61. History of Paandavaas

61. History of Paandavaas

“Vaishampaayana said, ‘Bowing down in the first place to my Guru (Rishi Vyaasa) with the eight parts of my body touching the ground (two feet, two knees, two palms, the chest and the head – in Sanskrit it is called as Saashtaanga Namaskara), with devotion and respect, and with all my heart, worshipping the whole assembly of Dwijas and other learned persons, I shall recite in full what I have heard from the Mahatma and Maharishi Vyasa, the first of intelligent men in the three worlds. O monarch (Janamejaya), having got it within your reach, you also are a fit person to hear the composition called Bharata. Encouraged by the command of my Guru my heart feels no fear.

“Hear, O monarch (Janamejaya), why that disunion occurred between the Kurus and the Paandavaas, and why also that exile into the forest immediately proceeding from the game at dice prompted by the desire (of the Kurus) for rule. O best of the Bharata race (Janamejaya)! I shall narrate all to you who ask it.

“On the death of their father (Paandu), those heroes (Veera in Sanskrit, referring to Paandavaas here) came to their own home. Within a short time, they became well-versed in archery. The Kurus seeing the Paandavaas gifted with physical strength, energy, power of mind, also popular with the citizens, and blessed with good fortune, became very jealous. Then the crooked minded Duryodhana, and Karna, with Saubala (Shakuni) began to persecute them and devise means for their exile.

“Then the wicked Duryodhana, guided by the advice of Shakuni (his maternal uncle), persecuted the Paandavaas in various ways for the acquirement of undisputed sovereignty. The wicked son of Dhritarashtra (Duryodhana) gave poison to Bhima, but Bhima of the stomach of the wolf digested the poison with the food. Then the wretch (Duryodhana) again tied the sleeping Bhima on the bank of Ganga and, dropped him into the water, went away. But when Bhimasena of strong arms, the son of Kunti woke, he tore the strings with which he had been tied and came up, with his pains all gone. While asleep and in the water black snakes of deadly poison bit him in every part of his body. But that slayer of enemies (Bhimasena) did not still perish. In all those persecutions of the Paandavaas by their cousins, the Kurus, the high-minded Vidura attentively engaged himself neutralising those evil designs and rescuing the persecuted ones (Paandavaas). As Shakra (Lord Indra) from the heavens keeps in happiness the world of men, so did Vidura always keep the Paandavaas from evil.

“When Duryodhana, with various means, both secret and open, found himself incapable of destroying the Paandavaas who were protected by the fate and kept alive for grave future purposes (such as the extermination of the Kuru race), then called together his counsellors consisting of Vrisha (Karna), Duhshaasana and others, and with the knowledge of Dhritarashtra caused a house of lac (Jaatugriha in Sanskrit) to be constructed. King Dhritarashtra, from affection for his children, and prompted by the desire of sovereignty, sent Paandavaas tactfully into Varanavata. The Paandavaas then went away with their mother from Hastinapura. When they were leaving the city (Hastinapura), Vidura gave them some idea of impending danger and how they could come out of it.

“Kaunteyas (Paandavaas) reached the town of Vaaranaavata and lived there with their mother. And, agreeably to the command of Dhritarashtra, those illustrious slayers of all enemies (Paandavaas) lived in the palace of lac, while in that town. They lived in that place (palace of lac) for one year, protecting themselves from Purochana very wakefully. Causing an underground passage to be constructed, acting according to the directions of Vidura, they set fire to that house of lac and burnt Purochana (their enemy and the spy of Duryodhana) to death.

“Those slayers of all enemies (Paandavaas), anxious with fear, then fled with their mother. In the forest beside a mountain they saw a Raakshasa. But, alarmed at the risk they ran of exposure by such an act the Paandavaas fled in the darkness, out of fear from the sons of Dhritarashtra. It was here that Bhima gained Hidimba (the sister of the Raakshasa he slew) for a wife, and it was of her that Ghatotkacha was born.

“Then the Paandavaas, of rigid vows (Samshita Vrata in Sanskrit), and knowledgeable with the Vedas walked to a town of the name of Ekachakra and stayed there in the guise of Brahmacharinaas. Those bulls among men (Paandavaas) stayed in that town in the house of a Brahmana for some time, with temperance and abstinence. It was here that Bhima of mighty arms came upon a hungry and mighty and man-eating Raakshasaa of the name of Baka. Bhima, the Paandavaa, that tiger among men, slew him (Baka) speedily with the strength of his arms and made the citizens safe and free from fear.

“Then they (Paandavaas) heard of Krishna (also known as Draupadi) having become disposed to select a husband from among the assembled princes (Swayamvara in Sanskrit). Hearing of it, they went to Paanchaala, and there they obtained the lady (Draupadi). Having obtained Draupadi (as their common wife) they then stayed there (in Paanchalaa) for a year. After they became known, those punishers of all enemies (Paandavaas) went back to Haastinapura. They were then told by king Dhritarashtra and the son of Shantanu (Bhishma) as follows: ‘In order, O dear ones, disagreements may not take place between you and your cousins, we have settled that Khaandavaprastha should be your abode. Therefore, you go, casting off all jealousy, to Khaandavaprastha which contains many towns served by many broad roads, for staying there.’

“Accordingly the Paandavaas went, with all their friends and followers, to Khaandavaprastha taking with them many jewels and precious stones. Paarthaas (Paandavaas) stayed there (Khaandavaprastha) for many years. They (Paandavaas) brought, by force of arms, many princes under their subjection. Thus, setting their hearts on Dharma and firmly adhering to Sathya, undisturbed by wealth, calm in behaviour, and putting down numerous evils, the Paandavaas gradually rose to power. Bhima of great reputation subjugated the East, the heroic Arjuna – the North, Nakula – the West; Sahadeva that slayer of all hostile heroes (Veera in Sanskrit) – the South. This having been done, their domination was spread over the whole world. With the five Paandavaas, each like the Sun, the Earth looked as if she had six Suns.

“Then, for some reason, Dharmaraja Yudhishthira gifted with great energy and skills, sent his brother Arjuna who was capable of drawing the bow with the left hand, dearer to him than life itself, into the forest. Arjuna, that tiger among men, of firm soul, and gifted with every Dharma, lived in the forest for eleven years and months. During this period, on a certain occasion, Arjuna went to (Sri) Krishna in Dwaaravati (present-day Dwaaraka). Bibhatsu (Arjuna) there obtained for a wife, the lotus-eyed and sweet-speeched younger sister of Vaasudeva (Sri Krishna), Subhadra by name. She became united, in gladness, with Arjuna, the son of Paandu, like Shachi with Mahendra (the great Indra), or Sri (Goddess Lakshmi) with (Sri) Krishna Himself.

“Then, O best of monarchs (Janamejaya), Arjuna, the son of Kunti (Kaunteya in Sanskrit), with Vaasudeva, pleased Agni – the carrier of the sacrificial butter (Havya in Sanskrit), in the forest of Khaandava (by burning the medicinal plants in that woods to cure Agni of his indigestion). To Arjuna, as he was assisted by Keshava (Sri Krishna), the task did not at all appear heavy as nothing is heavy to (Lord) Vishnu with immense design and resources in the matter of destroying His enemies.

“Agni gave to the Paarthaa (Arjuna) the excellent bow Gaandiva and an arrow basket that was inexhaustible, and a war-chariot bearing the figure of Garuda on its standard. It was on this occasion that Arjuna relieved the great Asura (Maayaasura) from fear (of being consumed in the fire). Maayaa, in gratitude, built (for the Paandavaas) a divine sabha decked with every sort of jewels and precious stones. The wicked Duryodhana, seeing that building, was tempted with the desire of possessing it. Deceiving Yudhishthira by means of the dice played through the hands of the son of Saubala (Shakuni), Duryodhana sent Paandavaas into the forest for twelve years and one additional year to be passed in concealment (Agnyaathavaasa in Sanskrit), thus making the period full thirteen.

“The fourteenth year, O monarch (Janamejaya), when the Paandavaas returned and claimed their property, they did not obtain it. Thereupon war was declared, and the Paandavaas, after exterminating the whole race of Kshatriyas and slaying king Duryodhana, obtained back their devastated kingdom.

“This is the history of the Paandavaas who never acted under the influence of evil passions; and O first of victorious monarchs (Janamejaya), this the account of the disagreement that ended in the loss of their kingdom by the Kurus and the victory of the Paandavaas.’”


As per the direction of his Guru Vyaasa, Vaishampaayana narrates to Janamejaya the brief history of Paandavaas.




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