FIFTEEN years passed under king Yudhishthira's reign, when old Dhritarashtra found himself utterly unable any longer to bear the burden of grief. Hurt by Bhima's occasional reproaches, he found no heart to accept the courtesies and comforts provided under king Yudhishthira's orders. Unknown to the Pandavas, he secretly fasted and underwent hard penances. Gandhari too observed manifests and inflicted privation on her. And one day Dhritarashtra sent for Dharmaputra and spoke to him thus: "Son, blessings on you. I have spent fifteen happy years under your roof. You have tended me most lovingly. I have made gifts and offerings to ancestors and fulfilled all my desires in that respect. Bereaved Gandhari, laying aside her own grief, has ministered to my physical wants all these years. My cruel sons, who committed unforgivable wrong to Draupadi and deprived you of your lawful inheritance, perished on account of their sins. But they fought like brave soldiers and died in the battlefield and have gone to the happy regions reserved for the brave. The time has come when with Gandhari I must do what has to be done for our next state. You know what the sastras have lain down. I must now go to the forest. These robes must be replaced by bark and tattered old clothes, suitable for the life of Vanaprastha. I desire to go and live in the forest, praying for your good. I want your permission for this. Let me follow the practice of our fathers. As king, you will share in the fruits of my penance." Yudhishthira received a shock when he saw Dhritarashtra and heard him say this. "I did not know," he said, "that you had been fasting and sleeping on the bare ground and mortifying your flesh in this manner. My brothers too were unaware of this. I was misled into believing you were well looked after and happy. Father, you have suffered grief, for which there can be no solace. I see no good in kingdom or pleasures. I am a sinner. Desire and ambition deceived me into this. Let your son Yuyutsu be king, or anyone else you choose. Or if you will do so, you yourself may take up the duties of king and look after the people. I shall go to the forest. Let me terminate this chapter of error. I implore you to save me from further obloquy and burning shame. I am not the king. You are the king. You ask me for permission to go. How then can I give or refuse permission to you? Let me assure you that my anger against Duryodhana is a thing of the past, gone without a trace.