Mahābhārata – Episode 64 - Kṛṣṇa speaks to the Pāṇḍavas

This article is part 64 of 83 in the series Mahābhārata

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?”

Sañjaya said, “Listening to Kṛṣṇa’s words, Arjuna said – 'Sañjaya! Convey my greetings and warm regards to Bhīṣma, Dhṛtarāṣṭra and the others. When Suyodhana is in the company of the other kings, tell him this: Those who have come to take your side in the war will meet their death in the fire of the Pāṇḍava-wrath. They will be charred to death. Take precautions to avoid this human sacrifice. Give Yudhiṣṭhira his share! If not, you will need to take refuge, with your entire army and men, in the Southern direction (of Yama).'”

Dhṛtarāṣṭra, who was taken aback hearing these words proposed for a peace treaty and Bhīṣma supported the idea. Duryodhana, however, did not agree and said that even if the elders did not support him, he would wage a war with Duśśāsana and Karṇa as his aides. He was confident that he would win over the Pāṇḍavas and make them bite the dust.

As Sañjaya left the place, Yudhiṣṭhira spoke to Kṛṣṇa, “Did you listen to his words? He has revealed Duryodhana and Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s mind to us, Kṛṣṇa. He wishes to have a peace treaty with us without sharing the kingdom. I have subject my mother and my relatives to great penury, unable to take care of them. Duryodhana will not even give me the five villages I have asked for! A person without money is baser than a corpse. A person who is born poor is not pained when he enounters challenges – he would have got accustomed to it by birth. However, for a person who has led a lavish life, to suddenly fall into penury is a bitter experience. It is better to die than to suffer a life like this.  Before we take any step further, we should try to make a pact so that we can share the kingdom and also live in peace together. If it turns out to be inevitable, we will have to wage a ghastly war, destroy them and take hold of the kingdom. It is a great sin to kill relatives but we're left with no other option. The life of a kṣatriya is a difficult one – we will have to resort to violent means at times. A murder will always be avenged – the prospect of a war is evil. The loser will certainly come back and avenge for his defeat. Only a person who is not concerned about victory or failure will be able to sleep in peace. Having said this, if we give up everything to them, it would be as good as being dead. Thus, we should not sacrifice our kingdom but look for a peaceful solution and avoid the killing of relatives. A war is like a petty fight of the street dogs, growling and exchanging barks. They get into physical fight and the stronger one wins. This is all similar between men and dogs. Dhṛtarāṣṭra is like our father but is now under the control of his son. Just because we bend to his fancies, he will not compromise. Think and tell me Kṛṣṇa – what can we do such that neither dharma nor artha is affected and there is peace on earth.”

Kṛṣṇa – I plan to visit the Kaurava court solely for this reason to help strike a compromise between the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas, Yudhiṣṭhira. If there can be peace between the two factions, it will be greatly helpful to the world at large. I will be saving you all from the clutches of death!

Yudhishitra – Kṛṣṇa! I don’t want you to go to the Kaurava court in the first place. Duryodhana will not listen to you, however relevant or matured your advice to him might be. He is always surrounded by kings who support him and it is not right for you to get stuck amidst the evil ones. I do not want to experience any luxuries, having subjected you to trouble – be it divine wealth or divinity itself!

Kṛṣṇa – O revered king! I know that Duryodhana is a sinful person. If we don’t try our bit here, it will only look like we are escaping from our responsibility and we will be blamed later on. If they behave in a foolish manner with me, I'm sure that I can destroy them all at once. I'm sure that going there won’t be useless – it will work well for you or at least, it will rid us of future blame.

Yudhiṣṭhira – Kṛṣṇa! Please do as it may deem fit to you. May you be glorious! Achieve your task and come back safe. You're trying to patch up the relationship of the cousins and you are like an older brother to us. You know both the sides – Kauravas and us – very well. You know what needs to be done and how it is to be done too. Irrespective of whether it is successfully executed or not, please do tell us both whatever is good, dhārmic and help us in our welfare!

Kṛṣṇa – I have heard the words of Sañjaya and I have understood your thoughts too. I'm aware of what both the sides feel. Yours is a dhārmic heart and theirs is an evil one. You say that you will be happy with the share you get without waging a war. This mentality does not go well with a kṣatriya. He must never beg for anything. You must defeat the enemy or give up your life on the battlefield. This is the dharma prescribed for a kṣatriya and cowardice should be done away with. The Kauravas are greedy and are building their team of supporters since long. They have also gathered a huge army and are working on strengthening it. Would such people consider you as their equal? With Bhīṣma, Drona and Kripa are on their side, they are confident that theirs is the stronger faction.  The softer you become, the more dominant they will turn. They will not heed to your requests whether you beg them or you pester them – they won’t care for your humility, gentleness and dhārmic outlook. They had subject you to tremendous trouble in the past and did that sow any seeds of repentance in them? No, it hasn’t! Don’t  resort to gentle means in dealing with them. It is only befitting to eliminate them. They spoke ill of you in an open court – death is better than hearing vulgarity spewed at you, especially for a person as noble as you. If you kill them, it is like killing a poisonous snake that would have harmed the world. There are still some people on his side who are displeased with him.  I will go there and speak highly of you, praise your good qualities and will also make his malice known to his people. I will do so both in their court and outside. This might change the hearts of those who are still unsure of his real nature. It will uproot the little trust people might have in him. They will also develop reverence for you. You have sought for peace and if they don’t oblige to it, the world will despise them. If the entire kingdom goes against them, they will be doomed. I will keep your desire in mind and go there. I will try for a peaceful solution. I will also try to understand their motives and how they are getting prepared for the war. In sum, I think they deserve a war and I too desire for that. Get your army ready and equip them with weapons and courage!”

To be continued...

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.