Yudhiṣṭhira made his way into the enemy ranks and walked straight to Bhīṣma. He bowed down to the grandsire, touched his feet, and said with great humility, “Grandfather, I am going to fight against you in this war; please give me permission. I seek your blessings.”
नरञ्चैव नरोत्तमम् ।
देवीं सरस्वतीं व्यासं
ततो जयमुदीरयेत् ॥
Having saluted Nārāyaṇa,
the human and the divine;
Sarasvatī; and Vyāsa –
May Jayabe hailed!
Kṛṣṇa reached Upaplavya, met the Pāṇḍavas and narrated everything that transpired in Hastināpura. He finished by saying these words – “Though Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Vidura, Gāndhārī, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, and others tried to counsel Duryodhana, he refused to listen. He never changed his mind. He only got enraged, his eyes turned red and he left the court without caring for anyone. He was followed by the kings who had taken shelter under him. He commanded them all – ‘Head to Kurukṣetra! The Puṣya star is high today!’ They left with Bhīṣma as their commander-in-chief.
Kṛṣṇa paid his salutations to Kuntī and informed her of everything that transpired in the Kuru court. “I’ll take leave of you, dear aunt. I need to get back to the Pāṇḍavas as soon as possible. What shall I tell them?” he asked her.
As he heard Kṛṣṇa’s words, Duryodhana turned towards him and snapped. “Kṛṣṇa! You should think about this once more thoroughly and then speak to us. You have criticised me too much in your speech. Everyone seems to be upset with me – you, Vidura, father, grandfather, ācārya, and everyone else. I fail to figure out what my mistake is, in whatever has transpired so far. The Pāṇḍavas came forward to gamble on their own accord because they love the game. Śakuni won their kingdom. What is wrong with it? Whatever little they won in the game, they took with them.
The next morning, Kṛṣṇa woke up and got ready to leave. Duryodhana and Śakuni came to Vidura’s house and informed Kṛṣṇa that Dhṛtarāṣṭra had arrived at the royal court and was looking forward to his arrival. Kṛṣṇa and Vidura left for the court in a chariot. They were followed by Duryodhana, Śakuni, Sātyakī, Kṛtavarma, and the others. Kṛṣṇa’s chariot was followed by warriors wearing strange clothes carrying war weapons. The entourage also consisted of several horses and elephants. As Kṛṣṇa entered the court amidst such grandeur, conches blew to announce his arrival.
The next day, Kṛṣṇa left from Vṛkasthaḻa and headed towards Hastināpura. Bhīṣma, Droṇa and other older Kauravas received him on the way. The entire city was decorated. The path was filled with hordes of people and the crowd slowed down Kṛṣṇa’s horse. A large number of people had gathered on rooftops and it seemed as though the buildings would collapse because of their weight! Kṛṣṇa visited Dhṛtarāṣṭra at his palace, paid his respect to the King and to the other elders. After spending some time chatting with the Kauravas, he went to Vidura’s house.
Draupadī was pained listening to the coward speech of Dharmarāja, to which he had given a dhārmic garb. She was also annoyed looking at Bhīma who seemed to have lost his vigour. Fortunately, however, Sahadeva’s words gave her some solace. With tears in her eyes, she pleaded with Kṛṣṇa, “Janārdana! If the Kauravas refuse giving us our share of the land and try to strike a compromise, please don’t accept it. They are not worthy of our compassion. A greedy kṣatriya should be vanquished by another. I again and again need to pose the same question to you.
Bhīmasena said, “I suggest you speak to the Kauravas and try to ensure peace between us. Don’t scare them with the prospect of a war even as you start speaking! Let us try to bring things under control using the path of sāma, i.e. reconciliation through peaceful means. Don’t get agitated with them. Duryodhana is a greedy person and is full of malice. He is adamant and will not give up his stance even if he has to give up his life. It's difficult to strike a chord of harmony with such a person. He has no concern for dharma and doesn't care for his friends.
The night was spent in their conversation. The next morning the Kauravas and their nobles assembled in the king’s court, curious to hear the message Sañjaya had brought for them. Bhīṣma, Drona and the other elders entered the court along with Dhṛtarāṣṭra, while Karṇa and Śakuni accompanied Duryodhana. Sañjaya entered the court, sought the permission of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and narrated all that transpired when he met Yudhiṣṭhira and Śrīkṛṣṇa. He made their message known to the court.
Dhṛtarāṣṭra asked, “What was Arjuna’s reply to Kṛṣṇa’s words?”