98. Yudhishthira Comforted
YUDHISHTHIRA'S pain of mind
increased everyday as he thought of all the kinsmen that had been killed. He
was stricken with intense remorse and decided he must give up the world go to
the forest and do penance to expiate his sin.
"I see no joy or good,"
he said to his brothers, in taking up the office of king or in worldly
enjoyment. Do rule the land yourselves leaving me free to go to the
Arjuna talked of the nobility of
family life and the entire good one may do without taking sanyasa. Bhimasena
also spoke and harshly.
"You talk, alas"' he
said, "like a dull-witted person who has committed to memory the texts of
the sastras without understanding their sense. Sanyasa is not the dharma of
kshatriyas. The duty of a kshatriya, is to live an active life and perform his
proper task, not to go to the forest renouncing activity."
Nakula also contested the
propriety of Dharmaputra's proposal and insisted that the path of work was the
right one to follow and the way of sanyasa was beset with difficulties.
Sahadeva also argued likewise and
entreated: "You are my father, my mother, my teacher, as well as brother.
Do not leave us, bear with us."
Draupadi also spoke. "It was
right we killed Duryodhana and his men. Why should we regret it? Among the
duties of a king is included the inflicting of just punishment. It cannot be
avoided and is an essential part of the ruler's duty. You have meted just
punishment too evildoers. There is no cause whatsoever for contrition. It is
now your sacred duty to take up the burden of governing the land according to
dharma. Cease grieving."
Then Vyasa spoke to Yudhishthira
at length and explained where his duty lay, pointing out precedents, and
persuaded him to go to the city and take up the burden of ruling the land.
Yudhishthira was duly crowned at
Hastinapura. Before taking up the duties of the State, Yudhishthira went to
where Bhishma lay on his bed of arrows awaiting his death, and took his
blessing and instruction in dharma. This instruction of Bhishmacharya to king
Yudhishthira is the famous Santiparva of the Mahabharata. After the discourse
was over, Bhishma's soul passed out. The king went to the Ganga and offered
libations, in accordance with ancient custom, for the peace of the departed
After the ceremony was over,
Yudhishthira went up the bank. There, as he stood for a while, all the tragic
events came back to his mind, and overcome by intense grief, he fell senseless
on the ground, like an elephant struck down by the hunter.
Bhima went up to his big brother
and caressed him tenderly and spoke to him soothing words. Dhritarashtra also
came up and said to Yudhishthira:
"You should not grieve like
this. Arise and, assisted by your brothers and friends, reign over the kingdom
that awaits your rule. Your duty now is to do what appertains to the office of
king. Leave grief to Gandhari and me. You achieved victory in battle in
accordance with the dharma of warriors. The duties appertaining to that victory
await your attention now. Fool that I was, I did not pay heed to the words of
Vidura and committed a great error. I listened to the ignorant words of
Duryodhana and deceived myself. Like gold seen in a dream the glory has
vanished. My hundred sons have disappeared into the world of nowhere. But I
have you as my son now. Do not grieve."