In the meanwhile the Pandava brothers dwelt in the forest of Kamyaka, always thinking of the absent Arjuna. During this period they heard the story of Nala and Damayanti; and then they started on a pilgrimage to holy places in the company of the sage Lomasa. After visiting many places they desired to go to Gandhamadana; and then Yudhisthira became anxious to see his brother once more.
The Help of Ghatotkaca: They proceeded towards the Gandhamadana mountain; but the path was rugged and hard, and Draupadi fainted on the way. Thereupon Bhima remembered the son of Hidimba, Ghaotkaca; and that powerful Rakshasa chief, who was capable of going anywhere at will, carried Draupadi, and his attendants carried the four Pandava brothers, and brought them to the hermitage of Nara and Narayana, situated on mount Kailasa, beyond the country of north Kurus.
The Celestial Lotus: They dwelt there for six nights, expecting to see Arjuna. One day the breeze blew from the North-east, and the Panchala princess saw a pure and charming lotus of celestial fragrance brought thither by the wind. She gave it to Yudhisthira; and, desirous of having more, requested Bhima to procure them for her. Then Bhima sought for the flower all over the mountains, and at last came to a vast and romantic lake adorned with innumerable lotus flowers.
Bhima and Hanuman: There he met Hanuman, the monkey-god, the son of Vayu, and was delighted to see his brother. Hanuman showed him the way to the garden of Kuvera, and advised him not to pluck any flowers by force of might. He then promised to help the Pandavas in time of need. "Remaining on Arjuna's flagstaff" he said, "I shall send forth fearful shouts, and you will be able to destroy your enemies with ease." So saying, he disappeared.
Bhima and the Lotus: As directed by Hangman, Bhima went to the place where the lotuses grew; and at last saw, near the Kaiksa peak and the abode of Kuvera, the charming lake adorned with lotus flowers. It was guarded by Rakshasas who, when they saw him, came to inquire who he was and what he wanted. Bhima told them everything, whereupon they asked him to take permission of their king before drinking of the water of the lake or taking away the lotus flowers. But Bhima refused to do their bidding, and so a fight ensued in which he defeated the Rakshasas. He then drank of the water of the lake, and plucked and gathered the golden lotus flowers of excellent fragrance.
Absorption in Yoga: In the meanwhile Yudhisthira became anxious about Bhima; and learning from Draupadi where he had gone, desired to follow him. Then the son of Hidimba carried Draupadi again, and they all came to the forest and the lotus lake. There they saw Bhima, and were happy to meet again. Then with the permission of Kuvera, they lived there for some time. Awaiting the return of Arjuna and thinking of him, they became absorbed in Yoga.
The Return of Arjuna: Before long, however, they saw the car of Mahendra driven by Matali, and therein was seated Dhananjaya, the wielder of the thunderbolt. Alighting from the car, he first saluted the feet of Dhaumya, and then stood before his brother Yudhisthira with all humility. Then Arjuna narrated to them all his adventures in heaven.
Dvaitavana and Kamyaka again: The Pandavas lived in that delightful abode for some time. Then, leaving that place, they journeyed on, seeing many beautiful and romantic forests, rivers, lakes and caves. They then came to the dwelling place of Narayana; and, dismissing Ghatotkaca, proceeded to the mountains in the neighbourhood of the Yamuna and when the twelfth year of their exile had arrived, they came down to the banks of the Sarasvati, and repaired to the lake Dvaitavana. Wandering joyfully by the Sarasvati, they lived happily there; and then came to the forest of Kamyaka.
The Visit of Krshna and Satyabhama: There Krshna, accompanied by Satyabhama, came to meet them, and they were all happy to see him once more.
Narada and Markandeya: the Discourse of Markandeya: There also came Markandeya, the great sage, and Narada of pure soul. Then the sage Markandeya answered the questions of Yudhisthira, telling him how man may be the doer of deeds and reap their fruit, but the real actor is God himself. He also told him how he had seen the Supreme Creator, Vishnu, with face beautiful as the lotus or the moon, wielding the conch, discus, and the mace, and beheld the whole universe created by his Maya. He said that Krsna, who had become their relative, was a complete incarnation of the Deity. He told them how the eternal Vishnu lay in Yoga sleep on the hood of ea the Serpent, encircling the world, and from thence arose a lotus, beautiful as the Sun, from which sprang BrahmA, the Grandsire. He then described to them the origin and character of the five elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether, together with their properties, existing in all substances of which the universe is composed; the difference between the manifest (Vyakta), perceptible to the senses, and the unmanifest (Avyakta), not so perceptible; compared the body to a chariot, the Soul to the charioteer, and the senses to the horses; pointed out that the subjugation of the senses is the highest means of attaining to spiritual advancement; and observed that the Soul is imperishable and death but a change of abode.
He further dwelt on the three Gunas (Qualities), Sattva, Rajas and Tamas; and observed that Tamas is characterized by illusion, Rajas by action and Sattva by splendour. He showed that Consciousness is the mainspring of action; and the past, present and future are inseparably connected with Prana or the Soul, the essence of the Supreme Spirit, the eternal Purusha within. He explained that Prana or Breath is transformed into Samana, Apana, Udana and Vyana; that Prana and the other vital airs are seated in the navel, below which is the region of the digestive system; that the arteries issuing from the heart run in all directions, carrying the essence of food, and are acted on by Prana and other vital airs. He told them that matter, inert and insensible, is the seat of the living principle, which is active in itself and induces activity in others.
The Departure of Krshna: After Markandeya had finished his discourse Krsna, accompanied by Satyabhama, his favourite wife, bade farewell to the Pandavas, ascended his chariot, and disappeared.