Mahabharat : Karna and Pandavas Initially Went to Hell!

After the death of Lord Krishna in Mahabharat by Hunter Jara, the Pandavas lost all interest in worldly matters. Nothing appealed them, neither material things nor the fact that they are the actual rulers of Hastinapur. Next, they crowned Abhimanyu’s son Parikshit as the King of Hastinapur under the care of Subhadra, his grandmother and left for a pilgrimage – ultimately walking into the Himalayas. In this journey they were also accompanied by a stray dog.

The Journey of the Pandavas after the Kurukshetra War 

The first one to tumble and die in this journey was Draupadi who had accompanied her five husbands. Yudhisthira quickly explained the downfall of Draupadi in this journey and the reason doesn’t surprise us at all. Well as per Dharamraj’s point of view, she died because she was always partial to Arjuna all throughout her life even though she was married to all five of them.

Wood engraving by Maharaja Mahatab Chand Bahadur via Wikimedia Commons

Next were Nakul and Sahadev, who according to Yudhisthira were very proud of their looks. It was Arjuna’s turn after the death of the twin brothers. Yudhisthira mentioned to his only surviving brother Bheem that Arjuna all his life was very proud of his archery skills. 

Now remained only 3 – Bheem, Yudhisthira and the dog. Next was Bheem who was known for boasting about his strength and also for his greediness when it came to food.

Finally, the only two people alive were Yudhisthira himself and the stray dog. The reason why Yudhisthira did not stumble to death was simple – He was the most righteous and virtuous of all the five brothers and their common wife Draupadi.

At the Doors of the Heaven

Both Yudhisthira and his companion (dog) reached the doors of the heaven. The door keeper at Heaven requested Yudhisthira to walk alone. However, Yudhisthira being a Dharmaraj mentioned that he cannot enter alone since the very dog had accompanied him all through the journey, even when his own brothers left him alone.

Image Courtesy: Ramanarayanadatta astri via Wikimedia Commons

Happy to see the virtuous side of Yudhisthira, Lord Yama emerged from the dog and took his divine form. Yes, the stray dog was none other than the Lord Yama himself. 

Pandavas Were Not in Heaven, Kauravas Were!

No sooner than Yudhisthira entered the heaven than he saw Duryodhana along with all the other Kauravas present there. Surprised, he expressed his anger on seeing the adharmis in the sacred place. His annoyance was visible as he mentioned the fact that – Duryodhana was the sole reason why the Pandavas had to slaughter so many good and worthy kinsmen that supported the Kauravas. He then asked about his brothers, the son of Radha, the biggest Daanveer – Karna, the mighty man – Bheema, the greatest archer – Arjuna, and the two twin brothers who were known for their skills. Yudhisthira was then taken to a place where his brothers and his wife resided. 

An Illustration to the Mahabharata: The Pandava and Kaurava armies face each other via Wikimedia Commons

Pandavas Were Sent to Hell 

To his surprise, Yudhisthira saw all his brothers including Karna in Hell. The God mentioned that they were here for all the wrong things they had done – Karna had insulted Draupadi, Bheem and Arjun had killed Duryodhana and Karna respectively by forgery while Nakul and Sehdeva helped them in doing so.

Highly annoyed, Yudhisthira then questioned the gods about the sin of the Kauravas – He asked if the people who always followed dharma, did good and even maintained the Kshtariya rules are in Hell, why the sinners and the adharmis are living peacefully in the Heaven. Surprisingly God said that the Kauravas are in heaven right now because they died as a kshtariya fighting for their homeland. You might now wonder then why wasn’t Karna with them? Well, that’s because Karna was not fighting from his homeland but only for the sake of Duryodhana’s friendship even though he was aware that he was siding adharm.

Also Read: Uruvi, the Wife of Karna – Factual or Fiction

People Go to Both, Heaven and Hell

God after seeing Yudhisthira’s sadness then replied,

Of both good and bad there is abundance, O chief of men. He who enjoys first the fruits of his good acts must afterwards endure Hell. He, on the other hand, who first endures Hell, must afterwards enjoy Heaven. He whose sinful acts are many enjoys Heaven first. It is for this, O king, that desirous of doing thee good, I caused thee to be sent for having a view of Hell.

God further states that Yudhisthira is in Hell right now because he deceived Drona in the war. And continues,

Come, O chief of men, all of them have been cleansed of their sins. All those kings who had aided thee and who have been slain in battle, have all attained to Heaven. Come and behold them, O foremost one of Bharata’s race.

Thus, making it very clear that as per Mahabharat or should I say Hindus (not sure though) a person goes to both Heaven and Hell based on his good deeds and bad deeds. The more the good deeds the more time he gets to spend in Heaven. This also reminds me about the belief of Roman Catholics where they say before going to heaven a person first goes to the purgatory which is a temporary hell to wash all his sins.

With Inputs from Svargarohanika Parva Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa – Book 18 Translated by KM Ganguly

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Deepti Verma is a Political/Social Writer with an opinion on almost everything! Follow @universal_rover