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Frightened by these omen, Duryodhana and his brothers prayed to Drona to protect them in the coming days. Drona assured them that he would, but added that the Pandavas were gods, and humans cannot kill them.

“In the next thirteen years,” Drona told Duryodhana, “the Pandavas would adopt strict celibacy, perform penance and seek more education. They would have become more formidable when they come back. My own death has been sealed with the birth of a son from the sacrificial fire of Drupada. Do what good you can during the period till the Pandvas returned.”

A distraught Dhritarashtra bade his attendant Sanjay recall the Pandavas. But before Sanjay could react, that wavering moment passed, and the king was caught once again in the web of his love for his first-born. He sighed and retired


While the king and Vidura were talking thus, the celestial Narada appeared before them and warned them that fourteen years hence would see their entire clan being wiped out. He left immediately. The whining of jackals and the braying of asses was once again heard from inside the palace. The sky was dark but for flashes of lightning.


After the Pandavas and Draupadi had left, the blind Dhritarashtra called Vidura and asked him to describe their departure. This is what Vidura had to say.

The crowds on the way shout, ‘cursed are Dhritarashtra’s sons for bringing about this calamity to the faultless Pandavas’. Yudhisthira has his head covered, lest his angry glance may burn the people. Bhima is stretching his arms as if to say, these are ready to soon show their worth against the Kauravas. Arjuna goes scattering grains all around, indicating that his arrows will soon fly everywhere, seeking the Kauravas. The handsome Nakula has covered himself with dust so that the women may not look at him and sigh. Sahadeva has also besmeared himself, not desiring to be recognized on this day of his misfortune. As for the princess, she goes with only a piece of cloth covering her, as though to tell the women, in fourteen years so would you enter Hastinapura, weeping and wailing for your husbands dead in battle. The priest Dhaumya utters verses from Sama Veda relating to Yama, the Lord of Death.


Whispers of “Fie unto Dhritarashtra’s sons” were heard. But Duryodhana and his intimates made no secret of their joy. The Pandava brothers removed their regalia and dressed themselves in deerskin, preparing to go to the forest.

Dushasana addressed the Panchali princess, “Pity unto Drupada who sacrificed his daughter to the worthless Pandavas. Now they are condemned to a miserable life. But thou, Panchali, need not follow them. Choose from those present here, a husband.”

Hearing these words of his cousin, an inflamed Bhima rose and reiterated his vow. “You wretch, riding as you do on the success of Shakuni, you are piercing our hearts with boastful words. I would soon pierce your heart in battle and drink your blood. May entry into my ancestors’ abode is denied to me if this vow is not fulfilled.”

As the Pandavas started, leaving the hall, Duryodhana walked with a swaying gait in imitation of Bhima. Noticing this, Bhima roared at the Kaurava prince, “Bide your time you wretch. The day is not far off when, with my mace, I would make you prostrate before me and place my foot on your head.”

Arjuna said, “As does my powerful brother, so do I swear to kill Karna in the great battle.” And Sahadeva said, “This Shakuni will fall unto my blows.”
 Vidura, after blessing the Pandavas, asked Yudhisthira to leave his mother, the venerable Kunti, in his care, till the period of exile was over. Yudhisthira bowed to his uncle’s wish.


The Pandavas had gone some distance when the messenger caught up with them and conveyed the king’s command. Yudhisthira’s brothers were not in favour of entertaining the invitation, knowing that this was another plot of Duryodhana. Yudhisthira said, “I know fully well what is to follow. Would Rama not have known that there could be no deer made of gold? Yet he pursued it for that was ordained by fate. Besides, we have to honour the king’s command.” With his brothers and Draupadi he turned back to Hastinapura.

As Yudhisthira reached the gambling hall, the assembly was already full. Shakuni started the proceedings and described the wager to Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira agreed to the terms and the dice rolled once again. The inevitable happened. Shakuni called right. The Pandava brothers, along with Draupadi, were now condemned to spend the next twelve years in the forest and a thirteenth year incognito.
Having been freed by Dhritarashtra, the Pandavas with Draupadi bowed to the king and the elders, and left for Indraprastha. Duryodhana and his confederates who had left the hall were unaware of the boons granted to Draupadi by Dhritarashtra. It was Dushasana who learnt about it, and he ran to Duryodhana, wailing that the foolish king had caused all that was won, to be lost.

Duryodhana, along with Dushasana, Shakuni and Karna, rushed to Dhritarashtra. “What a folly this,” he cried at the king. “We made the Pandavas our slaves, and now you have let them off. They are mighty and the insults they have suffered would be rankling in their minds. They would certainly wreak vengeance on us. Lo, we are all lost.”

 “We can still save the situation,” Duryodhana continued, “Let us bring them back and make them play the dice game once again. We shall play for a specific stake. If the Pandavas lose, they should don deerskins and retire to the forest for twelve years. After the twelfth year ended, they should spend the thirteenth year in disguise at an inhabitable place. If detected in the thirteenth year, they should spend another twelve years in the forest.

 “In the event the Pandavas won, the Kauravas would spend twelve years in the forest and one year incognito,. After the period is successfully completed, both would have their original kingdoms restored to them.”

 Bhishma, Drona and Vidura in one voice advised the king not to entertain this plan. Gandhari who heard of it, pleaded with her husband not to listen to Duryodhana any more. In fact, she said, they should have followed Vidura’s advice and killed their first son as soon as he was born. The path he was pursuing would only lead to the wiping out of the Kauravas.

The king, however, would not listen to them. To satisfy Duryodhana seemed to be the only thought in his mind. “If, as a consequence, my race would face extinction, let it happen,” he said. He commanded a messenger to be sent to intercept the Pandavas and bring them back for one last dice game.

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