Wednesday, October 22, 2008

PDE Mahabharata: The Court of King Virata


Reading Guide. As you may recall, the final year of the Pandavas' exile must be spent in hiding. The five brothers and Draupadi go to the court of King Virata, and they each enter into his service. Arjuna's disguise is one that fulfills the curse put upon him by Urvashi: he will become the eunuch Brihannala, a dancing teacher.

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]




Riddles | 51. The Court of King Virata | Kichaka


Before the Pandavas left the forest, Yudhishthira invoked the goddess Durga, giver of boons, saying, "O slayer of the Buffalo asura, thou art worshipped by the gods, for thou art the protector of the three worlds. Chief of all deities, protect thou and bless thou us. Confer victory upon us, and help us in our distress."

The goddess heard Yudhishthira, and confirmed the promise of Dharma that the Pandava brethren and Draupadi would remain unrecognized during the thirteenth and last year of their exile.

Then the wanderers concealed their weapons in a tree, and went together towards the city of Virata so that they might conceal themselves. According to the terms of banishment, they would have to spend a further twelve years in the jungle if the Kauravas discovered their whereabouts.

The Pandavas found favor in the eyes of the rajah. Yudhishthira became his instructor in the art of playing with dice, because he was wont to lose heavily. Bhima was made chief cook. Arjuna, attired as a eunuch, undertook to teach dancing and music to the ladies of the harem. Nakula was given care of horses, and Sahadeva of kine. The queen was drawn towards Draupadi, who offered to become a bondwoman on condition that she should not have to wash the feet of anyone, or eat food left over after meals, and on these terms she was engaged. The queen feared that Draupadi's great beauty would attract lovers and cause dispeace, but the forlorn woman said that she was protected by five gandharvas, and was without fear.

Bhima soon won much renown by reason of his matchless strength. At a great festival he overcame and slew a wrestler from a far country who was named Jimuta, and he received many gifts. The rajah took great pride in him, and was wont to take him to the apartments of the women, where he wrestled with caged tigers and lions and bears, slaying each one at desire with a single blow. Indeed, all the brothers were well loved by the monarch because of their loyal services.


Riddles | The Court of King Virata | Kichaka




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