The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "After the ladies had been dismissed, Dhritarashtra, the son of Ambika, plunged into grief greater than that which had afflicted him before, began, O monarch, to indulge in lamentations, exhaling breaths that resembled smoke, and repeatedly waving his arms, and reflecting a little, O monarch, he said these words.
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Alas, O Suta, the intelligence is fraught with great grief that I hear from thee, that the Pandavas are all safe and have suffered no loss in battle. Without doubt, my hard heart is made of the essence of thunder, since it breaketh not upon hearing of the fall of my sons. Thinking of their ages, O Sanjaya, and of their sports in childhood, and learning today that all of them have perished, my heart seems to break into pieces. Although in consequence of my blindness I never saw their forms, still I cherished a great love for them in consequence of the affection one feels for his children. Hearing that they had passed out of childhood and entered the period of youth and then of early manhood, I became exceedingly glad, O sinless one. Hearing today that have been slain and divested of prosperity and energy, I fail to obtain peace of mind, being overwhelmed with grief on account of the distress that has overtaken them. Come, come, O king of kings (Duryodhana) to me that am without a protector now! Deprived of thee, O mighty-armed one, what will be my plight? Why, O sire, abandoning all the assembled kings dost thou lie on the bare ground, deprived of life, like an ordinary and wretched king? Having been, O monarch, the refuge of kinsmen and friends, where dost thou go now, O hero, abandoning me that am blind and old? Where now, O king, is that compassion of thine, that love, and that respectfulness? Invincible as thou wert in battle, how, alas, hast thou been slain by the Parthas? Who will now, after I will have waked from sleep at the proper hour, repeatedly address me in such endearing and respectful words as, "O father, O father," "O great king," "O Lord of the world" and affectionately clasping my neck with moistened eyes, will seek my orders, saying, "Command me, O thou of Kuru's race." Address me, O son, in that sweet language once more. O dear child, I heard even these words from thy lips, "This wide earth is as much ours as it is of Pritha's son. Bhagadatta and Kripa and Shalya and the two princes of Avanti and Jayadratha and Bhurishrava and Sala and Somadatta and Bahlika and Ashvatthama and the chief of the Bhojas and the mighty prince of Magadha and Vrihadvala and the ruler of the Kasi and Shakuni the son of Subala and many thousands of Mlecchas and Sakas and Yavanas, and Sudakshina the ruler of the Kambojas and the king of the Trigartas and the grandsire Bhishma and Bharadwaja's son and Gotama's son (Kripa) and Srutayush and Ayutayush and Satayush of great energy, and Jalasandha and Rishyasringa's son and the Rakshasa Alayudha, and the mighty-armed Alambusa and the great car-warrior Subala--these and numerous other kings, O best of monarchs, have taken up arms for my sake, prepared to cast away their very lives in great battle, stationed on the field amidst these, and surrounded by my brothers, I will fight against all the Parthas and the Pancalas and the Cedis, O tiger among kings, and the sons of Draupadi and Satyaki and Kunti-Bhoja and the rakshasa Ghatotkaca. Even one amongst these, O king, excited with rage, is able to resist in battle the Pandavas rushing towards him. What need I say then of all these heroes, every one of whom has wrong to avenge on the Pandavas, when united together? All these, O monarch, will fight with the followers of the Pandavas and will slay them in battle. Karna alone, with myself, will slay the Pandavas. All the heroic kings will then live under my sway. He, who is their leader, the mighty Vasudeva, will not, he has told me, put on mail for them, O king." Even in this way, O Suta, did Duryodhana often use to speak to me. Hearing what he said, I believed that the Pandavas would be slain in battle. When, however, my sons stationed in the midst of those heroes and exerting themselves vigorously in battle have all been slain, what can it be but destiny? When that lord of the world, the valiant Bhishma, having encountered Shikhandi, met with his death like a lion meeting with his at the hands of a jackal, what can it be but destiny? When the Brahmana Drona, that master of all weapons offensive and defensive, has been slain by the Pandavas in battle, what can it be but destiny? When Bhurishrava has been slain in battle, as also Somadatta and king Bahlika, what can it be but destiny? When Bhagadatta, skilled in fight from the backs of elephants, has been slain, and when Jayadratha hath been slain, what can it be but destiny? When Sudakshina has been slain, and Jalasandha of Puru's race, as also Srutayush, and Ayutayush, what can it be but destiny? When the mighty Pandya, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, has been slain in battle by the Pandavas, what can it be but destiny? When Vrihadvala has been slain and the mighty king of the Magadhas, and the valiant Ugrayudha, that type of all bowmen; when the two princes of Avanti (Vinda and Anuvinda) have been slain, and the ruler also of the Trigartas, as also numerous Samsaptakas, what can it be but destiny? When king Alambusa, and the Rakshasas Alayudha, and Rishyasringa's son, have been slain, what can it be but destiny? When the Narayanas have been slain, as also the Gopalas, those troops that were invincible in battle, and many thousands of Mlecchas, what can it be but destiny? When Shakuni, the son of Subala, and the mighty Uluka, called the gamester's son, that hero at the head of his forces, have been slain, what can it be but destiny? When innumerable high-souled heroes, accomplished in all kinds of weapons offensive and defensive and endued with prowess equal to that of Shakra himself, have been slain, O Suta, when Kshatriyas hailing from diverse realms, O Sanjaya, have all been slain in battle, what can it be but destiny? Endued with great might, my sons and grandsons have been slain, as also my friends and brethren, what can it be but destiny? Without doubt, man takes his birth, subject to destiny. That man who is possessed of good fortune meets with good. I am bereft of good fortune, and, therefore, am deprived of my children, O Sanjaya. Old as I am, how shall I now submit to the sway of enemies? I do not think anything other than exile into the woods to be good for me, O lord. Deprived of relatives and kinsmen as I am, I will go into the woods. Nothing other than an exile into the woods can be better for me who am fallen into this plight and who am shorn of my wings, O Sanjaya. When Duryodhana had been slain, when Shalya has been slain, when Duhshasana and Vivingsati and the mighty Vikarna have been slain, how shall I be able to bear the roars of that Bhimasena who hath alone slain a hundred sons of mine in battle? He will frequently speak of the slaughter of Duryodhana in my hearing. Burning with grief and sorrow, I shall not be able to bear his cruel words.'"
Vaishampayana continued, "Even thus that king, burning with grief and deprived of relatives and kinsmen, repeatedly swooned, overwhelmed with sorrow on account of the death of his sons. Having wept for a long while, Dhritarashtra, the son of Ambika, breathed heavy and hot sighs at the thought of his defeat. Overwhelmed with sorrow, and burning with grief, that bull of Bharata's race once more enquired of his charioteer Sanjaya, the son of Gavalgana, the details of what had happened.
"Dhritarashtra said, 'After Bhishma and Drona had been slain, and the Suta's son also overthrown, whom did my warriors make their generalissimo? The Pandavas are slaying without any delay everyone whom my warriors are making their generalissimo in battle. Bhishma was slain at the van of battle by the diadem-decked Arjuna in the very sight of all of you. Even thus was Drona slain in the sight of all of you. Even thus was the Suta's son, that valiant Karna, slain by Arjuna in the sight of all the kings. Long before, the high-souled Vidura had told me that through the fault of Duryodhana the population of the Earth would be exterminated. There are some fools that do not see things even though they cast their eyes on them. Those words of Vidura have been even so unto my foolish self. What Vidura of righteous soul, conversant with attributes of everything, then said, hath turned out exactly, for the words he uttered were nothing but the truth. Afflicted by fate, I did not then act according to those words. The fruits of that evil course have now manifested themselves. Describe them to me, O son of Gavalgana, once more! Who became the head of our army after Karna's fall? Who was that car-warrior who proceeded against Arjuna and Vasudeva? Who were they that protected the right wheel of the ruler of the Madras in battle? Who protected the left wheel of that hero when he went to battle? Who also guarded his rear? How, when all of you were together, could the mighty king of the Madras, as also my son, be slain, O Sanjaya, by the Pandavas? Tell me the details of the great destruction of the Bharatas. Tell me how my son Duryodhana fell in battle. Tell me how all the Pancalas with their followers, and Dhrishtadyumna and Shikhandi and the five sons of Draupadi, fell. Tell me how the (five) Pandavas and the two Satwatas (Krishna and Satyaki), and Kripa and Kritavarma and Drona's son, have escaped with life. I desire to hear everything about the manner in which the battle occurred and the kind of battle it was. Thou art skilled, O Sanjaya, in narration. Tell me everything.'"
Next: Section 3