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Time endeth all; we linger, noose on neck,
Till the last day tightens the line, and kills.
Let us go forth to die, being yet alive.”
And Kunti's son, the great Arjuna, said :
“Let us go forth! Time slayeth all.
We will find Death, who seeketh other men."
And Bhimasena, hearing, answered: “Yea,
We will find Death !" and Sahadev cried : “ Yea!”
And his twin brother Nakalu; whereat
The princes set their faces for the Mount.
So ordering ere he went, the righteous King
Made offering of white water, heedfully,
To Vasudev, to Rama, and the rest, –
All funeral rites performing; next he spread
A funeral feast.
And all the people cried, “ Stay with us, Lord !"
But Yudhi-sthira knew his time was come,
Knew that life passes and that virtue lasts,
And put aside their love. ...
So, with farewells
Tenderly took of lieges and of lords,
Girt he for travel with his princely kin,
Great Yudhi-sthira, Dharma's royal son.
Crest-gem and belt and ornaments he stripped
From off his body, and for broidered robe
A rough dress donned, woven of jungle bark ;
And what he did - O Lord of men ! - so did
Arjuna, Bhima, and the twin-born pair,
Nakalu with Sahadev, and she, - in grace
The peerless, – Draupadi. Lastly those six, -
Thou son of Bharata!-- in solemn form
Made the high sacrifice of Naishtiki,
Quenching their flames in water at the close;
And so set forth, midst wailing of all folk
And tears of women, weeping most to see
The Princess Draupadi — that lovely prize
Of the great gaming, Draupadi the Bright
Journeying afoot; but she and all the five
Rejoiced because their way lay heavenward.
Seven were they, setting forth, — Princess and King, The King's four brothers and a faithful dog. Those left Hastinapur; but many a man, And all the palace household, followed them The first sad stage: and ofttimes prayed to part,
Put parting off for love and pity, still
Sighing, “A little farther !” till day waned;
Then one by one they turned.
Thus wended they,
Pandu's five sons and loveliest Draupadi,
Taking no meat and journeying due east,
On righteousness their high hearts fed, to heaven
Their souls assigned; and steadfast trod their feet –
By faith upborne past nullah ran, and wood,
River and jheel and plain. King Yudhi-sthir
Walked foremost, Bhima followed, after him
Arjuna, and the twin-born brethren next,
Nakalu with Sahadev; in whose still steps –
O Best of Bharat's offspring! – Draupadi,
That gem of women paced, with soft dark face, -
Clear-edged like lotus petals ; last the dog
Following the Pandavas.
While yet those heroes walked, Now to the northward bending, where long coasts Shut in the sea of salt, now to the north, Accomplishing all quarters, journeyed they ; The earth their altar of high sacrifice, Which these most patient feet did pace around Till Meru rose.
At last it rose! These Six,
Their senses subjugate, their spirits pure,
Wending along, came into sight — far off
In the eastern sky -- of awful Himavat;
And midway in the peaks of Himavat,
Meru, the mountain of all mountains, rose,
Whose head is heaven; and under Himavat
Glared a wide waste of sand, dreadful as death.
Then, as they hastened o'er the deathly waste,
Aiming for Meru, having thoughts at soul
Infinite, eager, — lo ! Draupadi reeled,
With faltering heart and feet ; and Bhima turned,
Gazing upon her; and that hero spake
To Yudhi-sthira : “ Master, Brother, King!
Why doth she fail ? For never all her life
Wrought our sweet lady one thing wrong, I think.
Thou knowest; make us know, why hath she failed ?"
Then Yudhi-sthira answered: “Yea, one thing. She loved our brothers better than all else, Better than Heaven : that was her tender sin, Fault of a faultless soul : she pays for that.”
So spake the monarch, turning not his eyes, Though Draupadi lay dead, — striding straight on For Meru, heart-full of the things of Heaven, Perfect and firm. But yet a little space And Sahadev fell down ; which Bhima seeing, Cried once again : "O King, great Madri's son Stumbles and sinks. Why hath he sunk? - so true, So brave and steadfast, and so free from pride!”
“ He was not free,” with countenance still fixed,
Quoth Yudhi-sthira ; "he was true and fast
And wise; yet wisdom made him proud; he hid
One little hurt of soul, but now it kills.”
So saying, he strode on, Kunti's strong son,
And Bhima ; and Arjuna followed him,
And Nakalu and the hound ; leaving behind
Sahadev in the sands. But Nakalu,
Weakened and grieved to see Sahadev fall
His dear-loved brother — lagged and stayed; and then
Prone on his face he fell, that noble face
Which had no match for beauty in the land, -
Glorious and godlike Nakalu! Then sighed
Bhima anew :
Brother and Lord! the man
Who never erred from virtue, never broke
Our fellowship, and never in the world
Was matched for goodly perfectness of form
Or gracious feature, Nakalu has fallen!"
But Yudhi-sthira, holding fixed his eyes, –
That changeless, faithful, all-wise king, - replied:
“ Yea, but he erred! The god-like form he wore
Beguiled him to believe none like to him,
And he alone desirable, and things
Unlovely, to be slighted. Self-love slays
Our noble brother. Bhima, follow! Each
Pays what his debt was.”
Which Arjuna heard, Weeping to see them fall; and that stout son Of Pandu, that destroyer of his foes, That Prince, who drove through crimson waves of war, In old days, with his milk-white chariot-steeds, Him, the arch hero, sank! Beholding this, The yielding of that soul unconquerable,
Fearless, divine, from Sakra's self derived,
Arjuna's, — Bhima cried aloud : “O King!
This man was surely perfect. Never once,
Not even in slumber, when the lips are loosed,
Spake he one word that was not true as truth.
Ah, heart of gold! why art thou broke? O King!
Whence falleth he?"
And Yudhi-sthira said, Not pausing: “Once he lied, a lordly lie ! He bragged — our brother that a single day Should see him utterly consume, alone, All those his enemies, which could not be. Yet from a great heart sprang the unmeasured speech. Howbeit a finished hero should not shame Himself in such a wise, nor his enemy, If he will faultless fight and blameless die : This was Arjuna's sin. Follow thou me!”
So the King still went on. But Bhima next
Fainted, and stayed upon the way, and sank;
But, sinking, cried behind the steadfast Prince :
“Ah, Brother, see! I die! Look upon me,
Thy well beloved! Wherefore falter I,
Who strove to stand ?"
And Yudhi-sthira said: “More than was well the goodly things of earth Pleased thee, my pleasant brother! Light the offence And large thy spirit; but the o'erfed soul Plumed itself over others. Pritha's son, For this thou fallest, who so near didst gain."
Thenceforth alone the long-armed monarch strode, Not looking back, nay, not for Bhima's sake,But walking with his face set for the Mount; And the hound followed him, — only the hound.
After the deathly sands, the Mount! and lo! Sakra shone forth, - the God, — filling the earth And Heavens with the thunders of his chariot wheels. " Ascend," he said, “ with me, Pritha's great son !” But Yudhi-sthira answered, sore at heart For those his kinsfolk, fallen on the way: “O Thousand-eyed, O Lord of all the gods, Give that my brothers come with me, who fell ! Not without them is Swarga sweet to me. She too, the dear and kind and queenly, — she Whose perfect virtue Paradise must crown, Grant her to come with us! Dost thou grant this ? "
The God replied : “ In Heaven thou shalt see
Thy kinsmen and the Queen — these will attain
And Krishna. Grieve no longer for thy dead,
Thou chief of men ! their mortal coverings stripped,
These have their places; but to thee, the gods
Allow an unknown grace: thou shalt go up,
Living and in thy form, to the immortal homes."
But the King answered : “O thou wisest One, Who know'st what was, and is, and is to be, Still one more grace! This hound hath ate with me, Followed me, loved me; must I leave him now?"
“Monarch," spake Indra, “ thou art now as we, Deathless, divine ; thou art become a god; Glory and power and gifts celestial, And all the joys of heaven are thine for aye: What hath a beast with these? Leave here thy hound.”
Yet Yudhi-sthira answered : “O Most High,
O Thousand-Eyed and Wisest! can it be
That one exalted should seem pitiless ?
Nay, let me lose such glory : for its sake
I cannot leave one living thing I loved."
Then sternly Indra spake: “ He is unclean,
And into Swarga such shall enter not.
The Krodhavasha's wrath destroys the fruits
Of sacrifice, if dog defile the fire.
Bethink thee, Dharmaraj; quit now this beast !
That which is seemly is not hard of heart.”
Still he replied: "'T is written that to spurn
A suppliani equals in offence to slay
A twice-born ; wherefore, not for Swarga's bliss
Quit I, Mahendra, this poor clinging dog,
So without any hope or friend save me,
So wistful, fawning for my faithfulness;
So agonized to die, unless I help
Who among men was called steadfast and just.”
Quoth Indra: “Nay, the altar flame is foul
Where a dog passeth ; angry angels sweep
The ascending smoke aside, and all the fruits
Of offering, and the merit of the prayer
Of him whom a hound toucheth. Leave it here!
He that will enter Heaven must enter pure.
Why didst thou quit thy brethren on the way,
And Krishna, and the dear-loved Draupadi,
Attaining firm and glorious to this Mount
Through perfect deeds, to linger for a brute?