76. TO SEIZE YUDHISHTHIRA ALIVE
AS SOON AS Drona assumed command of the Kaurava forces Duryodhana, Karna and Duhsasana sat in council and decided on a plan. And Duryodhana went to Dronacharya to put it in operation. "Acharya, we desire that you should capture Yudhishthira alive and give him over to us. We desire nothing more, not even a total victory. If you achieve this for us, we shall all be exceedingly satisfied with your conduct of the war." When Drona heard Duryodhana address him thus, great was his joy, for he hated the very idea of slaying the Pandava brothers. Even though, to fulfil his obligation, the acharya loyally joined the Kaurava side against the Pandavas, he loved the sons of Kunti and especially the pure-minded Yudhishthira. So, when he heard Duryodhana request that Yudhishthira should be captured alive, he felt greatly relieved. "Duryodhana, may you be blessed!" the acharya said. "Do you too wish to abstain from killing Yudhishthira? How it gladdens my heart! Truly, Yudhishthira is one without an enemy and the name Ajatasatru, which the people have given to Kunti's eldest son, has been justified by your great decision. When even you have made up your mind that he should not be killed but should be captured alive, his unrivalled glory has become ten times enhanced." "I see, dear Duryodhana, what you intend," Drona continued. "You wish to defeat the Pandavas in battle and then give them their share in the kingdom and live in peace and amity with them. I see this clearly from your desire to capture Yudhishthira alive." Drona was exceedingly glad and he said again: "Indeed Yudhishthira is the most fortunate man on earth. The gods are showering their favors on Kunti's good son. So has he won the hearts of even enemies." But Duryodhana's motives in wishing to take Yudhishthira alive were far different. And as soon as Drona acceded to his proposal and gave his pledge that he would do his best to capture Yudhishthira, he began to reveal his real intentions. If Yudhishthira were slain, nothing would be gained by it, and the anger of the Pandavas would be all the greater. The battle would rage more fiercely than before. And Duryodhana knew that it would only mean the utter defeat of his army. Even if the fight were to be continued relentlessly until both armies were destroyed, Krishna would still remain alive and he would put either Draupadi or Kunti in sovereign possession of the kingdom.