Saint Vaisampayana told King Janamejaya the story of Mahabharata.
Sri Krishna and Balarama passed away. All yadavas were killed in dual fight. Saint Vyasa told Arjuna tobe ready for Maha Prasthana. Arjuna conveyed the message of Saint Vyasa to Dharmaja. Dharmaja also accepted the proposal of Saint Vyasa.
Dharmaja sent for Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva and told them about the message of Saint Vyasa.They also agreed for Maha Prasthana. Amongst all Kouravas, only Yuyutsa survived. He was the son of Dhritarashtra through a vysya lady.
Dharmaja enthroned Yuyutsa as the King and Emperor of the Kuru dynasty. Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu was enthroned as Yuva Raja. Dharmaja kept Subhadra as guardian of Parikshit.
“O Subhadra! your son, Parikshit has become the heir of Bharata Vamsa. Vajra, grand son of Krishna was made the King of Indra Prastha. In this manner, both Kuru clan and Yadava clan will flourish. You have to protect these two clans carefully.” said Dharmaja, deputing Subhadra, as the protector of these two clans.
Then he made all arrangements for those who died in Bharata war by giving villages, money, gold etc., for their livelihood. Dharmaja made charities to Brahmins and made Godana, Bhoodaana and Suvarnadaana in abundance. Dharmaja handedover Parikshit to Kripacharya as a student for learning Dhanurvidya..
He called for a general meeting of all the people of Hastina. He addressed the people of Hastina thus:
` “O my dear citizens of Hastinapura! we decided to leave Hastinapura for Maha Prasthana. I made Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu as the future King and Emperor of Hastinapura. You have to shower your love and affection towards him also as was shown towards me.” said Dharmaja.
All the people of Hastina understood that Pandavas were leaving them permanently.
“O King Yudhishtira! Is it Dharma to leave all of us like this. Your are the embodiment of love, affection and compassion. Is it your compassion towards us. We are all living peacefully only because of you. Then how can you leave all of us.” they prayed with folded hands. Dharmaja consoled them and pacified them tactfully.
Then all the five Pandavas and Droupadi left the silk apparel and wore deer skin and clothes woven with fibre extracted from trees. .All the six started from the Palace. All Pandavas, followed by Droupadi, were moving along the streets of Hastina. That scene resembled the situation when Pandavas and Droupadi went to forests, as a result of wicked dice game. All the people of Hastinapura stood on either side of the streets and gave them warm send off. Yuyutsa and Parikshit followed them upto the outskirts of Hastina. Then Dharmaja requested them to go back. Pandavas and Droupadi proceeded further. Along with them, a dog followed them. Yuyutsa and Abhimanyu returned back to Hastinapura. Uloopi went back to Nagaloka and Chitrangada went back to her son, Babhruvahana.
Pandavas and Droupadi proceeded further. The dog did not leave them, whereever they go. They all corssed Ganga and reached the sea shore on eastern side.
Agni appeared before Arjuna. “O Arjuna! I have given you Gandiva and Sudarsana to Krishna. Krishna’s Sudarsana went back to Vaikuntham. Why are you still carrying Gandeeva? I brought this Gandeeva from Varuna for the purpose of eradication of evil forces. Hence you have to return back Gandeeva to Varuna.” said Agni. Arjuna saluted Gandeeva and kept it in the sea waters. Gandeeva went back to Varuna. Agni disappeared.
Then Pandavas travelled towards west and reached the western seashore. They reached the place where Dwaraka drowned in sea waters. Then they travelled towards north and reached Himalayas. From there, they travelled towards Meru mountain. They were all in Yoga mood. They are not feeling thirst, hunger and stress of travel.
By the time they all reached the foot of Meru Mountain, Droupadi could not walk further and fell down. Bhima found her dead. Immediately, Bhima informed Dharmaja about the fall of Droupadi. “O Bhima! Droupadi was more affectionate towards Arjuna then all of us, as she was won by Arjuna by hitting Matsya Yantra. Hence she showed more love and affection towards Arjuna. Her Punya could not save her. Hence she fell down.” said Dharmaja and proceeded further, leaving Droupadi there itself.
Remaining four followed Dharmaja. After passing some distance, Sahadeva fell down. Bhima told Dharmaja: “O brother Dharmaja! Sahadeva fell down. He does not know what egoism is. He served you with great devotion. Amongst us, he was the only brother who followed virtues scrupulously. Why he fell down?” asked Bhimasena.
“O Bhima! Sahadeva got pride and arrogance that he was more wise and learned and none excels him. Hence he fell down.” said Dharmaja and proceeded further. Rest of the three followed him. The dog was still following them.
After proceeding some distance, Nakula fell down. Bhima could not control himself. “O brother! Nakula fell down. Why? Nakula is more handsome. He is good at heart. His vigour and valour is remarkable. He is a man of virtues. Nakula is the only person who possess all such virtues with unblemished character. Why he fell down?” asked Bhima.
“O Bhimasena! you are right. He got unblemished character and virtuous in nature. But in his inner heart, he was proud that he was more handsome than all. That egoism caused this misery.” said Dharmaja and proceeded further along with the dog. Bhima and Arjuna followed him.
Arjuna thought that next turn was for himself. Even while thinking like that, Mruthyu engulfed him. Arjuna fell down. “O brother Dharmaja! Arjuna also fell down. He never speak falsehood even for fun sake. None excels him in virtues , vigour and valour. Why he also fell down?” asked Bhima. Dharmaja thought for a while and said: “O Bhima! he is a best bowman on earth. That was the reason for his pride. Besides that, Arjuna promised that he would kill all Kouravas on one day. But he failed. Hence he did not keep his promise. Hence this miserable death for Arjuna.” said Dharmaja and proceeded further along with the dog. Bhimasena followed him with the fear that he will be the next to fall. While walking with trembling feet, he fell down.
While falling down he cried aloud: “O brother Dharmaja! kindly tell me the reason for my fall.” asked Bhima. “O Bhimasena! nodoubt you were the best in handling mace.You are famous for your vigour and valour. But you are addicted to overeating and overtalking. You speak all unnecessary things. Hence this misery.” said Dharmaja and proceeded further. The dog followed him.
Indra, on his divine chariot, arrived there. Dharmaja saluted Indra. Indra asked Dharmaja to get into the divine chariot. Dharmaja said thus:
“O Indra! myself, my four brothers and Droupadi started. Droupadi and my four brothers fell down. I cannot go anywhere without my brothers and Droupadi. Kindly bring them here to follow me to heaven.” said Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! they are mortals. They left their mortal bodies and attained heaven. You will behold them only in heaven. It is impossible for them to again enter into their respective dead bodies. Hence let us go to heaven.” said Indra.
“O Mahendra! Let it be. what you said may be correct. But since we started from Hastinapura, this dog was following us. It has come up to this stage. Atleast, let this dog follow me to heaven.” asked Dharmaja.
Indra smiled. “O Dharmaja! How can it be possible! How a dog attains heaven? Simply because it followed you from Hastina, that does not mean that it should also follow you to heaven. Leave that dog here only and climb the chariot. We will go to heaven” said Mahendra.
Dharmaja declined to come to heaven. “O Mahendra! you rule the entire universe. Nothing is unknown to you. This dog devoutedly followed me and stayed with me till now. Even if my mind is rock hard, how can I enjoy heavenly pleasures, leaving this faithful dog.” said Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! there is no place for dogs in heaven. You wont be afflicted with any sin even if you abandon this dog. When you are going to attain heaven, abandoning the dog is just and proper. There is no wrong.” said Indra.
“O Indra! abandoning those who serve us with greatest devotion is equivalent to killing a brahmin. You are aware of everything. Who am I to tell? Therefore, abandoning this dog, I cannot come to heaven. Simply to enjoy hevenly pleasures, I cannot leave this faithful dog.” said Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! even while performing a Vrata or yaga, if anybody comes into contact with dog, that Vrata or Yaga will be considered to be totally spoiled. Dog is such an untouchable creature. Hence leave this dog. Unless you leave this dog, you cannot attain heaven. O Dharmaja! you have not moved even when your beloved wife and four brothers fell down and died in your very presence. How are you worrying about this dog.” asked Indra.
“O Devendra! I do not know much dhrama than you. I am not capable of arguing with you. But I cannot remain silent without telling Dharma which I know pretty well. All my four brothers and Droupadi died in my presence. Even if I grieve for them any longer, they will never return back. It is a well known fact. But this dog followed me. It is not dead. It is very much alive. Hence it is not proper on my part to abandon this dog. As far as my knowledge goes, sinful acts viz., abandoning a refugee, cheating a trusted friend, killing a woman, stealing the property of Brahmins, are equivalent to abandoning this faithful dog. Now I dont want to be inflicted with such a sin. If you think that the entire Punya I earned is equivalent to allowing this dog to heaven, set off that Punya. I go back to forests and spend the rest of my life in meditation. I need no heavenly plealsures.” said Dharmaja firmly.
Yama Dharma Raja, who remained silent in the form of that Dog and heard the words of his son, Dharmaja, stood before him in his original form. Dharmaja was astonished and saluted Yama.
“O my son Dharmaja! Beholding your virtuous life, follow of Dharma, unblemished mind and your compassion towards poor creatures, I feel very happy. I surprise whether such virtuous persons like you still live on earth. I tested you once while you were in Dvaita forest. You remember when your brothers tried to enter into the waters of a pond, I put some questions. They failed to answer them and died. Then you came there and answered my questions. When I asked you to choose one amongst the four to be alive, you have chosen Nakula. You justified your act by saying that amongst the sons of Kunti, you were alive and if Nakula is alive, one of the sons of Madri sons also remains alive. I was astonished for your justification. Now, for the sake of a dog, you have refused to enter heaven. There is no match to you even in heaven. Indra is observing you from beginning. Now you can attain higher regions.” said Yama.
At that time, Gandharvas, divine saints, maruts, asvins, vasuvus arrived there. All welcomed Dharmaja to heaven. Dharmaja climbed the divine chariot. Dharmaja went to Punya Lokas.
At that time, acclaiming Dharmaja, Narada said: “I have heard about those who acquired Punya by making charities and tapas. Now their Punya has become pale before Dharmaja’s virtuous character. Sofar, none entered heaven with mortal body. Such an honour is accorded only to Dharmaja.” said Narada.
“O Saint Narada! whatever you say, my mind is still eager to see my brothers and Droupadi. Unless I behold them, I cannot enjoy heavenly pleasures. Where are they? Whereever they are, either hell or heaven, take me to them. Not only my brothers, I desire to behold all kings who fought on my behalf in the war.” said Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! As a result of your virtuous deeds
and Punya you acquired, you have come to heaven with mortal body. Still
you maintain those worldly relations with your friends and relatives.
Look at those divine bodies, saints, gandharvas etc. See how they are
moving happily! Beholding them atleast, feel happy. Eradicate all evils
and sorrows from your mind. Listen! by virtue of your Punya, you attained
heaven with mortal body. But your borthers could not reach heaven with
mortal bodies. Hence, it is not proper on your part to lament for your
brothers and wife. Dont forget that now you attained divinity and you
have no connection with earth or earthly relations” said Indra.
Those words of Indra could not satisfy Dharmaja. “Indra! whatever
you say, I still desire to see my brothers, Droupadi, my friends and relatives.
If I behold them once, I will follow your words. That causes me great
pleasure.” said Dharmaja.Thus Saint Vaisampayana told King Janamejaya,
the story of Maha Bharata.