Pandu spent fifteen years with his wives and sons full of happiness, peace and serenity. Once while Kunti was away to an ashram with the sons and Madri and Pandu were alone, the king was over whelmed by the passion. He had not seen any woman during these long years with desire. Now he could not control himself and before the act could be consummated he dropped dead. Lamentations of Madri, Kunti and their sons went to sky. Madri, full of repentance, decided to burn herself on the funeral pyre of her husband. Kunti having the charge of her young sons returned to Hastinapura.
The five Pandava princes along with their mother Kunti and some Rishis, who had come to escort them from the forest, came at the gates of Hastinapura. There they all were received with great joy and compassion by all, Dhritarastra, Bhishma, Vidur, Satyavati. Death of Pandu had cast a pall of gloom over the kingdom. The rishis, who came to escort the five Pandavas and their mother Kunti, left them under the guardianship of Dhritarasta. Last rites of Pandu were performed with due solemnity and with all religious ceremonies, presided over by Sage Vyasa.
After the ceremonies while, departing, Vyasa came to his mother Satyavati and said, “Mother now all the happy times of the Kurus are coming to an end. The entire clan will be destroyed. I do not see any thing good, but only death and destruction all round. I have a premonition of all these things.” Satyavati became very sad and she wished to retire to a forest away from the world. Finally Ambika and Ambalika also decided to go with her. With countless sorrows and tragedies to haunt them, these women went to a forest to do penance and to pray and to find peace of mind as the God would grant them. Before her departure Satyavati had called Bhishma and had charged him with the responsibility of guiding the Kuru clan through these terrible times to come.
The Pandavas had lived only in Ashrams in the forest. They did not have any taste for any luxury but the life in the Palace was very fascinating to them. The great halls, orchards, lawns, flower-beds were all something they had neither experienced nor they had imagined Bhima, being full of energy and strength was wilder than the rest and proved himself to be a great tormentor of Kauravas, the hundred brothers. Bhima derived great pleasure in shaking a tree by its stem while Kauravas were climbing it. This caused them to fall and some bruised too. Duryodhana came to hate Pandavas. Before their advent he was the master of all and had undivided affection of his grandfather, Bhishma. Now, the Pandava were competing for Bhishma’s affection and attention with the Kauravas brothers. Duryodhana had inherited the qualities of jealously and maliciousness for his father. His uncle , Shakuni proved to be an invaluable ally to Duryodhana. He had always been instigating and inciting Duryodhana against his cousins, especially Bhima. Duryodhana, encouraged by his evil mindedness became an avid hater of Bhima and the other Pandavas. Bhima was the most powerful, always winning all the games of strength. Duryodhana saw him as an impediment in his ambition to become the king.
Once while they all were playing and picnicking on the banks of Ganga, Duryodhana and his evil uncle, Shakuni hatched a conspiracy to finish Bhima. After the games, sports and frolics, they gave large quantities of choicest foods mixed with a deadly poison, Kalkuta to Bhima. As Bhima was guileless, he ate it all and became unconscious. Then Duryodhana and Shakuni etc. bound his hands and feet with strong twines and threw him in Ganga. There also they had planted some deadly serpents. While the waves of Ganga were carrying Bhima to his doom, his brothers, Yudhisthir and others were making a desperate search for him. Unable to find him anywhere, they thought that Bhima might have left for the Palace early. But the duo not find Bhima,even they told Kunti about Bhima’s inexplicable absence. Kunti got worried and sent for Vidura. Vidura assured her that Bhima, being blessed by the gods and rishi could not die. He would return soon. But Kunti had her suspicious about Duryodhana.
In the meantime, the deadly serpents were biting Bhima. Fortunately, the venom of these serpents acted as the antidote to the poison given to him in the food and he regained consciousness. The serpents were very much surprised at this. They rushed to their king Vasuki, in the nether regions and told him about the inefficacy of their venom on Bhima. On Vasuki’s command the serpent took Bhima to him. Vasuki was very glad to see Bhima and welcomed him with great love and affection. Vasuki offered elixir to Bhima, saying each bowl of the divine potion would fill Bhima with the strength of one thousand elephants. Bhima drank eight bowls full of elixir. After spending a few days he came back to Hastinapura and narrated the whole thing to his mother and brothers. Duryodhana and Shakuni were much chagrined to see Bhima well and alive and back.