After establishing the Pandavas back on the throne after the war of the Mahabharata, Krishna was getting ready to proceed to Dwaraka along with Satyaki and his devotee Uddhava. The Suta narrates the story to Shaunaka.
As Krishna was about to get on to his chariot, he saw Uttara—the widow of Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu, who lost his life in the circular battle formation—running towards him. She sought Krishna’s protection from a burning iron arrow that was directed to her womb, carrying the only surviving progeny of the Pandava family. “Let me die, O Master. May the child in my womb be safe,” she pleaded.
Krishna understood that it was a weapon hurtled by Ashwathama to wipe out the Pandava clan completely. Krishna protected the womb of King Virata’s daughter with his own power of maya to protect the lineage of the Kurus and sent his Sudarshana chakra against the shafts of fire that was coming towards Uttara.
Even though Ashwathama’s Brahmastra was an unfailing weapon, it could not stand the glaring gaze of the Sudarshana, the weapon of Mahavishnu. Having accomplished this task, Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, chanted words of praise thanking Krishna. Here comes her most famous prayer, “May calamity after calamity befall us, O Guru of the whole world. It is only when we have such disturbances in our life that we get to see you in person. Even having a glimpse of you will prevent us from being born again on this earth which is filled with pain and sorrow.”
Krishna acknowledged her prayer and was ready to leave. It was Yudhishtira’s turn now to face the same confusion that Arjuna faced in the battlefield before the battle began. “I am responsible for the destruction of all these people in battle, many of them my relatives. It is all because of the ignorance deep within me for the sake of protecting this body. Nothing can cleanse the sin I have incurred by killing so many husbands in war and making their wives widows,” he lamented. It did not give him consolation that the war was righteous and it was the duty of a king to fight in a war if needed to protect his own subjects.Yudhishtira with his brothers and Krishna went to Vinashana where Bhishma was lying down. He wanted to seek guidance on the righteous way in which to rule the kingdom.
Bhishma was filled with tears of love on seeing Krishna and others. Having given a dying discourse on dharma for a king, Bhishma considered himself to be blessed that he may shed his mortal frame, concentrating on Krishna whom he extolled just then saying he was none other than the supreme being himself. When Bhishma breathed his last, the whole assemblage of royalty fell silent as they set the pyre ablaze.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; firstname.lastname@example.org