p. 1 THE MAHABHARATA
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.'"