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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA
‘Are we to know you as Kshatriyas, or Brahamanas, or are we to know you as celestials who disguising themselves as Brahmanas are ranging the earth and come hither for the hand of Krishna? O tell us truly, for we have great doubts! Shall we not be glad when our doubts have been removed? O chastiser of enemies, have the fates been propitious unto us? Tell us the truth willingly! Truth becometh monarchs better than sacrifices and dedications of tanks. Therefore, tell us not what is untrue.
O thou of the beauty of a celestial, O chastiser of foes, hearing thy reply I shall make arrangements for my daughter’s wedding according to the order to which ye belong.’
Thy daughter, O monarch, hath like a lotus been transferred only from one lake into another. O king, thou art our revered superior and chief refuge. I have told thee the whole truth.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing those words, the king Drupada’s eyes rolled in ecstasy. And. filled with delight the king could not, for some moments answer Yudhishthira. Checking his emotion with great effort, that chastiser of foes at last replied unto Yudhishthira in proper words. The virtuous monarch enquired how the Pandavas had escaped from the town of Varanavata.
The son of Pandu told the monarch every particular in detail of their escape from the burning palace of lac. Hearing everything that the son of Kunti said, king Drupada censured Dhritarashtra, that ruler of men. And the monarch gave every assurance unto Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti. And that foremost of eloquent men then and there vowed to restore Yudhishthira to his paternal throne.
“Then Kunti and Krishna and Bhima and Arjuna and the twins, commanded by the king, to reside there, treated by Yajnasena with due respect. Then king Drupada with his sons, assured by all that had happened, approaching Yudhishthira, said, ‘O thou of mighty arms, let the Kuru prince Arjuna take with due rites, the hand of my daughter on this auspicious day, and let him, therefore, perform the usual initiatory rites of marriage.’
‘ Hearing him, Drupada said, ‘If it pleaseth thee, take thou the hand of my daughter thyself with due rites. Or, give Krishna in marriage unto whomsoever of thy brothers thou likest.’ Yudhishthira said, ‘Thy daughter, O king, shall be the common wife of us all! Even thus it hath been ordered, O monarch, by our mother. I am unmarried still, and Bhima also is so amongst the sons of Pandu. This thy jewel of a daughter hath been won by Arjuna. This, O king, is the rule with us; to ever enjoy equally a jewel that we may obtain. O best of monarchs, that rule of conduct we cannot now abandon. Krishna, therefore, shall become the wedded wife of us all. Let her take our hands, one after another before the fire.’
‘Drupada answered, ‘O scion of Kuru’s race, it hath been directed that one man may have many wives. But it hath never been heard that one woman may have many husbands! O son of Kunti, as thou art pure and acquainted with the rules of morality, it behoveth thee not to commit an act that is sinful and opposed both to usage and the Vedas. Why, O prince, hath thy understanding become so?’ Yudhishthira said in reply, ‘O monarch, morality is subtle.
We do not know its course. Let us follow the way trodden by the illustrious ones of former ages. My tongue never uttered an untruth. My heart also never turneth to what is sinful. My mother commandeth so; and my heart also approveth of it. Therefore, O king, that is quite conformable to virtue. Act according to it, without any scruples. Entertain no fear, O king, about this matter.’
“Drupada said, ‘O son of Kunti thy mother, and my son Dhrishtadyumna and thyself, settle amongst yourselves as to what should be done. Tell me the result of your deliberations and tomorrow I will do what is proper.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, O Bharata, Yudhishthira, Kunti and Dhrishtadyumna discoursed upon this matter. Just at that time, however, the island-born (Vyasa), O monarch, came there in course of his wanderings.’”
And commanded by Krishna (Dwaipayana) of immeasurable energy, those foremost of men all sat down on costly seats. A little after, O monarch, the son of Prishata in sweet accents asked the illustrious Rishi about the wedding of his daughter.
And he said, ‘How, O illustrious one, can one woman become the wife of many men without being defiled by sin? O, tell me truly all about this.’ Hearing these words Vyasa replied, ‘This practice, O king, being opposed to usage and the Vedas, hath become obsolete. I desire, however, to hear what the opinion of each of you is upon this matter.’
‘The practice is sinful in my opinion, being opposed to both usage and the Vedas. O best of Brahmanas, nowhere have I seen many men having one wife. The illustrious ones also of former ages never had such a usage amongst them. The wise should never commit a sin. I, therefore, can never make up mind to act in this way.
This practice always appeareth to me to be of doubtful morality.
We cannot do such a deed, therefore, with a safe conscience. Indeed, O Brahmana, I cannot say, ‘Let Draupadi become the common wife of five brothers.’