"Yudhishthira said, 'If one does not succeed in winning over one's kinsmen and relatives (by this course), they that are intended for becoming friends become foes. How should one, then, conduct one's self so that the hearts of both friends and foes may be won?'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old history of a discourse between Vasudeva and the celestial sage Narada. On a certain occasion Vasudeva said, 'Neither an illiterate and foolish friend, nor a learned friend of fickle soul, deserves, O Narada, to know one's secret counsels. Relying on thy friendship for me, I shall say something to thee, O sage! O thou that canst go to heaven at thy pleasure, one should speak to another if one be convinced
of the intelligence of that other. I never behave with slavish obsequiousness towards my kinsmen by flattering speeches about their prosperity. I give them half of what I have, and forgive their evil speeches. As a fire-stick is grinded by a person desirous of obtaining fire, even so my heart is ground by my kinsmen with their cruel speeches. Indeed, O celestial Rishi, those cruel speeches burn my heart every day. Might resides in Sankarshana; mildness in Gada; and as regards Pradyumna, he surpasses even myself in beauty of person. (Although I have all these on my side) yet I am helpless, O Narada! Many others among the Andhakas and the Vrishnis are possessed of great prosperity and might, and during courage and constant perseverance. He on whose side they do not range themselves meets with destruction. He, on the other hand, on whose side they do range themselves, achieves everything. Dissuaded (in turns) by both (viz., Ahuka and Akrura,) I do not side either of them. What can be more painful for a person than to have both Ahuka and Akrura on his side? What, again, can be more painful for one than not to have both of them on his side? 1 I am like the mother of two brothers gambling against each other, invoking victory to both. I am thus, O Narada, afflicted by both. It behoveth thee to tell me that which is for the good of both myself and my kinsmen.'
"Narada said, 'Calamities, O Krishna, are of two kinds, viz., external and internal. They arise, O thou of Vrishni's race, from one's own acts or from the acts of others. The calamity that has now overtaken thee is an internal one and is born of thy own acts. Valadeva and others of the Bhoja race are partisans of Akrura, and have taken up his side either for the sake of wealth, or mere caprice, or moved by words or by hate. As regards thyself, thou hast given away wealth obtained by thee to another. Though possessed of men who should be your friends, thou hast, however, by thy own act, brought calamity over thy head. Thou canst not take back that wealth, even as one cannot swallow again the food that he has vomited himself. The kingdom cannot be taken back from Babhu and Ugrasena (unto whom it has been given). Thyself, O Krishna, cannot, in particular, take it back (from them) from fear of producing intestine dissensions. Supposing the endeavour succeeds, it will do so after much trouble and after the accomplishment of the most difficult feats. A great slaughter and a great loss of wealth will ensue, perhaps, even total destruction. Use then a weapon that is not made of steel, that is very mild and yet capable of piercing all hearts. Sharpening and resharpening that weapon correct the tongues of thy kinsmen.'
"Vasudeva said, 'What is that weapon, O sage, which is not made of steel, which is mild, which still pierces all hearts, and which I must use for correcting the tongues of my kinsmen?'
"Narada said, 'The giving of food to the best of thy power, forgiveness,
sincerity, mildness, and honour to whom honour is due, these constitute a weapon that is not made of steel. With soft words alone turn away the anger of kinsmen about the utter cruel speeches, and mollify their hearts and minds and slanderous tongues. None who is not a great man with cleansed soul and possessed of accomplishments and friends can bear a heavy burthen. Take up this great weight (of governing the Vrishnis) and bear it on thy shoulders. All oxen can bear heavy burthens on a level road. The stronger ones only among them can bear such burthens on a difficult road. From disunion destruction will spring and overtake all the Bhojas and the Vrishnis. Thou, O Kesava, art the foremost one among them. Do thou act in such a manner that the Bhojas and the Vrishnis may not meet with destruction. Nothing but intelligence and forgiveness, restraint of the senses, and liberality are present in a person of wisdom. Advancing one's own race is always praiseworthy and glorious and conducive to long life. Do thou, O Krishna, act in such a way that destruction may not overtake thy kinsmen. There is nothing unknown to thee in respect of policy and the art of war, O Lord! The Yadavas, the Kukuras, the Bhojas, the Andhakas, and the Vrishnis, are all dependent on thee even as all the worlds and all the regents of those worlds, O mighty-armed one! The Rishis, O Madhava, always pray for thy advancement. Thou art the lord of all creatures. Thou knowest the past, the present, and the future. Thou art the foremost one among all the Yadavas. Relying on thee, they expect to live in happiness.'"
176:1 The fact is that Ahuka and Akrura were bitterly opposed to each other. Both of them, however, loved Krishna. Ahuka always advised Krishna to shun Akrura, and Akrura always advised him to shun Ahuka. Krishna valued the friendship of both and could ill dispense with either. What he says here is that to have them both is painful and yet not to have them both is equally painful.