Monday, February 26, 2018

38. Draupadi's Swayamvara

Arjuna asked the Gandharva to suggest whom the Pandavas should appoint as their priest.

The Gandharva said “Dhaumya, the younger brother of Devala is doing penance at Utkochaka. You may choose him as your priest.”

Arjuna took leave of the Gandharva after presenting him his weapon of fire. He told the Gandharva that they would collect the horses presented by him when the occasion for using them came.

The Pandavas went to Utkochaka, met Dhaumya and after presenting him with fruits and roots, requested him to be their priest. When Daumya consented to their request, the Pandavas felt as if they had already regained their lost kingdom and had won Draupati in the Swayamvara! 

After receiving the blessings of Daumya, the Pandavas, along with Daumya, set out to Panchala to participate in the Swayamvara of Draupadi.

On the way, they met some Brahmacharis (Brahmin bachelors) who were also proceeding to Draupati’s Swayamvara. When these Brahmins learnt that the Pandavas were also proceeding to attend this event, they told them about the grandeur of the event and about the large amount of wealth that would be gifted to the Brahmins.

"You people can also receive valuable presents and money," they said.

Yudhishtira told them that they would all go together for the event.

On the way, they met Sage Vyasa and received his blessings.

On reaching the capital city, they stayed in the house of a potter.

Drupada, also known as Yajnasena, desiring that Arjuna marry his daughter, arranged for the bow to be made very stiff so that it could be bent only by Arjuna. He erected a device at a high level and had a mark attached to it. He declared, “He who strings this bow and hits the mark using the well adorned arrows will have my daughter.”

Many Kings, Duryodhana among them, came for the event with a keen desire to win the hand of Draupadi in marriage. Many sages and Brahmins were also present to witness the spectacular event.  All of them went around the mansion and looked at the grandeur of the mansion with amazement. The Pandavas also reached the venue.

After the sacrificial fire was lit to propitiate Agni, the God of Fire and the invocation was done by the priests by chanting mantras (divine hymns), Dhrishtadyumna came to the arena holding his sister Draupadi’s hand and spelt out the task already outlined by his father. 

He introduced  Duryodhana, Karna and other kings to Draupadi by announcing their names and the names of their kingdom. He told Draupadi “Choose as your husband the person who hits the mark.”

The princes then stood up brandishing their weapons and declared “Draupadi will be mine!”

Many celestials like the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Aswin twins, the Swadhas, the Marutas, the Daityas, the Suparnas, the Nagas, the Charanas, the Gandharvas, Kubera, Yama, Viswavasu and Narada had also come to witness the event.

Krishna was also present along with his elder brother Balarama. Krishna pointed the Pandavas, who were in disguise, to Balarama. Balarama was happy to learn of the Pandava’s presence.

The princes attempted to string the bow but none of them could succeed. Many of them were thrown to the ground by the weight of the bow. Duryodhana and his brothers also failed in their attempts.

Karna then came forward to demonstrate his prowess. But even as he lifted the bow, Draupadi said firmly that she won’t accept the son of a charioteer as her husband. Karna withdrew, throwing the bow down in disgust.

After this, other kings including  Sisubala, Jarasandha and Salya (the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva) attempted to string the bow but failed in their attempts.

After all the kings had tried and failed, Arjuna, who was seated among the Brahmins, rose from his seat and proceeded towards the bow. There was a clamour among the Brahmin spectators, with some cheering him and others showing their disapproval.

Arjuna strung the bow in the time it would take for twinkling of the eye. He hit the mark with the arrow and brought it down. The kings who had tried and failed gave out exclamations of grief and despair.

Flowers were rained from above. The musicians began to play the instruments and the bards began to chant encomiums in praise of the person who had accomplished the feat.

Drupada recognized Arjuna and felt joyous. The Brahmins saluted him in reverence.

Krishna got up from his seat, went to Arjuna and garlanded him.

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