Friday, March 18, 2016

18. Pandu Invites His Death

After three sons were born to Kunti and hundred sons were born to Gandhari, Madri, Pandu's second wife told her husband " I feel grieved that unlike Kunti, I am childless.But I feel reluctant to seek this favor from Kunti. So, I feel that you should ask Kunti to fulfill my desire to have children."'

Pandu replied, 'O Madri, I have been thinking about this myself but I was reluctant to suggest this to you since I was not sure how you would receive the idea. Now that you have conveyed your desire to me, I will speak to Kunti. I am confident that she will not refuse to help you."

Pandu then asked Kunti to help Madri get children andgain the satisfaction of making her a mother. Kunti readily agreed to this. She told Madri, "Think of some celestial and you will get a child through him."

Madri  thought of the Aswini Devata, the Twin Gods of Health. The twins gave her two beautiful children Nakula and Sahadeva. At the time the children came out of their mother's womb, a celestial voice said, "In energy and beauty, these twins will surpass Aswini Devatas themselves."

After all the five children were born, they were blessed by the sages living in the mountains by performing the first rites of birth and bestowing appellations on them. The three sons of Kunti were called Yudhishtira, Bhimasena and Arjuna and the two sons of Madri Nakula and Sahadeva. The five sons born at an interval of one year after one another looked like an embodiment of a five year period.

Pandu was elated by looking at the five children of celestial beauty, abundant energy, great strength and prowess, The children were also loved by the sages and their wives living in the mountains.

After sometime, Pandu again approached Kunti at the behest of Madri. Kunti said, "When I gave her the formula for invoking it once, she managed to obtain two sons. She has deceived me. If I give her the formula again, she will end up having more children than me. This is the way of wicked women. I was a fool to have not used the formula to get two children at a time. I beseech you not to command me to give the formula to Madri once again. Let this be a boon granted to me by you."

As the five sons of Pandu were growing up in the forest, the sages' affection and admirationfor the children began to grow as well.

One day, in the season of spring, Pandu was wandering in the forest with his wife Madri. They witnessed several species of animals and birds engaged in mating, with their passions stirred up by the spring season. Pandu felt the  desire to unite with his wife. Overpowered by this desire, he embraced Madri. Though Madri, apprehensive of the effect of the sage's curse, resisted him, Pandu had his way And with the curse acting on him,  Pandu died while being united in intercourse with his wife.

Madri, clasping the dead body of Pandu, began to weep loudly.  Kunit and the children, hearing her cries, came rushing to the spot. Madri requested Kunti to come alone, leaving the children where they were. Kunti asked the children to stay behind and came to the spot. Beholding  Pandu and Madri lying prostrate on the ground, Kunti said, "O Madri, knowing the sage's curse, how did you let yourself enjoy his company?  However, I envy you because you have seen the face of our husband suffused with joy."

Madri replied with tears in her eyes, "'Revered sister, I resisted the king, but he could not control himself, as if he was determined to make the curse take effect."

Kunti said, 'I being his first wife, I have to follow him in death. Please don't prevent me from doing this."

Madri replied, Since it was my fault in not preventing this tragedy from happening, it is only fair that I follow him. If I were to survive you, I won't be able to rear your childrentreating them as my own children. But you will bring up my sons considering them as your own."

Eventually, Madri ascended the funeral pyre of Pandu.

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