Asramavasika Parva: Mahabharata

The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa



Translated into English Prose from the Original Sanskrit Text


Kisari Mohan Ganguli [1883-1896]


(Asramavasa Parva)

OM! AFTER HAVING bowed down to Narayana, and Nara, the foremost of men, and unto the goddess Saraswati also, must the word Jaya be uttered.

“Janamejaya said ‘After having acquired their kingdom, how did my
grandsires, the high-souled Pandavas, conduct themselves towards the
high-souled king Dhritarashtra? How, indeed, did that king who had all
his counsellors and sons slain, who was without a refuge, and whose
affluence had disappeared, behave? How also did Gandhari of great fame
conduct herself? For how many years did my high-souled grandsires rule
the kingdom? It behoveth thee to tell me all this.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having got back their kingdom, the high-souled
Pandavas, their foes all slain, ruled the Earth, placing Dhritarashtra at
their head. Vidura, and Sanjaya and Yuyutsu of great intelligence, who
was Dhritarashtra’s son by his Vaisya wife, used to wait upon
Dhritarashtra. The Pandavas used to take the opinion of that king in all
matters. Indeed, for ten and five years, they did all things under the
advice of the old king. Those heroes used very often to go to that
monarch and sit beside him, after having worshipped his feet, agreeably
to the wishes of king Yudhishthira the just. They did all things under
the command of Dhritarashtra who smelt their heads in affection. The
daughter of king Kuntibhoja also obeyed Gandhari in everything. Draupadi
and Subhadra and the other ladies of the Pandavas behaved towards the old
king and the queen as if they were their own father-in-law and
mother-in-law. Costly beds and robes and ornaments, and food and drink
and other enjoyable articles, in profusion and of such superior kinds as
were worthy of royal use, were presented by king Yudhishthira unto
Dhritarashtra. Similarly Kunti behaved towards Gandhari as towards a
senior. Vidura, and Sanjaya, and Yuyutsu, O thou of Karu’s race, used to
always wait upon the old king whose sons had all been slain. The dear
brother-in-law of Drona, viz., the very Superior Brahmana, Kripa, that
mighty bowman, also attended upon the king. The holy Vyasa also used to
often meet with the old monarch and recite to him the histories of old
Rishis and celestial ascetics and Pitris and Rakshasas. Vidura, under the
orders of Dhritarashtra, superintended the discharge of all acts of
religious merit and all that related to the administration of the law.
Through the excellent policy of Vidura, by the expenditure of even a
small wealth, the Pandavas obtained numerous agreeable services from
their feudatories and followers. King Dhritarashtra liberated prisoners
and pardoned those that were condemned to death. King Yudhishthira the
just never said anything to this. On those occasions when the son of
Amvika went on pleasure excursions, the Kuru king Yudhishthira of great
energy used to give him every article of enjoyment. Aralikas, and
juice-makers, and makers of Ragakhandavas waited on king Dhritarashtra as
before.[1] Pandu’s son, collected costly robes and garlands of diverse
kinds and duly offered them to Dhritarashtra. Maireya wines, fish of
various kinds, and sherbets and honey, and many delightful kinds of food
prepared by modifications (of diverse articles), were caused to be made
for the old king as in his days of prosperity. Those kings of Earth who
came there one after another, all used to wait upon the old Kuru monarch
as before. Kunti, and Draupadi, and she of the Sattwata race, possessed
of great fame, and Ulupi, the daughter of the snake chief, and queen
Chitrangada, and the sister of Dhrishtaketu, and the daughter of
Jarasandha,–these and many other ladies, O chief of men, used to wait
upon the daughter of Suvala like maids of all work. That Dhritarashtra,
who was deprived of all his children, might not feel unhappy in any
matter, was what Yudhishthira often said unto his brothers to see. They
also, on their part, listening to these commands of grave import from
king Yudhishthira, showed particular obedience to the old king. There was
one exception, however. It embraced Bhimasena. All that had followed from
that match at dice which had been brought about by the wicked
understanding of Dhritarashtra, did not disappear from the heart of that
hero. (He remembered those incidents still).”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus worshipped by the Pandavas, the royal soil of
Amvika passed his time happily as before, waited upon and honoured by the
Rishis. That perpetuator of Kuru’s race used to make those foremost of
offerings which should be given to the Brahmanas. The royal son of Kunti
always placed those articles under Dhritarashtra’s control. Destitute of
malice as king Yudhishthira was, he was always affectionate towards his
uncle. Addressing his brothers and councillors, the king said, ‘King
Dhritarashtra should be honoured both by myself and you all. He. indeed,
is a well-wisher of mine who is obedient to the commands of
Dhritarashtra. He, on the other hand, who behaves otherwise towards him,
is my enemy. Such a man should certainly be punished by me. On days of
performing the rites ordained for the Pitris, as also in the Sraddhas
performed for his sons and all well-wishers, the high-souled Kuru king
Dhritarashtra, gave away unto Brahmanas, as each deserved, as profuse
measures of wealth as he liked. King Yudhishthira the just, and Bhima,
and Arjuna, and the twins, desirous of doing what was agreeable to the
old king, used to execute all his orders. They always took care that the
old king who was afflicted with the slaughter of his sons and
grandsons,–with, that is, grief caused by the Pandavas
themselves,–might not die of his grief Indeed, the Pandavas bore
themselves towards him in such a way that that Kuru hero might not be
deprived of that happiness and all those articles of enjoyment which had
been his while his sons lived. The five brothers, viz., the sons of
Pandu, behaved themselves even thus towards Dhritarashtra, living under
his command. Dhritarashtra also, seeing them so humble and obedient to
his commands and acting towards him as disciples towards preceptors,
adopted the affectionate behaviour of a preceptor towards them in return.
Gandhari, by performing the diverse rites of the Sraddha and making gifts
unto Brahmanas of diverse objects of enjoyment, became freed from the
debt she owed to her slain children. Thus did that foremost of righteous
men, viz., king Yudhishthira the just, possessed of great intelligence,
along with his brothers, worship king Dhritarashtra.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Possessed of great energy, that perpetuator of
Kuru’s race, viz., the old king Dhritarashtra, could not notice any
ill-will in Yudhishthira Seeing that the high-souled Pandavas were in the
observance of a wise and righteous conduct, king Dhritarashtra, the son
of Amvika, became gratified with them. Suvala’s daughter, Gandhari,
casting off all sorrow for her (slain) children, began to show great
affection for the Pandavas as if they were her own children. Endued with
great energy, the Kuru king Yudhishthira, never did anything that was
disagreeable to the royal son of Vichitraviryya. On the other hand, he
always behaved towards him in a highly agreeable way. Whatever acts,
grave or light, were directed by king Dhritarashtra, or the helpless
Gandhari to be done, were all accomplished with reverence, O monarch, by
that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the Pandava king. The old king
became highly gratified with such conduct of Yudhishthira. Indeed, he was
grieved at the remembrance of his own wicked son. Rising every day at
early dawn, he purified himself and went through his recitations, and
then blessed the Pandavas by wishing them victory in battle. Making the
usual gifts unto the Brahmanas and causing them to utter benedictions,
and Pouring libations on the sacred fire, the old king prayed for long
life to the Pandavas. Indeed, the king had never derived that great
happiness from his own sons which he always derived from the sons of
Pandu. King Yudhishthira at that time became as agreeable to the
Brahmanas as to the Kshatriyas, and the diverse bands of Vaisyas and
Sudras of his realm. Whatever wrongs were done to him by the sons of
Dhritarashtra, king Yudhishthira, forgot them all, and reverenced his
uncle. If any man did anything that was not agreeable to the son of
Amvika, he became thereby an object of hatred to the intelligent son of
Kunti. Indeed, through fear of Yudhishthira, nobody could talk of the
evil deeds of either Duryodhana or Dhritarashtra. Both Gandhari and
Vidura also wore well pleased with the capacity the king Ajatasatru
showed for bearing wrongs. They were, however, not so pleased, O slayer
of foes, with Bhima. Dharma’s son, Yudhishthira, was truly obedient to
his uncle. Bhima, however, at the sight of Dhritarashtra, became very
cheerless. That slayer of foes, seeing Dharma’s son reverencing the old
king, reverenced him outwardly with a very unwilling heart.”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The people who lived in the Kuru kingdom failed to
notice any variance in the cordiality that subsisted between king
Yudhishthira and the father of Duryodhana. When the Kuru king recollected
his wicked son, he then could not but feel unfriendly, in his heart,
towards Bhima. Bhimasena also, O king, impelled by a heart that seemed to
be wicked, was unable to put up with king Dhritarashtra. Vrikodara
secretly did many acts that were disagreeable to the old king. Through
deceitful servitors he caused the commands of his uncle to be disobeyed.
Recollecting the evil counsels of the old king and some acts of his,
Bhima, one day, in the midst of his friends, slapped his armpits, in the
hearing of Dhritarashtra and of Gandhari. The wrathful Vrikodara,
recollecting his foes Duryodhana and Karna and Dussasana, gave way to a
transport of passion, and said these harsh words: ‘The sons of the blind
king, capable of fighting with diverse kinds of weapons, have all been
despatched by me to the other world with these arms of mine that resemble
a pair of iron clubs. Verily, these are those two arms of mine, looking
like maces of iron, and invincible by foes, coming within whose clasp the
sons of Dhritarashtra have all met with destruction. These are those two
well-developed and round arms of mine, resembling a pair of elephantine
trunks. Coming within their clasp, the foolish sons of Dhritarashtra have
all met with destruction. Smeared with sandal-paste and deserving of that
adornment are those two arms of mine by which Duryodhana has been
despatched to the other world along with all his sons and kinsmen.’
Hearing these and many other words, O king, of Vrikodara, that were
veritable darts, king Dhritarashtra gave way to cheerlessness and sorrow.
Queen Gandhari, however, who was conversant with every duty and possessed
of great intelligence, and who knew what Time brings on its course,
regarded them as untrue. After five and ten years had passed away, O
monarch, king Dhritarashtra afflicted (constantly) by the wordy darts of
Bhima, became penetrated with despair and grief. King Yudhishthira the
son of Kunti, however, knew it not; nor Arjuna of white steeds, nor
Kunti; nor Draupadi possessed of great fame; nor the twin sons of Madri,
conversant with every duty and who were always engaged in acting after
the wishes of Dhritarashtra. Employed in doing the behests of the king,
the twins never said anything that was disagreeable to the old king. Then
Dhritarashtra one day honoured his friends by his confidence. Addressing
‘them with tearful eyes, He said these words.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘How the destruction of the Kurus has happened is
well known to you. All that was brought about by my fault though the
Kauravas approved of all my counsels. Fool that I was, I installed the
wicked minded Duryodhana, that enhancer of the terrors of kinsmen, to
rule over the Kurus. Vasudeva had said unto me, ‘Let this sinful wretch
of wicked understanding be killed along with all his friends and
counsellors.’ I did not listen to those words of grave import. All
wisemen gave me the same beneficial advice. Vidura, and Bhishma, and
Drona, and Kripa, said the same thing. The holy and high-souled Vyasa
repeatedly said the same, as also Sanjaya and Gandhari. Overwhelmed,
however, by filial affection, I could not follow that advice. Bitter
repentance is now my lot for my neglect. I also repent for not having
bestowed that blazing prosperity, derived from sires and grand sires, on
the high-souled Pandavas possessed of every accomplishment. The eldest
brother of Gada foresaw the destruction of all the kings; Janarddana,
however, regarded that destruction as highly beneficial.[2] So many
Anikas of troops, belonging tome, have been destroyed. Alas, my heart is
pierced with thousands of darts in consequence of all these results. Of
wicked understanding as I am, now after the lapse of five and ten years,
I am seeking to expiate my sins. Now at the fourth division of the day or
sometimes at the eighth division, with the regularity of a vow, I eat a
little food for simply conquering my thirst. Gandhari knows this. All my
attendants are under the impression that I eat as usual. Through fear of
Yudhishthira alone I concealed my acts, for if the eldest son of Pandu
came to know of my vow, he would feel great pain. Clad in deer-skin, I
lie down on the Earth, spreading a small quantity of Kusa grass, and pass
the time in silent recitations. Gandhari of great fame passes her time in
the observance of similar vows. Even thus do we both behave, we that have
lost a century of gong none of whom even retreated from battle. I do not,
however, grieve for those children of mine. They have all died in the
observance of Kshatriya duties.’ Having said these words, the old king
then addressed Yudhishthira in particular and said, ‘Blessed be thou, O
son of the princess of Yadu’s race. Listen now to what I say. Cherished
by thee, O son, I have lived these years very happily. I have (with thy
help) made large gifts and performed Sraddhas repeatedly.[3] I have, O
son, to the best of my power, achieved merit largely. This Gandhari,
though destitute of sons, has lived with great fortitude, looking all the
while at me. They whom inflicted great wrongs on Draupadi and robbed thee
of thy affluence,–those cruel wights–have all left the world, slain in
battle agreeably to the practice of their order.

I have nothing to do for them, O delighter of the Kurus. Stain with their
faces towards battle, they have attained to those regions which are for
wielders of weapons.[4] I should now accomplish what is beneficial and
meritorious for me as also for Gandhari. It behoveth thee, O great king,
to grant me permission. Thou art the foremost of all righteous persons.
Thou art always devoted to righteousness. The king is the preceptor of
all creatures. It is for this that I say so. With thy permission, O hero,
I shall retire into the woods, clad in rags and barks. O king, alone with
this Gandhari, I shall live in the woods, always blessing thee. It is
meet, O son, for the members of our race, to make over sovereignty, when
old age comes, to children and lead the forest mode of life. Subsisting
there on air alone, or abstaining from all food, I shall, with this wife
of mine, O hero, practise severe austerities. Thou shalt be a sharer of
these penances, O son, for thou art the king. Kings are sharers of both
auspicious and inauspicious acts done in their kingdom.'[5]

“Yudhishthira said, ‘When thou, O king, art thus subject to grief,
sovereignty does not please me at all. Fie on me that am of wicked
understanding, devoted to the pleasures of rule, and utterly heedless of
my true concerns. Alas, I, with all my brothers, was ignorant of thyself
having so long been afflicted with grief, emaciated with fasts,
abstaining from food, and lying on the bare ground. Alas, foolish that I
am, I have been deceived by thee that hast deep intelligence, inasmuch
as, having inspired me with confidence at first thou hast latterly
undergone such grief. What need have I of kingdom or of articles of
enjoyment, what need of sacrifices or of happiness, when thou, O king,
hast undergone go much affliction? I regard my kingdom as a disease, and
myself also as afflicted. Plunged though I am in sorrow, what, however,
is the use of these words that I am addressing thee? Thou art our father,
thou art our mother; thou art our foremost of superiors. Deprived of thy
presence, how shall we live? O best of king, let Yuyutsu, the son of thy
loins, be made king, or, indeed, anybody else whom thou mayst wish. I
shall go into the woods. Do thou rule the kingdom. It behoveth thee not
to burn me that am already burned by infamy. I am not the king. Thou art
the king. I am dependent on thy will. How can I dare grant permission to
thee that art my preceptor? O sinless one, I harbour no resentment in my
heart on account of the wrongs done to us by Suyodhana. It was ordained
that it should be so. Both ourselves and others were stupefied (by fate).
We are thy children as Duryodhana and others were. My conviction is that
Gandhari is as much my mother as Kunti. If thou, O king of kings, goest
to the woods leaving me, I shall the, follow thee. I swear by my soul.
This Earth, with her belt of seas, go full of wealth, will not be a
source of joy to me when I am deprived of thy presence. All this belongs
to thee. I gratify thee, bending my head. We are all dependent on thee, O
king of kings. Let the fever of thy heart be dispelled. I think, O lord
of Earth, that all this that has come upon thee is due to destiny. By
good luck, I had thought, that waiting upon thee and executing thy
commands obediently, I would rescue thee from the fever of thy heart.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O delighter of the Kurus, my mind is fixed, O son,
on penances. O puissant one, it is meet for our race that I should retire
into the woods. I have lived long under thy protection, O son, I have for
many years been served by thee with reverence. I am now old. It behoveth
thee, O king, to grant me permission (to take up my abode in the woods).’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said these words unto king Yudhishthira,
the just, king Dhritarashtra, the son of Amvika, trembling the while and
with hands joined together, further said unto the high-souled Sanjaya and
the great car-warrior Kripa, these words, ‘I wish to solicit the king
through you. My mind has become cheerless, my mouth has become dry,
through the weakness of age and the exertion of speaking.’ Having said
so, that perpetuator of Kuru’s race, viz., the, righteous-souled old
king, blessed with prosperity, leaned on Gandhari and suddenly looked
like one deprived of life. Beholding him thus seated like one deprived of
consciousness, that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the royal son of
Kunti, became penetrated by a poignant grief.

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Alas, he whose strength was equal to that of a
hundred thousand elephants, alas, that king sitteth today, leaning on a
woman. Alas! he by whom the iron image of Bhima on a former occasion wag
reduced to fragments, leaneth today on a weak woman. Fie on me that am
exceedingly unrighteous! Fie on my understanding! Fie on my knowledge of
the scripture! Fie on me for whom this lord of Earth lieth today in a
manner that is not becoming of him! I also shall fast even as my
preceptor. Verily, I shall fast if this king and Gandhari of great fame
abstain from food.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Pandava king, conversant with every duty,
using his own hand, then softly rubbed with cold water the breast and the
face of the old monarch. At the touch of the king’s hand which was
auspicious and fragrant, and on which were jewels and medicinal herbs,
Dhritarashtra regained his senses.[6]

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Do thou again touch me, O son of Pandu, with thy
hand, and do thou embrace me. O thou of eyes like lotus petals, I am
restored to my senses through the auspicious touch of thy hand. O ruler
of men, I desire to smell thy head. The clasp of thy arms is highly
gratifying to me. This is the eighth division of the day and, therefore,
the hour of taking my food. For not having taken my food, O child of
Kuru’s race, I am so weak as to be unable to move. In addressing my
solicitations to thee, great hag been my exertion. Rendered cheerless by
it, O son, I had fainted. O perpetuator of Kuru’s race, I think that
receiving the touch of thy hand, which resembles nectar in its vivifying
effects I have been restored to my senses.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed, O Bharata, by the eldest brother of
his father, the son of Kunti, from affection, gently touched every part
of his body. Regaining his life-breaths, king Dhritarashtra embraced the
son of Pandu with his arms and smelled his head. Vidura and others wept
aloud in great grief. In consequence, however, of the poignancy of their
sorrow, they said nothing to either the old king or the son of Pandu.
Gandhari, conversant with every duty, bore her sorrow with fortitude, and
loaded as her heart was, O king, said nothing. The other ladies, Kunti
among them, became greatly afflicted. They wept, shedding copious tears,
and sat surrounding the old king. Then ‘Dhritarashtra, once more
addressing Yudhishthira, said these words, Do thou, O king, grant me
permission to practise penances. By speaking repeatedly, O son, my mind
becomes weakened. It behoveth thee not, O son, to afflict me after this.’
When that foremost one of Kuru’s race was saying go unto Yudhishthira, a
loud sound of wailing arose from all the warriors there present.
Beholding his royal father of great splendour, emaciated and pale,
reduced to a state unbecoming of him, worn out with fasts, and looking
like a skeleton covered with skin, Dharma’s son Yudhishthira shed tears
of grief and once more said these words. ‘O foremost of men, I do not
desire life and the Earth. O scorcher of foes, I shall employ myself in
doing what is agreeable to thee. If I deserve thy favour, if I am dear to
thee, do thou eat something. I shall then know what to do.’ Endued with
great energy, Dhritarashtra then said to Yudhishthira,–‘I wish, O son,
to take some food, with thy permission.’ When Dhritarashtra said these
words to Yudhishthira, Satyavati’s son Vyasa came there and said as


“Vyasa said, ‘O mighty-armed Yudhishthira, do without any scruple what
Dhritarashtra of Kuru’s race hag said. This king is old. He has, again,
been made sonless. I think he will not be able to bear his grief long.
The highly blessed Gandhari, possessed of great wisdom and endued with
kindly speech, bears with fortitude her excessive grief owing to the logs
of her song. I also tell thee (what the old king says). Do thou obey my
words. Let the old king have thy permission. Let him not die an
inglorious death at home. Let this king follow the path of all royal
sages of old. Verily, for all royal sages, retirement into the woods
comes at last.'”

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed at that time by Vyasa of wonderful
deeds, king Yudhishthira the just, possessed of mighty energy, said unto
the great ascetic these words, ‘Thy holy self is held by us in great
reverence. Thou alone art our preceptor. Thou alone art the refuge of
this our kingdom as also of our race. I am thy son. Thou, O holy one, art
my father. Thou art our king, and thou art our preceptor. The son should,
agreeably to every duty, be obedient to the commands of his sire.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by the king. Vyasa, that
foremost of poets, foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas,
endued with great energy once more said unto Yudhishthira these words,
‘It is even so, O mighty-armed one. It is even as thou sayest, O Bharata.
This king has reached old age. He is now in the last stage of life.
Permitted both by me and thee, let this lord of Earth do what he
proposes. Do not stand as an impediment in his way. Even this is the
highest duty, O Yudhishthira, of royal sages. They should die either in
battle or in the woods agreeably to the scriptures. Thy royal sire,
Pandu, O king of kings, reverenced this old king as a disciple reverences
his preceptor. (At that time) he adored the gods in many great sacrifices
with profuse gifts consisting of hills of wealth and jewels, and ruled
the Earth and protected his subjects wisely and well. Having obtained a
large progeny and a swelling kingdom, he enjoyed great influence for
thirteen years while you were in exile, and gave away much wealth.
Thyself also, O chief of men, with thy servants, O sinless one, hast
adored this king and the famous Gandhari with that ready obedience which.
a disciple pays to his preceptor. Do thou grant permission to thy father.
The time has come for him to attend to the practice of penances. He does
not harbour, O Yudhishthira, even the slightest anger against any of you.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said these words, Vyasa soothed the old
king. Yudhishthira then answered him, saying, ‘So be it.’ The great
ascetic then left the palace for proceeding to the woods. After the holy
Vyasa had gone away, the royal son of Pandu softly said these words unto
his old father, bending himself in humility,–What the holy Vyasa has
said, what is thy own purpose, what the great bowman Kripa has said, what
Vidura has expressed, and what has been asked for by Yuyutsu and Sanjaya,
I shall accomplish with speed. All these are worthy of my respect, for
all of them are well-wishers of our race. This, however, O king, I beg of
thee by bending my head. Do thou first eat and afterwards go to thy
forest retreat.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having received the king’s permission, king
Dhritarashtra of great energy then proceeded to his own palace, followed
by Gandhari. With weakened strength and slow motion, that king of great
intelligence walked with difficulty, like the leader, worn out with age,
of an elephantine herd. He was followed by Vidura of great learning, and
his charioteer Sanjaya, as also that mighty bowman Kripa, the son of
Saradwata. Entering his mansion, O king, he went through the morning
rites and after gratifying many foremost of Brahmanas he took some food.
Gandhari conversant with every duty, as also Kunti of great intelligence,
worshipped with offers of various articles by their daughters-in-law,
then took some food, O Bharata. After Dhritarashtra had eaten, and Vidura
also and others had done the same, the Pandavas, having finished their
meals, approached and sat around the old king. Then the son of Amvika, O
monarch, addressing Kunti’s son who was seated near him and touching his
back with his hand, said, ‘Thou shouldst always, O delighter of the
Kurus, act without heedlessness as regards everything connected with thy
kingdom consisting of eight limbs, O foremost of rulers, and in which the
claims of righteousness should ever be kept foremost.[7] Thou art
possessed, O son of Kunti, of intelligence and learning. Listen to me, O
king, as I tell thee what the means are by which, O son of Pandu, the
kingdom is capable of being righteously protected. Thou shouldst always,
O Yudhishthira, honour those persons that are old in learning. Thou
shouldst listen to what they would say, and act accordingly without any
scruple. Rising at dawn, O king, worship them with due rites, and when
the time comes for action, thou shouldst consult them about thy
(intended) acts. When, led by the desire of knowing what would be
beneficial to thee in respect of thy measures, thou honourest them; they
will, O son, always declare what is for thy good, O Bharata. Thou
shouldst always keep thy senses, as thou keepest thy horses. They will
then prove beneficial to thee, like wealth that is not wasted. Thou
shouldst employ only such ministers as have passed the tests of honesty,
(i.e., as are possessed of loyalty, disinterestedness, continence, and
courage), as are hereditary officers of state, possessed of pure conduct,
self-restrained, clever in the discharge of business, and endued with
righteous conduct. Thou shouldst always collect information through spies
in diverse disguises, whose faithfulness have been tasted, who are
natives of thy kingdom, and who should not be known to thy foes. Thy
citadel should be properly protected with strong walls and arched gates.
On every side the walls, with watch-towers on them standing close to one
another, should be such as to admit of six persons walking side by side
on their top.[8] The gates should all be large and sufficiently strong.
Kept in proper places those gates should be carefully guarded. Let thy
purposes be accomplished through men whose families and conduct are well
known. Thou shouldst always protect thy person also with care, in matters
connected with thy food, O Bharata, as also in the hours of sport and
eating and in matters connected with the garlands thou wearest and the
beds thou liest upon. The ladies of thy household should be properly
protected, looked over by aged and trusted servitors, of good behaviour,
well-born, and possessed of learning, O Yudhishthira. Thou shouldst make
ministers of Brahmanas possessed of learning, endued with humility,
well-born, conversant with religion and wealth, and adorned with
simplicity of behaviour. Thou shouldst hold consultations with them. Thou
shouldst not, however, admit many persons into thy consultations. On
particular occasions thou mayst consult with the whole of thy council or
with a portion of it. Entering a chamber or spot that is well protected
(from intruders) thou shouldst hold thy consultation. Thou mayst hold thy
consultation in a forest that is divested of grass. Thou shouldst never
consult at night time.[9] Apes and birds and other animals that can
imitate human beings should all be excluded from the council chamber, as
also idiots and lame and palsied individuals. I think that the evils that
flow from the divulgence of the counsels of kings are such that they
cannot be remedied. Thou shouldst repeatedly refer, in the midst of thy
counsellors, to the evils that arise from the divulgence of counsels, O
chastiser of foes, and to the merits that flow from counsels properly
kept. Thou shouldst, O Yudhishthira, act in such a manner as to ascertain
the merits and faults of the inhabitants of thy city and the provinces.
Let thy laws, O king, be always administered by trusted judges placed in
charge thereof, who should also be contented and of good behaviour. Their
acts should also be ascertained by thee through spies. Let thy judicial
officers, O Yudhishthira, inflict punishments, according to the law, on
offenders after careful ascertainment of the gravity of the offences.
They that are disposed to take bribes, they that are the violators of the
chastity of other people’s wives, they that inflict heavy punishments,
they that are utterers of false speeches, they that are revilers, they
that are stained by cupidity, they that are murderers, they that are
doers of rash deeds, they that are disturbers of assemblies and the
sports of others, and they that bring about a confusion of castes,
should, agreeably to considerations of time and place, be punished with
either fines or death.[10] In the morning thou shouldst see those that
are employed in making thy disbursements. After that thou shouldst look
to thy toilet and then to thy food. Thou shouldst next supervise thy
forces, gladdening them on every occasion. Thy evenings should be set
apart for envoys and spies. The latter end of the night should be devoted
by thee to settle what acts should be done by thee in the day. Mid-nights
and mid-days should be devoted to thy amusements and sports. At all
times, however thou shouldst think of the means for accomplishing thy
purposes. At the proper time, adorning thy person, thou shouldst sit
prepared to make gifts in profusion. The turns for different acts, O son,
ceaselessly revolve like wheels. Thou shouldst always exert thyself to
fill thy treasuries of various kinds by lawful means. Thou shouldst avoid
all unlawful means towards that end. Ascertaining through thy spies who
thy foes are that are bent on finding out thy laches, thou shouldst,
through trusted agents, cause them to be destroyed from a distance.
Examining their conduct, thou shouldst O perpetuator of Kuru’s race,
appoint thy servants. Thou shouldst cause all thy acts to be accomplished
through thy servitors: whether they are appointed for those acts or not.
The commandant of thy forces should be of firm conduct, courageous,
capable of bearing hardships, loyal, and devoted to thy good. Artisans
and mechanics, O son of Pandu, dwelling in thy provinces, should always
do thy acts like kine and asses.[11] Thou shouldst always, O
Yudhishthira, be careful to ascertain thy own laches as also those of thy
foes. The laches also of thy own men as also of the men of thy foes
should equally be ascertained. Those men of thy kingdom, that are well
skilled in their respective vocations, and are devoted to thy good,
should be favoured by thee with adequate means of support. A wise king, O
ruler of men, should always see that the accomplishments of his
accomplished subjects might be kept up. They would then be firmly devoted
to thee, seeing that they did not fall away from their skill.'”


“Dhritarashtra said, Thou shouldst always ascertain the Mandalas that
belong to thee, to thy foes, to neutrals, and to those that are disposed
equally towards thee and thy foes, O Bharata.[12] The Mandalas also of
the four kinds of foes, of these called Atatayins, and of allies, and the
allies of foes, should be distinguished by thee, O crusher of foes.[13]
The ministers of state, the people of the provinces, the garrisons of
forts, and the forces, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, may or may not be
tampered with. (Thou shouldst, therefore, behave in such a manner that
these may not be tampered with by thy foes). The twelve (enumerated
above), O son of Kunti, constitute the principal concerns of kings. These
twelve, as also sixty, having Ministers for their foremost, should be
looked after by the king.[14] Professors conversant with the science of
politics call these by the name of Mandala. Understand, O Yudhishthira,
that the six incidents (of peace, war, march, halt, sowing dissensions,
and conciliation) depend upon these. Growth and diminution should also be
understood, as also the condition of being stationary. The attributes of
the sixfold incidents, O thou of mighty arms, as resting on the two and
seventy (already enumerated), should also be carefully understood. When
one’s own side has become strong and the side of the foe his become weak,
it is then, O son of Kunti, that the king should war against the foe and
strive to will victory. When the enemy is strong and one’s own side is
weak, then the weak king, if possessed of intelligence, should seek to
make peace with the enemy. The king should collect a large store of
articles (for his commissariat). When able to march out, he should on no
account make a delay, O Bharata. Besides, he should on that occasion set
his men to offices for which they are fit, without being moved by any
other consideration. (When obliged to yield a portion of his territories)
he should give his foe only such land as does not produce crops in
abundance. (When obliged to give wealth), he should give gold containing
much base metal. (When obliged to give a portion of his forces), he
should give such men as are not noted for strength. One that is skilled
in treaties should, when taking land or gold or men from the foe, take
what is possessed of attributes the reverse of this.[15] In making
treaties of peace, the son of the (defeated) king, should be demanded as
a hostage, O chief of the Bharatas. A contrary course of conduct would
not be beneficial, O son. If a calamity comes over the king, he should,
with knowledge of means-and counsels, strive to emancipate himself from
it.[16] The king, O foremost of monarchs, should maintain the cheerless
and the destitute (such as the blind, the deaf and dumb, and the
diseased) among his people. Himself protecting his own kingdom, the king,
possessed of great might, should direct all his efforts, either one after
another or simultaneously, against his foes. He should afflict and
obstruct them and seek to drain their treasury. The king that desires his
own growth should never injure the subordinate chieftains that are under
his sway. O son of Kunti, thou shouldst never seek to war with that king
who desires to conquer the whole Earth. Thou shouldst seek to gain
advantages by producing, with the aid of thy ministers, dissensions among
his aristocracy and subordinate chieftains. A powerful king should never
seek to exterminate weak kings, for these do good to the world by
cherishing the good and punishing the wicked. O foremost of kings, thou
shouldst live, adopting the behaviour of the cane.[17] If a strong king
advances against a weak one, the latter should make him desist, by
adopting conciliation and other modes. If unable to stop the invader in
this way, then he, as also those that are disposed to do him good, should
fall upon the foe for battling with him. Indeed, with his ministers and
treasury and citizens, he should thus adopt force against the invader. If
battling with the foe becomes hopeless, then he should fall, sacrificing
his resources one after another. Casting off his life in this way, he
will attain to liberation from all sorrow.'”


“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O best of kings, thou shouldst also reflect
properly on war and peace. Each is of two kinds. The means are various,
and the circumstances also, under which war or peace may be made, are
various, O Yudhishthira.[18] O thou of Kuru’s race, thou shouldst, with
coolness, reflect on the two (viz., thy strength and weakness) with
regard to thyself. Thou shouldst not suddenly march against a foe that is
possessed of contented and healthy soldiers, and that is endued with
intelligence. On the other hand, thou shouldst think carefully of the
means of vanquishing him.[19] Thou shouldst march against a foe that is
not provided with contented and healthy combatants. When everything is
favourable, the foe may be beaten. After that, however, the victor should
retire (and stay in a strong position). He should next cause the foe to
be plunged into various calamities, and sow dissensions among his allies.
He should afflict the foe and inspire terror in his heart, and attacking
him weaken his forces. The king, conversant with the scriptures that
marches against a foe, should think of the three kinds of strength, and,
indeed, reflect on his own strength and of his foe.[20] Only that king, O
Bharata, who is endued with alacrity, discipline, and strength of
counsels, should march against a foe. When his position is otherwise, he
should avoid defensive operations.[21] The king should provide himself
with power of wealth, power of allies, power of foresters, power of paid
soldiery, and power of the mechanical and trading classes, O puissant
one.[22] Among all these, power of allies and power of wealth are
superior to the rest. The power of classes and that of the standing army
are equal. The power of spies is regarded by the king as equal in
efficacy to either of the above, on many occasions, when the time comes
for applying each. Calamity, O king, as it overtakes rulers should be
regarded as of many forms. Listen, O thou of Kuru’s race, as to what
those diverge forms are. Verily of various kinds are calamities, O son of
Pandu. Thou shouldst always count them, distinguishing their forms, O
king, and strive to meet them by applying the well-known ways of
conciliation and the rest (without concealing them through idleness). The
king should, when equipt with a good force, march (out against a foe), O
scorcher of enemies. He should attend also to the considerations of time
and place, while preparing to march, as also to the forces he has
collected and his own merits (in other respects). That king who is
attentive to his own growth and advancement should not march unless
equipt with cheerful and healthy warriors. When strong, O son of Pandu,
he may march in even an unfavourable season. The king should make a river
having quivers for its stones, steeds and cars for its current, and
standards for the trees that cover its banks, and which is miry with
foot-soldiers and elephants. Even such a river should the king apply for
the destruction of his foe. Agreeably to the science known to Usanas,
arrays called Sakata, Padma, and Vijra, should be formed, O Bharata, for
fighting the enemy.[23] Knowing everything about the enemy’s strength
through spies, and examining his own strength himself the king should
commence war either within his own territories or within those of his
foe.[24] The king should always gratify his army, and hurl all his
strongest warriors (against the enemy). First ascertaining the state of
his kingdom, he should apply conciliation or the other well-known means.
By all means, O king, should the body be protected. One should do that
which is highly beneficial for one both here and hereafter. The king, O
monarch, by behaving duly according to these ways, attains to Heaven
hereafter, after ruling his subjects righteously in this world. O
foremost one of Kuru’s race, it is even thus that thou shouldst always
seek the good of thy subjects for attaining to both the worlds.[25] Thou
hast been instructed in all duties by Bhishma, by Krishna, and by Vidura,
I should also, O best of kings, from the affection I bear thee, give thee
these instructions. O giver of profuse presents in sacrifices, thou
shouldst do all this duly. Thou shalt, by conducting thyself in this way,
become dear to thy subjects and attain to felicity in Heaven. That king
who adores the deities in a hundred horse-sacrifices, and he who rules
his subjects righteously, acquire merit that is equal.'”


“Yudhishthira said, ‘O lord of Earth, I shall do as thou biddest me. O
foremost of kings, I should be further instructed by thee. Bhishma has
ascended to Heaven. The slayer of Madhu has departed (for Dwaraka).
Vidura and Sanjaya also will accompany thee to the forest. Who else,
therefore, than thee will teach me? Those instructions which thou
imparted today, desirous of doing good to me, I shall certainly follow, O
lord of Earth. Be thou assured of this, O king.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by king Yudhishthira the just,
of great intelligence, the royal sage, Dhritarashtra, O chief of the
Bharatas, wished to obtain the king’s permission (about his retirement to
the forest). And he said, ‘Cease, O son, great has been my toil.’ Having
said these words, the old king entered the apartments of Gandhari. Unto
that husband of hers who resembled a second Lord of all creatures, while
resting on a seat, Gandhari of righteous conduct, conversant with the
opportuneness of everything, said these words, the hour being suited to
them,–‘Thou hast obtained the permission of that great Rishi, viz.,
Vyasa himself. When, however, wilt thou go to the forest, with the
permission of Yudhishthira?’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O Gandhari, I have received the permission of my
high-souled sire. With the permission of Yudhishthira (next obtained), I
shall soon retire into the woods. I desire, however, to give away some
wealth capable of following the status of Preta, in respect of all those
sons of mine who were addicted to calamitous dice. Verily, I desire to
make those gifts, inviting all the people to my mansion.'[26]

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said so (to Gandhari), Dhritarashtra
sent for Yudhishthira. The latter, at his uncle’s command, brought all
the articles necessary. Many Brahmanas residing in Kuru-jangala, and many
Kshatriyas, many Vaisyas, and many Sudras also, came to Dhritarashtra’s
mansion, with gratified hearts. The old king, coming out of the inner
apartments, beheld them all, as also his subjects assembled together.
Beholding all those assembled citizens and inhabitants of the provinces,
and his well-wishers also thus gathered together, and the large number of
Brahmanas arrived from diverge realms, king Dhritarashtra of great
intelligence, O monarch, said these words,–‘Ye all and the Kurus have
lived together for many long years, well-wishers of each other, and each
employed in doing good to the other. What I shall now say in view of the
opportunity that has come, should be accomplished by you all even as
disciples accomplish the biddings of their preceptors. I have set my
heart upon retiring into the woods, along with Gandhari as my companion.
Vyasa has approved of this, as also the son of Kunti. Let me have your
permission too. Do not hesitate in this. That goodwill, which has always
existed between you and us, is not to be seen, I believe, in other realms
between the rulers and the ruled. I am worn out with this load of years
on my head. I am destitute of children. Ye sinless ones, I am emaciated
with fasts, along with Gandhari. The kingdom having passed to
Yudhishthira, I have enjoyed great happiness. Ye foremost of men, I think
that happiness has been greater than what I could expect from
Duryodhana’s sovereignty. What other refuge can I have, old as I am and
destitute of children, save the woods? Ye highly blessed ones, it behoves
you to grant me the permission I seek. Hearing these words of his, all
these residents of Kurujangala, uttered loud lamentations, O best of the
Bharatas, with voices choked with tears. Desirous of telling those
grief-stricken people something more, Dhritarashtra of great energy, once
more addressed them and said as follows.'”


“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Santanu duly ruled this Earth. Similarly,
Vichitraviryya also, protected by Bhishma, ruled you. Without doubt, all
this is known to you. It is also known to you how Pandu, my brother, was
dear to me as also to you. He also ruled you duly. Ye sinless ones, I
have also served you. Whether those services have come up to the mark or
fallen short of it, it behoveth you to forgive me, for I have attended to
my duties without heedlessness. Duryodhana also enjoyed this kingdom
without a thorn in his side. Foolish as he was and endued with wicked
understanding, he did not, however, do any wrong to you. Through the
fault, however, of that prince of wicked understanding, and through his
pride, as also through my own impolicy, a great carnage has taken place
of persons of the royal order. Whether I have, in that matter, acted
rightly or wrongly, I pray you with joined hands to dispel all
remembrance of it from your hearts.–This one is old; this one has lost
all his children; this one is afflicted with grief; this one was our
king;–this one is a descendant of former kings;–considerations like
these should induce you to forgive me. This Gandhari also is cheerless
and old. She too has lost her children and is helpless. Afflicted with
grief for the loss of her sops, she solicits you with me. Knowing that
both of us are old and afflicted and destitute of children, grant us the
permission we seek. Blessed be you, we seek your protection. This Kuru
king, Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, should be looked after by you all,
in prosperity as well as in adversity. He will never fall into distress,
he that has for his counsellors four such brothers of abundant prowess.
All of them are conversant with both righteousness and wealth, and
resemble the very guardians of the world. Like the illustrious Brahman
himself, the Lord of the universe of creatures, this Yudhishthira of
mighty energy will rule you. That which should certainly be said is now
said by me. I make over to you it this Yudhishthira here as a deposit. I
make you also a deposit in the hands of this hero. It behoves you all to
forget and forgive whatever injury has been done to you by those sons of
mine that are no longer alive, or, indeed, by any one else belonging to
me. Ye never harboured any wrath against me on any previous occasion. I
join my hands before you who are distinguished for loyalty. Here, I bow
to you all. Ye sinless one, I, with Gandhari by my side, solicit your
pardon now for anything done to you by those sons of mine, of restless
understandings, stained by cupidity, and ever acting as their desires
prompted.’ Thus addressed by the old monarch, all those citizens and
inhabitants of the provinces, filled with tears, said nothing but only
looked at one another.”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed, O thou of Kuru’s race, by the old
king, the citizens and the inhabitants of the provinces stood sometime
like men deprived of consciousness. King Dhritarashtra, finding them
silent, with their throats choked by grief, once more addressed them,
saying, ‘Ye best of men, old as I am, sonless, and indulging, through
cheerlessness of heart, in diverse lamentations along with this my wedded
wife, I have obtained the permission, in the matter of my retirement into
the forest, of my sire, the Island-born Krishna himself, as also of king
Yudhishthira, who is conversant with every duty, ye righteous denizens of
this kingdom. Ye sinless ones, I, with Gandhari, repeatedly solicit you
with bent heads. It behoves you all to grant us permission.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these pitiable words of the Kuru king,
O monarch, the assembled denizens of Kurujangala all began to weep.
Covering their faces with their hands and upper garments, all those men
burning with grief, wept for a while as fathers and mothers would weep
(at the prospect of a dear son about to leave them for ever). Bearing in
their hearts, from which every other thought had been dispelled, the
sorrow born of Dhritarashtra’s desire to leave the world, they looked
like men deprived of all consciousness. Checking that agitation of heart
due to the announcement of Dhritarashtra’s desire of going to the forest,
they gradually were able to address one another, expressing their wishes.
Settling their words in brief, O king, they charged a certain Brahmana
with the task of replying unto the old monarch. That learned Brahmana, of
good behaviour, chosen by unanimous consent, conversant with all topics,
master of all the Richs, and named Samba, endeavoured to speak. Taking
the permission of the whole assembly and with its full approbation, that
learned Brahmana of great intelligence, conscious of his own abilities,
said these words unto the king,–‘O monarch, the answer of this assembly
has been committed to my care. I shall voice it, O hero. Do thou receive
it, O king. What thou gayest, O king of kings, is all true, O puissant
one. There is nothing in it that is even slightly untrue. Thou art our
well-wisher, as, indeed, we are thine. Verily, in this race of kings,
there never wag a king who coming to rule his subjects became unpopular
with them. Ye have ruled us like fathers or brothers. King Duryodhana
never did us any wrong. Do that, O king, which that righteous-souled
ascetic, the son of Satyavati, has said. He is, verily, our foremost of
instructors. Left by thee, O monarch, we shall have to pass our days in
grief and sorrow, filled with remembrance of thy hundreds of virtues. We
were well protected and ruled by king Duryodhana even as we had been
ruled by king Santanu, or by Chitrangada, or by thy father, O monarch,
who was protected by the prowess of Bhishma, or by Pandu, that ruler of
Earth, who was overlooked by thee in all his acts. Thy son, O monarch,
never did us the slightest wrong. We lived, relying on that king as
trustfully as on our own father. It is known to thee how we lived (under
that ruler). After the same manner, we have enjoyed great happiness, O
monarch, for thousands of years, under the rule of Kunti’s son of great
intelligence and wisdom[27]. This righteous-souled king who performs
sacrifices with gifts in profusion, follows the conduct of the royal
sages of old, belonging to thy race, of meritorious deeds, having Kuru
and Samvara and others and Bharata of great intelligence among them.
There is nothing, O monarch, that is even slightly censurable in the
matter of this Yudhishthira’s rule. Protected and ruled by thee, we have
all lived in great happiness. The slightest demerit is incapable of being
alleged against thee and thy son. Regarding what thou hast said about
Duryodhana in the matter of this carnage of kinsmen, I beg thee, O
delighter of the Kurus (to listen to me).’

“The Brahmana continued, ‘The destruction that has overtaken the Kurus
was not brought about by Duryodhana. It was not brought about by thee.
Nor was it brought about by Karna and Suvala’s son. We know that it was
brought about by destiny, and that it was incapable of being
counteracted. Verily, destiny is not capable of being resisted by human
exertion. Eight and ten Akshauhinis of troops, O monarch, were brought
together. In eight and ten days that host was destroyed by the foremost
of Kuru warriors, viz., Bhishma and Drona and Kripa and others, and the
high-souled Karna, and the heroic Yuyudhana, and Dhrishtadyumna, and by
the four sons of Pandu, that is, Bhima and Arjuna and twins. This
(tremendous) carnage, O king, could not happen without the influence of
destiny. Without doubt, by Kshatriyas in particular, should foes be slain
and death encountered in battle. By those foremost of men, endued with
science and might of arms, the Earth has been exterminated with her
steeds and cars and elephants. Thy son was not the cause of that carnage
of high-souled kings. Thou wert not the cause, nor thy servants, nor
Karna, nor Suvala’s son. The destruction of those foremost ones of Kuru’s
race and of kings by thousands, know, was brought about by destiny. Who
can say anything else in this? Thou art regarded as the Guru and the
master of the whole world. We, therefore, in thy presence, absolve thy
righteous-souled son. Let that king, with all his associates, obtain the
regions reserved for heroes. Permitted by foremost of Brahmanas, let him
sport blissfully in heaven. Thou also shalt attain to great merit, and
unswerving steadiness in virtue. O thou of excellent vows, follow thou
fully the duties indicated in the Vedas. It is not necessary for either
thee or ourselves to look after the Pandavas. They are capable of ruling
the very Heavens, what need then be said of the Earth? O thou of great
intelligence, in prosperity as in adversity, the subjects of this
kingdom, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, will be obedient to the Pandavas
who have conduct for their ornament. The son of Pandu makes those
valuable gifts which are always to be made to foremost of regenerate
persons in sacrifices and in obsequial rites, after the manner of all the
great kings of antiquity. The high-minded son of Kunti is mild, and
self-restrained, and is always disposed to spend as if he were a second
Vaisravana. He has great ministers that attend on him. He is
compassionate to even his foes. Indeed, that foremost one of Bharata’s
race is of pure conduct. Endued with great intelligence, he is perfectly
straight-forward in his dealings and rules and protects us like a father
protecting his children. From association with him who is the son of
Dharma, O royal sage, Bhima and Arjuna and others will never do us the
least wrong. They are mild, O thou of Kuru’s race, unto them that are
mild, and fierce like snakes of virulent poison unto them that are
fierce. Possessed of great energy, those high-souled ones are always
devoted to the good of the people. Neither Kunti, nor thy
(daughter-in-law) Panchali, nor Ulupi, nor the princess of the Sattwata
race, will do the least wrong to these people.[28] The affection which
thou hast shown towards us and which in Yudhishthira is seen to exist in
a still larger measure is incapable of being forgotten by the people of
the city and the provinces. Those mighty car-warriors, viz., the son of
Kunti, themselves devoted to the duties of the righteousness, will
protect and cherish the people even if these happen to be unrighteous. Do
thou, therefore, O king, dispelling all anxiety of heart on account of
Yudhishthira, set thyself to the accomplishment of all meritorious acts,
O foremost of men.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words, fraught with righteousness
and merit, of that Brahmana and approving of them, every person in that
assembly said, ‘Excellent, Excellent’ and accepted them as his own.
Dhritarashtra also, repeatedly applauding those words, slowly dismissed
that assembly of his subjects. Thus honoured by them and looked upon with
auspicious glances, the old king, O chief of Bharata’s race, joined his
hands and honoured them all in return. He then entered his own mansion
with Gandhari. Listen now to what he did after that night had passed


“Vaisampayana said, ‘After that night had passed away, Dhritarashtra, the
son of Amvika, despatched Vidura to Yudhishthira’s mansion. Endued with
great energy and the foremost of all persons possessed of intelligence,
Vidura, having arrived at Yudhishthira’s mansion, addressed that foremost
of men, that king of unfading glory, in these words, ‘King Dhritarashtra
has undergone the preliminary rites for accomplishing his purpose of
retiring into the woods. He will set out for the woods, O king, on the
coming day of full moon of the month of Kartika. He now solicits from
thee, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, some wealth. He wishes to perform
the Sraddha of the high-souled son of Ganga, as also of Drona and
Somadatta and Valhika of great intelligence, and of all his sons as also
of all well-wishers of his that have been slain, and, if thou permittest
it, of that wicked-souled wight, viz., the ruler of the Sindhus.'[29]
Hearing these words of Vidura, both Yudhishthira, and Pandit’s son Arjuna
of curly hair, became very glad and applauded them highly. Bhima,
however, of great energy and unappeasable wrath, did not accept those
words of Vidura in good spirits, recollecting the acts of Duryodhana. The
diadem-decked Phalguna, understanding the thoughts of Bhimasena, slightly
bending his face downwards, addressed that foremost of men in these
words, ‘O Bhima, our royal father who is advancing in years, has resolved
to retire into the woods. He wishes to make gifts for advancing the
happiness of his slain kinsmen and well-wishers now in the other world. O
thou of Kuru’s race, he wishes to give away wealth that belongs to thee
by conquest. Indeed, O mighty-armed one, it is for Bhishma and others
that the old king is desirous of making those gifts. It behoves thee to
grant thy permission. By good luck it is, O thou of mighty arms that
Dhritarashtra today begs wealth of us, he who was formerly begged by us.
Behold the reverse brought about by Time. That king who was before the
lord and protector of the whole Earth, now desires to go into the woods,
his kinsmen and associates all slain by foes. O chief of men, let not thy
views deviate from granting the permission asked for. O mighty-armed one,
refusal, besides bringing infamy, will be productive d demerit. Do thou
learn your duty in this matter from the king, thy eldest brother, who is
lord of all. It becometh thee to give instead of refusing, O chief of
Bharata’s race. Vibhatsu who was saying so wag applauded by king
Yudhishthira the just. Yielding to wrath, Bhimasena said these words, ‘O
Phalguna, it is we that shall make gifts in the matter of Bhishma’s
obsequies, as also of king Somadatta and of Bhurisravas, of the royal
sage Valhika, and of the high-souled Drona, and of all others. Our mother
Kunti shall make such obsequial offerings for Karna. O foremost of men,
let not Dhritarashtra perform those Sraddhas. Even this is what I think.
Let not our foes be gladdened. Let Duryodhana and others sink from a
miserable to a more miserable position. Alas, it was those wretches of
their race that caused the whole Earth to be exterminated. How hast thou
been able to forget that anxiety of twelve long years, and our residence
in deep incognito that was so painful to Draupadi? Where was
Dhritarashtra’s affection for us then? Clad in a black deer-skin and
divested of all thy ornaments, with the princess of Panchala in thy
company, didst thou not follow this king? Where were Bhishma and Drona
then, and where was Somadatta? Thou hadst to live for thirteen years in
the woods, supporting thyself on the products of the wilderness. Thy
eldest father did not then look at thee with eyes of parental affection.
Hast thou forgotten, O Partha, that it was this wretch of our race, of
wicked understanding, that enquired of Vidura, when the match at dice was
going on,–‘What has been won?’ Hearing thus far, king Yudhishthira, the
son of Kunti, endued with great intelligence, rebuked him and told him to
be silent.”‘


“Arjuna said, ‘O Bhima, thou art my elder brother and, therefore, my
senior and preceptor. I dare not say anything more than what I have
already said. The royal sage Dhritarashtra deserves to be honoured by us
in every respect. They that are good, they that are distinguished above
the common level, they that break not the distinctions which characterise
the good, remember not the wrongs done to them but only the benefits they
have received.’ Hearing these words of the high-souled Phalguna, the
righteous-souled Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, addressed Vidura and
said these words, ‘Instructed by me, O Kshattri, do thou say unto the
Kuru king that I shall give him as much wealth from my treasury as he
wishes to give away for the obsequies of his song, and of Bhishma and
others among his well-wishers and benefactors. Let not Bhima be cheerless
at this!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said these words, king Yudhishthira the
just, highly applauded Arjuna. Meanwhile Bhimasena began to cast angry
glances at Dhananjaya. Then Yudhishthira, endued with great intelligence,
once more addressed Vidura and said, ‘It behoves not king Dhritarashtra
to be angry with Bhimasena. This Bhima of great intelligence was greatly
afflicted by cold and rain and heat and by a thousand other griefs while
residing in the woods. All this is not unknown to thee. Do thou, however,
instructed by me, say unto the king, O foremost one of Bharata’s race,
that he may take from my house whatever articles he wishes and in
whatever measure also he likes. Thou shalt also tell the king that he
should not allow his heart to dwell on this exhibition of pride in which
Bhima, deeply afflicted, has indulged. Whatever wealth I have and
whatever Arjuna has in his house, the owner thereof is king
Dhritarashtra. Even this thou shouldst tell him. Let the king make gifts
unto the Brahmanas. Let him spend as largely as he likes. Let him free
himself from the debt he owes to his sons and well-wishers. Let him be
told besides,–O Monarch, this very body of mine is at thy disposal and
all the wealth I have. Know this, and let there be no doubt in this.


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed by king Yudhishthira, Vidura, that
foremost of all intelligent persons, returned to Dhritarashtra and said
unto him these words of grave import. ‘I at first reported thy message to
king Yudhishthira. Reflecting on thy words, Yudhishthira of great
splendour applauded them highly. Vibhatsu also, of great energy, places
all his mansions, with all the wealth therein, as also his very
life-breaths, at thy disposal. Thy son, king Yudhishthira, too, offers
thee, O royal sage, his kingdom and life-breath and wealth and all else
that belongs to him. Bhima, however, of mighty arms, recollecting all his
innumerable sorrows, has with difficulty given his consent, breathing
many heavy sighs. That mighty-armed hero, O monarch, was solicited by the
righteous king as also by Vibhatsu, and induced to assume relations of
cordiality towards thee. King Yudhishthira the just, his prayed thee not
to give way to dissatisfaction for the improper conduct which Bhima has
displayed at the recollection of former hostilities. This is generally
the behaviour of Kshatriyas in battle, O king, and this Vrikodara is
devoted to battle and the practices of Kshatriyas. Both myself and
Arjuna, O king, repeatedly beg thee for pardoning Vrikodara. Be gracious
unto us. Thou art our lord. Whatever wealth we have, thou mayst give away
as thou likest, O ruler of Earth. Thou, O Bharata. art the Master of this
kingdom and of all lives in it. Let the foremost one of Kuru’s race give
away, for the obsequial rites of his sons, all those foremost of gifts
which should be given to the Brahmanas. Indeed, let him make those gifts
unto persons of the regenerate order, taking away from our mansions
jewels and gems, and kine, and slaves both mate and female, and goats and
sheep. Let gifts be made unto also those that are poor or sightless or in
great distress, selecting the objects of his charity as he likes. Let, O
Vidura, large pavilions be constructed, rich with food and drink of
diverse tastes collected in profusion. Let reservoirs of water be
constructed for enabling kine to drink, and let other works of merit be
accomplished.–Even these were the words said unto me by the king as also
by Pritha’s son Dhananjaya. It behoveth thee to say what should be done
next. After Vidura had said these words, O Janamejaya, Dhritarashtra his
satisfaction at them and set his heart upon making large presents on the
day of full moon in the month of Kartika.”‘


“Vaisampayana said,–‘Thus addressed by Vidura, king Dhritarashtra became
highly pleased, O monarch, with the act of Yudhishthira and Jishnu.
Inviting then, after proper examination, thousands of deserving Brahmanas
and superior Rishis, for the sake of Bhishma, as also of his sons and
friends, and causing a large quantity of food and drink to be prepared,
and cars and other vehicles and clothes, and gold and jewels and gems,
and slaves both male and female, and goats and sheep, and blankets and
costly articles to be collected, and villages and fields, and other kines
of wealth to be kept ready, as also elephants and steeds decked with
ornaments, and many beautiful maidens who were the best of their sex,
that foremost of kings gave them away for the advancement of the dead,
naming each of them in due order as the gifts were made. Naming Drona,
and Bhishma, and Somadatta, and Valhika, and king Duryodhana, and each
one of his other sons, and all his well-wishers with Jayadratha numbering
first, those gifts were made in due order. With the approval of
Yudhishthira, that Sraddha-sacrifice became characterised by large gifts
of wealth and profuse presents of jewels and gems and other kinds of
treasure. Tellers and scribes on that occasion, under the orders of
Yudhishthira, ceaselessly asked the old king.–Do thou command, O
monarch, what gifts should be made to these. All things are ready
here.–As soon as the king spoke, they gave away what he directed.[30]
Unto him that was to receive a hundred, a thousand was given, and unto
him that was to receive a thousand was given ten thousand, at the command
of the royal son of Kunti.[31] Like the, clouds vivifying the crops with
their downpours, that royal cloud gratified the Brahmanas by downpours of
wealth. After all those gifts had been distributed, the king, O thou of
great intelligence, then deluged the assembled guests of all the four
orders with repeated surges of food and drink of diverge tastes. Verily,
the Dhritarashtra-ocean, swelling high, with jewels and gems for its
waters, rich with the villages and fields and other foremost of gifts
constituting its verdant islands, heaps of diverse kinds of precious
articles for its rich caves, elephants and steeds for its alligators and
whirlpools, the sound of Mridangas for its deep roars, and clothes and
wealth and precious stories for its waves, deluged the Earth. It was even
in this way, O king, that that monarch made gifts for the advancement in
the other world of his sons and grandsons and Pitris as also of himself
and Gandhari. At last when he became tired with the task of making gifts
in such profusion, that great Gift-sacrifice carne to an end. Even thus
did that king of Kuru’s race perform his Gift-sacrifice. Actors and mimes
continually danced and sang on the occasion and contributed to the
merriment of all the guests. Food and drink of diverse tastes were given
away in large quantities. Making gifts in this way for ten days, the
royal son of Amvika, O chief of Bharata’s race, became freed from the
debts he owed to his sons and grandsons.”‘


“Vaisampayana said,–‘The royal son of Amvika, viz., Dhritarashtra,
having settled the hour of his departure for the woods, summoned those
heroes, the Pandavas. Possessed of great intelligence, the old monarch,
with Gandhari, duly accosted those princes. Having caused the minor rites
to be performed, by Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas, on that day
which was the day of full moon in the month of Kartika, he caused the
fire which he worshipped daily to be taken up. Leaving his usual robes he
wore deer-skins and barks, and accompanied by his daughters-in-law, he
set out of his mansion. When the royal son of Vichitraviryya thus set
out, a loud wail was uttered by the Pandava and the Kaurava ladies as
also by other women belonging to the Kaurava race. The king worshipped
the mansion in which he had lived with fried paddy and excellent flowers
of diverse kinds. He also honoured all his servants with gifts of wealth,
and then leaving that abode set out on his journey. Then O son, king
Yudhishthira, trembling all over, with utterance choked with tears, said
these words in a loud voice, viz.,–‘O righteous monarch, where dost thou
go?–and fell down in a swoon. Arjuna, burning with great grief, sighed
repeatedly. That foremost of Bharata princes, telling Yudhishthira that
he should not behave in that manner, stood cheerlessly and with heart
plunged into distress. Vrikodara, the heroic Phalguna, the two sons of
Madri, Vidura, Sanjaya, Dhritarashtra’s son by his Vaisya wife, and
Kripa, and Dhaumya, and other Brahmanas, all followed the old monarch,
with voices choked in grief. Kunti walked ahead, bearing on her shoulders
the hand of Gandhari who walked with her bandaged eyes. King
Dhritarashtra walked confidently behind Gandhari, placing his hand on her
shoulder.[32] Drupada’s daughter Krishna, she of the Sattwata race,
Uttara the daughter-in-law of the Kauravas, who had recently become a
mother, Chitrangada, and other ladies of the royal house-hold, all
proceeded with the old monarch. The wail they uttered on that occasion, O
king, from grief, resembled the loud lamentations of a swarm of
she-ospreys. Then the wives of the citizens,–Brahmanas and Kshatriyas
and Vaisyas and Sudras,–also came out into the streets from every side.
At Dhritarashtra’s departure, O king, all the citizens of Hastinapore
became as distressed as they had been, O monarch, when they had witnessed
the departure of the Pandavas in former days after their defeat at the
match at dice. Ladies that had never seen the sun or the moon, came out
into the streets on the occasion, in great grief, when king Dhritarashtra
proceeded towards the great forest.”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Great was the uproar, at that time, O king, of both
men and women standing on the terraces of mansions or on the Earth.
Possessed of great intelligence, the old king, with joined hands, and
trembling with weakness, proceeded with difficulty along the principal
street which was crowded with persons of both sexes. He left the city
called after the elephant by the principal gate and then repeatedly bade
that crowd of people to return to their homes. Vidura had set his heart
on going to the forest along with the king. The Suta Sanjaya also, the
son of Gavalgani, the chief minister of Dhritarashtra, was of the same
heart. King Dhritarashtra however, caused Kripa and the mighty
car-warrior Yuyutsu to refrain from following him. He made them over into
Yudhishthira’s hands. After the citizens had ceased following the
monarch, king Yudhishthira, with the ladies of his house-hold, prepared
to stop, at the command of Dhritarashtra. seeing that his mother Kunti
was desirous of retiring into the woods, the king said unto her, ‘I shall
follow the old monarch. Do thou desist.’ It behoveth thee, O queen, to
return to the city, accompanied by these thy daughters-in-law. This
monarch proceeds to the woods, firmly resolved to practise penances.
Though king Yudhishthira said these words unto her, with his eyes bathed
in tears, Kunti, however, without answering him, continued to proceed,
catching hold of Gandhari.

“Kunti said, ‘O king, never show any disregard for Sahadeva. He is very
much attached to me, O monarch, and to thee also always. Thou shouldst
always bear in mind Karna who never retreated from battle. Through my
folly that hero has been slain in the field of battle. Surely, my son,
this heart of mine is made of steel, since it does not break into a
hundred pieces at not seeing that child born of Surya. When such has been
the case, O chastiser of foes, what can I now do? I am very much to blame
for not having proclaimed the truth about the birth of Surya’s child. O
crusher of foes, I hope thou wilt, with all thy brothers, make excellent
gifts for the sake of that son of Surya. O mower of foes, thou shouldst
always do what is agreeable to Draupadi. Thou shouldst look after
Bhimasena and Arjuna and Nakula and Sahadeva. The burthens of the Kuru
race have now fallen on thee, O king. I shall live in the woods with
Gandhari, besmearing my body with filth, engaged in the performance of
penances, and devoted to the service of my father-in-law and

‘Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by her, the righteous-souled
Yudhishthira, with passions under complete control, became, with all his
brothers, plunged into great distress. Endued with great intelligence,
the king said not a word. Having reflected for a little while, king
Yudhishthira the Just, cheerless and plunged in anxiety and sorrow,
addressed his mother, saying,–‘Strange, indeed, is this purpose of
thine? It behoves thee not to accomplish it. I can never grant thee
permission. It behoves thee to show us compassion. ‘Formerly, when we
were about to set out of Hastinapore for the woods, O thou of agreeable
features, it was thou who, reciting to us the story of Vidula’s
instructions to her son, excited us to exertion. It behoves thee not to
abandon us now. Having slain the kings of Earth, I have won sovereignty,
guided by thy words of wisdom communicated through Vasudeva. Where now is
that understanding of thine about which I had heard from Vasudeva? Dost
thou wish now to fall away from those Kshatriya practices about which
thou hadst instructed us? Abandoning ourselves, this kingdom, and this
daughter-in-law of thine who is possessed of great fame, how wilt thou
live in the inaccessible woods? Do thou relent! Kunti, with tears in her
eyes, heard these words of her son, but continued to proceed on her way.
Then Bhima addressed her, saying,–‘When, O Kunti, sovereignty has been
won, and when the time has come for thee to enjoy that sovereignty thus
acquired by thy children, when the duties of royalty await discharge by
thee, whence has this desire got hold of thy mind? Why then didst thou
cause us to exterminate the Earth? For what reason wouldst thou leave all
and wish to take up thy abode in the woods? We were born in the woods.
Why then didst thou bring us from the woods while we were children?
Behold, the two sons of Madri are overwhelmed with sorrow and grief.
Relent, O mother, O thou of great fame, do not go into the woods now. Do
thou enjoy that prosperity which acquired by might, has become
Yudhishthira’s today.’ Firmly resolved to retire into the woods, Kunti
disregarded these lamentations of her sons. Then Draupadi with a
cheerless face, accompanied by Subhadra, followed her weeping
mother-in-law who was journeying on from desire of going into the woods.
Possessed of great wisdom and firmly resolved on retirement from the
world, the blessed dame walked on, frequently looking at her weeping
children. The Pandavas, with all their wives and servitors, continued to
follow her. Restraining then her tears, she addressed her children in
these words.'”


“Kunti said, ‘It is even so, O mighty-armed son of Pandu, as thou sayest.
Ye kings, formerly when ye were cheerless, it was even in this way that I
excited you all. Yes, seeing that your kingdom was wrested from you by a
match at dice, seeing that you all fell from happiness, seeing that you
were domineered over by kinsmen, I instilled courage and high thoughts
into your minds. Ye foremost of men, I encouraged you in order that they
that were the sons of Pandu might not be lost, in order that their fame
might not be lost. You are all equal to Indra. Your prowess resembles
that of the very gods. In order that you might not live, watching the
faces of others, I acted in that way.[34] I instilled courage into thy
heart in order that thou who art the foremost of all righteous persons,
who art equal to Vasava, might not again go into the woods and live in
misery. I instilled courage into your hearts in order that this Bhima who
is possessed of the strength of ten thousand elephants and whose prowess
and manliness are widely known, might not sink into insignificance and
ruin. I instilled courage into your hearts in order that this Vijaya, who
was born after Bhimasena, and who is equal unto Vasava himself might not
be cheerless. I instilled courage into your hearts in order that Nakula
and Sahadeva, who are always devoted to their seniors, might not be
weakened and rendered cheerless by hunger. I acted in that way in order
that this lady of well-developed proportions and of large expansive eyes
might not endure the wrongs inflicted on her in the public hall without
being avenged. In the very sight of you all, O Bhima, Dussasana, through
folly, dragged her trembling all over like a plantain plant, during the
period of her functional illness, and after she had been won at dice, as
if she were a slave. All this was known to me. Indeed, the race of Pandu
had been subjugated (by foes). The Kurus, viz., my father-in-law and
others, were cheerless when she, desirous of a protector, uttered loud
lamentations like a she-osprey. When she was dragged by her fair locks by
the sinful Dussasana with little intelligence, I was deprived of my
senses, O king. Know, that for enhancing your energy, I instilled that
courage into your hearts by reciting the words of Vidula, O my sons. I
instilled courage into your hearts, O my sons, in order that the race of
Pandu, represented by my children, might not be lost. The sons and
grandsons of that person who brings a race to infamy never succeed in
attaining to the regions of the righteous. Verily, the ancestors of the
Kaurava race were in danger of losing those regions of felicity which had
become theirs. As regards myself, O my sons, I, before this, enjoyed the
great fruits of that sovereignty which my husband had acquired. I made
large gifts. I duly drank the Soma juice in sacrifice.[35] It was not for
my own sake that I had urged Vasudeva with the stirring words of Vidula.
It was for your sake that I had called upon you to follow that advice. O
my sons, I do not desire the fruits of that sovereignty which has been
won by my children. O thou of great puissance, I wish to attain, by my
penances, to those regions of felicity which have been acquired by my
husband. By rendering obedient service to my father-in-law and
mother-in-law both of whom wish to take up their abode in the woods, and
by penances, I desire, O Yudhishthira, to waste my body. Do thou cease to
follow me, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, along with Bhima and others.
Let thy understanding be always devoted to righteousness. Let thy mind be
always great.'”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Kunti, the sinless Pandavas,
O best of kings, became ashamed. They, therefore, desisted, along with
the princess of-Panchala, from following her.[36] Beholding Kunti
resolved to go into the woods, the ladies of the Pandava household
uttered loud lamentations. The Pandavas then circumambulated the king and
saluted him duly. They ceased to follow further, having failed to
persuade Pritha to return. Then Amvika’s son of great energy, viz.,
Dhritarashtra, addressing Gandhari and Vidura and supporting himself on
them, said, ‘Let the royal mother of Yudhishthira cease to go with us.
What Yudhishthira has said is all very true. Abandoning this high
prosperity of her sons, abandoning those high fruits that may be hers,
why should she go into the inaccessible woods, leaving her children like
a person of little intelligence? Living in the enjoyment of sovereignty,
she is capable of practising penances and observing the high vow of
gifts. Let her, therefore, listen to my words. O Gandhari, I have been
much gratified with the services rendered to me by this daughter-in-law
of mine. Conversant as thou art with all duties, it behoveth thee to
command her return.’ Thus addressed by her lord, the daughter of Suvala
repeated unto Kunti all those words of the old king and added her own
words of grave import. She, however, failed to cause Kunti to desist
inasmuch as that chaste lady, devoted to righteousness, had firmly set
her heart upon residing in the woods. The Kuru ladies, understanding how
firm her resolution was regarding her retirement into the woods, and
seeing that those foremost ones of Kuru’s race (viz., their own lords),
had ceased to follow her, set up a loud wail of lamentation. After all
the sons of Pritha and all the ladies had retraced their steps, king
Yudhishthira of great wisdom continued his journey to the woods. The
Pandavas, exceedingly cheerless and afflicted with grief and sorrow
accompanied by their wives, returned to the city, on their cars. At that
time the city of Hastinapura, with its entire population of men, both old
and young, and women, became cheerless and plunged into sorrow. No
festivals of rejoicing were observed. Afflicted with grief, the Pandavas
were without any energy. Deserted by Kunti, they were deeply afflicted
with grief, like calves destitute of their dams. Dhritarashtra reached
that day a place far removed from the city. The puissant monarch arrived
at last on the banks of the Bhagirathi and took rest there for the night.
Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas duly ignited their sacred fires in
that retreat of ascetics. Surrounded by those foremost of Brahmanas,
those sacred fires blazed forth in beauty. The sacred fire of the old
king was also ignited. Sitting near his own fire, he poured libations on
it according to due rites, and then worshipped the thousand-rayed sun as
he was on the point of setting. Then Vidura and Sanjaya made a bed for
the king by spreading some blades of Kusa grass. Near the bed of that
Kuru hero they made another for Gandhari. In close proximity to Gandhari,
Yudhishthira’s mother Kunti, observant of excellent vows, happily laid
herself down. Within hearing distance of those three, slept Vidura and
others. The Yajaka Brahmanas and other followers of the king laid
themselves down on their respective beds. The foremost of Brahmanas that
were there chanted aloud many sacred hymns. The sacrificial fires blazed
forth all around. That night, therefore, seemed as delightful to them as
a Brahmi night.[37] When the night passed away, they all arose from their
beds and went through their morning acts. Pouring libations then on the
sacred fire, they continued their journey. Their first day’s experience
of the forest proved very painful to them on account of the grieving
inhabitants of both the city and the provinces of the Kuru kingdom.”


“Vaisampayana said. ‘Following the advice of Vidura, the king took up his
abode on the banks of the Bhagirathi which were sacred and deserved to be
peopled with the righteous. There many Brahmanas who had taken up their
abode in the woods, as also many Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras, came
to see the old monarch. Sitting in their midst, he gladdened them all by
his words. Having duly worshipped the Brahmanas with their disciples, he
dismissed them all. As evening came, the king, and Gandhari of great
fame, both descended into the stream of the Bhagirathi and duly performed
their ablutions for purifying themselves. The king and the queen, and
Vidura and others, O Bharata, having bathed in the sacred stream,
performed the usual rites of religion. After the king had purified
himself by a bath, the daughter of Kuntibhoja gently led both him, who
was to her as her father-in-law and Gandhari from the water into the dry
bank. The Yajakas had made a sacrificial altar there for the king.
Devoted to truth, the latter poured libations then on the fire. From the
banks of the Bhagirathi the old king, with his followers, observant of
vows and with senses restrained, then proceeded to Kurukshetra. Possessed
of great intelligence, the king arrived at the retreat of the royal sage
Satayupa of great wisdom and had an interview with him. Satayupa, O
scorcher of foes, had been the great king of the Kekayas. Having made
over the sovereignty of his kingdom to his son he had come into the
woods. Satayupa, received king Dhritarashtra with due rites. Accompanied
by him, the latter proceeded to the retreat of Vyasa. Arrived at Vyasa’s
retreat, the delighter of the Kurus received his initiation into the
forest mode of life. Returning he took up his abode in the retreat of
Satayupa. The high-souled Satayupa, instructed Dhritarashtra in all the
rites of the forest mode, at the command of Vyasa. In this way the
high-souled Dhritarashtra set himself to the practice of penances, and
all his followers also to the same course of conduct. Queen Gandhari
also, O monarch, along with Kunti, assumed barks of trees and deer-skins
for her robe, and set herself to the observance of the same vows as her
lord. Restraining their senses in thought, words, and deeds, as well as
by eye, they began to practise severe austerities. Divested of all
stupefaction of mind, king Dhritarashtra began to practise vows and
penances like a great Rishi, reducing his body to skin and bones, for his
flesh was all dried up, bearing matted locks on head, and his person clad
in barks and skins. Vidura, conversant with the true interpretations of
righteousness, and endued with great intelligence, as also Sanjaya,
waited upon the old king with his wife. Both of them with souls under
subjection, Vidura and Sanjaya also reduced themselves, and wore barks
and rags.”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those foremost of ascetics, viz. Narada and Parvata
and Devala of austere penances, came there to see king Dhritarashtra. The
Island-born Vyasa with all his disciples, and other persons endued with
great wisdom and crowned with ascetic success, and the royal sage
Satayupa of advanced years and possessed of great merit, also came. Kunti
worshipped them with due rites, O king. All those ascetics were highly
gratified with the worship offered to them. Those great Rishis gladdened
the high-souled king Dhritarashtra with discourses on religion and
righteousness. At the conclusion of their converse, the celestial Rishi
Narada, beholding all things as objects of direct perceptions, said the
following words.’

“Narada said, ‘There was a ruler of the Kekayas, possessed of great
prosperity and perfectly fearless. His name was Sahasrachitya and he was
the grandfather of this Satayupa. Resigning his kingdom to his eldest son
endued with a large measure of righteousness, the virtuous king
Sahasrachitya retired into the woods. Reaching the other end of blazing
penances, that lord of Earth. endued with great splendour, attained to
the region of Purandara where he continued to live in his company. On
many occasions, while visiting the region of Indra, O king, I saw the
monarch, whose sins had all been burnt off by penances, residing in
Indra’s abode. After the same manner, king Sailalaya, the grandfather of
Bhagadatta, attained to the region of Indra by the power alone of his
penances. There was another king, O monarch, of the name of Prishadhra
who resembled the wielder of the thunder-bolt himself. That king also, by
his penances proceeded from the Earth to Heaven. In this very forest, O
king, that lord of Earth, Purukutsa, the soil of Mandhatri, attained to
high success. That foremost of rivers, viz., Narmada, became the consort
of that king. Having undergone penances in this very forest, that ruler
of Earth proceeded to Heaven. There was another king, highly righteous,
of the name of Sasaloman. He too underwent severe austerities in this
forest and then ascended to Heaven. Thou also, O monarch, having arrived
at this forest, shalt, through the grace of the Island-born, attain to a
goal that is very high and that is difficult of attainment. Thou also, O
foremost of kings, at the end of thy penances, become endued with great
prosperity and, accompanied by Gandhari, attain to the goal reached by
those high-souled ones. Dwelling in the presence of the slayer of Vala,
Pandu thinks of thee always. He will, O monarch, certainly assist thee in
the attainment of prosperity. Through serving thee and Gandhari, this
daughter-in-law of thine, possessed of great fame, will attain to
residence with her husband in the other world. She is the mother of
Yudhishthira who is the eternal Dharma. We behold all this, O king, with
our spiritual vision. Vidura will enter into the high-souled
Yudhishthira. Sanjaya also, through meditation, will ascend from this
world into Heaven.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That high-souled chief of Kuru’s race,
possessed of learning, having, with his wife, heard these words of
Narada, praised them and worshipped Narada with unprecedented honours.
The conclave of Brahmanas there present became filled with great joy, and
desirous of gladdening king Dhritarashtra, O monarch, themselves
worshipped Narada with profound regards. Those foremost of regenerate
persons also praised the words of Narada. Then the royal sage Satayupa,
addressing Narada, said, ‘Thy holy self hath enhanced the devotion of the
Kuru king, of all those people here, and of myself also, O thou of great
splendour. I have, however, the wish to ask thee something. Listen to me
as I say it. It has reference to the king Dhritarashtra, O celestial
Rishi, that art worshipped by all the worlds. Thou art acquainted with
the truth of every affair. Endued with celestial sight, thou beholdest, O
regenerate Rishi, what the diverse goals are of human beings. Thou hast
said what the goal has been of the kings mentioned by thee, viz.,
association with the chief of celestials. Thou hast not, however, O great
Rishi, declared what those regions are that will be acquired by this
king. O puissant one, I wish to hear from thee what region will be
acquired by the royal Dhritarashtra. It behoveth thee to tell me truly
the kind of region that will be his and the time when he will attain to
it.’ Thus addressed by him, Narada of celestial sight and endued with
austere penances, said in the midst of the assembly these words highly
agreeable to the minds of all.’

“Narada said, ‘Repairing at my will to the mansion of Sakra, I have seen
Sakra the lord or Sachi; and there, O royal sage. I have beheld king
Pandu. There a talk arose, O monarch, regarding this Dhritarashtra and
those highly austere penances which he is performing. There I heard from
the lips of Sakra himself that there are three years yet of the period of
life allotted to this king. After that, king Dhritarashtra, accompanied
by his wife Gandhari, will go to the regions of Kuvera and be highly
honoured by that king of kings. He will go there on a car moving at his
will, his person adorned with celestial ornaments. He is the son of a
Rishi; he is highly blessed; he has burnt all his sins by his penances.
Endued with a righteous soul, lie will rove at will through the regions
of the deities, the Gandharvas, and the Rakshasas. That about which thou
hast enquired is a mystery of the gods. Through my affection for you, I
have declared this high truth. Ye all are possessed of the wealth of
Srutis and have consumed all your sins by your penances.’

“Vaisampayana continued.. “Hearing these sweet words of the celestial
Rishi, all the persons there assembled, as also king Dhritarashtra,
became greatly cheered and highly pleased. Having cheered Dhritarashtra
of great wisdom with such talk, they left the spot, wending away by the
path that belongs to those who are crowned with success.”‘


” Vaisampayana said, ‘Upon the retirement of the chief of the Kurus into
the forest, the Pandavas, O king, afflicted besides by grief on account
of their mother, became very cheerless. The citizens also of Hastinapura
were possessed by deep sorrow. The Brahmanas always talked of the old
king. ‘How, indeed, will the king, who has become old, live in the
solitary woods? How will the highly blessed Gandhari, and Pritha, the
daughter of Kuntibhoja, live there? The royal sage has always lived in
the enjoyment of every comfort. He will certainly be very miserable.
Arrived in deep woods, what is now the condition of that personage of
royal descent, who is, again, bereft of vision? Difficult is the feat
that Kunti has achieved by separating herself from her sons. Alas casting
off kingly prosperity, she chose a life in the woods. What, again, is the
condition of Vidura who is always devoted to the service of his elder
brother? How also is the intelligent son of Gavalgani who is so faithful
to the food given him by his master? Verily, the citizens, including
those of even nonage meeting together, asked one another these questions.
The Pandavas also, exceedingly afflicted with grief, sorrowed for their
old mother, and could not live in their city long, Thinking also of their
old sire, the king, who had lost all his children, and the highly blessed
Gandhari, and Vidura of great intelligence, they failed to enjoy peace of
mind. They had no pleasure in sovereignty, nor in women, nor in the study
of the Vedas. Despair penetrated their souls as they thought of the old
king and as they repeatedly reflected on that terrible slaughter of
kinsmen. Indeed, thinking of the slaughter of the youthful Abhimanyu on
the field of battle, of the mighty-armed Karna who never retreated from
the fray, of the sons of Draupadi, and of other friends of theirs, those
heroes became exceedingly cheerless. They failed to obtain peace or mind
upon repeatedly reflecting that the Earth had become divested of both her
heroes and her wealth. Draupadi had lost all her children, and the
beautiful Subhadra also had become childless. They too were of cheerless
hearts and grieved exceedingly. Beholding, however, the son of Virata’s
daughter, viz., thy sire Parikshit, thy grandsires somehow held their


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those foremost of men, the heroic Pandavas,–those
delighters of their mother–became exceedingly afflicted with grief. They
who had formerly been always engaged in kingly offices, did not at that
time attend to those acts at all in their capital. Afflicted with deep
grief, they failed to derive pleasure from anything. If any body accosted
them, they never honoured him with an answer. Although those irresistible
heroes were in gravity like the ocean, yet they were now deprived of
their knowledge and their very senses by the grief they felt. Thinking of
their mother, the sons of Pandu were filled with anxiety as to how their
emaciated mother was serving the old couple. ‘How, indeed, is that king,
whose sons have all been slain and who is without refuge, living alone,
with only his wife, in the woods that are the haunt of beasts of prey?
Alas, how does that highly blessed queen, Gandhari, whose dear ones have
all been slain, follow her blind lord in the solitary woods?’–Even such
was the anxiety manifested by the Pandavas when they talked with one
another. They then set their hearts upon seeing the king in his forest
retreat. Then Sahadeva, bowing down to the king, said, ‘I see thy heart
to be set upon seeing our sire. From my respect for thee, however, I
could not speedily open my mouth on the subject of our journey to the
woods. The time for that sojourn is now come. By good luck I shall see
Kunti living in the observance of penances, with matted locks on her
head, practising severe austerities, and emaciated with sleeping on
blades of Kusa and Kasa. She was brought up in palaces and mansions, and
nursed in every comfort and luxury. Alas, when shall I see my mother who
is now toil-worn and plunged into exceeding misery? Without doubt, O
chief of Bharata’s race, the ends of mortals are exceedingly uncertain,
since Kunti, who is a princess by birth, is now living in misery in the
woods.’ Hearing these words of Sahadeva, queen Draupadi, that foremost of
all women duly honouring the king said, with proper salutations,–Alas,
when shall I see queen Pritha, if, indeed, she be yet alive. I shall
consider my life as not passed in vain if I succeed in beholding her once
more, O king. Let this sort of understanding be ever stable in thee. Let
thy mind always take a pleasure in such righteousness as is involved, O
king of kings, in thy desire of bestowing such a high boon on us. Know, O
king, that all these ladies of thy house are staying with their feet
raised for the journey, from desire of beholding Kunti, and Gandhari, and
my father-in-law. Thus addressed by queen Draupadi, the king, O chief of
Bharata’s race, summoned all the leaders of his forces to his presence
and told them,–‘Cause my army, teeming with cars and elephants, to march
out. I shall behold king Dhritarashtra who is now living in the woods.’
Unto those that supervised the concerns of the ladies, the king gave the
order, ‘Let diverse kinds of conveyances be properly equipt, and all my
closed litters that count by thousands. Let carriages and granaries, and
wardrobes, and treasuries, be equipt and ordered out, and let mechanics
have the command to march out. Let men in charge of treasuries go out on
the way leading to the ascetic retreats on Kurukshetra. Whoever amongst
the citizens wishes to see the king is allowed to do so without any
restriction. Let him proceed, properly protected. Let cooks and
superintendents of kitchens, and the whole culinary establishment, and
diverse kinds of edibles and viands, be ordered to be borne out on carts
and conveyances. Let it be proclaimed that we march out tomorrow. Indeed,
let no delay occur (in carrying out the arrangements). Let pavilions and
resting houses of diverse kinds be erected on the way.’ Even these were
the commands which the eldest son of Pandu gave, with his brothers. When
morning came, O monarch, the king set out, with a large train of women
and old men. Going out of his city, king Yudhishthira waited five days
for such citizens as might accompany him, and then proceeded towards the


“Vaisampayana said. ‘That foremost one of Bharata’s race, then ordered
his troops, which were protected by heroes that were headed by Arjuna and
that resembled the very guardians of the universe, to march out.
Instantly, a loud clamour arose consisting of the words–Equip,
Equip!–of horse-men, O Bharata, engaged in equipping and their steeds.
Some proceeded on carriages and vehicles, some on horses of great speed,
and some on cars made of gold endued with the splendour of blazing fires.
Some proceeded on mighty elephants, and some on camels, O king. Some
proceeded on foot, that belonged to that class of combatants which is
armed with tiger-like claws.[38] The citizens and inhabitants of the
provinces, desirous of seeing Dhritarashtra, followed the king on diverse
kinds of conveyances. The preceptor Kripa also, of Gotama’s race, that
great leader of forces, taking all the forces with him, proceeded, at the
command of the king, towards the old monarch’s retreat. The Kuru king
Yudhishthira, that perpetuator of Kuru’s race, surrounded by a large
number of Brahmanas, his praises sung by a large band of Sutas and
Magadhas and bards, and with a white umbrella held over his head and
encompassed around by a large number of cars, set out on his journey.
Vrikodara, the son of the Wind-god, proceeded on an elephant as gigantic
as a hill, equipt with strung bow and machines and weapons of attack and
defence. The twin sons of Madri proceeded on two fleet steeds, well cased
in mail, well protected, and equipt with banners. Arjuna of mighty
energy, with senses under control, proceeded on an excellent car endued
with solar effulgence and unto which were equipt excellent steeds of
white hue. The ladies of the royal household, headed by Draupadi,
proceeded in closed litters protected by the superintendents of women.
They scattered copious showers of wealth as they proceeded. Teeming with
cars and elephants and steeds, and echoing with the blare of trumpets and
the music of Vinas, the Pandava host, O monarch, blazed with great
beauty. Those chiefs of Kuru’s race proceeded slowly, resting by
delightful banks of rivers and lakes, O monarch. Yuyutsu of mighty
energy, and Dhaumya, the priest at the command of Yudhishthira, were
engaged in protecting the city. By slow marches, king Yudhishthira
reached Kurukshetra, and then, crossing the Yamuna, that highly sacred
river, he beheld from a distance the retreat, O thou of Kuru’s race, of
the royal sage of great wisdom and of Dhritarashtra. Then all the men
became filled with joy and quickly entered the forest, filling it with
loud sounds of glee, O chief of Bharata’s race.”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The Pandavas alighted, at a distance, from their
cars and proceeded on foot to the retreat of the king, bending themselves
in humility. All the combatants also, and all the denizens of the
kingdom, and the spouses of the Kuru chiefs, followed them on foot. The
Pandavas then reached the sacred retreat of Dhritarashtra which abounded
with herds of deer and which was adorned with plantain plants. Many
ascetics of rigid vows, filled with curiosity, came there for beholding
the Pandavas who had arrived at the retreat. The king, with tears in his
eyes, asked them, saying,–‘Where has my eldest sire, the perpetuator of
Kuru’s race, gone?’ They answered, O monarch, telling him that he had
gone to the Yamuna for his ablutions, as also for fetching flowers and
waters. Proceeding quickly on foot along the path pointed out by them,
the Pandavas beheld all of them from a distance. Desirous of meeting with
their sire they walked with a rapid pace. Then Sahadeva ran with speed
towards the spot where Pritha was. Touching the feet of his mother, he
began to weep aloud. With tears gushing down her cheeks, she saw her
darling child. Raising her son up and embracing him with her arms, she
informed Gandhari of Sahadeva’s arrival. Then seeing the king and
Bhimasena and Arjuna, and Nakula, Pritha endeavoured to advance quickly
towards them. She was walking in advance of the childless old couple, and
was dragging them forward. The Pandavas, beholding her, fell down on the
earth. The puissant and high-souled monarch, endued with great
intelligence, recognising them by their voices and also by touch,
comforted them one after another. Shedding tears, those high-souled
princes, with due formalities, approached the old king and Gandhari, as
also their own mother. Indeed, regaining their senses, and once more
comforted by their mother, the Pandavas took away from the king and their
aunt and mother the jars full of water which they had been carrying,
forbearing them themselves. The ladies of those lions among men, and all
the women of the royal household, as also all the inhabitants of the city
and provinces, then beheld the old king. King Yudhishthira presented all
those individuals one after another to the old king, repeating their
names and races, and then himself worshipped his eldest sire with
reverence. Surrounded by them all, the old monarch, with eyes bathed in
tears of joy, regarded himself as once more staying in the midst of the
city called after the elephant. Saluted with reverence by all his
daughters-in-law headed by Krishna, king Dhritarashtra, endued with great
intelligence, with Gandhari and Kunti, became filled with joy. He then
reached his forest-retreat that was applauded by Siddhas and Charanas,
and that then teemed with vast crowds of men all desirous of beholding
him, like the firmament teeming with innumerable stars.”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The king, O chief of Bharata’s race, with those
foremost of men, viz., his brothers, who were all possessed of eyes that
resembled lotus-petals, took his seat in the retreat of his eldest sire.
There sat around him many highly-blessed ascetics, hailing from diverse
regions, from desire of beholding the sons of that lord of Kuru’s race.,
viz., the Pandavas of wide chests. They said, ‘We wish to know who
amongst these is Yudhishthira, who are Bhima and Arjuna, who the twins,
and who is Draupadi of great fame.’ Then the Suta, Sanjaya, in answer to
their queries, pointed out to them the Pandavas. naming each, and
Draupadi too as also the other ladies of the Kuru household.’

“Sanjaya said, ‘This one that is as fair of complexion as pure gold, that
is endued with a body which looks like that of a full-grown lion, that is
possessed of a large aquiline nose, and wide and expansive eyes that are,
again, of a coppery hue, is the Kuru king. This one, whose tread
resembles that of an infuriate elephant, whose complexion is as fair as
that of heated gold, whose frame is of large and expansive proportions
and whose arms are long and stout, is Vrikodara. Behold him well! The
mighty bowman who sits besides him, of darkish complexion and youthful
frame, who resembles the leader of an elephantine herd, whose shoulders
are as high as those of a lion, who walks like a sporting elephant, and
whose eyes are as expansive as the petals of a lotus, is the hero called
Arjuna. Those two foremost of men, that are sitting besides Kunti, are
the twins, resembling Vishnu and Mahendra. In this whole world of men,
they have not their equals in beauty and strength and excellence of
conduct. This lady, of eyes as expansive as lotus petals, who seems to
have touched the middle age of life, whose complexion resembles that of
the blue lotus, and who looks like a goddess of Heaven, is Krishna, the
embodied form of the goddess of prosperity.[39] She who sits besides her,
possessed of the complexion of pure gold, who looks like the embodied
rays of the moon, in the midst of the other ladies, is, ye foremost of
regenerate ones, the sister of that unrivalled hero who wields the
discus. This other, as fair as pure gold, is the daughter of the
snake-chief and wife of Arjuna.[40] This other whose complexion is like
that of pure gold or like that of Madhuka flowers, is the princess
Chitrangada. This one, that is possessed of the complexion of an
assemblage of blue lotuses, is the sister of that monarch, that lord of
hosts, who used to always challenge Krishna. She is the foremost wife of
Vrikodara. This is the daughter of the king of Magadha who was known by
the name of Jarasandha. Possessed of the complexion of an assemblage of
Champakas, she is the wife of the youngest son of Madravati. Possessed of
a complexion as darkish as that of the blue lotus, she who sits there on
the earth, and whose eyes are as expansive as lotus-petals, is the wife
of the eldest son of Madravati, This lady whose complexion is as fair as
that of heated gold and who sits with her child on her lap, is the
daughter of king Virata. She is the wife of that Abhimanyu who, while
divested of his car, was slain by Drona and others fighting from their
cars.[41] These ladies, the hair on whose heads shows not the parted
line, and who are clad in white, are the widows of the slain sons of
Dhritarashtra. They are the daughters-in-law of this old king, the wives
of his hundred sons, now deprived of both their husbands and children who
have been slain by heroic foes. I have now pointed them out in the order
of precedence. In consequence of their devotion to Brahmanas, their
understandings and hearts are divested of every kind of crookedness.
Possessed of pure souls, they have all been pointed out by me,–these
princesses of the Kaurava house-hold,–in answer to your queries.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus that king of Kuru’s race, of very advanced
years, having met with those sons of him that was a deity among men.
enquired about their welfare after all the ascetics had gone away. The
warriors who had accompanied the Pandavas, leaving the retreat, sat
themselves down at a little distance, alighting from their cars and the
animals they rode. Indeed, after all the crowd, viz., the ladies, the old
men, and the children, had been seated, the old king duly addressed them,
making the usual enquiries of politeness.”‘


“Dhritarashtra said. ‘O Yudhishthira, art thou in peace and happiness,
with all thy brothers and the inhabitants of the city and the provinces?
Are they that live in dependance on thee also happy? Are they ministers,
and servitors, and all thy seniors and preceptors also, happy? Are those
also that live in thy dominions free from fear? Dost thou follow the old
and traditional conduct of rulers of men? Is thy treasury filled without
disregarding the restraints imposed by justice and equity? Dost thou
behave as thou shouldst towards foes, neutrals, and allies? Dost thou
duly look after the Brahmanas, always making them the first gifts
(ordained in sacrifices and religious rites)? What need I say of the
citizens, and thy servants, and kinsmen,–are they foes, O chief of
Bharata’s race, gratified with thy behaviour? Dost thou, O king of kings,
adore with devotion the Pitris and the deities? Dost thou worship guests
with food and drink, O Bharata? Do the Brahmanas in thy dominions,
devoted to the duties of their order, walk along the path of
righteousness? Do the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras also within thy
kingdom, and all thy relatives, observe their respective duties? I hope
the women, the children, and the old, among thy subjects, do not grieve
(under distress) and do not beg (the necessaries of life). Are the ladies
of thy household duly honoured in thy house, O best of men? I hope, O
monarch, that this race of royal sages, having obtained thee for their
king, have not fallen away from fame and glory.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Unto the old king who said so, Yudhishthira,
conversant with morality and justice, and well-skilled in acts and
speech, spoke as follows, putting some questions about his welfare.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Doth thy peace, O king, thy self-restraint, thy
tranquillity of heart, grow? Is this my mother able to serve thee without
fatigue and trouble? Will, O king, her residence in the woods be
productive of fruits? I hope this queen, who is my eldest mother, who is
emaciated with (exposure to) cold and wind and the toil of walking, and
who is now devoted to the practice of severe austerities, no longer gives
way, to grief for her children of mighty energy, all of whom, devoted to
the duties of the Kshatriya order, have been slain on the field of
battle. Does she accuse us, sinful wretches, that are responsible for
their slaughter? Where is Vidura, O king? We do not see him here. I hope
this Sanjaya, observant of penances, is in peace and happiness.

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, Dhritarashtra answered king
Yudhishthira, saying,–‘O son. Vidura is well. He is performing austere
penances, subsisting on air alone, for he abstains from all other food.
He is emaciated and his arteries and nerves have become visible.
Sometimes he is seen in this empty forest by Brahmanas.’ While
Dhritarashtra was saying this Vidura was seen at a distance. He had
matted locks on his head, and gravels in his mouth, and was exceedingly
emaciated. He was perfectly naked. His body was besmeared all over with
filth, and with the dust of various wild flowers. When Kshattri was
beheld from a distance, the fact was reported to Yudhishthira. Vidura
suddenly stopped, O king, casting his eyes towards the retreat (and
seeing it peopled by so many individuals). King Yudhishthira pursued him
alone, as he ran and entered the deep forest, sometimes not seen by the
pursuer. He said aloud, ‘O Vidura, O Vidura, I am king Yudhishthira, thy
favourite!’–Exclaiming thus, Yudhishthira, with great exertion, followed
Vidura. That foremost of intelligent men, viz., Vidura, having reached a
solitary spot in the forest, stood still, leaning against a tree. He was
exceedingly emaciated. He retained only the shape of a human being (all
his characteristic features having totally disappeared). Yudhishthira of
great intelligence recognised him, however, (in spite of such change).
Standing before him, Yudhishthira addressed him, saying, ‘I am
Yudhishthira!’ Indeed, worshipping Vidura properly, Yudhishthira said
these words in the hearing of Vidura. Meanwhile Vidura eyed the king with
a steadfast gaze. Casting his gaze thus on the king, he stood motionless
in Yoga. Possessed of great intelligence, he then (by his Yoga-power)
entered the body of Yudhishthira, limb by limb. He united his
life-breaths with the king’s life-breaths, and his senses with the king’s
senses. Verify, with the aid of Yoga-power, Vidura, blazing with energy,
thus entered the body of king Yudhishthira the just. Meanwhile, the body
of Vidura continued to lean against the tree, with eyes fixed in a
steadfast gaze. The king soon saw that life had fled out of it. At the
same time, he felt that he himself had become stronger than before and
that he had acquired many additional virtues and accomplishments.
Possessed of great learning and energy, O monarch, Pandu’s son, king
Yudhishthira the just, then recollected his own state before his birth
among men.[42] Endued with mighty energy, he had heard of Yoga practice
from Vyasa. King Yudhishthira the just, possessed of great learning,
became desirous of doing the last rites to the body of Vidura, and wished
to cremate it duly. An invisible voice was then heard,–saying,–‘O king,
this body that belonged to him called Vidura should not be cremated. In
him is thy body also. He is the eternal deity of Righteousness. Those
regions of felicity which are known by the name of Santanika will be his,
O Bharata. He was an observer of the duties of Yatis. Thou shouldst not,
O scorcher of foes, grieve for him at all. Thus addressed, king
Yudhishthira the just, returned from that spot, and represented
everything unto the royal son of Vichitraviryya. At this, that king of
great splendour, all these men, and Bhimasena and others, became filled
with wonder. Hearing what had happened, king Dhritarashtra became pleased
and then, addressing the son of Dharma. said,–‘Do thou accept from me
these gifts of water and roots and fruits. It has been said, O king, that
one’s guest should take that which one takes oneself.’ Thus addressed,
Dharma’s son answered the king, saying,–‘So be it.’ The mighty-armed
king ate the fruits and roots which the monarch gave him. Then they all
spread their beds under a tree and passed that night thus, having eaten
fruits and roots and drunk the water that the old king had given them.”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘They passed that night which was characterised by
auspicious constellations even thus, O king, in that retreat of righteous
ascetics. The conversation that occurred was characterised by many
reflections on morality and wealth. Consisting of delightful and sweet
words, it was graced with diverse citations from the Srutis. The
Pandavas, O king, leaving costly beds, laid themselves down, near their
mother, on the bare ground. Indeed, those heroes passed that night,
having eaten the food which was the food of the high-souled king
Dhritarashtra. After the night had passed away, king Yudhishthira, having
gone through his morning acts, proceeded to survey that retreat in the
company of his brothers. With the ladies of his household the servants,
and his priest, the king roved about the retreat in all directions, as he
pleased, at the command of Dhritarashtra. He beheld many sacrificial
altars with sacred fires blazing on them and with many ascetics seated on
them, that had performed their oblations and poured libations in honour
of the deities. Those altars were overspread with fruits and roots of the
forest, and with heaps of flowers. The smoke of clarified butter curled
upwards from them. They were graced, besides, with many ascetics
possessed of bodies that looked like the embodied Vedas and with many
that belonged to the lay brotherhood. Herds of deer were grazing, or
resting here and there, freed from every fear. Innumerable birds also
were there, engaged in uttering their melodious notes, O king. The whole
forest seemed to resound with the notes of peacocks and Datyuhas and
Kokilas and the sweet songs of other warblers.[43] Some spots echoed with
the chant of Vedic hymns recited by learned Brahmanas. Some were adorned
with large heaps of fruits and roots gathered from the wilderness. King
Yudhishthira then gave those ascetics jars made of gold or copper which
he had brought for them, and many deer-skins and blankets and sacrificial
ladles made of wood, and Kamandalus and wooden platters, and pots and
pans, O Bharata.[44] Diverse kinds of vessels, made of iron, and smaller
vessels and cups of various sizes, were also given away by the king, the
ascetics taking them away, each as many as he liked. King Yudhishthira of
righteous soul, having thus roved through the woods and beheld the
diverse retreats of ascetics and made many gifts, returned to the place
where his uncle was. He saw king Dhritarashtra, that lord of Earth, at
his ease, with Gandhari beside him, after having finished his morning
rites. The righteous-souled monarch saw also his mother, Kunti, seated
not much remote from that place, like a disciple with bent head, endued
with humility. He saluted the old king, proclaiming his name. ‘Sit down’
were the words the old king said. Receiving Dhritarashtra’s permission,
Yudhishthira sat himself down on a mat of Kusa grass. Then the other sons
of Pandu with Bhima among them, O thou of Bharata’s race, saluted the
king and touched his feet and sat themselves down, receiving his
permission. The old Kuru king, surrounded by them, looked exceedingly
beautiful. Indeed, he blazed with a Vedic splendour like Vrihaspati in
the midst of the celestials. After they had sat themselves down, many
great Rishis, viz., Satayupa and others, who were denizens of
Kurukshetra, came there. The illustrious and learned Vyasa, possessed of
great energy, and reverenced by even the celestial Rishis, showed
himself, at the head of his numerous disciples, unto Yudhishthira. The
Kuru king Dhritarashtra, Kunti’s son Yudhishthira of great energy, and
Bhimasena and others, stood up and advancing a few steps, saluted those
guests. Approaching near, Vyasa, surrounded by Satayupa and others,
addressed king Dhritarashtra, saying,–‘Be thou seated.’ The illustrious
Vyasa then took an excellent seat made of Kusa grass placed upon a black
deer-skin and covered with a piece of silken cloth. They had reserved
that seat for him. After Vyasa had been seated, all those foremost of
regenerate persons, endued with abundant energy, sat themselves down,
having received the permission of the Island-born sage.”


“Vaisampayana said, ‘After the high-souled Pandavas had all been seated,
Satyavati’s son Vyasa said,–O Dhritarashtra of mighty arms, hast thou
been able to achieve penances? Is thy mind, O king, pleased with thy
residence in the woods? Has the grief that was thine, born of the
slaughter of thy sons in battle, disappeared from thy heart? Are all thy
perceptions, O sinless one, now clear? Dost thou practise the ordinances
of forest life after having made thy heart firm? Does my daughter-in-law,
Gandhari, allow herself to be overwhelmed by grief? She is possessed of
great wisdom. Endued with intelligence, that queen understands both
Religion and Wealth. She is well conversant with the truths that relate
to both prosperity and adversity. Does she still grieve? Does Kunti, O
king, who in consequence of her devotion to the service of her seniors,
left her children, attend to thy wants and serve thee with all humility?
Have the high-minded and high-souled king, Yudhishthira, the son of
Dharma and Bhima and Arjuna and the twins been sufficiently comforted?
Dost thou feet delight at seeing them? Has thy mind become freed from
every stain? Has thy disposition, O king, become pure in consequence of
the increase of thy knowledge? This aggregate of three, O king, is the
foremost of all concerns, O Bharata, viz., abstension from injury to any
creature, truth, and freedom from anger. Does thy forest life any longer
prove painful to thee? Art thou able to earn with thy own exertions the
products of the wilderness for thy food? Do fasts give thee any pain now?
Hast thou learnt, O king, how the high-souled Vidura, who was Dharma’s
self, left this world? Through the curse of Mandavya, the deity of
Righteousness became born as Vidura. He was possessed of great
intelligence. Endued with high penances, he was high-souled and
high-minded. Even Vrihaspati among the celestials, and Sukra among the
Asuras, was not possessed of such intelligence as that foremost of
persons. The eternal deity of Righteousness was stupefied by the Rishi
Mandavya with an expenditure of his penances earned for a long time with
great care.[45] At the command of the Grandsire, and through my own
energy, Vidura of great intelligence was procreated by me upon a soil
owned by Vichitraviryya. A deity of deities, and eternal, he was, O king,
thy brother. The learned know him to be Dharma in consequence of his
practices of Dharana and Dhyana.[46] He grows with (the growth of) truth,
self-restraint, tranquillity of heart, compassion, and gifts. He is
always engaged in penances, and is eternal. From that deity of
Righteousness, through Yoga-puissance, the Kuru king Yudhishthira also
took his birth. Yudhishthira, therefore, O king, is Dharma of great
wisdom and immeasurable intelligence. Dharma exists both here and
hereafter, and is like fire or wind or water or earth or space. He is, O
king of kings, capable of going everywhere and exists, pervading the
whole universe. He is capable of being beheld by only those that are the
foremost of the deities and those that are cleansed of every sin and
crowned with ascetic success. He that is Dharma is Vidura; and he that is
Vidura is the (eldest) son of Pandu. That son of Pandu. O king, is
capable of being perceived by thee. He stays before thee as thy servitor.
Endued with great Yoga-puissance, thy high-souled brother, that foremost
of intelligent men, seeing the high-souled Yudhishthira, the son of
Kunti, has entered into his person. These also, O chief of Bharata’s
race, I shall unite with great benefit. Know, O son, that I am come here
for dispelling thy doubts. Some feat that has never been accomplished
before by any of the great Rishis, some wonderful effect of my
penances,–I shall show thee. What object is that, O king, whose
accomplishment thou desirest from me? Tell me what is that which thou
wishest to see or ask or hear? O sinless one, I shall accomplish it.’


(Putradarsana Parva)

“Janamejaya said, ‘Tell me. O learned Brahmana, what that wonderful feat
was which the great Rishi Vyasa of high energy accomplished after his
promise to the old king, made when Dhritarashtra, that lord of Earth,
that foremost one of Kuru’s race, had taken up his abode in the forest,
with his wife and with his daughter-in-law Kunti; and after, indeed,
Vidura had left his own body and entered into Yudhishthira, and at the
time when all the sons of Pandu were staying in the ascetic retreat. For
how many days did the Kuru king Yudhishthira of unfading glory stay, with
his men, in the woods? On what food, O puissant one, did the high-souled
Pandavas support themselves, with their men, and wives, while they lived
in the woods? O sinless one, do thou tell me this.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘With the permission of the Kuru king, the Pandavas,
O monarch, with their troops and the ladies of their household, supported
themselves on diverse kinds of food and drink and passed about a month in
great happiness in that forest. Towards the close of that period, O
sinless one, Vyasa came there. While all those princes sat around Vyasa,
engaged in conversation on diverse subjects, other Rishis came to that
spot. They were Narada, and Parvata and Devala of austere penances, and
Viswavasu and Tumvuru, and Chitrasena., O Bharata. Endued with severe
penances, the Kuru king Yudhishthira, with the permission of
Dhritarashtra, worshipped them according to due rites. Having obtained
that worship from Yudhishthira, all of them sat down on sacred seats
(made of Kusa grass), as also on excellent seats made of peacock
feathers. After they had all taken their seats, the Kuru king of high
intelligence took his seat there, surrounded by the sons of Pandu.
Gandhari and Kunti and Draupadi, and she of the Sattwata race, and other
ladies of the royal household also sat down. The conversation that then
arose was excellent and had reference to topics connected with piety, and
the Rishis of old, and the deities and the Asuras. At the close of that
conversation Vyasa of great energy, that foremost of eloquent men, that
first of all persons conversant with the Vedas, highly gratified,
addressed the blind monarch and once more said,–‘Burning as thou art
with grief on account of thy children, I know, O king of kings, what
object is cherished by thee in thy heart. The sorrow that always exists
in the heart of Gandhari, that which exists in the heart of Kunti, and
that also which is cherished by Draupadi in her heart, and that burning
grief, on account of the death of her son, which Krishna’s sister
Subhadra also cherishes, are all known to me. Hearing of this meeting, O
king, of thine with all these princes and princesses of thy house, I have
come here, O delighter of the Kauravas, for dispelling thy doubts. Let
the deities and Gandharvas, and all these great Rishis, behold today the
energy of those penances which I have acquired for these long years.
Therefore, O king, tell me what wish of thine I shall grant today. I am
puissant enough to grant thee a boon. Behold the fruit of my penances.’
Thus addressed by Vyasa of immeasurable understanding, king Dhritarashtra
reflected for a moment and then prepared to speak. He said,–‘I am
exceedingly fortunate. Lucky am I in obtaining thy favour. My life is
crowned with success today,–since this meeting has happened between me
and ye all of great piety. Today I shall attain to that highly happy goal
which is reserved for me, since, ye ascetics endued with wealth of
penances, ye who are equal to Brahma himself, I have succeeded in
obtaining this meeting with you all. There is not the least doubt that
this sight that I have obtained of you all has cleansed me of every sin.
Ye sinless ones, I have no longer any fear in respect of my end in the
next world. Full as I am of love for my children, I always cherish their
remembrance. My mind, however, is always tortured by the recollection of
the diverse acts of wrong which my wicked son of exceedingly evil
understanding perpetrated. Possessed of a sinful understanding, he always
persecuted the innocent Pandavas. Alas, the whole Earth has been
devastated by him, with her steeds, elephants and men. Many high-souled
kings, rulers of diverse realms, came for siding my son and succumbed to
death. Alas, leaving their beloved sires and wives and their very
life-breaths, all those heroes have become guests of the king of the
dead. What end, O regenerate one, has been attained by those men who have
been slain, for the sake of their friend, in battle? What end also has
been attained by my sons and grandsons who have fallen in the fray? My
heart is always pained at the thought of my having brought about the
slaughter of the mighty Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and of Drona, that
foremost of Brahmanas, through my foolish and sinful son who was an
injurer of his friends. Desirous of obtaining the sovereignty of the
Earth, he caused the Kuru race, blazing with prosperity, to be
annihilated. Reflecting on all this, I burn day and night with grief.
Deeply afflicted with pain and grief, I am unable to obtain peace of
mind. Indeed, O father, thinking of all this, I have no peace of mind.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these lamentations expressed in diverse
ways, of that royal sage, the grief, O Janamejaya, of Gandhari, became
fresh. The grief also of Kunti, of the daughter of Drupada, of Subhadra,
and of the other members, male and female, and the daughters-in-law, of
the Kuru race, became equally green. Queen Gandhari, with bandaged eyes,
joining her hands, addressed her father-in-law. Deeply afflicted with
grief on account of the slaughter of her sons, she said,–‘O foremost of
ascetics, sixteen years have passed over the head of this king grieving
for the death of his sons and divested of peace of mind. Afflicted with
grief on account of the slaughter of his children, this king
Dhritarashtra, always breathes heavily, and never sleeps at night. O
great Rishi, through the power of thy penances thou art competent to
create new worlds. What need I say then about showing this king his
children who are now in the other world? This Krishna, the daughter of
Drupada, hath lost all her kinsmen and children. For this, she who is the
dearest of my daughters-in-law grieves exceedingly. The sister of
Krishna, viz., Subhadra of sweet speech, burning with the loss of her
son, grieves as deeply. This lady that is respected by all, that is the
wife of Bhurisravas, afflicted with grief on account of the fate that has
overtaken her husband, always indulges in heart-rending lamentations. Her
father-in-law was the intelligent Valhika of Kuru’s race. Alas, Somadatta
also was slain, along with his sire, in the great battle![47] Alas, a
century of sons, heroes that never retreated from battle, belonging to
this son of thine, this king of great intelligence and great prosperity,
has been slain in battle. The hundred wives of those sons are all
grieving and repeatedly enhancing the grief of both the king and myself.
O great ascetic, stricken by that great slaughter, they have gathered
round me. Alas, those high-souled heroes, those great car warriors, my
fathers-in-law, Somadatta and others,–alas, what end has been theirs, O
puissant one? Through thy grace, O holy one, that will happen in
consequence of which this lord of Earth, myself, and this daughter-in-law
of thine, viz., Kunti, shall all become freed from our grief. After
Gandhari had said so, Kunti, whose face had become wasted through
observance of many hard vows, began to think of her secret-born son
endued with solar effulgence. The boon giving Rishi Vyasa, capable of
both beholding and hearing what happened at a remote distance, saw that
the royal mother of Arjuna was afflicted with grief. Unto her Vyasa
said,–‘Tell me, O blessed one, what is in thy mind. Tell me what thou
wishest to say. At this, Kunti, bending her head unto her father-in-law,
and overcome with bashfulness, said these words unto him, relating to the
occurrences of the past.'”


“Kunti said, ‘O holy one, thou art my father-in-law and therefore, my
deity of deities. Verily, thou art my god of gods. Hear my words of
truth. An ascetic named Durvasas, who is of the regenerate order and who
is full of wrath, came to my father’s house for eleemosynary charity. I
succeeded in gratifying him by the purity of my external behaviour and of
my mind, as also by refusing to notice the many wrongs he did. I did not
give way to wrath although there was much in his behaviour quite capable
of exciting that passion. Served with care, the great ascetic became
highly pleased with me and disposed to grant me a boon. ‘Thou must accept
the boon I shall give,’ were his words to me. Fearing his curse, I
answered him, saying,–‘So be it.’ The regenerate Rishi once more said
unto me,–‘O blessed damsel, O thou of beautiful face, thou wilt become
the mother of Dharma. Those deities whom thou wilt summon will be
obedient to thee.’ Having said those words, the regenerate one vanished
away from my sight. I became filled with wonder. The mantra, however,
which the Rishi gave has dwelt in my memory at all times. One day,
sitting within my chamber I beheld the sun rising. Desiring to bring the
maker of day before me, I recollected the words of the Rishi. Without any
consciousness of the fault I committed, I summoned the deity from mere
girlishness. The deity, however, of a thousand rays, (summoned by me)
came to my presence. He divided himself in twain. With one portion he was
in the firmament, and with the other he stood on the Earth before me.
With one he heated the worlds and with another he came to me. He told me,
while I was trembling at his sight, these words,–‘Do thou ask a boon of
me.’ Bowing unto him with my head, I asked him to leave me. He replied
unto me, saying,–‘I cannot bear the idea of coming to thee fruitlessly.
I shall consume thee as also that Brahmana who gave thee the Mantra as a
boon.’ The Brahmana who had done no evil–I wished to protect from
Surya’s curse. I therefore, said–‘Let me have a son like thee, O god.’
The deity of thousand rays then penetrated me with his energy and
stupefied me completely. He then said unto me,–‘Thou wilt have a son,’
and then went back to the firmament. I continued to live in the inner
apartments and desirous of saying the honour of my sire, I cast into the
waters my infant son named Karna who thus came into the world secretly.
Without doubt, through the grace of that god, I once more became a
virgin, O regenerate one, even as the Rishi Durvasas had said unto me.
Foolish that I am, although he knew me for his mother when he grew up, I
yet made no effort to acknowledge him. This burns me, O regenerate Rishi,
as is well-known to thee. Whether it is sinful or not so, I have told
thee truth. It behoveth thee, O holy one, to gratify the craving I feel
for beholding that son of mine. O foremost of ascetics, let this king
also, O sinless one, obtain the fruition today of that wish of his which
he cherishes in his bosom and which has become known to thee.’ Thus
addressed by Kunti, Vyasa, that foremost of all persons, said unto her in
reply,–‘Blessed be thou; all that thou hast said unto me will happen.
(As regards the birth of Karna) no fault is ascribable to thee. Thou wert
restored to virginity. The deities are possessed of (Yoga) puissance.
They are able to penetrate human bodies.[48] There are deities. They
beget (offspring) by thought alone. By word, by sight, by touch, and by
sexual union, also, they beget children. These are the five methods. Thou
belongest to the order of humanity. Thou hast no fault (in what
happened). Know this. O Kunti. Let the fever of thy heart be dispelled.
For those that are mighty, everything is becoming. ‘For those that are
mighty, everything is pure. For those that are mighty, everything is
meritorious. For those that are mighty, everything is their own.'”


“Vyasa said, ‘Blessed be thou, O Gandhari, thou shalt behold thy sons and
brothers and friends and kinsmen along with thy sires this night like men
risen from sleep. Kunti also shall behold Karna, and she of Yadu’s race
shall behold her son Abhimanyu. Draupadi shall behold her five sons, her
sires, and her brothers also. Even before ye had asked me, this was the
thought in my mind. I entertained this purpose when I was urged to that
effect by the king, by thee, O Gandhari, and by Kunti. Thou shouldst not
grieve for those foremost of men. They met with death in consequence of
their devotion to the established practices of Kshatriyas. O faultless
one, the work of the gods could not but be accomplished. It was for
accomplishing that object that those heroes came down on Earth. They were
all portions of the deities. Gandharvas and Apsaras, and Pisachas and
Guhyakas and Rakshasas, many persons of great sanctity, many individuals
crowned with success (of penances), celestial Rishis, deities and Danavas
and heavenly Rishis of spotless character, met with death on the
battle-field of Kurukshetra.[49] It is heard that he that was the
intelligent king of the Gandharvas, and named Dhritarashtra, took birth
in the world of men as thy lord Dhritarashtra. Know that Pandu of
unfading glory and distinguished above all others, sprung from the
Maruts. Kshattri and Yudhishthira are both portions of the deity of
Righteousness. Know that Duryodhana was Kali, and Sakuni was Dwapara. O
thou of good features, know that Dussasana and others were all Rakshasas.
Bhimasena of great might, that chastiser of foes, is from the Maruts.
Know that this Dhananjaya, the son of Pritha, is the ancient Rishi Nara.
Hrishikesa is Narayana, and the twins are the Aswins. The foremost of
heat-giving ones, viz., Surya, having divided his body in twain,
continued with one portion to give heat to the worlds and with another to
live (on Earth.) as Karna. He that took his birth as the son of Arjuna,
that gladdener of all, that heir to the possessions of the Pandavas, who
was slain by six great car-warriors (fighting together), was Soma. He was
born of Subhadra. Through Yoga-puissance he had divided himself in twain.
Dhrishtadyumna who sprung with Draupadi from the sacrificial fire, was an
auspicious portion of the deity of fire. Sikhandin was a Rakshasa. Know
that Drona was a portion of Vrihaspati, and that Drona’s son is born of a
portion of Rudra. Know that Ganga’s son Bhishma was one of the Vasus that
became born as a human being. Thus, O thou of great wisdom, the deities
had taken birth as human beings, and after having accomplished their
purposes have gone back to Heaven. That sorrow which is in the hearts of
you all, relating to the return of these to the other world, I shall
today dispel. Do you all go towards the Bhagirathi.–You will then behold
all those that have been slain on the field of battle.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘All the persons there present, having heard the
words of Vyasa, raised a loud leonine shout and then proceeded towards
the Bhagirathi. Dhritarashtra with all his ministers and the Pandavas, as
also with all those foremost of Rishis and Gandharvas that had come
there, set out as directed. Arrived at the banks of Ganga, that sea of
men took up their abode as pleased them. The king possessed of great
intelligence, with the Pandavas, took up his abode in a desirable spot,
along with the ladies and the aged ones of his household. They passed
that day as if it were a whole year, waiting for the advent of the night
when they would behold the deceased princes. The Sun then reached the
sacred mountain in the west and all those persons, having bathed in the
sacred stream, finished their evening rites.”‘


“Vaisampayana said, ‘When night came, all those persons, having finished
their evening rites, approached Vyasa. Dhritarashtra of righteous soul,
with purified body and with mind solely directed towards it, sat there
with the Pandavas and the Rishis in his company. The ladies of the royal
household sat with Gandhari in a secluded spot. All the citizens and the
inhabitants of the provinces ranged themselves according to their years.
Then the great ascetic, Vyasa, of mighty energy, bathing in the sacred
waters of the Bhagirathi, summoned all the deceased warriors, viz., those
that had fought on the side of the Pandavas, those that had fought for
the Kauravas, including highly blessed kings belonging to diverse realms.
At this, O Janamejaya, a deafening uproar was heard to arise from within
the waters, resembling that which had formerly been heard of the forces
of the Kurus and the Pandavas. Then those kings, headed by Bhishma and
Drona, with all their troops, arose by thousands from the waters of the
Bhagirathi. There were Virata and Drupada, with their sons and forces.
There were the sons of Draupadi and the son of Subhadra, and the Rakshasa
Ghatotkacha. There were Karna and Duryodhana, and the mighty car-warrior
Sakuni, and the other children, endued with great strength, of
Dhritarashtra, headed by Dussasana. There were the son of Jarasandha, and
Bhagadatta, and Jalasandha of great energy, and Bhurisravas, and Sala,
and Salya, and Vrishasena with his younger brother. There were prince
Lakshmana (the son of Duryodhana), and the son of Dhrishtadyumna, and all
the children of Sikhandin, and Dhrishtaketu, with his younger brother.
There were Achala and Vrishaka, and the Rakshasa Alayudha, and Valhika,
and Somadatta, and king Chekitana. These and many others, who for their
number cannot be conveniently named, appeared on that occasion. All of
them rose from the waters of the Bhagirathi, with resplendent bodies.
Those kings appeared, each clad in that dress and equipt with that
standard and that vehicle which he had while fighting on the field. All
of them were now robed in celestial vestments and all had brilliant
ear-rings. They were free from all animosity and pride, and divested of
wrath and jealousy. Gandharvas sang their praises, and bards waited on
them, chanting their deeds. Robed in celestial vestments and wearing
celestial garlands, each of them was waited upon by bands of Apsaras. At
that time, through the puissance of his penances, the great ascetic, the
son of Satyavati, gratified with Dhritarashtra, gave him celestial
vision. Endued with celestial knowledge and strength, Gandhari of great
fame saw all her children as also all that had been slain in battle. All
persons assembled there beheld with steadfast gaze and hearts filled with
wonder that amazing and inconceivable phenomenon which made the hair on
their bodies stand on its end. It looked like a high carnival of
gladdened men and women. That wondrous scene looked like a picture
painted on the canvas. Dhritarashtra, beholding all those heroes, with
his celestial vision obtained through the grace of that sage, became full
of joy, O chief of Bharata’s race.”‘


“Vaisampayana said. ‘Then those foremost of men divested of wrath and
jealousy, and cleansed of every sin, met with one another, agreeably to
those high and auspicious ordinances that have been laid down by
regenerate Rishis. All of them were happy of hearts and looked like gods
moving in Heaven. Son met with sire or mother, wives with husbands,
brother with brother, and friend with friend, O king. The Pandavas, full
of joy, met with the mighty bowman Karna as also with the son of
Subhadra, and the children of Draupadi. With happy hearts the sons of
Pandu approached Karna, O monarch, and became reconciled with him. All
those warriors, O chief of Bharata’s race, meeting with one another
through the grace of the great ascetic, became reconciled with one
another. Casting off all unfriendliness, they became established on amity
and peace. It was even thus that all those foremost of men, viz., the
Kauravas and other kings became united with the Kurus rid other kinsmen
of theirs as also with their children. The whole of that night they
passed in great happiness. Indeed, the Kshatriya warriors, in consequence
of the happiness they felt, regarded that place as Heaven itself. There
was no grief, no fear, no suspicion, no discontent, no reproach in that
region, as those warriors, O monarch, met with one another on that night.
Meeting with their sires and brothers and husbands and sons, the ladies
cast off all grief and felt great raptures of delight. Having sported
with one another thus for one night, those heroes and those ladies,
embracing one another and taking one another’s leave returned to the
places they had come from. Indeed, that foremost of ascetics dismissed
that concourse of warriors. Within the twinkling of an eye that large
crowd disappeared in the very sight of all those (living) persons. Those
high-souled persons, plunging into the sacred river Bhagirathi proceeded,
with their cars and standards, to their respective abodes. Some went to
the regions of the gods, some to the region of Brahman, some to the
region of Varuna, and some to the region of Kuvera. Some among those
kings proceeded to the region of Surya. Amongst the Rakshasas and
Pisachas some proceeded to the country of Uttara-Kurus. Others, moving in
delightful attitudes, went in the company of the deities. Even thus did
all those high-souled persons disappear with their vehicles and animals
and with all their followers. After all of them had gone away, the great
sage, who was standing in the waters of the sacred stream viz., Vyasa of
great righteousness and energy, that benefactor of the Kurus, then
addressed those Kshatriya ladies who had become widows, and said these
words, ‘Let those amongst these foremost of women that are desirous of
attaining to the regions acquired by their husbands cast away all sloth
and quickly plunge into the sacred Bhagirathi.–Hearing these words of
his, those foremost ladies, placing faith in them, took the permission of
their father-in-law, and then plunged into the waters of the Bhagirathi.
Freed from human bodies, those chaste ladies then proceeded, O king, with
their husbands to the regions acquired by the latter. Even thus, those
ladies of virtuous conduct, devoted to their husbands entering, the
waters of the Bhagirathi, became freed from their mortal tenements and
attained to the companionship of their husbands in the regions acquired
by them. Endued with celestial forms, and adorned with celestial
ornaments, and wearing celestial vestments and garlands, they proceeded
to those regions where their husbands had found their abodes. Possessed
of excellent behaviour and many virtues, their anxieties all dispelled,
they were seen to ride on excellent cars, and endued with every
accomplishment they found those regions of happiness which were theirs by
right. Devoted to the duties of piety, Vyasa, at that time, becoming a
giver of boons, granted unto all the men there assembled the fruition of
the wishes they respectively cherished. People of diverse realms, hearing
of this meeting between the hallowed dead and living human beings, became
highly delighted. That man who duly listens to this narrative meets with
everything that is dear to him. Indeed, he obtains all agreeable objects
both here and hereafter. That man of learning and science, that foremost
of righteous persons, who recites this narrative for the hearing of
others acquires great fame here and an auspicious end hereafter, as also
a union with kinsmen and all desirable objects. Such a man has not to
undergo painful labour for his sustenance, and meets with all sorts of
auspicious objects in life. Even these are the rewards reaped by a person
who, endued with devotion to Vedic studies and with penances, recites
this narrative in the hearing of others. Those persons who possessed of
good conduct, devoted to self-restraint, cleansed of all sins by the
gifts they make, endued with sincerity, having tranquil souls, freed from
falsehood and the desire of injuring others, adorned with faith, belief
in the scriptures, and intelligence, listen to this wonderful parvan,
surely attain to the highest goal hereafter.”


“Sauti said, ‘Hearing this story of the re-appearance and departure of
his forefathers, king Janamejaya of great intelligence became highly
pleased. Filled with joy, he once more questioned Vaisampayana on the
subject of the reappearance of dead men, saying,–“How is it possible for
persons whose bodies have been destroyed to re-appear in those very
forms?” Thus asked, that foremost of regenerate persons, viz., the
disciple of Vyasa, that first of speakers, possessed of great energy,
thus answered Janamejaya.

“Vaisampayana said, ‘This is certain, viz., that acts are never destroyed
(without their consequences being enjoyed or endured). Bodies, O king,
are born of acts; so also are features. The great primal elements are
eternal (indestructible) in consequence of the union with them of the
Lord of all beings. They exist with what is eternal. Accordingly, they
have no destruction when the non-eternal are destroyed. Acts done without
exertion are true and foremost, and bear real fruit. The soul, united
however with such acts as require exertion for their accomplishment,
enjoys pleasure and pain.[50] Though united so (that is, with pleasure
and pain), yet it is a certain inference that the soul is never modified
by them, like the reflection of creatures in a mirror. It is never
destroyed.[51] As long as one’s acts are not exhausted (by enjoyment or
endurance of their fruits good and bad), so long does one regard the body
to be oneself. The man, however, whose acts have been exhausted, without
regarding the body to be self, takes the self to be something
otherwise.[52] Diverse existent objects (such as the primal elements and
the senses, etc.) attaining to a body, become united as one. To men of
knowledge who understand the difference (between the body and self),
those very objects become eternal.[53] In the Horse-sacrifice, this Sruti
is heard in the matter of the slaying of the horse. Those which are the
certain possessions of embodied creatures, viz., their life-breaths (and
the senses, etc.), exist eternally even when they are borne to the other
world. I shall tell thee what is beneficial, if it be agreeable to thee,
O king. Thou hast, while employed in thy sacrifices, heard of the paths
of the deities. When preparations were made for any sacrifice of thine,
the deities became beneficially inclined to thee. When indeed, the
deities were thus disposed and came to thy sacrifices, they were lords in
the matter of the passage (from this to the next world) of the animals
slain.[54] For this reason, the eternal ones (viz., Jivas), by adoring
the deities in sacrifices, succeed in attaining to excellent goals. When
the five primal elements are eternal, when the soul also is eternal, he
called Purusha (viz., the soul invested with case) is equally so. When
such is the case, he who beholds a creature as disposed to take diverse
forms, is regarded as having an erroneous understanding. He who indulges
in too much grief at separation is, I think, a foolish person. He who
sees evil in separation should abandon union. By standing aloof, no
unions are formed, and sorrow is cast off, for sorrow in the world is
born of separation.[55] Only he who understands the distinction between
body and self, and not another, becomes freed from the erroneous
conviction. He that knows the other (viz., self) attains to the highest
understanding and becomes freed from error.[56] As regards creatures.
they appear from an invisible state, and once more disappear into
invisibleness. I do not know him. He also does not know me. As regards
myself, renunciation is not yet mine.[57] He that is not possessed of
puissance enjoys or endures the fruits of all his acts in those too dies
in which he does them. If the act be a mental one, its consequences are
enjoyed or endured mentally; if it be done with the body, its
consequences are to be enjoyed or endured in the body.'”[58]


“Vaisampayana said, ‘King Dhritarashtra had never beheld his own sons.
Obtaining eye-sight through the grace of the Rishi, he beheld, for the
first time, O perpetuator of Kuru’s race, those children of his that were
very like his own self. That foremost of men, viz., the Kuru monarch, had
learnt all the duties of kings, as also the Vedas and the Upanishadas,
and had acquired certitude of understanding (from the same source).
Vidura of great wisdom attained to high success through the power of his
penances. Dhritarashtra also attained to great success in consequence of
having met the ascetic Vyasa.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘If Vyasa, disposed to grant me a boon, kindly show me
my sire in that form which he had, clad as he used to be clad, and as old
as he was when he departed from this world, I may then believe all that
thou hast told me. Such a sight will be most agreeable to me. Indeed, I
shall regard myself crowned with success. I shall have gained a certainty
of conclusion. O, let my wish be crowned with fruition through the grace
of that foremost of Rishis.’

“Sauti said,–‘After king Janamejaya had said these words, Vyasa of great
energy and intelligence showed his grace and brought Parikshit (from the
other world). King Janamejaya beheld his royal father, possessed of great
beauty, brought down from Heaven, in the same form that he had and of the
same age as he was (at the time of leaving this world). The high-souled
Samika also, and his son Sringin, were similarly brought there. All the
counsellors and ministers of the king beheld them. King Janamejaya.
performing the final bath in his sacrifice, became highly glad. He poured
the sacred water on his father, even as he caused it to be poured on
himself. Having undergone the final bath, the king addressed the
regenerate Astika who had sprung from the race of the Yayavaras and who
was the son of Jaratkaru, and said these words,–‘O Astika, this
sacrifice of mine is fraught with many wonderful incidents, since this my
sire has been seen by me–he who has dispelled all my sorrows.’

“Astika said, ‘The performer of that sacrifice in which the ancient
Rishi, the Island-born Vyasa, that vast receptacle of penances, is
present, is sure, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, to conquer both the
worlds. O son of the Pandavas, thou hast heard a wonderful history. The
snakes have been consumed into ashes and have followed the footsteps of
thy sire. Through thy truthfulness, O monarch, Takshaka has with
difficulty escaped a painful fate. The Rishis have all been worshipped.
Thou hast seen also the end that has been attained by thy high-souled
sire. Having heard this sin-cleansing history thou hast achieved abundant
merit. The knots of thy heart have been untied through sight of this
foremost of person. They that are the supporters of the wings of
Righteousness, they that are of good conduct and excellent disposition,
they at sight of whom sins become attenuated,–we should all bow to them.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Having heard this from that foremost of regenerate
ones, King Janamejaya worshipped that Rishi, repeatedly honouring him in
every way. Conversant with all duties he then asked the Rishi
Vaisampayana of unfading glory about the sequel, O best of ascetics, of
king Dhritarashtra’s residence in the woods.'”


“Janamejaya said, ‘Having seen his sons and grandsons with all their
friends and followers, what, indeed, did that ruler of men, viz.,
Dhritarashtra, and king Yudhishthira also, do?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Beholding that exceedingly wonderful sight, viz.,
the re-appearance of his children, the royal sage, Dhritarashtra, became
divested of his grief and returned (from the banks of the Bhagirathi) to
his retreat. The common people and all the great Rishis, dismissed by
Dhritarashtra, returned to the places they respectively wished. The
high-souled Pandavas, accompanied by their wives, and with a small
retinue, went to the retreat of the high-souled monarch. Then Satyavati’s
son, who was honoured by regenerate Rishis and all other persons, arrived
at the retreat, addressed Dhritarashtra, saying,–‘O mighty-armed
Dhritarashtra. O son of Kuru’s race, listen to what I say. Thou hast
heard diverse discourses from Rishis of great knowledge and sacred deeds,
of wealth of penances and excellence of blood, of conversance with the
Vedas and their branches, of piety and years, and of great eloquence. Do
not set thy mind again on sorrow. He that is possessed of wisdom is never
agitated at ill luck. Thou hast also heard the mysteries of the deities
from Narada of celestial form. Thy children have all attained, through
observance of Kshatriya practices, to that auspicious goal which is
sanctified by weapons. Thou hast seen how they move about at will in
great happiness. This Yudhishthira of great intelligence is awaiting thy
permission, with all his brothers and wives and kinsmen. Do thou dismiss
him. Let him go back to his kingdom and rule it. They have passed more
than a month in thus residing in the woods. The station of sovereignty
should always be well guarded. O king, O thou of Kuru’s race, [thy]
kingdom has many foes.’ Thus addressed by Vyasa of incomparable energy,
the Kuru king, well-versed in words, summoned Yudhishthira and said unto
him,–‘O Ajatasatru, blessings on thee! Do thou listen to me, with all
thy brothers. Through thy grace, O king, grief no longer stands in my
way. I am living as happily, O son, with thee here as if I were in the
city called after the elephant. With thee as my protector, O learned one,
I am enjoying all agreeable objects. I have obtained from thee all those
services which a son renders to his sire. I am highly gratified with
thee. I have not the least dissatisfaction with thee, O mighty-armed one.
Go now, O son, without tarrying here any longer. Meeting with thee, my
penances are being slackened. This my body, endued with penances, I have
been able to sustain only in consequence of my meeting with thee.[59]
These two mothers of thine, subsisting now upon fallen leaves of trees,
and observing vows similar to mine, will not live long. Duryodhana and
others, who have become denizens of the other world, have been seen by
us, through the puissance of Vyasa’s penances and through (the merit of)
this my meeting with thee. O sinless one, the purpose of my life has been
attained. I now wish to set myself to the practice of the austerest of
penances. It behoveth thee to grant me permission. On thee now the
obsequial cake, the fame and achievements, and the race of our ancestors,
rest. O mighty-armed one, do thou then depart either tomorrow or this
very day. Do not tarry, O son. O chief of Bharata’s race, thou hast
repeatedly heard what the duties are of kings. I do not see what more I
can say unto thee. I have no longer any need with thee, O thou of great

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Unto the (old) monarch who said so, king
Yudhishthira replied,–‘O thou that art conversant with every rule of
righteousness, it behoveth thee, not to cast me off in this way. I am
guilty of no fault. Let all my brothers and followers depart as they
like. With steadfast vows I shall wait upon thee and upon these two
mothers of mine.’ Unto him Gandhari then said,–‘O son, let it not be so.
Listen, the race of Kuru is now dependant on thee. The obsequial cake
also of my father-in-law depends on thee. Depart then, O son. We have
been sufficiently honoured and served by thee. Thou shouldst do what the
king says. Indeed, O son, thou shouldst obey the behests of thy sire.’

“Vaisampayana continued,–‘Thus addressed by Gandhari, King Yudhishthira,
rubbing his eyes which were bathed in tears of affection, said these
words of lament. ‘The king casts me off, as also Gandhari of great fame.
My heart, however, is bound to thee. How shall I, filled as I am with
grief, leave thee? I do not, however, at the same time, venture to
obstruct thy penances, O righteous lady. There is nothing higher than
penances. It is by penances that one attains to the Supreme. O queen, my
heart no longer turns as of old towards kingdom. My mind is wholly set
upon penances now. The whole Earth is empty now. O auspicious lady, she
does not please me any longer. Our kinsmen have been reduced in number.
Our strength is no longer what it was before. The Panchalas have been
wholly exterminated. They exist in name only. O auspicious lady, I do not
behold any one that may assist as their re-establishment and growth. All
of them have been consumed to ashes by Drona on the field of battle.
Those that remained were slain by Drona’s son at night. The Chedis and
the Matsyas, who were our friends, no longer exist. Only the tribes of
the Vrishnis are all that remain, Vasudeva having upheld them. Beholding
only the Vrishnis I wish to live. My desire of life, however, is due to
my wish of acquiring merit and not wealth or enjoyment. Do thou cast
auspicious looks upon us all. To obtain thy sight will be difficult for
us. The king will commence to practise the most austere and unbearable of
penances.’ Hearing these words, that lord of battle, the mighty-armed
Sahadeva, with eyes bathed in tears, addressed Yudhishthira, saying,–‘O
chief of Bharata’s race, I dare not leave my mother. Do thou return to
the capital soon. I shall practise penances, O puissant one. Even here I
shall emaciate my body by penances, engaged in serving the feet of the
king and of these my mothers.’ Unto that mighty-armed hero, Kunti, after
an embrace, said–‘Depart, O son. Do not say so. Do my bidding. Do all of
you go hence. Let peace be yours. Ye sons, let happiness be yours. By
your stay here, our penances will be obstructed. Bound by the ties of my
affection for thee, I shall fall off from my high penances. Therefore, O
son, leave us. Short is the period that we have of life, O thou of great
puissance.’ By these and diverse other speeches of Kunti, the minds of
Sahadeva and king Yudhishthira were composed. Those foremost ones of
Kuru’s race, having received the permission of their mother as also of
the (old) monarch, saluted the latter and began to take his leave.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Gladdened by auspicious blessings, we shall return
to the capital. Indeed, O king, having received thy permission, we shall
leave this retreat, freed from every sin.’ Thus addressed by the
high-souled king Yudhishthira the just, that royal sage, viz.,
Dhritarashtra, blessed Yudhishthira and gave him permission. The king
comforted Bhima, that foremost of all persons endued with great strength.
Endued with great energy and great intelligence, Bhima showed his
submissiveness to the king. Embracing Arjuna and clasping those foremost
of men, viz., the twins also, and blessing them repeatedly, the Kuru king
gave them permission to depart. They worshipped the feet of Gandhari and
received her blessings also. Their mother Kunti then smelt their heads,
and dismissed them. They then circumambulated the king like calves, when
prevented from sucking their dams. Indeed, they repeatedly walked round
him, looking steadfastly at him.[60] Then all the ladies of the Kaurava
household, headed by Draupadi, worshipped their father-in-law according
to the rites laid down in the scriptures, and took his leave. Gandhari
and Kunti embraced each of them, and blessing them bade them go. Their
mothers-in-law instructed them as to how they should conduct themselves.
Obtaining leave, they then departed, with their husbands. Then loud
sounds were heard, uttered by the charioteers that said,–‘Yoke,
yoke,’–as also of camels that grunted aloud and of steeds that neighed
briskly. King Yudhishthira, with his wives and troops and all his
kinsmen, set out for Hastinapura.”‘


(Naradagamana Parva)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After two years had elapsed from the date of the
return of the Pandavas (from the retreat of their sire), the celestial
Rishi, Narada, O king, came to Yudhishthira. The mighty-armed Kuru king,
that foremost of speakers, viz., Yudhishthira, having duly worshipped
him, caused him to take a seat. After the Rishi had rested awhile, the
king asked him, saying,–‘It is after a long time that I behold thy holy
self arrived at my court. Art thou in peace and happiness, O learned
Brahmana? What are those countries which thou hast passed through? What
shall I do to thee? Do thou tell me. Thou art the foremost of regenerate
ones, and thou art our highest refuge.’

“Narada said, ‘I have not seen thee for a long while. Hence it is that I
have come to thee from my ascetic retreat. I have seen many sacred
waters, and the sacred stream Ganga also, O king.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘People dwelling on the banks of Ganga report that
the high-souled Dhritarashtra is practising the austerest of penances.
Hast thou seen him there? Is that perpetuator of Kuru’s race in peace?
Are Gandhari and Pritha, and the Suta’s son Sanjaya also, in peace? How,
indeed, is it faring with that royal sire of mine? I desire to hear this,
O holy one, if thou hast seen the king (and knowest of his condition).’

“Narada said, ‘Listen, O king, with calmness to me as I tell thee what I
have heard and seen in that ascetic retreat. After thy return from
Kurukshetra, O delighter of the Kurus, thy sire, O king, proceeded
towards Gangadwara. That intelligent monarch took with him his (sacred)
fire, Gandhari and his daughter-in-law Kunti, as also Sanjaya of the Suta
caste, and all the Yajakas. Possessed of wealth of penances, thy sire set
himself to the practice of severe austerities. He held pebbles of stone
in his mouth and had air alone for his subsistence, and abstained
altogether from speech. Engaged in severe penances, he was worshipped by
all the ascetics in the woods. In six months the king was reduced only to
a skeleton. Gandhari subsisted on water alone, while Kunti took a little
every sixth day. The sacred fire, O monarch, (belonging to the Kuru king)
was duly worshipped by the sacrificing assistants that were with him,
with libations of clarified butter poured on it. They did this whether
the king saw the rite or not. The king had no fixed habitation. He became
a wanderer through those woods. The two queens, as also Sanjaya, followed
him. Sanjaya acted as the guide on even and uneven land. The faultless
Pritha, O king, became the eye of Gandhari. One day, that best of kings
proceeded to a spot on the margin of Ganga. He then bathed in the sacred
stream and finishing his ablutions turned his face towards his retreat.
The wind rose high. A fierce forest-conflagration set in. It began to
burn that forest all around. When the herds of animals were being burnt
all around, as also the snakes that inhabited that region, herds of wild
boars began to take themselves to the nearest marshes and waters. When
that forest was thus afflicted on all sides and such distress came upon
all the living creatures residing there, the king, who had taken no food,
was incapable of moving or exerting himself at all. Thy two mothers also,
exceedingly emaciated, were unable to move. The king, seeing the
conflagration approach him from all sides, addressed the Suta Sanjaya,
that foremost of skilful charioteers, saying,–‘Go, O Sanjaya, to such a
place where the fire may not burn thee. As regards ourselves, we shall
suffer our bodies to be destroyed by this fire and attain to the highest
goal.’ Unto him, Sanjaya, that foremost of speakers, said,–‘O king, this
death, brought on by a fire that is not sacred, will prove calamitous to
thee. I do not, however, see any means by which thou canst escape from
this conflagration. That which should next be done should be indicated by
thee.’ Thus addressed by Sanjaya the king once more said,–‘This death
cannot be calamitous to us, for we have left our home of our own accord.
Water, fire, wind, and abstention from food,[61] (as means of death), are
laudable for ascetics. Do thou, therefore, leave us, O Sanjaya, without
any delay. Having said these words to Sanjaya, the king concentrated his
mind. Facing the east, he sat down, with Gandhari and Kunti. Beholding
him in that attitude, Sanjaya walked round him. Endued with intelligence,
Sanjaya said,–‘Do thou concentrate thy soul, O puissant one.’ The son of
a Rishi, and himself possessed of great wisdom, the king acted as he was
told. Restraining all the senses, he remained like a post of wood. The
highly blessed Gandhari, and thy mother Pritha too, remained in the same
attitude. Then thy royal sire was overtaken by the forest-conflagration.
Sanjaya, his minister, succeeded in escaping from that conflagration. I
saw him on the banks of Ganga in the midst of ascetics. Endued with great
energy and great intelligence, he bade them farewell and then started for
the mountains of Himavat. Even thus the high-souled Kuru king met with
his death, and it was even thus that Gandhari and Kunti, thy two mothers,
also met with death, O monarch. In course of my wanderings at will, I saw
the bodies of that king and those two queens, O Bharata. Many ascetics
came to that retreat, having heard of the end of king Dhritarashtra. They
did not at all grieve for that end of theirs. There, O best of men, I
heard all the details of how the king and the two queens, O son of Pandu,
had been burnt. O king of kings, thou shouldst not grieve for him. The
monarch, of his own will, as also Gandhari and thy mother, obtained that
contact with fire.’

“Vaisampayana continued,–‘Hearing of the exit of Dhritarashtra from this
world, the high-souled Pandavas all gave way to great grief. Loud sounds
or wailing were heard within the inner apartments of the palace. The
citizens also, hearing of the end of the old king, uttered loud
lamentations. ‘O fie! cried king Yudhishthira in great agony, raising his
arms aloft. Thinking of his mother, he wept like a child. All his
brothers too, headed by Bhimasena, did the same. Hearing that Pritha had
met with such a fate, the ladies of the royal household tittered loud
lamentations of grief. All the people grieved upon hearing that the old
king, who had become childless, had been burnt to death and that the
helpless Gandhari too had shared his fate. When those sounds of wailing
ceased for a while, king Yudhishthira the just, stopping his tears by
summoning all his patience, said these words.”‘


“Yudhishthira said, ‘When such a fate overtook that high-souled monarch
who was engaged in austere penances, notwithstanding the fact of his
having such kinsmen as ourselves all alive, it seems to me, O regenerate
one, that the end of human beings is difficult to guess. Alas, who would
have thought that the son of Vichitraviryya would thus be burnt to death.
He had a hundred sons each endued with mighty arms and possessed of great
prosperity. The king himself had the strength of ten thousand elephants.
Alas, even he has been burnt to death in a forest-conflagration! Alas, he
who had formerly been fanned with palm leaves by the fair hands of
beautiful women was fanned by vultures with their wings after he had been
burnt to death in a forest-conflagration! He who was formerly roused from
sleep every morning by bands of Sutas and Magadhas had to sleep on the
bare ground through the acts of my sinful self. I do not grieve for the
famous Gandhari who had been deprived of all her children. Observing the
same vows as her husband, she has attained to those very regions which
have become his. I grieve, however, for Pritha who, abandoning the
blazing prosperity of her sons, became desirous of residing in the woods.
Fie on this sovereignty of ours, fie on our prowess, fie on the practices
of Kshatriyas! Though alive, we are really dead! O foremost of superior
Brahmanas, the course of Time is very subtle and difficult to understand,
inasmuch as Kunti, abandoning sovereignty, became desirous of taking up
her abode in the forest. How is it that she who was the mother of
Yudhishthira, of Bhima, of Vijaya, was burnt to deathlike a helpless
creature. Thinking of this I become stupefied. In vain was the deity of
fire gratified at Khandava by Arjuna. Ingrate that he is, forgetting that
service he has burnt to death the mother of his benefactor! Alas, how
could that deity burn the mother of Arjuna. Putting on the guise of a
Brahmana, he had formerly come to Arjuna for soliciting a favour. Fie on
the deity of fire! Fie on the celebrated success of Partha’s shafts! This
is another incident, O holy one, that appears to me to be productive of
greater misery, for that lord of Earth met with death by union with a
fire that was not sacred. How could such a death overtake that royal sage
of Kuru’s race who, after having ruled the whole Earth, was engaged in
the practice of penances. In that great forest there were fires that had
been sanctified with mantras. Alas, my father has made his exit from this
world, coming in contact with an unsanctified fire! I suppose that
Pritha, emaciated and reduced to a form in which all her nerves became
visible, must have trembled in fear and cried aloud, saying,–O son
Yudhishthira, and awaited the terrible approach of the conflagration. She
must have also said,–O Bhima, rescue me from this danger–when she, my
mother, was surrounded on all sides by that terrible conflagration. Among
all her sons, Sahadeva, was her darling. Alas, that heroic son of
Madravati did not rescue her.’ Hearing these lamentations of the king,
those persons that were present there began to weep, embracing each
other. In fact, the five sons of Pandu were so stricken with grief that
they resembled living creatures at the time of the dissolution of the
universe. The sound of lamentations uttered by those weeping heroes,
filling the spacious chambers of the palace, escaped therefrom and
penetrated the very welkin.”‘


“Narada said, ‘The king has not been burnt to death by an unsanctified
fire. I have heard this there. I tell thee, O Bharata, such has not been
the fate of Vichitraviryya. It has been heard by us that when the old
king endued with great intelligence and subsisting on air alone entered
the woods (after his return from Gangadwara), he caused his sacrificial
fires to be duly ignited. Having performed his sacred rites therewith, he
abandoned them all. Then the Yajaka Brahmanas he had with him cast off
those fires in a solitary part of the woods and went away as they liked
on other errands, O foremost one of Bharata’s race. The fire thus cast
off grew in the woods. It then produced a general conflagration in the
forest. Even this is what I have heard from the ascetics dwelling on the
banks of Ganga. United with that (sacred) fire of his own, O chief of the
Bharatas, the king, as I have already said unto thee, met with death on
the banks of Ganga. O sinless one, this is what the ascetics have told
me,–those, viz., whom I saw on the banks of the sacred Bhagirathi, O
Yudhishthira. Thus O lord of Earth, king Dhritarashtra, coming into
contact with his own sacred fire, departed from this world and attained
to that high goal that has been his. Through service rendered by her to
her seniors, thy mother, O lord of men, has attained to very great
success. There is not the slightest doubt of this. It behoveth thee, O
king of kings, to now discharge the rites of water to their honour, with
all thy brothers. Let, therefore, the necessary steps be taken towards
that end.’

“Vaisampayana continued,–‘Then that lord of Earth, that foremost of men,
that upholder of the burthens of the Pandavas, went out, accompanied by
all his brothers as well as the ladies of his household. The inhabitants
of the city as also those of the provinces, impelled by their loyalty,
also went out. They all proceeded towards the banks of Ganga, every one
clad in only single peace of raiment. Then all those foremost of men,
having plunged into the stream, placed Yuyutsu at their head, and began
to offer oblations of water unto the high-souled king. And they also gave
similar oblations unto Gandhari and Pritha, naming each separately and
mentioning their families. Having finished those rites that cleanse the
living, they came back but without entering their capital took up their
residence outside of it. They also despatched a number of trusted people
well conversant with the ordinances relating to the cremation of the
dead, to Gangadwara where the old king had been burnt to death. The king,
having rewarded those men beforehand, commanded them to accomplish those
rites of cremation which the bodies of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari and
Kunti still awaited.[62] On twelfth day, the king, properly purified,
duly performed the Sraddhas of his deceased relations, which were
characterised by gifts in abundance. Referring to Dhritarashtra,
Yudhishthira made many gifts of gold and silver, of kine and costly beds.
Uttering the names of Gandhari and Pritha, the king, endued with great
energy, made many excellent gifts. Every man received what thing he
wished and as much of it as he wished. Beds and food, and cars and
conveyances, and jewels and gems, and other wealth were given away in
profusion. Indeed, the king referring to his two mothers, gave away cars
and conveyances, robes and coverlets, various kinds of food, and female
slaves adorned with diverse ornaments. Having thus made many kinds of
gifts in profusion, that lord of Earth then entered his capital called
after the elephant. Those men who had gone to the banks of Ganga at the
command of the king, having disposed of (by cremation) the remains of the
king and two queens, returned to the city. Having duly honoured those
remains with garlands and scents of diverse kinds and disposed of them,
they informed Yudhishthira of the accomplishment of their task. The great
Rishi Narada, having comforted king Yudhishthira of righteous soul, went
away to where he liked. Even thus did king Dhritarashtra make his exit
from this world after having passed three years in the forest and ten and
five years in the city. Having lost all his children in battle, he had
many gifts in honour of his kinsmen, relatives, and friends, his brethren
and own people. King Yudhishthira after the death of his uncle, became
very cheerless. Deprived of his kinsmen and relatives, he somehow bore
the burthen of sovereignty.

One should listen with rapt attention to this Asramavasika Parvan, and
having heard it recited, one should feed Brahmanas with Habishya,
honouring them with scents and garlands.”‘

The end of Asramavasika Parvan.


  1. The derivation of Aralikas is explained by Nilakantha thus; Potherbs
    cut off with a kind of weapon called Ara are called Aralu. They who were
    expert in cooking those potherbs were called Aralikas. Ragakhandava was
    manufactured from piper longum, dry ginger, sugar, and the juice of
    Phaseolus Mango.
  2. It will be remembered, Earth, unable to bear her load of population,
    prayed to the Grandsire for lightening that load. The Grandsire urged
    Vishnu to do the needful. Hence Vishnu incarnated himself as Krishna and
    brought about a lightening of Earth’s load.
  3. Mahadana implies such gifts as elephants, boats, cars, horses, etc.
    Everybody does not accept these gifts, for their acceptance causes a
    Brahmana to fall away from his status.
  4. Some of the Bengal texts read avimukham hatah for abhimukam hatah. The
    sense is the same.

  5. The king gets a sixth share of the penances performed by the Rishis
    living under his protection. The demerit, again, of all evil deeds done
    within his realm is shared by the king, for such deeds become possible
    through absence of supervision by the king.

  6. Formerly kings and noblemen wore jewels and medicinal herbs on their
    arms. The last were enclosed in drum-like capsules of gold, hermetically
    closed on both sides. It was believed that jewels and medicinal herbs are
    a great protection against many evils.

  7. The eight limbs of a kingdom are the law, the judge, the assessors,
    the scribe, the astrologer, gold, fire, and water.

  8. Atta is explained by Nilakantha as the space kept for the soldiers to
    tread upon.

  9. Grass may conceal the spies of foes. The darkness of night also may do
    the same.

  10. Adanaruchi is a very civil way of indicating corrupt officials and
    thieves. Inflictors of severe punishments were looked upon as tyrants
    deserving of being put down. Heavy fines were at one time interdicted in
    England. Sahasapriya is a doer of rash deeds, such as culpable homicide
    not amounting to murder, to adopt the terminology of the Indian Penal

  11. i.e., content to work on receiving their food only. Their wages
    should not be higher that’ what is needed to feed them.

  12. The word Mandala has been explained below in verse 5. The distinction
    between Udasinas and Madhyasthas, as explained by Nilakantha, is that the
    former are neutrals, while the latter are those who cherish equal
    sentiments towards both the parties.

  13. The four kinds of foes, as explained by the commentator, are (1) foes
    proper, (2) allies of foes, (3) those that wish victory to both sides,
    and (4) those that wish defeat to both sides. As regards Atatayins, they
    are six, viz., (1) he that sets fire to one’s house, (2) he that mixes
    poison with one’s food, (3) he that advances, weapon in hand, with
    hostile intent, (4) he that robs one of one’s wealth, (5) he that invades
    one’s fields, and (6) he that steals one’s wife.

  14. The sixty are thus made up. Eight consisting of agriculture and the
    rest; twenty-eight consisting of forces and the rest; fourteen consisting
    of atheists and the rest and eighteen consisting of counsels and the rest.

  15. i.e., land that is fertile, gold that is pure, and men that are

  16. The wards Kasyanchidapadi should be construed with what follows.

  17. The cane yields when pressure is directed towards it. In the Santi
    Parva occurs the detailed conversation between the Ocean and the Rivers.
    The former enquired why, when the Rivers washed down the largest trees,
    they could not wash into the Ocean a single cane. The answer was that the
    cane was yielding; the trees were not so.

  18. War and peace are each of two kinds, i.e., war with a strong foe and
    that with a weak foe: peace with a strong foe and that with a weak foe.
    The Bengal texts wrongly read dividhopayam or vividhopayam.

  19. I expand this verse a little, following the commentator.

  20. Strength is of three kinds, as explained in the next verse.

  21. Utsaha is readiness or alacrity, of the forces to attack the foe:
    prabhusakti is the complete mastery of the king over his forces, i.e.,
    through discipline. By strength of counsels, in this connection, is meant
    well-formed plans of attack and defence.

  22. Maulam is explained as the strength of money. In modern warfare also,
    money is called ‘the sinews of war’. Atavivala or the force consisting of
    foresters, was, perhaps, the body of Irregulars that supported a regular
    army of combatants. Bhritavala implies the regular army, drawing pay from
    the state at all times. In India, standing armies have existed from
    remote times. Sreni-vala is, perhaps, the forces of artisans, mechanics,
    and engineers, who looked after the roads and the transport, as also of
    traders who supplied the army with provision.

  23. A sakata array was an array after the form of a car. It is described
    in Sukraniti fully, and occurs in the Drona Parva, ante. The Padma is a
    circular array with angular projections. It is the same with what is now
    called the starry with angular projections. It is the same what is now
    called the starry array, many modern forts being constructed on this
    plan. The Vajra is a wedge-like array. It penetrates into the enemy’s
    divisions like a wedge and goes out, routing the foe. It is otherwise
    called suchivyuha.

  24. i.e., meet the foe whether within his own kingdom or invade the foe’s
    realm and thus oblige the foe to fall back for resisting him there.

  25. i.e., for obtaining fame here and felicity hereafter.

  26. Those who die become at first what is called Preta. They remain so
    for one year, till the Sapindikarana Sraddha is performed. They then
    become united with the Pitris. The gifts made in the first Sraddha as
    also in the monthly ones, have the virtue of rescuing the Preta or
    bringing him an accession of merit. The gifts in annual Sraddhas also
    have the same efficacy.

  27. The text in verse 2, where mention is made of thousands of years as
    embracing the rule of Yudhishthira, is evidently vitiated.

  28. The correct reading is jane and not kshane.

  29. ‘It is difficult to imagine why the rider of the Sindhus, Jayadratha,
    only should be regarded as a wrong-doer to the Pandavas. In the matter of
    the slaying of Abhimanyu he played a very minor part, by only guarding
    the entrance of the array against the Pandava warriors. It is true he had
    attempted to abduct Draupadi from the forest retreat of the Pandavas, but
    even in this, the wrong was not so great as that which Duryodhana and
    others inflicted on the Pandavas by dragging Draupadi to the court of the

  30. The usual way in which gifts are made at the present day on occasions
    of Sraddhas and marriages or other auspicious rites very nearly resembles
    what is described here. Instead of dedicating each gift with mantras and
    water and making it over to the receiver, all the articles in a heap are
    dedicated with the aid of mantras. The guests are then assembled, and are
    called up individually. The Adhyaksha or superintendent, according to a
    list prepared, names the gifts to be made to the guest called up. The
    tellers actually make them over, the scribes noting them down.

  31. Each gift that was indicated by Dhritarashtra was multiplied ten
    times at the command of Yudhishthira.

  32. As Dhritarashtra was blind, his queen Gandhari, whose devotion to her
    lord was very great, had, from the days of her marriage, kept her eyes
    bandaged refusing to look on the world which her lord could not see.

  33. Nilakantha explains that as Dhritarashtra is Pandu’s elder brother,
    therefore, Kunti regards him as Pandu’s father. Queen Gandhari therefore
    is Kunti’s mother-in-law. The eldest brother is looked upon as a father.

  34. To live watching the faces of others is to live in dependence on

  35. It has been pointed out before that mahadana means gifts of such
    things as elephants, horses, cars and other vehicles, boats, etc. The
    giver wins great merit by making them, but the receiver incurs demerit by
    acceptance, unless he happens to be a person of exceptional energy. To
    this day, acceptors of such gifts are looked upon as fallen men.

  36. The words that Kunti spoke were just. The opposition her sons offered
    was unreasonable. Hence, their shame.

  37. ‘Brahmi night’ implies a night in course of which sacred hymns are

  38. Nakharaprasa-yodhina, Nilakantha explains, are those combatants who
    are armed with tiger-like claws made of iron and tied to their waists.

  39. Suradevata is like karivringhati or govalivardda.

  40. Ulupi is implied.

  41. Implying the unfair character of the fight, for one on the earth
    should never be assailed by one on his car.

  42. Yudhishthira was Dharma’s self, Vidura also was Dharma born as a
    Sudra through the curse of the Rishi Animandavya. Both, therefore, were
    of the same essence. When Vidura left his human body, he entered the body
    of Yudhishthira and thus the latter felt himself strengthened greatly by
    the accession.

  43. Nilakantha here implies the peacock and not the blue jay, for the
    word keka is applied to the notes of the peacock alone. Datyuhas are
    gallinules or a species of Chatakas whose cry resembles, Phatik
    jal–phatik jal–phatik jal! repeated very distinctly, the second
    syllable being lengthened greatly.

  44. Audumvaran is an adjective of kalasan. It means ‘made of copper’.
    Praveni is a kutha or blanket. Sruk is a ladle having the cup like cavity
    at one extremity only. Sruv is a ladle having cup-like cavities at both

  45. Whenever a Brahmana cursed another, his penances underwent a
    diminution. Forgiveness was the highest virtue of the Brahmana. His power
    lay in forgiveness. Hence, when Mandavya cursed Dharma, he had to spend a
    portion of his hard-earned penances. Previously, the plea of minority or
    non-age could not be urged in the court of Dharma. Mandavya forced Dharma
    to admit that plea in the matter of punishment for offences.

  46. Both Dharana and Dhyana are processes or, rather, stages of Yoga. The
    former implies the fixing of the mind on one thing; the latter is the
    abstraction of the mind from surrounding objects.

  47. Valhika was the sire of Somadatta and the grandsire of Bhurisravas.
    Valhika, therefore, was the grand-father-in-law of the lady mentioned by

  48. The puissance here referred to is that of Anima, Laghima, etc. i.e.,
    the capacity of becoming minute and subtile, etc.

  49. The sense is that those had been incarnated as human beings and
    fighting with one another met with death as regards their human existence.

  50. Nilakantha explains that anayasakritani karma implies the religion of
    Nivritti, for the religion of Pravritti consists of acts that require
    ayasa or exertion for their accomplishment. The religion of Nivritti or
    abstention from acts is said hereto be true and superior, and productive
    of real fruit, in the form, that is, of Emancipation. The soul, however,
    in the generality of cases, united with ebhih, by which is meant
    ayasa-kritam karma, that is, the acts done in pursuance of the religion
    of Pravritti, becomes embodied and, therefore, enjoys happiness or
    endures misery as the case may be.

  51. The sense seems to be this–when a creature stands before a mirror,
    its image is formed in the mirror; such reflection, however, never
    affects the mirror in the least, for when the object leaves the vicinity
    of the mirror, the image or reflection vanishes away. The soul is like
    the mirror. Pleasure and pain are like reflections in it. They come and
    go away without the soul being at all modified by them in anyway.
    Pleasure and pain are destructible, but not so the soul.

  52. The ordinary man thinks this conglomeration of diverse objects to be
    his self. The man of wisdom who has exhausted his acts does not think so.
    He is freed from the obligation of taking a body.

  53. The sense probably is this. En the case of ordinary men, the
    component parts of the body dissolve away, while Yogins can keep such
    parts from dissolution as long as they like.

  54. The sense is, the deities bear away to the next world the animals
    slain in sacrifices Through the bodies of such animals are apparently
    destroyed, yet their life-breaths and senses continue to exist.

  55. The sense is that as wives etc., when lost, are sources of sorrow,
    wise men should abstain from contracting such relations. They might then
    be free from sorrow.

  56. Paraparajnah is one that understands the distinction between body and
    sell. Apara is, therefore, one that is not possessed of such knowledge;
    hence, as Nilakantha explains, it implies one who has not attained to
    Jnana nishtha. What is said in the second line is that he that adores
    saguna Brahma, succeeds afterwards, through such adoration, in reaching
    to nirguna Brahma.

  57. The sense seems to be this: we spring from the unmanifest and
    disappear once more in the unmanifest. The Bengal texts read the first
    line incorrectly. It is adarsanalapatitah. The second line is
    unintelligible. Naham tam vedini is taken by Nilakantha as implying ‘I do
    not know him,’ i.e., him that is Emancipate. Asau cha no vetti mam is
    explained as a due to karanabhat. But who is asau? ‘I have no
    renunciation,’ or ‘renunciation is not yet mine,’ implies that
    Emancipation, which directly flows from renunciation, is not mine.

  58. What is stated here is that if a man does an act that is bad, its
    consequences he will have to endure in a human body. The same with regard
    to rewards. By doing a meritorious act in one’s human form, one will
    enjoy its good consequences in one’s human body. So acts done mentally
    affect the mind and those done with the body affect the body.

It should be noted that the whole of the above translation is offered
tentatively. A verbal rendering has been attempted. The chain of
reasoning is not at all clear. The commentator has done much to elucidate
the sense, but the original obscurities have scarcely been removed.

  1. The Bengal reading manah is incorrect. It should be punah.

  2. Nripam pradakshinam chakru is the construction. Nivarana has
    snanapanat understood after it.

  3. Vikarshanam is emaciation of the body by abstention from all food.

  4. The verb anvacat from root sas can govern two objectives. Here the
    two objectives are purushan and krityani

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