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Chapter 1

Mahabharata English - VIRATA PARVA

OM! Having bowed down to Narayana, and Nara, the most exalted of malebeings, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

Janamejaya said, “How did my great-grandfathers, afflicted with the fearof Duryodhana, pass their days undiscovered in the city of Virata? And, OBrahman, how did the highly blessed Draupadi, stricken with woe, devotedto her lords, and ever adoring the Deity[1], spend her days unrecognised?”

Vaisampayana said, “Listen, O lord of men, how thy great grandfatherspassed the period of unrecognition in the city of Virata. Having in thisway obtained boons from the god of Justice, that best of virtuous men,Yudhishthira, returned to the asylum and related unto the Brahmanas allthat had happened. And having related everything unto them, Yudhishthirarestored to that regenerate Brahmana, who had followed him the churningstaff and the fire-sticks he had lost. And, O Bharata, the son of the godof Justice, the royal Yudhishthira of high soul then called together allhis younger brothers and addressed them, saying, ‘Exiled from ourkingdom, we have passed twelve years. The thirteenth year, hard to spend,hath now come. Do thou therefore, O Arjuna, the son of Kunti, select somespot where we may pass our days undiscovered by our enemies.'”

Arjuna replied, “Even by virtue of Dharma’s boon, we shall, O lord ofmen, range about undiscovered by men. Still, for purposes of residence, Ishall mention some spots that are both delightful and secluded. Do thouselect some one of them. Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, manycountries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi,Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva,Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and the spacious Kuntirashtra. Which ofthese, O king, wouldst thou choose, and where, O foremost of monarchs,shall we spend this year?”

Yudhishthira said “O them of mighty arms, it is even so. What thatadorable Lord of all creatures hath said must become true. Surely, afterconsulting together, we must select some delightful, auspicious, andagreeable region for our abode, where we may live free from fear. Theaged Virata, king of the Matsyas, is virtuous and powerful andcharitable, and is liked by all. And he is also attached to the Pandavas.Even in the city of Virata, O child, we shall, O Bharata, spend thisyear, entering his service. Tell me, ye sons of the Kuru race, in whatcapacities ye will severally present yourselves before the king of theMatsyas!”

Arjuna said, “O god among men, what service wilt thou take in Virata’skingdom? O righteous one, in what capacity wilt thou reside in the cityof Virata? Thou art mild, and charitable, and modest, and virtuous, andfirm in promise. What wilt thou, O king, afflicted as thou art withcalamity, do? A king is qualified to bear trouble like an ordinaryperson. How wilt thou overcome this great calamity that has overtakenthee?”

Yudhishthira replied, “Ye sons of the Kuru race, ye bulls among men, hearwhat I shall do on appearing before king Virata. Presenting myself as aBrahmana, Kanka by name, skilled in dice and fond of play, I shall becomea courtier of that high-souled king. And moving upon chess-boardsbeautiful pawns made of ivory, of blue and yellow and red and white hue,by throws of black and red dice. I shall entertain the king with hiscourtiers and friends. And while I shall continue to thus delight theking, nobody will succeed in discovering me. And should the monarch askme, I shall say, ‘Formerly I was the bosom friend of Yudhishthira.’ Itell you that it is thus that I shall pass my days (in the city ofVirata). What office wilt thou, O Vrikodara, fill in the city of Virata?”

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