Mahābhārata – Episode 62 - Sañjaya Goes for Peace Talks

This article is part 62 of 83 in the series Mahābhārata

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.

 

Yudhiṣṭhira explained that he had no heart to fight a war and that they had resorted to such means only because of  Dhṛtarāṣṭra's blind affection towards for his son Duryodhana. He had turned a blind eye towards dharma and had taken the side of his son all along, unconditionally. Duryodhana had ignored the sane advice of Vidura and had subject his mind to the control of his crooked aides such as Duśśāsana, Śakuni, and Karṇa. This would only lead to his downfall. Yudhiṣṭhira also added that if they were given back Indraprastha, they would rule there without causing any trouble and that they would abide by Kṛṣṇa’s words in all these matters.

 

Śrīkṛṣṇa told Sañjaya, “I only wish that the Pāṇḍavas survive and don’t meet with bad fate, O Sañjaya! I also hope that Dhṛtarāṣṭra, a father of several children, leads a comfortable life as well. It with this in my heart that I advocate peace to both sides. Dharmarāja has hinted at how harmful Duryodhana’s greed for kingdom can be. If there is a petty fight over this matter, how can they all live in harmony? Good fruits are results of hard work. Only if you drink water will you be able to overcome thirst. It is only due to karma that the sun shines, wind blows, fire burns, river flows and the earth bears [its burden]. When this is the case, why are you proving to be an obstacle to the Pāṇḍavas? It is good that they are nice to the Kauravas. Yet, if they wage a war, fight in accordance with their capabilities, and meet a valorous death on the battlefield, they will be remembered for ever too. If a wicked king wishes for another’s kingdom, war is the only resort to solve the problem. Bows, arrows, armours, and other weapons have all been created with this purpose in mind. It is only fair to punish a thief – whether they steal without anybody noticing or if they rob in the presence of many. Great injustice took place right in before everyone’s eyes in an open court! You remember the vulgar words that the pervert Karṇa spoke about Draupadī, don’t you? Duśśāsana insulted the Pāṇḍavas as well! You know all this, Sañjaya! It is difficult to have a peace treaty under these circumstances. Thus, I plan to come to patch up the relationship between the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas. I don’t know if anybody would care for me even if I come! If they don’t care for me, they will be reduced to ashes by Bhīma and Arjuna, who are craving for a war and flexing their muscles. Dhṛtarāṣṭra and his children are a forest. Pāṇḍavas are like tigers that live in the forest. The tigers will go extinct if the forest doesn’t host them and the forest gets destroyed if there are no tigers to protect it. Thus, it is the mutual responsibility of the forest and the tigers to protect each other. Kauravas are like creepers and the Pāṇḍavas are like the Śāla tree. Without the support of the tree, creepers cannot grow. The Pāṇḍavas are ready for a peace treaty and also for a war. Let Dhṛtarāṣṭra decide what path he wishes to tread. The Pāṇḍavas are patient and considerate, thanks to their dhārmic outlook but are capable of fighting a war too. Go tell this to the Kauravas!"

 

As Sañjaya sought permission to head back, Yudhiṣṭhira said, “Sañjaya! The good, bad, wicked, fair, just, ignorant and the learned – all are under the lordship of Īśvara. He can turn an ignorant person into a wise one and a learned one into a fool. Go back to Hastināvatī, convey my humble regards to Dhṛtarāṣṭra and tell him that I inquired of his well-being. When everyone else is present, convey this to the royal court: 'Revered king! It is only due to your grace that the Pāṇḍavas are keeping well. Thanks to you, they got their share of the kingdom in their youth. You had given them a share in the past and now, don’t devoid them of their rightful share. None man can derive satisfaction even with the entire earth is under his control. Man’s desire knows no bounds. Thus, let us live together in harmony and not kill each other!' You may say these words on my behalf. Convey my greetings to our grandfather Bhīṣma and tell him: 'You have uplifted and given strength to Śantanu’s lineage which was going to collapse. Now, make sure that you children live in harmony with each other!' Tell Vidura: 'If you wish well for Yudhiṣṭhira, make sure that there is no war and also convince the Kauravas for a peace treaty!' Tell Suyodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, ‘When you brought Draupadī to an open court and tried to disrobe her, we remained silent thinking that we should not be the reason for the destruction of our own clan. When you got us clad in deer skin and shooed us away to the forest, we kept quiet for a similar reason. Now give us our rightful share; don’t desire for what is not yours! Only then will there be peace, love and harmony. You may give us five towns – Kuṣasthala, Vṛkasthala, Māsandi, Vāraṇavata, and another of your choice. This way, each of the five Pāṇḍavas will get a town each. Let there be peace between cousins. May the siblings live in harmony with their parents. The Kuru-pāñcālas will then live with a smile on their faces. Let them not mistake me. I'm soft and at the same time harsh. We are ready for a peace treaty and also for a war!'”

 

Taking leave of the Pāṇḍavas, Sañjaya hurried back to Hastināpura. Though it was dark by then, he met Dhṛtarāṣṭra, informed him about the well-being of the Pāṇḍavas, and said, “O king! Being kind to all living beings is the highest dharma in the eyes of Yudhiṣṭhira. For him, dharma is higher than all material wealth. He does not want pleasures that are not in line with dharma. He believes that man is a puppet in the hands of the divine. All grave sins resides in you and the Pāṇḍavas are pure like a snake that has cast off its outer skin. Your manners are adhārmic and unethical. People are blaming you for your bad deeds. Man keeps encountering happiness and sorrow, good and evil, praise and admonishment. As you have developed enmity with the Pāṇḍavas and are the cause for the destruction of your own people, I'm forced to be angry with you. You have displayed great respect to those who don’t deserve any and you have alienated those who you should love. I shall tell you Yudhiṣṭhira’s message tomorrow in the royal assembly. I'm tried now due to the speed and jolts of the chariot ride. I would now like rest and go to bed.” With these words, he went home.

 

As soon as Sañjaya left, Dhṛtarāṣṭra called for Vidura said, “Vidura! Sañjaya spoke ill of me until now before he left for his house. He is going to tell us about Yudhiṣṭhira reply in the court tomorrow. I don't know what his reply is and I'm unable to control my anxiety. Not knowing the nature of his answer is giving me tremors. I'm unable to sleep as my mind is not peaceful. That is the reason I sent for you.”

 

Vidura said, “A person who fears that a stronger person is going to pounce upon him will not be able to catch sleep, or he must be incapable to executing his responsibilities. A person who has lost his properties, is in lust or is a thief cannot sleep too. Or, he must have desired to have another’s property which is not rightfully his. You do not have any of these faults in you, do you?”

 

Dhṛtarāṣṭra did not answer Vidura’s question and instead said, “You are respected by the wise and the learned. So please tell me what is dharma and what will bring us good name.”

Author(s)

About:

Prof. A R Krishna Sastri was a journalist, scholar, polyglot, and a pioneer of the modern Kannada renaissance, who founded the literary journal Prabuddha Karnāṭaka. His Vacana-bhārata and Kathāmṛta are classics of Kannada literature while his Saṃskṛta-nāṭaka and Bankimacandra are of unrivalled scholarship.

Translator(s)

About:

Arjun is a poet, translator, engineer, and musician. He is a polyglot, well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, Hindi, English, Greek, and German. He currently serves as Assistant Professor at Amrita Darshanam - International Centre for Spiritual Studies at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bangalore. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature.

About:

Hari is a writer, translator, violinist, and designer with a deep interest in Vedanta, Carnatic music, education pedagogy design, and literature. He has worked on books like The New Bhagavad-Gita, Your Dharma and Mine, Srishti, and Foggy Fool's Farrago.