Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Aranya Parva. Visiting Mahabharata 68

Kamala calls it Vana Parva. Does not sound as forbidding as Aranya! It is unsettling times for all.

The Pandavas move fast as they want to get away as fast as possible. Reach the banks of river Ganga, go hungry as they have no food and spend a painful first night of their exile. Several brahmins who had followed them also go hungry. Yudhisthira requests them to go back to the city but they are determined to be with the Pandavas and share their troubles. Yudhisthira is worried as he has no means to feed them.

His guru Dhaumya suggests he pray to the Sun God for help. Yudhisthira worships Sun accordingly.  Sun is pleased with his intense worship and the fact that he is doing it to benefit others. He is given a copper vessel which will always be full! 'As soon as Draupadi begins to serve, she will get all the food she wants.' Yudhisthira is happy and receives the vessel with gratitude.

They all set out towards the forest Kamyaka. Meanwhile Dhritharashtra develops feelings of guilt at his own actions and sends for Vidura looking for solace. Vidura suggests that he call  Pandavas back and return the kingdom and give up his excessive love for his own son. This angers Dhritharashtra who tells his brother to leave Hasitnapura and join the Pandavas if he likes them so much. Vidura for once does not try to placate his brother and meets  Pandavas at Kamyaka. Yudhisthira while happy to see him cannot understand why he is there. Vidura is overcome with grief at the plight of Pandavas, tells them why and says he is there to stay. Yudhisthira is also very happy to have his beloved uncle with him.

Back in Hastinapura Dhritharashtra misses his gentle brother Vidura and wants him back. Sends his charioteer to fetch Vidura with a request full of apologies. This moves Vidura and decides to go back to be with his brother.

These movements of Vidura makes
Duryodhana suspicious and they get worried that Vidura is again trying to influence Dhritharashtra to return Pandavas their kingdom. But Sakuni is sure that Pandavas will not return as their anger runs deep and there is no chance of them returning and being reconciled. Radheya just wants to fight with Pandavas and destroy them. Duryodhana agrees and  they decide to march on the Pandavas.
Vyaasa appears just in time to stop them. He advises Dhirtharashtra not to do anything now and to wait for thirteen years.'You have caused enough damage to yourself and your sons. Please do not allow this mad attempt of your willful son...Try to coax your son to make peace with them....If he will not, what may happen after that is not hard to guess. But nothing should be done now.'

Then, after the departure of Vyaasa, the great sage Maitreya comes to the court of Kurus . Expressing shock at the way Pandavas were treated,  summons Duryodhana and speaks to him in gentle words and attempts to change his attitude and adds: 'They are strong. Think of Bheema and Arjuna. It is not as if you are ignorant of the deaths of Hidimba, Baka and Jarasandha. Bheema has now killed Kirmeera too! (Possibly the reason why the idea of attacking Pandavas is dropped.)

Duryodhana does not pay any attention and has an insolent smile and makes it clear to the sage that he does not care by striking his thigh with force. The sage enraged curses him  'Bheema's oath will come true. you will loose your life when that thigh is broken by Bheema'. Dhritharashtra tries to pacify. and Maitreya relents a bit, 'I have cursed him. If, however, he makes peace with Pandavas the curse can be considered withdrawn.'

While events of the Sabha Parva, the gamble, story of a weak and addicted Yudhisthira, the wily Sakuni and the docile behaviour of the brothers, the ill treatment of Draupadi, are all human situations, with the one exception of the unending supply of saris to protect the honor of Draupadi, Aranya Parva seems to go back to old and predictable territory of  Gods and their miraculous boons; sages appearing at will bestowing advice or curses!

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