(1) S'rî S'aunaka said: "What did, upon the departure of Nârada Muni, the great lordship of Vyâsadeva after having heard from the great sage what he wanted to know?"
(2) Sûta replied: "On the western bank of the Sarasvatî where sages meditate there is at S'amyâprâsa an âs'rama for the promotion of transcendental activities. (3) There at home Vyâsadeva sat down surrounded by berrytrees to focus his mind after he had performed his water sacrifice. (4) With his mind aligning in the devotion of yoga he saw, being perfectly fixed without material concerns, the entirety of both the Original Person [the purusha] and the external energy that depends on Him. (5) The living entities conditioned to the modes of nature take, in spite of the transcendental nature of their soul, the unwanted for granted and undergo the reactions thereof. (6) For the sake of the common people who are unaware of the cessation of the unwanted that one finds in the yoga of devotion unto the One in the Beyond, the sage, who understood this, composed the different stories relating to the Absolute Truth. (7) Simply attending to the literatures about the Supreme Personality of Krishna will make the devotional sprout that takes away lamentation, illusion and fear. (8) After having assembled and revised the collections of stories, he taught them to his son S'ukadeva Gosvâmî, the sage of the path of self-realization."
(9) S'aunaka asked: "Why would he, who on the path of self-realization is always contented within in contempt of everything else, make any work of such an extensive study?"
(10) Sûta said: "Such are His wonderful qualities that, in spite of the fact that one takes pleasure in the soul, the common people as well as the sages who are freed from all material bondage are of pure devotional service unto Lord Vishnu, Urukrama. (11) The devotees loved the powerful son of Vyâsa because he, in having taken up the regular study of this great narration, was always absorbed in the transcendental quality of the Supreme Lord. (12) So let me now tell you the story about the birth, activities and deliverance of King Parîkchit, the sage among the kings, as well as the story about how the sons of Pându came to renouce the world. These stories lead to the stories about Lord Krishna.
(13-14) When on the battlefield of Kurukshetra the warriors of the Pândavas and the Kauravas had found their heroic fate and the son of King Dhritarâshthra [Duryodhana] was lamenting his broken spine due to being beaten by the club of Bhîma, the son of Dronâcârya [As'vatthâmâ] thought that he could please his master Duryodhana by delivering the heads of the sleeping sons of Draupadî as a trophy. But the master being confronted with this disapproved of this heinous act. (15) The mother of the children [of the Pândavas], cried aggrieved bitter tears when she heard about the massacre. Arjuna [who headed the Pândavas], tried to pacify her and said: (16) 'I can only wipe the tears from your eyes oh gentle lady, when the head of that degraded brahmin aggressor is severed by the arrows of my bow Gândîva. I will present it to you so that you can place your foot on it and you, after the cremation of your sons, can take a bath.' (17) Satisfying her with this choice of words Arjuna, he who is guided by the Infallible One, fully armed and equipped ascended his chariot to persecute As'vatthâmâ, the son of his martial teacher. (18) When he from a distance saw him in hot pursuit, the child murderer fearing for his life fled with his chariot in great speed, just like Sûrya did when he fled from from S'iva [*]. (19) Finding himself unprotected the moment his horses got tired, [As'vatthâmâ] the brahmin son, only thinking of himself, resorted to the ultimate weapon [the brahmâstra]. (20) With his life in danger, he touched water and concentrated to recite the mantras, even though he didn't know how to stop the process. (21) A glaring light spreading in all directions shone that fierce, that seeing the life threat Arjuna turned to the Lord [who drove his chariot] and said: (22) 'O, Krishna, Krishna, You are the Almighty who takes away the fears of the devotees, You alone are the path of liberation for those who suffer in their material existence. (23) You are the transcendental, original enjoyer and direct controller of the material energy. You are the one who by means of His own internal potency, from the bliss and knowledge of Your own Self, wards off the material illusion. (24) From that position You in the heart of the ones materially entangled, by virtue of Your power bestow the ultimate good of righteousness and such [characteristics of dharma: truth, purity, penance and compassion]. (25) Thus You incarnate in order to take the burden away from the earth and to satisfy Your friends and pure devotees as the constant object of their meditation. (26) Oh Lord of Lords, I don't know where this highly dangerous, dazzling light that is spreading in all directions originates from.' (27) The Supreme Lord said: 'Take it from Me that it is caused by the son of Drona who, faced with the imminence of his death, launched the weapon of mantras without knowing how to retract it. (28) Nothing else can counter this weapon but another one; in fact you will have to subdue this immense glare by means of your own dazzling, martial art.' "
(29) Sûta said: "After hearing what the Supreme Lord said, Arjuna, circumambulating the Lord, sipped water himself and took up the supreme weapon to curb the one of his opponent. (30) From the combined glare of the two weapons thereupon the entire firmament including outer space was covered by an expanding ball of fire as bright as the sun. (31) When the inhabitants of the three worlds saw how the heat of both of the weapons scorched them severely, that reminded them of the fire of annihilation at the end of time [sâmvartaka]. (32) Realizing the disturbance it all created for the common people and their places, Arjuna, on the direction of Vâsudeva, retracted both the weapons. (33) Then Arjuna, angered with eyes red as copper, arrested the son of Gautamî, binding him skillfully with ropes as if it concerned an animal. (34) When he with force had bound the enemy and was about to take him to the military camp, the Supreme Lord, looking on with His lotus eyes, said to the angered Arjuna: (35) 'Never let this relative of the learned go, punish him, for he has killed innocent boys in their sleep. (36) Someone who knows the principles of religion is afraid to kill an enemy who is careless, intoxicated, insane, asleep, of tender age, a woman, foolish, a surrendered soul or someone who has lost his chariot. (37) But someone who shameless and cruel thinks he can rightly maintain his own life at the cost of the lives of others, certainly for his own good deserves to be stopped in his tracks, because the person [of the criminal as well as the one consenting] is brought down by crime. (38) I personally heard you making the promise to the daughter of the King of Pâñcâla: 'I will bring you the head of the one you consider the murderer of your sons.' (39) He, being not more than the burned ashes of his family, an offending sinner who is responsible for the assassination of your sons and is someone who displeased his own master, must therefore be sentenced.' "
(40) Sûta said: "Although Arjuna, by Krishna being put to a test concerning the matter of his duty, was encouraged to do so, he didn't aspire to kill the son of his teacher, despite of the fact that he was the heinous murderer of his sons. (41) When he thereafter together with his dear friend and charioteer Govinda reached his own camp, he entrusted the assassin to his dear wife who was lamenting over her murdered sons. (42) Upon seeing the criminal silent from his heinous act thus being brought in like an animal tied in ropes, Draupadî, from the beauty of her nature out of compassion showed the son of the teacher due respect. (43) She couldn't bear the sight of him brought in ropes and said: 'Release him, for he as a learned one [a brâhmana] is our teacher. (44) By his [Drona's] mercy you yourself have received the confidential knowledge of the martial arts and the release and control of all kinds of weapons. (45) The lordship of Drona for certain still exists in the form of his son, because his other half Kripî [his wife] with a son present didn't follow her husband into death [by means of satî]. (46) Therefore, oh most fortunate one in knowing the dharma, by the goodness that is in you, cause no grief to the ever respectable and honorable family. (47) Do not make his mother, Drona's devoted wife, cry the way I do in constantly shedding tears in distress over a lost child. (48) If the noble administration is of no restraint in relating to the order of the learned, that rule will burn up in no time and will, together with its family members fall to grief.' "
(49) Sûta said: "O learned ones, the king [of the Pândavas, Yudhishthhira] supported the statements of the queen as they were in accord with the dharma of justice, merciful, without duplicity and glorious in equity. (50) And so did Nakula and Sahadeva [the younger brothers of the king] and also Sâtyaki, Arjuna, the Supreme Lord the son of Devakî, as well as the ladies and others. (51) Thereupon Bhîma said indignantly: 'About the fact that he without a good reason, nor for himself nor for his master, has killed sleeping children, is stated that he deserves death.'
(52) The four-armed one [Lord Krishna] who had heard the words spoken by Bhîma and Draupadî and had seen the face of His friend [Arjuna], said with a faint smile: (53-54) 'One should not kill the relative of a brahmin, even though one kills an aggressor - as far as I am concerned both is prescribed to be carried out when we want to follow the rules. You have to keep to the truth of the promise you made when you pacified your wife and also act to the satisfaction of Bhîma as well as of Me.' "
(55) Sûta said: "Immediately understanding what the Lord meant, he separated with his sword the jewel from the head of the twice-born one along with his hair. (56) After releasing him from the ropes, he [As'vatthâmâ], who next to the loss of his bodily luster because of the infanticide, also had lost his strength in being deprived of his jewel, was driven out of the camp. (57) Cutting the hair, confiscating the wealth and banishment are the forms of physical punishment reserved for the relatives of the learned, not any other method of dealing with the body. (58) Thereafter the sons of Pându together with Draupadî, overtaken by grief performed the duties that were needed in respect of the deceased family members."