Chapter IV - 14 Home | Index | Previous | Next

Vyasa too rose from his seat and addressed the king. "Sinful and blameworthy acts are inevitable in battle. They should not be the cause for grief. The chief aim in battle should be the protection of Dharma from its foes. If that is kept before the mind, the sin will not affect the fighters. A putrid wound has to be treated with the knife; it is not sinful to inflict the surgery. A doctor who knows the surgery, and knowing, does not save the man by doing it, incurs sin. So too knowing that the foe is the source of injustice, cruelty, terror and vice, if these boils are not treated by the surgeon knowing the cure, because he is reluctant to use the knife (the surgeon being the Kshatriya), he incurs sin by remaining quiet, not by using the sword. Dharmaraja, you are speaking under a delusion. I can understand others less wise being afflicted by these doubts, but I wonder how you are worried over this imaginary of sin?"

"If however our words do not carry conviction, I can suggest another remedy too. That will remove all fear. Some rulers in the past have resorted to it, after the conclusion of wars, for the removal of the effects of sin. It is the rite of Aswamedha, the horse sacrifice. If you desire, you can also perform this rite, as an expiatory ceremony. There can be no objection to that. But, believe me, you are innocent of sin even without any expiation. Since your faith is shaky, I am suggesting this rite for your satisfaction". After this statement, Vyasa resumed his seat.

At this, all the elders, scholars and leaders rose as one man and applauded the valuable suggestion given by Vyasa. They shouted, Jai Jai, in order to demonstrate their approval and appreciation. They exclaimed, "O! How auspicious", "How significant" and they blessed Dharmaraja in the endeavour to free himself from the sinful consequences of war. But, Dharmaraja was still heavy with grief; he was not free from fear. His eyes were wet with tears.

He pleaded with the assembly, most piteously. "However much you assert my innocence, I am not convinced. Somehow, my mind does not accept your argument. Rulers who were engaged in wars might have cleansed themselves by means of the Aswamedha yaga. Those were ordinary wars; they were the usual type. But my case is something very extraordinary. My sins are three times more sinister, for,

  1. I have killed kith and kin,
  2. I have killed holy elders like Bhishma and Drona and
  3. I have killed many crowned heads.

Alas, my fate! How monstrous have been my actions?"

"No other ruler could have been guilty of so much iniquity. Not one, but three Aswamedha Yagas have to be performed to clear this load. Then only I can have peace. Then only can my dynasty be happy and secure. Then only can the administration of my kingdom be safe and meritorious. This must be kindly accepted by Vyasa and other elders and sages".