Pandavas visit Drupada's Palace--Their Identity revealed--Draupadi's Five Husbands--Kingdom assigned to Pandavas--Building of Indra-prastha--Arjuna goes into Exile--His Serpent Bride--Marriage in Manipur--An Heir to a Throne--Meeting with Krishna--Abduction of Princess--Miraculous Origin of Jarasandhu--His Two Mothers--Slain by Bhima--The Imperial Sacrifice--Krishna kills Shishupala--Yudhishthira's Triumph--Jealousy of Duryodhana.
THE Pandava brethren returned to Hastinapur with Vidura. They took with them their mother, Queen Pritha, and their wife, Draupadi, and the people went forth in great multitudes and bade them glad welcome. Then there was much rejoicing and many banquets.
At length Dhritarashtra spake unto Yudhishthira and his brethren and said: "I will now divide the raj between you and my sons. Your share will be the south-western country of Khandava-prastha."
Said Bhishma: "The maharajah hath spoken wisely. It is meet that you should depart unto the country of Khandava-prastha as he hath decreed."
So the Pandava princes bade farewell to all their kinsmen and to wise Drona, and they went towards their own country. On the banks of the Jumna they built a strong fort, and in time they made a great clearance in the forest. When they had gathered together the people who were subject unto them, they erected a great and wonderful city like unto the city of Indra, and it was
called Indra-prastha. 1 High walls, which resembled the Mandara mountains, were built round about, and these were surrounded by a deep moat wide as the sea.
In time the fame of Rajah Yudhishthira went far and wide. He ruled with wisdom and with power, and he had great piety. Forest robbers were pursued constantly and put to death, and wrongdoers were ever brought to justice; indeed, the people who suffered from evildoing went before the rajah as children go before a father seeking redress.
The brethren lived happily together. In accordance with the advice of a Rishi, they made a compact that when one of them was sitting beside Draupadi, none of the others should enter, and that if one of them should be guilty of intrusion, he must needs go into exile for the space of twelve years.
As it chanced, Yudhishthira was sitting with Draupadi one day when a Brahman, whose cattle had been carried off, hastened to Arjuna and entreated him to pursue the band of robbers. The weapons of the prince were in the king's palace, and to obtain them Arjuna entered the room in which Yudhishthira and Draupadi sat, thus breaking the compact made by the brethren. He hastened after the robbers and recovered the stolen cattle, which he brought back unto the Brahman.
On his return to the palace, Arjuna said unto his brother that he must needs become an exile for twelve years to expiate his offence. Yudhishthira, however, sought to prevail upon him not to depart. But Arjuna made answer that he had pledged his oath to fulfil the terms of the compact. "I cannot waver from truth," he said; "truth is my weapon." So when he had bidden farewell to Pritha and Draupadi and his four brethren,
he took his departure from the city of Indra-prastha. And a band of Brahmans went with him.
Arjuna wandered through the jungle, and he visited many holy places. One day he went unto Hurdwar, where the Ganges flows upon the plain, and he bathed in the holy waters. There he met with Ulúpí, daughter of Vásuka, king of the Nagas, who had great beauty. She loved him, and she led him to her father's palace, where he abode a time, and she gave him the power to render himself invisible in water. A child was born unto them, and he was named Iravat.
Thereafterwards Arjuna went southwards until he came to the Mahendra mountain. 1 He was received there by Parasu Rama, the Brahman hero, who gave him gifts of powerful weapons, and imparted to him the secret of using them.
So he wandered from holy place to holy place until he reached Manipur. Now the rajah of that place had a beautiful daughter whose name was Chitrángadá. Arjuna loved her, and sought her for his bride. The rajah said: "I have no other child, and if I give her unto thee, her son must remain here to become my heir, for the god Shiva hath decreed that the rajahs of this realm can have each but one child." Arjuna married the maiden, and he dwelt for three years at Manipur. A son was born, and he was named Chitrangada. Thereafter Arjuna set out on his wanderings once more.
He passed through many strange lands, travelling westward, and at length he reached the city of Prabhása 2, which is nigh to Dwáraká, on the southern sea, the capital of his kinsman Krishna, rajah of the Yádhavas.
Krishna welcomed Arjuna, and took the Pandava hero to dwell in his palace. Then he gave a great feast on
Click to enlarge
ARJUNA AND THE RIVER NYMPH
From the painting by Warwick Goble.
the holy mountain of Raivataka, which lasted for two days. Arjuna looked with love upon Krishna's fair sister, Subhadra 1, a girl of sweet smiles, and desired her for a bride.
Now it was the wish of Balarama that Subhadra should he given unto Duryodhana, whom, indeed, she would have chosen had a swayamvara been held. So Krishna advised Arjuna to carry her away by force, in accordance with the advice of the sages, who had said aforetime: "Men applaud the Kshatriyas who win brides by abducting them."
When the feast was over, Arjuna drove his chariot from the holy mountain towards Dwaraka until he came nigh to Subhadra. Nimbly he leapt down and took her by the hand and lifted her into his chariot; then he drove hastily towards the city of Indra-prastha.
Balarama was greatly angered, and desired to pursue Arjuna; and he spoke to Krishna, saying: "Thou art calm, and I can perceive that Arjuna has done this thing with thy knowledge. Thou shouldst not have given our sister unto him without my consent. But let the deed be upon his own head, for I will pursue him and slay him and his brethren, one and all."
Said Krishna: "Arjuna is our kinsman 2 and of noble birth, and is a worthy husband for Subhadra. If thou wilt pursue him and bring back our sister, no one else will marry her now because that she hath been in the house of another. Better were it that we should send messengers after Arjuna and invite him to return here, so that the marriage may be held according to our rites."
Balarama said: "So be it, seeing that thou art well pleased with this matter."
Thus it came to pass that messengers followed Arjuna and prevailed upon him to return with Subhadra to Dwaraka. A great feast was then held, and they were married with pomp and in state. And Arjuna abode at the court of Krishna for many months, until the time of his exile came to an end.
When Arjuna returned to Indra-prastha with Subhadra, he was received with great rejoicing by his brethren. He went unto Draupadi and greeted her; but she said coldly: "Why come hither? Where is the sister of Krishna?"
Arjuna soothed her with gentle words; and then Subhadra approached Draupadi, attired in red silk, but in the simple fashion of a keeper of cows, and made obeisance before her, saying: "I am thy handmaiden."
Draupadi embraced the sister of Krishna and said. "Let thy husband be without an enemy."
The heart of Subhadra was filled with joy at these words; she said: "So be it."
Thus was peace made; the two women thereafter loved one another, and to Pritha both were very dear.
Now Draupadi became the mother of five sons to her five husbands; and Subhadra had one son only, and his name was Abhimanyu 1, who in the years that followed was an illustrious warrior.
As time went on, the Pandavas grew more and more powerful. They waged great wars, until many rajahs owed them allegiance; and at length Yudhishthira deemed that the time had come to hold his great Rajasúya sacrifice to celebrate the supremacy of his power over all.
Krishna came to Indra-prastha at this time and said: "There is now but one rajah who must needs be overcome
ere the Imperial sacrifice can be performed: his name is Jarasandha, monarch of Magadha. He hath already conquered six-and-eighty kings, and he hath slaughtered those who were our kinsmen dear."
Now this rajah was of great valour and matchless strength. His body was invulnerable against weapons; not even the gods could wound him with mace or sword or with arrow. He was also of miraculous birth, for he was born of two mothers 1 who had eaten of a mantra-charmed mango which fell into the lap of his sire when that he was childless and was undergoing penances to obtain offspring. Nor did the babe come to life after birth until he was united by a Rakshasa woman, named Jara, the goddess of the household, who, because she was worshipped in the palace, performed some good each day in return. 2 So the child was called Jarasandha 3, which signifies "united by Jara", and he increased daily like to the moon in its first phase.
Krishna said unto Yudhishthira: "This monarch of Magadha cannot be vanquished in battle even by gods or by demons. But he may be overcome in a conflict, fighting with bare arms. Now I am 'Policy', Bhima is 'Strength', and Arjuna is 'Protector'. Together, O king, we will surely accomplish the death of Jarasandha, who is arrogant and covetous and proud."
Said Yudhishthira: "Do as it seemeth best unto thee, O lord of the universe; thou art our wise counsellor and guide."
Then Krishna, Arjuna, and Bhima disguised themselves as Brahmans and went towards the city of Mathura, which was Jarasandha's capital. When they arrived there
they entered the palace of the mighty rajah like to mountain lions eyeing cattle-folds. They went boldly before the king decked with flowers, and the king said: "Ye are welcome."
Arjuna and Bhima were silent, but Krishna spake to Jarasandha, saying: "These two men are observing vows, and will not open their mouths until midnight; after that hour they will speak."
The king provided for his guests in the sacrificial chamber, and after midnight he visited them, and discovering that they were warriors, he asked: "Tell me truly who ye are, and why ye have come hither."
Said Krishna: "We are decked with flowers to achieve prosperity, and we have entered the abode of our enemy to fulfil the vows of Kshatriyas."
Jarasandha said: "I have never done you an injury. Why, therefore, do ye regard me as your enemy?"
Then Krishna revealed himself, and upbraided the king because that he was wont to offer up in sacrifice to Shiva the rajahs whom he took captive in battle. He said: "Thou hast slaughtered our kinsmen in this manner because thou dost imagine there liveth no man who is so powerful as thou. For thy sins thou art doomed to go to Yama's kingdom, there to be tortured a time. But thou canst attain to the Heaven of Indra by dying the death of a Kshatriya in battle with thy peers. Now, O king, we challenge thee to combat. Set free the rajahs who are in thy dungeons, or die at our hands!"
Said the king: "I have taken captive in battle these royal prisoners of mine, whom I shall offer in sacrifice to Shiva, according to my vow. Let us therefore meet in battle, army against army, or in single combat."
Krishna said: "Meet thou one of us in single combat. With whom dost thou desire to fight?"
Then Jarasandha expressed his wish to meet Bhima in battle. Bhima was made glad thereat, for, in truth, he thirsted for the conflict; but he desired that they should fight without weapons, and the king consented, and made ready for the fray.
Now Jarasandha was of lofty stature and great strength, and he fought so fiercely that the combat lasted for thirteen days in presence of great multitudes of the people. In the end the king was swung aloft, and his back was broken over Bhima's knee. Then a mighty tumult arose, which caused all who were there to quake with fear, for the roar of the Pandavas mingled with the shrieks of Jarasandha ere death silenced him.
Krishna went boldly into the palace and set free all the rajahs who were in captivity. And one by one they took vows to attend the Imperial sacrifice. Then Krishna received Sahadeva, son of Jarasandha, and installed him as Rajah of Magadha.
When the great Yudhishthira came to know that Jarasandha had been slain, he sent forth his four brethren with great armies to collect tribute from every rajah in the world. 1 Some there were among the kings who welcomed them; others had to be conquered in battle. But when they had sworn allegiance to Yudhishthira, they joined the Pandava force and assisted in achieving further victories. A whole year went past ere the brethren returned again unto Indra-prastha.
Krishna came from Dwaraka to aid Yudhishthira at the ceremony, and he brought with him much wealth and a mighty army.
Stately pavilions were erected for the kings who came
to attend the great sacrifice: their turrets were high, and they were swan-white and flecked with radiant gold. Silver and gold adorned the walls of the rooms, which were richly perfumed and carpeted and furnished to befit the royal guests.
Then the rajahs came to Indra-prastha in all their splendour and greeted mighty Yudhishthira. Those who were friends brought gifts, and those who had been subdued in battle brought tribute. White-haired and blind old Dhritarashtra came, and with him were Kripa and Bhishma and Vidura. Proud Duryodhana and his brethren came also, professing friendship, and Karna came with bow and spear and mace. Drona and his son, and their enemies Drupada and his son, were there also, and Balarama, Krishna's brother, and their father Vasudeva. And among many others were jealous Sishupala 1, King of Chedi 2, and his son, and both wore bright golden armour.
Many Brahmans assembled at Indra-prastha, and Krishna honoured them and washed their feet. The gifts that were given to these holy sages were beyond computation. In great numbers came men of every caste also; and all were feasted at banquets, so that the words "Take ye and eat" were heard continuously on every hand.
Now there were deep and smouldering jealousies among the assembled rajahs, and when the time came to honour him who was regarded as the greatest among them by presenting the Arghya 3, their passions were set ablaze. First Bhishma spake forth and said that the honour was due to Krishna, the pious one, who was the noblest and greatest among them all. "Krishna," he
said, "is the origin of all things; the universe came into being for him alone. He is the incarnation of the Creator, the everlasting one, who is beyond man's comprehension."
When the Arghya was given unto Krishna, Sishupala, the Rajah of Chedi, arose in wrath and said: "It ill becomes thee, O Yudhishthira, to honour thus an uncrowned chieftain. Gathered about thee are ruling kings of highest fame. If the honour be due to age, then Vasudeva can claim it before his son; if it is due to the foremost rajah, then Drupada should be honoured; if it is due to wisdom, Drona is the most worthy; if it is due to holiness, Vyasa is the greatest. Drona's son hath more knowledge than Krishna, Duryodhana is peerless among younger men, Kripa is the worthiest priest, and Karna the greatest archer. For what reason should homage be paid unto Krishna, who is neither the holiest priest, the wisest preceptor, the greatest warrior, nor the foremost chieftain? To the shame of this assembly be it said that it doth honour the murderer of his own rajah, this cowherd of low birth."
So spake Sishupala, the tiger-hearted one, and terrible was his wrath. He hated Krishna, because that he had carried away by force the beautiful Rukmini, who had been betrothed unto himself, the mighty Rajah of Chedi.
Krishna then spoke. Calm was he of voice and demeanour, but his eyes were bright. Unto the rajahs he said: "Hear me, O ye princes and kings! The evil-tongued Sishupala is descended from a daughter of our race, and in my heart I have never sought to work ill against a kinsman. But once, when I went eastward, he sacked my sea-swept Dwaraka and laid low its temple; once he broke faith with a rajah and cast him into prison; once he seized the consort of a king by
force; and once he disguised himself as the husband of a chaste princess and deceived her. And I have suffered because of his sins, nor sought vengeance, because that he was of our own race. He hath even come after my consort Rukmini, and is worthy of death."
As he spoke, the faces of many rajahs grew red with shame and anger, but Sishupala laughed aloud and made answer: "I seek no mercy from Krishna, nor do I fear him."
Then Krishna thought of his bright, resistless discus, and immediately it was in his hand. In anger he spake forth and said: "Hear me, ye lords of earth! I have promised the pious mother of Sishupala to pardon a hundred sins committed by her son. And I have fulfilled my vow. But now the number is more than full, and I will slay him, O ye mighty rajahs, before your eyes."
Having spoken thus, Krishna flung the discus, and it struck Sishupala on the neck, so that his head was severed from his body. He fell down like to a cliff struck by the thunderbolt. Then the assembled rajahs beheld a great wonder, for the passion-cleansed soul of Sishupala issued from his body, beautiful as the sun in heaven, and went towards Krishna. Its eyes were like to lotus blooms, and its form like to a flame; and it adored Krishna and entered into his body. 1
The rajahs all looked on, silent and amazed, while thunder bellowed out of heaven, and lightning flashed, and rain poured down in torrents. Some grew angry, and laid hands on their weapons to avenge the death of Sishupala; others rejoiced that he had been slain; the Brahmans chanted the praises of Krishna.
Yudhishthira commanded his brothers to perform the funeral rites over the dead with every honour. So the body of Sishupala was burned and the oblation poured forth. Then his son was proclaimed Rajah of Chedi.
Thereafter the great sacrifice was performed with solemnity and in peace. Krishna, who had maintained the supremacy of Yudhishthira by slaying a dangerous and jealous rival, looked on benignly.
Holy water was sprinkled by the Brahmans, and all the monarchs made obeisance and honoured Yudhishthira, saying: "Thou hast extended the fame of thy mighty sire, Pandu, and thou art become even greater than he was. Thou hast graced with this sacrifice thine high station and fulfilled all our hopes. Now, O emperor over all, permit us to depart to our own homes, and bestow thy blessing upon us."
So one by one they took leave of Yudhishthira and went away, and the four Pandavas accompanied the greatest of them to the confines of their kingdoms. Krishna was the last to bid farewell.
Said Yudhishthira: "Unto thee I owe all things. Because thou wert here, O valorous one, I was able to perform the great sacrifice."
Krishna said: "Monarch of all! rule thou over thy people with a father's wisdom and care. Be unto them like rain which nourisheth the parched fields; be a shade in hot sunshine; be a cloudless heaven bending over all. Be thou ever free from pride and passion; ever rule with power and justice and holiness, O Yudhishthira."
So he spake from his chariot and then went his way, and Yudhishthira turned homeward with tear-dimmed eyes.
Now when Duryodhana had witnessed the triumph
of the Pandavas, his heart burned with jealous rage. He envied the splendour of the palaces at Indra-prastha; he envied the glory achieved by Yudhishthira. Well he knew that he could not overcome the Pandavas in open conflict, so he plotted with his brethren to accomplish their fall by artifice and by wrong.
As in after-time the wise Sanjaya said: "The gods first deprive of his reason that man unto whom they ultimately send disgrace and defeat".
But Duryodhana had to work the will of the Creator under the influence of fate, and it was doomed that the Pandavas should suffer for a time at his hands.
225:1 Pron. indra-prast´ha.
226:1 In Ganjam district, Madras.
226:2 Pron. pra-bha´sa.
227:1 Pron. soo-bhad´ra.
227:2 Krishna's father, Vasudeva, was the brother of Pritha, mother of Arjuna.
228:1 Pron. ab-hi-mun´yoo ("u" as in "bun").
229:1 In one of the Egyptian temple chants Osiris is called "the progeny of the two cows Isis and Nepthys".
229:2 Like the European household elves and fairies.
229:3 Pron. ja-ra-sund´ha.
231:1 That is, in Northern India.
232:1 Pron. sish-oo-pah´la.
232:2 Pron. chay´dee.
232:3 A gift of fruit or flowers, like an offering to the image of a god.
234:1 Krishna represented the worshippers of Vishnu, of whom he was an incarnation. Sishupala, who was reputed to have been born with three eyes, was an incarnation of Shiva. Rukmini was an incarnation of Lakshmi.