Ascent of the Paandavas
(AZADI KE PANKH CREATIONS )
The Paandavas carried on, for staying back after a lost one was to turn away from progress on the path that they had chosen. But that same vision of the hound of doom greeted Sahadeva next. The youngest Paandava shut his eyes and ears but there was no escaping its huge form and its dooming bark. His gift of wisdom and soothsaying, on which he had prided himself inordinately his entire life, of no use to him now. He too fell, fated to enter Swarga-loka as just a spirit, not as a mortal. Shortly after his fall, the hound appeared to Nakula, Sahadeva's twin brother. The handsome Paandava, known in all the lands for his charming face, joined his brother in fate, undone by his vanity about his appearance.
Yudhishthira, Bheema and Arjuna climbed on, undeterred by the loss of their three dear companions. Each realized the fault which consumed their fallen comrades, each hoping to make it through himself. And then Arjuna saw it. The great canine form of certain death, reminding him of his ceaseless ambition to be known as the best bowman on earth during his life. The humbling memory of Krishna's battlefield counsel, his last, was not sufficient to erase his lifetime's arrogance in his skill and knowledge. The lithe, dark-skinned form that Arjuna embodied too perished.
Bheema, the lion-hearted, the lone Paandava who had spoken up for Draupadi when his cousins attempted to disrobe her, the mountainous warrior who had slain every single Kaurava to avenge her insult, who was neither partial, nor arrogant, too saw the apparition. The guileless giant of a man could only remember endless sessions of eating as the hound of death pronounced his death sentence to him.
Yudhishthira alone remained on the road through the mountain Meru. His five companions had dropped out along the way and in their place, he was given company by a dog! Neither the fallen Paandavas, nor Draupadi, had they been present, would have testified to knowing when the dog joined them. They had all only seen an apparition- the same apparition- of a huge, menacing hound, dooming them to death and reminding them of their undoings. Yudhishthira, however, looked upon it like an old friend- as though he had been aware of its presence all along. Then a wondrous sight met his eye: a chariot wrought of pure gold and drawn by a thousand shining white horses descending from the skies above him. Its charioteer was none other than the lord of the realms he, Yudhishthira, wished to enter. The king of the devas, Indra, stepped down from his chariot and bade Yudhishthira climb it. The eldest Paandava had completed his journey and was invited to enter the plane of the gods in his earthly body.