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Chapter 22

Mahabharata English - ASRAMAVASIKA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those foremost of men, the heroic Pandavas,–thosedelighters of their mother–became exceedingly afflicted with grief. Theywho had formerly been always engaged in kingly offices, did not at thattime attend to those acts at all in their capital. Afflicted with deepgrief, they failed to derive pleasure from anything. If any body accostedthem, they never honoured him with an answer. Although those irresistibleheroes were in gravity like the ocean, yet they were now deprived oftheir knowledge and their very senses by the grief they felt. Thinking oftheir mother, the sons of Pandu were filled with anxiety as to how theiremaciated 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 haveall been slain, follow her blind lord in the solitary woods?’–Even suchwas the anxiety manifested by the Pandavas when they talked with oneanother. They then set their hearts upon seeing the king in his forestretreat. Then Sahadeva, bowing down to the king, said, ‘I see thy heartto be set upon seeing our sire. From my respect for thee, however, Icould not speedily open my mouth on the subject of our journey to thewoods. The time for that sojourn is now come. By good luck I shall seeKunti living in the observance of penances, with matted locks on herhead, practising severe austerities, and emaciated with sleeping onblades of Kusa and Kasa. She was brought up in palaces and mansions, andnursed in every comfort and luxury. Alas, when shall I see my mother whois now toil-worn and plunged into exceeding misery? Without doubt, Ochief 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 thewoods.’ Hearing these words of Sahadeva, queen Draupadi, that foremost ofall women duly honouring the king said, with proper salutations,–Alas,when shall I see queen Pritha, if, indeed, she be yet alive. I shallconsider my life as not passed in vain if I succeed in beholding her oncemore, O king. Let this sort of understanding be ever stable in thee. Letthy mind always take a pleasure in such righteousness as is involved, Oking of kings, in thy desire of bestowing such a high boon on us. Know, Oking, that all these ladies of thy house are staying with their feetraised for the journey, from desire of beholding Kunti, and Gandhari, andmy father-in-law. Thus addressed by queen Draupadi, the king, O chief ofBharata’s race, summoned all the leaders of his forces to his presenceand told them,–‘Cause my army, teeming with cars and elephants, to marchout. I shall behold king Dhritarashtra who is now living in the woods.’Unto those that supervised the concerns of the ladies, the king gave theorder, ‘Let diverse kinds of conveyances be properly equipt, and all myclosed litters that count by thousands. Let carriages and granaries, andwardrobes, and treasuries, be equipt and ordered out, and let mechanicshave the command to march out. Let men in charge of treasuries go out onthe way leading to the ascetic retreats on Kurukshetra. Whoever amongstthe citizens wishes to see the king is allowed to do so without anyrestriction. Let him proceed, properly protected. Let cooks andsuperintendents of kitchens, and the whole culinary establishment, anddiverse kinds of edibles and viands, be ordered to be borne out on cartsand conveyances. Let it be proclaimed that we march out tomorrow. Indeed,let no delay occur (in carrying out the arrangements). Let pavilions andresting houses of diverse kinds be erected on the way.’ Even these werethe commands which the eldest son of Pandu gave, with his brothers. Whenmorning came, O monarch, the king set out, with a large train of womenand old men. Going out of his city, king Yudhishthira waited five daysfor such citizens as might accompany him, and then proceeded towards theforest.”‘

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