When the thirty-sixth year after the Battle of Kurukshetra had arrived, Yudhisthira saw many unusual portents on earth and in the sky; and soon after he heard of the wholesale destruction of the Vrsnis, and the passing away of Balarama and Vasudeva. All this happened as follows:
The Disguise of Samba; the Iron Bolt: One day the Vrsni heroes saw Visvamitra, Kanva, Narada and other Rishis arrived at Dwarka; and causing Samba, a son of Vasudeva, to be disguised as a woman, brought him to them, saying, "This one is the wife of Babhru, who is desirous of getting a son. Ye, Rishis, do you know for certain, what this one will produce?" They replied, "This heir of Vasudeva will produce a dreadful iron bolt for the destruction of the Vrsnis and the Andhakas. Through that iron bolt you will become the exterminators of your family, with the exception of Rama and Janardana. That blessed hero, armed with the plough (Balarama), will enter the Ocean, renouncing his body; while a hunter of the name of Jara will pierce the great Kia lying on the ground."
The Iron Bolt; the Command of Krshna: The next day Samba actually produced an iron bolt; and king Ugrasena, to whom the fact was duly reported, caused it to be reduced to fine powder, and cast into the sea. Then, at the command of Janardana and Rama, it was announced that no one should manufacture wines and intoxicating liquors on pain of death.
The Pilgrimage: But the hour of the destruction of the Vrsnis had arrived and, knowing that it was so, and remembering Gandhari's curse, Krshna commanded the Vrsnis to make a pilgrimage to the sacred waters, and so they did. They went with their wives and took up their abode on the sea coast.
The Drunken Revelry: There at Prabhasa the Vrsni heroes, mixing wine with the food that had been prepared for the Brahmanas, gave it to monkeys and apes, and Rama and others began to revel with drink.
The Destruction of Vrsnis and Andhakas: Then Yuyudhana, intoxicated with wine, insulted Krtavarman in the open assembly; and, in the quarrel that followed, Satyaki rushed at Krtavarman, and cut off his head in the very presence of Krshna. Then the Bhojas and Andhakas rushed upon Satyaki, and the son of Krshna went to rescue him. But both Satyaki and the son of Krshna were killed. At this Krshna in anger took up a handful of Eraka grass which grew there, and it became a terrible bolt of iron gifted with the energy of the thunderbolt; and with it he destroyed all who came before him. Then they all struck one another in a dreadful fight, and whoever took up in anger a blade of the Eraka grass, that in his hand was converted into an iron thunderbolt; and, fighting with that. they destroyed one another.
The Death of Balarama: Seeing the Vrsnis and Andhakas slain, Krshna bade Daruka, his charioteer, go and bring Arjuna, and he went himself in search of his brother Rama. He saw him sitting in a solitary place, rapt in Yoga meditation; and from his mouth issued forth a powerful Snake, of white colour and a thousand heads, and it proceeded along the way to the Ocean. With that Balarama passed away from this world.
The Death of Krshna: Seeing this, Vasudeva (Krshna), knowing that his own hour had come, sat down on the naked earth. Knowing the truth of everything, and though he was the Supreme Deity, he yet wished to die for removing all doubts and establishing a certainty of results, and for upholding the three worlds. He sat down in high Yoga, when a fierce hunter, named Jara, came there; and, mistaking him for a deer, pierced him with an arrow at the heel; and the high-souled one, knowing that his time had come, ascended to his own inconceivable regions above.
The Arrival of Arjuna: Meanwhile Daruka arrived at Hastinapura, and described to the sons of Pandu all that had taken place. Then Arjuna started for Dwarka and, arriving there, saw the city looking like a woman reft of her husband; and at his sight the sixteen thousand ladies who had been wedded to Vasudeva, uttered a loud cry of woe.
The Message of Krshna: Arjuna then went to meet Vasudeva (father of Krshna), and he gave him the message of Krshna who had said, "I am Arjuna, and Arjuna is myself. Do that which Arjuna says. This city of Dwarka after Arjuna's departure, will speedily be swallowed up by the sea."
The Death of Vasudeva: Arjuna passed the night in the palace of Krshna, and resolved to take the remnants of the Vrsnis and Andhakas with himself, and install Vajra as their king at Indraprastha. When, however, the morning dawned, a sound of wailing was heard, and Arjuna heard that Vasudeva had passed away.
The Submersion of Dwarka: After the last rites of Vasudeva were performed, the bodies of Rama and Krshna were also cremated; and on the seventh day, taking with him the wives of the Vrsnis and Andhakas, Arjuna departed for the city of Hastinapura. After all had started, the Ocean rose and flooded and swallowed up the city of Dwarka, and all were filled with wonder at the sight.
The Attack of Robbers: Dhananjaya, accompanied by the Vii women arrived at the country of the five rivers; and there he was attacked by a band of robbers, Abhiras, who, finding him alone and accompanied by women, children and old men, fell upon him. Arjuna felt some difficulty in stringing his celestial bow; his celestial weapons did not come to his mind; and he lost the might of his arm. When he struck the robbers with arrows shot off Gandiva, the darts, which before were inexhaustible, were soon exhausted; and, before the eyes of all, many foremost of the ladies were dragged away, while others went away with the robbers of their own accord. Dhananjaya considered it all as a work of Destiny; and, taking with him the residue of Vrsni women, children, and old men, reached Kurukshetra. He established them at different places; and then, with tears in his eyes entered the hermitage of Vyasa.
The Advice of Vyasa: He described what had happened to that sage, saying, "Krshna and Rama have ascended to heaven, and five hundred thousand mighty-armed warriors have been slain; and, in my very sight, thousands of Vrsni ladies have been carried away by the Abhiras of the country of the five waters." But Vyasa comforted him, assuring him that all that had been ordained had come to pass. He informed him that his own great work in life had come to an end, and the time had arrived when he and his brothers must pass. Then Arjuna returned to the city of Hastinapura and informed Yudhisthira of all that had taken place.