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Vaisampayana said,--"Vidura then, thus commanded against his will by king Dhritarashtra, set out, with the help of horses of high mettle and endued with great speed and strength, and quiet and patient, for the abode of the wise sons of Pandu. Possessed of great intelligence, Vidura proceeded by the way leading to the capital of the Pandavas. And having arrived at the city of king Yudhishthira, he entered it and proceeded towards the palace, worshipped by numberless Brahmanas. And coming to the palace which was even like unto the mansion of Kuvera himself, the virtuous Vidura approached Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma. Then the illustrious Ajamida devoted to truth and having no enemy on earth, reverentially saluted Vidura, and asked him about Dhritarashtra and his sons. And Yudhishthira said, "O Kshatta, thy mind seemeth to be cheerless. Dost thou come here in happiness and peace? The sons of Dhritarashtra, I hope, are obedient to their old father. The people also, I hope, are obedient to Dhritarashtra's rule.'

"Vidura said,--'The illustrious king, with his sons, is well and happy, and surrounded by his relatives he reigneth even like Indra himself. The king is happy with his sons who are all obedient to him and hath no grief. The illustrious monarch is bent on his own aggrandisement. The king of the Kurus hath commanded me to enquire after thy peace and prosperity, and to ask thee to repair to Hastinapore with thy brothers and to say, after beholding king Dhritarashtra's newly erected palace, whether that one is equal to thy own. Repairing thither, O son of Pritha, with thy brothers, enjoy ye in that mansion and sit to a friendly match at dice. We shall be glad if thou goest, as the Kurus have already arrived there. And thou wilt see there those gamblers and cheats that the illustrious king Dhritarashtra hath already brought thither. It is for this, O king, that I have come hither. Let the king's command be approved by thee.

"Yudhishthira said,--'O Kshatta, if we sit to a match at dice, we may quarrel. What man is there, who knowing all this, will consent to gamble? What dost thou think fit for us? We all are obedient to thy counsels.'

"Vidura said,--'I know that gambling is the root of misery, and I strove to dissuade the king from it. The king, however, hath sent me to thee. Having known all this, O learned one, do what is beneficial.

"Yudhishthira said,--'Besides the sons of Dhritarashtra what other dishonest gamblers are there ready for play? Tell us, O Vidura, who they are and with whom we shall have to play, staking hundreds upon hundreds of our possessions.'

"Vidura said,--'O monarch, Sakuni, the king of Gandhara, an adept at

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dice, having great skill of hand and desperate in stakes, Vivingati, king Chitrasena, Satyavrata, Purumitra and Jaya, these, O king, are there.'

"Yudhishthira said,--'It would seem then that some of the most desperate and terrible gamblers always depending upon deceit are there. This whole universe, however, is at the will of its Maker, under the control of fate. It is not free. O learned one, I do not desire, at the command of king Dhritarashtra to engage myself in gambling. The father always wisheth to benefit his son. Thou art our master, O Vidura. Tell me what is proper for us. Unwilling as I am to gamble, I will not do so, if the wicked Sakuni doth not summon me to it in the Sabha? If, however, he challengeth me, I will never refuse. For that, as settled, is my eternal vow."

Vaisampayana continued,--"King Yudhishthira the just having said this unto Vidura, commanded that preparations for his journey might be made without loss of time. And the next day, the king accompanied by his relatives and attendants and taking with him also the women of the household with Draupadi in their midst, set out for the capital of the Kurus. 'Like some brilliant body falling before the eyes, Fate depriveth us of reason, and man, tied as it were with a cord, submitteth to the sway of Providence,' saying this, king Yudhishthira, that chastiser of the foe, set out with Kshatta, without deliberating upon that summons from Dhritarashtra. And that slayer of hostile heroes, the son of Pandu and Pritha, riding upon the car that had been given him by the king of Valhika, and attired also in royal robes, set out with his brothers. And the king, blazing as it were with royal splendour, with Brahmanas walking before him, set out from his city, summoned by Dhritarashtra and impelled by what hath been ordained by Kala (Time). And arriving at Hastinapore he went to the palace of Dhritarashtra. And going there, the son of Pandu approached the king. And the exalted one then approached Bhishma and Drona and Karna, and Kripa, and the son of Drona, and embraced and was embraced by them all. And the mighty-armed one, endued with great prowess, then approached Somadatta, and then Duryodhana and Salya, and the son of Suvala, and those other kings also that had arrived there before him. The king then went to the brave Dusshasana and then to all his (other) brothers and then to Jayadratha and next to all the Kurus one after another. And the mighty-armed one, then surrounded by all his brothers, entered the apartment of the wise king Dhritarashtra. And then Yudhishthira beheld the reverend Gandhari, ever obedient to her lord, and surrounded by her daughters-in-law like Rohini by the stars. And saluting Gandhari and blessed by her in return, the king then beheld his old uncle, that illustrious monarch whose wisdom was his eye. King Dhritarashtra then, O monarch, smelt his head as also the heads of those four other princes of the Kuru race, viz., the sons of Pandu with Bhimasena as their eldest. And, O king, beholding--the handsome Pandava those tigers among men, all the Kurus became exceedingly

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glad. And commanded by the king, the Pandavas then retired to the chambers allotted to them and which were all furnished with jewels and gems. And when they had retired into the chambers, the women of Dhritarashtra's household with Dussala taking the lead visited them. And the daughters-in-law of Dhritarashtra beholding the blazing and splendid beauty and prosperity of Yajnaseni, became cheerless and filled with jealousy. And those tigers among men, having conversed with the ladies went through their daily physical exercises and then performed the religious rites of the day. And having finished their daily devotions, they decked their persons with sandal paste of the most fragrant kind. And desiring to secure good luck and prosperity they caused (by gifts) the Brahmanas to utter benedictions. And then eating food that was of the best taste they retired to their chambers for the night. And those bulls among the Kurus then were put to sleep with music by handsome females. And obtaining from them what came in due succession, those subjugators of hostile towns passed with cheerful hearts that delightful night in pleasure and sport. And waked by the bards with sweet music, they rose from their beds, and having passed the night thus in happiness, they rose at dawn and having gone through the usual rites, they entered into the assembly house and were saluted by those that were ready there for gambling."

Next: Section LVIII