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 In order to fulfill Draupadi’s wishes, Bhima set out in the direction from which the wind had brought the lotus. The forest was dense with trees and plants, requiring Bhima to uproot several of them to find a path. He warded off many huge elephants and wild animals that came to attack him. After covering some distance he found his passage blocked by a monkey that was lying across in slumber. The angry Bhima bade the monkey move. But the monkey said that the wood Bhima was trying to enter was forbidden to humans.

“You cannot proceed further,” the monkey said. “Only celestials could enter this region. Besides, I am too tired to rise. If you so desire, you may leap over me.”

Bhima said, “It is out of respect that I do not leap over you. Leap I could, even as Hanuman leapt over the ocean to reach Lankapuri.”

“Who is this Hanuman you are talking about?” queried the monkey.

Bhima told him about Hanuman who was the devoted servant of Lord Rama. “Being the god Vayu’s son, I am that great Hanuman’s brother,” said Bhima proudly.

Still desiring to amuse him, the monkey, who was none other than Hanuman, told Bhima, “I am ill. I cannot move. You may, if you want, push my tail aside and proceed.”

Bhima stepped towards the monkey and tried to lift its tail. In spite of using all his strength, Bhima found that the tail would not move. He realized that this was no ordinary monkey. He bowed to it and asked, “Who are you? Are you a
Gandharva or a god?”

Hanuman revealed his true identity to Bhima. “I am the son of the wind god Vayu through Kesari. You are also the son of Vayu, through Kunti. We are indeed brothers.”

Bhima was thrilled to meet his illustrious brother. He asked Hanuman “Is it true that you could assume any form from the size of an ant to that of the Meru hill?”

At Bhima’s request, Hanuman assumed his super form, displaying his ability to become as large as he desired. Reverting to his normal size, he advised Bhima on his duties as a Kshatriya and on the need to uphold truth always. Pleased with his younger brother, Hanuman assured that during the war he would create confusion in the enemy ranks by letting out fearsome roars from Arjuna’s flagstaff. He then showed Bhima the path towards the lake of the divine lotuses and left.

When Bhima reached the lake he was attacked by innumerable rakshasas. He easily scattered them with his might. The defeated rakshasas went running to Kubera to whom the lake belonged. Understanding who Bhima was, Kubera instructed the guardians of the lake to allow him to take as many flowers as he wanted. Bhima returned to the Pandava camp, his hands laden with the lotuses.
As the party reached the Gandhamadana area in the mountains, they were struck by a severe storm. When the storm subsided, Draupadi swooned due to exhaustion. Yudhisthira suggested to Bhima that he should carry Draupadi on his shoulders. But the strong man summoned his son Gatotkacha who organized a number of rakshasas to carry all the pilgrims including the brahmins, on their shoulders. The rakshasas, adopting the aerial route, showed them many holy spots including the place near Kailasa where in ancient times the rishis Nara and Narayana dwelled by the side of the river Bhagirathi.

As they descended the mountains of Gandhamadhana, they spent a few days and nights on the banks of Bhagirathi where the water was crystal clear. All around was rich vegetation. It came to pass one day that a lotus of divine beauty and unearthly fragrance came floating in the wind and landed near Draupadi. The princess was so enamored of the flower that she bade Bhima to find its source and fetch a few more of them.

With Arjuna away seeking weapons from Indra, Yudhisthira, his three brothers, their wife Draupadi, priest Dhaumya and sage Lomasa, along with some brahmins, set off on the pilgrimage. Starting with Naimisha, they proceeded to Prayag and Gaya in the foothills of the Himalayas. They observed the holy rites at each place under the guidance of the preceptors accompanying them.

When they reached Durjaya in Central India, they visited the sage Agastya’s hermitage. Here Lomasa related to them the story of how Agastya swallowed and digested Ilvala’s brother, Vatapi, and put an end to the persecution of brahmins by the two demon brothers.

When they took a bath in the sacred river of Vadhusara, Lomasa described how with a dip here, the warrior Parasurama recovered his strength after being chastised by Sri Rama whom he offended by his arrogance.

His rage against Kshatriyas subsided; Parasurama had taken up residence at Mahendra Mountain. When the Pandavas reached there, the great warrior made an appearance and blessed the visitors.
Traveling South, the group of pilgrims went to where the Godavari River joins the sea. They crossed the Dravida land and reached Prabhasa, much as Arjuna did on an earlier occasion. They were now in the proximity of Dwaraka, in Yadava land. Many Vrishni heroes like Satyaki, with Balarama and Krishna at the head, welcomed them.

Taking leave of the Yadavas, the Pandavas journeyed north until they reached Kasmira. At the gate to Manasarover Lake on the Himalayas, they saw with awe the peaks covered with snow.
The sage Narada made a visit to the Pandava abode when he talked to them about the pilgrimage their grandsire Bhishma undertook on the advice of the sage Pulastya. Narada described the various places Bhishma had visited, along with their location and history. After Narada’s departure, Yudhisthira expressed to his priest Dhaumya his desire to undertake a long pilgrimage to the various holy spots in emulation of Bhishma. Supporting the idea, Dhaumya also gave a discourse to Yudhisthira about the various places of pilgrimage. The sage Lomasa upon the request from Arjuna, arrived from Indra’s court at this time and it was decided that he should accompany them and explain to them the glory of each spot that they visited.

Yudhisthira called all the brahmins and the others he was supporting and told them of his plan to undertake a pilgrimage along with the other Pandavas. A few who were strong enough joined them. As for the others, he arranged to send them to the court of Dhritarashtra where they were looked after very well.


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