Chapter 52

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Janamejaya said, “When the high-souled Partha went to Indra’s region forobtaining weapons, what did Yudhishthira and the other sons of Pandu do?”

Vaisampayana said, “When the high-souled Partha went to Indra’s regionfor obtaining weapons, those bulls of the Bharata race continued to dwellwith Krishna in (the woods of) Kamyaka. One day, those foremost of theBharatas, afflicted with grief, were seated with Krishna on a clean andsolitary sward. Grieving for Dhananjaya, overwhelmed with sorrow, theirvoices were choked with weeping. Tortured by Dhananjaya’s absence, griefafflicted them equally. And filled with sorrow at their separation fromArjuna and at the loss of their kingdom, the mighty-armed Bhima amongthem addressed Yudhishthira, saying, “That Bull of the Bharata race,Arjuna, O great king, on whom depend the lives of Pandu’s sons, and onwhose death the Panchalas as also ourselves with our sons and Satyaki andVasudeva are sure to die, hath gone away at thy behest. What can besadder than this that the virtuous Vibhatsu hath gone away at thycommand, thinking of his many griefs? Depending upon the might of thatillustrious hero’s arms, regard our foes as already vanquished in battle,and the whole earth itself as already acquired by us. It was for the sakeof that mighty warrior that I refrained from sending to the other worldall the Dhartarashtras along with the Suvalas, in the midst of theassembly. Gifted with might of arms, and supported by Vasudeva, we haveto suppress the wrath that hath been roused in us, because thou art theroot of that wrath. Indeed, with Krishna’s help, slaying our foes headedby Karna, we are able to rule the entire earth (thus) conquered by ourown arms. Endued with manliness, we are yet overwhelmed with calamities,in consequence of thy gambling vice, while the foolish null ofDhritarashtra are growing stronger with the tributes (gathered fromdependent kings). O mighty monarch, it behoveth thee to keep in view theduties of the Kshatriya. O great king, it is not the duty of a Khsatriyato live in the woods. The wise are of the opinion that to rule is theforemost duty of a Kshatriya. O king, thou art conversant with Kshatriyamorality. Do not, therefore, deviate from the path of duty. Turning awayfrom the woods, let us, summoning Partha and Janardana, slay, O king, thesons of Dhritarashtra, even before the twelve years are complete. Oillustrious monarch O king of kings, even if these Dhartarashtras besurrounded by soldiers in array of battle, I shall send them to the otherworld by dint of might alone. I shall slay all the sons of Dhritarashtraalong with the Sauvalas, indeed, Duryodhana, Karna, and any one else thatwill fight with me. And after I shall have slain all our foes, thou maystcome back unto the woods. By acting thus, O king, no fault will be thine.(Or if any sin be thine), O represser of foes, O mighty monarch, washingit off, O sire, by various sacrifices, we may ascend to a superiorheaven. Such a consummation may come to pass, if our king proveth notunwise or procrastinating. Thou art, however, virtuous. Verily thedeceitful should be destroyed by deceit. To slay the deceitful by deceit,is not regarded as sinful. O Bharata, it is, also said by those versed inmorality that one day and night is, O great prince, equal unto a fullyear. The Veda text also, exalted one, is often heard, signifying that ayear is equivalent to a day when passed in the observance of certaindifficult vows. O thou of unfading glory, if the Vedas are an authoritywith thee, regard thou the period of a day and something more as theequivalent of thirteen years. O represser of foes, this is the time toslay Duryodhana with his adherents. Else, O king, he will beforehandbring the whole earth obedient to his will. O foremost of monarchs, allthis is the result of thy addiction to gambling. We are on the verge ofdestruction already, in consequence of thy promise of living one yearundiscovered. I do not find the country where, if we live, thewicked-minded Suyodhana may not be able to trace us by his spies. Andfinding us out, that wretch will again deceitfully send us into suchexile in the woods. Or if that sinful one beholdeth us emerge, after theexpiry of the pledged period of non-discovery, he will again invite thee,O great king, to dice, and the play will once more begin. Summoned oncemore, thou wilt again efface thyself at dice. Thou art not skilled atdice, and when summoned at play, thou wilt be deprived of thy senses.Therefore, O mighty monarch thou wilt have to lead a life in the woodsagain. If, O mighty king, it behoveth thee not to make us wretched forlife, observe thou fully the ordinance of the Vedas, (which inculcateththat) verily the deceitful ought to be slain by deceit. If I but have thycommand I would go (to Hastinapura) and, even as fire falling upon a heapof grass consumeth it, would slay Duryodhana, putting forth my utmostmight. It behoveth thee, therefore, to grant me the permission.'”

Vaisampayana continued, “Thus addressed by Bhima, king Yudhishthira thejust, smelt the crown of that son of Pandu, and pacifying him said, ‘Omighty-armed one, without doubt, thou wilt, assisted by the wielder ofthe Gandiva, slay Suyodhana at the expiry of the thirteenth year. But, Oson of Pritha, as for thy assertion, ‘O Lord, the time is complete’, Icannot dare tell an untruth, for untruth is not in me. O son of Kunti,without the help of fraud, wilt thou kill the wicked and irrepressibleDuryodhana, with his allies.’

“While Yudhishthira the just, was speaking unto Bhima thus, there camethe great and illustrious Rishi Vrihadaswa before them. And beholdingthat virtuous ascetic before him, the righteous king worshipped himaccording to the ordinance, with the offering of Madhuparka. And when theascetic was seated and refreshed, the mighty-armed Yudhishthira sat byhim, and looking up at the former, addressed him thus in exceedinglypiteous accents:

‘O holy one, summoned by cunning gamblers skilled at dice, I have beendeprived of wealth and kingdom through gambling. I am not an adept atdice, and am unacquainted with deceit. Sinful men, by unfair means,vanquished me at play. They even brought into the public assembly my wifedearer unto me than life itself. And defeating me a second time, theyhave sent me to distressful exile in this great forest, clad in deerskins. At present I am leading a distressful life in the woods in griefof heart. Those harsh and cruel speeches they addressed me on theoccasion of that gambling match, and the words of my afflicted friendsrelating to the match at dice and other subjects, are all stored up in myremembrance. Recollecting them I pass the whole night in (sleepless)anxiety. Deprived also (of the company) of the illustrious wielder of theGandiva, on whom depend the lives of us all, I am almost deprived oflife. Oh, when shall I see the sweet-speeched and large-hearted Vibhatsuso full of kindness and activity, return to us, having obtained allweapons? Is there a king on this earth who is more unfortunate thanmyself? Hast thou ever seen or heard of any such before? To my thinking,there is no man more wretched than I am.’

“Vrihadaswa said, ‘O great king, O son of Pandu, thou sayest, ‘There isno person more miserable than I am’ O sinless monarch, if thou wiltlisten, I will relate unto thee the history of a king more wretched thanthyself?

Vaisampayana continued, “And thereupon the king said unto the ascetic, ‘Oillustrious one, tell me, I desire to hear the history of the king whohad fallen into such a condition.’

“Vrihadaswa said, ‘O king, O thou that never fallest off, listenattentively with thy brothers, I will narrate the history of a princemore miserable than thyself. There was a celebrated king among theNishadhas, named Virasena. He had a son named Nala, versed in (theknowledge of) virtue and wealth. It hath been heard by us that, that kingwas deceitfully defeated by Pushkara, and afflicted with calamity, hedwelt in the woods with his spouse. And, O king, while he was living inthe forest, he had neither slaves nor cars, neither brother nor friendswith him. But thou art surrounded by thy heroic brothers like unto thecelestials, and also by foremost regenerate ones like unto Brahmahimself. Therefore, it behoveth thee not to grieve.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I am anxious to hear in detail, O thou foremost ofeloquent men, the history of the illustrious Nala. It behoveth theetherefore to relate it unto me.’

Chapter 21
Chapter 22