XXVI Yudhishthira said, What words from me, O Sanjaya, hast thou heard, indicative of war, that thou apprehendest war? O sire, peace is preferable to war. Who, O charioteer, having got the other alternative would wish to fight? It is known to me, O Sanjaya, that if a man can have every wish of his heart without having to do anything, he would hardly like to do anything even though it might be of the least troublesome kind, far less would he engage in war. Why should a man ever go to war? Who is so cursed by the gods that he would select war? The sons of Pritha, no doubt, desire their own happiness but their conduct is ever marked by righteousness and conducive to the good of the world. They desire only that happiness which results from righteousness. He that fondly followeth the lead of his senses, and is desirous of obtaining happiness and avoiding misery, betaketh himself to action which in its essence is nothing but misery. He that hankers after pleasure causeth his body to suffer; one free from such hankering knoweth not what misery is.
As an enkindled fire, if more fuel be put upon it, blazeth forth again with augmented force, so desire is never satiated with the acquisition of its object but gaineth force like unkindled fire when clarified butter is poured upon it. Compare all this abundant fund of enjoyment which king Dhritarashtra hath with what we possess. He that is unfortunate never winneth victories. He that is unfortunate enjoyeth not the voice of music. He that is unfortunate doth not enjoy garlands and scents! nor can one that is unfortunate enjoy cool and fragrant unguents! and finally he that is unfortunate weareth not fine clothes. If this were not so, we would never have been driven from the Kurus. Although, however, all this is true, yet none cherished torments of the heart. The king being himself in trouble seeketh protection in the might of others.
This is not wise. Let him, however, receive from others the same behaviour that he displays towards them. The man who casteth a burning fire at midday in the season of spring in a forest of dense underwood, hath certainly, when that fire blazeth forth by aid of the wind, to grieve for his lot if he wisheth to escape. O Sanjaya, why doth king Dhritarashtra now bewail, although he hath all this prosperity? It is because he had followed at first the counsels of his wicked son of vicious soul, addicted to crooked ways and confirmed in folly. Duryodhana disregarded the words of Vidura, the best of his well-wishers, as if the latter were hostile to him. King Dhritarashtra, desirous solely of satisfying his sons, would knowingly enter upon an unrighteous course. Indeed, on account of his fondness for his son, he would not pay heed to Vidura, who, out of all the Kurus, is the wisest and best of all his well-wishers, possessing vast learning, clever in speech, and righteous in act. King Dhritarashtra is desirous of satisfying his son, who, while himself seeking honours from others, is envious and wrathful, who transgresses the rules for the acquisition of virtue and wealth, whose tongue is foul, who always follows the dictates of his wrath, whose soul is absorbed in sensual pleasures, and who, full of unfriendly feelings to many, obeys no law, and whose life is evil, heart implacable, and understanding vicious. For such a son as this, king Dhritarashtra knowingly abandoned virtue and pleasure.
Even then, O Sanjaya, when I was engaged in that game of dice I thought that the destruction of the Kurus was at hand, for when speaking those wise and excellent words Vidura obtained no praise from Dhritarashtra. Then, O charioteer, did trouble overtake the Kurus when they disregarded the words of Vidura. So long as they had placed themselves under the lead of his wisdom, their kingdom was in a flourishing state. Hear from me, O charioteer, who are the counsellors now of the covetous Duryodhana. They are Dussasana, and Sakuni the son of Suvala, and Karna the Suta's son! O son of Gavalgana, look at this folly of his! So I do not see, though I think about it, how there can be prosperity for the Kurus and the Srinjayas when Dhritarashtra hath taken the throne from others, and the far seeing Vidura hath been banished elsewhere. Dhritarashtra with his sons is now looking for an extensive and undisputed sovereignty over the whole world. Absolute peace is, therefore, unattainable. He regardeth what he hath already got to be his own.
When Arjuna taketh up his weapon in fight, Karna believeth him capable of being withstood. Formerly there took place many great battles. Why could not Karna then be of any avail to them. It is known to Karna and Drona and the grandsire Bhishma, as also to many other Kurus, that there is no wielder of the bow, comparable to Arjuna. It is known to all the assembled rulers of the earth, how the sovereignty was obtained by Duryodhana although that repressor of foes, Arjuna, was alive. Pertinanciously doth Dhritarashtra's son believe that it is possible to rob the sons of Pandu of what is their own, although he knoweth having himself gone to the place of fight, how Arjuna comforted himself when he had nothing but a bow four cubits long for his weapon of battle. Dhritarashtra's sons are alive simply because they have not as yet heard that twang of the stretch Gandiva. Duryodhana believeth his object already gained, as long as he beholdeth not the wrathful Bhima. O sire, even Indra would forbear to rob us of our sovereignty as long as Bhima and Arjuna and the heroic Nakula and the patient Sahadeva are alive! O charioteer, the old king with his son still entertains the notion that his sons will not be perished, O Sanjaya, on the field of battle, consumed by the fiery wrath of Pandu's sons.
Thou knowest, O Sanjaya, what misery we have suffered! For my respect to thee, I would forgive them all. Thou knowest what transpired between ourselves and those sons of Kuru. Thou knowest how we comforted ourselves towards Dhritarashtra's son. Let the same state of things still continue, I shall seek peace, as thou counsellest me to do. Let me have Indraprastha for my kingdom, Let this be given to me by Duryodhana, the chief of Bharata's race