Virata Parva - 1
The thirteenth year of exile
As per the advice of Dharma, the Pandavas decided to go to Matsya kingdom ruled by King Virata to spend the thirteenth year in exile incognito. They chose Matsya because Virata was generous. Also, the king and was an enemy of Susharma, the Trigarta king and hence an enemy of Duryodhana.
Before leaving the forest, they sent their entourage to the kingdom of Drupada. Yudhishtira told them to tell everyone that the Pandavas left them and went away He told them to say that they did not know where the Pandavas had gone.
Prior to entering the city, they wrapped up all their weapons in a sheet and kept it on a Shami tree in the cemetery outside Viratanagar. The smell of a corpse they hung on the tree would prevent anyone from examining it.
Yudhishtira then met King Virata and introduced himself as Kanaka, a friend of Yudhishtira who was skilled in gambling. The king was impressed with Kanaka’s personality and accepted him as his friend and advisor.
Then Bheema arrived at the court of the king, holding a ladle in his hand. He introduced himself as a skilled cook named Vallabha who also knew how to wrestle. Impressed with his appearance, the king appointed him as the chief chef.
Meanwhile, Draupadi met the queen Sudeshna and introduced herself as Malini, a sairandhari, who used to braid the hair of Satyabhama and Draupadi. Sudeshna told her that seeing her beauty, the king was likely to lose his senses and go behind her. She refused to employ Draupadi.
Draupadi convinced her, saying she was already married to five gandharvas. Assured by this, Sudeshna employed Draupadi as a sairandhari.
Meanwhile, the king saw Sahadeva speaking the language of the cowherds and was impressed by his knowledge of cows. Sahadeva introduced himself as Tantipala, who took care of cows and was good at increasing their number. The king appointed him in-charge of the cattle.
The king then saw a beautiful woman wearing large earrings and appearing radiant. It was Arjuna in the guise of a eunuch named Brihannala. Impressed with her personality, Virata appointed Brihannala as the dance teacher to his daughter, Uttara.
Then Nakula walked in and examined the horses belonging to the king. He introduced himself as Granthika, who used to take care of horses for Yudhishtira. Impressed with his knowledge, Virata put him in charge of the stables.
The Pandavas lived peacefully in Virata. Kanaka’s skills in the game of dice impressed the king. He was pleased with Vallabha’s cooking. Vallabha even impressed the king by defeating a mighty demon in a wrestling match and earned rewards. The king was also happy with the work of Nakula and Sahadeva in the stables and cowshed. He got good feedback from his daughter about Brihannala’s dancing and singing abilities.
With just two months left before the completion of the thirteenth year of the exile, Keechaka arrived at the palace and saw Draupadi. Keechaka was the commander of the Virata army and Sudeshna’s brother. He met Draupadi and asked her to come with him. An angry Draupadi refused, saying she was already married.
… to be continued