The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'The Pandavas, having established such a rule, continued to reside there. By the prowess of their arms they brought many kings under their sway. And Krishna became obedient unto all the five sons of Pritha, those lions among men, of immeasurable energy. Like the river Saraswati decked with elephants, which again take pleasure in that stream, Draupadi took great delight in her five heroic husbands and they too took delight in her. And in consequence of the illustrious Pandavas being exceedingly virtuous in their practice, the whole race of Kurus, free from sin, and happy, grew in prosperity.
"After some time, O king, it so happened that certain robbers lifted the cattle of a Brahmana, and while they were carrying away the booty, the Brahmana,
deprived of his senses by anger, repaired to Khandavaprastha, and began to reprove the Pandavas in accents of woe. The Brahmana said, 'Ye Pandavas, from this your dominion, my kine are even now being taken away by force by despicable and wicked wretches! Pursue ye the thieves. Alas, the sacrificial butter of a peaceful Brahmana is being taken away by crows! Alas, the wretched jackal invadeth the empty cave of a lion! A king that taketh the sixth part of the produce of the land without protecting the subject, hath been called by the wise to be the most sinful person in the whole world. The wealth of a Brahmana is being taken away by robbers! Virtue itself is sustaining a diminution! Take me up by the hand, ye Pandavas for I am plunged in grief!"
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, heard those accents of the Brahmana weeping in bitter grief. As soon as he heard those accents, he loudly assured the Brahmana, saying, 'No fear!' But it so happened that the chamber where the illustrious Pandavas had their weapons was then occupied by Yudhishthira the just with Krishna. Arjuna, therefore, was incapable of entering it or, going alone with the Brahmana, though repeatedly urged (to do either) by the weeping accents of the Brahmana. Summoned by the Brahmana, Arjuna reflected, with a sorrowful heart, Alas, this innocent Brahmana's wealth is being robbed! I should certainly dry up his tears. He hath come to our gate, and is weeping even now. If I do not protect him, the king will be touched with sin in consequence of my indifference; our own irreligiousness will be cited throughout the kingdom, and we shall incur a great sin. If, disregarding the king, I enter the chamber, without doubt I shall be behaving untruthfully towards the monarch without a foe. By entering the chamber, again, I incur the penalty of an exile in the woods. But I must overlook everything. I care not if I have to incur sin by disregarding the king. I care not if I have to go to the woods and die there. Virtue is superior to the body and lasteth after the body hath perished!' Dhananjaya, arriving at this resolution, entered the chamber and talked with Yudhishthira. Coming out with the bow, he cheerfully told the Brahmana, 'Proceed, O Brahmana, with haste, so that those wretched robbers may not go much ahead of us. I shall accompany thee and restore unto thee thy wealth that hath fallen into the hands of the thieves.' Then Dhananjaya, capable of using both his arms with equal skill, armed with the bow and cased in mail and riding in his war-chariot decked with a standard, pursued the thieves, and piercing them with his arrows, compelled them to give up the booty. Benefiting the Brahmana thus by making over to him his kine, and winning great renown, the hero returned to the capital. Bowing unto all the elders, and congratulated by everybody, Partha at last approached Yudhishthira, and addressing him, said, 'Give me leave, O lord, to observe the vow I took. In beholding thee sitting with Draupadi, I have violated the rule established by ourselves. I shall therefore go into the woods, for this is even our understanding.' Then Yudhishthira, suddenly
hearing those painful words, became afflicted with grief, and said in an agitated voice, 'Why!' A little while after, king Yudhishthira in grief said unto his brother Dhananjaya of curly hair who never departed from his vows, these words, 'O sinless one, if I am an authority worthy of regard, listen to what I say. O hero, full well do I know the reason why thou hadst entered my chamber and didst what thou regardest to be an act disagreeable to me. But there is no displeasure in my mind. The younger brother may, without fault, enter the chamber where the elder brother sitteth with his wife. It is only the elder brother that acts against the rules of propriety by entering the room where the younger brother sitteth with his wife. Therefore, O thou of mighty arms, desist from thy purpose. Do what I say. Thy virtue hath sustained no diminution. Thou hast not disregarded me.'
"Arjuna, hearing this, replied, 'I have heard, even from thee, that quibbling is not permitted in the discharge of duty. I cannot waver from truth. Truth is my weapon.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Obtaining then the king's permission, Arjuna prepared himself for a forest-life; and he went to the forest to live there for twelve years.'"
Next: Section CCXVI