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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

“Aswatthaman said, ‘The kine, O Karna, have not yet been won, nor have they yet crossed the boundary (of their owner’s dominions), nor have they yet reached Hastinapura. Why dost thou, therefore, boast of thyself? Having won numerous battles, and acquired enormous wealth, and vanquished hostile hosts, men of true heroism speak not a word of their prowess. Fire burneth mutely and mutely doth the sun shine. Mutely also doth the Earth bear creatures, both mobile and immobile.

The Self-existent hath sanctioned such offices for the four orders that having recourse to them each may acquire wealth without being censurable. A Brahmana, having studied the Vedas, should perform sacrifices himself, and officiate at the sacrifices of others. And a Kshatriya, depending upon the bow, should perform sacrifices himself but should never officiate at the sacrifices of others. And of Vaisya, having earned wealth, should cause the rites enjoined in the Vedas to be performed for himself. A Sudra should always wait upon and serve the other three orders. As regards those that live by practising the profession of flowers and vendors of meat, they may earn wealth by expedients fraught with deceit and fraud. Always acting according to the dictates of the scriptures, the exalted sons of Pandu acquired the sovereignty of the whole earth, and they always act respectfully towards their superiors, even if the latter prove hostile to them. What Kshatriya is there that expressed delight at having obtained a kingdom by means of dice, like this wicked and shameless son of Dhritarashtra? Having acquired wealth in this way by deceit and fraud like a vendor of meat, who that is wise boast of it? In what single combat didst thou vanquish Dhananjaya, or Nakula, or Sahadeva, although thou hast robbed them of their wealth? In what battle didst thou defeat Yudhishthira, or Bhima that foremost of strong men? In what battle was Indraprastha conquered by thee? What thou hast done, however, O thou of wicked deeds, is to drag that princess to court while she was ill and had but one raiment on? Thou hast cut the mighty root, delicate as the sandal, of the Pandava tree.

Actuated by desire of wealth, when thou madest the Pandavas act as slaves, rememberest thou what Vidura said! We see that men and others, even insects and ants, show forgiveness according to their power of endurance. The son of Pandu, however, is incapable of forgiving the sufferings of Draupadi. Surely, Dhananjaya cometh here for the destruction of the sons of Dhritarashtra. It is true, affecting great wisdom, thou art for making speeches but will not Vibhatsu, that slayer of foes, exterminate us all! If it be gods, or Gandharvas or Asuras, or Rakshasas, will Dhananjaya the son of Kunti, desist to fight from panic? Inflamed with wrath upon whomsoever he will fall, even him he will overthrow like a tree under the weight of Garuda! Superior to thee in prowess, in bowmanship equal unto the lord himself of the celestials, and in battle equal unto Vasudeva himself, who is there that would not praise Partha? Counteracting celestial weapons with celestial, and human weapons with human, what man is a match for Arjuna? Those acquainted with the scriptures declare that a disciple is no way inferior to a son, and it is for this that the son of Pandu is a favourite of Drona.

Employ thou the means now which thou hadst adopted in the match at dice,–the same means, viz., by which thou hadst subjugated Indraprastha, and the same means by which thou hadst dragged Krishna to the assembly! This thy wise uncle, fully conversant with the duties of the Kshatriya order–this deceitful gambler Sakuni, the prince of Gandhara, let him fight now! The Gandiva, however, doth not cast dice such as the Krita or the Dwapara, but it shooteth upon foes blazing and keen-edged shafts by myriads. The fierce arrows shot from the Gandiva, endued with great energy and furnished with vulturine wings, car, pierce even mountains. The destroyer of all, named Yama, and Vayu, and the horse-faced Agni, leave some remnant behind, but Dhananjaya inflamed with wrath never doth so. As thou hadst, aided by thy uncle, played a dice in the assembly so do fight in this battle protected by Suvala’s son. Let the preceptor, if he chooses fight; I shall not, however, fight with Dhananjaya. We are to fight with the king of the Matsyas, if indeed, he cometh in the track of the kine.’”

“Bhishma said, ‘Drona’s son observeth well, and Kripa, too observeth rightly. As for Kama, it is only out of regard for the duties of the Kshatriya order that he desireth to fight. No man of wisdom can blame the preceptor. I, however, am of opinion that fight we must, considering both the time and the place. Why should not that man be bewildered who hath five adversaries effulgent as five suns, who are heroic combatants and who have just emerged from adversity? Even those conversant with morality are bewildered in respect of their own interests. It is for this, O king, that I tell thee this, whether my words be acceptable to you or not. What Karna said unto thee was only for raising our (drooping) courage. As regards thyself, O preceptor’s son, forgive everything. The business at hand is very grave. When the son of Kunti hath come, this is not the time for quarrel. Everything should now be forgiven by thyself and the preceptor Kripa. Like light in the sun, the mastery of all weapons doth reside in you.

As beauty is never separated from Chandramas, so are the Vedas and the Brahma weapon both established in you. It is often seen that the four Vedas dwell in one object and Kshatriya attributes in another. We have never heard of these two dwelling together in any other person than the preceptor of the Bharata race and his son. Even this is what I think. In the Vedantas, in the Puranas, and in old histories, who save Jamadagni, O king, would be Drona’s superior? A combination of the Brahma weapon with the Vedas,–this is never to be seen anywhere else. O preceptor’s son, do thou forgive. This is not the time for disunion. Let all of us, uniting, fight with Indra’s son who hath come. Of all the calamities that may befall an army that have been enumerated by men of wisdom, the worst is disunion among the leaders. Aswatthaman said, ‘O bull among men, these thy just observations, need not be uttered in our presence; the preceptor, however, filled with wrath, had spoken of Arjuna’s virtues. The virtues of even an enemy should be admitted, while the faults of even one’s preceptor may be pointed out; therefore one should, to the best of his power, declare the merits of a son or a disciple.’
“Duryodhana said, ‘Let the preceptor grant his forgiveness and let peace be restored. If the preceptor be at one with us, whatever should be done (in view of the present emergency) would seem to have been already done.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then, O Bharata, Duryodhana assisted by Kama and Kripa, and the high-souled Bhishma pacified Drona.’

“Drona said, ‘Appeased I have already been at the words first spoken by Bhishma, the son of Santanu. Let such arrangements be made that Partha may not be able to approach Duryodhana in battle. And let such arrangements be made that king Duryodhana may not be captured by the foe, in consequence either of his rashness or want of judgment. Arjuna hath not, to be sure, revealed himself before the expiry of the term of exile. Nor will he pardon this act (of ours) today, having only recovered the kine. Let such arrangements, therefore, be made that he may not succeed in attacking Dhritarashtra’s son and defeating our troops. Like myself (who am doubtful of the completion of period of exile) Duryodhana also had said so before. Bearing it in mind, it behoveth the son of Ganga to say what is true.’”

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