Pandavas’ hospitality tested

Chapter 115: Pandavas’ hospitality tested

Yudhisthira dreamt that the deer in Dwaita appealed to him to stop their slaughter for food or the species would disappear. The Pandavas immediately moved to a spot near Lake Trinavindu in the Kamyaka forest. There they continued to find food for themselves and also supported their followers, thanks to the celestial bowl.

The sage Durvasa, famous for his eccentricities and short temper, visited Duryodhana. Knowing the ascetic’s nature, Duryodhana did all he could to please him. He was in personal attendance on the sage during his stay in Hastinapura. The holy one was always unpredictable, especially in his eating habits. When food was ready, he would decline it. And at unearthly hours he would demand that he and his big retinue of brahmins be fed.

Duryodhana pleased the sage with his devotion. “Ask for a boon,” the sage told the Kaurava prince. “O great sage,” Duryodhana prayed to him. “Please visit my brother Yudhisthira in the forest. Call on the Pandavas at a time when Panchali has fed the brahmins and her family, and lies down after feeding herself.”

“So be it,” the sage said and left. Duryodhana rejoiced with Karna. “This is the end of the Pandavas,” he said.

Ascertaining that Draupadi had finished her repast and was resting, Durvasa descended on the Pandava abode, followed by ten thousand brahmins. Yudhisthira received him with all honours. He bade the sage to proceed to the river along with his followers, and return for dinner after performing the evening rites.

Chapter 116: Give me food, demands Krishna

The Pandavas were deeply worried. The celestial bowl had been retired for the day. They could see no way to feed Durvasa and his army of brahmins. While they were so despairing, Draupadi prayed to Krishna. “Save us from this grave danger, O Kesava. The Muni is known for his wrath. If we do not feed him and the brahmins, we are doomed.” Krishna heard her prayers in Dwaraka. Leaving Rukmini’s side, he appeared at the Pandava abode.

In the midst of the crisis they were in, Draupadi and her husbands were greatly cheered by Krishna’s arrival. After the exchange of courtesies was over, a tired Krishna addressed Draupadi, “Panchali. I have reached here after a strenuous journey. I am hungry. Bring me some food.”

Draupadi hung her head down and said, “Alas Krishna, we have no food to offer you. Since I have finished eating, the celestial bowl can no more produce food for the day.” Krishna insisted on seeing the bowl.

When Panchali brought the vessel, Krishna pointed to a particle of rice and a piece of vegetable sticking to the rim. The bowl soon overflowed with food. Bhima was sent to fetch Durvasa and his followers.

In the river, the brahmins had a refreshing bath. Suddenly they felt as though they had partaken of a heavy dinner. When they heard Bhima’s voice calling them, they rushed to their preceptor and told him that it would be impossible for them to eat even an atom of food. Durvasa told them, “Yudhisthira has great spiritual power. He would have prepared dinner for us. If we do not eat he may curse us. It is therefore best that we make ourselves scarce.”

When Bhima reached the river, he found Durvasa and his disciples had vanished. Greatly perplexed, he returned home without the guests, Krishna smiled and told his Pandava hosts, “Your guests have all vanished. They will never come here again.” Krishna took leave of his cousins and returned to Dwaraka.