21.THE FIRST HONOR
THE practice of staging a walkout from an assembly in protest against something is nothing new. We learn from the Mahabharata that walkout was resorted to even in ancient times. The India of those days consisted of a number of independent states. Though there was one dharma and one culture throughout the land, the autonomy of each state was scrupulosly respected. Occasionally, some strong and ambitious monarch would seek the assent of his fellow kings to his overlordship, which would sometimes be given without question. After receiving this assent he would perform a grand Rajasuya sacrifice, which all the acquiescing kings would attend in token of acknowledgement of his supremacy. In accordance with this custom, the Pandavas invited the other kings after the slaying of Jarasandha and performed the Rajasuya. The time came for doing the honors of the occasion. The custom was to render first honor to the guest who was considered most worthy of taking precedence over all others. The question arose as to who should be honored first. The grandsire was emphatically of the opinion that Sri Krishna, the king of Dwaraka, should be honored first, which was also Yudhishthira's own opinion. Yudhishthira followed the advice and under his instructions Sahadeva offered to Sri Krishna the honors enjoined by tradition. Sisupala, the king of Chedi, who hated Krishna as wickedness alone can hate goodness, could not tolerate it. He laughed aloud in derision and said: "How ridiculous and unjust, but I am not surprised. The man who sought advice was born in illegitimacy. (This was an insulting allusion to the sons of Kunti) The man who gave advice was born of one who ever declines from high to low. (This is in reference to the fact that Bhishma was born of Ganga, the river naturally flowing from higher to lower levels.) And he who did the honors was also born illegitimately. And what shall I say of the man honored! He is a fool by birth and a cowherd by breeding. Dumb indeed must be the members of this assembly if they have not a word to say to this! This is no place for worthy men."