Saint Vaisampayana told King Janamejaya, the story of Maha Bharata.
King Janamejaya asked Saint Vaisampayana thus: “O Saint Vaisampayana! after attaining heaven, what are the higher regions our grand fathers attained. . Kindly tell me.” asked Janamejaya.
Saint Vaisampayana told thus: “O Janamejaya! At last, Indra acceded to the request of Dharmaja. He called a divine body and instructed him to take Dharmaja to the place where his brothers, relatives and wife stay. Accordingly, that divine body took Dharmaja along with him. Narada and some divine saints followed Dharmaja.
First, they had seen Suyodhana, sitting on a divine throne and enjoying heavenly pleasures. Dharmaja was astonished. Beholding divine saints, Dharmaja said: “O saints! look at him. He is greedy and covetous. He invited many kings to the war and got them perished along with their enormous army. He got Droupadi dragged to the open assembly and ordered to remove her clothes. Such a wretch is now enjoying heavenly pleasures. Is this a heaven? I dont want to stay at this place. Please take me to the place where my brothers and Droupady stay.” asked Dharmaja.
Then Narada smiled and said: “O Dharmaja! Suyodhana left that mortal body tainted with greediness and covetousness. He attained divinity. Hence he could enter heaven and respected by heavenly bodies. He died in the war. He killed other kings in the war. All of them attained Veera Svarga. It was not a sin. How can you remember the sins committed by him while he was in mortal body. Now he is in Punya Loka. Here none are tainted with any kind of sin. O Dharmaja! though you entered heaven, you have not abandoned your egoism, envy and hatredness. There is no place here for such evils. Hence discard all your anger, envy and hatredness etc. evils and be serene. Forget the past for ever.” said Narada.
“O divine saint Narada! I heard that those who led virtuous life get Swarga(heaven) and those who commit sinful acts attain Naraka(hell). Suyodhana all thorughout his life was sinner. He never helped anybody, instead he made all others to suffer. He destroyed Kuru dynasty. Amongst all kings, he was lowest of all. How can such a wretch is adorable by divine bodies. How can he stay in heaven? It is highly ridiculous. Leave it. It is divine order. I cannot comment. Let that wretch enjoy heavenly pleasures. Please take me to my brothers, my wife and sons. I desire to see them atonce.
O Saints! while I was offering Tila Tarpana, my mother, Kunti told me that Karna was her first son and told me the birth secret of Karna. Since then, I wish to see Karna also. If we six, including Karna, stand together, even Indra could not stand before us. Not knowing that Karna was my elder brother, I ordered Arjuna to kill Karna. That sin is annoying me for ever. Hence I desire to see Karna atonce. Kindly take me to my brother, Karna. Not only Karna, Drupada, Virata, Yudhamanyu, Sankha etc. were killed during war. I desire to see them also. Since beginning, I have been requesting you to show me my four brothers and Droupadi. If they are not in heaven, I also do not want to remain in heaven. If they are deprived of the heavenly plealsures, I also may be deprived of them. Whereever they are, I also stay there. For me, that is equivalent to swarga. Kindly take to my brothers, wife and relatives.” requested Dharmaja.
Then the divine body told Dharmaja thus: “O great man, Dharmaja! it is the order of Indra to take you whereever you like. I obey his orders. Kindly follow me.” said divine body.
Dharmaja followed him. The pathway they are passing was filled with bones, removed hair and skulls etc. Mosquitoes and flys are gathering there in abundance. Deadbodies were heaped up on either side of the pathway. Crows and eagles were flying and eating the dead bodies. The bad smell emanated from the spoiled dead bodies was breaking the noses. That divine body was taking Dharmaja through that dirty path.
They all arrived at Vaitarini river in which the water was boiling at highest temperature. On the banks of Vaitarini, sinners were being punished severely.
Beholding all this, Dharmaja asked the divine body “How far we have to go still?”
“This area is under the control of Indra. we have arrived at the desired spot.” said Divine body.
Dharmaja could not see the sufferings of the sinners undergoing severe punishments. He could not stay there any more and desired to return back. At that time, he heard some voices crying aloud. “O virtuous soul! with your arrival, our sufferings have diminished. We are feeling happy. Kindly stay here for some time and feel us happy.”
Dharmaja stopped there, hearing those voices. Dharmaja raised his voice and asked:
“Who are you? What sins you have committed?”
In reply, Dharmaja heard some voices crying aloud:
“O Dharmaja! we are no other than your brothers. Karna, Bhimasena, Nakula, Sahadeva are all here, undergoing severe punishments.”
From other side, Dharmaja heard the voice Droupadi: “O Dharmaja! I am also here. I am Droupadi. My brother Dhrushtadyumna, and my five sons are all here undergoing severe punishments.”.
Having heard those voices, Dharmaja was astonished.
“O my God! what is this! how my brothers, my Droupadi and her sons are suffering like this. What sins they have committed to undergo such severe punishments in hell. Indra and other divine bodies are cruel and heinous. Otherwise, my brothers and my wife would not have suffered like this. Here, neither justice nor dharma prevails. My brothers and my wife are not ordinary humans. They were most virtuous, truthful, full of compassion and most charitable. They performed many Yajnas and Yagas. While such virtuous people are suffering like this in hell, the greedy covetous sinner, Suyodhana is enjoying heavenly pleasures. No, God has forgotten Dharma.” lamented Dharmaja.
Next moment, Dharmaja suspected that it was all a miracle
and delusion. However, Dharmaja’s mind was filleld with great wrath
That divine body returned back to Indra and told what had happened. Immediately, Indra along with Dikpalakas, divine saints came down to Dharmaja. Even Yama also arrived there to console his son, Dharmaja.
By virtue of their arrival, the entire scene was changed. There was no foul smell, heaps of dead bodies , skulls and bones. The cryings of the sinners also stopped. No crows or eagles were flying in the sky. The river Vaitarini disappeared. The weather was cool and pleasant, with cool breazes. All vasuvus, rudras, adityas, gandharvas, Nagas and sidhas came near Dharmaja.
Indra told Dharmaja thus: “O Dharmaja! how can you stay in hell. We have all come to invite you to heaven. Shed your anger. You attained eternal Brahma Loka. All your passions have extinguished. You have become wiser.
O Dharmaja! Listen. For all rulers of kingdoms, hell
is certain at the end. As you were also a ruler, we have taken you upto
the entrance of hell. O Dharmaja! both Punya and Papa are side by side.
If one does Punya, he gets Swarga and if one does Papa, he gets Naraka.
The option is first he goes to Swarga for the little Punya he acquired
and then falls into Naraka for long period for the Papa he committed.
A virtuous man, first goes to Naraka for the little Papa he committed
and then he remains in Swarga for long period for the Punya he acquired.
This is the rule here.
Meanwhile, Yama arrived there and said thus: “O my son Dharmaja! I tested you first in Dvaita Vana and secondly near the Meru mountain in the form of a dog. Third time also I tested you. But you remained unperturbed. You controlled your mind and sense organs. You have succeeded in all my tests. Enjoy all heavenly pleasures. Being a Ruler, you have to just witness hell. Hence me and Indra sent you upto the gate of Naraka. The voices of Karna, Bhima, Droupadi etc are all created by me. Your brothers and Droupadi have already attained higher regions. As told by Indra, you take a holy dip in Akasa Ganga. All your worldly bondages, pleasures and sorrows, likes and dislikes , which are quite natural for humans, will vanish. You attain divinity. Then you can behold your brothers and wife who are enjoying heavenly pleasures. Why late. Have a holy dip in Akasa Ganga.” said Yama.
Yama led Dharmaja to Akasa Ganga. Dharmaka had a holy bath in Akasa Ganga. Dharmaja left the mortal body and attained a divine body. All kinds of evils viz., enmity, hatredness, friendship, ficklemindedness, pride, sorrows etc have all vanished. Dharmaja was shining like fire. Dharmaja praised Indra and Yama. Indra, Yama, Dharmaja proceeded further.
Dharmaja had seen Arjuna serving Maha Vishnu. Karna was shining as 13th Aditya. Bhima was shining as one of Marut. Nakula and Sahadeva were by the side of Asvins. At a distance, Dharmaja saw a glorious lady shining like a divine queen. Dharmaja asked Indra about her.
“O Dharmaja! She is Sri Maha Lakshmi. She was born as Droupadi through Drupada. Gandharvas sitting by her side are Upa Pandavas. Look at him. He is a Gandharva by name Dhritarashtra who is no other than your paternal uncle. Even Satyaki, Kritavarma etc. are also enjoying heavenly pleasures. Abhimanyu is no other than Chandra. Look at that side. Your father, King Pandu is coming in a divine air craft along with her wives, Kunti and Madri.”
Then Indra showed Bhishma shining as 8th vasuvu, Drona sitting by the side of Brihaspati; Drupada, Virata, their sons and brothers, as Gandharvas and all the kings who fought and died in the great war.” said Vaisampayana to Janamejaya.
Then Janamejaya entertained a doubt. “O saint Vaisampayana! how long they remain in heaven. Will they remain eternally in heaven or will they take birth as humans again. Kindly tell me.” asked Janamejaya.
Saint Vaisampayana said thus: “O Janamejaya! It is a divine secret. Saint Veda Vyasa was pleased to tell me about this. Now I tell you. All the above were born for specified purposes. After their purposes were accomplished, they joined their original forms. Pradyumna joined Sanatkukara. Dhritarashtra and Gandhari joined Kubera. King Pandu along with his wives, Kunti and Madri remained in heaven. Abhimanyu joined Chandra. Drona joined Brihaspati and Sakuni joined Dwapara. Suyodhana after spending little time in heaven will go to hell for long period and then he joins Kali. Other Kouravas also joined Rakhasa community. Karna joined sun. Bhishma joined as 8th Vasuvus. Dripada, Virata, Dhrishtaketu, Bhoorisravasa, Salya, Sankha, Uttara all joined Visve Devatas. Dhrishtadyumna joined Agni. Vidura already joined Dharmaja. Dharmaja joined Yama. Balarama joined Ananta. All Gopikas drowned in River Sarasvati and joined as Apsarasas. Rukmini, along with the other seven wives of Krishna, joined Lakshmi.
O King Janamejaya, all the kings died in war reverted back to their original positions as divine bodies, demons, Yaksha, Guhyakas, Gandharvas etc. This is the answer for your question.
O King Janamejaya! I told you Maha Bharata, the story of Kouravas and Pandavas, with several other stories connected to it. I told this story to you with the kind permission of Veda Vyasa on the occasion of Sarpa Yaga. I think you have heard this Maha Bharata Story with greatest devotion and attained knowledge and wisdom.” said Vaisampayana to King Janamejaya.
Maha Bharata Story was told by Sooti to Saint Sounaka and others sages and saints in Naimisaranya on the occasion of Satra Yaga.
Sooti continued to say: “O Saints! I heard this Maha Bharata story while Saint Vaisampayana narrated to Janamejaya in the presence of Veda Vyasa. As requested by you, I told this story to you. Now the story of Maha Bharata is completed.
On completion of Sarpa Yaga, King Janamejaya worshipped the priests, sages, saints, brahmins attended Sarpa Yaga. Then Janamejaya worshipped Saint Veda Vyasa and Saint Vaisampayana. Then Janamejaya entered Hastinapura and ruled the kingdom.
O saints! Veda Vyasa had written Maha Bharata to make known about the glory, name and fame of Pandavas to the outside world and also to make known the stories of several kings ruled this earth. Veda Vyasa also narrated the divine acts of Sri Krishna Vasudeva. He also wrote Maha Bharata only to make known to human beings, about several divine bodies born as human beings and how they again joined their original positions.
He wrote Maha Bharata as Fifth Veda. He completed Maha Bharata within three years. All niceties of Dharma enunciated in the four Purushardhas viz., Dharma, Ardha, Kama and Moksha are explained in Maha Bharata. Dharmas enunciated in Maha Bharata may appear anywhere on earth but any dharma not enunciated in Maha Bharata does not appear anywhere on earth.
As I was fortunate to hear this Maha Bharata through Saint Vaisampayana, I could tell you now the same Maha Bharata to you.. Whoever hears this Maha Bharata on auspicious days with greatest devotion, all their sins vanish. They attain heavenly pleasures and at last they attain salvation. If this Maha Bharata is read during Daiva and Pitara ceremonies, all their sins vanish. O Saints! this Maha Bharata Story was first written as Jaya story. Hence, if Kshatriyas read or hear Maha Bharata, they attain victory always. If pregnant ladies hear this story, they give birth to male child. If unmarried girls hear this story, they get married soon.
O Saints! the important personality in Maha Bharata was Sri Krishna. Whoever reads this Maha Bharata with devotion towards Sri Krishna, they attain Punya Lokas.
Whoever understands Maha Bharata, they understand all Vedas, Upanishats, Puranas, and all Sastras. They attain Brahma Jnana.” said Sooti to saint Sounaka and other sages and saints. All the sages and saints acclaimed Ugrasravasa (Sooti) for his great work.