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Udyoga Parva


Chapter One

The Pandavas Prepare for War


After Abhimanyu's marriage, there was royal festival and everyone was pleased that the son of Arjuna was united with the daughter of King Virata. The next day all the Kings, who had assembled for Yudhisthira's cause, came to Virata's imperial court to discuss future plans. The assembly consisted of King Virata, King Drupada, Satyaki, King Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Also present were Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His very powerful brother, Balarama. From the Yadu house came Pradyumna and Samba. Arjuna's son, Abhimanyu was present, as well as the sons of Draupadi, appearing like their fathers in prowess. Drupada's sons and Virata's sons were also seated in the court. They all talked on varied subjects for some time, and after conversing with each other, they sat in a thoughtful mood, their eyes fixed on the beautiful form of Lord Krishna. The Lord sat in the midst of the assembled kings like the full moon amidst the many stars in the sky. With His lotus like eyes and bluish complexion, He was attracting the minds of everyone. While gazing upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead with insatiable glances, they waited for Him to speak. After due contemplation, the Lord of the universe spoke, It is known to all that the Pandavas were unfairly defeated in gambling by Suvala's son, and thus swindled out of their kingdom. They were then exiled to the forest for the thirteen year period, which they faithfully carried out. Dhritarastra's sons still maintain their illicit desires for complete sovereignty of the world, although the sons of Pandu also have a right to share half that kingdom. What Duryodhana exactly thinks is not completely known, so what opinion can be formed? Therefore, a competent person should be selected who can go to Hastinapura and induce the Kauravas to give half the kingdom to the Pandavas.

After listening to the words of His younger brother, Lord Baladeva, the carrier of the club and plow, spoke to the assembled Kings, You have heard the advice of Krishna which is pregnant with virtue and beneficial to both Yudhisthira and Duryodhana. Dhritarastra's sons should give half their kingdom joyfully so this quarrel can be settled. It is known that when Yudhisthira was in possession of the throne, he unnecessarily engaged in gambling, although he was not able to play the game well. He foolishly gambled away his kingdom, and no blame can be put on Shakuni. Therefore, the messenger should approach the sons of Dhritarastra with words of humility intended to pacify Duryodhana. Nothing can be gained by war with the Kurus.

After Lord Balarama finished expressing His opinion, the scion of Shini's dynasty, Satyaki, rose up and condemned Lord Balarama's words which favored Duryodhana. Satyaki proclaimed, A man will certainly speak what is in his heart. It is well known that You cherish affection for Duryodhana although he is unprincipled. By his deceitful nature, he tricked the sons of Pandu out of their kingdom. Instead of facing them on the battlefield, they chose to cheat them out of their kingdom by throwing dice. They are cowards of the highest order. Why should Yudhisthira, who is entitled to the ancestral throne, humble himself before the uncivilized Duryodhana, who tried to see the Pandava's beloved wife stripped naked in the imperial court. They should either give back the kingdom or be ready to fight. Who can withstand Arjuna on the battlefield? Who can stand in front of Lord Krishna as He wields His Sudarshana discus to destroy the entire array of the Kurus? Who can withstand the tenacious Bhima, mace in hand, ready to destroy the ranks of the oncoming enemy? There is no need to approach them like beggars. Either Yudhisthira is given back his kingdom this very day, or Dhritarastra's sons will lie on the earth slain by me!

After Satyaki's speech, the eminent king Drupada gave his opinion, You have spoken well. Never will Duryodhana agree to give up his kingdom by peaceful means. Dhritarastra will agree with his son's wishes, and Bhishma and Drona will follow out of stupidity. Karna and Shakuni will certainly join forces with Duryodhana out of folly. The words of Baladeva are, indeed, righteous, but Duryodhana should never be addressed in mild words. Sweet words are never spoken to a snake, but a weapon must be used to kill it. An envoy should be sent to Duryodhana demanding half the kingdom. At the same time a message should be sent to all kings of the earth who favor Yudhisthira's cause. Let them come here to support us.

Lord Krishna then gave the final opinion, King Drupada's words are well spoken and meant to promote the interests of Pandu's sons. However, our relationship to both the Kurus and the Pandavas is equal. We have been invited here for the marriage ceremony of Abhimanyu. The marriage ceremony is now complete, and we should return to our kingdoms. Since you, King Drupada, are the eldest and most respected amongst us, you should send a message to Duryodhana, requesting half the kingdom. If Dhritarastra's son should make peace, then there should be no hard feelings on either side. However, if Duryodhana refuses to make peace, then after calling others for war, also call upon us. The wicked will have to face the onslaught of the Gandiva bow as well as My wrath.  Saying this much, Lord Krishna made preparations to leave the Matsya capital. He was worshiped by King Virata as well as by all the kings present. After the departure of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Lord of heaven and earth, King Yudhisthira, along with King Virata, began making preparations for war. King Drupada sent for one of his most trusted priests and gave him a message to be spoken in the midst of the Kaurava leaders. The priest then departed.

Meanwhile, the Pandavas proceeded with their preparations for a future offensive, knowing well the mentality of their diabolic cousin. The third son of Kunti, Arjuna, then left for Dvaraka in hopes of obtaining the favor of both Lord Krishna and Lord Baladeva. When Duryodhana learned through spies of the Pandava's intentions, he also set out for Dvaraka, accompanied by a small number of troops. Both Arjuna and Dhritarastra's son arrived in the city of the Yadus on the same day. At the time they arrived, Lord Krishna was sleeping, and they both entered His room together. Duryodhana sat at the head of the bed whereas Arjuna sat at Lord Krishna's lotus feet. When Lord Krishna awoke, He saw Arjuna first, seated at the end of the bed. He greeted both Arjuna and Duryodhana and asked about their welfare. Duryodhana then solicited Lord Krishna, I am requesting Your support for a future war. Arjuna and myself are equally Your friends. O descendent of Madhu, You bear the same relationship to both families. Therefore, since I have come to You first, please follow the path of virtuous men. You are listed at the top of all who are righteous, and therefore I ask You assist me at this time.

It is, indeed, true,  Lord Krishna replied, that you have come to Me first. However, I have cast My glance upon Partha first. Since you have both come here, I shall lend My assistance to both causes. Those who are junior in years should have the first choice. I have a body of soldiers known as the Narayanas, numbering one million men; that is one choice. The other choice is Myself. However, I will not fight in the battle. Arjuna, you may choose between Myself and My Own men. Since you are the youngest, you may pick first.

When given first choice by Lord Krishna, Arjuna chose his most intimate friend, Lord Krishna. Joyfully, Duryodhana chose Lord Krishna's division of troops, shunning the personal power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After this meeting, Duryodhana went to Lord Balarama, the possessor of infinite power. Duryodhana explained how Krishna was chosen by Arjuna, although He Himself would not fight. Duryodhana then requested Lord Balarama to fight for his cause. Hearing this appeal, Balarama replied to Duryodhana, When we were present at Abhimanyu's marriage ceremony, I spoke in your favor. I supported affection for both parties, although Krishna did not agree. Krishna has now chosen Arjuna's side, and under no circumstances can I fight against Him. Therefore, I will fight neither for the sons of Pandu nor the sons of Dhritarastra.

Duryodhana was pleased to hear that Balarama would not take either side. Embracing the wielder of the club and plough, he considered Arjuna already vanquished. The royal son of Dhritarastra then went to Kritavarman and requested him to take up weapons against the Pandavas. Kritavarman agreed and gave Duryodhana one akshauhini division of soldiers.

After Duryodhana had departed with Kritavarman and the great military phalanxes of the Narayanas, Krishna, the most merciful Lord, questioned Arjuna, Why is it, O Partha, that you have chosen Myself, who will not take up any weapons?

There is no doubt in my mind,  Arjuna replied, that You are able to kill all these soldiers. O best among men, I am also capable of slaying all of Duryodhana's troops. However, I know that wherever You are present, there will also be victory, fame and opulence. These qualities are present wherever You are. For this reason I have selected You, although I know You will not fight. It is my desire that You ride upon my chariot and drive my horses. Please fulfill this desire for with Your assistance there is no chance that the Kurus will be victorious.

I will without doubt ride upon your chariot and direct you to victory,  Lord Keshava said. By My grace all your opponents will perish in this enormous battle to come.  Thrilled at the thought of having Lord Krishna, the slayer of Madhu, riding on his chariot, Partha caused the Personality of Godhead to accompany him to Upaplavya, the city of Virata.

Having heard from Drupada's messengers of the upcoming war, Salya, the king of Madras and the brother of Madri, directed one akshauhini division to Yudhisthira. So large was that division of troops that when it was encamped, it covered twelve miles. When Duryodhana learned of Salya's intentions, he ordered the best accommodations be made for his comfort. Different houses were erected along his route, and when Salya was entertained in those houses, he became joyful at the thought that Yudhisthira had gone to so much trouble for his comfort. He was given the most royal treatment, on an equal level with the demigods. Still thinking that it was Yudhisthira who had made the arrangements, he called for those men who had supervised the accommodations. He vowed that he would grant a benediction to whoever made such nice arrangements. When Duryodhana came before Salya, and Salya understood that it was Duryodhana who had made all the arrangements, Salya said, You may take a benediction from me.

If your words are truthful,  Duryodhana replied, then I ask you to be the leader of my army.

I will fulfill this benediction,  Salya said, for what can I do? I have agreed to give a benediction. Before coming to Hastinapura, however, I will visit Yudhisthira for he is my beloved nephew. It, therefore, behooves me to meet with him.

O ruler of the earth,  Duryodhana said, after talking with the Pandavas, come to my city with great speed. I depend upon you entirely, O king of kings.  Salya then left for the city of Upaplavya, the city of Virata.

Upon reaching the Matsya's city, King Salya met Yudhisthira and was royally received. The King then informed Yudhisthira of what had happened in his meeting with Duryodhana.

O valiant king,  Yudhisthira said, you must act as you have promised. However, I request a favor, and I hope that you will execute it for my sake only. O great King, you are an equal to Krishna on the battlefield. When single combat takes place between Arjuna and Karna, I have no doubt that you will drive Karna's chariot. When this event takes place, I hope that you will give protection to Arjuna. With insulting words you must dishearten Karna in battle, and then victory will be ours. It is improper, but still, for our sake, I request you comply with my wish.

To be sure,  Salya replied, I will be his charioteer for he considers me to be an equal with Lord Krishna. At that time I will demoralize the vicious son of a suta, and in that condition, it will be easier for Arjuna to kill him. Whatever else I may do, I will do it for your sake. You have suffered from the gambling match and the insults to Draupadi. They all deserve to die for these immoral acts, and certainly it will happen, for providence is supreme.  After being treated royally by the Pandavas, Salya went to Hastinapura to fulfill his commitment to Duryodhana.

Then Yuyudhana (Satyaki), the celebrated hero of the Satvata race, came to the Pandava's camp. He brought with him an akshauhini division, consisting of thousands of chariots, tens of thousands of calvary, tens of thousands of Infantry and thousands upon thousands of beautifully decorated elephants. Also coming to the side of the Pandavas was the stalwart Chedi king, Dhristaketu, accompanied by an akshauhini division of soldiers. The Magadha King, Jayatsena, brought to the Pandava's side another akshauhini division of soldiers consisting of warriors with unlimited prowess. King Pandya, who lived near the ocean, came to the Pandava's side bringing with him a veritable sea of troops. King Drupada brought with him his sons, undefeatable in battle, as well as an akshauhini division of soldiers, consisting of the four kinds of troops. King Virata also gave to Yudhisthira another akshauhini division of soldiers to help conquer the wicked sons of Dhritarastra. Altogether Yudhisthira had collected seven akshauhini divisions eager to fight with the Kurus.

Many kings also came to Duryodhana's camp, intending to help him retain his kingdom. These kings each brought with them an akshauhini division of soldiers. They were King Bhagadatta, Bhurisravas, King Salya of Madras, Kritavarman, the son of Hridika, accompanied by the Bhojas and the Andakas. Jayadratha, the King of Sindu, came to the aid of Duryodhana as well as Sudakshina, the leader of the Kambhojas. King Nila, the ruler of Mahismati, also came there with an akshauhini division of troops as well as the Avantipura Kings, Vinda and Anuvinda. The Kekeya princes also came to Duryodhana, gladdening his heart with a large number of troops.

Thus King Duryodhana had collected eleven akshauhini divisions of soldiers to fight against Pandu's sons. There were so many warriors that the leaders of the troops could not fit in Hastinapura. Their encampment spread over many provinces and along many rivers. Thus the two sides amassed their armies and arsenals, intenting to aid either Pandu's sons or Dhritarastra's sons. It was all a part of Lord Krishna's plan to decrease the unnecessary military burden of the world. All those soldiers would die in a colossal battle that was to last for eighteen days. Thus Lord Krishna fulfilled his promise in Bhagavad-gita, In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.  (Bg.4.8)


Thus Ends the First Chapter of the Udyoga Parva, Entitled, The Pandavas prepare for war.


Chapter Commentary


There is certainly a difference between a devotee of the Lord like Arjuna, and a materialistic person like Duryodhana. The materialist always thinks in terms of profit, and a devotee always wants to please Lord Krishna. Duryodhana had come to Krishna, not to please him, but for material benefit. Lord Krishna gave Arjuna the first choice: men or Himself. Arjuna did not think in material terms. He just want to serve Krishna and get Lord Krishna's constant association. He knew that was the perfect formula for success. Duryodhana was very happy to get an akshauhini division of soldiers, thinking that if he outnumbered Yudhisthira, he would be the victor. Materialists never take into consideration the mercy of the Lord. Arjuna was perfectly happy to have Lord Krishna's association for he knew that wherever there was Krishna, there would certainly be victory.

Duryodhana was constantly thinking of ways to be successful materially. He tricked Salya into taking his side during the battle of Kurukshetra. It really didn't make any difference if Duryodhana had an unlimited number of akshauhini divisions, for it was the Lord's desire that Duryodhana be punished for his sinful activities. Whoever Krishna wants to kill, no one can protect, and whoever Krishna wants to save, no one can kill. Because Duryodhana was lacking any farthing of pious activity, he could never catch up this point.



Chapter Two

Discussions of Peace Between the Pandavas and the Kauravas


When the brahmana priest, representing King Drupada, had arrived in Hastinapura, he entered the Kuru imperial court and relayed a message on Yudhisthira's behalf. He spoke in the presence of Bhishma, Drona, Dhritarastra, Duryodhana, Karna, Vidura and others. It is well known that Dhritarastra and Pandu were born of the same father. There is no doubt that they should equally share the wealth of the father. Why now are Pandu's sons not given an equal portion of that wealth? Dhritarastra's sons have tried in the past to exterminate the Pandavas from the face of the earth, but have not been successful. Even after the sons of Pandu acquired a kingdom by their own endeavors, the scheming Duryodhana cheated them out of it with the aid of Suvala's son, Shakuni. Their beautiful wife was also insulted by Duhshasana, and they were then sent to the forest for thirteen years. This was all with the consent of Dhritarastra. Those pious sons of Pandu have now emerged from exile and want a peaceful settlement with the Kurus. Despite all the offenses that have been committed in the past, they are willing to forget them, and are not eager for war with Dhritarastra's sons. They desire to get back their own kingdom with out involving the world in ruin. The sons of Pandu are now more powerful. Although the Pandavas have only seven akshauhini divisions of soldiers, while the Kurus have eleven, these are counteracted by men who equal a thousand akshauhini division of troops, such as Bhima and Satyaki. There is also the mighty-armed Dhananjaya who has the strength alone to defeat these forces. For his chariot driver, Arjuna now has Vasudeva's son, Krishna, who possesses infinite wisdom. Who is there in the world who will oppose them? Therefore, give back to the Pandavas what is rightly theirs and avoid any unnecessary bloodshed.

After hearing the brahmana's message, Bhishma spoke to all assembled, How fortunate that the Pandavas are well and have Krishna, the Supreme Lord, as their ally. They are entitled to the ancestral kingdom left by their father. Arjuna, the son of Pritha, can not be defeated in battle. Even the King of heaven, Indra, cannot challenge Partha as he releases arrows from his Gandiva bow. Other bowmen cannot even compare to him.

Unable to tolerate hearing about Arjuna's prowess, Karna interrupted grandfather Bhishma, What benefit is there in repeating Arjuna's glories again and again. The sons of Pandu have been discovered before the end of their year of exile. They should go back to the forest for another thirteen years, and then live as Duryodhana's servants. If they turn their faces from the path of righteousness and desire war, then they will be slain on the battlefield.

Why do you talk so much?  Bhishma replied, Do you not remember when Arjuna single-handedly overpowered in battle the six great chariot fighters. If we do not act as this brahmana has requested, then certainly we shall be slain in battle.

Dhritarastra pacified Grandfather Bhishma and spoke to the assembled Kings and princes, Bhishma's advice is unquestionably meant for our well being, and the good of the Pandavas. I will send this brahmana back to Upaplavya, and Sanjaya shall journey there also to offer greetings to them.  Drupada's priest then left for the city of the Matsyas.

Dhritarastra then called for Sanjaya, instructing him to proceed to Upaplavya and inquire about the Pandava's welfare. He also gave him messages for the Pandavas. Sanjaya then went to Upaplavya and was welcomed warmly by the Pandu's sons. Yudhisthira questioned Sanjaya about his relatives in the Kuru house, and then asked him to repeat King Dhritarastra's message. Sanjaya said, I hope that Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva are faring well as Krishna, the son of Vasudeva. Let there be peace among the sons of Pandu and my sons. We have heard that you are protected by many kings of the earth as are we. With all these forces assembled, what is the need for unnecessary bloodshed. My desire and the desire of the Kuru elders is for peace. Therefore, let us make some arrangement so that the whole kshatriya race be saved from annihilation.

Yudhisthira replied to Sanjaya, What makes you think that we desire war? Peace is preferable to total annihilation of the earth's warriors. Why does Dhritarastra speak of peace now? Why did he not try to stop the injustice at the gambling match? Why did he not try to stop the injustice to Draupadi? Why did he not listen to Vidura's words of wisdom? Why suddenly does he want peace? Why does Dhritarastra nourish his envious son whose companions are the disgraceful Karna, Shakuni and Duhshasana? The fact is that he is not willing to part with half the kingdom due to affection for his dishonest son. If he is serious about this proposal for peace then let him return to me my kingdom of Indraprastha.

O Pandava,  Sanjaya replied, I have heard your words which are full of righteousness. O son of Pritha, listen to my counsel that I now offer you. Life in this world is transient. Material fame and name last only for a few seconds in this temporary world. If the Kurus are not willing to give your share of the kingdom, then live in the Andaka and Vrishni kingdom by begging alms. This mortal existence is subject to constant suffering and is unstable. One who seeks after wealth in this world suffers from material attraction, but one who acquires virtue and truthfulness never laments, for these treasures no one can take from him. Therefore, desist from the desire for kingdom and wealth so that humanity can be saved from a dreaded war. When you went to the forest for exile, all the kings of the earth came to your aid. You could have at that time humbled the pride of the puffed-up Duryodhana. Why have you allowed your enemies to grow so powerful? To give up this idea of gaining a kingdom would be preferable to seeing Bhishma or Drona slain on the battlefield. What will you gain from this. Having killed all the heroes of the Kuru house, what joy will you experience?

It is true, O Sanjaya,  Yudhisthira replied, that one should not seek wealth in this world by unrighteous means. But it must be decided first whether it is virtue or vice that I seek. Everyone is controlled by the Supreme Being. Here next to me is the Lord of all created beings. Here is the celebrated Krishna who has humbled all the great earthly kings. He is able to judge whether my actions are from lust or virtue. I never reject the counsel that Krishna has given me.

Lord Krishna said, I desire, O Sanjaya, that Pandu's sons grow in prosperity and not suffer. I also pray for the prosperity of the Kurus as well. However, there cannot be peace as long as Dhritarastra's sons are envious of the Pandavas. How can you say that Yudhisthira is unmindful of his duties? How can you say that his desire for his kingdom is a desire of lust? Yudhisthira is ever mindful of his duties, and has never even known lust or wickedness in his heart. The kshatriya's duty is to protect those around him. If a kshatriya unlawfully takes the property of another, then he is subject to be punished. Duryodhana has unlawfully taken the Pandava's kingdom, and therefore he deserves to be punished. What is the difference between thieves and Dhritarastra's sons. Duryodhana has seized the Pandava's wealth and is therefore subject to death. Those dull headed fools, assembled together as Dhritarastra's sons, are under the clutches of death. I would have sympathy for the Kuru elders, if they had spoken up against the unrighteous acts performed against Draupadi and her husbands in the imperial court at Hastinapura. However, this was not the case. How can you say that Yudhisthira acts out of vice? I will personally go to Hastinapura to settle this matter with the Kurus. I hope they treat Me well and listen to my counsel for peace. If not, they will be burnt by wrath of Bhima and Arjuna. The sons of Dhritarastra have offended the Pandavas in many ways, and the reactions of these activities will be their ruin.

Yudhisthira then bid farewell to Sanjaya and sent kind words to all the members of the Kuru family. He told Sanjaya, Speak the following words to Duryodhana, Your desire for absolute domination, which torments your heart, is very unreasonable. It has no justification. We have no desire to harm you in any way. O foremost of the Bharatas, either give me back my kingdom of Indraprastha or fight with me! Peace is what we really want. Therefore, if you will not grant us a province then at least give us five villages. Even this will end the quarrel.'  Having spoken thus, Yudhisthira, the foremost pious man, sent Sanjaya back to the city of Hastinapura.

Sanjaya then returned and reported all messages given by the Pandavas. In the presence of Dhritarastra, Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Duryodhana, Ashvatthama, Karna, Jayadratha, and all the Kings assembled for the cause of Duryodhana, Sanjaya relayed all messages given by the Pandavas. The Kuru elders agreed with the Pandava's request for peace, but Duryodhana showed little respect and left the assembly refusing to return anything to the Pandavas.

After all had left, Dhritarastra questioned Sanjaya about the Pandava's strength. Present in the room were Gandhari, Vyasa and Vidura. Please tell me truly, O Sanjaya, of the strength of Krishna and Arjuna.

Krishna and Arjuna have appeared on earth for the protection of the pious and to annihilate the miscreants,  Sanjaya replied. With Lord Krishna sitting on Arjuna's chariot, the Kurus will not survive. If the whole universe were to be placed on one scale and Lord Keshava on the other, that same Supreme Lord, who creates the whole cosmos, would tip the scale. Janardana can, at His pleasure, reduce the whole universe to ashes. All good qualities rest in this Divine Being, for He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of this manifested world. Therefore, wherever there is Krishna, then there must certainly be victory. Through Arjuna, Lord Krishna will kill your wicked sons who are addicted to sin. It is by the will of the Supreme Lord Krishna that the wheel of time revolves causing the destruction of all creatures. I tell you truly He is the Lord of time, of death, of this universe, and of movable and immovable objects. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has descended on earth in human form and is perplexing everyone with his internal potency. Those who are devoted to Him can know Him as He is and no one else.

Dhritarastra then called Duryodhana into his room and inquired again about Lord Krishna, O Sanjaya, you say that the one we know as Keshava is the Lord of the Universe. How is it that I am unable to know Him as such?

O King,  Sanjaya replied, because you have no knowledge of the Absolute Truth, your are covered by the darkness of ignorance. Even though the Supreme Lord stands in front of you, you will not recognize Him. Aided only by my knowledge, O sire, can you know who this renowned entity really is. That same one who is known as Madhusudana is the cause of material creation. He is the beginning, the middle and the end of all that be. One who has become devoted to Him can never be vanquished by material existence.

Dhritarastra inquired, How can one come to know Krishna as the Supreme Lord of this entire creation?

 One who has given up all worldly pleasures, Sanjaya replied,  and taken shelter of His lotus feet, can know Krishna as the universal Lord. One who has cleansed his heart of all impurities can see that same Lord Krishna seated in the heart of every living being as the Supersoul. One can only know that Supreme Being by controlling the senses and restraining from worldly temptations. Fixing the mind on His divine form, one can attain liberation from the imprisonment of birth and death.

Dhritarastra again questioned Sanjaya, I request you, O Sanjaya, to tell me again of the lotus-eyed Krishna. Please tell me of His various names by which one may obtain that most exalted of beings.

O King,  Sanjaya replied, I will tell you as many names of the Supreme Lord as I know. Keshava, however, is immeasurable and is above the power of speech to describe. He is called Vasudeva in consequence of his covering all creatures with the curtain of illusion, or of His glorious splendor, or of His being the support of the mighty creation. He is called Vishnu because of his all pervading nature. He is called Madhava because He is the husband of the goddess of fortune. O Bharata, He is called Madhusudana, because he once killed the powerful demon Madhu. He was born in the Satvata race and given the name Krishna. The word krish is the attractive feature of the Lord's existence, and na, means pleasure. When the verb krish is added to the affix na, it becomes Krishna, which indicates the Absolute Truth or the reservoir of all pleasure. He is called Pundarikaksha, meaning one who has lotus-like eyes. He is called Janardana, because he strikes fear into the heart of all atheistic persons. He is also known as Vrishabhakshana. Vrishabha means the Vedas and ikshana means the eye. The union of the two means through the eyes of the scripture He can be seen. The conqueror of hosts is called Aja which means that He is unborn. Krishna is like the sun. The sun appears to take birth on the horizon, but it always exists. Similarly, Krishna appears to take birth from the womb of Devaki, but in actuality He eternally exists. That Supreme Soul is known as Damodara, meaning one who was bound around the waist by His foster mother Yashoda. He is called Hrishikesha because He is the Lord of the senses, and only by His grace can the fleeting senses be controlled. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is called Mahavahu, because He holds up the Earth and the sky with His two arms. He is also known as Adhoksaja because He never falls down of suffers deterioration. He is called Narayana because He is the resting place of all living beings. That Supreme Lord is called Purushottama because he is the foremost of all living beings. He possesses knowledge of all things, and is therefore known as Sarva. Truth always resides in Krishna, and He is therefore known as Satya. He is called Ananta because He holds all the planets in their proper orbits. Krishna is the Divine Lord of all beings, and it is He who will come here tomorrow to prevent the slaughter of the Kurus.

Dhritarastra then pleaded with Duryodhana, O my son, let us together seek Lord Krishna's protection and live happily in our kingdom. He is certainly our best friend and a worthy shelter of all.

If the divine son of Devaki,  Duryodhana replied, united in friendship with Arjuna, were to kill all persons in the universe, I still would not take shelter of He who is my enemy.

Inflamed, Dhritarastra chastised his evil son, This stupid son of mine has taken his vow to destroy our whole dynasty. Envious, wicked, and proud, he rejects the words of his superiors.

Gandhari then tried to correct her son, You are a fool! You never listen to wisdom that is meant for your own interest. All the elders have spoken in favor of peace, but you alone desire war which will destroy our family. You will remember your father's words when struck dead by Bhimasena's mace.

Dhritarastra then spoke to Sanjaya, I envy those, who, gifted with proper vision, are able to see Vasudeva as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We will soon be able to behold that Supreme Person when He comes here on behalf of the Pandavas. I will then put myself under the protection of Him who has created the whole cosmic manifestation. I can now understand that He is the primeval cause of all causes and the creator of the universe. Every living being sings his glories. He is the foremost learned person and has previously descended as the younger brother of Indra. O, when will I take shelter of Him?  Thus Sanjaya and Dhritarastra discussed the glories of the Lord, but Duryodhana could not bear to hear such praise. Due to his envy of Pandu's sons and his insubordination to the Supreme Lord, he was destined for death along with all his brothers, friends and followers.


Thus Ends the Second Chapter of the Udyoga Parva, Entitled, Discussions of Peace Between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.


Chapter Commentary


The Pandavas, obviously, were not interested in war. Yudhisthira requested his kingdom of Indraprastha, and he was willing to overlook all offenses. However, Duryodhana was not interested in peace. Even after he heard the glories of Lord Krishna, he was not willing for peace. He was a determined demon and headed for certain death. This shows that personal association with the Lord is not everything. Many demons had the association of Lord Krishna, but could not surrender to the will of the Lord. Personal association with the Lord is not as important as a pure heart. Those with pure hearts can see the Lord within, and thus they have the constant association of the Lord. This is confirmed in the Brahma Samhita, premanjana cchurita-bhakti-vilochanena, santah sadaiva hridayeshu viokayanti, yam shyamasundarm achintya-guna-svarupam, govindam adi purusham tam aham bhajami, I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Shyamasundar, Krishna Himself, with inconceivable, innumerable attributes, whom the pure devotee see with heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love.  (B.S. 5.38)



Chapter Three

Lord Krishna Instructs the Assembly of Kings


With the permission of King Yudhisthira, Lord Krishna set out for Hastinapura. He took with Him the messages from the Pandavas. The son of Devaki rode on His beautiful chariot drawn by His favorite horses, Saivya, Sugriva, Meghapuspa, and Balahaka. He was followed by ten mighty chariot warriors as well as a thousand horsemen and a thousand foot soldiers.

Understanding through spies that Lord Krishna had left Upaplavya for Hastinapura, Dhritarastra addressed Bhishma, Drona and Vidura in the following words, O scions of the Kuru race, the news we hear is wonderful. Men, women and children are talking about it, and all are speaking respectfully. The citizens are congregating together and discussing it in the open market places. All are saying that Lord Krishna, the slayer of Madhu, is coming to Hastinapura. He is the Lord of all creatures, and on Him rests the creation, maintenance and destruction of this universe. Indeed, intelligence, prowess, wisdom and energy all reside in this best among men. If He is worshiped, he is sure to bestow happiness, and if He is not worshiped, He is sure to be the cause of our suffering. If He is pleased with us, then all our plans will fructify. Let us immediately make arrangements for His reception. Pavilions should be set up along the road, furnished with every object of enjoyment. O Duryodhana, carry out this order, and all our desires will be fulfilled.  Following the instructions of the King, Duryodhana made arrangements for many pavilions to be erected along the road to Hastinapura. They were decorated with garlands, pictures, costly silks, and rugs of the finest quality. The finest foods were prepared, and the finest drinks were set aside for Lord Krishna. It was opulence on the level of the heavenly denizens and was meant to bring the Lord of the Universe to the Kaurava's side. However, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, did not even cast His glance upon the arrangements of Duryodhana. He stopped at intervals of His Own choosing, and very soon He arrived at Hastinapura.

Before the arrival of Lord Krishna, King Dhritarastra called for Vidura and said to him, O Vidura, Janardana will soon be in Hastinapura. I propose to worship Him with all the opulence that I can afford. I will give Him sixteen golden chariots drawn by the finest horses. I will bestow upon Him eight elephants with large white tusks. I will give Him one hundred maidservants with golden complexions. I will offer Him eighteen thousand woolen blankets, soft to the touch and a thousand deerskins brought from China. Duhshasana's abode, which is more opulent than Duryodhana's, should be cleansed and prepared for His use. All the citizens of Hastinapura should go out of the city to greet Lord Krishna. Bhishma, Drona, as well as my sons may also go out of the city to offer greetings to the universal Lord.

I do not think that you have adopted the path of sincerity,  Vidura replied. Do not, from stupidity, cause the destruction of your family members. You desire to give this small token of wealth to Krishna, but He deserves this and much more. I can understand that you don't wish to give this opulence out of a motive to please Him. Behind this gift is deception, falsehood and insincerity. These external acts have revealed your real intention. The Pandavas desire five villages, but you don't want to give them even that. You want to win over the Lord of the Yadu dynasty to your own side by means of wealth. You want to separate Krishna from the Pandavas. I will tell you, however, that you will be unable, by wealth, or attention, or worship, to separate Lord Krishna from Dhananjaya. Keshava will accept from you only a vessel of water for washing His feet and inquiries about His welfare. Other than this, He will not accept your hospitality, for it is saturated with deception. If you actually want to please Krishna, then you should give him what He has come for. After receiving the kingdom due to the Pandavas, He will accept all that you offer Him.

In the presence of Bhishma, Drona, Dhritarastra, Vidura and others, the wicked Duryodhana expressed his ill motivated desire, I can by no means share my wealth with the Pandavas. This is my final decision. Tomorrow, I will imprison Krishna when He comes to our court. When He is confined within the walls of the palace, the Vrishnis and the Pandavas, as well as the whole world, will submit to me. We should carry out this plan in such a way that Krishna will not suspect our intentions.

Responding to the foolish son of Dhritarastra, the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, Bhishma angrily addressed Dhritarastra, Your wicked son, O Dhritarastra, will soon experience death. He disregards our advice and is paving his way toward hellish life. You are also following his path for you allow him to carry out these plans without restraining him. If out of stupidity this imbecile tries to capture Krishna, he will be destroyed in a moment. I will not listen anymore to the words of this foolish person who has abandoned all virtue.  Bhishma then rose from his seat and left the assembly inflamed with rage.

It was then announced that Lord Krishna was nearing the city of elephants. All of Dhritarastra's sons except Duryodhana went out of the city to greet him. Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and others also went out to offer a fine reception. Citizens by the thousands came out of the city to glance upon the radiant features of the Supreme Person. There was not one citizen who remained inside his home when he heard that Lord Krishna had entered Hastinapura. The people bowed their heads unto the slayer of the Madhu demon, and those who could not see the Lord from the ground, ascended to the tops of the mansions to gaze upon the faultless features of the Lord of all creation. They ladies showered upon Him flowers of every description and embraced the transcendental form of the Lord within core of their hearts to their full satisfaction.

Lord Krishna then entered the ash colored palace of Dhritarastra and came into to the beautifully decorated imperial court where the numerous Kings and princes were assembled. The blind monarch stood up along with Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and Somadatta. Lord Krishna greeted the kings according to seniority in years. He was then offered a spacious golden seat, set with multicolored jewels, which, at the request of Dhritarastra, Lord Achyuta sat down. Lord Krishna remained there for sometime, laughing and joking with the Kurus, according to their relationship with Him.

After bestowing His association upon the Karuavas, Lord Krishna left their association and went to the abode of Vidura. Vidura was overwhelmed with ecstacy and worshiped Lord Krishna with every auspicious article he had in his possession. While massaging the lotus feet of the Lord, Vidura praised Lord Krishna, I cannot express, O lotus-eyed one, the joy I feel since You have entered my home. You are the inner soul of all creatures and the Lord of all creations. My home has certainly become blessed by Your auspicious presence. Appearing in the Yadu dynasty like an ordinary person, You are bewildering everyone with Your internal potency. It is a great wonder, my Lord, that these fools do not recognize your exalted position. My Lord, I pray that I may always be engaged in Your pure devotional service, and that I may never forget You at any time.  Lord Krishna smilingly accepted Vidura's prayers, and they then talked about the situation at hand. Later in the afternoon, Krishna visited Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas. He offered His respects to His aunt who had suffered so much on account of Duryodhana's atrocities. He informed Kunti of her son's welfare and gave her all messages from them.

After pacifying His aunt, He went to Duryodhana's palace. The Supreme Personality of Godhead entered the palace of Dhritarastra's son and saw him seated on a throne surrounded by a thousand kings. He saw Duhshasana, Karna and Shakuni seated near the King, and as He approached, they all rose from their seats and greeted Him. They offered Him a opulent golden throne covered with the finest cloth. They offered the Supreme Personality of Godhead many auspicious gifts and a bounty of wealth. Then Duryodhana invited Lord Krishna to dine at his palace, but Krishna did not accept the invitation. The Kuru King inquired from Lord Krishna with sweet words, which were simply a front for deception and wickedness, Why, O Janardana, have you not accepted the hospitality that is being offered You. You are kind to both the Pandavas and the Kurus. Therefore, please accept our worship.

At the present moment, O King,  Lord Krishna replied, you have not inspired me with love. Without any reason you have, from the moment of your birth, been envious of the Pandavas, who are endowed with all magnificent qualities. Who, indeed, could do them the least injury? He who hates them, hates Me; he who loves them also loves Me. Know that the Pandavas and Myself are like a common soul. That wrathful, uncontrolled person who hates and seeks to injure those who are pious, can never enjoy prosperity in this life. He, however, who tries to win over, by good intentions, persons endowed with good qualities, even though he is adverse to them in his heart, enjoys prosperity in this life. All these offerings are contaminated by sinful intentions, and I will not accept them. The food supplied by Vidura is the only food fit to be eaten.

After saying this, Lord Krishna rose from His seat and left Duryodhana's Palace which was like unto a pit of snakes. He made His way to the abode of Vidura and took His meals there. While Lord Krishna was staying there, Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, and Bahlika came and requested Him in the following words, O best of the Vrishni race, we place at your disposal all our mansions, as well as the wealth in them.  However, Lord Krishna did not accept their offers and sent them away with kind words. Lord Krishna and Vidura then spent the rest of the night, discussing about the future of the Pandavas and the chances of a peace proposal.

In the morning Lord Krishna mounted His chariot, and followed by Vidura, Satyaki, Kritavarman and others, made his way to the palace of King Dhritarastra. Upon entering the palace, he was greeted by the assembled kings and given an ornately opulent seat especially made for Him. When Lord Krishna was seated, the great rishis descended from the heavens and arrived at the palace gate. They were escorted into the palace and offered elegant sitting places and duly worshiped. The assembly consisted of King Dhritarastra, Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Drona's son, Duryodhana, Duhshasana, and the other brothers, Salya, Karna, Shakuni and the other Kings who were to fight for the cause of Duryodhana. Vidura was given a special seat next to Lord Krishna. All the Kings and rishis in that assembly had their eyes fixed on the transcendental form of Lord Krishna, and so breath taking was that form, that they could not take their eyes away. Even though they drank Lord Krishna's divine form through their eyes, they were not satiated with their repeated gazing.

After Lord Krishna had taken His seat and glanced over all the assembled Princes and Kings, there was complete silence in the imperial court. Then Lord Krishna, whose voice was as deep as that of a drum, spoke to King Dhritarastra the following words, In order that peace may be established in the world, O Bharata, I have come to this city. Your race, owing to its learning and behavior, is most distinguished among the royal dynasties. Joy in seeing others happy, unhappiness at the sight of other's sorrow, sincerity, forgiveness, and truthfulness,-these qualities, O Bharata, prevail amongst the Kurus. Since you are the chief of the Kuru dynasty, you should be the first to restrain one who does not show these virtues. You should know that those wicked sons of yours, headed by Duryodhana, have abandoned virtue, morality and religion-for they behave inimically towards their relatives, the Pandavas. If you are indifferent to your son's actions, it will cause the destruction, of not only your dynasty, but the destruction of all the warrior races of the world. The establishment of peace depends on our joint decision, O descendent of Bharata. If you correct your sons, then they must obey your commands, and if I give orders to the Pandavas, then they will obey My command. If you are backed by the mighty Pandavas, then who in the three worlds could defeat you. If Pandu's sons and your sons are united, then there is no power on this earth that can destroy them. There will be no profit if all the earthly kings are destroyed. There will be no profit if your sons lie prostrate on the battlefield, their life extinguished from their bodies. Yudhisthira has tolerated untold injustices from your sons. Duryodhana has tried to burn them to death in a house of lac. He has humiliated them and stolen their wealth at a deceitful gambling match. He has tried to unclothe their beloved queen, and this is all with your consent. Still, Yudhisthira is desiring a peaceful solution. It is your duty to give back to the Pandavas the kingdom that is theirs, and thus put a halt to the massacre of the world's population. The decision is yours. The sons of Pandu are ready to act as your obedient order carriers, or they are prepared to fight. Everything depends on you.

After Lord Krishna had spoken words conducive to the Kaurava's benefit, the great sage Parashurama also spoke words of wisdom for Duryodhana and his followers. The great sage Narada then spoke as well as the rishi Kanva. Bhishma, Drona and Vidura also spoke in favor of peace, and after hearing all the good council, Dhritarastra said, O Keshava, the advice You have given is beneficial for the whole world. The great sages and the Kuru elders have spoken the same words of wisdom. I am not, however, independent. Duryodhana never follows the instructions I give to him. Please, therefore, persuade my son whose heart is full of sinful desires. Direct Your good counsel to him, so that his heart may change and our dynasty saved.

Lord Krishna, the Supreme Authority for all living beings, then glanced upon the unscrupulous son of Dhritarastra and advised him as follows, O Duryodhana, listen to My counsel which is meant for your welfare and those that follow you. You are born in a superior dynasty which is known for its wisdom. Those who are born of wicked families have sons that are cruel and shameless. How is it that you are acting like a low born person? Persistence in such behavior is sinful, frightful, wicked and leads one to premature death. If you want to adopt a behavior that is worthy of your race, then make peace with the great and mighty sons of Pandu. This will please your father, as well as the Kuru elders headed by Bhishma. One who accepts the counsel of his elders, which is principled and virtuous, attains a higher destination after this life. One, who does not follow good counsel and follows the dictates of fools, never gains happiness in this world. You have persecuted the sons of Pandu from your birth, although they have never acted as aggressors toward you. All the kings present in this assembly are incapable of facing Bhima, when provoked, on the field of battle. You have in your following, Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Kripa, Bhurisrava, Somadatta, Ashvatthama, and Jayadratha. All these great warriors taken together are incapable of fighting against Dhananjaya. Indeed, Arjuna cannot be defeated by all the heavenly lords combined. Do not set your heart on battle. Do you remember at Khandavaprastha when Arjuna defeated in battle all the gods, asuras and Gandharvas? Do you not remember when Partha encountered the Kuru host at the city of Virata and the consequences? Arjuna has even satisfied Lord Shiva in battle. With Myself driving his chariot, who will be able to face him in battle? Therefore, do not extinguish the Bharata dynasty. Live in peace by making a lasting agreement with the Pandavas. Give them the half of the kingdom they deserve and live in peace with your relatives.  Supporting Lord Krishna's counsel, Bhishma, Drona, Vidura and Dhritarastra gave instructions to Duryodhana requesting peace.

When silence fell on the imperial court, all eyes were focused on Duryodhana. All the advice offered was unpleasant to him, and he replied to Lord Krishna as follows, You should not talk, O Keshava, until you have reflected on all circumstances. Indeed, you are uttering harsh words and finding fault in me alone without considering the faults of Pandu's sons. Yourself, Bhishma, Drona Vidura, and my father are chastising me, but I do not find the slightest fault in myself. All of you hate me without reason. O mighty armed Krishna, I do not, even after reflection, find any grave fault in myself. I can not even find any fault however small. The Pandavas joyfully accepted the gambling match, and according to the conditions, they went to the forest. For what reason do the Pandavas accept us as enemies? How will it be possible for them to kill in battle Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and Karna, whom even the demigods cannot defeat? O slayer of Madhu, if we are vanquished in battle, then the doors to the heavenly planets will be open to us. We will gladly accept a bed of flowers rather than bow down to the sons of Pandu. That share of the kingdom which was formerly given by my father shall never be given again as long as I live. I will not give unto the Pandavas as much land as to drive the point of a needle.

Hearing these portentous words from the irrational son of Dhritarastra, Lord Krishna calmly replied, If it is your desire to die on a battlefield, then that desire shall be fulfilled. You will lay on the hard ground surrounded by your ministers, brothers and friends. For the injustices you have inflicted on the Pandavas, your whole dynasty will be decimated. You have tried to kill the Pandavas by poison, by fire, and by gambling. You have insulted their wife in an assembly of learned men, and you have attempted to insult them while in the forest. For these vile sins your whole family will be incinerated like trees in a forest fire.

Hearing the prophetic words of Lord Krishna, Duryodhana, who was wicked, cruel, sinful and arrogant, rose up from his seat and left the assembly hall. Lord Krishna then instructed the Kuru elders, All the Kuru family members seem to possess the same mentality, or else why don't you bind this iniquitous person and kill him. I think the time has come for this. In order to save the Bhoja dynasty from the hands of the sinful Kamsa, I killed him, and again enthroned his father Ugrasena. By killing a single person, the whole dynasty has now prospered. To save the Kuru dynasty from extinction, you should seize Duryodhana, Karna, Shakuni and Duhshasana. Binding them with ropes, you should hand them over to the Pandavas. Do not allow the whole warrior race to be slaughtered on one person's account.

When Duryodhana left the assembly, he began to consult with the fiendish Shakuni, The killer of Madhu seeks with Dhritarastra and Bhishma to bind us and turn us over to the Pandavas. We, however, shall seize Him first and throw Him in prison. When the Pandavas have heard that Keshava has been taken prisoner, they will lose their spirit, and in that condition, it will be easy to kill them. Therefore, disregarding my father's protests, let us capture Devaki's son in the presence of all.

When those unscrupulous demons had resolved to carry out their fool hearty plan, Satyaki came to know of it, for he can read the heart of any man. He ordered Kritavarman to array his troops outside the palace and be ready for action. Then, entering the court, he informed Lord Krishna, Dhritarastra and Vidura of the sinister plot. Duryodhana soon entered the court intending to carry out his foolish plan. Seeing him coming, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Master of all mystics, addressed him, From illusion, O Duryodhana, you think Me alone, and therefore, desire to make Me a prisoner. Here, however, are all the Pandavas, the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. Here are all the Adityas, the Rudras and the Vasus.  Saying this, Lord Krishna burst into a loud laughter. From His body came, like a river, the host of heavenly lords, each appearing like lightning. From His forehead appeared the four headed Brahma, and from His chest appeared Lord Shiva. From His arms appeared the great kings of the world. From His mouth, like fire, appeared Agni, the Adityas, the Sadhyas, the Vasus, the Asvins, the Marutas, with Indra and the Visvadevas. From Lord Krishna's two arms came Lord Balarama and Arjuna. Arjuna stood on His right, with Gandiva in hand and Balarama on His left with the club and plough in hand. Behind Him stood Yudhisthira, Nakula and Sahadeva. Before Lord Krishna stood the Yadus, headed by Pradyumna, all with upraised weapons. Lord Krishna manifested manifold arms, each with a weapon shining with great radiance. From His eyes, nose and ears came sparks of fire like the the rays of the sun. Duryodhana could not look upon this supremely effulgent form, and all the Kings closed their eyes out of fear. Only Bhishma, Drona, Vidura and the sages present were able to behold this divine manifestation of the universal form. From the firmament the heavenly denizens showered flowers, and the sounds of kettledrums and conches sounded in all directions. When all the earthly Kings had been bewildered, Lord Krishna withdrew His universal form. Then, accompanied by Satyaki and Kritavarman, He walked past the stupid Duryodhana and left Dhritarastra's palace. All the Kuru elders followed Him to His chariot, and upon ascending it, Lord Krishna again advised them, You have witnessed how the uncivilized son of Dhritarastra has ignored the advice given to him. What is there left to say? Prepare yourselves for war. With your permission, I shall now return to Yudhisthira.  Lord Krishna then left the palace grounds and headed for Vidura's residence.

That day Gandhari called for Duryodhana and requested him, My dear son, since you will not change your mind and make peace, your death on the battlefield is certain. Tomorrow I want you to come here completely naked. By the power of my chastity, I will protect your body from the attack of any weapon.

The next day Duryodhana was walking toward his mother's quarters, when, suddenly, Lord Krishna appeared before him. Why, O Duryodhana, are you naked?

Somewhat embarrassed, Duryodhana replied, My mother has asked me to come to her quarters completely naked.

You should at least wear some loincloth while in public,  Lord Krishna said.

Duryodhana then put on a loin cloth and entered his mother's apartments. Mother, I have come as you have requested,  Duryodhana announced. Gandhari then lifted her blindfold and for the first time since her marriage to Dhritarastra, she could see. However, when she saw the loincloth on Duryodhana, she exclaimed, I have told you to come here naked. I could only protect that part of the body that was not clothed.

On the way here,  Duryodhana said, I met Krishna, and He asked me to wear this loincloth.  Gandhari could then understand that Lord Krishna's plan was supreme and nothing could change the destiny of her son.


Thus Ends the Third Chapter of the Udyoga Parva , entitled, Lord Krishna Instructs the Assembly of Kings.


Chapter Commentary


This chapter is very instructive on the quality of pure devotion. Lord Krishna went to Hastinapura to make peace. Duryodhana's plan was to induce Lord Krishna to take his side. He want to alure the Lord with material comforts. However, Lord Krishna is not attracted to material benefits for he already owns all material things. He, therefore, rejected Duryodhana's offers and went to the house of Vidura where there was pure devotion. This example should be instructive to us that we cannot buy Lord Krishna with material things. All we can do is saturate our offering with as much love and devotion as we have. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, bhaktya mam abhijanati, yavan yas casmi tattvatah, tato mam tattvato jnatva, visate tad-anantaram, One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.  (B.g. 18.55)

Duryodhana was so foolish that even after seeing a display of the universal form, which was meant for his benefit, he still could not accept Lord Krishna's instructions. The nature of demons is that they will never accept good counsel. Duryodhana's mentality was leading him to a hellish condition. It is the duty of everyone to control lust, anger and greed. Lord Krishna advises this in Bhagavad-gita, tri-vidham narakasyedam, dvaram nasanam atmanah, kamahkrodhas tatha lobhas, tasmad etat trayam tyajet, There are three gates leading to this hell-lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.  (B.g. 16.22)

One may ask why Bhishma, Drona or Kripa did not try to stop Duryodhana from his folly? Lord Krishna gave them direct instructions to bind Duryodhana and turn him over to the Pandavas or kill him. Bhishma was a great devotee, a mahajana, so why didn't he follow the Lord's instructions? Aren't pure devotees always subordinate to the will of the Lord? The answer is yes; pure devotees are always under yogamaya, and therefore, it must be seen that Bhishma and other Kuru elders, who were devotees, were bewildered and could not act because of yogamaya. In other words the Lord's mission was to reduce the military burden of the world, and if Bhishma and the others had acted, then the battle of Kurukshetra would have never taken place.




Chapter Four

Karna is Offered Kingship of the World


Before leaving Hastinapura, Lord Krishna took Karna, the son of Radha, on His chariot and spoke with him concerning his birth. Lord Krishna revealed the truth to him, O son of Radha, you have worshiped the brahmanas who have realized the truth of the Vedas. Therefore, you know what is the Vedic conclusion regarding the birth of a child. In the past you have not known who your real mother was. This remains a mystery to you. Actually you were born to Kunti before her marriage to Pandu. Your father is the sun god. The daughter of Surasena had received a benediction from Durvasa Muni that she could call any heavenly lord from the higher planets to conceive a child. In her youthful innocence, she called for the sun god, and because the mantra could not prove fruitless, a child was conceived. Out of fear that she would never be able to marry, she placed the child in a basket and cast it afloat on the Ganges. Thus, you are actually known as Kaunteya. The Pandavas are, in reality, your younger brothers. If you come to their side, they will bow at your feet, and you will become the emperor of the world. When you are coronated as King of the earth, Yudhisthira will stand behind you in your chariot. Bhimasena will hold the royal umbrella over your head, and Arjuna will hold the reins of the chariot. Nakula and Sahadeva, as well as Draupadi's five sons, will walk behind you. Let the Pandavas proclaim, Victory to Vasusena.' Surrounded by the Pandavas, you will appear like your father, the sun god, followed by his many assistants.

Bewildered upon hearing the shocking facts from Lord Krishna, Karna did not reply, but contemplated the words spoken to him. After a few moments of silence, Karna said, Without a doubt, O Keshava, I believe that your words are truth. From the moral and Vedic understanding, I am the son of Kunti by the Sun god, Vivasvan. I can understand that from the command of Surya, Kunti was forced to abandon me in the Ganges. This is certainly my past history. Why was she so cruel as to have abandoned me in the Ganges to die? What kind of mother is this? When I was found in the Ganges by Adiratha and Radha, they took me into their home and cared for me. Out of affection for me, Radha's breast filled with milk, and she cleaned the urine and stool from my body. My father, Adhiratha, caused all the purificatory performances to be performed by qualified brahmanas. Thus they bestowed upon me the name Vasusena. I have married wives according to his selection, and by them I now have sons and grandsons. O Krishna, my bonds of affection and love are fixed on them. O Govinda, I cannot destroy this affection by means of gold or the whole earth. Duryodhana has been kind to me all these years, and I have shared his kingdom for the last thirteen years. How can I give him up? If I become victorious in battle, then I shall hand over this kingdom to Duryodhana. Without doubt, O slayer of Madhu, You have given me good advice. With You on the chariot of Arjuna, there will be little chance of our victory. If Yudhisthira comes to know that I am the first born son of Kunti, he will not accept the throne. With You as his guide, he is fit to rule this world, assisted by Arjuna and Bhimasena. For the offense I committed in the gambling match to my younger brothers and their queen, I shall lay on the battlefield slain by Arjuna. I shall witness the second son of Pandu, Bhimasena, drink the blood of Duhshasana on the field of battle. Those great heroes of the Kuru race, Bhishma and Drona, shall fall from their chariots, slain by the sons of Drupada, Shikhandin and Dhristadyumna. Before the end of this great struggle for lordship of the earth, everyone will witness Duryodhana slain by Bhima's mace. All these calamities will surely take place in the subsequent clash of dynasties.

I pray to you, O Hrishikesha, that the warriors of the royal dynasties perish honorably. Let them die on the most sacred of places, Kurukshetra. The achievements accomplished on this battlefield shall open the heavenly realms for those who die on this hallowed ground. As long as the rivers, hills and mountains last, so will the brahmanas recite this great warfare of the Bharatas. The fame achieved in this battle will be the only wealth that the kshatriyas will obtain. O Keshava, bring Kunti's son, Arjuna, before me in combat, and keep our discussion a secret forever.

Lord Krishna then instructed Karna, When you return, say unto Bhishma, Drona and Kripa, that the present month is a pleasurable one. It is spring time, and there are ample fruits and vegetables. The roads are dry, and it is neither too hot nor too cold. Seven days after today is the new moon. Let the battle commence on that day. Speak unto all the kings who have sided with Duryodhana. Tell them that I will fulfill all their desires. When they obtain death by the Pandava's weapons, they will attain the heavenly realm.

Without doubt, O Krishna,  Karna replied, a mammoth and ferocious war will take place which will bloody the entire earth. O slayer of Madhu, I see evil omens for the Kurus and auspicious ones for the Pandavas. O descendent of the Vrishni dynasty, that vindictive planet of great effulgence, Saturn, is afflicting the constellation Rohini. This will cause suffering to the living entities of this earth. The planet Mars is heading toward the constellations Anuradhas and Jeshthya, indicating a great slaughter of friends. The planet Mahapat is afflicting the constellation Chitra, and Rahu is attacking the sun. They say that the appearance of these evil portents produces a great carnage. All the auspicious birds like the swans, peacocks and cranes are following the Pandavas, while vultures, hawks and crows follow the chariot of Duryodhana. The gods are showering flesh and blood upon the followers of Duryodhana, and a black circle is appearing about the sun globe. The jackals are howling and fierce birds utter terrible cries. These omens indicate the downfall of the Kauravas and victory for the Pandavas.

I have seen a vision of Yudhisthira ascending to a palace supported by a thousand columns. His brothers were accompanying him, and they were all dressed in white robes. I have also seen the sons of Dhritarastra, along with myself, headed for Yamaraja's abode. I have no doubt that the warriors aligned with Duryodhana shall have to enter the fire of the Gandiva bow.

The destruction of the world is at hand, Lord Krishna prophesied, when My words do not become acceptable to the heart. When the destruction of human life approaches, men take right for wrong and wrong for right.

If, O Krishna,  Karna replied, I live through this great battle, then we shall meet here again. Otherwise, O Hrishikesha, we shall certainly meet in mystical worlds above. O sinless one, I think this is the only way we shall meet again.  Saying this much, Karna embraced Lord Krishna, and ascending his own chariot, he returned to the presence of Duryodhana, feeling exceedingly disheartened. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, having finished his business on behalf of King Yudhisthira, then left Hastinapura and returned to the city of Upaplavya.

Upon the failing to obtain peace, Vidura, quite saddened by the attitude of Duryodhana, approached Kunti to tell her what had happened. He informed her, Lord Krishna, as well as the Kuru elders, have failed to obtain peace. The wicked Duryodhana, Shakuni, Duhshasana and Karna are intoxicated with pride. When Krishna returns, without being able to effect peace, the Pandavas will certainly ready themselves for combat. Reflecting on all this, I cannot sleep day or night.

Our grandsire, Bhishma, the son of Shantanu, does not want war,  Kunti replied. I also know that the preceptor, Drona, shows more affection for the Pandavas than even his own son. The deceitful Duryodhana, Duhshasana, Shakuni and Karna are the only ones who despise my sons. Out of all of them, Karna is especially powerful. I shall go to him, today, and disclose the truth about his birth.  Kunti the related to Vidura how Karna was born from her womb by the sun god, Vivasvan. She told him everything about the benediction from Durvasa; how she set the newborn child in a basket, and let the child float down the river Ganges. She then said, Because he is my son, why should he not follow my orders?  Kunti then decided to go to the banks of the Ganges and petition her son with parental words.

Having reached the sacred Ganges, Kunti saw her son, Karna, sitting in meditation and performing his daily worship. She stayed behind him till he had completed his prayers. When Karna felt the warmth of the sun's rays, he turned around and saw Kunti standing between himself and the sun. He was surprised to see such a women, and he greeted her with joined palms. He said, I am Karna, the son of Radha and Adhiratha. For what reason have you come here? Tell me what I can offer you, for I am a bestower of charity?

Kunti then disclosed to Karna the truth of his birth, You are not actually the son of Radha and Adhiratha. Your birth is divine. You are not a suta by birth. Your real father is the sun god whom you worship daily, and I am your mother.  Kunti was standing in the rays of the sun and Karna could not distinguish who she was. He therefore questioned her, Who are you?

I am Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas.  Kunti replied. You are my first born son before my marriage to Pandu. Because of the shame of begetting a son while still not married, I had set you afloat on the waters of the Ganges. Your brothers are the Pandavas. It is time to take your place next to your brothers, and conquering the Kurus, enthrone yourself as King. Today, you can embrace your younger brother Arjuna and become the best of friends. If you two are united, there is nothing in this world that you will not accomplish.

After Kunti had spoken, a celestial voice from the solar orb spoke, The words spoken by Pritha are, indeed, true. O Karna, my son, act according to the instructions of your real mother. O tiger among men, you will benefit unlimitedly if you take your stand with the pious sons of Pandu.

 When Karna had heard the advice of his real mother and father, he did not waver from his position and spoke to her, O blessed lady, I cannot agree with your statement that to obey your commands is the my highest duty. O mother, I was abandoned by you as soon as I was born. This stain of my birth, being recognized as the son of a suta, has darkened my achievements. I could have died within the river after you set me afloat. If, indeed, I am a kshatriya then I have been deprived of these rights by your neglect. What enemy would have done me a greater injury? Without showing mercy to me by performing my birth rites, you have abandoned me, and now, today, you would have me follow your command? Before today you never sought my welfare as a mother. Why are you now soliciting me except to benefit yourself. If I go to the side of the Pandavas, everyone will think that I have gone because of cowardice. If I take up the your son's cause, then all will consider I have done so for my personal fame, leaving aside my friendship with Duryodhana. Your instructions, however beneficial, I cannot obey. Your request, however, will not prove to be fruitless. I will promise you, though able to kill all your sons except Arjuna, I will not do so. Arjuna, alone, I will fight with, and killing him or being killed by him, I will achieve lasting fame. O blessed lady, the number of your sons will always remain not less than five. Either I will be killed by Arjuna, or Arjuna will be slain in battle.

Hearing these words, Kunti, who was trembling from grief, embraced her son who remained unmoved by the emotion of his real mother. She then requested, O my son, you have granted to four of your brothers the assurance of safety. Please remember this promise at the time of the battle.

Karna replied, Let it be so.  Kunti then left her son at the bank of the Ganges and returned to her own apartments.


Thus Ends the Fourth Chapter of the Udyoga Parva, Entitled, Karna is offered Kingship of the World.




Chapter Five

The Colossal Armies Moved to Kurukshetra


After Lord Krishna had left Hastinapura, Dhritarastra invited Vidura for consultation. O pious Vidura, you always contemplate our family's welfare. Now that Duryodhana has defied Lord Krishna's orders, what should be our next course of action.

Your dynasty is doomed!  Vidura replied, Why do you inquire after already being instructed by the Lord of all creation, Lord Shri Krishna? O King, You must now return the legitimate share to King Yudhisthira, who has no enemies and who has been forbearing through untold sufferings due to your offenses. He is waiting with his younger brothers, among whom is the revengeful Bhima, breathing heavily like a snake. Surely you are afraid of him. Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, has accepted the sons of Pritha as His kinsmen, and all the kings of the world are with Lord Shri Krishna. He is present in His home with all His family members, the Kings and princes of the Yadu dynasty, who have conquered a unlimited number of rulers, and He is their Lord. You are maintaining offense personified, Duryodhana, as your infallible son, but he is envious of Lord Krishna. And because you are thus maintaining a nondevotee of Krishna, you are devoid of all auspicious qualities. Relieve yourself of this ill fortune as soon as possible and do good to the whole family!

While speaking thus, Vidura, whose personal character was esteemed by respectable persons, was insulted by Duryodhana, who was swollen with anger and whose lips were trembling. Duryodhana was in company with Karna, his younger brothers, and his maternal uncle Shakuni. The wicked son of Dhritarastra spoke harshly to the gentle Vidura, Who asked him to come here, this son of a kept mistress? He is so crooked that he spies in the interest of the enemy against those on whose support he has grown up. Toss him out of the palace immediately and leave him with only his breath.

 Thus being pierced by arrows through his ears and afflicted to the core of his heart, Vidura placed his bow on the door and quit his brother's palace. He was not sorry, for he considered the act of the external energy to be supreme. He left Hastinapura to travel on pilgrimage. He did not want to see the outcome of the fratricidal war.

By his piety, Vidura achieved the advantages of the pious Kauravas. After leaving Hastinapura, he took shelter of many places of pilgrimages, which are the Lord's lotus feet. With a desire to gain a high order of pious life, he traveled to holy places where thousand of transcendental forms of the Lord are situated. He began to travel alone, thinking only of Krishna, through various holy places like Ayodhya, Dvaraka and Mathura. He traveled where the air, hill, orchard, river and lake are all pure and sinless and where the forms of the Unlimited decorate the temples. Thus he performed the pilgrim's progress. While so traversing the earth, he simply performed duties to please the Supreme Lord Hari. His occupation was pure and independent. He was constantly sanctified by taking his bath in holy places, although he was in the dress of a mendicant with hair matted and no bed on which to lie. Thus he was always unseen by his various relatives. On the bank of the River Sarasvati there are eleven places of pilgrimage, namely, Trita, Usana, Manu, Prithu, Agni, Asita, Vayu, Sudasa, Go, Guha and Sraddhadeva. Vidura visited all of them and duly performed rituals. There were also many other temples of various forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vishnu, established by great sages and demigods. These temples were marked with the chief emblems of the Lord, and they reminded one always of the original Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. While traveling on pilgrimage, Vidura met the great devotee, Maitreya and received transcendental knowledge from him. Thus he attained the lotus feet of the Lord, the aspiration of all liberated persons.

When Lord Krishna had returned to Upaplavya from Hastinapura, He gave to the Pandavas all messages. Lord Krishna related to them how Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Vidura, and Dhritarastra had requested peace. He also informed them of Gandhari's plea for peace to her son Duryodhana. Krishna then explained how the foolish Duryodhana had rejected all peace proposals and walked out of the assembly. He also explained to the Pandavas how He revealed the divine manifestation of Visvarupa and still the sinful Duryodhana could not be brought to a peaceful settlement. Lord Krishna then informed them, I asked for the minimum of five villages to settle the quarrel, but still that wicked soul would not part with that share. I can, therefore, see that chastisement, and nothing else, is the means to destroy their false pride. Indeed, all those kings followed by their massive armies are on the march to Kurukshetra. They will not, O son of Pandu, give back your kingdom without battle.

Hearing the ominous words of Lord Krishna, Maharaja Yudhisthira addressed his brothers, You have heard what has taken place in the court of the assembled Kurus. O best of men, let us take our army to the Holy Kurukshetra field and arrange them in proper formation. We now have seven akshauhini divisions of troops assembled for victory. The names of the leaders of these seven divisions are Drupada, Virata, Dhristadyumna, Sikhandin, Satyaki, Chekitana and Bhimasena. All of them are seasoned veterans of war and mature in the use of weapons. Please tell us Sahadeva, who amongst the great warriors is fit to be the commander in chief of this vast army.

That person who is closely related to us,  Sahadeva replied, and who is skilled in the use of weapons and irresistible in battle, should be our commander. I am referring to the King of the Matsyas, Virata. Relying on him, we will certainly regain our lost kingdom. He will be able to contend in battle the mighty Bhishma and the other great chariot fighters.

After Sahadeva had spoken, Nakula gave his opinion, I think that person who is endowed with respectability, strength, prosperity, and knowledge of the scriptures should be our leader. There are many here who fit these qualifications. However, that bull among men, Drupada, our father in law, who seeks to challenge Drona and Bhishma, should be our leader.

After the two sons of Madri had given their opinion, Arjuna spoke to Yudhisthira as follows, That person of celestial birth, who was born from the sacrificial fire along with weapons and chariot, and who was born to conquer Drona should be our leader. I am referring to Dhristadyumna, the son of Drupada. He is a experienced general of weapons, warfare and the different kinds of formations necessary to defeat the opposing enemy. He will surely conquer Bhishma and Drona in battle and bring us victory.

Bhima then gave his assessment, In my opinion, the son of Drupada, Sikhandin, who was conceived for killing Bhishma, is the most qualified person to be our leader. While releasing weapons in battle, he resembles Lord Ramachandra Himself. I do not see any other person who can challenge grandfather Bhishma in battle and kill him. It is for this reason that he should be chosen as our commander in chief.

King Yudhisthira then gave his opinion, O assembled heroes, the strength and weakness of everything in the universe, and the intentions of every person here, are known to the virtuous Lord Krishna. Skilled or unskilled, old or young, let him be the leader of my forces whom Krishna chooses. Lord Krishna will be the cause of our success or failure. Let the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that foremost of persons, pick who shall lead the army. Having selected our leader, we will, under Krishna's orders, march to the holy field of Kurukshetra.

After hearing the of Maharaja Yudhisthira's humble submission and his brother's suggestion, the lotus-eyed Krishna spoke the following words, O King, I fully approve the selection of any of the warriors mentioned. All of them are competent to defeat the opposing army. Indeed, they can challenge Indra himself in battle, let alone the wicked and sinful sons of Dhritarastra. O great hero, for your good cause, I made great efforts to prevent this combat by peaceful means. Because of our endeavor, we are freed from our responsibility for righteous behavior. Indeed, the sons of Dhritarastra will never be able to hold their ground when they come face to face with Dhananjaya and Satyaki. Our army possesses invincible strength. As regards to our leader, I favor that illustrious champion of great warriors, Dhristadyumna.

When the commander in chief was selected, all the heroic generals made preparations to move their armies to the holy Kurukshetra where great sages had performed austerities and sacrifices, recently and in bygone ages. Followed by millions upon millions of men, who were uttering war cries, the Pandavas along with the other distinguished generals made their way to that holy place of pilgrimage. The ladies headed by Draupadi remained in Upaplavya. The Pandava's army appeared like a vast ocean, and as it headed for Kurukshetra, it could be observed from a hilltop that it covered one point of the horizon to the other. Upon reaching that sacred spot, Yudhisthira caused the troops to encamp on that part of the field that was level, cool and abounding in grass. Lord Krishna and Arjuna blew on their conchshells producing a rumble that sounded like thunder. Hearing this, the Pandava army was filled with joy.

Duryodhana also organized his eleven akshauhini divisions on the sacred plane of Kurukshetra. There were hundreds of thousands of huge tents that were filled with food and drink of various kinds. There was also bedding for the tired and wounded. There were thousands of physicians to take care of those who fell in battle. In the armies of both sides, there were hundreds and thousands of chariots filled with different kinds of weapons. There were also tents erected to repair the chariots that were damaged in battle. The chariots of both armies were filled with quivers of arrows, javelins, long handled spears, barbed darts, heavy maces, clubs made of wood and metal, long ropes, pots filled with poisonous snakes, clubs having iron spikes, swords, short and long bows, battle axes, forked lances and extra armor. Each chariot was made of the sturdiest material and intricately carved. Pearls and other valuable gems were embedded in an artistic way. There was characters embossed on the chariot with gold and silver. To each chariot was yoked four horses of the best breed. In each chariot there was one hundred bows.

There were thus thousands of chariots surrounded by thousands of elephants. The chariots were like a town and the elephants were like the walls of a town. On the backs of each of the elephants there were seven warriors. Two of those warriors were armed with hooks, two were excellent bowmen, two were first rate swordsmen, and one was armed with a lance and trident. There were innumerable elephants like these and each had innumerable weapons on their backs. There was also hundreds and thousands of horses who were well trained and bedecked with gold ornaments. The horsemen were well skilled in the use of the bow and arrow, the javelin and the sword. The foot soldiers were numbered in millions. According to divisions, they wore armor of different kinds and carried weapons of different kinds. Around each chariot there was ten elephants, and unto each elephant was assigned ten horses and around each horse was ten infantrymen to guard the horses. In the reserve army that was kept for emergencies, there was fifty elephants to guard each chariot; and unto each elephant there was a hundred horsemen and around each horseman there was attached seven foot soldiers. It was in this way that the Kaurava army was arrayed in force.

 After everything was arranged according to King Duryodhana's desire, that mighty warrior approached Grandfather Bhishma and appealed to him as follows, Without a commander, even a mighty army is routed in battle. As regards to your prowess, you are like the great Indra himself. You are like the sun among the luminaries or the moon amongst the stars. You are incapable of being slain, and therefore I request that you become our commander.

It will be as you wish,  Bhishma replied, I have given a promise to you that I will fight on your side, but I will not be able to kill the Pandavas. Protected by Lord Krishna, those heroes are incapable of being slain. There is not a warrior on earth that is equal to me except Arjuna, the son of Kunti. However, he will never seek to fight with me openly. With the power of my weapons, I can destroy the entire world along with all its planets, demigods and demons. The sons of Pandu, being protected by the Supreme Lord Krishna, cannot be killed by me or anyone else. I will, however, slaughter their forces at a rate of ten thousand a day. There is one other condition on which I will become your commander. That is either Karna should fight first or I will fight first. This son of Radha always boasts of his prowess in battle, comparing it with mine.

Hearing the condition set down by the grandsire, Karna replied, As long as Shantanu's son lives, O King, I will not fight. After Bhishma is slain, I will take to the battlefield to duel with the wielder of the Gandiva bow.

When Ganga's son was officially placed as the commander in chief, the King became joyful and distributed an abundant amount of presents. He caused the musicians to play their instruments and blow their conchshells loudly. Suddenly, although the sky was cloudless, a bloody shower fell, making the ground muddy. Fierce whirlwinds rose and earthquakes shook the ground, depressing the hearts of all the warriors. Unembodied voices were heard and meteors fell from the heavens. Jackals and crows howled fiercely, indicating a great calamity. All this was observed after the installation of Bhishma as the commander in chief of Duryodhana's forces.

Knowing that a great slaughter of men was about to take place, Lord Balarama, the elder brother of Lord Krishna, came there along with Akrura, Gada, Samba, Uddhava, and Pradyumna. Seeing Him arrive, Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, and the twins stood up out of respect. He was received royally, and that bull among the Yadus worshiped Drupada and Virata who were senior in years. He then sat on the same throne as that of Yudhisthira. He cast his glance upon His younger brother, Lord Krishna and began to speak, This slaughter of the warrior race is inevitable, O Krishna, and it is the will of providence. I hope, however, that I will be able to see all of you, with your friends, come out safely from this battle. I have repeatedly asked You, my dear brother, to be partial to both sides, but You have not listened to my plea. You have aligned Yourself with the Pandavas, and therefore, their victory is assured. As regards to Myself, I will not fight on either side. Whatever side You have chosen, I will give moral support, for Your desires are supreme. I shall now travel on pilgrimage, for I will not be able to watch with indifference the annihilation of the Kauravas.  Lord Balarama then left their presence and started on His pilgrimage.

About this time there came to the Pandava's camp, the son of King Bhishmaka, named Rukmi. Rukmi was the student of Drona, and the ruler of the whole southern country. He had learned the science of warfare and was given a celestial bow named Vijaya that belonged to the great Indra. It was equal to the Gandiva bow given by Varuna, and the Sarnga owned by Lord Krishna. Rukmi had come to the Pandava camp with an akshauhini division of troops. He came into the midst of the assembly of Kings and offered them all respects. He then boasted to Dhananjaya, If, O son of Pandu, you are afraid, I am here to help you. The assistance I will give you will be unbearable to the enemy. There is no man who can equal my prowess. I will kill in battle any of the great heroes, Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna or Ashvatthama. All of you may rest while I kill all these Kings of the earth. I will then hand over your ancestral kingdom which is yours according to birth.

To this puffed up fool, Arjuna replied, Born as the son of Pandu, having the great Drona as my teacher, having Lord Krishna as my ally, and bearing the bow Gandiva, how can I say that I am afraid? I have fought with the Gandharvas, the Nivatakavachas, the Kalakeyas, and the heavenly lords combined, as well as the Kaurava host. O son of Bhishmaka, I am not afraid, nor do I have any need of your assistance! You may either go or stay as it pleases you.

Having been shunned because of his false pride, Rukmi left the Pandava's camp and went to Duryodhana. When Duryodhana heard the boastful words of Rukmi, he rejected him in the same way. Thus the two kings, Baladeva and Rukmi, desisted from battle and went their separate ways.

At this time Duryodhana called for Uluka, the son of Shakuni, and ordered him to deliver messages to the Pandavas. Uluka left the presence of Duryodhana and made his way to the Pandava camp. He presented himself before Yudhisthira and said, I have come as a messenger on behalf of King Duryodhana. I, therefore request you not to be angry with me if I repeat the words Duryodhana has instructed me to say!

Hearing this request, Maharaja Yudhisthira replied, You have nothing to fear, Uluka. Repeat the messages you have brought from the vile Duryodhana.

Uluka then said to Yudhisthira, These are the words Duryodhana has directed to you, You were defeated in dice and your dear wife was brought into the assembly. Any person who calls himself a man would have given way to anger. You have lived in exile for thirteen years, and now is the time to become a man. Tomorrow, engage us in battle, we who have Bhishma for our leader. Your pride will be destroyed, and your body will lay on the ground devoid of life. O fool of little understanding, how will you fight with me while I am stationed in the midst of my elephant army?

Uluka then turned to Arjuna and repeated the harsh words of Duryodhana, Can you fight without bragging, O Arjuna? You boast about yourself too much. I know you have Krishna for your ally, and I know you have the Gandiva bow which is a full six cubits long. However, I have ownership of the whole world. So what is the use of your weapons and allies? For thirteen years I have enjoyed sovereignty of the world, and I shall continue to rule in the same way. Previously it was Draupadi that saved you at the first gambling match and not the Gandiva. You have lived this last year as menial servants to Virata. This is manliness? You have worn braids in your hair as a eunuch and taught girls how to dance. This is the way heroes act? Once you have dived into the ocean of the Kaurava army which has Timingila fish for its leaders, you will not come out alive, nor will any of your friends. Indeed, it is impossible for you to win a kingdom, like one trying to obtain heaven without ascetic merit.

Uluka then addressed Bhima with Duryodhana's harsh message, O son of Pritha, I see that you have become a cook in Virata's kitchen. Is this evidence of your manhood? You have taken a vow to kill myself, Duhshasana, and my other brothers. Now, O cook, the time has come to carry out your boastful vow. There is a difference, However, between cooking and fighting. The fact of the matter is that you will have to lie on the Kurukshetra field, your head smashed by my mace. The promises that you made in the great assembly will then prove to be uttered in vain.

Uluka then turned to Nakula and Sahadeva and repeated the scathing words of Dhritarastra's sinful son. He also challenged Dhristadyumna and Sikhandin to carry out their vows of killing Drona and Bhishma respectively. It was known that Sikhandin was formerly a female in his previous life. She was known by the name of Amba who wanted Bhishma for her husband.

Uluka then addressed Lord Krishna with a message from Duryodhana, I challenge You to withstand my prowess on the field of battle. Exhibit once again that same form which you assumed in the Kaurava court. Your mystic tricks will not save You or Arjuna. We also are capable of assuming different forms by mystic power. Without any reason, O Krishna, You have achieved fame in the three worlds. You have been a slave to King Kamsa, and therefore, a King like myself should not dress in armor to fight You.

After hearing the piercing words of Duryodhana that were spoken out of ignorance, the Pandavas were thoroughly provoked to anger. They stood and began to stretch their arms. Their eyes were red, and there was great anger on their faces. Bhimasena, his face cast to the ground, began to breathe heavily like a snake. Arjuna wiped the sweat off his forehead, and tried to restrain himself from annihilating the Kaurava army at that moment. The other kings were also quite incensed at the words of Duryodhana and rose from their seats ready for battle. Bhima, gnashing his teeth, licking his tongue and squeezing his hands, spoke to Shakuni's son, Hear the message you should repeat to that deceitful person. We, the Pandavas, always seek to satisfy our older brother. It was for this reason that we tolerated your atrocious activities. Now is the time to fight and fulfill your words. I have vowed to kill you and all your brothers. O sinful fool, do not think that it will not happen. Even if Yamaraja assists you, the Pandavas will still accomplish what they have vowed! I will surely drink Duhshasana's blood. I swear this by my soul.

Arjuna's reply was short and to the point. He said, When tomorrow comes, stand across from my division. I will give you my answer from the Gandiva bow. Eunuchs answer in words, but kshatriyas reply in prowess!  Hearing this reply to Duryodhana's abusive words, all the warriors applauded Arjuna.

Lord Krishna then spoke to Uluka, Tell Duryodhana this, O wicked soul, tomorrow, I hope that you can act like a man and face Arjuna and Myself on the battlefield. O fool, you think that I will not fight? If my anger is excited, I may annihilate all the warriors on the side of the Kauravas. You will not be able to hide from the Gandiva's arrows. Even if you run to the farthest corners of the world or sink into the ocean, you will see Arjuna's chariot behind you. You think, O fool, that Bhima's words will not come true, and I warn you that Duhshasana's blood has already been drunk. You are speaking boastful words, but we consider you no better that straw.'

Arjuna, before sending Uluka back to Duryodhana, sent this message, Listen, O Duryodhana, You are a coward. You are relying on the strength of others whom you have forced to fight for you. Having initiated Bhishma as your commander, whose passions are under control and who is endowed with great wisdom, you boast these annoying words. By this act, you have brought our grandfather under the sway of death. You think that because he is our grandfather, we will not fight with him. However, I take this vow that I will kill Ganga's son in the presence of all warriors.  After hearing all the messages to be communicated to Duryodhana, Uluka went back to the Kaurava's camp.

Maharaja Yudhisthira then ordered the troops be arrayed in battle formation. Millions upon millions of soldiers lined up in a formation which covered a twelve mile area. He gave encouragement to all the soldiers, and he ordered Arjuna to fight with Karna, Bhima to fight with Duryodhana, Dhristaketu with Salya, Uttamaujas with Kripa, Nakula with Kritavarman, and Satyaki was ordered to fight against Jayadratha, the ruler of the Sindus. He pitted Shikhandi against Bhishma, Sahadeva against Shakuni, Chekitana against Sala, and the five sons of Draupadi against the Trigartas. He urged Abhimanyu to fight with Karna's son, Vrishasena, and he ordered Dhristadyumna to fight with the preceptor Drona. And having arrayed his troops in battle formation, King Yudhisthira waited with a peaceful mind for the morning sun.


Thus Ends the Fifth Chapter of the Udyoga Parva, Entitled, The Colossal Armies Move to Kurukshetra.



Chapter Six

Bhishma Assesses the Heroes and Reveals Shikhandi's Mysterious Birth


When the veritable sea of troops had been arrayed in their proper positions, the grandsire, Bhishma, inspired Duryodhana's heart as follows, O my grandson, today I will take command of your army, for I am well educated in the science of formations. I know all the battle arrays of the celestial lords. With these I will confuse the Pandavas. I will fight the enemy protecting your army according to the rules of military science. Let your doubts be dispelled.

O Grandsire,  Duryodhana replied, I have no fear, from even all the demigods and demons united, what to speak of these insignificant sons of Pandu. I now desire, O son of Ganga, to know who, amongst this vast ocean of warriors, are to be counted as rathis and adirathis. You are well acquainted with the prowess of the earth's heroes, and therefore, I, and the kings present, desire to hear this.

Listen, O son of Gandhari,  Bhishma said, to the prowess of those principal warriors in both these armies. In your divisions there are many hundreds of thousands of rathis. I will, however, name only the principal ones. Dhritarastra's hundred sons headed by yourself are all rathis, out of which you are the most powerful. Then, O King, come myself, the leader of your troops. I will not speak of my own prowess, for I am already known to you. The foremost wielders of weapons, Kritavarman, the chief of the Bhojas, is an adirathi. He will greatly assist you in this battle, and cannot be humiliated by the enemy. The ruler of Madras, Salya, in my opinion is a maharathi. He will fight with the other maharathis on the Pandava side. He will resemble the ocean as it heads toward the beach. The mighty bowman, Bhurisravas, the son of Somadatta, is a maharathi, and he will certainly create havoc amongst the enemy troops. The King of Sindhu, Jayadratha, is equal to two rathis. He has acquired a benediction from Lord Shiva that he can defeat the Pandavas in battle, and he is therefore reckless with his life. Sudhakshina, the ruler of the Kambhojas, is in my judgement equal to a single rathi. Coming from the province of Mahismati, King Nila, is one of your great rathis. The Kings of Avantipura, Vinda and Anuvinda, are considered to be excellent rathis. These two heroes will consume the enemy troops with spiked darts and maces. The Trigarta brothers headed by Susharman are all single rathis. They are distinguished warriors and will fight with the best soldiers on the Pandava's side. The mighty bowman, Kripa, the son of Saradwat is, O King, a maharathi. He is as invincible as Kartikeya himself. He will roam from one part of the battlefield to the other like a blazing fire.

Your maternal uncle, Shakuni,  Bhishma continued, is equal to a single rathi. His troops are known for their prowess and will cut down the enemy troops like the wind. The mighty bowman, Ashvatthama, the son of Drona, is a maharathi. Like Arjuna, he can release arrows with such rapidity that they touch one another in flight. If he desires, he can destroy the whole world. There is, however, one defect in him for which I do not consider him a rathi or a maharathi. This person is too attached to the bodily conception of life, and therefore, does not want to die. Still he is powerful and can be compared to Yamaraja himself. The son of Bharadwaja, Drona, will achieve victory in many battles for your pleasure. Endowed with unsurpassable prowess, he can single-handedly fight, by means of his celestial weapons, all the heavenly lords, Gandharvas and human beings together. That illustrious warrior is a great maharathi. Vrishasena, the son of Karna, is one of the celebrated chariot warriors. He is to be considered a maharathi. That person who never retreats in battle and resembles Yamaraja himself, Bahlika, is in my judgement an adiratha. That cruel chief of the rakshasas, Alambhusha is a maharathi. He can surpass all the rakshasa warriors in the use of weapons. The ruler of Pragjyotisha, the heroic Bhagadatta, is also considered a adiratha. Riding on his elephant Supritika, he will annihilate the enemy forces. Regarding your dear friend, Karna, Surya's son, who is proud of his skill and who is devoid of any good sense, in my judgement he is neither a rathi or an adiratha. He has been stripped of his natural coat of mail and his celestial earrings by Indra. He has been cursed by his teacher, Parashurama, and also by a brahmana. When he challenges Arjuna, he will not leave the battlefield with his life. Therefore, he is, in my judgement, half a rathi.

Hearing this, Radha's son, expanded his eyes in fury, and spoke harshly to Bhishma, O grandsire, these derogatory words have entered my ears like steel arrows. I will tolerate it for Duryodhana's sake. Indicating that I am only half a rathi means you think me a coward. I speak truthfully when I say that you are an enemy to the Kurus. Who else would seek to disunite all the kings present here. Alone, I will decimate the Pandava army.  Addressing Duryodhana, Karna said, I will not, O King, fight as long as Bhishma is alive. After Bhishma has been slain, I will engage in combat with all the maharathis on Yudhisthira's side!

Look at me, O Grandfather,  King Duryodhana said. Our business at hand is very urgent. Both of you will render me great service. I now desire to hear the prowess of the outstanding chariot fighters among the enemy. I desire to hear the strength and weaknesses of the foe. The night is almost over, and the dawn is coming, and with it, the great battle will commence.

I have indicated to you,  Bhishma replied, your maharathis, rathis and half rathis. Now listen to the prowess of the warriors on the Pandava's side. The King himself, the son of Pandu and Kunti, is a mighty rathi. His chariot will ride above the ground like the chariots of the celestial heavenly gods. Bhimasena, O King, is regarded to equal eight rathis. He is endowed with the vitality of ten thousand elephants, and with a mace in hand there is none equal to him. Those two bulls among men, the twin sons of Madri, are great rathis. They equal in beauty and prowess the two Asvini-kumaras. Regarding Arjuna, who has Lord Narayana as his charioteer, there is none amongst the warriors on both sides who can be his equal. Indeed, even amongst the gods and demons, there is none his equal. The chariot on which Arjuna will fight is celestial and cannot be destroyed. The monkey that rides on the banner is also divine and cannot be slain. The Gandiva bow and the two inexhaustible quivers of Partha were given to him by Varuna. He has obtained all the celestial weapons from the heavenly gods, including the thunderbolt weapon and the Pashupati astra. Only myself and Drona can challenge him. However, he is young and skillful, whereas we are old and our energy is easily spent.

The five sons of Draupadi, O Monarch,  Bhishma continued, are maharathis. Virata's son, Uttara Kumara is considered a great rathi. The mighty-armed Abhimanyu is as great a maharathi as Arjuna himself. Remembering his father's sufferings, he will slaughter the troops on your side. Satyaki, the descendant of Sini, is an esteemed chariot fighter and must be regarded as a maharathi. Uttamauja and Yudhamanyu are also great chariot fighters. They will fight recklessly, not considering their lives. They are in my opinion great rathis. The aged Kings, Virata and Drupada, both endowed with outstanding prowess, are maharathis. Though advanced in years they will combat the greatest warriors. Shikhandi, the son of Drupada, is, O King, one of Yudhisthira's foremost maharathis. Formerly he was a woman. In battle he will earn great fame. The great warrior, Dhristadyumna, is in my judgement a adirathi. He took birth from the sacrificial fire for the sole purpose of slaying Drona. His prowess is invincible. Dhristaketu, the heroic leader of the Chedis, the son of Shishupala, is a maharathi. The subjugator of the enemy, Kunitbhoja, the maternal uncle of the Pandavas, is in my opinion an adirathi. That prince of the rakshasas, Ghatotkacha, O King, born of Hidimva and Bhima, is in my opinion a mighty maharathi.

Grandfather Bhishma continued, I have now assessed all the rathis, adirathis and maharathis. I will fight with all these warriors with the exception of Shikhandi. I will not strike or kill that prince of the Panchalas. He was formerly in this life a woman and also in his previous life a woman. I have taken a vow that I will not kill such a person. I will not fight with this prince, nor will I be able to kill the sons of Kunti!

Duryodhana inquired, For what reason, O grandsire of the Bharatas, will you not kill Shikhandin even though he will approach you with upraised weapons?

Formerly this Shikhandi was a woman in his previous life,  Bhishma replied. Once upon a time, when I saw that my brother Vichitravirya was ready for marriage, I went to the kingdom of Kashi and abducted the King's three beautiful daughters from the svayamvara ceremony. The names of these princesses were Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika. Taking them by force, I defeated all who opposed me, including King Salwa. When I arrived in Hastinapura, I bestowed those three beautiful princesses upon Vichitravirya. However, the eldest of the princesses, Amba, informed me that during the Svayamvara she had already chosen Salwa for her lord. She pleaded with me to allow her to go to his kingdom. In consultation with my mother and the brahmanas, I agreed to let her go. She went to Salwa's kingdom, but he rejected her and sent her out of his palace. She then went to the forest to practice austerities, but the great sages told her to go back to her father. She then informed them of all that had happened, and they advised her to speak to Parashurama, my preceptor. It so happened that in due course of time the son of Jamadagni, Parashurama, came to the sage's ashrama. When that powerful hero heard what had happened to her, he felt sympathy and said he would help her. He called for me requesting, This girl has been touched by you, and now even King Salwa will not take her. You should now save her by accepting her in marriage.' I replied to my martial guru, I cannot marry this girl to my brother, since she has chosen Salwa for her lord. She pleaded with Salwa, but he has rejected her. What can I do? I have taken a vow of celibacy, and that vow I will not break.' Parashurama then gave me the choice, either to marry the girl or fight with him. Since I could not agree to marry her, I chose to fight with my preceptor, although I tried to appease his anger with sweet words.

Then, mounting our chariots,  Bhishma continued, we went to Kurukshetra. We fought for many days, but my preceptor was not able to defeat me. Desisting from any further fighting, he went to Amba and told her that he could not persuade me to marry her by commands or warfare. Amba, feeling frustrated, then went to the forest and performed severe austerities for many years. She desired to gratify the renowned demigod, Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva was satisfied with her, he appeared before her and informed her that in her next life she would be born as the King Drupada's son and would cause my death. After receiving this benediction, she made a funeral pyre out of logs, and placing herself in the fire, she gave up her body. She has now taken birth as Shikhandi, who possesses extraordinary prowess. In my opinion he is a maharathi.

When Amba took birth in the family of Drupada,  Bhishma continued, she took birth as a girl. Drupada himself had worshiped Lord Shiva for a child who would kill me. Lord Shiva appeared before him and told him that he would beget a female child that would later become a male. He then disappeared from that place. In due course Drupada's queen gave birth to a beautiful girl with lotus eyes. They named her Shikhandi. The queen told everyone that a boy had taken birth, remembering the promise of Lord Shiva. This secret was kept for many years. When it came time for Shikhandi to be married, Drupada arranged for the daughter of Hiranyavarman, the King of the Dasarnakas, to be his wife. A wedding ceremony was arranged, but when Hiranyavarman's daughter came to know in due course that Shikhandi was a woman, she informed her father of the fraud. Outraged and feeling humiliated, Hiranyavarman gathered a huge army to attack King Drupada. When Drupada came to know of this, he felt like a thief caught in the act. However, remembering Lord Shiva's promise, he sent word to Hiranyavarman that the rumor was not true. In the meantime, he prepared himself for war. When Shikhandi found out the suffering her parents were going through, she left the city to end her life by fasting. She soon found a forest that was owned by a powerful yaksha. No human beings were allowed to go there. Despite this she roamed the forest and upon seeing a beautiful mansion, she entered it and began to perform austerities. The owner of the mansion, a yaksha named Stunakarna, saw her and asked why she was fasting. Shikhandi then told him everything. The yaksha, feeling compassion, promised to give her his manhood for a certain time. Both agreed and Shikhandi left the yaksha's mansion as a man, and the yaksha became a woman. Shikhandi returned to Drupada's capital and told her father about the temporary manhood. Drupada excitedly sent news to King Hiranyavarman and invited him to inspect his son regarding his manhood. King Hiranyavarman sent to Drupada's city many beautiful women who inspected Shikhandi and confirmed that he was a man. They told the King of the Dasarnakas that Shikhandi was actually a male, and the King again made friends with Drupada.

Bhishma continued, Meanwhile, the lord of wealth, Kuvera went to Stuna's mansion and requested his presence. When Kuvera saw and heard what had happened, he cursed Stuna to remain a woman forever. However, Stuna's servants begged Kuvera for a time limit on the curse, and Kuvera said that as long as Shikhandi lived, Stuna would have to be a woman. Upon the death of Shikhandi, he would receive his manhood.

After King Hiranyavarman had left Drupada's capital, Shikhandi returned to Stuna's abode to give back his manhood. When Shikhandi learned of Kuvera's curse, he considered it the will of providence. He then returned to the city of Drupada and remained a man, a great maharathi.

O King, this is the history of Shikhandin, who has been born a woman and now transformed to manhood. Formerly she was Amba, the daughter of the King of Kashi. If he challenges me to battle, I will not look at him for a moment, nor will I release my weapons at him. I will not, O son of Dhritarastra, release weapons upon a woman, or one that was a woman before, or even one that resembles a woman. I will not for this reason kill Shikhandi.

When the night had passed and the sun's rays were about to appear on the horizon, Duryodhana asked the great kings present, O heroes, before us is arrayed the Pandava army. It appears invincible and consists of mighty warriors. Please tell me how long it will take each of you to annihilate this host of men.

Bhishma then gave his estimate, I can, O King, annihilate the Pandava army at a rate of ten thousand common warriors every day. I will also be able to slay one thousand chariot fighters each day. If, however, I use my celestial weapons and kill hundreds and thousands at a time, I can, O Bharata, finish the slaughter in one month.

Drona, the preceptor, then gave his opinion, I have become old, O mighty-armed one. My prowess and energy have weakened. With the fire of my weapons I can consume the Pandava army within a month's time, like Shantanu's son Bhishma.

Then Saradwat's son opined he could annihilate the army in two month's time. Drona's son, Ashvatthama vowed that he could annihilate it in ten days, and the foolish Karna vowed he could annihilate it in five days. Hearing this, Ganga's son laughed and said, You boast impressive words as long as you have not met Partha and his chariot driver, Krishna. You can accomplish this act in words only.

Through spies, Yudhisthira learned of the time limit Duryodhana's principal generals estimated they could annihilate the Pandava army. In the presence of all the great fighters on his side, Yudhisthira inquired from Arjuna, O Dhananjaya, I have heard that Bhishma, our grandsire, has vowed to annihilate our army in one month's time. Drona has vowed the same and Kripa has vowed two months. Drona's son has said ten days and the wicked son of Radha has vowed five days. Therefore, I ask you, O Phalguna, how long will it take you to destroy the enemy.

Do not have any fear, O King,  Arjuna replied. Unquestionably I say that with Vasudeva as my chariot driver, I can decimate the three worlds in a mere twinkling of an eye. I have in my possession the Pashupati astra given to me by Lord Shiva. It is not, however, proper to use it on common warriors. We shall, though, kill the enemy in a fair fight. All the great maharathis will slaughter the enemy forces, and even yourself will be competent to annihilate Duryodhana's forces.

After thus encouraging King Yudhisthira, Arjuna, in the first rays of sunlight, made final corrections in the battle lines of their massive army. Thousands of chariot fighters, thousands of horses, hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers and thousands of elephants were arrayed in their proper stations. Duryodhana also made final arrangements to align his forces in battle formation on the sacred field of Kurukshetra. Thus in the early morning calm those great forces, arrayed against each other, stood ready for combat. This was the dawn of a war so terrifying that it would be heard and spoken about for thousands upon thousands of years.


Thus Ends the Sixth Chapter of the Udyoga Parva, Entitled, Bhishma Assesses the Heroes and Reveals the Mystery of Shikhandi's Birth.


Chapter Commentary


From the movement of millions upon millions of troops, we can see the level of management needed to organize such a massive battle. This is hardly possible for primitive civilizations. The amount of weapon, tents, food, water, doctors etc. is mind boggling. Today, we are being brain washed into believing that man is progressing, but in comparision to the Vedic historical records, man is regressing in this age of Kali. His memory, life span, bodily strength, luck, religious and pious activities all diminish in Kali Yuga. As this age progresses, more and more hellish enviorments will be created because of sinful activities. The best alternative is not to take birth again in this world, but to develop a spiritual body fit for the kingdom of God.