Princes' First Campaign--Kauravas driven back--Pandavas achieve Victory--Drupada humbled by Drona--Panchala Kingdom divided--Pandava Prince made "Little Rajah"--Duryodhana's Plot--Pandavas' First Exile--Their New Home--Escape in the Night--Wanderings in the Jungle--Bhima slays a Rakshasa--The Demon Bride--Sojourn in Ekachakra--Story of the Brahman Family--Bhima overcomes the Asura King--Miraculous Birth of Drupada's Children--Swayamvara proclaimed--Pandavas depart to Panchala.
THE Pandavas and Kauravas had now become accomplished warriors, and Drona, their preceptor, claimed his reward. So he spoke unto his pupils and said: "Go forth against Drupada, Rajah of Panchala; smite him in battle and bring him to me."
The cousins could not agree to wage war together by reason of their jealousies. So the Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, were first to attack Drupada; they rode in their chariots and invaded the hostile capital, and slaked their thirst for battle. The warriors of Panchala arose to fight; their shouting was like the roaring of lions, and their arrows were showered as thickly as rain dropping from the clouds. The Kauravas were defeated, and they retired in disorder, uttering cries of despair.
The Pandavas then rushed against the enemies of Drona. Arjuna swept forward in his chariot like to the fire which consumeth all things at the end of time, and he destroyed horses and cars and warriors. The battle-roar of Bhima was like to the roar of ocean stricken
by a tempest; wielding his mace, he struck down elephants big as mountains, and many horses and charioteers also, and he covered the ground with rivers of blood; as a herdsman driveth his cattle before him, so did Bhima drive before him with his mace the terror-stricken hosts of Panchala.
Drupada endeavoured to turn the tide of battle; surrounded by his mightiest men, he opposed Arjuna. Then a great uproar arose among the Panchala forces, for as the lion leaps upon the leader of a herd of elephants, so did Arjuna rush against Drupada. A boastful warrior intervened, but the strong Pandava overcame him, and at length, after fierce fighting, Arjuna seized Drupada as Garuda, king of birds, 1 seizeth a mighty snake after disturbing the waters of the ocean.
The remnant of the Panchala host then broke and fled, and the Pandavas began to lay waste the capital. Arjuna, however, cried unto Bhima: "Remember that Drupada is the kinsman of the Kauravas; therefore cease slaying his warriors." 2
Drupada was led before Drona, who, remembering the proud words of the fallen rajah, spoke and said: "At last I have conquered thy kingdom, and thy life is in my hands. Is it thy desire now to revive our friendship?"
Drona smiled a little and continued thus: "Brahmans are full of forgiveness; therefore have no fear for thy life, O king. I have not forgotten that we were children together. So once again I ask for thy friendship, and I grant thee, unasked, the half of the kingdom; the other half will be mine, and if it pleaseth thee we will be friends."
Said Drupada: "Thou art indeed noble and great. I thank thee, and desire to be thy friend."
So Drona took possession of half of the kingdom. Drupada, who sorrowed greatly, went to rule the southern Panchalas; he was convinced that he could not defeat Drona by Kshatriya power alone, which is inferior to Brahman power, and he resolved to discover means whereby he might obtain a son who could overcome his Brahman enemy.
Thereafterwards the Pandavas waged war against neighbouring kings, and they extended the territory over which the blind maharajah held sway.
The Kauravas were rendered more jealous than ever by the successes achieved by the Pandavas, and also because the people favoured them. Now Duryodhana desired to become heir to the throne, but the elder prince of the conquering Pandavas could not be set aside. In the end Yudhishthira was chosen, although unwillingly, by the blind king, and he became Yuva-rajah, "Little Rajah", supplanting Bhishma, who had been regent during the minority. Yudhishthira, accordingly, ruled over the kingdom, and he was honoured and beloved by the people; for although he was not a mighty warrior like Arjuna, or powerful like to Bhima, he had great wisdom, and he was ever just and merciful, and a lover of truth. 1
Duryodhana remonstrated with his blind father, the maharajah, and he spoke to him, saying: "Why, O my father, hast thou thus favoured the Pandavas and forgotten thine own sons? Thou wert Pandu's elder brother, and should have reigned before him. Now the children of thy younger brother are to succeed thee. The kingdom is thine own by right of birth, and thy sons are thine
heirs. Why, then, hast thou lowered us in the eyes of thy subjects?"
Said the blind Dhritarashtra: "Duryodhana, my son, know thou that Pandu, my brother, was the mightiest ruler in the world. Could I, who have ever been blind, have set him aside? His sons have great wisdom and worth, and are loved by the people. How, then, could I pass them over? Yudhishthira hath greater accomplishments for governing than thou dost possess, my son. How could I turn against him and banish him from my council?"
Duryodhana said: "I do not acknowledge Yudhishthira's superiority as a ruler of men. And this I know full well, I could combat against half a score of Yudhishthiras on the field of battle. . . . If, my father, thou wilt set me aside and deny me my right to a share of government in the kingdom, I will take mine own life and thus end my sorrow."
Said Dhritarashtra: "Be patient, O my son, nor give way to thy vexation. If such is thy desire, I will divide the kingdom between thee and Yudhishthira, so that no jealousy may exist between you both."
Duryodhana was well pleased, hearing these words, and he said: "I agree, O my father, and will accept thine offer. Let the Pandavas take their own land and rule over it, and I and my brethren will remain at Hastinapur with thee. If the Kauravas and Pandavas continue to dwell here together, there will be conflicts and much shedding of blood."
Said Dhritarashtra: "Neither Bhishma, the head of our family, nor Vidura, my brother, nor Drona, thy preceptor, will consent to the Pandavas being sent hence."
Duryodhana made answer: "Consult them not; they are beneath thee, my sire. Command the Pandavas to
depart unto the city of Varanavartha 1 and dwell there; when they have gone no one will speak to thee regarding this matter."
Dhritarashtra listened to his son and followed his counsel. He commanded Yudhishthira to depart with his brethren to the city of Varanavartha, rich in jewels and gold, to dwell there until he recalled them. Accordingly the Pandava brethren bade farewell to Dhritarashtra and left Hastinapur, taking with them their mother, the widowed queen Pritha, and went towards the city of Varanavartha. The people of Hastinapur mourned for them greatly.
Ere they departed, Vidura spoke to them in secret, bidding them to be aware of the perils of fire. He repeated a verse to Yudhishthira and said: "Put thy trust in the man who will recite these words unto thee; he will be thy deliverer."
Now Duryodhana had plotted with Shakuni, the brother of Queen Gandhari, to accomplish the destruction of his kinsmen. Then their ally, Kanika the Brahman, said in secret to Dhritarashtra: "When thine enemy is in thy power, destroy him by whatever means is at thy disposal, in secret or openly. Show him no mercy, nor give him thy protection. If thy son, or brother, or kinsman, or thy father even, should become thine enemy, do not hesitate to slay if thou wouldst have prosperity. Let him be overcome either by spells, or by curses, or by deception, or by payment of money. Do not forget thine enemy, even although thou mayst disdain him."
The maharajah lent a willing ear thereafter to the counsel of his son, whom, in his secret heart, he favoured most.
Ere the Pandavas had left Hastinapur, Duryodhana sent unto Varanavartha his secret agent, Purochana, to erect a commodious new dwelling for them. This was accomplished with all speed, and it became known as the "house of lac". It was built of combustible material: much hemp and resin were packed in the walls and between the floors, and it was plastered over with mortar well mixed with pitch and clarified butter.
Purochana welcomed the Pandavas when they arrived at Varanavartha, and they wondered at the splendour of the great new dwelling. But Yudhishthira smelt the mortar, and he went over the whole house examining it closely; then he said unto Bhima: "The enemy hath caused this mansion to be erected for us, and their trusted workers have done well for them, for it is full of hemp and straw, resin and bamboo, and the mortar is mixed with pitch and clarified butter."
In due time a stranger visited the Pandavas, and he repeated the secret verse which Vidura had communicated to Yudhishthira. He said: "I will construct for you a secret passage underground which will lead to a place of safety, lest you should have to escape from this house when the doors are made secure and it is set on fire."
So the man set to work in secret, and ere long the underground passage was ready. Then Bhima resolved to deal with Purochana in the very manner that he had undertaken to deal with the princes.
One evening Pritha gave a feast in the new dwelling to all the poor people in Varanavartha. When the guests had taken their departure, there remained behind a poor Bhil woman and her five sons, who had drunken heavily, as was the custom of their people, and were unable to rise up. They slumbered on the floor.
A great windstorm had arisen, and the night was dark. So Bhima deemed that the time had come to accomplish his purpose. He went outside and secured the doors of the dwelling of Purochana, which stood beside that of the Pandavas; then he set it on fire. Soon the flames spread towards the new mansion which had been erected according to Duryodhana's desire, and it burned fiercely and speedily. Pritha and her sons made swift escape by the underground passage and took refuge in the jungle. In the morning the people discovered among the embers of Purochana's house the blackened remains of his body and the bodies of his servants. In the ruins of the Pandavas' dwelling they found that a woman and five men had perished, and they lamented, believing that Pritha and her sons were dead. There was great sorrow in Hastinapur when the tidings were borne thither. All the people bewailed the fate of the Pandavas. Bhishma and Vidura wept, and blind Dhritarashtra was moved to tears also. But Duryodhana rejoiced in secret, believing that his enemies had all been destroyed.
The Pandavas, having escaped through the subterranean passage, hastened southwards and entered the forest, which abounded with reptiles and wild animals and with ferocious man-eating Asuras and Rakshasas of gigantic stature. Weary and footsore were they all, and greatly oppressed with sleepiness and fear. At length the mighty Bhima lifted up all the others and hastened on through the darkness: he took his mother on his back, and Madri's sons on his shoulders, and Yudhishthira and Arjuna under his arms. He went swifter than the wind, breaking down trees by his breast and furrowing the ground that he stamped upon. The whole forest was shaken as with fear.
At length the Pandavas, fatigued and athirst and heavy with sleep, found a place to rest in safety; and they all lay down to slumber below a great and beautiful Banyan tree except mighty Bhima, who kept watch over them.
Now there lived in the forest on a Shala tree a ferocious Rakshasa named Hidimva. He was of grim visage and terrible to behold; his eyes were red, and he was red-haired and red-bearded; his cheeks were of cloud colour and his mouth was large, with long, sharp-pointed teeth, which gleamed in darkness; his ears were shaped like to arrows; his neck was broad as a tree, his belly was large, and his legs were of great length.
The monster was exceedingly hungry on that fateful night. Scenting human flesh in the forest, he yawned and scratched his grizzly beard, and spoke to his sister, saying: "I smell excellent food, and my mouth waters; to-night I will devour warm flesh and drink hot, frothy blood. Hasten, now, and bring the sleeping men unto me; we will eat them together, and afterwards dance merrily in the wood."
Then the Rakshasa woman went towards the place where the Pandavas slept. When she beheld Bhima, the long-armed one, clad in royal garments and wearing his jewels, she immediately fell in love with him, and she said to herself: "This man with the shoulders of a lion and eyes like to lotus blooms is worthy to be my husband. I will not slay him for my evil brother."
Now a Rakshasa woman has power to transform herself, and this one at once assumed the shape of a beautiful woman; her face became as fair as the full moon; on her head was a garland of flowers, her hair hung in ringlets; delicate was the hue of her skin, and she wore rich ornaments of gold with many gems. Timidly she approached
[paragraph continues] Bhima and spoke to him, saying: "O bull among men, who art thou and whence comest thou? Who are these fair ones lying in slumber there? Hear and know that this forest is the abode of the wicked chieftain of the Rakshasas. He is my brother, and hath sent me hither to kill you all for food, but I desire to save thee, O long-armed one. Be thou my husband. I will take thee to a secret place among the mountains, for I can speed through the air at will."
Said Bhima: "I cannot leave my mother and my brethren to become food for a Rakshasa."
The woman said: "Let me be thy servant. Awaken thy mother and thy brethren and I will rescue you all from my fierce brother."
Said Bhima: "I will not awaken them from pleasant and needful slumber, because I do not fear a Rakshasa. O fair one, thou canst go as it pleaseth thee, and I care not if thou dost send thy brother unto me."
Meantime the Rakshasa chieftain had grown impatient. He descended from his tree and hastened after his sister, with gaping mouth and head thrown back. Darkly blue was his body, like to a raincloud.
The Rakshasa woman said to Bhima: "He cometh hither in wrath. Awaken thy kinsfolk, and I will carry you all through the air to escape him."
Said Bhima: "Look on my arms, which are strong as the trunks of elephants; my legs are like iron maces, and my chest is indeed powerful and broad. I will slay this man-eater, thy brother."
The Rakshasa chieftain heard the boast of Bhima, and he fumed with rage when he beheld his sister in comely human guise, and said to her: "I will slay thee and those whom thou wouldst fain help against me." Then he rushed against her, but Bhima cried: "Thou
wilt not kill a woman while I am near. I challenge thee to single combat now. This night will thy sister behold thee slain by me as an elephant is slain by a lion."
Said the Rakshasa: "Boast not until thou art the victor. I will kill thee first of all, then thy friends, and last of all my treacherous sister."
Having spoken thus, he rushed towards Bhima, who nimbly seized the monster's outstretched arms and, wrestling violently, cast him on the ground. Then as a lion drags off his prey, Bhima dragged the struggling Rakshasa into the depths of the forest, lest his yells should awaken the sleepers. There they fought together like furious bull elephants, tearing down branches and overthrowing trees.
At length the dread clamour awoke the Pandavas, and they gazed with wonder on the beautiful woman who kept watch in Bhima's place.
Said Pritha: "O celestial being, who art thou? If thou art the goddess of woods or an Apsara, tell me why thou dost linger here?"
The fair demon said: "I am the sister of the chieftain of the Rakshasas, and I was sent hither to slay you all; but when I beheld thy mighty son the love god wounded me, and I chose him for my husband. Then my brother followed angrily, and thy son is fighting with him, and they are filling the forest with their shouting."
All the brethren rushed to Bhima's aid, and they saw the two wrestlers struggling in a cloud of dust, and they appeared like two high cliffs shrouded in mist.
Arjuna cried out: "O Bhima, I am here to help thee. Let me slay the monster."
Bhima answered: "Fear not, but look on. The Rakshasa will not escape from my hands."
Said Arjuna: "Do not keep him alive too long. We
must hasten hence. The dawn is near, and Rakshasas become stronger at daybreak; they exercise their powers of deception during the two twilights. Do not play with him, therefore, but kill him speedily."
At these words Bhima became strong as Vayu, his sire, when he is angered, 1 and, raising aloft the Rakshasa, he whirled him round and round, crying: "In vain hast thou gorged on unholy food. I will rid the forest of thee. No longer wilt thou devour human beings."
Then, dashing the monster to the ground, Bhima seized him by the hair and by the waist, laid him over a knee, and broke his back. So was the Rakshasa slain.
Day was breaking, and Pritha and her sons immediately turned away to leave the forest. The Rakshasa woman followed them, and Bhima cried to her: "Begone! or I will send thee after thy brother."
Said Yudhishthira: "It is unseemly to slay a woman. Besides, she is the sister of that Rakshasa, and even although she became angry, what harm can she do us?"
Kneeling at Pritha's feet, the demon wailed: "O illustrious and blessed lady, thou knowest the sufferings women endure when the love god wounds them. Have pity upon me now, and command thy son to take me for his bride, If he continues to scorn me, I will slay myself. Let me be thy slave, and I will carry you all wheresoever you desire and protect you from perils."
Pritha heard her with compassion, and prevailed upon Bhima to take her for his bride. So the two were married by Yudhishthira; then the Rakshasa took Bhima upon her back and sped through the air to a lonely place among the mountains which is sacred to the gods. They lived together beside silvery streams and lakes sparkling with
lotus blooms; they wandered through woods of blossoming trees where birds sang sweetly, and by celestial sea-beaches covered with pearls and nuggets of gold. The demon bride had assumed celestial beauty, and ofttimes played sweet music, and she made Bhima happy.
In time the woman became the mother of a mighty son; his eyes were fiercely bright, like arrows were his ears, and his mouth was large; he had copper-brown lips and long, sharp teeth. He grew to he a youth an hour after he was born, but, still remaining bald, his mother named him Ghatotkacha, which signifies "pot-headed". 1
Bhima then returned to his mother and his brethren with his demon bride and her son. They abode together for a time in the forest; then the Rakshasa bade all the Pandavas farewell and departed with Ghatotkacha, who promised to come to aid the Pandavas whenever they called upon him.
One day thereafter Vyasa appeared before the Pandavas and counselled them to go towards the city of Eka-chakra 2 and to live there for a time in the house of a Brahman. Then he vanished from sight, promising to come again.
The Pandavas went therefore to Eka-chakra and lived with a Brahman who had a wife and a daughter and an infant son. Disguised as holy men, the brethren begged for food as alms. Every evening they brought home what they had obtained, and Pritha divided the whole into two portions; the one half she gave to wolf-bellied Bhima, and the rest she kept for his brethren and herself.
Now the city of Eka-chakra was protected against every enemy by a forest-dwelling Rakshasa named Vaka,
who was king of the Asuras. 1 Each day the people had to supply him with food, which consisted of a cartload of rice, two bullocks, and the man who conveyed the meal to him.
One morning a great wailing broke forth in the Brahman's house because that the holy man was required to supply the demon's feast. He was too poor to purchase a slave, and he said he would deliver himself unto Vaka. "Although I reach Heaven," he cried, "I will have no joy, for my family will perish when I am gone." His wife and his daughter pleaded in turn to take his place, and the three wept together. Then the little boy of tender years plucked a long spear of grass, and with glowing eyes he spoke sweetly and said: "Do not weep, Father; do not weep, Mother; do not weep, Sister. With this spear I will slay the demon who devours human beings."
As they wept there they heard him, nor could forbear smiling.
Pritha was deeply moved by the lamentations of the Brahman family, and she said: "Sorrow not. I will send forth my son Bhima to slay the Asura king."
The Brahman made answer, saying: "That cannot be. Thy sons are Brahmans and are under my protection. If I go forth, I will but obey the rajah; if I send thy son, I will be sin-guilty of his death, for the gods abhor the man who causeth a guest to be slain, or permits a Brahman to perish."
Said Pritha: "Bhima is strong and mighty, nor can a demon do him any harm. He will slay this bloodthirsty Rakshasa and return again in safety. But, O Brahman, thou must not reveal unto anyone who hath performed
this mighty deed, lest the people should trouble my son and desire to obtain the secret of his power, for he is skilled in mantras." 1
Then was the household made happy, and Bhima prepared to go forth. That mighty hero collected the rice and drove the bullocks towards the forest. When he drew nigh to the appointed place, he began to eat the food himself; and called the Rakshasa by name over and over again. Vaka heard and came through the trees towards Bhima. Red were his eyes, and his hair and his beard were red also; his ears were pointed like arrows; he had a mouth like a cave, and his forehead was puckered in three lines. Terrible was he to look upon; his body was huge, indeed. 2
The Rakshasa saw Bhima eating his meal, and approached angrily, biting his lower lip. "Fool," he cried, "wouldst thou devour my food before my very eyes?"
Bhima smiled, and continued eating with face averted. The demon smote him, but the hero only glanced round as if one had touched his shoulder, and he went on eating as before.
Raging furiously, the Rakshasa tore up a tree, and Bhima rose leisurely and waited until it was flung at him. When that was done, he caught the trunk nimbly and hurled it back. Many trees were uprooted and flung by one at the other. Then Vaka sprung forward to wrestle, but the Pandava overthrew him and dragged
him round and round until the demon gasped with fatigue. The earth shook; trees were splintered in pieces. Then Bhima began to strike the monster with his iron fists, and at length he broke Vaka's back across his knee. Terrible were the loud screams of the Rakshasa while Bhima was bending him double. He died howling.
A mighty clamour was then awakened in the forest. All the other Asuras were terror-stricken, and, bellowing horribly, they hastened towards Bhima and made obeisance before him. Then Bhima made them take vows never again to eat human flesh or to oppress the people of the city. They promised willing obedience, and he allowed them to depart.
Thereafter Pritha's son dragged the monster's body to the main gate of Eka-chakra. He entered the city secretly and hastened to the Brahman's house, and he told Yudhishthira all that had taken place.
When the people of the city discovered that the Asura king had been slain, they rejoiced greatly, and hastened towards the house of the Brahman. But that holy man made evasive answer to them, and said that his deliverer was a certain high-souled Brahman who had offered to supply food to the demon. Thereafter the people established a festival in honour of Brahmans.
The Pandavas remained a time in the city, and they studied the Vedas. One day there came to their dwelling a saintly man of rigid vows, and he told the story of the miraculous births of Drupada's son and daughter from sacrificial fire.
When Drupada had lost half of his kingdom, he paid pilgrimages to holy places. He promised great rewards to superior Brahmans, so that he might have offspring, ever desiring greatly to be avenged upon Drona. He
offered the austere Upayája a million cows if he would procure a son for him, and that sage sent him unto his brother Yája. Now Yája was reluctant to aid the rajah thus; but at length he consented to perform the sacrificial rite, and prevailed upon Upayája to help him.
So the rite was performed, and when the vital moment came, the Brahmans called for the queen to partake in it. But Drupada's wife was not prepared, and said: "My mouth is still filled with saffron and my body is scented. I am not fit to receive the libation which will bring offspring. Tarry a little time for me."
But the Brahmans could not delay the consummation of the sacrificial rite. Ere the queen came, a son sprang forth from the flames: he was clad in full armour, and carried a falchion and bow, and a diadem gleamed brightly upon his head. A voice out of the heavens said: "This Prince hath come to destroy Drona and to increase the fame of the Panchalas".
Next arose from the ashes on the altar a daughter of great beauty. She was exceedingly dark, with long curling locks and lotus eyes, and she was deep-bosomed and slender-waisted. A sweet odour clung to her body.
A voice out of heaven said: "This dusky girl will become the chief of all women. Many Kshatriyas must die because of her, and the Kauravas will suffer from her. She will accomplish the decrees of the gods."
Then the son was called Dhrishta-dyumna 1 and the daughter Draupadi. 2 Drona thereafter took the Panchala prince to his palace, and instructed him to become an accomplished warrior. He knew that he could not thwart destiny, and he desired to perpetuate his own mighty deeds.
Having heard these words, Pritha desired to journey towards Panchala, and she and her sons took leave of their host. Ere they went away, the high-souled ascetic said that Draupadi had been destined to become a Pandava queen.
Pritha and her sons wandered from the banks of the Ganges and went northwards, and soon they fell in with great numbers of people all going the same way. Yudhishthira spake to a troop of Brahmans, and asked them whither they were bound, and they answered saying that Drupada of Panchala was observing a great festival, and that all the princes of the land were hastening to the swayamvara of his peerless and slender-waisted daughter, the beautiful Draupadi.
In that great and increasing company were Brahmans who were to perform the sacred rites, and youths who were to take part in joyous revelry--dancers and jugglers, boxers and wrestlers, and those who displayed feats of strength and skill at arms; there were also bards there and singers to chant the praises of heroes.
The Brahmans praised the beauty of Draupadi, and said to the Pandava brethren: "Come with us to the festival and the sports and the swayamvara; you will be feasted and will receive gifts. You are all as comely as princes and as fair as the bright gods; mayhap Draupadi may choose from among ye this stalwart and noble youth, strongly armed and of fearless bearing, and if he should perform mighty feats, the garland may be thrown upon his shoulders."
Said Yudhishthira: "So be it. We will hasten with you to the swayamvara and share banquet and bounty."
So the Pandavas went towards Panchala with the troop of Brahmans. When they reached the city they
took up their abode in the humble dwelling of a potter, still disguised as Brahmans, and they went out and begged food from the people.
In their secret hearts the brethren desired greatly to win the fair bride whose fame had been bruited abroad.
196:1 Half man and half eagle, and enemy of the serpent race.
196:2 The Kurus and Panchalas were allies.
197:1 The modern-day Hindu regards Yudhishthira as an ideal man.
199:1 Allahabad, then probably a frontier town of the area of Aryan control, pronounced Var´an-a-vart″ha.
205:1 The god of wind.
206:1 Bald as a pot. Pron. gat-ot-katch´a.
206:2 Pron. eka-chak´ra.
207:1 As a rule the Asuras are the enemies of the gods and the Rakshasas the enemies of mankind. See Chapter IV.
208:2 A man-devouring demon was supposed to sit under a bridge in Caithness every night. When a late wayfarer began to walk over, the monster growled, "Tramp, tramp, tramp", so as to terrify him and obtain him for food. According to local belief, the demon "had eyes like a saucer, a nose like a poker, and a mouth like a cave". The Egyptian demon set was red like the Indian Rakshasa. Red-haired people are disliked in India still; a native girl with auburn locks is not cared for as a bride.
210:1 Pron. dhrish-ta-dyum´na.
210:2 Pron. drow´pa-dee″.