The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then clad in a cowherd's dress, and speaking the dialect of cowherds, Sahadeva came to the cowpen of Virata's city. And beholding that bull among men, who was shining in splendour, the king was struck with amazement. And he directed his men to summon Sahadeva. And when the latter came, the king addressed him, saying, 'To whom dost thou belong? And whence dost thou come? And what work dost thou seek? I have never seen thee before. O bull among men, tell me truly about thee.'
'Having come before the king that afflicter of foes, Sahadeva answered in accents deep as the roar of the cloud, 'I am a Vaisya, Arishtanemi by name. I was employed as a cowherd in the service of those bulls of the Kuru race, the sons of Pandu. O foremost of men, I intend now to live beside thee, for I do not know where those lions among kings, the sons of Pritha, are. I cannot live without service, and, O king, I do not like to enter into the service of anyone else save thee.'
"Hearing these words, Virata said, 'Thou must either be a Brahmana or a Kshatriya. Thou lookest as if thou wert the lord of the entire earth
surrounded by the sea. Tell me truly, O thou that mowest down thy foes. The office of a Vaisya is not fit for thee. Tell me from the dominions of what king thou comest, and what thou knowest, and in what capacity thou wouldst remain with us, and also what pay thou wouldst accept.'
"Sahadeva answered, 'Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five sons of Pandu, had one division of kine numbering eight hundred and ten thousand, and another, ten thousand, and another, again, twenty thousand, and so on. I was employed in keeping those cattle. People used to call me Tantripala. I know the present, the past, and the future of all kine living within ten Yojanas, and whose tale has been taken. My merits were known to that illustrious one, and the Kuru king Yudhishthira was well-pleased with me. I am also acquainted with the means which aid kine in multiplying within a short time, and by which they may enjoy immunity from disease. Also these arts are known to me. I can also single out bulls having auspicious marks for which they are worshipped by men, and by smelling whose urine, the barren may conceive.'
"Virata said, 'I have a hundred thousand kine divided into distinct herds. All those together with their keepers, I place in thy charge. Henceforth my beasts will be in thy keep.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then, O king, undiscovered by that monarch, that lord of men, Sahadeva, maintained by Virata, began to live happily. Nor did anyone else (besides his brothers) recognise him.'"
Next: Section XI