63.YUDHISHTHIRA SEEKS BENEDICTION
EVERYTHING was ready for the battle to begin. At this tense moment, both armies saw with amazement Yudhishthira, the steadfast and brave son of Pandu, suddenly doff his armor and put away his weapons. Descending from his chariot, he proceeded on foot towards the commander of the Kaurava forces. "What is this that Yudhishthira is doing?" asked everyone and was puzzled by this sudden and silent proceeding on the part of the Pandava. Dhananjaya too was perplexed and he jumped down from his chariot and ran to Yudhishthira. The other brothers and Krishna also joined. They feared that perhaps Yudhishthira, surrendering to his natural inclination, had suddenly decided to seek peace on any terms and was going forward to announce this. "King, why are you proceeding to the enemy's lines in this strange manner? You have told us nothing. The enemy is ready for battle, their soldiers sheathed in armor and with uplifted weapons. But you have doffed your armor and thrown aside your weapons and are proceeding forward, unattended and on foot. Tell us what you are about." Thus said Arjuna to Dharmaputra. But Yudhishthira was immersed in deep thought and proceeded forward silently. Then Vasudeva, who knew the hearts of men, smiled and said: "He is going to the elders to ask for their benediction before commencing this terrible fight. He feels it is not right to start such a grave proceeding without formally taking such benediction and permission. He goes to the grandsire to take his blessing and that of Dronacharya. So he goes unarmed. It is right that he does this. He knows proprieties. It is only thus that we might fare well in this battle." The men in Duryodhana's army, when they saw Yudhishthira advancing with hands clasped in humble attitude, thought: "Here is the Pandava coming to sue for peace, frightened at our strength. Truly this man brings disgrace to the race of kshatriyas. Why was this coward born among us?" Thus did they talk among themselves reviling Dharmaputra though delighted at the prospect of securing victory without a blow. Yudhishthira went through the lines of soldiers armed from head to foot and proceeded straight to where Bhishma was and, bending low and touching his feet in salutation, said: "Grandsire, permit us to begin the battle. We have dared to give battle to you, our unconquerable and incomparable grandsire. We seek benediction before beginning the fight." "Child," replied the grandsire, "born in the race of Bharatas, you have acted worthily and according to our code of conduct. It gives me joy to see this. Fight and you will have victory.