The Mahabharata/Book 1: Adi Parva/Section CXXV
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, "Beholding his five handsome sons growing up before him in that great forest on the charming mountain slope, Pandu felt the last might of his arms revive once more. One day in the season of spring which maddens every creature the king accompanied by his wife (Madri), began to rove in the woods where every tree had put forth new blossoms.
[paragraph continues] He beheld all around Palasas and Tilakas and Mangoes and Champakas and Parihadrakas and Karnikaras, Asokas and Kesaras and Atimuktas and Kuruvakas with swarms of maddened bees sweetly humming about. And there were flowers of blossoming Parijatas with the Kokilas pouring forth their melodies from under every twig echoing with the sweet hums of the black bees. And he beheld also various other kinds of trees bent down with the weight of their flowers and fruits. And there were also many fine pools of water overgrown with hundreds of fragrant lotuses. Beholding all these, Pandu felt the soft influence of desire. Roving like a celestial with a light heart amidst such scenery, Pandu was alone with his wife Madri in semi-transparent attire. And beholding the youthful Madri thus attired, the king's desire flamed up like a forest-fire. And ill-able to suppress his desire thus kindled at the sight of his wife of eyes like lotus-petals, he was completely overpowered. The king then seized her against her will, but Madri trembling in fear resisted him to the best of her might. Consumed by desire, he forgot everything about his misfortune. And, O thou of Kuru's race unrestrained by the fear of (the Rishi's) curse and impelled by fate, the monarch, overpowered by passion, forcibly sought the embraces of Madri, as if he wished to put an end to his own life. His reason, thus beguiled by the great Destroyer himself by intoxicating his senses, was itself lost with his life. And the Kuru king Pandu, of virtuous soul, thus succumbed to the inevitable influence of Time, while united in intercourse with his wife.
"Then Madri, clasping the body of her senseless lord, began to weep aloud. And Kunti with her sons and the twins of Madri, hearing those cries of grief, came to the spot where the king lay in that state. Then, O king, Madri addressing Kunti in a piteous voice, said, 'Come hither alone, O Kunti, and let the children stay there.' Hearing these words, Kunti, bidding the children stay, ran with speed, exclaiming, 'Woe to me!' And beholding both Pandu and Madri lying prostrate on the ground she went in grief and affliction, saying, 'Of passions under complete control, this hero, O Madri, had all along been watched by me with care. How did he then forgetting the Rishi's curse, approach thee with enkindled desire? O Madri, this foremost of men should have been protected by thee. Why didst thou tempt him into solitude? Always melancholy at the thought of the Rishi's curse, how came he to be merry with thee in solitude? O princess of Valhika, more fortunate than myself, thou art really to be envied, for thou hast seen the face of our lord suffused with gladness and joy.'
"Madri then replied, saying, 'Revered sister, with tears in my eyes, I resisted the king, but he could not control himself, bent on, as it were making the Rishi's curse true.'
"Kunti then said, 'I am the older of his wedded wives; the chief religious merit must be mine. Therefore, O Madri, prevent me not from achieving that which must be achieved. I must follow our lord to the region of the
dead. Rise up, O Madri, and yield me his body. Rear thou these children.' Madri replied, saying, 'I do clasp our lord yet, and have not allowed him to depart; therefore, I shall follow him. My appetite hath not been appeased. Thou art my older sister, O let me have thy sanction. This foremost one of the Bharata princes had approached me, desiring to have intercourse. His appetite unsatiated, shall I not follow him in the region of Yama to gratify him? O revered one, if I survive thee, it is certain I shall not be able to rear thy children as if they were mine. Will not sin touch me on that account? But, thou, O Kunti, shall be able to bring my sons up as if they were thine. The king, in seeking me wishfully, hath gone to the region of spirits; therefore, my body should be burnt with his. O revered sister, withhold not thy sanction to this which is agreeable to me. Thou wilt certainly bring up the children carefully. That indeed, would be very agreeable to me. I have no other direction to give!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having said this, the daughter of the king of Madras, the wedded wife of Pandu, ascended the funeral pyre of her lord, that bull among men.'"
Next: Section CXXVI