"Janamejaya said, 'Tell me. O learned Brahmana, what that wonderful feat was which the great Rishi Vyasa of high energy accomplished after his promise to the old king, made when Dhritarashtra, that lord of Earth, that foremost one of Kuru's race, had taken up his abode in the forest, with his wife and with his daughter-in-law Kunti; and after, indeed, Vidura had left his own body and entered into Yudhishthira, and at the time when all the sons of Pandu were staying in the ascetic retreat. For how many days did the Kuru king Yudhishthira of unfading glory stay, with his men, in the woods? On what food, O puissant one, did the high-souled Pandavas support themselves, with their men, and wives, while they lived in the woods? O sinless one, do thou tell me this.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'With the permission of the Kuru king, the Pandavas, O monarch, with their troops and the ladies of their household, supported themselves on diverse kinds of food and drink and passed about a month in great happiness in that forest. Towards the close of that period, O sinless one, Vyasa came there. While all those princes sat around Vyasa, engaged in conversation on diverse subjects, other Rishis came to that spot. They were Narada, and Parvata and Devala of austere penances, and Viswavasu and Tumvuru, and Chitrasena., O Bharata. Endued with severe penances, the Kuru king Yudhishthira, with the permission of Dhritarashtra, worshipped them according to due rites. Having obtained that worship from Yudhishthira, all of them sat down on sacred seats (made of Kusa grass), as also on excellent seats made of peacock feathers. After they had all taken their seats, the Kuru king of high intelligence took his seat there, surrounded by the sons of Pandu. Gandhari and Kunti and Draupadi, and she of the Sattwata race, and other ladies of the royal household also sat down. The conversation that then arose was excellent and had reference to topics connected with piety, and
the Rishis of old, and the deities and the Asuras. At the close of that conversation Vyasa of great energy, that foremost of eloquent men, that first of all persons conversant with the Vedas, highly gratified, addressed the blind monarch and once more said,--'Burning as thou art with grief on account of thy children, I know, O king of kings, what object is cherished by thee in thy heart. The sorrow that always exists in the heart of Gandhari, that which exists in the heart of Kunti, and that also which is cherished by Draupadi in her heart, and that burning grief, on account of the death of her son, which Krishna's sister Subhadra also cherishes, are all known to me. Hearing of this meeting, O king, of thine with all these princes and princesses of thy house, I have come here, O delighter of the Kauravas, for dispelling thy doubts. Let the deities and Gandharvas, and all these great Rishis, behold today the energy of those penances which I have acquired for these long years. Therefore, O king, tell me what wish of thine I shall grant today. I am puissant enough to grant thee a boon. Behold the fruit of my penances.' Thus addressed by Vyasa of immeasurable understanding, king Dhritarashtra reflected for a moment and then prepared to speak. He said,--'I am exceedingly fortunate. Lucky am I in obtaining thy favour. My life is crowned with success today,--since this meeting has happened between me and ye all of great piety. Today I shall attain to that highly happy goal which is reserved for me, since, ye ascetics endued with wealth of penances, ye who are equal to Brahma himself, I have succeeded in obtaining this meeting with you all. There is not the least doubt that this sight that I have obtained of you all has cleansed me of every sin. Ye sinless ones, I have no longer any fear in respect of my end in the next world. Full as I am of love for my children, I always cherish their remembrance. My mind, however, is always tortured by the recollection of the diverse acts of wrong which my wicked son of exceedingly evil understanding perpetrated. Possessed of a sinful understanding, he always persecuted the innocent Pandavas. Alas, the whole Earth has been devastated by him, with her steeds, elephants and men. Many high-souled kings, rulers of diverse realms, came for siding my son and succumbed to death. Alas, leaving their beloved sires and wives and their very life-breaths, all those heroes have become guests of the king of the dead. What end, O regenerate one, has been attained by those men who have been slain, for the sake of their friend, in battle? What end also has been attained by my sons and grandsons who have fallen in the fray? My heart is always pained at the thought of my having brought about the slaughter of the mighty Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and of Drona, that foremost of Brahmanas, through my foolish and sinful son who was an injurer of his friends. Desirous of obtaining the sovereignty of the Earth, he caused the Kuru race, blazing with prosperity, to be annihilated. Reflecting on all this, I burn day and night with grief. Deeply afflicted with pain and grief, I am unable to obtain peace of mind. Indeed, O father, thinking of all this, I have no peace of mind.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these lamentations expressed in diverse ways, of that royal sage, the grief, O Janamejaya, of Gandhari, became fresh. The grief also of Kunti, of the daughter of Drupada, of Subhadra,
and of the other members, male and female, and the daughters-in-law, of the Kuru race, became equally green. Queen Gandhari, with bandaged eyes, joining her hands, addressed her father-in-law. Deeply afflicted with grief on account of the slaughter of her sons, she said,--'O foremost of ascetics, sixteen years have passed over the head of this king grieving for the death of his sons and divested of peace of mind. Afflicted with grief on account of the slaughter of his children, this king Dhritarashtra, always breathes heavily, and never sleeps at night. O great Rishi, through the power of thy penances thou art competent to create new worlds. What need I say then about showing this king his children who are now in the other world? This Krishna, the daughter of Drupada, hath lost all her kinsmen and children. For this, she who is the dearest of my daughters-in-law grieves exceedingly. The sister of Krishna, viz., Subhadra of sweet speech, burning with the loss of her son, grieves as deeply. This lady that is respected by all, that is the wife of Bhurisravas, afflicted with grief on account of the fate that has overtaken her husband, always indulges in heart-rending lamentations. Her father-in-law was the intelligent Valhika of Kuru's race. Alas, Somadatta also was slain, along with his sire, in the great battle! 1 Alas, a century of sons, heroes that never retreated from battle, belonging to this son of thine, this king of great intelligence and great prosperity, has been slain in battle. The hundred wives of those sons are all grieving and repeatedly enhancing the grief of both the king and myself. O great ascetic, stricken by that great slaughter, they have gathered round me. Alas, those high-souled heroes, those great car warriors, my fathers-in-law, Somadatta and others,--alas, what end has been theirs, O puissant one? Through thy grace, O holy one, that will happen in consequence of which this lord of Earth, myself, and this daughter-in-law of thine, viz., Kunti, shall all become freed from our grief. After Gandhari had said so, Kunti, whose face had become wasted through observance of many hard vows, began to think of her secret-born son endued with solar effulgence. The boon giving Rishi Vyasa, capable of both beholding and hearing what happened at a remote distance, saw that the royal mother of Arjuna was afflicted with grief. Unto her Vyasa said,--'Tell me, O blessed one, what is in thy mind. Tell me what thou wishest to say. At this, Kunti, bending her head unto her father-in-law, and overcome with bashfulness, said these words unto him, relating to the occurrences of the past.'"