(Vaivahika Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then all the Pandavas and the illustrious king of the Panchalas and all others there present stood up and saluted with reverence the illustrious Rishi Krishna (Dwaipayana). The high-souled Rishi, saluting them in return and enquiring after their welfare, sat down on a carpet of gold. And commanded by Krishna (Dwaipayana) of immeasurable energy, those foremost of men all sat down on costly seats. A little after, O monarch, the son of Prishata in sweet accents asked the illustrious Rishi about the wedding of his daughter. And he said, 'How, O illustrious one, can one woman become the wife of many men without being defiled by sin? O, tell me truly all about this.' Hearing these words Vyasa replied, 'This practice, O king, being opposed to usage and the Vedas, hath become obsolete. I desire, however, to hear what the opinion of each of you is upon this matter.'
"Hearing these words of the Rishi, Drupada spoke first, saying, 'The practice is sinful in my opinion, being opposed to both usage and the Vedas. O best of Brahmanas, nowhere have I seen many men having one wife. The illustrious ones also of former ages never had such a usage amongst them. The wise should never commit a sin. I, therefore, can never make up mind to act in this way. This practice always appeareth to me to be of doubtful morality.
"After Drupada had ceased, Dhrishtadyumna spoke, saying 'O bull amongst Brahmanas, O thou of ascetic wealth, how can, O Brahmana, the elder brother, if he is of a good disposition, approach the wife of his younger brother? The ways of morality are ever subtle, and, therefore, we know them not. We cannot, therefore, say what is conformable to morality and what not. We cannot do such a deed, therefore, with a safe conscience. Indeed, O Brahmana, I cannot say, 'Let Draupadi become the common wife of five brothers.'
"Yudhishthira then spoke, saying, 'My tongue never uttereth an untruth and my heart never inclineth to what is sinful. When my heart approveth of it, it can never be sinful. I have heard in the Purana that a lady of name Jatila, the foremost of all virtuous women belonging to the race of Gotama had married seven Rishis. So also an ascetic's daughter, born of a tree, had in former times united herself in marriage with ten brothers all bearing the same name of Prachetas and who were all of souls exalted by asceticism. O foremost of all that are acquainted with the rules of morality, it is said that obedience to superior is ever meritorious. Amongst all superiors, it is well-known that the mother is the foremost. Even she hath commanded us to enjoy Draupadi as we do anything obtained as alms. It is for this, O best of Brahmanas, that I regard the (proposed) act as virtuous.'
"Kunti then said, 'The act is even so as the virtuous Yudhishthira hath said. I greatly fear, O Brahmana, lest my speech should become untrue. How shall I be saved from untruth?'
"When they had all finished speaking, Vyasa said, 'O amiable one, how shall thou be saved from the consequence of untruth? Even this is eternal virtue! I will not, O king of the Panchalas, discourse on this before you all. But thou alone shalt listen to me when I disclose how this practice hath been established and why it is to be regarded as old and eternal. There is no doubt that what Yudhishthira hath said is quite conformable to virtue.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then the illustrious Vyasa--the master Dwaipayana--rose, and taking hold of Drupada's hand led him to a private apartment. The Pandavas and Kunti and Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata's race sat there, waiting for the return of Vyasa and Drupada. Meanwhile, Dwaipayana began his discourse with illustrious monarch for explaining how the practice of polyandry could not be regarded as sinful.'"