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Chapter 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 forest."

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 dullwitted 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 soul.

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."