‘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 your 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 anyone 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(Vyasa) 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 forever). 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.
Regards and Reply to King Dhritarashtra
That learned Brahmana named Samba, of good behaviour, chosen by unanimous consent, conversant with all topics, master of all the Richs, 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 was 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. 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.
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 away.”
Source: The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa -BOOK 15 ASRAMAVASIKA PARVA
Categories: Stories from Mahabharata