The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "Having visited Kurukshetra and given away wealth there, he of the Satwata race then proceeded, O Janamejaya, to a large and exceedingly beautiful hermitage. That hermitage was overgrown with Madhuka and mango trees, and abounded with Plakshas and Nyagrodhas. And it contained many Vilwas and many excellent jack and Arjuna trees. Beholding that goodly asylum with many marks of sacredness, Baladeva asked the Rishis as to whose it was. Those high-souled ones, O king, said unto Baladeva, 'Listen in detail, O Rama, as to whose asylum this was in days of yore! Here the god Vishnu in days of yore performed austere penances. Here he performed duly all the eternal sacrifices. Here a Brahmani maiden, leading from youth the vow of Brahmacharya, became crowned with ascetic success. Ultimately, in the possession of Yoga powers, that lady of ascetic penances proceeded to heaven. The high-souled Sandilya, O king, got a beautiful daughter who was chaste, wedded to severe vows, self-restrained, and observant of Brahmacharya. Having performed the severest of penances such as are incapable of being performed by women, the blessed lady at last went to heaven, worshipped by the gods and Brahmanas!' Having heard these words of the Rishis, Baladeva entered that asylum. Bidding farewell to the Rishis, Baladeva of unfading glory went through the performance of all the rites and ceremonies of the evening twilight on the side of Himavat and then began his ascent of the mountain. The mighty Balarama having the device of the palmyra on his banner had not proceeded far in his ascent when he beheld a sacred and goodly tirtha and wondered at the sight. Beholding the glory of the Sarasvati, as also the tirtha called Plakshaprasravana, Vala next reached another excellent and foremost of tirthas called Karavapana. The hero of the plough, of great strength, having made many presents there, bathed in the cool, clear, sacred, and sin-cleansing water (of that tirtha). Passing one night there with the ascetics and the Brahmanas, Rama then proceeded to the sacred asylum of the Mitra-Varunas. From Karavapana he proceeded to that spot on the Yamuna where in days of yore Indra and Agni and Aryaman had obtained great happiness. Bathing there, that bull of Yadu's race, of righteous soul, obtained great happiness. The hero then sat himself down with the Rishis and the Siddhas there for listening to their excellent talk. There where Rama sat in the midst of that conclave, the adorable Rishi Narada came (in course of his wandering). Covered with matted locks and attired in golden rays, he bore in his hands, O king, a staff made of gold and a waterpot made of the same precious metal. Accomplished in song and dance and adored by gods and Brahmanas, he had with him a beautiful Vina of melodious notes, made of the tortoise-shell. A provoker of quarrels and ever fond of quarrels, the celestial Rishi came to that spot where the handsome Rama was resting. Standing up and sufficiently honouring the celestial Rishi of regulated vows, Rama asked him about all that had happened to the Kurus. Conversant with every duty and usage, Narada then, O king, told him everything, as it had happened, about the awful extermination of the Kurus. The son of Rohini then, in sorrowful words, enquired of the Rishi, saying, 'What is the state of the field? How are those kings now that had assembled there? I have heard everything before, O thou that art possessed of the wealth of penances, but my curiosity is great for hearing it in detail!'
"Narada said, 'Already Bhishma and Drona and the lord of the Sindhus have fallen! Vikartana's son Karna also hath fallen, with his sons, those great car-warriors! Bhurishrava too, O son of Rohini, and the valiant chief of the Madras have fallen! Those and many other mighty heroes that had assembled there, ready to lay down their lives for the victory of Duryodhana, those kings and princes unreturning from battle, have all fallen! Listen now to me, O Madhava, about those that are yet alive! In the army of Dhritarashtra's son, only three grinders of hosts are yet alive! They are Kripa and Kritavarma and the valiant son of Drona! These also, O Rama, have from fear fled away to the ten points of the compass! After Shalya's fall and the flight of Kripa and the others, Duryodhana, in great grief, had entered the depths of the Dvaipayana lake. While lying stretched for rest at the bottom of the lake after stupefying its waters, Duryodhana was approached by the Pandavas with Krishna and pierced by them with their cruel words. Pierced with wordy darts, O Rama, from every side, the mighty and heroic Duryodhana hath risen from the lake armed with his heavy mace. He hath come forward for fighting Bhima for the present. Their terrible encounter, O Rama, will take place today! If thou feelest any curiosity, then hasten, O Madhava, without tarrying here! Go, if thou wishest, and witness that terrible battle between thy two disciples!'"
Vaishampayana continued, "Hearing these words of Narada, Rama bade a respectful farewell to those foremost of Brahmanas and dismissed all those that had accompanied him (in his pilgrimage). Indeed, he ordered his attendants, saying, 'Return ye to Dwaraka!' He then descended from that prince of mountains and that fair hermitage called Plakshaprasravana. Having listened to the discourse of the sages about the great merits of tirthas, Rama of unfading glory sang this verse in the midst of the Brahmanas, 'Where else is such happiness as that in a residence by the Sarasvati? Where also such merits as those in a residence by the Sarasvati? Men have departed for heaven, having approached the Sarasvati! All should ever remember the Sarasvati! Sarasvati is the most sacred of rivers! Sarasvati always bestows the greatest happiness on men! Men, after approaching the Sarasvati, will not have to grieve for their sins either here or hereafter!' Repeatedly casting his eyes with joy on the Sarasvati, that scorcher of foes then ascended an excellent car unto which were yoked goodly steeds. Journeying then on that car of great fleetness, Baladeva, that bull of Yadu's race, desirous of beholding the approaching encounter of his two disciples arrived on the field."
Next: Section 55