The Council of Allies

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Udyoga Parva

The Council of Allies

The echo of Abhimanyu and Uttara’s wedding celebrations had barely passed when the Pandavas began to focus their attention on the impending war.

Gathered in the capital of Virata, the five brothers met with their allies early in the morning. Drupada and Virata were the first to enter the council chamber, then gradually all the others.

When each of them had sat comfortably in their respective seats, Krishna opened the discussions by reminding those present of the events of recent years.

“It is obvious that we, who claim to be righteous men, are not here to agree on a blind revenge against the Kuravas, who deserve nothing else, but to seek a just solution that benefits everyone. In fact, a war would not only involve those responsible for so much impiety but also those who are perfectly innocent and who indeed, for many years, have tried to offer good advice. Therefore, let each of you say your opinion on it.”

Then, Balarama, Krishna’s brother, unexpectedly uttered some words that astonished the audience immensely.

“What has just been said is right. We must not seek revenge. After all, let’s not forget that Duryodhana did not force Yudhisthira to play, but that it was his free choice. For everything that happened it would not be fair to say that Duryodhana is entirely to blame. Pandu’s sons also bear their share of blame, and to avoid this war, they must accept their share of responsibility. This war must be avoided in every possible way.”

It was well known that Duryodhana had been a diligent and devoted disciple of Balarama, and it was natural that Balarama wanted to protect him; let us not forget, in fact, that he had even promised to marry Subhadra, which did not happen because of Arjuna’s abduction. But even though Balarama was highly respected, practically no one liked what he said.

The most vehement reaction came from Satyaki.

“What you said sounds strange to me. It seems as if you ignore reality, which is that Duryodhana is the black soul of the Bharata race, who has behaved like a cheating villain, a thief, a murderer, and who is envious as a snake. He and his cronies have conspired to steal the Pandavas from their kingdom using the deception he made by playing with Yudhisthira, who could not escape the challenge of the dice that had been manipulated. And apart from all that, now, after thirteen years of suffering, do you propose that we forget everything, including the insults to Draupadi and the countless provocations they have had to endure? How can you say that war must be avoided at all costs? We all know that Duryodhana will never return the kingdom to the Pandavas and that this could only be avoided if they gave up their rights to govern. Is this your proposal? I say that fighting is the only thing to do right now to get justice.”

The discussion went on for a long time and everyone obviously condemned Dhritarastra’s son and his demonic politics.

Eventually, it was unanimously decided to send a Brahmana to Hastinapura as a messenger in order to probe Duryodhana’s moods and reactions. But no one was deluded too much; knowing that heart consumed by envy, it was only too predictable how all would end.

For this reason, the preparations for the armed confrontation began anyway. Numerous delegates went to all parts of the world to ask for alliances.

In the meantime, Duryodhana too had been concerned with obtaining military support.

In the days that followed the immense plain of Bharata-varsha, the ancient Indian continent, saw immense movements of men and vehicles. A commotion of such magnitude had never been seen on this planet. Some of them marched towards Upaplavya and others towards Hastinapura.


This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 2”.

To buy the complete book, click above

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