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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Shrimad Bhagavatam > Canto-1 > The disappearance of Lord Krishna and the retirement of the Pandavas



The disappearance of Lord Krishna and the retirement of the Pandavas. 



     Arjuna had gone to Dvaraka to visit Shri Krishna and the Yadus and find out about the Lord’s future programs of action. A few months passed without Arjuna’s return, however, and Maharaja Yudhisthira began to observe many inauspicious omens that indicated a change in the direction of eternal time and caused fear to penetrate his heart. There were disruptions in the seasonal regularities, and the people in general became noticeably proud, greedy, angry and deceitful. Many citizens had adopted abominable means of livlihood, and ordinary transactions had become polluted with cheating, even among friends. There was a constant strain of misunderstanding between husband and wife, parents and children, as well as between brothers and well-wishers.

     After observing all this, Maharaja Yudhisthira anxiously said to Bhima, “I had sent Arjuna to Dvaraka and now seven months have passed. Is it that Lord Krishna is about to disappear from this earth, as predicted by Narada? It was due to His causeless mercy alone that we achieved kingly opulence, good wives, control over our subjects, and victory over our enemies.”

“Just see how evil omens are being manifest due to celestial influence, predicting danger in the very near future. The left side of my body is quivering and my heart is racing in fear. Look at the she-jackal vomiting fire while howling at the rising sun. Dogs bark at me fearlessly, cows are passing me on the left side- while lower animals, like asses, are circumambulating me. Upon seeing me, my horses appear to weep. The shrieks of the owls and their rivals, the crows, makes my heart tremble.”

“Indeed, the whole world appears to be trembling, and thunder roars in the cloudless sky. Due to violent winds, dust has clouded all directions, creating a dense darkness. When I look into the sky, it appears as if the stars are fighting amongst themselves. Rivers, lakes and the mind are all agitated, and butter no longer burns.”

“What extraordinary time has come upon us? The cows no longer give milk, but simply stand still with tears in their eyes. Even the deities in the temples seem to be crying, perspiring, and about to depart. The cities, villages and the countryside appear to be devoid of beauty and bereft of all happiness. I think that all these disturbances indicate some great loss to the world’s good fortune. The earth had become most fortunate due to being marked with the footprints of the lotus feet of the Lord, Shri Krishna. However, these inauspicious signs indicate that this will no longer be the case.”

     Just at this time, Arjuna returned, but as he bowed down before him, Maharaja Yudhisthira could see that his pale face was marked with unprecedented dejection. Indeed, Arjuna’s head hung low and tears glided down from his lotus eyes.

Remembering Narada’s prediction, Yudhisthira questioned his younger brother, “Please tell me whether our friends and relatives of the Madhu, Bhoja, Dasharha, Arha, Satvata, Andhaka and Yadu dynasties are all passing their days in happiness? Is my grandfather Shurasena; my maternal uncle Vasudeva; Balarama the Personality of Godhead; Hridika and his son Kritavarman; Kamsa’s father Ugrasena; and Krishna’s sons, headed by Pradyumna, Sushena, Charudeshna, Samba and Risabha, faring well? Is Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, enjoying life at Dvaraka, surrounded by His friends and relatives?”

       “My dear Arjuna, I wonder if your health is alright, for you appear to have lost your bodily luster? Is this due to your having been neglected and disrespected by others for having stayed so long at Dvaraka? Has someone addressed you harshly or threatened you? Did you fail to keep a promise or were you unable to give in charity to a deserving person? Could you not give protection to brahmanas, children, cows, women, or diseased persons that had approached you for shelter? Have you contacted a woman of low character or one who was inferior to you?  Have you taken your meal alone without providing for old men and boys that deserved to dine with you? Have you committed some other abominable act? Or, is it that you are feeling empty due to having lost your most intimate friend, Lord Krishna? My dear Arjuna, I can think of no other reason for your having become so utterly dejected.”      

     Being extremely grief-stricken because of separation from Lord Krishna, Arjuna’s mouth and heart had dried up, and because his voice had become choked up as well, he could not properly reply to Yudhisthira’s inquiries at first. While checking his tears and breathing very heavily, Arjuna remembered Krishna’s chariot driving and other friendly activities, and thus his affection for the Lord increased at every moment.

At last, Arjuna was able to reply, “O King, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who treated me just like an intimate friend, has left me, and thus my prowess, which was astonishing even to the demigods, is no longer with me. I have lost Him, whose momentary absence would render all of the universes void, just like lifeless bodies.”

“It was only because He had mercifully empowered me that I was able to vanquish all of the princes at Draupadi’s svayamvara; and conquer over Indra and the demigods, so that Agni could devour the Khandava forest. It was He alone that enabled Bhima to kill Jarasandha and it was He who saved us from Durvasa Muni’s wrath. It was by His influence alone that I was able to astonish Lord Shiva with my fighting ability and thereafter reach the heavenly planets. Great warriors like Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Bhurishrava, Susharma, Shalya, Jayadratha, and Bahlika released their invincible weapons at me during the battle at Kurukshetra, but by Krishna’s grace, they could not harm me.”

“O King, Lord Krishna and I used to eat together and sleep together, and we would always pass our leisure time enjoying life together. Sometimes, when we used to brag about our respective prowess, if Krishna would exaggerate, I would reproach Him by sarcastically saying, ‘My friend, You are speaking very truthfully.’ Due to the intimacy of our relationship, the Lord would always excuse these utterances that minimized His value, just as a true friend forgives his friend.”

“His joking and frank talks were always beautifully decorated with His transcendental smiles, and thus they were extremely pleasing. Now, as I remember those talks, I become overwhelmed by grief because, due to separation from Him, my heart feels void. In Krishna’s absence, I have been defeated by a band of cowherd dacoits while escorting His queens to Hastinapura. I am the same Arjuna, and I was using the same chariot, drawn by the same horses, and I wielded the same Gandiva bow and arrows. However, in the absence of Lord Krishna, all of these have become null and void.”

     “O King, as for the residents of Dvaraka, I must inform you that they were cursed by the brahmanas, and as a result, they became mad with intoxication by drinking rice wine, and then fought amongst themselves. Now, only four or five of the Yadus remain alive. Still, I know that this is all due to the will of the Supreme Lord. Just as bigger aquatics swallow the smaller ones, so the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to lighten the burden of the earth, has engaged the stronger Yadus in killing the weaker ones.”

     “My dear brother, I now want to take shelter of those instructions which had been imparted to me by Lord Krishna, for I know that they are the only means for relieving my burning heart.”

     In the Vishnu Purana and the Brahma Purana, the following explanation is given. Once, the fair damsels of heaven pleased Ashtavakra Muni by their service, and as a result, they received from him the benediction that the Supreme Lord would become their husband. Ashtavakra’s body was curved in eight places and so he walked in a very peculiar manner. Upon seeing this, those same girls were unable to check their laughter, and so the Muni became very angry and cursed them to be kidnapped by rogues, in spite of their becoming the wives of the Supreme Lord. The remorseful girls were able to pacify Ashtavakra, however, and so he blessed them by saying that they would once again regain their husband after being kidnapped. Thus, in order to keep Ashtavakra’s words intact, Lord Krishna personally became the dacoits and kidnapped His own wives. Otherwise, if real rogues had touched Krishna’s wives, they would have immediately vanished from the scene. In other words, after Krishna’s departure from this world, He created various situations for calling His entourage back home, back to Godhead.

     Thereafter, by thinking over the instructions of Bhagavad-Gita while deeply meditating upon Lord Krishna’s lotus feet, Arjuna’s mind became pacified and free from all material contamination. Of course, Arjuna never actually forgot Krishna’s instructions, but due to intense feelings of separation from the Lord, as well as the influence of the Lord’s atma-maya, it appeared to be so.

As soon as he heard about Lord Krishna’s disappearance, and the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty, Maharaja Yudhisthira decided to also go back home, back to Godhead. After overhearing Arjuna’s talks, Queen Kunti became similarly determined, and so she began to apply her full attention to the devotional service of the Lord. From the very day that Lord Krishna departed from the earth, the personality of Kali, who had already partially appeared, became fully manifest, so that innumerable inauspicious conditions were created. Being intelligent enough to understand this, Yudhisthira first of all enthroned his grandson, Parikshit, as the emperor of the world. Then, he posted Aniruddha’s son, Vajra, at Mathura, to rule the kingdom of Shurasena.

Next, Maharaja Yudhisthira performed a Prajapatya sacrifice in preparation for accepting the renounced order of life. Then, after taking off his royal robes and ornaments, Yudhisthira dressed in torn cloth, gave up eating all solid food, let his hair hang down loose, and voluntarily became dumb. Thus having the appearance of a madman, Yudhisthira became completely disinterested in everything, even his brothers, and he pretended not to hear anything, just like a deaf man. Having completely given up the bodily conception of life, Yudhisthira departed at once for the North, to absorb himself fully in thought of the Supreme Lord.

Seeing how the age of Kali had already set in, the other Pandavas followed their elder brother, and as they went along, they meditated upon the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, knowing Them to be life’s supreme goal. Being rapt in meditation in this way, all of the Pandavas were able to attain Lord Krishna’s supreme abode, Goloka Vrindavana, in their very same bodies.

     While traveling on pilgrimage, Vidura left his body at Prabhasa, so that he could be reinstated in his original post as the lord of Pitriloka. When Draupadi saw that the Pandavas were leaving home without caring for her, she absorbed her mind fully in Lord Krishna, as did Subhadra, and thus they attained the same result as their exalted husbands.