By Nirooshitha Sethuram, Yogaratna
Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow
The people of Hastinapura not only condemned Duryodhana and Dhritarashtra but also denounced Grandsire Bhishma, Dronacharya and other elders for their lack of judgement. Women were threatened for their safety as they feared. They questioned, “If Bhishma and Drona could not guard the honor of Draupadi, what would their fate be?” They also fully recognized that the evil force behind all these terrifying events was Shakuni, the brother-in-law of their King Dhritarashtra.
Soon after the departure of the Pandavas from Hastinapura, Sage Narada appeared in Dhritarashtra’s court. He told the king that he came to inform him that whatever the evil deeds Dhritarashtra allowed to happen in his court, he must repent. Narada cautioned that, in about thirteen to fourteen years, the Kaurava dynasty will be destroyed, and the Pandavas shall emerge triumphant.
Dhritarashtra and the Kauravas were astounded, as they all knew that Narada’s divinations always came true. Duryodhana and his clan went to their Guru Drona and surrendered to him, asking for help. Guru Drona, due to his son’s friendship with Duryodhana and his past ties to Bhishma and the throne of Hastinapura, assured his alliance to them, but advised them to do good deeds going forward and to perform a lot of austerities. He also reminded about the Pandavas strength and valor, suggesting that they make peace with them. As always, that was not something Duryodhana wanted to hear, so he dismissed it.
As the Pandavas left the city, their priest Dhaumya joined them on their journey. As it was Yudhishthira’s duty to take care of all who followed him, he was worried that he would not be able to feed everyone fully. He sought advice from his priest Dhaumya. As advised by the priest, along with his brothers, he began to worship the Sun God, since he is the reliever of all hunger.
The Sun God was very pleased by the Pandavas’ sincere devotion, so he appeared in front of them and asked what they needed. Yudhishthira with respect, asked for a boon by which he could feed Draupadi, his brothers and the guests in a fulfilling way. The Sun God granted his boon by giving an inexhaustible vessel called “Akshaya Patra,” to be given to Draupadi.
Akshaya Patra would produce the food in any quantity desired at every meal and become empty only after Draupadi took her own meal, only to fill up the next day once again. Draupadi accepted the pot respectfully. From that day onwards Draupadi would feed sages, guests and the Pandava brothers. Then she would sit down to take her meal, after which the leftover food would duly disappear. This blessing helped the Pandavas throughout their exile, feeding them and their countless guests.
The Pandavas moved to the Kamyaka forest. As they were entering, a demon named Krimira confronted them, holding a blazing torch. He demanded to know why they entered his forest. Yudhishthira introduced himself and his family, revealing who they are.
Hearing who they were, the demon got furious. He was none other than the brother of Bakasura and a dear friend of Hidimba. As both of them had been killed by Bhima, Krimira didn’t waste any time attacking Bhima. But Bhima was already burning with rage at the disgrace suffered by Draupadi and the Pandavas, so he was more ready than ever before. He took on the demon with all his might and a dreadful battle followed.
Finally, Bhima uprooted a huge tree and hit Krimira with it firmly on his chest. The asura fell with a resounding thud. At the end they both wrestled with their bare arms. The fight ended with Bhima strangling Krimira to death. By destroying the demon, he was able vent some of his anger and quietened a little bit.
In Hastinapura, Vidura kept reminding Dhritarashtra about his wrongdoings. He said that Duryodhana had committed many crimes and had betrayed Yudhishthira. He was advising his stepbrother about righteousness, reinforcing his role as a father to his deceased brother Pandu’s children. Vidura asked the king to invite the Pandavas back to the palace and to rein in Duryodhana.
Hearing this repeatedly, Dhritarashtra got mad at Vidura. He yelled at him, saying Vidura was very partial to the Pandavas and had never liked Dhritarashtra’s children, that he was always complaining or talking against them. Dhritarashtra also said that he didn’t trust Vidura anymore and told him to leave Hastinapura and go be with the Pandavas.
Vidura had been bitterly treated by both Duryodhana and Dhritarashtra, so he left the palace and met the Pandavas in the forest and spent some time with them. But it didn’t last long as Dhritarashtra could not live for a long time without Vidura. In desperation, he sent Sanjaya, his charioteer, to bring Vidura back.
Knowing how much Dhritarashtra would need him Vidura decided to go back and resume his duties. Though the Pandavas hated the fact that their uncle had to leave them, they encouraged him to go back and assist the king.
Several sages and priests visited the Pandavas, enjoying their hospitality and blessing them with all their heart. One day, Sage Maitreya visited them and priest Dhaumya at the hermitage. He saw how Yudhishthira and his brothers were coping with their exile.
After visiting them, Sage Maitreya arrived at the court of Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra received him with all due respect and asked him about the Pandavas. After the civilities, Sage Maitreya addressed Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana saying that, even though the Pandavas might appear weak at this moment, they were very powerful and united.
Bhima had killed the demon Kirmira and Yudhishthira was unwavering on the path of virtue. He added that it is well known to all that the truly virtuous cannot be vanquished. So he encouraged Duryodhana to do the right thing, to bring back his cousins from the forest. He should ask for their forgiveness and invite them to rule their part of the kingdom.
By saying this Sage Maitreya was trying to reason out with Duryodhana, encouraging him to do the right thing.Duryodhana listened to Maitreya’s advice, and then smiled and slapped his thigh discourteously showing his refusal in a very insulting manner. Angered by this, Sage Maitreya cursed Duryodhana, saying that Bhima’s vow will come true, that he would lose his life when his thigh is broken by Bhima. The vow taken by Bhima at the dice game, therefore, became potent with the curse of Maitreya.
In the Kamyaka forest, Bhima and Draupadi had been persuading Yudhishthira to attack the Kauravas, to take revenge for the insult brought upon them. Especially Draupadi, often reminding Yudhishthira about the disgrace she was subjected to at the Hastinapura court.
She stressed that, if that can happen to her, a daughter-in-law of the Kuru dynasty, what would the other women of Hastinapura face. As much as Yudhishthira wanted to bring justice to Draupadi, he firmly said that they should be patient and first fulfil the condition of the game and complete their exile. He also reminded them that it was their duty to do so. These arguments happened in the Pandava hermitage often.
Krishna wanted to console Draupadi and the Pandavas, so he went to meet them along with King Drupada, Dhrishtadyumna and other well-wishers of the Pandavas, including some of the Yadavas. They all tried to talk to the Pandavas and inconsolable Draupadi, to bring some peace to their minds.
Full of emotions, Draupadi burst out in anger, “While Duryodhana committed such wild atrocities upon me, the wife of the brave Pandavas, daughter and sister of the Panchalas and well-wisher of Yadavas, why was I left alone to defend myself? Why did my five husbands, those who can win the earth if they desire to, stand with hung heads, watching it, doing nothing to protect me while the enemy proceeded to remove the one piece of cloth covering my body? Why is it that Karna, son of a charioteer, was allowed to insult me with such harsh words? Where was my father? Where were my brothers? I had no one, but only myself. Oh, Krishna if not for your grace, what would have happened to me?”
She broke into tears. Krishna came up to console her and wiped the tears off her face. He assured her saying that the wives of those who committed these offences would weep one day, just like she was that day. Krishna continued to comfort her, saying not to worry and that those who were the reason for her heartache would perish in a pool of blood.
Krishna vowed that he would wield all his powers to make these words come true. He will not yield until justice is brought to her. He also promised Draupadi that she would be an empress again and he would be always there for the Pandavas, as and when they need him.
He then turned to Yudhishthira and said that he wouldn’t have allowed the dice game to happen, if only he wouldn’t have been preoccupied with his battle with King Salva. King Salva, a good friend of Shishupala, heard about the killing of Shishupala. Wanting revenge, Salva invaded Dwaraka while Krishna was away. The city was under siege.
So Krishna had to rush to Dwaraka to safeguard the city and kill Salva. Otherwise, he added that he would have used all his powers of persuasion to prevent King Dhritarashtra from taking such a step. That it was unfortunate he got to know of what had happened only after he returned to Dwaraka. By then, it was already too late.
Hearing Krishna’s promise, Draupadi was relieved of her pain. Arjuna added that all Krishna was promising will come true, and that he will make sure of it too. Draupadi’s brother, Dhrishtadyumna, also promised her that he will fight to kill Drona, and that Shikandi will kill Bhishma and Karna will die in the hands of Arjuna.
More to come…
- Sage Narada – https://godivinity.org/the-misunderstood-sage-narada/
- Sun God giving Akshaya-Patra to Yudhishthira – https://bhavanajagat.com/2008/05/02/akshaya-paatra-discover-bliss-from-an-empty-pot/
- Krimira – https://www.geni.com/photo/view/6000000023522168105?album_type=photos_of_me&end=&photo_id=6000000023686514329&project_id=&start=&tagged_profiles=
- Bhima and Krimira – https://www.sawanonlinebookstore.com/bhima-kills-kirmirasura
- Sage Maitreya sitting beside Duryodhana – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sage_Maitreya_guidance_to_Duryodhana.jpg
- Krishna, Draupadi & husbands – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krishna_consoling_Draupadi.jpg
- Krishna kills King Salva – https://www.kidsgen.com/fables_and_fairytales/indian_mythology_stories/krishna_and_salva.htm