“Vaisampayana said, ‘After the death of that deer, king Pandu with hiswives was deeply afflicted and wept bitterly. And he exclaimed, ‘Thewicked, even if born in virtuous families, deluded by their own passions,become overwhelmed with misery as the fruit of their own deeds.
I haveheard that my father, though begotten by Santanu of virtuous soul, wascut off while still a youth, only because he had become a slave to hislust. In the soil of that lustful king, the illustrious RishiKrishna-Dwaipayana himself, of truthful speech, begot me. A son though Iam of such a being, with my wicked heart wedded to vice, I am yet leadinga wandering life in the woods in the chase of the deer. Oh, the very godshave forsaken me! I shall seek salvation now. The great impediments tosalvation are the desire to beget children, and other concerns of theworld. I shall now adopt the Brahmacharya mode of life and follow in theimperishable wake of my father. I shall certainly bring my passions undercomplete control by severe ascetic penances. Forsaking my wives and otherrelatives and shaving my head, alone shall I wander over the earth,begging for my subsistence from each of these trees standing here.Forsaking every object of affection and aversion, and covering my bodywith dust, I shall make the shelter of trees or deserted houses my home.I shall never yield to influence of sorrow or joy, and I shall regardslander and eulogy in the same light. I shall not seek benedictions orbows. I shall be at peace with all, and shall not accept gifts. I shallnot mock anybody, nor shall I knit my brows at any one, but shall be evercheerful and devoted to the good of all creatures. I shall not harm anyof the four orders of life gifted with power of locomotion or otherwise,viz., oviparous and viviparous creatures and worms and vegetables. But onthe contrary, preserve an equality of behaviour towards all, as if theywere, my own children. Once a day shall I beg of five or ten families atthe most, and if I do not succeed in obtaining alms, I shall then gowithout food. I shall rather stint myself than beg more than once of thesame person. If I do not obtain anything after completing my round ofseven or ten houses, moved by covetousness, I shall not enlarge my round.Whether I obtain or fail to obtain alms. I shall be equally unmoved likea great ascetic. One lopping off an arm of mine with a hatchet, and onesmearing another arm with sandal-paste, shall be regarded by me equally.I shall not wish prosperity to the one or misery to the other. I shallnot be pleased with life or displeased with death. I shall neither desireto live nor to die. Washing my heart of all sins, I shall certainlytranscend those sacred rites productive of happiness, that men perform inauspicious moments, days, and periods. I shall also abstain from all actsof religion and profit and also those that lead to the gratification ofthe senses. Freed from all sins and snares of the world, I shall be likethe wind subject to none. Following the path of fearlessness and bearingmyself in this way I shall at last lay down my life. Destitute of thepower of begetting children, firmly adhering to the line of duty I shallnot certainly deviate therefrom in order to tread in the vile path of theworld that is so full of misery. Whether respected or disrespected in theworld that man who from covetousness casteth on others a begging look,certainly behaveth like a dog. (Destitute as I am of the power ofprocreation, I should not certainly, from desire of offspring, solicitothers to give me children).’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The king, having thus wept in sorrow, with asigh looked at his two wives Kunti and Madri, and addressing them said,’Let the princess of Kosala (my mother), Vidura, the king with ourfriends, the venerable Satyavati, Bhishma, the priests of our family,illustrious Soma-drinking Brahmanas of rigid vows and all elderlycitizens depending on us be informed, after being prepared for it, thatPandu hath retired into the woods to lead a life of asceticism.’ Hearingthese words of their lord who had set his heart on a life of asceticismin the woods, both Kunti and Madri addressed him in these proper words,’O bull of Bharata’s race, there are many other modes of life which thoucanst adopt and in which thou canst undergo the severest penances alongwith us, thy wedded wives–in which for the salvation of thy body(freedom from re-birth), thou mayest obtain heaven. We also, in thecompany of our lord, and for his benefit, controlling our passions andbidding adieu to all luxuries, shall subject ourselves to the severestausterities. O king, O thou of great wisdom, if thou abandonest us, weshall then this very day truly depart from this world.’
Pandu replied, ‘If, indeed, this your resolve springeth from virtue, thenwith you both I shall follow the imperishable path of my fathers.Abandoning the luxuries of cities and towns, clad in barks of trees, andliving on fruits and roots, I shall wander in deep woods, practising theseverest penances. Bathing morning and evening, I shall perform the homa.I shall reduce my body by eating very sparingly and shall wear rags andskins and knotted locks on my head. Exposing myself to heat and cold anddisregarding hunger and thirst, I shall reduce my body by severe asceticpenances, I shall live in solitude and I shall give myself up tocontemplation; I shall eat fruit, ripe or green, that I may find. I shalloffer oblations to the Pitris (manes) and the gods with speech, water andthe fruits of the wilderness. I shall not see, far less harm, any of thedenizens of the woods, or any of my relatives, or any of the residents ofcities and towns. Until I lay down this body, I shall thus practise thesevere ordinances of the Vanaprastha scriptures, always searching forseverer ones that they may contain.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Kuru king, having said this unto his wives,gave away to Brahmanas the big jewel in his diadem, his necklace ofprecious gold, his bracelets, his large ear-rings, his valuable robes andall the ornaments of his wives. Then summoning his attendants, hecommended them, saying, ‘Return ye to Hastinapura and proclaim unto allthat Pandu with his wives hath gone into the woods, foregoing wealth,desire, happiness, and even sexual appetite.’ Then those followers andattendants, hearing these and other soft words of the king, set up a loudwail, uttering, ‘Oh, we are undone!’ Then with hot tears trickling downtheir cheeks they left the monarch and returned to Hastinapura with speedcarrying that wealth with them (that was to be distributed in charity).Then Dhritarashtra, that first of men, hearing from them everything thathad happened in the woods, wept for his brother. He brooded over hisaffliction continually, little relishing the comfort of beds and seatsand dishes.
“Meanwhile, the Kuru prince Pandu (after sending away his attendants)accompanied by his two wives and eating fruits and roots went to themountains of Nagasata. He next went to Chaitraratha, and then crossed theKalakuta, and finally, crossing the Himavat, he arrived at Gandhamadana.Protected by Mahabhutas, Siddhas, and great Rishis, Pandu lived, O king,sometimes on level ground and sometimes on mountain slopes. He thenjourneyed on to the lake of Indradyumna, whence crossing the mountains ofHansakuta, he went to the mountain of hundred peaks (Sata-sringa) andthere continued to practise ascetic austerities.'”