In the previous episode, we had witnessed the birth of an important jewel from the Mahabharata text, which is nothing but the “Shri Vishnu Sahasranama”. We’ve witnessed this as part of the brief explanation about the “Shanti Parva”, wherein Yudishtra is requesting Bhishmacharya to explain all the important aspects of “Dharma”, before he takes over the reins of the Hastinapura Kingdom from King Dhirdiraashtra. As part of this, Bhishmacharya explains all possible aspects of “Dharma” and this forms the crux of the “Shanti Parva”. As witnessed, this is one of the lengthiest “Parvas” in the entire Mahabharata text, and it is at the end of the “Shanti Parva”, both Yudishtra and Bhishmacharya realize that they had missed out on something very important. This is where Bhishmacharya realizes that he had explained the entire “Dharma” textbook, without talking about Bhagawan Krishna and His significance. Thus, the passage of discussion that talks about Bhagawan is nothing but the “Shri Vishnu Sahasranama”.
At the end of this Vishnu Sahasranama, the lengthy “Dharma” discussion also comes to an end and with this, Bhishmacharya also attains the “Svarga Lokha”. He was waiting for the “Uttharaayana” period to commence, before he breathes his last. Subsequent to this, we move on into the fourteenth “Parva” called as “Aashwamedhika Parva”. We’ve witnessed that the war was extremely destructive on both sides. On the Paandava side, Yudishtra was extremely sad that he and his brothers have lost all their sons in the war. He wanted to see them once more alive. Thus, Yudishtra wanted to perform an “Ashvamedha Yaaga” in this regard. With the divine grace of Bhagawan Krishna and Sage Narada, he was able to achieve it. This “Aashwamedhika Parva” has three “Upa-Parvas” and 93 “Adhyaayas”. The next “Parva” is the “Ashrama-Vaasika Parva”, which is the fifteenth in the list. After around thirty years of ruling the kingdom, the Paandavas decide that they’ve had enough. They’re getting old and it is now time to hand over the reins of the kingdom to the “Upa-Paandavas” and proceed to the “Vaanaprastha Ashrama”. This “Parva” has three “Upa-Parvas” and thirty-nine “Adhyaayas”. This is again a relatively small “Parva” here, as the Paandavas are seeking retirement.
Subsequent to this are three “Parvas” – One is the “Mousala Parva”. This talks about how Bhagawan Krishna descended back to Vaikunta. We’ve witnessed this in earlier projects of Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana and Shri Vishnu Puraana as well – Bhagawan Krishna’s Yaadavas go and abuse Sage Vishwamitra and because of his curse, the entire Yadava clan faced a mass destruction because of a wooden plank. All these happened and at the end of it, Bhagawan Krishna too thinks that He has had enough in this world. He had completed 120 years of His incarnation and it was time for Him to make His way back to Vaikunta. Thus, the Parva that talks about Bhagawan Krishna’s descent towards Vaikunta is called “Mousala Parva”. This “Parva” is also quite small and this has around eight “Adhyaayas”. Once Bhagawan Krishna left for Vaokunta, the Paandavas too realized that they were no more powerful in this world. All their valor, power, etc. were relevant only because of Bhagawan Krishna’s divine presence with all of them. This is where, the Paandavas think that they should also leave this world once and forever. This is discussed in detail in the seventeenth “Parva” called “Maha-Prasthaanika Parva”. Even today, there is a place called “Sathopanth” near Badrinatha Kshetra amidst the Himalayas. It is to this place that the Paandavas are planning to go to, from where they would attain “Moksha”.
As we go towards this Sathopanth, it would be a treacherous path to walk through. The first place to cross there is “Bhimpur”. It is this place wherein Draupati, Sahadeva, Nakula, etc. fell down and finished off their worldly lives. After a point, as each one of them falls down, only Yudishtra was walking along. There was nobody to accompany him. However, there was a dog that was accompanying him from behind. This dog was none other than Yama-Dharma-Raja Himself, to give Yudishtra a “final test” of his life! This is like the final examination that we take to clear off graduation! 🙂 Here, the examination is on “Dharma” – Whether Yudishtra is going to follow Dharma even during the last stage of his life! Now what is this “Dharma examination” that Yama-Dharma-Raja is going to give Yudhisthira? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂