Sunday, June 25, 2017

33. After the Escape

The citizens of Varanavata, after discovering the dead body of a woman, (presumably) her five sons and of another man, concluded that the bodies were that of Pandavas, her mother and Purochana. They conveyed the news of the death of Kunti and her sons to King Dhritarashtra.

Dhitarashtra, on hearing the news, felt grieved and wept uncontrollably. He then directed that men be sent to Varanavata  to perform the funeral rites of Kunti and her sons in ways befitting their royal status. He himself performed the rites, as ordained by custom. The citizens of Hastinapura also felt grieved by the loss and many of them wept. One person who did not cry much was Vidura, who knew that the Pandavas were alive.

After having made their escape from the house of wax  (lakshagriha, as it is called in Sanskrit), the Pandavas, with their mother, were wandering for a while in the forest with a view to hiding themselves from others. Bhima, with his strength was able to cut through the trees and make a path for their movement.

Soon, they were met by a person sent by Vidura, who had been able to estimate the whereabouts of the Pandavas by studying the geography of the place. He told them, “I will repeat the words of Vidura to convince you that I had, in fact, been sent by Vidura. ‘That which consumes the straw and the wood and dries the due won’t burn the inmates of a hole.’”

He also repeated a few other messages conveyed by Vidura to Udhishtira in a secret language to Yudhishtira.

Yudhishtira was convinced that the man was sent by Vidura. This person took Kunti and her sons to a place on the banks of the river Ganga where a boat fitted with engines was stationed.

Using the boat, he ferried the Pandavas and their mother to the other side of the Ganga. He then uttered the word ‘jaya,’ meaning victory, and took leave of them. The Pandavas also sent a message to Vidura through him and began to move secretly.

The Pandavas, with her mother, kept moving through the thick forests, swimming through water at some places. Bhima carried Kunti on his shoulders, most of the time. 

After walking a long distance, the Pandavas felt fatigued and thirsty. Kunti was unable to bear her thirst anymore and lamented at her plight in spite of being the mother of the Pandavas.

Bhima set out to bring some water. After walking a distance of about four miles, he found a lake. He washed himself in the lake, drank some water and took some water to his mother and brothers by soaking his upper garments in water.

When he reached the place where he had left his mother and brothers, he found them sleeping on the ground.  He thought, ‘These people who could not sleep on the soft cushions at Varanavata are sleeping on the bare ground!!  My mother, the daughter of King Kuntiboja, the daughter in law of Emperor Vichitraveerya, the sister of  Krishna, the destroyer of foes, the wife of  the illustrious Pandu, and the mother of five valiant men was used to sleep on the most comfortable luxurious beds but is now sleeping on the ground in a forest. Can there be a more painful sight?

‘This has happened to us after our  escaping from the wicked plans of the sons of Dhritarashtra. These wicked men are alive only because Yudhishtira has not commanded me to take their lives. Otherwise, I would have sent Duryodhana, along with his brothers, Karna and Sakuni to the region of Yama (Pluto)’

Bhima then said to himself, ‘I think there is a town nearby. I will wait till they wake up from sleep. After they quench their thirst, we will go in search of that town, where we will be able to take up residence.’

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