When Parīkṣit came upon them, they appeared like an abandoned cow and bull being beaten with a club by a wicked man dressed like a king.
The bull, white as lotus-root, was urinating out of fear, trembling and terrified as his one remaining leg was beaten by the rogue.
The cow, whose milk is morality, became helpless and afraid as the rogue smashed her legs. Bereft of her calves, tears streamed down her face. She looked emaciated and in dire need of grass.
The king picked up his bow and spoke to the culprit in a voice that resounded from his completely golden chariot like deep thunder from the sky:
Who are you?! What are you doing in my kingdom?! What kind of ‘strong man’ attacks the weak??? Your kingly clothes are nothing but a costume, for such deeds are not those of a noble person!
Do you think you can get away with this because Krishna and Arjuna are no longer among us? That will not happen! You are guilty of attacking the innocent when you think no one is looking. You deserve to die!
Then the king turned to the bull in a different tone of voice:
Here is a bull as white as lotus-root, moving on one leg with the others broken; are you a god taking this shape to show us the miserable future?
Moving his glance towards the cow, his voice became full of compassion:
Never before has anyone come to such lamentable grief in any land protected by the arms of Kuru Kings. O child of Surabhi,no one in my kingdom should fear harm from wicked men. Mother, do not cry! Be blessed! I shall curb this rogue!
Oh saintly woman, destruction comes to the fame, longevity, fortune and afterlife of a king who allows anyone to be terrorized by the wicked. A king’s first duty is to remove the suffering of those who suffer. Therefore I shall kill this most worthless hater of creatures!
Turning again to the bull, the King asked for a testimony:
Who broke your three legs, O four-legged Surabhi’s-son? I have never seen such a thing in a country ruled by kings who follow Krishna.
But the bull said nothing.
The king continued:
Please speak, for the sake of those who are saintly and do no wrong. And for my sake, tell me who is disfiguring and destroying the fame of Pṛthā’s sons?
Those who harm the harmless must fear me wherever they go! Certainly the saintly prosper when the sinful are curbed. If any wildman harms the harmless I will unleash my arms without restraint, even if he is an armored immortal.
The foremost duty of a dutiful king is to protect the innocent and curb those who needlessly disregard the moral path.