Accordingly, Sañjaya went to Upaplavya to meet the Pāṇḍavas. He was welcomed with great respect and was treated with dignity. He inquired about their well-being and exchanged pleasantries. He conveyed Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s message of peace to the assembly, which consisted of the Pāṇḍavas, the Srañjayas, Kṛṣṇa, Sātyakī, Virāṭa, and several others. He requested them not to pave way for a destructive war.
In another part of the country, Śalya, the king of Madra, was on his way along with army and his sons, who were both mahārathas. He was acting as per the wishes of the Pāṇḍavas and Duryodhana happened to notice this. With a view to entice the entourage, he erected delightful pleasure houses on their path. He arranged to host them with myriad luxuries. Śalya was enchanted looking at the marvellous arrangements. He said, “Who built these magnificent rest-houses?
Three days after these happenings, the five Pāṇḍavas had their bath, wore fine white-coloured clothes, adorned themselves, proceeded to Virāṭa’s sabhā with Yudhiṣṭhira in the lead, and perched themselves on the royal seats reserved for kings. As usual, Virāṭa entered the sabhā to carry out his official duties, and the sight that he beheld! Seated there were the five of them, brilliant as burning fire. He saw Yudhiṣṭhira, who was seated like Indra among the devatas, and said in disdainful tone, “Were you not the one with whom I used to play dice?
Prince Uttara, adorned with garlands and fragrant perfumes, came in a procession on the royal path; he greeted the citizens of the city and the married woman, receiving their blessings and adoration. In great grandeur and filled with delight, he came to the door of the palace and brought the good news to his father. The doorkeeper-sentinels rushed inside and told King Virāṭa, “Mahārāja!
With great delight Arjuna looked at the Kaurava heroes retreating; he bowed his head down and offered his greetings to Grandfather Bhīṣma and Ācārya Droṇa and rode with them for some distance, engaging in casual conversation. Then he paid his respects to Aśvatthāma, Kṛpa, and others by hurling an arrow at them [at their feet]; then he shot an arrow at Duryodhana’s bejewelled crown and tore it apart.
After this Arjuna told Uttara to take his chariot to where Droṇa was standing; offering his salutations to Droṇa, he said in a serene voice, “Ācārya, we took up the forest exile only after contemplating about our response; you must not get angry with us; I have decided not to fight with you and therefore I request you to make that happen.” Immediately, Droṇa sent out twenty arrows in Arjuna’s direction. Arjuna intercepted all of them midway and tore them apart. In this manner, the teacher and student were locked in single combat.
Aśvatthāma said, “O Karṇa! We have not yet won the cows that we’ve captured, we’ve not crossed the borders, we haven’t returned to Hastināpura; and you’ve already begun a bout of self-praise! Warriors who have won numerous wars, attained great wealth and prosperity, and conquered the earth speak not about their courage and valour even a little. Without the slightest noise, fire boils things; the sun shines his light in silence; the earth bears the animate and inanimate beings without uttering a word.
Upon hearing these despondent words of Droṇa, Duryodhana addressed Bhīṣma, Droṇa, and Kṛpa: “Karṇa and I have said this several times in the past; yet I repeat it now – when the Pāṇḍavas lost the game of dice, as per our wager they had to spend twelve years in exile in the forest and one year incognito; this is the year they have to live unrecognized by all; the year of living incognito is not yet complete; if we encounter Arjuna now, then the Pāṇḍavas have to spend another twelve years in forest exile. Let us assume that it is indeed Arjuna; even so, why should we fear or retreat?