Udyoga Parva - 1
Preparations for the Great War
The guests who had come to Abhimanyu’s marriage stayed on. Virata handed over the town of Upaplavya for the Pandavas to stay. The guests then met in Virata’s assembly hall with Virata and Drupada seated at the head of the assembly.
Krishna then addressed the assembly and said that since the Pandavas had completed their exile, it was time for them to get back their kingdom. He proposed sending a messenger to Hastinapura for this. Balarama agreed to this but blamed Yudhishtira for gambling his empire away. He asked the Pandavas to go to Duryodhana and request him to return their kingdom.
Satyaki objected to this. He said that he, along with other Yadava warriors, would join hands with the Pandavas and they would destroy the Kauravas. Drupada then said he would send a messenger to Hastinapura. He asked Yudhishtira to send letters to all the kings, asking them to ally with the Pandavas. Krishna agreed to this, after which Drupada’s priest went as a messenger.
Krishna then returned to Dwaraka. Duryodhana went there to seek his help for the war. By a coincidence, Arjuna also came there at the same time. Both of them went to meet Krishna. Duryodhana who entered first, saw that Krishna was asleep. He took a seat near Krishna’s head.
Arjuna then came in and stood near Krishna’s feet. When Krishna woke up, he saw Arjuna first and asked him what he wanted. Arjuna replied he wanted Krishna’s help in the war. Duryodhana objected, saying he came first and so Krishna should listen to him first. But Krishna said that since he saw Arjuna first, he would give him the first choice.
Krishna asked Arjuna to choose him or his Narayani army. Krishna made it clear that he would not fight in the war. Arjuna unhesitatingly chose Krishna. Duryodhana thus got a large akshauhini of soldiers led by Kritavarma. Balarama made it clear to Duryodhana that he could not oppose Krishna and hence would not take part in the war.
Meanwhile, King Shalya of Madra who was uncle to Nakula and Sahadeva was proceeding to the Pandava camp. On the way, Duryodhana’s men welcomed him and took care of his hospitality in such a way that he was amazed. Duryodhana then met Shalya and told him it was he who had taken care of Shalya’s hospitality. He asked Shalya to fight on his side. Having accepted Duryodhana’s hospitality, Shalya was forced to join the Kaurava camp.
Shalya visited Yudhishtira and informed him of his decision. He then narrated to him the story of how Indra killed Vritra and then had his throne taken over by Nahusha. He also told how Nahusha was cursed by Agastya after which Indra got back his empire. Shalya told Yudhishtira that whoever hears this story will get the fruits of victory.
Yudhishtira then told Shalya that he would be asked to serve as Karna’s charioteer. He requested him to make him dispirited, so he loses his energy before the battle. Shalya accepted and left.
Satyaki came with an akshauhini of soldiers. Dhristaketu of Chedi, Jayatsena of Magadha, Pandya of the south, Drupada, and Virata all came with one akshauhini each.
Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisha, Shalya, Bhurishravas, Kritavarma, Jayadratha of Sindu, Sudakshina of Kamboja, Nila on Mahishmati, the Avanti kings Vinda and Anuvinda, and other kings offered an akshauhini each to Duryodhana.
… to be continued