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IX. The Ascent of Krishna

Dharmaraja who was reeling in agony at the departure of his uncle and aunt - Dhritharashtra and Gandhari - had another bout of unbearable pain which was like a needle-thrust underneath the nails. Wherever he turned, he began seeing bad omens in his kingdom. He noted in every act around him the taint of falsehood, cruelty and injustice. It met him at every step and confused his vision.

As a result, an inexplicable anguish possessed him, anew. His face became pale with apprehension. It was marked by constant agitation and anxiety. Seeing this and becoming agitated themselves, the brothers - Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva - approached their eldest and expressed their eagerness to delve into the reasons for his strange sadness. They stood before him with folded hands and inquired, "Lord and master! Day by day we find your countenance rendered dimmer and dimmer; you seem sunk in unfathomable agony, sinking deeper and deeper with every passing hour. You have become too weak to stand firm. If any of us has caused you pain, please tell us; we shall guard ourselves against repetition, and we pray we may be pardoned. If all this is due to something else, you have only to tell us about it, we shall at the cost of our very lives set it right and restore your mind. When you have such heroes obedient as we are, to correct any one, however high and mighty, it is not proper for you to give vent to grief. Inform us the reason and command us what to do", they prayed.

Dharmaraja replied: "What can I tell you, dear brothers? I see ominous things all round. From the homes of ordinary citizens to the hermitages of the saints and sages, wherever my eye falls, I see only inauspiciousness, ill fortune, and the negation of joy. I argued within myself that this was only the result of my warped imagination and I tried my best to muster up courage and confidence. I did not like to fall a prey to my fears. But, I could not succeed. Recollecting the scenes made my fear even more fearsome."

"To aggravate the sadness, I saw also some scenes that are contrary to established morals and Dharma. Not only did they come to my actual notice, the courts of justice in this kingdom have been receiving petitions and pleas regarding wrongs, injustices, iniquities and misdeeds, which make me grieve deeply."

"I saw some situations which were even worse. Last evening, when I was returning after a tour of the kingdom, I saw a mother cow refusing to nurse and feed her new-born calf! This is quite strange and contrary to nature. I saw some women wantonly loitering in the bazaar. I hoped that they would rush into their homes when they saw me; but no. It did not happen so. They had no reverence for authority; they went on as if I was not in the picture; they continued to talk without restraint to the menfolk. I saw all this with my own eyes. I simply proceeded further from that horrid place."