BY: SUN STAFF
The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
Translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (published between 1883 and 1896)
May 05, 2012 CANADA (SUN)
Book 16 - Asramavasika Parva, Asramavasa Parva - Section 18.
Vaisampayana said, 'Hearing these words of Kunti, the sinless Pandavas, O best of kings, became ashamed. They, therefore, desisted, along with the princess of-Panchala, from following her. Beholding Kunti resolved to go into the woods, the ladies of the Pandava household uttered loud lamentations.
The Pandavas then circumambulated the king and saluted him duly. They ceased to follow further, having failed to persuade Pritha to return. Then Amvika's son of great energy, viz., Dhritarashtra, addressing Gandhari and Vidura and supporting himself on them, said, 'Let the royal mother of Yudhishthira cease to go with us. What Yudhishthira has said is all very true. Abandoning this high prosperity of her sons, abandoning those high fruits that may be hers, why should she go into the inaccessible woods, leaving her children like a person of little intelligence? Living in the enjoyment of sovereignty, she is capable of practising penances and observing the high vow of gifts. Let her, therefore, listen to my words.
O Gandhari, I have been much gratified with the services rendered to me by this daughter-in-law of mine. Conversant as thou art with all duties, it behoveth thee to command her return.' Thus addressed by her lord, the daughter of Suvala repeated unto Kunti all those words of the old king and added her own words of grave import. She, however, failed to cause Kunti to desist inasmuch as that chaste lady, devoted to righteousness, had firmly set her heart upon residing in the woods. The Kuru ladies, understanding how firm her resolution was regarding her retirement into the woods, and seeing that those foremost ones of Kuru's race (viz., their own lords), had ceased to follow her, set up a loud wail of lamentation. After all the sons of Pritha and all the ladies had retraced their steps, king Yudhishthira of great wisdom continued his journey to the woods.
The Pandavas, exceedingly cheerless and afflicted with grief and sorrow accompanied by their wives, returned to the city, on their cars. At that time the city of Hastinapura, with its entire population of men, both old and young, and women, became cheerless and plunged into sorrow. No festivals of rejoicing were observed. Afflicted with grief, the Pandavas were without any energy. Deserted by Kunti, they were deeply afflicted with grief, like calves destitute of their dams. Dhritarashtra reached that day a place far removed from the city. The puissant monarch arrived at last on the banks of the Bhagirathi and took rest there for the night. Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas duly ignited their sacred fires in that retreat of ascetics.
Surrounded by those foremost of Brahmanas, those sacred fires blazed forth in beauty. The sacred fire of the old king was also ignited. Sitting near his own fire, he poured libations on it according to due rites, and then worshipped the thousand-rayed sun as he was on the point of setting. Then Vidura and Sanjaya made a bed for the king by spreading some blades of Kusa grass. Near the bed of that Kuru hero they made another for Gandhari. In close proximity to Gandhari, Yudhishthira's mother Kunti, observant of excellent vows, happily laid herself down. Within hearing distance of those three, slept Vidura and others. The Yajaka Brahmanas and other followers of the king laid themselves down on their respective beds.
The foremost of Brahmanas that were there chanted aloud many sacred hymns. The sacrificial fires blazed forth all around. That night, therefore, seemed as delightful to them as a Brahmi night. When the night passed away, they all arose from their beds and went through their morning acts. Pouring libations then on the sacred fire, they continued their journey. Their first day's experience of the forest proved very painful to them on account of the grieving inhabitants of both the city and the provinces of the Kuru kingdom."
Thus ends Section 18 of the Asramavasa Parva of the Asramavasika Parva, Sri Mahabharata.