14- The escape of the Pandavas!
Updated: Jan 13
King Janmejaya was curious to know how Pandavas escaped from death. Hearing his request, Rishi Vaishampayan started again: When King Dhritarashtra said in a sweet voice to Yudhishthira to visit the city Varanavata, the eldest Pandava well understood the intention of the king. After paying respect to all the elders and Kuru race legends, Pandavas set out on their journey. The citizens of Hastinapur walked around the Pandavas and offered their blessing. They then returned to the city. When the people had left, learned Vidura warned Yudhishthira in Mleachha language that those who know the schemes of enemies should be very careful and act to avoid all dangers. He added—Those who know sharp weapons cutting the body though not made of iron should and must know how to prevent them. And they will never be injured by enemies. Only blind man has no knowledge of direction and the man who doesn't have firmness never acquires prosperity. So, don't act blind. Be vigilant, and alerted all the time to save yourself. The man who accepts the weapon ( though not made of iron) from his friend, can escape from the fire by making his house like a jackal. A traveler may know the ways and the direction of the star. The person who keeps his five senses under his control always is saved from his enemies. Thus addressing all the Pandavas, learned Vidura waited for his reply. The learned son of Pandu- Yudhishthira replied to him in the same mleccha language- ‘I have understood.’ When Vidura went away, Kunti became curious to know the dual conversation. She asked softly, ‘O son Yudhishthira, what message was conveyed to you by wise Vidura which was not understood by anyone of us?’ King of virtues Yudhishthira explained the warning of Vidura about the wicked plot of Duryodhana and reminded them all ( brothers and Kunti) to keep the story a secret. When they reached there, the people of Varanavata were excited to learn of the coming of Pandavas. After staying a few days in other houses, Pandavas moved into the house specially meant for them under the guidance of Purochana. Yudhishthira diligently examined the house and ascertained that the house was completely prepared with highly combustible materials. They lived happily free from any care to make sure Purochana believed them happy. Meanwhile, Vidura sent a trustworthy expert miner who met the Pandavas secretly. He said, ‘ ‘O Yudhishthira! Command me to start my work. And be aware all the time. Purochana will set fire to the door of your house on the fourteenth day of the black fortnight. Trust me as I unfurled the fact as a credential.’ Yudhishthira was delighted to see the reliable miner. He began the work of excavation and made a subterranean passage without the knowledge of anyone except Pandavas. The wicked-minded Purochana was well deceived by the Pandavas, seeing them cheerful for a complete year! Yudhishthira called his brothers and said, ‘Listen to me, the Time has come for us to escape!’ On the day of their prearranged fateful night, Kunti fed many Brahmins and the other people of Varanavata. People enjoyed the food and wine fully. Unfortunately, a Nisad woman with her five children attended the feast and by overeating, she slept there in a deep sleep. When everybody fell asleep, at night Bhima set fire to the palace in several places. Kunti devi with five Pandavas hastily crossed through the subterranean passage groping their way out. The whole palace was set ablaze and the roaring sound of the fire shook everyone. The people of Varanavata cried out with sorrow at the death of Pandavas. They screamed aloud, ‘Alas! This was the heinous plan of wicked King Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana. They killed Pandavas to fulfill their desire! And the wicked Purochana was trapped in his death trap!’ After a while they send a message to Hastinapur, ‘O King, all the Pandavas are burnt to death including Purochana! None was escaped!’ Hearing the sad news, King Dhritarashtra mourned over his cousins. His mental condition at that time was remarkable! It was just like water in a deep pool calm at the bottom and warm on the surface! The king was happy inside and showed his crocodile tears to everybody. As a mark of grief, all the Kauravas and the veterans of the Kuru race cast off their kingly attires, dressed in single garments as became sorrowful kinsmen, and performed the funeral rites for the Pandavas and mother Kunti. When Bhishma sunk in sorrow, Vidura secretly comforted him by revealing the story of the successful escape of Pandavas. Pandavas with their mother entered the subterranean passage and fled unobserved in haste. Seeing his mother and brothers tired from their nightly vigil and anxiety, Bhim carried them all Kunti on his shoulder, Twins on his hips, and Yudhishthira and Arjun with his hands. Covering a thick forest, they reached the bank of the holy Bhagirathi (another name for Ganga). A ferryman was ready with a boat of all resistance capacity. The boatman revealed the words told by Vidura to him. All the Pandavas became happy and crossed the river that night. At last, the boat anchored on the other side of the river near a dense forest. They walked hastily and they all felt thirsty, particularly Kunti was about to faint. Placing them all under a banian tree, Bhimsen ran in search of water while others laid down under that tree exhausted. Finding a pool, Bhim wetted his upper garment and brought water for the rest. Seeing his mother and brothers asleep on the ground, Vrikodara was greatly afflicted with grief and lamented thus- ‘ Alas! What more painful sight can I see? My brothers, my mother those who could not sleep on the costliest and softest bed sleeping on the bare ground! How unfortunate I am! Yudhishthira who deserves to be the king of three worlds, now sleeps on the ground, fatigued like an ordinary being! My most delicate brothers, Arjun the unbeatable hero, Nakul, and Sahadev all are on the ground!’ Hissing like a cobra, Bhim said to himself, ‘ O vicious Kauravas! O, king Dhritarashtra! Just wait for some days, when I will send you all to the land of the dead! I’m just waiting for the command of my virtuous brother Yudhishthira.’ After a little rest in that forest, once again they started their journey. On the way, they met their grandfather- Krishna Dwipayana ( Vyasa dev). They saluted the noble rishi who advised them to visit a nearby town named- Ekachakra, a safe place for them. He consoled Kunti with his noble words to wait for their better future!