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"Bhima said,--'O Yudhishthira, gamblers have in their houses many women of loose character. They do not yet stake those women having kindness for them even. Whatever wealth and other excellent articles the king of Kasi gave, whatever, gems, animals, wealth, coats of mail and weapons that other kings of the earth gave, our kingdom, thyself and ourselves, have all been won by the foes. At all this my wrath was not excited for thou art our lord. This, however, I regard as a highly improper act--this act of staking Draupadi. This innocent girl deserveth not this treatment. Having obtained the Pandavas as her lords, it is for thee alone that she is being thus persecuted by the low, despicable, cruel, and mean-minded Kauravas. It is for her sake, O king, that my anger falleth on thee. I shall burn those hands of thine. Sahadeva, bring some fire."

'Arjuna hearing this, said,--'Thou hast never, O Bhimasena, before this uttered such words as these. Assuredly thy high morality hath been destroyed by these cruel foes. Thou shouldst not fulfil the wishes of the enemy. Practise thou the highest morality. Whom doth it behave to transgress his virtuous eldest brother? The king was summoned by the foe, and remembering the usage of the Kshatriyas, he played at dice against his will. That is certainly conducive to our great fame.

'Bhima said,--'If I had not known, O Dhananjaya, that the king had acted according to Kshatriya usage, then I would have, taking his hands together by sheer force, burnt them in a blazing fire."

Vaisampayana continued,--"Beholding the Pandavas thus distressed and the princess of Panchala also thus afflicted, Vikarna the son of Dhritarashtra said--'Ye kings, answer ye the question that hath been asked by Yajnaseni. If we do not judge a matter referred to us, all of us will assuredly have to go to hell without delay. How is that Bhishma and Dhritarashtra, both of whom are the oldest of the Kurus, as also the high-souled Vidura, do not say anything! The son of Bharadwaja who is the preceptor of us, as also Kripa, is here. Why do not these best of regenerate ones answer the question? Let also those other kings assembled here from all directions answer according to their judgment this question, leaving aside all motives of gain and anger. Ye kings, answer ye the question that hath been asked by this blessed daughter of king Drupada, and declare after reflection on which side each of ye is.' Thus did Vikarna repeatedly appeal to those that were in that assembly. But those kings answered him not one word, good or ill. And Vikarna having repeatedly appealed to all the kings began to rub his hands and sigh like a snake. And at last

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the prince said--'Ye kings of the earth, ye Kauravas, whether ye answer this question or not, I will say what I regard as just and proper. Ye foremost of men, it hath been said that hunting, drinking, gambling, and too much enjoyment of women, are the four vices of kings. The man, that is addicted to these, liveth forsaking virtue. And people do not regard the acts done by a person who is thus improperly engaged, as of any authority. This son of Pandu, while deeply engaged in one of these vicious acts, urged thereto by deceitful gamblers, made Draupadi a stake. The innocent Draupadi is, besides, the common wife of all the sons of Pandu. And the king, having first lost himself offered her as a stake. And Suvala himself desirous of a stake, indeed prevailed upon the king to stake this Krishna. Reflecting upon all these circumstances, I regard Draupadi as not won."

"Hearing these words, a loud uproar rose from among those present in that assembly. And they all applauded Vikarna and censured the son of Suvala. And at that sound, the son of Radha, deprived of his senses by anger, waving his well-shaped arms, said these words,--'O Vikarna, many opposite and inconsistent conditions are noticeable in this assembly. Like fire produced from a faggot, consuming the faggot itself, this thy ire will consume thee. These personages here, though urged by Krishna, have not uttered a word. They all regard the daughter of Drupada to have been properly won. Thou alone, O son of Dhritarashtra in consequence of thy immature years, art bursting with wrath, for though but a boy thou speakest in the assembly as if thou wert old. O younger brother of Duryodhana, thou dost not know what morality truly is, for thou sayest like a fool that this Krishna who hath been (justly) won as not won at all. O son of Dhritarashtra, how dost thou regard Krishna as not won, when the eldest of the Pandavas before this assembly staked all his possessions? O bull of the Bharata race, Draupadi is included in all the possessions (of Yudhishthira). Therefore, why regardest thou Krishna who hath been justly won as not won? Draupadi had been mentioned (by Suvala) and approved of as a stake by the Pandavas. For what reason then dost thou yet regard her as not won? Or, if thou thinkest that bringing her hither attired in a single piece of cloth, is an action of impropriety, listen to certain excellent reasons I will give. O son of the Kuru race, the gods have ordained only one husband for one woman. This Draupadi, however, hath many husbands. Therefore, certain it is that she is an unchaste woman. To bring her, therefore, into this assembly attired though she be in one piece of cloth--even to uncover her is not at all an act that may cause surprise. Whatever wealth the Pandavas had--she herself and these Pandavas themselves,--have all been justly won by the son of Suvala. O Dussasana, this Vikarna speaking words of (apparent) wisdom is but a boy. Take off the robes of the Pandavas

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as also the attire of Draupadi. Hearing these words the Pandavas, O Bharata, took of their upper garments and throwing them down sat in that assembly. Then Dussasana, O king, forcibly seizing Draupadi's attire before the eyes of all, began to drag it off her person."

Vaisampayana continued,--"When the attire of Draupadi was being thus dragged, the thought of Hari, (And she herself cried aloud, saying), 'O Govinda, O thou who dwellest in Dwaraka, O Krishna, O thou who art fond of cow-herdesses (of Vrindavana). O Kesava, seest thou not that the Kauravas are humiliating me. O Lord, O husband of Lakshmi, O Lord of Vraja (Vrindavana), O destroyer of all afflictions, O Janarddana, rescue me who am sinking in the Kaurava Ocean. O Krishna, O Krishna, O thou great yogin, thou soul of the universe, Thou creator of all things, O Govinda, save me who am distressed,--who am losing my senses in the midst of the Kurus.' Thus did that afflicted lady resplendent still in her beauty, O king covering her face cried aloud, thinking of Krishna, of Hari, of the lord of the three worlds. Hearing the words of Draupadi, Krishna was deeply moved. And leaving his seat, the benevolent one from compassion, arrived there on foot. And while Yajnaseni was crying aloud to Krishna, also called Vishnu and Hari and Nara for protection, the illustrious Dharma, remaining unseen, covered her with excellent clothes of many hues. And, O monarch as the attire of Draupadi was being dragged, after one was taken off, another of the same kind, appeared covering her. And thus did it continue till many clothes were seen. And, O exalted on, owing to the protection of Dharma, hundreds upon hundreds of robes of many hues came off Draupadi's person. And there arose then a deep uproar of many many voices. And the kings present in that assembly beholding that most extraordinary of all sights in the world, began to applaud Draupadi and censure the son of Dhritarashtra. And Bhima then, squeezing his hands, with lips quivering in rage, swore in the midst of all those kings a terrible oath in a loud voice.

"And Bhima said,--Hear these words of mine, ye Kshatriyas of the world. Words such as these were never before uttered by other men, nor will anybody in the future ever utter them. Ye lords of earth, if having spoken these words I do not accomplish them hereafter, let me not obtain the region of my deceased ancestors. Tearing open in battle, by sheer force, the breast of this wretch, this wicked-minded scoundrel of the Bharata race, if I do not drink his life-blood, let me not obtain the region of my ancestors."

Vaisampayana continued,--"Hearing these terrible words of Bhima that made the down of the auditors to stand on end, everybody present there applauded him and censured the son of Dhritarashtra. And when a mass of clothes had been gathered in that assembly, all dragged from the person of Draupadi, Dussasana, tired and ashamed, sat down. And beholding

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the sons of Kunti in that state, the persons--those gods among men--that were in that assembly all uttered the word 'Fie!'(on the son of Dhritarashtra). And the united voices of all became so loud that they made the down of anybody who heard them stand on end. And all the honest men that were in that assembly began to say,--'Alas! the Kauravas answer not the question that hath been put to them by Draupadi. And all censuring Dhritarashtra together, made a loud clamour. Then Vidura, that master of the science of morality, waving his hands and silencing every one, spake these words;--'Ye that are in this assembly, Draupadi having put her question is weeping helplessly. Ye are not answering her. Virtue and morality are being persecuted by such conduct. An afflicted person approacheth an assembly of good men, like one that is being consumed by fire. They that are in the assembly quench that fire and cool him by means of truth and morality. The afflicted person asketh the assembly about his rights, as sanctioned by morality. They that are in the assembly should, unmoved by interest and anger, answer the question. Ye kings, Vikarna hath answered the question, according to his own knowledge and judgment. Ye should also answer it as ye think proper. Knowing the rules of morality, and having attended an assembly, he that doth not answer a query that is put, incurreth half the demerit that attacheth to a lie. He, on the other hand, who, knowing the rules of morality and having joined an assembly answereth falsely, assuredly incurreth the sin of a lie. The learned quote as an example in this connection the old history of Prahlada and the son of Angirasa.

"There was of old a chief of the Daityas of the name Prahlada. He had a son named Virochana. And Virochana, for the sake of obtaining a bride, quarrelled with Sudhanwan, the son of Angiras. It hath been heard by us that they mutually wagered their lives, saying--I am superior,--I am superior,--for the sake of obtaining a bride. And after they had thus quarrelled with each other, they both made Prahlada the arbitrator to decide between them. And they asked him, saying;--Who amongst us is superior (to the other)? Answer this question. Speak not falsely. Frightened at this quarrel, Prahlada cast his eyes upon Sudhanwan. And Sudhanwan in rage, burning like unto the mace of Yama, told him,--If thou answerest falsely, or dost not answer at all thy head will then be split into a hundred pieces by the wielder of the thunderbolt with that bolt of his.--Thus addressed by Sudhanwan, the Daitya, trembling like a leaf of the fig tree, went to Kasyapa of great energy, for taking counsel with him. And Prahlada said,--'Thou art, O illustrious and exalted one, fully conversant with the rules of morality that should guide both the gods and the Asuras and the Brahmanas as well. Here, however, is a situation of great difficulty in respect of duty. Tell me, I

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ask thee, what regions are obtainable by them who upon being asked a question, answer it not, or answer it falsely. Kasyapa thus asked answered.--'He that knoweth, but answereth not a question from temptation, anger or fear, casteth upon himself a thousand nooses of Varuna. And the person who, cited as a witness with respect to any matter of ocular or auricular knowledge, speaketh carelessly, casteth a thousand nooses of Varuna upon his own person. On the completion of one full year, one such noose is loosened. Therefore, he that knoweth, should speak the truth without concealment. If virtue, pierced by sin, repaireth to an assembly (for aid), it is the duty of every body in the assembly to take off the dart, otherwise they themselves would be pierced with it. In an assembly where a truly censurable act is not rebuked, half the demerit of that act attacheth to the head of that assembly, a fourth to the person acting censurably and a fourth unto those others that are there. In that assembly, on the other hand, when he that deserveth censure is rebuked, the head of the assembly becometh freed from all sins, and the other members also incur none. It is only the perpetrator himself of the act that becometh responsible for it. O Prahlada, they who answer falsely those that ask them about morality destroy the meritorious acts of their seven upper and seven lower generations. The grief of one who hath lost all his wealth, of one who hath lost a son, of one who is in debt, of one who is separated from his companions, of a woman who hath lost her husband, of one that hath lost his all in consequence of the king's demand, of a woman who is sterile, of one who hath been devoured by a tiger (during his last struggles in the tiger's claws), of one who is a co-wife, and of one who hath been deprived of his property by false witnesses, have been said by the gods to be uniform in degree. These different sorts of grief are his who speaketh false. A person becometh a witness in consequence of his having seen, heard, and understood a thing. Therefore, a witness should always tell the truth. A truth-telling witness never loseth his religious merits and earthly possessions also.' Hearing these words of Kasyapa, Prahlada told his son, "Sudhanwan is superior to thee, as indeed, (his father) Angiras is superior to me. The mother also of Sudhanwan is superior to thy mother. Therefore, O Virochana, this Sudhanwan is now the lord of the life." At these words of Prahlada, Sudhanwan said, "Since unmoved by affection for thy child, thou hast adhered to virtue, I command, let this son of thine live for a hundred years."

"Vidura continued,--Let all the persons, therefore, present in this assembly hearing these high truths of morality, reflect upon what should be the answer to the question asked by Draupadi".

Vaisampayana continued,--"The kings that were there hearing these words of Vidura, answered not a word, yet Karna alone spoke unto Dussasana,

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telling him. Take away this serving-woman Krishna into the inner apartments. And thereupon Dussasana began to drag before all the spectators the helpless and modest Draupadi, trembling and crying piteously unto the Pandavas her lords."

Next: Section LXVIII