Monday, March 31, 2008

PDE Mahabharata: Parikshit


Reading Guide. You will read two accounts of Parikshit here; the first is a brief summary of the miraculous birth of Parikshit. Then you will read Sunity Devee's account of Parikshit's mother Uttara and how she mourned her dead husband, Abhimanyu, Parikshit's father; you will also get some insight into Subhadra, who was Abhimanyu's mother. Krishna plays a crucial role in both versions.

Source. The first part is from The Mahabharata, A Summary by John Mandeville Macfie (1921), and the second part is from Nine Ideal Indian Women by Sunity Devee (1919). [800 words] You can read more about Devee here: Sunity Devee.




Bhishma | 73. Parikshit | The Horse


It will be remembered that Ashwatthaman had by the Brahma weapon already killed the child in the womb of Uttara, wife of Abhimanyu.

The dead child was born just at the time that Krishna came back to Hastinapura to take part in the Horse-Sacrifice. The sorrowing women appealed to Krishna to bring the babe back to life. It was the sole living descendant of the Pandu race. Krishna had already given some sort of promise and in view of the fact he never uttered a falsehood, he uttered the words ‘Let this child revive.’

~ ~ ~

After a few days after Abhimanyu fell in battle, Krishna came, as he heard that Uttara was still disconsolate. When he came and stood in the courtyard, Uttara was told of his presence. She ran out to him and fell on his feet, saying, "Oh, Krishna, oh, God, Abhimanyu has gone. I want to go, too. No sooner had I begun my play than it was ended. Merciful you are, why did you not let me play on longer? They call you merciful. Have mercy on me. Send me to my Abhimanyu. You were his uncle, Arjuna was his father, and yet my Abhimanyu has gone!" She cried piteously.

Krishna lifted her and said, with affection, "Uttara, dear child, do not be so utterly distressed. Have faith, have strength. We are all under the great Law. We are here for but a few years. Life and Death, sorrow and happiness, go round as the Wheel of the Law. We shall all meet in heaven and you shall go to Chandra Loka and join Abhimanyu and be happy with him. Before Abhimanyu came to this world, he said in heaven that he did not wish to remain on earth longer than a few years."

Uttara cried, "I was so happy with him! Oh, Shri Krishna, you have taken him; take me, too. Let me follow him! I have no child to comfort me."

Krishna, all love and tenderness, said, "Uttara, I shall be your little son, and I shall call you 'mother.' Will that comfort you?"

His words consoled her, and, when Sulochana, the old nurse, came in, she found that the Princess Uttara had taken up the broken thread of her life, but never again did she see Uttara playing as before. Instead, she spent long hours in prayer.

One day, catching a reflection of herself in a mirror, Uttara did not know, at first, who it was, for she had never seen herself there since the day Abhimanyu had left her. Now she started back, crying, "Is it a witch?" and recoiled in horror from her own grey hair and sunken eyes and grief-wrecked face.

Covering her face in Sulochana's sari, she cried, "Mother, do all widows look so terrible?"

Sulochana lifted up her voice and wept, for she loved the Princess as if she were her own child. Then she comforted her and reminded her of the little one yet to be born.

Uttara listened to her words, and gathered strength and courage to bear her loss, and, for her gentle resignation, all who had ever loved her loved still more, and ever loved her more and more, because she carried within her the hope of all Pandu.

When five weary months were passed, her son was born, and Arjuna named him Parikshit. After he was born, Uttara besought them all to let her join the many widows who immolated themselves upon the funeral pyres.

But Krishna came to her and said, "No, no, Uttara, your son needs your care. A mother with a tender child must deny herself the comfort of the flaming fire which reunites her to her lord."

Uttara heard his words and again resigned herself with gentle patience, and all who saw her saintly life marvelled.

Nor did Krishna forget to console his sister, Subhadra, who hid her grief within her heart, and nursed the sick and wounded with so bright a face that all wondered, and, at last, one asked, "For all, Mother, that you look so happy, do you not mourn your son?"

And she answered, "Before, I had only one, Abhimanyu, but now I have many, for I see my boy in every wounded soldier."

At last, the cruel Kurukshetra ended, and Yudhishthira placed Uttara's son upon the imperial throne of Indraprastha, for all his own sons, and Prince Bhima's, had gone, and he himself was anxious to journey to the distant snows of Himalaya, where he spent his closing years in solitude and prayer, and Parikshit and his descendants held the throne of Indraprastha (Delhi) for many years.

Many years, too, had to pass, ere Uttara ascended the longed-for funeral pyre and freed her soul to journey forth to find her lord.


Bhishma | Parikshit | The Horse




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