Saturday, June 29, 2019

52. Adi Parva - 50. Agni Seeks Arjuna's Help!

Oneday, Yudhishtira  told Krishna,“The summer days have come. Let us all go to the banks of Yamuna, enjoy ourselves there and return in the evening.”

Krishna readily agreed since he was also interested in sporting in water in the company of friends.

Accordingly, all of them went to the banks of Yamuna. Studded with a number of tall trees and high mansions, the place looked like the celestial city.

Yudhishtira had arranged for a variety of foods and drinks, floral wraths and perfumes to be brought there. Every one sported according to his pleasure. 

Many beautiful women entertained them, some sporting in the woods, some in the waters and some in the mansions. Some sang, some danced and some conversed with the men. The mansions and the woods reverberated with the charming music of flutes, guitars and kettle drums.

Yudhishtira, Arjuna, Draupadi and Subhadra  presented the women with gifts.

Arjuna and Krishna went to a charming place in the woods. They sat there and chatted about the past events and several other things. They were sitting there like the Aswinin Devatas (the divine twins). 

A Brahmin with a bright appearance, but clad in rags came near them and spoke to them.

“You two are like the two foremost heroes on the earth. I am a voracious eater. O, Partha, gratify me by giving me sufficient food.”

Arjuna and Krishna asked him what kind of food he desired.
The Brahmin replied, “I don’t desire ordinary food. I am Agni (the God of fire). So, give me the food that will suit me. 

"I have been  desiring to consume this Kandava forest. But this forest is protected by Indra, for the sake of protecting his friend Takshaka, the snake, who has been living here. Because of him, many other creatures are also getting protected. Whenever I try to consume this forest, Indra pours water on me from the clouds and foils my attempt.

“I have come to you since both of you are skilled in weapons. I pray to you to prevent the showers from descending and any of the creatures from escaping, when I begin to consume this forest!”

When Vaisampayana was narrating this, Janamejaya asked him, “Why did Agni desire to consume the Khandava  forest, which was the abode of  various living creatures? There should have been a reason for this. Please enlighten me on this.”

Vaisampayana answered his question by narrating a story.

Previous: Adi Parva - 49. The Pandavas Live in Peace and Happiness

Friday, June 28, 2019

51. Adiparva 49. The Pandavas live in peace and happiness

After Arjuna’s return to Indraprasta, Krishna along with Balarama, his other relatives and men like Akrura, Anadhrishti, Udhdhava, Vrishapati, Satyaka, Salyaki, Kritavarma, Satwata, Pradhyumna, Samva, Nisatha, Sanku, Charudeshna, Jhilli, Viprithu, Sarana and Gada, came to see him.

Yudhishtira sent Nakula and Sahadeva to receive Krishna and his men, who were given a majestic reception. Krishna, gratified by the warm reception, saluted Yudhishtira and Bhima.

Krishna presented many gifts to Arjuna and Subhadra.

The Yadavas and the Kurus spent a lot of time together.

In course of time, Subhadra gave birth to a son who came to be called Abhimanyu. Yudhishtira celebrated the birth of Abhimanyu by gifting cows and gold coins to Brahmins and other people. 

Krishna performed the appropriate rites ordained to be performed by the maternal uncle.

As Abhimanyu grew up, he became conversant with the Vedas. He learnt the art of weapons from his father. Like his father, Abhimanyu became proficient both in the use of weapons and in the knowledge of scriptures and religious rites. Arjuna was very happy at his son’s progress.

Draupadi gave birth to five sons through each of her husbands. Yudhishtira’s son was called Prativindhya, since he was strong like the Vindhya mountains. Bhima’s son was called Sutasoma, since he was born after Bhima had performed a thousand Soma sacrifices. Since Arjuna’s son was born after Arjuna had returned from his exile after performing many feats, he was called Srutakarma. Nakula named his son Satanika after a royal sage in the illustrious race of Kuru. Since Sahadeva’s son was born  under the constellation Vahni-daivata (Krittika), he was called Srutasena (Kartikeya).

The sons of Draupadi were born at the interval of one year each. All of them became renowned and very much attached to one another. Their rites of infancy such as Chudakarana (first shave of the head) and Upanayana (investiture with the sacred threads) were performed by Sage Dhaumya . 

All of them, after studying the Vedas, acquired the knowledge of the weapons from Arjuna. The Pandavas were elated when  their sons, who were equal in glory to the sons of the celestials, became accomplished warriors.

The Pandavas brought many kings under their rule. People were happy under Yudhishtira’s rule. Yudhishtira studied the Vedas, performed sacrifices and protected the people. He combined  virtue, pleasure and profit judiciously.

Because of Yudhishtirs’s influence, other kings on the earth also became aligned to virtue and they became inclined towards meditation on the Supreme spirit.

Assisted by his four brothers, Yudhishtira shone like a sacrifice assisted by the four Vedas. Many Brahmins waited upon Yudhishtira like the celestial waiting upon the Lord of the creation. People were delighted to look at Yudhishtira, who was like the full moon without a stain.

People developed an affection towards Yudhishtira who never uttered anything that was improper, untrue, unbearable or disagreeable. Yudhishtira, endowed with  great energy, and aided by his brothers took care of his people and lived happily with no enemy to disturb his peace.

Next: Adi Parva-50. Agni seeks Arjuna's help
Previous: Adi Parva-48. Arjuna Weds Subhadra

Sunday, June 23, 2019

50. Adi Parva - 48. Arjuna Weds Subhadra

The grand festival of the Vrishni and Andhaka tribes was celebrated on the Raivataka mountain. The region around the hill was adorned with gems and artificial trees of various hues. There was music and dance.

The festival was attended by Balarama and his wife Revathi, the Vrishni king Ugrasena,Raukmineya, Shamva, Akrura, Sarana, Gada, Vabhru, Nisatha, Charudeshna,Prithu, Viprithu, Satyaka, Satyaki, Bhangakara, Maharava,  Hardikya, Uddhava and many others with their wives.

Krishna and Arjuna went around witnessing the activities related to the festival. Arjuna looked at Subhadra*, daughter of Vasudeva and instantly felt a liking for. Observing this, Krishna smiled and said, “How is it that the heart of one wandering in the forests is agitated by the god of desire? She is my sister and the favourite daughter of my father. Tell me if your heart is fixed on her. I will speak to my father.”

Arjuna said, “If your sister becomes my wife, I can achieve anything that is achievable by man. Tell me what I should do to win her hand in marriage.”

Krishna said, “We don’t know her mind. In the case of Kshatriyas who are brave, a forcible abduction of a girl for marrying her is approved. So, carry away my beautiful sister by force. Who knows what she may do at a Swayamvara (self-choice)?”

Then Krishna and Arjuna sent the message to Yudhishthira at Indraprastha through a speedy messenger, informing him of everything. Yudhishthira, on hearing this, conveyed his assent to the proposal.

Arjuna informed Krishna about the assent of Yudhishthira. Learning that Subhadra had gone the Raivataka hill, Arjuna, after taking the consent and advice of Krishna, rode in a golden chariot driven by the horses towards the Raivataka hill.

Subhadra, after worshipping deities in the temple and seeking the blessings of the Brahmins there, was returning to Dwaraka. Arjuna met her on the way, rushed towards her and forcibly took her into his custody. He then proceeded towards Indraprastha.

The armed attendants of Subhadra, seeing that she was seized and taken away, rushed to Dwaraka to inform the developments to the Yadava court called Sudharma. The chief of the court blew his conch and summoned the armed men.

Stirred by the sound of the blowing of the conch, the Bhojas, the Vrishnis, and the Andhakas began to pour in from all sides. They left whatever they were doing and rushed to the court. The chief apprised them of the developments.

The proud Vrishni heroes, on hearing of what Arjuna had done wanted to fight Arjuna with their weapons.

Balarama, tall and while like the peak of the Kailasa mountain, restrained them saying, “Let us hear what Krishna has to say and then act as per his wishes.” Other people endorsed his views with loud cries of approval.

Balarama told Krishna, “Krishna, why are you silent? It was for your sake that Arjuna was welcomed and honoured by us. But it appears that he didn’t deserve our respect. Who will break a plate after dining from it? Arjuna, disregarding us and even you, has outraged Subhadra, desiring his own death. He has put his foot on the crown of my head. I will not put up with this. Shall I eradicate the entire Kuru race?”

Everyone approved of what Balarama said and roared like clouds.

Krishna said, “Arjuna has not insulted us by his action. He has rather enhanced our respect. He considers Swayamvara (self choice of the bride) a dubious practice. Who will accept a girl as a gift as if she were an animal? Which man on earth will sell his offspring (daughter)? I think, Arjuna, considering these flaws in other methods, chose to carry the bride by force, as per established practice.

“The alliance is proper. Subhadra  is a renowned girl. Arjuna is a man of renown. Who won’t like to have Arjuna, born in the race of Bharata and Shantanu and who is the grandson of Kuntibhoja, as a friend? In all the worlds, no one except Mahadeva can vanquish Arjuna. 

"Arjuna’s prowess as a warrior is well known. Who can be equal to him? It is my opinion that we should approach him cheerfully and bring him back. If he goes to his city after vanquishing us, our fame will suffer. There is no disgrace in reconciliation.”

After listening to Krishna’s words, they acted as per his advice. They went after Arjuna, stopped him and persuaded him to return to Dwaraka.

Arjuna lived in Dwaraka for one year. His last year of exile was spent in Pushkara.

After the period of exile was over, Arjuna returned to Indraprastha. After paying obeisance to Yudhishtira and other elders, Arjuna went to the inner apartments to meet Draupadi. Draupadi was angry with him and said, “Why are you here? Go where the daughter of the Yadava race is! A second tie always relaxes the first one put on a pile of wood.”

Arjuna asked for Draupadi’s forgiveness and pacified her. He then sent Subhadra into the inner apartments, after getting her dressed as a cowherd woman.

After entering the inner apartments, Subhadra paid obeisance to Kunti who gave her blessings to Subhadra. 

Subhadra then went to Draupadi and told her, “I am your maid.” Draupadi embraced her and said,“May your husband be without any enemies!” Subhadra said, “So be it!”

After that, the Pandavas lived happily. Kunti was also happy.

*Subhadra was conceived in the womb of Kamsa's sister Vasudeva's wife and Devaki. She was the Maya of Vishnu.When Kamsa tried to kill her when she came out of Devaka's womb, she disappeared and entered the womb of Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva. She was named Bhadra and became Subhadra with the auspicious prefix Su added to her name. Perhaps the name Bhadra Kali was deived from her name, since Kali (Durga, Uma or Parvati) is considered Vishnu's sister.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

49. Arjuna's Pilgrimage

When Arjuna left for the forest, Brahmins well versed in the Vedas, persons skilled in music, ascetics, people who recite Puranas, narrators of sacred stories, devotees leading celibate lives, Vanaprasthas (People inclined to live the later part of their lives in forests), and various other kinds of people walked behind him for some distance.

Arjuna walked like Indra followed by the Maruts. As he walked, he witnessed many picturesque scenes. After arriving at the source of the river Ganga, he decided to settle down there. The Brahmins who followed him to the forest also settled down there. While staying there, Arjuna, inspired by the Brahmins, performed a number of Agnihotris (fire sacrifices). As a result of these sacrifices, that place itself became extremely beautiful.

Once, after making offerings to his ancestors, by standing in the Ganga, Arjuna was about to move from the river to the shore to perform the rites sitting before the fire. At that time, he was pulled from under the water by Ulupi, the daughter of the Nagas. 

He was carried by her to the palace of the Naga king Kauravya. Arjuna found that there was a sacrificial fire ignited for him. He performed the rites in that fire. Agni was pleased by Arjuna’s performance of the rites by pouring libations into the fire.

After performing the rites, Arjuna smiled at Ulupi and told her, “Oh, handsome girl, what a rash thing have you done by dragging me here! Whose country is this and whose daughter are you?”

Ulupi replied, “I am the daughter of Kauravya, the Naga king born in the line of Airavata. Looking at you perform ablutions in the river, I was smitten by love. I am unmarried. Gratify me by giving yourself to me.”

Arjuna said, “As commanded by my elder brother Yudhishtira, I am undergoing a vow of celibacy for twelve years. I am not free to do what I please. But I am still willing to make you happy. Tell me how I can make you happy without violating my vow and the truth.”

"Ulupi said, “I know why you were asked to undergo celibacy. Your exile is only for the sake of Draupadi. Your virtue will not suffer by acceding to my solicitation. Oh, man of large eyes, it is one’s duty to relieve the distressed. Your virtue will not suffer any diminution by pleasing me. On the other hand, you will earn great merit by saving my life. So, yield yourself to me. It is the opinion of the wise that a man should accept a woman that woos him. I will kill myself if you don’t accede to my request. Earn great merit by saving my life. I seek your shelter. Gratify my wish by yielding to me."

Arjuna fulfilled her desire. After spending the night in the palace, he returned to the originating point of the Ganga in the morning, accompanied by Ulupi. 

Ulupi then took leave of Arjuna and returned to her palace. She gave him a boon that he would be invincible in water. “Every amphibious creature will be vanquished by you,” she said.

Arjuna narrated everything to the Brahmins who were staying with him. He then visited different parts of the Himalayas like Agastyavata, Vasishta’s peak, the peak of Bhrigu etc. He performed various rites at these places and donated many houses and cows to the Brahmins. 

Arjuna then went to a sacred asylum called Hiranyavindu and performed his ablutions there.

He then descended from the Himalayas and journeyed towards the East. The Brahmins followed him.

Arjuna went to then forest of Naimisha (Naimisharanya,) where the rivers Utpalini, the Nanda, the Apara Nanda, the Kausiki, Gaya and Ganga were flowing. He purified himself by bathing in those sacred rivers. 

Arjuna also visited the holy places in Vanga and Kalinga and bathed himself in all the holy waters in those regions. The Brahmins took leave of Arjuna when he entered Kalinga.  

Arjuna, accompanied by a few attendants, went to many regions, visiting several holy places and palaces. He saw the Mahendra mountain on his way. 

He then went to Manipura. He walked along the seashore and reached the palace of King Chitravahana.

Chitravahana had a beautiful daughter by name Chitrangada. Arjuna happened to look at her and instantly developed a desire to possess her. He went to the king and requested him to give his daughter in marriage to him. 

The king asked Arjuna, “Who are you and who are your parents?”

Arjuna said, “I am Arjuna, the son of Pandu and Kunti.”

The king told Arjuna, “In our race, there was a king by name Prabhanjana. He had no children. He performed a penance meditating on Lord Siva. Lord Siva granted him a boon that each successive descendant of his race would have only one child. Each of my ancestors had a son but I have a daughter. 

"However, I look upon my daughter as my son. If you marry her, one of the sons born to her through you will be the perpetuator of my race. If you agree to this, you can marry her.”

Arjuna agreed to this and married Chitrangada. He lived with her in the city for 3 years. After she gave birth to a son, Arjuna took leave of her and began to wander again.

Arjuna then went to the South and travelled along the shores of the southern ocean. He came across five regions in which ascetics lived. But he found that they had shunned the five sacred waters in that region. 

Of these five, Agastya, Saubadra and Pauloma were considered holy while Karandhma was considered propitious for performing Aswameta Yaga (horse sacrifice) and Bharadwaja, a washer of sins.

Arjuna asked the ascetics why they were shunning the five sacred waters. The ascetics said that they were avoiding those sacred waters because those waters were inhabited by crocodiles that would take away the people who bathe in those waters.

Hearing this, Arjuna, though dissuaded by the ascetics, decided to explore those waters. Perhaps, he remembered the boon by Ulupi that he would be invincible in water). He first went to Saubhadra and plunged into the water. A large crocodile seized his leg. He dragged it to the shore. Once the crocodile was brought to the shore, it transformed itself into a beautiful woman.

When Arjuna asked her who she was, she replied, “Oh, strong armed one, I am an Apsara by name Varga. I was dear to Kubera. I and my four companions were once going to the abode of Kubera. On the way, we saw a Brahmin of handsome appearance and rigid vows meditating. We tried to lure him by singing and dancing. He was not lured by us. He became angry and cursed us to become crocodiles and range the waters for hundred years.

“Distressed by his curse, we sought his forgiveness for trying to lure him with our beauty and distract him from his meditation. Moved by our propitiation, the Brahmin said, 'The word hundred normally indicates eternity. But the word hundred used by me may mean a limited period of hundred years and not eternity. You will be crocodiles for a limited period of hundred years, seizing and taking away people. At the end of hundred years, an exalted individual will drag you all from water to the land. Then you will go back to your original forms. The sacred waters in which I will assign you to live will, after you are delivered by that individual, become known as Nari-tirthas (or sacred waters connected with the sufferings and liberation of women). These waters will become sacred, having the power to wash away sins.'

“We saluted the Brahmin and left him. We then came across Narada who asked us about our plight. When we narrated our story to him, he said, ‘In the low lands adjoining the southern ocean, there are five regions of sacred water.  Go there immediately. Arjuna, the son of Pandu will deliver you.’ Oh, hero, as per the sage’s words, you  have freed me from my curse. Please free my four friends also.”

Arjuna then freed the other four women also by pulling them out of the sacred waters in which they were living.

After giving leave to the five Apsaras, Arjuna became desirous of seeing Chitrangada one more time. He then proceeded to the city of Manipura. He saw Chitrangada and his son Vabhruvahana, who was installed on the throne. Arjuna then left for Gokarna.

Arjuna visited many sacred waters and holy places on the shores of the western ocean. When he came to a place called Prabhasa, Krishna, learning about his arrival there went to that place to meet his friend.

After the two friends had embraced each other and exchanged pleasantries, Krishna asked Arjuna, “Why are you  wandering over the earth, visiting the sacred waters and other holy places?"

Arjuna narrated the happenings to Krishna. Hearing this, Krishna said, “This is as it should be.”

The two friends then went to the Raivataka mountain to spend some days there. Before they arrived at Raivataka, Krishna had arranged for food and entertainment shows. However, Arjuna  politely dismissed the singers and dancers and retired to bed.  Before going to sleep, he described to Krishna the holy places and sacred waters visited by him.

Arjuna then set out to Dwaraka, the capital of the Yadava kingdom. The citizens of Dwaraka thronged to see the son of Kunti. He stayed there in the company of Krishna, for many days.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

48. Arjuna Goes Into Exile

As requested by Yudhishtira, Narada narrated the story of Sunda and Upasunda in more detail.

Sunda and Upasaunda were the sons of Nikumbha, a descendant of Hiranyakasipu. .
They were always together and each said and did only things that were agreeable to the other. They were like one person living in two bodies.

They had a desire to subjugate the three worlds. They went to the Vindhya mountains and performed  austere penance.

Pleased by their penance, Brahma appeared before the brothers and offered to grant them any boon they would seek.  

Sunda and Upasaunda, after paying obeisance to Brahma, asked him, “Oh, lord. Grant us great physical strength, knowledge of all weapons, powers of illusion, and the power to assume any form at will. Also grant us immortality.”

Brahma said, “I will grant you everything you have asked for except immortality. Since you have undergone this severity with a selfish intent of conquering the three worlds, I cannot confer immortality on you. Choose the form of death you want.

Sunda and Upasunda said, “Oh, lord, we should be incapable of being killed by anyone or anything in this universe except by each other!”

Brahma granted them what they asked for and vanished.

The brothers then returned to their kingdom. After enjoying themselves for a while, the brothers decided to pursue their desire to conquer the three worlds.

They first went to the celestial world and conquered the Devas, the Yakshas and other celestial tribes. The celestials left their abodes and sought refuge in the region of Brahma.

After conquering the Deva loka, Sunda and Upasaunda invaded the Netherlands, the land of the Nagas and conquered it also.

Seized by a desire to conquer the rest of the world also, the brothers summoned the soldiers and told them, “Brahmins and royal sages increase the strength and prosperity of the celestials through their offerings in rites and sacrifices. Therefore, they are the enemies of the Asuras. So, we should slaughter them and obliterate them from the face of the earth.”

Accordingly, the brothers and their army set out in different directions and began to kill people who were performing sacrifices and the Brahmins assisting them. They also quelled the sacrificial fires by pouring water on them.

Sacrifices, religious rites, festivities and studies ceased. Buying and selling activities also stopped. Agriculture was neglected and cattle were no longer tended. 

The celestial sages, the Siddhas and other ascetics possessing  the attributes of tranquility and self-restraint, moved by the plight of the universe, went to Brahma.

They narrated to Brahma all the misdeeds of the Asura brothers. After listening to them, Brahma contemplated for a moment. He then summoned the celestial architect Viswakarma.

When Viswakarma appeared before him, Brahma asked him to create a woman with captivating beauty. 

Viswakarma created a celestial woman of extraordinary beauty. She was a mass of gems, with a beauty  unrivaled by the women of the three worlds. 

Since she was created with minute quantities of every gem, Brahma gave her the name Tilottama (meaning, minute particles of the best.)

Brahma told her “Oh, Tilottama, go to the Asuras, Sunda and Upasunda, tempt them with your captivating beauty and conduct yourself in such a way that they will quarrel between themselves about who should possess you.”

The Asura brothers, having conquered the three worlds, had nothing more to do. They were living in happiness, enjoying themselves in all possible ways.

One day, the brothers were in the Vindhyas, sitting at a place and witnessing the dances of some handsome women.  

At that time, Tilottama, attired in a single piece of red silk that exposed all her charm, came along, plucking wild flowers on her way. 

The brothers were stunned by her extraordinary beauty. They left their seats and went to her. Each of the two sought the girl for himself.

Sunda seized the girl by her right hand. He told his brother “She is my wife and you have to respect her.”

Upasunda responded saying ,”She is my wife and therefore your sister-in-law”

Each of them repeatedly said, “She is mine, not yours.” Each claimed that he was the first to sight her.

Soon, they started attacking each other with their maces. 

Eventually, both of them fell on the ground, their bodies bathed in blood, like two suns dislodged from the firmament.

Brahma came there along with the celestials. He applauded Tilottama for her feat and granted her a boon that nobody would be able to look at her for a long time. He restored the three worlds to Indra and then returned to his abode.

Narada concluded saying that the two brothers, ever united and inspired by the same purpose, killed each other for the sake of Tilottama. He advised the Pandavas to work out an arrangement to ensure that they won’t quarrel on account of Draupadi.

Following Narada’s advice, the Pandavas, after some discussion among themselves, framed a rule that if any of the four saw Draupadi when she was with the fifth one, that person would retire into the forests for 12 years and spend his time observing the vow of celibacy. 

The Pandavas agreed to this arrangement in the presence of Narada. Narada then left the place. 

The Pandavas observed this rule strictly and consequently eliminated the scope for any dispute among them on account of Draupadi.

The Pandavas were living in happiness and glory. They brought many kings under their control, using their prowess and conquering them. 

The Pandavas were happy with Draupadi and she was also happy with them.

After some time, an incident occurred in their country. Some robbers took away the cattle of a Brahmin. The Brahmin was angered by the robbery. He came to the palace and lamented aloud blaming the Pandavas for his loss.

He said, “Oh, Pandavas. Cattle are being taken away from me by the wicked robbers.The sacrificial butter of the Brahmins is being taken away by the crows.The jackal invades the empty cave of a lion. The wise people have said that a king who takes one sixth of the produce of the lands of his subjects, but fails to protect them is the most sinful person in the world.”

Hearing the lament of the Brahmin, Arjuna came out to console him. The Brahmin urged Arjuna to come to his place, pursue and catch the robber and punish him. 

Since Yudhishtira was sitting with Draupadi in the room where weapons were stored, Arjuna could not enter that room to get his weapon and accompany the Brahmin.

With the Brahmin repeatedly pleading with Arjuna to come with him, Arjuna decided that he should uphold righteousness by going to the rescue of the Brahmin even if he had to suffer the punishment of being in exile for 12 years for entering the room when Yudhishtiira and Draupadi were inside.

Arjuna entered the room, took his bow and arrows and accompanied the Brahmin. He pursued the robbers, caught them, attacked them with his arrows and forced them to return the cattle to the Brahmin. His act earned praise from every one.

After returning to the palace, Arjuna went to Yudhishtira and told him, “Give me leave to go in exile for 12 years for having seen you with Draupadi, in violation of the vow we have undertaken.”

Grieved by Arjuna’s words, Yudhishtira said, “Arjuna, I was not displeased by your entering my chamber when I was sitting with Draupadi. The younger brother may enter the room when the elder brother has been sitting with his wife. It becomes an offense only when the elder brother does it.Your virtue has not suffered any erosion. So, please give up your proposal.

Arjuna said, “You have told me that quibbling is not permitted in the discharge of duty. I cannot waver from truth. Please permit me to go.”

Obtaining Yudhishtira’s permission, Arjuna went to the forest, to live there for 12 years.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

47. Pandavas Establish Indraprastha

Vidura left for Panchala, carrying with him numerous jewels and various other kinds of presents for Draupadi, the Pandavas and King Drupada.

After arriving at Drupada’s palace, Vidura, well versed in all rules of morality, paid obeisance to the king. Drupada received Vidura warmly and enthusiastically. Both exchanged pleasantries.

Presently, Vidura met the Pandavas residing in the place. Vidura embraced the Pandavas and enquired them about their well being. The Pandavas and Draupadi paid their respects to Vidura.

Vidura, on behalf of King Dhritarashtra, presented the gifts to Drupada, the Pandavas and Draupadi, conveying to them the warm feelings of Dhritarashtra towards them.

Vidura then told Drupada, “Oh, king, King Dhritarashtra, along with his sons, his ministers and councilors enquired after your welfare. He considers your alliance a great blessing. Bhishma and Drona also feel the same way. Gaining this alliance has made them happier than acquiring a new kingdom would have. The Kurus are very eager to see the Pandavas. So, please permit the Pandavas to return to  their ancestral kingdom.

“The Pandavas have been absent from their city for a long time. They should also be eager to visit their city. Along with the Kurus, the ladies and the citizens are also eager to see Kunti, the Pandavas and Draupadi, the Panchala princess. 

"It is my opinion that you should permit them to visit Hastinapura. As soon as you give your permission, I will convey the information to Dhritarashtra through messengers so that he could arrange for an appropriate reception. Then I will leave taking Kunti, the Pandavas and Dtaupadi with me.”

Hearing Vidura’s words, Drupada said, "I am also extremely happy about my alliance with the Kurus. It is only proper for these princes to return to their kingdom, but it is not for me to decide what they should do. If these men of valor desire to return to their kingdom and if Balarama and Krishna, who are well versed in all rules of morality, also feel the same way, the Pandavas may do so. Balarama and Krishna will always do what is right and what is beneficial to the Pandavas.”

Yudhishtira said, “Oh, king, I and my brothers depend on you. We will gladly do whatever you command us to do.’

Krishna said, “I think that the Pandavas should accept the invitation from Dhritarashtra and return to their kingdom, but we should abide by the decision of Drupada, who is conversant with all rules of morality.”

Drupada said, “I agree with what Krishna says. No one is more interested in the welfare of the Pandavas than Krishna is.”

As commanded by Drupada, the Pandavas, along with Kunti and Draupadi, left for Hastinapura, the city named after the elephant. They halted at several places en route for relaxation and enjoyment.

On receiving information about the Pandava’s departure from Panchala, Dhritarshtra sent his son Vikarna, Karna’s son Chitrasena, Drona and Kripa to receive the Pandavas.

The Pandavas entered Hastinapura, surrounded by these men. The whole city became radiant with the happiness of the citizens on seeing the Pandavas.

The people raised slogans hailing the Pandavas. Some people said, “It is as if King Pandu himself is returning to the capital from the forest.” Some said, “If we have done anything good by way of performing rites or indulged in acts of charity, let the Pandavas stay in our city for a hundred years.”

After arriving at the palace, the Pandavas touched the feet of Dhritarshtra and Bhishma. They also paid obeisance to other elders and respectable people and enquired of the welfare of the citizens. They then retired to the chambers allotted to them by Dhritarshtra.

After the Pandavas had rested for some time, they were summoned by Dhritarsshtra.

Dhritarashtra asked them to go to Kandavaprastha and rule half of the kingdom from there. Accepting the offer of Dhritarshtra, the Pandavas left Hastinapura for Kandavaprastha, which was a desert. The Pandavas beautified the place and made it a second heaven.

Seeking the guidance of Vyasa, the Pandavas carved out a region as the capital city for their new kingdom. After performing propitiatory rites, they constructed a palace, complete with a moat and high raised walls. It looked like Bhogvati, the capital of the Nagaloka (the Netherlands) inhabited by the snakes.

The palace had a magnificent look, with the compound walls raised high like the Mandara mountain. The palace was stacked with numerous weapons of all kinds required to fight the enemies and protect the kingdom, in times of need.

The streets were well laid out with good roads and other facilities. With huge mansions adorning the streets, the city resembled Amaravati, the capital of the Devas. It was appropriately named Indraprastha (Indra’s city).

After the city was built, a large number of Brahmins, well versed in the Vedas and many merchants from various places came to live there. People skilled in various arts also came there to take up residence in the new city. The city also had a large number of pious people.

The city had many gardens adorned with various kinds of trees. Various animals and birds came to the place because of the natural habitat created by the planting of trees.

The city also had many pleasure houses, artificial hillocks, lakes and other water bodies.

The joy of Pandavas increased day by day after they took up residence at the city built by them. 

After helping the Pandavas settle down at Indraprastha, Krishna and Balarama returned to Dwaraka.

When Janamejaya asked Vaisambayana to narrate in detail what the Pandavas did after they were given possession of Kandavaprastha, Vaisambayana explained the events in more detail.

The Pandavas ruled the kingdom by observing the principles of morality.

One day, the cdelestial sage Narada visited their kigdom. He was appropriately received. The Pandavas and Draupadi paid obeisance to him. Narada showered many benedictions on all of them. He then asked Draupadi to leave. He then told the Pandavas, “Draupadi is wedded to all of you. You should establish a rule among yourselves that there should be no disunion among you.”

He told them the story of two brothers Sunda and Upasunda who could not be slain by anybody unless each slew the other. They ruled the same kingdom, lived in the same house, slept on the same bed, sat on the same seat, and ate from the same plate. But they killed each other for the sake of Tilottama.

Narada told this story to stress the importance of not giving room for any disunion among the Pandavas, on account of Draupadi.

Yudhishtira requested Narada tonarrate the story of Sunda and Upasunda in more detail.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

46. Dhritarashtra's Decision

After Bhishma, it was Drona’s turn to speak. He said, “Oh, King Dhritarashtra, we have been taught that when consulted by our friends, we should always speak what is right, true, and conductive to fame. My views are the same as those of Bhishma.  

"Let the Pandavas be given a part of the kingdom. Please send a messenger to Drupada immediately. Let him carry a lot of valuable presents for the bridegrooms and the bride. Let him convey to Drupada that you feel that your power and dignity have been enhanced by this alliance of the Kurus with Drupada. 

"Let him speak highly of the Pandavas. Let him also convey to the king that both yourself and Duryodhana are happy about the marriage. Let the messenger also carry a lot of presents to Drupada and his sons.

“When the Pandavas return to Hastinapura after getting the permission of Drupada, let Duschasana and Vikarna go out and receive them. When the Pandavas arrive at Hastinapura, you should receive them  with warmth and affection.The Pandavas should be installed in their paternal throne.This is how you should treat the Pandavas, who are like your own sons.”

After Drona had spoken, Karna said, “Oh, king! Both Bhishma and Drona have been pampered by you through your showering your wealth on them and through your conferring many favors on them.While you have always considered them as your trusted friends, it is strange that they give you advice that is not for your good!

“How can a wise person accept an advice given by people out of wicked intentions, after concealing their wickedness? During the time of distress, friends can do us neither good nor harm. Our happiness or sorrow is decided by destiny. The wise and the foolish, the young and the old, those who have allies and those who don’t have allies are all sometimes happy and sometimes unhappy.

“There was a king by name Amvuvicha, ruling from his capital Rajagriha. He was the king of all the Magadha chiefs. He never attended to his affairs, leaving everything to his ministers. For him, even breathing was an exertion! Eventually, his minister Mahakarni, became the supreme authority in the state. He gradually appropriated everything belonging to the king including his treasures, his queens and his sovereignty.

“But the possession of all these, instead of satisfying his avarice, only made him aspire for more and more things. He wanted to possess the throne. But in spite of all his efforts, he couldn’t appropriate the throne. What else can we conclude from this except that the king’s sovereignty was dependent on destiny?

“Therefore, this kingdom conferred on you by destiny will continue to be with you, even if the whole world were to become your enemy! But if the destiny were to ordain differently, the kingdom won’t remain with you! Oh king, considering all these, judge the honesty of your advisers. Decide who among them spoke with wickedness and who spoke wisely and well.”

Hearing Karna’s words, Drona said, “It is evident that your words are a result of your wicked intentions. Since you want to harm the Pandavas, you find fault with us. Whatever I said is for the good of the Kuru race. If you think what I said was out of evil intentions, then tell us what is good for us. If the good advice given by me is not followed, I think that the Kurus will be exterminated soon.

After this, Vidura said, “Oh, king, your friends are only saying what is good for you. But since you are not willing to listen to what they say, their words do not penetrate your ears. What Bhishma, the foremost of the Kuru race, said is excellent  and it is for your good. But you don’t listen to his advice. 

"What the preceptor Drona said is also for your good. But what Karna said can’t be regarded to be so. I don’t find anyone who is a better friend of you or of men of better wisdom  than Bhishma or Drona.

“These two, who are senior in years and in wisdom, always look at you and the sons of Pandu the same way. These two men are not inferior to Rama, the son of Dasaratha in virtue or truthfulness. Never have they given you evil advice. Never have you caused them any injury either. So why should these tigers, who have always been truthful, give you wicked advice? 

"Endowed with wisdom, they will never give you any evil advice. It is my firm conviction that these two, well versed in rules of morality, will never give any advice that will be partisan. I consider their advice to be highly beneficial to you.

“Oh, king! The Pandavas are your sons as much as Duryodhana and his brothers are. Those who give advice that will bring evil are those who don’t look into your interests. If there is any partiality in your heart for your own children, those who try to bring it out definitely are not doing you any good.

“These illustrious men of great splendor have not said anything that will lead to evil. But you do not understand this. What they said about the invincibility of the Pandavas is perfectly true. 

"Can Arjuna, who can use both his hands equally well, be defeated even by Indra? Can Bhima, who has the strength of a thousand elephants, be vanquished even by the immortals? Will anyone, who wants to live, confront the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, who are like the sons of Yama? 

"How can anyone vanquish Yudhishtira, en embodiment of patience, compassion, forgiveness and truth. Those, who have Balarama as their ally. Krishna as their advisor and Satyagi as their supporter have already defeated everybody in war.

“Those, who have Drupada as their father-in-law, and Drupada's sons – Drishtadhyumnan and others – as his brothers in law are invincible, indeed. Bear this in mind and the fact that their claim for the throne is prior to even yours and act with fairness. You have a stigma attached to you because of Purochana’s sinful act. You can relieve yourself of this, by acting kindly  towards the Pandavas. This will also protect all of us of the Kuru race.

“We have had a war with Drupada earlier. If we can make him our ally, it will strengthen us. Who, unless cursed by God, will seek to achieve through war what can be achieved through conciliation? Hearing that the Pandavas are alive, the people have become very happy and they are eager to see them. 

"Oh king, act in a way that will be acceptable to the people. Duryodhana, Karna and Sakuni, are young and foolish. Don’t listen to them. I told you a long time back that for the fault of Duryodhana, the people of this country should not be destroyed."

After listening to everyone, Dhritarashtra said, “The learned Bhishma, the illustrious Drona, and you said what is true and also what is most beneficial to me. The heroic sons of Pandu are my sons too and as my sons, they are entitled to this kingdom. 

"Therefore, quickly bring the Pandavas here, along with their mother and Draupadi. It is out of  sheer good fortune that the Pandavas are alive that the Pandavas have obtained the daughter of Drupada, that we have become stronger, that  Purochana has perished and that my grief has been killed.”

Vidura departed to Panchala to bring the Pandavas to Hastinapura, as per the command of Dhritarashtra.