Adi Parva - 4
One day Drona pretended to be caught by a crocodile. Without a second thought, Arjuna killed the crocodile and saves Drona even as the others watch. A delighted Drona gifted him the greatest celestial weapon, the Brahmastra (the weapon of Brahma).
Karna then asked for the Brahmastra but was refused since he did not deserve it. He angrily left the school. He then went to Parashurama to learn archery from him and to obtain celestial weapons. Since Parashurama taught only Brahmanas, Karna lied to Parashurama that he was a Brahmana.
Meanwhile, after the completion of training, Drona demanded a gurudakshina. He asked the princes to defeat Drupada of Panchala, who had humiliated him in the past. Duryodhana tried first but failed. Arjuna and Bheema successfully defeated the Panchala army. Drupada was captured and Drona reminded him of his old promise to give him half his kingdom. He divided Panchala into two halves and sent Drupada away, humiliated and left with only half his kingdom.
Drona then organized a demonstration event where all the princes showcased their skills in the use of weapons. There was a fierce duel between Bheema and Duryodhana and the citizens began to take sides. Drona then wisely stopped the duel. Arjuna then showed his archery skills, leaving the citizens of Hastinapura stunned with his prowess.
Then Karna entered the rangasthala (venue of the event). He demanded a duel with Arjuna. Kripa mocked at him wanting to know his parentage and if he is an equal to Arjuna.
Kunti was shocked seeing Karna. He was none other than her son! After receiving the boon from Durvasa, she childishly tested it out by summoning the sun god Surya. He then used his divine power and gave her a son while ensuring she remained chaste. The son born was Karna. He was born with kavacha (armour) and kundalas (ear-rings) that gave him great strength.
Kunti then abandoned Karna on the river. He was later found by the charioteer Athiratha who took him home. Since he and his wife were childless, he adopted him and called him Radheya (son of Radha).
Because his parent was a Suta (a person who is from a mixed caste), Karna felt humiliated at Kripa’s question. Duryodhana then named him the king of Anga and ensured he became a royal. The duel between Karna and Drona never happened because the sun set, ending the day’s events.
Duryodhana along his uncle Shakuni of Gandhara and Karna conspired to kill the Pandavas. They decided to ask the king to send the Pandavas to the town of Varnavrata. Duryodhana used his agent named Purochana to construct a palace made of lac. He planned to burn the Pandavas alive in the lac palace.
Vidura was aware of the plot and let Yudhishtira know in coded words to be careful. He then sent an assistant who dug a tunnel out of the lac palace. Vidura was aware of the day when Duryodhana planned to kill the Pandavas.
On that day, by coincidence, a woman and her five sons were invited to dine at the lac palace. They were intoxicated and lost consciousness. With them was Purochana who also was fast asleep. Bheema then set the lac palace on fire and the Pandavas escaped through the tunnel to the forests.
The Kauravas believed the Pandavas were dead and celebrated. Bheeshma mourned the death of his beloved grand nephews and even Dhritarashtra was sad at the turn of events.
As the Pandavas roamed through the forest, Bheema met a rakshasi named Hidimbi. She told him that her brother Hidimba ate humans and wanted to eat them. She asked Bheema to come with her so they could get married and escape from her brother. Bheema refused and fought with Hidimba and killed the demon. With Yudhishtira’s permission, he wed Hidimbi and stayed with her at night while remaining with the Pandavas at day time.
She gave birth to a son Ghatotkacha in due course of time after which the Pandavas decided to move on. They reached the town of Ekachakra and stayed there in a Brahmana’s house disguised as Brahmanas. They collected alms from the town people and got on with their life. When they found out that a rakshasa named Baka was harassing the town people, Bheema killed the demon Baka.
The brahmana told Bheema and the Pandavas that they must go to the swayamwara of Drupada’s daughter Draupadi. After being advised to do so by Vyasa, the Pandavas departed for Panchala.
…. to be continued