Narach Philosophy

THE HOUSE OF LAC


Seeing the great power of the Pandavas, king Dhritarashtra's mind became suddenly poisoned against them; and Sakuni, Duryodhana, his brother Duhsasana, and Karna resolved, with the permission of Dhritarashtra, to burn them to death along with their mother Kunti. The wise and learned Vidura came to know of their intentions; and, desirous of helping the Pandavas informed them of their danger. Procuring a boat, he sent Kunti and her sons across the Ganga; and they entered a forest, taking with them all the wealth they could.

The House of Lac: Finding that they had escaped, Duryodhana, Karna, and Sakuni sought various means to cause their death. They contrived that Dhritarashtra should send them to the city of Varnavata, where they themselves desired to go, and where the people were celebrating the festival of Pasupata (Siva); and Duryodhana sent his counsellor Purocana to build in that city a House of Lac, covered with hemp, oil, ghee, and other inflammable material, and charged him to entice into it Kunti and her sons, and to burn them to death. But Vidura, who knew of Duryodhana's designs, instructed Yudhisthira in the Mleccha language to be on guard, and the latter understood.

In the House of Lac: When Kunti and her sons came to the city of Varnavata, they were royally welcomed by the citizens; and after they had lived there for ten nights, Purocana took them to his House of Lac. But they saw that it was made of inflammable material; and, understanding the design of Purocana, made a subterranean passage out from their room. In this they were assisted by a man sent by Vidura to help them, and he informed them that Purocana would set fire to the door of their house on the fourteenth night of the dark fortnight.

The Burning of the House: One night, on the occasion of an almsgiving, Kunti fed a large number of Brahmanas; and, impelled by fate, a Nishada woman with her five sons also came there, and slept away in the house for the night. When all the people were asleep, Bhima set fire to the house; and the Pandavas, with their mother, entered the subterranean passage and escaped. The wicked-minded Purocana was himself burnt to death, and so also the Nishada woman and her sons; and the people thought for the moment that it was Kunti and her sons who had perished.

Across the Ganga: Vidura, who knew what would happen, had sent his man with a boat; and he took the Pandavas and rowed them across the Ganga.

Kunti is Thirsty: Led by Bhima, the Pandavas entered a forest; and, afflicted with hunger and thirst and heavy with sleep, they lay down to rest. As Kunti was burning with thirst, Bhima went out in search of water.

Hidimba: Not far from the place where they lay, there was a Rakshasa, by name Hidimba, who lived with his sister Hidimba. Filled with desire for their blood, he sent his sister round to see them; but, when she saw Bhima, her heart was filled with love. Then the Rakshasa came there himself and, seeing Bhima and his sister together, attacked Bhima. But that hero soon dashed him to the ground and put him to death.

Bhima and Hidimba; Ghatotkaca: Thereupon Hidimba claimed Bhima for her husband; and, with the permission of Kunti and Yudhisthira, that hero took that slender lady of mind-like speed to wife. She took him away with herself, promising to bring him back to them when they desired; and sported with him in the most picturesque mountain haunts and sylvan streams on the banks of the Manasa lake. There she gave birth to a son, energetic and mighty-armed; but he had nothing human in him, though born of a man. As his head was like a water pot (Ghata), they called him Ghatotkaca.

Then Hidimba, knowing that her period of stay with the Pandava had come to an end, went away; and Ghaotkaca went away too, promising to come when required; and Bhima returned to his mother and brothers. That great warrior, Ghatotkaca, was created by the illustrious Indra as an opponent of Karna, to withstand the weapon he had given him.

Vaka: The Pandavas lived in the forest for some time, and then, at the bidding of Vyasa, they went to the city of Ekacakra, where Bhima killed the Rakshasa Vaka, and saved the city from his terror.