As his mind was filled with indiscrimination, Yudhisthira had succumbed to infatuation and attachments and while bemoaning the death of all his kith and kin, said, “Oho, look at me! What a wretched being I am! My heart is totally filled with ignorance (ajnana). O Lord, in order to protect this physical body of mine, which is nothing but food for dogs and jackals, I have destroyed limitless akshohini armies (akshohini is a military army consisting of many 21870 elephants, 21870 chariots, 65610 horses and 109350 foot soldiers).
I, who have cheated children, Brahmins, relatives, friends, fathers, brothers and Gurus, will not obtain relief from hell even after suffering there for 10 crore years! Even after exhausting limitless births, my sins will not melt. I will be endlessly grieving. I have got stuck in the mire called sins. How many innocent persons I have killed! How many children grieve today because they have been deprived of fathers! I have cheated them all. I have killed many persons who were steadily walking on the path of Brahma. I have killed my Gurus. I have sinned against my Guru. I have sinned against many mothers.
After all, this body made of flesh and bones will be destroyed one day or the other. Thereafter it is nothing but food for crows and dogs. Even if it is burnt, its bones can still be consumed by them. For the sake of this filthy terrible body, for the sake of the comforts it seeks, for the sake of these palatial kingly luxuries, in order to obtain others’ praise, to call myself an exalted emperor, I have committed heinous sins. Oh, what have I done!
A king does not incur any sin even if he kills the enemy in a righteous war that has been undertaken to protect his citizens, say our Shastras. O Lord, I fail to understand why these Scriptures preach in this manner? These scriptures state that we are exempt from the sufferings of hell even after killing enemies in righteous war. How is this possible? How can this war be titled righteous, O Lord? I am unable to understand anything.
By killing many of my relatives, I have offended many women. Such a grave sin cannot be atoned with the sacrificial rituals (yagna, yaaga) performed by house-holders. But O Lord, perhaps by performing these yagnas, I could earn some merit. That is possible, but in no way can I escape this bad karma that I have acquired.
I am ready the pay for all my sins, O Lord. I admit I am a sinner. But to pay for these sins of mine, I do not know how many crores and crores and crores of births I will have to take. This fact torments me a lot. I am not sure if those many births would even suffice to pay these sins. Such is my fate now. I will have to take endless re-births and suffer its consequences. Do I not have any chance for liberation, O Lord?
When this is my case, why do these Scriptures state that I am sinless? Why did they instigate me in this manner? Why did they respectfully encourage me to kill limitless number of people? Whom should I ask O Lord? Can I blame the scriptures? Can I blame You? I take the blame totally upon myself, O Lord. I have sinned terribly.
Within me, there is this feeling of ‘I’. That has still not gone away. Since this feeling of ‘I-ness’ (egoism) exists within me and since I have merged with the senses, I will have to suffer along with them too.
Muddy water cannot be purified using mud as a medium. Performing meritorious actions tainted with desires which are like mud, cannot purify sins. How can I ever get purified by performing such actions? O Lord, please tell. Just because clean water is unavailable, can the dirty vessels be cleaned using muddy water? Won’t the mud stick to these washed vessels? My condition is similar to that. If an action has emerged from a mistake, the same mistake cannot be used to rectify that action, isn’t it? Similarly, the sin of killing humans cannot be set off by performing yagnas (sacrifices), isn’t it, O Lord?” in this way Yudhisthira grieved profusely.
With this the 8th chapter of the first canto comes to an end.
First Canto Ninth Chapter
In this ninth chapter, Yudhisthira and others approaching Bheeshma, initiation into the various dharmas (rules of righteousness) by Bheeshma, hymn on Srikrishna (stotram) and Bheeshma’s final departure are all covered.
Maharishi Suta continued, “With the intention of understanding the rules of righteousness (dharma), Yudhisthira, who was lamenting, went to the Kurukshetra battlefield, where Bheeshma was lying on the bed of arrows. After all Bheeshma was his grandfather (pitamaha)! He was equal to a Guru! He was equal to a father! He was equal to God!
Along with Yudhisthira, his four brothers also went to meet Bheeshma Pitamaha. Maharishis Vyasa, Dhoumya and others, mounted finest horse chariots and followed Yudhisthira. Krishna mounted Arjuna’s chariot and rode along with him. Yudhisthira, accompanied by all of them shone like Lord Kubera who was surrounded by all the Yakshas.
They neared the place where Bheeshma was resting. Their aristocratic appearance and their dignified conduct were amazing! The radiant Bheeshma Pitamaha who was resting there, appeared like a celestial fallen from sky! The Pandavas felt that a Devata who was flying in the sky had fallen down to earth and was lying there.
The Pandavas, along with Srikrishna, bowed down before him in reverence. They circumambulated and offered obeisance to him. He was after all an elderly person. Exactly at that moment, many eminent saints of different cadres such as, Brahma-rishis, Deva-rishis and Raja-rishis, arrived there to have the darshan of Bheeshma, the chief of the Bharata dynasty. At the time when Pandavas arrived, those saints too arrived.
Maharishis Parvata, Narada, Dhoumya, revered Vyasa, Bṛhadaśva, Bharadwaja, Paraśurama together with his disciples, Vashishta, Indrapramada, Trita, Gṛtsamada, Asita, Kakṣivānta, Goutama, Atri, Kouśika, Vishwamitra, Sudarshana, Śuka, Kasyapa, Angirasa and many other eminent saints arrived there together with all their disciples. In all, thousands of saints had assembled there!