Duryodhana took steps to win over people to his side luring them with wealth and honours.
As directed by Dhritarashtra, some of his councillors talked about the town of Varanavata in the court of the king when the Pandavas were present. They described the splendour of the ensuing Pasupati festival. The Pandavas eventually became interested in visiting Varanavata.
After learning about the Pandava’s interest in visiting Varanavata, Dhritarashtra suggested to the Pandavas that they visit the town with their friends, witness the festival, give donations to the Brahmins, the musicians etc, spend some time in the town and then return to Hastinapura.
Yudhishtira understood the motives of Dhritarashtra. Yet, he accepted the suggestion. He sought the blessings and wishes of Bhishma, Drona, Dhritarashtra,Vidura and others. The Pandavas received the blessings of the elders and the good wishes of their cousins, the Kauravas.
"The Pandavas, after performing the propitiatory rites for obtaining their share of the kingdom, began to make preparations for their journey.
Duryodhna called a councilor by name Purochana and spoke to him in confidence: “I don’t trust anyone more than I trust you. I need your help to destroy my enemies using a clever scheme. Leave for Varanavata immediately along with your men, riding the fastest horses. Build a quadrangular house for the Pandavas to stay. The house should be built using inflammable materials like wood, resin, lac etc. But it should look like a normal house without arousing any suspicion. The people of Varanavata should not know anything about the materials used for constructing the house.
“Get the mansion ready before Pandavas would arrive there. When they arrive there, request them to stay there. Make their stay comfortable and take good care of them. After a few days, set fire to the house when they will be sleeping. All the Pandavas and their mother should be burnt alive in their sleep. But people should consider this to be an accident.”
Agreeing to act as instructed by Duryodana, Purochana left for Varanavata immediately.
The Pandavas departed for Varanavata. Vidura, some councillors and citizens accompanied them to some distance. Some of the citizens openly expressed their suspicion of the motive behind sending the Pandavas to Varanavata. They deprecated the wickedness of Duryodhana and the complicity of Dhritarshtra,
After some distance, Yudhishtira sent the citizens back after telling them “The king is our father and spiritual guide. We should respect him. It is our duty to carry out his wishes. I am grateful to you for your goodwill. If you want to do anything to us, you can do it when the time comes. Please return to your homes.”
After the citizens had departed, Vidura spoke to Yudhishtira in a language that only Yudhishtira could understand. “He who knows the plans of his enemies should act in ways to avoid danger. He who knows that there are sharp weapons not made of steel but capable of cutting through the body and possesses the knowledge to ward them off, can never be hurt by his enemies.
“He protects himself by knowing that neither the consumer of straw and wood nor the drier of the dew can burn the inmates of a hole in the deep woods. He can escape from fire by making his abode like that of a jackal, with many outlets. A man acquires knowledge by wandering. By looking at the stars, he can find the direction. One who keeps his five senses under control can never be put down by his enemies.”
Yudhishtira replied, “I have understood your message.”
Vidura then went back to Hastinapura.
Kunti asked Yudhishtira, “Vidura spoke to you in a language we couldn’t understand. Your reply was also terse. Please tell us what he conveyed to you.”
Yudhishtira said, “Vidura told me that the mansion we would be staying in at Varanavata is built of inflammable materials. He also said 'The path of escape is not unknown to you. Those who can control their senses can conquer the world.’ I replied that I understood his message."