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V. Yajnas and Penance of Elders

Dharmaraja accepted the advice of Vaasudeva, as well as the benedictions of Vyasa. He sent his brothers, with the army, to bring the gold that had been thrown aside by the Brahmins. They left after purifying themselves by partaking consecrated offerings. They discovered the quantities of gold that had been given as presents to the priests at the conclusion of the sacrifice by emperor Maruth in the past. They had dropped the gold on the sides of the roads along which they returned home. The army collected these and conveyed them to the capital on camels, elephants, chariots and carts. It took them some days to reach Hasthinapura with all that load. They unloaded the gold, amidst the acclamations of the people.

The citizens were amazed at the success of the expedition; they extolled the good fortune of the Pandavas. They welcomed into the city the princes and the gold shouting "Jai, Jai" until their throats were hoarse, jumping and dancing in joy. They pictured among themselves the grandeur and magnificence of the sacrifice, for which this gold was brought.

Preparations were started that very day for the construction of the ritual altar and the necessary adjuncts on the bank of the Ganga; the sacred area was many square miles in extent. The ground was levelled and cleaned. The dais was built; beautiful buildings arose on the vast area. Porches and verandahs were added. Decorations like flags and festoons embellished the structures.

When the holy day neared, chieftains, Brahmins, scholars and sages moved from all directions towards the sacred place, hastening each other in their enthusiasm to reach early. They took residence in the quarters allotted to them, according to their status and needs. They spent the night counting minutes, in joyful expectation of the magnificent and efficacious Yajna that they could witness when the dawn brings in another day.

The morning came. The auspicious moment approached. The priests took up their positions and got ready to take the vows of initiation. They stood up facing Lord Krishna and the king and said, "O king! We understand that you have resolved to perform not one but three Aswamedhas (horse sacrifices). Is that correct? If so, do you desire us to perform them, one after the other? Or shall we repeat every formula and rite, thrice and have them all concurrently? If you make it known, we shall arrange the participants and performing priests accordingly."