The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "Then tying up in his cloth dice made of gold and set with lapis lazuli, and holding them below his arm-pit, king Yudhishthira,--that illustrious lord of men--that high-souled perpetuator of the Kuru race, regarded by kings, irrepressible in might, and like unto a snake of virulent poison,--that bull among men, endued with strength and beauty and prowess, and possessed of greatness, and resembling in form a celestial though now like unto the sun enveloped in dense clouds, or fire covered with ashes, first made his appearance when the famous king Virata was seated in his court. And beholding with his followers that son of Pandu in his court, looking like the moon hid in clouds and possessed of a face beautiful as the full moon, king Virata addressed his counsellors and the twice-born ones and the charioteers and the Vaisyas and others, saying, "Enquire ye who it is, so like a king that looketh on my court for the first time. He cannot be a Brahmana. Methinks he is a man of men, and a lord of earth. He hath neither slaves, nor cars, nor elephants with him, yet he shineth like the very Indra. The marks on his person indicate him to be one whose coronal locks have undergone the sacred investiture. Even this is my belief. He approacheth me without any hesitation, even as an elephant in rut approacheth an assemblage of lotuses!'
"And as the king was indulging in these thoughts, that bull among men, Yudhishthira, came before Virata and addressed him, saying, 'O great king, know me for a Brahmana who, having lost his all hath come to thee for the means of subsistence. I desire, O sinless one, to live here beside thee acting under thy commands, 1 O lord. The king then, well-pleased, replied unto him saying, 'Thou art welcome. Do thou then accept the appointment thou seekest!' And having appointed the lion among kings in the post he had prayed for, king Virata addressed him with a glad heart, saying, 'O child, I ask thee from affection, from the dominions of what king dost thou come hither? Tell me also truly what is thy name and family, and what thou hast a knowledge of.'"
Yudhishthira said, "My name is Kanka, and I am a Brahmana belonging to the family known by the name of Vaiyaghra. I am skilled in casting dice, and formerly I was a friend of Yudhishthira."
Virata replied, "I will grant thee whatever boon thou mayst desire. Do thou rule the Matsyas.--I shall remain in submission to thee. Even cunning gamblers are liked by me. Thou, on the other hand, art like a god, and deservest a kingdom."
Yudhishthira said, "My first prayer, O lord of earth, is that I may not be involved in any dispute (on account of dice) with low people.
[paragraph continues] Further, a person defeated by me (at dice) shall not be permitted to retain the wealth (won by me). Let this boon be granted to me through thy grace."
Virata replied, "I shall certainly slay him who may happen to displease thee, and should be one of the twice-born ones, I shall banish him from my dominions. Let the assembled subjects listen! Kanka is as much lord of this realm as I myself, Thou (Kanka) shalt be my friend and shalt ride the same vehicles as I. And there shall also be at thy disposal apparel in plenty, and various kinds of viands and drinks. And thou shalt look into my affairs, both internal and external. And for thee all my doors shall be open. When men out of employ or of strained circumstances will apply to thee, do thou at all hours bring their words unto me, and I will surely give them whatever they desire. No fear shall be thine as long as thou residest with me."
Vaisampayana said, "Having thus obtained an interview with Virata's king, and received from him boons, that heroic bull among men, began to live happily, highly regarded by all. Nor could any one discover him as he lived there."
13:1 Kamachara is explained by Nilakantha thus, although in other places it bears a quite different meaning.
Next: Section VIII