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p. 110


"Sakuni said,--O thou foremost of victorious persons, I will snatch (for thee) this prosperity of Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, at the sight of which thou grievest so. Therefore, O king, let Yudhishthira the son of Kunti be summoned. By throwing dice a skilful man, himself uninjured, may vanquish one that hath no skill. Know, O Bharata, that betting is my bow, the dice are my arrows, the marks on them my bow-string, and the dice-board my car.

"Duryodhana said,--'This Sukuni skilled at dice, is ready, O king, to snatch the prosperity of the son of Pandu by means of dice. It behoveth thee to give him permission.

"Dhritarashtra said,--'I am obedient to the counsels of my brother, the illustrious Vidura. Consulting with him, I shall tell what should be done in this matter.

"Duryodhana said,--'Vidura is always engaged in doing good to the sons of Pandu. O Kaurava, his feelings towards us are otherwise. He will, therefore, without doubt, withdraw thy heart from the proposed act. No man should set himself to any task depending upon the counsels of another, for, O son of Kuru's race, the minds of two persons seldom agree in any particular act. The fool that liveth shunning all causes of fear wasteth himself like an insect in the rainy season. Neither sickness nor Yama waiteth till one is in prosperity. So long, therefore, as there is life and health, one should (without waiting for prosperity) accomplish his purpose.'

"Dhritarashtra said,--'O son, hostility with those that are strong, is what never recommendeth itself to me. Hostility bringeth about a change of feelings, and that itself is a weapon though not made of steel. Thou regardest, O Prince, as a great blessing what will bring in its train the terrible consequences of war. What is really fraught with mischief. If once it beginneth, it will create sharp swords and pointed arrows.'

"Duryodhana replied,--'Men of the most ancient times invented the use of dice. There is no destruction in it, nor is there any striking with, weapons. Let the words of Sakuni, therefore, be acceptable to thee, and let thy command be issued for the speedy construction of the assembly house. The door of heaven, leading us to such happiness, will be opened to us by gambling. Indeed, they that betake to gambling (with such aid) deserve such good fortune. The Pandavas then will become thy equals (instead of, as now, superiors); therefore, gamble thou with the Pandavas.

"Dhritarashtra said.--'The words uttered by thee do not recommend themselves to me. Do what may be agreeable to thee, O ruler of men. But thou shall have to repent for acting according to these words; for, words

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that are fraught with such immorality can never bring prosperity in the future. Even this was foreseen by the learned Vidura ever treading the path of truth and wisdom. Even the great calamity, destructive of the lives of the Kshatriyas, cometh as destined by fate.'"

Vaisampayana continued--"Having said this, the weak-minded Dhritarashtra regarded fate as supreme and unavoidable. And the king deprived of reason by Fate, and obedient to the counsels of his son, commanded his men in loud voice, saying--'Carefully construct, without loss of time, an assembly house of the most beautiful description, to be called the crystal-arched palace with a thousand columns, decked with gold and lapis lazuli, furnished with a hundred gates, and full two miles in length and in breadth the same.' Hearing those words of his, thousands of artificers endued with intelligence and skill soon erected the palace with the greatest alacrity, and having erected it brought thither every kind of article. And soon after they cheerfully represented unto the king that the palace had been finished, and that it as delightful and handsome and furnished with every kind of gems and covered with many-coloured carpets inlaid with gold. Then king Dhritarashtra, possessed of learning, summoning Vidura the chief of his ministers, said:--'Repairing, (to Khandavaprastha), bring prince Yudhishthira here without loss of time. Let him come hither with his brothers, and behold his handsome assembly house of mine, furnished with countless jewels and gems, and costly beds and carpets, and let a friendly match at dice commence here.'"

Next: Section LVI