The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Having speedily recovered his wealth Virata owning a large army entered his city with a cheerful heart, accompanied by the four Pandavas. And having vanquished the Trigartas in battle and
recovered all the kine, that mighty monarch, along with the sons of Pritha, looked resplendent and blazed forth in beauty. And as the brave king, that enhancer of the joys of friends, was seated on his throne, all his subjects headed by the Brahmanas stood before him. And worshipped by them, the king of the Matsyas, at the head of his army, saluted the Brahmanas and his subjects in return and dismissed them cheerfully. And Virata, the king of the Matsyas owning a large army, enquired after Uttara, saying, 'Where hath Uttara gone?' And the women and the maidens of the palace and the other females living in the inner apartments joyfully said unto him, 'Our kine having been seized by the Kurus, Bhuminjaya incensed at this and from excess of bravery hath issued forth alone with only Vrihannala as his second, for vanquishing the six mighty car-warriors, Bhishma the son of Santanu, and Kripa, and Karna, and Duryodhana, and Drona, and Drona's son who have all come with the Kuru army.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then king Virata, hearing that his brave son had gone forth with only one car and with Vrihannala as his car-driver, became filled with grief, and addressing his chief counsellors, said, 'Without doubt, the Kauravas and other lords of earth, learning the defeat of the Trigartas, will never keep their ground. Therefore, let those of my warriors that have not been wounded by the Trigartas go out, accompanied by a mighty force, for the protection of Uttara.' And saying this, the king speedily despatched, for the sake of his son, horses and elephants and cars and a large number of foot-soldiers, equipped and decked with various kinds of weapons and ornaments. And it was thus that Virata, the king of the Matsyas, owning a large army, quickly ordered out a large division consisting of four kinds of troops. And having done this, he said, 'Learn ye, without loss of time whether the prince liveth still or not! I myself think that he who hath got a person of the neuter sex for his car-driver is not alive.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then king Yudhishthira the just, smilingly said unto the afflicted king Virata, 'If, O monarch, Vrihannala hath been his charioteer, the foe will never be able to take away thy kine today. Protected by that charioteer, thy son will be able to vanquish in battle all the lords of earth allied with the Kurus, indeed, even the gods and the Asuras and the Siddhas and the Yakshas together.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Meanwhile, the swift-footed messengers despatched by Uttara, having reached Virata's city, gave tidings of the victory. And the minister-in-chief then informed the king of everything, viz., the great victory that had been won, the defeat of the Kurus, and the expected arrival of Uttara. And he said, 'All the kine have been brought back, the Kurus have been defeated, and Uttara, that slayer of foes, is well with his car-driver.' Then Yudhishthira said, 'By good luck it is that the kine have been recovered and the Kurus routed. I do not, however, regard it strange that thy son should have vanquished the Kurus, for his victory is assured that hath Vrihannala for his charioteer.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing of the victory of his son possessed of immeasurable might, king Virata became so glad that the bristles of his body stood erect. And having made presents of raiments unto the messengers, he ordered his ministers, saying, 'Let the highways be decorated with flags, and let all the gods and goddesses be worshipped with flowery offerings. And let princes and brave warriors, and musicians and harlots decked in ornaments, march out to receive my son. And let the bellman, speedily riding an intoxicated elephant, proclaim my victory at places where four roads meet. And let Uttara, too, in gorgeous attire and surrounded by virgins and chanters of eulogies, go forth to receive my son.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having listened to these words of the king, all the citizens with auspicious things in hand, and many amongst them with cymbals and trumpets and conchs, and beautiful women attired in gorgeous robes, and reciters of auspicious and sacred hymns, accompanied by encomiasts and minstrels, and drummers and other kinds of musicians issued forth from the city of the mighty Virata to welcome Uttara of immeasurable prowess. And having despatched troops and maidens and courtezens decked in ornaments, the wise king of the Matsyas cheerfully said these words, 'O Sairindhri, fetch the dice. And, O Kanka, let the play commence.' The son of Pandu replied, saying, 'We have heard it said that one whose heart is filled with joy should not play with a cunning gambler. I do not therefore, dare gamble with thee that are so transported with joy. I am ever desirous of doing what is for thy good. Let the play, however, commence if it pleases thee.'
"Virata said, 'My female slaves and kine, my gold and whatsoever other wealth I have, nothing of all this shall thou be able to protect today even if I do not gamble.' Kanka said in reply, 'O monarch, O bestower of honours, what business hast thou with gamble which is attended with numerous evils? Gambling is fraught with many evils; it should, therefore, be shunned. Thou mayst have seen or at least heard of Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu. He lost his extensive and prosperous kingdom and his god-like brothers at dice. For this, I am averse to gambling. But if thou likest, O king, I will play.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'While the play was going on, Matsya said unto the son of Pandu, 'Lo, the Kauravas that are so formidable have been vanquished in battle by my son.' Upon this, the illustrious king Yudhishthira said, 'Why should not he conquer that hath Vrihannala for his charioteer?'
'Thus addressed, King Matsya became angry and said unto Pandu's son, 'Thou wretch of a Brahmana, dost thou compare one of the neuter sex with my son! Hast thou no knowledge of what is proper and what improper for one to say? Without doubt, thou disregardest me. Why should not my son vanquish all those with Bhishma and Drona as their leaders? O Brahmana, for friendship only I pardon thee this thy offence.
[paragraph continues] Thou must not, however, say so again if thou wishest to live.'
"Yudhishthira said, 'There where Bhishma and Drona and Drona's son and the son of Vikartana and Kripa and king Duryodhana and other royal and mighty car-warriors are assembled or there where Indra himself is surrounded by the Maruts, what other person than Vrihannala can fight, encountering them all! None hath been, none will be, his equal in strength of arms! Indeed, it is Vrihannala only whose heart is filled with joy at sight of a terrible conflict. It is he who had vanquished the celestials and the Asuras and human beings fighting together. With such a one for his ally, why should not thy son conquer the foe? Virata said, 'Repeatedly forbidden by me, thou dost not yet restrain thy tongue. If there is none to punish, no one would practise virtue.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Saying this, the king inflamed with anger forcibly struck Yudhishthira in the face with a dice, and reproached him angrily, saying, 'Let it not occur again! And having been violently struck, blood began to flow from his nose. But the son of Pritha held it in his hands before it fell on the ground. And the virtuous Yudhishthira then glanced at Draupadi who was standing by his side. Ever obedient to the wishes of her lord, the faultless Draupadi, understanding his meaning, and bringing a golden vessel filled with water, received the blood that flowed from his nose. Meanwhile; Uttara, entertained with sweet perfumes of diverse kinds and decked with floral chaplets, slowly entered the city, received with respect by the citizens, the women, and the people of the provinces. And approaching the gate of the palace he sent the news of his arrival to his father. And the porter then, approaching the king, said, 'Thy son Uttara, waiteth at the gate with Vrihannala as his companion.' And the Matsya king, with a cheerful heart, said unto him, 'Do thou usher both, as I am very anxious to see them.' Then Yudhishthira, the king of t e Kurus, gently whispered unto the ears of the warder, 'Let Uttara enter alone; Vrihannala must not come in. Such is the vow of that hero of mighty arms that whoever causeth a wound on my person or sheddeth my blood except in battle, shall not live. Inflamed with rage he will never bear patiently to see me bleeding, but will slay Virata even now with his counsellors and troops and steeds.'"
Next: Section LXVIII