Mahabharata

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MAN pursues madly the object of his desire until it is got. When it is in his possession, he is soon satisfied, but he becomes the slave of ever-fresh longings and fresh griefs and finds no peace.

Although to fight and to kill his enemies is a Kshatriyas dharma, what joy can one gets out of power and position and wealth acquired by slaughter and grief inflicted on brothers and near relations? It was this that Arjuna pointed out in his powerful plea before Krishna when the battle commenced. Krishna in answer, explained the principles of man's activities and the proper discharge of one's duties. But, what Arjuna felt and argued had also a great deal of force and there was more truth in it than appeared on the surface.

The Pandavas defeated the Kauravas and became the unquestioned sovereigns of the land. They took up their duties and discharged them according to dharma. But, they found not in victory, the joy that they had expected.

"When the Pandavas won and obtained the kingdom, how did they treat Dhritarashtra?" asked king Janamejaya, and Vaisampayana, who recited Vyasa's Mahabharata to the king, tells the story.

The Pandavas with the utmost respect treated Dhritarashtra, who was plunged in a sea of grief. They tried to make him happy. They did nothing to make him feel humiliated. Yudhishthira issued no orders except with his approval. Gandhari, whose hundred sons had disappeared like dream-gold, was looked after by Kuntidevi with loving and sisterly devotion and Draupadi dutifully ministered to them both, with equal respect.

Yudhishthira furnished Dhritarashtra's house with rich seats and beds and decorations and all else that was wanted. He sent from the royal kitchen most dainty and palatable dishes prepared for him. Kripacharya, lived with Dhritarashtra and kept him company. Vyasa comforted him with instructive stories of olden times, calculated to assuage his sorrow.

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In the administration of affairs of the State, Yudhishthira consulted Dhritarashtra and conducted himself so as to give him the feeling that in truth the kingdom was ruled on his behalf and that he, as the eldest member of the family, was still the supreme authority.

Yudhishthira was most careful in his speech, never to allow himself to say anything to cause pain to the bereaved old man. The princes, who came to Hastinapura from all parts of the world, gave Dhritarashtra the same honors; as they did of old, as if he were still the emperor.

The women attendants gave Gandhari no occasion to feel her fallen estate. Yudhishthira had instructed his brothers most strictly that nothing should be done to cause the slightest pain to their uncle, who had lost all his sons.

The brothers, with perhaps the exception of Bhima, followed this injunction faithfully. Dhritarashtra too conducted himself lovingly towards the Pandavas. He showed no ill will towards them even as they showed him no unkindness. The Pandavas behaved unexceptionably towards their old uncle. After a time, however, Bhima began on occasions to give cause for offence. He would sometimes, in impatience, countermand the old man's instructions. He would let fall in Dhritarashtra's hearing words like "Those perverse cousins of ours have themselves to thank for their destruction."

It was not possible for Bhima to forget or forgive Duryodhana, Karna or Duhsasana. Gandhari felt intensely grieved when she noticed that Bhima uttered words, which pained Dhritarashtra. She was, however, a noble and enlightened soul. Whenever she felt pained at what Bhima said, she would look at Kunti and find peace. For Kunti was a veritable embodiment of dharma and inspired forbearance. Fifteen years passed in this manner.