The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "Commanded by Dhritarashtra, those bulls of Kurus race, the Pandava brothers, accompanied by Keshava, then proceeded to see Gandhari. The faultless Gandhari, afflicted with grief on account of the death of her hundred sons, recollecting that king Yudhishthira the just had slain all his enemies, wished to curse him. Understanding her evil intentions towards the Pandavas, the son of Satyavati addressed himself for counteracting them at the very outset. Having cleansed himself by the sacred and fresh water of the Ganga, the great rishi, capable of proceeding everywhere at will with the fleetness of the mind, came to that spot. Capable of seeing the heart of every creature with his spiritual vision and with his mind directed towards it, the sage made his appearance there. Endued with great ascetic merit and ever intent on saying what was for the benefit of creatures, the rishi, addressing his daughter-in-law at the proper moment, said, Do not avail thyself of this opportunity for denouncing a curse. On the other hand, utilize it for showing thy forgiveness. Thou shouldst not be angry with the Pandavas, O Gandhari! Set thy heart on peace. Restrain the words that are about to fall from thy lips. Listen to my advice. Thy son, desirous of victory, had besought thee every day for the eighteen days that battle lasted, saying, "O mother, bless me who am fighting with my foes." Implored every day in these words by thy son desirous of victory, the answer thou always gavest him was, "Thither is victory where righteousness is!" I do not, O Gandhari, remember that any words spoken by thee have become false. Those words, therefore, that thou, implored by Duryodhana, saidst unto him, could not be false. Thou art always employed in the good of all creatures. Having without doubt reached the other shore in that dreadful battle of Kshatriyas, the sons of Pandu have certainly won the victory and a measure of righteousness that is much greater. Thou wert formerly observant of the virtue of forgiveness. Why wouldst thou not observe it now? Subdue unrighteousness, O thou that art conversant with righteousness. There is victory where righteousness is. Remembering thy own righteousness and the words spoken by thyself, restrain thy wrath, O Gandhari! Do not act otherwise, O thou that art beautiful in speech. Hearing these words, Gandhari said, O holy one, I do not cherish any ill feelings towards the Pandavas, nor do I wish that they should perish. In consequence, however, of grief for the death of my sons, my heart is very much agitated. I know that I should protect the Pandavas with as much care as Kunti herself protects them, and that Dhritarashtra also should protect them as I should. Through the fault of Duryodhana and of Shakuni the son of Subala, and through the action of Karna and Duhshasana, extermination of the Kurus hath taken place. In this matter the slightest blame cannot attach to Vibhatsu or to Prithas son Vrikodara, or to Nakula or Sahadeva, or to Yudhishthira himself. While engaged in battle, the Kauravas, swelling with arrogance and pride, have fallen along with many others (that came to their aid). I am not grieved at this. But there has been one act done by Bhima in the very presence of Vasudeva (that moves my resentment). The high-souled Vrikodara, having challenged Duryodhana to a dreadful encounter with mace, and having come to know that my son, while careering in diverse kinds of motion in the battle, was superior to him in skill, struck the latter below the navel. It is this that moves my wrath. Why should heroes, for the sake of their lives, cast off obligations of duty that have been determined by high-souled persons conversant with every duty?"
Next: Section 15