|Chapter VII - 26||Home | Index | Previous | Next|
Thus, Vidura advised him without mercy; he did not change the tune of his song; he emphasised the importance of immediate renunciation. Dhritharashtra was on his bed listening intently and ruminating on the next step. He said, "Vidura, what you say is quite true. I need not describe to you my special difficulties. This body is decrepit; these eyes are blind. I must have some one at least to guide my steps, isn't it? Your sister-in-law has 'blinded' her eyes by a bandage, in order that she can share my handicap and suffer similarly. How can we two blind persons move about in the forest? We have to be dependent on others all our lives."
Vidura saw the tears rolling down the cheeks of the old man; he pitied his plight, but he never revealed his pity. He said assuringly, "Well, I am prepared to take you to the forest: I am ready. What greater pleasure have I than releasing you from here, for this sacred purpose? Come, Arise, Start." Vidura stood up. Dhritharashtra too rose from his bed and stood on the floor. Gandhari too stood by his side, with a hand on his shoulder. She pleaded, "Lord, I am also coming with you, ready for anything."
But, Dhritharashtra said, "O, it is very hard to guard women in the jungle. The place is infested with wild beasts and life there is bound to be full of privation." He spoke in this strain for a long time. But, she argued that she could not desert her lord, that she could stand the privations as much as he, that it was her duty to continue serving him until her death, that she was only following the tradition set up by the gems of Indian womanhood, that it is not Dharma to prevent her from observing her Dharma, that life in the zenana without him would be unbearable for her, that she would welcome instead, life in the jungle with her lord and demanded permission to accompany him.
Dhritharashtra was silent; he did not know what to say. It was Vidura who spoke. This is not the time to discuss the niceties; how can this lady who never stayed away from you a single moment, suddenly leave your company and live apart? It is not proper. Let her also come; we shall take her. For those who march forward to do austerities, there should be no fear or delusion, no hunger or thirst, no grief or suffering. It is not Thapas (asceticism) to complain of these or anticipate these. When the body itself is being disowned, what can privations do? Come, there is no justification for delay." Vidura moved forward, leading Dhritharashtra, silently followed by Gandhari who had her hand on his shoulder. The saintly votary of God, Vidura, took the pair unnoticed by the guards and the citizens through the side streets and out beyond the city limits. He hurried them on so that they may reach the forest before dawn. But, the Ganga had to be crossed in a boat and no boatman was there to take them across before sunrise. So, they had perforce to wait on the bank of that holy river. Vidura made them rest for a while in a bower and himself arranged for a boat to take them all to the other bank in the dark.