The novice and the legend - Part 1
Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Virat was the king of Matshadesh. His kingdom was a refuge for the five Pandavas for one year Angyata vanavas’! Twelve years of hard life had passed but the last one year was the crucial one where they had to be incognito or else twelve years in jungles again! Eldest Pandava- Dharmaraj Yudhisthira lost in the dice game played with Duryodhana. He regretted for his blunder but it was too late! He was a man of virtue and valour. Remorseful Yudhisthira accepted twelve years exile with all his four brothers and wife Yangyaseni( other name of Draupadi) as the pledge was made during the dice game.
The worst and the blissful moment intermingled in those twelve years. And in the thirteenth year, they entered into king Virat’s kingdom in disguise. All five Pandavas including Draupadi concealed their identity magnificently. One by one all of them entered into the royal family of king Virat in the name of— Yudhisthira as Kontavatta or Kanka- courtier, Bhimsen as Ballava Panda or Vallabha- a cook, Arjun dressed up in sarees as Brihannala- a neutered dance teacher, Nakula by the name of Granthikar- a horse keeper, Sahadeva as Tantipala- in charge of cows. And Draupadi as Sairendhri- a female artisan. Being princely by birth, they accepted the non-princely professions just to hide their true identities.
Upon hearing about the theft of their precious cattle, prince Uttara, son of King Virat, was as livid as a king would be. ‘O you punk Duryodhana! How dare you to intrude on our property?!! You dare attempt to abduct our herd?!’, he hissed, cursing the thieves who dared to touch his cattle. He hunched forward on the throne, one hand on his knee and he screamed again, ‘O Chakrabarti Managovinda! Just behold! I’ll smash your whole troop into pieces and release my cows! You took advantage of my father's absence! I’ll teach you a lesson you crook! I’ll send all of you into hell. Not a single one of you will escape alive today!’
The screeching of Prince Uttar scared the royal attendants out of their wits! The prince paced the royal court with loud stomping steps that echoed. Eyes crazed, fists clamped, he rushed to his mother Sudeshna with Tantipala- the supervisor of herd.
As Uttara rushed to his mother, the queen was surprised to see her worried son’s face. Prince Uttar was drenched in sweat. Face red like rose petals. Nostrils flaring, voice choked. He pleaded, ‘O noble mother! Allow me to fight with that wicked king Duryodhana. He has captured our herds. Single handedly I can defeat them all! But... but mother, who would drive my chariot?! It is our misfortune that father has gone to fight with Bira Bahu and he has taken Kontavatta, Vallabha and all the troops with him.’
Sudeshna couldn't decide anything. She pitifully gazed at Sairendhri for her divine guidance. She respected Sairendhri as a descendant of Gandharvi (wife of a Gandharva!). After a short discussion Sairendhri advised the young prince to accept Brihanalla as his charioteer.
‘W-what, what did you say?! Huh! Brihannalla?! That eunuch dancer?! Are you kidding me?!’ Uttar was stunned. He continued, ‘You want me to be a laughing stock?! The kings, the warriors will turn their faces and laugh at me. They’ll think me a coward! Why should I bring a eunuch to war?’
‘Hold on, hold on Prince! What you assumed is not correct. I heard Brihannala was always with Arjun. He was an expert charioteer. They were so close, they were almost the same person. Trust me. Ask him to be your charioteer,’ Sairendhri assured him confidently.
‘No way! I can't do that,’ Uttar strongly opposed.
Sudeshna was in a dilemma. Softly she tried to convince her son Uttar that Sairendhri has some divine foresight. She persuaded her son to follow Sairendhri’s advice.
At last Uttar asked Tantipala to convey the message to Brihannala. Tantipala rushed to Natyashala and explained the urgency of his immediate presence in the court. He whispered in a low pitch that the call was proposed by Sairendhri.
Arjun(Brihannala) immediately agreed since it was an indirect hint from Sairendhri (Draupadi). He walked down with a gracious pose and presented himself in the court. Beholding the dancer, Uttar said- ‘O Brihannala! Be my charioteer for the time being. Once you lead me to the spot, I’ll crush the Kaurava troops alone. No one can escape alive! Yes- one thing. Don't be scared. I’ll protect you. Go now and prepared my chariot fast.’
Cunningly Brihannala smirked then said, ‘O prince! You are the person who denounced to see my face before starting any auspicious work. How come you changed your mind?!’
‘Huh! Sairendhri suggested you to be my charioteer. I have no choice,’ Uttar huffed.
Instantly Sairendhri gestured Brihannala that it would be a heinous act if nobody protects the kingdom in time of need. Brihannala smiled at her secret hints and agreed to be the charioteer.
Brihannala (Arjun) got ready. He changed the outlook of the chariot into a masterpiece. Expensive, glittering gem of diamonds, pearls, ruby, coral, yellow and blue sapphires, emeralds ( markat), hessonite (gomedh) and chrysoberyl ( vaidurya) were attached to the chariot. The four horses were covered with precious jewels and unique clothes too. The startling chariot glared out mesmerising the onlookers- as if God Suryadeva has appeared himself on His chariot.
Uttar stared at his own chariot with utter astonishment! ‘Wow!! Incredible!! Is that my chariot?!’ He couldn't believe his own eyes. He was amazed with Brihannala’s craftsmanship. He politely asked him to forgive his stubbornness. As Brihannala rode over the chariot, the horses flung into the sky, vanished from the eye sight of everyone and within a second descended like Angara pannaga (Gandharva) coming from the heaven. It looked amazing!
After coming down, Brihannala said, ‘O Prince Uttar- chariot is ready. Now, command me where do I help you to land?’
Excitedly Uttara bid adieu to his mother- Sudeshna and Sairendhri with respect and sister Uttaraa. The people in Matshadesh wished him a good luck for his victory over Duryodhan. Eagerly Uttaraa asked Brihannala to bring the crowns of the kings after his brother’s victory. Prince Uttara accompanied with Brihannala started their journey. After riding on the chariot, Uttara hesitantly asked, ‘O Brihannala! How much can you cover in an hour?’
Brihannala triumphantly laughed said, ‘Where do you want to go- Swarga Lok, Pattal or Bhutala (under the earth) or anywhere in the Martyalok (in the earth), command me! You’ll be there.’
‘Well! Present me in front of the Kaurava troop. I want to crush them right now. The other things- um, I’ll see later,’ he announced harshly.
Brihannala flicked on the reins, the chariot hastened in a lightening speed. It was blue hour- spreading the hints of fast approaching Sun in the eastern zone. Suddenly Uttara heard a terrible sound- that was typically created by the cacophony of cows, horses and elephants. He was completely mesmerised. He misunderstood it as of the sound of sea waves.
‘Hey- hey, hey Brihannala! Did you get lost at night?!! Why did you come to the bank of Sindhu?! Be quick. Let’s move to the Kaurava’s troop,’ mockingly Uttara said to Arjun(Brihannala).
Brihannala was stunned for a moment at his childish immature babbling. He couldn't imagine how would Uttara face the maharathis of Kaurava troop when he couldn’t recognise the sound or the spot.
Uttara panicked severely said, ‘O Shakhi(Brihannala was in female form)! W- wait, wait. Look at the waves! It is rushing towards us. Keep our chariot away from the marine animals. Behold carefully- the fish, the tortoise, and the boats, all are gushing towards us. Did you doze off?! Stay away- move our chariot to Kaurav’s troop.’ Arjun kept a deaf ear to Uttara’s babbling. Slowly he drove the chariot and settled it a little distance away from the Kaurava troop.
As he stopped the chariot, Maharathis of Kaurava troop was spellbound looking at the unique chariot. They postulated so many thoughts.
Karna whispered, ‘Pitamaha, what do you think? Is that God Indradev?! Has he left his Indrapuri?!’
Duryodhana instantly denied as the Airavata elephant- Vahana of God Indra was not there.
‘Must be Kubera,’ said Shakuni.
‘No way,’ said Salya.
‘He is Mahadev with Devi Parvati?!’ Duhshashana spoke firmly.
Ashwatthama refuted his words pointing the absence of His vahana- vrishava.
After a while preceptor Drona emphasised that either Sri Krishna or Indra or Arjun have that guts to come to this place, nobody else!
Duryodhana stubbornly retorted that Indra had no grudge against him. Sri Balaram and Krishna had soft corner for him. And about Arjun! All the five Pandavas had burnt out in the forest. So they are dead! Must be some stranger! All the Kauravas and their Maharathis wove the different pictures without knowing the truth.
In the meanwhile Uttara urged, ‘O Brihannala, stop the chariot! Look- look at the still and calm water on the centre of the sea! Besides that the other things look terrible. Let’s move out.’
No more Brihannala (Arjun) could resist his tongue satirically said, ‘O prince! Have you lost your eye sight?! You are amidst of the great Kaurava sena- you are on the battle field! Why are you confused?! To whom you think as vast sea, they are none other than the Kaurava soldiers. They are howling to control the herds of cows. To whom you assume as boats- they are the chariots of the warriors in the troop. To whom you perceive as sea animals- they are the horses and the elephants of the fighters. And the calm and settled water in the centre you think is— your vast herds, they are fully surrounded by the Kauravas. Your mixed colour herds virtually seems to be calm water. The waves are nothing but the flags floating on the air while the chariots, the horses and the elephant riders are running on the field. Now- be brave and be prepared for the war.’
Uttara was taken aghast! When he heard all these from Brihannala, it scared the living daylights out of him! ‘W- what?! Kauravas troop?!’ the young prince screamed aloud. He appealed to Arjun, ‘O Brihannala— I- I beg you! Please turn the chariot. Let’s go back, please. Look— I am a naive teenager! How can I face such a huge—huge— vast Kaurava troop! I’m so sorry- Brihannala! I thought of only five six soldiers. My mistake. I don't want to die now, please!’
Without delay, Uttara jumped off from the chariot and ran. Brihannala laughed and chased him fast. Arjun dragged him, resettled on the chariot again said, ‘O prince! Where is your bravery?! Your valour, your strength?! You are just a novice who can only tell tall-tales. Be my charioteer and I’ll handle the war! Just watch it!’
To be continued in Part 2.