YEAR OF EXILE IN HIDING
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
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.
DREAM & A BRAHIM BEGGAR
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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?
"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.