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Chapter 2

Mahabharata English - VIRATA PARVA

Bhima said, “I intend to present myself before the lord of Virata as acook bearing the name of Vallabha. I am skilled in culinary art, and Ishall prepare curries for the king, and excelling all those skilful cooksthat had hitherto dressed his food I shall gratify the monarch. And Ishall carry mighty loads of wood. And witnessing that mighty feat, themonarch will be pleased. And, O Bharata, beholding such superhuman featsof mine, the servants of the royal household will honour me as a king.And I shall have entire control over all kinds of viands and drinks. Andcommanded to subdue powerful elephants and mighty bulls, I will do asbidden. And if any combatants will fight with me in the lists, then willI vanquish them, and thereby entertain the monarch. But I shall not takethe life of any of them. I shall only bring them down in such way thatthey may not be killed. And on being asked as regards my antecedent Ishall say that–Formerly I was the wrestler and cook of Yudhishthira.Thus shall I, O king, maintain myself.”

Yudhishthira said, “And what office will be performed by that mightydescendant of the Kurus, Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, that foremost ofmen possessed of long arms, invincible in fight, and before whom, whilehe was staying with Krishna, the divine Agni himself desirous ofconsuming the forest of Khandava had formerly appeared in the guise of aBrahmana? What office will be performed by that best of warriors, Arjuna,who proceeded to that forest and gratified Agni, vanquishing on a singlecar and slaying huge Nagas and Rakshasas, and who married the sister ofVasuki himself, the king of the Nagas? Even as the sun is the foremost ofall heat-giving bodies, as the Brahmana is the best of all bipeds, as thecobra is the foremost of all serpents, as Fire is the first of all thingspossessed of energy, as the thunderbolt is the foremost of all weapons,as the humped bull is the foremost of all animals of the bovine breed, asthe ocean is the foremost of all watery expanses, as clouds charged withrain are the foremost of all clouds, as Ananta is the first of all Nagas,as Airavata is the foremost of all elephants, as the son is the foremostof all beloved objects, and lastly, as the wife is the best of allfriends, so, O Vrikodara, is the youthful Gudakesa, the foremost of allbowmen. And O Bharata, what office will be performed by Vibhatsu, thewielder of Gandiva, whose car is drawn by white horses, and who is notinferior to Indra or Vasudeva Himself? What office will be performed byArjuna who, dwelling for five years in the abode of the thousand-eyedDeity (Indra) shining in celestial lustre, acquired by his own energy thescience of superhuman arms with all celestial weapons, and whom I regardas the tenth Rudra, the thirteenth Aditya, the ninth Vasu, and the tenthGraha, whose arms, symmetrical and long, have the skin hardened byconstant strokes of the bowstring and cicatrices which resemble those onthe humps of bulls,–that foremost of warriors who is as Himavat amongmountains, the ocean among expanses of water, Sakra among the celestial,Havya-vaha (fire) among the Vasus, the tiger among beasts, and Garudaamong feathery tribes!”

Arjuna replied, “O lord of the Earth, I will declare myself as one of theneuter sex. O monarch, it is, indeed difficult to hide the marks of thebowstring on my arms. I will, however, cover both my cicatrized arms withbangles. Wearing brilliant rings on my ears and conch-bangles on mywrists and causing a braid to hang down from my head, I shall, O king,appear as one of the third sex, Brihannala by name. And living as afemale I shall (always) entertain the king and the inmates of the innerapartments by reciting stories. And, O king, I shall also instruct thewomen of Virata’s palace in singing and delightful modes of dancing andin musical instruments of diverse kinds. And I shall also recite thevarious excellent acts of men and thus conceal myself, O son of Kunti, byfeigning disguise. And, O Bharata should the king enquire, I will saythat, I lived as a waiting maid of Draupadi in Yudhishthira’s palace.And, O foremost of kings, concealing myself by this means, as fire isconcealed by ashes, I shall pass my days agreeably in the palace ofVirata.”

Vaisampayana continued, “Having said this, Arjuna, that best of men andforemost of virtuous persons, became silent. Then the king addressedanother brother of his.”[2]

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