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XVII. Recalling the Bygone Days

Emperor Parikshith journeyed in state over the entire Indian continent, acquainting himself with the administrative excellence of the rule of his grandfathers, with the unique relationship which they had established between themselves and Lord Krishna who had then come down on earth as man, listening to the experiences of many a saint and scholar who lived in those halcyon days, and reflecting on those cheering memories, as he travelled along. Often he was overcome with remorse at the thought that he was not alive during those days when the grandparents were in such heavenly bliss.

While thus immersed in the joy of recollecting the annals of his forefathers and the glory of those bygone days with Krishna, Vyasa, the great sage, appeared before him quite unexpectedly; he welcomed him with great honour and offered him an elevated seat. The sage praised the rule of Parikshith and said that he was reminded of the reign of the Pandavas. The young king listened reverentially to his talk. After sometime, Vyasa said, "Son, I must be going now". But, Parikshith said, "It is like placing a dish of delicacies before a starving man and just when he is about to stretch his hand towards it, dragging it away from his grasp. Your accounts of the adventures of my grandfathers and of the splendour of Sri Krishna are like the most precious gems spread out before me; but, you cause the most painful disappointment to me by refusing to let me have them. Your leaving me just now makes me feel desperately sorry."

He pleaded with the sage to stay a little longer. "Tell me on what mission you have come. Be with me for some more time and assuage the hunger that is gnawing me. I missed the great good fortune that my grandparents had to spend their lives with the Lord Himself. I shall save myself from decline, at least by listening to their exploits and their devotion which drew upon them His grace." Seeing the king who prayed in great earnestness and humility, Vyasa said, "Son, do not feel that you are in any way inferior or less endowed with good fortune. I declare that on one else had such good fortune as you earned. For, you drew upon yourself the grace of the Lord, the moment you were born. The Lord, Vaasudeva, gave you the breath of life; He raised you in His arms and played with you, while your were yet a baby. You too stuck to Him so close that you scarce kept aloof. Your youngest grandfather, Sahadeva, had to pluck you by force from Krishna and hand you over to the women in the inner halls. You were named ceremonially by Vaasudeva Himself. What a memorable scene it was! You showed us that you were a wonderful child; you followed with your eyes the Lord wherever He moved, whichever side He turned. You were intent on 'Pariksha' (finding out) where He was, as no one else was in that hall that day. Krishna hid Himself very cleverly behind pillars and tried various means of diverting your attention away from Him; but, you proved too clever even for Him! Your eyes were searching for Him alone; they saw only Him and His splendid form.