The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Those foremost of men, the heroic Pandavas,--those delighters of their mother--became exceedingly afflicted with grief. They who had formerly been always engaged in kingly offices, did not at that time attend to those acts at all in their capital. Afflicted with deep grief, they failed to derive pleasure from anything. If any body accosted them, they never honoured him with an answer. Although those irresistible heroes were in gravity like the ocean, yet they were now deprived of their knowledge and their very senses by the grief they felt. Thinking of their mother, the sons of Pandu were filled with anxiety as to how their emaciated mother was serving the old couple. 'How, indeed, is that king, whose sons have all been slain and who is without refuge, living alone, with only his wife, in the woods that are the haunt of beasts of prey? Alas, how does that highly blessed queen, Gandhari, whose dear ones have all been slain, follow her blind lord in the solitary woods?'--Even such was the anxiety manifested by the Pandavas when they talked with one another. They then set their hearts upon seeing the king in his forest retreat. Then Sahadeva, bowing down to the king, said, 'I see thy heart to be set upon seeing our sire. From my respect for thee, however, I could not speedily open my mouth on the subject of our journey to the woods. The time for that sojourn is now come. By good luck I shall see Kunti living in the observance of penances, with matted locks on her head, practising severe austerities, and emaciated with sleeping on blades of Kusa and Kasa. She was brought up in palaces and mansions, and nursed in every comfort and luxury. Alas, when shall I see my mother who is now toil-worn and plunged into exceeding misery? Without doubt, O chief of Bharata's race, the ends of mortals are exceedingly uncertain, since Kunti, who is a princess by birth, is now living in misery in the woods.' Hearing these words of Sahadeva, queen Draupadi, that foremost of all women duly honouring the king said, with proper salutations,--Alas, when shall I see queen Pritha,
if, indeed, she be yet alive. I shall consider my life as not passed in vain if I succeed in beholding her once more, O king. Let this sort of understanding be ever stable in thee. Let thy mind always take a pleasure in such righteousness as is involved, O king of kings, in thy desire of bestowing such a high boon on us. Know, O king, that all these ladies of thy house are staying with their feet raised for the journey, from desire of beholding Kunti, and Gandhari, and my father-in-law. Thus addressed by queen Draupadi, the king, O chief of Bharata's race, summoned all the leaders of his forces to his presence and told them,--'Cause my army, teeming with cars and elephants, to march out. I shall behold king Dhritarashtra who is now living in the woods.' Unto those that supervised the concerns of the ladies, the king gave the order, 'Let diverse kinds of conveyances be properly equipt, and all my closed litters that count by thousands. Let carriages and granaries, and wardrobes, and treasuries, be equipt and ordered out, and let mechanics have the command to march out. Let men in charge of treasuries go out on the way leading to the ascetic retreats on Kurukshetra. Whoever amongst the citizens wishes to see the king is allowed to do so without any restriction. Let him proceed, properly protected. Let cooks and superintendents of kitchens, and the whole culinary establishment, and diverse kinds of edibles and viands, be ordered to be borne out on carts and conveyances. Let it be proclaimed that we march out tomorrow. Indeed, let no delay occur (in carrying out the arrangements). Let pavilions and resting houses of diverse kinds be erected on the way.' Even these were the commands which the eldest son of Pandu gave, with his brothers. When morning came, O monarch, the king set out, with a large train of women and old men. Going out of his city, king Yudhishthira waited five days for such citizens as might accompany him, and then proceeded towards the forest."'
Next: Section XXIII