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"Vyasa said, 'O mighty-armed Yudhishthira, do without any scruple what Dhritarashtra of Kuru's race hag said. This king is old. He has, again, been made sonless. I think he will not be able to bear his grief long. The highly blessed Gandhari, possessed of great wisdom and endued with kindly speech, bears with fortitude her excessive grief owing to the logs of her song. I also tell thee (what the old king says). Do thou obey my words. Let the old king have thy permission. Let him not die an inglorious death at home. Let this king follow the path of all royal sages of old. Verily, for all royal sages, retirement into the woods comes at last.'"

"Vaisampayana said, 'Thus addressed at that time by Vyasa of wonderful deeds, king Yudhishthira the just, possessed of mighty energy, said unto the great ascetic these words, 'Thy holy self is held by us in great reverence. Thou alone art our preceptor. Thou alone art the refuge of this our kingdom as also of our race. I am thy son. Thou, O holy one, art my father. Thou art our king, and thou art our preceptor. The son should, agreeably to every duty, be obedient to the commands of his sire.'

p. 9

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by the king. Vyasa, that foremost of poets, foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas, endued with great energy once more said unto Yudhishthira these words, 'It is even so, O mighty-armed one. It is even as thou sayest, O Bharata. This king has reached old age. He is now in the last stage of life. Permitted both by me and thee, let this lord of Earth do what he proposes. Do not stand as an impediment in his way. Even this is the highest duty, O Yudhishthira, of royal sages. They should die either in battle or in the woods agreeably to the scriptures. Thy royal sire, Pandu, O king of kings, reverenced this old king as a disciple reverences his preceptor. (At that time) he adored the gods in many great sacrifices with profuse gifts consisting of hills of wealth and jewels, and ruled the Earth and protected his subjects wisely and well. Having obtained a large progeny and a swelling kingdom, he enjoyed great influence for thirteen years while you were in exile, and gave away much wealth. Thyself also, O chief of men, with thy servants, O sinless one, hast adored this king and the famous Gandhari with that ready obedience which. a disciple pays to his preceptor. Do thou grant permission to thy father. The time has come for him to attend to the practice of penances. He does not harbour, O Yudhishthira, even the slightest anger against any of you.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having said these words, Vyasa soothed the old king. Yudhishthira then answered him, saying, 'So be it.' The great ascetic then left the palace for proceeding to the woods. After the holy Vyasa had gone away, the royal son of Pandu softly said these words unto his old father, bending himself in humility,--What the holy Vyasa has said, what is thy own purpose, what the great bowman Kripa has said, what Vidura has expressed, and what has been asked for by Yuyutsu and Sanjaya, I shall accomplish with speed. All these are worthy of my respect, for all of them are well-wishers of our race. This, however, O king, I beg of thee by bending my head. Do thou first eat and afterwards go to thy forest retreat.'"

Next: Section V