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(Rajasuyika Parva)

Vaisampayana said,--"in consequence of the protection afforded by Yudhisthira the just, and of the truth which he ever cherished in his behaviour, as also of the check under which he kept all foes, the subjects of that virtuous monarch were all engaged in their respective avocations. And by reason of the equitable taxation and the virtuous rule of the monarch, clouds in his kingdom poured as much rain as the people desired, and the cities and the town became highly prosperous. Indeed as a consequence of the monarch's acts; every affair of the kingdom, especially cattle bleeding, agriculture and trade prospered highly. O king, during those days even robbers and cheats never spoke lies amongst themselves, nor they that were the favourites of the monarch. There were no droughts and floods and plagues and fires and premature deaths in those days of

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[paragraph continues] Yudhishthira devoted to virtue. And it was only for doing agreeable services, or for worshipping, or for offering tributes that would not impoverish, that other kings used to approach Yudhisthira (and not for hostility or battle.) The large treasure room of the king became so much filled with hoards of wealth virtuously obtained that it could not be emptied even in a hundred years. And the son of Kunti, ascertaining the state of his treasury and the extent of his possessions, fixed his heart upon the celebration of a sacrifice. His friends and officers, each separately and all together, approaching him said,--'The time hath come, O exalted one, for thy sacrifice. Let arrangements, therefore, be made without loss of time.' While they were thus talking, Hari (Krishna), that omniscient and ancient one, that soul of the Vedas, that invincible one as described by those that have knowledge, that foremost of all lasting existences in the universe, that origin of all things, as also that in which all things come to be dissolved, that lord of the past, the future, and the present Kesava--the slayer of Kesi, and the bulwark of all Vrishnis and the dispeller of all fear in times of distress and the smiter of all foes, having appointed Vasudeva to the command of the (Yadava) army, and bringing with him for the king Yudhishthira just a large mass of treasure; entered that excellent city of cities. Khandava, himself surrounded by a mighty host and filling the atmosphere with the rattle of his chariot-wheels. And Madhava, that tiger among men enhancing that limitless mass of wealth the Pandavas had by that inexhaustible ocean of gems he had brought, enhanced the sorrows of the enemies of the Pandavas. The capital of the Bharata was gladdened by Krishna's presence just as a dark region is rendered joyful by the sun or a region of still air by a gentle breeze. Approaching him joyfully and receiving him with due respect, Yudhishthira enquired of his welfare. And after Krishna had been seated at ease, that bull among men, the son of Pandu, with Dhaumya and Dwaipayana and the other sacrificial priests and with Bhima and Arjuna and the twins, addressed Krishna thus,--

'O Krishna it is for thee that the whole earth is under my sway. And, O thou of the Vrishni race, it is through thy grace that vast wealth had been got by me. And, O son of Devaki, O Madhava, I desire to devote that wealth according to the ordinance, unto superior Brahmanas and the carrier of sacrificial libations. And, O thou of the Dasarha race, it behoveth thee, O thou of mighty arms, to grant me permission to celebrate a sacrifice along with thee and my younger brothers. Therefore, O Govinda, O thou of long arms, install thyself at that sacrifice; for, O thou of the Dasarha race, if thou performed the sacrifice, I shall be cleansed of sin. Or, O exalted one, grant permission for myself being installed at the sacrifice along with these my younger brothers, for permitted by thee, O Krishna. I shall be able to enjoy the fruit of an excellent sacrifice.

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Vaisampayana continued,--"Unto Yudhisthira after he had said this, Krishna, extolling his virtues, said.--'Thou, O tiger among kings, deservest imperial dignity. Let, therefore, the great sacrifice be performed by thee. And if thou performest that sacrifice an obtainest its fruit we all shall regard ourselves as crowned with success. I am always engaged in seeking good. Perform thou then the sacrifice thou desirest. Employ me also in some office for that purpose, for I should obey all thy commands. Yudhisthira replied--O Krishna, my resolve is already crowned with fruit, and success also is surely mine, when thou, O Harishikesa, hast arrived here agreeably to my wish!'

Vaisampayana continued,--"Commanded by Krishna, the son of Pandu along with his brothers set himself upon collecting the materials for the performance of the Rajasuya sacrifice. And that chastiser of all foes, the son of Pandu, then commanded Sahadeva that foremost of all warriors and all ministers also, saying,--Let persons be appointed to collect without loss of time, all those articles which the Brahmanas have directed as necessary for the performance of this sacrifice, and all materials and auspicious necessaries that Dhaumya may order as required for it, each of the kind needed and one after another in due order. Let Indrasena and Visoka and Puru with Arjuna for his charioteer be engaged to collect food if they are to please me. Let these foremost of the Kurus also gather every article of agreeable taste and smell that may delight and attract the hearts of the Brahmanas.'

"Simultaneously with these words of king Yudhisthira the just, Sahadeva that foremost of warriors, having accomplished everything, represented the matter to the king. And Dwaipayana, O king, then appointed as sacrificial priests exalted Brahmanas that were like the Vedas themselves in embodied forms. The son of Satyavati became himself the Brahma of that sacrifice. And that bull of the Dhananjaya race, Susaman, became the chanter of the Vedic (Sama) hymns. Yajnavalkya devoted to Brahma became the Adhyaryu, and Paila--the son of Vasu and Dhaumya became the Hotris. And O bull of the Bharata race, the disciples and the sons of these men, all well-acquainted with the Vedas and the branches of the Vedas, became Hotragts. And all of them, having uttered benedictions and recited the object of the sacrifice, worshipped, according to the ordinance the large sacrificial compound. Commanded by the Brahmanas, builders and artificers erected numerous edifices there that were spacious and well-perfumed like unto the temples of the gods. After these were finished, that best of kings and that bull among men Yudhishthira. commanded his chief adviser Sahadeva, saying,--'Despatch thou, without loss of time, messengers endued with speed to invite all to the sacrifice. And Sahadeva, hearing these words of the king, despatched messengers telling them,--'Invite ye all the Brahmanas in the kingdom and all the

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owners of land (Kshatriyas) and all the Vaisyas and also all the respectable Sudras, and bring them hither!'

Vaisampayana continued,--"Endued with speed, these messengers then, thus commanded, invited everybody according to the orders of the Pandava, without losing any time, and brought with them many persons, both friends and strangers. Then, O Bharata, the Brahmanas at the proper time installed Yudhishthira the son of Kunti at the Rajasuya sacrifice. And after the ceremony of installation was over, that foremost of men, the virtuous king Yudhishthira the just like the god Dharma himself in human frame, entered the sacrificial compound, surrounded by thousands of Brahmanas and his brothers and the relatives and friends and counsellors, and by a large number of Kshatriya kings who had come from various countries, and by the officers of State. Numerous Brahmanas, well-skilled in all branches of knowledge and versed in the Vedas and their several branches, began to pour in from various countries. Thousands of craftsmen, at the command of king Yudhishthira the just, erected for those Brahmanas with their attendants separate habitations well-provided with food and clothes and the fruits and flowers of every season. And, O king, duly worshipped by the monarch the Brahmanas continued to reside there passing their time in conversation on diverse topics and beholding the performances of actors and dancers. And the clamour of high-souled Brahmanas, cheerfully eating and talking, was heard there without intermission. 'Give,' and 'Eat' were the words that were heard there incessantly and every day. And, O Bharata, king Yudhishthira the just gave unto each of those Brahmanas thousands of kine and beds and gold coins and damsels.

Thus commenced on earth the sacrifice of that unrivalled hero, the illustrious son of Pandu, like the sacrifice in heaven of Sakra himself. Then that bull among men, king Yudhishthira despatched Nakula the son of Pandu unto Hastinapura to bring Bhishma and Drona, Dhritarashtra and Vidura and Kripa and those amongst his cousins that were well-disposed towards him."

Next: Section XXXIII