VIRAT – PARVA

VIRAT –PARVA

A YEAR OF EXILE IN HIDING

THE THIRTEENTH YEAR YEAR

Yudhisthira gathered all the persons, rishis, brahmins living with them in their ashram. Yudhisthira told them that they had completed twelve years in the forest in the delightful and ennobling company of these living with them in the forest. But, he said, "now the thirteenth year of the exile is to commence. In this year, they had to live in disguise. If disclosed during this year, they would be required to live in the forest again for the twelve years. As such I have to request you all to kindly now leave us. We are very grateful for your kindness and for your company during these hard days. All the inhabitants blessed the Pandavas and they departed. Only their Kulaguru, Dhaumya stayed with them for a while.

The Pandavas met and discussed which could be the possible places where they could live in disguise, with out being discovered. Duryodhana's spies were everywhere, Dwaraka, the capital of Vrishnis would be their first target. Finally all the Pandavas agreed that the capital of Matsyadesh, Virata would be an appropriate place where they could dwell in peace. Virata was a righteous and kindly person. He was friendly towards the Pandavas. It was thought that they all could find some disguise to live in his kingdom. Having decided this question, the Pandavas started towards Virata.

Next question facing them was what could they do to disguise themselves. Their manners, looks all betrayed their royal personages. They were hearts broken to think of Yudhisthira the once greater emperor on the earth, to live as a subordinate to some one. All the Pandavas and Draupadi were quite upset and sad. Yudhisthira consoled them said, "Please don't be too overwhelmed with grief, I shall disguise as an expert dice player and seek the companionship of Virata as a brahmin well versed in all the Vedas, Shastras and dice playing.

Bhima, being fond of eating was an excellent cook. He thought he could seek employment as a cook in Virata's kitchen. Arjuna reminded them of Urvashi curse on him. He had to live as eunuch for one year. He could seek the job of dance teacher to the princess and other inmates of Virata's household. He, being an eunuch, would be accepted in Viratas private quarters meant for the womenfolk. Similarly, Nakula proposed that in view of his expert knowledge about the horses he would be ideal for a job in Viratas' stable. Sahdeva told about his special skill in the art of tending the cattle and animal-husbandry. Finally, Draupadi, thought of becoming a chamber-maid to the queen.

Thus, settling their occupations they reached near Virata. On the out skirts of the city they decided to hide their weapons so that they could retrieve them after a year. They concealed their weapons in a shroud like cloth, giving them a shape of a dead body. They landed this on a treetop.

Then, Yudhisthira was first to approach the court of Virata. The king watched a well-built brahmin of exceptional grace and dignity greeting him. Virata inquired from Yudhisthira who he was and the purpose of his visit to the court. Yudhisthira gave his story that he had been in Yudhisthira court and could play the game of dice expertly. Besides he was well versed in the Vedas, Shastras etc. Impressed by him, Virata offered to take him as his companion. Yudhisthira, gave his name as 'Kanka'.

Next to arrive was Bhima, "His magnificent physique attracted every one's attention". He told that he had been in charge of Yudhisthira's Kitchen and also taught wrestling since the Pandavas were out in exile he needed some position to support himself. Virata asked him to take charge of his royal kitchen and that of the gymnasium. He gave his name as Volala. When Arjuna came, he was dressed as a eunuch. Every one was laughing. But Arjuna, who had assumed that name of Brihannala told that she could teach dancing and singing to the princess. She was taught these arts by gandharvas and was the very best in the field. Convinced, the king offered her the position. She was to teach singing and dancing to the daughter of Virata, Uttara and her companions.

Draupadi could also reach the chambers of the queen Sudeshna. She also told the queen that she had been a maid to queen Draupadi. She told that she was an expert in hair making, perfumes and other adornments. Draupadi's job was not a easy one. Seeing the exceptional beauty of Draupadi queen was having apprehensions that the king might fall in love with her. Draupadi told the queen that she was married to five gandharvas who were very protective about her. Finally, she was also taken into queen's personal service. Nakula used to visit the king's stable appreciated the fine pedigree of the horses. Once king noticed him and the king wanted to know who the young and handsome man was. After some discussion about horses, the king did not have any doubts about his expert knowledge about the horses. Nakula was made incharge of the King's stable.

Sahdeva approached the king, pleading that he was an expert cowherd and a wanted a job. He too got a job to tend the kings' herds of cows and bulls. Thus all the Pandavas could find some positions for themselves in the king Viratas court. While Yudhisthira assumed the name of 'Kanka'. Bhima was known as 'Volala', Arjuna became 'Brihannala', the eunuch, Nakula named himself as 'Damagran' while Sahdeva was called 'Tantripala', Draupadi was called 'Sairandhri'. The Pandavas settled themselves comfortably. They found that their thirteenth year of living in disguise was not very difficult after all.

KARNA'S DREAM & A BRAHIM BEGGAR

KARNAS' DREAM

Yudhisthira was always having a secret of fear of Karna in his heart. Ever since his first appearance in the tournament where he challenged Arjuna, Karna appeared as a dark cloud over the horizon of the Pandavas invincibility to him. Sage Lomash while living with the Pandavas at their ashram told Yudhisthira that Indra himself was aware of the extra-ordinary power and skill of Karna. Indra was contemplating some steps to safeguard his son Arjuna. He was planning to deprive Karna of his special powers. It was during the year of in cognito exile of the Pandavas, when Lord Sun appeared to Karna in a dream. Sun was the Istadeva of Karna.

It was the Karna's custom to worship lord sun at mid day. At that hour any brahmin could approach him for any alms. Karna had never refused anything to any brahmin at that hour. Karna was extremely pleased to see his Istadeva in his dream. Sun spoke in voice full of love and compassion, "Listen carefully O, Karna, of what I say". It is well known that you cannot refuse a request made to you at the mid-day, after your worship is over. Taking advantage of this generosity of yours, Indra, who is partial to the Pandavas, is planning to come to you as a brahmin at mid day to ask for your Kavacha and Kundala. These kavacha and Kundala, of your are endowed with divine powers. No astra(weapon) can pierce your Kavacha. Thus you are safe from all the astras of Arjuna.

But once you part with your Kavacha and Kundala you shall become vulnerable. Touched by the love and affection in the voice, Karna asked with folded hands. Who are you who speak so lovingly. Then the person in dream said, I am Surya. I have tremendous affection for you. What I say is true. I don't want you to be cheated. I am your well wisher. Karna said, My lord I am so glad to have your vision. You know that at noon, after the prayer is over, anyone can ask for anything from me. I will not refuse, even if he asks for my life. Thereafter Karna woke up. His dream was broken. He could not sleep again. Karna was feeling a deep sensation after hearing the voice of his Istadeva Sun. He could not understand this sudden warning from him. He was left sitting engrossed in deep thoughts, events of his life coming to his mind.

THE BRAHMIN WITH A BEGGING BOWL

Karna, as was his long held custom, sat for his noon prayers. After the prayers were over, he saw a brahmin with his begging bowl and a long stick in his hand. He reverentially touched the feet of the brahmin and said, "I am honoured by your presence, What can I do to serve you."The Brahmin asked, I want to ask for your Kavacha and Kundala, if you can give it". "I neve refuse a request at this hour. I am unable to understand, though, what use can you make of my Kavacha and Kundalas, which are parts of me."said Karna. Brahmin was firm, "I want only these nothing else. If you cannot give, then I shall not insist. Karna,cut out his Kavacha and Kundala from his body and gave it to brahmin. He once again bowed to the brahmin., "What else can I do for you, O brahmin."In a moment the brahmin was transformed into a resplendent figure, wearing clothes of divine colour and lustre.

He said, "I am Indra, the king of gods."Indra told Karna that he was overwhelmed by his generosity. He wanted to know why had Karna given him his Kavacha and Kundala. Karna said. "I never refused any alms to any brahmin. I knew you were Indra disguised as brahmin. I know the purpose for which you wanted my Kavacha and Kundala. A brahmin may be true or false to his guise and to his dharma, but I cannot be false to my dharma of giving. Surya appeared to me in a dream and he had told me about your coming today. I am doubly blessed. I shall have the honour of giving something to the lord Indra who is the greatest giver himself. The saying "to give like Parjanya."

Indra was amazed at the greatness of a mere mortal. He said, "you are the greatest being. I have ever met. I am very pleased with you. You may ask for any boon. I shall grant you."Karna said, It does not seem graceful to accept anything in return for a gift given to someone. However, I want to ask you to give me the shakti. I do not want the people to say that king of gods acted dishonestly with Karna. Hence, I will accept your boon. Indra was even more impressed by this super human gracefulness, even in giving, away one's own life. He said, "winning and losing a war surviving or dying in a war, are too small things to matter to you. Your fame shall be everlasting. You are the greatest giver the world has ever known. Hence for the saying will not be 'to give like Parjanya' it shall be to give like Karna.' You shall enjoy eternal fame. Indra said, "My Shakti is useless against Arjuna as Krishna protects him. No astra in the world can harm anyone protected by Krishna. But your name is beyond winning and losing the war. Karna touched Indra's feet. Indra blessed him once more and left.

KILLING OF KEECHAKA:

Draupadi took no time in winning the heart of the queen through her sweet nature and skill in use of perfumes and flowers and other articles of adornments. The queen had already warned the king about the fierce gandharva husbands of Sairandhri. The king never cast his roving eyes on her. But trouble came from a different quarter. The brother of queen, Keechaka was a renowned warrior and the commander-in-chief of Virats' army. He was a man of evil nature. He had been away to conduct some war of behalf of the king. King was a virtual stooge in the hands of Keechaka. Keechaka returned from the war victorious, to a hero's welcome. After the formal reception was over in the court. Keechaka visited his sister's chamber. She also was very proud of her brother's achievements. Queen was very fond of her brother. It so happened that Draupadi was sitting in the private garden of the queen. Keechaka also visited the garden. He was wonder struck to behold such a beautiful woman in the garden of his sister. He has never seen any woman like her. He approached her and asked her who she was. Draupadi replied that she was Sairandhri, the flower maid of the queen.

Keechaka professed his love for her and promised her many things. Even offered her to make her his queen. He was willing to depose his brother-in-law and to take over as the king, Only if Sairandhri agree to become his queen. This put Sairandhri in great anger. She lashed out at Keechake that she was married to five gandharvas and they would definitely kill anyone who tried to molest her. She rejected Keechaka's advances with a contempt. But her beauty smote Keechaka. He was always trying to find some opportunity to declare his love for Sairandhri. Sairandhi told the queen about Keechaka's waywards and she also warned her that her husbands would kill her brother. Queen tried to reason with her brother. But Keechaka pleaded with the queen to send Sairandhri to his palace on some pretext.

The queen tried to resist her brother's unreasonable demands but finally she gave way. Once she called Sairandhri and told her to go to Keechaka palace to bring some wine. All pleadings of Sairandhri went in vain. Queen was adamant that she should go to Keechaka's palace to bring the wine. Draupadi went to Keechaka's palace to bring the wine. Lovesick Keechaka was waiting for her. He tried to grab her and pleaded with her to marry him. Draupadi ran away and Keechaka persued her. Draupadi reached the king's court.

Yudhisthira was playing a game of dice with the king. Bhima was also their for some work. Seeing Draupadi being chased by Keechaka, Bhima's anger knew no bounds. He tried to uproot a tree but Yudhisthira stopped him by a secret signal/ Draupadi told the king about Keechaka advances. King was afraid of Keechaka and he did nothing. Draupadi went out of the king's court crying. Draupadi was crying on her bed when Bhima came to her and in a soft voice tried to soothe her. She told Bhima about Keechaka evil attempts to molest her and pleaded with Bhima to do something. Bhima said that fifteen days still remained for their exile in disguise. If he killed Keechaka who was a warrior of awesome repute the identity of the Pandavas may be disclosed and again they would have to suffer twelve years exile in the forest. But Draupadi was inconsolable. Finally, Bhima suggested a plan of action. He told Draupadi that she should ask Keechaka to meet her at the hall at night where. Arjuna had been teaching dancing to the princess. The hall was in an isolated corner of the palace.

Draupadi, taking heart of Bhima's assurances, went back to perform her normal duties. Since the king did not take any action against Keechaka, he had become bolder. He again approached Draupadi and repeated his evil demand. This time Draupadi asked him to meet her alone during the night at the dancing hall. Keechaka was overjoyed. He was eagerly waiting for the hour of night to fall. At night he went to the hall where Draupadi had arranged their meeting. There was a bed in the far corner of the hall. As it was night Keechaka could not see clearly. He saw a blurred figure lying over the bed. Gladly he approached the bed. There, as he touched the body lying on the bed. Bhima, who had been waiting for Keechaka, lying on the bed, caught him. A great fight ensued and Bhima killed Keechaka. So fiery was Bhima anger that he crushed all the bones of Keechaka and his body became mutilated.

Bhima went away but many palace guards, alarmed by all the noise came to the hall. They found Draupadi and Keechakas' mutilated body. Draupadi told that as keechaka tried to molest her, her enraged gandharva husbands killed him. The news spread like wild fire in the palace all came rushing. Draupadi told the queen that she already warned Keechaka but he had not taken any notice. He tried to molest her and was killed by her gandharva-husbands. Draupadi requested the queen to allow her to live there for thirteen more days. After that, she told the queen that her husbands would come to take her. They were living under a curse, so they would not be able to come earlier. Queen, fearful of her husbands well-being allowed her to stay.

BATTLE WITH VIRAT

IN THE COURT OF HASTINAPURA

The spies of Duryodhana were roaming around the countries to find the news of the Pandavas. Their efforts did not bear any fruit. They were coming back to Hastinapura. One by one, to tell their stories. Everyone was in the court Bhishma, Dhritarastra, Duryodhana, Drona, and Karna etc. The spies were telling stories of their respective territories. One spy narrating his experiences remarked that, Keechaka the mighty warrior and commander-in-chief of the army of Matsya was killed by some unknown person in the middle of the night. He was killed because of a woman. It is said that her husbands are gandharvas and they were very angry with Keechaka. They not only killed Keechaka but also his brothers called Upkeechas.

Duryodhana speculated that since his spies could not find the Pandavas, they might have died. No other plausible explanation can be there.Drona said "Do not entertain such vain hopes. The Pandavas are blessed by the gods they cannot die in this manner. Bhishma also supported Dronas view. He too was not able to accept that the Pandavas could be dead. Many arguments were made. Some saner ones urged Duryodhana to give up his animosity towards the Pandavas and returned their kingdom after the exile was over. Others said that it was time to assemble the largest possible army. As on the return of the Pandavas war was inevitable. The side having bigger army would win.

All of a sudden Duryodhana was struck with an idea and he was deep in thought. The news of the spy about the killing of Keechaka set him thinking. He knew that Keechaka was a Maharathi. Only three persons could kill him in a combat. They were Balarama, Bhima and Salya. Obviously, Bhima was the cause of Keechaka’s death. The story of a woman and her gandharva husbands also fit into the picture.

Draupadi could be the woman whose beauty bewitched Keechaka and caused his death. The gandharva husbands could only be the Pandavas. He told the assembly about his conclusions. He said, "lets march to the Matsya country at once. The Pandavas are there. Once they are found out during their agyatavasa, they would have to suffer twelve more years of exile. He planned an immediate attack on Matsya.

The king of Trigartas, Susarma was also there in the court. He had an old grievance against Matsya. He said that he would lead the attack on the Matsya and settle his old scores. Karna approved of Susarma’s plans. It was decided that the Matsya kingdom would be attacked by Susarma from one side and from another Kauravas army would attack. The preparation for the attack began.

THE WAR WITH VIRATA

Mysteriously, cows of Virata were being stolen. Cowherds were not able to protect them. They ran to the court of the king. The king, hearing the cowherds, collected a huge army and marched to catch the cow thieves and to punish them. Yudhisthira suggested to the king that he, the chief of royal kitchen incharge of stable, and the incharge of cowsheds were great fighters and they would help the king. Thus king Virata took Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahdeva in his army. Soon they discovered that Trigarta brothers stole the cows.

The king challenged them. A big war began. Thanks to heroism shown by the Pandavas, the king Virata was victorious. The Trigarta, chief Susarma was taken a prisoner. The king Virata on advice of Yudhisthira released Susarma from captivity. Susarma had expected a very weak Virata army after the death of Keechaka, met with very unexpected and unpleasant Surprise in the Pandavas led Virata army. After the cows were restored from Trigartas, the cow thieves punished, the king returned to his capital amid great rejoicing.

Next day citizens of Virata were in for a surprise. The Kauravas’s army as per their plan attacked their city from the north side. They took away all their cows.The cowherds again came running to the kings court. Only Uttara Kumar, the son of a king was there sitting among the palace women, the young prince was busy playing music. The cowherd told him about the attack. The prince was young and was given to boosting. He started telling all the women in the palace how great warrior he was. All that was needed was a skilled charioteer. Then he will defeat all Kauravas easily. Controlling her laughter, Draupadi told Uttara, the princess that her dance teacher Brihannala was a charioteer of repute. He could rival Matali, the Indra’s charioteer in his skill. The princess, Uttara told her brother that Brihannala was the charioteer he needed.

The young prince set out for the battlefield. But after seeing the Kaurava army he became very nervous. He ran away from the battlefield. Arjuna, ran after him and caught him. Telling the prince about the dharma of the Kshatriyas. Arjuna asked him to act as his charioteer. The Perplexed prince did as he was told. Arjuna took the chariot to the tree in which his weapons were hidden.

After retrieving his Gandiva and other weapons Arjuna was ready to face the Kauravas. A fierce battle started. All the Kauravas together could not match Arjuna’s bravery and skill. They were routed. Arjuna defeated them single-handedly. Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna and Duryodhana all had to admit defeat. After the battle Arjuna came back to Virata’s palace with Uttara Kumar. After the prince knew that the great Pandavas had been serving in his Palace as menials he was aghast. Arjuna told him all the circumstances, which had caused them to serve in the Virata’s palace. Arjuna told the prince to keep quite and took the reins of the chariot and started towards the court of Virata.

PANDAVA'S EMERGENCE

THE BLOOD OF YUDHISTHIRA

King Virata came back from his battle with the Trigartas victorious. A great jubilation was there. The king went to the chambers of his queen. The princess Uttara told him that the Kauravas attacked their city form the north side and the young prince Uttara Kumar had gone to repel the attack. He was with eunuch Brihannala, who was his charioteer. The king sat down, very worried. Yudhisthira told that he should not worry. So long Brihannala was the charioteer no harm would come to the prince and he would come back after defeating the enemies. But king was still worried thinking about Bhishma, Karna, Drona and other Kauravas warriors. While he sat there dejected, the news came that the prince was coming back and he had defeated the Kauravas army.

The king became very excited with happiness. He asked Sairandhri to bring the dice. He wanted to play a game of dice with Kanka before the prince came. Yudhisthira said, "I told you that no army could face the prince since Brihannala was his charioteer," This irked the king no end. While he was happy about his son’s bravery, the mention of the name of Brhiannala, the eunuch made him lose his temper. He threw the dice at Yudhisthira. The dice hit Yudhisthira at head and blood started flowing from his head. Yudhisthira immediately cupped his hand to prevent the blood from dropping on the floor. He looked at Sairandhri. She rushed to him with a bowl of water. Yudhisthira washed his hands in the bowl, while Sairandhri tore pieces from her dress to wipe the blood.The king was amazed. He asked Sairandhri why did she tear of her precious silk garment to wipe the blood of the foolish brahmin Kanka?

Sairandhri Said, "if a drop of blood of this noble man touches the ground for one year there will be a famine. For each drop of blood touching the ground one-year famine will be there in your kingdom. Moreoever, if one drop of his blood touhces the ground, you along with all your relatives, lose your life. The blood is too precious, it must not be shed. The king was intrigued but did not speak.

There came the announcement that the prince and his charioteer, Brihannala were there. The king thanked the Brihannala formally and took his son in embrace. There was great rejoicing and celebrations to mark the unique victory of the prince over the Kauravas army. Yudhisthira kept his face averted from Arjuna and Bhima so that they may not notice the scar.

However, The scar was noticed by them and wanted to know from him what caused the scar. Yudhisthira told them the cause and Arjuna and Bhima wanted to punish Virata then and there. However, with great persuasion of Yudhisthira they could be pacified. Now the thirteenth year has come to an end. They decided to reveal their identity to Virata. Next day they abandoned their disguises, they dressed in their usual royal garments and sat on the thrones at the Viratas court. When Virata saw Kanka sitting on his throne, he was enraged. He said, "It is one thing to ammuse me with your skill of dice playing but how dare you sit on the royal throne?" Arjuna, sitting on another throne came to Virata and said, "You are fortunate to have Yudhisthira sitting on your throne.

He is fit to sit with Indra on his throne. No emperor on earth can claim equality with him." Virata was stupified. He asked them " Where are Bhima, Arjuna, Sahdeva. Nakula and Draupadi? All of them revealed themselves. Then the young prince came to the court. Uttara Kumar seeing all the Pandavas, told his father that it was Brihannala, who had defeated the Kauravas army. Virata fell of the feet of Yudhisthira and begged for his forgiveness for all the insults he had heaped on him unknowingly. Virata was so overcome with emotion that he offered his kingdom at the feet of Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira said, that he did not desire Virata kingdom. He said that the Pandavas had good time in his court. He was not angry with Virata at all.

In the meantime, Prince Uttara Kumar came with his sister Uttara. Virata said that he was extremely pleased with Arjuna and he wanted to marry his daughter Uttara to him. Yudhisthira looked at Arjuna and asked him to reply to Virata. Arjuna said, "My lord, I am very grateful for your kind offer. But I cannot accept Uttara as my bride. She had been my student. She is a daughter to me. As such, I can accept her as my daughter-in-law. My son Abhimanyu is a nephew of Krishna and also his pupil. He is suitable husband for Uttara in every respect. Saying this Arjuna affectionately took Uttara on his lap. He said, "You are my daughter now." Yudhisthira and Virata were very pleased with Arjuna. The good news flew in all directions and the wedding of Abhimanyu was to be celebrated with unprecedented pomp and Gaiety.

For the wedding, Krishna Balaram and all Vrishnis with their queens arrived. Wedding was celebrated in a city called Upaplavya. All the kings came. Abhimanyu was as handsome as Arjuna and the bride Uttara was cynosure of all eyes. All blessed the couple. Sometime was spent by all in Virata where queen Sudeshna was now a perfect hostess and always in attendance to cater to every wish of Draupadi and Subhadra. The end of the Pandavas exile ended on a very happy and auspicious note. Everyone was very happy at Abhimanyu wedding.