Yudhishthira gets the Akshaya patra
Bharathi is a Chennai based writer and editor whose childhood passion for writing transformed into a career in this field. She is the author of the story "The fall of the first son" from the Unsung Valour and "Subhadra - The auspicious one" from Aryaa anthologies.
Let’s continue with our tale of what happened after the dyuta game.
The Pandavas left Hastinapura with Draupadi, all clad in bark garments. They had their weapons with them and some servants and the charioteers followed them too. They reached the banks of the Ganga and spent the night there. Some brahmanas had followed them along with their families and their sishyas and wished to stay with them in the forest during their exile.
Yudhishthira wondered how to feed them and he asked his priest, Dhaumya for a solution. Dhaumya explained that Surya, the Sun god, is the one who feeds the universe. He asked Yudhishthira to pray to Surya for a solution.
Yudhishthira did so chanting 108 names of Surya and Surya appeared before him. He reassured Yudhishthira that they would have no shortage of food for the 12 years of exile. He handed Yudhishthira a copper vessel with the instruction that as long as Draupadi holds it and until she has eaten her meal, the vessel will continue to serve the foods cooked in their kitchen.
A happy Yudhishthira took the vessel and then taking Draupadi and the other Pandavas along, he went to the kitchen they had set up and he cooked the food for the day. The food he cooked was little but it increased thanks to the vessel so that none of the Brahmanas or the Pandavas and Draupadi went hungry.
This is how they fed all the brahmanas and the people who accompanied them during their exile.
(The part about the Akshaya patra has been left out in the BORI version but Surya’s boon is mentioned).