“Now, I am going to tell you the details of an episode that occurred during the great fire of the Khandava forest,” Vaishampayana told the Rishis.
This event would prove to be fundamental for the continuation of the story.
While Arjuna was fighting Indra, Krishna saw a demon who, amidst the flames, was trying to escape. He had just thrown the Sudarshana disc at him to kill him when the Danava, seeing the infallible weapon of the Lord approaching, ran in the direction of Arjuna desperately asking him for help. Full of compassion for his entreaties, the Pandava turned to his friend and said:
“He has asked for my protection, and I cannot deny it to him. Let him save his life.”
Krishna agreed and withdrew the weapon.
When all was over, the demon went to Arjuna.
“You saved my life, so I would like to do something for you. Tell me how I can repay you. I am Maya Danava, the architect of the asuras, and I could build the most beautiful cities for you.”
“It doesn’t matter,” the Pandava replied, “you don’t have to repay anything. Saving the lives of those who ask for protection is the first principle of every righteous Kshatriya. On the other hand, I really don’t see what you could do for me.”
“But, yes, there is something you could do,” Krishna then intervened. “The Pandavas do not have a Sabha up to their fame and you are among the few in the whole universe capable of building it. If you really want to show your gratitude, build a Sabha as beautiful as it has never be seen in all the worlds.”
Maya Danava smiled and nodded.
Construction work began after a few weeks. Aided by numerous Rakshasas of extraordinary strength, Maya Danava went to Kailasha, from where he returned with unimaginable riches in gold, diamonds and other precious metals that in former times had already been used to perform enormously expensive ceremonies. On his return from the Himalayas, he also gave Bhima a mighty and very heavy club and Arjuna a war chariot with magical properties. Aided by the asuras, the Sabha was ended in a prodigious time.
In the days preceding the inauguration, the Pandavas commissioned many couriers to deliver the invitations to all the monarchs of Bharata-varsha; and since they rode on very fast mounts, in a very short time they were able to carry out their task.
After a few weeks, kings and princes from all over the world began to congregate in Indra-prastha in large numbers. The most visited place in the beautiful city was the palace built by Mayadanava, where everything was splendorous by itself, as the precious gems used to a large extent emanated a light so intense as to illuminate the interior. Anyone entering had the impression that a sun was continually setting its rays on the walls of the innumerable rooms. Admired and stunned, millions of people praised the fantastic Sabha of the Pandavas.
The festival was a time of joy for everyone, and especially for Pandu’s sons it was certainly the happiest moment of their life. In that period, many young and valiant princes came to learn martial arts from Arjuna; among many, the one who proved to be the absolute best was Satyaki of the Vrishni race, a cousin of Krishna.
This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.
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