Vaisampayana said,–‘The royal messenger, agreeably to the commands ofthe intelligent king Dhritarashtra, coming upon Yudhishthira, the son of Pritha who had by that time gone a great way, addressed the monarch and said,–‘Even these are the words of thy father-like uncle, O Bharata,spoken unto thee, ‘The assembly is ready.
O son of Pandu, O kingYudhisthira, come and cast the dice.’
Yudhishthira said,–‘Creatures obtain fruits good and ill according tothe dispensation of the Ordainer of the creation. Those fruits areinevitable whether I play or not. This is a summons to dice; it is,besides the command of the old king. Although I know that it will provedestructive to me, yet I cannot refuse.’
Vaisampayana continued,–“Although (a living) animal made of gold was animpossibility, yet Rama suffered himself to be tempted by a (golden)deer. Indeed, the minds of men over whom calamities hang, became derangedand out of order. Yudhishthira, therefore, having said these words,retraced his steps along with his brothers. And knowing full well thedeception practised by Sakuni, the son of Pritha came back to sit at dicewith him again. These mighty warriors again entered that assembly,afflicting the hearts of all their friends. And compelled by Fate theyonce more sat down at ease for gambling for the destruction ofthemselves.”
“Sakuni then said,–‘The old king hath given ye back all your wealth.That is well. But, O bull of the Bharata race, listen to me, there is astake of great value. Either defeated by ye at dice, dressed in deerskins we shall enter the great forest and live there for twelve yearspassing the whole of the thirteenth year in some inhabited region,unrecognised, and if recognised return to an exile of another twelveyears; or vanquished by us, dressed in deer skins ye shall, with Krishna,live for twelve years in the woods passing the whole of the thirteenthyear unrecognised, in some inhabited region. If recognised, an exile ofanother twelve years is to be the consequence. On the expiry of thethirteenth year, each is to have his kingdom surrendered by the other. OYudhishthira, with this resolution, play with us, O Bharata, casting thedice.’
“At these words, they that were in that assembly, raising up their armssaid in great anxiety of mind, and from the strength of their feelingsthese words,–‘Alas, fie on the friends of Duryodhana that they do notapprise him of his great danger. Whether he, O bull among the Bharatas,(Dhritarashtra) understandeth or not, of his own sense, it is thy duty totell him plainly.”
“Vaisampayana continued,–King Yudhishthira, even hearing these variousremarks, from shame and a sense of virtue again sat at dice. And thoughpossessed of great intelligence and fully knowing the consequences, heagain began to play, as if knowing that the destruction of the Kurus wasat hand.
“And Yudhishthira said,–‘How can, O Sakuni, a king like me, alwaysobservant of the uses of his own order, refuse, when summoned to dice?Therefore I play with thee.”
“Sakuni answered,–‘We have many kine and horses, and milch cows, and aninfinite number of goats and sheep; and elephants and treasures and goldand slaves both male and female. All these were staked by us before butnow let this be our one stake, viz., exile into the woods,–beingdefeated either ye or we will dwell in the woods (for twelve years) andthe thirteenth year, unrecognised, in some inhabited place. Ye bullsamong men, with this determination, will we play.”
“O Bharata, this proposal about a stay in the woods was uttered but once.The son of Pritha, however, accepted it and Sakuni took up the dice. Andcasting them he said unto Yudhishthira,–‘Lo, I have won.”