The Mahabharata Home
Janamejaya said, "For what reason did that tiger among kings, Yudhishthira the just, despatch that scorcher of foes, Vasudeva, unto Gandhari? Krishna had at first gone to the Kauravas for the sake of bringing about peace. He did not obtain the fruition of his wishes. In consequence of this the battle took place. When all the warriors were slain and Duryodhana was struck down, when in consequence of the battle the empire of Pandu's son became perfectly foeless, when all the (Kuru) camp became empty, all its inmates having fled, when great renown was won by the son of Pandu, what, O regenerate one, was the cause for which Krishna had once again to go to Hastinapura? It seems to me, O Brahmana, that the cause could not be a light one, for it was Janardana of immeasurable soul who had himself to make the journey! O foremost of all Adhyaryus, tell me in detail what the cause was for undertaking such a mission!"
Vaishampayana said, "The question thou askest me, O king, is, indeed, worthy of thee! I will tell thee everything truly as it occurred, O bull of Bharata's race! Beholding Duryodhana, the mighty son of Dhritarashtra, struck down by Bhimasena in contravention of the rules of fair fight, in fact, beholding the Kuru king slain unfairly, O Bharata, Yudhishthira, O monarch, became filled with great fear, at the thought of the highly blessed Gandhari possessed of ascetic merit. "She hath undergone severe ascetic austerities and can, therefore, consume the three worlds," even thus thought the son of Pandu. By sending Krishna, Gandhari, blazing with wrath, would be comforted before Yudhishthira's own arrival. "Hearing of the death of her son brought to such a plight by ourselves, she will, in wrath, with the fire of her mind, reduce us to ashes! How will Gandhari endure such poignant grief, after she hears her son, who always fought fairly, slain unfairly by us?" Having reflected in this strain for a long while, king Yudhishthira the just, filled with fear and grief, said these words unto Vasudeva: "Through thy grace, O Govinda, my kingdom hath been reft of thorns! That which we could not in imagination even aspire to obtain hath now become ours, O thou of unfading glory! Before my eyes, O mighty-armed one, making the very hair stand on end, violent were the blows that thou hadst to bear, O delighter of the Yadavas! In the battle between the gods and the Asuras, thou hadst, in days of old, lent thy aid for the destruction of the foes of the gods and those foes were slain! In the same way, O mighty-armed one, thou hast given us aid, O thou of unfading glory! By agreeing to act as our charioteer, O thou of Vrishni's race, thou hast all along protected us! If thou hadst not been the protector of Phalguna in dreadful battle, how could then this sea of troops have been capable of being vanquished? Many were the blows of the mace, and many were the strokes of spiked bludgeons and darts and sharp arrows and lances and battle axes, that have been endured by thee! For our sake, O Krishna, thou hadst also to hear many harsh words and endure the fall, violent as the thunder, of weapons in battle! In consequence of Duryodhana's slaughter, all this has not been fruitless, O thou of unfading glory! Act thou again in such a way that the fruit of all those acts may not be destroyed! Although victory hath been ours, O Krishna, our heart, however, is yet trembling in doubt! Know, O Madhava, that Gandhari's wrath, O mighty-armed one, hath been provoked! That highly-blessed lady is always emaciating herself with the austerest of penances! Hearing of the slaughter of her sons and grandsons, she will, without doubt, consume us to ashes! It is time, O hero, I think, for pacifying her! Except thee, O foremost of men, what other person is there that is able to even behold that lady of eyes red like copper in wrath and exceedingly afflicted with the ills that have befallen her children? That thou shouldst go there, O Madhava, is what I think to be proper, for pacifying Gandhari, O chastiser of foes, who is blazing with wrath! Thou art the Creator and the Destroyer. Thou art the first cause of all the worlds thyself being eternal! By words fraught with reasons, visible and invisible that are all the result of time, thou wilt quickly, O thou of great wisdom, be able to pacify Gandhari! Our grandsire, thy holy Krishna-Dvaipayana, will be there. O mighty-armed one, it is thy duty to dispel, by all means in thy power, the wrath of Gandhari!" Hearing these words of king Yudhishthira the just, the perpetuator of Yadu's race, summoning Daruka, said, "Let my car be equipped!" Having received Keshava's command, Daruka in great haste, returned and represented unto his high-souled master that the car was ready. That scorcher of foes and chief of Yadu's race, the lord Keshava, having mounted the car, proceeded with great haste to the city of the Kurus. The adorable Madhava then, riding on his vehicle, proceeded, and arriving at the city called after the elephant entered it. Causing the city to resound with the rattle of his car-wheels as he entered it, he sent word to Dhritarashtra and then alighted from his vehicle and entered the palace of the old king. He there beheld that best of Rishis, (Dvaipayana) arrived before him. Janardana, embracing the feet of both Vyasa and Dhritarashtra, quietly saluted Gandhari also. Then the foremost of the Yadavas, Vishnu seizing Dhritarashtra by the hand, O monarch, began to weep melodiously. Having shed tears for a while from sorrow, he washed his eyes and his face with water according to rules. That chastiser of foes then said these softly flowing words unto Dhritarashtra, "Nothing is unknown to thee, O Bharata, about the past and the future! Thou art well-acquainted, O lord, with the course of time! From a regard for thee, the Pandavas had endeavoured to prevent the destruction of their race and the extermination of Kshatriyas, O Bharata! Having made an understanding with his brothers, the virtuous Yudhishthira had lived peacefully. He even went to exile after defeat at unfair dice! With his brothers he led a life of concealment, attired in various disguises. They also every day got into diverse other woes as if they were quite helpless! On the eve of battle I myself came and in the presence of all men begged of thee only five villages. Afflicted by Time, and moved by covetousness, thou didst not grant my request. Through thy fault, O king, all the Kshatriya race hath been exterminated! Bhishma, and Somadatta, and Valhika, and Kripa, and Drona and his son, and the wise Vidura, always solicited thee for peace. Thou didst not, however, follow their counsels! Everyone, it seems, when afflicted by Time, is stupefied, O Bharata, since even thou, O king, as regards this matter, did act so foolishly! What else can it be but the effect of Time? Indeed, Destiny is supreme! Do not, O thou of great wisdom, impute any fault to the Pandavas! The smallest transgression is not discernible in the high-souled Pandavas, judged by the rules of morality or reason or affection, O scorcher of foes! Knowing all this to be the fruit of thy own fault, it behoveth thee not to cherish any ill-feeling towards the Pandavas! Race, line, funeral cake, and what else depends upon offspring, now depend on the Pandavas as regards both thyself and Gandhari! Thyself, O tiger among the Kurus, and the renowned Gandhari also, should not harbour malice towards the Pandavas. Reflecting upon all this, and thinking also of thy own transgressions, cherish good feeling towards the Pandavas, I bow to thee, O bull of Bharata's race! Thou knowest, O mighty-armed one, what the devotion is of king Yudhishthira and what his affection is towards thee, O tiger among kings! Having caused this slaughter of even foes that wronged him so, he is burning day and night, and hath not succeeded in obtaining peace of mind! That tiger among men, grieving for thee and for Gandhari, faileth to obtain any happiness. Overwhelmed with shame he cometh not before thee that art burning with grief on account of thy children and whose understanding and senses have been agitated by that grief!" Having said these words unto Dhritarashtra, that foremost one of Yadu's race, O monarch, addressed the grief-stricken Gandhari in these words of high import: "O daughter of Subala, thou of excellent vows, listen to what I say! O auspicious dame, there is now no lady like thee in the world! Thou rememberest, O queen, those words that thou spokest in the assembly in my presence, those words fraught with righteousness and that were beneficial to both parties, which thy sons, O auspicious lady, did not obey! Duryodhana who coveted victory was addressed by thee in bitter words! Thou toldst him then. 'Listen, O fool, to these words of mine: "thither is victory where righteousness is."' Those words of thine, O princess, have now been accomplished! Knowing all this, O auspicious lady, do not set thy heart on sorrow. Let not thy heart incline towards the destruction of the Pandavas! In consequence of the strength of thy penances, thou art able, O highly blessed one, to burn, with thy eyes kindled with rage, the whole Earth with her mobile and immobile creatures!" Hearing these words of Vasudeva, Gandhari said, "It is even so, O Keshava, as thou sayest! My heart, burning in grief, has been unsteadied! After hearing thy words, however, that heart, O Janardana, hath again become steady. As regards the blind old king, now become child, thou, O foremost of men, with those heroes, the sons of Pandu, hast become his refuge!" Having said so much, Gandhari, burning in grief on account of the death of her sons, covered her face with her cloth and began to weep aloud. The mighty-armed lord Keshava then comforted the grief-stricken princess with words that were fraught with reasons drawn from visible instances. Having comforted Gandhari and Dhritarashtra, Keshava of Madhu's race came to know (by intuition) the evil that was meditated by Drona's son. Rising up in haste after worshipping the feet of Vyasa bending his head, Keshava, O monarch, addressed Dhritarashtra, saying, "I take my leave, O foremost one of Kuru's race! Do not set thy heart on grief! The son of Drona bears an evil purpose. It is for this that I rise so suddenly! It seems that he has formed a plan of destroying the Pandavas during the night!" Hearing these words, both Gandhari and Dhritarashtra said unto Keshava that slayer of Keshi, these words: "Go, quickly, O mighty-armed one, protect the Pandavas! Let me soon meet thee again, O Janardana!" Then Keshava of unfading glory proceeded with Daruka. After Vasudeva had departed, O king, Vyasa, that adored of the whole world, of inconceivable soul, began to comfort king Dhritarashtra. The righteous-souled Vasudeva departed, having achieved his mission successfully, from Hastinapura, for seeing the camp and the Pandavas. Arrived at the camp, he proceeded to the presence of the Pandavas. Telling them everything (about his mission to the city), he took his seat with them."
Next: Section 64