The chariot of Lord Kṛṣṇa started for Hastināpura accompanied by many other chariots, along with elephants, cavalry, infantry and similar royal paraphernalia. Bugles, drums, trumpets, conchshells and horns all produced a loud auspicious sound which vibrated in all directions. The sixteen thousand queens, headed by the goddess of fortune Rukmiṇīdevī, the ideal wife of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and accompanied by their respective sons, all followed behind Lord Kṛṣṇa. They were dressed in costly garments decorated with ornaments, and their bodies were smeared with sandalwood pulp and garlanded with fragrant flowers. Riding on palanquins nicely decorated with silks, flags and golden lace, they followed their exalted husband, Lord Kṛṣṇa. The infantry soldiers carried shields, swords and lances in their hands and acted as royal bodyguards to the queens. In the rear of the procession were the wives and children of all the other followers, and there were many society girls also following. Many beasts of burden like bulls, buffalo, mules and asses carried the camps, bedding and carpets, and the women who followed were seated in separate palanquins on the backs of camels. This panoramic procession was accompanied by the shouts of the people and was full with the display of different colored flags, umbrellas and whisks and different varieties of weapons, dress, ornaments, helmets and armaments. Shining in the sunlight, the procession appeared just like an ocean with high waves and sharks.
In this way the procession of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s party advanced toward Hastināpura (New Delhi) and gradually passed through the kingdoms of Ānarta (Gujarat Province), Sauvīra (Surat), the great desert of Rājasthān, and then Kurukṣetra. Between those kingdoms were many mountains, rivers, towns, villages, pasturing grounds and mining fields. The procession passed through all these places in its advance. On His way to Hastināpura, the Lord crossed two big rivers, the Dṛṣadvatī and the Sarasvatī. Then He crossed the province of Pañcāla and the province of Matsya. In this way, He ultimately arrived at Hastināpura, or Indraprastha.
The audience of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is not at all commonplace. Therefore, when King Yudhiṣṭhira heard that Lord Kṛṣṇa had arrived in his capital city, Hastināpura, he became so joyful that all his bodily hairs stood on end in great ecstasy, and he immediately came out of the city to properly receive the Lord. He ordered the musical vibration of different instruments and songs, and the learned brāhmaṇas of the city began to chant the hymns of the Vedas very loudly. Lord Kṛṣṇa is known as Hṛṣīkeśa, the master of the senses, and King Yudhiṣṭhira went forward to receive Him exactly as the senses meet the consciousness of life. King Yudhiṣṭhira was the elder cousin of Kṛṣṇa. Naturally he had great affection for the Lord, and as soon as he saw Him, his heart became filled with great love and affection. He had not seen the Lord for many days, and therefore he thought himself most fortunate to see the Lord present before him. The King therefore embraced Lord Kṛṣṇa again and again in great affection.
The eternal form of Lord Kṛṣṇa is the everlasting residence of the goddess of fortune. As soon as King Yudhiṣṭhira embraced Him, he became free from all the contamination of material existence. He immediately felt transcendental bliss and merged in an ocean of happiness. There were tears in his eyes, and his body shook in ecstasy. He completely forgot that he was living in this material world. After this, Bhīmasena, the second brother of the Pāṇḍavas, smiled and embraced Lord Kṛṣṇa, thinking of Him as his own maternal cousin, and thus he also merged in great ecstasy. Bhīmasena was so filled with ecstasy that for the time being he forgot his material existence. Then Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself embraced the other three Pāṇḍavas, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. The eyes of all three brothers were inundated with tears, and Arjuna embraced Kṛṣṇa again and again because they were intimate friends. The two younger Pāṇḍava brothers, after being embraced by Lord Kṛṣṇa, fell down at His lotus feet to offer their respects. Lord Kṛṣṇa thereafter offered His obeisances to the brāhmaṇas present, as well as to the elder members of the Kuru dynasty, like Bhīṣma, Droṇa and Dhṛtarāṣṭra. There were many kings of different provinces such as Kuru, Sṛñjaya and Kekaya, and Lord Kṛṣṇa duly reciprocated greetings and respects with them. The professional reciters like the sūtas, māgadhas and vandīs, accompanied by the brāhmaṇas, offered their respectful prayers to the Lord. Performing artists like the Gandharvas, as well as the royal jokers, began to play their paṇava drums, conchshells, kettledrums, vīṇās, mṛdaṅgas and bugles, and they exhibited their dancing art to please the Lord. Thus the all-famous Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, entered the great city of Hastināpura, which was opulent in every respect. While Lord Kṛṣṇa was entering the city, all the people talked amongst themselves about the glories of the Lord, praising His transcendental name, qualities, form and so on.
The roads, streets and lanes of Hastināpura were all sprinkled with fragrant water through the trunks of intoxicated elephants. In different places of the city there were colorful festoons and flags decorating the houses and streets. At important crossroads there were gates with golden decorations, and at the two sides of the gates there were golden water jugs. These beautiful decorations glorified the opulence of the city. Participating in this great ceremony, all the citizens gathered here and there, dressed in colorful new clothing and decorated with ornaments, flower garlands and fragrant scents. The houses were all illuminated by hundreds and thousands of lamps placed in different corners of the cornices, walls, columns, bases and architraves, and from far away the rays of the lamps appeared to be celebrating the festival of Dīpāvalī (a particular festival observed on the New Year’s Day of the Hindu calendar). Within the walls of the houses, fragrant incense was burning, and smoke rose through the windows, making the entire atmosphere very pleasing. On the top of every house, flags were flapping, and the golden waterpots kept on the roofs shone brilliantly.
Lord Kṛṣṇa thus entered the city of the Pāṇḍavas, enjoyed the beautiful atmosphere and slowly proceeded ahead. When the young girls in every house heard that Lord Kṛṣṇa, the only object worth seeing, was passing on the road, they were very eager to see this all-famous personality. Their hair loosened, and their tightened saris became slack due to their hastily rushing to see Him. They gave up their household engagements, and those who were lying in bed with their husbands immediately left them and came directly down onto the street to see Lord Kṛṣṇa. The procession of elephants, horses, chariots and infantry was very crowded; some of the girls, being unable to see properly in the crowd, got up on the roofs of the houses. Pleased to see Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa passing with His thousands of queens, they showered flowers on the procession, embraced Lord Kṛṣṇa within their minds and gave Him a hearty reception. When they saw Him in the midst of His many queens, like the full moon situated amidst many luminaries, they began to talk amongst themselves.