King Virata, accompanied by the four pandavas, returns after defeating the Trigartas. His people assemble to honor his victory. After they leave he asks, 'Where is Uttara?' The women proudly tell him, 'The kauravas captured our cattle! We heard that all the great warriors; Bheeshma, Drona, Ashwattama, Karna and Duryodhana have all come. Hearing this Uttara Kumara went to face and defeat them with Brihanade as his saarathi.'
This news shocks the king. He hopes that, 'If they hear that Trigartas have lost, they may not stay. However send all those who are not injured to help the prince.' And orders a messenger 'Go and check if Uttara is still living. I am afraid by taking a eunuch as a saarathi, he may not be alive.' Yudhisthira hears this and tells the king smiling, 'Maharaja! If Brihanade is with him, the enemies cannot take away the cattle. With his help your son will defeat all the kings, demons or yakshas!' In the meanwhile the messengers arrive with the good news of Uttara's success!
Kanka (Yudhisthira) hears this message and informs the king 'Maharaja! It is very fortunate that your son has come back alive. He has won back the cows and has defeated the kauravas. To me it does not appear to be a miracle. Whoever has Brihanade as a saarathi has to win.'
The king is overjoyed. He rewards the messenger for bringing such a good news and instructs his ministers, 'Let the streets be decorated, perform pooja for the devatas, ask the warrior chiefs and the courtesans accompanied by musicians greet the prince as enters the city. Announce the victory in every corner of the ciry. Ask Uttare and other girls to greet Brihannade as he enters the city with the prince.'
King Virata then gets into a mood to play a game of dice. Yudhisthira reluctantly joins him. Virata cannot contain his joy and gloats, 'Did you see! My son has defeated such formidable kauravas!' Yudhisthira cannot let this go without a comment, 'How can he not win when he had Brihanade as his charioteer?' This angers the king and he scolds Yudhisthira, 'You lowly brahmin. How dare you praise a eunuch instead of my son? You do not know what to speak and thus are insulting my son. There is no reason why he cannot defeat the kauravas! I am keeping quiet considering your age. I suggest you desist speaking in this manner if you value your life.' But Yudhisthira unable to accept this says, 'When great warriors like Drona, Bheeshma, Karna, Kripa are there, who else but Brihanade can face them in a combat?'
A very enraged Virata shouts at Yudhisthira 'It seems you will not stop talking this way unless you are punished' and throws the dice at his face. The dice hits Yudhisthira's nose and he starts bleeding profusely. Yudhisthira cups the flowing blood in his hand and looks at Sairendri. She understands and gets a golden cup, collects the blood and ensures that it does not spill on to the ground.
Meanwhile Uttara felicitated by the citizens along the way, reaches the gates of the palace and sends a message to his father. The sentry at the gate conveys the message to the king 'Maharaja! Prince Uttara and Brihanade are at the gate!' The kings tells him to bring them over immediately, 'I am eagerly waiting for them.' Yudhisthira asks the sentry to get only the prince and not Brihanade. 'If he sees that I am injured by anyone, except in a war, he has taken a vow to kill that person. He will surely get angry and destroy Virata and the rest.'
Uttara comes in alone and touches the feet of his father and then looks at Yudhisthria who is hurt and bleeding and Sairendri standing by his side. He asks his father 'Who hit him, why did they commit this terrible act.' King Virata admits that he did it as Kanka was praising only the eunuch and not his own son. Uttara tells his father that he did a great wrong and asks him to pacify Yudhisthira and says, 'His anger is too dangerous and will burn till the roots are destroyed.'
A very contrite Virata asks for forgiveness. Yudhisthira tells Virata that he has already forgiven him and tells the king, 'If my blood had fallen on the earth, you and your kingdom would have been destroyed! Even if I do not harm anyone, sometimes it happens without my meaning it to happen.'
After Kanka stops bleeding, Brihanade walks in and shows his respect to king Virata and his brother. Virata turns towards Uttara and wants to know everything about his son's achievements. He showers praises on him, 'Son, there was no one like you and there will be no one in the future who could be compared to you. Tell me how you defeated Karna, who is known not to miss even thousand moving targets! Or face the great Bheeshma who is immovable like the sea but unbearable like fire that ends the world! How did you fight with Drona who is the greatest of the warriors and the guru of khastriyas or the brave men like Kripa or Ashwattama?
Uttara truthfully replies 'I did not recover the cattle or win battles against the enemies. It was a devakumara who did this. He caught hold of me as I was running away from the battle, very afraid , and made me sit on the chariot and fought with the kauravas and recovered our cattle.'
Uttara then describes the battle in detail and Virata asks his son 'Where is this Devakumara? I would like to honour him.' Uttara replies that he disappeared after the war and would be seen again in a day or two. Virata is unable to imagine that it could have been Brihanade who was there listening to their conversation.
Arjuna then seeks permission of the king, meets Uttarae and gives her the very fine clothes they had collected from the kauravs. Then Utttara, Uttarae and Arjuna discuss their future plans and come to a decision.
I have reached a magical figure of 100 blogs. It is not something I had planned. But the story has gripped me. While in the begining I tried to seek answers to things that bothered me at that moment, I realise it is much more complex than I had imagined.
I am lucky that the internet provides me with many links to the story of Mahabharata. It is like sitting in a library and doing research. While internet has the capacity to lure me away from the basic story, I am glad that I am sticking to my task of reading the two books I began with and narrating a story as I read. While I enjoy Kamala Subramaniam's version, I am more with Vachana Bharata. It is mostly because I enjoy the challenge of translating from kannada.
As I surf the net, I am glad to see that many have traveled the route. A few are curious about the actual date of the Mahabharata war. Others worry about the original text being still intact. (Tough considering that the story was oral before it was scripted in Sanskrit.) Some seek to establish the levels of science and maths that existed in the epic times. They believe that there is enough data for one to design a flying machine, an atomic device from our ancient texts. In any case the concepts were there!
I was also happy to see that some have researched the way the story has moved beyond the seas to Indonesia, Cambodia and other places. I was thrilled to see the way Mahabharata has inspired many kannada stories, plays, yakshagana and also kathakali. I even saw a connection between mahabharata events and a movie based on the indigenous people in South America. Not the story, but it does illustrate the similarties in human nature and development.
A few friends keep encouraging me and some do by keeping track. One wrote to me about how deep it is in the bengali litreature. Another suggested that I read more books in kannada. Hope I will get around to reading the books they speak about. I am sure the tough parts are yet to come. I hope finally, as another friend predicted, some good will come out of all this!