As soon as the messengers who preceded Vidura arrived in Indra-prastha, Yudhisthira and his brothers left the palace to receive him with all the honors and show him the affection they felt for him. On that occasion the Pandavas remembered how he had saved them from so many dangers and how he had always been their benefactor.
When Yudhisthira asked him the reasons for his visit, Vidura, deeply ashamed, repeated the message that Dhritarastra had given him. It was not difficult for anyone to understand that behind his apparent innocence there was a grave danger. As we have already said, Yudhisthira liked to play dice; everyone knew it, and they also knew that he was not very skilled at that game.
“If it is true that I am not a champion, neither is my evil cousin; I am sure he will not play himself, but he will delegate someone else to face me in his stead,” said Yudhisthira. “Who do you think I’ll have to play against?”
“There are so many good players in our court,” Vidura replied, “but something tells me you will find Sakuni in front of you. He is the best of all, and he hates you as much as Duryodhana himself.”
There was a moment of silence. If Yudhisthira had to face the Gandhara, there would be nothing left to do. He would lose everything. The cousin’s plan was clear now.
“The advice I can give you,” Vidura continued, “is to find some excuse not to accept the invitation. Gambling must be avoided at all costs by all sane people who know the principles of spirituality. It always causes discord among the players, causing endless anxieties and conflict. When a man loses his mind and tranquility and goes into enmities, all sorts of catastrophe can happen.”
Vidura continued saying:
“Yudhisthira, do not accept the invitation. This plan was born from Sakuni’s evil mind and was immediately greeted with great joy by the vile Duryodhana, who in the book of his life has been written that he would cause death and destruction. Therefore, nothing good can come of it. I know you like playing, but you must not succumb to the game intoxication, and you don’t have to accept this invitation.”
Yudhisthira thought for a long time. Then he answered:
“I wish I could follow your good warnings which, as always, contain a lot of wisdom, but as you know a Kshatriya cannot refuse a challenge be it a weapon duel or a game of dice. Moreover, this is my personal vote. Also, we must reflect on the fact that if I have to govern such a vast kingdom, I cannot demonstrate cowardice otherwise the esteem and trust that people have in me would be affected. So, I must go. If I lose everything, it will have been the will of the Lord, and what can we do against it? The only thing I can promise is that I will try with all my might not to get too carried away and not to bet hard.”
The next day, accompanied by their wife Draupadi, the Pandavas left for Hastinapura.
This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.
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