Virata replied, “I will grant thee whatever boon thou mayst desire. Do thou rule the Matsyas.–I shall remain in submission to thee. Even cunning gamblers are liked by me. Thou, on the other hand, art like a god, and deservest a kingdom.”
Yudhishthira said, “My first prayer, O lord of earth, is that I may not be involved in any dispute (on account of dice) with low people. Further, a person defeated by me (at dice) shall not be permitted to retain the wealth (won by me). Let this boon be granted to me through thy grace.”
Virata replied, “I shall certainly slay him who may happen to displease thee, and should be one of the twice-born ones, I shall banish him from my dominions. Let the assembled subjects listen! Kanka is as much lord of this realm as I myself, Thou (Kanka) shalt be my friend and shalt ride the same vehicles as I. And there shall also be at thy disposal apparel in plenty, and various kinds of viands and drinks. And thou shalt look into my affairs, both internal and external. And for thee all my doors shall be open. When men out of employ or of strained circumstances will apply to thee, do thou at all hours bring their words unto me, and I will surely give them whatever they desire. No fear shall be thine as long as thou residest with me.”
Vaisampayana said, “Having thus obtained an interview with Virata’s king, and received from him boons, that heroic bull among men, began to live happily, highly regarded by all. Nor could any one discover him as he lived there.”
Vaisampayana said, “Then another endued with the dreadful strength and blazing in beauty, approached king Virata, with the playful gait of the lion. And holding in hand a cooking ladle and a spoon, as also an unsheathed sword of sable hue and without a spot on the blade, he came in the guise of a cook illumining all around him by his splendour like the sun discovering the whole world.
And attired in black and possessed of the strength of the king of mountains, he approached the king of the Matsyas and stood before him. And beholding that king-like person before him, Virata addressed his assembled subjects saying, ‘Who is that youth, that bull among men, with shoulders broad like those of a lion, and so exceedingly beautiful? That person, never seen before, is like the sun. Revolving the matter in my mind, I cannot ascertain who he is, nor can I with even serious thoughts guess the intention of that bull among men (in coming here). Beholding him, it seems to me that he is either the king of the Gandharvas, or Purandara himself. Do ye ascertain who it is that standeth before my eyes. Let him have quickly what he seeks.
‘ Thus commanded by king Virata, his swift-footed messengers went up to the son of Kunti and informed that younger brother of Yudhishthira of everything the king had said. Then the high-souled son of Pandu, approaching Virata, addressed him in words that were not unsuited to his object, saying, ‘O foremost of kings, I am a cook, Vallava by name. I am skilled in dressing dishes. Do thou employ me in the kitchen!'”
Virata said, “I do not believe, O Vallava, that cooking is thy office. Thou resemblest the deity of a thousand eyes; and in grace and beauty and prowess, thou shinest among these all as a king!”
Bhima replied, “O king of kings, I am thy cook and servant in the first place. It is not curries only of which I have knowledge, O monarch, although king Yudhishthira always used in days gone by to taste my dishes. O lord of earth, I am also a wrestler. Nor is there one that is equal to me in strength. And engaging in fight with lions and elephants, I shall, O sinless one, always contribute to thy entertainment.”
Virata said, “I will even grant thee boons. Thou wilt do what thou wishest, as thou describest thyself skilled in it. I do not, however, think, that this office is worthy of thee, for thou deservest this (entire) earth girt round by the sea. But do as thou likest. Be thou the superintendent of my kitchen, and thou art placed at the head of those who have been appointed there before by me.”
Vaisampayana continued, “Thus appointed in the kitchen, Bhima soon became the favourite of king Virata. And, O king, he continued to live there unrecognised by the other servants of Virata as also by other people!”
Vaisampayana said, “Binding her black, soft, fine, long and faultless tresses with crisped ends into a knotted braid, Draupadi of black eyes and sweet smiles, throwing it upon her right shoulders, concealed it by her cloth. And she wore a single piece of a black and dirty though costly cloth. And dressing herself as a Sairindhri, she began to wander hither and thither in seeming affliction. And beholding her wandering, men and women came to her hastily and addressed her, saying, ‘Who are you? And what do you seek?’ And she replied, ‘I am a king’s Sairindhri. I desire to serve any one that will maintain me.’ But beholding her beauty and dress, and hearing also her speech that was so sweet, the people could not take her for a maid-servant in search of subsistence. And it came to pass that while looking this way and that from the terrace, Virata’s beloved queen, daughter of the king of Kekaya, saw Draupadi. And beholding her forlorn and clad in a single piece of cloth, the queen addressed her saying, ‘O beautiful one, who are you, and what do you seek?’ Thereupon, Draupadi answered her, saying, ‘O foremost of queen, I am Sairindhri. I will serve anybody that will maintain me.
‘ Then Sudeshna said, ‘What you say (regarding your profession) can never be compatible with so much beauty. (On the contrary) you might well be the mistress of servants both, male and female. Your heels are not prominent, and your thighs touch each other. And your intelligence is great, and your navel deep, and your words solemn. And your great toes, and bust and hips, and back and sides, and toe-nails, and palms are all well-developed. And your palms, soles, and face are ruddy. And your speech is sweet even as the voice of the swan. And your hair is beautiful, and your bust shapely, and you are possessed of the highest grace. And your hips and bust are plump. And like a Kashmerean mare you are furnished with every auspicious mark. And your eye-lashes are (beautiful) bent, and your nether-lip is like the ruddy ground. And your waist is slender, and your neck bears lines that resemble those of the conch. And your veins are scarcely visible. Indeed, your countenance is like the full moon, and your eyes resemble the leaves of the autumnal lotus, and your body is fragrant as the lotus itself. Verily, in beauty you resemble Sri herself, whose seat is the autumnal lotus. Tell me, O beautiful damsel, who thou art. Thou canst never be a maidservant. Art thou a Yakshi, a Goddess, a Gandharvi, or an Apsara? Art thou the daughter of a celestial, or art thou a female Naga? Art thou the guardian goddess of some city, a Vidyadhari, or a Kinnari,–or art thou Rohini herself? Or art thou Alamvusha, or Misrakesi, Pundarika, or Malini, or the queen of Indra, or of Varuna? Or, art thou the spouse of Viswakarma, or of the creative Lord himself? Of these goddesses who art renowned in the celestial regions, who art thou, O graceful one?’
“Draupadi replied, ‘O auspicious lady, I am neither a goddess nor a Gandharvi, nor a Yakshi, nor a Rakshasi. I am a maid-servant of the Sairindhri class. I tell thee this truly. I know to dress the hair to pound (fragrant substances) for preparing unguents, and also to make beautiful and variegated garlands. O beauteous lady, of jasmines and lotuses and blue lilies and Champakas. Formerly I served Krishna’s favourite queen Satyabhama, and also Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas and the foremost beauty of the Kuru race. I wander about alone, earning good food and dress; and as long as I get these, I continue to live in the place where they are obtainable. Draupadi herself called me Malini (maker of garlands).’
“Hearing this, Sudeshna said, ‘I would keep thee upon my head itself, if the doubt did not cross my mind that the king himself would be attracted towards thee with his whole heart. Attracted by thy beauty, the females of the royal household and my maids are looking at thee. What male person then is there that can resist thy attraction? Surely, O thou of well-rounded hips, O damsel of exquisite charms, beholding thy form of superhuman beauty, king Virata is sure to forsake me, and will turn to thee with his whole heart. O thou of faultless limbs, O thou that art endued with large eyes casting quick glances, he upon whom thou wilt look with desire is sure to be stricken. O thou of sweet smiles, O thou that possessest a faultless form, he that will behold thee constantly, will surely catch the flame. Even as a person that climbs up a tree for compassing his own destruction, even as the crab conceives for her own ruin, I may, O thou of sweet smiles, bring destruction upon myself by harbouring thee.’