The Mahabharata 5
Vyāsa
Hindu
22:30 h
The Mahābhārata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their succession. Along with the Rāmāyaṇa, it forms the Hindu Itihasa. It also contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four “goals of life” or puruṣārtha (12.161). Among the principal works and stories in the Mahābhārata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, an abbreviated version of the Rāmāyaṇa, and the story of Ṛṣyasringa, often considered as works in their own right.
THE MAHABHARATA
Book 5: Udyoga Parva
Kisari Mohan Ganguli, tr

Section I

OM! HAVING BOWED down to Narayana, and Nara the most exalted of male beings, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then those valiant descendants of Kuru, who belonged to the same party (with Virata), having joyfully celebrated the nuptials of Abhimanyu and rested themselves that night, presented themselves at dawn, well pleased, in the court of Virata, And the chamber of the king of the Matsya was full of riches, and variegated with choice gems and precious stones, with seats methodically arranged, adorned with garlands, and filled with fragrance. And those mighty monarchs of men all came to that place, And on the seats in front sat the two kings Virata and Drupada. And the revered and aged rulers of the earth, and Valarama and Krishna along with their father, all sat there. And close to the king of Panchala was seated the great hero of the race of Sini, together with the son of Rohini. And side by side with the king of the Matsya sat Krishna and Yudhishthira, and all the sons of king Drupada, and Bhima and Arjuna, and the two sons of Madri, and Pradyumna and Samva, both valiant in battle, and Abhimanyu with Virata’s sons. And those princes, the sons of Draupadi, rivalling their fathers in valour, strength, grace, and prowess, sat upon excellent seats inlaid with gold. And when those mighty heroes wearing shining ornaments and robes had set themselves down, that gorgeous assembly of kings looked beautiful like the firmament spangled with resplendent stars. And those valiant men, assembled together, having conversed with one another upon various topics, remained for some time in a pensive mood, with their eyes fixed upon Krishna. And at the end of their talk, Krishna drew their attention to the affairs of the Pandavas. And those powerful kings together listened to Krishna’s speech, pregnant and lofty. And Krishna said, It is known to you all, how this Yudhishthira was deceitfully defeated at dice by the son of Suvala, and how he was robbed of his kingdom and how a stipulation was made by him concerning his exile in the forest. And capable as they were of conquering the earth by force, the sons of Pandu remained firm in their plighted faith. And accordingly for six and seven years these incomparable men accomplished the cruel task imposed upon them. And this last, the thirteenth year, was exceedingly hard for them to pass. Yet unrecognised by any one they have passed it, as known to you, suffering unendurable hardships of various kinds. This is known to you all. These illustrious men have spent the thirteenth year, employed in menial service of others. This being so, it is for you to consider what will be for the good of both Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, and what, as regards the Kurus and the Pandavas, will be consistent with the rules of righteousness and, propriety and what will meet with the approbation of all. The virtuous king Yudhishthira would not unrighteously covet even the celestial kingdom. But righteously he would accept the rule even of a single village. How the sons of Dhritarashtra fraudulently robbed him of his paternal kingdom, and how he hath passed a life of unendurable hardships, are known to all the kings assembled here. The sons of Dhritarashtra are incapable of overcoming by strength Arjuna, the son of Pritha. Nevertheless, king Yudhishthira and his friends have no other desire than the good of Dhritarashtra’s son. These brave sons of Kunti, and the two sons of Madri, ask for only what they themselves, achieving victory in battle, had won from the defeated kings. You, no doubt, know full well how those enemies of the Pandavas— with the object of possessing themselves of the kingdom, endeavoured by various means to destroy them, when they were yet mere boys. So wicked and rancorous they were. Consider, how grasping they are and how virtuous Yudhishthira is. Consider also the relationship that exists between them. I beseech you all to consult together and also think separately. The Pandavas have always had a regard for truth. They have fulfilled their promise to the very letter. If now treated wrongfully by the sons of Dhritarashtra, they would slay them all though banded together. They have friends, who, on being informed of their unworthy treatment at the hands of others, would stand by them, engaged in fight with their persecutors, and willingly slay them even if they should lose their own lives for it. If you suppose them to be too few to be capable of winning a victory over their enemies, you must know that united together and followed by their friends, they would, no doubt, try their utmost to destroy those enemies. What Duryodhana thinks is not exactly known, nor what he may do. When the mind of the other side is not known, what opinion can be formed by you as to what is best to be done? Therefore, let a person, virtuous and honest and of respectable birth, and wary,— an able ambassador, set out to beseech them mildly for inducing them to give half the kingdom to Yudhishthira. Having listened to the speech of Krishna, marked by prudence and a regard for virtue and showing a pacific and impartial spirit, his elder brother then addressed the assembly bestowing high encomiums on the words of the younger brother.’”


Section II

“Baladeva said, ‘You have all listened to the speech of him who is the elder brother of Gada, characterised as it is by a sense of virtue and prudence, and salutary alike to Yudhishthira and king Duryodhana. These valiant sons of Kunti are ready to give up half their kingdom, and they make this sacrifice for the sake of Duryodhana. The sons of Dhritarashtra, therefore, should give up half of the kingdom, and should rejoice and be exceedingly happy with us that the quarrel can be so satisfactorily settled. These mighty persons having obtained the kingdom would, no doubt, be pacified and happy, provided the opposite party behave well. For them to be pacified will redound to the welfare of men. And I should be well-pleased if somebody from here, with the view of pacifying both the Kurus and the Pandavas, should undertake a journey and ascertain what is the mind of Duryodhana and explain the views of Yudhishthira. Let him respectfully salute Bhishma the heroic scion of Kuru’s race, and the magnanimous son of Vichitravirya, and Drona along with his son, and Vidura and Kripa, and the king of Gandhara, along with the Suta’s son. Let him also pay his respects to all the other sons of Dhritarashtra, to all who are renowned for strength and learning, devoted to their proper duties, heroic, and conversant with signs of the times. When all these persons are gathered together and when also the elderly citizens are assembled, let him speak words full of humility and likely to serve the interests of Yudhishthira, At all events, let them not be provoked, for they have taken possession of the kingdom with a strong hand. When Yudhishthira had his throne, he forgot himself by being engaged in gambling and was dispossessed by them of his kingdom. This valiant Kuru, this descendant of Ajamida, Yudhishthira, though not skilled in dice and though dissuaded by all his friends, challenged the son of the king of Gandhara, an adept at dice, to the match. There were then at that place thousands of dice-players whom Yudhishthira could defeat in a match. Taking however, no notice of any of them, he challenged Suvala’s son of all men to the game, and so he lost. And although the dice constantly went against him, he would still have Sakuni alone for his opponent. Competing with Sakuni in the play, he sustained a crushing defeat. For this, no blame can attach to Sakuni. Let the messenger make use of words characterised by humility, words intended to conciliate Vichitravirya’s son. The messenger may thus bring round Dhritarashtra’s son to his own views. Do not seek war with the Kurus; address Duryodhana in only a conciliatory tone, The object may possibly fail to be gained by war, but it may be gained by conciliation, and by this means also it may be gained enduringly.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘While that valiant scion of Madhu’s race was even continuing his speech, the gallant son of the race of Sini suddenly rose up and indignantly condemned the words of the former by these words of his.’


Section III

“Satyaki said, ‘Even as a man’s heart is, so doth he speak! Thou art speaking in strict conformity with the nature of thy heart. There are brave men, and likewise those that are cowards. Men may be divided into these two well defined classes. As upon a single large tree there may be two boughs one of which beareth fruits while the other doth not, so from the self-same line of progenitors may spring persons that are imbecile as well as those that are endowed with great strength O thou bearing the sign of a plough on thy banner, I do not, in sooth, condemn the words thou hast spoken, but I simply condemn those, O son of Madhu, who are listening to thy words! How, indeed, can he, who unblushingly dares attach even the slightest blame in the virtuous king Yudhishthira be permitted to speak at all in the midst of the assembly? Persons clever in the game of dice challenged the magnanimous Yudhishthira unskilled as he is in play, and confiding in them he was defeated! Can such persons be said to have virtuously won the game? If they had come to Yudhishthira while playing in this house with his brothers and defeated him there, then what they would have won would have been righteously won. But they challenged Yudhishthira who was bound in conscience to follow the rules observed by the military caste, and they won by a trick. What is there in this conduct of theirs that is righteous? And how can this Yudhishthira here, having performed to the utmost the stipulations entered into by way of stakes in the play, freed from the promise of a sojourn in the forest, and therefore entitled to his ancestral throne, humble himself? Even if Yudhishthira coveted other people’s possessions, still it would not behove him to beg! How can they be said to be righteous and not intent on usurping the throne when, although the Pandavas have lived out their sojourn of concealment unrecognised, they still say that the latter had been recognised? They were besought by Bhishma and the magnanimous Drona, but they would not yet consent to give back to the Pandavas the throne that belongeth to them by right of birth. The means with which I would beseech them would be sharp arrows. I shall fight and with a strong hand force them to prostrate themselves at the feet of the illustrious son of Kunti. If, however, they do not bow at the feet of the wise Yudhishthira, then they and their partisans must go to the regions of Yama. When Yuyudhana (myself) is enraged and resolved to fight, they, to be sure, are unequal to withstand his impetus, as mountains are unable to resist that of the thunderbolt. Who can withstand Arjuna in fight, or him who hath the discus for his weapon in battle, or myself as well? Who can withstand the unapproachable Bhima? And who, having regard for his life, would come near the twin brothers who firmly grasp their bows and resemble the death-dealing Yama in intelligence? Who would approach Dhrishtadyumna, the son of Drupada, or these five sons of the Pandavas who have added lustre to Draupadi’s name, rivalling their fathers in valour, equal to them in every respect and full of martial pride, or him of the powerful bow, Subhadra’s son, irresistible by even the gods themselves; or Gada, or Pradyumna, or Samva, resembling Yama or the thunderbolt or fire? We shall slay Dhritarashtra’s son and Sakuni and Karna in battle, and place the Pandava on the throne. There is no sin in slaying them that are bent on slaying us: but to be a beggar before foes is both impious and infamous. I ask you to be diligent in doing that which is heartily desired by Yudhishthira. Let Pandu’s son get back the kingdom resigned by Dhritarashtra! Either Yudhishthira should get back his kingdom this very day or all our enemies shall lie down on the earth slain by me!’


Section IV

“Drupada said, ‘O mighty-armed one, it will, without doubt, be even as thou hast said! Never will Duryodhana give up the kingdom by peaceful means, and Dhritarashtra, who dotes on his son, will follow him in his wish. And so will Bhishma and Drona from imbecility, and Karna and Sakuni from folly. The words of Valadeva command themselves to my judgment; the course pointed out by him should, indeed, be followed by a man who desires peaceful settlement. But Duryodhana should never be addressed in mild words. Vicious by nature, he, I believe cannot be brought to reason by mildness. In respect of an ass, mildness is in place; but in respect of animals of the bovine species, severity should be resorted to. If any one were to speak mild words to Duryodhana, vicious by nature that wicked wight would consider the speaker to be an imbecile person. If a mild course is adopted towards him, the fool will think that he has won. Let us do even this, let us make preparations; let us send word to our friends that they may collect an army for us. Let speedy messengers go to Salya, and Dhrishtaketu, and Jayatsena, and the prince of the Kekayas. Duryodhana also, on his part, will send word to all the kings, Rightminded persons, however, respond to the request of those that first beseech them. Therefore, I ask you to make haste in first preferring your suit to these rulers of men. Meseems that a great undertaking is awaiting us. Quickly send word to Salya, and to the kings under him, and to king Bhagadatta of immeasurable valour residing on the eastern sea-coast, and to fierce Hardikya, and Ahuka, and the king of the Mallas of powerful understanding, and Rochamana. Let Vrihanta be summoned and king Senavindu, and Vahlika and Mudjakesa and the ruler of the Chedis, and Suparsva, Suvahu; and that great hero, Paurava; and also the kings of the Sakas, the Pahlavas, and the Daradas, and Surari, and Nadija, and king Karnavest, and Nila, and the valiant king Viradharman; and Durjaya, and Dantavakra, and Rukmi, and Janamejaya; and Ashada and Vayuvega, and king Purvapali; and Bhuritejas, and Devaka, and Ekalaya with his sons; and also the kings of the Krausha race, and the valiant Kshemamurti, and the kings of the Kamboja and the Richika tribes, and of the western sea-coast; and Jayatsena and the king of Kashi, and the rulers of the land of the five rivers, and the proud son of Kratha, and the rulers of the mountain regions, and Janaki, and Susarman and Maniman, and Potimatsyaka, and the valiant Dhrishtaketu, and the ruler of the kingdom of Pansu; and Paundra, and Dandadhara, and the brave Vrihatsena; and Aparajita, and Nishada and Srenimat and Vasumat; and Vrihadvala of great strength, and Vahu the conqueror of hostile cities; and the warlike king Samudrasena with his son; and Uddhava, and Kshemaka and king Vatadhana; and Srutayus, and Dridhayus, and the gallant son of Salwa; and the king of the Kalingas, and Kumara, unconquerable in battle. Speedily send word to these. This is what recommends itself to me. And let this my priest, learned Brahmana, be sent, O king, to Dhritarashtra. Tell him the words he is to say and what Duryodhana should be told; and how Bhishma is to be addressed, and how Drona, that best of car-warriors!”


Section V

“Krishna said, ‘These worlds are worthy of the chief of the Somaka tribe, and are calculated to promote the interests of Pandu’s son of immeasurable strength. As we are desirous of adopting a politic course, this is, no doubt, our first duty; a man acting otherwise would be a great fool. But our relationship to both the Kurus and the Pandus is equal, howsoever these two parties may behave with each other. Both you and we have been invited here on the occasion of a marriage. The marriage having now been celebrated, let us go home well-pleased. You are the foremost of kings, both in years and learning; and here we all, no doubt are as if your pupils. Dhritarashtra has always entertained a great respect for you; and you are also a friend of the preceptors Drona and Kripa. I, therefore, ask you to send a message (to the Kurus) in the interests of the Pandavas. We all resolve even upon this that you should send a message unto them. If that chief of the Kuru race should make peace on equitable terms, then the brotherly feelings between the Kuras and the Pandus will sustain no injury. If on the other hand, the son of Dhritarashtra should wax haughty and from folly refuse to make peace, then, having summoned others, summon us too. The holder of Gadiva then will be fired with wrath and the dull-headed and wicked Duryodhana, with his partisans and friends, will meet his fate.’