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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
Thou shalt be the manager of my horses. But first tell me whence thou comest, who thou art, and how also thou happenest to come here. Tell us also all the arts thou art master of.’ Nakula replied, ‘O mower of enemies, know that Yudhishthira is the eldest brother of the five sons of Pandu. I was formerly employed by him to keep his horses. I am acquainted with the temper of steeds, and know perfectly the art of breaking them. I know also how to correct vicious horses, and all the methods of treating their diseases. No animal in my hands becometh weak or ill. Not to speak of horses, even mares in my hands will never be found to be vicious. People called me Granthika by name and so did Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu.’
“Virata said, ‘Whatever horses I have, I consign to thy care even from today. And all the keepers of my horses and all my charioteers will from today be subordinate to thee. If this suits thee, say what remuneration is desired by thee. But, O thou that resemblest a celestial, the office of equerry is not worthy of thee. For thou lookest like a king and I esteem thee much. The appearance here hath pleased me as much as if Yudhishthira himself were here. Oh, how does that blameless son of Pandu dwell and divert himself in the forest, now destitute of servants as he is.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That youth, like unto a chief of the Gandharvas, was treated thus respectfully by the delighted king Virata. And he conducted himself there in such a manner as to make himself dear and agreeable to all in the palace. And no one recognised him while living under Virata’s protection. And it was in this manner then the sons of Pandu, the very sight of whom had never been fruitless, continued to live in the country of the Matsyas. And true to their pledge those lords of the earth bounded by her belt of seas passed their days of incognito with great composure notwithstanding their poignant sufferings.’”
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hear, O king, what those descendants of Kuru did while they dwelt thus in disguise in the city of the Matsyas, worshipping the king thereof. By the grace of the sage Trinavindu and of the high-souled lord of justice, the Pandavas continued to live unrecognised by others in the city of Virata. O lord of men, Yudhishthira, as courtier made himself agreeable to Virata and his sons as also to all the Matsyas. An adept in the mysteries of dice, the son of Pandu caused them to play at dice according to his pleasure and made them sit together in the dice-hall like a row of birds bound in a string. And that tiger among men, king Yudhishthira the Just, unknown to the monarch, distributed among his brothers, in due proportion, the wealth he won from Virata. And Bhimasena on his part, sold to Yudhishthira for price, meat and viands of various kinds which he obtained from the king. And Arjuna distributed among all his brothers the proceeds of worn-out cloths which he earned in the inner apartments of the palace. And Sahadeva, too, who was disguised as a cowherd gave milk, curds and clarified butter to his brothers.
And Nakula also shared with his brothers the wealth the king gave him, satisfied with his management of the horses. And Draupadi, herself in a pitiable condition, looked after all those brothers and behaved in such a way as to remain unrecognized. And thus ministering unto one another’s wants, those mighty warriors lived in the capital of Virata as hidden from view, as if they were once more in their mother’s womb. And those lords of men, the sons of Pandu, apprehensive of danger from the son of Dhritarashtra, continued to dwell there in concealment, watching over their wife Draupadi. And after three months had passed away, in the fourth, the grand festival in honour of the divine Brahma which was celebrated with pomp in the country of the Matsyas, came off.
And there came athletes from all quarters by thousands, like hosts of celestials to the abode of Brahma or of Siva to witness that festival. And they were endued with huge bodies and great prowess, like the demons called Kalakhanjas. And elated with their prowess and proud of their strength, they were highly honoured by the king. And their shoulders and waists and necks were like those of lions, and their bodies were very clean, and their hearts were quite at ease. And they had many a time won success in the lists in the presence of kings. And amongst them there was one who towered above the rest and challenged them all to a combat. And there was none that dared to approach him as he proudly stalked in the arena. And when all the athletes stood sad and dispirited, the king of the Matsyas made him fight with his cook. And urged by the king, Bhima made up his mind reluctantly, for he could not openly disobey the royal behest. And that tiger among men then having worshipped the king, entered the spacious arena, pacing with the careless steps of a tiger. And the son of Kunti then girded up his loins to the great delight of the spectators.
And Bhima then summoned to the combat that athlete known by the name of Jimuta who was like unto the Asura Vritra whose prowess was widely known. And both of them were possessed of great courage, and both were endued with terrible prowess. And they were like a couple of infuriate and huge-bodied elephants, each sixty years old. And those brave tigers among men then cheerfully engaged in a wrestling combat, desirous of vanquishing each other. And terrible was the encounter that took place between them, like the clash of the thunderbolt against the stony mountain-breast. And both of them were exceedingly powerful and extremely delighted at each other’s strength. And desirous of vanquishing each other, each stood eager to take advantage of his adversary’s lapse. And both were greatly delighted and both looked like infuriate elephants of prodigious size. And various were the modes of attack and defence that they exhibited with their clenched fists. And each dashed against the other and flung his adversary to a distance. And each cast the other down and pressed him close to the ground. And each got up again and squeezed the other in his arms. And each threw the other violently off his place by boxing him on the breast.
And each caught the other by the legs and whirling him round threw him down on the ground. And they slapped each other with their palms that struck as hard as the thunderbolt. And they also struck each other with their outstretched fingers, and stretching them out like spears thrust the nails into each other’s body. And they gave each other violent kicks. And they struck knee and head against head, producing the crash of one stone against another. And in this manner that furious combat between those warriors raged on without weapons, sustained mainly by the power of their arms and their physical and mental energy, to the infinite delight of the concourse of spectators. And all people, O king, took deep interest in that encounter of those powerful wrestlers who fought like Indra and the Asura Vritra. And they cheered both of them with loud acclamations of applause. And the broad-chested and long-armed experts in wrestling then pulled and pressed and whirled and hurled down each other and struck each other with their knees, expressing all the while their scorn for each other in loud voices.