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Chapter 58

Mahabharata English - SABHAKRIYA PARVA

Vaisampayana said,–“The sons of Pritha with Yudhishthira at their head,having entered that assembly house, approached all the kings that werepresent there.

And worshipping all those that deserved to be worshipped,and saluting others as each deserved according to age, they seatedthemselves on seats that were clean and furnished with costly carpets.After they had taken their seats, as also all the kings, Sakuni the sonof Suvala addressed Yudhishthira and said, ‘O king, the assembly is full.All had been waiting for thee. Let, therefore, the dice be cast and therules of play be fixed, O Yudhishthira.’

‘Yudhishthira replied, ‘Deceitful gambling is sinful. There is noKshatriya prowess in it. There is certainly no morality in it. Why, then,O king, dost thou praise gambling so? The wise applaud not the pride thatgamesters feel in deceitful play. O Sakuni, vanquish us, not like awretch, by deceitful means.’

Sakuni said,–‘That high-souled player who knoweth the secrets of winningand losing, who is skilled in baffling the deceitful arts of hisconfrere, who is united in all the diverse operations of which gamblingconsisteth, truly knoweth the play, and he suffereth all in course of it.O son of Pritha, it is the staking at dice, which may be lost or won thatmay injure us. And it is for that reason that gambling is regarded as afault. Let us, therefore, O king, begin the play. Fear not. Let thestakes be fixed. Delay not!’

“Yudhishthira said,–‘That best of Munis, Devala, the son of Asita, whoalways instructeth us about all those acts that may lead to heaven, hell,or the other regions, hath said, that it is sinful to play deceitfullywith a gamester. To obtain victory in battle without cunning or stratagemis the best sport. Gambling, however, as a sport, is not so. Those thatare respectable never use the language of the Mlechchas, nor do theyadopt deceitfulness in their behaviour. War carried on withoutcrookedness and cunning, this is the act of men that are honest. Do not,O Sakuni, playing desperately, win of us that wealth with which accordingto our abilities, we strive to learn how to benefit the Brahmanas. Evenenemies should not be vanquished by desperate stakes in deceitful play. Ido not desire either happiness or wealth by means of cunning. The conductof one that is a gamester, even if it be without deceitfulness, shouldnot be applauded.’

“Sakuni said,–‘O Yudhishthira, it is from a desire of winning, which isnot a very honest motive, that one high-born person approacheth another(in a contest of race superiority). So also it is from a desire ofdefeating, which is not a very honest motive, that one learned personapproacheth another (in a contest of learning). Such motives, however,are scarcely regarded as really dishonest. So also, O Yudhishthira, aperson skilled at dice approacheth one that is not so skilled from adesire of vanquishing him. One also who is conversant with the truths ofscience approacheth another that is not from desire of victory, which isscarcely an honest motive. But (as I have already said) such a motive isnot really dishonest. And, O Yudhishthira, so also one that is skilled inweapons approacheth one that is not so skilled; the strong approacheththe weak. This is the practice in every contest. The motive is victory, OYudhishthira. If, therefore, thou, in approaching me, regardest me to beactuated by motives that are dishonest, if thou art under any fear,desist then from play.’

“Yudhishthira said,–‘Summoned, I do not withdraw. This is my establishedvow. And, O king, Fate is all powerful. We all are under the control ofDestiny. With whom in this assembly am I to play? Who is there that canstake equally with me? Let the play begin.’

“Duryodhana said,–‘O monarch, I shall supply jewels and gems and everykind of wealth. And it is for me that this Sakuni, my uncle, will play.’

“Yudhishthira said,–‘Gambling for one’s sake by the agency of anotherseemeth to me to be contrary to rule. Thou also, O learned one, willadmit this. If, however, thou art still bent on it, let the play begin.'”

Chapter 59
Chapter 57
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