If you remember, Krishna was cursed that he would see his own clan kill each other as the Kurus did, and he would wander alone. How this came to happen was that Krishna’s son Samba was cursed by rishis (coz he and his friends played a prank on them) that he would bear an iron club that would destroy the Yadavs. Balarama tried to avert disaster by demolishing the tool, but destiny carries it off to the final site which the clan visits for a picnic. (You may have guessed that this locale was suggested by Krishna himself.)
Balarama takes the form of Ananta (the white serpent) and enters the sea, renouncing the earth. Helpless Krishna overcome by kismet participates in the carnage of his own sons and friends with the ill-fated weapon, and wanders the forest alone. When he lies down, ready to embrace death, a wandering hunter named Jara shoots his pretty toe with an arrow made of the same club fragment.
What an unbelievable yet concomitant sequence of incidents! How else would you explain this – Gopal, who was blessed by Durvasa muni that his entire body except the soles of his feet would be invulnerable to all artillery, was shot on the thumb of his foot?
(Hey, I read about a fabulous Krishna temple at Guruvayoor in Kerala; I want to see it. And ya, one must-visit temple is the marvelous Velankini mandir at Vellore. I visited it when I was on my college trip, remember?)
That’s how Krishna died. The greatest Baasuriwala (=flute-player) of all time. The one who became God thanks to his penance as a mortal bramhan. The very same Narayana who was promised numerous boons from Shiva, including one that said that if ever Shiva and Krishna battled, the latter would triumph.
The most enlightening bit of the story was when Arjuna helps transport the Yadava widows, elders and kids to another land as Dwarka was going to sink. (It will rise again when the Avtara decides to visit the earth once more.) Arjuna and his entourage were attacked by a group of bandits (Abhiras) and he failed to protect his entourage. The same Arjuna who fought and defeated so many eminent warriors single-handledly could not hold up the petty thugs. Why? Coz Krishna wasn’t there with him anymore...
Thus ends the Mausala Parva, and begins the Mahaprasthanika Parva where the Pandavas decide to relinquish the world too. (I don’t want to finish the book, I don’t want to finish the book!) The Panch Pandavas, Draupadi and a little brown dog set out towards the Himalayas to try and enter heaven in their mortal forms. Not an easy task! Dro drops out first coz she loved Arjuna more than the others, followed by Sahadeva who was proud of his intelligence. Then falls Nakula due to his conceit about his good looks, and then Arjuna because he was arrogant about his archery. Bheema, who loves his food and strength, is the next to go, and Yudi climbs into heaven alone with his unusual companion, who is actually Dharma deva, come to test him and his compassion and righteousness. (Abhi kitta test? Khudka beta hai na, bas na phir!)
After this is the Swargarohanika Parva, in which Yudi sees several people in the heavenly darbar (including Duryodhana) but his brothers and wife are nowhere to be seen. When he questions Indra about it, he is led into a horrid place that stinks and reeks of torture. This illusion is Yudi’s punishment for having lied once in his life (to kill Drona, remember I told you?)
I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but whether you go to heaven or hell depends on your karma. (You don’t have to be an Einstein to guess that!) But here’s something Einstein wouldn’t know. You first go to the place where there is the fruit of the fewer Karma. If you’ve sinned a lot, then you go to Paradise, reap the rewards and then shift to hell for continuous and never-ending torture. Conversely, if you’ve done a whole lot of good, and lesser paap, then you visit Hell for your ill-doing and then move to an eternity of swarga-waas. (Hence, all the Pandavas including Yudi went to hell first for a few minutes, and Dury stayed in swarga for the same time.)
The book finally bids adieu to me (and to you as well, coz I’ve shared so much of it here with you readers. Hope you enjoyed it!) The final chapter is called Phalasruti and I’m going to quote some lines part-verbatim and part-modified coz they’re so essential and touching...
As long as the earth lives, and the sun and moon light the sky; as long as there is even a spark of goodness in men’s hearts, the legend of the Mahabharata will be told in the world. It is a sacred epic – the tale of truth, and all those who read, listen or speak it will have their sins washed and heart made pure. They will come to the blessed realm of Mahavishnu and experience eternal bliss...
Shall be glad to see you there, people! Until then, enjoy your time on earth, and make sure you do more punya than blunders...