Aranya Parva - 3

Aranya Parva - 3

Aranya Parva - 3

Meanwhile, the sage Lomarsha reached the forest where the Pandavas stayed. He advised them to go on a pilgrimage to see various holy places. Along with Dhaumya and the other brahmanas, the Pandavas with Draupadi set out on a pilgrimage to cover the teertha kshetras across the country.

They visited places like Pushkara, Prabhasa, Kurukshetra, Shakambari, Varanasi, Gaya, Gokarna, Prayaga, Gandhamadana, and Kailasa. During the pilgrimage, the sage narrated many stories that explained the significance of the holy places.

Lomarsha narrated the story of Agastya and how he killed the demon, Vatapi. The story of how Indra killed the demon Vritra using a weapon made from the bones of the sage, Dadichi was narrated. He narrated the story of how Sukanya married the blind king Chyavana and helped him regain his sight and youth. The stories of Parashurama, Rishyshringa, and Ashtavakra were narrated. The sage also narrated the story of Bhagiratha and how he brought the river Ganga to earth.

When they reached Gandhamadhana mountain, they met Bheema’s son Ghatotkacha. He helped them cross the mountains to reach the hermitage of Nara and Narayana, which was near Mount Kailasa.

When they stayed there, Draupadi saw beautiful flowers and desired to take them back to the Kamyaka forests. Bheema set out in search of the flowers that grew in Kubera’s lake. On the way, he saw a monkey sleeping that was blocking his way. He asked the monkey to move, but it said being old, it was weak, and so asked him to move its tail and proceed.

Bheema arrogantly tried to push the monkey’s tail but failed. He used all his might but could not budge even an inch of the monkey’s tail. He realized the monkey must be a divine being. The monkey was none other than Hanuman. Being the sons of Vayu, they were brothers. Hanuman blessed Bheema and told him he would sit on Arjuna’s flag and create terror among the opponents of the Pandavas.

Bheema then reached Kubera’s lake and was stopped by Kubera’s guards. He defeated and killed many of them, including a rakshasa Maniman. He then plucked the flowers for Draupadi. Worried about his absence, Yudhishthira and the Pandavas came along with Ghatotkacha to the lake. Kubera arrived there and permitted them to stay on for some time. He revealed that Bheema’s killing of Maniman had helped him free himself from Agastya’s curse.

A demon named Jatasura abducted Draupadi, Yudhishthira, and the twins. Bheema caught up with the demon and killed him after a fierce fight. The Pandavas stayed at the ashrama of sage Arshtisena until the return of Arjuna.

One day, they heard a thundering sound near the ashrama. It was Indra’s chariot, and seated in it was Arjuna. They heartily welcomed him back. Indra also came the next day and asked them to return to the Kamyaka forests and stay there. 

…. to be continued