Chapter 8

Mahabharata English - VIRATA PARVA

Vaisampayana said, “Then another endued with the dreadful strength andblazing in beauty, approached king Virata, with the playful gait of thelion. And holding in hand a cooking ladle and a spoon, as also anunsheathed sword of sable hue and without a spot on the blade, he came inthe guise of a cook illumining all around him by his splendour like thesun discovering the whole world. And attired in black and possessed ofthe strength of the king of mountains, he approached the king of theMatsyas and stood before him. And beholding that king-like person beforehim, Virata addressed his assembled subjects saying, ‘Who is that youth,that bull among men, with shoulders broad like those of a lion, and soexceedingly beautiful? That person, never seen before, is like the sun.Revolving the matter in my mind, I cannot ascertain who he is, nor can Iwith even serious thoughts guess the intention of that bull among men (incoming here). Beholding him, it seems to me that he is either the king ofthe Gandharvas, or Purandara himself. Do ye ascertain who it is thatstandeth before my eyes. Let him have quickly what he seeks.’ Thuscommanded by king Virata, his swift-footed messengers went up to the sonof Kunti and informed that younger brother of Yudhishthira of everythingthe king had said. Then the high-souled son of Pandu, approaching Virata,addressed him in words that were not unsuited to his object, saying, ‘Oforemost of kings, I am a cook, Vallava by name. I am skilled in dressingdishes. Do thou employ me in the kitchen!'”

Virata said, “I do not believe, O Vallava, that cooking is thy office.Thou resemblest the deity of a thousand eyes; and in grace and beauty andprowess, thou shinest among these all as a king!”

Bhima replied, “O king of kings, I am thy cook and servant in the firstplace. It is not curries only of which I have knowledge, O monarch,although king Yudhishthira always used in days gone by to taste mydishes. O lord of earth, I am also a wrestler. Nor is there one that isequal to me in strength. And engaging in fight with lions and elephants,I shall, O sinless one, always contribute to thy entertainment.”

Virata said, “I will even grant thee boons. Thou wilt do what thouwishest, as thou describest thyself skilled in it. I do not, however,think, that this office is worthy of thee, for thou deservest this(entire) earth girt round by the sea. But do as thou likest. Be thou thesuperintendent of my kitchen, and thou art placed at the head of thosewho have been appointed there before by me.”

Vaisampayana continued, “Thus appointed in the kitchen, Bhima soon becamethe favourite of king Virata. And, O king, he continued to live thereunrecognised by the other servants of Virata as also by other people!”

Chapter 9
Chapter 7
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