The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Living in such disguise, those mighty warriors, the sons of Pritha, passed ten months in Matsya's city. And, O monarch, although herself deserving to be waited upon by others, the daughter of Yajnasena, O Janamejaya, passed her days in extreme misery, waiting upon Sudeshna. And residing thus in Sudeshna's apartments, the princess of Panchala pleased that lady as also the other females of the inner apartments. And it came to pass that as the year was about to expire, the redoubtable Kichaka, the Commander of Virata's forces, chanced to behold the daughter of Drupada. And beholding that lady endued with the splendour of a daughter of the celestials, treading the earth like a goddess, Kichaka, afflicted with the shafts of Kama, desired to possess her. And burning with desire's flame, Virata's general came to Sudeshna (his sister) and smilingly addressed her in these words, 'This beauteous lady had never before been seen by me in king Virata's abode. This damsel maddens me with her beauty, even as a new wine maddens one with its fragrance. Tell me, who is this graceful and captivating lady possessed of the beauty of a goddess, and whose she is, and whence she hath come. Surely, grinding my heart she hath reduced me to subjection. It seems to me that (save her) there is no other medicine for my illness. O, this fair hand-maid of thine seemeth to me to be possessed of the beauty of a goddess. Surely, one like her is ill suited to serve thee. Let her rule over me and whatever is mine. O, let her grace my spacious and beautiful palace, decked with various ornaments of gold, full of viands and drinks in profusion, with excellent plates, and containing every kind of plenty, besides elephants and horses and cars in myriads. And having consulted with Sudeshna thus, Kichaka went to princess Draupadi, and like a jackal in the forest accosting a lioness, spoke unto Krishna these words in a winning voice, 'Who and whose art thou, O beautiful one? And O thou of beautiful face, whence hast thou come to the city of Virata? Tell me all this, O fair lady. Thy beauty and gracefulness are of the very first order and the comeliness of thy features is unparalleled. With its loveliness thy face shineth ever
like the resplendent moon. O thou of fair eye-brows, thy eyes are beautiful and large like lotus-petals. Thy speech also, O thou of beautiful limbs, resembles the notes of the cuckoo. O thou of fair hips, never before in this world have I beheld a woman possessed of beauty like thine, O thou of faultless features. Art thou Lakshmi herself having her abode in the midst of lotuses or, art thou, O slender-waisted one, she who is called Bhuti 1. Or, which amongst these--Hri, Sri, Kirti and Kanti,--art thou, O thou of beautiful face? Or possessed of beauty like Rati's, art thou, she who sporteth in the embraces of the God of love? O thou that possessest the fairest of eye-brows, thou shinest beautifully even like the lovely light of the moon. Who is there in the whole world that will not succumb to the influence of desire beholding thy face? Endued with unrivalled beauty and celestial grace of the most attractive kind, that face of thine is even like the full moon, its celestial effulgence resembling his radiant face, its smile resembling his soft-light, and its eye-lashes looking like the spokes on his disc? Both thy bosoms, so beautiful and well-developed and endued with unrivalled gracefulness and deep and well-rounded and without any space between them, are certainly worthy of being decked with garlands of gold. Resembling in shape the beautiful buds of the lotus, these thy breast, O thou of fair eye-brows, are even as the whips of Kama that are urging me forward, O thou of sweet smiles, O damsel of slender waist, beholding that waist of thine marked with four wrinkles and measuring but a span, and slightly stooping forward because of the weight of thy breasts, and also looking on those graceful hips of thine broad as the banks of a river, the incurable fever of desire, O beauteous lady, afflicteth me sore. The flaming fire of desire, fierce as a forest conflagration, and fanned by the hope my heart cherisheth of a union with thee is consuming me intensely. O thou of exceeding beauty quench thou that flaming fire kindled by Manmatha. Union with thee is a rain-charged cloud, and the surrender of thy person is the shower that the cloud may drop. O thou of face resembling the moon, the fierce and maddening shafts of Manmatha whetted and sharpened by the desire of a union with thee, piercing this heart of mine in their impetuous course, have penetrated into its core. O black-eyed lady, those impetuous and cruel shafts are maddening me beyond endurance. It behoveth thee to relieve me from this plight by surrendering thyself to me and favouring me with thy embraces. Decked in beautiful garlands and robes and adorned with every ornament, sport thou, O sweet damsel, with me to thy fill. O thou of the gait of an elephant in rut, deserving as thou art of happiness though deprived of it now, it behoveth thee not to dwell here in misery. Let unrivalled weal be thine. Drinking various kinds of charming and delicious and ambrosial wines, and sporting at
thy pleasure in the enjoyment of diverse objects of delight, do thou, O blessed lady, attain auspicious prosperity. This beauty of thine and this prime of thy youth, O sweet lady, are now without their use. For, O beauteous and chaste damsel, endued with such loveliness, thou dost not shine, like a graceful garland lying unused and unworn. I will forsake all my old wives. Let them, O thou of sweet smiles, become thy slaves. And I also, O fair damsel, will stay by thee as thy slave, ever obedient to thee, O thou of the most handsome face.' Hearing these words of his, Draupadi replied, 'In desiring me, a female servant of low extraction, employed in the despicable office of dressing hair, O Suta's son, thou desirest one that deserves not that honour. Then, again, I am the wife of others. Therefore, good betide thee, this conduct of thine is not proper. Do thou remember the precept of morality, viz., that persons should take delight only in their wedded wives. Thou shouldst not, therefore, by any means bend thy heart to adultery. Surely abstaining from improper acts is ever the study of those that are good. Overcome by ignorance sinful men under the influence of desire come by either extreme infamy or dreadful calamity.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by the Sairindhri, the wicked Kichaka losing control over his senses and overcome by lust, although aware of the numerous evils of fornication, evils condemned by everybody and sometimes leading to the destruction of life itself,--then spoke unto Draupadi, 'It behoveth thee not, O beauteous lady, O thou of graceful features, thus to disregard me who am, O thou of sweet smiles, under the power of Manmatha on thy account. If now, O timid one, thou disregardest me who am under thy influence and who speak to thee so fair, thou wilt, O black-eyed damsel, have to repent for it afterwards. O thou of graceful eye-brows, the real lord of this entire kingdom, O slender-waisted lady, is myself. It is me depending upon whom the people of this realm live. In energy and prowess I am unrivalled on earth. There is no other man on earth who rivals me in beauty of person, in youth, in prosperity, and in the possession of excellent objects of enjoyment. Why it is, O auspicious lady, that having it in thy power to enjoy here every object of desire and every luxury and comfort without its equal, thou preferest servitude. Becoming the mistress of this kingdom which I shall confer on thee, O thou of fair face, accept me, and enjoy, O beauteous one, all excellent objects of desire.' Addressed in these accursed words by Kichaka, that chaste daughter of Drupada answered him thus reprovingly, 'Do not, O son of a Suta, act so foolishly and do not throw away thy life. Know that I am protected by my five husbands. Thou canst not have me. I have Gandharvas for my husbands. Enraged they will slay thee. Therefore, do thou not bring destruction on thyself. Thou intendest to tread along a path that is incapable of being trod by men. Thou, O wicked one, art even like a foolish child that standing on one shore of the ocean intends to cross over to the other. Even if thou enterest into the interior of the earth,
or soarest into the sky, or rushest to the other shore of the ocean, still thou wilt have no escape from the hands of those sky-ranging offspring of gods, capable of grinding all foes. Why dost thou today, O Kichaka, solicit me so persistently even as a sick person wisheth for the night that will put a stop to his existence? Why dost thou desire me, even like an infant lying on its mother's lap wishing to catch the moon? For thee that thus solicitest their beloved wife, there is no refuge either on earth or in sky. O Kichaka, hast thou no sense which leads thee to seek thy good and by which thy life may be saved?'"
24:1 Bhuti, Hri, Sri, Kirti and Kanti are respectively the feminine embodiments of Prosperity, Modesty, Beauty, Fame and Loveliness.
Next: Section XV