41) Arjuna started out of Dwaraka, along with the women, children and wealth. Dwaraka submerged into the ocean.
42) When Arjuna was moving along the road, all alone with the women and children, by virtue of Sri Krishna’s curse, the intoxicated Abhiras, who were great sinners, kidnapped the women.
43-44) Due to the curse, the sixteen thousand and hundred wives of Sri Krishna were seized by the Mlecchas. When the women and wealth were thus kidnapped by the Abhiras, Arjuna desired to battle and, with great difficulty, strung the Gandiva.
45) His arrows became empty due to divine maya. He started forgetting astras. Considering it to be divine providence, Arjuna meditated upon Sri Krishna, the best amongst all, and killed many of them with the Gandiva. He proceeded towards Kurukshetra, protecting the remaining ones.
46) Arjuna saw Sri Vyasa, who was none other than Sri Hari, the ocean of complete knowledge and strength, one who possesses excellent bliss and the lord of the world. In complete sorrow, he fell at his feet.
47) Arjuna was instructed by Sri Vyasa, the best amongst Purushas and one who is Sun-like towards ignorance, through many wise words. Arjuna planted his heart firmly at Sri Vyasa and took courage and reduced his sorrow to a great extent.
48) The wives of Sri Krishna, who had been kidnapped by the Abhiras, undertook the Govinda Ekadashi vrata as per the words of Sage Dalbhya. They took bath in the Sarasvati river and, heeding to the words of Vayu, gave up their bodies and attained Swarga.
Note: Some scriptures term the Ekadashi of Ashada Shukla Paksha as Govinda Ekadashi. Some others consider it to be on the Ekadashi of Phalguna Shukla Paksha.
49) Arjuna crowned the sons of Krutavarma and Satyaki as the rulers of the Kurukshetra and Sarasvata countries.
50) Arjuna, the Yogi, crowned Vajra, the son of Aniruddha, who was dear to Sri Krishna and possessed excellent attributes, as the ruler of Shurasena and Indraprastha countries.
51) Handing over the women, children and wealth to Vajra, Arjuna went to Dharmaraja and the other brothers. He narrated everything that happened to them.
52) The Pandavas recalled their agreement with Sri Krishna that they would not separate. They coronated Parikshita, a great devotee (of Sri Krishna), as the Emperor.
53) They instructed him to kill the Mlecchas who had kidnapped the women. Having borne the burden of his grandfathers, he completed that task later.
54) As per the agreement with Sri Krishna, they did not do that task themselves. The rule they considered was that they would resolve the dangers faced by the world only as long as Sri Krishna’s feet were touching Mother Earth. Following him after that was the other rule they kept.
55) “We should always follow Sri Krishna. We should neither enjoy nor protect the land when he is no longer around” – was the rule they had framed a long time ago.
56) Then, Kali, wife of Bhima, accepted Vaishnava Yoga and gave up her human form and merged with Draupadi.
57) Subhadra and the other wives of the Pandavas, as well as Yuyutsu, stayed back at Hastinapura as per the orders of the Pandavas in order to guide the grandson (Parikshita).
58) All the Pandavas gave up their royal insignia, engaged in Vaishnava Yoga, and undertook Mahaprasthana along with Draupadi.
59) They first proceeded in the north-eastern direction. Out of greed, Arjuna had not given up the Gandiva yet. When they were near the ocean, Agni saw it and requested Dharmaraja. As per the King’s words, Arjuna discarded it in the ocean.
60-61) Agni cleared himself of Varuna’s debt and vanished. The Pandavas too quickly crossed all seven seas in just seven days due to the power of Yoga. Without stopping anywhere they circumambulated the Earth and reached Gandhamadana mountain.
Note: Agni had given Arjuna the Gandiva by fetching it from Varuna, to whom it actually belonged. By ensuring it was discarded back into the ocean, Agni ensured it reached its rightful owner and hence his debt towards Varuna was cleared.
62-63) Over there, in the Narayana Kshetra, the bodies of the five including Draupadi, Sahadeva and the others fell in that order. Bhimasena then, although knowing the reality that they gave up their bodies not desiring to the enter Swarga in that form, asked Dharmaraja – “Due to what defects are the bodies falling in this manner?”
64) Since the Shruthi states that the Runa (Karmic debt) of a person shall be relieved if the defects of a just-deceased person are listed, Bhimasena got Yudhisthira to list their defects in order to clear his Runa with all of them.
65) Without realizing that all of them gave up their bodies out of their own will and that they had all performed pure Karma, Dharmaraja thought that there must have been some defect on their part since nothing takes place without a reason and started guessing some defects (in each of them).
66) Pandavas and Draupadi had undergone Swacchanda Mrutyu (gave up their bodies on their own will). There is a Shruti that confirms all of them had given up their bodies through Yoga and had attained those lokas that are difficult for even Devatas to attain. Therefore, these very powerful ones had not given up their bodies due to defects of any sort.
67) There is a statement in the Skanda Purana which quotes Sri Vyasa’s words to Rishis in which it is stated that Bhimasena cleared all his Runa with the others by getting those defects stated and that he gave up his body while remembering Sri Hari and attained an excellent position (loka).
68) Apart from Bhimasena, since it was very appropriate of Draupadi to be partial towards Arjuna, it can never be a defect of hers.
Note: Dharmaraja tells Bhima that Draupadi fell down as she was partial to Arjuna. Sri Madhwacharya clarifies here that Arjuna was most qualified after Bhima. Hence it was very appropriate of Draupadi to be partial towards him. Therefore it was not a defect.
69) Ethics, beauty, valour and strength – these qualities were present in the Pandavas in increasing order (Sahadeva, Nakula, Yudhisthira, Arjuna and Bhima). Therefore these can never cause Dosha. Since Bhimasena was Prana himself, ability to enjoy can never a defect in him.
70) Since the Vyasa-Smriti states that it is never a defect to understand one’s own capabilities appropriately, how can the defects stated (by Dharmaraja) be applicable to them?
71) On some occasions, the three of them including Arjuna used to feel excess ego about their own qualities. That, however, was not the reason for them giving up their bodies. That only causes difference in Mukti.
Note: Those less qualified Satvikas develop ego and other defects from time to time. This reduces their ananda or bliss in Mukti, in line with the inherent nature of the soul.
72) The variations in guna and dosha does not cause the fall of the physical body in samsara. Once Prarabdha Karma is exhausted, the body of even a completely sinless person will fall!
73) Even Dharmaraja did not get to enjoy Swarga in that body! That being the case, how can excess ego and other defects be associated with Bhimasena?
74) Those (souls) who are free from all defects since eternity and possess more gunas than all others attain the position of Vayu. These Devatas, known as Rujus, are Devatas to Devatas!
Note: Only those Jeevas who belong to the category of Rujus attain the position of Vayu and, after that, the position of Brahma.
75-77) Sri Krishna himself has stated that Bhima does not have excess Ahamkara. “O Pandava! Those auspicious qualities which you consider yourself to possess very little, I consider you to possess them a thousand fold more”. Therefore, just as Dharmaraja considered Adharma to have been done by virtue of the war, here too he considered Adharma to be the reason for the fall of (Bhima’s) body.
Note: Just before Sri Krishna’s proceeds towards Hastinapura for negotiations, he consults all the Pandavas. At that time, when Bhima agrees for peace, Sri Krishna asks him if he was scared. Then, Bhima narrates a list of his gunas. Sri Krishna replies saying he considers Bhima to possess those qualities at least a thousand times more in potency! Sri Madhwa quotes those words of Sri Krishna here.
78-79) Desiring to leave the physical body before the older ones, the fall of their bodies occurred in that particular order and not because of sins. Just as how it is for those who attain Mukti.
Note: Draupadi, being the wife, quit her body first. Amongst the brothers, the first born was to depart later. Hence the order. In Mukti too, the higher souls perform sadhana for a longer duration and become ready for Mukti later than the lower souls who finish their sadhana earlier and then await Mukti.
80) When the rest of them departed to their own lokas, Dharmaraja, with a dog that was his own form, proceeded further. A divine chariot then came down in front of him.