Mahabharata Stories: 39 – One Man and an Army

Most of us believe in fate. Even those whose approach to life is purely empirical have to yield to matters beyond them some time or the other. Yet, there are times when we can control things in such a way that fate yields to our wishes. The catch here is whether we recognize to control a thing or not.

At the end of thirteen years of exile, the Pandavas came out of their disguises and stayed in Matsya. They summoned all their friends and relatives and solemnized the wedding of Abhimanyu with Uttara, Virata’s daughter.

After the ceremony, the kings congregated in confidentiality to discuss the further course of action. Sri Krishna rose and said: Dear kings, you all are aware of the game of dice, the exile of the Pandavas and the difficulties they had to undergo. Please give your counsel bearing in mind the course of dharma and the welfare of all. Yudhishtira here does not want war and desires to settle the dispute amicably with the Kauravas. I think we should attempt to acquire peace by sending an emissary to persuade Duryodhana to restore to the Pandavas what is rightfully theirs.

Balarama stood by Sri Krishna: Yes, the issue has to be settled peacefully. We have to send as our envoy, a person with the capability to win peace and understanding. He should try to secure the understanding of Bheeshma, Dhritarashtra, Vidura, Drona, Kripa, Aswatthama, and even Radheya and Sakuni if possible, before he approaches Duryodhana. We have to bear in mind that Yudhishtira went ahead with the game of dice regardless of the advice given by many. The Pandavas have now secured only personal freedom and can only beg for their kingdom and not stake claim to it as a matter of right.

Satyaki, a Yadava warrior, rose angrily and said: I do not agree with what Balarama says. It is well known that Yudhishtira played only because the Kauravas persuaded him to do so. Also, he had to play against that sharper of an uncle, Sakuni, which is against all dharma. Perhaps the fact that Duryodhana is his student has blinded Balarama. We know very well that Duryodhana would never come around to a peaceful settlement. It is best to start preparations for war.

Drupada said: I strongly support Satyaki. Let there be no delay in the preparations and let us build up support from all our friends. At the same time, we should not fail in our attempts to avert war and hence we should send an envoy to Duryodhana. There is a learned and wise Brahmana who performs the regular rituals in my court. He would be a suitable envoy.

There was agreement in the court.

Sri Krishna said: I see much wisdom in what Drupada says and we shall act accordingly. Balarama and me are related to the Pandavas and Kauravas equally and we are bound to weigh both sides carefully before coming to any decision. You are all wise and much experienced. Prepare for war! If goodness smiles upon Duryodhana, he shall accept the offer for peace.

The assembly dispersed and Sri Krishna returned to Dwaraka.

Duryodhana, coming to know through his spies the goings on, did not lose time in gathering support and gearing up for war.

Drupada dispatched his emissary to Duryodhana’s court, as it was not only a way to avert possible war, but also to gain precious time.

All the kingdoms in Bharatavarsha were now preparing for war.

Arjuna went to Dwaraka to seek Sri Krishna’s support. On reaching there, he was told that the latter was asleep but, as he was a close kinsman, he was let into the bedroom. He found Duryodhana already there, seated on a chair by Vasudeva’s head, waiting for him to wake up. Arjuna quietly stood by his feet.


After sometime Sri Krishna woke up and, seeing Arjuna, welcomed him. Then, realising Duryodhana’s presence by his head, he turned and welcomed him too. He asked: Please tell me, what brings you two to Dwaraka?

Duryodhana spoke first: It appears that war would break out between us. I want your support if it does. You are bound by equal ties to both of us. I came here first and it is just that I be given preference.

Lord Krishna said: Dear Duryodhana, you may have come here first, but I saw Arjuna first. Also, he being the younger among you, he should be the first to receive what he wants. My army, composed of Narayanas, my equals in valour, shall take part in the war, while I stand individually and shall not wield any weapon. What do you prefer?

Arjuna prostrated and said: I want you, my Lord!

Duryodhana could scarce believe his ears and was beside himself with joy. For, he now had a whole army on his side!


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