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Mausala Parvatham - 'The AntiClimax Of Mahabharata'

The Mausala Parva or the Book of Clubs, is the 16th of the 18 books of the Mahabharata. It does not consist of any upa parvas and is one of the three shortest parvas of the 18 parvas. It consists of 9 chapters.

The Mausala Parva narrates the events that unfolded after the conclusion of the Kurukshetra war, including the demise of Krishna 36 years later, the submergence of Dwaraka under the sea, Balarama's death by drowning, Vasudeva's passing, and a civil war among the Yadava clan that resulted in the loss of many lives. The infighting among the Yadavas ultimately led to Yudhishthira and the Pandava brothers renouncing their kingdom and embarking on their journey towards heaven, as recounted in the final two books of the Mahabharata.

Hastinapura, once a thriving kingdom, enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. However, in the thirty-sixth year after the conclusion of the Kurukshetra war, a series of ill omens began to plague the city of Dwarka and its surrounding areas. Rats infested the cities, fierce winds swept through the land, and owls emitted eerie cries. Men and women alike were plagued by disturbing nightmares, and demonic entities and evil spirits were seen wandering the streets.

Krishna, deeply troubled by the deteriorating state of his beloved city, took decisive action. He instructed the inhabitants of Dwarka to embark on a pilgrimage to the sacred Prabhas Sea, known for its purifying powers. He urged everyone to seek solace and redemption in the holy waters, hoping to alleviate the ominous signs that had befallen the city.

The events take place in the vicinity of the illustrious city of Dwaraka, which was known for its lavishness and peacefulness. However, the youth of the Yadava clan had become indulgent and hedonistic, reveling in frivolous pursuits.

One day, Krishna's son Samba and his friends came up with a playful prank. Samba disguised himself as a woman and along with his friends, he approached the esteemed sages like Rishi Vishvamitra, Durvasa, Vashista, Narada, and others who had come to Dwaraka to meet Krishna. With a mischievous grin, Samba claimed to be pregnant and asked the revered sages to predict the gender of his supposed baby, while his friends eagerly awaited their response, anticipating a humorous outcome.

One of the sages, seeing through the prank, was overcome with anger. In a fit of rage, he cursed Samba, declaring that he would give birth to an iron bolt that would bring about the destruction of the entire Yadava race. The young man was overcome with fear and immediately rushed to inform Krishna about what had transpired.

Krishna, being omniscient, was already aware of the impending calamity that would befall the Yadavas. He did not wish to intervene or alter the course of destiny. Instead, he summoned Ugrasena, the king of Yadavas, and informed him about the curse. Together, they devised a plan to avert the catastrophe.

The iron bolt, as cursed, was pulverized into powder by the Yadava warriors. Krishna ordered them to cast the powder into the Prabhasa sea, thereby ensuring that it would not bring about the destruction of the Yadava race. Additionally, Krishna prohibited the distribution of intoxicating spirits in the kingdom, as it was believed that the misuse of such spirits had led to the frivolous behavior of the Yadava youth, ultimately leading to the curse.

Soon after the curse on Samba, the town of Dwaraka witnesses a series of dark omens. The Sudarshana Chakra, the powerful weapon of Krishna, along with Krishna's conch Panchajanya, his chariot, and Balarama's plough weapon, all disappear mysteriously. Pests multiply in the city, and sinful acts become rampant with no one feeling any shame. Wives deceive their husbands, and husbands deceive their wives. Terrifying dreams haunt everyone, and people start insulting and humiliating their elders and teachers.

Deeply disturbed by the deteriorating state of his kingdom, Krishna realizes that the time of the destruction of the Yadava race has come. He urges everyone to embark on a pilgrimage to the sacred waters of the Prabhasa sea, in hopes of finding redemption and solace. The Yadavas comply and journey to the sea.

Upon reaching the Prabhasa sea, the Yadavas engage in revelry, indulging in merrymaking, dancing, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Little do they know that this would be their final celebration, as the curse of Samba begins to unfold. The fate of the Yadavas is sealed, and their actions during this pilgrimage would be the last memories of their once-glorious race.

Satyaki, in a drunken state, confronts Kritavarma and criticizes him for his role in the treacherous killing of the remaining Pandava army while they were asleep, as narrated in the Sauptika Parva. Pradyumna supports Satyaki's words and dismisses Kritavarma's actions. Kritavarma retaliates by reminding Pradyumna of his own past act of killing the unarmed Bhurishravas in prayer during the Kurukshetra war. An angry glance from Krishna towards Kritavarma intensifies their argument as they debate about who committed greater wrongs during the war.

The altercation escalates, and Satyaki beheads Kritavarma with his sword, and then goes on to attack others in the vicinity. Krishna rushes to intervene and stop Satyaki from causing further harm, but fate takes its course. Others, inspired by Krishna, pluck erakā grass, which miraculously turns into iron bolts in their hands due to the curse. Chaos ensues as everyone, intoxicated with alcohol, turns against each other in a deadly battle. In the end, only Krishna, Balarama, Daruka (Krishna's charioteer), and Vabhru remain alive.

Krishna instructs Daruka to go to the Pandavas and inform them of the tragic events that have unfolded. He also sends Vabhru to protect the women of his kingdom from potential robbers. However, Vabhru is struck by an iron bolt and dies. Krishna returns to Dvaraka to console his father Vasudeva before rejoining Balarama in the forest. Krishna witnesses Balarama's departure from the world as he peacefully gives up his life through yoga.

Realizing that his own time has come, Krishna restrains his senses and enters a state of deep meditation. Some of the powder from the iron bolt, which was cast into the Prabhasa sea, had been swallowed by a fish, which then transformed into a metal piece. A hunter named Jara catches the fish and uses the metal to make an arrow. Mistaking Krishna's left foot, marked with red, for a deer's eye, Jara shoots the arrow at it. Approaching the fallen figure, Jara realizes his mistake and seeks forgiveness from Krishna. Krishna comforts him and then ascends to the heavens, filling the sky with his radiant splendor.

Daruka approached the Pandavas and recounted the entire incident to them. Arjuna, upon hearing the news, immediately set out to investigate. When he arrived at the scene, he saw Vasudeva and 500,000 people lying dead, having killed each other. Arjuna instructed his companions to prepare for departure within a week. However, the next day, Vasudeva passed away while meditating, and his wives joined him in a funeral pyre.

Arjuna performed the last rites for those who had died in order of their seniority. The only survivors were the elderly, women, and children of the Yadava clan, including the 16,000 women who had been saved by Krishna from Narakaasura. Together, they set out for Indraprastha, as Dvaraka sank into the sea behind them. Arjuna led them on a slow march, allowing the Vrishni women to rest in pleasant forests, mountains, and by delightful streams along the way.

Upon reaching the country of five rivers, they made camp there. However, they were soon attacked by robbers who were lured by their wealth. Despite being protected by only Arjuna, the bowman, Arjuna tried to reason with the robbers, but they ignored his words and attacked. Arjuna fought valiantly, using his divine bow Gandiva to strike the robbers with his arrows. However, the battle became fierce, and Arjuna attempted to use his celestial weapons, but they did not respond to his commands.

Arjuna's quiver soon ran out of arrows, and in his grief, he tried to fight with his bow alone. However, the robbers managed to retreat, taking some of the women with them, while others went willingly when they found no one to save them. Arjuna accepted it as destiny, realizing that his celestial weapons were not appearing, his bow was not obeying him, and his arrows were exhausted.

Arjuna then gathered the remaining Vrishni women and the remaining wealth and continued on to Kurukshetra. He placed warriors at various positions for their protection. Rukmini, Saivaya, Haimavatu, and Jambavati ascended the funeral pyre, while Satyabhama and others entered the woods to practice penance.

Arjuna, overwhelmed with guilt and self-doubt for his perceived failure in protecting those who relied on him, seeks counsel from the wise Sage Vyasa. He pours his heart out, sharing his anguish and disappointment in himself. Sage Vyasa listens patiently and then explains to Arjuna that even Krishna, despite his competence in deflecting curses, had also faced challenges and sufferings in his life. He further explains that Arjuna and his brothers had fulfilled their destinies and served their purpose, and the celestial weapons that once aided their success had returned to their original source. It was now time for them to retire and renounce their kingdom.

Arjuna takes Vyasa's words to heart and bids him farewell. He then meets with Yudhishthira, his elder brother and the king, and reveals what he had learned from Vyasa. Yudhishthira, understanding the wisdom in Vyasa's counsel, makes the decision to give up his kingship. He crowns Satyaki's son as the king of Sarasvati, Krtavarma's son as the king of Mrittikavarapura, and Lord Krishna's grandson Vajra as the ruler of Indraprastha. He divides all the wealth equally among the three newly crowned kings, symbolizing his willingness to let go of power and embrace a new phase of life.

As the Pandavas and Draupadi set out on their journey to heaven through the Himalayas, a dog befriends them, and they welcome it to join them on their final voyage. However, as they ascend the Himalayas, Draupadi is the first to pass away. Bhima questions Yudhishthira about the reason for her death, and Yudhishthira reveals that Draupadi couldn't complete her journey to heaven due to her vice of partiality towards Arjuna, showing favoritism in her affections.

The remaining five Pandava brothers continue their journey, but soon Sahadeva succumbs and dies. Yudhishthira explains that Sahadeva's vice of vanity and pride, believing himself to be the most knowledgeable and wise, led to his downfall. Nakula is the next to fall, with Yudhishthira citing the same vice of vanity and pride in him for being excessively proud of his exceptional handsomeness. Arjuna, the mighty warrior, is the next to depart, and Yudhishthira reveals that his vice of pride and vanity, stemming from his unparalleled skill and power, led to his demise.

With only Yudhishthira, Bhima, and the dog left, Bhima eventually meets his end. Before he dies, Bhima questions Yudhishthira about the reason for his death. Yudhishthira tells Bhima that he had committed the sin of gluttony all his life, being inconsiderate to the hunger of the needy, which led to his downfall. The journey to heaven for the Pandavas and Draupadi is fraught with the consequences of their vices, which ultimately determine their fates as they progress towards their final destination.

In the end, only Yudhishthira and the dog successfully complete their journey to heaven. Upon arriving at the gates of heaven, Yudhishthira is welcomed by Indra. However, Yudhishthira refuses to enter without his brothers and Draupadi, expressing his concern for their absence. Indra reassures him that they have already reached heaven after their deaths. Yudhishthira then asks Indra if his loyal companion, the dog, can enter as well. Indra informs him that the dog is not allowed in his chariot. However, Yudhishthira, unwavering in his commitment to Dharma, refuses to leave the dog behind, as it would go against his principles of righteousness. He cannot abandon his faithful companion.

Moved by Yudhishthira's unwavering devotion to Dharma, the dog reveals its true form - the deity Dharma, his father. Dharma praises Yudhishthira for his exceptional virtues and loyalty. With the dog's true identity revealed, Yudhishthira is now ready to enter heaven on Indra's chariot, accompanied by the deity Dharma, who commends his son for his righteous actions.

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