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Chapter 13
he Coronation of Parîkchit

Kuntî Devî took the road that Shyamasundar had taken. What was left was the lifeless body. Arjuna wept aloud, "Brother, what shall I say, we have lost our mother". Dharmaraja who was standing by was shaken hard by the shock; he stepped towards the body and finding the face blanched, stood petrified.

The maids outside the door heard the words of Arjuna and they peeped into the room. Kuntî Devî's body was lying on the floor; Arjuna had the head on his lap; he was intently looking at the face with tearful eyes. The maids of the palace transmitted the news from one to another, they entered and realised that the Dowager Queen had left them, without possibility of return. They wept aloud at the heart-breaking calamity.

Meanwhile, news reached the Queens in the inner apartments. Within seconds, the sad tidings spread all over Hastinâpura. The Queens were overcome with grief; they tottered in, beating their breasts in anguish. In an endless stream of sorrow, the denizens of the palace flowed into the apartment. Bhîma, Nakula, Sahadeva and the Ministers were overpowered with grief.

The air was filled with indescribable agony. Nobody could believe that Kuntî Devî, who, a few minutes ago, was so eagerly awaiting her son Arjuna, to hear the news from Dvârakâ, could have passed away so soon. Those who came and saw stood mute and motionless. The wailing of the maids, the groans of the Queens, and the grief of the sons melted the rockiest heart.

Dharmaraja consoled every one and instilled some courage. He told them not to give way to grief. He did not shed tears; he was moving about bravely, directing every one and infusing strength of mind. This made every one wonder at his self-control. The Ministers approached him and said, "O King, your unruffled nature fills us with admiration. You revered your mother and treated her as the very breath of your life. How is it that your heart has taken her death so callously?" Dharmaraja smiled at their question and their anxiety. "Ministers, I am filled with envy when I think of her death. She is indeed most fortunate. The world dropped from her life as soon as she heard the news of Krishna moving on to his Heavenly Home. She left immediately to that Home, for, she could not bear the pang of separation from Him.

We are most unfortunate. We were so near Him; we derived so much of ânanda from Him; we heard of His departure; but, yet, we are alive! Had we really the devotion that we claimed, we should have dropped the body like her when we heard of that loss. Fie on us! We are but burdens on the earth. All our years are a waste".

When the citizens and others came to know, that Kuntî Devî had died as soon as she heard the news of Krishna's departure from the world, they wept even louder for, the grief at losing Krishna was far greater than the grief at the loss of the Dowager Queen. Many behaved as if they had grown suddenly insane; many beat their heads on the walls of their houses; they felt miserable and forlorn.

It was as if petrol was poured on a fire. In the flock of unbearable anguish, born out of the double loss, Dharmaraja was the only calm soul. He consoled the queens; he spoke softly and assuringly to each; he told them that there was no meaning in lamenting the loss of the mother or the departure of the Lord. Each of them had their course according to a predetermined plan. "It only remains for us now to fulfil our destiny through appropriate steps," he said.

Dharmaraja called Arjuna near him and said, "Arjuna! Dear brother! Let us not delay any further. The funeral rites of mother must  begin immediately; we must have Parîkchit crowned Emperor; we must leave Hastinâpura this night itself; every moment appears an age to me". Dharmaraja was filled with extreme detachment. But, Arjuna was filled with even more renunciation. He lifted the mother's head from his lap and placed it on the floor. He ordered Nakula and Sahadeva to make preparation for the Coronation of Parîkchit. He gave instructions to others, Ministers, officers etc. on the arrangements that had to be made, in view of the decision of the King and the Princes. He was very busy, indeed. Bhîma busied himself with the arrangements for the funeral of the mother.

The Ministers, citizens, priests, gurus, were full of wonder, admiration and sadness at the strange developments and incidents in the palace. They were sunk in grief and despair, but, they had to keep it all to themselves. They were also affected by a strong wave of detachment. Struck with wonder, they exclaimed, "Ah, His paternal uncle and aunt left the palace all of a sudden; the news of Krishna's departure fell like a thunderbolt on the head already distracted by this calamity; then quite soon, the mother passed away; ere the corpse is removed from where she fell, Dharmaraja is preparing for the coronation! And, the Emperor is planning to give up everything - power, riches, status, authority - and to move into the forest with all his brothers! Only these Pândavas can have such steady courage and renunciation. No one else is capable of this boldness."

Within minutes, the funeral rites were gone through; the brahmins were called in; Dharmaraja decided to have the Coronation Ceremony in quite a simple style. The subordinate rulers and tributary kings were not to be invited; nor could invitation be given to citizens and kinsmen at Indraprastha.

Of course, a Coronation in the Bharatha Dynasty, seating a ruler on the sacred Lion-throne of that line, was usually a grand affair. The date will be fixed months ahead, the auspicious moment chosen with meticulous care; and, elaborate preparations on a magnificent scale will follow. But, now, in a matter of minutes, everything was got ready with whatever material was available and whoever was near at hand. Parîkchit was given a ceremonial bath, the crown jewels were put on him, and he was brought to the throne by the brahmins and the Ministers. He was placed on the throne and, while Dharmaraja was placing the diamond studded diadem on his head with his own hands, every one in the Hall wept in distress. The Imperial Authority that had to be assumed to the joyous acclamation of the people was imposed on the boy to the accompaniment of groans and sobs.

Parîkchit, the newly crowned Emperor was weeping; why, even Dharmaraja, the man who crowned him, could not stop his tears, in spite of his best efforts. The hearts of all the spectators were torn by agonising sorrow. Who can stem the force of destiny? Fate executes every act, at the time and place, and in the manner it has to be so executed. Man is nothing before it, he is helpless.

Parîkchit was a well-bred virtuous boy; he watched the sadness that pervaded every face; he noted the incidents and happenings in the Palace; he had sat on the throne, since he felt he should not transgress the command of his elders; but, suddenly, he fell at Dharmaraja's feet and pleaded pathetically, "My Lord! Whatever your wish, I shall honor and obey, but, please do not desert me and leave me alone". He did not give up his hold on the feet; he continued weeping and praying. All who saw the tragic scene wept; even the hardest could not but weep. It was terrible, fraught with dire distress.

The boy fell at the feet of his grandfather Arjuna and cried piteously. "Grandpa! How can you move out of here with peace in your hearts, after placing this heavy burden of empire on my head? I am a child who knows nothing; I am very foolish; I am ignorant; I have no qualifications; I am incompetent. It is not just, it is not proper for you to lay on my head this empire which has been in the care of a long line of heroes, statesmen, warriors and wise men and remove yourselves to the forest. Let some one else bear this responsibility; take me also with you to the forest", he pleaded.


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