Saint Vaisampayana told Janamejaya the story of Mahabharata.
“O King Janamejaya, King Dhritarashtra was performing Tapas in the forests. At that time, Saints Narada, Parva, Devala, Mounjayana visited the Ashram of Dhritarashtra. Kunti received them and offered them arghyam and padyam. Dhritarashtra saluted them offered them seats.
Saint Narada told Dhritarashtra thus: “O King Dhritarashtra! in the past, King Satayoopa’s grand father, Sahasrachitta also performed Tapas here only. He developed friendship even with Mahendra. Kings Prishadhru, Sailalaya and Purukutsu also performed Tapas here and attained heavenly pleasures. I know all of them. It is not possible for all to performe Tapas at this place. With the blessings of Saint Vyasa, you attained that fotune. I wish you also salvation like other kings. Your wife, Gandhari also will accompany you to heaven. For serving both of you, Kunti also attains higher regions and joins her husband in heaven. King Pandu, husband of Kunti, stays with Indra and he was remembering you always. Vidura leaves this mortal body and joined Yama Dharma Raja as Vidura is no other than the soul of Yama. Sanjaya follows you to heaven.” said Saint Narada.
On hearing those words, Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti were very happy. At that time Saint Satayoopa told Narada thus: “O Saint Narada! You are aware of each and everything. You said that Dhritarashtra attains salvation. Kindly elaborate it.” asked Satayoopa.
Saint Narada said thus: “O Satayoopa! Once, while I was talking with Devendra, there was a reference about Dhritarashtra. Everybody in heaven appreciated the Tapas performed by Dhritarashtra. At that time, Devendra told me thus: “Narada! As a result of the tapas performed by him, Dhritarashtra along with his wife Gandhari, attains heavenly pleasures.” said Devendra. At that time King Pandu was there and he was very eager to see you.” said Narada.
On hearing those words, Dhritarashtra and others were very happy. Then Saint Narada and other sages and saints departed from that place.
At Hastinapura, Pandavas were always remembering their mother, Kunti. They were very much distressed thinking about the woes suffered by Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and their mother Kunti. Instead of enjoying pleasures during old age, they were spending miserable life in forests. Even the people of Hastinapura also were feeling sorry for the woes suffered by Dhritarashtra and others. Pandavas were remembering Vidura and Sanjaya daily. They do not understand why they were suffering by consuming fruits and leaves in forests instead of ejoying royal pleasures in Hastinapura. Even Droupadi and Subhadra were worrying about their mother in laws Gandhari and Kunti.
All have decided to visit them once. Sahadeva moved the proposal before Dharmaja. “Brother Dharmaja! I thought of going to forests to see my mother Kunti. I am very much worried about her welfare. It is better you also accompany us to forests.” said Sahadeva.
Droupadi supported the repuest of Sahadeva: “Sahadeva’s proposal is correct. It is proper on your part to visit Kunti. We are also very eager to see Kunti. We are all ready to start.” said Droupadi.
Hearing all these requests, Dharmaja concurred with them and ordered to make arrangements for the proposed journey. He also announced that if any of the citizens of Hastinapura intends to see Dhritarashtra and others, they may follow them and necessary arrangements will be made for their comfortable journey and stay.Dharmaja deputed Yuyutsa, Kripacharya and Purohit Dhoumya to be incharge of day to day administration and also protection of Hastinapura.
Necessary arrangements were made to go to forests. Bhimasena was in charge of elephant forces. Arjuna was in charge of chariots. Nakula was in charge of cavalry and Sahadeva was controlling foot soldiers. Droupadi and other ladies started in palanquins and chariots according to their status. Dharmaja mounted a chariot driven by 16 horses. Several citizens of Hastinapura followed them in different kinds of vehicles. In that manner, the expedition started and crossed the river Ganga and reached the Ashram of Satayoopa.
Dharmaja enquired about the whereabouts of Dhritarashtra
and he was informed that Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti went to Ganga
for holy bath. All of them went to the river and met Dhritarashtra. By
that time Dhritarashtra was returning from the river, after performing
Tapas. Beholding Pandavas, Kunti hugged all of them and blessed them.
Sahadeva fell on the feet of Kunti and wept like a child. Then Kunti informed
Dhritarashtra and Gandhari about the arrival of Pandavas. Pandavas enquired
Sanjaya about his welfare. Droupadi and other innerapartment ladies saluted
Gandhari and Kunti. Dhritarashtra was joyous as if he was in Hastinapura.
Sanjaya introduced Pandavas in the following manner. “He is Dharmaja. Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva are his brothers. She is Droupadi, wife of those five Pandavas. She is Subhadra, sister of Sri Krishna and wife of Arjuna. They are Uloopi and Chintrangada, wives of Arjuna. She is Uttara who lost her husband, Abhimanyu son of Arjuna, in Maha Bharata War.”
Later Sanjaya introduced the other wives of Pandavas
to those sages.
Dharmaja obediently replied thus: “O my paternal uncle Dhritarashtra! With the help of your teachings, I have been ruling the Kingdom to the pleasure of one and all. We are more worried about your welfare in this forest. How is your Tapas going on? Is my mother Kunti serving you to your satisfaction. Where is Vidura? He is not seen anywhere? I want to see Vidura immediately.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! I am happy. My Tapas is going on uninterruptedly. Your mother, Kunti is serving us. Gandhari and Sanjaya are also performing tapas regularly. But the whereabouts of Vidura are not known. He is wandering here and there. He does not take food. He consumes air or water. His behaviour is peculiar. He might be wandering in this forest, alone without the fear of cruel animals.” said Dhritarashtra.
At that time Vidura was seen going at a distance. Immediately
Dharmaja followed him. “O Vidura! I am Dharmaja. I have come to
see you. Please stop.” Dharmaja was running after Vidura. Vidura
has no clothes on his body. His body was full of dirt and mud. Vidura
turned back and stopped under a tree. Dharmaja went near him. He was closing
Vidura opened his eyes. With his Yoga power, Vidura left his mortal body and an illumining light entered Dharmaja. Vidura’s body fell down. Dharmaja was shining with more glow than before. Dharmaja was astonished about this happening. Dharmaja intended to perform last rituals to Vidura. Then he heard a voice from sky: “Vidura is a saint. He received sainthood. Last rituals are not necessary for saints. Leave his body there itself.”.
Then Dharmaja went to Dhritarashtra and told him what had happened. Sun was set. Dharmaja and others stayed there for that night by consming fruits etc. offered by Dhritarashtra. Next day morning, after finishing morning rituals, Pandavas, Droupadi and Subhadra and others went round the Ashram. In that manner, Pandavas and their ladies stayed there for thirty days.
One day, Saint Vyasa arrived there. All of them saluted Veda Vyasa and offered him Arghyam and Padyam and suitable seat to sit. Vyasa enquired Dhritarashtra thus: “O Dhritarashtra! Are you accustomed to this forest living. Are you performing Tapas and discharging duties of Saints. Are you still lamenting for your departed sons and relatives. Is your wife, Gandhari safe? Is Kunti serving both of you? She renunciated all royal pleasures for your sake. Are you showering love and affection towards Dharmaja and his brothers. Is your mind now pure. Because, enmity shall not stand for ever. You have to keep your mind pure and clean always. Then only you acquire all kinds of riches.
I heard that Vidura departed from this mortal body. Vidura is no other than Yama Dharma Raja. As per the curse given by Saint Mandavya, he was born as Vidura. Even Dharmaja is replica of Yama. Hence Vidura’s soul joined Dharmaja. Such Dharmaja is serving you. Are you happy with his services.” asked Vyasa.
Dhritarashtra saluted Vyasa and said thus: “O Saint Vyasa! I am not at all feeling sorry for staying in this forest. My body and mind are engaged in performing Tapas. Either myself or my wife are not grieving for my departed sons and relatives. We have forgotten that grief already. I am showering my love and affection towards Pandavas. I know Dharmaja is no other than Yama. I am surprised how Kunti is serving us in this forest by leaving her royal pleasures in Hastina. With your blessings all of us are pure in mind and attain philosophical thoughts.” said Dhritarashtra.
By that time Droupadi, Subhadra and other ladies arrived there and prostrated before Vyasa. Vyasa blessed them and asked them to choose anything they like. Dhritarashtra said thus: “O Saint Vyasa! Your kind arrival itself is a boon for all of us. Nothing is there to desire. We are blessed by you. What is greater than your kindness in this world. I have no worry whether I attain higher regions or not. Any how, as you asked me to choose some thing, I am asking you a question lingering in my mind. My son was a wretch and bad character. Pandavas are pure and perfect. My sons insulted Pandavas, as a result, all of them perished in the battle field. For the sake of my sons great warriors like Bhishma, Drona, Karna etc. were killed. For the sake of my sons, several kings shed their lives in the battle field. After death, what had happened to all of them. Where they have gone. Kindly tell me.” asked Dhritarashtra.
Then Gandhari, with folded hands, requested Vyasa thus: “O saint Vyasa! Maha Bharata War happened 16 years ago. All these 16 years my husband has been lamenting with great grief for the loss of his sons. Not only him, myself, Kunti, Subhadra, my 100 daughters in law, are also lamenting in the same manner. Several mothers and wives who lost their sons and husbands in the war are lamenting all these years. Everybody is eager to know about the fate of the departed souls of their kith and kin. You are capable of beholding anything in this Universe. Cannot you show this much to all of us. Kindly show our kith and kin who departed from this world. This is our common request.” said Gandhari on behalf of all.
At that time, Karna was moving in the mind of Kunti. Vyasa told Kunti: “O Kunti! Gandhari revealed her desire. What is your desire?” asked Vyasa.
“O saint Vyasa! You are the god for all gods. You are my father in law. Kindly heed my request. While I was virgin under the protection of my parents, once Saint Durvasa arrived at our palace. My father deputed me to serve him. I served him efficiently, without any complaint. Having been immensely satisfied with my service, Durvasa asked me to choose anything I like. I said I do not want anything as I was very much satisfied with which I had. Durvasa insisted me to choose as refusing the blessings of him is not proper. Being afraid of him, I hurriedly, unintentionally, asked him to bless me with a son. Saint Durvasa told me a Mantra and said: “If you chant this Mantra with devotion, the deity whom you invoke, appear before you and bless you with a son.” said Durvasa. He told me the Mantra and went away.
Due to my childish mentality, I intended to test that Mantra. Which deity has to be invoked was my doubt. I lifted my head. I saw Sun god shining in the middle of the sky. Immediately, I chanted Mantra and prayed Sun God. I did it only for fun sake. But Sun God appeared before me in real. “O girl! you invoked me. Choose whatever you want?” asked Sun God. I was afraid. With folded hands I prayed Sun God to go away as I childishly invoked him only to test that mantra. Sun God grew angry. “O girl! why you invoked me unnecessarily. It is wrong. The saint who had given this Mantra shall be cursed.” said Sun God. He was about to curse Saint Durvasa for giving such powerful Mantra to ineligible creatures like me. I was so afraid. For my sake, I dont want Saint Durvasa to be punished.
“O Sun God, kindly bless me with a son equivalent to you both in power and glory.” I asked hurriedly. Immediately, some shining light entered my womb. “O girl! you will beget a son equivalent to me in power and glory that too without spoiling your virginity. This is my boon to you.” so saying Sun God went away.
Later, I became pregnant. I delivered a child in my inner apartments without the knowledge of my parents. Unable to keep the child without husband, I left the child in the river by keeping in a box. Everything happened like a dream. As you are well aware of past and future, you could behold this. Till today, I am lamenting for the loss of my son. I do not know whether I committed a sin but my heart is still burning by remembering the incident of leaving my child in river. Kindly tell me about my son Karna and the regions he attained after death.” requested Kunti.
“O Kunti! what you said is correct. You are not at fault. It is all due to divine order. Karna has to spend his life as Soota not as Kshatriya. You got an unblemished character as your virginity was not spoiled by giving birth to Karna. As requested by all of you, I will invoke all those who lost their lives in the war. You can behold them and meet them. Before that, you have to realise some facts.
The Maha Bharata war was destined to happen. None can
avert it. Dhritarashtra, in his previous birth, was a Gandharva king named
Dhritarashtra. Dharmaja is no other than Yama. Bhimasena came down from
Vayu and Arjuna from Indra. Nakula and Sahadeva were born with the blessings
of Asvins. Arjuna and Krishna are no other than Saints Nara and Narayana.
Sakuni was Dwapara and Suyodhana was Kali. Other sons of Gandhari are
no other than Rakshasas. As already said, Karna was born from Sun, Abhimanyu
from moon and Droupadi from Agni. Dhrishtadyumna was no other than Agni.
Brihaspati was born as Drona and the Eighth Vasuvu was born as Bhishma.
One of the Rudra was Asvadhama. Other kings fought in the war were born
from divine bodies and Rakshasas. All were born only for specific purpose.
After their tasks are accomplished they returned back to their original
abodes, by dying in war. Therefore, none killed none. Follow me to the
banks of Ganges to behold your
Next day morning, after finishing morning rituals, all went to the banks of Ganga River. Saint Vyasa went into deep waters of holy ganga and had a holy dip. There was a big bang. Along with him, several kings who died in war rose from the waters of Ganga. All were astonished. Suyodhana, his brothers, his relatives, friends, Abhimanyu, sons of Droupadi, Karna, Bahlika and others, Drupada, Virata and their sons and brothers, Sakuni and his sons and brothers, Bishma, Drona etc. came out of water, slowly walking to the bund. All their bodies were shining with divine glow.
As Dhritarashtra was born blind, he couldnot see them. Hence Vyasa blessed him with divine sight. Then Gandhari also removed her cloth band tied around her head, covering her eyes. Everybody beheld their kith and kin, as an eyefeast. Everybody was friendly. There was no traces of enmity or hatredness in the eyes of Suyodhana and his brothers. All were showering love and affection. All of them came near Dhritarashtra. All youngsters bowed before elders. All elders blessed youngsters. There were two categories there. Divine bodies and human bodies. Everybody were hugging their sons brothers sisters, mothers, wives etc. and enquiring about their welfare. Throughout the day, they spent happily on the banksof Ganga.
Next day morning, all divine bodies were ready to depart
to their respective abodes and entered the waters of Ganga. At that time
Vyasa announced thus:
In this manner, Pandavas, Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti and others beheld their kith kin,who perished in war. Vyasa retrieved the divine sight given to Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra became blind. Gandhari restored her cloth band around her head. Vyasa told Dhritarashtra thus: “O my son Dhritarashtra! you have seen your sons and relatives. They are happy in heaven than on earth. Atlest from now on wards, dont lament for their death. Dharmaja spent here one month. Unless you tell him, he never returns back. If Dharmaja is here, Hastina remains without king. Ask him to return back to Hastina.” so saying Vyasa went away.
Then Dhritarashtra sent for Dharmaja and told him thus: “O Dharmaja! Several days elapsed since your arrival. You have to look after administration in Hastina. I need not tell you any more. If king is absent from capital, enemies may encroach your kingdom. Hence, immediately return back to Hastina along with your brothers.Now I am free from all worries, miseries and grieves. I have no interest in worldly affairs. If you are here, it may cause disturbance for my day to day Tapas. Hence, return back to Hastina along with your brothers and womenfolk.” said Dhritarashtra.
Again Dharmaja sang the same song. “O Dhritarashtra! Bhima and others are there to rule the kingdom. I remain here to serve you. Kindly permit me.” asked Dharmaja.
Then Gandhari said thus: “O Dharmaja! it is not fit on your part to speak like this. If you remain here as saint, whoelse rules the Kingdom. If we deapart, whoelse performs our rituals. Hence it is better you return back to Hastina.” said Gandhari.
“O mother Gandhari! whatever you say, my mind is not inclined to leave this peaceful atmosphere. As before, I have no inclination to rule the kingdom. In all the royal clans, all men died in war. Only ladies remained. All this had happened due to my foolishness. I cannot rule the kingdom without males. I never aspired for such kingdom. Since Maha Bharata War, my mind is aversed to royal pleasures. My mind is always leaning towards Tapas. O mother, I never cause any kind of disturbance to you. I perform Tapas for myself. Kindly permit me to remain here.” requested Dharmaja.
Sahadeva said thus: “O brother Dharmaja! I will remain here and perform tapas and serve my mother Kunti and aunt Gandhari. You can return back to Hastina along with womenfolk” said Sahadeva.
On hearing the words of her youngest son Sahadeva, Kunti hugged him and said: “Omy beloved son! you are all experts in ruling Kingdom. You have to serve people and rule them. Remaining in forests does not attach any glory to your life. Besides that, your presence here always causes disturbance to all of us. We cannot perform Tapas with concentration. By remaining here, you cause harm and hardship to all of us. Therefore, return back to Hastina.” said Kunti.
Unable to say anything against mother Kunti, Dharmaja took leave from Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra blessed all of them with long life and prosperity. Droupadi,Subhadra etc., women folk took leave from Gandhari and Kunti. After prostrating before Dhritarashtra, all of them left forests and went back to Hastina.
Some time passed. One day, when Dharmaja was talking with his brothers in open assembly, Saint Narada arrived there. Dharmaja and other brothers received Narada and offered him Arghyam and Padyam.
“O Saint Narada! from where you are coming? What made you to come over here? Kindly tell us.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! While wandering around the earth, I visited several places. I desired to see all of you. Hence I have come over here. On the way, I heard about the Tapas performed by Dhritarashtra. I heard that all of you visited Dhritarashtra some time past. After you left the Ashram of Dhritarashtra, one day, Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti and Sanjaya went far away into deep forest for performing Tapas. Some Brahmins followed them carrying sacred fire. Dhritarashtra performed Tapas consuming only air. Gandhari performed Tapas consuming only water. Kunti consumed food once in a month and Sanjaya consumed food once in a week. The Brahmins were performing Agni Hotram daily.
One day, while Dhritarashtra, Gandhari,Kunti and Sanjaya were returning from river Ganga, there was a wild fire burning the forest. The flames surrounded these four. All birds and animals were running this way and that way to save their lives. Gandhari and Dhritarashtra could not run and escape fire as they were fasting.
“Sanjaya! you run away and escape the fire. We cannot escape as we are helpless. Atleast you save your life.” said Dhritarashtra.
“O King Dhritarashtra! we both lived together since a long time. How can I now leave you amidst flames to save my life. Let us die together.” said Sanjaya.
“No... we are unable to run and escape. This is not a sin. You go away.” insisted Dhritarashtra and made him to agree to escape.
Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti sat under a tree and observed Yoga. Sanjaya reluctantly ran away towards Himalayas. Flames surrounded those three. Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti were consigned to flames, alive.
The sages and saints staying on the banks of Ganga river told me about this. I also heard about Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti retiring to forests, and your visit to forests and your return journey to Hastina. On hearing about this, I went into deep forest and saw the dead bodies of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti. I hope they attained higher regions. I have come here to inform you about the tragic death of Dhritarshtra, Gandhari and Kunti.” said Narada.
While hearing the above, Dharmaja fainted and fell down. Bhima,Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva sprinkled water on his face. All of them were crying aloud. This information spread into the inner apartments and through out the city of Hastinapura, like wild fire. All drowned in deep sorrow. Crowds of people were thronged into the palace. Everybody was crying aloud for the tragic death of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti.
Controlling his grief with great difficulty, Dharmaja
said Narada thus: “O Saint Narada! We do not know whose death was
destined where. While we are all alive, King and Emperor Dhritarashtra
died unattended. A man endowed with one thousand elephants strength, was
miserably consumed by flames. Instead of sleeping on soft silk beds, and
waking up with the praising songs of Vandi and Magadhas, Dhritarashtra
is now lying on hard surface, in deep forest, hearing the howls of jackals
and wolves. O Narada! Gandhari is a virtuous lady. She accompanied her
husband to higher regions. No worry about her. But my mother, Kunti, mother
of five heroes, was burnt alive in deep forest, unattended. I am much
worried about my mother. Had she died in our palace, while enjoying our
services, we need not lament like this. But she died as an orphan. How
can we not grieve for her tragic death? While burning Khandava forest,
Arjuna extended his help and support to Agni. But that Agni, without having
any gratitude, burnt our mother, alive. O Narada! I know there is no use
of grieving like this. My paternal uncle, my aunt and my mother were burnt
in wild flames. Now, what we have to do? Kindly tell me.” asked
Immediately, Pandavas, their wives, other womenfolk and other important citizens of Hastinapura went to river Ganga and had a holy bath and offered Tilodakas (pouring of water along with gingelly seeds, in the name of departed souls.) They observed ten days Asoucham (not touching others). Those ten days, they stayed on the banks of Ganga. Dharmaja secured the Asthikalu (remnants) of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti and immersed them in the holy waters of Ganga. Dharmaja performed the obsequies of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and mother Kunti and made several charities to brahmins. They remained on the banks of Ganga for twelve days. All these twelve days, Narada also was with them and supervised the ceremonies. After blessing Dharmaja and his brothers, Narada went away.
Then Dharmaja along with his brothers, wives and other womenfolk entered Hastinapura. In this manner, After Maha Bharata War, Dhritarashtra remained in Hastinapura for 15 years and spent three years in forests. After the great war, Dhritarashtra lived for 18 long years and departed to higher regions.” said Vaisampayana to King Janamejaya, the story of Maha Bharata.