VIII Vaisampayana said, O king, having learnt the news from the messengers, Salya, accompanied by a large body of troops and by his sons, all of whom were mighty in battle, was coming to the Pandavas. His encampment covered an area of one and a half yojana, so large was the force owned by that best of men. He was the master, O king, of an Akshauhini and had great prowess and valour. And there were in his army heroes bearing armour of various colours, with diverse kinds of banners and bows and ornaments and cars and animals, all wearing excellent garlands, and various robes and ornaments. And hundreds and thousands of foremost of Kshatriyas were the leaders of his troops, dressed and decorated in the manner of their native land. And he proceeded by slow marches, giving rest to his troops, towards the place where the Pandava was.
And the creatures of the earth felt oppressed and the earth trembled under the tread of his troops. And king Duryodhana, hearing that magnanimous and mighty hero was on his way, hastened towards him and paid him honours, O best of the Bharata race and caused finely decorated places of entertainment to be constructed at different spots for his reception, on beautiful sites, and whither many artists were directed to entertain the guests. And those pavilions contained garlands and meat and the choicest viands and drinks, and wells of various forms, capable of refreshing the heart, and tanks of various forms, and edibles, and roomy apartments. And arriving at those pavilions, and waited upon like a very god by the servants of Duryodhana located at different spots, Salya reached another house of entertainment resplendent as a retreat of the celestials. And there, greeted with choice creature-comforts fit for beings superior to man, he deemed himself superior even to the lord himself of the gods and thought meanly of Indra as compared with himself. And that foremost of Kshatriyas, well-pleased, asked the servants, saying, Where are those men of Yudhishthira, who have prepared these places of refreshment? Let those men who made these be brought to me. I deem them worthy of being rewarded by me. I must reward them, let it so please the son of Kunti' The servants, surprised, submitted the whole matter to Duryodhana.
And when Salya was exceedingly pleased and ready to grant even his life, Duryodhana, who had remained concealed, came forward and showed himself to his maternal uncle. And the kind of the Madras saw him and understood that it was Duryodhana who had taken all the trouble to receive him. And Salya embraced Duryodhana and said, Accept something that you may desire' Duryodhana thereupon said, O thou auspicious one, let thy word be true, grant me a boon. I ask thee to be the leader of all my army' Vaisampayana continued, And hearing this, Salya said, Be it so! What else is to be done' And the son of Gandhari repeated again and again, It is done' And Salya said, O Duryodhana, O best of men, go to thy own city. I shall proceed to pay a visit to Yudhishthira, the subduer of foes.
O king, I shall speedily come back, O ruler of men. That best of men, Pandu's son Yudhishthira, must, by all means, be visited by me' And bearing this Duryodhana said, O king, O ruler of the earth, having seen the Pandava, come speedily back. I depend entirely upon thee, O king of kings. Remember the boon that thou hast granted me' And Salya answered, Good betide thee! I shall come speedily back. Repair to thy own city, O protector of men' And then those two kings Salya and Duryodhana embraced each other. And having thus greeted Salya, Duryodhana came back to his own city.
And Salya went to inform the sons of Kunti of that proceeding of his. And having reached Upaplavya, and entered the encampment, Salya saw there all the sons of Panda. And the mighty-armed Salya having met the sons of Panda, accepted as usual water for washing his feet, and the customary gifts of honour including a cow. And the king of the Madras, that slayer of foes, first asked them how they were, and then with great delight embraced Yudhishthira, and Bhima, and Arjuna, and the sons of his sister the two twin-brothers. And when all had sat down, Salya spoke to Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, saying, O tiger among kings, O thou delighter of the race of Kuru, is it all well with thee? O best of victors, how fortunately hast thou spent the term of thy residence in the wilderness, O king, O lord of monarchs, it was an exceedingly hard task that thou hast performed by dwelling in the wilderness together with thy brothers and this noble lady here. And awfully difficult task again was that sojourn of thine, the period of concealment, which task also thou hast performed, O descendant of Bharata; for one pulled down from a throne it is nothing but hardship that awaits him. O king, where is there any happiness for him! O afflicter of thy foes, in compensation for all this vast misery wrought by Dhritarashtra's son, thou wilt attain to proportional happiness after having killed thy foes, O great king, O lord of men, the ways of the world are known to thee. Therefore, O my son, thou art never guided by avarice in any of thy dealings.
O descendant of Bharata, do thou treat on the foot-prints of ancient saintly kings. My son, Yudhishthira, be steady in the path of liberality, and self-abnegation, and truth. And, O royal Yudhishthira, mercy and self control, and truth and universal sympathy, and everything wonderful in this world, are to be found in thee. Thou art mild, munificent, religious, and liberal, and thou regardest virtue as the highest good. O king, many are the rules of virtue that prevail amongst men, and all those are known to thee. O my son, O afflicter of foes, thou knowest in fact everything relating to this world. O king, O best of Bharata's race, how lucky it is that thou hast come out of this difficulty of thine. How lucky, O king, O foremost of monarchs, O lord, it is that I see thee, so virtuous a soul, a treasure-house of righteousness, freed with thy followers from this' Vaisampayana continued, Then, O descendant of Bharata, the king spoke of his meeting with Duryodhana and gave a detailed account regarding that promise of his and that boon granted by himself. And Yudhishthira said, O valiant king, it has been well-done by thee that being pleased at heart thou hast plighted thy truth to Duryodhana.
But good betide thee, O ruler of the earth, I ask thee to do one thing only. O king, O best of men, thou wilt have to do it solely for my sake, though it may not be proper to be done. O valiant one, hear what I submit to thee. O great king, thou art equal to Krishna on the field of battle. When, O best of kings, the single combat between Karna and Arjuna will take place, I have no doubt thou wilt have to drive Karna's car. On that occasion, if thou art inclined to do good to me, thou must protect Arjuna. O king, thou must likewise so act that the Suta's son Karna may be dispirited and the victory may be ours. Improper it no doubt is; but, O my uncle, for all that thou must do it. Salya said, Good betide thee. Listen, O son of Panda.
Thou tellest me to so act that the vile son of the Suta may be dispirited in fight. To be sure, I shall be his charioteer' on the field, for he always considers me equal to Krishna. O tiger like descendant of Kuru, I shall certainly speak to him, when desirous of fighting on the field of battle, words contradictory and fraught with harm to him, so that bereft of pride and valour, he may be easily slain by his antagonist. This I tell thee truly. Asked by thee to do it, this I am determined to do, O my son. Whatever else I may be able to bring about, I shall do for thy good. Whatever troubles were suffered by thee together with Draupadi on the occasion of the game at dice, the rude inhuman words uttered by the Suta's son, the misery inflicted by the Asura Jata and by Kichaka, O illustrious one, all the miseries experienced by Draupadi, like those formerly experienced by Damayanti, will all, O hero, end in joy. Thou shouldst not be aggrieved at this; for Destiny is all powerful in this world; and, O Yudhishthira, high-minded persons have to endure miseries of various kinds, nay, even the gods themselves, O king, have suffered misfortunes. O king, O descendant of Bharata, it is narrated that the high-minded Indra, the chief of the celestials, had to endure together with his wife very great misery, indeed'