by Carole Losee © 2005-2020

Elizabeth Seeger’s The Five Sons of King Pandu: The Story of the Mahabharata


CHAPTER NINE

IN THE FOREST – 2

 

Krishna's Visit

When Arjuna, that prince among heroes, had returned from the abode of Indra, the Pándavas stayed in the forests of that beautiful mountain, caring nothing for wealth or fame. Now that they were together, their lives passed so happily that they spent four years there as if a single night had gone by. These four years , with the six that had passed before Arjuna's return, made ten years that they had spent in exile.

One day Bhima, the fierce son of the Wind-God, with Arjuna and the heroic twins, seated himself before Yudhistra and said, "We have stayed in exile, O king, only out of obedience to you and for the sake of your honor and good sense. Otherwise we should have slain Duryodha and all his followers long ago. This is the eleventh year that we have ranged this woods, robbed of our kingdom. Our enemies no longer fear us; therefore we shall surely be able to live out the thirteenth year undiscovered. Then we shall have our revenge on that most hateful of men, Duryodha; then we shall slay him and regain our kingdom. Now, O just King, let us return to the world, for if we live much longer in this place that is so like heaven, we shall forget our sorrows, and your fame will vanish from the earth, as a fragrant flower withers."

Yudhistra listened to his brothers and did as they desired. They left that splendid peak and sought out the path by which they had come. As they started down, the holy sage bade them farewell, counseling them as a father does his sons, and then left them to return to his abode in heaven. Those heroes went down the steep and rocky road until they reached the foothills and came again to the kingdom of huntsmen and horsemen where they had left their chariots and their attendants. They were welcomed joyfully by the king and by their servants and remained for a while in that pleasant kingdom. Then they mounted their chariots and drove back to the Kámyaka forest, where they had dwelt before Arjuna left them, and they stayed there for the twelfth year of their exile, spending their days in hunting.

They passed the hot season in those cool woods, and then the rainy season came, which ends the heat and is delightful to all living things. Hundreds of black clouds, like domes built up into the sky, thundered and poured down rain day and night without ceasing; the sun disappeared and the stainless lightning took its place. The earth was washed with rain and overgrown with grass; the rivers overflowed, hissing like serpents. Boars and stags, birds and insects, excited frogs and snakes, all welcomed with joy that happy season of rain.

Then the autumn came, with throngs of geese and cranes; the river water turned clear and was covered with lilies and lotuses. The nights were free of dust, cool with clouds, and beautiful with myriads of stars, the planets, and the moon. The season was joyous and pleasant for the sons of Pandu, who roved by the rivers and in the woods, wielding their powerful bows.

During that autumn season, Krishna and his beloved wife came to see them. They alighted from their chariots and saluted the Pándavas and were joyfully welcomed. Krishna, when he saw at last his dear friend Arjuna after such a long absence, clasped him in his arms again and again, while his wife embraced the princess of Panchala. Then Krishna and the sons of Pandu talked together for a long time, while Dráupadi and her friend, seated at ease in the hermitage, laughed happily together and told each other all that had happened to both their families.

"O Dráupadi," said the wife of Krishna, "do not be anxious and do not grieve. Do not lie sleepless at night, for you will surely rule the earth again with your godlike husbands. Your brave sons are well and have become skillful in arms. They are living with us, and Subadra cares for them as if they were her own sons. She makes no difference between them and Abimanyu, but delights in them all, grieving in their griefs and rejoicing in their joys. They are beloved by everyone and take the greatest delight in the science of arms and in horsemanship.

"Tell me now, O daughter of Panchala, how is it that you rule the sons of Pandu, those heroes who are as strong and beautiful as gods? How is it that they are so obedient to you, so anxious to do your bidding and are never angry with you? Do you use spells or drugs to keep their love, or is it because you always look so young and beautiful? Tell me how I, too, may keep Krishna ever obedient to me,"

"How can I answer such a question, noble lady?" Dráupadi replied. "Only a wicked woman uses spells or drugs to keep her husband's love. If a man knows that a wife uses such things, he fears her as he would a serpent hidden in his bedchamber. How can a man who is troubled with fear have peace, and how can one who has no peace be happy?

"Hear now, O beautiful one, how I behave toward the high-souled sons of Pandu, those heroes who can slay their foes with a glance. My heart desires no others, whether they be gods, men or Gandharvas. I serve the sons of Kunti with deep devotion and humility. I never bathe or eat or sleep until they have bathed or eaten or slept, until, indeed, our servants have bathed and eaten and slept. I rise and greet each of my husbands when he comes in from the field, the forest, or the town, and offer him a seat and water to wash his feet. I keep the house and all within the house well ordered and clean and serve the food at the proper time. I never speak angrily or fretfully; I am never idle; I do not laugh without reason, and I never linger at the door of any dwelling.

"Formerly many Brahmans lived in Yudhistra's palace in Indra Prastha, and I honored those Brahmans every day with food, drink and clothing taken from the storehouses. There were hundreds of maidservants, adorned with jewels and gold, skilled in singing and dancing. I knew the names and faces of all those girls, what they ate and what they wore and what they did. The son of Kunti had hundreds of serving-men who used to feed his guests every day with plates of gold in their hands; hundred more who took care of the horses and elephants that followed in his train when he ruled the earth. But it was I, O lady, who knew their number, planned their work and listened to all complaints about them. Indeed, I knew everything that all the attendants of the palace did, down to the shepherds and the cowherds. I alone knew how much wealth my husbands possessed and how much of it was spent on the management and the protection of the great kingdom with its hundreds of thousands of citizens. While my husbands were busy with their duties, I took charge of their treasury, which was as deep and unbounded as the ocean. This burden, so heavy for anyone of idle mind, I bore day and night, sacrificing my ease and comfort, I awoke first and went last to bed, devotedly serving the sons of Kunti.

"This, O lovely one, has been the charm that has kept my husbands obedient to me; this is the art that I have always practiced in order to keep their love!"

Krishna's wife listened to these excellent words and touched the feet of Dráupadi, saying, "O princess, forgive me for my light words; I spoke in jest, as one friend to another."

"Adore your husband Krishna," said Dráupadi, smiling, "with love and friendship and sacrifice, so that he may think 'She loves me truly with all her heart.' Serve him; even when he commands a serving-woman to do something, rise up and do it yourself. And make yourself beautiful for him with fresh garlands and jewels, anointing yourself with fragrant perfumes."

 

The Sage's Stories

After these friends had left, there came to the hermitage a great saint who had lived for many thousands of years, yet his life was so holy that he looked like a young man of twenty-five years.

As he sat among them like a friend, Yudhistra said to him, "O deathless one, all of us who are assembled here long to hear your most excellent words. You have seen thousands of ages pass away and have seen with your own eyes the act of creation. You have beheld God himself with the eyes of your soul when you opened your pure and lotus-like heart to him; therefore you are deathless. When the sun and the moon pass away and God sleeps, you will still be there to worship him. Tell us stories of bygone times and teach us how kings and saints and women should behave."

The saint stayed for many months in that hermitage, delighting the hearts of the sons of Pandu with stories of gods and heroes and sages. He comforted them for their misfortunes, telling them the story of Rama, the heroic king of Ayodhya, who was also banished to the forest for fourteen years and then returned victorious to his kingdom. He gave them wise counsel about the duties of kings and warriors and told them the following tale:

"There was once a king so wise and virtuous that Indra and Agni decided that they would go down to earth to test his goodness. So Agni took the form of a pigeon, and Indra pursued him in the form of a hawk, and that pigeon fell upon the lap of the king as he sat on his throne, 'Save me, O King,' it said to him. 'Do not yield me up to the talons of the hawk! The highest duty of a king is to protect his subjects. Therefore save my life!'

"Then the hawk, clinging to the royal throne, spoke to the king, 'It is not right, O King, for you to keep from me the food that God has given me. If I have no food I shall surely die and then my wife and children will perish. If you protect this pigeon you will destroy many lives. This is not virtue, O King!'

"'Has any man ever heard birds speak as these do?' the king said, wondering. 'How can I act rightly, having heard them both? One who gives up a frightened creature that seeks his protection will never live in heaven. On the other hand, one who refuses food to the hungry is also doomed. O hawk, you shall have a bull cooked with rice, instead of this pigeon, and abundant food shall be carried to the place where you live!'

"'I do not desire a bull, great King,' answered the hawk, 'or any other food except this pigeon whom God gave me today for my prey.'

"' O ranger of the skies,' said the king. 'I will bestow upon you a rich province of my kingdom or any other thing that you desire, except this one pigeon that had come to me for protection. Tell me what you will take in exchange for him.'

" The hawk said, 'If you really care so much for this bird, O mighty ruler of men, cut off a piece of your own flesh and weigh it in a balance against this pigeon. If you will give me a piece of your flesh that equals the pigeon in weight, I shall be satisfied.'

"'You have done me a favor,' answered the king.

"Then the good monarch cut off a piece of his own flesh and placed it on one of the scales of a balance, putting the pigeon on the other scale. The pigeon, however, outweighed the piece of flesh, so he cut off another piece and still another and another but the pigeon was always heavier. At last the king himself mounted the balance cheerfully, willing to sacrifice himself in order to save the frightened bird.

"When the hawk saw this, he cried, 'Stay, O noble King! I am Indra, the wielder of the thunderbolt, and the pigeon is Agni, the smoke-bannered God of Fire. We came to test you and we are satisfied. Behold, these gashes in your body, where you cut off your flesh, shall be made the color of gold and shall give out a sweet fragrance. Your glory shall be known to all the earth, O King, and you shall dwell in the blessed regions after your death.' Speaking thus, Indra and Agni ascended into heaven, and the king, after filling heaven and earth with his good deeds, went to the regions of the blessed."

He told them about the creation of this universe and of many things that had happened long ages ago to the earth on which they lived.

"O King, foremost of men, there was once a powerful saint named Manu, who practiced severe and rigid discipline for many thousands of years in a forest by the side of a river.

"One day a fish came to the bank of the river and said to him, 'Worshipful sir, I am a helpless little fish and I am very much afraid of the big fishes, because it is the custom for the large ones to prey upon the small. O holy one, I hope that you will find it worth your while to protect me. I will reward you for your kindness.'

"Manu was filled with pity on hearing these words; he took the little fish, whose body gleamed like a moonbeam, and put it in a water jug. He tended it carefully, as if it were a child, and it soon grew so big that there was no room for it in the jug. So he took it out and put it in a pond and the fish lived there for a year, until it became so large that it could no longer play about in the pool.

"It saw Manu one day and said to him, 'O holy and adorable father, pray take me to the Ganges, that favorite wife of the Ocean, so that I may live there.' And Manu took it and put it into the river with his own hands and there it grew still more, until even the Ganges could not contain it.

"Then it said to Manu, 'Master, I can no longer move about in this river because of my great size. I beg you to take me quickly to the sea!'

"So Manu took it out of the river, and in spite of its great size he carried it to the sea and threw it in. Then the fish turned to him with a smile and said, 'Listen carefully to me, O sinless one. The time for the cleansing of the world is at hand. A fearful flood will overwhelm the earth and all creatures moving and unmoving will be destroyed. You must build a strong and massive boat and fasten to it a long rope that cannot break. When the water begins to rise you must get into it and take with you all the seeds that grow upon the earth and keep them carefully. Then wait for me, for without my help you cannot escape death. I shall appear to you with horns on my head and so you shall recognize me'

"And Manu said, 'I believe all that you say, O mighty one, and I shall obey you.'

"Then Manu built the boat and gathered all the seeds that grew on the earth. The waters began to rise and he entered the boat and set sail upon the surging sea. He thought of the fish, and immediately it appeared to him, like a rock in the midst of the ocean. He saw that it had horns upon its head, so he tied a rope into the noose and threw it round the head of the fish, which towed the boat with great strength through the roaring, tossing sea. Nothing but water, could be seen, and the boat reeled like a drunken man while the fish, for many days, towed it powerfully and patiently toward the highest peak of the Himalayas. There the fish told Manu to tie his boat to that peak--which is still called the Harbor--and Manu obeyed.

"Then it said to him, 'I am the Creator of all things; there is none greater than I. I have taken this form to save you from the flood. Now you must create again all beings--gods, men, and demons--and plant again all the seeds that you have brought with you. You can do this because of your spiritual power and because you have my blessing.' So saying, the fish vanished; and there, upon that mountain peak, Manu began to create all things in their proper order.

"This is the legend of the Fish, and he who meditates upon it may be cleansed of all his sin."

So with many tales and much wise talk the Pándavas spent their last year in the forest.

 

The Riddles of the Crane

One day, toward the end of that year, a deer wandered into the clearing where the hermitage stood, and while it was butting its head about there, it chanced to catch in its antlers two sticks with which a Brahman made his fire by rubbing them together until a spark appeared. Thereupon the deer bounded swiftly away, carrying the sticks with it. Now the Brahman offered his daily sacrifice to Agni, God of Fire, with those two sticks, so he ran to the Pándavas and told them what had happened, begging them to follow the deer and to bring back his fire sticks, so that his sacrifice might not be hindered. They took up their bows and started out at once, and seeing the deer at no great distance, they shot barbed arrows and javelins at it but could not pierce it. They pursued it into the deep woods and at last lost sight of it. Tired and disappointed, hungry and thirsty, they sat down in the cool shade of a banyon tree, wondering why such mighty warriors and bowmen as they were should have failed to track down and kill this one deer.

Yudhistra said to Nákula, "O son of Madri, climb this tree and see whether there is any water near us, for all your brothers are tired and suffer from thirst."

Nákula speedily climbed the tree and said, "I see trees that grow on watery ground and I hear the cries of cranes; therefore water must be near."

"Fetch water in our quivers, O kind one," said Yudhistra.

Nákula ran off and soon came to a crystal lake where many cranes were standing. He stooped to drink when a voice said to him, "O child, do not be rash! This lake is mine. Answer my questions first and then drink and take all the water that you desire." But Nákula was very thirsty; he paid no heed to these words and drank the cool water. No sooner had he drank it than he fell down dead.

When Nákula did not return, Yudhistra sent Sadeva to find him and to bring the water, and Sadeva came to the lake and found his twin brother lying dead on the ground. He was torn with grief at the sight, but also very thirsty; so he stooped to drink, and as he did so he heard the same voice saying, "O son of Madri, do not be rash! This lake is mine. First answer my question and then drink and take all the water that you want." But Sadeva, too, paid no attention to the voice; he drank the water and fell dead beside his brother.

Then Yudhistra sent Arjuna to find his younger brothers, and Arjuna, with his bow in one hand and his naked sword in the other, came to the lake and found his brothers lying dead on the ground. Filled with grief and rage he raised his bow, looking round the wood for an enemy, but he saw no one. He thought, "Surely I shall have to fight, and I must first quench my thirst." And bending down to drink, he heard the same words that had been spoken to his brothers.

He leapt to his feet and cried, "Who is it that forbids me to drink? Come out of hiding! When you are pierced with my arrows you will no longer speak so insolently." And he shot his invincible shafts in all directions, even into the sky.

The voice said quietly, "Why take so much trouble, O son of Kunti? Answer my questions and then drink; for if you drink first, you shall surely die." But Arjuna was angry and did not answer; he drank and fell down dead.

The the mighty Bhima came and suffered the same fate, falling beside his brothers.

Yudhistra waited for them a long time, his heart deeply troubled. He rose up and entered the forest, listening for some human sound, but he heard only the hum of the black bees and the songs of warblers. He went on until he came to that beautiful lake, overgrown with lilies and lotuses, where he found his brothers, as glorious as gods, lying dead, with their bows and arrows strewn on the ground. He was overwhelmed with grief, and wept and lamented for them, wondering greatly who could have killed them.

"Alas," he said, "why do these unvanquished ones lie here upon the earth, their bodies unwounded? There are no marks of weapons here; no footprints on the ground. Some powerful being must have killed them, for each of them was like a mighty cataract. Who could have overthrown these four great mountains, who but Yama, the God of the Dead, who in due time takes to himself all creatures?"

He stepped down to the water in order to purify himself from the sight of death, and as he did so he heard a voice saying, "I am a crane that lives on tiny fish. It was I who sent your brothers to Yama's realm, because they drank of this water after I forbade them to do so. O prince, if you do not answer my questions before you drink, you will be the fifth to die. This lake is mine. Do not be rash, O son of Kunti!"

"I do not desire what belongs to you, O worshipful one," Yudhistra said. "You have done an exceedingly wonderful deed, for you have slain those whom neither gods not demons could face in battle. I do not know who you are or what your purpose is, but I am filled with wonder and also with fear. I shall answer your questions as best I can; therefore ask what you will!"

The crane then said, "What does not close its eyes when it sleeps? What does not move after it is born? What has no heart? What grows as it moves?"

"A fish does not close its eyes when it sleeps," answered Yudhistra. "An egg does not move after it is born. A stone has no heart. A river grows as it moves."

The crane asked, "What always travels alone? What is reborn after its birth? What god is the guest of man? What is swifter than the wind?"

Yudhistra answered, "The sun always travels alone. The moon is reborn after its birth. Agni, God of Fire, is the guest of man. Thought is swifter than the wind."

The crane asked, "What, O King, is true knowledge? What is ignorance? What is mercy and what is the highest duty?

"True knowledge is to know God," Yudhistra replied. "Ignorance is not to know one's duty. Mercy is to wish happiness to everyone. The highest duty is not to hurt any living creature."

"You have, O king of men," said the crane, "truly answered all of my questions. Therefore I shall give life to one of your brothers, whichever one you choose."

"Give life to this one who is tall as a tree, broad-chested and long of arm, O might one," Yudhistra answered after he had thought for a moment. "Give Nákula his life!"

"How can you forsake Bhima, who is as strong as a thousand elephants, and wish Nákula to live?" rejoined the crane. "How can you pass by Arjuna, on whom all the sons of Pandu depend, and wish Nákula to live? Bhima and Arjuna are so very dear to you; why, then, do you want a half brother to regain his life?"

"He who sacrifices virtue sacrifices himself also," Yudhistra said, "He who cherishes it is cherished by it in return. Therefore I always cherish virtue and never sacrifice it, lest we ourselves be sacrificed. My father had two wives, Kunti and Madri. There is no difference between them in my eyes and no difference between my brothers. But Kunti has a living son in me, and now there is not one to make offerings to Madri's spirit. Therefore give life to Nákula, her son."

"Since you know the meaning of true knowledge, duty, and mercy, O bull of the Bháratas, both in word and deed," said the crane, "I will let all your brothers live!" At these words the four brothers rose up, refreshed, their thirst and hunger gone, and they all embraced each other with great joy.

Then Yudhistra said, "O you who stand on one leg in the lake, what god are you, for surely you are no bird, O unconquerable one! Are you the lord of the gods, the wielder of the thunderbolt? Each of my brothers can slay ten thousand warriors and I know no god or man or demon who can slay so many. They are refreshed as if they had just wakened from sweet sleep. Are you a friend of ours? Are you, perchance, my father, Dharma?"

The crane vanished and in its place the mighty Dharma, the God of Justice, appeared before them, saying, "O child, I am your father, the lord of justice. I came here to test you, and I am well pleased with you. Now ask what you will of me, O foremost of kings, for I will grant whatever you desire. Those who honor me never come to harm."

"A deer carried away a Brahman's fire sticks," Yudhistra answered. "Let us find them, O exalted one, so that the Brahman's adoration of Agni may not be interrupted. This is the first boon that I ask, since for that reason we came to these woods."

"It was I, O son of Kunti," the lord of justice said, "who took the form of a deer and carried away the fire stick, so that I might test you. Behold them here! Now ask another boon!"

"We have spent twelve years in the forest," said his noble son, "and the thirteenth year has now come. Let no one discover us during that year! That is my second boon."

The worshipful one replied, "I grant this second boon: you will spend this thirteenth year secretly and unknown, in the kingdom of Virata, the ruler of the Matsyas. Ask a third boon, O King!"

"It is enough that I have beheld you with my eyes. O god of gods!" said Yudhistra, worshiping him. "May I conquer greed and folly and anger; and may my mind be ever devoted to truth and kindness!"

"Those desires are fulfilled by your own nature, O sinless one," answered the god. "May happiness and victory be yours!"

With these words he vanished from their sight. The Pándavas lay down and slept sweetly; when they awoke they returned to the hermitage and gave the Brahman his fire sticks.

 

They Plan the Thirteenth Year

Shortly after that day Yudhistra called his younger brothers and Dráupadi together and said to them, "Twelve years of our exile have now passed, and the thirteenth year, hardest of all to endure, has come. We must choose some pleasant region where we may live in secrecy, free of fear. The aged Virata, King of the Matsyas, is powerful, good, and generous. Let us spend the year in his city, serving him even as the adorable God of Justice has told us to. Tell me now, O sons of the Bháratas, how each of you can serve the king and how you will present yourselves to him."

"O god among men," Arjuna asked, "what service will you take in Virata's kingdom? It is hard for a king to bear trouble as an ordinary person does. How will you live unrecognized?"

"I shall present myself as a Brahman skilled in dice and fond of gambling," Yudhistra replied. "I shall entertain that high-souled king and his friends in his court, moving ivory men on boards of gold and silver, or throwing jeweled dice. I shall call myself by another name, and if the monarch asks me who I am, I shall say that I was formerly the intimate friend of King Yudhistra. What service will you undertake, O Bhima?"

"I shall present myself to the king of the Matsyas as a cook," said Bhima. "I can cook skillfully, and I shall make him better curries than he has ever tasted before and carry mighty loads of wood for his fires. The king will be so pleased with me that he will give me charge of all his kitchens. I shall also break powerful elephants and bulls, and if any wrestlers come to the court I shall fight them and so entertain the king. If he asks me who I am, I shall say that I was formerly the cook and wrestler of the good King Yudhistra."

"What will Arjuna do?" asked Yudhistra, "he who lived for five years in the shining halls of heaven, learning the use of all the heavenly weapons; he who is among warriors what the Himalayas are among mountains, what the ocean is among waters, and what the tiger is among the beasts?"

"O lord of earth," answered Arjuna, "it is hard to hide the scars of the bowstrings on my arms. Therefore I shall cover my arms with bangles, put brilliant rings in my ears, braid my hair, and call myself a eunuch who can teach singing and dancing to the ladies of Virata's palace. In the inner apartments I will entertain the ladies by telling them stories, and if anyone asks me whence I come, I will say that I taught music and dancing in Yudhistra's palace. Thus, O King, as fire is hidden in ashes, I will pass the year unrecognized in Virata's kingdom."

"O Nákula," Yudhistra said, "you are tender and graceful and worthy of every luxury. Tell me what you will do in the kingdom of the Matsyas."

"I shall become the keeper of King Virata's horses," answered Nákula. "Horses are very dear to me, as they are to you, O King of the Bháratas. I am skillful in training and tending them, as you know; even wild colts and mares become gentle under my hands and let me break them for riding and for drawing chariots. If anyone asks about me, I shall say that formerly I was employed by King Yudhistra and took charge of his horses. The king will give me charge of all his stables, and I shall spend my time delightfully there, where no one will look for me or recognize me."

"And you, O Sadeva," asked Yudhistra. "How will you present yourself before the king and what will you do in order to live in secrecy?"

"I shall offer myself as a cowherd, O lord of the earth." answered Sadeva, "and take charge of all the king's cattle. I often watched over your herds, for I have a special knowledge of cattle and can tame the unruly ones. I am skilled in milking and keeping count of cows and take delight in working with them. I shall say that I was once a cowherd in your kingdom."

"This beloved wife of ours," said Yudhistra, "dearer to us than our lives, has always been cherished by us and has never left our sides. Now she, too, must serve strangers and live unrecognized in Virata's city. What will she do, who is so delicate and young?"

"I shall offer myself to the queen as a serving woman skilled in dressing hair," Dráupadi replied, "and say that I served Dráupadi in Yudhistra's household. I will please her and she will cherish me; therefore do not grieve, O King!"

After they had talked thus and made their plans, they sought the advice of their priest. They decided together that he should return to Panchala, taking the holy fire with him so that he could continue their daily sacrifices; the maidservants and the cooks were to go with him, too, while the empty chariots were to be taken to Krishna; and all the servants were to say, "We do not know where the Pándavas have gone. They left us in the Kámyaka forest." Then the priest blessed them and performed the ceremonies of departure, and they saluted him and the other Brahmans in the hermitage, taking their leave of all. They girded on their swords, and their lizard-skin gloves and, carrying their other weapons, set out on foot for the kingdom of the Matsyas, Dráupadi walking before them.

They left the forest where they had lived so long and came into open country, where there were footpaths and villages and fields with growing grain. They passed Dráupadi's home, the land of the Panchalas, and entered the kingdom of Virata, calling themselves hunters.

When they came in sight of the city, Yudhistra said to Arjuna, "Where shall we leave our weapons, before we enter the city? If we carry them with us, the people will be alarmed and wonder who we are: besides, your great bow, Gandíva, is well known to all men and would betray us. Remember that if even one of us is discovered, we shall have to pass another twelve years in the forest."

"I see yonder a burial ground that has a mighty tree with many branches that are hard to climb," Arjuna said. "No one will see us if we leave our weapons there and no one will find them in that dreary place that must be full of snakes and wild beasts. Let us put them on that tree, O son of Kunti, before we go on to the city."

Arjuna loosened the string of the mighty Gandíva, whose twang was like thunder, and his brothers unstrung those bows with which they had gone into the four directions and conquered the earth; they ungirded their long and flashing swords and their precious quivers, full of arrows as sharp as death. Nákula climbed the tree and tied the weapons fast on those branches that he thought could never break, where the rain could not reach them. Then they entered the great city where they must remain undiscovered for the last year of their exile.

 

Seeger, The Five Sons of King Pandu, Print edition, op. cit., pp.138-156.



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