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III. Child Parikshith and the Prophecy

"Alas! Is he to suffer at last this tragic fate? Is this to be the reward for all the good in store for him? Can the consequence of years of good living suddenly turn into this calamitous end? It is laid down that those who die drowning, those who are killed by fall from trees and those who die of snakebite have a bad afterlife. These are considered "inauspicious deaths"; those whose deaths are such, become ghosts and have to suffer so, it is said. Why should this child end up like that? O, the horror of it. O, the injustice of the whole thing!" lamented Yudhishtira, biting his lips to suppress his sorrow.

The Brahmins hastened to console him. "Maharaja!", they interjected. "There is no reason to give way to grief. Such a great man will never meet with such a tragedy. No. In the horoscope of this child, studying the positions of the planets, we can clearly notice two happy conjunctions, which indicate Vajrayoga and Bhakthiyoga, both powerful and propitious. Therefore, as soon as he learns of the curse, he will give up his kingdom as well as his wife and children and retire to the bank of the holy Bhagirathi river and surrender himself to the Lord. The great sage Suka, son of Vyasa, will arrive there and initiate him into Atma-jnana (self-knowledge) through the recital of the glories of Lord Krishna and the singing of His praise. Thus, he will spend his last days on the sacred bank of Ganga and breathe his last with the adoration of the Lord. How can such a man meet with any tragedy or calamity? He will not be born again, for, through Bhakthiyoga, he will attain oneness with the Lord of all, Purushothama. Hearing these words, Yudhishtira gave up grief and became happy. He said, "If so, this is no curse; it is a unique boon!"

At this, every one rose. The Brahmins were honoured as befitted their learning and austerity. They were given gems and silken clothes and the king arranged to send them home. Yudhishtira and his brothers moved into their palaces, but, they spent many hours talking about the happenings of the day and of the fears, luckily removed. They were filled with joy at the turn the predictions had finally taken.

The baby grew in the lying-in-room, as the moon in the bright half of the month. Since it was born as heir to the great empire after a succession of dire dangers, every one loved it and guarded it like the apple of the eye, as the very breath of their lives. Droupadi who was broken by the loss of her own children, (the Upapandavas), Subhadra who had suffered inconsolable loss in the death of Abhimanyu, and the Pandava brothers who dreaded that the terrific arrow of Aswasthama directed against the posthumous child of Abhimanyu, still in the womb of Uttara, might do the worst and destroy for ever the Pandava line - all were relieved, nay, were overjoyed when they saw the child. They were extremely happy; they spent the days doting over the little lovely babe whom they brought from the zenana for the purpose, whenever they felt the urge to see it and hold it in their arms.