Friday, March 25, 2016

19. The End of Satyavati

The  sages after consulting among themselves decided to take Kunti and the five sons of Pandu to Hastinapura and hand them over to Bhishma and Drhitarashtra, Accordingly, they left for Hastinapura taking Kunti, the Pandavas and the two dead bodies along with them.When the entourage arrived at Kurujangala (the western region of the Kuru kingdom), the ascetics sent word to Dhritarashtra and Bhishma through the gatekeepers. The citizens came out in large numbers, amazed at the sight of the large number of ascetics. After getting the message, Bishma, Dhritarashtra, Somadatta, Vidura, Duryodhana and his brothers also arrived at Kurujangala.

After the ascetics were duly received, extended appropriate hospitality and offered seats, the oldest of the ascetics narrated the events that took place in the forest. The substance of their message was this."After living a virtuous life and reviving the almost extinct line of his grandfather by making use of the boon grated to Kunti, Pandu departed from this world. His wife Madri ascended the funeral pyre of her husband and sacrificed her life. We have brought the unburnt portions of the two bodies. Appropriate rites could be performed for the departed souls."  The ascetics also presented the five children of Pandu and requested that they be received with due honor. After giving their message, the ascetics instantly vanished into thin air.

Dhritarashtra asked Vidura to make arrangements for performing the funeral ceremonies for Pandu and Madri and to liberally donate cattle, clothes, gems and other kinds of wealth to the poor and the needy. He also said, "Let us not lament the death of Pandu, who was a heroic king and who has left behind him five heroic sons equal to the celestials."

Vidura, in consultation with Bhishma, selected a suitable place and made arrangements for the funeral rites. The citizens, watching the remains of the dead bodies wailed in grief and said that they would follow their king by giving up their lives. The Pandavas lit the pyre and cremated the dead bodies. Seeing the bodies go up  in flames, Pandu's mother Ambalika cried "Oh my son!" and fell down unconscious. The wise Vidura and Bhishma also cried. So did Dhritarashtra.

Seeing the Pandavas sleep on the ground during the period of mourning, the citizens also renounced their beds and observed a 12-day mourning along with the Pandavas.

After the mourning period was over and all ceremonial functions were duly completed, the Pandavas returned to Hastinapura. The citizens of the Kuru kingdom continued to grieve over Pandu, who had been occupying a special place in their hearts due to his virtues, valor, simplicity and sacrifice.

Vyasa told his mother Satyavati, "Mother, our days of happiness are over. They have been succeeded by days of calamity. Sin is going up day by day. The Kaurava empire will no longer endure because many wrongs are going to be committed by the rulers. It will be better for you to retire to the forest and spend your time in devotion and yoga. You will save yourself from witnessing, in your old age, the annihilation of your race."

Accepting the counsel of her wise son, Satyavati retired to the forest along with her two daughters in law, after obtaining the consent of Bhishma and spent her time in contemplation of God. After some time, she ascended to heaven.

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