After performing the last rites for Pandu and his wife, Madri, Vidura, Bhishma, Vyasa, Dhrtarashtra and others returned to the capital with the young Pandavas. The people of the capital (pura) and the rural areas (desa) mourned as though they had lost one of their kinsmen. Vyasa felt for them and feared that their future would not be bright. The earth had lost its innocent youth, he felt. An era of deceit and sins would set in and the dharmas like varnasrama and pious deeds and noble conduct would be on the wane, he feared.
He advised his mother, Satyavati, to leave the scene and go in for tapas in a secluded grove. She told Ambika what had been prophesied about her grandsons, the Kauravas, and advised her and Ambalika to accompany her to the forest resort. With the consent of Bhishma the queens went away to perform tapas and then entered the community (of intellectuals) of their choice.
The Pandavas resided in the house of their father and grew up comfortably studying the Vedas and enjoying sports with the sons of Dhrtarashtra. Bhimasena proved stronger than others and he delighted in teasing the Kaurava brothers. The chronicler says that it was innocent childish delight and had no bad motive behind it. But Duryodhana was not innocent. He resolved to eliminate Bhimasena and then capture and imprison Arjuna and Yudhishtira and become the sole ruler of the earth (bhumi, commonalty).
Once, Duryodhana and his brothers tried to kill Bhima by drowning him in the river; and on another occasion by poisoning him. But the Pandava survived the attempts at his life. Then he hatched plans with Karna and Sakuni to kill Bhima and the other Pandavas. However their stepbrother, Yuyutsu, warned the Pandavas about the plots. The Pandavas took Vidura into confidence. Duryodhana and his associates poisoned Bhimas food and threw him into a river in unconscious state. But the Pandava was rescued by the young mariners (nagas) who plied boats in that river and removed the toxin from his body. But Bhima assaulted his rescuers who then requested their chief, Vasuki, to find out who he was. In the community of the mariners, Vasuki had the same status as Indra had in the social world of nobles (devas). He was also addressed as Nagaraja, king of the Nagas.
Status of Nagas as Aryakas
Accompanied by Aryaka, he went to meet Bhima. Kuntis father was a grandson of Aryaka, a naga who had the status of a free citizen, Arya, and a rank (Aryaka) marginally lower than that of a Vaisya (Arya) landlord. The nagas were also rich miners. Vasuki wanted to honour Bhima with jewels and wealth. But Aryaka pointed out to him that these were not of any use to that Pandava who needed only drinks that would give him energy. (Ch.138 Adiparva)
Kunti was upset when Bhima did not return home and feared that Duryodhana might have killed him. But Vidura, her guardian, advised her not to express such suspicions openly. She should protect her other sons from Duryodhana. Meanwhile, the mariners and miners (nagas) raised him from the water of the river and left him in the forest area where Kunti and her sons had camped.
Yudhishtira told his brothers not to talk about the incident and directed them to protect one another and especially Bhima. Duryodhana was annoyed with the failure of his attempt to kill Bhima. The king, Dhrtarashtra then arranged for the training of his sons and those of Pandu under Krpacharya. Krpa who was a foundling (found in the midst of reeds) was a teacher of Vedas and social codes (sastras) and also of archery. The students had to stay in the teachers residence and learnt the arts and sciences from him.
Janamejaya wanted to know from Vaishampayana about the birth of Krpa and about how he secured the missiles. The chronicler said that Saradvan was born to the great sage (maharshi), Gautama. He was said to have been born with arrows. It is likely that he must have been born in the residence of a warrior and archer. Saradvan was interested in archery rather than in Vedas and formal education. His mastery over this science upset Indra who sent an apsaras to distract him. Krpa and his sister, Krpi, were born to that archer and that apsaras. But they left the babes in the reeds with a bow and case of arrows and went away.
Krpa's private academy
Santanu (son of Pratipa) came across them and took them home and brought them up. They were called Krpa and Krpi to indicate that they were recipients of Santanus compassion and favour. Saradvan later identified and recognised them as his offspring. He also taught Krpa the four sections of the science of archery. Krpa continued to be attached to the Kuru royal family even after Santanus death. Bhishma entrusted his grandsons to Krpa who was teaching in his private academy Yadava princes and princes from different countries. Bhishma wanted to get his grandsons trained under experts in archery and selected Drona, son of Bharadvaja, as their tutor. Janamejaya wanted to know about the birth and career of Drona. Drona was born to the sage, Bharadvaja, by an apsaras.
The sage, Kashyapa, had learnt from Agni, the Vedic official who headed the intelligentsia (samiti, council of scholars), the use of some highly powerful weapons that could protect the commoners. Bharadvaja obtained from Kashyapa these weapons, that is, the authority needed to help the nobles (devas) against their opponents. He had given this high authority to Agnivesya, a Rajarshi and chief of the commonalty. It may be noted here that Kashyapa headed the council of seven sages convened by Manu Vaivasvata. Atri, Vasishta, Visvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja were its other members.
Parasurama and Rajaniti, political policy
Drupada, a Kshatriya prince of north Pancala, and Drona were students of Bharadvaja. Drona married Krpi, daughter of Saradvan, and Gautami and Asvattama (one who neighed like a horse) were born to them. Drona heard that Parasurama proposed to distribute his weapons among the deserving Brahmans. He wanted to get some of those powerful missiles and Parasuramas knowledge in Rajaniti, political policy. Drona told that sage, a Bhargava, who had earlier been bent on destroying the Kshatriyas that he was born in the lineage of Angiras. Parasurama told him that he had already given away all the lands that he had conquered from the Kshatriyas to Kashyapa and that he could give Drona only the weapons. Drona received them along with the knowledge of how to use them and went to meet Drupada.
Drona vs. Drupada
Drona tried to remind him that they were old friends but Drupada would not respond positively. Drupada said that it was impossible for affluent kings to be friends of luckless and poor commoners like Drona. He pointed out that there could be friendship only between equals. Offended by Drupadas curt behaviour, Drona resolved to punish him and went to Hastinapura, the capital of the Kuru rulers and stayed there incognito at Krpas residence. Under Krpas instructions, Asvattama who too stayed incognito taught Pandavas archery and the use of missiles.
The Pandavas were surprised to watch the skills of Drona and as directed by him informed Bhishma about their meeting with that master of archery. Bhishma understood that they had met Drona and learnt from the latter how Drupada had insulted him. Drupada was known as Yajnasena, when he and Drona were students of Agnivesya. Drupada had then promised his friend half his kingdom. When Drona went to meet Drupada none in Pancala came to his help and Drona had to bring up his son in painful poverty. People teased him and his son. Drona resolved not to do any low service for wealth though Brahmans might disrespect him.
He went to Drupada and reminded him of their past friendship and his promise but Drupada did not acknowledge it. He denied having given Drona any promise. Drona said that he had come to Hastinapura to get the help of the Kauravas against Drupada and that he was prepared to do as Bhishma directed him. Bhishma offered Drona the services of Hastinapura and its subordinate states against Pancala and told him that he would be treated as the first king of that state.
Drona as head of the royal academy
Bhishma appointed Drona as the teacher of the princes, Kauravas and Pandavas. But Drona hesitated as Krpa was already teaching them archery. Drona became the head of the royal academy and member of the royal council of political guides. When he was alone with the princes he asked them to assure him that after they had mastered the weapons they would carry out his personal objective. Only Arjuna was prepared to give the word he sought from them. Drona then asked Asvattama to accept Arjuna as his personal friend.
Drona taught the Pandavas the use of many weapons that were connected with the privileged nobles (devas) and with the commoners (manushyas). Princes from many states including those of the Yadavas joined that royal academy. Karna too joined it. He was envious of Arjuna and joined Duryodhana to belittle the Pandavas. Drona treated all the princes and Karna on par but gave Asvattama secret coaching in advanced techniques of war.
Arjuna could guess Drona's plan and managed to be with Asvattama for special instructions. Drona took special interest in Arjuna and trained him not only in archery but also in battles, riding horses, elephants and chariots and as an ordinary soldier on foot. He trained the Kauravas in wielding maces and swords and wooden sticks and spears. His fame spread far and wide and princes came from different directions to join his academy and get trained in warfare. He did not discriminate amongst them.
Ekalavya, the hunters son
It was said that Drona refused to entertain Ekalavya as his student as he was the son of a hunter and was not a prince born in a royal family. But Ekalavya learnt all methods even while staying away from the academy and claimed to be a disciple of Drona. As he excelled even Arjuna in his mastery over the bow Drona resorted to an unjust method to disable that hunters son. Drona asked him for his right thumb as fees due to the teacher and the hunter gave it readily. This handicap gave Arjuna an advantage over him. There is no indication that Drona discriminated against Ekalavya because he belonged to the class of Nishadas who ranked lower than the agricultural workers, Shudras.
Ekalavya's father was not poor nor was he an outcast though his vocation required him to stay on the socio-economic periphery away from towns and villages. Fishermen too had to similarly live outside the boundaries of the core agrarian society. They too were described as Nishadas, though this term meant social rejects and later indicated individuals born to Shudra women by men of higher classes. Arjuna proved better than his brothers and the Kauravas. [I have pointed out in my work, Origins of Hindu Social System that among the forty-two social strata, the Nishadas occupied the mean position of 20 and were at a far higher level than the Shudras who were in the 37th level and the Chandalas the 40th.]
Brahmasiras, constitutional provision to Countermand immunities
Dronas partiality for Arjuna increased when the latter saved him from an alligator while bathing in the river. Drona trained him in how to hit several objects with a single discharge of arrows from his bow. He gave him a missile known as the knob of Brahma, Brahmasiras which he could use against opponents other than the commoners (manushyas). He might use them against even nobles (devas). Brahmasiras must have been an important provision of the socio-political constitution that could be drawn upon to countermand the immunities that were enjoyed by certain higher classes including the aristocrats and the mobile populations. Drona did not want the immunities that the commoners had been given by the constitution, to be withdrawn. Every missile (astra) was a political weapon too in addition to being a weapon of war.
When the training was yet on the way, noticing the progress made by the sons of Dhrtarashtra and Pandu, Drona invited Krpa, Somadatta, Bahlika, Bhishma, Vyasa and Vidura and the king, Dhrtarashtra to witness the exhibition of their skills in the arena attached to the royal academy. But Dhrtarashtra was sad that he could not witness the exhibition and asked Vidura to provide all the facilities asked for by Drona.
The leaders of Hastinapura and their womenfolk and the commoners too were invited to witness the show held in the vast plains outside the city. The princes showed their different skills in duels and in archery. Then Duryodhana and Bhimasena clashed with their maces. This duel split the people into two factions, one supporting the Kuru ruler (Duryodhana) and the other Bhima. Drona asked his son, Asvattama to intervene and check the two ferocious fighters lest peace among the spectators in the arena should be disturbed. Drona then asked the gathering to witness the skills of Arjuna whom he introduced as his friend, dearer to him than his son.
Vishnu as Upendra
He praised Arjuna as one equal to Vishnu, the Upendra, in mastery over weapons. Upendra was deputy to Indra who headed the army and controlled the treasury and was the chief of the house of nobles. When the system of two equally important houses of legislature, sabha and samiti, headed by Indra and Agni, declined Indra had to be restrained by creating the post of Upendra. Vamana or Urukrama who humbled the asura chieftain, Bali, occupied this position but he was dwarfish. He was also identified with Vishnu and Trivikrama, a tall figure. Drona was referring to Arjunas status as the son of an Indra.
The spectators who were divided earlier between Duryodhana and Bhima praised Arjuna unanimously as the best among the princes, who could protect the Kurus and as one who strictly adhered to all codes (dharma) and who was known for his discipline and knowledge. Arjuna delighted the spectators with his mastery over different types of missiles. When the exhibition was about to end, the princes had split into two groups, the five Pandavas encircling Drona and the Kauravas along with Asvattama encircling Duryodhana.
The chronicler hints that the split was like the one between two social worlds (lokas), the frontier society, headed by Soma or Chandra and the ruling nobility headed by Indra. As the commoners (manushyas) of the population of the janapada who had assembled to witness the rival contestants exhibiting their skills noted the arrival of Karna, they gave passage to him. Karna was born with earrings and chest-guard. He was born to Kunti when she was yet unmarried, by the official who was designated as Surya (Aditya, general).
According to Karna, Rajadharma favoured might
The people of Hastinapura had not seen him earlier. He saluted Drona and Krpa while ignoring others who had assembled there and then confronted Arjuna. Karna, the son of Surya, and Arjuna, son of Indra, had not met earlier. Karna claimed that he could perform all the feats that Arjuna had done and do even better. With the permission of Drona he exhibited his mastery. Duryodhana was delighted and offered him the use of his kingdom, as he wanted. Karna then challenged Arjuna to a duel. As Arjuna disparaged Karna for having come uninvited, Karna claimed that the arena was open to all (though it was attached to a royal academy) and that Arjuna had no special rights there. Karna claimed that kings acquired greatness by their prowess and that the code, Rajadharma favoured might.
Krpa on status restrictions in duels
With the permission of Drona Arjuna got ready for the duel. While Duryodhana and his brothers encouraged Karna, besides the Pandavas, Drona, Krpa and Bhishma favoured Arjuna. It split the house of nobles (sabha) and the women into two groups. Kunti who alone knew that the two were brothers fainted. Vidura who knew all dharmas and her attendants comforted her. Krpa, who knew the rules of duels and was also acquainted with all dharmas, then introduced to Karna Arjuna, younger son of Kunti and of Pandu and a member of the Kuru clan. Krpa asked Karna to declare who his mother and father were and asked him to which royal family he belonged. Whether Arjuna would fight with him after knowing Karnas antecedents or not, princes were not permitted to fight on equal terms with persons who had no clan or tradition. This made Karna lower his head in shame.
Three categories among kings: Karna made King
But Duryodhana would not let Arjuna have the final say. He pointed out to Krpacharya that there were three categories among the kings (rajas). Some were born in noble families. These might not have been warriors or generals. Some were warriors (and took part in battles) and some were generals who led the army (but did not take part in battles). Duryodhana cited the saying that as fire (agni) emerged from water (apa), and metals from stone, Kshatriyas rose from Brahmans and said that Agni, metals and Kshatriyas had their own wide influence and their influence waned on their own. In other words, Brahmans could not check the influence of the Kshatriyas, he asserted.
If Arjuna would not like to fight with one who was not a prince, Duryodhana would make Karna a king. With the permission of Dhrtarashtra, king of Hastinapura and of Bhishma he arranged for the coronation of Karna as the king of Anga. The Brahman jurists could not object to his move, as the throne of Anga (near Mathura) was then vacant. He bestowed munificent gifts on the Brahmans and made them declare that Karna was eligible to be a king. This move won for Duryodhana the friendship and loyalty of Karna, the main rival of Arjuna.
After Karna had been installed as king on the throne of Anga, his foster-father, a charioteer, came to meet him. When Karna bowed to him, Bhima inferred that Karna was a son of that charioteer and teased him. Karna hoped that his father, a Surya, would come to his rescue and reveal whose son he was. When Bhima declared that Arjuna would not battle with a charioteer and that Karna was not fit to be installed as a king, Duryodhana came to Karnas support. Duryodhana said that it was not proper to notice the origin of a warrior even as it was not proper to decide the merit and might of a river on the basis of its weak source. He pointed out that the vajra, which could kill asuras, was made of Dadhichis bones.
He also drew attention to the indefiniteness that surrounded the birth and origin of Subrahmaniya who was the head (bhagavan) of an academy and had the status of a noble (deva) and was a treasure of all secrets and mysteries. Subrahmaniya was variously described as the son of Agni, the son of Krttika, the son of Rudra and the son of Ganga. To be precise, it was Vyasa who was trying to make Bhima and his brothers desist from assessing the merits of Karna without knowing all the facts about his birth and nurture.
There were some Brahmans who had been Kshatriyas earlier. Visvamitra was a classic example of this social ascent and acquisition of the eligibility (varchas) of a Brahman (jurist) through persistence. He drew attention to the birth of the great teacher, Drona, in a pot and of Krpa in a bundle of reeds. Duryodhana (to be precise, Vyasa) said that he knew about how the Pandavas were born to the different officials and not to Pandu. This must have silenced Bhima.
After challenging the critics to a battle with Karna, Duryodhana escorted Karna out of the hall. The Pandavas returned to their homes with Drona, Bhishma and Krpa while the people were split amongst the three, Arjuna, Karna and Duryodhana. While Duryodhana with Karna beside him had no fear about the Pandavas overcoming him, Yudhishtira felt that Karna was the best archer among the commoners (bhumi).
After the graduation ended with the exhibition of skills by Dronas students, the teacher asked them to present Drupada of Pancala before him as his tuition fees (gurudakshina). Duryodhana, Karna, Yuyutsu, Duhsasana, Vikarna, Jalasandha and Surocana and many of their friends went to Pancala with a huge army but were routed by Drupada and his brothers. [Pancala was governed by a Kshatriya oligarchy.] On their way back the citizens (paura) and people of the rural areas (janapada) of Pancala harassed them. The citizens of Kampilya who patronised the Pancalas confronted the fleeing Kauravas and decimated their forces. Then the Pandavas offered to go to battle with Drupada. Arjuna requested Yudhishtira to stay back. He appointed Nakula and Sahadeva as guards for the chariot. They too would not be engaged in battle.
Bhima led the army with his mace. But the main battle was between Arjuna and the Pancalas. The army of the Srnjayas supported the latter. One Satyajit tried to keep him away from Drupada but could not prevent the confrontation between the two. The chronicler compares this fight with that between Indra and Bali, an asura chieftain. After forcing Satyajit to flee, Arjuna overcame Drupada. He dissuaded Bhima from destroying the city of the Pancalas and took Drupada and his minister as prisoners and presented them to Drona.
Drupada lacked constitutional immunity, Brahmatejas
Drona offered him the southern portion of Pancala, and kept the northern portion with himself as it was not possible for a king to treat a commoner as his equal. Drona offered him his hand of friendship and Drupada realised his past errors and asked for his fast friendship. Drona was satisfied and released him and returned most of the kingdom taken by him to Drupada who reorganised his kingdom. He retained only the area known as Ahichatra. (This might have been a place where troops drawn from the dreaded sarpas, proletariat were being trained.) Drupada realised that he had lost because he did not enjoy constitutional immunity that would protect his authority. The intellectuals (Brahmans), especially the jurists, were not with him. As he had no sons who would undertake to discharge the liabilities entertained by him his reign did not enjoy rational legitimacy.
Drupada continued to nurture dislike for Drona whose disciple, Arjuna, had humbled him. He realised that it was not possible to score over Drona through military (kshatriya) might. He needed constitutional immunity (brahmatejas) lest his rivals should overthrow him. Pancala was known for its gandharva-apsaras culture, which had not yet recognised the institution of marriage and patrilinear descent. Drupada searched amongst the commoners (manushyas, bhumi) for a suitable youth who could be selected as his son and successor and who would fulfil his objective of killing Drona but he found none. Most of the gandharvas had opted for the new class of warriors (kshatriyas) and very few for the class of intellectuals (brahmans, scholars, jurists and priests). Pancala was going through a major change in social structure and social orientations.
Adoption of son and daughter
Drupada located a village on the banks of the Ganga, which was inhabited exclusively by Brahmans (snatakas) who were engaged in studies and tapas. He came across two brothers, Yaja and Upayaja, who were Brahmarshis and were attached to the school of Kashyapa. He offered to appoint them as his political counsellors (purohitas) and give them munificent gifts. Only, Upayaja, the younger of them, was attracted by his proposal but declined to help him, as Drupadas objective was to procreate a son who would kill Drona.
Upayaja suggested that his elder brother, Yaja, who was wandering in uninhabited areas, was not particular about purity of the food he ate and might accept Drupadas offer. Yaja had performed the five sacrifices to meet the needs of the nobles (devas), elders (pitrs), scholars (brahmans), discrete individuals on the periphery (bhutas) and the commoners of the plains (manushyas) and eaten what remained on the floor as his alms. Upayaja interpreted that Yaja cared for utility and might oblige the king.
Drupada told Yaja that Drona though a Brahman had proved to be superior to all Kshatriyas and had humbled him. He was equal to Katvanga and Kartavirya in fighting and was like Parasurama meant for destroying the Kshatriyas. Drona had the might of Kshatriyas and also the influence of Brahmans. Drupada wanted a son (who would kill Drona), and also a daughter (who would marry the great warrior, Arjuna). [Drupada might not have then aspired for two children. He belonged to Pancala where daughters were not discriminated against.]
Yaja arranged for a sacrifice and requested the queens to copulate with him and produce children by niyoga. But they declined. [Gandharva-apsara culture of Pancala did not give the husband the authority to require his wife to surrender to another person.] Then Yaja continued to perform the sacrifice and a brave armed warrior appeared on the scene. It was prophesied that he would help the Pancalas to live without fear and raise them to great glory.
Agni, the civil judge and head of the council of scholars must have located this youth, Drshtadyumna and his sister, Draupadi, whom Drupada adopted as his son and daughter. It was decided that that youth should become Dronas disciple and later kill Drona in a duel. It was also prophesied that the dark (krshna) but beautiful girl, Draupadi would be the cause of a human catastrophe. [Prophesies were introduced to prepare the audience for receiving the future events and for whetting their curiosity.] Janamejaya was eager to know more about the Pancalas, especially about Drupada who had secured many powerful weapons.
The chronicler told him that Drupada was born to a Pancala ruler and the famous apsaras, Menaka. Sakuntala was born to Visvamitra by Menaka. This would lead us to infer that Drupada was a brother of Sakuntala and a contemporary of Dushyanta. Janamejaya was a stepbrother of Bharata, son of Dushyanta. Vaishampayana insisted that Drupadas father was a Rajarshi who spent several years in tapas. As that sage had set his foot in the abode where the child was born, the sages called the latter, Drupada. The king of Pancala handed over that child to Bharadvaja for training in Vedas and in martial arts. Drupada was selected by the Pancala oligarchy to succeed his father as their head.
Vaishampayana told Janamejaya that Dhrtarashtra in consultation with his ministers decided to install Yudhishtira as crown prince (yuvaraja) as the latter was capable of protecting the state (rajyam). Soon Yudhishtira emerged as more popular than his father, Pandu. Meanwhile, Bhima received training in mace under Balarama, brother of Krshna. Arjuna too acquired mastery in archery under Drona. Drona while teaching him the use of the weapon, Brahmasiras, announced in the assembly of the nobles of the Kuru country that he had learnt it from Agnivesya and the latter from Agastya.
Agnivesya (a rich personage and representative of the commonalty of the Vedic times) had taken a promise from Drona, son of Bharadvaja, that he would not use it against commoners (manushyas). Drona asked Arjuna to give an undertaking that he too would not use it against commoners. It could be used against nobles (devas) and feudal lords (asuras, daityas) and plutocrats (yakshas, danavas), three sections of the ruling elite. Drona pronounced that only Krshna who was born in a Yadava clan could conquer all social worlds and was superior to Arjuna. He acknowledged that Arjuna was his better in war.
Drona was aware of the relationship between Arjuna and Krshna and knew about Krshnas assurance to Indra that he would protect and look after the interests of Arjuna (son of Kunti and Vasava). This Indra like Krshna belonged to the Vasus. Drona advised Arjuna to seek Krshnas protection. The chronicler narrates how the ruler of Sauvira, whom Gandharvas could not humble even after three years of siege, was defeated and killed by Arjuna and other Pandavas. Pandu himself could not subdue that ruler.
The ruler of Sauvira might have been a devotee of Siva. He was against the rulers of the Kuru land. This must be a reference to the harassment that Samvarana had to undergo as an exile in the Sindhu delta. Kuru was the son of Samvarana and the princess of Tapati, a province south of that west-flowing river. Along with Bhima, as a lone charioteer, Arjuna conquered many kings of the eastern provinces. He was not eligible to lead the state army which was then under Bhishma. These exploits rattled the sons of Dhrtarashtra. Dhrtarashtra too began to develop dislike for the Pandavas though they enriched his treasury.
While Duryodhana had a grudge against Bhima and Karna against Arjuna, Sakuni suggested to them many ways to kill the Pandavas but as Vidura advised the latter did not show any reaction. Meanwhile, the Pandavas had become popular among the citizens and in their assemblies the people urged that Yudhishtira should be appointed as king. They held that Dhrtarashtra had been earlier bypassed, as he was blind and that hence Duryodhana could not be made king.
Bhishma son of Santanu, as a satyavrata, stood by his word not to become king. Hence the eldest of the Pandavas who stood by truth and compassion should be immediately crowned, they said. Yudhishtira thus enjoyed charismatic legitimacy. They expected Yudhishtira to give due respect to Bhishma and Dhrtarashtra and all comforts to the sons of Dhrtarashtra. The latter persuaded their father to undo the injustice done to him and to protect their interests. They did not want to be deprived of their share in the kingdom, which was due to them under the dayabhaga scheme.
But Dhrtarashtra was pragmatic in his approach. He knew that Pandu, a Kaurava, did not deviate from the social laws, dharma and that he was friendly with his elder brother and the in-laws of the latter. Pandu was unselfish and always kept his brother informed about the affairs of the state. Like Pandu, his son, Yudhishtira, always adhered to those laws, dharma and had good traits and was popular in the social world (loka) of the commoners and was rooted in the city too.
Rajarshi constitution: Institution of Assistants (sahayas) and Council of Ministers Army autonomous
Dhrtarashtra was cautioning Duryodhana against underestimating Yudhishtiras influence. It was not possible to find any flaw in Yudhishtira who was the best among the commoners. The Pandava was not behaving like an aristocrat or a feudal chieftain, the chronicler implied. Besides he was already in control of the Kuru kingdom as crown prince and had specialists as his assistants. Pandu had always received the support of his ministers. Under the Rajarshi constitution, the institution of assistants and the council of ministers (mantriparishad) were independent organs of the state and no wise king would dare to manipulate them. They ran the bureaucracy under the provisions of the constitution without deviating from the procedures set in the codes.
The troops too enjoyed respect. They were not mercenary troops that could be disbanded at the kings pleasure. Their constitutional status as an independent organ of the state had to be honoured. The sons and grandsons of Kshatriya soldiers enjoyed special privileges. Pandu ensured that this arrangement was not disturbed. The commoners of the country who were associated with Pandu would not hesitate to kill Dhrtarashtra and his sons if Pandus sons were denied their due place, the blind ruler warned. Pandus regime enjoyed rational legitimacy.
If Dhrtarashtra and his sons gave up adhering to the socio-political laws, dharma, (rajadharma) the natives (jana) would not like to live in that country (desa) under them. All the local administrators (rajas) of the Kuru kingdom and the commoners would blame Dhrtarashtra and his sons for the consequent emigration of the discontented populace. They should avoid incurring such blame, the king said. Duryodhana claimed that Bhishma would remain neutral in the struggle between him and the Pandavas and that Dronas son was on his side. Hence Drona too was expected to support him. He expected Krpa too to fall in line with him. He did not expect Vidura to support him and Dhrtarashtra. But Vidura would not be able to oppose them, he said. Duryodhana urged that the Pandavas and their mother should be sent to Varanavata.