|Chapter XIV - 51||Home | Index | Previous | Next|
In a few minutes, Vajra was called in; he was informed that from that very day, the emperor of Bharath was Parikshith; so, Vajra paid homage to him as befits the suzerain of the continent. The ministers and the Brahmins too honoured him as their ruler with due ceremony. Afterwards Dharmaraja held the hands of Parikshith and placing on them the hand of Vajra, he announced, "This is Vajra, the Lord of the Yadavas; I now install him as the king of Mathura and of the Surasena state." He placed on Vajra's head a diamond studded golden crown. "Be brothers both of you, staunch allies in peace and war, inseparable in friendship," he exhorted them; He called Vajra aside and advised him to treat Parikshith as his own paternal uncle; he advised Parikshith to revere Vajra as he would revere Aniruddha himself; he told both of them that they ought to ensure the continuance of Dharma unimpaired, and to consider the welfare of their subjects as the very breath of their life.
Then, the Pandava brothers showered auspicious rice grains on the heads of both Vajra and Parikshith. The Brahmin priests recited appropriate Manthras. Trumpets blared and drums were beaten. With tears in their eyes, Vajra and Parikshith prostrated before Dharmaraja and the rest. The Pandava brothers could not look the two dear darlings in the face; they were so overcome with detachment. They just held them in one quick embrace and spoke just one word of loving farewell, before they filed out into the beyond, with nothing on except the clothes they wore.
At this, the kith and kin, the citizens, the queens and others in the zenana, the courtiers and the maids, all raised pathetic wails. The citizens fell across the path of the ruler and tried to hold fast to his feet. They prayed piteously that he should stay. They appealed to them to take them also with them. Some brushed aside objections and ran along with the royal party. The Pandavas, however never turned back; they never spoke a word. Their ears were closed to entreaties. Their minds were fixed on Krishna; for the rest, they moved straight on, like men blinded by a fanatic resolve, heeding none, observing none.
Droupadi, with her maids, came running behind them calling on her lords one by one separately by name. Parikshith too pursued them along the streets, but he was caught and carried away by the ministers who tried to pacify him, though they were themselves greatly affected. But the Pandavas walked unconcerned, neither asking those who followed, to stop, nor permitting those who desired to join to come along. Hundreds of men and women had to stop when they were too tired and they mournfully returned to the capital. Others who were hardier kept on. The women of the zenana, unused to sun and winds, were exhausted quickly and they fell fainting on the road. Maids lamenting the terrible events brought relief to them; some ventured even into the forest, but, had to return soon, after encountering the horrors of the wilderness. When dust-storms rose, many citizens placed the dust reverentially on their foreheads, taking it to be the dust of the feet of Dharmaraja. Thus, passing through bush and briar, the brothers soon got out of sight. What then could the people do? They returned to Hasthinapura, heavy with unbearable grief.
The Pandavas stuck to the vow of Mahaprasthanam. That vow required that they should not eat or drink anything on the way, they should not rest, they must proceed straight on, in the northern direction, until they dropped dead. This is the vow they observed, so severe and grim.