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(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'After Bhima had pledged himself to accomplish the task, saying, 'I will do it,' the Pandavas, O Bharata, returned home with the alms they had obtained during the day. Then Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu from Bhima's countenance alone, suspected the nature of the task he had undertaken to accomplish. Sitting by the side of his mother, Yudhishthira asked her in private, 'What is the task, O mother, that Bhima of terrible prowess seeketh to accomplish? Doth he do so at thy command or of his own accord?' Kunti replied, 'Bhima, that chastiser of foes, will at my command, do this great deed for the good of the Brahmana and the liberation of this town.'

"Yudhishthira said, 'What rash act hast thou done, O mother! It is difficult of being performed and almost amounteth to suicide! The learned never applaud the abandonment of one's own child. Why dost thou, O mother, wish to sacrifice thy own child for the sake of another's? Thou hast, O mother, by this abandonment of thy child, acted not only against the course of human practices but also against the teachings of the Vedas, That Bhima, relying on whose arms we sleep happily in the night and hope to recover the kingdom of which we have been deprived by the covetous son of Dhritarashtra, that hero of immeasurable energy, remembering whose prowess Duryodhana and Sakuni do not sleep a wink during the whole night and by whose prowess we were rescued from the palace of lac and various other dangers, that Bhima who caused the death of Purochana, and relying on whose might we regard ourselves as having already slain the sons of Dhritarashtra and acquired the whole earth with all her wealth, upon what considerations, O mother, hast thou resolved upon abandoning him? Hast thou been deprived of thy reason? Hath thy understanding been clouded by the calamities thou hast undergone?'

p. 334

"On hearing these words of her son, Kunti said, 'O Yudhishthira, thou needst not be at all anxious on account of Vrikodara. I have not come to this resolve owing to any weakness of understanding. Respected by him, and with our sorrows assuaged, we have, O son, been living in the house of this Brahmana, unknown to the sons of Dhritarashtra. For requiting, O son, that Brahmana, I have resolved to do this. He, indeed, is a man upon whom good offices are never lost. The measure of his requital becometh greater than the measure of the services he receiveth. Beholding the prowess of Bhima on the occasion of (our escape from) the house of lac, and from the destruction also of Hidimva, my confidence in Vrikodara is great. The might of Bhima's arms is equal unto that of ten thousand elephants. It was, therefore, that he succeeded in carrying you all, each heavy as an elephant, from Varanavata. There is no one on earth equal unto Bhima in might; he may even overcome that foremost of warriors, the holder of the thunderbolt himself. Soon after his birth he fell from my lap on the breast of the mountain. By the weight of his body the mass of stone on which he fell down broke in pieces. From this also, O son of Pandu, I have come to know Bhima's might. For this reason have I resolved to set him against the Brahmana's foe. I have not acted in this from foolishness or ignorance or from motive of gain. I have deliberately resolved to do this virtuous deed. By this act, O Yudhishthira, two objects will be accomplished; one is a requital of the services rendered by the Brahmana and the other is the acquisition of high religious merit. It is my conviction that the Kshatriya who rendereth help unto a Brahmana in anything acquireth regions of bliss hereafter. So also a Kshatriya who saveth the life of a Kshatriya achieveth that great fame in this world as in the other. A Kshatriya rendering help unto a Vaisya also on this earth certainly acquires world-wide popularity. One of the kingly tribe should protect even the Sudra who cometh to him for protection. If he doeth so, in his next life he receiveth his birth in a royal line, commanding prosperity and the respect of other kings. O scion of Puru's race, the illustrious Vyasa of wisdom acquired by hard ascetic toil told me so in bygone days. It is therefore, that I have resolved upon accomplishing this.'"

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