Friday, 2 December 2011

Aranya Parva: 2, Visiting Mahabharata 69

My older cousin used to speak with admiration about how I walked all the way up the B R hills when just four. I do vaguely remember being worried and looking out for tigers and snakes coming out of the dense forest. I guess my elders had fun scaring me and by asking me to keep a watch.  But I would surely have been very scared if I had heard this story about a Rakshasha from Aranya parva!  

Dhritharashtra wants to know all about the killing of Kirmeera. Stories of killing  fascinated the khastiryas! Vidura tells him that just three days after their departure, the Pandavas were accosted by a dreadful Rakshasa, who announced, 'I am Kirmeera, brother of Baka. I live here killing all the animals and foolish humans who enter the forest.' And as soon as he knew  their identity and that Bheema was with them, he declared: 'The time has come to avenge the death of Hidimba and Baka. Bheema has been the death of these dear people of mine. I will kill Bheema.'

Bheema seeing Arjuna getting ready to help, said: 'Arjuna there is no need for the Gandiva. It does not need two to crush this worm.' Bheema then uprooted a tree and the terrible fight began. In the end Bheema put Kimeera across his knees and killed him by breaking his back.' Vidura's narration which exemplified Bheema's power made the kaurava king very thoughtful and worried.

Then it is Krishna's turn to visit along with Dhirhstadyumna and other kings. Shocked and upset, Krishna says 'The earth has become thirsty for blood. She will drink the blood of these sinners. It was not a fair game and nor was it right on them to impose unfavorable conditions. Why should you live here in a forest? We have brought the armies, let us march against the city of Hastinapura. We can vanquish the kauravas easily.'

Dhritharashtra does not agree. 'No, Krishna. I have done a wrong thing and this exile is the expiation for it. My brothers and my  beloved queen have to suffer for what I did. I would give anything to recall the past. But I cannot. Fate is inexorable. I have to suffer. The great Vyaasa foretold me about this spell of bad luck. I have to refuse your offer. Please forgive me.

For a moment I thought why did Yudhisthira not accept Krishna's offer? They could have regained the kingdom and then he could go all by himself as an expiation for his weaknesses and spare the misery for the others. But I suppose the story then would have become similar to Ramayana with the wife and brothers refusing to let him go alone to the forest.

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