Mahabharata is a treatise on Dharmic values. It teaches people how to live life in a way demonstrating the ideals of humanity. The final journey of Pandavas is an interesting episode in The Mahabharata that highlights some ennobling life principles depicted by the different characters we come across.
Following the departure of Sri Krishna’s physical form from this earth, there were some sure signs of moral and ethical decay on this earth. This was clearly perceived by Dharmaja, the eldest of the Pandavas. The evil tendencies that permeated all around indicated to Dharmaja that Sri Krishna was no more on this earth. Once the news of Krishna’s departure arrived, Kunti, the Mother of Pandavas lost her consciousness and died at once exhibiting her devotion to Sri Krishna. Sage Vyasa advised Pandavas that it was time for them to coronate Parikshit and leave for heaven since the purpose of their advent was well served. Pandavas complied with the advice of the enlightened one.
The five brothers started walking their way on a holy final pilgrimage. When they moved in the south direction, Lord Agni, the fire god appeared before Arjuna and asked him to surrender his bow Gandiva and quiver to be returned to the heavens. They continued the journey to Dwaraka, the fabulous city established by Viswakarma in the sea for the Yadavas and Krishna to live. Upon the departure of the Yadavas and Sri Krishna, the city was consumed by the ocean and there was no trace visible on the surface. The desolate looking seas only added to the sorrow of Pandavas. They left for Himalayas from there and started walking uphill.
On their way, a dog faithfully followed them and accompanied in their journey. It was Draupadi to fall down first and die on the way. She was followed by Sahadeva, Nakula, Arjuna, and Bhima. Dharmaja and the dog alone continued to walk forward. In some time, Indra appeared in his Pushpak Viman (celestial chariot flight) and asked Dharmaja to ascend it so that he can transport him to heaven instead of him having to walk a long way by foot. Dharmaja asked whether the dog could accompany him in the chariot. Indra denied. Dharmaja said it was his Dharma to give preference to his guest though it was a dog. He cannot leave it half the way and enjoy the heaven alone himself. Indra said he only tested his dharma at that stage but he passed the test. Lord Yama who had come in the form of dog to test Dharmaja now revealed himself and appreciated his dharmic nature. He disappeared and Dharmaja then ascended the flight chariot and left for the heavens.
Upon his arrival, he found Duryodhana, Bhishma and all others who had died in the war. When he was surprised to see Duryodhana there, sage Narada clarified that Duryodhana found a place in heaven as he died a brave death in the war in a holy place. Also he was very good to his subjects as a king though he had some enmity with his cousins. Suffering a brief spell in hell in atonement for their sins, the Pandavas and Draupadi arrived in heaven. Since Dharmaja had uttered only one lie in his life, he was taken to the heaven through the doors of the hell. Thus, the Pandavas completed their sojourn on this earth.