Sabha Parva - 1
Maya, the asura who was pardoned by Arjuna was the architect of the demons. He wanted to help Arjuna and Krishna asked him to build a grand palace with an assembly hall. Maya created a wondrous palace with many illusions in it. He also gifted a mighty mace to Bheema and the conch Devadatta to Arjuna.
The sage Narada visited the Pandavas and told them about the sabhas or assembly halls of different celestials like Indra, Yama, and Varuna. He was of the opinion that the assembly hall they have built was unparalleled in the world of humans. Narada then advised Yudhishtira to perform the Rajasuya yajna to assert his supremacy over the entire earth.
Yudhishtira then sought Krishna’s advice. Krishna told them that as long as the Emperor of Magadha Jarasandha was alive, they could not complete the Rajasuya. Krishna then went to Magadha along with Bheema and Arjuna disguised as Brahmanas.
They then challenged Jarasandha for a wrestling match. He chose his equal Bheema as his opponent. There was a fierce duel between the two. With the guidance of Krishna, Bheema killed Jarasandha.
The Pandavas then set out to the four corners of the world on a Digvijaya yatra to conquer various kingdoms. Arjuna conquered the north, Bheema the east, Sahadeva the south, and Nakula the west. They forced the kingdoms to accept the rule of Yudhishtira and offer tributes. Some like Sishupala of Chedi voluntarily accepted while others waged a war and accepted after being defeated.
Yudhishtira then organized a grand Rajasuya yajna. Revered sages and brahmanas were worshipped as the sacrifice proceeded. The Kurus of Hastinapura were invited and Duryodhana was tasked with receiving tributes from the participating kings. He was astounded to see the wealth received and envy caused him to burn.
During the yajna, when the time came to honour the guests, there was a debate over who should be honoured first. Bheeshma named Krishna and everyone agreed. But Sishupala, the king of Chedi insulted Krishna repeatedly. Even as the Pandavas were angry, Krishna decided to deal with Sishupala himself. He informed them he had pardoned Sishupala for a hundred offenses, but it was time to now punish him. He then used his discus to behead Sishupala.
The Rajasuya yajna concluded and Duryodhana decided to stay back. One day he visited Maya’s hall of illusions and was bewildered. He fell into a water body puzzled by the illusions. He also dashed into a mirror thinking it was a door. Seeing his condition, Bheema laughed loudly along with Arjuna and the twins.
A humiliated Duryodhana decided to kill himself but was convinced by Shakuni and Karna to change his mind. He then narrated his humiliation to Dhritarashtra saying that it was Draupadi who laughed at him and insulted him when he fell. As per Shakuni’s plan, Duryodhana proposed that the king invite Yudhishtira for a game of dice. Shakuni would then defeat him and claim his kingdom.
…. to be continued