapons!’”
“Narada said, ‘Having thus obtained weapons from him of Bhrigu’s race, Karna began to pass his days in great joy, in the company of Duryodhana, O bull of Bharata’s race! Once on a time, O monarch, many kings repaired to a self-choice at the capital of Chitrangada, the ruler of the country of the Kalingas. The city, O Bharata, full of opulence, was known by the name of Rajapura. Hundreds of rulers repaired thither for obtaining the hand of the maiden. Hearing that diverse kings had assembled there, Duryodhana. also, on his golden car, proceeded thither, accompanied by Karna. When the festivities commenced in that self-choice, diverse rulers, O best of kings, came thither for the hand of the maiden. There were amongst them Sisupala and Jarasandha and Bhishmaka and Vakra, and Kapotaroman and Nila and Rukmi of steady prowess, and Sringa who was ruler of the kingdom females, and Asoka and Satadhanwan and the heroic ruler of the Bhojas. Besides these, many others who dwelt in the countries of the South, and many preceptors (in arms) of the mlechcha tribes, and many rulers from the East and the North, O Bharata, came there. All of them were adorned with golden Angadas, and possessed of the splendour of pure gold. Of effulgent bodies, they were like tigers of fierce might. After all those kings had taken their seats, O Bharata, the maiden entered the arena, accompanied by her nurse and a guard of eunuchs. Whilst being informed of the names of the kings (as she made her round), that maiden of the fairest complexion passed by the son of Dhritarashtra (as she had passed others before him). Duryodhana, however, of Kuru’s race, could not tolerate that rejection of himself. Disregarding all the kings, he commanded the maiden to stop. Intoxicated with the pride of energy, and relying upon Bhishma and Drona, king Duryodhana, taking up that maiden on his car, abducted her with force. Armed with sword, clad in mail, and his fingers cased in leathern fences, Karna, that foremost of all wielders of weapons riding on his car, proceeded along Duryodhana’s rear. A great uproar then took place among the kings, all of whom were actuated by the desire for fight, ‘Put on your coats of mail! Let the cars be made ready!’ (These were the sounds that were heard). Filled with wrath, they pursued Karna and Duryodhana, showering their arrows upon them like masses of clouds pouring rain upon a couple of hills. As they thus pursued them, Karna felled their bows and arrows on the ground, each with a single arrow. Amongst them some became bowless, some rushed bow in hand, some were on the point of shooting their shafts, and some pursued them, armed with darts and maces. Possessed of great lightness of hands, Karna, that foremost of all smiters, afflicted them all. He deprived many kings of their drivers and thus vanquished all those lords of earth. They then themselves took up the reins of their steeds, and saying, ‘Go away, go away’, turned away from the battle with cheerless hearts. Protected by Karna, Duryodhana also came away, with a joyous heart, bringing with him the maiden to the city called after the elephant.’”
“Narada said, ‘Hearing of the fame of Karna’s might, the ruler of the Magadhas, king Jarasandha, challenged him to a single combat. Both conversant with the celestial weapons, a fierce battle took place between them in which they struck each other with diverse kinds of arms. At last when their arrows were exhausted and bows and swords were broken and they both became carless, they began, possessed of might as they were, to fight with bare arms. While engaged with him in mortal combat with bare arms, Karna was about to sever the two portions of his antagonist’s body that had been united together by Jara. The king (of Magadha), then after feeling himself very much pained, cast off all desire of hostility and addressed Karna, saying, ‘I am gratified.’ From friendship he then gave unto Karna the town Malini. Before this, that tiger among men and subjugator of all foes (viz., Karna) had been king of the Angas only, but from that time the grinder of hostile forces began to rule over Champa also, agreeably to the wishes of Duryodhana, as thou knowest. Thus Karna became famous on earth for the valour of his arms. When, for thy good, the Lord of the celestials begged of him his (natural) coat of mail and ear-rings, stupefied by celestial illusion, he gave away those precious possessions. Deprived of his car-rings and divested of his natural armour, he was slain by Arjuna in Vasudeva’s presence. In consequence of a Brahmana’s curse, as also of the curse of the illustrious Rama, of the boon granted to Kunti and the illusion practised on him by Indra, of his depreciation by Bhishma as only half a car-warrior, at the tale of Rathas and Atirathas, of the destruction of his energy caused by Salya (with his keen speeches), of Vasudeva’s policy, and, lastly of the celestial weapons obtained by Arjuna from Rudra and Indra and Yama and Varuna and Kuvera and Drona and the illustrious Kripa, the wielder of Gandiva succeeded in slaying Vikartana’s son Karna of effulgence like that of Surya himself. Even thus had thy brother been cursed and beguiled by many. As, however, he has fallen in battle, thou shouldst not grieve for that tiger among men!’”
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having said these words, the celestial Rishi Narada became silent. The royal sage Yudhishthira, filled with grief, became plunged in meditation. Beholding that hero cheerless and unmanned by sorrow, sighing like a snake and shedding copious tears, Kunti, herself filled with grief and almost deprived of her senses by sorrow, addressed him in these sweet words of grave import and well-suited to the occasion, ‘O mighty-armed Yudhishthira, it behoveth thee not to give way to sorrow thus. O thou of great wisdom, kill this grief of thine, and listen to what I say. I tried in past times to apprise Karna of his brothership with thee. The god Surya also, O foremost of all righteous persons, did the same. All that a well-wishing friend, from desire of good, should say unto one, was said unto Karna by that god in a dream and once more in my presence. Neither by affliction nor by reasons could Surya or myself succeed in pacifying him or inducing him to unite himself with thee. Succumbing to the influence of Time, he became resolved upon wreaking his enmity on thee. As he was bent upon doing injuries upon you all, I myself gave up the attempt.’ Thus addressed by his mother, king Yudhishthira, with tearful eyes and heart agitated by grief, said these words, ‘In consequence of thyself having concealed thy counsels, this great affliction has overtaken me!’ Possessed of great energy, the righteous king, then, in sorrow, cursed all the women of the world, saying, ‘Henceforth no woman shall succeed in keeping a secret.’ The king, then, recollecting his sons and grandsons and kinsmen and friends, became filled with anxiety and grief. Afflicted with sorrow, the intelligent king, resembling a fire covered with smoke, became overwhelmed with despair.”
Vaisampayana said, “The righteous-souled Yudhishthira, with an agitated heart and burning with sorrow, began to grieve for that mighty car-warrior Karna. Sighing repeatedly, he addressed Arjuna, saying, ‘If, O Arjuna, we had led a life of mendicancy in the cities of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, then this miserable end would not have been ours in consequence of having exterminated our kinsmen. Our foes, the Kurus, have gained in prosperity, while we have become divested of all the objects of life, for what fruits of righteousness can be ours when we have been guilty of self-slaughter? Fie on the usages of Kshatriyas, fie on might and valour, and fie on wrath, since through these such a calamity hath overtaken us. Blessed are forgiveness, and self-restraint, and purity, with renunciation and humility, and abstention from injury, and truthfulness of speech on all occasions, which are all practised by forest-recluses. Full of pride and arrogance, ourselves, however, through covetousness and folly and from desire of enjoying the sweets of sovereignty, have fallen into this plight. Beholding those kinsmen of ours that were bent on acquiring the sovereignty of the world slain on the field of battle, such grief hath been ours that one cannot gladden us by giving the sovereignty of even the three worlds. Alas, having slain, for the sake of the earth, such lords of earth as deserved not to be slain by us, we are bearing the weight of existence, deprived of friends and reft of the very objects of life. Like a pack of dogs fighting one another for a piece of meat, a great disaster has overtaken us! That piece of meat is no longer dear to us. On the other hand, it shall be thrown aside. They that have been slain should not have been slain for the sake of even the whole earth or mountains of gold, or all the horses and kine in this world. Filled with envy and a hankering for all earthly objects, and influenced by wrath and pleasure, all of them, betaking themselves to the highway of Death, have repaired to the regions of Yama. Practising asceticism and Brahmacharya and truth and renunciation, sires wish for sons endued with every kind of prosperity. Similarly, by fasts and sacrifices and vows and sacred rites and auspicious ceremonies mothers conceive. They then hold the foetus for ten months. Passing their time in misery and in expectation of fruit, they always ask themselves in anxiety, ‘Shall these come out of the womb safely? Shall these live after birth? Shall they grow in might and be objects of regard on earth? Shall they be able to give us happiness in this and the other world?’ Alas, since their sons, youthful in years and resplendent with ear-rings, have been slain, therefore, those expectations of theirs rendered fruitless, have been abandoned by them. Without having enjoyed the pleasure of this world, and without having paid off the debts they owed to their sires and the gods, they have repaired to Yama’s abode. Alas, O mother, those kings have been slain just at that time when their parents expected to reap the fruits of their might and wealth. They were always fitted with envy and a hankering after earthly objects, and were exceedingly subject to anger and joy. For this, they could not be expected to enjoy at any time or any place the fruits of victory. I think that they among the Panchalas and the Kurus that have fallen (in this battle) have been lost, otherwise he that has slain would, by that act of his, obtain all regions of bliss. We are regarded as the cause of the destruction that has overtaken the world. The fault, however, is really ascribable to the sons of Dhritarashtra. Duryodhana’s heart was always set upon guile. Always cherishing malice, he was addicted to deception. Although we never offended him, yet he always behaved falsely towards us. We have not gained our object, nor have they gained theirs. We have not vanquished them, nor have they vanquished us. The Dhartarashtras could not enjoy this earth, nor could they enjoy women and music. They did not listen to the counsels of ministers and friends and men learned in the scriptures. They could not, indeed, enjoy their costly gems and well-filled treasury and vast territories. Burning with the hate they bore us, they could not obtain happiness and peace. Beholding our aggrandisement, Duryodhana became colourless, pale and emaciated. Suvala’s son informed king Dhritarashtra of this. As a father full of affection for his son, Dhritarashtra tolerated the evil policy his son pursued. Without doubt, by disregarding Vidura and the high-souled son of Ganga, and in consequence of his neglect in restraining his wicked and covetous son, entirely governed by his passions, the king has met with destruction like my poor self. Without doubt, Suyodhana, having caused his uterine brothers to be slain and having east this couple into burning grief, hath fallen off from his blazing fame. Burning with the hate he bore to us Duryodhana was always of a sinful heart. What other kinsman of high birth could use such language towards kinsmen as he, from desire of battle, actually used in the presence of Krishna? We also have, through Duryodhana’s fault, been lost for eternity, like suns burning everything around them with their own energy. That wicked-souled wight, that embodiment of hostility, was our evil star. Alas, for Duryodhana’s acts alone, this race of ours has been exterminated. Having slain those whom we should never have slain, we have incurred the censures of the world. King Dhritarashtra, having installed that wicked-souled prince of sinful deeds, that exterminator of his race, in the sovereignty, is obliged to grieve today. Our heroic foes have been slain. We have committed sin. His possessions and kingdom are gone. Having slain them, our wrath has been pacified. But grief is stupefying me. O Dhananjaya, a perpetrated sin is expiated by auspicious acts, by publishing it wildly, by repentance, by alms-giving, by penances, by trips to tirthas after renunciation of everything, by constant meditation on the scriptures. Of all these, he that has practised renunciation is believed to be incapable of committing sins anew. The Srutis declare that he that practises renunciation escapes from birth and death, and obtaining the right rood, that person of fixed soul attains to Brahma. I shall, therefore, O Dhananjaya, go to the woods, with your leave, O scorcher of foes, disregarding all the pairs of opposites, adopting the vow of taciturnity, and walking in the way pointed out by knowledge. O slayer of foes, the Srutis declare it and I myself have seen it with my eyes, that one who is wedded to this earth can never obtain every kind Of religious merit. Desirous of obtaining the things of this earth, I have committed sin, through which, as the Srutis declare, birth and death are brought about. Abandoning the whole of my kingdom, therefore, and the things of this earth, I shall go to the woods, escaping from the ties of the world, freed from grief, and without affection for anything. Do thou govern this earth, on which peace has been restored, and which has been divested of all its thorns. O best of Kuru’s race, I have no need for kingdom or for pleasure.’ Having said these words, king Yudhishthira the just stopped. His younger brother Arjuna then addressed him in the following words.
Vaisampayana said, “Like a person unwilling to forgive an insult, Arjuna of keen speech and prowess, and possessed of energy, betraying great fierceness and licking the Corners of his mouth, said these words of grave import, smiling the while: ‘Oh, how painful, how distressing! I grieve to see this great agitation of thy heart, since having achieved such a superhuman feat, thou art bent upon forsaking this great prosperity. Having slain thy foes, and having acquired the sovereignty of the earth which has been won through observance of the duties of thy own order, why shouldst thou abandon everything through fickleness of heart? Where on earth hath a eunuch or a person of procrastination ever acquired sovereignty? Why then didst thou, insensate with rage, slay all the kings of the earth? He that would live by mendicancy, cannot, by any act of his, enjoy the good things of the earth. Divested of prosperity and without resources, he can never win fame on earth or acquire sons and animals. If, O king, abandoning this swelling kingdom, thou livest in the observance of the wretched mode of life led by a mendicant, what will the world say of thee? Why dost thou say that abandoning all the good things of the earth, divested of prosperity, and reft of resources, thou wilt lead a life of mendicancy like a vulgar person? Thou art born in this race of kings. Having won by conquest the whole earth, wishest thou from folly to live in the woods after abandoning everything of virtue and profit? If thou retirest into the woods, in thy absence, dishonest men will destroy sacrifices. That sin will certainly pollute thee. King Nahusha, having done many wicked acts in a state of poverty, cried fie on that state and said that poverty is for recluses. Making no provision for the morrow is a practice that suits Rishis. Thou knowest this well. That, however, which has been called the religion of royalty depends entirely on wealth. One who robs another of wealth, robs him of his religion as well. Who amongst us, therefore, O king, would forgive an act of spoliation that is practised on us? It is seen that a poor man, even when he stands near, is accused falsely. Poverty is a state of sinfulness. It behoveth thee not to applaud poverty, therefore. The man that is fallen, O king, grieveth, as also he that is poor. I do not see the difference between a fallen man and a poor man. All kinds of meritorious acts flow from the possession of great wealth like a mountain. From wealth spring all religious acts, all pleasures, and heaven itself, O king! Without wealth, a man cannot find the very means of sustaining his life. The acts of a person who, possessed of little intelligence, suffers himself to be divested of wealth, are all dried up like shallow streams in the summer season. He that has wealth has friends. He that has wealth has kinsmen. He that has wealth is regarded as a true man in the world. He that has wealth is regarded as a learned man. If a person who hath no wealth desires to achieve a particular purpose, he meets with failure. Wealth brings about accessions of wealth, like elephants capturing (wild) elephants. Religious acts, pleasures, joy, courage, wrath, learning, and sense of dignity, all these proceed from wealth, O king! From wealth one acquires family honour. From wealth, one’s religious merit increases. He that is without wealth hath neither this world, nor the next, O best of men! The man that hath no wealth succeeds not in performing religious acts, for these latter spring from wealth, like rivers from a mountain. He that is lean in respect of (his possession of) steeds and kine and servants and guests, is truly lean and not he whose limbs alone are so. Judge truly, O king, and look at the conduct of the gods and the Danavas. O king, do the gods ever wish for anything else than the slaughter of their kinsmen (the Asuras)? If the appropriation of wealth belonging to others be not regarded as righteous, how, O monarch, will kings practise virtue on this earth? Learned men have, in the Vedas, laid down this conclusion. The learned have laid it down that kings should live, reciting every day the three Vedas, seeking to acquire wealth, and carefully performing sacrifices with the wealth thus acquired. The gods, through internecine quarrels, have obtained footing in heaven. When, the very gods have won their prosperity through internecine quarrels, what fault can there be in such quarrels? The gods, thou seest, act in this way. The eternal precepts of the Vedas also sanction it. To learn, teach, sacrifice, and assist at other’s sacrifices,—these are our principal duties. The wealth that kings take from others becomes the means of their prosperity. We never see wealth that has been earned without doing some injury to others. It is even thus that kings conquer this world. Having conquered, they call that wealth theirs, just as sons speak of the wealth of their sires as their own. The royal sages that have gone to heaven have declared this to be the duty of kings. Like water flowing on every direction from a swollen ocean, that wealth runs on every direction from the treasuries of kings. This earth formerly belonged to king Dilipa, Nahusha, Amvarisha, and Mandhatri. She now belongs to thee! A great sacrifice, therefore, with profuse presents of every kind and requiring a vast heap of the earth’s produce, awaits thee. If thou dost not perform that sacrifice, O king, then the sins of this kingdom shall all be thine. Those subjects whose king performs a horse-sacrifice with profuse presents, become all cleansed and sanctified by beholding the ablutions at the end of the sacrifice. Mahadeva himself, of universal form, in a great sacrifice requiring libations of all kinds of flesh, poured all creatures as sacrificial libations and then his own self. Eternal is this auspicious path. Its fruits are never destroyed. This is the great path called Dasaratha. Abandoning it, O king, to what other path wouldst thou betake thyself?’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘For a little while, O Arjuna, concentrate thy attention and fix thy mind and hearing on thy inner soul. If thou listenest to my words in such a frame of mind, they will meet with thy approbation. Abandoning all worldly pleasures, I shall betake myself to that path which is trod by the righteous. I shall not, for thy sake, tread along the path thou recommendest. If thou askest me what path is auspicious that one should tread alone, I shall tell thee. If thou dost not desire to ask me, I shall yet, unasked by thee, tell thee of it. Abandoning the pleasures and observance of men of the world, engaged in performing the austerest of penances, I shall wander in the forest, with the animals that have their home there, living on fruit and roots. Pouring libations on the: fire at due hours, and performing ablutions at morn and eve, I shall thin myself by reduced diet, and covering myself with skins, bear matted locks on my head. Enduring cold, wind, and heat as also hunger and thirst and toil, I shall emaciate my body by penances as laid down in the ordinance. Charming to the heart and the ear, I shall daily listen to the clear strains of, cheerful birds and animals residing in the woods. I shall enjoy the fragrance of flower-burthened trees and creepers, and see diverse kinds of charming products that grow in the forest. I shall also see many excellent recluses of the forest. I shall not do the slightest injury to any creature, what need be said then of those that dwell in villages and towns? Leading a retired life and devoting myself to contemplation, I shall live upon ripe and unripe fruits and gratify the Pitris and the deities with offerings of wild fruits and spring water and grateful hymns. Observing in this way the austere regulations of a forest life, I shall pass my days, calmly awaiting the dissolution of my body. Or, living alone and observing the vow of taciturnity, with my head shaved clean, I shall derive my sustenance by begging each day of only one tree. Smearing my body with ashes, and availing of the shelter of abandoned houses, or lying at the foot of trees, I shall live, casting off all things dear or hateful. Without indulging in grief or joy, and regarding censure and applause, hope and affliction, equally, and prevailing over every couple of opposites, I shall live casting off all the things of the world. Without conversing with anybody, I shall assume the outward form of a blind and deaf idiot, while living in contentment and deriving happiness from my own soul. Without doing the least injury to the four kinds of movable and immovable creatures, I shall behave equally towards all creatures whether mindful of their duties or following only the dictates of the senses. I shall not jeer at any one, nor shall I frown at anybody. Restraining all my senses, I shall always be of a cheerful face. Without asking anybody about the way, proceeding along any route that I may happen to meet with, I shall go on, without taking note of the country or the point of the compass to which or towards which I may go. Regardless of whither I may proceed, I shall not look behind. Divesting myself of desire and wrath, and turning my gaze inwards, I shall go on, casting off pride of soul and body. Nature always walks ahead; hence, food and drink will somehow be accomplished. I shall not think of those pairs of opposites that stand in the way of such a life. If pure food in even a small measure be not obtainable in the first house (to which I may go), I shalt get it by going to other houses. If I fail to procure it by even such a round, I shall proceed to seven houses in succession and fill my craving. When the smoke of houses will cease, their hearth-fires having been extinguished, when husking-rods will be kept aside, and all the inmates will have taken their food, when mendicants and guests Will cease to wander, I shall select a moment for my round of mendicancy and solicit alms at two, three, or five houses at the most. I shall wander over the earth, after breaking the bonds of desire. Preserving equability in success and failure, I shall earn great ascetic merit. I shall behave neither like one that is fond of life nor like one that is about to die. I shall not manifest any liking for life or dislike for death. If one strikes off one arm of mine and another smears the other arm with sandal-paste, I shall not wish evil to the one or good to the other. Discarding all those acts conducive to prosperity that one can do in life, the only acts I shall perform will be to open and shut my eyes and take as much food and drink as will barely keep up life. Without ever being attached to action, and always restraining the functions of the senses, I shall give up all desires and purify the soul of all impurities. Freed from all attachments and tearing off all bonds and ties, I shall live free as the wind. Living in such freedom from affections, everlasting contentment will be mine. Through desire, I have, from ignorance, committed great sins. A certain class of men, doing both auspicious and inauspicious acts here, maintain their wives, children, and kinsmen, all bound to them in relations of cause and effect. When the period of their life runs out, casting off their weakened bodies, they take upon themselves all the effects of their sinful acts, for none but the actor is burdened with the consequences of his acts. Even thus, endued with actions, creatures come into this wheel of life that is continually turning like the wheel of a car, and even thus, coming thither, they meet with their fellow-creatures. He, however, who abandons the worldly course of life, which is really a fleeting illusion although it looks eternal, and which is afflicted by birth, death, decrepitude, disease, and pain, is sure to obtain happiness. When again, the very gods fall down from heaven and great Rishis from their respective positions of eminence who, that is acquainted with truths of causes (and effects) would wish to have even heavenly prosperity? Insignificant kings, having performed diverse acts relating to the diverse means of kingcraft (known by the means of conciliation, gift, &c.) often slay a king through some contrivance. Reflecting on these circumstances, this nectar of wisdom hath come to me. Having attained it, I desire to get a permanent, eternal, and unchangeable place (for myself). Always (conducting myself) with such wisdom and acting in this way, I shall, by betaking myself to that fearless path of life, terminate this physical frame that is subject to birth, death, decrepitude, disease, and pain.’”
Bhimasena said, “Thy understanding, O king, has become blind to the truth, like that of a foolish and unintelligent reciter of the Veda in consequence of his repeated recitation of those scriptures. If censuring the duties of kings thou wouldst lead a life of idleness, then, O bull of Bharata’s race, this destruction of the Dhartarashtras was perfectly uncalled for. Are forgiveness and compassion and pity and abstention from injury not to be found in anybody walking along the path of Kshatriya duties? If we Knew that this was thy intention, we would then have never taken up arms and slain a single creature. We would then have lived by mendicancy till the destruction of this body. This terrible battle between the rulers of the earth would also have never taken place. The learned have said this all that we see is food for the strong. Indeed, this mobile and immobile world is our object of enjoyment for the person that is strong. Wise men acquainted with Kshatriya duties have declared that they who stand in the way of the person taking the sovereignty of the earth, should be slain. Guilty of that fault, those that stood as enemies of our kingdom have all been slain by us. Having slain them, O Yudhishthira, righteously govern this earth. This our act (in refusing the kingdom) is like that of a person who having dug a well stops in his work before obtaining water and comes up smutted with mire. Or, this our act is like that of a person who having climbed up a tall tree and taken honey there from meets with death before tasting it. Or, it is like that of a person who having set out on a long way comes back in despair without having reached his destination. Or, it is like that of a person who having slain all his foes, O thou of Kuru’s race, at last Falls by his own hand. Or, it is like that of a person afflicted with hunger, who having obtained food, refuses to take it, or of a person under the influence of desire, who having obtained a woman reciprocating his passion, refuses to meet with her. We have become objects of censure, O Bharata, because, O king, we follow thee that art of feeble understanding, in consequence of thyself being our eldest brother. We are possessed of mighty arms; we are accomplished in knowledge and endued with great energy. Yet we are obedient to the words of a eunuch as if we were entirely helpless. We are the refuge of all helpless persons. Yet, when people see us so, why would they not say that in respect of the acquisition of our objects we are entirely powerless? Reflect on this that I say. It has been laid down that (a life of) renunciation should be adopted, only in times of distress, by kings overcome with decrepitude or defeated by foes. Men of wisdom, therefore, do not applaud renunciation as the duty of a Kshatriya. On the other hand, they that are of clear sight think that the adoption of that course of life (by a Kshatriya) involves even the loss of virtue. How can those that have sprung from that order, that are devoted to the practices of that order, and that have refuge in them, censure those duties? Indeed, if those duties be censurable, then why should not the Supreme Ordainer be censured? It is only those persons that are reft of prosperity and wealth and that are infidels in faith, that have promulgated this precept of the Vedas (about the propriety of a Kshatriya’s adoption of a life of renunciation) as the truth. In reality, however, it is never proper for a Kshatriya to do so. He who is competent to support life by prowess, he who can support himself by his own exertions, does not live, but really falls away from his duty, by the hypocritical externals of a life of renunciation. That man only is capable of leading a solitary life of happiness in the woods who is unable to support sons and grandsons and the deities and Rishis and guests and Pitris. As the deer and boars and birds (though they lead a forest life) cannot attain to heaven, even so those Kshatriyas that are not bereft of prowess yet not given to doing good turns cannot attain to heaven by leading only a forest life. They should acquire religious merit by other ways. If, O king, anybody were to obtain success from renunciation, then mountains and trees would surely obtain it! These latter are always seen to lead lives of renunciation. They do not injure any one. They are, again, always aloof from a life of worldliness and are all Brahmacharins. If it be the truth that a person’s success depends upon his own lot in life and not upon that of other, then (as a person born in the Kshatriya order) thou shouldst betake thyself to action. He that is reft of action can never have success. If they that fill only their own stomachs could attain to success, then all aquatic creatures would obtain it, for these have none else to support save their own selves. Behold, the world moves on, with every creature on it employed in acts proper to its nature. Therefore, one should betake oneself to action. The man reft of action can never obtain success.’”
“Arjuna said, ‘In this connection an old history is cited, viz., the discourse between certain ascetics and Sakra, O bull of Bharata’s race! A number of well-born Brahmana youth of little understanding, without the hirsute honours of manhood, abandoning their homes, came to the woods for leading a forest life. Regarding that to be virtue, those youths of abundant resources became desirous of living as Brahmacharins, having abandoned their brothers and sires. It so happened that Indra became compassionate towards them. Assuming the form of a golden bird, the holy Sakra addressed them, saying, ‘That which is done by persons that eat the remnants of a sacrifice is the most difficult of acts that men can achieve. Such an act is highly meritorious. The lives of such men are worthy of every praise. Having attained the object of life, those men, devoted to virtue obtain the highest end.’ Hearing these words, the Rishis said, ‘Lo, this bird applauds those that subsist upon the remnants of sacrifices. He informs us of it, for we live upon such remnants.’ The bird then said, ‘I do not applaud you.’ Ye are stationed with mire and very impure. Living upon offals, ye are wicked. Ye are not persons subsisting upon the remnants of sacrifice.’
“The Rishis said, ‘We regard this our course of life to be highly blessed. Tell us, O bird, what is for our good. Thy words inspire us with great faith.’
“The bird said, ‘If you do not refuse me your faith by arraying yourselves against your better selves, then I shall tell you words that are true and beneficial.’
“The Rishis said, ‘We shall listen to thy words, O sire, for the different paths are all known to thee. O thou of righteous soul, we desire also to obey thy commands. Instruct us now.’
“The bird said, ‘Among quadrupeds the cow is the foremost. Of metals, gold is the foremost. Of words, mantras, and of bipeds, the Brahmanas, are the foremost. These mantras regulate all the rites of a Brahmana’s life beginning with those appertaining to birth and the period after it, and ending with those appertaining to death and the crematorium. These Vedic rites are his heaven, path, and foremost of sacrifices. If it were otherwise, how could I find the acts (of persons in quest of heaven) become successful through mantras? He who, in this world, adores his soul, firmly regarding it to be a deity of a particular kind, obtains success consistent with the nature of that particular deity. The seasons measured by half the months lead to the Sun, the Moon, or the Stars. These three kinds of success, depending upon action are desired by every creature. The domestic mode of life is very superior and sacred and is called the field (for the cultivation) of success. By what path do those men go that censure action? Of little understanding and deprived of wealth, they incur sin. And since those men of little understanding live by abandoning the eternal paths of the gods, the paths of the Rishis, and the paths of Brahma, therefore, they attain to paths disapproved of by the Srutis. There is an ordinance in the mantras which says, ‘Ye sacrificer, perform the sacrifice represented by gifts of valuable things. I wilt give thee happiness represented by sons, animals, and heaven!’—To live, therefore, in accordance with ordinance is said to be the highest asceticism of the ascetics. Therefore, ye should perform such sacrifices and such penances in the shape of gifts. The due performance of these eternal duties, viz., the worship of the gods, the study of the Vedas, and the gratification of the Pitris, as also regardful services unto the preceptors—these are called the austerest of penances. The gods, by performing such exceedingly difficult penances, have obtained the highest glory and power. I, therefore, tell you to bear the very heavy burthen of the duties of domesticity. Without doubt, penances are the foremost of all things and are the root of all creatures. Asceticism, however, is to be obtained by leading a life of domesticity, upon which depends everything. They that eat the remnants of feasts, after duly apportioning the food morning and evening among kinsmen, attain to ends that are exceedingly difficult of attainment. They are called eater of the remnants of feasts who eat after having served guests and gods and Rishis and kinsmen. Therefore, those persons that are observant of their own duties, that practise excellent vows and are truthful in speech, become objects of great respect in the world, with their own faith exceedingly strengthened. Free from pride, those achievers of the most difficult feats attain to heaven and live for unending time in the regions of Sakra.’
“Arjuna continued, ‘Those ascetics then, hearing these words that were beneficial and fraught with righteousness, abandoned the religion of renunciation, saying, ‘There is nothing in it,’ and betook themselves to a life of domesticity. Therefore, O thou that are conversant with righteousness, calling to thy aid that eternal wisdom, rule the wide world, O monarch that is now destitute of foes.’
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Arjuna, O chastiser of foes, Nakula of mighty arms and a broad chest, temperate in speech and possessed of great wisdom, with face whose colour then resembled that of copper, looked at the king, that foremost of all righteous persons, and spoke these words, besieging his brother’s heart (with reason).’
“Nakula said, ‘The very gods had established their fires in the region called Visakha-yupa. Know, therefore, O king, that the gods themselves depend upon the fruits of action. The Pitris, that support (by rain) the lives of even all disbelievers, observing the ordinances (of the Creator as declared in the Vedas), are, O king, engaged in action. Know them for downright atheists that reject the declaration of the Vedas (which inculcate action). The person that is learned in the Vedas, by following their declarations in all his acts, attains, O Bharata, to the highest region of heaven by the way of the deities. This (domestic mode of life again) has been said by all persons acquainted with Vedic truths to be superior to all the (other) modes of life. Knowing this, O king, that the person who in sacrifices gives away his righteously acquired wealth unto those Brahmanas that are well conversant with the Vedas, and restrains his soul, is, O monarch, regarded as the true renouncer. He, however, who, disregarding (a life of domesticity, that is) the source of much happiness, jumps to the next mode of life,—that renouncer of his own self, O monarch, is a renouncer labouring under the quality of darkness. That man who is homeless, who roves over the world (in his mendicant rounds), who has the foot of a tree for his shelter, who observes the vow of taciturnity, never cooks for himself, and seeks to restrain all the functions of his senses, is, O Partha, a renouncer in the observance of the vow of mendicancy. That Brahmana who, disregarding wrath and joy, and especially deceitfulness, always employs his time in the study of the Vedas, is a renouncer in the observance of the vow of mendicancy. The four different modes of life were at one time weighed in the balance. The wise have said, O king, that when domesticity was placed on one scale, it required the three others to be placed on the other for balancing it. Beholding the result of this examination by scales, O Partha, and seeing further, O Bharata, that domesticity alone contained both heaven and pleasure, that became the way of the great Rishis and the refuge of all persons conversant with the ways of the world. He, therefore, O bull of Bharata’s race, who betakes himself to this mode of life, thinking it to be his duty and abandoning all desire for fruit, is a real renouncer, and not that man of clouded understanding who goes to the woods, abandoning home and its surroundings. A person, again, who under the hypocritical garb of righteousness, fails to forget his desires (even while living in the woods), is bound by the grim King of death with his deadly fetters round the neck. Those acts that are done from vanity, are said to be unproductive of fruit. Those acts, on the other hand, O monarch I that are done from a spirit of renunciation, always bear abundant fruits. Tranquillity, self-restraint, fortitude, truth, purity, simplicity, sacrifices, perseverance, and righteousness,—these are always regarded as virtues recommended by the Rishis. In domesticity, it is said, are acts intended for Pitris, gods, guests. In this mode of life alone, O monarch, are the threefold aims to be attained. The renouncer that rigidly adheres to this mode of life, in which one is free to do all acts, has not to encounter ruin either here or hereafter. The sinless Lord of all creatures, of righteous soul, created creatures, with the intention that they would adore him by sacrifices with profuse presents. Creepers and trees and deciduous herbs, and animals that are clean, and clarified butter, were created as ingredients of sacrifice. For one in the observance of domesticity the performance of sacrifice is fraught with impediments. For this, that mode of life has been said to be exceedingly difficult and unattainable. Those persons, therefore, in the observance of the domestic mode of life, who, possessed of wealth and corn and animals, do not perform sacrifices, earn, O monarch, eternal sin. Amongst Rishis, there are some that regard the study of the Vedas to be a sacrifice: and some that regard contemplation to be a great sacrifice which they perform in their minds. The very gods, O monarch, covet the companionship of a regenerate person like this, who in consequence of his treading along such a way which consists in the concentration of the mind, has become equal to Brahma. By refusing to spend in sacrifice the diverse kinds of wealth that thou hast taken from thy foes, thou art only displaying thy want of faith. I have never seen, O monarch, a king in the observance of a life of domesticity renouncing his wealth in any other way except in the Rajasuya, the Astwamedha, and other kinds of sacrifice. Like Sakra, the chief of the celestial, O sire, perform those other sacrifices that are praised by the Brahmanas. That king, through whose heedlessness the subjects are plunged by robbers, and who does not offer protection to those whom he is called upon to govern, is said to be the very embodiment of Kati. If, without giving away steeds, and kine, and female slaves, and elephants adorned with trappings, and villages, and populous regions, and fields, and houses, unto Brahmanas, we retire into the woods with hearts not harbouring friendly feeling towards kinsmen, even we shall be, O monarch, such Kalis of the kingly order. Those members of the kingly order that do not practise charity and give protection (to others), incur sin. Woe is their portion hereafter and not bliss. If, O lord, without performing great sacrifices and the rites in honour of thy deceased ancestors, and it, without bathing in sacred waters, thou betakest thyself to a wandering life, thou shalt then meet with destruction like a small cloud separated from a mass and dashed by the winds. Thou shalt then fall off from both worlds and have to take thy birth in the Pisacha order. A person becomes a true renouncer by casting off every internal and external attachment, and not simply by abandoning home for dwelling in the woods. A Brahmana that lives in the observance of these ordinances in which there are no impediments, does not fall off from this or the other world. Observant of the duties of one’s own order,—duties respected by the ancients and practised by the best of men, who is there, O Partha, that would grieve, O king, for having in a trice stain in battle his foes that swelled with prosperity, like Sakra slaying the forces of the Daityas? Having in the observance of Kshatriya duties subjugated the world by the aid of thy prowess, and having made presents unto persons conversant with the Vedas, thou canst, O monarch, go to regions higher than heaven. It behoves thee not, O Partha, to indulge in grief.”
“Sahadeva said, ‘By casting off all external objects only, O Bharata, one does not attain to success. By casting off even mental attachments, the attainment of success is doubtful. Let that religious merit and that happiness which are his who has cast off external objects but whose mind still internally covets them, be the portion of our foes! On the other hand, let that religious merit and that happiness which are his who governs the earth, having cast off all internal attachments also, be the portion of our friends. The word mama (mine), consisting of two letters, is Death’s self; white the opposite word na-mama (not mine), consisting of three letters, is eternal Brahma. Brahma and death, O king, entering invisibly into every soul, without doubt, cause all creatures to act. If this being, O Bharata, that is called Soul, be not ever subject to destruction, then by destroying the bodies of creatures one cannot be guilty of slaughter. If, on the other hand, the soul and the body of a being are born or destroyed together, so that when the body is destroyed the soul also is destroyed, then the way (prescribed in the scriptures) of rites and acts would be futile. Therefore, driving away all doubts about the immortality of the soul, the man of intelligence should adopt that path which has been trodden by the righteous of old and older times. The life of that king is certainly fruitless who having acquired the entire earth with her mobile and immobile creatures, does not enjoy her. As regards the man again who lives in the forest upon wild fruits and roots, but whose attachment to things of the earth has not ceased, such a one, O king, lives within the jaws of Death. Behold, O Bharata, the hearts and the outward forms of all creatures to be but manifestations of thy own. They that look upon all creatures as their own selves escape from the great fear (of destruction). Thou art my sire, thou art my protector, thou art my brother, and thou art my senior and preceptor. It behoveth thee, therefore, to forgive these incoherent utterances in sorrow of a woe-stricken person. True or false, this that has been uttered by are, O lord of earth, has been uttered from a due regard for thee, O best of Bharatas, that I entertain!”
Vaisampayana said, “When Kunti’s son, king Yudhishthira the just, remained speechless after listening to his brothers who were telling these truths of the Vedas, that foremost of women, viz., Draupadi, of large eyes and great beauty, and noble descent, O monarch, said these words unto that bull among kings seated in the midst of his brothers that resembled so many lions and tigers, and like the leader in the midst of a herd of elephants. Ever expectant of loving regards from all her husbands but especially from Yudhishthira, she was always treated with affection and indulgence by the king. Conversant with duties and observant of them in practice, that lady of large hips, casting her eyes on her lord, desired his attention in shooting and sweet words and said as follows.
“Draupadi said, These thy brothers, O Partha, are crying and drying their palates like chatakas but thou dost not gladden them.. O monarch, gladden these thy brothers, that resemble infuriated elephants (in prowess), with proper words,—these heroes that have always drunk of the cup of misery. Why, O king, while living by the side of the Dwaita lake, didst thou say unto these thy brothers then residing with thee, and suffering from cold and wind and sun, even these words, viz.,—’ rushing to battle from. desire of victory, we will slay Duryodhana and enjoy the earth that is capable of granting every wish. Depriving great car-warriors of their cars and slaying huge elephants, and strewing the field of battle with the bodies of car-warriors and horsemen and heroes, ye chastisers of foes, ye will perform great sacrifices of diverse kinds with presents in profusion. All these sufferings, due to a life of exile in the woods, will then end in happiness.’ O foremost of all practisers of virtue, having thyself said these words unto thy brothers then, why, O hero, dost thou depress our hearts now? A eunuch can never enjoy wealth. A eunuch can never have children even as there can be no fish in a mire (destitute of water). A Kshatriya without the rod of chastisement can never shine. A Kshatriya without the rod of chastisement can never enjoy the earth. The subjects of a king that is without the rod of chastisement can never have happiness. Friendship for all creatures, charity, study of the Vedas, penances,—these constitute the duties of a Brahmana and not of a king, O best of kings! Restraining the wicked, cherishing the honest, and never retreating from battle,—these are the highest duties of kings. He is said to be conversant with duties in whom are forgiveness and wrath, giving and taking, terrors and fearlessness, and chastisement and reward. It was not by study, or gift, or mendicancy, that thou hast acquired the earth. That force of the enemy, O hero, ready to burst upon thee with all its might, abounding with elephants and horse and cars, strong with three kinds of strength protected by Drona and Karna and Aswatthaman and Kripa, has been defeated and slain by thee, O hero! It is for this that I ask thee to enjoy the earth. Formerly, O puissant one, thou hadst, O monarch, swayed with might, the region called Jambu, O tiger among men, abounding with populous districts. Thou hadst also, O ruler of men, swayed with might that other region called Kraunchadwipa situate on the west of the great Meru and equal unto Jambu-dwipa itself. Thou hadst swayed with might, O king, that other region called Sakadwipa on the east of the great Meru and equal to Krauncha-dwipa itself. The region called Bhadraswa, on the north of the great Meru and equal to Sakadwipa was also swayed by thee, O tiger, among men! Thou hadst even penetrated the ocean and swayed with might other regions, too, O hero, and the very islands begirt by the sea and containing many populous provinces. Having, O Bharata, achieved such immeasurable feats, and having obtained (through them) the adorations of the Brahmanas, how is it that thy soul is not gratified? Seeing these brothers of thine before t