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,