The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
Kisari Mohan Ganguli (Translator)

Part 8 out of 11

thy kingdom. Thou art the king of all the territory lying on the southern
side of the Bhagirathi, while I become king of all the territory on the
north of that river. And, O Panchala, if it pleaseth thee, know me hence
for thy friend.'

"On hearing these words, Drupada answered, 'Thou art of noble soul and
great prowess. Therefore, O Brahmana, I am not surprised at what thou
doest. I am very much gratified with thee, and I desire thy eternal

"Vaisampayana continued, 'After this, O Bharata, Drona released the king
of Panchala, and cheerfully performing the usual offices of regard,
bestowed upon him half the kingdom. Thenceforth Drupada began to reside
sorrowfully in (the city of) Kampilya within (the province of) Makandi on
the banks of the Ganga filled with many towns and cities. And after his
defeat by Drona, Drupada also ruled the southern Panchalas up to the bank
of the Charmanwati river. And Drupada from that day was well-convinced
that he could not, by Kshatriya might alone, defeat Drona, being very much
his inferior in Brahma (spiritual) power. And he, therefore, began to
wander over the whole earth to find out the means of obtaining a son (who
would subjugate his Brahmana foe).

"Meanwhile Drona continued to reside in Ahicchatra. Thus, O king, was the
territory of Ahicchatra full of towns and cities, obtained by Arjuna, and
bestowed upon Drona."


(Sambhava Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana continued, 'After the expiration, O king, of a year from
this, Dhritarashtra, moved by kindness for the people, installed
Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, as the heir-apparent of the kingdom on
account of his firmness, fortitude, patience, benevolence, frankness and
unswerving honesty (of heart). And within a short time Yudhishthira, the
son of Kunti, by his good behaviour, manners and close application to
business, overshadowed the deeds of his father. And the second Pandava,
Vrikodara, began to receive continued lessons from Sankarshana (Valarama)
in encounters with the sword and the mace and on the chariot. And after
Bhima's education was finished, he became in strength like unto Dyumatsena
himself and continuing to live in harmony with his brothers, he began to
exert his prowess. And Arjuna became celebrated for the firmness of his
grasp (of weapons), for his lightness of motion, precision of aim, and his
proficiency in the use of the Kshura, Naracha, Vala and Vipatha weapons,
indeed, of all weapons, whether straight or crooked or heavy. And Drona
certified that there was none in the world who was equal to Arjuna in
lightness of hand and general proficiency.

"One day, Drona, addressing Arjuna before the assembled Kaurava princes,
said, 'There was a disciple of Agastya in the science of arms called
Agnivesa. He was my preceptor and I, his disciple. By ascetic merit I
obtained from him a weapon called Brahmasira which could never be futile
and which was like unto thunder itself, capable of consuming the whole
earth. That weapon, O Bharata, from what I have done, may now pass from
disciple to disciple. While imparting it to me, my preceptor said, 'O son
of Bharadwaja, never shouldst thou hurl this weapon at any human being,
especially at one who is of poor energy. Thou hast, O hero, obtained that
celestial weapon. None else deserveth it. But obey the command of the
Rishi (Agnivesa).' And, look here, Arjuna, give me now the preceptorial
fee in the presence of these thy cousins and relatives.' When Arjuna, on
hearing this, pledged his word that he would give what the preceptor
demanded, the latter said, 'O sinless one, thou must fight with me when I
fight with thee.' And that bull among the Kuru princes thereupon pledged
his word unto Drona and touching his feet, went away northward. Then there
arose a loud shout covering the whole earth bounded by her belt of seas to
the effect that there was no bowman in the whole world like unto Arjuna.
And, indeed, Dhananjaya, in encounters with the mace and the sword and on
the chariot as also with the bow, acquired wonderful proficiency. Sahadeva
obtained the whole science of morality and duties from (Vrihaspati) the
spiritual chief of celestials, and continued to live under the control of
his brothers. And Nakula, the favourite of his brothers taught by Drona,
became known as a skilful warrior and a great car-warrior (Ati-ratha).
Indeed, Arjuna and the other Pandava princes became so powerful that they
slew in battle the great Sauvira who had performed a sacrifice extending
over three years, undaunted by the raids of the Gandharvas. And the king
of the Yavanas himself whom the powerful Pandu even had failed to bring
under subjection was brought by Arjuna under control. Then again Vipula,
the king of the Sauviras, endued with great prowess, who had always shown
a disregard for the Kurus, was made by the intelligent Arjuna to feel the
edge of his power. And Arjuna also repressed by means of his arrows (the
pride of) king Sumitra of Sauvira, also known by the name of Dattamitra
who had resolutely sought an encounter with him. The third of the Pandava
princes, assisted by Bhima, on only a single car subjugated all the kings
of the East backed by ten thousand cars. In the same way, having conquered
on a single car the whole of the south, Dhananjaya sent unto the kingdom
of the Kurus a large booty.

"Thus did those foremost of men, the illustrious Pandavas, conquering the
territories of other kings, extend the limits of their own kingdom. But
beholding the great prowess and strength of those mighty bowmen, king
Dhritarashtra's sentiments towards the Pandavas became suddenly poisoned,
and from that day the monarch became so anxious that he could hardly


(Sambhava Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana continued, 'On hearing that the heroic sons of Pandu endued
with excess of energy had become so mighty, king Dhritarashtra became very
miserable with anxiety. Then summoning unto his side Kanika, that foremost
of minister, well-versed in the science of politics and an expert in
counsels the king said, 'O best of Brahmanas, the Pandavas are daily
overshadowing the earth. I am exceedingly jealous of them. Should I have
peace or war with them? O Kanika, advise me truly, for I shall do as thou

"Vaisampayana continued, 'That best of Brahmanas, thus addressed by the
king, freely answered him in these pointed words well-agreeing with the
import of political science."

"Listen to me, O sinless king, as I answer thee. And, O best of Kuru kings,
it behoveth thee not to be angry with me after hearing all I say. Kings
should ever be ready with uplifted maces (to strike when necessary), and
they should ever increase their prowess. Carefully avoiding all faults
themselves they should ceaselessly watch over the faults of their foes and
take advantage of them. If the king is always ready to strike, everybody
feareth him. Therefore the king should ever have recourse to chastisement
in all he doeth. He should so conduct himself that, his foe may not detect
any weak side in him. But by means of the weakness he detecteth in his foe
he should pursue him (to destruction). He should always conceal, like the
tortoise concealing its body, his means and ends, and he should always
keep back his own weakness from the sight of others. And having begun a
particular act, he should ever accomplish it thoroughly. Behold, a thorn,
if not extracted wholly, produceth a festering sore. The slaughter of a
foe who doeth thee evil is always praiseworthy. If the foe be one of great
prowess, one should watch for the hour of his disaster and then kill him
without any scruples. If he should happen to be a great warrior, his hour
of disaster also should be watched and he should then be induced to fly. O
sire, an enemy should never be scorned, however contemptible. A spark of
fire is capable of consuming an extensive forest if only it can spread
from one object to another in proximity. Kings should sometimes feign
blindness and deafness, for if impotent to chastise, they should pretend
not to notice the faults that call for chastisement. On occasions, such as
these, let them regard their bows as made of straw. But they should be
always on the alert like a herd of deer sleeping in the woods. When thy
foe is in thy power, destroy him by every means open or secret. Do not
show him any mercy, although he seeketh thy protection. A foe, or one that
hath once injured thee, should be destroyed by lavishing money, if
necessary, for by killing him thou mayest be at thy ease. The dead can
never inspire fear. Thou must destroy the three, five and seven
(resources) of thy foes. Thou must destroy thy foes root and branch. Then
shouldst thou destroy their allies and partisans. The allies and partisans
can never exist if the principal be destroyed. If the root of the tree is
torn up, the branches and twigs can never exist as before. Carefully
concealing thy own means and ends, thou shouldst always watch thy foes,
always seeking their flaws. Thou shouldst, O king, rule thy kingdom,
always anxiously watching thy foes. By maintaining the perpetual fire by
sacrifices, by brown cloths, by matted locks, and by hides of animals for
thy bedding, shouldst thou at first gain the confidence of thy foes, and
when thou has gained it thou shouldst then spring upon them like a wolf.
For it hath been said that in the acquisition of wealth even the garb of
holiness might be employed as a hooked staff to bend down a branch in
order to pluck the fruits that are ripe. The method followed in the
plucking of fruits should be the method in destroying foes, for thou
shouldst proceed on the principle of selection. Bear thy foe upon thy
shoulders till the time cometh when thou canst throw him down, breaking
him into pieces like an earthen pot thrown down with violence upon a stony
surface. The foe must never be let off even though he addresseth thee most
piteously. No pity thou show him but slay him at once. By the arts of
conciliation or the expenditure of money should the foe be slain. By
creating disunion amongst his allies, or by the employment of force,
indeed by every means in thy power shouldst thou destroy thy foe.'

"Dhritarashtra said, 'Tell me truly how a foe can be destroyed by the arts
of conciliation or the expenditure of money, or by producing disunion or
by the employment of force.'

"Kanika replied, 'Listen, O monarch, to the history of a jackal dwelling
in days of yore in the forest and fully acquainted with the science of
politics. There was a wise jackal, mindful of his own interests who lived
in the company of four friends, viz., a tiger, a mouse, a wolf, and a
mongoose. One day they saw in the woods a strong deer, the leader of a
herd, whom, however, they could not seize for his fleetness and strength.
They thereupon called a council for consultation. The jackal opening the
proceedings said, 'O tiger, thou hast made many an effort to seize this
deer, but all in vain simply because this deer is young, fleet and very
intelligent. Let now the mouse go and eat into its feet when it lieth
asleep. And when this is done, let the tiger approach and seize it. Then
shall we all, with great pleasure feast on it.' Hearing these words of the
jackal, they all set to work very cautiously as he directed. And the mouse
ate into the feet of the deer and the tiger killed it as anticipated. And
beholding the body of the deer lying motionless on the ground, the jackal
said unto his companions, 'Blessed be ye! Go and perform your ablutions.
In the meantime I will look after the deer.' Hearing what the jackal said,
they all went into a stream. And the jackal waited there, deeply
meditating upon what he should do. The tiger endued with great strength,
returned first of all to the spot after having performed his ablutions.
And he saw the jackal there plunged in meditation. The tiger said, 'Why
art thou so sorrowful, O wise one! Thou art the foremost of all
intelligent beings. Let us enjoy ourselves today by feasting on this
carcass.' The jackal said, 'Hear, O mighty-armed one, what the mouse hath
said. He hath even said, 'O, fie on the strength of the king of the
beasts! This deer hath been slain by me. By might of my arm he will today
gratify his hunger.' When he hath boasted in such a language, I, for my
part, do not wish to touch this food.' The tiger replied, 'If, indeed,
the mouse hath said so, my sense is now awakened. I shall, from this day,
slay with the might of my own arms, creatures ranging the forest and then
feast on their flesh.' Having said this, the tiger went away.

"And after the tiger had left the spot, the mouse came. And seeing the
mouse come, the jackal addressed him and said, 'Blest be thou, O mouse,
but listen to what the mongoose hath said. He hath even said, The carcass
of this deer is poison (the tiger having touched it with his claws). I
will not eat of it. On the other hand, if thou, O jackal, permittest it, I
will even slay the mouse and feast on him.' Hearing this the mouse became
alarmed and quickly entered his hole. And after the mouse had gone, the
wolf, O king, came there having performed his ablutions. And seeing the
wolf come, the jackal said unto him, 'The king of the beasts hath been
angry with thee. Evil is certain to overtake thee. He is expected here
with his wife. Do as thou pleasest.' Thus was the wolf also, fond of
animal flesh, got rid of by the jackal. And the wolf fled, contracting his
body into the smallest dimensions. It was then that the mongoose came. And,
O king, the jackal, seeing him come, said, 'By the might of my arm have I
defeated the others who have already fled. Fight with me first and then
eat of this flesh as you please.' The mongoose replied, 'When, indeed, the
tiger, the wolf, and the intelligent mouse have all been defeated by thee,
heroes as they are, thou seemest to be a greater hero still. I do not
desire to fight with thee.' Saying this, the mongoose also went away.

"Kanika continued, 'When they all had thus left the place, the jackal,
well-pleased with the success of his policy, alone ate up that flesh. If
kings always act in this way, they can be happy. Thus should the timid by
exciting their fears, the courageous by the arts of conciliation, the
covetous by gift of wealth, and equals and inferiors by exhibition of
prowess be brought under thy sway. Besides all this, O king, that I have
said, listen now to something else that I say.'

"Kanika continued, 'If thy son, friend, brother, father, or even the
spiritual preceptor, anyone becometh thy foe, thou shouldst, if desirous
of prosperity, slay him without scruples. By curses and incantations, by
gift of wealth, by poison, or by deception, the foe should be slain. He
should never be neglected from disdain. If both the parties be equal and
success uncertain, then he that acteth with diligence groweth in
prosperity. If the spiritual preceptor himself be vain, ignorant of what
should be done and what left undone, and vicious in his ways, even he
should be chastised. If thou art angry, show thyself as if thou art not so,
speaking even then with a smile on thy lips. Never reprove any one with
indications of anger (in thy speech). And O Bharata, speak soft words
before thou smitest and even while thou art smiting! After the smiting is
over, pity the victim, and grieve for him, and even shed tears. Comforting
thy foe by conciliation, by gift of wealth, and smooth behaviour, thou
must smite him when he walketh not aright. Thou shouldst equally smile the
heinous offender who liveth by the practice of virtue, for the garb of
virtue simply covereth his offences like black clouds covering the
mountains. Thou shouldst burn the house of that person whom thou punishest
with death. And thou shouldst never permit beggars and atheists and
thieves to dwell in thy kingdom. By a sudden sally or pitched battle by
poison or by corrupting his allies, by gift of wealth, by any means in thy
power, thou shouldst destroy thy foe. Thou mayest act with the greatest
cruelty. Thou shouldst make thy teeth sharp to give a fatal bite. And thou
should ever smite so effectually that thy foe may not again raise his head.
Thou shouldst ever stand in fear of even one from whom there is no fear,
not to speak of him from whom there is such. For if the first be ever
powerful he may destroy thee to the root (for thy unpreparedness). Thou
shouldst never trust the faithless, nor trust too much those that are
faithful, for if those in whom thou confidest prove thy foes, thou art
certain to be annihilated. After testing their faithfulness thou shouldst
employ spies in thy own kingdom and in the kingdoms of others. Thy spies
in foreign kingdoms should be apt deceivers and persons in the garb of
ascetics. Thy spies should be placed in gardens, places of amusement,
temples and other holy places, drinking halls, streets, and with the
(eighteen) tirthas (viz., the minister, the chief priest, the heir-
presumptive, the commander-in-chief, the gate-keepers of the court,
persons in the inner apartments, the jailor, the chief surveyor, the head
of the treasury, the general executant of orders, the chief of the town
police, the chief architect, the chief justice, the president of the
council, the chief of the punitive department, the commander of the fort,
the chief of the arsenal, the chief of the frontier guards, and the keeper
of the forests), and in places of sacrifice, near wells, on mountains and
in rivers, in forests, and in all places where people congregate. In
speech thou shouldst ever be humble, but let thy heart be ever sharp as
razor. And when thou art engaged in doing even a very cruel and terrible
act, thou shouldst talk with smiles on thy lips. If desirous of prosperity,
thou shouldst adopt all arts--humility, oath, conciliation, worshipping
the feet of others by lowering thy head, inspiring hope, and the like. And,
a person conversant with the rules of policy is like a tree decked with
flowers but bearing no fruit; or, if bearing fruit, these must be at a
great height not easily attainable from the ground; and if any of these
fruits seem to be ripe care must be taken to make it appear raw.
Conducting himself in such a way, he shall never fade. Virtue, wealth and
pleasure have both their evil and good effects closely knit together.
While extracting the effects that are good, those that are evil should be
avoided. Those that practise virtue (incessantly) are made unhappy for
want of wealth and the neglect of pleasure. Those again in pursuit of
wealth are made unhappy for the neglect of two others. And so those who
pursue pleasure suffer for their inattention to virtue and wealth.
Therefore, thou shouldst pursue virtue, wealth and pleasure, in such a way
that thou mayest not have to suffer therefrom. With humiliation and
attention, without jealousy and solicitous of accomplishing thy purpose,
shouldst thou, in all sincerity, consult with the Brahmanas. When thou art
fallen, thou shouldst raise thyself by any means, gentle or violent; and
after thou hast thus raised thyself thou shouldst practise virtue. He that
hath never been afflicted with calamity can never have prosperity. This
may be seen in the life of one who surviveth his calamities. He that is
afflicted with sorrow should be consoled by the recitation of the history
of persons of former times (like those of Nala and Rama). He whose heart
hath been unstrung by sorrow should be consoled with hopes of future
prosperity. He again who is learned and wise should be consoled by
pleasing offices presently rendered unto him. He who, having concluded a
treaty with an enemy, reposeth at ease as if he hath nothing more to do,
is very like a person who awaketh, fallen down from the top of a tree
whereon he had slept. A king should ever keep to himself his counsels
without fear of calumny, and while beholding everything with the eyes of
his spies, he should take care to conceal his own emotions before the
spies of his enemies. Like a fisherman who becometh prosperous by catching
and killing fish, a king can never grow prosperous without tearing the
vitals of his enemy and without doing some violent deeds. The might of thy
foe, as represented by his armed force, should ever be completely
destroyed, by ploughing it up (like weeds) and mowing it down and
otherwise afflicting it by disease, starvation, and want of drink. A
person in want never approacheth (from love) one in affluence; and when
one's purpose hath been accomplished, one hath no need to approach him
whom he had hitherto looked to for its accomplishment. Therefore, when
thou doest anything never do it completely, but ever leave something to be
desired for by others (whose services thou mayest need). One who is
desirous of prosperity should with diligence seek allies and means, and
carefully conduct his wars. His exertions in these respects should always
be guided by prudence. A prudent king should ever act in such a way that
friends and foes may never know his motive before the commencement of his
acts. Let them know all when the act hath been commenced or ended, and as
long as danger doth not come, so long only shall thou act as if thou art
afraid. But when it hath overtaken thee, thou must grapple with it
courageously. He who trusteth in a foe who hath been brought under
subjection by force, summoneth his own death as a crab by her act of
conception. Thou shouldst always reckon the future act as already arrived
(and concert measures for meeting it), else, from want of calmness caused
by haste, thou mayest overlook an important point in meeting it when it is
before thee. A person desirous of prosperity should always exert with
prudence, adopting his measures to time and place. He should also act with
an eye to destiny as capable of being regulated by mantras and sacrificial
rites; and to virtue, wealth, and pleasure. It is well-known that time and
place (if taken into consideration) always produce the greatest good. If
the foe is insignificant, he should not yet be despised, for he may soon
grow like a palmyra tree extending its roots or like a spark of fire in
the deep woods that may soon burst into an extensive conflagration. As a
little fire gradually fed with faggots soon becometh capable of consuming
even the biggest blocks, so the person who increaseth his power by making
alliances and friendships soon becometh capable of subjugating even the
most formidable foe. The hope thou givest unto thy foe should be long
deferred before it is fulfilled; and when the time cometh for its
fulfilment, invent some pretext for deferring it still. Let that pretext
be shown as founded upon some reason, and let that reason itself be made
to appear as founded on some other reason. Kings should, in the matter of
destroying their foes, ever resemble razors in every particular; unpitying
as these are sharp, hiding their intents as these are concealed in their
leathern cases, striking when the opportunity cometh as these are used on
proper occasions, sweeping off their foes with all their allies and
dependants as these shave the head or the chin without leaving a single
hair. O supporter of the dignity of the Kurus, bearing thyself towards the
Pandavas and others also as policy dictateth, act in such a way that thou
mayest not have to grieve in future. Well do I know that thou art endued
with every blessing, and possessed of every mark of good fortune.
Therefore, O king, protect thyself from the sons of Pandu! O king, the
sons of Pandu are stronger than their cousins (thy sons); therefore, O
chastiser of foes, I tell thee plainly what thou shouldst do. Listen to it,
O king, with thy children, and having listened to it, exert yourselves (to
do the needful). O king, act in such a way that there may not be any fear
for thee from the Pandavas. Indeed, adopt such measures consonant with the
science of policy that thou mayest not have to grieve in the future.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having delivered himself thus Kanika returned to
his abode, while the Kuru king Dhritarashtra became pensive and


(Jatugriha Parva)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Then the son of Suvala (Sakuni), king Duryodhana,
Duhsasana and Karna, in consultation with one another, formed an evil
conspiracy. With the sanction of Dhritarashtra, the king of the Kurus,
they resolved to burn to death Kunti and her (five) sons. But that wise
Vidura, capable of reading the heart by external signs, ascertained the
intention of these wicked persons by observing their countenances alone.
Then the sinless Vidura, of soul enlightened by true knowledge, and
devoted to the good of the Pandavas, came to the conclusion that Kunti
with her children should fly away from her foes. And providing for that
purpose a boat strong enough to withstand both wind and wave, he addressed
Kunti and said, 'This Dhritarashtra hath been born for destroying the fame
and offspring of the (Kuru) race. Of wicked soul, he is about to cast off
eternal virtue. O blessed one, I have kept ready on the stream a boat
capable of withstanding both wind and wave. Escape by it with thy children
from the net that death hath spread around you.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words, the illustrious Kunti was
deeply grieved, and with her children, O bull of Bharata's race, stepped
into the boat and went over the Ganges. Then leaving the boat according to
the advice of Vidura, the Pandavas took with them the wealth that had been
given to them (while at Varanavata) by their enemies and safely entered
the deep woods. In the house of lac, however, that had been prepared for
the destruction of the Pandavas, an innocent Nishada woman who had come
there for some purpose, was, with her children burnt to death. And that
worst of Mlechchhas, the wretched Purochana (who was the architect
employed in building the house of lac) was also burnt in the conflagration.
And thus were the sons of Dhirtarashtra with their counsellors deceived in
their expectations. And thus also were the illustrious Pandavas, by the
advice of Vidura, saved with their mother. But the people (of Varanavata)
knew not of their safety. And the citizens of Varanavata, seeing the house
of lac consumed (and believing the Pandavas to have been burnt to death)
became exceedingly sorry. And they sent messengers unto king Dhritarashtra
to represent everything that had happened. And they said to the monarch,
'Thy great end hath been achieved! Thou hast at last burnt the Pandavas to
death! Thy desire fulfilled, enjoy with thy children. O king of the Kurus,
the kingdom.' Hearing this, Dhritarashtra with his children, made a show
of grief, and along with his relatives, including Kshattri (Vidura) and
Bhishma the foremost of the Kurus, performed the last honours of the

"Janamejaya said, 'O best of Brahmanas, I desire to hear in full this
history of the burning of the house of lac and the escape of the Pandavas
there from. That was a cruel act of theirs (the Kurus), acting under the
counsels of the wicked (Kanika). Recite the history to me of all that
happened. I am burning with curiosity to hear it.'

"Vaisampayana said, 'O chastiser of all foes, listen to me, O monarch, as
I recite the (history of the) burning of the house of lac and the escape
of the Pandavas. The wicked Duryodhana, beholding Bhimasena surpass
(everybody) in strength and Arjuna highly accomplished in arms became
pensive and sad. Then Karna, the offspring of the Sun, and Sakuni, the son
of Suvala, endeavoured by various means to compass the death of the
Pandavas. The Pandavas too counteracted all those contrivances one after
another, and in obedience to the counsels of Vidura, never spoke of them
afterwards. Then the citizens, beholding the son of Pandu possessed of
accomplishments, began, O Bharata, to speak of them in all places of
public resort. And assembled in courtyards and other places of gathering,
they talked of the eldest son of Pandu (Yudhishthira) as possessed of the
qualifications for ruling the kingdom. And they said, 'Dhritarashtra,
though possessed of the eye of knowledge, having been (born) blind, had
not obtained the kingdom before. How can he (therefore) become king now?
Then Bhishma, the son of Santanu, of rigid vows and devoted to truth,
having formerly relinquished the sovereignty would never accept it now. We
shall, therefore, now install (on the throne) with proper ceremonies the
eldest of the Pandavas endued with youth, accomplished in battle, versed
in the Vedas, and truthful and kind. Worshipping Bhishma, the son of
Santanu and Dhritarashtra conversant with the rules of morality, he will
certainly maintain the former and the latter with his children in every
kind of enjoyment.'

"The wretched Duryodhana, hearing these words of the parting partisans of
Yudhishthira, became very much distressed. Deeply afflicted, the wicked
prince could not put up with those speeches. Inflamed with jealousy, he
went unto Dhritarashtra, and finding him alone he saluted him with
reverence and distressed at (the sight of) the partiality of the citizens
for Yudhishthira, he addressed the monarch and said, 'O father, I have
heard the parting citizens utter words of ill omen. Passing thee by, and
Bhishma too, they desire the son of Pandu to be their king. Bhishma will
sanction this, for he will not rule the kingdom. It seems, therefore, that
the citizens are endeavouring to inflict a great injury on us. Pandu
obtained of old the ancestral kingdom by virtue of his own accomplishments,
but thou, from blindness, didst not obtain the kingdom, though fully
qualified to have it. If Pandu's son now obtaineth the kingdom as his
inheritance from Pandu, his son will obtain it after him and that son's
son also, and so on will it descend in Pandu's line. In that case, O king
of the world, ourselves with our children, excluded from the royal line,
shall certainly be disregarded by all men. Therefore, O monarch, adopt
such counsels that we may not suffer perpetual distress, becoming
dependent on others for our food. O king, if thou hadst obtained the
sovereignty before, we would certainly have succeeded to it, however much
the people might be unfavourable to us.'"


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana continued, "King Dhritarashtra whose knowledge only was his
eyes, on hearing these words of his son and recollecting everything that
Kanika had, said unto him, became afflicted with sorrow, and his mind also
thereupon began to waver. Then Duryodhana and Karna, and Sakuni, the son
of Suvala, and Duhsasana as their fourth, held a consultation together.
Prince Duryodhana said unto Dhritarashtra, 'Send, O father, by some clever
contrivance, the Pandavas to the town of Varanavata. We shall then have no
fear of them.' Dhritarashtra, on hearing these words uttered by his son,
reflected for a moment and replied unto Duryodhana, saying, 'Pandu, ever
devoted to virtue, always behaved dutifully towards all his relatives but
particularly towards me. He cared very little for the enjoyments of the
world, but devotedly gave everything unto me, even the kingdom. His son is
as much devoted to virtue as he, and is possessed of every accomplishment.
Of world-wide fame, he is again the favourite of the people. He is
possessed of allies; how can we by force exile him from his ancestral
kingdom? The counsellors and soldiers (of the state) and their sons and
grandsons have all been cherished and maintained by Pandu. Thus benefited
of old by Pandu, shall not, O child, the citizens slay us with all our
friends and relatives now on account of Yudhishthira?'

"Duryodhana replied, 'What thou sayest, O father, is perfectly true. But
in view of the evil that is looming on the future as regards thyself, if
we conciliate the people with wealth and honours, they would assuredly
side with us for these proofs of our power. The treasury and the ministers
of state, O king, are at this moment under our control. Therefore, it
behoveth thee now to banish, by some gentle means, the Pandavas to the
town of Varanavata; O king, when the sovereignty shall have been vested in
me, then, O Bharata, may Kunti with her children come back from that

"Dhritarashtra replied, 'This, O Duryodhana, is the very thought existing
in my mind. But from its sinfulness I have never given expression to it.
Neither Bhishma, nor Drona, nor Kshattri, nor Gautama (Kripa) will ever
sanction the exile of the Pandavas. In their eyes, O dear son, amongst the
Kurus ourselves and the Pandavas are equal. Those wise and virtuous
persons will make no difference between us. If therefore, we behave so
towards the Pandavas, shall we not, O son, deserve death at the hands of
the Kurus, of these illustrious personages, and of the whole world?'

"Duryodhana answered, 'Bhishma hath no excess of affection for either side,
and will, therefore, be neutral (in case of dispute). The son of Drona
(Aswatthaman) is on my side. There is no doubt that where the son is,
there the father will be. Kripa, the son of Saradwat, must be on the side
on which Drona and Aswatthaman are. He will never abandon Drona and his
sister's son (Aswatthaman). Kshattri (Vidura) is dependent on us for his
means of life, though he is secretly with the foe. If he sides the
Pandavas, he alone can do us no injury, Therefore, exile thou the Pandavas
to Varanavata without any fear. And take such steps that they may go
thither this very day. By this act, O father, extinguish the grief that
consumeth me like a blazing fire, that robbeth me of sleep, and that
pierces my heart even like a terrible dart.'"


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Then prince Duryodhana, along with his brothers
began to gradually win over the people to his side by grants of wealth
and honours. Meanwhile, some clever councillors, instructed by
Dhritarashtra, one day began to describe (in court) the town of
Varanavata as a charming place. And they said, The festival of Pasupati
(Siva) hath commenced in the town of Varanavata. The concourse of people
is great and the procession is the most delightful of all ever witnessed
on earth. Decked with every ornament, it charmed the hearts of all
spectators.' Thus did those councillors, instructed by Dhritarashtra,
speak of Varanavata, and whilst they were so speaking, the Pandavas, O
king, felt the desire of going to that delightful town. And when the
king (Dhritarashtra) ascertained that the curiosity of the Pandavas had
been awakened, the son of Ambika addressed them, saying, 'These men of
mine often speak of Varanavata as the most delightful town in the world.
If therefore, ye children, ye desire to witness that festival, go to
Varanavata with your followers and friends and enjoy yourselves there
like the celestials. And give ye away pearls and gems unto the Brahmanas
and the musicians (that may be assembled there). And sporting there for
some time as ye please like the resplendent celestials and enjoying as
much pleasure as ye like, return ye to Hastinapura again.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Yudhishthira, fully understanding the motives of
Dhritarashtra and considering that he himself was weak and friendless,
replied unto the king, saying, 'So be it.' Then addressing Bhishma, the
son of Santanu, the wise Vidura, Drona, Valhika, the Kaurava, Somadatta,
Kripa, Aswatthaman, Bhurisravas, and the other councillors, and Brahmanas
and ascetics, and the priests and the citizens, and the illustrious
Gandhari, he said slowly and humbly, 'With our friends and followers we go
to the delightful and populous town of Varanavata at the command of
Dhritarashtra. Cheerfully give us your benedictions so that acquiring
prosperity, therewith we may not be touched by sin.' Thus addressed by the
eldest of Pandu's sons, the Kaurava chiefs all cheerfully pronounced
blessings on them, saying, 'Ye sons of Pandu, let all the elements bless
you along your way and let not the slightest evil befall you.'

"The Pandavas, having performed propitiatory rites for obtaining (their
share of) the kingdom, and finishing their preparations, set out for


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'The wicked Duryodhana became very pleased when the
king, O Bharata, had said so unto Pandavas. And, O bull of Bharata's race,
Duryodhana, then, summoning his counsellor, Purochana in private, took
hold of his right hand and said, 'O Purochana, this world, so full of
wealth, is mine. But it is thine equally with me. It behoveth thee,
therefore, to protect it. I have no more trustworthy counsellor than thee
with whom to consult. Therefore, O sire, keep my counsel and exterminate
my foes by a clever device. O, do as I bid thee. The Pandavas have, by
Dhritarashtra, been sent to Varanavata, where they will, at
Dhritarashtra's command, enjoy themselves during the festivities. Do that
by which thou mayest this very day reach Varanavata in a car drawn by
swift mules. Repairing thither, cause thou to be erected a quadrangular
palace in the neighbourhood of the arsenal, rich in the materials and
furniture, and guard thou the mansion well (with prying eyes). And use
thou (in erecting that house) hemp and resin and all other inflammable
materials that are procurable. And mixing a little earth with clarified
butter and oil and fat and a large quantity of lac, make thou a plaster
for lining the walls, and scatter thou all around that house hemp and oil
and clarified butter and lac and wood in such a way that the Pandavas, or
any others, may not, even with scrutiny behold them there or conclude the
house to be an inflammable one. And having erected such mansion, cause
thou the Pandavas, after worshipping them with great reverence, to dwell
in it with Kunti and all their friends. And place thou there seats and
conveyances and beds, all of the best workmanship, for the Pandavas, so
that Dhritarashtra may have no reason to complain. Thou must also so
manage it all that none of Varanavata may know anything till the end we
have in view is accomplished. And assuring thyself that the Pandavas are
sleeping within in confidence and without fear, thou must then set fire to
that mansion beginning at the outer door. The Pandavas thereupon must be
burnt to death, but the people will say that they have been burnt in (an
accidental) conflagration of their house.'

"Saying, 'So be it' unto the Kuru prince, Purochana repaired to Varanavata
in a car drawn by fleet mules. And going thither, O king, without loss of
time, obedient to the instructions of Duryodhana, did everything that the
prince had bid him do."


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Meanwhile the Pandavas got into their cars, yoking
thereto some fine horses endued with the speed of wind. While they were on
the point of entering their cars, they touched, in great sorrow, the feet
of Bhishma, of king Dhritarashtra, of the illustrious Drona, of Kripa, of
Vidura and of the other elders of the Kuru race. Then saluting with
reverence all the older men, and embracing their equals, receiving the
farewell of even the children, and taking leave of all the venerable
ladies in their household, and walking round them respectfully, and
bidding farewell unto all the citizens, the Pandavas, ever mindful of
their vows, set out for Varanavata. And Vidura of great wisdom and the
other bulls among the Kurus and the citizens also, from great affliction,
followed those tigers among men to some distance. And some amongst the
citizens and the country people, who followed the Pandavas, afflicted
beyond measure at beholding the sons of Pandu in such distress, began to
say aloud, 'King Dhritarashtra of wicked soul seeth no things with the
same eye. The Kuru monarch casteth not his eye on virtue. Neither the
sinless Yudhishthira, nor Bhima the foremost of mighty men, nor Dhananjaya
the (youngest) son of Kunti, will ever be guilty (of the sin of waging a
rebellious war). When these will remain quiet, how shall the illustrious
son of Madri do anything? Having inherited the kingdom from their father,
Dhritarashtra could not bear them. How is that Bhishma who suffers the
exile of the Pandavas to that wretched place, sanctions this act of great
injustice? Vichitravirya, the son of Santanu, and the royal sage Pandu of
Kuru's race both cherished us of old with fatherly care. But now that
Pandu that tiger among men, hath ascended to heaven, Dhritarashtra cannot
bear with these princes his children. We who do not sanction this exile
shall all go, leaving this excellent town and our own homes, where
Yudhishthira will go.'

"Unto those distressed citizens talking in this way, the virtuous
Yudhishthira, himself afflicted with sorrow, reflecting for a few moments
said, 'The king is our father, worthy of regard, our spiritual guide, and
our superior. To carry out with unsuspicious hearts whatever he biddeth,
is indeed, our duty. Ye are our friends. Walking round us and making us
happy by your blessings, return ye to your abodes. When the time cometh
for anything to be done for us by you, then, indeed, accomplish all that
is agreeable and beneficial to us.' Thus addressed, the citizens walked
round the Pandavas and blessed them with their blessings and returned to
their respective abodes.

"And after the citizens had ceased following the Pandavas, Vidura,
conversant with all the dictates of morality, desirous of awakening the
eldest of the Pandavas (to a sense of his dangers), addressed him in these
words. The learned Vidura, conversant with the jargon (of the Mlechchhas),
addressed the learned Yudhishthira who also was conversant with the same
jargon, in the words of the Mlechchha tongue, so as to be unintelligible
to all except Yudhishthira. He said, 'He that knoweth the schemes his foes
contrive in accordance with the dictates of political science, should,
knowing them, act in such a way as to avoid all danger. He that knoweth
that there are sharp weapons capable of cutting the body though not made
of steel, and understandeth also the means of warding them off, can never
be injured by foes. He liveth who protecteth himself by the knowledge that
neither the consumer of straw and wood nor the drier of the dew burneth
the inmates of a hole in the deep woods. The blind man seeth not his way:
the blind man hath no knowledge of direction. He that hath no firmness
never acquireth prosperity. Remembering this, be upon your guard. The man
who taketh a weapon not made of steel (i.e., an inflammable abode) given
him by his foes, can escape from fire by making his abode like unto that
of a jackal (having many outlets). By wandering a man may acquire the
knowledge of ways, and by the stars he can ascertain the direction, and he
that keepeth his five (senses) under control can never be oppressed by his

"Thus addressed, Pandu's son, Yudhishthira the just replied unto Vidura,
that foremost of all learned men, saying, 'I have understood thee.' Then
Vidura, having instructed the Pandavas and followed them (thus far),
walked around them and bidding them farewell returned to his own abode.
When the citizens and Bhishma and Vidura had all ceased following, Kunti
approached Yudhishthira and said, 'The words that Kshattri said unto thee
in the midst of many people so indistinctly as if he did not say anything,
and thy reply also to him in similar words and voice, we have not
understood. If it is not improper for us to know them I should then like
to hear everything that had passed between him and thee.'

"Yudhishthira replied, 'The virtuous Vidura said unto me that we should
know that the mansion (for our accommodation at Varanavata) hath been
built of inflammable materials. He said unto me, 'The path of escape too
shall not be unknown to thee,'--and further,--'Those that can control
their senses can acquire the sovereignty of the whole world.'--The reply
that I gave unto Vidura was, 'I have understood thee.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'The Pandavas set out on the eighth day of the
month of Phalguna when the star Rohini was in the ascendant, and arriving
at they beheld the town and the people.'"


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Then all the citizens (of Varanavata) on hearing that
the son of Pandu had come, were filled with joy at the tidings, speedily
came out of Varanavata, in vehicles of various kinds numbering by
thousands, taking with them every auspicious article as directed by the
Sastras, for receiving those foremost of men. And the people of Varanavata,
approaching the sons of Kunti blessed them by uttering the Jaya and stood
surrounding them. That tiger among men, viz., the virtuous Yudhishthira
thus surrounded by them looked resplendent like him having the thunderbolt
in his hands (viz., Indra) in the midst of the celestials. And those
sinless ones, welcomed by the citizens and welcoming the citizens in
return, then entered the populous town of Varanavata decked with every
ornament. Entering the town those heroes first went, O monarch, to the
abodes of Brahmanas engaged in their proper duties. Those foremost of men
then went to the abodes of the officials of the town, and then of the
Sutas and the Vaisyas and then to those of even the Sudras, O bull of
Bharata's race, thus adored by the citizens, the Pandavas at last went
with Purochana going before them, to the palace that had been built for
them, Purochana then began to place before them food and drink and beds
and carpets, all of the first and most agreeable order. The Pandavas
attired in costly robes, continued to live there, adored by Purochana and
the people having their homes in Varanavata.

"After the Pandavas had thus lived for ten nights, Purochana spoke to them
of the mansion (he had built) called 'The Blessed Home,' but in reality
the cursed house. Then those tigers among men, attired in costly dress,
entered that mansion at the instance of Purochana like Guhyakas entering
the palace (of Siva) on the Kailasa mount. The foremost of all virtuous
men, Yudhishthira, inspecting the house, said unto Bhima that it was
really built of inflammable materials. Smelling the scent of fat mixed
with clarified butter and preparations of lac, he said unto Bhima, 'O
chastiser of foes, this house is truly built of inflammable materials!
Indeed, it is apparent that such is the case! The enemy, it is evident, by
the aid of trusted artists well-skilled in the construction of houses,
have finely built this mansion, after procuring hemp, resin, heath, straw,
and bamboos, all soaked in clarified butter. This wicked wretch, Purochana,
acting under the instruction of Duryodhana, stayeth here with the object
of burning me to death when he seeth me trustful. But, O son of Pritha,
Vidura of great intelligence, knew of this danger, and, therefore, hath
warned me of it beforehand. Knowing it all, that youngest uncle of ours,
ever wishing our good from affection hath told us that this house, so full
of danger, hath been constructed by the wretches under Duryodhana acting
in secrecy.'

"Hearing this, Bhima replied, 'If, sir, you know this house to be so
inflammable, it would then be well for us to return thither where we had
taken up our quarters first.' Yudhishthira replied, 'It seems to me that
we should rather continue to live here in seeming unsuspiciousness but all
the while with caution and our senses wide awake and seeking for some
certain means of escape. If Purochana findeth from our countenances that
we have fathomed designs, acting with haste he may suddenly burn us to
death. Indeed, Purochana careth little for obloquy or sin. The wretch
stayeth here acting under the instruction of Duryodhana. If we are burnt
to death, will our grandfather Bhishma be angry? Why will he, by showing
his wrath, make the Kauravas angry with him? Or, perhaps, our grandfather
Bhishma and the other bull of Kuru's race, regarding indignation at such a
sinful act to be virtuous, may become wrathful. If however, from fear of
being burnt, we fly from here, Duryodhana, ambitious of sovereignty will
certainly compass our death by means of spies. While we have no rank and
power, Duryodhana hath both; while we have no friends and allies,
Duryodhana hath both; while we are without wealth, Duryodhana hath at his
command a full treasury. Will he not, therefore, certainly destroy us by
adopting adequate means? Let us, therefore, by deceiving this wretch
(Purochana) and that other wretch Duryodhana, pass our days, disguising
ourselves at times. Let us also lead a hunting life, wandering over the
earth. We shall then, if we have to escape our enemies, be familiar with
all paths. We shall also, this very day, cause a subterranean passage to
be dug in our chamber in great secrecy. If we act in this way, concealing
what we do from all, fire shall never be able to consume us. We shall live
here, actively doing everything for our safety but with such privacy that
neither Purochana nor any of the citizens of Varanavata may know what we
are after.'"


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana continued, 'A friend of Vidura's, well-skilled in mining,
coming unto the Pandavas, addressed them in secret, saying, 'I have been
sent by Vidura and am a skilful miner. I am to serve the Pandavas. Tell me
what I am to do for ye. From the trust he reposeth in me Vidura hath said
unto me, 'Go thou unto the Pandavas and accomplish thou their good.' What
shall I do for you? Purochana will set fire to the door of thy house on
the fourteenth night of this dark fortnight. To burn to death those tigers
among men, the Pandavas, with their mother, is the design of that wicked
wretch, the son of Dhritarashtra. O son of Pandu, Vidura also told thee
something in the Mlechchha tongue to which thou also didst reply in same
language. I state these particulars as my credentials.' Hearing these
words, Yudhishthira, the truthful son of Kunti replied, 'O amiable one, I
now know thee as a dear and trusted friend of Vidura, true and ever
devoted to him. There is nothing that the learned Vidura doth not know. As
his, so ours art thou. Make no difference between him and us. We are as
much thine as his. O, protect us as the learned Vidura ever protecteth us.
I know that this house, so inflammable, hath been contrived for me by
Purochana at the command of Dhritarashtra's son. That wicked wretch
commanding wealth and allies pursueth us without intermission. O, save us
with a little exertion from the impending conflagration. If we are burnt
to death here, Duryodhana's most cherished desire will be satisfied. Here
is that wretch's well-furnished arsenal. This large mansion hath been
built abutting the high ramparts of the arsenal without any outlet. But
this unholy contrivance of Duryodhana was known to Vidura from the first,
and he it was who enlightened us beforehand. The danger of which Kshattri
had foreknowledge is now at our door. Save us from it without Purochana's
knowledge thereof.' On hearing these words, the miner said, 'So be it,'
and carefully beginning his work of excavation, made a large subterranean
passage. And the mouth of that passage was in the centre of that house,
and it was on a level with the floor and closed up with planks. The mouth
was so covered from fear of Purochana, that wicked wretch who kept a
constant watch at the door of the house. The Pandavas used to sleep within
their chambers with arms ready for use, while, during the day, they went a-
hunting from forest to forest. Thus, O king, they lived (in that mansion)
very guardedly, deceiving Purochana by a show of trustfulness and
contentment while in reality they were trustless and discontented. Nor did
the citizens of Varanavata know anything about these plans of the Pandavas.
In fact, none else knew of them except Vidura's friend, that good miner.'"


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Seeing the Pandavas living there cheerfully and
without suspicion for a full year, Purochana became exceedingly glad. And
beholding Purochana so very glad, Yudhishthira, the virtuous son of Kunti,
addressing Bhima and Arjuna and the twins (Nakula and Sahadeva) said, 'The
cruel-hearted wretch hath been well-deceived. I think the time is come for
our escape. Setting fire to the arsenal and burning Purochana to death and
letting his body lie here, let us, six persons, fly hence unobserved by

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then on the occasion of an almsgiving, O king,
Kunti fed on a certain night a large number of Brahmanas. There came also
a number of ladies who while eating and drinking, enjoyed there as they
pleased, and with Kunti's leave returned to their respective homes.
Desirous of obtaining food, there came, as though impelled by fate, to
that feast, in course of her wanderings, a Nishada woman, the mother of
five children, accompanied by all her sons. O king, she, and her children,
intoxicated with the wine they drank, became incapable. Deprived of
consciousness and more dead than alive, she with all her sons lay down in
that mansion to sleep. Then when all the inmates of the house lay down to
sleep, there began to blow a violent wind in the night. Bhima then set
fire to the house just where Purochana was sleeping. Then the son of Pandu
set fire to the door of that house of lac. Then he set fire to the mansion
in several parts all around. Then when the sons of Pandu were satisfied
that the house had caught fire in several parts those chastisers of foes
with their mother, entered the subterranean passage without losing any
time. Then the heat and the roar of the fire became intense and awakened
the townspeople. Beholding the house in flames, the citizens with
sorrowful faces began to say, 'The wretch (Purochana) of wicked soul had
under the instruction of Duryodhana built his house for the destruction of
his employer's relatives. He indeed hath set fire to it. O, fie on
Dhritarashtra's heart which is so partial. He hath burnt to death, as if
he were their foe, the sinless heirs of Pandu! O, the sinful and wicked-
souled (Purochana) who hath burnt those best of men, the innocent and
unsuspicious princes, hath himself been burnt to death as fate would have

"Vaisampayana continued, 'The citizens of Varanavata thus bewailed (the
fate of the Pandavas), and waited there for the whole night surrounding
that house. The Pandavas, however, accompanied by their mother coming out
of the subterranean passage, fled in haste unnoticed. But those chastisers
of foes, for sleepiness and fear, could not with their mother proceed in
haste. But, O monarch, Bhimasena, endued with terrible prowess and
swiftness of motion took upon his body all his brothers and mother and
began to push through the darkness. Placing his mother on his shoulder,
the twins on his sides, and Yudhishthira and Arjuna on both his arms,
Vrikodara of great energy and strength and endued with the speed of the
wind, commenced his march, breaking the trees with his breast and pressing
deep the earth with his stamp.'"


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'About this time, the learned Vidura had sent into
those woods a man of pure character and much trusted by him. This person
going to where he had been directed, saw the Pandavas with their mother in
the forest employed in a certain place in measuring the depth of a river.
The design that the wicked Duryodhana had formed had been, through his
spies, known to Vidura of great intelligence, and, therefore, he had sent
that prudent person unto the Pandavas. Sent by Vidura unto them, he showed
the Pandavas on the sacred banks of the Ganga a boat with engines and
flags, constructed by trusted artificers and capable of withstanding wind
and wave and endued with the speed of the tempest or of thought. He then
addressed the Pandavas in these words to show that he had really been sent
by Vidura, 'O Yudhishthira,' he said, 'listen to these words the learned
Vidura had said (unto thee) as a proof of the fact that I come from him.
Neither the consumer of straw and the wood nor the drier of dew ever
burneth the inmates of a hole in the forest. He escapeth from death who
protecteth himself knowing this, etc. By these credentials know me to be
the person who has been truly sent by Vidura and to be also his trusted
agent. Vidura, conversant with everything, hath again said, 'O son of
Kunti, thou shalt surely defeat in battle Karna, and Duryodhana with his
brothers, and Sakuni.' This boat is ready on the waters, and it will glide
pleasantly thereon, and shall certainly bear you all from these regions!'

"Then beholding those foremost of men with their mother pensive and sad he
caused them to go into the boat that was on the Ganga, and accompanied
them himself. Addressing them again, he said, 'Vidura having smelt your
heads and embraced you (mentally), hath said again that in commencing your
auspicious journey and going alone you should never be careless.'

"Saying these words unto those heroic princes, the person sent by Vidura
took those bulls among men over to the other side of the Ganga in his boat.
And having taken them over the water and seen them all safe on the
opposite bank, he uttered the word 'Jaya' (victory) to their success and
then left them and returned to the place whence he had come.

"The illustrious Pandavas also sending through that person some message to
Vidura, began, after having crossed the Ganga, to proceed with haste and
in great secrecy.'"


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Then, when the night had passed away, a large
concourse of the townspeople came there in haste to see the sons of Pandu.
After extinguishing the fire, they saw that the house just burnt down had
been built of lac in materials and that (Duryodhana's) counsellor
Purochana had been burnt to death. And the people began to bewail aloud
saying, 'Indeed, this had been contrived by the sinful Duryodhana for the
destruction of the Pandavas. There is little doubt that Duryodhana hath,
with Dhritarashtra's knowledge, burnt to death the heirs of Pandu, else
the prince would have been prevented by his father. There is little doubt
that even Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and Drona and Vidura and Kripa and
other Kauravas have not, any of them, followed the dictates of duty. Let
us now send to Dhritarashtra to say, 'Thy great desire hath been achieved!
Thou hast burnt to death the Pandavas!'

"They then began to extinguish the members to obtain some trace of the
Pandavas, and they saw the innocent Nishada woman with her five sons burnt
to death. Then the miner sent by Vidura, while removing the ashes, covered
the hole he had dug with those ashes in such a way that it remained
unnoticed by all who had gone there.

"The citizens then sent to Dhritarashtra to inform him that the Pandavas
along with (Duryodhana's) counsellor Purochana had been burnt to death.
King Dhritarashtra, on hearing the evil news of the death of the Pandavas,
wept in great sorrow. And he said, 'King Pandu, my brother of great fame,
hath, indeed, died today when those heroic sons of his together with their
mother have been burnt to death. Ye men, repair quickly to Varanavata and
cause the funeral rites to be performed of those heroes and of the
daughter of Kuntiraj! Let also the bones of the deceased be sanctified
with the usual rites, and let all the beneficial and great acts (usual on
such occasions) be performed. Let the friends and relatives of those that
have been burnt to death repair thither. Let also all other beneficial
acts that ought, under the circumstances, to be performed by us for the
Pandavas and Kunti be accomplished by wealth.'

"Having said this, Dhritarashtra, the son of Ambika, surrounded by his
relatives, offered oblations of water to the sons of Pandu. And all of
them, afflicted with excessive sorrow, bewailed aloud, exclaiming, 'O
Yudhishthira! Oh prince of the Kuru race!'--While others cried aloud, 'Oh,
Bhima!--O Phalguna!'--while some again,--'Oh, the twins!--Oh, Kunti!'--
Thus did they sorrow for the Pandavas and offer oblations of water unto
them. The citizens also wept for the Pandavas but Vidura did not weep much,
because he knew the truth.

"Meanwhile the Pandavas endued with great strength with their mother
forming a company of six going out of the town of Varanavata arrived at
the banks of the Ganga. They then speedily reached the opposite bank aided
by the strength of the boatmen's arms, the rapidity of the river's current,
and a favourable wind. Leaving the boat, they proceeded in the southern
direction finding their way in the dark by the light of the stars. After
much suffering they at last reached, O king, a dense forest. They were
then tired and thirsty; sleep was closing their eyes every moment. Then
Yudhishthira, addressing Bhima endued with great energy, said, 'What can
be more painful than this? We are now in the deep woods. We know not which
side is which, nor can we proceed much further. We do not know whether
that wretch Purochana hath or hath not been burnt to death. How shall we
escape from these dangers unseen by others? O Bharata, taking us on
thyself, proceed thou as before. Thou alone amongst us art strong and
swift as the wind.'

"Thus addressed by Yudhishthira the just, the mighty Bhimasena, taking up
on his body Kunti and his brothers, began to proceed with great


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said," As the mighty Bhima proceeded, the whole forest with
its trees and their branches seemed to tremble, in consequence of their
clash with his breast. The motion of his thighs raised a wind like unto
that which blows during the months of Jyaishtha and Ashadha (May and June).
And the mighty Bhima proceeded, making a path for himself, but treading
down the trees and creepers before him. In fact, he broke (by the pressure
of his body) the large trees and plants, with their flowers and fruits,
standing on his way. Even so passeth through the woods breaking down
mighty trees, the leader of a herd of elephants, of the age of sixty years,
angry and endued with excess of energy, during the season of rut when the
liquid juice trickle down the three parts of his body. Indeed, so great
was the force with which Bhima endued with the speed of Garuda or of Marut
(the god of wind), proceeded that the Pandavas seemed to faint in
consequence. Frequently swimming across streams difficult of being crossed,
the Pandavas disguised themselves on their way from fear of the sons of
Dhritarashtra. And Bhima carried on his shoulder his illustrious mother of
delicate sensibilities along the uneven banks of rivers. Towards the
evening, O bull of Bharata's race, Bhima (bearing his brothers and mother
on his back) reached a terrible forest where fruits and roots and water
were scarce and which resounded with the terrible cries of birds and
beasts. The twilight deepened the cries of birds and beasts became fiercer,
darkness shrouded everything from the view and untimely winds began to
blow that broke and laid low many a tree large and small and many creepers
with dry leaves and fruits. The Kaurava princes, afflicted with fatigue
and thirst, and heavy with sleep, were unable to proceed further. They
then all sat down in that forest without food and drink. Then Kunti,
smitten with thirst, said unto her sons, 'I am the mother of the five
Pandavas and am now in their midst. Yet I am burning with thirst!' Kunti
repeatedly said this unto her sons. Hearing these words, Bhima's heart,
from affection for his mother, was warmed by compassion and he resolved to
go (along as before). Then Bhima, proceeding through that terrible and
extensive forest without a living soul, saw a beautiful banian tree with
widespreading branches. Setting down there his brothers and mother, O bull
of Bharata's race, he said unto them, 'Rest you here, while I go in quest
of water. I hear the sweet cries of aquatic fowls. I think there must be a
large pool here.' Commanded, O Bharata, by his elder brother who said unto
him, 'Go', Bhima proceeded in the direction whence the cries of those
aquatic fowls were coming. And, O bull of Bharata's race, he soon came
upon a lake and bathed and slaked his thirst. And affectionate unto his
brothers, he brought for them, O Bharata, water by soaking his upper
garments. Hastily retracing his way over those four miles he came unto
where his mother was and beholding her he was afflicted with sorrow and
began to sigh like a snake. Distressed with grief at seeing his mother and
brothers asleep on the bare ground, Vrikodara began to weep, 'Oh, wretch
that I am, who behold my brothers asleep on the bare ground, what can
befall me more painful than this? Alas, they who formerly at Varanavata
could not sleep on the softest and costliest beds are now asleep on the
bare ground! Oh, what more painful sight shall I ever behold than that of
Kunti--the sister of Vasudeva, that grinder of hostile hosts--the daughter
of Kuntiraja,--herself decked with every auspicious mark, the daughter-in-
law of Vichitravirya,--the wife of the illustrious Pandu,--the mother of
us (five brothers),--resplendent as the filaments of the lotus and
delicate and tender and fit to sleep on the costliest bed--thus asleep, as
she should never be, on the bare ground! Oh, she who hath brought forth
these sons by Dharma and Indra and Maruta--she who hath ever slept within
palaces--now sleepeth, fatigued, on the bare ground! What more painful
sight shall ever be beheld by me than that of these tigers among men (my
brothers) asleep on the ground! Oh, the virtuous Yudhishthira, who
deserveth the sovereignty of the three worlds, sleepeth, fatigued, like an
ordinary man, on the bare ground! This Arjuna of the darkish hue of blue
clouds, and unequalled amongst men sleepeth on the ground like an ordinary
person! Oh, what can be more painful than this? Oh the twins, who in
beauty are like the twin Aswins amongst the celestials, are asleep like
ordinary mortals on the bare ground! He who hath no jealous evil-minded
relatives, liveth in happiness in this world like a single tree in a
village. The tree that standeth single in a village with its leaves and
fruits, from absence of other of the same species, becometh sacred and is
worshipped and venerated by all. They again that have many relatives who,
however, are all heroic and virtuous, live happily in the world without
sorrow of any kind. Themselves powerful and growing in prosperity and
always gladdening their friends and relatives, they live, depending on
each other, like tall trees growing in the same forest. We, however, have
been forced in exile by the wicked Dhritarashtra and his sons having
escaped with difficulty, from sheer good fortune, a fiery death. Having
escaped from that fire, we are now resting in the shade of this tree.
Having already suffered so much, where now are we to go? Ye sons of
Dhritarashtra of little foresight, ye wicked fellows, enjoy your temporary
success. The gods are certainly auspicious to you. But ye wicked wretches,
ye are alive yet, only because Yudhishthira doth not command me to take
your lives. Else this very day, filled with wrath, I would send thee, (O
Duryodhana), to the of Yama (Pluto) with thy children and friends and
brothers, and Karna, and (Sakuni) the son of Suvala! But what can I do,
for, ye sinful wretches, the virtuous king Yudhishthira, the eldest of the
Pandavas, is not yet angry with you?'

"Having said this, Bhima of mighty arms, fired with wrath, began to
squeeze his palms, sighing deeply in affliction. Excited again with wrath
like an extinguished fire blazing up all on a sudden, Vrikodara once more
beheld his brothers sleeping on the ground like ordinary persons sleeping
in trustfulness. And Bhima said unto himself, 'I think there is some town
not far off from this forest. These all are asleep, so I will sit awake.
And this will slake their thirst after they rise refreshed from sleep.'
Saying this, Bhima sat there awake, keeping watch over his sleeping mother
and brothers.'"


(Hidimva-vadha Parva)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Not far from the place where the Pandavas were asleep,
a Rakshasa by name Hidimva dwelt on the Sala tree. Possessed of great
energy and prowess, he was a cruel cannibal of visage that was grim in
consequence of his sharp and long teeth. He was now hungry and longing for
human flesh. Of long shanks and a large belly, his locks and beard were
both red in hue. His shoulders were broad like the neck of a tree; his
ears were like unto arrows, and his features were frightful. Of red eyes
and grim visage, the monster beheld, while casting his glances around, the
sons of Pandu sleeping in those woods. He was then hungry and longing for
human flesh. Shaking his dry and grizzly locks and scratching them with
his fingers pointed upwards, the large-mouthed cannibal repeatedly looked
at the sleeping sons of Pandu yawning wistfully at times. Of huge body and
great strength, of complexion like the colour of a mass of clouds, of
teeth long and sharp-pointed and face emitting a sort of lustre, he was
ever pleased with human flesh. And scenting the odour of man, he addressed
his sister, saying, 'O sister, it is after a long time that such agreeable
food hath approached me! My mouth waters at the anticipated relish of such
food. My eight teeth, so sharp-pointed and incapable of being resisted by
any substance, I shall, today, after a long time, put into the most
delicious flesh. Attacking the human throat and even opening the veins, I
shall (today) drink a plentiful quantity of human blood, hot and fresh and
frothy. Go and ascertain who these are, lying asleep in these woods. The
strong scent of man pleaseth my nostrils. Slaughtering all these men,
bring them unto me. They sleep within my territory. Thou needest have no
fear from them. Do my bidding soon, for we shall then together eat their
flesh, tearing off their bodies at pleasure. And after feasting to our
fill on human flesh we shall then dance together to various measures!'

"Thus addressed by Hidimva in those woods, Hidimva, the female cannibal,
at the command of her brother, went, O bull of Bharata's race, to the spot
where the Pandavas were. And on going there, she beheld the Pandavas
asleep with their mother and the invincible Bhimasena sitting awake. And
beholding Bhimasena unrivalled on earth for beauty and like unto a
vigorous Sala tree, the Rakshasa woman immediately fell in love with him,
and she said to herself, 'This person of hue like heated gold and of
mighty arms, of broad shoulders as the lion, and so resplendent, of neck
marked with three lines like a conch-shell and eyes like lotus-petals, is
worthy of being my husband. I shall not obey the cruel mandate of my
brother. A woman's love for her husband is stronger than her affection for
her brother. If I slay him, my brother's gratification as well as mine
will only be momentary. But if I slay him not, I can enjoy with him for
ever and ever.' Thus saying, the Rakshasa woman, capable of assuming form
at will, assumed an excellent human form and began to advance with slow
steps towards Bhima of mighty arms. Decked with celestial ornaments she
advanced with smiles on her lips and a modest gait, and addressing Bhima
said, 'O bull among men, whence hast thou come here and who art thou? Who,
besides, are these persons of celestial beauty sleeping here? Who also, O
sinless one, is this lady of transcendent beauty sleeping so trustfully in
these woods as if she were lying in her own chamber? Dost thou not know
that this forest is the abode of a Rakshasa. Truly do I say, here liveth
the wicked Rakshasa called Hidimva. Ye beings of celestial beauty, I have
been sent hither even by that Rakshasa--my brother--with the cruel intent
of killing you for his food. But I tell thee truly that beholding thee
resplendent as a celestial, I would have none else for my husband save
thee! Thou who art acquainted with all duties, knowing this, do unto me
what is proper. My heart as well as my body hath been pierced by (the
shafts of) Kama (Cupid). O, as I am desirous of obtaining thee, make me
thine. O thou of mighty arms, I will rescue thee from the Rakshasa who
eateth human flesh. O sinless one, be thou my husband. We shall then live
on the breasts of mountains inaccessible to ordinary mortals. I can range
the air and I do so at pleasure. Thou mayest enjoy great felicity with me
in those regions.'

"Hearing these words of hers, Bhima replied, 'O Rakshasa woman, who can,
like a Muni having all his passions under control, abandon his sleeping
mother and elder and younger brothers? What man like me would go to
gratify his lust, leaving his sleeping mother and brothers as food for a

"The Rakshasa woman replied, 'O, awaken all these, I shall do unto you all
that is agreeable to thee! I shall certainly rescue you all from my
cannibal brother.'

"Bhima then said, 'O Rakshasa woman, I will not, from fear of thy wicked
brother, awaken my brothers and mother sleeping comfortably in the woods.
O timid one, Rakshasas are never able to bear the prowess of my arms. And,
O thou of handsome eyes, neither men, nor Gandharvas, nor Yakshas are able
to bear my might. O amiable one, thou mayst stay or go as thou likest, or
mayst even send thy cannibal brother, O thou of delicate shape. I care


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Hidimva, the chief of the Rakshasas, seeing that his
sister returned not soon enough, alighted from the tree, proceeded quickly
to the spot where the Pandavas were. Of red eyes and strong arms and the
arms and the hair of his head standing erect, of large open mouth and body
like unto a mass of dark clouds, teeth long and sharp-pointed, he was
terrible to behold. And Hidimva, beholding her brother of frightful visage
alight from the tree, became very much alarmed, and addressing Bhima said,
'The wicked cannibal is coming hither in wrath. I entreat thee, do with
thy brothers, as I bid thee. O thou of great courage, as I am endued with
the powers of a Rakshasa, I am capable of going whithersoever I like.
Mount ye on my hips, I will carry you all through the skies. And, O
chastiser of foes, awaken these and thy mother sleeping in comfort. Taking
them all on my body, I will convey you through the skies.'

"Bhima then said, 'O thou of fair hips, fear not anything. I am sure that
as long as I am here, there is no Rakshasa capable of injuring any of
these, O thou of slender waist. I will slay this (cannibal) before thy
very eyes. This worst of Rakshasas, O timid one, is no worthy antagonist
of mine, nor can all the Rakshasas together bear the strength of my arms.
Behold these strong arms of mine, each like unto the trunk of an elephant.
Behold also these thighs of mine like unto iron maces, and this broad and
adamantine chest. O beautiful one, thou shall today behold my prowess like
unto that of Indra. O thou of fair hips, hate me not, thinking that I am a

"Hidimva replied saying, 'O tiger among men, O thou of the beauty of a
celestial, I do not certainly hold thee in contempt. But I have seen the
prowess that Rakshasas exert upon men.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then, O Bharata, the wrathful Rakshasa eating
human flesh heard these words of Bhima who had been talking in that way.
And Hidimva beheld his sister disguised in human form, her head decked
with garlands of flowers and her face like the full moon and her eyebrows
and nose and eyes and ringlets all of the handsomest description, and her
nails and complexion of the most delicate hue, and herself wearing every
kind of ornament and attired in fine transparent robes. The cannibal,
beholding her in that charming human form, suspected that she was desirous
of carnal intercourse and became indignant. And, O best of the Kurus,
becoming angry with his sister, the Rakshasa dilated his eyes and
addressing her said, 'What senseless creature wishes to throw obstacles in
my path now that I am so hungry? Hast thou become so senseless, O Hidimva,
that thou fearest not my wrath? Fie on thee, thou unchaste woman! Thou art
even now desirous of carnal intercourse and solicitous of doing me an
injury. Thou art ready to sacrifice the good name and honour of all the
Rakshasas, thy ancestors! Those with whose aid thou wouldst do me this
great injury, I will, even now, slay along with thee.' Addressing his
sister thus, Hidimva, with eyes red with anger and teeth pressing against
teeth, ran at her to kill her then and there. But beholding him rush at
his sister, Bhima, that foremost of smiter, endued with great energy,
rebuked him and said, 'Stop--Stop!'"

"Vaisampayana continued, 'And Bhima, beholding the Rakshasa angry with his
sister, smiled (in derision), and said, addressing him, 'O Hidimva, what
need is there for thee to awaken these persons sleeping so comfortably? O
wicked cannibal, approach me first without loss of time. Smite me first,--
it behoveth thee not to kill a woman, especially when she hath been sinned
against instead of sinning. This girl is scarcely responsible for her act
in desiring intercourse with me. She hath, in this, been moved by the
deity of desire that pervadeth every living form. Thou wicked wretch and
the most infamous of Rakshasas, thy sister came here at thy command.
Beholding my person, she desireth me. In that the timid girl doth no
injury to thee. It is the deity of desire that hath offended. It behoveth
thee not to injure her for this offence. O wicked wretch, thou shalt not
slay a woman when I am here. Come with me, O cannibal, and fight with
myself singly. Singly shall I send thee today to the abode of Yama (Pluto).
O Rakshasa, let thy head today, pressed by my might, be pounded to pieces,
as though pressed by the tread of a mighty elephant. When thou art slain
by me on the field of battle, let herons and hawks and jackals tear in
glee thy limbs today on the ground. In a moment I shall today make this
forest destitute of Rakshasas,--this forest that had so long been ruled by
thee, devourer of human beings! Thy sister, O Rakshasa, shall today behold
thyself, huge though thou art like a mountain, like a huge elephant
repeatedly dragged by a lion. O worst of Rakshasas, thyself slain by me,
men ranging these woods will henceforth do so safely and without fear.'

"Hearing these words, Hidimva said, 'What need is there, O man, for this
thy vaunt and this thy boast? Accomplish all this first, and then mayst
thou vaunt indeed. Therefore, delay thou not. Thou knowest thyself to be
strong and endued with prowess, so thou shalt rightly estimate thy
strength today in thy encounter with me. Until that, I will not slay these
(thy brothers). Let them sleep comfortably. But I will, as thou art a fool
and the utterer of evil speeches, slay thee first. After drinking thy
blood, I will slay these also, and then last of all, this (sister of mine)
that hath done me an injury.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Saying this, the cannibal, extending his arms
ran in wrath towards Bhimasena, that chastiser of foes. Then Bhima of
terrible prowess quickly seized, as though in sport, with great force, the
extended arms of the Rakshasa who had rushed at him. Then seizing the
struggling Rakshasa with violence, Bhima dragged him from that spot full
thirty-two cubits like a lion dragging a little animal. Then the Rakshasa,
thus made to feel the weight of Bhima's strength, became very angry and
clasping the Pandava, sent forth a terrible yell. The mighty Bhima then
dragged with force the Rakshasa to a greater distance, lest his yells
should awaken his brothers sleeping in comfort. Clasping and dragging each
other with great force, both Hidimva and Bhimasena put forth their prowess.
Fighting like two full-grown elephants mad with rage, they then began to
break down the trees and tear the creepers that grew around. And at those
sounds, those tigers among men (the sleeping Pandavas) woke up with their
mother, and saw Hidimva sitting before them.'"


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Roused from sleep, those tigers among men, with their
mother, beholding the extraordinary beauty of Hidimva, were filled with
wonder. And Kunti, gazing at her with wonder at her beauty, addressed her
sweetly and gave her every assurance. She asked, 'O thou of the splendour
of a daughter of the celestials, whose art thou and who art thou? O thou
of the fairest complexion, on what business hast thou come hither and
whence hast thou come? If thou art the deity of these woods or an Apsara,
tell me all regarding thyself and also why thou stayest here?' Thereupon
Hidimva replied, 'This extensive forest that thou seest, of the hue of
blue cloud, is the abode of a Rakshasa of the name of Hidimva. O handsome
lady, know me as the sister of that chief of the Rakshasa. Revered dame, I
had been sent by that brother of mine to kill thee with all thy children.
But on arriving here at the command of that cruel brother of mine, I
beheld thy mighty son. Then, O blessed lady, I was brought under the
control of thy son by the deity of love who pervadeth the nature of every
being, and I then (mentally) chose that mighty son of thine as my husband.
I tried my best to convey you hence, but I could not (because of thy son's
opposition). Then the cannibal, seeing my delay, came hither to kill all
these thy children. But he hath been dragged hence with force by that
mighty and intelligent son of thine--my husband. Behold now that couple--
man and Rakshasa--both endued with great strength and prowess, engaged in
combat, grinding each other and filling the whole region with their

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing those words of hers, Yudhishthira
suddenly rose up and Arjuna also and Nakula and Sahadeva of great energy
and they beheld Bhima and the Rakshasa already engaged in fight, eager to
overcome each other and dragging each other with great force, like two
lions endued with great might. The dust raised by their feet in
consequence of that encounter looked like the smoke of a forest-
conflagration. Covered with that dust their huge bodies resembled two tall
cliffs enveloped in mist. Then Arjuna, beholding Bhima rather oppressed in
the fight by the Rakshasa, slowly, said with smiles on his lips, 'Fear not,
O Bhima of mighty arms! We (had been asleep and therefore) knew not that
thou wast engaged with a terrible Rakshasa and tired in fight. Here do I
stand to help thee, let me slay the Rakshasa, and let Nakula and Sahadeva
protect our mother.' Hearing him, Bhima said, 'Look on this encounter, O
brother, like a stranger. Fear not for the result. Having come within the
reach of my arms, he shall not escape with life.' Then Arjuna said, 'What
need, O Bhima, for keeping the Rakshasa alive so long? O oppressor of
enemies, we are to go hence, and cannot stay here longer. The east is
reddening, the morning twilight is about to set in. The Rakshasa became
stronger by break of day, therefore, hasten, O Bhima! Play not (with thy
victim), but slay the terrible Rakshasa soon. During the two twilights
Rakshasas always put forth their powers of deception. Use all the strength
of thy arms.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'At this speech of Arjuna, Bhima blazing up with
anger, summoned the might that Vayu (his father) puts forth at the time of
the universal dissolution. And filled with rage, he quickly raised high in
the air the Rakshasa's body, blue as the clouds of heaven, and whirled it
a hundred times. Then addressing the cannibal, Bhima said, 'O Rakshasa,
thy intelligence was given thee in vain, and in vain hast thou grown and
thriven on unsanctified flesh. Thou deservest, therefore, an unholy death
and I shall reduce thee today to nothing. I shall make this forest blessed
today, like one without prickly plants. And, O Rakshasa, thou shalt no
longer slay human beings for thy food.' Arjuna at this juncture, said, 'O
Bhima, if thou thinkest it a hard task for thee to overcome this Rakshasa
in combat, let me render thee help, else, slay him thyself without loss of
time. Or, O Vrikodara, let me alone slay the Rakshasa. Thou art tired, and
hast almost finished the affair. Well dost thou deserve rest.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of Arjuna, Bhima was fired
with rage and dashing the Rakshasa on the ground with all his might slew
him as if he were an animal. The Rakshasa, while dying, sent forth a
terrible yell that filled the whole forest, and was deep as the sound of a
wet drum. Then the mighty Bhima, holding the body with his hands, bent it
double, and breaking it in the middle, greatly gratified his brothers.
Beholding Hidimva slain, they became exceedingly glad and lost no time in
offering their congratulations to Bhima, that chastiser of all foes. Then
Arjuna worshipping the illustrious Bhima of terrible prowess, addressed
him again and said, 'Revered senior, I think there is a town not far off
from this forest. Blest be thou, let us go hence soon, so that Duryodhana
may not trace us.'

"Then all those mighty car-warriors, those tigers among men, saying, 'So
be it,' proceeded along with their mother, followed by Hidimva, the
Rakshasa woman.'"


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Bhima, beholding Hidimva following them, addressed
her, saying, 'Rakshasas revenge themselves on their enemies by adopting
deceptions that are incapable of being penetrated. Therefore, O Hidimva,
go thou the way on which thy brother hath gone.' Then Yudhishthira
beholding Bhima in rage, said, 'O Bhima, O tiger among men, however
enraged, do not slay a woman. O Pandava, the observance of virtue is a
higher duty than the protection of life. Hidimva, who had come with the
object of slaying us, thou hast already slain. This woman is the sister of
that Rakshasa, what can she do to us even if she were angry?'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then Hidimva reverentially saluting Kunti and
her son Yudhishthira also, said, with joined palms, 'O revered lady, thou
knowest the pangs that women are made to feel at the hands of the deity of
love. Blessed dame, these pangs, of which Bhimasena hath been the cause,
are torturing me. I had hitherto borne these insufferable pangs, waiting
for the time (when thy son could assuage them). That time is now come,
when I expected I would be made happy. Casting off my friends and
relations and the usage of my race, I have, O blessed lady, chosen this
son of thine, this tiger among men, as my husband. I tell thee truly, O
illustrious lady, that if I am cast off by that hero or by thee either, I
will no longer bear this life of mine. Therefore, O thou of the fairest
complexion, it behoveth thee to show me mercy, thinking me either as very
silly or thy obedient slave. O illustrious dame, unite me with this thy
son, my husband. Endued as he is with the form of a celestial, let me go
taking him with me wherever I like. Trust me, O blessed lady, I will again
bring him back unto you all. When you think of me I will come to you
immediately and convey you whithersoever ye may command. I will rescue you
from all dangers and carry you across inaccessible and uneven regions. I
will carry you on my back whenever ye desire to proceed with swiftness. O,
be gracious unto me and make Bhima accept me. It hath been said that in a
season of distress one should protect one's life by any means. He, that
seeketh to discharge that duty should not scruple about the means. He,
that in a season of distress keepeth his virtue, is the foremost of
virtuous men. Indeed, distress is the greatest danger to virtue and
virtuous men. It is virtue that protecteth life; therefore is virtue
called the giver of life. Hence the means by which virtue or the
observance of a duty is secured can never be censurable.'

"Hearing these words of Hidimva, Yudhishthira said. 'It is even so, O
Hidimva, as thou sayest. There is no doubt of it. But, O thou of slender
waist, thou must act even as thou hast said. Bhima will, after he hath
washed himself and said his prayers and performed the usual propitiatory
rites, pay his attentions to thee till the sun sets. Sport thou with him
as thou likest during the day, O thou that art endued with the speed of
the mind! But thou must bring back Bhimasena hither every day at night-

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then Bhima, expressing his assent to all that
Yudhishthira said, addressed Hidimva, saying, 'Listen to me, O Rakshasa
woman! Truly do I make this engagement with thee that I will stay with
thee, O thou of slender waist, until thou obtainest a son.' Then Hidimva,
saying, 'So be it,' took Bhima upon her body and sped through the skies.
On mountain peaks of picturesque scenery and regions sacred to the gods,
abounding with dappled herds and echoing with the melodies of feathered
tribes, herself assuming the handsomest form decked with every ornament
and pouring forth at times mellifluous strains, Hidimva sported with the
Pandava and studied to make him happy. So also, in inaccessible regions of
forests, and on mountain-breasts overgrown with blossoming trees on lakes
resplendent with lotuses and lilies, islands of rivers and their pebbly
banks, on sylvan streams with beautiful banks and mountain-currents, in
picturesque woods with blossoming trees and creepers in Himalayan bowers,
and various caves, on crystal pools smiling with lotuses, on sea-shores
shining with gold and pearls, in beautiful towns and fine gardens, in
woods sacred to the gods and on hill-sides, in the regions of Guhyakas and
ascetics, on the banks of Manasarovara abounding with fruits and flowers
of every season Hidimva, assuming the handsomest form, sported with Bhima
and studied to make him happy. Endued with the speed of the mind, she
sported with Bhima in all these regions, till in time, she conceived and
brought forth a mighty son begotten upon her by the Pandava. Of terrible
eyes and large mouth and straight arrowy ears, the child was terrible to
behold. Of lips brown as copper and sharp teeth and loud roar, of mighty
arms and great strength and excessive prowess, this child became a mighty
bowman. Of long nose, broad chest, frightfully swelling calves, celerity
of motion and excessive strength, he had nothing human in his countenance,
though born of man. And he excelled (in strength and prowess) all Pisachas
and kindred tribes as well as all Rakshasas. And, O monarch, though a
little child, he grew up a youth the very hour he was born. The mighty
hero soon acquired high proficiency in the use of all weapons. The
Rakshasa women bring forth the very day they conceive, and capable of
assuming any forms at will, they always change their forms. And the bald-
headed child, that mighty bowman, soon after his birth, bowing down to his
mother, touched her feet and the feet also of his father. His parents then
bestowed upon him a name. His mother having remarked that his head was
(bald) like unto a Ghata (water-pot), both his parents thereupon called
him Ghatotkacha (the pot-headed). And Ghatotkacha who was exceedingly
devoted to the Pandavas, became a great favourite with them, indeed almost
one of them.

"Then Hidimva, knowing that the period of her stay (with her husband) had
come to an end, saluted the Pandavas and making a new appointment with
them went away whithersoever she liked. And Ghatotkacha also--that
foremost of Rakshasas--promising unto his father that he would come when
wanted on business, saluted them and went away northward. Indeed, it was
the illustrious Indra who created (by lending a portion of himself) the
mighty car-warrior Ghatotkacha as a fit antagonist of Karna of unrivalled
energy, in consequence of the dart he had given unto Karna (and which was
sure to kill the person against whom it would be hurled)."


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Those mighty car-warriors, the heroic Pandavas, then
went, O king, from forest to forest killing deer and many animals (for
their food). And in the course of their wanderings they saw the countries
of the Matsyas, the Trigartas, the Panchalas and then of the Kichakas, and
also many beautiful woods and lakes therein. And they all had matted locks
on their heads and were attired in barks of trees and the skins of animals.
Indeed, with Kunti in their company those illustrious heroes were attired
in the garbs of ascetics. And those mighty car-warriors sometimes
proceeded in haste, carrying their mother on their backs; and sometimes
they proceeded in disguise, and sometimes again with great celerity. And
they used to study the Rik and the other Vedas and also all the Vedangas
as well as the sciences of morals and politics. And the Pandavas,
conversant with the science of morals, met, in course of their wanderings
their grandfather (Vyasa). And saluting the illustrious Krishna-Dwaipayana,
those chastisers of enemies, with their mother, stood before him with
joined hands.'

"Vyasa then said, 'Ye bulls of Bharata's race, I knew beforehand of this
affliction of yours consisting in your deceitful exile by the son of
Dhritarashtra. Knowing this, I have come to you, desirous of doing you
some great good. Do not grieve for what hath befallen you. Know that all
this is for your happiness. Undoubtedly, the sons of Dhritarashtra and you
are all equal in my eye. But men are always partial to those who are in
misfortune or of tender years. It is therefore, that my affection for you
is greater now. And in consequence of that affection, I desire to do you
good. Listen to me! Not far off before you is a delightful town where no
danger can overtake you. Live ye there in disguise, waiting for my

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Vyasa, the son of Satyavati, thus comforting the
Pandavas, led them into the town of Ekachakra. And the master also
comforted Kunti, saying, 'Live, O daughter! This son of thine,
Yudhishthira, ever devoted to truth, this illustrious bull among men,
having by his justice conquered the whole world, will rule over all the
other monarchs of the earth. There is little doubt that, having by means
of Bhima's and Arjuna's prowess conquered the whole earth with her belt of
seas, he will enjoy the sovereignty thereof. Thy sons as well as those of
Madri--mighty car-warriors all--will cheerfully sport as pleaseth them in
their dominions. These tigers among men will also perform various
sacrifices, such as the Rajasuya and the horse-sacrifice, in which the
presents unto the Brahmanas are very large. And these thy sons will rule
their ancestral kingdom, maintaining their friends and relatives in luxury
and affluence and happiness.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'With these words Vyasa introduced them into the
dwelling of a Brahmana. And the island-born Rishi, addressing the eldest
of the Pandavas, said, 'Wait here for me! I will come back to you! By
adapting yourselves to the country and the occasion you will succeed in
becoming very happy.'

"Then, O king, the Pandavas with joined hands said unto the Rishi, 'So be
it.' And the illustrious master, the Rishi Vyasa, then went away to the
region whence he had come.'"


(Vaka-vadha Parva)

"Janamejaya asked, 'O first of Brahmanas, what did the Pandavas, those
mighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, do after arriving at Ekachakra?'

"Vaisampayana said, 'Those mighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, on
arriving at Ekachakra, lived for a short time in the abode of a Brahmana.
Leading an eleemosynary life, they behold (in course of their wanderings)
various delightful forests and earthly regions, and many rivers and lakes,
and they became great favourites of the inhabitants of that town in
consequence of their own accomplishments. At nightfall they placed before
Kunti all they gathered in their mendicant tours, and Kunti used to divide
the whole amongst them, each taking what was allotted to him. And those
heroic chastisers of foes, with their mother, together took one moiety of
the whole, while the mighty Bhima alone took the other moiety. In this way,
O bull of Bharata's race, the illustrious Pandavas lived there for some

"One day, while those bulls of the Bharata race were out on their tour of
mendicancy, it so happened that Bhima was (at home) with (his mother)
Pritha. That day, O Bharata, Kunti heard a loud and heart-rending wail of
sorrow coming from within the apartments of the Brahmana. Hearing the
inmates of the Brahmana's house wailing and indulging in piteous
lamentations, Kunti, O king, from compassion and the goodness of her heart,
could not bear it with indifference. Afflicted with sorrow, the amiable
Pritha, addressing Bhima, said these words full of compassion. 'Our woes
assuaged, we are, O son, living happily in the house of this Brahmana,
respected by him and unknown to Dhritarashtra's son. O son, I always think
of the good I should do to this Brahmana, like what they do that live
happily in others' abodes! O child, he is a true man upon whom favours are
never lost. He payeth back to others more than what he receiveth at their
hands. There is no doubt, some affliction hath overtaken this Brahmana. If
we could be of any help to him, we should then be requiting his services.'

"Hearing these words of his mother, Bhima said, 'Ascertain, O mother the
nature of the Brahmana's distress and whence also it hath arisen. Learning
all about it, relieve it I will however difficult may the task prove.'

"Vaisampayana continued 'While mother and son were thus talking with each
other, they heard again, O king, another wail of sorrow proceeding from
the Brahmana and his wife. Then Kunti quickly entered the inner apartments
of that illustrious Brahmana, like unto a cow running towards her tethered
calf. She beheld the Brahmana with his wife, son and daughter, sitting
with a woeful face, and she heard the Brahmana say, 'Oh, fie on this
earthly life which is hollow as the reed and so fruitless after all which
is based on sorrow and hath no freedom, and which hath misery for its lot!
Life is sorrow and disease; life is truly a record of misery! The soul is
one: but it hath to pursue virtue, wealth and pleasure. And because these
are pursued at one and the same time, there frequently occurs a
disagreement that is the source of much misery. Some say that salvation is
the highest object of our desire. But I believe it can never be attained.
The acquisition of wealth is hell; the pursuit of wealth is attended with
misery; there is more misery after one has acquired it, for one loves
one's possessions, and if any mishap befalls them, the possessor becomes
afflicted with woe. I do not see by what means I can escape from this
danger, nor how I can fly hence, with my wife to some region free from
danger. Remember, O wife, that I endeavoured to migrate to some other
place where we would be happy, but thou didst not then listen to me.
Though frequently solicited by me, thou, O simple woman, said to me, 'I
have been born here, and here have I grown old; this is my ancestral
homestead.' Thy venerable father, O wife, and thy mother also, have, a
long time ago, ascended to heaven. Thy relations also had all been dead.
Oh why then didst thou yet like to live here? Led by affection for thy
relatives thou didst not then hear what I said. But the time is now come
when thou art to witness the death of a relative. Oh, how sad is that
spectacle for me! Or perhaps the time is come for my own death, for I
shall never be able to abandon cruelly one of my own as long as I myself
am alive. Thou art my helpmate in all good deeds, self-denying and always
affectionate unto me as a mother. The gods have given thee to me as a true
friend and thou art ever my prime stay. Thou hast, by my parents, been
made the participator in my domestic concerns. Thou art of pure lineage
and good disposition, the mother of children, devoted to me, and so
innocent; having chosen and wedded thee with due rites, I cannot abandon
thee, my wife, so constant in thy vows, to save my life. How shall I
myself be able to sacrifice my son a child of tender years and yet without
the hirsute appendages (of manhood)? How shall I sacrifice my daughter
whom I have begotten myself, who hath been placed, as a pledge, in my
hands by the Creator himself for bestowal on a husband and through whom I
hope to enjoy, along with my ancestors, the regions attainable by those
only that have daughters' sons? Some people think that the father's
affection for a son is greater; others, that his affection for a daughter
is greater; mine, however, is equal. How can I be prepared to give up the
innocent daughter upon whom rest the regions of bliss obtainable by me in
after life and my own lineage and perpetual happiness? If, again, I
sacrifice myself and go to the other world, I should scarcely know any
peace, for, indeed, it is evident that, left by me these would not be able
to support life. The sacrifice of any of these would be cruel and
censurable. On the other hand, if I sacrifice myself, these, without me,
will certainly perish. The distress into which I have fallen is great; nor
do I know the means of escape. Alas, what course shall I take today with
my near ones. It is well that I should die with all these, for I can live
no longer.'"


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, "On hearing these words of the Brahmana, his wife said,
'Thou shouldst not, O Brahmana, grieve like an ordinary man. Nor is this
the time for mourning. Thou hast learning; thou knowest that all men are
sure to die; none should grieve for that which is inevitable. Wife, son,
and daughter, all these are sought for one's own self. As thou art
possessed of a good understanding, kill thou thy sorrows. I will myself go
there. This indeed, is the highest and the eternal duty of a woman, viz.,
that by sacrificing her life she should seek the good of her husband. Such
an act done by me will make thee happy, and bring me fame in this world
and eternal bliss hereafter. This, indeed, is the highest virtue that I
tell thee, and thou mayest, by this, acquire both virtue and happiness.
The object for which one desireth a wife hath already been achieved by
thee through me. I have borne thee a daughter and a son and thus been
freed from the debt I had owed thee. Thou art well able to support and
cherish the children, but I however, can never support and cherish them
like thee. Thou art my life, wealth, and lord; bereft of thee, how shall
these children of tender years--how also shall I myself, exist? Widowed
and masterless, with two children depending on me, how shall I, without
thee, keep alive the pair, myself leading an honest life? If the daughter
of thine is solicited (in marriage) by persons dishonourable and vain and
unworthy of contracting an alliance with thee, how shall I be able to
protect the girl? Indeed, as birds seek with avidity for meat that hath
been thrown away on the ground, so do men solicit a woman that hath lost
her husband. O best of Brahmanas, solicited by wicked men, I may waver and
may not be able to continue in the path that is desired by all honest men.
How shall I be able to place this sole daughter of thy house--this
innocent girl--in the way along which her ancestors have always walked?
How shall I then be able to impart unto this child every desirable
accomplishment to make him virtuous as thyself, in that season of want
when I shall become masterless? Overpowering myself who shall be
masterless, unworthy persons will demand (the hand of) this daughter of
thine, like Sudras desiring to hear the Vedas. And if I bestow not upon
them this girl possessing thy blood and qualities, they may even take her
away by force, like crows carrying away the sacrificial butter. And
beholding thy son become so unlike to thee, and thy daughter placed under
the control of some unworthy persons, I shall be despised in the world by
even persons that are dishonourable, and I will certainly die. These
children also, bereft of me and thee, their father, will, I doubt not,
perish like fish when the water drieth up. There is no doubt that bereft
of thee the three will perish: therefore it behoveth thee to sacrifice me.
O Brahmana, persons conversant with morals have said that for women that
have borne children, to predecease their lords is an act of the highest
merit. Ready am I to abandon this son and this daughter, these my
relations, and life itself, for thee. For a woman to be ever employed in
doing agreeable offices to her lord is a higher duty than sacrifices,
asceticism, vows, and charities of every description. The act, therefore,
which I intend to perform is consonant with the highest virtue and is for
thy good and that of thy race. The wise have declared that children and
relatives and wife and all things held dear are cherished for the purpose
of liberating one's self from danger and distress. One must guard one's
wealth for freeing one's self from danger, and it is by his wealth that he
should cherish and protect his wife. But he must protect his own self both
by (means of) his wife and his wealth. The learned have enunciated the
truth that one's wife, son, wealth, and house, are acquired with the
intention of providing against accidents, foreseen or unforeseen. The wise
have also said that all one's relations weighed against one's own self
would not be equal unto one's self. Therefore, revered sir, protect thy
own self by abandoning me. O, give me leave to sacrifice myself, and
cherish thou my children. Those that are conversant with the morals have,
in their treatises, said, that women should never be slaughtered and that
Rakshasas are not ignorant of the rules of morality. Therefore, while it
is certain that the Rakshasa will kill a man, it is doubtful whether he
will kill a woman. It behoveth thee, therefore, being conversant with the
rules of morality, to place me before the Rakshasa. I have enjoyed much
happiness, have obtained much that is agreeable to me, and have also
acquired great religious merit. I have also obtained from thee children
that are so dear to me. Therefore, it grieveth not me to die. I have borne
thee children and have also grown old; I am ever desirous of doing good to
thee; remembering all these I have come to this resolution. O revered sir,
abandoning me thou mayest obtain another wife. By her thou mayest again
acquire religious merit. There is no sin in this. For a man polygamy is an
act of merit, but for a woman it is very sinful to betake herself to a
second husband after the first. Considering all this, and remembering too
that sacrifice of thy own self is censurable, O, liberate today without
loss of time thy own self, thy race, and these thy children (by abandoning

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by her, O Bharata, the Brahmana
embraced her, and they both began to weep in silence, afflicted with


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'On hearing these words of her afflicted parents, the
daughter was filled with grief, and she addressed them, saying, 'Why are
you so afflicted and why do you so weep, as if you have none to look after
you? O, listen to me and do what may be proper. There is little doubt that
you are bound in duty to abandon me at a certain time. Sure to abandon me
once, O, abandon me now and save every thing at the expense of me alone.
Men desire to have children, thinking that children would save them (in
this world as well as in the region hereafter). O, cross the stream of
your difficulties by means of my poor self, as if I were a raft. A child
rescueth his parents in this and the other regions; therefore is the child
called by the learned Putra (rescuer). The ancestors desire daughter's
sons from me (as a special means of salvation). But (without waiting for
my children) I myself will rescue them by protecting the life of my father.
This my brother is of tender years, so there is little doubt that he will
perish if thou diest now. If thou, my father, diest and my brother
followeth thee, the funeral cake of the Pitris will be suspended and they
will be greatly injured. Left behind by my father and brother, and by my
mother also (for she will not survive her husband and son) I shall be
plunged deeper and deeper in woe and ultimately perish in great distress.
There can be little doubt that if thou escape from this danger as also my
mother and infant brother, then thy race and the (ancestral) cake will be
perpetuated. The son is one's own self; the wife is one's friend; the
daughter, however, is the source of trouble. Do thou save thyself,
therefore, by removing that source of trouble, and do thou thereby set me
in the path of virtue. As I am a girl, O father, destitute of thee, I
shall be helpless and plunged in woe, and shall have to go everywhere. It
is therefore that I am resolved to rescue my father's race and share the
merit of that act by accomplishing this difficult task. If thou, O best of
Brahmanas, goest thither (unto the Rakshasa), leaving me here, then I
shall be very much pained. Therefore, O father, be kind to me. O thou best
of men, for our sake, for that of virtue and also thy race, save thyself,
abandoning me, whom at one time thou shall be constrained to part from.
There need be no delay, O father, in doing that which is inevitable. What
can be more painful than that, when thou hast ascended to heaven, we shall
have to go about begging our food, like dogs, from strangers. But if thou
art with thy relations from these difficulties, I shall then live happily
in the region of the celestials. It hath been heard by us that if after
bestowing thy daughter in this way, thou offerest oblations to the gods
and the celestials, they will certainly be propitious.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'The Brahmana and his wife, hearing these various
lamentations of their daughter, became sadder than before and the three
began to weep together. Their son, then, of tender years, beholding them
and their daughter thus weeping together, lisped these words in a sweet
tone, his eyes having dilated with delight, 'Weep not, O father, nor thou,
O mother, nor thou O sister!' And smilingly did the child approach each of
them, and at last taking up a blade of grass said in glee, 'With this will
I slay the Rakshasa who eateth human beings!' Although all of them had
been plunged in woe, yet hearing what the child lisped so sweetly, joy
appeared on their faces. Then Kunti thinking that to be the proper
opportunity, approached the group and said these words. Indeed, her words
revived them as nectar reviveth a person that is dead.'"


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued

"Kunti said, 'I desire to learn from you the cause of this grief, for I
will remove it, if possible.'

"The Brahmana replied, 'O thou of ascetic wealth, thy speech is, indeed
worthy of thee. But this grief is incapable of being removed by any human
being. Not far from this town, there liveth a Rakshasa of the name of Vaka,
which cannibal is the lord of this country and town. Thriving on human
flesh, that wretched Rakshasa endued with great strength ruleth this
country. He being the chief of the Asuras, this town and the country in
which it is situate are protected by his might. We have no fear from the
machinations of any enemy, or indeed from any living soul. The fee,
however, fixed for that cannibal is his food, which consists of a cart-
load of rice, two buffaloes, and a human being who conveyeth them unto him.
One after another, the house-holders have to send him this food. The turn,
however, cometh to a particular family at intervals of many long years. If
there are any that seek to avoid it, the Rakshasa slayeth them with their
children and wives and devoureth them all. There is, in this country, a
city called Vetrakiya, where liveth the king of these territories. He is
ignorant of the science of government, and possessed of little
intelligence, he adopts not with care any measure by which these
territories may be rendered safe for all time to come. But we certainly
deserve it all, inasmuch as we live within the dominion of that wretched
and weak monarch in perpetual anxiety. Brahmanas can never be made to
dwell permanently within the dominions of any one, for they are dependent
on nobody, they live rather like birds ranging all countries in perfect
freedom. It hath been said that one must secure a (good) king, then a wife,
and then wealth. It is by the acquisition of these three that one can
rescue his relatives and sons. But as regards the acquisition of these
three, the course of my actions hath been the reverse. Hence, plunged into
a sea of danger, am suffering sorely. That turn, destructive of one's
family, hath now devolved upon me. I shall have to give unto the Rakshasa
as his fee the food of the aforesaid description and one human being to
boot. I have no wealth to buy a man with. I cannot by any means consent to
part with any one of my family, nor do I see any way of escape from (the
clutches of) that Rakshasa. I am now sunk in an ocean of grief from which
there is no escape. I shall go to that Rakshasa today, attended by all my
family in order that that wretch might devour us all at once.'"


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

"Kunti said, 'Grieve not at all, O Brahmana, on account of this danger. I
see a way by which to rescue thee from that Rakshasa. Thou hast only one
son, who, besides, is of very tender years, also only one daughter, young
and helpless, so I do not like that any of these, or thy wife, or even
thyself should go unto the Rakshasa. I have five sons, O Brahmana, let one
of them go, carrying in thy behalf tribute of that Rakshasa.'

"Hearing this, the Brahmana replied, 'To save my own life I shall never
suffer this to be done. I shall never sacrifice, to save myself, the life
of a Brahmana or of a guest. Indeed, even those that are of low origin and
of sinful practices refuse to do (what thou askest me to do). It is said
that one should sacrifice one's self and one's offspring for the benefit
of a Brahmana. I regard this advice excellent and I like to follow it too.
When I have to choose between the death of a Brahmana and that of my own,
I would prefer the latter. The killing of a Brahmana is the highest sin,
and there is no expiation for it. I think a reluctant sacrifice of one's
own self is better than the reluctant sacrifice of a Brahmana. O blessed
lady, in sacrificing myself I do not become guilty of self-destruction. No
sin can attach to me when another will take my life. But if I deliberately
consent to the death of a Brahmana, it would be a cruel and sinful act,
from the consequence of which there is no escape. The learned have said
that the abandonment of one who hath come to thy house or sought thy
protection, as also the killing of one who seeketh death at thy hands, is
both cruel and sinful. The illustrious among those conversant with
practices allowable in seasons of distress, have before now said that one
should never perform an act that is cruel and censurable. It is well for
me that I should today perish myself with my wife, but I would never
sanction the death of a Brahmana.'

"Kunti said, 'I too am firmly of opinion, O Brahmana, that Brahmanas
should ever be protected. As regards myself, no son of mine would be less
dear to me even if I had a hundred instead of the five I have. But this
Rakshasa will not be able to kill my son, for that son of mine is endued
with great prowess and energy, and skilled in mantras. He will faithfully
deliver to the Rakshasa his food, but will, I know to a certainty, rescue
himself. I have seen before many mighty Rakshasas of huge bodies engaged
in combat with my heroic son and killed too by him. But, O Brahmana, do
not disclose this fact to anybody, for if it be known, persons desirous of
obtaining this power, will, from curiosity, always trouble my sons. The
wise have said that if my son imparteth any knowledge, without the assent
of his preceptor, unto any person, my son himself will no longer be able
to profit by that knowledge.'

"Thus addressed by Pritha, the Brahmana with his wife became exceedingly
glad and assented to Kunti's speech, which was unto them as nectar. Then
Kunti, accompanied by the Brahmana, went unto the son of Vayu (Bhima) and
asked him to accomplish (that difficult task). Bhima replied unto them,
saying, 'So be it.'"


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'After Bhima had pledged himself to accomplish the
task, saying, 'I will do it,' the Pandavas, O Bharata, returned home with
the alms they had obtained during the day. Then Yudhishthira, the son of
Pandu from Bhima's countenance alone, suspected the nature of the task he
had undertaken to accomplish. Sitting by the side of his mother,
Yudhishthira asked her in private, 'What is the task, O mother, that Bhima
of terrible prowess seeketh to accomplish? Doth he do so at thy command or
of his own accord?' Kunti replied, 'Bhima, that chastiser of foes, will at
my command, do this great deed for the good of the Brahmana and the
liberation of this town.'

"Yudhishthira said, 'What rash act hast thou done, O mother! It is
difficult of being performed and almost amounteth to suicide! The learned
never applaud the abandonment of one's own child. Why dost thou, O mother,
wish to sacrifice thy own child for the sake of another's? Thou hast, O
mother, by this abandonment of thy child, acted not only against the
course of human practices but also against the teachings of the Vedas.
That Bhima, relying on whose arms we sleep happily in the night and hope
to recover the kingdom of which we have been deprived by the covetous son
of Dhritarashtra, that hero of immeasurable energy, remembering whose
prowess Duryodhana and Sakuni do not sleep a wink during the whole night
and by whose prowess we were rescued from the palace of lac and various
other dangers, that Bhima who caused the death of Purochana, and relying
on whose might we regard ourselves as having already slain the sons of
Dhritarashtra and acquired the whole earth with all her wealth, upon what
considerations, O mother, hast thou resolved upon abandoning him? Hast
thou been deprived of thy reason? Hath thy understanding been clouded by
the calamities thou hast undergone?'

"On hearing these words of her son, Kunti said, 'O Yudhishthira, thou
needst not be at all anxious on account of Vrikodara. I have not come to
this resolve owing to any weakness of understanding. Respected by him, and
with our sorrows assuaged, we have, O son, been living in the house of
this Brahmana, unknown to the sons of Dhritarashtra. For requiting, O son,
that Brahmana, I have resolved to do this. He, indeed, is a man upon whom
good offices are never lost. The measure of his requital becometh greater
than the measure of the services he receiveth. Beholding the prowess of
Bhima on the occasion of (our escape from) the house of lac, and from the
destruction also of Hidimva, my confidence in Vrikodara is great. The
might of Bhima's arms is equal unto that of ten thousand elephants. It was,
therefore, that he succeeded in carrying you all, each heavy as an
elephant, from Varanavata. There is no one on earth equal unto Bhima in
might; he may even overcome that foremost of warriors, the holder of the
thunderbolt himself. Soon after his birth he fell from my lap on the
breast of the mountain. By the weight of his body the mass of stone on
which he fell down broke in pieces. From this also, O son of Pandu, I have
come to know Bhima's might. For this reason have I resolved to set him
against the Brahmana's foe. I have not acted in this from foolishness or
ignorance or from motive of gain. I have deliberately resolved to do this
virtuous deed. By this act, O Yudhishthira, two objects will be
accomplished; one is a requital of the services rendered by the Brahmana
and the other is the acquisition of high religious merit. It is my
conviction that the Kshatriya who rendereth help unto a Brahmana in
anything acquireth regions of bliss hereafter. So also a Kshatriya who
saveth the life of a Kshatriya achieveth that great fame in this world as
in the other. A Kshatriya rendering help unto a Vaisya also on this earth
certainly acquires world-wide popularity. One of the kingly tribe should
protect even the Sudra who cometh to him for protection. If he doeth so,
in his next life he receiveth his birth in a royal line, commanding
prosperity and the respect of other kings. O scion of Puru's race, the
illustrious Vyasa of wisdom acquired by hard ascetic toil told me so in
bygone days. It is therefore, that I have resolved upon accomplishing


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

"Having heard these words of his mother, Yudhishthira said, 'What thou, O
mother, hast deliberately done, moved by compassion for the afflicted
Brahmana, is, indeed, excellent. Bhima will certainly come back with life,
after having slain the cannibal, inasmuch as thou art, O mother, always
compassionate unto Brahmanas. But tell the Brahmana, O mother, that he
doth not do anything whereby the dwellers in this town may know all about
it, and make him promise to keep thy request.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then, when the night passed away, Bhimasena, the
son of Pandu, taking with him the Rakshasa's food set out for the place
where the cannibal lived. The mighty son of Pandu, approaching the forest
where the Rakshasa dwelt, began to eat himself the food he carried,
calling loudly to the Rakshasa by name. The Rakshasa, inflamed with anger
at Bhima's words, came out and approached the place where Bhima was.

"Of huge body and great strength, of red eyes, red beard, and red hair, he
was terrible to behold, and he came, pressing deep the earth with his
tread. The opening of his mouth, was from ear to ear and his ears
themselves were straight as arrows. Of grim visage, he had a forehead
furrowed into three lines. Beholding Bhima eating his food, the Rakshasa
advanced, biting his nether lip and expanding his eyes in wrath. And
addressing Bhima he said, 'Who is this fool, who desiring to go to the
abode of Yama, eateth in my very sight the food intended for me?' Hearing
these words, Bhima, O Bharata, smiled in derision and disregarding the
Rakshasa, continued eating with averted face. Beholding this, the cannibal
uttered a frightful yell and with both arms upraised ran at Bhima desiring
to kill him, there and then. Even then disregarding the Rakshasa and
casting only a single glance at him, Vrikodara, that slayer of hostile
heroes continued to eat the Rakshasa's food. Filled with wrath at this,
the Rakshasa struck from behind with both his arms a heavy blow on the
back of Vrikodara, the son of Kunti. But Bhima, though struck heavily by
the mighty Rakshasa, with both his hands, did not even look up at the
Rakshasa but continued to eat as before. Then the mighty Rakshasa,
inflamed with wrath, tore up a tree and ran at Bhima for striking him
again. Meanwhile the mighty Bhima, that bull among men had leisurely eaten
up the whole of that food and washing himself stood cheerfully for fight.
Then, O Bharata, possessed of great energy, Bhima, smiling in derision,
caught with his left hand the tree hurled at him by the Rakshasa in wrath.
Then that mighty Rakshasa, tearing up many more trees, hurled them at
Bhima, and the Pandava also hurled as many at the Rakshasa. Then, O king,
the combat with trees between that human being and the Rakshasa, became so
terrible that the region around soon became destitute of trees. Then the
Rakshasa, saying that he was none else than Vaka, sprang upon the Pandava
and seized the mighty Bhima with his arms. That mighty hero also clasping
with his own strong arms the strong-armed Rakshasa, and exerting himself
actively, began to drag him violently. Dragged by Bhima and dragging Bhima
also, the cannibal was overcome with great fatigue. The earth began to
tremble in consequence of the strength they both exerted, and large trees
that stood there broke in pieces. Then Bhima, beholding the cannibal
overcome with fatigue, pressed him down on the earth with his knees and
began to strike him with great force. Then placing one knee on the middle
of the Rakshasa's back, Bhima seized his neck with his right hand and the
cloth on his waist with his left, and bent him double with great force.
The cannibal then roared frightfully. And, O monarch, he also began to
vomit blood while he was being thus broken on Bhima's knee.'"


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said 'Then Vaka, huge as a mountain, thus broken (on Bhima's
knee), died, uttering frightful yells. Terrified by these sounds, the
relatives of that Rakshasa came out, O king, with their attendants. Bhima,
that foremost of smiters, seeing them so terrified and deprived of reason,
comforted them and made them promise (to give up cannibalism), saying, 'Do
not ever again kill human beings. If ye kill men, ye will have to die even
as Vaka.' Those Rakshasas hearing this speech of Bhima, said, 'So be it,'


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