Life in Exile 1
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Life in Exile 1

Mahabharata

Days passed by. Many sages and saints reached the dwelling place of Pandavas for talks and discussion on various aspects of Yoga and Scriptures. Topics like duties of householders, aim in life, and spiritual practices were also brought up. Group chanting of verses from Vedas and Upanishads were organized.

It was getting obvious to the five brothers and Sri Krishna that Duryodhana and Shakuni would never return them their share of land and kingdom. It was futile to expect change of heart. War would be the last solution; prepared they must be for such eventuality.

Story of Arjuna

Therefore, to increase their power and capabilities, it was decided to send Arjuna to the kingdom of Himalayas and heaven to bring special divine missiles from gods. Moreover, Arjuna could learn a few more skills from them.

On one auspicious day, Arjuna left for his mission. His first destination was Mount Kailash in the heights of Himalayas, abode of Lord Shiva. One day he encountered a beautiful deer freely jumping here and there. He shot an arrow at the deer to hunt it down. At the same time another arrow from opposite direction hit the deer. Arjuna saw a local tribesman opposite him with bow and arrow in his hand. The deer lay dead with two arrows in his chest. It was undecided as to whose arrow had killed the deer. It was essential to establish one's right over the kill. Both Arjuna and the tribesman staked their claim.

A bitter fight ensued. After their arrows were exhausted, they were engaged in wrestling. The apparently weak tribesman brought Arjuna to his wit's end. No one was willing to relent. Arjuna was surprised to find his inability to defeat even a simple tribesman. He, therefore, requested the tribesman to reveal his true identity. Arjuna said, "O brave fighter, you must not be what you appear, for it impossible for any one to compete with me in the game of archery."

And, yes, indeed, the tribesman was none other than Lord Shiva himself! Pleased with Arjuna. Shiva appeared before him in Divine form and as an act of blessing gave Arjuna his most powerful divine missile Pashupat that was to prove very useful to Pandavas in the war of Mahabharata.

From there Arjuna went to Indra-loka, kingdom of Indra, Heaven, through beautiful provinces of Moon, Stars, and Planets. In fact, the king of god Indra was his father, as Mother Kunti had obtained Arjuna from Indra through her yogic powers.

After welcoming Arjuna to that beautiful place, Indra asked him the purpose of his visit. Arjuna narrated about the evil designs of Duryodhana and Shakuni and requested him to teach him special skills in warfare. Indra was pleased with Arjuna and requested him to stay in the heaven for a few days more.

Besides archery and other martial arts, here Arjuna learnt music and dance from Urvashi, the most beautiful celestial nymph. She fell in love with Arjuna, but Arjuna had no such feelings towards her, his teacher she was. Thus, disappointed in her love, Urvashi sent a curse to Arjuna that he would become eunuch for one year. This curse later was to prove beneficial to Arjuna during his exile to stay incognito for one year.

More Suffering for Draupadi

From Dvaita forest Pandavas returned to Kamyak forest. Arjuna returned from heaven to stay with his brothers.

One day when all the five Pandavas had gone for hunting and Draupadi was alone in the cottage, King Jayadratha of Sindhu province (brother-in-law of Duryodhana) happened to pass by that side. He saw beautiful and attractive Draupadi all alone. Lust made him blind and he forcefully tried to abduct her. Draupadi cried for help. Pandavas were returning from the forest and heard her cry of help. They saw the evil Jayadratha attempting to abduct Draupadi away in his chariot.

Soon Pandavas overpowered this mean person, and the angry Bhima was about to kill him for his misdemeanor. However, Yudhisthira intervened and said, "O Bhima, I understand your rage at this lowly Jayadratha, but still I would pardon him for he is our brother in law. If you kill him our cousin sister Dushala (sister of Duryodhana) will become widow."

One wonders at the righteousness (or foolishness!) of Yudhisthira when even a person related to Duryodhana and engaged in ungainly act is granted pardon. Bhima let Jayadratha go, but Arjuna vowed to kill him in the battle-field.




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