Shanti Parva – 1 - Yudhishthira refuses the throne
Peace after the war
The Pandavas stayed outside the city of Hastinapura for a month to complete the period of mourning. Yudhishthira grieved over Karna's death after knowing that he was their elder brother. The sage Narada then narrated the story of Karna to the Pandavas.
He told how Karna had gone to Parashurama after Drona refused to give him the Brahmastra. The sage told them how Parashurama had cursed Karna for lying to him about his parentage. He narrated how Karna had helped his friend Duryodhana abduct the princess of Kalinga from her Swayamwara. Narada told the Pandavas that Karna had defeated Jarasandha in a wrestling bout.
Finally, he told them how Indra had taken away Karna's kavacha and kundalas. Narada asked Yudhishthira not to grieve about Karna, who had died on the battlefield.
Yudhishthira was angry with his mother for keeping all this a secret. He cursed her, saying that no woman could ever keep a secret henceforth. A distraught Yudhishthira said he was going to the forests after renouncing the world.
Arjuna rebuked Yudhishthira and asked him to follow his dharma as a Kshatriya and rule the kingdom. Bheema, Nakula, and Sahadeva also advised the king not to grieve and uphold his dharma. Draupadi asked her husband to give up his anguish and rule the kingdom. She asked him to perform sacrifices and perform charity.
When Yudhishthira was not convinced, the sage Devasthana told him that a king must establish dharma. Having passed on the riches to his son, the king should then proceed to the forest. He asked Yudhishthira to practice his dharma and not talk about renunciation.
Arjuna continued to convince his brother, saying that whatever happened was ordained. Vyasa then highlighted the importance of grahasthashrama, asking the king to do his duties and perform austerities before thinking of going to the forest.
Yudhishthira then told Vyasa that he had no peace of mind after listening to the lamentation of the Kaurava women. The sage then counselled Yudhishthira, saying all mortals die and everything ends in destruction. The sage told Yudhishthira he had won the earth by following Kshatriya dharma and should stop grieving and enjoy the fruits of victory.
Vyasa then advised Yudhishthira to do the Ashwamedha yajna just like Indra did. He again reminded him that those who died did so as a result of their deeds. He asked the king to perform his dharma so that his soul will be liberated after death.
Finally, after listening to their advice, Yudhishthira entered the city in a chariot driven by Bheema, with Arjuna holding an umbrella and Nakula and Sahadeva fanning him. The people of Hastinapura welcomed the king and rejoiced his arrival. The king entered the palace with the Brahmanas chanting hymns.
The demon Charvaka, who was a friend of Duryodhana, entered the palace disguised as a Brahmana. He criticized Yudhishthira for killing his own kin. The angry Brahmanas identified him and burnt him using their energy.
…. to be continued