Narach Philosophy

THE PERIOD OF PROBATION


While the Pandavas were thus living in the forest near the lake Dvaitavana, Sakuni, at the instance of Karna, advised Duryodhana to go and see them in their lowly state; and on the pretext that they wanted to go out a hunting and to see their herds of cattle, he persuaded king Dhritarashtra to grant them permission, promising that they would not go near the Pandavas.

Then Duryodhana, accompanied by Karna, Sakuni and his other brothers and followed by a large army, went to the forest and there saw his cattle, and counted his cows and calves. Drinking milk and enjoying other delicious things, he at last reached the sacred lake of Dvaitavana, and came there like the lord of the celestials, Indra himself.

As the followers of the prince were entering the forest adjoining the lake, at his command, many Gandharvas, who had already arrived there with their king, Citrasena, bade them desist. When they complained to Duryodhana of the insult they had received, that prince, with Karna and his brothers, resolved to fight with the Gandharvas. In the battle which ensued Duryodhana and his brothers were taken prisoners, and his counsellors came to Yudhisthira for help; and that exiled monarch commanded Bhima and his other brothers to go to their rescue. The Pandava heroes fought with the Gandharva band and routed them. In the end, however, Citrasena appeared in person before them, and claimed Arjuna for his friend; and, at the latter's desire, set Duryodhana and others free. Then Yudhisthira spoke kindly to Duryodhana, and advised him to go home; and he returned to his capital overwhelmed with shame and his heart rent in twain.

Karna and the Sacrifice of the Golden Plough: Duryodhana was afflicted with sorrow and grief at his disgrace in the forest, and resolved to put an end to his life. He was, however, dissuaded by his brother Duhsasana; and Karna comforted him, promising that he would kill Arjuna in battle and bring the Sons of Prtha under subjection. Then Karna, at the desire of Duryodhana, and also to prove his power, set out, single-handed, to conquer the earth; and having subjugated all the kings, came back to Hastinapura. Duryodhana and his father and brothers honoured and applauded him; and Karna bade them rule the earth without a rival. Duryodhana was happy, thinking that the sons of Prtha (Pandavas) had already been defeated by Karna and so he desired to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice. But the Brahmanas informed him that that could not be done so long as Yudhisthira was alive; and they advised him to perform instead the Vaisnava Sacrifice with the Golden Plough; and he did so in due form.

Jayadratha and Draupadi: The Pandavas had now spent eleven years of their exile in the forest, and went from Dvaitavana to the forest of Kamyaka. It chanced one day that Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu, and Sivi, and Sauvira, the son of Vsdhaksatra, halted in the forest of Kamyaka while going to the territory of Salva; and seeing Draupadi standing alone at the threshold of her hermitage, was filled with evil desire. He came to her and bade her follow him; and when she refused, he caught hold of her, and, in spite of Dhaumya's remonstrance, dragged her into his car, and drove away.

The Disgrace of Jayadratha: When the Pandava heroes returned to their hermitage, they were apprised of what had happened; and pursuing Jayadratha, they soon came up to him, and attacked him and his men on all sides. Jayadratha, beholding his warriors slain, became terrified; and, leaving Krshna (Draupadi) behind, fled away. He was pursued and caught by Arjuna and Bhima; but after chastising him as he deserved, they spared his life and set him free. Then desisting from further slaughter, they returned home with their beloved wife.

Jayadratha and Mahadeva: Jayadratha, crest-fallen and disgraced, went away; and retiring to the gates of the Ganga, sought shelter of Mahadeva, the lord of Uma. When that deity was gratified, he begged that he might be able to vanquish in battle all the five sons of Pandu. But this Mahadeva could not grant, saying that he would only be able to check them in battle. He then informed him that the great God Vishnu, the infinite Spirit, unmanifest, Pradhana (Prakrti), Purusha, and the Soul of the universe, had taken his manifest form in the world. At the end of the four thousand Yugas (Ages of Time), when the world was all Water, Vishnu lay on the bosom of the deep, the waters which constituted his body, with the Serpent ea for his couch. Desirous of creating the universe, he engaged in thought; and even with that wish a lotus sprang from his navel; and there rose from that lotus Brahma, who created from his Mind the manifest universe. "There are three states of the Supreme Being," said Siva. "In the form of Brahma he is the creator; in the form of Vishnu, the preserver; and in the form of Rudra, the destroyer." He then described to him the incarnations of Vishnu, and told him that Krshna was his divine incarnation in that age, and Arjuna was protected by Krshna, who rode with him in the same chariot. "Except Arjuna," concluded Mahadeva, "you will for one day defeat the army of Yudhisthira." So saying he disappeared, and Jayadratha repaired to his own home.

The Stories of Rama and Savitri: Yudhisthira's mind was filled with grief that Jayadratha should have been able to take away by force, even for a moment, the chaste and pious Draupadi, born from the sacrificial altar. To comfort him Markandeya told him of the sorrow of Rama, and how his wife, Janaki, was carried away by force of Maya by Ravana. He also told him how a good and virtuous wife can save her husband; and narrated to him the story of Savitri, who freed her husband Satyavan from the bonds of the god of Death, and restored to her blind, aged and exiled father-in-law his lost kingdom and sight.

Indra and Karna's Armour and Earrings: When the Pandavas had spent the twelve years of their exile, and the thirteenth was about to set in, Indra, their well-wisher, knowing that Karna never refused the request of a Brahmana, resolved to disguise himself as one, and to ask Karna for his natural armour and ear-rings. The Sun, however, anxious to benefit his child (Karna), warned him of Indra's intention, and informed him that if he parted with his earrings, his life would be shortened, and he would be subject to death. Karna replied that he was under a vow never to refuse the request of a Brahmana; and so he must part with his armour and earrings, if asked, even at the risk of his life. Then Surya (Sun) advised him to ask of Indra his indestructible dart in return for his armour and earrings; and Karna promised to do so. Karna always worshipped the Sun, and when at noon he rose from the water and adored the author of Day with joined palms, and the Brahmanas prayed to him for a boon, there was nothing that he would not bestow on them at the time and so when Indra came to him in the guise of a Brahmana, and begged for his armour and ear-rings, he could not but comply; only he asked for an indestructible weapon from the god of the celestials (Indra) as Surya had advised. Indra agreed to give him any he desired, except Vajra, and promised to give him an indestructible weapon which would destroy one powerful enemy of Karna, and then return to the god (Indra) Then Karna gave him his natural armour and earrings, and took instead the weapon of Indra, hoping to kill Arjuna thereby.

The Questions of the Crane: When the twelve years of exile were about to expire, the Pandavas, leaving Kamyaka, returned to the charming and delightful forest of Dvaitavana. One day when they were all fatigued and thirsty, Yudhisthira asked his brother Nakula to look round and see if there was water anywhere, and go and bring it. Nakula went at the command of his brother, and soon came to a transparent sheet of water, surrounded by cranes. As he was about to bend down and drink, an invisible voice bade him desist, crying, "O son of Madri, first answer my questions, then drink and carry water away." But Nakula disregarded the voice and, as he drank, he dropped down dead. Seeing Nakula's delay, Yudhisthira sent his brother Sahadeva; and he too, refusing to listen to the voice, fell down dead near the water bank. Then Yudhisthira sent Arjuna and Bhima after each other, and both of them fell down dead as Nakula and Sahadeva had done. Then Yudhisthira, finding that his brothers had taken too long, went out himself; and, coming to the spot, found them all lying dead on the ground. As he plunged into water and desired to drink, the voice said to him, "I am a Crane and your brothers have all been slain by me. O child, do not attempt to drink before answering my questions. The water is in my possession. Answer me, and then drink and take water away." Yudhisthira replied that he did not want what was the possession of another, and then answered the questions of the Crane, relating to life, morality and religion. The Bird was greatly pleased, and bade Yudhisthira ask a boon. Yudhisthira desired that his youngest brother Nakula be restored to life. The Crane was still more pleased that he had begged the life not of his real brother but of the son of Madri, and restored all his brothers to life. He then told him that he was his father Dharma, and bade the Pandavas go to the city of Virata, in the thirteenth year of their exile. He blessed them all, and said that by his favour no one would recognize them wherever they should live.