While Dhritarastra was pleased about Vidura’s return, Duryodhana and his friends were not at all. They knew well that he had the power to exert a strong and constant influence on the elderly king, who always ended up heeding his advice; so they were afraid that this time too he would be able to convince him to return the kingdom to the Pandavas.
For Duryodhana, it wasn’t just about the old desire to see his cousins fall out of favor, but he also felt a keen fear: the Pandavas had pronounced terrible vows, and knowing them, and especially Bhima and Arjuna, he knew that they would not stop in front of anything to accomplish what they had sworn. Furthermore, their allies, the Panchala, the Vrishni, and the Matsya, were all tremendous warriors. On the other hand, fighting with the knowledge of being on the side of reason would have given them a special fury. For all these reasons, together with his friends, the Kurava finally decided that it would be better to face them immediately, while they were still without allies and without means.
Without his father’s knowledge, Duryodhana had the army prepared. But Vyasa, having learned of his intentions, intervened, and managed to block the heinous project.
A few days later the mighty sage Maitreya arrived at the court, who told of having met the children of Pandu in the forest and having talked to them.
“Duryodhana,” said the sage, “I appeal to you. What you have done is ungodly: such behavior is not advised by our laws which, as you know, can give perennial spiritual benefits. Call back the Pandavas, apologize, and give them back everything that was theirs.”
However, while the sage was speaking, the prince did not even look at him and struck his thigh violently. With this attitude he wanted to show that thanks to his strength he had no rivals to fear. That was a real disrespect towards Maitreya and his words. Irritated, the sage said:
“Bhima’s oath will come true: you will die with the thigh broken by his club, the same one that you struck hard while I was speaking.”
Those words terrified Dhritarastra, who knew well the power of the curses of a Rishi of Maitreya’s caliber.
“Great sage,” he pleaded, “forgive my son, who does not know the value of right behavior towards the saints. Please, you who are always merciful to fallen and confused souls, withdraw your condemnation.”
The Rishi then replied:
“Oh, king, since you are descended from a glorious lineage like that of the Bharatas, I will forgive Duryodhana and my curse will have no effect; but he must make peace with the Pandavas.”
At those words Duryodhana, not at all worried, gave a mocking grin.
Maitreya then, without adding anything else, left the royal hall, throwing everyone into consternation. Vidura, disgusted by that behavior worthy of the lowest and most ignorant people, turned to those present:
“It seems that our young Duryodhana ignores the basic principles of the behavior of a Kshatriya of his rank and does not fear sin. Perhaps he thinks that his and his friends’ valor will give him the victory over the god of death. Yet not only will he be defeated when he will have to present himself in the presence of Yamaraja, but even in this life he will experience the heaviest defeat just when he will find himself in front of the mighty arms of Pandu’s second son. In the days I stayed in the forest with the Pandavas, Kirmira, a Rakshasa who was Baka’s brother and a close friend of Hidimba, came to us and challenged him wanting to avenge their deaths. Now I will tell you how Bhima killed Kirmira.”
The story Vidura told had the effect of terrifying the blind king even more and he was seized with violent tremors at the very thought of Bhima’s fury; never, throughout his life, would he forget the tone of his voice. On the contrary, Duryodhana listened without flinching.
This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.
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