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Chapter 46

Kṛṣṇa’s Peace Mission

Just before dawn, bards and Brahmins assembled outside Kṛṣṇa’s bedchamber. They chanted auspicious Vedic hymns as musicians played lutes and drums. Inside the chamber Kṛṣṇa had already risen and was performing His morning rituals. After bathing and worshipping the sun and the sacred fire, He put on yellow silk garments. The palace servants helped adorn Him with numerous gold ornaments studded with priceless gems. As He paid His respects to the Brahmins, giving them cows and gold in charity, Sātyaki entered. Kṛṣṇa greeted him cheerfully and said, “O hero, please prepare My chariot. Equip it with both offensive and defensive weapons. Duryodhana lacks all scruples, and so do Karṇa and Śakuni. An enemy should never be disregarded, even if he is weaker.”

Sātyaki detailed some soldiers to prepare Kṛṣṇa’s chariot. They brought out the car meant for high-speed journeys, which had two great wheels resembling the sun and the moon. It blazed like fire and was decorated with moons and stars as well as figures of sharks, animals, birds, and various kinds of flowers worked in precious stones. The chariot was covered with tigerskins and rows of small bells. A tall flagstaff of lapis-lazuli bore a large dark-blue banner emblazoned with the emblem of Garuḍa. Kṛṣṇa’s four horses, Śaibya, Sugrīva, Meghapushpa, and Balahaka, all clad in mail, were yoked to it with harnesses of jeweled leather.

Kṛṣṇa came out of the palace and mounted the chariot with Sātyaki. His charioteer, Dāruka, urged on the horses and they moved off, being loudly praised by crowds of citizens. Kṛṣṇa saw by the roadside Brahmins offering Him worship while musically chanting sacred Vedic hymns. As He proceeded along the city’s main highway, the sky cleared and a gentle breeze began to blow. The gods, Gandharvas, and celestial ṛṣis assembled in the sky, offering prayers. The Pāṇḍavas and their allies followed the slowly moving chariot on foot. The citizens threw flowers and rice on the road in front of the procession. Conchshells, kettledrums, trumpets, and other instruments sounded on all sides.

When Kṛṣṇa reached the city’s outskirts He dismounted. Yudhiṣṭhira embraced Him, wishing Him success. With tears in his eyes he said, “O Govinda, please go to the pious lady who patiently awaits our return, passing her days in grief--she who is ever attached to the worship of the Supreme Lord, to whom fasts and devotions are second nature, and who is charitably disposed to all beings--please offer her our deepest respects. Alas, when shall I be able to render my mother some good? Please comfort her, O Madhava, and tell her everything about us.”

The last time the Pāṇḍavas had seen Kuntī was when they were going into exile. She had followed them along the road, crying and stumbling in sorrow and pain. Now it seemed they might not see her until after the war, if at all. Each of them sent her a message through Kṛṣṇa.

Yudhiṣṭhira continued, “Please also greet on our behalf our grandfather, Bhīṣma, and our preceptor, Droṇa. The wise Vidura, who has unlimited knowledge, we embrace with affection. Offer all the Kuru elders our respects and love.”

Yudhiṣṭhira gave a final message for Dhṛtarāṣṭra, then he walked respectfully around Kṛṣṇa with his hands folded. After this, Arjuna came forward to say farewell. After embracing Kṛṣṇa he said, “O Govinda, it has been decided that You will demand for us one-half of the kingdom. If Duryodhana refuses, I will certainly annihilate the kṣatriyas. There is no doubt of that. Go now, O Lord, and we shall remain always thinking of You. Everything will be done just as You desire.”

After the Pāṇḍavas had circumambulated Him, Kṛṣṇa climbed back onto His chariot. Spurred on by Dāruka, the horses took off. As the Pāṇḍavas stood watching, Kṛṣṇa’s chariot rapidly disappeared into the distance. A dust cloud rose behind it, and the five brothers stared after Kṛṣṇa until the dust settled and they could no longer see Him.

Sātyaki looked around as they sped toward Hastināpura. He saw various omens, both earthly and celestial. Lightning flashed in the cloudless sky, and behind them showers of rain fell. Rivers flowed backwards and the earth shook. Sātyaki saw water gushing out of wells and fire blazing up on the horizon. The atmosphere darkened and loud roars emanated from the sky, although no beings were visible. Although Sātyaki saw all these terrible signs, the area around the chariot was mild and calm. A cool breeze blew, carrying fragrant lotus petals and drops of water. The road ahead always seemed smooth and free of debris and thorns.

They passed through various provinces and were greeted and praised by thousands of Brahmins. The Brahmins worshipped Kṛṣṇa with offerings of arghya and flowers. Beautifully dressed and ornamented women stood by the roadside, ululating joyfully and throwing flower petals and fresh grains. Kṛṣṇa stopped to greet the people and receive their worship. At the end of His first day’s journey He arrived at Brikasthala, where He spent the night in a spacious house offered by the local people. They brought Him all kinds of food and drink and He offered them blessings. Kṛṣṇa and Sātyaki then took rest on large, comfortable beds, still being praised by the Brahmins.

As Kṛṣṇa approached Hastināpura, a fierce wind blew up. The city was ravaged. Huge trees were uprooted and buildings smashed. There were also other signs of foreboding. The sky became black and there were repeated crashes of thunder. Vultures and crows wheeled, crying loudly, while jackals howled.

On the day before Kṛṣṇa’s arrival, Dhṛtarāṣṭra called an assembly to discuss how to greet Him. He had been informed of Kṛṣṇa’s arrival at Brikasthala. Thinking of Vidura’s instructions, the old king said, “Kṛṣṇa can fulfill all our desires if we satisfy Him. On Him the world’s course depends. He is the Lord of creation, the source of all power, wisdom and opulence. He is worthy of our respect and worship in every way. Indeed, if we do not respect Him, then misery will ensue. Let us prepare a welcome for Him befitting the gods. By pleasing Him in this way we will obtain the fulfillment of our desires when He arrives.”

Dhṛtarāṣṭra suggested that they offer Him the best of residences, equipped with everything enjoyable. They decided to offer to Him Dushashana’s palace, which was the most opulent in Hastināpura. The king then asked that various kinds of wealth be prepared to offer as gifts. “I wish to present Him with sixteen golden chariots, each drawn by excellent horses of the same color, eight huge elephants with tusks like ploughs, a hundred virgins and the same number of menservants. Thousands of deerskins, costly blankets and silks shall be brought before Kṛṣṇa, along with profuse quantities of gold and gems. Let all my sons, with the exception of Duryodhana, go out to greet Him. The citizens should line the streets and beautiful dancing girls and actors should perform for His pleasure. Decorate the city with flags, festoons and garlands. Sweep all the roads and drench them with scented water. Tomorrow we will declare a festival in honor of Keśava.”

When Dhṛtarāṣṭra stopped, Vidura said, “O King, you are respected in this world as a man of virtue. Old in wisdom and knowing what is right, you desire to please Kṛṣṇa. This is good, but in my opinion you are not properly motivated. You wish to win over the lord of the Yādavas by offering Him wealth, yet you will not accede to His real desire that you surrender even five villages to the Pāṇḍavas. All your ministrations and gifts will prove useless if you do not grant Yudhiṣṭhira his rights. For sure, the all-powerful Govinda will not even cast His eyes upon your wealth. If you really want to please Him, do as He asks. Act as a father should act toward his children. Do not bring about your sons’ destruction by your own foolishness.”

Duryodhana glanced at Śakuni and stood to speak. “What Vidura has said regarding Kṛṣṇa is correct. Kind words and gifts will not separate Him from the Pāṇḍavas’ cause. Therefore, I feel we should not offer Him wealth. Although Kṛṣṇa is worthy of all this worship and more, He will simply see our attempts as a sign of weakness. Our gifts of wealth, while demeaning us, will not sway Him from His determination for war. It may even anger Him.”

Bhīṣma shook his head. “Janārdana will not become angry whether He is properly received or not. We cannot insult Him, nor can we win Him over. Whatever He desires will happen and we cannot check it by any means. Our only course of action is to abide by His wishes. Kṛṣṇa will surely say only what is conducive to the welfare of all beings. We should follow His direction. O King, effect peace with the Pāṇḍavas, for this is Kṛṣṇa’s desire.”

Duryodhana, his eyes smoldering, retorted, “I will never be able to share power with the Pāṇḍavas. I have another idea. When Kṛṣṇa enters this assembly, I will take Him captive. With Him as my prisoner the Yadus, Vrishnis, Pāṇḍavas, and indeed the whole world will be at my disposal. We should think of some means to effect this plan so that He will not suspect anything.”

Duryodhana had already discussed this idea with Śakuni and Karṇa and had already made arrangements, whether or not the court agreed. Taking Kṛṣṇa prisoner seemed to him the best course of action. The Pāṇḍavas would never dare attack them if they were holding Kṛṣṇa.

As Duryodhana made his foolhardy suggestion the kings in the assembly gasped. Dhṛtarāṣṭra was shocked and said angrily, “O child, do not speak in this way. This is against eternal virtue. A messenger should never be violated, what to speak of one such as Kṛṣṇa. He is our relative and is dear to us all. What wrong has He ever done the Kurus? He should certainly not be made captive.”

Bhīṣma’s furious voice then rang out. “Your son is on the verge of eternity, O King. He chooses only evil and never good, although advised by numerous well-wishers. You follow him on his unrighteous path toward certain ruin. He will cease to exist the moment he comes against Kṛṣṇa, who can do anything He desires without the least exertion. I dare not listen to any more words from this sinful person.”

Bhīṣma strode out of the assembly hall in a rage. Dhṛtarāṣṭra then ended the session and everyone left, censuring Duryodhana. His suggestion had gone beyond the bounds of propriety. Surely Dhṛtarāṣṭra would now see the folly of supporting him. As they left the hall the kings and ministers looked at the blind king, who sat in silence. What would he say when Kṛṣṇa arrived the next morning?

After a pleasant night in Brikasthala, Kṛṣṇa and Sātyaki rose before dawn and began their morning worship. They then left the village at sunrise. In less than two hours their fast-moving chariot approached the outskirts of Hastināpura. Crowds of people lined the roads for miles outside the city, all hoping to see Kṛṣṇa. Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Kṛpa, and the other Kuru elders also came out to greet Him. All of them were beautifully attired and filled with joy to see Kṛṣṇa’s approach. He entered the decorated city, surrounded by the people. Along the roads Kṛṣṇa saw archways and other structures decked with precious gems. From the balconies of the high, white mansions along the road ladies threw fragrant flowers onto His chariot. Many instruments played and the blasts from thousands of conchshells filled the air.

The roads were packed with people, and Kṛṣṇa dismounted from His chariot to pass through their midst. Fifty tall and well-armed soldiers walked ahead of Him to clear a path through the crowds. As He went along the smooth stone road, Kṛṣṇa glanced about on all sides, smiling at the people. Loud shouts of “Hail Govinda!” were heard everywhere. Slowly Kṛṣṇa made His way toward Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s home, consisting of numerous large palaces arranged around spacious gardens. He was led through the inner quarters, passing through a number of gates guarded by young warriors holding bows and spears.

Kṛṣṇa was brought directly to Dhṛtarāṣṭra in the royal court and he immediately honored Him with suitable words of praise. The king received Him with the greatest respect and had Him seated on a jeweled golden throne no less opulent than his own. Two young maidservants stood on either side of the throne, fanning Kṛṣṇa with chamara whisks.

After Kṛṣṇa had been worshipped with the traditional rites of hospitality, He stayed in the court for a short while, exchanging informal and joking words with the Kurus. It was decided that there would be a full assembly the following day when they would hear Kṛṣṇa’s message. Taking Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s permission, Kṛṣṇa then left the court and went to Vidura’s house to see Kuntī.

Vidura was overjoyed to see Kṛṣṇa approaching his home. His eyes flooded with tears and he bowed at Kṛṣṇa’s feet. Kṛṣṇa raised him up by the shoulders and embraced him with affection. Vidura gazed into Kṛṣṇa’s face. “I cannot describe the joy I feel upon seeing You,” he said. “You are the inner soul of all embodied beings. I am honored beyond measure.”

Vidura showed Kṛṣṇa into his home and, along with his wife, worshipped Him with love. He asked after the Pāṇḍavas, and Kṛṣṇa told him all the news from Virata. Vidura was happy to hear that the Pāṇḍavas were well and that they had many allies.

Kṛṣṇa wanted to see Kuntī at once, so Vidura showed Him to her quarters. As He entered her room, Kuntī stood up quickly and ran toward Him. Remembering her sons, she cried aloud. Then she clasped hold of Kṛṣṇa’s neck and shed tears. Kṛṣṇa consoled her and her tears gradually subsided. She brought Kṛṣṇa into the room and sat Him on a large couch spread with white silk. As she offered Him arghya, Kṛṣṇa saw that His aunt had become emaciated through fasting and grieving. In one part of her spacious quarters He saw Brahmins tending a sacrificial fire, their voices carrying through the room as they chanted mantras. A deity form of Viṣṇu stood on a large altar, beautifully dressed and decked with fresh garlands. Incense burned on the altar and its pleasant fragrance filled the room.

Kuntī had not seen Kṛṣṇa since before her sons’ exile. Sitting near Him on the couch she poured out her lamentations, her voice choked with sorrow. “Tell me, how are my sons? O Keśava, those pious boys, even from their childhood, were attached to serving their elders, were humble, kind, and always wished for each others’ welfare. But they were robbed of their kingdom and sent to the forest. How cruel is fate! They have brought wrath and joy under control, are devoted to the Brahmins, and are speakers of truth; yet, abandoning their wealth and opulence, they lived in exile. This has ripped open my heart. How did they live in the forest, O Kṛṣṇa? After living in palaces attended by numerous servants, how did they survive in the wild? Formerly they would sleep on the best of beds in well-appointed rooms. How could they lay down on the bare earth? Alas, my children have suffered too much sorrow. Deprived of their father as young boys, they then had to leave their mother and all their friends and relatives.”

Kuntī lamented at length. She described each of her sons, her voice rising and falling in grief. “Shall I ever see them again?” she cried. “O Achyuta, tell me how Draupadī is faring. She is dearer to me than all my sons. That noble lady preferred her husbands’ company to that of her father and sons. It seems one does not necessarily get happiness as a result of virtue, for she is the most virtuous of all women and yet has had to suffer unbearable misery. When I remember how she was dragged into the assembly my heart feels such agony. Nothing has ever given me greater pain. Dragged by that dishonorable and covetous wretch even as the Kurus looked on, she found no protector other than Vidura. The virtues of the high-souled Vidura are an ornament for this world.”

Kuntī’s choked voice trailed off and she sat weeping for some time. Kṛṣṇa looked compassionately at her tear-streaked face. Even in old age she was still beautiful, her fine features highlighted by her white widow’s silk covering her head. She had not decorated herself since Pāṇḍu’s death, but she still bore a regal splendor and was obviously noble.

Taking several deep breaths, Kuntī regained her composure and went on. “When my sons were born, the gods spoke from the sky. ‘This one will be lord of the world,’ the gods said at Yudhiṣṭhira’s birth. At Arjuna’s birth, the heavenly voice predicted that he would slaughter the Kurus in battle. I do not doubt these prophesies. The time has come for my sons to show their prowess. This is the moment for which kṣatriyas take birth. You should tell Yudhiṣṭhira that his piety is decreasing daily. As long as the sinful Duryodhana and his evil brother, the defiler of Draupadī’s virtue, remain alive and unpunished, he is suffering a decrease of virtue. O Keśava, I do not grieve for the defeat at dice, the loss of the kingdom, or even separation from my sons as much as I grieve for the youthful Draupadī being brought in a single cloth before the Kurus and insulted. How can I experience such grief? With You and the invincible Balarāma as my protectors, as well as Bhīma and Arjuna, it is truly astonishing.”

Kuntī gazed at Kṛṣṇa. She knew who He was--that somehow He had arranged everything. Still, it was difficult to understand. Why had He allowed the chaste Draupadī to be insulted? Why was the wicked Duryodhana allowed to rule the world? Surely there was some divine plan underlying it all, meant for the good of all men. Kuntī remembered a proverb she had often heard from Pāṇḍu: ‘Man proposes, God disposes.’ She had also received instructions from the great Vyāsadeva and other ṛṣis, who had given her a transcendental understanding of the Lord’s nature. The Lord fulfilled men’s desires in accordance with what they deserved. Eventually, all of a man’s acts would bring about appropriate reactions. Although it may seem that a sinful man prospered while a virtuous man suffered, in the end sin always brought ruin while virtue brought success. Kuntī had little doubt. The destruction of the Kurus was imminent.

Kṛṣṇa consoled His grieving aunt. “O Kuntī, what woman is there in this world like you? Born of a noble family, you married a lord of the earth and have given birth to five great heroes. Your sons are like virtue personified. They have controlled sleep, laziness, anger, joy, hunger and thirst. They do not desire any mean pleasures. The happiness belonging to those possessed of true power is all they desire. The greatly powerful seek either extreme happiness or extreme suffering, and they accept nothing mediocre. Either they rule the earth or they practice severe asceticism. Your sons have made this same choice. The time has now come for them to assume rulership of the world. You will soon see them in good health, with all their ends achieved, installed as kings and surrounded by prosperity.”

Kṛṣṇa conveyed to Kuntī all of her sons’ messages. Comforted by His words she replied, “Whatever You think is right and whatever You wish to be done should be done without delay, O Keśava. Surely You are the greatest well-wisher of the world. O chastiser of enemies, I know the truth of Your existence. You are the unlimited Brahman, the original and Supreme Person in whom resides all power and opulence. Everything depends upon You. What You have said must come to pass, for truth itself depends upon You. I bow to You and pray for Your everlasting service. O Govinda, please be gracious to me.”

Kṛṣṇa smiled and spoke a few more consoling words before rising to leave. He walked around Kuntī, offering His aunt the same respect due His mother.

Leaving Kuntī’s quarters, Kṛṣṇa returned to Duryodhana’s palace. Without hindrance He passed through the heavily guarded gateways and came to the vast palace occupied by the Kaurava prince. It was comparable to Indra’s abode, appearing like a mass of clouds and as high as a mountain. The white marble building was decked with countless precious gems and gold engravings. Kṛṣṇa entered and went along the wide corridors, which were decorated with golden images of the gods. He passed through three large divisions of the palace, each designed and decorated in a different mood, and at last reached the central hall. There He found Duryodhana seated amid a thousand kings and warriors. Next to him were Śakuni, Karṇa and Dushashana. They all rose to greet Kṛṣṇa as He entered the hall.

Duryodhana came down from his elevated seat and welcomed Kṛṣṇa warmly. He showed Him to a large throne covered with an exquisite silk carpet and soft white cushions. When Kṛṣṇa was seated he personally worshipped Him and offered Him the traditional gift of a cow. His brothers also came and worshipped Kṛṣṇa, along with the other kings.

When the rites were complete, Duryodhana folded his palms and said, “We are honored, O Govinda. What can we do for You? You may consider this wide kingdom and all our wealth Yours. Please be gracious and accept an invitation to dine with us. We have prepared Dushashana’s palace for Your residence, which is superior even to my own.”

“I will not eat with you, O hero, nor shall I stay in Dushashana’s palace.”

Duryodhana smiled and spoke with forced humility. “Why do You refuse our invitation, O Janārdana? Are we not as dear to You as the Pāṇḍavas? Surely You see both parties equally. Your relationship with Dhṛtarāṣṭra is as close as Your relationship with the Pāṇḍavas. O Madhava, please tell me why You will not accept our hospitality.”

“Only those messengers who have gained their objectives should accept the hospitality offered by those who have received his message.” He raised His long arm and held out His palm toward Duryodhana. “After you have fulfilled My wish, you may entertain both Myself and My followers.”

Struggling to control his anger, Duryodhana replied, “It is not befitting that You treat us so, O Madhusudana. Whether Your objects are achieved or not we are bent upon pleasing You with our hospitality. You have denied us that opportunity with no good reason, O best of men. We feel no enmity toward You and therefore cannot understand why You snub us in this way.”

Kṛṣṇa was grave. “I never abandon virtue from motives of desire, anger, hate or attachment. One should eat another’s food if there is love between them or if he is in distress. O King, you do not please Me and I am not in distress. For no reason you have borne malice toward the Pāṇḍavas from their childhood. Your cousins are virtuous and devoted to the good of all beings. Whoever bears malice for such blameless men bears malice toward Me. He who follows the virtuous follows Me. Know that I am merged in the Pāṇḍavas and cannot be separated from them.”

Kṛṣṇa looked intently, but without anger, at Duryodhana, who frowned. “O Bharata, whoever becomes antagonistic toward a virtuous man, impelled by lust or anger, should be known as the vilest of men. He does not keep his prosperity for long. On the other hand, he who wins over virtuous men with services and kind words, even though they may not be dear to him, gains great renown in the world. Your food is defiled by wickedness. I will not eat it. I prefer instead to stay with Vidura and eat his food.”

Leaving Duryodhana fuming, Kṛṣṇa left the hall and returned to Vidura’s house. All the Kuru elders visited Him there. They each offered Him their own abodes, but Kṛṣṇa thanked them and replied, “I am honored by the offer, but I am content to stay with Vidura.”

Kṛṣṇa and Sātyaki happily ate whatever food was prepared by Vidura’s wife, after first offering a portion to the Brahmins. When the meal was over, Vidura said, “Duryodhana does not much appreciate your visit, O Keśava. That wicked-minded fool transgresses all religious codes. He is incapable of accepting good advice and is bound for destruction. In his opinion he is wise, but he follows nothing other than his own desires. He is an enemy even to his friends. Having abandoned virtue he is fond of untruth and is simply a slave to his senses. He will certainly ignore Your advice.”

As Vidura spoke his wife came into the room and offered Kṛṣṇa herbs and fragrant spices to purify His mouth after eating. She lit incense and took up a chamara whisk to fan Kṛṣṇa. He smiled at her and told her to sit with her husband.

“Duryodhana has full confidence in Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Kṛpa, Karṇa, Aśvatthāmā and Jayadratha. With his armies at the ready he does not even think of peace. He thinks the Pāṇḍavas will not be able to even look upon his forces. Lacking all intelligence, he has firmly resolved to return nothing to the Pāṇḍavas.”

Vidura did not like the idea of Kṛṣṇa going into the Kauravas’ assembly. He knew that He would only be insulted and even abused. Although Vidura knew Kṛṣṇa to be beyond insult, out of love he did not want to see it happen. Nor did he want the Kurus to be further blighted by sinful reactions due to their offenses.

“Duryodhana suspects your motives,” Vidura continued, as he pressed Kṛṣṇa’s feet. “He will by no means listen to Your submission. Surrounded by his chariots and elephants, he feels invincible. He now considers the kingdom to be his and his alone. He thinks You are biased toward the Pāṇḍavas. Many of the kings following him are already Your enemies. Out of fear of You they have joined with Duryodhana. All of them are delighted at the prospect of fighting the Pāṇḍavas. How can You go into their midst, O crusher of enemies? Although I know Your true position, power and invincibility, still I cannot see the purpose of Your going there simply to be ignored. I speak only out of love, reverence and friendship. My Lord, what is the use of describing the joy I feel upon seeing You? You are the Supreme Soul and the very life of all beings.”

Kṛṣṇa reached over and clasped Vidura’s hand. “You have spoken with wisdom. You have spoken as a friend should speak to a friend. Your words are conducive to morality and worldly good, like the advice of a father or mother. What you have said is true, but listen to My reasons for coming here. Knowing full well of Duryodhana’s hostility and wickedness, I have come here to do something virtuous. He who liberates these men from the clutches of death will earn great religious merit. The wise have said that if one attempts a virtuous act with all his power but fails, he will still receive the merit of that act. Therefore, with all sincerity I will seek to establish peace. This calamity has its roots in the Kurus, for it has been brought about by Duryodhana and Karṇa.”

Kṛṣṇa rose from his seat and walked slowly across the room, His gold ornaments and jewels glinting in the light of the oil lamps. “If one does not try to save a friend from impending calamity, then he cannot be called a friend. A friend should pull one away from acting improperly even if it means seizing him by the hair. Therefore, it behooves Me to try to dissuade Duryodhana from his purposes. If he disregards Me, at least I will feel that I did all a friend could do. If the fool does not accept My advice, then he will have only himself to blame for the consequences. Nor will men blame Me for having failed to effect peace. If, without sacrificing the Pāṇḍavas’ interests, I can bring about peace between the cousins, then I will have done good to both parties. Otherwise, not even all the rulers of the world can stand against Me any more than small animals can stand against an enraged lion.”

Kṛṣṇa spoke with Vidura through most of the night. They rested briefly. Then as dawn approached, bards assembled outside Vidura’s house and recited hymns from the Sāmaveda to the accompaniment of cymbals, drums and conchshells. Kṛṣṇa rose immediately upon hearing the sound. He performed His morning ablutions and went through His usual morning rituals, chanting incantations to the fire-god and worshipping the sun as it rose. Even as He performed His morning devotions, Duryodhana and Śakuni came to see Him. With folded palms they informed Him that Dhṛtarāṣṭra and the other Kurus were in the assembly hall. “They are awaiting You even as the gods in heaven await Indra.”

Kṛṣṇa replied that He would soon be ready, and Duryodhana said he would wait outside. After he and Śakuni had gone, Kṛṣṇa distributed charity to the Brahmins from the many chariots filled with riches He had brought with Him to distribute. He gave gold, gems, and fine cloth to numerous Brahmins, then prepared Himself to go to the Kuru assembly. Dāruka fetched His chariot and it approached Vidura’s house with a deep rumble. After circumambulating the sacred fire and the Brahmins, Kṛṣṇa left the house.

Kṛṣṇa, Sātyaki and Vidura mounted the chariot and it moved off. Duryodhana and Śakuni followed in their own chariot. Behind them came Kṛtavarmā and other great warriors, some on chariots and others on elephants. Brahmins went on foot, chanting auspicious prayers, and musicians played their instruments. Thousands of young warriors came behind them, dressed in armor and carrying swords, lances and axes. The streets were packed with citizens, all hoping to catch a glance of the famous Kṛṣṇa. Balconies were crowded with women, who gazed down on Kṛṣṇa’s chariot as it passed. They filled the air with a continuous stream of many-colored flower petals.