“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the son of Suvala (Sakuni), king Duryodhana,Duhsasana and Kama, in consultation with one another, formed an evilconspiracy.
With the sanction of Dhritarashtra, the king of the Kurus,they resolved to burn to death Kunti and her (five) sons. But that wiseVidura, capable of reading the heart by external signs, ascertained theintention of these wicked persons by observing their countenances alone.Then the sinless Vidura, of soul enlightened by true knowledge, anddevoted to the good of the Pandavas, came to the conclusion that Kuntiwith her children should fly away from her foes. And providing for thatpurpose a boat strong enough to withstand both wind and wave, headdressed Kunti and said, ‘This Dhritarashtra hath been born fordestroying the fame and offspring of the (Kuru) race. Of wicked soul, heis about to cast off eternal virtue. O blessed one, I have kept ready onthe stream a boat capable of withstanding both wind and wave. Escape byit with thy children from the net that death hath spread around you.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words, the illustrious Kunti wasdeeply grieved, and with her children, O bull of Bharata’s race, steppedinto the boat and went over the Ganges. Then leaving the boat accordingto the advice of Vidura, the Pandavas took with them the wealth that hadbeen given to them (while at Varanavata) by their enemies and safelyentered the deep woods. In the house of lac, however, that had beenprepared for the destruction of the Pandavas, an innocent Nishada womanwho had come there for some purpose, was, with her children burnt todeath. And that worst of Mlechchhas, the wretched Purochana (who was thearchitect employed in building the house of lac) was also burnt in theconflagration. And thus were the sons of Dhirtarashtra with theircounsellors deceived in their expectations. And thus also were theillustrious Pandavas, by the advice of Vidura, saved with their mother.But the people (of Varanavata) knew not of their safety. And the citizensof Varanavata, seeing the house of lac consumed (and believing thePandavas to have been burnt to death) became exceedingly sorry. And theysent messengers unto king Dhritarashtra to represent everything that hadhappened. And they said to the monarch, ‘Thy great end hath beenachieved! Thou hast at last burnt the Pandavas to death! Thy desirefulfilled, enjoy with thy children. O king of the Kurus, the kingdom.’Hearing this, Dhritarashtra with his children, made a show of grief, andalong with his relatives, including Kshattri (Vidura) and Bhishma theforemost of the Kurus, performed the last honours of the Pandavas.’
“Janamejaya said, ‘O best of Brahmanas, I desire to hear in full thishistory of the burning of the house of lac and the escape of the Pandavasthere from. That was a cruel act of theirs (the Kurus), acting under thecounsels of the wicked (Kanika). Recite the history to me of all thathappened. I am burning with curiosity to hear it.’
“Vaisampayana said, ‘O chastiser of all foes, listen to me, O monarch, asI recite the (history of the) burning of the house of lac and the escapeof the Pandavas. The wicked Duryodhana, beholding Bhimasena surpass(everybody) in strength and Arjuna highly accomplished in arms becamepensive and sad. Then Karna, the offspring of the Sun, and Sakuni, theson of Suvala, endeavoured by various means to compass the death of thePandavas. The Pandavas too counteracted all those contrivances one afteranother, and in obedience to the counsels of Vidura, never spoke of themafterwards. Then the citizens, beholding the son of Pandu possessed ofaccomplishments, began, O Bharata, to speak of them in all places ofpublic resort. And assembled in courtyards and other places of gathering,they talked of the eldest son of Pandu (Yudhishthira) as possessed of thequalifications for ruling the kingdom. And they said, ‘Dhritarashtra,though possessed of the eye of knowledge, having been (born) blind, hadnot obtained the kingdom before. How can he (therefore) become king now?Then Bhishma, the son of Santanu, of rigid vows and devoted to truth,having formerly relinquished the sovereignty would never accept it now.We shall, therefore, now install (on the throne) with proper ceremoniesthe eldest of the Pandavas endued with youth, accomplished in battle,versed in the Vedas, and truthful and kind. Worshipping Bhishma, the sonof Santanu and Dhritarashtra conversant with the rules of morality, hewill certainly maintain the former and the latter with his children inevery kind of enjoyment.
“The wretched Duryodhana, hearing these words of the parting partisans ofYudhishthira, became very much distressed. Deeply afflicted, the wickedprince could not put up with those speeches. Inflamed with jealousy, hewent unto Dhritarashtra, and finding him alone he saluted him withreverence and distressed at (the sight of) the partiality of the citizensfor Yudhishthira, he addressed the monarch and said, ‘O father, I haveheard the parting citizens utter words of ill omen. Passing thee by, andBhishma too, they desire the son of Pandu to be their king. Bhishma willsanction this, for he will not rule the kingdom. It seems, therefore,that the citizens are endeavouring to inflict a great injury on us. Panduobtained of old the ancestral kingdom by virtue of his ownaccomplishments, but thou, from blindness, didst not obtain the kingdom,though fully qualified to have it. If Pandu’s son now obtaineth thekingdom as his inheritance from Pandu, his son will obtain it after himand that son’s son also, and so on will it descend in Pandu’s line. Inthat case, O king of the world, ourselves with our children, excludedfrom the royal line, shall certainly be disregarded by all men.Therefore, O monarch, adopt such counsels that we may not sufferperpetual distress, becoming dependent on others for our food. O king, ifthou hadst obtained the sovereignty before, we would certainly havesucceeded to it, however much the people might be unfavourable to us.'”