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This Parva starts with the great journey of the Pandavas across the whole country and finally their ascent on the great Himalayas. On their way, Draupadi and other Pandava brothers die midway except for Yudistra. Yudistra was the only person to reach the Heaven with the mortal body directly. The Mausala Parva precedes Mahaprathanika parva; This parva is followed by Swargarohana parva.
Arjuna was unable to save the ladies, children and other older people of the Yadava clan. He was ashamed of himself and reached Hastinapur in a crestfallen state(See Mausala Parva). Yudistra heard everything from Arjuna about "the destruction of the Yadavas men using Mausalas (Iron clubs of miraculous origin) in Prabasha, the death of Lord Krishna and Balarama, the submersion of Dwaraka into the Sea and Arjuna's inability to rescue the Yadava women while bringing them to Hastinapur". On hearing all these, Yudistra, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva and Draupadi get dejected. They lose interest in the world. They conclude that now the time for their own departure from Earth has arrived. Consequently, King Yudistra coronates Parikshit as the king of Hastinapur. They start their journey towards the Himalayas for their departure.
The Pandavas visit across India
The Pandavas make a final visit to various holy places across India before ascending towards heaven. They first come to Dwaraka. Dwaraka which was once a very beautiful city, is now submerged under the Sea. They get highly depressed. They begin to recollect all the beautiful pastimes of the duo Krishna-Balarama who used to help them in overcoming various ordeals from time to time. From there they start walking towards Himalayas. On their way, Lord Agni appears before the Pandavas and asks Arjuna to return his bow. Agni says that this bow was given to him from Varuna for destroying all the demons on the Earth. Now, the purpose of Arjuna's bow has been served and so he requests him to return it. On hearing this, Arjuna returns his bow to Lord Agni who inturn disappears the moment he gets the bow from Arjuna and the Pandavas continue their journey. On their way, the Pandavas pray to Lord Shiva and install a Shivalingam near Rishikesh. Now they start to ascend towards the Heaven in the high Himalayas.
The final ascent of Pandavas to Heaven
On their way, a dog accompanies the Pandavas. The Dog follows the Pandavas throughout their journey. As the brothers walk, Draupadi is the first person to die. Bheema asks Yudistra the reason behind the death of Draupadi. Yudistra replies that although all the five brothers loved her equally, yet, she showed more inclination towards Arjuna. It was because of this partiality towards Arjuna, she died midway. The remaining Pandavas continue their journey leaving Draupadi behind. Now, Sahadeva is the next person to fall. Bheema again asks Yudistra the reason for the death of Sahadeva. Yudistra replies that Sahadeva was very proud that none was equal to him in wisdom. It was for this reason he died midway. The others continue to move leaving Sahadeva behind. Now, Nakula is the next person to die. Over this, Yudistra replies to Bheema that Nakula thought that he was the most handsome person in the world. It was because of this pride in him that he too had to die in the middle before they could reach heaven. Yudistra instructs Arjuna and Bheema not to look back and to continue their journey. As they travel further, now Arjuna is the next person to die on their way. Bheema again gets very astonished. He asks Yudistra the reason behind Arjuna's inability to reach heaven in human form. Yudistra replies that Arjuna boasted and took a vow before the beginning of the Kurukshetra war that he would destroy the entire Kauravas in a single day. Being so proud of his archery skills took the vow but he could not do fulfill it and the war took place for eighteen days. So, Arjuna was deprived of reaching heaven on being so proud over his archery skills. Now, they leave Arjuna too behind. Yudistra, Bheema and the Dog proceed further. However, now it was the turn of Bheema to fall down. He asks his elder brother to narrate him the reason behind his own inability to reach heaven. Yudistra replies that Bheema used to eat too much without even thinking about the hunger of others. Also, Bheema kicked fallen duryodhan's head. It was due to this sin that he was now ordained to die. Finally, Yudistra along with the dog continue their journey and reach Heaven with their mortal bodies.
Notes and references
All the references below are from two books:
- Bharatam (Dviteeya Bhagam) by Ushasri in Telugu. 2001 Edition by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam's Religious Publication Series. No.: 111
- Mahabharata by C Rajagopalachari. 2008 (52nd) Edition by Bhavan's Book University. ISBN 81-7276-368-9
The reference from the:
- Bharatam book is prefixed by "Bharatam''.
- Mahabharata book is prefixed by ''Mahabharata''