Mahabharat Episode 60: The End of the Kuru Dynasty
Now it is time for the blind king and his wife to retire to the forest, where eventually, the last members of the Kuru dynasty die in a dreadful way.
Sadhguru: Now Dhritarashtra’s and Gandhari’s hands and legs were tied, and they tried to settle down. Yudhishthira treated them with utmost respect, giving them the maximum comfort possible. But Bhima would not leave them alone; at any given opportunity, he taunted and teased them. Dhritarashtra was known to be a big eater. When they sat down to eat and Dhritarashtra slurped, Bhima said, “That is the sound I heard when I sucked Dushasana’s heart.” And when he bit on a bone, Bhima said, “Ah, this is how it sounded when I broke Duryodhana’s thigh.” Like this, he kept insulting Dhritarashtra in every possible way.
“Your whole life has been busy trying to protect the evil of your sons. Now it is time to do something with yourself. Let’s go to the forest.”
Normally, in those days, once your son had a son, you would leave to the forest; this is called vanaprastha. But Dhritarashtra did not leave – because of his blindness, and because the man was heavily attached to all his comforts. But Bhima would not spare them; he would make sure they were miserable on a daily basis. However much Yudhishthira tried to stop him, Bhima would not listen. He said, “We fought the battle, and still Dhritarashtra tried to crush me. Still, the old woman tried to burn you. No! There is no charity in my heart for them.”
Taking Refuge in the Forest
When Bhima’s insults became unbearable, Vidura advised Dhritarashtra, “This place is not good for you anymore. You must leave to the forest, as is appropriate for a man of your age. Until now, you have not done anything for your inner nature. Your whole life has been busy trying to protect the evil of your sons. Now it is time to do something with yourself. Let’s go to the forest.” So Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, Vidura, and their assistant Sanjaya all moved into the forest. The moment they got to a certain ashram, Vidura, who was already like an ascetic, took to serious spiritual sadhana. He left the others and moved into a cave. He was seen only once after that; then he left his body.
The Last Kurus Die in Flames
Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, and their assistant went on. Now, in the final leg of their lives, Kunti and Gandhari were together. Though they maintained some kind of civility on the surface, there had always been a bigger battle between them than the Kurukshetra war. Within themselves, more blood had flowed, more meanness had been expressed, but because of the social circumstance and their position of being queens, they handled it on the surface in a certain way. But now, in the final leg of their lives, they were put together with a blind man.
On a certain day, a forest fire happened. Dhritarashtra smelt the smoke and sensed the heat, and he said, “It looks like there is a forest fire. Let us escape!” Gandhari, who had become a very strong devotee of Shiva, said, “What for?” And Kunti added, “Indeed, what for? Why do we want to escape the fire?” They just sat there, and the forest fire engulfed them. That ended one generation of the Kurus.
A Horse Expands the Kingdom
Back in the palace, for the next 36 years, Yudhishthira ruled as justly as he could. The other brothers went out and conquered many other lands and expanded the empire. They conducted an Ashwamedha Yagna. For an Ashwamedha Yagna, they choose a particular kind of a horse and do various kinds of rituals with it. Then they let the horse loose and wherever it went, people would follow. Whichever kingdom it enters, either the king had to supplicate to Emperor Yudhishthira, or he had to enter into battle. So the Pandavas expanded the empire in a huge way, and when the horse came back, they sacrificed it, and Yudhishthira, as the king, was to eat its organs, because the horse had been consecrated in a certain way, to give strength and prosperity to the kingdom. It brought much prosperity to the Kuru kingdom, and Yudhishthira ruled well.