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Chapter 55

Mahabharata English - SABHAKRIYA PARVA

“Sakuni said,–O thou foremost of victorious persons, I will snatch (forthee) this prosperity of Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, at the sight ofwhich thou grievest so.

Therefore, O king, let Yudhishthira the son ofKunti be summoned. By throwing dice a skilful man, himself uninjured, mayvanquish one that hath no skill. Know, O Bharata, that betting is my bow,the dice are my arrows, the marks on them my bow-string, and thedice-board my car.

“Duryodhana said,–‘This Sukuni skilled at dice, is ready, O king, tosnatch the prosperity of the son of Pandu by means of dice. It behoveththee to give him permission.

“Dhritarashtra said,–‘I am obedient to the counsels of my brother, theillustrious Vidura. Consulting with him, I shall tell what should be donein this matter.

“Duryodhana said,–‘Vidura is always engaged in doing good to the sons ofPandu. O Kaurava, his feelings towards us are otherwise. He will,therefore, without doubt, withdraw thy heart from the proposed act. Noman should set himself to any task depending upon the counsels ofanother, for, O son of Kuru’s race, the minds of two persons seldom agreein any particular act. The fool that liveth shunning all causes of fearwasteth himself like an insect in the rainy season. Neither sickness norYama waiteth till one is in prosperity. So long, therefore, as there islife and health, one should (without waiting for prosperity) accomplishhis purpose.’

“Dhritarashtra said,–‘O son, hostility with those that are strong, iswhat never recommendeth itself to me. Hostility bringeth about a changeof feelings, and that itself is a weapon though not made of steel. Thouregardest, O Prince, as a great blessing what will bring in its train theterrible consequences of war. What is really fraught with mischief. Ifonce it beginneth, it will create sharp swords and pointed arrows.’

“Duryodhana replied,–‘Men of the most ancient times invented the use ofdice. There is no destruction in it, nor is there any striking with,weapons. Let the words of Sakuni, therefore, be acceptable to thee, andlet thy command be issued for the speedy construction of the assemblyhouse. The door of heaven, leading us to such happiness, will be openedto us by gambling. Indeed, they that betake to gambling (with such aid)deserve such good fortune. The Pandavas then will become thy equals(instead of, as now, superiors); therefore, gamble thou with the Pandavas.

“Dhritarashtra said.–‘The words uttered by thee do not recommendthemselves to me. Do what may be agreeable to thee, O ruler of men. Butthou shall have to repent for acting according to these words; for, wordsthat are fraught with such immorality can never bring prosperity in thefuture. Even this was foreseen by the learned Vidura ever treading thepath of truth and wisdom. Even the great calamity, destructive of thelives of the Kshatriyas, cometh as destined by fate.'”

Vaisampayana continued–“Having said this, the weak-minded Dhritarashtraregarded fate as supreme and unavoidable. And the king deprived of reasonby Fate, and obedient to the counsels of his son, commanded his men inloud voice, saying–‘Carefully construct, without loss of time, anassembly house of the most beautiful description, to be called thecrystal-arched palace with a thousand columns, decked with gold and lapislazuli, furnished with a hundred gates, and full two miles in length andin breadth the same.’ Hearing those words of his, thousands of artificersendued with intelligence and skill soon erected the palace with thegreatest alacrity, and having erected it brought thither every kind ofarticle. And soon after they cheerfully represented unto the king thatthe palace had been finished, and that it as delightful and handsome andfurnished with every kind of gems and covered with many-coloured carpetsinlaid with gold. Then king Dhritarashtra, possessed of learning,summoning Vidura the chief of his ministers, said:–‘Repairing, (toKhandavaprastha), bring prince Yudhishthira here without loss of time.Let him come hither with his brothers, and behold his handsome assemblyhouse of mine, furnished with countless jewels and gems, and costly bedsand carpets, and let a friendly match at dice commence here.'”

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