Monday, 30 January 2012

Pandavas enter Viraata Nagara one by one. Mahabharata 91

Yudhisthira is the first to enter Viraata Nagara. He walks into the court of  king Viraata, introduces himself as a friend of Yudhisthira. 'My name is Kanka, I am a brahmin skilled in the game of  dice, I have lost all my possessions and I am here seeking a livelihood.'

King Virata is very impressed by the charismatic personality of Yudhisthira and tells him, 'I like people who are skilled in the game of dice and when I look at you, I feel that I am looking at a god. Please stay here without any fear'. Yudhisthira stays with the king, earns respect and is happy. No one guesses his true identity.

Bheema enters next. He is dramatically dressed for his role as a cook. He carries with him a ladle, a churner and a small knife. But his strong personality and aura is evident even if his clothes are blackened with soot. He meets king Virata and addresses him, 'Oh king! I can cook well and king Yudhisthira enjoyed my cooking. I can also wrestle and please you by engaging in a battle with lions and elephants. I am here looking for work as a cook.'  King Virata responds with 'Your physique and demeanour tells me that a job as a cook is not right for you. However, if that is what you wish to do, I am pleased to appoint you as my head cook.' Bheema enters the kitchen and is able to please the king with his skills. None in the kitchen  suspect his real identity.

Later it is Draupadi's turn to walk into the city. Trying to appear as a maid, she wears dirty clothes and holds her untied hair in front with her right hand. Curious people follow her and ask her ' Who are you? Why are you here?'. She tells them she is a  राज सैरंध्री (a maid for the royals!) and is looking for work. Queen Sudheshne hears about this and sends for her. One look at her the queen expresses her doubt, 'It is impossible for a good looking woman like you to be a maid. Tell me, are you a devata or a gandharva or an apsara?' (In Kamala's version, Draupadi is terrified  by a jeering crowd who follow her and is luckily seen by the queen from her balcony. The queen taking pity on the lone, harassed weeping woman sends her maids to bring Draupadi into the palace and speaks to her kindly.)

Draupadi, ties her hair into a nice looking bun, as  she replies. She tells the queen that she in none of these and is just a hairdresser and that she could also help with her dresses and deck her hair with flowers. She says 'I have worked with both Satyabhama and Draupadi and was happy working with them and would like to work here.'

Sudheshne is not totally convinced. 'I could happily employ you! But look here, I see that my women, why even the plants and trees seem to be enamoured by you! It is then certain that no man can resist being attracted to you! I am afraid that even my king, with just one look at you, may forget me and go behind you! So would other men who set their eyes on you. I am worried that taking you into my house is to invite serious trouble.

Draupadi responds with, 'I am not available for anyone. I am married to five young gandharvas and they protect me. If a man makes the mistake of imagining that I am just an ordinary woman, an easy prey and tries to seduce me, will pay the price with his life.  Also it will make my husbands very happy if  I am treated  well, by not giving me left over food and asking me to wash  other's feet.' Sudheshne decides to employ Draupadi inspite of her earlier reservations and people in the palace do not suspect that she is actually a queen pretending to be a maid!

The very good looking Sahadeva manages to pass himself as a cowherd. A cowherd who had worked for Yudhisthira, with an ability to keep the cows in good health, increase their numbers by identifying the bulls which are good for breeding. Impressed, the king hires him. The handsome Arjuna then appears dressed as woman and secures a job as music and dance teacher for the princess and her friends. No one thinks that the woman-like man is  Arjuna.  Finally Nakula appears and impresses the king with his knowledge and love for horses and is employed.

Thus Pandavas find a place to stay, are able hide their true personalities and live reasonably close to each other. Draupadi manages to see her husbands as she moves about the palace and is able to bear her hardships with equanimity and with her attitude even manages bring a semblance of happiness in them.


N L Sriram said...

Arjuna seems to have managed to kill two birds with one stone during the year of Agnyata vasa, fulfilling the terms of Urvashi's curse to be a eunuch for a year! Not sure whether the others also had similar crosses to bear.

srinidhi said...

You are right. But one may say that the curse was arranged only for this sojurn!

N L Sriram said...

The whole of Mahabharata is the result of boons, curses, vows, breaking promises, etc. - way too many to keep track of! Fertile ground for Hindi movie plots even now, saw DVD movie called Rajneeti recently which had all the characters, but of course as current day politicians!