patim prayantam subalasya putri
pati-vrata canujagama sadhvi
manasvinam iva sat sampraharah
patim—her husband; prayantam—while leaving home; subalasya—of King Subala; putri—the worthy daughter; pati-vrata—devoted to her husband; ca—also; anujagama—followed; sadhvi—the chaste; himalayam—towards the Himalaya Mountains; nyasta-danda—one who has accepted the rod of the renounced order; praharsam—object of delight; manasvinam—of the great fighters; iva—like; sat—legitimate; sampraharah—good lashing.
The gentle and chaste Gandhari, who was the daughter of King Subala of Kandahar [or Gandhara], followed her husband, seeing that he was going to the Himalaya Mountains, which are the delight of those who have accepted the staff of the renounced order like fighters who have accepted a good lashing from the enemy.
Saubalini, or Gandhari, daughter of King Subala and wife of King Dhrtarastra, was ideal as a wife devoted to her husband. The Vedic civilization especially prepares chaste and devoted wives, of whom Gandhari is one amongst many mentioned in history. Laksmiji Sitadevi was also a daughter of a great king, but she followed her husband, Lord Ramacandra, into the forest. Similarly, as a woman Gandhari could have remained at home or at her father's house, but as a chaste and gentle lady she followed her husband without consideration. Instructions for the renounced order of life were imparted to Dhrtarastra by Vidura, and Gandhari was by the side of her husband. But he did not ask her to follow him because he was at that time fully determined, like a great warrior who faces all kinds of dangers in the battlefield. He was no longer attracted to so-called wife or relatives, and he decided to start alone, but as a chaste lady Gandhari decided to follow her husband till the last moment. Maharaja Dhrtarastra accepted the order of vanaprastha, and at this stage the wife is allowed to remain as a voluntary servitor, but in the sannyasa stage no wife can stay with her former husband. A sannyasi is considered to be a dead man civilly, and therefore the wife becomes a civil widow without connection with her former husband. Maharaja Dhrtarastra did not deny his faithful wife, and she followed her husband at her own risk.
The sannyasis accept a rod as the sign of the renounced order of life. There are two types of sannyasis. Those who follow the Mayavadi philosophy, headed by Sripada Sankaracarya, accept only one rod (eka-danda), but those who follow the Vaisnavite philosophy accept three combined rods (tri-danda). The Mayavadi sannyasis are ekadandi-svamis, whereas the Vaisnava sannyasis are known as tridandi-svamis, or more distinctly, tridandi-gosvamis, in order to be distinguished from the Mayavadi philosophers. The ekadandi-svamis are mostly fond of the Himalayas, but the Vaisnava sannyasis are fond of Vrndavana and Puri. The Vaisnava sannyasis are narottamas, whereas the Mayavadi sannyasis are dhiras. Maharaja Dhrtarastra was advised to follow the dhiras because at that stage it was difficult for him to become a narottama.
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