DURYODHANA and Sakuni went to Dhritarashtra. Sakuni opened
the conversation. He said: "O king, Duryodhana is wan with grief and
anxiety. You are paying no attention to his unbearable sorrow. Why this
Dhritarashtra who doted on his son embraced Duryodhana and
said: "I do not see why you should be disconsolate. What is here that you
already do not enjoy? The whole world is at your feet. When you are surrounded
by all kinds of pleasures like the very gods, why should you pine in sorrow?
You have learnt the Vedas, archery, and other sciences from the best of
masters. As my first born, you have inherited the throne. What is left you to wish
for? Tell me."
Duryodhana replied: "Father, like anybody else, rich
or poor, I eat and cover my nakedness, but I find life unbearable. What is the
use of leading such a life?"
And then he revealed in detail the envy and hatred that
were eating into his vitals and depriving life of its savour. He referred to
the prosperity he had seen in the capital of the Pandavas that to him was
bitterer than loss of his all would have been.
He burst out: "Contentment with one's lot is not
characteristic of a kshatriya. Fear and pity lower the dignity of kings. My
wealth and pleasures do not give me any satisfaction since I have witnessed the
greater prosperity of Yudhishthira. O king, the Pandavas have grown, while we
Dhritarashtra said: "Beloved child, you are the
eldest son of my royal spouse and me and heir to the glory and greatness of our
renowned race. Do not cherish any hatred towards the Pandavas. Sorrow and death
will be the sole result of hatred of kith and kin, especially when they are
blameless. Tell me, why do you hate the guileless Yudhishthira? Is not his
prosperity ours too? Our friends are his friends. He has not the least jealousy
or hatred towards us. You are equal to him in heroism and ancestry. Why should
you be jealous of your brother? No. You should not be jealous." Thus said
the old king who, though overfond of his son, did not occasionally hesitate to
say what he felt to be just.
Duryodhana did not at all like the advice of his father,
and his reply was not very respectful.
He replied: "The man without common sense, but
immersed in learning, is like a wooden ladle immersed in savoury food which it
neither tastes nor benefits from. You have much learning of statecraft but have
no state wisdom at all, as your advice to me clearly shows. The way of the
world is one thing and the administration of a state is quite another. Thus has
Brihaspati said: 'Forbearance and contentment, though the duties of ordinary
men, are not virtues in kings.' The kshatriya's duty is a constant seeking of victory."
Duryodhana spoke thus quoting maxims of politics and
citing examples and making the worse appear the better reason.
Then Sakuni intervened and set forth in detail his
infallible plan of inviting Yudhishthira to play the game of dice, defeating him
utterly and divesting him of his all without recourse to arms.
The wicked Sakuni wound up with saying: "It is enough
if you merely send for the son of Kunti to play the game of dice. Leave the
rest to me."
Duryodhana added: "Sakuni will win for me the riches
of the Pandavas without a fight, if you would only agree to invite
Dhritarashtra said: "Your suggestion does not seem
proper. Let us ask Vidura about it. He will advise us rightly."
But Duryodhana would not hear of consulting Vidura. He
said to his father: "Vidura will only give us the platitudes of ordinary
morality, which will not help us to our object. The policy of kings must be
very different from the goody maxims of textbooks, and is sterner stuff of
which the test is success. Moreover, Vidura does not like me and is partial to
the Pandavas. You know this as well as I do."
Dhritarashtra said: "The Pandavas are strong. I do
not think it wise to antagonize them. The game of dice will only lead to
enmity. The passions resulting from the game will know no bounds. We should not
But Duryodhana was importunate: "Wise statesmanship
lies in casting off all fear and protecting oneself by one's own efforts.
Should we not force the issue while yet we are more powerful than they are? That
will be real foresight. A lost opportunity may never come again, and it is not
as though we invented the game of dice to injure the Pandavas. It is an ancient
pastime which kshatriyas have always indulged in, and if it will now serve us
to win our cause without bloodshed, where is the harm?"
Dhritarashtra replied: "Dear son, I have grown old.
Do as you like. But the line that you are taking does not appeal to me. I am
sure you will repent later. This is the work of destiny."
In the end, out-argued and through sheer fatigue and
hopelessness of dissuading his son, Dhritarashtra assented, and ordered the
servants to prepare a hall of games. Yet he could not forbear consulting Vidura
in secret about the matter.
Vidura said: "O king, this will undoubtedly bring
about the ruin of our race by raising up unquenchable hate."
Dhritarashtra, who could not oppose the demand of his son,
said: "If fortune favors us I have no fear regarding this game. If on the
contrary, fortune goes against us, how could we help it? For, destiny is
all-powerful. Go and invite Yudhishthira on my behalf to come and play
dice." Thus commanded, Vidura went to Yudhishthira with an invitation.
The weak-witted Dhritarashtra, over-persuaded, yielded to
the desire of his son through his attachment to him in spite of the fact that
he knew this was the way that destiny was working itself out.