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XI. Pandavas' Grief

Dharmaraja, who was lost in contemplation, recapitulating the advice, the help, the grace, the love, the sympathy, that they had earned from Lord Krishna, suddenly raised his head and asked: "Arjuna! What did you say? What calamity overtook you on the way? Tell us in full, dear brother!", slowly lifting the chin of Arjuna while asking so. Arjuna looked his brother in the face and said, "Brother, all my skill and attainments have departed with Lord Krishna. I am now without any powers, incapable of any achievement, weaker than the weakest, indeed lifeless.

Brother, listen. This most unlucky fellow did not have the chance to be with the Lord Vaasudeva when He left for His abode, even though he was in Dwaraka at that time. I had not earned enough merit to get that chance! I could not have the Darsan of our divine father before He left. Later, the charioteer of the Lord, Daruka, gave me the message He had given for me when He departed. In that message, He had written thus with His own Hand".

Saying thus, he took out from the folds of his dress the letter which he considered more precious even than life, for it was from Krishna and written by His own hand. He gave it into the hands of Dharmaraja, who received it reverentially with alacrity and anxiety. He pressed it to his eyes, which were full of tears. He tried to decipher the writing through the curtain of tears, but with no success.

It began, "Arjuna! This is my command; carry it out without demur, to the full. Execute this task with courage and earnestness." After this express injunction, Krishna had elaborated on the task in the following words: "I have accomplished the mission on which I had come. I shall no longer be in this world, with body. I am departing. Seven days from today, Dwaraka will sink into the sea; the sea will swallow everything except the house I had occupied. Therefore, you have to take to Indraprastha city the queens and other women who survive, along with the children and babies and the old and decrepit. I am leaving, placing all responsibility for the women and other Yadava survivors in your hands. Care for them as you care for your own life; arrange for them at Indraprastha and protect them from danger." The postscript said, "Thus writes Gopala on leaving for His home."

Dharmaraja finished reading the message. He noticed that Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were shedding copious tears and squatting like rocks oblivious to everything else. Arjuna said, "Brother! I had no desire to live for a moment more without the Lord in our midst and so I resolved to drown myself in the sea that was to swallow Dwaraka; I decided to split my own head with this bow and die. But this command forced me to desist; the order from Him who ordains the universe tied me to this earth. I had no time to plan out any line of action; everything had to be done quick."