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Chapter 9

Mahabharata English - VIRATA PARVA

Vaisampayana said, “Binding her black, soft, fine, long and faultlesstresses with crisped ends into a knotted braid, Draupadi of black eyesand sweet smiles, throwing it upon her right shoulders, concealed it byher cloth. And she wore a single piece of a black and dirty though costlycloth. And dressing herself as a Sairindhri, she began to wander hitherand thither in seeming affliction. And beholding her wandering, men andwomen came to her hastily and addressed her, saying, ‘Who are you? Andwhat do you seek?’ And she replied, ‘I am a king’s Sairindhri. I desireto serve any one that will maintain me.’ But beholding her beauty anddress, and hearing also her speech that was so sweet, the people couldnot take her for a maid-servant in search of subsistence. And it came topass that while looking this way and that from the terrace, Virata’sbeloved queen, daughter of the king of Kekaya, saw Draupadi. Andbeholding her forlorn and clad in a single piece of cloth, the queenaddressed her saying, ‘O beautiful one, who are you, and what do youseek?’ Thereupon, Draupadi answered her, saying, ‘O foremost of queen, Iam Sairindhri. I will serve anybody that will maintain me.’ Then Sudeshnasaid, ‘What you say (regarding your profession) can never be compatiblewith so much beauty. (On the contrary) you might well be the mistress ofservants both, male and female. Your heels are not prominent, and yourthighs touch each other. And your intelligence is great, and your naveldeep, and your words solemn. And your great toes, and bust and hips, andback and sides, and toe-nails, and palms are all well-developed. And yourpalms, soles, and face are ruddy. And your speech is sweet even as thevoice of the swan. And your hair is beautiful, and your bust shapely, andyou are possessed of the highest grace. And your hips and bust are plump.And like a Kashmerean mare you are furnished with every auspicious mark.And your eye-lashes are (beautiful) bent, and your nether-lip is like theruddy ground. And your waist is slender, and your neck bears lines thatresemble those of the conch. And your veins are scarcely visible. Indeed,your countenance is like the full moon, and your eyes resemble the leavesof the autumnal lotus, and your body is fragrant as the lotus itself.Verily, in beauty you resemble Sri herself, whose seat is the autumnallotus. Tell me, O beautiful damsel, who thou art. Thou canst never be amaidservant. Art thou a Yakshi, a Goddess, a Gandharvi, or an Apsara? Artthou the daughter of a celestial, or art thou a female Naga? Art thou theguardian goddess of some city, a Vidyadhari, or a Kinnari,–or art thouRohini herself? Or art thou Alamvusha, or Misrakesi, Pundarika, orMalini, or the queen of Indra, or of Varuna? Or, art thou the spouse ofViswakarma, or of the creative Lord himself? Of these goddesses who artrenowned in the celestial regions, who art thou, O graceful one?’

“Draupadi replied, ‘O auspicious lady, I am neither a goddess nor aGandharvi, nor a Yakshi, nor a Rakshasi. I am a maid-servant of theSairindhri class. I tell thee this truly. I know to dress the hair topound (fragrant substances) for preparing unguents, and also to makebeautiful and variegated garlands. O beauteous lady, of jasmines andlotuses and blue lilies and Champakas. Formerly I served Krishna’sfavourite queen Satyabhama, and also Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavasand the foremost beauty of the Kuru race. I wander about alone, earninggood food and dress; and as long as I get these, I continue to live inthe place where they are obtainable. Draupadi herself called me Malini(maker of garlands).’

“Hearing this, Sudeshna said, ‘I would keep thee upon my head itself, ifthe doubt did not cross my mind that the king himself would be attractedtowards thee with his whole heart. Attracted by thy beauty, the femalesof the royal household and my maids are looking at thee. What male personthen is there that can resist thy attraction? Surely, O thou ofwell-rounded hips, O damsel of exquisite charms, beholding thy form ofsuperhuman beauty, king Virata is sure to forsake me, and will turn tothee with his whole heart. O thou of faultless limbs, O thou that artendued with large eyes casting quick glances, he upon whom thou wilt lookwith desire is sure to be stricken. O thou of sweet smiles, O thou thatpossessest a faultless form, he that will behold thee constantly, willsurely catch the flame. Even as a person that climbs up a tree forcompassing his own destruction, even as the crab conceives for her ownruin, I may, O thou of sweet smiles, bring destruction upon myself byharbouring thee.’

“Draupadi replied, ‘O fair lady, neither Virata nor any other person willbe able to have me, for my five youthful husbands, who are Gandharvas andsons of a Gandharva king of exceeding power, always protect me. None cando me a wrong. It is the wish of my Gandharva husbands that I shouldserve only such persons as will not give me to touch food alreadypartaken of by another, or tell me to wash their feet. Any man thatattempts to have me like any common woman, meeteth with death that verynight. No one can succeed in having me, for, O beautiful lady, O thou ofsweet smiles, those beloved Gandharvas, possessed of great energy andmighty strength always protect me secretly.’

“Sudeshna said, ‘O thou that bringest delight to the heart, if it is asthou sayest, I will take thee into my household. Thou shalt not have totouch food that hath been partaken of by another, or to wash another’sfeet.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Virata’s wife, O Janamejaya,Krishna (Draupadi) ever devoted to her lords, began to live in that city.Nor could anyone ascertain who in reality she was!'”

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