When king Dhritarashtra heard the news of the loss of his hundred sons, he fell down on the earth like a tree uprooted by the wind. But Vidura comforted him and asked him not to grieve, for his sons had obtained the highest end. Vyasa also consoled him, reminding him that the destruction of the Kurus was inevitable. The blind old king then bade that Gandhari, Kunti, and other ladies should come out; and they, who had not been seen before this by the very celestials, were seen by the common people now. With beautiful, dishevelled hair, with ornaments cast away, these ladies, each clad in a single piece of cloth, proceeded sadly to the field where lay their dear ones slain, weeping and crying aloud in grief.
Yudhisthira meets Dhritarashtra: Yudhisthira, hearing that Dhritarashtra had left the city of Hastinapura, set out to meet him, accompanied by his brothers, Krshna, and others. They saw on the banks of the Ganga the blind old king and thousands of ladies afflicted with grief. Yudhisthira came up to the king, and touched his feet in salutation, and his brothers did the same.
The Statue of Iron: Dhritarashtra embraced Yudhisthira, and then, as came the turn of Bhima, desired to crush him in his embrace. But Krshna, divining his purpose, dragged away the real Bhima, and presented in his stead an iron statue of the prince. Dhritarashtra, thinking it to be the real Bhima, held his arms tightly round the statue and broke it into pieces. His own breast was bruised in the attempt; he vomited blood, and dropped down on the ground; and, filled with grief, began to weep aloud and cry, "Alas, O Bhima! O Bhima!" But Krshna comforted him, and informed him that the real Bhima was still alive.
The Pandavas then went to see queen Gandhari; and, fearing lest she should curse them, Vyasa came to prepare her mind and bade her be calm and remember her own saying, "Victory is where Righteousness is." Gandhari, having shaken off her anger, comforted the Pandavas like their own mother. Kunti too, who had seen her sons after a long time, covered her face and wept. She then embraced them all, and wept again with Draupadi who had lost all her Sons.
The Curse of Gandhari: Then, at the command of Vyasa king Dhritarashtra and all the sons of Pandu, led by Yudhisthira, with Krshna and all the Kuru ladies, went to the battlefield. Having reached Kurukshetra, those widowed ladies beheld their brothers and sons and sires and husbands lying on the ground, and began to cry piteously. Then Gandhari, beholding the universal destruction of the Kurus, and filled with grief, addressed Krshna, and said, "Look, O Madhava, at these daughters-in-law of mine, deprived of their husbands, with dishevelled hair, crying piteously. See the field covered with mothers of heroes, deprived of their children. Behold those ornaments of men, Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Abhimanyu, Jayadratha, Drupada, and Salya and others lifeless on the ground. O Kesava, can there be a sight more sorrowful than this? Look, O Madhava, at my beloved son, Duryodhana, lying there. See my hundred sons. See, where the daughter of Virata is bewailing by the side of her husband, Abhimanyu; and behold Karna, foremost among men. See, O Janardana, Jayadratha, my son-in-law. Can there be a greater grief for me than to see my daughter and daughters-in-law widowed all ? There lies Salya, beautiful like the moon; there Drona, the best of Brahmanas. Alas! There they lie, all slain! You, O Krshna, could have prevented their slaughter, but you did not. Therefore I curse you, O holder of the discus and the mace! Be you the destroyer of your kinsmen too; and in the thirty-sixth year from this you will, after bringing about the death of your kinsmen and friends and sons, perish by disgraceful means in the forest; and the ladies of your family, deprived of their friends, kinsmen, and sons, shall weep and cry even as these of the Bharata race."
Hearing these words, Krshna smiled and said, "There is none in the world, save myself, who can exterminate the Vrsnis, and I am trying to destroy them. O you of excellent vows, you have only helped me to accomplish my task by your curse. The Yadavas will be killed by one another. But rise, O Gandhari, and do not grieve a saintly woman bears children for the practice of austerities; a Vaisya woman to increase the number of keepers of cattle; a Sudra woman to add to the number of servants; but a Princess like you brings forth sons but to be slain on the battlefield." Hearing this, Gandhari, with her heart stricken with grief, remained silent, and could not speak.
The Funeral Ceremonies: Then, as Dhritarashtra wished that the funeral ceremonies of all who were slain should be duly performed, Yudhisthira ordered the priests to perform their rites; and all, headed by the blind old king, proceeded to the banks of the Ganga. The Kuru ladies, stricken with grief, offered their oblations of water to the dead; and, as they were performing this rite, the access to the stream became easy to all.
Then Kunti, laden with grief, addressed her sons, and said, "This hero, killed by Arjuna in battle, whom you knew as the son of Radha, was your eldest brother, born of me by the Sun. offer your oblations of water to him." Hearing these words of their mother, the Pandavas were filled with sorrow, and began to grieve for Karna. Then Yudhisthira offered oblations of water to his deceased brother; and then the king, with his mind greatly agitated, rose from the waters of the Ganga.