The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "Girding their waists with swords, and equipped with finger-protectors made of iguana skins and with various weapons, those heroes proceeded in the direction of the river Yamuna. And those bowmen desirous of (speedily) recovering their kingdom, hitherto living in inaccessible hills and forest fastnesses, now terminated their forest-life and proceeded to the southern bank of that river. And those mighty warriors endued with great strength and hitherto leading the lives of hunters by killing the deer of the forest, passed through Yakrilloma and Surasena, leaving behind, on their right, the country of the Panchalas, and on their left, that of the Dasarnas. And those bowmen, looking wan and wearing beards and equipped with swords, entered Matsya's dominions leaving the forest, giving themselves out as hunters. And on arriving at that country, Krishna addressed Yudhishthira, saying, 'We see footpaths here, and various fields. From this it appears that Virata's metropolis is still at a distance. Pass we here what part of the night is still left, for great is my fatigue."
Yudhishthira answered, "O Dhananjaya of Bharata's race, do thou take up Panchali and carry her. Just on emerging from this forest, we arrive at the city."
Vaisampayana continued, "Thereupon like the leader of a herd of elephants, Arjuna speedily took up Draupadi, and on coming to the vicinity of the city, let her down. And on reaching the city, Ruru's son (Yudhishthira), addressed Arjuna, saying, 'Where shall we deposit our weapons, before entering the city? If, O child, we enter it with our weapons about us, we shall thereby surely excite the alarm of the citizens. Further, the tremendous bow, the Gandiva, is known to all men, so that people will, without doubt, recognise us soon. And if even one of us is discovered, we shall, according to promise, have to pass another twelve years in the forest.'"
Arjuna said, "Hard by yon cemetery and near that inaccessible peak is a mighty Sami tree, throwing-about its gigantic branches and difficult to ascend. Nor is there any human being, who, I think, O Pandu's son, will espy us depositing our arms at that place. That tree is in the midst of an out-of-the way forest abounding in beasts and snakes, and is in the vicinity of a dreary cemetery. Stowing away our weapons on the Sami tree, let us, O Bharata, go to the city, and live there, free from anxiety!"
Vaisampayana continued, "Having O bull of the Bharata race spoken thus to king Yudhishthira the just, Arjuna prepared to deposit the weapons (on the tree). And that bull among the Kurus, then loosened the string of the large and dreadful Gandiva, ever producing thundering twang and always destructive of hostile hosts, and with which he had conquered, on a single car, gods and men and Nagas and swelling provinces. And the warlike Yudhishthira, that represser of foes, unfastened
the undecaying string of that bow with which he had defended the field of Kurukshstra. And the illustrious Bhimasena unstrung that bow by means of which that sinless one had vanquished in fight the Panchals and the lord of Sindhu, and with which, during his career of conquest, he had, single-handed, opposed innumerable foes, and hearing whose twang which was like unto the roar of the thunder or the splitting of a mountain, enemies always fly (in panic) from the field of battle. And that son of Pandu of coppery complexion and mild speech who is endued with great prowess in the field, and is called Nakula in consequence of his unexampled beauty in the family, then unfastened the string of that bow with which he had conquered all the regions of the west. And the heroic Sahadeva also, possessed of a mild disposition, then united the string of that bow with which he had subjugated the countries of the south. And with their bows, they put together their long and flashing swords, their precious quivers, and their arrows sharp as razors. And Nakula ascended the tree, and deposited on it the bows and the other weapons. And he tied them fast on those parts of the tree which he thought would not break, and where the rain would not penetrate. And the Pandavas hung up a corpse (on the tree), knowing that people smelling the stench of the corpse would say--here sure, is a dead body, and avoid the tree from a distance. And on being asked by the shepherds and cowherds regarding the corpse, those repressers of foes said unto them, 'This is our mother, aged one hundred and eighty years. We have hung up her dead body, in accordance with the custom observed by our forefathers.' And then those resisters of foes approached the city. And for purposes of non-discovery Yudhisthira kept these (five) names for himself and his brothers respectively, viz., Jaya, Jayanta, Vijaya, Jayatsena, and Jayatvala. Then they entered the great city, with the view to passing the thirteenth year undiscovered in that kingdom, agreeably to the promise (to Duryodhana)."
Next: Section VI