106.YUDHISHTHIRA'S FINAL TRIAL
"O sage, Duryodhana, who did not know
right from wrong, who was a sinner, who
caused suffering to good men, who fed
enmity and anger and who brought death
to countless men, has attained this swarga
of warriors. Where is that region of
greater glory, which must be the abode of
my brave and good brothers and
Draupadi? I am eager to see them and
Karna, and also all the friends and princes
who gave up their lives in battle for me. I
do not see them here. I desire to meet
again Virata, Drupada, Dhrishtaketu and
Sikhandin, the Panchala prince. I long to
see the dear sons of Draupadi and
Abhimanyu. I do not see them here.
Where are they, who threw their bodies
into the blazing fire of battle for my sake,
like ghee in the sacrifice? I do not see any
of them here. Where are they all? My
place must be among them. At the close of
the battle, my mother Kunti wanted me to
offer libations for Karna also. When I
think of it, even now, grief overwhelms
me. In ignorance of his being my own
blood brother, I caused Karna to be slain.
I am eager to see him. Bhima, dearer to
me than life, Arjuna, who was like Indra
him self, the twins Nakula and Sahadeva
and our dear Panchali, steadfast in
dharma, I long to see and be with them all.
I do not wish to be in heaven, for what
good is it for me to be here, away from
my brothers? Wherever they may be, that
me is swarga; not this place!"
The angels, who heard this, replied:
"O Yudhishthira, if you indeed desire to
be with them, by all means, you may go at
once. There is no need to delay," and they
ordered an attendant to take Yudhishthira.
So, the messenger proceeded in front and
Yudhishthira followed him. As they went
along, it soon became dark and in the
gathering gloom could be dimly seen
things weird and revolting.
He waded through slippery slime of blood
and offal. The path was strewn with
carrion and bones and dead men's hair.
Worms were wriggling everywhere and
there was an insufferable stench in the air.
He saw mutilated human bodies
Yudhishthira was horrified and confused.
A thousand thoughts tortured his mind as
"How far have we to go yet on this road?
Where indeed are my brothers? Tell me,
my friend," he enquired of the messenger
in deep anguish.
The messenger quietly replied: "If you so
desire, we may turn back." The foul odors
of the place were so sickening that for a
moment Yudhishthira was minded to go
But just then, as if divining his intention,
vaguely familiar voices rose all around in
loud lamentation. "O Dharmaputra, do not
go back! Stay here for a few minutes at
least. Your presence has given us
momentary relief from torture. As you
came, you have brought with you a whiff
of air so sweet and pure that we have
found a little relief in our agony. Son of
Kunti, the very sight of you gives us
comfort and mitigates our suffering. O
stay, be it for ever so short a time. Do not
go back. While you are here, we enjoy a
respite in our torture." Thus the voices
Hearing the loud lamentations that thus
came from all around him, Yudhishthira
stood in painful bewilderment.
Overwhelmed with pity at the poignant
anguish in faintly remembered voices, he