When the priest of Drupada arrived at Hastinapura, he was greeted by Dhritarashtra, Bhishma and Vidura; and he delivered his message, saying that the sons of Pandu did not wish to wage war with the sons of Kuru. They did not want to get back their own by ruining the world; but they asked that, as dictated by virtue and agreed to in the stipulation, they should get back what they deserved. Thereupon Dhritarashtra promised to send Sanjaya to the sons of Prtha, and sent away the priest of Drupada with all due honours. Then calling Sanjaya, the son of Gavalgnna, he bade him repair to the Pandavas, and charged him to speak to them as he thought lit, and to utter nothing that might give cause for hostility.
The Mission of Sanjaya: Sanjaya went to Upaplavya to see the sons of Pandu as he was bid; and after mutual greetings delivered to them his message of goodwill and peace, pointing out the difficulty of their conquering the Kurus, protected as they were by Drona, Bhima, Asvatthaman, Salya, Krpa, and Karna. Yudhisthira expressed himself ready for peace on condition that he was given Indraprastha for his kingdom. But Sanjaya pleaded that he should not make war even if the Kurus did not give him his Rightful share.
Krshna's Intervention: At this Krsna intervened and observed that he himself desired peace, and understood the point of view of the two schools of thought, one holding that it is by work that we attain salvation, and the other that salvation is achieved through knowledge alone and by abstaining from work. But in his opinion the view that anything other than work is good, was the utterance of a fool; for the whole universe is held together by work, and it is through work that the gods themselves become resplendent.
It was the duty of a Ksatriya, he observed, to slay the robber; and the sons of Dhritarashtra had robbed the sons of Pandu of their just inheritance. Their share had been fixed, and they were entitled to it.
The offer of Krshna: In conclusion Krshna offered to go himself to the Kauravas to bring about peace, if he could, without injury to the interests of the sons of Pandu.
The offer of Yudhisthira; Five Villages: Then Sanjaya, after due honour and ceremony, took leave and departed, and Yudhisthira asked him to assure Duryodhana that they intended to do nothing that was not agreeable to him, only he must give them back the city of Indra; or, if that was not acceptable to him, let him give to the five Pan lava brothers but one province out of his kingdom, nay, but five villages, Avisthala, Vrkasthala, Makandi, Varnavata, with any other for a fifth; and they would be content to live in peace.
The Advice of Vidura: On returning to Hastinapura, Sanjaya sought audience of Dhritarashtra and advised him to share his kingdom with the sons of Pandu. After he had retired, promising to deliver the message of the Pandavas in an open assembly of the elders, the king sent for Vidura and sought his advice, "A wise man," said Vidura, "does or abstains from doing an act after reflecting on its reasons, result, and his own ability. In nothing but knowledge and devotion, in nothing but the control of the senses, in nothing but the perfect abandonment of avarice, do I see your good. Let your sons, therefore, make friends with the sons of Pandu, and let the sons of Pandu make friends with your sons; and let both live happily in prosperity and peace. Give them their due share or at least some villages to live in."
The Discourse of Sanat-Sujata: But as the king, though wishing for peace, was yet uncertain in mind, Vidura asked him to seek the advice of the celebrated Rishi, Sanat-Sujata; and, even as remembered, that sage appeared before the king.
Dhritarashtra asked the sage whether, in his opinion, death exists. "Ignorance is death," replied the sage; "the pursuit of Brahman or self-knowledge is immortality. The remembrance of earthly enjoyments is the first cause of death to men; but he who has succeeded in controlling himself cannot be destroyed. The inner Soul exists in the body, wedded to wrath and desire; but a person who has knowledge is not afraid of death."
"The Vedas," said Dhritarashtra, "declare that the blessed regions, attained by the performance of sacrifices, offer emancipation to mortals. Knowing this, should not a learned man engage in action in the world?"
"The unlearned," replied Sanat-Sujata, "attain to these regions by action; but he who has renounced all desires gains emancipation at once."
"What," asked the king, "induces action in the Supreme Being who is without birth? If He pervades everything, what can be his action or happiness?"
"It is a great mistake," replied the sage, "to identify things that are essentially different. Creatures come into existence by the union of the Supreme Soul with certain conditions of time, place etc.; but the two are not to be identified. The Supreme Being, by his constant transformation, creates the world: this is the teaching of the Vedas. The universe shines (comes into existence) from the Supreme Soul, but is distinct from him in name, form, etc. Both asceticism and sacrifices are prescribed for attaining to the Supreme Being; but a learned man succeeds by means of knowledge; and the unwise man, desirous of fruit, enjoys the other world (after death) for a time, and comes back again to tread the same path. Let your Soul be attached to Truth. On Truth is founded the universe."
"There are some," said Dhritarashtra, "who practise virtue, and some who do not practise virtue and renounce all action. Who is superior?"
"Both," replied the sage, "are of use in obtaining emancipation. But the wise man attains to salvation by means of knowledge."
"By the fifth Veda, called Akhyana," said Dhritarashtra, "it is declared that the Supreme Soul is identified with the universe. But there are some who recognize four Vedas, some three, some two, and some only one; while another class recognize only the Supreme Being. of these whom am I to regard as really possessing the knowledge of the Supreme?"
"It is from ignorance of the One that ought to be known," replied the sage, "that several Vedas have been conceived. There is but one Truth; but who has attained it? Some perform sacrifices and other acts; but the fruit of knowledge is immediate, and of asceticism remote. He who stands on Truth knows the Supreme Soul; for his true essence and nature neither the Vedas nor anyone else can know. No clue can be found of the Soul in the east, west, south or north or in the intermediate directions; and it is in the inner Soul that Brahma resides."
"Of what form" asked Dhritarashtra, "is the Supreme Soul?"
"It cannot," replied the sage, "be compared to anything in the world; nor can it anywhere be found. But it is the foundation of everything. It is the universe, and all creatures are born from it. Having no duality, it is manifest in the form of the universe; and those who know it become immortal. The seed is Brahma; and from him spring the five subtle elements, which again give birth to the five gross elements; and the heart contains both the gods, the individual Soul and the Supreme Soul. The being who is the inner Soul is of the size of the thumb, and by being joined with the human body, ever moves. But fools do not perceive it as manifest within everything. True knowledge is another name for the inner Soul, which those gain who have self-control. His form cannot be seen by the eye; only those who lead pure lives can see it. Though without birth, he moves about in full consciousness day and night; and, according to the Smritis, he is mother, father and again he is the son. he is the Soul of everything in the universe." So saying the sage disappeared.
The Council of Peace: The next day a great assembly of princes and elders was held by Dhritarashtra in his Council Chamber, and Sanjaya delivered to them the message of peace he bore from Yudhisthira. At their request he described to them the strength of the Pandava forces, with Dhrstadyumna as their chief, and told them of their seven Aksauhinis, and the assistance and guidance of Krshna. He advised them to make peace, or else they would be defeated and slain. He further described Krshna as the creator of the universe, and Arjuna as equal to him in every detail of nature, suggesting that Janardana (Krshna) was but making the Pandavas his instruments for the destruction of the Kurus if they did not make peace.
The blind old king was deeply moved by what Sanjaya said, and asked him how he came to know that Madhava (Krshna) was the great lord of the three worlds, when he himself (the king) was ignorant of it. To this Sanjaya replied that it was so because the king had been deprived of true knowledge.
Duryodhana's Determination: The king then advised Duryodhana to desist from war, and so did Bhima and Vidura; but the prince, supported and encouraged by Karna, refused to listen. He represented that, while he himself was desirous of peace, the Pandavas would have their revenge by destroying them all, if admitted to their share of the kingdom. As Karna encouraged the prince to fight, Bhishma rebuked him (Karna); whereupon the son of Radha, feeling hurt, left the court and retired to his own house; and Duryodhana, to support his friend, declared his intention to fight the Pandavas with the assistance of Karna and Duhsasana alone, if forsaken by all the Kurus. Finding how difficult it was to convince his son, Dhritarashtra wished that Krshna himself could come and win him over to peace.