“Dhritarashtra said. ‘O Yudhishthira, art thou in peace and happiness,with all thy brothers and the inhabitants of the city and the provinces?Are they that live in dependance on thee also happy? Are they ministers,and servitors, and all thy seniors and preceptors also, happy? Are thosealso that live in thy dominions free from fear? Dost thou follow the oldand traditional conduct of rulers of men? Is thy treasury filled withoutdisregarding the restraints imposed by justice and equity? Dost thoubehave as thou shouldst towards foes, neutrals, and allies? Dost thouduly look after the Brahmanas, always making them the first gifts(ordained in sacrifices and religious rites)? What need I say of thecitizens, and thy servants, and kinsmen,–are they foes, O chief ofBharata’s race, gratified with thy behaviour? Dost thou, O king of kings,adore with devotion the Pitris and the deities? Dost thou worship guestswith food and drink, O Bharata? Do the Brahmanas in thy dominions,devoted to the duties of their order, walk along the path ofrighteousness? Do the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras also within thykingdom, and all thy relatives, observe their respective duties? I hopethe women, the children, and the old, among thy subjects, do not grieve(under distress) and do not beg (the necessaries of life). Are the ladiesof thy household duly honoured in thy house, O best of men? I hope, Omonarch, that this race of royal sages, having obtained thee for theirking, have not fallen away from fame and glory.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Unto the old king who said so, Yudhishthira,conversant with morality and justice, and well-skilled in acts andspeech, spoke as follows, putting some questions about his welfare.’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Doth thy peace, O king, thy self-restraint, thytranquillity of heart, grow? Is this my mother able to serve thee withoutfatigue and trouble? Will, O king, her residence in the woods beproductive of fruits? I hope this queen, who is my eldest mother, who isemaciated with (exposure to) cold and wind and the toil of walking, andwho is now devoted to the practice of severe austerities, no longer givesway, to grief for her children of mighty energy, all of whom, devoted tothe duties of the Kshatriya order, have been slain on the field ofbattle. Does she accuse us, sinful wretches, that are responsible fortheir slaughter? Where is Vidura, O king? We do not see him here. I hopethis Sanjaya, observant of penances, is in peace and happiness.
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, Dhritarashtra answered kingYudhishthira, saying,–‘O son. Vidura is well. He is performing austerepenances, subsisting on air alone, for he abstains from all other food.He is emaciated and his arteries and nerves have become visible.Sometimes he is seen in this empty forest by Brahmanas.’ WhileDhritarashtra was saying this Vidura was seen at a distance. He hadmatted locks on his head, and gravels in his mouth, and was exceedinglyemaciated. He was perfectly naked. His body was besmeared all over withfilth, and with the dust of various wild flowers. When Kshattri wasbeheld from a distance, the fact was reported to Yudhishthira. Vidurasuddenly stopped, O king, casting his eyes towards the retreat (andseeing it peopled by so many individuals). King Yudhishthira pursued himalone, as he ran and entered the deep forest, sometimes not seen by thepursuer. He said aloud, ‘O Vidura, O Vidura, I am king Yudhishthira, thyfavourite!’–Exclaiming thus, Yudhishthira, with great exertion, followedVidura. That foremost of intelligent men, viz., Vidura, having reached asolitary spot in the forest, stood still, leaning against a tree. He wasexceedingly emaciated. He retained only the shape of a human being (allhis characteristic features having totally disappeared). Yudhishthira ofgreat intelligence recognised him, however, (in spite of such change).Standing before him, Yudhishthira addressed him, saying, ‘I amYudhishthira!’ Indeed, worshipping Vidura properly, Yudhishthira saidthese words in the hearing of Vidura. Meanwhile Vidura eyed the king witha steadfast gaze. Casting his gaze thus on the king, he stood motionlessin Yoga. Possessed of great intelligence, he then (by his Yoga-power)entered the body of Yudhishthira, limb by limb. He united hislife-breaths with the king’s life-breaths, and his senses with the king’ssenses. Verify, with the aid of Yoga-power, Vidura, blazing with energy,thus entered the body of king Yudhishthira the just. Meanwhile, the bodyof Vidura continued to lean against the tree, with eyes fixed in asteadfast gaze. The king soon saw that life had fled out of it. At thesame time, he felt that he himself had become stronger than before andthat he had acquired many additional virtues and accomplishments.Possessed of great learning and energy, O monarch, Pandu’s son, kingYudhishthira the just, then recollected his own state before his birthamong men. Endued with mighty energy, he had heard of Yoga practicefrom Vyasa. King Yudhishthira the just, possessed of great learning,became desirous of doing the last rites to the body of Vidura, and wishedto cremate it duly. An invisible voice was then heard,–saying,–‘O king,this body that belonged to him called Vidura should not be cremated. Inhim is thy body also. He is the eternal deity of Righteousness. Thoseregions of felicity which are known by the name of Santanika will be his,O Bharata. He was an observer of the duties of Yatis. Thou shouldst not,O scorcher of foes, grieve for him at all. Thus addressed, kingYudhishthira the just, returned from that spot, and representedeverything unto the royal son of Vichitraviryya. At this, that king ofgreat splendour, all these men, and Bhimasena and others, became filledwith wonder. Hearing what had happened, king Dhritarashtra became pleasedand then, addressing the son of Dharma. said,–‘Do thou accept from methese gifts of water and roots and fruits. It has been said, O king, thatone’s guest should take that which one takes oneself.’ Thus addressed,Dharma’s son answered the king, saying,–‘So be it.’ The mighty-armedking ate the fruits and roots which the monarch gave him. Then they allspread their beds under a tree and passed that night thus, having eatenfruits and roots and drunk the water that the old king had given them.”‘