The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Next appeared at the gate of the ramparts another person of enormous size and exquisite beauty decked in the ornaments of women, and wearing large ear-rings and beautiful conch-bracelets overlaid with gold. And that mighty-armed individual with long and abundant hair floating about his neck, resembled an elephant in gait. And shaking the very earth with his tread, he approached Virata and stood in his court. And beholding the son of the great Indra, shining with exquisite lustre and having the gait of a mighty elephant,--that grinder of foes having his true form concealed in disguise, entering the council-hall and advancing towards the monarch, the king addressed all his courtiers, saying, 'Whence doth this person come? I have never heard of him before.' And when the men present spoke of the newcomer as one unknown to them, the king wonderingly said, 'Possessed of great strength, thou art like unto a celestial, and young and of darkish hue, thou resemblest the leader of a herd of elephants. Wearing conch-bracelets overlaid with gold, a braid, and ear-rings, thou shinest yet like one
amongst those that riding on chariots wander about equipped with mail and bow and arrows and decked with garlands and fine hair. I am old and desirous of relinquishing my burden. Be thou like my son, or rule thou like myself all the Matsyas. It seemeth to me that such a person as thou can never be of the neuter sex.'
"Arjuna said, 'I sing, dance, and play on instruments. I am proficient in dance and skilled in song. O lord of men, assign me unto (the princess) Uttara. I shall be dancing-master to the royal maiden. As to how I have come by this form, what will it avail thee to hear the account which will only augment my pain? Know me, O king of men, to be Vrihannala, a son or daughter without father or mother.'
"Virata said, 'O Vrihannala, I give thee what thou desirest. Instruct my daughter, and those like her, in dancing. To me, however, this office seemeth unworthy of thee. Thou deserves! (the dominion of) the entire earth girt round by the ocean.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The king of the Matsyas then tested Vrihannala in dancing, music, and other fine arts, and consulting with his various ministers forthwith caused him to be examined by women. And learning that this impotency was of a permanent nature, he sent him to the maiden's apartments. And there the mighty Arjuna began giving lessons in singing and instrumental music to the daughter of Virata, her friends, and her waiting-maids, and soon won their good graces. And in this manner the self-possessed Arjuna lived there in disguise, partaking of pleasures in their company, and unknown to the people within or without the palace.'"
Next: Section XII