Dhṛtarāṣṭra asked Vidura and Gāndhārī to advise Kuntī to go back with her children. He said that she can perform tapas in the kingdom and she had served them very well so far. Kuntī would not budge to anybody’s words and she went ahead as per her decision. The Pāṇḍavas were now orphaned.
Upon hearing Dharmarāja's request, asking them to stay back in the kingdom, Dhṛtarāṣṭra replied – “Son, my heart has turned towards tapas. It has come down to us as a family tradition to take to the forest at a ripe old age like ours. You all have taken care of us well. I am now old. Please let me go!”
Addressing Vidura, Sañjaya, Kṛpa and the others who had surrounded him, he said – “Please ask Dharmarāja to permit me to go. I feel dull. My mouth has gone dry for having spoken for so long and also due to my old age!”
The Pāṇḍavas after winning over their enemies, were ruling the vast kingdom under the guidance of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Sañjaya, Yuyutsu and Vidura were taking care of the health and well-being of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. The Pāṇḍavas always consulted Dhṛtarāṣṭra for all their needs and their wives such as Draupadī and Subhadrā were guided by Gāndhārī. They treated their uncle and aunt with great love and tried to ensure that they could provide as much comfort as possible to the old couple who had lost their children. Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Gāndhārī were peaceful and affectionate to their nephews as well.
Dharmarāja went to the Himalayas with his younger bothers and gathered the ingredients required for the Aśvamedha-yāga. He also found large quantities of wealth there. He got them loaded on to the backs of elephants and camels and got his servants bring them to the capital city. Days rolled on and the day of the yāga came closer. Kṛṣṇa came to Hastinagara with his sister Subhadrā, brother Balarāma and several other Yādavas. Uttarā gave birth to a baby boy when Kṛṣṇa was in Hastināpura. Just as was expected, the baby was born dead.
Dharmarāja offered tarpaṇa to Bhīṣma and as he neared the shores of Ganga, he collapsed out of sorrow. Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Kṛṣṇa, Vyāsa and everyone else present there consoled him and got him back to his senses. Dhṛtarāṣṭra said – “Get up, Yudhiṣṭhira! Take care of the things that you need to hereafter. Rule the kingdom that you have won over as per the dharma of the Kṣatriyas! It is only Gāndhārī and I who will need to lament at this juncture. The hundred children that she gave birth to have only become objects of a fantastical dream.
Yudhiṣṭhira said, “However competent one might be, if destiny doesn’t smile on him, he will not earn any wealth. Even a helpless chap or a child, if favoured by fortune, earns a great deal of wealth. There are hundreds of people who have gained nothing even after great attempts and tribulations; there are also several people who have become wealthy without even trying.
Although Bhīṣma spoke many such words of peace and solace, Dharmarāja’s heart would not find peace; he would not be consoled. He lamented with the words – “Having done the most heinous of crimes with my own hands how will I now get peace just by wishing for it? When I look at your body, pierced with arrows, and blood oozing out from myriad wounds, my mind doesn’t have a moment of peace.