“Janamejaya asked, ‘O first of Brahmanas, what did the Pandavas, thosemighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, do after arriving at Ekachakra?’
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those mighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, onarriving at Ekachakra, lived for a short time in the abode of a Brahmana.Leading an eleemosynary life, they behold (in course of their wanderings)various delightful forests and earthly regions, and many rivers andlakes, and they became great favourites of the inhabitants of that townin consequence of their own accomplishments. At nightfall they placedbefore Kunti all they gathered in their mendicant tours, and Kunti usedto divide the whole amongst them, each taking what was allotted to him.And those heroic chastisers of foes, with their mother, together took onemoiety of the whole, while the mighty Bhima alone took the other moiety.In this way, O bull of Bharata’s race, the illustrious Pandavas livedthere for some time.
“One day, while those bulls of the Bharata race were out on their tour ofmendicancy, it so happened that Bhima was (at home) with (his mother)Pritha. That day, O Bharata, Kunti heard a loud and heart-rending wail ofsorrow coming from within the apartments of the Brahmana. Hearing theinmates of the Brahmana’s house wailing and indulging in piteouslamentations, Kunti, O king, from compassion and the goodness of herheart, could not bear it with indifference. Afflicted with sorrow, theamiable Pritha, addressing Bhima, said these words full of compassion.’Our woes assuaged, we are, O son, living happily in the house of thisBrahmana, respected by him and unknown to Dhritarashtra’s son. O son, Ialways think of the good I should do to this Brahmana, like what they dothat live happily in others’ abodes! O child, he is a true man upon whomfavours are never lost. He payeth back to others more than what hereceiveth at their hands. There is no doubt, some affliction hathovertaken this Brahmana. If we could be of any help to him, we shouldthen be requiting his services.’
“Hearing these words of his mother, Bhima said, ‘Ascertain, O mother thenature of the Brahmana’s distress and whence also it hath arisen.Learning all about it, relieve it I will however difficult may the taskprove.’
“Vaisampayana continued ‘While mother and son were thus talking with eachother, they heard again, O king, another wail of sorrow proceeding fromthe Brahmana and his wife. Then Kunti quickly entered the innerapartments of that illustrious Brahmana, like unto a cow running towardsher tethered calf. She beheld the Brahmana with his wife, son anddaughter, sitting with a woeful face, and she heard the Brahmana say,’Oh, fie on this earthly life which is hollow as the reed and sofruitless after all which is based on sorrow and hath no freedom, andwhich hath misery for its lot! Life is sorrow and disease; life is trulya record of misery! The soul is one: but it hath to pursue virtue, wealthand pleasure. And because these are pursued at one and the same time,there frequently occurs a disagreement that is the source of much misery.Some say that salvation is the highest object of our desire. But Ibelieve it can never be attained. The acquisition of wealth is hell; thepursuit of wealth is attended with misery; there is more misery after onehas acquired it, for one loves one’s possessions, and if any mishapbefalls them, the possessor becomes afflicted with woe. I do not see bywhat means I can escape from this danger, nor how I can fly hence, withmy wife to some region free from danger. Remember, O wife, that Iendeavoured to migrate to some other place where we would be happy, butthou didst not then listen to me. Though frequently solicited by me,thou, O simple woman, said to me, ‘I have been born here, and here have Igrown old; this is my ancestral homestead.’ Thy venerable father, O wife,and thy mother also, have, a long time ago, ascended to heaven. Thyrelations also had all been dead. Oh why then didst thou yet like to livehere? Led by affection for thy relatives thou didst not then hear what Isaid. But the time is now come when thou art to witness the death of arelative. Oh, how sad is that spectacle for me! Or perhaps the time iscome for my own death, for I shall never be able to abandon cruelly oneof my own as long as I myself am alive. Thou art my helpmate in all gooddeeds, self-denying and always affectionate unto me as a mother. The godshave given thee to me as a true friend and thou art ever my prime stay.Thou hast, by my parents, been made the participator in my domesticconcerns. Thou art of pure lineage and good disposition, the mother ofchildren, devoted to me, and so innocent; having chosen and wedded theewith due rites, I cannot abandon thee, my wife, so constant in thy vows,to save my life. How shall I myself be able to sacrifice my son a childof tender years and yet without the hirsute appendages (of manhood)? Howshall I sacrifice my daughter whom I have begotten myself, who hath beenplaced, as a pledge, in my hands by the Creator himself for bestowal on ahusband and through whom I hope to enjoy, along with my ancestors, theregions attainable by those only that have daughters’ sons? Some peoplethink that the father’s affection for a son is greater; others, that hisaffection for a daughter is greater, mine, however, is equal. How can Ibe prepared to give up the innocent daughter upon whom rest the regionsof bliss obtainable by me in after life and my own lineage and perpetualhappiness? If, again, I sacrifice myself and go to the other world, Ishould scarcely know any peace, for, indeed, it is evident that, left byme these would not be able to support life. The sacrifice of any of thesewould be cruel and censurable. On the other hand, if I sacrifice myself,these, without me, will certainly perish. The distress into which I havefallen is great; nor do I know the means of escape. Alas, what courseshall I take today with my near ones. It is well that I should die withall these, for I can live no longer.'”