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Chapter 36

Mahabharata English - ASRAMAVASIKA PARVA

“Janamejaya said, ‘Having seen his sons and grandsons with all theirfriends and followers, what, indeed, did that ruler of men, viz.,Dhritarashtra, and king Yudhishthira also, do?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Beholding that exceedingly wonderful sight, viz.,the re-appearance of his children, the royal sage, Dhritarashtra, becamedivested of his grief and returned (from the banks of the Bhagirathi) tohis retreat. The common people and all the great Rishis, dismissed byDhritarashtra, returned to the places they respectively wished. Thehigh-souled Pandavas, accompanied by their wives, and with a smallretinue, went to the retreat of the high-souled monarch. Then Satyavati’sson, who was honoured by regenerate Rishis and all other persons, arrivedat the retreat, addressed Dhritarashtra, saying,–‘O mighty-armedDhritarashtra. O son of Kuru’s race, listen to what I say. Thou hastheard diverse discourses from Rishis of great knowledge and sacred deeds,of wealth of penances and excellence of blood, of conversance with theVedas and their branches, of piety and years, and of great eloquence. Donot set thy mind again on sorrow. He that is possessed of wisdom is neveragitated at ill luck. Thou hast also heard the mysteries of the deitiesfrom Narada of celestial form. Thy children have all attained, throughobservance of Kshatriya practices, to that auspicious goal which issanctified by weapons. Thou hast seen how they move about at will ingreat happiness. This Yudhishthira of great intelligence is awaiting thypermission, with all his brothers and wives and kinsmen. Do thou dismisshim. Let him go back to his kingdom and rule it. They have passed morethan a month in thus residing in the woods. The station of sovereigntyshould always be well guarded. O king, O thou of Kuru’s race, [thy]kingdom has many foes.’ Thus addressed by Vyasa of incomparable energy,the Kuru king, well-versed in words, summoned Yudhishthira and said untohim,–‘O Ajatasatru, blessings on thee! Do thou listen to me, with allthy brothers. Through thy grace, O king, grief no longer stands in myway. I am living as happily, O son, with thee here as if I were in thecity called after the elephant. With thee as my protector, O learned one,I am enjoying all agreeable objects. I have obtained from thee all thoseservices which a son renders to his sire. I am highly gratified withthee. I have not the least dissatisfaction with thee, O mighty-armed one.Go now, O son, without tarrying here any longer. Meeting with thee, mypenances are being slackened. This my body, endued with penances, I havebeen able to sustain only in consequence of my meeting with thee.[59]These two mothers of thine, subsisting now upon fallen leaves of trees,and observing vows similar to mine, will not live long. Duryodhana andothers, who have become denizens of the other world, have been seen byus, through the puissance of Vyasa’s penances and through (the merit of)this my meeting with thee. O sinless one, the purpose of my life has beenattained. I now wish to set myself to the practice of the austerest ofpenances. It behoveth thee to grant me permission. On thee now theobsequial cake, the fame and achievements, and the race of our ancestors,rest. O mighty-armed one, do thou then depart either tomorrow or thisvery day. Do not tarry, O son. O chief of Bharata’s race, thou hastrepeatedly heard what the duties are of kings. I do not see what more Ican say unto thee. I have no longer any need with thee, O thou of greatpuissance.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Unto the (old) monarch who said so, kingYudhishthira replied,–‘O thou that art conversant with every rule ofrighteousness, it behoveth thee, not to cast me off in this way. I amguilty of no fault. Let all my brothers and followers depart as theylike. With steadfast vows I shall wait upon thee and upon these twomothers of mine.’ Unto him Gandhari then said,–‘O son, let it not be so.Listen, the race of Kuru is now dependant on thee. The obsequial cakealso of my father-in-law depends on thee. Depart then, O son. We havebeen sufficiently honoured and served by thee. Thou shouldst do what theking says. Indeed, O son, thou shouldst obey the behests of thy sire.’

“Vaisampayana continued,–‘Thus addressed by Gandhari, King Yudhishthira,rubbing his eyes which were bathed in tears of affection, said thesewords of lament. ‘The king casts me off, as also Gandhari of great fame.My heart, however, is bound to thee. How shall I, filled as I am withgrief, leave thee? I do not, however, at the same time, venture toobstruct thy penances, O righteous lady. There is nothing higher thanpenances. It is by penances that one attains to the Supreme. O queen, myheart no longer turns as of old towards kingdom. My mind is wholly setupon penances now. The whole Earth is empty now. O auspicious lady, shedoes not please me any longer. Our kinsmen have been reduced in number.Our strength is no longer what it was before. The Panchalas have beenwholly exterminated. They exist in name only. O auspicious lady, I do notbehold any one that may assist as their re-establishment and growth. Allof them have been consumed to ashes by Drona on the field of battle.Those that remained were slain by Drona’s son at night. The Chedis andthe Matsyas, who were our friends, no longer exist. Only the tribes ofthe Vrishnis are all that remain, Vasudeva having upheld them. Beholdingonly the Vrishnis I wish to live. My desire of life, however, is due tomy wish of acquiring merit and not wealth or enjoyment. Do thou castauspicious looks upon us all. To obtain thy sight will be difficult forus. The king will commence to practise the most austere and unbearable ofpenances.’ Hearing these words, that lord of battle, the mighty-armedSahadeva, with eyes bathed in tears, addressed Yudhishthira, saying,–‘Ochief of Bharata’s race, I dare not leave my mother. Do thou return tothe capital soon. I shall practise penances, O puissant one. Even here Ishall emaciate my body by penances, engaged in serving the feet of theking and of these my mothers.’ Unto that mighty-armed hero, Kunti, afteran embrace, said–‘Depart, O son. Do not say so. Do my bidding. Do all ofyou go hence. Let peace be yours. Ye sons, let happiness be yours. Byyour stay here, our penances will be obstructed. Bound by the ties of myaffection for thee, I shall fall off from my high penances. Therefore, Oson, leave us. Short is the period that we have of life, O thou of greatpuissance.’ By these and diverse other speeches of Kunti, the minds ofSahadeva and king Yudhishthira were composed. Those foremost ones ofKuru’s race, having received the permission of their mother as also ofthe (old) monarch, saluted the latter and began to take his leave.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Gladdened by auspicious blessings, we shall returnto the capital. Indeed, O king, having received thy permission, we shallleave this retreat, freed from every sin.’ Thus addressed by thehigh-souled king Yudhishthira the just, that royal sage, viz.,Dhritarashtra, blessed Yudhishthira and gave him permission. The kingcomforted Bhima, that foremost of all persons endued with great strength.Endued with great energy and great intelligence, Bhima showed hissubmissiveness to the king. Embracing Arjuna and clasping those foremostof men, viz., the twins also, and blessing them repeatedly, the Kuru kinggave them permission to depart. They worshipped the feet of Gandhari andreceived her blessings also. Their mother Kunti then smelt their heads,and dismissed them. They then circumambulated the king like calves, whenprevented from sucking their dams. Indeed, they repeatedly walked roundhim, looking steadfastly at him.[60] Then all the ladies of the Kauravahousehold, headed by Draupadi, worshipped their father-in-law accordingto the rites laid down in the scriptures, and took his leave. Gandhariand Kunti embraced each of them, and blessing them bade them go. Theirmothers-in-law instructed them as to how they should conduct themselves.Obtaining leave, they then departed, with their husbands. Then loudsounds were heard, uttered by the charioteers that said,–‘Yoke,yoke,’–as also of camels that grunted aloud and of steeds that neighedbriskly. King Yudhishthira, with his wives and troops and all hiskinsmen, set out for Hastinapura.”‘

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