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Chapter 113

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me O bull of Bharata’s race, how a king,without the usual aids, having obtained a kingdom that is so precious apossession, behave himself towards a powerful foe.’

“Bhishma said, In this connection is cited the old story of the discoursebetween the Ocean and the Rivers. In days of old, eternal Ocean, thatlord of Rivers, that refuge of the foes of the celestials, asked all theRivers for resolving this doubt that had arisen in his mind.’

“The Ocean said, ‘Ye Rivers, I see that all of you, with your fullcurrents, bring away trees of large trunks, tearing them off with theirroots and branches. Ye do not, however, ever bring to me a cane. Thecanes that grow on your banks are of mean stems and destitute ofstrength. Do you refuse to wash them down through contempt, or are theyof any use to you? I desire, therefore, to hear what the motive is thatinspires all of you. Indeed, why is it that canes are not washed down byany of you, uprooted from the banks where they grow?’ Thus addressed, theRiver Ganga, replied unto Ocean, that lord of all Rivers, in these wordsof grave import, fraught with reason, and, therefore, acceptable to all.’

“Ganga said, ‘Trees stand in one and the same place and are unyielding inrespect of the spot where they stand. In consequence of this dispositionof theirs to resist our currents, they are obliged to leave the place oftheir growth. Canes, however, act differently. The cane, beholding theadvancing current, bends to it. The others do not act in that way. Afterthe current has passed away, the cane resumes its former posture. Thecane knows the virtues of Time and opportunity. It is docile andobedient. It is yielding, without being stiff. For these reasons, itstands where it grows, without having to come with us. Those plants,trees, and creepers that bend and rise before the force of wind andwater, have never to suffer discomfiture (by being taken up by theroots).’

“Bhishma continued, ‘That person who does not yield to the power of a foethat has advanced in might and that is competent to imprison or kill,soon meets with destruction.[345] That man of wisdom who acts afterascertaining fully the strength and weakness, the might and energy, ofhimself and his foe, has never to suffer discomfiture. An intelligentman, therefore, when he sees his enemy to be more powerful than himself,should adopt the behaviour of the cane. That is an indication of wisdom.'”

Chapter 115
Chapter 112
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