Thursday, April 10, 2008

PDE Mahabharata: Mourning

Reading Guide. Many parents have outlived their children in this way; their grief, as you can imagine, is intense.

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [400 words]

Aswatthaman | 71. Mourning | Bhishma

To the battlefield came blind old Dhritarashtra, mourning the death of his hundred sons. And with the weeping maharajah were Queen Gandhari and the wives of the Kaurava princes, who sorrowed aloud. Wives wept for their husbands, their children wailed beside them, and mothers moaned for their sons. Bitter was the anguish of tender-hearted women, and the air was filled with wailing on that blood-red plain of Kurukshetra.

When Queen Gandhari beheld the Pandavas she cried out, "The smell of Duryodhana is upon you all."

Now Dhritarashtra plotted in his weak mind to crush the head of Bhima, the slayer of Duryodhana. When he embraced Yudhishthira, he said, "Where is Bhima?" and they placed before him an image of the strong Pandava. Dhritarashtra put forth his arms, and he crushed the image in his embrace and fell back fainting. Then he wailed, "Alas! Bhima was as a son unto me. Although I have slain him, the dead cannot return."

Well pleased was the maharajah when it was told to him that Bhima still lived, and he embraced his son's slayer tenderly and with forgiveness, saying, "I have no children now save the sons of Pandu, my brother."

Kunti rejoiced to meet her five sons, and she embraced them one by one. Then she went towards the sorrowing Draupadi, who fainted in her arms. Thereafter they wept together for the dead.

The bodies of the slain rajahs and princes were collected together, and wrapped in perfumed linen and laid each upon a funeral pyre and burned, and the first pyre which was kindled was that of Duryodhana. The Pandavas mourned for their kinsmen. Then they bathed in the holy Ganges, and took up water and sprinkled it in the name of each dead hero. Yudhishthira poured out the oblation for Karna, his brother, and he gave great gifts to his widows and his children. Thereafter all the remaining bodies of the slain were burned on the battlefield.

Yudhishthira was proclaimed rajah in the city of Hastinapura, and he wore the great jewel in his crown. A great sacrifice was offered up, and Dhaumya, the family priest of the Pandavas, poured the Homa offering to the gods on the sacred fire. Yudhishthira and Draupadi were anointed with holy water.

Aswatthaman | Mourning | Bhishma

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