“Sanjaya said, ‘While Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira, was indulging in suchlamentations, the great Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana came to him. Worshippinghim duly, and causing him to be seated, Yudhishthira, afflicted withgrief on account of the death of his brother’s son, said, ‘Alas, whilebattling with many mighty bowmen, the son of Subhadra, surrounded byseveral great car-warriors of unrighteous propensities, hath been slainon the field. The slayer of hostile heroes, the son of Subhadra, was achild in years and of childish understanding. He fought in battleagainst desperate odds. I asked him to open a passage for us in battle.He penetrated within the hostile army, but we could not follow him,obstructed by the ruler of the Sindhus. Alas, they that betake themselvesto battle as a profession, always fight with antagonists equallycircumstanced with themselves. This battle, however, that the enemyfought with Abhimanyu, was an extremely unequal one. It is that whichgrieves me greatly and draws tears from me. Thinking of this, I fail toregain peace of mind.’
“Sanjaya continued, ‘The illustrious Vyasa, addressing Yudhishthira whowas indulging in such lamentations and who was thus unmanned by anaccession of sorrow, said these words.’
“Vyasa said, ‘O Yudhishthira, O thou of great wisdom, O thou that artmaster of all branches of knowledge, persons like thee never sufferthemselves to be stupefied by calamities. This brave youth, having slainnumerous foes hath ascended to heaven. Indeed, that best of persons,(though a child), acted, however, like one of matured years. OYudhishthira, this law is incapable of being transgressed. O Bharata,Death takes all viz., Gods and Dhanavas and Gandharvas (withoutexception).’
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Alas, these lords of earth, that lie on the bareearth, slain in the midst of their forces, bereft of consciousness, werepossessed of great might. Others (of their class) possessed strengthequal to that of ten thousand elephants. Others, again, were endued withthe impetuosity and might of the very wind. They have all perished inbattle, slain by men of their own class. I do not behold the person (saveone of their own class) who could slay any of them in battle. Endued withgreat prowess, they were possessed of great energy and great might. Alas,they who used daily to come to battle with this hope firmly implanted intheir hearts, viz., that they would conquer, alas even they, possessed ofgreat wisdom, are lying on a field, struck (with weapons) and deprived oflife. The significance of the word Death hath today been madeintelligible, for these lords of earth, of terrible prowess, have almostall been dead. Those heroes are lying motionless; reft of vanity, havingsuccumbed to foes. Many princes, filled with wrath, have been victimisedbefore the fire (of their enemies’ wrath). A great doubt possesses me,viz., whence is Death? Whose (offspring) is Death? What is Death? Whydoes Death take away creatures? O grandsire, O thou that resemblest agod, tell me this.’
“Sanjaya continued, ‘Unto Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira, asking him thus, theillustrious Rishi, comforting him, said these words.’
“Vyasa said, As regards the matter in hand, O king, this ancient story ofwhat Narada had in days of old said unto Akampana is cited. KingAkampana, O monarch, I know, while in this world was afflicted with verygreat and unbearable grief on account of the death of his son, I will nowtell these the excellent story about the origin of Death. Having listenedto it, thou wilt be emancipated from sorrow and the touch of affection’stie. Listen to me, O sire, as I recite this ancient history. This historyis, indeed, excellent. It enhanceth the period of life, killeth grief andconduceth to health. It is sacred, destructive of large bodies of foes,and auspicious of all auspicious things. Indeed, this history is even asthe study of the Vedas. O monarch, it should every morning be listened toby the foremost of kings who are desirous of longlived children and theirown good.
“In days of old, O sire, there was a king named Akampana. Once, on thefield of battle, he was surrounded by his foes and nearly overpowered bythem. He had a son who was called Hari. Equal to Narayana himself inmight, that latter was exceedingly handsome, accomplished in weapons,gifted with great intelligence, possessed of might, resembled Sakrahimself in battle. Encompassed by countless foes on the field of battle,he sped thousands of shafts at those warriors and the elephants thatsurrounded him. Having achieved the most difficult feats in battle, OYudhishthira, that scorcher of foes was, at last, slain in the midst ofthe army. Performing the obsequies of his son, king Akampana cleansedhimself. Grieving, however, for his son day and night, the kingfailed to regain happiness of mind. Informed of his grief on account ofthe death of his son, the celestial Rishi Narada came to his presence.The blessed king, beholding the celestial Rishi, told the lattereverything that had happened unto him, viz., his defeat at the hands ofhis foes, and the slaughter of his son. And the king said, ‘My son wasendued with great energy, and equalled Indra or Vishnu himself insplendour. That mighty son of mine, having displayed his prowess on thefield against countless foes was at last slain! O illustrious one, who isthis Death? What is the measure of his energy, strength and prowess? Oforemost of intelligent persons, I desire to hear all this truly.’Hearing these words of his, the boon giving lord, Narada., recited thefollowing elaborate history, destructive of grief on account of a son’sdeath.’
“Narada said. ‘Listen, O mighty-armed king, to this long history, exactlyas I have heard it, O monarch! In the beginning, the Grandsire Brahmacreated all creatures. Endued with mighty energy, he saw that thecreation bore no signs of decay. Thereat, O king, the Creator began tothink about the destruction of the universe. Reflecting on the matter, Omonarch, the Creator failed to find any means of destruction. He thenbecame angry, and in consequence of his anger a fire sprang from the sky.That fire spread in all directions for consuming everything of theuniverse. Then heaven, sky, and earth, all became filled with fire. Andthus the Creator began to consume the whole mobile and immobile universe.Thereby all creatures, mobile and immobile, were destroyed. Indeed, themighty Brahma, frightening everything by the force of his wrath, did allthis, Then Hara, otherwise called Sthanu or Siva, with matted locks onhis head, that Lord of all wanderers of the night, appealed to the divineBrahma, the Lord of the gods. When Sthanu fell (at Brahma’s feet) from adesire of doing good to all creatures, the Supreme Deity to that greatestof ascetics, blazing with splendour, said, ‘What wish of thine shall weaccomplish, O thou that deservest to have all thy wishes fulfilled? Othou that hast been born of our wish! We shall do all that may beagreeable to thee! Tell us, O Sthanu, what is thy wish?'”