Aranya Parva - 1
The Pandavas proceeded to the forests as per the conditions imposed in the dice game. Accompanying them were their priest, Dhaumya and many other Brahmanas. Yudhishthira who was known for being charitable continued to perform austerities in the forest.
With a large entourage, Yudhishthira was worried about how to feed them. Dhaumya then advised him to pray to Surya, who gave Yudhishthira an akshaya patra (inexhaustible vessel). The vessel would produce unlimited food every day and would exhaust only after Draupadi finished her meals.
Meanwhille, Vidura advised Dhritarashtra to call back the Pandavas and give back their kingdom to prevent future strife. An angry Dhritarashtra accused him of being disloyal and asked him to leave. Vidura who was upset came to the Kamyaka forest and joined the Pandavas. Dhritarashtra realised his mistake and sent a messenger to bring back Vidura.
The sage Maitreya visited Duryodhana and advised him to make peace with the Pandavas. Duryodhana sullenly slapped his thigh and refused to respond to the sage. The angry Maitreya cursed Duryodhana for his insolence saying that his thigh would be broken by Bheema in battle.
As the Pandavas continued on their journey, they encountered a demon named Kirmira, who was the brother of Baka. Before Arjuna could draw his bowstring, Bheema asked him to stop and charged at the demon. Kirmira fought fiercely, but Bheema used his might to crush the demon to death.
Krishna visited the forest to meet the Pandavas. He was furious at the way Duryodhana and Shakuni had deceived the Pandavas. Arjuna calmed him down, and then Krishna revealed the fact that Arjuna was Nara, while he was Narayana. They had lived as the two great sages in an earlier era. He said that they were both inseparable.
Draupadi recounted her sufferings and cried at the humiliation heaped on her by the vile Kauravas. She condemned her husbands for not standing with her and accused them of abandoning her when she needed them the most.
Krishna then pacified her, saying that the wives of those who insulted her would weep in the same way. He promised she would one day be the queen of the world. Krishna then told them he was engaged in fighting Shalva, who had attacked Dwaraka to avenge Shishupala’s killing. Krishna told the Pandavas that if he was present, he would have stopped the game of dice.
He then described the fierce battle that he fought with Shalva, along with his sons Pradyumna and Samba. After comforting Yudhishthira, Krishna left for Dwaraka with Subhadra and Abhimanyu. Dhristadyumna took Draupadi’s sons with him to Panchala.
Krishna returned after a few days and advised the Pandavas to be ruthless towards their enemies and discharge their Kshatriya dharma in battle. Bheema also spoke to Yudhishthira and told him to lead them to war against the Kauravas.
Yudhishthira reaffirmed he had agreed to go into exile and now could not go back on his words. Bheema criticised him saying he was not behaving like a Kshatriya. Even as they were discussing, Vyasa arrived.
He advised that Arjuna should go to the abode of the Gods and please them, so he could get divine weapons. With these weapons, he could defeat the enemies of the Pandavas when the time came. Accordingly, Yudhishthira advised Arjuna to go to meet Indra and seek divine weapons.
Arjuna then crossed the Himalayas and the Gandhamadana mountains. There he met an ascetic who asked him to return. Arjuna refused, saying he was determined to meet Indra. The ascetic was Indra, who revealed his true form and asked Arjuna to pray to Lord Shiva.
…. to be continued