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Chapter 37

Mahabharata English - ASRAMAVASIKA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After two years had elapsed from the date of thereturn of the Pandavas (from the retreat of their sire), the celestialRishi, Narada, O king, came to Yudhishthira. The mighty-armed Kuru king,that foremost of speakers, viz., Yudhishthira, having duly worshippedhim, caused him to take a seat. After the Rishi had rested awhile, theking asked him, saying,–‘It is after a long time that I behold thy holyself arrived at my court. Art thou in peace and happiness, O learnedBrahmana? What are those countries which thou hast passed through? Whatshall I do to thee? Do thou tell me. Thou art the foremost of regenerateones, and thou art our highest refuge.’

“Narada said, ‘I have not seen thee for a long while. Hence it is that Ihave come to thee from my ascetic retreat. I have seen many sacredwaters, and the sacred stream Ganga also, O king.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘People dwelling on the banks of Ganga report thatthe high-souled Dhritarashtra is practising the austerest of penances.Hast thou seen him there? Is that perpetuator of Kuru’s race in peace?Are Gandhari and Pritha, and the Suta’s son Sanjaya also, in peace? How,indeed, is it faring with that royal sire of mine? I desire to hear this,O holy one, if thou hast seen the king (and knowest of his condition).’

“Narada said, ‘Listen, O king, with calmness to me as I tell thee what Ihave heard and seen in that ascetic retreat. After thy return fromKurukshetra, O delighter of the Kurus, thy sire, O king, proceededtowards Gangadwara. That intelligent monarch took with him his (sacred)fire, Gandhari and his daughter-in-law Kunti, as also Sanjaya of the Sutacaste, and all the Yajakas. Possessed of wealth of penances, thy sire sethimself to the practice of severe austerities. He held pebbles of stonein his mouth and had air alone for his subsistence, and abstainedaltogether from speech. Engaged in severe penances, he was worshipped byall the ascetics in the woods. In six months the king was reduced only toa skeleton. Gandhari subsisted on water alone, while Kunti took a littleevery sixth day. The sacred fire, O monarch, (belonging to the Kuru king)was duly worshipped by the sacrificing assistants that were with him,with libations of clarified butter poured on it. They did this whetherthe king saw the rite or not. The king had no fixed habitation. He becamea wanderer through those woods. The two queens, as also Sanjaya, followedhim. Sanjaya acted as the guide on even and uneven land. The faultlessPritha, O king, became the eye of Gandhari. One day, that best of kingsproceeded to a spot on the margin of Ganga. He then bathed in the sacredstream and finishing his ablutions turned his face towards his retreat.The wind rose high. A fierce forest-conflagration set in. It began toburn that forest all around. When the herds of animals were being burntall around, as also the snakes that inhabited that region, herds of wildboars began to take themselves to the nearest marshes and waters. Whenthat forest was thus afflicted on all sides and such distress came uponall the living creatures residing there, the king, who had taken no food,was incapable of moving or exerting himself at all. Thy two mothers also,exceedingly emaciated, were unable to move. The king, seeing theconflagration approach him from all sides, addressed the Suta Sanjaya,that foremost of skilful charioteers, saying,–‘Go, O Sanjaya, to such aplace where the fire may not burn thee. As regards ourselves, we shallsuffer our bodies to be destroyed by this fire and attain to the highestgoal.’ Unto him, Sanjaya, that foremost of speakers, said,–‘O king, thisdeath, brought on by a fire that is not sacred, will prove calamitous tothee. I do not, however, see any means by which thou canst escape fromthis conflagration. That which should next be done should be indicated bythee.’ Thus addressed by Sanjaya the king once more said,–‘This deathcannot be calamitous to us, for we have left our home of our own accord.Water, fire, wind, and abstention from food,[61] (as means of death), arelaudable for ascetics. Do thou, therefore, leave us, O Sanjaya, withoutany delay. Having said these words to Sanjaya, the king concentrated hismind. Facing the east, he sat down, with Gandhari and Kunti. Beholdinghim in that attitude, Sanjaya walked round him. Endued with intelligence,Sanjaya said,–‘Do thou concentrate thy soul, O puissant one.’ The son ofa Rishi, and himself possessed of great wisdom, the king acted as he wastold. Restraining all the senses, he remained like a post of wood. Thehighly blessed Gandhari, and thy mother Pritha too, remained in the sameattitude. Then thy royal sire was overtaken by the forest-conflagration.Sanjaya, his minister, succeeded in escaping from that conflagration. Isaw him on the banks of Ganga in the midst of ascetics. Endued with greatenergy and great intelligence, he bade them farewell and then started forthe mountains of Himavat. Even thus the high-souled Kuru king met withhis death, and it was even thus that Gandhari and Kunti, thy two mothers,also met with death, O monarch. In course of my wanderings at will, I sawthe bodies of that king and those two queens, O Bharata. Many asceticscame to that retreat, having heard of the end of king Dhritarashtra. Theydid not at all grieve for that end of theirs. There, O best of men, Iheard all the details of how the king and the two queens, O son of Pandu,had been burnt. O king of kings, thou shouldst not grieve for him. Themonarch, of his own will, as also Gandhari and thy mother, obtained thatcontact with fire.’

“Vaisampayana continued,–‘Hearing of the exit of Dhritarashtra from thisworld, the high-souled Pandavas all gave way to great grief. Loud soundsor wailing were heard within the inner apartments of the palace. Thecitizens also, hearing of the end of the old king, uttered loudlamentations. ‘O fie! cried king Yudhishthira in great agony, raising hisarms aloft. Thinking of his mother, he wept like a child. All hisbrothers too, headed by Bhimasena, did the same. Hearing that Pritha hadmet with such a fate, the ladies of the royal household tittered loudlamentations of grief. All the people grieved upon hearing that the oldking, who had become childless, had been burnt to death and that thehelpless Gandhari too had shared his fate. When those sounds of wailingceased for a while, king Yudhishthira the just, stopping his tears bysummoning all his patience, said these words.”‘

Chapter 38
Chapter 36
🙏 धर्म और आध्यात्म को जन-जन तक पहुँचाने में हमारा साथ दें| 🙏