Chapter 103 - Dhritarashtra
FIFTEEN years passed under king Yudhishthira's reign, when old Dhritarashtra found himself utterly unable any longer to bear the burden of grief.
Hurt by Bhima's occasional reproaches, he found no heart to accept the courtesies and comforts provided under king Yudhishthira's orders. Unknown to the Pandavas, he secretly fasted and underwent hard penances.
Gandhari too observed manifests and inflicted privation on her. And one day Dhritarashtra sent for Dharmaputra and spoke to him thus:
"Son, blessings on you. I have spent fifteen happy years under your roof. You have tended me most lovingly. I have made gifts and offerings to ancestors and fulfilled all my desires in that respect. Bereaved Gandhari, laying aside her own grief, has ministered to my physical wants all these years. My cruel sons, who committed unforgivable wrong to Draupadi and deprived you of your lawful inheritance, perished on account of their sins. But they fought like brave soldiers and died in the battlefield and have gone to the happy regions reserved for the brave. The time has come when with Gandhari I must do what has to be done for our next state. You know what the sastras have lain down. I must now go to the forest. These robes must be replaced by bark and tattered old clothes, suitable for the life of Vanaprastha. I desire to go and live in the forest, praying for your good. I want your permission for this. Let me follow the practice of our fathers. As king, you will share in the fruits of my penance."
Yudhishthira received a shock when he saw Dhritarashtra and heard him say this. "I did not know," he said, "that you had been fasting and sleeping on the bare ground and mortifying your flesh in this manner. My brothers too were unaware of this. I was misled into believing you were well looked after and happy. Father, you have suffered grief, for which there can be no solace. I see no good in kingdom or pleasures. I am a sinner. Desire and ambition deceived me into this. Let your son Yuyutsu be king, or anyone else you choose. Or if you will do so, you yourself may take up the duties of king and look after the people. I shall go to the forest. Let me terminate this chapter of error. I implore you to save me from further obloquy and burning shame. I am not the king. You are the king. You ask me for permission to go. How then can I give or refuse permission to you? Let me assure you that my anger against Duryodhana is a thing of the past, gone without a trace. Fate willed it and engulfed us all in confusion of mind. And events happened which were not in our control. We are your children, even like Duryodhana and his brothers. Gandhari and Kunti is alike mother to me and command equal regard and filial affection from me, their child. If you go away to the forest, I must go with you and serve you there. If you retire to the woods and leave me here, what joy shall I have in kingship? I prostrate myself before you and implore you to forgive the errors we have been guilty of. Serving you will give me true joy and peace of mind. Give me that opportunity and privilege. Do not desert me."
Dhritarashtra was deeply moved. But he said: "Kunti's beloved son, my mind is fixed on going to the forest and on penance. I can find no peace otherwise now. I have lived under your roof for many years. You and all your people have served me with unstinted devotion. You must permit me now to fulfil my wish and let me go."
Having thus spoken to Yudhishthira, who stood with clasped hands and trembling with agitation, Dhritarashtra turned to Vidura and Kripacharya: "I beg of you to comfort the king and make him grant my prayer. My mind is fixed on the forest. I am unable to speak any more. I am feeling dry in my throat. Perhaps, it is due to age. I have talked too much. I am tired." Saying this, he leaned helplessly on Gandhari and swooned.
Yudhishthira was unable to bear this distress of the grand old man, who had possessed the sinews of an elephant and had had strength enough to crush the metal figure of Bhima into powder.
How lean he had become now and emaciated, with his bones showing through his skin, piteously leaning senseless on Gandhari like one destitute.
"Have I caused all this?" he reproached himself. "Miserable and unworthy am I, ignorant of dharma, devoid of intelligence. A curse on my learning!"
He sprinkled water on Dhritarashtra's face and caressingly stroked him with his soft hands.
When the old man recovered, he tenderly clasped the Pandava to his bosom and muttered: "My dear boy, how sweet is your touch! I am happy."
Then Vyasa entered. When he was acquainted with what had happened, he said to Yudhishthira:
"Do what Dhritarashtra, eldest of the Kurus, desires. Let him go to the forest. He is old. All his sons have gone before him. It is not possible for him much longer to bear his grief. Gandhari, whom God has blessed with enlightenment, has borne her sorrows with courage. Do not stand in the way of their wishes. Let not Dhritarashtra pine away and die here. Let him go and live among the honeyladen flowers of the forest and breathe their fragrance, leaving the cares of the world behind. The dharma of kings is to die in battle or to spend their last days in retirement in the forest. Dhritarashtra has ruled the kingdom and performed yajnas. When you were in the wilderness for thirteen years, he enjoyed the wide earth through his son and gave bounteous gifts. You left him nothing to desire. The time has come for him to do penance. Let him go with your hearty consent, and without anger in his heart."
Dharmaraja said: "So be it!"
Then Vyasa returned to his hermitage.
Chapter1 - Ganapati
Chapter2 - Devavrata
Chapter3 - Bhishma's Vow
Chapter4 - Amba And Bhishma
Chapter5 - Devayani And Kacha
Chapter6 - The Marriage Of Devayani
Chapter7 - Yayati
Chapter8 - Vidura
Chapter9 - Kunti Devi
Chapter10 - Death Of Pandu
Chapter11 - Bhima
Chapter12 - Karna
Chapter13 - Drona
Chapter14 - The Wax Palace
Chapter15 - The Escape Of The Pandavas
Chapter16 - The Slaying Of Bakasura
Chapter17 - Draupadi's Swayamvaram
Chapter18 - Indraprastha
Chapter19 - The Saranga Birds
Chapter20 - Jarasandha
Chapter21 - The Slaying Of Jarasandha
Chapter22 - The First Honor
Chapter23 - Sakuni Comes In
Chapter24 - The Invitation
Chapter25 - The Wager
Chapter26 - Draupadi's Grief
Chapter27 - Dhritarashtra's Anxiety
Chapter28 - Krishna's Vow
Chapter29 - Pasupata
Chapter30 - Affliction Is Nothing New
Chapter31 - Agastya
Chapter32 - Rishyasringa
Chapter33 - Fruitless Penance
Chapter34 - Yavakrida's End
Chapter35 - Mere Learning Is Not Enough
Chapter36 - Ashtavakra
Chapter37 - Bhima And Hanuman
Chapter38 - I am No Crane
Chapter39 - Wicked Are Never Satisfied
Chapter40 - Duryodhana Disgraced
Chapter41 - Sri Krishna's Hunger
Chapter42 - The Enchanted Pool
Chapter43 - Domestic Service
Chapter44 - Virtue Vindicated
Chapter45 - Matsya Defended
Chapter46 - Prince Uttara
Chapter47 - Promise Fulfilled
Chapter48 - Virata's Delusion
Chapter49 - Taking Counsel
Chapter50 - Arjuna's Charioteer
Chapter51 - Salya Against His Nephews
Chapter52 - Vritra
Chapter53 - Nahusha
Chapter54 - Sanjaya's Mission
Chapter55 - Not a Needle-Point Of Territory
Chapter56 - Krishna's Mission
Chapter57 - Attachment and Duty
Chapter58 - The Pandava Generalissimo
Chapter59 - Balarama
Chapter60 - Rukmini
Chapter61 - Non-Cooperation
Chapter62 - Krishna Teaches
Chapter63 - Yudhishthira Seeks Benediction
Chapter64 - The First Day's Battle
Chapter65 - The Second Day
Chapter66 - The Third Day's Battle
Chapter67 - The Fourth Day
Chapter68 - The Fifth Day
Chapter69 - The Sixth Day
Chapter70 - The Seventh Day
Chapter71 - The Eighth Day
Chapter72 - The Ninth Day
Chapter73 - The Passing Of Bhishma
Chapter74 - Karna and the Grandsire
Chapter75 - Drona in Command
Chapter76 - To Seize Yudhishthira Alive
Chapter77 - The Twelfth Day
Chapter78 - Brave Bhagadatta
Chapter79 - Abhimanyu
Chapter80 - The Death Of Abhimanyu
Chapter81 - A Father's Grief
Chapter82 - The Sindhu King
Chapter83 - Borrowed Armor
Chapter84 - Yudhishthira's Misgivings
Chapter85 - Yudhishthira's Fond Hope
Chapter86 - Karna And Bhima
Chapter87 - Pledge Respected
Chapter88 - Somadatta's End
Chapter89 - Jayadratha Slain
Chapter90 - Drona Passes Away
Chapter91 - The Death Of Karna
Chapter92 - Duryodhana
Chapter93 - The Pandavas Reproached
Chapter94 - Aswatthama
Chapter95 - Avenged
Chapter96 - Who Can Give Solace?
Chapter97 - Yudhishthira's Anguish
Chapter98 - Yudhishthira Comforted
Chapter99 - Envy
Chapter100 - Utanga
Chapter101 - A Pound Of Flour
Chapter102 - Yudhishthira Rules
Chapter103 - Dhritarashtra
Chapter104 - The Passing Away Of The Three
Chapter105 - Krishna Passes Away
Chapter106 - Yudhishthira's Final Trial