"Janamejaya asked, 'O first of Brahmanas, what did the Pandavas, those mighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, do after arriving at Ekachakra?'
"Vaisampayana said, 'Those mighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, on arriving at Ekachakra, lived for a short time in the abode of a Brahmana. Leading an eleemosynary life, they behold (in course of their wanderings) various delightful forests and earthly regions, and many rivers and lakes, and they became great favourites of the inhabitants of that town in consequence of their own accomplishments. At nightfall they placed before Kunti all they gathered in their mendicant tours, and Kunti used to divide the whole amongst them, each taking what was allotted to him. And those heroic chastisers of foes, with their mother, together took one moiety of the whole, while the mighty Bhima alone took the other moiety. In this way, O bull of Bharata's race, the illustrious Pandavas lived there for some time.
"One day, while those bulls of the Bharata race were out on their tour of mendicancy, it so happened that Bhima was (at home) with (his mother) Pritha. That day, O Bharata, Kunti heard a loud and heart-rending wail of sorrow coming from within the apartments of the Brahmana. Hearing the inmates of the Brahmana's house wailing and indulging in piteous lamentations, Kunti, O king, from compassion and the goodness of her heart, could not bear it with indifference. Afflicted with sorrow, the amiable Pritha, addressing Bhima, said these words full of compassion. 'Our woes assuaged, we are, O son, living happily in the house of this Brahmana, respected by him and unknown to Dhritarashtra's son. O son, I always think of the good I should do to this Brahmana, like what they do that live happily in others' abodes! O child, he is a true man upon whom favours are never lost. He payeth back to others more than what he receiveth at their hands. There is no doubt, some affliction hath overtaken this Brahmana. If we could be of any help to him, we should then be requiting his services.'
"Hearing these words of his mother, Bhima said, 'Ascertain, O mother the
nature of the Brahmana's distress and whence also it hath arisen. Learning all about it, relieve it I will however difficult may the task prove.'
"Vaisampayana continued 'While mother and son were thus talking with each other, they heard again, O king, another wail of sorrow proceeding from the Brahmana and his wife. Then Kunti quickly entered the inner apartments of that illustrious Brahmana, like unto a cow running towards her tethered calf. She beheld the Brahmana with his wife, son and daughter, sitting with a woeful face, and she heard the Brahmana say, 'Oh, fie on this earthly life which is hollow as the reed and so fruitless after all which is based on sorrow and hath no freedom, and which hath misery for its lot! Life is sorrow and disease; life is truly a record of misery! The soul is one: but it hath to pursue virtue, wealth and pleasure. And because these are pursued at one and the same time, there frequently occurs a disagreement that is the source of much misery. Some say that salvation is the highest object of our desire. But I believe it can never be attained. The acquisition of wealth is hell; the pursuit of wealth is attended with misery; there is more misery after one has acquired it, for one loves one's possessions, and if any mishap befalls them, the possessor becomes afflicted with woe. I do not see by what means I can escape from this danger, nor how I can fly hence, with my wife to some region free from danger. Remember, O wife, that I endeavoured to migrate to some other place where we would be happy, but thou didst not then listen to me. Though frequently solicited by me, thou, O simple woman, said to me, 'I have been born here, and here have I grown old; this is my ancestral homestead.' Thy venerable father, O wife, and thy mother also, have, a long time ago, ascended to heaven. Thy relations also had all been dead. Oh why then didst thou yet like to live here? Led by affection for thy relatives thou didst not then hear what I said. But the time is now come when thou art to witness the death of a relative. Oh, how sad is that spectacle for me! Or perhaps the time is come for my own death, for I shall never be able to abandon cruelly one of my own as long as I myself am alive. Thou art my helpmate in all good deeds, self-denying and always affectionate unto me as a mother. The gods have given thee to me as a true friend and thou art ever my prime stay. Thou hast, by my parents, been made the participator in my domestic concerns. Thou art of pure lineage and good disposition, the mother of children, devoted to me, and so innocent; having chosen and wedded thee with due rites, I cannot abandon thee, my wife, so constant in thy vows, to save my life. How shall I myself be able to sacrifice my son a child of tender years and yet without the hirsute appendages (of manhood)? How shall I sacrifice my daughter whom I have begotten myself, who hath been placed, as a pledge, in my hands by the Creator himself for bestowal on a husband and through whom I hope to enjoy, along with my ancestors, the regions attainable by those only that have daughters' sons? Some people think that the father's affection for a son is greater; others, that his affection for a daughter is greater, mine, however,
is equal. How can I be prepared to give up the innocent daughter upon whom rest the regions of bliss obtainable by me in after life and my own lineage and perpetual happiness? If, again, I sacrifice myself and go to the other world, I should scarcely know any peace, for, indeed, it is evident that, left by me these would not be able to support life. The sacrifice of any of these would be cruel and censurable. On the other hand, if I sacrifice myself, these, without me, will certainly perish. The distress into which I have fallen is great; nor do I know the means of escape. Alas, what course shall I take today with my near ones. It is well that I should die with all these, for I can live no longer.'"