Reading Guide. Now that Krishna is dead, the Pandavas and Drauapdi decide to end their time on the earth, leaving the kingdom in the hands of Parikshit, Arjuna's grandson.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [500 words]
Deep gloom fell upon the Pandavas after this, and Vyasa, the sage, appeared before them, and revealed that their time had come to depart from the world.
Then Yudhishthira divided the kingdom. He made Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu, Rajah of Hastinapura, and Yuyutsu, the half-brother of Duryodhana, who had joined the Pandava army on the first day of the great war, was made Rajah of Hastinapura. He counselled them to live at peace one with another.
The Pandavas afterwards cast off their royal garments and their jewels and put on the garb of hermits, and the bright-eyed and faithful Draupadi did likewise. Yudhishthira departed first of all, and his brethren walked behind him one by one, and Draupadi went last of all, followed by a hound. They all walked towards the rising sun, and by the long circuitous path which leads to Mount Meru, through forests and over streams and across the burning plains, never again to return.
One by one they fell by the way, all save Yudhishthira. Draupadi was the first to sink down, and Bhima cried, "Why hath she fallen who hath never done wrong?"
Said Yudhishthira, "Her heart was bound up in Arjuna, and she hath her reward."
Sahadeva was next to fall, and then Nakula. At length Yudhishthira heard the voice of Bhima crying in distress, "Lo! Now the noble Arjuna hath fallen. What sin hath he committed?"
Said Yudhishthira, "He boasted confidently that he could destroy all his enemies in one day, and because he failed in his vow he hath fallen by the way."
The two surviving brothers walked on in silence, but the time came when mighty Bhima sank down. He cried, "O Yudhishthira say, if thou canst tell, why I have fallen now.
Said Yudhishthira, "O wolf-bellied one, because of thy cursing and gluttony and thy pride thou hast fallen by the way."
Yudhishthira walked on, calm and unmoved, followed by his faithful hound. When he drew nigh to sacred Mount Meru, the world-spine, Indra, king of the gods, came forth to welcome him, saying, "Ascend, O resolute prince."
Said Yudhishthira, "Let my brethren who have fallen by the way come with me also. I cannot enter heaven without them, O king of the gods. Let the fair and gentle princess come too; Draupadi hath been a faithful wife, and is worthy of bliss. Hear my prayer, O Indra, and have mercy."
Said Indra, "Thy brethren and Draupadi have gone before thee."
Then Yudhishthira pleaded that his faithful hound should enter heaven also, but Indra said, "Heaven is no place for those who are followed by hounds. Knowest thou not that demons rob religious ordinances of their virtues when dogs are nigh?"
Said Yudhishthira, "No evil can come from the noble. I cannot have joy if I desert this faithful friend."
Indra said, "Thou didst leave behind thy brethren and Draupadi. Why, therefore, canst thou not abandon thine hound?"
Said Yudhishthira, "I have no power to bring back to life those who have fallen by the way: there can be no abandonment of the dead."
As he spake, the hound was transformed, and behold Dharma, god of justice, stood by the rajah's side.
Dharma said, "O Yudhishthira, thou art indeed mine own son. Thou wouldst not abandon me, thy hound, because that I was faithful unto thee. Thine equal cannot be found in heaven."