The Secret Was Revealed

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Prince Uttara was amazed. He had never seen anyone fight like that, nor did he think it was humanly possible. And when he saw the Kurava troops retreat, he shouted for joy and threw his weapons into the air.

After recovering the herds and entrusting them to the expert shepherds, the Pandava said:

“Dear prince, I helped you because I owed a debt of gratitude to your father, who, albeit unconsciously, offered us asylum and protection for a year. But now, in return, you will have to promise me one thing: you will have to keep hidden my identity and that of my brothers until tomorrow; no one should know what happened today.”

Uttara promised, and after putting the weapons back on the top of the shami tree, the two set out to return to the capital. During the trip they talked about their success.

Meanwhile Virata had returned from the victorious battle against the Trigarta, and not seeing his son, who usually waited for him outside the city gates, he asked where he was.

“While you were at war in the territories extending to the south,” they informed him, “the Kurus attacked us in the north and obviously there was no one to fight them. As soon as our brave prince found out, he immediately ran to defend our properties. And as for the charioteer, having found no one else, he took Brihannala with him.”

Virata couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Has my son gone alone against the Kurus? But this is madness! He is little more than a boy and has a poor military education. What can he possibly do against an army like that? And with a eunuch as a charioteer?”

In the throes of anxiety over the boy’s fate, he made arrangements for the army to prepare to leave immediately. While the generals were giving the orders, Yudhisthira tried to calm him down.

“Do not fear for the life of Prince Uttara because if Brihannala has gone with him your son is in no danger.”

It seemed strange to Virata to hear his trusted companion sing such praises of one who was not even a man; but busy as he was in giving orders to his collaborators, he did not bother to reply.

 

Hours of anguish passed.

Then the messengers who had been sent ahead returned.

“Oh, king, we bring you good news. Prince Uttara and his charioteer Brihannala are returning victorious. King Duryodhana’s army, strong with great heroes such as Bhishma, Drona, Karna and many others, has been put to flight. These people have already returned to their borders, leaving many dead on the ground. We find no other explanation for this fact but to attribute the victory to your son, whom managed to defeat the enemy on his own.”

Virata could hardly believe it. Such a thing seemed to be impossible, but the messengers insisted that that it was the truth, that they had recently seen the battlefield strewn with human and animal bodies, with debris from chariots and weapons, and that they themselves had seen Uttara returning. At that point Virata had no choice but to believe it. Sparkling with happiness and pride he said:

“Come, Kanka, we have to celebrate this incredible victory. Let’s play dice, party, and look forward to the hero’s return.”

As they played, Virata praised Uttara, comparing his worth to that of Indra. But Yudhisthira answered in a different tone.

“No surprise your son defeated the invincible Kuravas, as Brihannala was with him.”

At that point, the king began to get impatient.

“What do you mean? How can you think that a eunuch could have been the architect of such a great victory as this? It is more than evident that the credit must be attributed to my son because he was the one in charge of bringing the triumph. Or do you think it was the eunuch who fought against Bhishma and Drona?”

As Yudhisthira continued to credit Brihannala for the victory, Virata lost his temper and threw the dice in his face, injuring his nose. A few drops of blood came out of Pandu’s son and ran down to his lips. But before they could fall to the ground, Sairandhri ran to pick them up.

“What are you doing?” asked the evidently astonished monarch, “why do you collect his blood in a cup?”

“You don’t realize what you’ve done,” she replied. “If this blood fell on the ground, in a very short time you, your family, and your whole kingdom would be completely destroyed.”

Virata was increasingly confused. Too many things were happening that he couldn’t understand.

At that moment Uttara arrived.

While his proud father ran to embrace him, the young man noticed that Yudhisthira was bleeding from his nose and that Draupadi was holding the chalice under his chin. Immediately he shouted:

“Who has hurt this great man? Who did it? Who committed this suicidal act?”

“It was me,” replied the father, “but don’t overshadow yourself for a thing of so little importance and instead let’s celebrate your great victory.”

“You don’t know how things had been,” Uttara replied. “I haven’t defeated those great heroes, and I’d never be able to do it. Someone else did it, saving my life and our kingdom’s properties. You can’t even imagine who you have dared to strike. Ask him for forgiveness immediately, or we will all perish like midges in a great fire.”

With his ideas becoming less clear, to please his son, Virata apologized to Yudhisthira. Then he asked:

“But finally, who is this great warrior who saved your life and recovered our herds? Why doesn’t he come to get my recognition? Whoever he is, I will grant him your sister Uttara as a wife and vast riches and honors.”

“Father, for now this great man does not want to come to you, but tomorrow he will be here and you will be able to express your gratitude to him.”

The next morning, the Pandavas got up early, but they didn’t wear their usual clothes. Bathed in waters impregnated with the most fragrant perfumes and dressed with precious silks of exquisite workmanship, they went to the royal hall and took the seats reserved for the monarch guests.

When Virata entered and saw his companion, the cook, the eunuch, and the two herdsmen sitting together in those solemn chairs, he was deeply angry.

“Kanka, you are a welcome guest and a dear friend, but you do not have the right to sit on the throne of the kings. The same is true to the others. Why do you behave in this way?”

He whom Virata believed to be Brihannala the eunuch, spoke for all.

“The person you know as a Brahmana and a dice player is worthy of sitting on the same throne as Indra. He is Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas.”

Then, one after the other, he pointed to Bhima, Nakula, Sahadeva, himself, and finally Draupadi. As you can easily imagine, the monarch and everyone present were speechless with surprise.

After the first moments of dismay, the sons of Pandu were offered apologies and great honors.

“So, the hero who saved my son is Arjuna. I have to thank you for saving his life when, in an act of childish bravado, he wanted to run to face the Kuravas. Yesterday I promised that I would offer my daughter Uttara in marriage to that person, and I hope that, as a pledge of covenant, you will accept her.”

At that point the young prince Uttara accompanied his sister to the council chamber. Then Arjuna spoke:

“For a year, thanks to Urvashi’s curse, I was able to live near her like a eunuch and taught her to sing and dance. I am therefore her teacher and it is not correct to take your own disciple as a wife. But I can’t turn her down because, having been together for so long, some might doubt her chastity and my behavior. She’ll be my son Abhimanyu’s wife.”

Those present showed their approval by applauding Arjuna’s wise words.

 

This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.

To buy the complete book, click above

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