“Vaisampayana continued, ’The king, having thus wept in sorrow, with a sigh looked at his two wives Kunti and Madri, and addressing them said, ’Let the princess of Kosala (my mother), Vidura, the king with our friends, the venerable Satyavati, Bhishma, the priests of our family, illustrious Soma-drinking Brahmanas of rigid vows and all elderly citizens depending on us be informed, after being prepared for it, that Pandu hath retired into the woods to lead a life of asceticism.’ Hearing these words of their lord who had set his heart on a life of asceticism in the woods, both Kunti and Madri addressed him in these proper words, ’O bull of Bharata’s race, there are many other modes of life which thou canst adopt and in which thou canst undergo the severest penances along with us, thy wedded wives—in which for the salvation of thy body (freedom from re-birth), thou mayest obtain heaven. We also, in the company of our lord, and for his benefit, controlling our passions and bidding adieu to all luxuries, shall subject ourselves to the severest austerities. O king, O thou of great wisdom, if thou abandonest us, we shall then this very day truly depart from this world.’
Pandu replied, ’If, indeed, this your resolve springeth from virtue, then with you both I shall follow the imperishable path of my fathers. Abandoning the luxuries of cities and towns, clad in barks of trees, and living on fruits and roots, I shall wander in deep woods, practising the severest penances. Bathing morning and evening, I shall perform the homa. I shall reduce my body by eating very sparingly and shall wear rags and skins and knotted locks on my head. Exposing myself to heat and cold and disregarding hunger and thirst, I shall reduce my body by severe ascetic penances, I shall live in solitude and I shall give myself up to contemplation; I shall eat fruit, ripe or green, that I may find. I shall offer oblations to the Pitris (manes) and the gods with speech, water and the fruits of the wilderness. I shall not see, far less harm, any of the denizens of the woods, or any of my relatives, or any of the residents of cities and towns. Until I lay down this body, I shall thus practise the severe ordinances of the Vanaprastha scriptures, always searching for severer ones that they may contain.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ’The Kuru king, having said this unto his wives, gave away to Brahmanas the big jewel in his diadem, his necklace of precious gold, his bracelets, his large ear-rings, his valuable robes and all the ornaments of his wives. Then summoning his attendants, he commended them, saying, ’Return ye to Hastinapura and proclaim unto all that Pandu with his wives hath gone into the woods, foregoing wealth, desire, happiness, and even sexual appetite.’ Then those followers and attendants, hearing these and other soft words of the king, set up a loud wail, uttering, ‘Oh, we are undone!’ Then with hot tears trickling down their cheeks they left the monarch and returned to Hastinapura with speed carrying that wealth with them (that was to be distributed in charity). Then Dhritarashtra, that first of men, hearing from them everything that had happened in the woods, wept for his brother. He brooded over his affliction continually, little relishing the comfort of beds and seats and dishes.