“Vaisampayana said, ’After two years had elapsed from the date of the return of the Pandavas (from the retreat of their sire), the celestial Rishi, Narada, O king, came to Yudhishthira. The mighty-armed Kuru king, that foremost of speakers, viz., Yudhishthira, having duly worshipped him, caused him to take a seat. After the Rishi had rested awhile, the king asked him, saying,—’It is after a long time that I behold thy holy self arrived at my court. Art thou in peace and happiness, O learned Brahmana? What are those countries which thou hast passed through? What shall I do to thee? Do thou tell me. Thou art the foremost of regenerate ones, and thou art our highest refuge.’
“Narada said, ’I have not seen thee for a long while. Hence it is that I have come to thee from my ascetic retreat. I have seen many sacred waters, and the sacred stream Ganga also, O king.’
“Yudhishthira said, ’People dwelling on the banks of Ganga report that the high-souled Dhritarashtra is practising the austerest of penances. Hast thou seen him there? Is that perpetuator of Kuru’s race in peace? Are Gandhari and Pritha, and the Suta’s son Sanjaya also, in peace? How, indeed, is it faring with that royal sire of mine? I desire to hear this, O holy one, if thou hast seen the king (and knowest of his condition).’
“Narada said, ’Listen, O king, with calmness to me as I tell thee what I have heard and seen in that ascetic retreat. After thy return from Kurukshetra, O delighter of the Kurus, thy sire, O king, proceeded towards Gangadwara. That intelligent monarch took with him his (sacred) fire, Gandhari and his daughter-in-law Kunti, as also Sanjaya of the Suta caste, and all the Yajakas. Possessed of wealth of penances, thy sire set himself to the practice of severe austerities. He held pebbles of stone in his mouth and had air alone for his subsistence, and abstained altogether from speech. Engaged in severe penances, he was worshipped by all the ascetics in the woods.