Mahābhārata – Episode 87 – Dhṛtarāṣṭra Tries to Kill Bhīma; Gāndhārī Curses Kṛṣṇa

This article is part 87 of 112 in the series Mahābhārata

Dharmarāja walked past all the women who were shouting at him, went to the old king Dhṛtarāṣṭra, and bowed down to him. The others too called out their own names and saluted the king. Dhṛtarāṣṭra embraced Dharmarāja without any affection. He asked, “Where is Bhīmasena?” His anger was getting invigorated by winds of rage and it seemed as though he would burn Bhīma to death. Kṛṣṇa, who knew Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s heart, was already prepared for such a situation. He pulled Bhīma back and pushed an iron image of Bhīma towards the king. Thinking that the image was the real Bhīma, the blind king embraced it tightly. The image was shattered into pieces with his tight embrace. With this, Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s chest was injured and he fell to the ground, spitting blood all around. Sañjaya held him and raised him up.

Dhṛtarāṣṭra thought that Bhīma was dead and lamented, “O Bhīma! My dear Bhīma!” His anger had by then subsided. Kṛṣṇa, who understood the king’s state of mind, said: “O king! You didn’t kill Bhīma! You only destroyed an iron image! Looking at your anger, I pulled him back and instead let you embrace an iron image of Bhīma, which your son, Duryodhana, had prepared. Who can match your strength? Falling into your embrace is like falling into the clutches of death. You were overcome with sorrow and had decided to kill Bhīma, ignoring dharma! That is not right, O revered king! Your sons won’t come back alive, no matter what you do. Bring down your anger and sorrow – try to understand my words and actions!”

Dhṛtarāṣṭra brought his anger under control and blessed the Pāṇḍavas by touching their bodies. Next, the Pāṇḍavas approached Gāndhārī. Dharmarāja, overcome by fear, said softly, “O Mother! Here I am – I am Yudhiṣṭhira, the cruel one who caused the death of all your sons. I deserve to be cursed; please curse me. What is the use of me surviving? I don’t need the kingdom or any of its pleasures. Having lost my relatives and friends, I don’t know what I should do!”

Gāndhārī was overcome with sorrow; her voice was choked and she was unable to speak a word. She gave out a heavy sigh. She could only see the tips of his finger with her eyes behind her blindfold. With her look, all his nails were burned. Looking at this, Arjuna hid behind Kṛṣṇa. Her anger quickly subsided and she spoke to them all like a loving mother. Taking her leave, they all left the palace to visit Kuntī.

It had been a long time since the mother and the sons had seen each other. Kuntī couldn’t stand the sight of her children’s wounded bodies. She closed her face with her palm and cried uncontrollably. She then wiped her eyes with her saree and touched her sons’ bodies again and again. She then looked at Draupadī who was sitting on the floor, having lost all her children. Draupadī said, “Mother! Abhimanyu and all your other grandsons are no more. Having lost such valorous sons, what am I to gain from this kingdom now?”

Kuntī lifted her up and took them all back to Gāndhārī. Gāndhārī then spoke to Draupadī, “Please don’t cry, my dear! You must console yourself by looking at me. These are the days when the entire world is under turmoil. Thus, whatever was to inevitably take place has actually happened. It is not under our control. I lost my children to the battle too just as you did. Don’t cry for them. You are like me and I am like you. We are in the same situation. Who is to console whom, my dear?”

They all then left to the place where the warriors had fought each other given up their lives. Elephants and horses that once belonged to the heroes had fallen dead, orphaned, and scattered all around the battlefield. There were streams of blood flowing and the soil was wet. Amidst the dead, women were crying, wailing and shouting and were looking for the bodies of their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons. Gāndhārī called Kṛṣṇa and asked, “Are you able to hear my daughter and daughters-in-law wailing over the dead bodies of their husbands? Just like them, there are several other women who are looking for the remnants of their brothers, fathers, sons, and husbands. My heart crumbles in pain listening to their cries and imagining their sorrowful state!”

They found Duryodhana as they walked further on the battlefield. Gāndhārī fell down like a banana tree that was chopped off. She cried out loud, “O Duryodhana!” Then she said, “When the war was imminent, he had come to me. He prostrated before me and said, ‘I’m going to fight my relatives. Please bless me that I may be victorious, O Mother!’ I had said, ‘Victory prevails where dharma exists. You will attain the vīra-svarga (heaven for heroes) by fighting the war!’ My words have come true. I won’t cry much for him. I feel sorry for Dhṛtarāṣṭra who has lost all his relatives and friends. Who would have imagined that Jayadratha, Karṇa, Droṇa, Bhīṣma, and such other heroes would die in the war? They too took the side of Duryodhana, fought the war, and now are like fires that have got extinguished. What is difficult for Fate to handle? When you visited us trying to negotiate a treaty of peace, I had already imagined all my children to be dead. Bhīṣma and Vidura also told me the same thing: ‘You may now give up all hopes about your children!’ Can their words go false? Within a few days, they are all fallen dead!” Gāndhārī fainted even as she uttered those words.

She regained consciousness after a while and was immensely pained. She lost her sense and with great rage said, “Kṛṣṇa! It is because of your carelessness that the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas fought each other! You have the strength and the wisdom and you could have easily stopped this huge massacre. You didn’t do so. Thus, you will be the reason for the death of your own relatives in the future. Thirty-six years from now, you will lose at once all your relatives, friends, children, and ministers and you will get a lowly death like an orphan, all alone in a forest! Your women too will lament over their dead men just as these women belonging to the Bharata clan are today lamenting!”

Hearing her wrathful curse, Kṛṣṇa said with a smile, “O mother! I know what is in store for me. As per Divine Providence, the Yādavas too will fight amongst themselves and kill each other. They will die because of me. No one else can kill them! Let that be; stop crying and get up now. Don’t blame me for your mistakes. The Kuru clan got destroyed because of you. Your son was filled with jealously, malice, arrogance, and evil. He was stone-hearted and never listened to his elders. He harboured animosity all his life. You are under the impression that all his deeds were noble. Just as a hardworking cow gives birth to a calf of its own nature and just as a swift horse produces a swift horse as its child, it is only fitting that a son like Duryodhana was born to a mother like you!” Gāndhārī became silent listening to those unpleasant words of Kṛṣṇa.

They made arrangements for performing the final rites of the men who had given up their lives on the battlefield. With Dhṛtarāṣṭra leading them, they all headed to the shores of Gaṅgā. Women took dips in the pure waters of the divine river and with tears rolling down their eyes they offered tarpaṇa to their dead fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, and relatives. Dharmarāja offered tarpaṇa to Karṇa, for he learnt from his mother that Karṇa was his elder brother. Dhṛtarāṣṭra too offered tarpaṇa to all his relatives and got back on to the shore with Gāndhārī.

The Gaṅgā was like an ocean flowing between two shores. But today, with thousands of wailing women taking dip in the river, it seemed to have lost its liveliness and speed. It seemed to be flowing with sorrow and lacked enthusiasm.

End of the Strī-parva.

This is an English translation of Prof. A R Krishna Shastri’s Kannada classic Vacanabhārata by Arjun Bharadwaj and Hari Ravikumar published in a serialized form.

The original Kannada version of Vacanabhārata is available for free online reading here. To read other works of Prof. Krishna Shastri, click here.

Author(s)

About:

Prof. A R Krishna Sastri was a journalist, scholar, polyglot, and a pioneer of the modern Kannada renaissance, who founded the literary journal Prabuddha Karnāṭaka. His Vacana-bhārata and Kathāmṛta are classics of Kannada literature while his Saṃskṛta-nāṭaka and Bankimacandra are of unrivalled scholarship.

Translator(s)

About:

Arjun is a writer, translator, engineer, and enjoys composing poems. He is well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, English, Greek, and German languages. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature. He has deep interest in the theatre arts and music. Arjun has (co-) translated the works of AR Krishna Shastri, DV Gundappa, Dr. SL Bhyrappa, Dr. SR Ramaswamy and Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

About:

Hari is a writer, translator, musician, and designer with a deep interest in Vedanta, education pedagogy design, and literature. He has (co-)written more than ten books, mostly related to Indian culture and philosophy.

Prekshaa Publications

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective...

Yaugandharam

इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...

Vanitakavitotsavah

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Vaiphalyaphalam

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Nipunapraghunakam

इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।

Bharavatarastavah

अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...

Bharatilochana

ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...