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Virata Parva


Chapter One

Plans for the Thirteenth Year


It was now the beginning of the thirteenth year of their exile, and the Pandavas had to choose some place of residence where they would not be discovered. Yudhisthira inquired from Arjuna about any country where they might reside for the last year of exile. Arjuna replied, "There are many beautiful places to choose from. I can suggest Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Dvaraka, Shalva, Avanti, Kalinga and Videha. Out of all of these, I suggest the kingdom of the Matsyas. The monarch there is Virata, who is a virtuous King, powerful and liked by all. Of course, there are many other cities that are also suitable, but I think that city is the only place where we will not be discovered."

Yudhisthira replied, "I agree with this proposal that we go to the kingdom of Virata for our thirteenth year."

"O god among men," Arjuna inquired, "what service will you perform in Virata's kingdom having lived all these years as a king?"

"O sons of the Kuru race," Yudhisthira replied "listen to what service I will perform in Virata's kingdom. Presenting myself as a brahmana, Kanka by name, I shall become the advisor of the King. Expert in dice and chess, I shall entertain the King and his followers. Bhima, how will you disguise yourself from the spies of Duryodhana?"

"I intend to present myself before the King as a cook," Bhima replied, "bearing the name Vallabha. I will profess that I am skilled in the culinary art, and I shall prepare very delicious food for the King. For the king's pleasure I shall wrestle with elephants and strong men alike. I will tell the King that formerly I was the wrestler and cook for King Yudhisthira. Thus, O King, I shall maintain myself."

"O Partha," Yudhisthira inquired, "how will you disguise yourself upon entering the kingdom of Virata?"

"O lord of the earth," Arjuna replied, "I shall declare in front of the King that I am a eunuch, one of the neuter sex. In order to hide the bow marks on my arms, I shall wear bangles. I will decorate my ears with brilliant rings and braid my hair down my back. I shall, O King, appear as one of the third sex, Brihannala by name. I shall also instruct the women of Virata's palace in singing and delightful styles of dancing. I will tell the King I lived as a maidservant to Draupadi, the queen of the Pandavas."

"O heroic Nakula," Yudhisthira inquired, "you are deserving of every luxury. What position will you assume while living in Virata's kingdom?"

"Under the name Granthika," Nakula replied, "I shall become the keeper of Virata's horses. I have thorough knowledge of this art, and I am skillful in tending horses. O bull of the Bharata race, I will tell the King that formerly I was employed by Yudhisthira in taking care of the horses in his stables."

Yudhisthira then questioned Sahadeva, "How, O Sahadeva, will you keep yourself hidden in the kingdom of Virata for this last year of exile?"

"I will take care of the King's cows," Sahadeva replied. "I am skilled in milking cows, how to tame them, and take their history. No one will be able to recognize me, and I will be very pleasing to the King. I will go by the name Tantripal."

Yudhisthira then turned to his queen and inquired, "O dearest Draupadi, how will you be able to hide your beauty for this period of one year. You have only known garlands, perfumes and the finest clothing. How will you disguise yourself in this last year of our exile?"

"I will present myself before the queen as a maidservant," Draupadi replied, "and my name will be Sairindhri, skilled in dressing hair. I shall serve Sudeshna, the King's favorite wife, and thus I shall pass my days in concealment."

"Let those who are with us," Yudhisthira ordered, "the brahmanas, the maidservants, the charioteers with the chariots, and the cooks go to Drupada's kingdom and inform him, 'We have been left by the Pandavas in the Dvaitavana forest, and we do not know where they have gone.'" After giving this order and bidding farewell to Dhaumya and the others, the Pandavas set out for the kingdom of Virata.

When they arrived near the outskirts of the kingdom, Yudhisthira questioned Arjuna, "O Dhananjaya, where shall we leave our weapons for this one year period? If we enter this city armed, the citizens will become alarmed. Also this bow Gandiva is known to everyone, and if we are discovered, we will surely have to enter the forest for another twelve years."

"Just on top of this hill is a Shami tree that is not easily accessible," Arjuna replied. "If we leave our weapons in an animal skin on top of that tree, then we can enter the city free from anxiety." The brothers then climbed the hill and piled their weapons at the bottom of the tree. The weapons were then wrapped in an animal skin, and hung from the strongest tree branch. On being asked by the local men what the corpse was, the Pandavas told them that it was the dead body of their mother who was one hundred and eighty years old. The Pandavas then entered the city of Virata. Yudhisthira kept five names other than the ones they would identify themselves by. In cases of emergency they would refer to themselves as Jaya, Jayanta, Vijaya, Jayatsena, and Jayatvala.

As Yudhisthira was entering the Virata's capital, he began to offer his prayers to the goddess Durga and asked her for protection in this last year of exile. The goddess was pleased with his prayers and appeared before him offering benedictions, "O mighty armed King, listen to my words. After having slain the ranks of the Kauravas in battle, you will be successful in regaining the throne. You and your brothers shall again rule this earth planet with all its kingdoms. By my grace you will be victorious, and during this thirteenth year, you will not be discovered by the spies of Duryodhana." Having said this much, the goddess disappeared.

Yudhisthira then entered Virata's imperial court at the time when the King was seated with his counselors. As Yudhisthira was approaching the throne, Virata could see that this was no ordinary person. In the dress of a brahmana Yudhisthira informed the King, "O great King, know me to be a brahmana, who has lost all his possessions and come to you seeking sustenance. My name is Kanka, and I was previously an adviser to the great King Yudhisthira. Since that pious King has gone to the forest, I have now come to you for shelter."

"I will grant you whatever benediction you desire," Virata replied. "You appear to be capable of ruling the kingdom of the Matsyas. By your demeanor it appears that I should remain a servant to you. You appear to be a demigod who deserves a kingdom."

"Grant me the benediction," Yudhisthira replied, "that whoever I defeat at dice will not be able to keep their wager. I also do not want to argue with low born people I may defeat at the game."

 "I shall certainly kill anyone who displeases you," King Virata replied, "or I shall banish him from this kingdom. Let the assembled subjects listen to this order. Kanka is as much a lord of this kingdom as I myself. He shall ride the same chariot that I ride, and eat the same food that I eat. We shall make decisions about the future of the Kingdom together. He need not fear anything as long as he lives in my kingdom."

On another day there came to the court, Bhima, walking with a playful gait like a lion, and holding a cooking ladle and a spoon. He was also holding a spotless stainless steel sword. When Virata saw Bhima, he questioned him in wonder, "Who is this youth that walks like a lion. He is radiant like the rising sun, and his handsome features are like the heavenly denizens."

Bowing before the King, Bhima informed the him of his identity, "O foremost of Kings, I am a chef, Vallabha by name. I am skilled in culinary art and also in wrestling. Will you please employ me in your kitchen? I was formerly King Yudhisthira's cook, and he used to relish the delicacies that I prepared. I can also wrestle and fight with lions and tigers for your pleasure."

"I will offer you benedictions," Virata replied. "You do not appear to be a chef but the emperor of this entire earth. However, if you desire, you may be the head cook in my kitchen." Thus appointed by the King, Bhima soon became a favorite to Virata who relished the meals he prepared.

After Bhima had been established in the king's court, Draupadi entered the city of Virata. She wore dirty clothes, and tried to hide her beautiful black hair by covering it with a cloth. Her eyes and smile were charming to anyone who saw them. Out of curiosity, the women approached her and asked who she was seeking. She told them that she was formerly a maidservant to a queen, and she was looking for shelter. When the women saw her extreme beauty, they doubted that she was telling the truth. While she was wandering here and there, Virata's queen, Sudeshna saw her and questioned her, "O beautiful one, who are you, and what are you seeking?"

"O foremost queen," Draupadi replied, "I am Sairindhri, and my desire is to serve you, and see to your comforts."

"I cannot believe that you are a maidservant," the queen said. "Your beauty is unexcelled in this world. Your body is well developed, and you appear to be the goddess of fortune herself. Are you an Apsara, a Gandharva or Indra's queen? Please tell me where you have come from."

"I tell you truthfully that I am a maidservant," Draupadi replied, "Formerly I served Krishna's favorite queen Satyabhama, and also the wife of the Pandavas, Draupadi. I wander about alone earning good food and dress."

Hearing Draupadi's explanation, Sudeshna said, "If the King sees your beauty, he will surely renounce me and accept you as his only queen. What man who sees your faultless features could resist you? How shall I protect you in my court?"

"O fair lady," Draupadi replied, "neither Virata nor any other person will be able to touch me for I am married to five Gandharva husbands, who are the sons of a King. They always protect me. It is my husbands' wish that I should serve only such persons who will give me food not touched by another, or persons who do not demand that I wash their feet. Any man who attempts to seduce me meets death that very night."

"If you have told me the truth," Sudeshna said, "then I will offer you service in my chambers, for you bring delight to my heart. You will not have to eat another's food or touch another's feet."

Then dressed like a cowherdsmen and carrying a staff, Sahadeva entered Virata's capital. He came to the cowpens of Virata, and when the King saw him, he marveled at his stature. He questioned him, "Who are you, and where do you come from?"

"I am a vaishya," Sahadeva replied, "Tantripal by name. I was formerly employed by Emperor Yudhisthira, and used to tend his cows. Now that he has been exiled to the forest, I wish to be employed in taking care of your cows."

"Your stature indicates a monarch able to rule this earth with all its seas and islands," Virata said. "However, I have one hundred thousand cows that you may take charge of. They are divided into distinct herds and are of the best breed." After receiving permission from the King, Sahadeva took charge of the cows.

Next came to the city, Arjuna, who was wearing the ornaments of a woman. He wore jeweled earrings and bracelets made of conch, overlaid with gold. His hair was braided like that of a woman. When Virata saw that bull among men dressed in this fashion, he was astonished. He spoke to Arjuna, "You are like a demigod, for power and beauty emanates from every part of your body, and you walk with a lion's gait. Certainly, you are not a eunuch as you appear to be dressed. I have grown old, and you are a fit person to inherit my kingdom."

"I sing, dance and play on musical instruments," Arjuna replied. "My name is Brihannala, and I have no father or mother. I will prove to be a good teacher to your daughter, Uttara."

"I will grant your desire," King Virata said, "but it does not seem the proper position for you. You seem to have the capabilities to rule this entire world." The King then had Arjuna examined, and when it was learned that actually he was impotent, the King sent Arjuna into his daughter's chambers to give instructions in dancing.

There then came to Virata's capital, Nakula, the last of the Pandavas to enter the city. When the King saw him, he summoned Nakula and inquired, "You appear to be a great warrior, and your handsome features are divine. Please tell me who you are, and where you have come from?"

"O King," Nakula replied, "my name is Granthika, and I used to serve Emperor Yudhisthira by taking care of his horses. I am familiar with the mood of horses, and I know how to tame them. I also know how to treat their diseases and keep them from becoming diseased. Please allow me to take care of your horses."

"Whatever horses are in my domain," Virata replied, "I put under your charge, but this office does not suit you. You look as much a King as I do. Your presence here pleases me as much as if the great King Yudhisthira were present himself."

When the disguised Pandavas were thus respectfully received by King Virata, they began to dwell in that kingdom without being detected by anyone. Even though the spies of Duryodhana came to that region, they could not find the Pandavas, because they were protected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna Himself. Thus the spies of Duryodhana were deluded by the external potency of the Lord, and they could not recognize the Pandavas even though they were standing right in front of them.


Thus Ends the First Chapter of the Virata Parva, Entitled, Plans for the Thirteenth Year.


Chapter Commentary


One may ask why the Pandavas took so much effort to remain concealed when they were blessed by demigods such as Yamaraja and the goddess Durga. The answer is that a devotee is always humble and never proud. Yamaraja had benedicted them they they could walk the earth in their very same forms and dress, and not be discovered. So why bother trying to hide? The Pandavas business was to remain concealed for the thirteenth year, and therefore, they followed their plan despite being benedicted by the devas. The Pandavas never thwarted their benedictions.

One may also ask why Yudhisthira prayed to the goddess Durga for protection from being detected. To facilitate one's service, one may pray to the demigods for help. What was Yudhisthira's service? Lord Krishna wanted him to reign as emperor of the entire world. The last year of exile had to be passed incognito before Yudhisthira could accept the throne. The Gopis prayed to the Goddess Durga to have Lord Krishna as their husband, and Yudhisthira prayed for assistance in his service to Lord Krishna. Yudhisthira never considered the Goddess Durga supreme.



Chapter Two



The Pandavas resided for three months in the kingdom of Virata, serving each others demands and remaining undetected. In the fourth month of the thirteenth year of exile a grand festival was planned, and wrestlers and athletes came from all parts of the country. They were strongly built, and their thick necks resembled those of a lion. They had all won many contests in the presence of great kings, and they so hoped to win the competition in Virata's kingdom. Amongst the wrestlers was one who excelled the rest, because he was taller and stronger than all others. He defeated anyone who came before him, and this disappointed the other wrestlers.

Not tolerating the prowess of this wrestler, King Virata called for his cook, Vallabha and ordered him to fight in the competition. Bhima was a little reluctant for fear of being discovered, but he couldn't disobey the king's orders. Bhima approached the arena to the delight of the assembled crowd. The wrestler's name was Jimuta and was compared to the demon Vritrasura in prowess. They faced each other like a couple of angry elephants. Each opponent was able to pick the other up and throw him on the ground. There was fighting, pushing, shoving, and embracing; all executed with great expertise. Both looked equally qualified, and both were hopeful of victory. They kicked each other and dug their nails into each others body. Their heads collided like two boulders making a great sound. Those two broad-chested, long-armed heroes pulled and pressed, and whirled and hurled each other and struck each other with their knees, expressing their disgust for one another. They began to fight with bare arms which were like iron spiked maces. At last the invincible and mighty-armed Bhima, the slayer of his enemies, shouting aloud, seized Jimuta by his sturdy arms, and lifted him up. He began to whirl him round and round, to the great astonishment of the audience. And having whirled him around a hundred times till he was insensible, the stout-armed Vikrodara dashed him to his death on the ground. When the famed Jimuta was killed in this way, Virata and the Matsyas were very pleased and congratulated him. The King then caused him to fight with the other wrestlers and when all were defeated, he ordered Bhima to fight with lions and tigers, and also elephants. Witnessing the unearthly power of Bhima, King Virata was pleased and bestowed upon him all kinds of wealth.

Ten months had now passed in the Virata's capital, and the Pandavas were living peacefully without being discovered. One day, toward the end of the year, the commander in chief of Virata's army, Kichaka, returned to the city. He seemed invincible and had conquered many lands including the powerful Trigartas. His sister, Sudeshna, was the King's wife. It so happened that will going to visit his sister he saw the attractive Draupadi in Sudeshna's garden, and he was struck with love. He approached his sister and asked who the beautiful girl was. Sudeshna told him that she was her maidservant. Kichaka said, "This woman has the beauty of a celestial Apsara and is fit to decorate my palace. She is surely the cure for my ailing heart. Certainly she is ill-suited to serve you, and therefore, she may rule over me and whatever is mine."

Kichaka then left his sister and approached Draupadi like a jackal in the forest attacking a lioness. He flattered her with sweet words, "Who are you and who is your husband? You appear to be a goddess like Laksmi or perhaps a heavenly maiden. Every part of your body is perfectly formed, and your speech is just like nectar. Upon seeing your uncommon features, a burning desire has arisen in my heart. If you become my queen, I will give you all the opulence that you deserve. Give up this lowly life of a maidservant and become my wife. Kuvera's opulence awaits you, and I will serve you like a slave."

Hearing this marriage proposal, Draupadi replied, "A maidservant of a low caste does not deserve to become the wife of a king. Besides I am already married, and therefore, you should not let adultery enter your mind for it does not befit the conduct of a great king. You should take delight only in your own queens and not in the wives of others. This leads only to calamity."

Conquered by lust and losing control over his senses, forgetting the reactions to sinful activities, the wicked Kichaka again tried to seduce Draupadi with his words, "You should not neglect me for I have come under your influence. Try to understand that I am the real lord of this kingdom, and there is no one on earth who can defeat me. I excel all in handsome features, strength, youth and prosperity. Upon becoming my wife, I will confer upon you all my kingdom. Therefore accept me and enjoy the opulence you deserve."

When Kichaka proposed again with these lusty words, the chaste daughter of King Drupada replied, "Do not act so foolishly, and do not throw away your life. Know that I am protected, and you cannot force me to be your wife. I have five Gandharva husbands, and if they are provoked, they will certainly kill you. Therefore, do not unnecessarily cause your own death. You are desiring an object that can never be yours. You are like a child laying in the lap of its mother and crying for the moon. Give up this sinful idea of taking another's wife and save yourself from a hellish reaction."

Kichaka could not be swayed from his determination. He went to his sister and requested her, "You should act in such a way that I may win this woman for my wife. I am craving a great lust for her, and I can think of nothing else."

Sudeshna offered a solution, "When the next festival comes, I will request from you some of the best wines. At that time I will send Sairindhri to your palace. When she has arrived, you may speak to her in solitude about this matter, and perhaps she may become inclined toward you."

As it so happened when the next festival day came, Sudeshna approached Draupadi and ordered her, "Get up my maidservant, and make your way to my brother's palace. I am thirsty for the finest wine, and it is he only who can satisfy my thirst."

"O princess," Draupadi replied, "I shall not be able to go to Kichaka's palace for he is shameless. I cannot lead a lustful life, unchaste to my husbands. Do you remember the conditions upon which I agreed to become your maidservant? The foolish Kichaka, upon seeing me, will try to violate my chastity. Therefore do not send me, for you have many others who can go in my place."

"Kichaka is not one to molest women," The queen said. "This I can promise you. Now go quickly, and do as I ask. I do not want to hear another word."

Draupadi was forced by circumstances to follow her order. She started to make her way to Kichaka's palace, taking with her a golden vessel for carrying wine. She began to mentally pray to the demigods to help her, and answering her prayers, the sun god sent one very powerful Rakshasa to guard her. He remained invisible and could not be seen by anyone. When Draupadi entered the palace of Kichaka, that wicked person rose from his seat and came to her. "O princess," He said, "today is auspicious because you have become the mistress of my house. I will bring you the finest dresses as well as jewelry set with rubies, diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. Come sit with me and enjoy life. I have a beautiful bed prepared for you that we both can enjoy."

Hearing this licentious proposal, Draupadi replied, "I have been sent here by the queen to bring wine back to her palace. Please fill this vessel for I must leave soon." As Draupadi began to leave the palace, Kichaka grabbed her arm. Draupadi, looking like an angered cobra, rebuked him, "I have never been unfaithful to my husbands even at heart. O wicked person, I shall see you beaten and lying dead on the ground." Kichaka then seized her by her upper garment as she attempted to run away. As Kichaka attempted to bring her near him, she was unable to tolerate it, and slapped him to the ground. She then ran to Virata's imperial court where she hoped to receive protection from Yudhisthira and the King. As she was running into the court, Kichaka again grabbed her and kicked her in the side in the presence of the King. The invisible Rakshasa, who was protecting Draupadi, then gave Kichaka a shove, and overpowered by that force, he fell down to the ground senseless. Both Bhima and Yudhisthira witnessed the outrage against Draupadi. Bhima, desiring to finish Kichaka's life, gnashed his teeth, and his forehead was covered with sweat. Fire appeared in his eyes, as he rose from his chair next to the King. However, before he could take another step, he was grabbed by Yudhisthira who was bent on keeping the disguise for the last month of exile. He ordered Bhima, "Go look for trees to use as cooking fuel. Take your passions out on them."

Draupadi then pleaded with the King, "Alas, this Suta's son has kicked the wife of those who will take his life for this insult. He has offended the wife of those whose prowess knows no bounds. Alas, this son of a Suta has kicked the proud and beloved wife of those who, although in disguise, always grant protection to those who ask for it. Why do those heroes not take action when their wife is insulted in this manner. Oh, where is the wrath of my husbands who cannot stand to see their wife insulted by this wicked wretch. O King, why do you sit there and allow this injustice to go on. Your behavior is like a coward and does not befit your court. These assistants of yours have the same mentality."

When the Matsya King heard Draupadi's rebuking words, he instructed her, "Whatever happened to you has happened out of our sight. Not knowing the real circumstances, how can I administer justice impartially?" However, when the King's counselors heard what had happened, they endorsed Draupadi and chastised Kichaka.

 Yudhisthira then advised Draupadi, "Do not stay here, O Sairindhri, but retire to the apartments of the queen. Your Gandharva husbands do not consider this an occasion for manifesting their wrath, for they have not come to your aid. In the future your husbands will fulfill your desire and take the life of him who has harmed you."

Hearing Yudhisthira's advice Draupadi replied, "Those husbands of mine to whom I am wedded, I think, are kind. The oldest of them is addicted to dice and is liable to be oppressed by all." After saying these words, Draupadi ran from the palace to the quarters of Sudeshna. When the Queen saw her weeping, she inquired what had happened, and Draupadi told her everything. The queen said, "I will today order my brother's death if it pleases you." Draupadi replied, "There are others who will kill him. For this wrong he will have to enter Yamaraja's abode."

Draupadi then went to her quarters and thought of how Virata's general could be killed. She reflected for a while and thought of her husband, Bhima. After dark when everyone was asleep, Draupadi made her way to the place where her lord was sleeping. Draupadi entered her husband's quarters intending to provoke Bhima to action, "How can you sleep while that wretched Kichaka lives. Are you not affected by the sinful act he committed against me?" Upon embracing her husband she said, "Arise, arise! Why do you sleep there like a dead person. Only a dead person could tolerate the wrong that has happened to me today."

Upon hearing Draupadi's distraught words, Bhima rose up from his bed half dazed and inquired, "Please tell me why you have come here in the dead of night. I will accomplish what ever you want, but it must be done before others awaken from sleep. I alone, O Krishna, am able to deliver you from the suffering you feel."

"Do you remember," Draupadi asked, "when that monstrous Duhshasana tried to disrobe me in the assembly hall at Hastinapura? I had to tolerate that insult while you elder brother gambled away our kingdom as well as myself. I also had to tolerate the attack by the sinful Jayadratha, and today I had to tolerate another insult, even while my husbands looked on. Is it that all my husbands are cowards? I cannot go to Yudhisthira for help, nor can Arjuna help me. Nakula and Sahadeva will only act according to the desires of Yudhisthira. You alone love me, and therefore, I have come to you. I have been suffering all these months, serving as a menial servant to this queen. Look at my hands that are filled with callouses from grinding sandal paste for that woman." Draupadi then showed Bhima her delicate hands that were not fit for menial work.

Bhima was aroused to action, and encouraged her, "After seeing what happened today, I would have slaughtered the entire house of the Matsyas if it had not been for the restraining glance of Yudhisthira. I can understand his intentions. The thought of our being deprived of our kingdom, and the thought that the unscrupulous Duryodhana, Duhshasana, Karna and Shakuni are still living is burning my heart like a javelin. O beautiful lady, do not sacrifice our disguise, and try to subdue your wrath. If King Yudhisthira were to hear your reprimand, he would give up his life, as would Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Remember the hardships Sita endured on behalf of Rama, and also remember the outcome of such patience. There is now only half a month left till the exile is finished. If you wait till that time, I promise you I will mutilate the body of the wicked Kichaka."

Draupadi's anger only increased as Bhima tried to pacify her. She then prodded him further, "This sinful Kichaka will not be satisfied with what has happened today. He will come again to fulfill his lusty desires. I told him that my five Gandharva husbands would protect me, but when they did not come, surely he will not think twice to approach me again. If tomorrow the sun shines on the head of this Kichaka, I will take poison and kill myself rather than see that sinful person's face." Then crying, Draupadi pressed her face on the chest of her lord. Bhima tried to console Draupadi as much as possible, but an anger then arose in his heart at the thought of the wicked Kichaka. Bhima then promised his dear wife, "I will do as you say. I will kill Kichaka and all his friends. Near here is the dancing hall that the King has erected for the use of dancing girls. It is used during the day and vacant at night. There in that hall is an excellent bed. Tell Kichaka to come there in the middle of the night. While you are talking with him make sure that no one sees you." Feeling satisfied that she was protected, Draupadi then returned to her quarters.

In the morning the vain Kichaka approached Draupadi and spoke to her the following words, "In the presence of the King I threw you down and kicked you, but still he did not act. Virata is the Matsya king in name only. I am in truth the real monarch for it is I who protect and guard this kingdom. Come and be my wife, and I will give you all the opulence you deserve. I will become your slave; do not deny me. Let our union take place."

"O Kichaka," Draupadi replied, "I will fulfill your lusty desires, but only under my conditions. Neither your brothers nor your friends should know of our secret meeting, for I am in great fear of being detected by my husbands. Just near here is a dancing hall recently erected by King Virata. It is vacant at night. Come there in the middle of the night so that our love affair will not be known by others."

"Afflicted by the god of love," Kichaka said, "I will come alone so that your five husbands will not know of our love affair."

Reflecting on the conversation with Draupadi, Kichaka spent the rest of the day as if it were many years. The stupid Kichaka did not know that death was on his head. Deprived of his senses by lust, he spent his time adorning his person with valuable oils, the finest silken clothes, garlands and many valuable ornaments. Thinking of Draupadi's beauty, he was like a burning wick that was about to expire.

While Kichaka was preparing himself for his evening escapade, Draupadi went to the kitchen and and informed Bhima of everything that had taken place. Bhima promised to kill the vile Suta's son that night in the dancing hall. Draupadi then retired to her apartments. When nightfall came Bhima disguised himself and went to the dancing hall, waiting under the bed covers for the sinful Kichaka. He was like a lion waiting for a deer. Kichaka then entered the dark hall and came to the bed that was in one corner of that room. As he approached the bed, he could see that someone was lying there, and he took the person to be Draupadi. Kneeling next to the bed, he lustfully spoke to who he thought was Draupadi, "O beautiful lady, I have already arranged all kinds of wealth for your pleasure. A beautiful mansion awaits you as well as a hundred maidservants. Gold, silver, jewels, and whatever you desire is at your disposal. After arranging all these opulences for your enjoyment, I have come to you. Upon seeing me leave the palace, the women have commented, 'There is none in this world equal to you in handsome features and dress.'"

Hearing the seductive words of Kichaka, Bhima imitated Draupadi's voice, "It is very good that you are handsome, and it is very good that you praise yourself so much. I think, however, that you have not experienced power of my hands. You are skilled in the art of love making and are a favorite of women. There is none like you in the world." Saying this and laughing, Bhima rose up and roared, "You diabolic wretch, I shall, today, mutilate your body for kicking my wife. When you are killed, my wife will feel satisfaction, and we, also, will live in peace."

After saying this, Bhima seized Kichaka by his beautifully combed hair, which was adorned with garlands. Kichaka quickly grabbed Bhima's hands, and there ensued a hand to hand combat like that of two powerful elephants. Kichaka was furious and embarrassed, and attacked Bhima with all his potency. Bhima, however, did not waver a step. Locked in each other's tight grip and dragging each other, they fought like two bulls for the sake of a cow. Bhima then squeezed Kichaka with all his might, but Kichaka threw Bhima to the ground. Those mighty warriors fought on, and the crashing of their arms sounded like bamboos splitting. Vikrodara threw Kichaka down with great force. He tossed him about by his arms till he grew weak and began to tremble. Despite his weakness, Kichaka attacked Bhima, kicked him with his knees and brought him down to the ground. Overthrown by the powerful Kichaka, Bhima rose up again like Yamaraja after defeating his enemies.

And thus the powerful Bhima and the Suta wrestled in that great hall in the middle of the night. They thundered at each other and shouted abusive words. As they moved gracefully around each other, the whole building began to tremble. Bhima hit Kichaka on the chest with all his power, but the mighty Kichaka did not move an inch. However, this was all the Suta could withstand. Kichaka was growing feeble, and seeing his faltering condition, Bhima forcible embraced Kichaka and began to press hard. Kichaka could not breathe and Bhima, seeing him exhausted, began to whirl him around till he began to scream frightfully like a broken trumpet. In order to pacify Krishna's (Draupadi) wrath, Vikrodara began to squeeze Kichaka's throat while kicking his body with his knees. When all the bones in Kichaka's body were broken, he lay there deprived of life. His eyes were still rolling and his body was trembling. Bhima, emotional with intense hatred, then thrust Kichaka's arms, legs, and head into his body. Crushing Kichaka in this astonishing way, he reduced him to a ball of flesh. The invincible Bhima then revealed to Draupadi Kichaka's mutilated body. He lit a torch and showed her the ball of flesh. "Come, O princess of Panchala," he said, "and see what has become of this immoral person." He then kicked Kichaka's body, showing his wife the reaction that will come to those who insult her. He then said, "O my wife, those who will harm you shall meet the same end as Kichaka has met." Bhima then left Draupadi and went back to his quarters.

Draupadi went to the door of the dancing hall and awakened all the nearby people with the sound of her voice. When the people came with lit torches and saw Kichaka's mutilated body, they exclaimed, "Where are his arms and where is his head?"

Draupadi announced to all assembled, "Behold Kichaka's mutilated body! He tried to violate my chastity, but my five Gandharva husbands came here and killed him in the same way a lion kills a deer."

Soon all the brothers and relatives of Kichaka arrived, and when they saw Kichaka's mangled body lying there like a tortoise, the hairs on their body stood on end out of fear. Kichaka's brothers then cast their angry eyes upon Draupadi who was nearby leaning against a pillar. "Let this unchaste woman be killed for causing our brother's death," they said. "Since he wanted her for his wife, let her be cremated along with our brother so that in the next life all his desires will be fulfilled." Kichaka's brothers forcibly grabbed Draupadi and took her into the presence of the King. They requested Virata, "It is for her sake that Kichaka has lost his life. Let her, therefore, be cremated along with him. It is your obligation to allow this to take place since he was your commander in chief." Virata immediately gave his assent to the proposal, remembering the victorious battles Kichaka had won for him.

Binding Draupadi to the same palanquin as Kichaka's, Kichaka's brothers proceeded to the burial grounds. Draupadi cried aloud exclaiming, "Oh, Jaya, Jayanta, Vijaya, Jayatsena and Jayatvala! Listen to my words! The Sutas are taking me away. Let my Gandharva husbands come immediately and save my life!"

Hearing the distraught calls of Draupadi, Bhima arose from his bed and exclaimed, "I have heard your words, O timid lady, and you have nothing to fear at the Sutas' hands!" Bhima then left the palace and jumped over the city walls by means of a tree. He then rushed to cremation grounds and beheld a huge tree, forty feet in height. He uprooted it, stripped it of branches, and placed it on his shoulders. He then rushed towards the Sutas in the same way Yamaraja rushes at his enemies with mace in hand. Seeing Bhima running toward them with that upraised tree, Kichaka's brothers, numbering one hundred and five, became panic stricken. They immediately left Draupadi and ran toward the city. However, they were not quick enough, for Bhima pounded thirty brothers into the ground with several blows of the tree. With several more swings he knocked the remaining brothers into shapeless masses. He thus dispatched them all to Yamaraja's abode by means of that tree. Setting Draupadi free, Bhima consoled her, "This is what happens to those who have offended you. Return to the city. You will no longer have any fear. I, myself, will return to Virata's kitchen by another path."

When the citizens of Virata's capital learned what had happened, they were horror stricken. After Draupadi again entered the city, they fled in different directions. Some went to Virata and told him that Sairindhri's five Gandharva husbands had slain Kichaka's one hundred and five brothers, and that they now lay on the ground like huge mountain peaks. For the protection of the city, they asked that she not be allowed to enter. The King then called for Sudeshna and ordered her, "Tell Sairindhri that she may go to whatever province she likes, but she can no longer stay here." He then sent the queen back to her apartments. When Draupadi arrived, the queen gave her the King's order, "The King has ordered you to leave the kingdom. You are undoubtedly unparalleled in beauty to any other woman on earth. You will be the object of lusty desire by all men. Your husbands are exceedingly wrathful."

"O beautiful lady," Draupadi replied, "Let the King allow me to live here for thirteen days more. Without doubt my husbands will then take me away, and you will certainly be benefitted. I will not leave the palace until that time." Agreeing with the desires of her maidservant, Sudeshna allowed Draupadi to remain in the palace unseen by others.


Thus Ends the Second Chapter of the Virata Parva, Entitled, Kichaka.


Chapter Commentary


Here we see the reaction to adulterous activity. All the scriptures of the world say that one should not commit adultery. In the Islamic tradition if a man is not satisfied with one wife, he may take up to four. In the Christian tradition only one wife is allowed. In the days of Vedic culture, if a man was not satisfied with one wife, he could take as many wives as he could support. But in all bona fide scriptures adultery is forbidden, because the reaction to such activity is severe. One has to suffer in Yamaraja's abode after this life. Sex life is the binding force in this world, and only in the animal species can one have unlimited sex life. Those desiring unlimited sex are born in those species that facilitate such activity, like a rabbit, monkey or pigeon. Therefore, in the human form of life, sex is regulated with he idea that it will be eventually given up. As long as one is addicted to gross sex desire, he must be reborn in this world.

The Vedic system trains a person to be free from sex desire. First a person is trained to be a brahmachary or celibate student. If the student cannot maintain such a vow, he is allowed to marry. When the householder reaches the age of 50, he should become a Vanaprastha. This is a time when the children are grown up, and the household couple are free to travel to different places of pilgrimage. They take a vow of celibacy. When the man reaches the age of 75, he should take sannyasa and completely devote his time to spiritual activities. The wife then lives with the eldest son and trains the grandchildren in spiritual life. In this way the Vedic culture would gradually purify a person of sex desire

Kichaka was fortunate to receive his reaction immediately rather than wait till the next life. Unfortunately, people today don't believe in next life, and therefore they commit all kinds of forbidden activities for which they suffer in this life and the next. People don't believe in the law of karma or the next life, so the suffering will continue until we learn the hard way to follow God's law.



Chapter Three

The Trigartas attack the Kingdom of Virata


While the Pandavas were secretly living in the kingdom of Virata, the spies of Duryodhana searched intently all the kingdoms and provinces trying to find the sons of Pandu, and not being successful, they returned to Hastinapura. They entered the King's imperial court, and in the assembly of great warriors made the following submission, "Dear King, we have searched the entire earth, but nowhere could we find the Pandavas. After leaving the Dvaitavana forest, they have disappeared. We followed their charioteers and servants to the city of Dvaraka, but nowhere could we find them in the city of the Yadavas. We followed their footprints from the forest of Dvaitavana, but the path disappeared, and it appears they have perished without leaving a mark. O bull of the Bharata race, we have not been able to discover their path or their present abode. We now wait for further instructions concerning Pandu's sons. During our search for the Pandavas, wehave gathered one interesting bit of information that you will like to hear. King Virata's commander, Kichaka, by whom the Trigarta's have been repeatedly routed with force, has now been killed violently along with his one hundred and five brothers. They have been slain by five Gandharvas during the hours of darkness. Having heard this delightful news about the position of the enemy, we have come here quickly to inform you."

Having listened to the report of his spies, King Duryodhana reflected for a while and addressed the assembled Kings, "It is difficult to understand exactly where the sons of Pandu have hidden themselves during this last year. The one year period has now almost expired, and if they are not discovered, they will return like enraged elephants or serpents spitting poison. They will inflict heavy casualties upon the Kuru host. Therefore, we should again send spies to the different provinces to discover their whereabouts. Certainly this time our spies will be able to uncover their hiding place, forcing them to enter the forest for another twelve years."

Hearing Duryodhana's opinion, Karna spoke, "Other spies, who are more qualified and intelligent, should seek out the Pandavas. Let them examine every person at places where people take shelter, such as holy places, towns, villages, and even the forests. We should send out spies in greater number."

When Karna had given his counsel, the scheming Duhshasana spoke in that assembly, "Give the spies advance payment, and once more send them out. Karna's recommendation has our full approval. It is my belief, however, that the Pandavas will not be discovered. Perhaps, they have gone to the other side of the ocean, or perhaps, they have been devoured in the forest by fierce beasts of prey. Therefore, O prince of the Kuru race, relieve yourself of all anxiety, and rule the kingdom as your own property."

When Duhshasana had spoken, Drona advised the assembled Kings, "Persons like the Pandavas never experience pain or death. The Pandavas are saintly, virtuous, moral, learned in the Vedas, sense controlled, and are always truthful. They will never perish under any circumstances. They associate only with the most pious men, and therefore, if we are to discover them, the spies should search those regions where the demigods and saintly persons reside."

Then the Kuru grandsire, Bhishma, who was conversant with Vedic knowledge, spoke to the assembly, "Drona's words of wisdom have my approval. The Pandavas can never experience misfortune at anytime. They are reservoirs of all good qualities and are always subordinate to the Lord of the universe, Keshava. Where is the question of harm coming to them? Wherever the Pandavas have gone, that place has become prosperous in all respects. Wherever Yudhisthira resides there will be Vedic hymns chanted at all times; the clouds will pour abundant rain; the breezes will blow cool; the rice will be the best quality; the fruits will be full of juice; the garlands will be full of scent; the cows will be numerous and happy. Everyone will follow his respective duty, and everyone will be contented, cheerful, pure in conduct and free from any misery. Wherever Yudhisthira resides people will be inclined to charity, inclined toward religion, and inclined toward doing good to others. The wise Yudhisthira is living in those regions whose characteristics I have described. Reflecting on what I have said, you must quickly execute a plan that will benefit your cause."

After the great devotee, Bhishma, had spoken, the King of the Trigartas, Susharma, who owned innumerable chariots and who was a great warrior, then spoke to the assembled princes, "Taking advantage of Kichaka's death, I suggest we attack Virata's kingdom. Formerly the King was aided by this commander in chief, who was wicked and powerful. I was defeated many times in battle by Kichaka, who had attained worldly fame for his prowess. Now that he has been killed, we should take advantage of the situation, and subjugate the Matsyas. Using our combined forces, let us steal his wealth which he had hoarded for so long. Let us steal his cows, and bring King Virata under our control. We will then live peacefully in our kingdom."

Agreeing with King Susharman, Karna advised, "Susharma has spoken well. This is an opportune time to challenge Virata, and the outcome will be profitable. Forget about Pandu's sons, for they have lost their wealth and prowess. They have either disappeared for good or entered the abode of Yamaraja."

Accepting Karna's advice, Duryodhana ordered King Susharman, "Organize your army and attack Virata's kingdom from the southeastern direction. On the following day, the Kuru host headed by Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Ashvatthama, Karna and myself will attack from another direction. We will plunder his cows and other kinds of wealth." After making their plan, the Trigartas and the Kuru host organized their vast forces. The Trigaratas set out on the seventh night of the waning moon, and the Kurus set out on the eighth night of the waning moon, hoping to catch the Matsyas by surprise.

While living in the city of the Matsyas, the Pandavas completed the promised period of disguised exile. And it was at the end of the thirteenth year that Susharman attack the kingdom of Virata and took away his cows. When the cows had been seized, the cowherdsmen went to Virata's royal court and anxiously explained what had happened, "O foremost of Kings, King Susharma, after defeating and humiliating us, has stolen your cows. His army has taken tens of thousands of your best cows and is herding them away to his kingdom. Please, therefore, speedily rescue them before they are lost for good."

Hearing about the attack on his Kingdom, King Virata ordered his forces to prepare for battle. The princes put on their armor and mounted their chariots. Virata's brother, Satanika, put on a dazzling, golden coat of mail, and his other brother, Madirakshya, also put on his golden armor and ascended his chariot. King Virata ordered that weapons and chariots be given to Kanka, Vallabha, Tantripal and Grantika. The sons of Pandu put on their armor, and happily accepted the weapons and chariots. They then set out to subdue the Trigarta king. They were followed by eighty thousand chariots, a thousand elephants and sixty thousand horses.

Marching out of the city in battle formation, those heroes overtook the Trigartas when half the day had gone. Both parties were anxious for victory and both sent up thunderous roars. The encounter that took place between the Trigartas and the Matsyas was like the encounter between the demigods and the asuras. The combatants rushed against each other with the intent of sending the other party to Yamaraja's abode. With upraised weapons the forces collided causing a huge dust storm to rise into the sky. The sky was thick with arrows, and because of the dust, and the weapons thrown by the enemy, the sun could not be seen. Chariots encountered chariots, foot soldiers fought with foot soldiers, and horsemen fought with horsemen. The battlefield was thick with flying axes, darts, javelins, iron clubs and arrows. Soon, severed heads began to decorate the battlefield, and arms and legs were strewn here and there. The ground became muddy from the blood flowing from the trunks of decapitated warriors. Satanika penetrated the Trigarta divisions and killed a hundred enemy soldiers, and Visalaksya also killed another four hundred. They both penetrated deep into the Trigarta host. King Virata, accompanied by his brothers Madirakshya and Suryadatta, destroyed five hundred chariots, eight hundred horses and five great fighters on Susharman's side. Infuriated, King Susharman challenged Virata to single combat. They rushed at each other releasing their powerful weapons. King Virata pierced Susharma with ten arrows and each of his horses with five arrows each. And King Susharman also pierced Virata with fifty sharp pointed arrows. King Susharman, followed by his brother, descended from their chariots and attacked the Matsya army with their maces in hand. Driving deep into the infantry ranks, they approached King Virata's chariot. King Susharman killed Virata's horses and the charioteer. He then jumped on Virata's chariot, and in hand to hand combat, Susharman knocked Virata unconscious and threw him down from the chariot. He then drug the unconscious king to his own chariot and proceeded to leave the battlefield. Seeing this the Matsyas began to flee in all directions.

Upon witnessing the rout of the Matsya host, Yudhisthira commanded Bhima, "The Matsya king has been taken by the vile Trigartas. Dear Bhima, do rescue him so that he may not be killed by the enemy. We have lived long in this pious king's city, and we must show our gratitude for his hospitality."

Eager for combat and following the order of his brother, the stout armed Bhima set out on his chariot to fight with King Susharman. Nakula and Sahadeva accompanied him to defend his chariot wheels. Bhima rushed toward Susharma ordering, "Stand your ground and fight! Do not run from the battlefield like a coward." When challenged, King Susharman stood his ground, and taking up his bow, he faced the oncoming enemy protected by his powerful brothers. Thousands of chariots attacked Bhima; and thousands of chariots were destroyed by him within a twinkling of an eye. He soon again decimated thousands of elephants and thousands of foot soldiers within King Virata's sight. Looking on in horror, Susharman thought, "Is my army going to be annihilated?" Angered at the loss of so many soldiers, Susharman took up his bow, and drawing the string back to his ear began to release his forceful arrows.

Seeing the Pandavas penetrating deep into the Trigarta ranks, King Virata's army returned, releasing their weapons against the Trigarta host. Yudhisthira then killed a thousand soldiers and Bhima sent to Yamaraja's abode another seven thousand. Nakula killed seven hundred and Sahadeva killed three hundred. Greatly provoked, Yudhisthira rushed at Susharman with an anger like that of Yamaraja. Susharman quickly pierced Yudhisthira with nine arrows. Then, Bhima, the son of Kunti, killed Susharman's horses and dragged the wicked King from his chariot. King Susharma escaped from Bhima and quickly ran away. When Bhima saw that King Virata had come to his senses, he chased after Susharman mace in hand. Bhima called to him, "Stand your ground! Do not flee!" When challenged in these words, Susharman turned back and rushed at Bhima. Bhima immediately seized Susharman by the hair, and raising him up in the air, dashed him to the ground. As he lay their crying in agony, Bhima kicked him in the head. Pandu's second son then placed his knee on Susharman's chest and slapped his head around like a balloon. At this the Trigarta became senseless. Witnessing their King's defeat, the Trigarta army, stricken with fear, fled the battlefield. Bhimasena then took Susharman by the hair and drug him before King Virata inquiring, "This wretched person does not deserve to live. What should I do with him?"

"His life should be spared," Virata replied. Virata then commanded Susharman, "Do not foolishly attack my kingdom again. If you do, you and your followers will be annihilated."

Bhima then took Susharman to the presence of Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira, seeing Susharman in such an half conscious state, spoke to Bhima smilingly, "Set free this lowest of men."

When ordered by his elder brother, Bhima said to Susharman, "If, O wretched person, you wish to live, listen to my order. You must say in every court and assembly of men, 'I am a slave to King Yudhisthira.' On this condition only will I spare your life. This is the law for those that have been conquered." With no other choice, Susharman had to agree with the proposal. Bhima then set Susharma free, and the humiliated King left with his head lowered in shame. He went to King Virata, offered his respects, and then went back to his kingdom a defeated man.

King Virata was very pleased with the Pandavas and wanted to benedict them, "This kingdom is as much yours as it is mine. By your prowess you have defeated the enemy and liberated me from a dangerous condition. I will crown you as the Kings of the Matsyas and bestow upon you all kinds of wealth. It is by your grace that I can once again see my brothers and friends. You have saved me from a certain death."

"We are honored with your kind offer," Yudhisthira replied, "but we are content to see you happily ruling your kingdom. Messengers should be sent to the city informing the citizens of the good news." The Matsya king then sent messengers into the city proclaiming the dawn hour as the victory for the King.


Thus Ends the Third Chapter of the Virata Parva, Entitled, The Trigartas Attack the Kingdom of Virata.


Chapter Commentary


Before this age of Kali, some five thousand years ago, the earth had become overburdened with military forces antagonistic to the will of the Lord. At Brahma's request the Lord descended to decrease this burden. When the Lord descends so do His associates to assist him. The Pandavas were assistants to decrease the military burden. King Susharman was antagonistic to the will of the Lord, and later, in the great battle of the Bharatas, we will see how Arjuna kills him.

In the age of Kali practically everyone is infected with demoniac qualities. It is not possible to kill everyone so the Lord descends as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and annihilates the demoniac mentality with the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This transcendental sound has be chosen to cleanse the heart of all impurities in this fallen age. This is confirmed in the Kali Santarana Upanishad, "The sixteen words of the Hare Krishna mantra are especially meant for counteracting the sins of the age of Kali. To save oneself from the contamination of this age there is no alternative but to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. After searching through all the Vedic literatures one cannot find a method of religion for this age so sublime as the chanting of Hare Krishna." (Kali-Santarana Upanishad 5-6) This is part of a conversation where Lord Brahma instructs Narada muni.



Chapter Four

Arjuna Challenges the Kaurava Army


After the Matsya King had recovered his cows, Duryodhana and the Kuru host invaded the kingdom of Virata. With Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna, Ashvatthama, and Duhshasana, Duryodhana succeeded in driving away the cowherdsmen and stealing sixty thousand cows. When the cowherdsmen were defeated, they hurried went to King Virata to complain of the Kuru's action. When the cowherdsmen saw that the city was empty of men, they approached Uttara Kumara, the son of the King. They related to him everything that had happened and asked that he free the cows at once. Hearing the appeals of the cowherdsmen, Uttara Kumara assured them, "As expert as I am in the use of the bow, I would set out this very day if only I could find someone who could be my charioteer. Therefore, look for someone competent to manage my horses, and I will without delay enter the battlefield and penetrate deep into the ranks of the Kaurava army. I will fight with Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Duryodhana and Ashvatthama, and defeat them all. The Kaurava army shall witness my prowess. Seeing me raining arrows from my chariot, they will ask if it is not Arjuna returned to take back the kingdom."

Hearing these boastful words, Arjuna whispered in private to his dear wife Draupadi, "Tell Uttara that Brihannala was formerly the Arjuna's charioteer, and has been tested in many previous battles." While the prince was still glorifying himself, Panchali bashfully spoke out from among the women, "The handsome youth of the name Brihannala was formerly Arjuna's charioteer. It was he who held the reins of Arjuna's chariot when Agni consumed the Khandava forest. It was with him that Partha conquered all creatures at Khandavaprastha. In fact, there is no charioteer equal to him."

"O Sairindhri," Uttara said, "you may know what this youths past history may be. You may know what this one of the neuter sex may or may not have done. I cannot, however, request Brihannala to hold the reins of my chariot."

"Brihannala, O hero, will without doubt, obey the words of your younger sister," Draupadi replied. "If he consents to become your charioteer, you will, without doubt, return, having vanquished the Kurus and rescued the cows."

Thus informed by Sairindhri, Uttara asked his sister to go to the dancing hall and bring Brihannala to him. The princess then hurriedly went to the dancing hall and requested Brihannala to become the charioteer of Uttara Kumara. The princess stated that if he did not do so, she would give up her life. Brihannala quickly agreed and came into the presence of the young prince. Uttara then inquired, "O Brihannala, Sairindhri has said that formerly you drove the chariot of Arjuna when he conquered the whole world. Will you not, therefore, drive my chariot, and help me conquer the Kuru host who have stolen our cows?"

"O prince," Arjuna replied, "what ability do I have to act as a charioteer? I only know about music, dance, and songs. I can entertain you in this way, but little do I know about holding the reins of a chariot."

"O Brihannala," Uttara ordered, "whether you are a dancer or a singer, take the reins of my chariot, and together let us challenge the Kuru warriors." Although Arjuna knew perfectly how to put on armor, in the presence of all he began to make many mistakes trying to attire his armor. All the women began to laugh at his attempts to put on the golden mail. Seeing Arjuna failing to garb the armor properly, Uttara Kumara helped him equip himself for battle. Together they then mounted the chariot and hoisted the chariot's flag bearing the sign of a lion. As they were leaving, the girls of the palace requested, "O Brihannala, bring us some fine sample of clothes from Bhishma and Drona after Kumara has defeated them in battle." Agreeing with their proposal, Arjuna urged the horses on, and they left the capital city. Having left the city, Virata's heroic son commanded Brihannala, "Proceed quickly to where the Kurus are. I will rescue the cows and bring them back to the city bringing great joy to my father."

Arjuna quickly caught up to the retreating Kuru army. It looked like a vast sea and was causing dust to rise up into the sky. Beholding the ocean of Kuru warriors, headed by Bhishma, Drona, Karna, and Duryodhana, the hairs of Uttara's body stood on end out of fear. He then revealed to Partha his anxiety, "I am incapable of fighting with so many warriors. These heroes cannot be vanquished even by the heavenly denizens. My mind is overcome with fear at the very sight of Bhishma and Drona. My father has gone out to meet the Trigartas and has left me alone to encounter these innumerable warriors. Therefore, O Brihannala, cease to advance any further."

"Why do you look so pale and fearful," Brihannala scornfully replied. "This will only bring joy to your enemy? As of yet you have not encountered one warrior in battle. It was you who ordered me to drive your chariot and challenge the enemy. I will, therefore, take you to the front line of the battlefield. In the presence of the women you boasted your prowess. Why do you now want to run from the battlefield? If you were to return home without fighting, men and women would meet together and laugh at you. As for myself, I will not return from the battlefield without rescuing the cows. I have been praised highly by Sairindhri and yourself, and therefore I will give battle to the Kurus."

Uttara, his knees shaking, falteringly said, "Let the Kurus rob the Matsyas of all their wealth. Let the men and women laugh at me. Let the cows perish, and let the city be a desert. Let me stand exposed before my father. Still there is no need for battle." Saying this much, the prince panicked, jumped from his chariot and ran away, sacrificing honor and pride.

Brihannala called to him, "This is not the practice of those who are brave. A kshatriya never runs from his enemies. Even death in battle is better than running from the battlefield." Saying this and descending from the chariot, Arjuna, the son of Kunti, ran after the prince while his braid and red garments fluttered in the air. When the Kuru warriors saw this scene, they burst into laughter. They began to talk amongst themselves, "Who is this person who is part man and part women. Although bearing a neuter form, he resembles Arjuna. He has the same head, arms, neck and he walks in the same way as Arjuna. He is certainly none other than Arjuna. Who else but Arjuna would dare to challenge us alone? The one running away is Uttara, the King's son. He has come out of the city due to childishness and not from true heroism. Arjuna is running after him to bring him back." Some generals disagreed with this, and thus they could not come to any conclusion.

Meanwhile, Arjuna caught up to Uttara within a hundred steps and grabbed him by the hair. Apprehend in this way, he pleaded with Arjuna, "Listen, O Brihannala, let us turn the chariot and go back to the city. He that lives meets with prosperity. I will give you all kinds of wealth and beautiful women as well. Only please set me free."

When offered material benediction, Arjuna laughed and dragged Uttara back to the chariot. Arjuna, through compassion for the frightened prince, tried to encourage him, "If, O chastiser of the enemy, you do not wish to fight with them, then hold the reins of the chariot, and I will fight with them. Protected by the potency of my arms, we will penetrate the enemies ranks and subdue them. Do not succumb to fear." In this way Arjuna comforted the frightened prince and asked him to ascend the chariot. He then told Uttara to drive the chariot toward the Shami tree that was just out side the city. This was the place where the Pandavas had left their weapons.

Beholding that person of the third sex seated on the chariot, the Kurus headed by Bhishma and Drona became frightened at the thought that it might be Arjuna. They then noticed evil omens in all directions. Violent and hot winds began to blow. The sky became overcast with a dark gloom. The clouds presented a strange sight, and Jackals began howling from all directions. Seeing this, Drona ordered the troops into battle formation. He ordered them, "Stand your ground, and do not flee out of fear. Protect yourselves and expect a terrible slaughter. This person on the chariot dressed like a eunuch is definitely Arjuna. There is no doubt about this. After defeating our forces, he will take away the cows. I do not see any hero amongst us who can withstand him. He has even defeated the demigods including Lord Shiva and Indra."

Hearing the cautious words of Drona, Karna boasted, "You always speak of the glories of Arjuna, but he is not even equal to a sixteenth part of myself or Duryodhana."

"If this is Arjuna," Duryodhana said, "they my purpose has been served. He will have to return to the forest for another twelve years. However, if this be anyone else in a eunuch's garb, I will prostrate him on the ground with my arrows."

Upon reaching the Shami tree, Arjuna ordered Uttara Kumara, "Climb this tree, and bring down that bag covered with the skin of an animal. It appears like a corpse, but it contains the weapons of the Pandavas. Out of all the weapons I want the Gandiva bow that is owned by Arjuna. It is the strongest of all bows and can withstand the enemy's weapons. With it I will defeat the Kuru host." Uttara then climbed the tree and cut the wrappings from around the bag and beheld the weapons of the Pandavas shining like the sun. He saw the Gandiva along with four other bows, and he was struck with wonder. His hair stood on end, and while touching those bows, he questioned Arjuna, "To what warrior does this magnificent bow belong, and to what warrior does this bow belong which has golden elephants embossed on it. Whose bow is this that has radiant golden suns embossed on it? Whose bow is this that has gold inlay and precious gems? Whose quivers are these covered in gold and holding a thousands arrows with golden heads? All these swords, maces, bows and arrows have an effulgence that is hard to bear. Tell me truly, O Brihannala, to whom do these weapons belong?"

"The bow of which you have inquired about first is Arjuna's bow called the Gandiva," Brihannala replied, "It is famed throughout the universe and equals a hundred thousand weapons. It was originally owned by Lord Shiva for the period of a thousand years. It was then owned by Indra for eighty years and Soma for five hundred years. Varuna has owned it for a hundred years, and now Arjuna has owned it for sixty-five years. Partha has obtained this bow from Varuna. The other bows belong to the other Pandavas. The quivers you asked about belong to Arjuna and are inexhaustible. The other quivers and weapons belong to Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva respectively."

Uttara then questioned Brihannala, "These weapons are very beautiful, but where is the son of Pritha, Arjuna, as well as Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. We have heard that they have lost their kingdom and are now in exile. Also where is Draupadi who followed her lords into the forest although she was a princess accustomed to great comforts?"

Arjuna replied, "I am Arjuna, also called Partha. Your father's counselor, named Kanka, is Yudhisthira. Your father's chef is Bhima. The caretaker of your father's horses is Nakula, and the cowherdsmen that takes care of your father's cows is Sahadeva. Know the maidservant of Sudeshna, Sairindhri, to be Draupadi. For her sake Kichaka was slain."

Skeptical, Uttara questioned Arjuna, "I will believe you if you can tell me the ten names of Arjuna."

"I will tell you, O son of Virata, my ten names," Arjuna replied. "Listen to them with close attention. They are Arjuna, Phalguna, Jishnu, Kiritin, Svetavahana, Vibhatsu, Vijaya, Krishna, Savyasachin and Dhananjaya. I am known as Dhananjaya because I have defeated all countries and taken away their wealth. They call me Vijaya because I enter the battlefield and never return without vanquishing my enemy. I am called Svetavahana because of the white horses yoked to my chariot. They call me Phalguna because I was born on the mountain crest of Himavat at the auspicious time when the constellation Uttara Phalguna was on the ascendent. I am named Kiritin because of the crown given by Indra that is as effulgent as the sun. I am known as Vibhatsu, among demigods and men, for never having committed an unworthy deed on the battlefield. I am known as Savyasachin, because by drawing the string of my bow with both hands, I can release countless arrows. I am known as Arjuna because my complexion has no equal on earth. I am known as Jishnu because I am invincible on the battlefield. And I was given the name Krishna because I always meditate on Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the Yadu dynasty."

After hearing Arjuna's description, Uttara was pleased and offered respects and worship to Arjuna. He begged his forgiveness for acting out of fear and then agreed to drive his chariot. Ascending the chariot, he requested Arjuna, "Order me as to where I should drive this chariot."

Uttara Kumara had taken all the weapons of the Pandavas and put them in the chariot. He cast off all fear and was prepared to do as he was ordered. He said to Arjuna, "I will drive this chariot as Daruka drives the chariot of Lord Krishna, or as Matali drives the chariot of Indra."

Then Arjuna took off his bracelets and wore on his hands a pair of beautiful gloves embroidered with gold. He then tied his hair in the back with a white cloth. Seated on that excellent chariot, he turned toward the east, purifying his body and concentrating his attention on Lord Krishna's form. He recalled to mind all his weapons, and they appeared before him saying, "We are here, O illustrious one. We are your servants, O son of Indra." Obtaining the celestial weapons, Arjuna looked cheerful. After stringing his bow, he pulled back the string and released it, causing the earth to tremble, and the Kuru's hearts were seized with fear. He then hoisted on the chariot his own golden banner, bearing the insignia of an ape who was none other than Hanuman. Then Arjuna, his fingers encased in leather gloves, set out in a northerly direction. He blew his conchshell causing a tremendous sound to vibrate in all directions. The hairs of the Kuru warriors stood and end, and Uttara Kumara fell to his knees at the sound of the blast. Even Arjuna's horses fell to the ground at the sound of his conch. Arjuna then took the reins of the chariot, raised the horses and comforted Uttara, "Why do you fear the sound of a conch. You are a kshatriya by birth and have heard the blast of many conchshells. Why are you so terrified now?"

"I have heard the sounds of many conchshells on the field of battle," Uttara Kumara replied, "but none like this. Nor Have I ever seen a banner like this one with a monkey shouting heartrending screams. The sound of your bow, and the blaring of your conch, as well as the screams of this superhuman creature on the banner have greatly bewildered me. The whole sky seems to be affected by the monkey on this banner, and the sound of your Gandiva bow has deafened my ears."

Arjuna laughed heartedly and said, "Firmly stand on the chariot and tightly catch the reins, for I will blow the conch again." Arjuna then blew his conchshell which was so loud that the mountains seemed to split, and the clouds dispersed from the sky.

Sizing up the situation, Drona informed the others, "It appears from the sound of his conchshell that this is none other than Arjuna. The evil omens in all directions indicate misfortune for the Kurus. Our whole army is stepping backwards out of fear of that ape on the banner of Arjuna's chariot. Send the cows ahead, for we should stand here prepared to meet the onslaught of Arjuna."

"It appears that Arjuna has come out of hiding before completing the last year of exile," Duryodhana then said to the Kuru generals. "This being the case, they will have to enter the forest for another twelve years. We will have to consult Grandfather in this regard. We must now prepare ourselves to fight. Why are all these great warriors sitting on their chariots panic stricken?"

"Everything is in confusion because Drona has come under the sway of fear," Karna spoke condescendingly. "He is affectionate towards Arjuna, and he doesn't want to fight. I see that all our generals are seized with fear. I don't care if it is Indra himself that we have to encounter, I will fight with all my weapons and kill this Arjuna. I am in no way inferior to Arjuna, and today, I will slay him as promised in the gambling match to my friend Duryodhana. I will grind this Arjuna into the ground, and with my javelin, I will kill this monkey that rides on the banner. You will behold today Arjuna's chariot broken, his horses killed, his prowess gone and himself lying on the ground sighing like a snake."

"O Karna," Kripacharya said, "your heart is crooked and always inclined to war. Do you not remember that Arjuna alone stopped the onslaught of the Gandharvas in the Dvaitavana forest while you ran from the battlefield. Do you not remember that Arjuna alone killed the Nivatakavachas which were incapable of being slain by the demigods. Even Indra himself is unfit to fight with Arjuna. Therefore, he, who would fight with Arjuna, should take sleeping pills. You are like a fool that wants to enter blazing fire. You want to tie a stone around your neck and enter the deepest part of a river. Although he is undefeatable, still we should stand and array our troops in battle formation. Do not, out of foolishness, fight with Arjuna alone. If all six of the great warriors fight with him at one time, then maybe we can defeat him."

"O Karna," Ashvatthama advised, "you cannot win battles with words. Why then do you boast? What kshatriya is there that expresses delight at winning a kingdom with dice like the wicked son of Dhritarastra? In single combat did you defeat the Pandavas for their kingdom? What act of prowess caused you to order Draupadi to be brought into the assembly of Kings, and by what act of prowess did you endeavor to see her stripped naked? Take out your dice now and throw them at Arjuna. Let the sinful Shakuni come and fight with Arjuna. The Gandiva does not throw dice, but arrows as deadly as virulent poison. Let this battle be lead by Shakuni, if he chooses to fight. I shall, however, not fight with one who is greater than all the demigods combined."

Bhishma, the great grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, then gave his counsel, "Drona's son has spoken well as well as Kripa. As for Karna, he fights only out of duty trying to enliven the troops. I am of the opinion that we should fight. When the son of Kunti has come, it is not a time for quarrel. Let us arrange our troops in battle array and protect Duryodhana from Arjuna's onslaught. He should take the cows and return to Hastinapura. Arjuna has not come out of hiding unless the time period of exile has expired. The wheel of time revolves with it divisions. At certain times there are excesses which add up to two months every five years. Thus being the case, there would be an excess of five months in thirteen years. Arjuna has not come out of hiding unless he knew this fact. Therefore, O King, you can make the decision on whether to battle is proper. Arrange the forces quickly for Dhananjaya is at hand."

"I will not, O grandsire, give back the Pandavas their kingdom," Duryodhana said. "Let all preparations for the battle be made without delay."

"Listen to what I regard as good advice," Bhishma said. "Take one fourth of the army and proceed to Hastinapura. Another fourth of the army will escort the cows to our city. With half of the troops will will fight with Arjuna. Myself, Drona, Karna, Ashvatthaman, and Kripa will fight with Vibhatsu when he approaches. We will try to withstand him like the bank withstanding the surging sea."

Grandfather Bhishma then gave orders for the army formation. Having sent away Duryodhana with one fourth of the troops, Bhishma ordered Drona to guard the middle of the formation. He ordered Ashvatthama to guard the left and Kripa to guard the right. He ordered Karna to stand in front of the army, and he himself chose to guard the army from the back.

As Arjuna approached the Kuru army, he released two arrows that fell to the ground in front of Bhishma and Drona. After thirteen years of exile, he was offering obeisances to his grandfather and his martial guru. He then released two more arrows that barely grazed the ears of each, indicating that he was now ready to fight with them. Hanuman was roaring from the banner striking terror into the troops. Seeing the Kurus ready for battle, Arjuna ordered Uttara Kumara, "O charioteer, keep the horses at a distance so that my arrows may reach them. I want to find that vain prince of the Kurus, Duryodhana. Disregard all the other great warriors and single him out. After defeating him, all the others will cease battle. There in the distance stands Drona and beyond him his son Ashvatthama. And there are the great bowmen--Bhishma, Kripa and Karna. I do not see the King, and I suspect he has taken the southern road anxious to save his life. Follow the Duryodhana's path, for after defeating him I will come back, bringing with me the cows."

Arjuna encircled the ocean of troops trying to make his way to Duryodhana. Understanding his intentions, Kripa and the others began to chase after him. Arjuna soon caught up with Duryodhana and challenged his troops to battle. From Arjuna's bow issued a thick shower of arrows. Soon the whole sky was covered with those arrows, and the soldiers of Duryodhana fell into confusion. While those warriors were in a confused state, he again blew his conchshell which struck terror into the hearts of the Kuru warriors. They gave up all hope for life and fled the battlefield. In this state of confusion, the cows turned back and headed for the city of Virata. As Arjuna was approaching Duryodhana, the Kuru host headed by Karna fell upon him. The first warrior to reach him was Vikarna. He rained arrows upon Arjuna, but it was no use. Arjuna cut his bowstring and the standard from his chariot. Losing the use of his bow, he fled the battlefield. The next warrior to reach Arjuna was King Satruntapa. He was provoked and desired to put an end to Pandu's son. Arjuna, however, killed his four horses and his chariot driver and then with an arrow capable of piercing his heavy coat of armor, he sent him to Yamaraja's court.

Arjuna then ranged the field of battle depriving life from the Kuru host. The next warrior to approach Arjuna was Sangramajit, the brother of Karna. He challenged Arjuna like a tempest, but Arjuna quickly killed his four red horses and with a crescent shaped arrow, severed his head. When his brother had fallen on the battlefield, Karna quickly pierced Arjuna with twelve arrows. He covered his horses with arrows and pierced Virata's son in the hand where he held the chariot's reins. Seeing the duel that was taking place, the Kuru host looked on, not taking any part. Arjuna covered the Karna's chariot with thousands of arrows so that it could not be seen. However, Karna soon released himself from that network of arrows and sent forth a thunderous roar competing with the monkey on the banner of Arjuna's chariot. Karna then released a multitude of arrows that covered Arjuna's chariot. Highly annoyed, and drawing his bow back to his ear, Arjuna pierced Karna in every part of his body. Mangled by Arjuna's crescent shaped arrows, Karna fled the battlefield.

After Radha's son had been routed, the Kuru host fell upon Arjuna like the ocean attacks the beach. Using his celestial weapons, Partha pierced every warrior on the battlefield whether he was a foot soldier, charioteer, horseman, or elephant rider. Every warrior was not pierced with enough arrows so that there was not two fingers breadth between each wound. Horses were running here and there, dragging behind them the remnants of broken chariots. Elephants, pierced by thousands of arrows, were dropping on the field of battle, and looked like huge hills with streams of water running from them. Arjuna struck terror, besides arrows, into the hearts of Duryodhana's troops. As soon as anyone reached Arjuna he was sent to the other world. The whole battlefield soon turned into a nightmare of mangled bodies and severed heads. The Gandiva bow was in a perfect circle at all times, and the celestial weapons were drinking the blood of all who opposed. The earth became muddied by the river that was created from the dead soldiers of the Kurus. Arjuna pierced Drona with seventy arrows and Duryodhana with a hundred. He then pierced Karna in the ear with a bearded arrow and destroyed his chariot and horses. With this act, the troops that were supporting him fled in all directions.

Dhananjaya then ordered Uttara Kumara to head in the direction where Kripa was the commander of a division of soldiers. Seeing Arjuna coming, Kripa pierced Arjuna with twelve arrows. Arjuna was furious and pierced Kripa's horses with four arrows, causing the horses to rear, and Kripa fell from his chariot. Greatly angered by his defeat, Kripa mounted his chariot, and by means of a celestial weapon, pierced Arjuna with ten thousand arrows. Arjuna shook off that network of arrows, and with his own arrows, cut the armor from Kripa's body. He then cut his bow string and the standard from his chariot. Kripa picked up another bow, but that string was cut by Arjuna. Each bow that Kripa picked up was cut by Arjuna, and having no more bows, Saradwat's son picked up a javelin that resembled a blazing thunderbolt. Kripacharya released it with a meteor's speed, but Arjuna cut it to pieces with ten arrows. When Arjuna had smashed his chariot, killed his horses and charioteer, Kripa took up a mace, and descending from his chariot, ran at Arjuna. Kripa released the mace with all his might, but Arjuna sent it in another direction by means of his forceful arrows. When the warriors in Kripa's division saw that Kripa was in danger of being killed, they surrounded Arjuna and covered him with arrows. Taking Saradwat's son onto a chariot, they took him to another part of the battlefield.

After Kripacharya had been taken away, the invincible Drona rushed towards Arjuna on his golden chariot drawn by red horses. Arjuna then spoke to Drona, "Having completed our exile in the forest, we are not desirous of avenging offenses committed against us. O sinless one, I will not strike you unless you strike me first. This in my intention." Thus addressed by Arjuna, Drona released twenty arrows at the son of Kunti. Arjuna countered those arrows and released a shower of arrows so that Drona could not be seen. With his celestial weapons, Drona tried to overcome Arjuna, but Partha countered the Aindra, the Vayavya and the Agneya weapons. While engaged in a fight with Drona, Arjuna was being attacked on all sides. By means of his celestial weapons, Arjuna pierced thousands of warriors with thousands of arrows, and all that approached the chariot of Arjuna were sent to Yamaraja's abode. Suddenly Arjuna released from his bow hundreds of arrows that covered Drona's chariot, and the Kuru army thought that Drona was finished. Coming to his father's aid, Ashvatthama challenged Arjuna to fight. Drona's armor and weapons were gone, and this gave him a chance to slip away from the battlefield.

Arjuna immediately attacked Ashvatthaman's horses and threw them into confusion. Ashvatthama countered and found the opportunity to cut the string of the Gandiva bow. He then released an arrow that pierced the Arjuna's chest. Arjuna laughed loudly, and placing another string on his bow, again attacked Drona's son. Arjuna's quivers were inexhaustible, and he was releasing a constant flow of arrows, creating a slaughter on the field of battle. The stench of the dead bodies was overwhelming, and Uttara Kumara was fainting under the strain. When Ashvatthama's arrows were exhausted, he left the battlefield with no more weapons to fight with.

While havoc was being created on the battlefield, grandfather Bhishma rushed at Arjuna. He blew his conchshell cheering the sons of Dhritarastra. The demigods as well as the sages assembled in the heavens to see the wonderful fight with the son of Ganga and the son of Kunti. Bhishma quickly pierced the monkey on the flagstaff with eight arrows. Arjuna, taking up a mighty javelin, cut off the top of Bhishma's chariot. The battle became fierce, and both were using celestial weapons received from such demigods as Prajapati, Indra, Agni, Rudra, Kuvera, Varuna, Yamaraja and Vayu. The demigods and the sages exclaimed the glories of both, and the Kauravas sent up loud roars, encouraging the aged Bhishma. Then, suddenly, Partha cut the bow of Bhishma into pieces. He then pierced Bhishma in the chest with ten arrows, and Ganga's son fell to the floor of his chariot in a swoon. The charioteer, seeing the critical situation, took grandfather Bhishma from the battlefield.

After Bhishma had fled, Duryodhana attacked Arjuna with a murderous intention. He released an arrow that struck Arjuna in the forehead, causing blood to flow from his wound. Greatly incensed, Kunti's son pierced the King in return. In order to save Duryodhana's life, Vikarna, riding on the back of a huge elephant, attacked Arjuna. Seeing the elephant approaching like a mountain, Arjuna pulled out a golden arrow, and drawing the string of his bow back to his ears, released that arrow which entered into the elephant's forehead up to the feathers. The elephant trembled and fell to the earth screaming in agony. Vikarna jumped off the dead beast, ran backwards a full eight hundred feet and ascended his brother's chariot.

Arjuna then pierced Duryodhana's chest, and that great warrior, vomiting blood, tried to run from the battlefield. However, Arjuna would not let him go. He challenged him again, "Sacrificing your name and fame, why do you flee from the battlefield? I am Arjuna, the third son of Pritha. Turn back and show me your face, bearing in mind the behavior of kings. Why are your running away from the battlefield like a coward. I do not see any body guards around your chariot. They have all fled like you. Stand and fight!" Being stung by the words of Arjuna, Dhritarastra's son returned like a snake trampled under foot. Suddenly all the divisions of the army, headed by Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Ashvatthama, and Karna, attacked Arjuna, trying to save the King's life. Seeing them coming at once, Arjuna called for the Sanmohana weapon received from Indra. Releasing this weapon and blowing on his conchshell, the whole of the army fell to the ground deprived of their senses. Arjuna then addressed Uttara Kumara, "O best of men, go to the Kurus and take away their scarfs. Take some garment from Drona, Kripa, Duryodhana, Karna and Ashvatthama. Bhishma is still conscious for he knows how to counter this astra." Jumping down from the chariot, Kumara took some garment from each of the great generals and came back to the chariot. Feeling satisfied after his victory, Arjuna decided to leave the battlefield. However, Bhishma again attacked Arjuna, but Partha killed his horses and his charioteer, and with a smile on his face headed for the city of Virata.

Duryodhana awoke, and seeing Arjuna leaving the battlefield, chastised Bhishma in strong words. "Why don't you rise and challenge him," Bhishma replied. "While you were unconsciousness, he could have taken your life. He, however, is not inclined to sin, and therefore, you are still alive. Let us go back to the city of the Kurus, and let Partha return to Virata's kingdom, having retrieved the cows. Do not foolishly throw away your life." Following the advice of the grandsire, Duryodhana, accompanied by the rest of his army, went back to Hastinapura humiliated by the prowess of Arjuna.

Arjuna then had Uttara Kumara return to the Shami tree. Again the weapons and the ape banner were put into the corpse-like covering and hoisted into the tree. Arjuna then told Prince Uttara that he should take credit for what had happened, and that he should not reveal their disguise to the King. Prince Uttara agreed not to disclose the Pandava's secret, but refused to take credit for such super human activities. That afternoon Uttara Kumara ordered the cowherdsmen to go to the capital and announce the King's victory. The son of Kunti and the son of Virata rested for the afternoon and then entered the city of the Matsyas.


Thus Ends the Fourth Chapter of the Virata Parva, Entitled, Arjuna Challenges the Kaurava Army.


Chapter Commentary


Arjuna was like the full moon in the sky. He was an empowered representative of the Lord. It is stated in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, krishna shakti vina nahe tara pravartana, "Unless empowered by the Lord one cannot propagate the Lord's mission." (C.c. Antya 7.11) One who receives the Lord's empowerment is called a shaktavesha avatara.Arjuna was empowered to relieve the earth's burden in the form numerous military divisions. Arjuna alone killed many millions and millions of men during his lifetime, but it was all for the service of the Lord. We have seen in the life of our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, that he alone came to the Western world to spread the Krishna consciousness movement. Because he surrendered everything, the Lord Krishna empowered him to spread this movement and to lighten the earth's burden in the form of demoniac mentality. Shrila Prabhupada carried with him the empowerment of chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra. He made this transcendental sound vibration a household word throughout the entire world. If one becomes empowered by the Lord, he can do wondrous and marvelous things that no ordinary human can perform, as we have heard from this chapter.



Chapter Five

The Pandavas Reveal Their Disguise


When Virata had defeated the Trigartas, he entered his city accompanied by four of the Pandavas. He entered his palace and sat upon his throne. He was then worshiped by the brahmanas and by the citizens. While listening to his glorification, he inquired about Uttara. The women in the palace replied, "The cows were taken away by the Kuru host, and Uttara, being upset, set out on a single chariot with Brihannala as his charioteer. He set out to fearlessly challenge the Kuru elders: Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna, Duryodhana and Ashvatthaman."

When the King heard that his son had single-handedly challenged the enemy, his heart filled with grief. He ordered that troops leave the city arrayed in battle formation for Uttara Kumara's protection, "Immediately go out of the city, and find out whether the prince is still alive. I think that with only Brihannala as his assistant, he no longer lives."

King Yudhisthira then advised Virata, "If Brihannala is the charioteer of Uttara Kumara, then there is no need to worry for your son's safety or the safety of your cows. Protected by Brihannala, your son will be able to vanquish the demigods, the asuras and the Yakshas combined."

As Yudhisthira was speaking to King Virata, the messengers arrived with the news that the Kauravas had been defeated and the cows recovered. The messengers exclaimed, "Your son, O King, is well, having defeated the Kurus in battle! The cows have also been brought back. Soon, your blessed son will be in your presence." On hearing this, King Virata's hair stood on end out of excessive joy, and he could not control himself. Yudhisthira then said to him, "It is by good luck that the cows have been recovered and the Kurus defeated. I don't think it very wonderful, however, that your son defeated the Kurus as long as Brihannala was his chariot driver." The King was in ecstasy and paid little attention to Yudhisthira's words. He ordered that the citizens greet the prince at the city gate with all kinds of auspicious presentations. He then desired to play a game of dice with Yudhisthira. When Yudhisthira saw his excessive joy like a fever, he spoke to the King, "O monarch, what business do you have with gambling which is accompanied by many evils? It should not be indulged in. You may have heard how Pandu's sons lost their extensive kingdom in this evil game. For this reason I dislike the game. If, however, you are insistent, then let the game begin."

While the dice game was going on, King Virata joyfully said, "Just imagine, the Kauravas, who are invincible in battle, have been routed by my son."

"Uttara would be able to conquer anyone as long as he had Brihannala for his chariot driver," Yudhisthira replied.

The King became angry with Yudhisthira's response, "You foolish brahmana, how can you compare a eunuch to my son. Have you no knowledge of what is proper, and what is improper to say? Are you disregarding my statements? It is possible for my son to crush all the Kuru leaders such as Bhishma and Drona. Because of our friendship, I will pardon this offense. Do not make this statement again if you wish to live."

Boldly, Yudhisthira replied, "There was Bhishma, Drona, and Drona's son, Karna, Kripa and King Duryodhana, and other royal and stalwart car warriors. Even if Indra was there along with the Maruts, there could be none other than Brihannala who could conquer them. There has been none, there is none and there will be none who can be his equal. He can vanquish the celestial demigods, the demons and the human beings combined. With such a person as an ally, why can he not conquer the enemy?"

Becoming offended, Virata angrily said, "I have repeatedly forbidden you, and still you do not restrain your tongue. If I do not punish you, you will not learn virtue."

Saying this, the King threw the dice at Yudhisthira's face exclaiming, "Do not let this happen again!" When struck in this way, blood began to flow from Yudhisthira's nose. He held his hand out and prevented it from touching the ground. The first son of Kunti then indicated to Draupadi that she should bring something to catch the blood. She immediately brought a golden water jug and caught the blood that flowed from his wound. It was at this time that Prince Uttara entered the palace followed by Brihannala. When it was announced that the prince was to enter the court, Yudhisthira whispered to Sairindhri, "Indicate to Arjuna that he should not enter the court with Prince Uttara. He has taken a vow that anyone who sheds my blood, other than at the time of battle, shall not live. If he sees what has happened, he will kill Virata along with the whole Matsya army." Draupadi quickly did as she was told, and Prince Uttara entered the assembly alone.

Then the Prince entered and approached his father to worship him. After offering respects to the King and receiving his blessings, Uttara Kumara saw Kanka, sitting off a little ways, his face covered in blood. He was waited upon by Sairindhri. Overwhelmed with fear, he spoke to his father, "Who has performed the heinous act of drawing blood from this greatest of men, Kanka. The reaction to this sin will be very great."

"I hit this proud brahmana," Virata replied. "He deserves more than this, for while I was glorifying your prowess, he was praising Brihannala for conquering the enemy."

"Father, I think that you have unnecessarily offended a great soul," Uttara Kumara said. "You should seek his forgiveness so that his curse will not consume your whole dynasty at the roots!"

Coming to his senses, King Virata went to Yudhisthira, comforted him and sought his forgiveness.

"O King," Yudhisthira replied, "I have already forgiven you, for anger does not exist in me. Had this blood fallen to the ground, you would have been devastated along with your kingdom. I do not blame you for striking an innocent person for such are the ways of powerful persons. They generally act with unreasoning severity."

At this time Brihannala entered the court. He offered respects to the King and also Kanka. As he stood there, King Virata began to glorify his son in the presence of all, "O my son, please tell us how you were able to challenge and defeat the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, Bhishma. Relate to us also how you defeated the preceptor of the Kurus, the mighty Drona, who prowess knows now bounds. Please, also, tell us also how you conquered the invincible Karna. who can pierce a thousand warriors at a time. Relate to us how you encountered Kripa, Ashvatthaman and the very powerful Duryodhana, Dhritarastra's son. Please tell us for we are anxious to hear."

Uttara Kumara replied, "Actually, I have not recovered the cows, nor did I defeat in battle the great Kuru generals. This was all accomplished by a demigod of celestial origin. When I saw the vast ocean of Kuru warriors, I ran from the battlefield. However, this youth stopped me and encouraged me to fight with them. He asked me to drive his chariot, and thus it was he who repulsed the arrows of Kripa, Drona and Bhishma. It was his prowess alone that sent Duryodhana running from the battlefield. Also, Karna was stripped of his prowess and defeated by this youth, and Drona's son was also defeated. It was he that mowed down the Kuru troops in thousands like a hurricane destroying trees. He released the cows and sent them running back to your city. I witnessed all of this, but I was simply the chariot driver."

"Where is that heavenly youth," Virata asked, "who has recovered my wealth. I am anxious to behold and worship that powerful warrior who has defeated the greatest generals on earth."

"The powerful youth disappeared after he had accomplished his purpose," Uttara replied. "However, he told me that he would appear in your palace within a few days."

Virata could not understand that the youth his son was referring to was Brihannala, and thus he remained ignorant of the Pandava's disguise. Brihannala then went to the princess, the daughter of the King, and presented to her the garments of the great warriors. Princess Uttara was overjoyed to receive those garments and asked for a detailed report on what had happened. Thus Brihannala entered the ladies chambers and began to relate all that had happened.

Then on the third day, the Pandavas entered Virata's imperial court wearing golden ornaments, valuable gems, and the white robes of Kings. They entered the council hall and sat on the seats reserved for Kings. After taking their seats, Virata came there to perform his daily duties. He saw the Pandavas seated on the royal thrones, effulgent as the sun, appearing like five demigods descended from the heavens. He was, however, overwhelmed with anger and rebuked Yudhisthira, "Yesterday, you were a dice player and my subordinate counselor. How can you now claim to occupy the royal throne, and wear kingly dress?"

Hearing the resentful words of Virata, Arjuna smilingly informed him, "This person, O King, deserves to sit on Indra's throne. He is devoted to the brahmanas and learned in Vedic knowledge. He is indifferent to opulence and bodily enjoyments, and as such he is superior to everyone on earth. He is intelligent, devoted to asceticism, and kind to all living entities. There is none amongst the demigods, demons or human beings who is his equal. As a performer of sacrifices to Vishnu, he is a royal sage in kingly dress. He is equal in wealth to Indra and Kuvera, and in prowess for protecting the citizens, he is like Manu, the father of mankind. Devoted to the cause of justice, he is none other than the foremost of all men, King Yudhisthira. His fame is known all over the universe just like the sun. Ten thousands elephants used to follow him wherever he traveled, as well as thirty thousand chariots bedecked with gold and drawn by the best horses. To perform the Rajasuya sacrifice, he made all the kings of the earth pay tribute to him. The good qualities of this person cannot be fully expounded. Why then can he not sit on the royal throne and rule everyone?"

King Virata was in a bewildered state, and he inquired from Arjuna, "If this is King Yudhisthira, then where is Bhima, and which one of these heroes is the great archer Arjuna. Which of these men is Nakula and which is Sahadeva? Also where is Draupadi? We have heard that the Pandavas have gone to the forest and have not been seen or heard of for the period of one year."

"O King," Arjuna replied, "the cook in your kitchen, the one known as Vallabha, is the stout-armed Bhima. It was by him that the great Rakshasas, Hidimva and Baka were slain. It is by the force of his arms, alone, that Kichaka and his relatives were killed. It is by his prowess, alone, that you were saved from death at the hands of the mighty Trigarta, Susharman. The eminent chariot fighter, Nakula, is the one who has been taking care of your horses. The highly intelligent Sahadeva is the one who has been taking care of your cows. There is none equal in beauty to these two twins, not even in the heavenly planets. These great chariot warriors are an equal match for a thousand great chariot fighters. Your wife's maidservant Sairindhri, for whom Kichaka was killed, is the beautiful and chaste Draupadi. She is like a demigoddess and is a second expansion to Laksmi, the goddess of fortune. I am, O King, Arjuna, by whose prowess all the great Kuru warriors were defeated the other day. We have happily passed, in your abode the last year of our exile."

After revealing themselves to Virata and hearing confirmation from the King's son, Uttara, the King considered that he had committed a grave offense against Yudhisthira. He said to his son, "I think the time has come for me to worship the sons of Pandu. I should bestow my daughter Uttara upon Arjuna."

Virata then addressed the Pandavas, "When I had been defeated by the enemy, it was Bhima who rescued me. And by the grace of Arjuna, all the great heroes in the Kuru dynasty were defeated and my cows saved. Such being the case, please accept our worship and forgive any offenses that we may have committed against you in ignorance."

The Matsya King was overjoyed at the presence of such exalted personalities and made an alliance with them. He offered them his kingdom along with his wealth and cities. He also requested Arjuna, "Please accept, along with my kingdom, my beautiful daughter in marriage."

"O monarch," Arjuna replied, "I will accept your daughter as my daughter-in-law. While in her association, she trusted me as her father, and I also protected her as one would protect a daughter. While associating with her, I have remained pure with controlled senses. My son, Abhimanyu, is a fit husband for your daughter. He resembles a celestial denizen and is knowledgeable of all the weapons of warfare. He is a favorite of Lord Krishna and thus an equal to your daughter."

Greatly pleased that the Pandavas would be his allies through marriage, Virata began to arrange a wedding ceremony. Arjuna sent for his son Abhimanyu, and also invited Lord Krishna and the members of the Yadu dynasty. All the favorable kings of the earth were invited to come and participate in the festival. After thirteen years of exile, the Pandavas had now taken up their abode in Virata's kingdom.

Upon hearing that the Pandavas were living in the kingdom of the Matsyas, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, came there along with His most powerful brother, Balarama. Kritavarman arrived as well as Satyaki, the commander in chief of the Yadu dynasty. The King of Kashi arrived accompanied by an akshauhini division of troops. Also King Saivya, being very friendly with Yudhisthira, arrived with another Akshauhini division. The mighty King Drupada arrived along with his powerful sons, Dhristadyumna and Shikhandi, the foremost wielders of weapons. They came with another akshauhini division of soldiers. Many kings with their troops arrived ready to die for the cause of Yudhisthira. All these kings bestowed great wealth upon the Pandavas during the marriage ceremony of Abhimanyu and Princess Uttara. A great ceremony was held and all enjoyed it. While sitting on the royal throne in the imperial court of Virata, King Yudhisthira appeared like Indra, the king of heaven, surrounded by all the subordinate demigods.


Thus Ends the Fifth Chapter of the Virata Parva, Entitled, The Pandavas Reveal Their Disguise.


Thus ends the Virata Parva to the summary study of the Mahabharata


Chapter Commentary


King Virata was ignorant of the fact that the Pandavas were in disguise. Thus he committed an offense by throwing dice at Yudhisthira's nose and drawing blood. Yudhisthira forgave Virata by saying that Kings generally act with unreasoning severity. When a person achieves a high position by the result of his pious activities, he sometimes commits offenses against saintly persons which cause his falldown. Indra lost his kingdom by offending his spiritual master, Brishaspati. Maharaja Rahugana offended Jad Bharata, a great devotee of the Lord. Fortunately, he realized his mistake and requested forgiveness from the saint. Ramachandra Khan offended both Haridas Thakur and Lord Nityananda for which he lost his family, wealth and position. Gopal Chakravarty offended Haridas Thakur for which he contacted leprosy. This caused his handsome nose to wither and his artistic fingers to fall off.

It was said of Maharaja Prithu that although he was praised by everyone, he never became proud. He always knew that he was not the cause of his success, but always glorified the Lord. He thus offered respect to all living beings. It is the teaching of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, trinad api sunichena, taror api sahisnuna, amanina amanadena, kirtaniya sada hari."One should chant the Holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street, more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly." (Shikshastaka 3)

Yudhisthira was always humble, although achieving a high position in life. He respected all others, including the most insignificant citizen, and thus he was loved by all. Generally, Lord Krishna keeps his devotees in a poverty stricken condition so they can remain humble and make spiritual advancement. When the Lord sees that a devotee is completely free of material desire, He may bestow upon him uncommon material opulence as the Lord did with Yudhisthira, Sudama brahmana and our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Shrila Prabhupada's life was dedicated to the order of his spiritual master to preach Krishna consciousness in the Western countries. He cared nothing for material opulence and came to America with only $7.00. He preached in poverty for one year, living in such lowly places as the bowery in New York City. When the Lord saw Shrila Prabhupada's unswerving determination, he bestowed upon him wealth, disciple and position. Shrila Prabhupada never misused these material assets nor became proud, but always remained a humble servant of his spiritual master. Without humility all our attempts at material or spiritual success will end up in disaster.