Narach Philosophy

ASRAMAVASIKA PARVA: THE DEATH OF DHRITARASTRA


Having regained their kingdom, the Pandavas, placing Dhritarashtra at their head, ruled the earth; and the son of Ambika (Dhritarashtra) passed his time happily, honoured by all. Gandhari too lived cheerfully and at peace.

Dhritarashtra Retires: In this way fifteen years passed away, and then Dhritarashtra desired to retire from the kingdom. He had been hurt by some words of Bhima, of which no one knew, and so he sought Yudhisthira's permission to retire into the forest. Then, as Vyasa also pressed Yudhisthira to let the old king depart, he agreed; and Dhritarashtra, followed by Gandhari, Vidura, and Sanjaya, made preparations to leave for the forest. Then, as Kunti also had resolved to accompany them, and could not be persuaded to stay, she too made ready to leave.

Kunti's Advice: Dhritarashtra blessed Yudhisthira and his brothers, and Kunti advised him never to neglect Sahadeva; and then they, clad in deerskins and barks, departed for the forest.

The Hermitage of Vyasa: They stayed for a time or the banks of the Ganges and from there proceeded to Kurukshetra. Then, at the hermitage of Vyasa, the king received his initiation into the forest mode of life.

The Pandavas' Visit: Upon the retirement of Dhritarashtra, the Pandavas became dispirited, and resolved to see him once more. So they came to Kurukshetra, where he lived with Gandhari, Kunti, Vidura and Sanjaya in the company of Rishis and sages. He welcomed them and offered gifts of water, roots and fruits to Yudhisthira; and so they lived together for some time.

The Death of Vidura: Then, as Yudhisthira greeted Vidura, he found him engaged in Yoga meditation. Vidura looked steadily at the king (Yudhisthira) and (by his power) entered his body, limb by limb, and then passed away to the other world.

A Vision of the Dead: Then the great ascetic Vyasa asked them all to repair to the banks of the Bhagirathi (Ganges), and he summoned all the warriors who had been slain on the battlefield, and they all rose from the waters of the Ganga. Then Vyasa blessed Dhritarashtra with celestial vision, and he and Gandhari beheld all their children and all those who had been slain. Then the living met the dead once more and felt happy, and Dhritarashtra, who had never seen his sons before, saw that they were very like his own self. Seeing his sons, he renewed his grief and returned to the hermitage. He then bade Yudhisthira and his brothers return to their kingdom, and engaged himself in penance.

The Death of Dhritarashtra and Others: After two years had passed from the date of the return of the Pandavas (three after the departure of Dhritarashtra to the forest), Narada came to Yudhisthira, and informed him that Dhritarashtra had caused a sacrificial fire to be lighted, from the remnants of which the forest caught fire, and he, Gandhari, and Kunti were all reduced to ashes. Sanjaya alone escaped.

Hearing this, the Pandavas were filled with grief. Then, headed by Yuyutsu, they went to the river side and offered oblations of water to the great king and to Gandhari and Prtha.