|Chapter IX - 31||Home | Index | Previous | Next|
"Very near the Rajabhavan, when I was about to enter it, I perceived a Brahmin selling milk and curds! I saw people emerging out of their houses and closing the doors behind them! I found them fixing some iron lump to them, so that they may not be opened! (The reference is, evidently, to locks, which were strange things in Dharmaraja's kingdom for no one had any fear of thieves). My mind was very much concerned with all these tragic transformations."
"I tried to forget this state of affairs and so started doing the evening rituals, the sacred rite of offering oblations to the consecrated fire and shall I tell you what happened? The fire could not be lit, however hard I tried! O, what a calamity it was! My fears that these events foreboded some great catastrophe are fed by other happenings too. They are confirming my premonitions every minute. I find myself too weak to overcome them. Perhaps the Kali era has begun or is about to begin, I believe."
"For, how else are we to explain such a fact as this: A wife has quarrelled with her husband and is arguing before the judge in court that she should be permitted to go to her parents, leaving him to himself. How am I to face such a plea in court that she should be permitted to dissolve the marriage and leave for her parents' home, deserting her husband? A petition from such a wife was admitted yesterday in the court of justice! How am I to ignore such abominations?"
"Why go on recounting these occurrences? Yesterday, the horses in the royal stables started weeping, did you hear? They were shedding copious tears, the syces reported. Sahadeva tried to investigate the causes of their deep sorrow; but, he could not discover why and he was struck with wonder and consternation. These are indications of wholesale destruction, not of any minor danger, or small evil". Dharmaraja, placed his chin on his upright arm and rested a while in deep thought.
Bhima did not give way to despair. He laughed a scornful laugh and began: "The incidents and events you mention might have happened; I do not deny them. But, how can they bring disaster to us? Why should we give up all hope? All these abnormalities can be set right by administrative measures and their enforcement. It is really surprising that you are so worried about these small matters that can be corrected by us. Or, is it the imminent breaking out of another war that you fear? Perhaps you are anxious to avoid the ravages that the revival of war might bring about. That contingency is impossible. For, all our foes have been exterminated, with their kith and kin. Only we five are left, and we have to seek for friends and foes only among ourselves. Rivalry will not break out among us, even in our dreams. Then, what agitates you? I cannot understand why you are afflicted. People will laugh at you when you take these little things to heart and lose peace of mind". Bhima said this and, changing his mighty mace from the right hand to the left, he laughed a laugh which was half a jeer.
To this Dharmaraja replied: "I have the same discrimination and intelligence that you have, in these matters. Nor have I an iota of dread that enemies will overpower us. Have we not defeated the renowned warriors, Bhishma, Drona and the rest who could singly and with but one arrow destroy the three worlds? What can any foe do to us? And what can agitate us who were bearing even the direst calamities with fortitude? How can any difference arise between us now, who stood so firm in the days of distress?"