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Chapter 18

Mahabharata English - ASRAMAVASIKA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Kunti, the sinless Pandavas,O best of kings, became ashamed. They, therefore, desisted, along withthe princess of-Panchala, from following her.[36] Beholding Kuntiresolved to go into the woods, the ladies of the Pandava householduttered loud lamentations. The Pandavas then circumambulated the king andsaluted him duly. They ceased to follow further, having failed topersuade Pritha to return. Then Amvika’s son of great energy, viz.,Dhritarashtra, addressing Gandhari and Vidura and supporting himself onthem, said, ‘Let the royal mother of Yudhishthira cease to go with us.What Yudhishthira has said is all very true. Abandoning this highprosperity of her sons, abandoning those high fruits that may be hers,why should she go into the inaccessible woods, leaving her children likea person of little intelligence? Living in the enjoyment of sovereignty,she is capable of practising penances and observing the high vow ofgifts. Let her, therefore, listen to my words. O Gandhari, I have beenmuch gratified with the services rendered to me by this daughter-in-lawof mine. Conversant as thou art with all duties, it behoveth thee tocommand her return.’ Thus addressed by her lord, the daughter of Suvalarepeated unto Kunti all those words of the old king and added her ownwords of grave import. She, however, failed to cause Kunti to desistinasmuch as that chaste lady, devoted to righteousness, had firmly sether heart upon residing in the woods. The Kuru ladies, understanding howfirm her resolution was regarding her retirement into the woods, andseeing 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 allthe sons of Pritha and all the ladies had retraced their steps, kingYudhishthira of great wisdom continued his journey to the woods. ThePandavas, exceedingly cheerless and afflicted with grief and sorrowaccompanied by their wives, returned to the city, on their cars. At thattime the city of Hastinapura, with its entire population of men, both oldand young, and women, became cheerless and plunged into sorrow. Nofestivals of rejoicing were observed. Afflicted with grief, the Pandavaswere without any energy. Deserted by Kunti, they were deeply afflictedwith grief, like calves destitute of their dams. Dhritarashtra reachedthat day a place far removed from the city. The puissant monarch arrivedat last on the banks of the Bhagirathi and took rest there for the night.Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas duly ignited their sacred fires inthat retreat of ascetics. Surrounded by those foremost of Brahmanas,those sacred fires blazed forth in beauty. The sacred fire of the oldking was also ignited. Sitting near his own fire, he poured libations onit according to due rites, and then worshipped the thousand-rayed sun ashe was on the point of setting. Then Vidura and Sanjaya made a bed forthe king by spreading some blades of Kusa grass. Near the bed of thatKuru hero they made another for Gandhari. In close proximity to Gandhari,Yudhishthira’s mother Kunti, observant of excellent vows, happily laidherself down. Within hearing distance of those three, slept Vidura andothers. The Yajaka Brahmanas and other followers of the king laidthemselves down on their respective beds. The foremost of Brahmanas thatwere there chanted aloud many sacred hymns. The sacrificial fires blazedforth all around. That night, therefore, seemed as delightful to them asa Brahmi night.[37] When the night passed away, they all arose from theirbeds and went through their morning acts. Pouring libations then on thesacred fire, they continued their journey. Their first day’s experienceof the forest proved very painful to them on account of the grievinginhabitants of both the city and the provinces of the Kuru kingdom.”

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