Chapter XII - 44 Home | Index | Previous | Next

Joy consumes time more quickly, not so grief. When men are in joy, time passes fast; when they are in grief, it moves slow. Grief is heavy like a mountain range; it is as the final flood. Though the capital city of Dharmaraja was Indraprastha, the ancestral throne was still at Hasthinapura, because that place had lost its other glories when the Mahabharatha battle carried away the princes of the royal line and all senior scions. Therefore, Dharmaraja was spending some months at Indraprastha and the remaining part of the year at Hasthinapura. Unaware of this, Arjuna went to Indraprastha and finding that Dharmaraja was not there, he left those few women of Dwaraka whom he could retrieve from the barbarian hordes there and reached Hasthinapura alone. There was with him one solitary Yadava, a great grandson of Krishna, Vajra by name, the only survivor among the male population of Dwaraka. Poor Vajra had no mind to show his face to others; he was so ashamed of himself for having survived; he was so miserable at the death of all the rest that he hid himself in a dark room and sulked all the time, gloomy and alone.

The queen mother, Kunthi Devi, learnt from a maid within a short time that Arjuna had arrived. Kunthi Devi then kept vigil the entire night expecting that Arjuna would rush to her and tell her some news from Dwaraka; she kept the lamps burning; she refused to go to sleep; she rose in joy that Arjuna had come, whenever the slightest noise of footsteps reached her ears, uttering the words; "O Son! I am glad you came. What is the news?"! When no answer came, she called her maid by name to the room and interjected, "What is the meaning of this? You told me, didn't you, that Arjuna had arrived from Dwaraka? Why has he not come to me yet? You must have been mistaken; you must have seen some one else arriving and taken him to be Arjuna. If he had come, surely, he would have been here immediately." Thus Kunthi spent a sleepless night between expectation and disappointment.

Day dawned; every one was getting busy with his own assignment. Meanwhile, her mind had undergone many questionings. What was the reason for Arjuna's not coming to her? Had he really returned? Was he kept away by some urgent political problem which had to be discussed among the brothers until the small hours of the night? Or is he so tired by travel that he resolved to see his mother early next day, instead of the same night? Or has some crisis developed in Dwaraka for which Krishna directed him to consult Dharmaraja urgently and bring him his reaction and solution? Has he forgotten his duty to his mother in the confusion of these crises? Of course, he will come when the day has dawned, she finally consoled herself.

So, she rose even when darkness still enveloped the earth; she bathed and put on new clothes and got ready to receive her son. Just then, another doubt arose in her mind and agitated her. Every night, all her sons would invariably come to her presence, one behind the other and fall at her feet, craving permission to go to bed, seeking her blessings. But she wondered why not even one had turned up that night. This made her anxiety worse. She sent maids to the apartments of Droupadi and Subhadra; and found that none of the brothers had even partaken of dinner! Kunthi sank deeper into anxiety.