Thus losers in the deceitful act of gambling, and insulted by Kauravas, the Pandavas started for their exile in forest. Vidura told Yudhisthira to allow mother Kunti to stay back as she was old and weak. Yudhisthira agreed. Draupadi, however, accompanied her husbands to the forest. A few Brahmins and sage Dhaumya also went with them.
The Pandavas reached Kamyak Forest and decided to rest there for a while.
The news of their exile reached Sri Krishna, the ruler of Dwaraka. He was related to Pandavas as a cousin brother and was their friend, saviour, and guide. Moreover, Draupadi always treated him as her elder brother.
Sri Krishna reached Kamyak forest to Pandavas and Draupadi. After inquiring about their well being, he advised Pandavas to be vigilant and not lose heart. The ordeal they had to face was for their good, as "experience is the only source of knowledge". Good and bad experiences are essential to get correct perspective and fulfillment of life. Suffering and sorrows bring requisite feeling of renunciation essential to seek higher goal in life.
Life in Exile - 2
Draupadi Questions Krishna About Dharma
But the recent insult at the hands of Duryodhana and Karna was fresh in the mind of Draupadi. She had also not forgotten scornful laughter of Dhritarashtra and Shakuni. All these memories made Draupadi emotional and angry. Opening her heart to the Lord, she said in anguish:
"O Krishna, how is it that this Draupadi, sister of the Lord of Universe and wife of five brave, powerful and invincible Pandavas has to go through such horrible time? Was that not their duty to protect me and punish the miscreants? Was that fair on the part of Dhritarashtra to allow Dushasana to drag me by hair and attempt to remove my only clothing? Does Yudhisthira has right to put me at stake when he himself had become slave of Duryodhana? And even if the husband becomes slave does he lose right to come to the rescue of his wife; does he lose the right to protect the honour of his wife?"
The barrage of questions affected Sri Krishna Intensely. With due seriousness he proclaimed, "O dear sister, do not grieve. I promise you that every Kaurava woman would shed more tears than what you have shed; for the non-righteous Kauravas and their supporters in this shameful act are sure to perish at the hands of Pandavas very soon."
Thus we see the shadow of impeding great war of Kurukshetra in the speech of Lord Krishna.
One more thing of interest was told by Sri Krishna. He said that had he been there in the court of Dhritarashtra during the game of dice, he would not have allowed the game in the first place. He would have impressed upon everyone, including Bhishma and Dhritarashtra, how gambling leads to total corruption and degeneration of the race. He would have forcefully prohibited Duryodhana from engaging in such vice. Gambling, smoking, drinking, hunting, and prostitution are the curse on humanity which every righteous person should labour to avoid. The persons who engage in these acts are doomed to destruction and moral death.
From Kamyak forest, the Pandavas moved to Dvaita Forest.
The question of daily food was solved by the gift from Sun God of a "special vessel" given to Draupadi. The vessel would be filled by desired food once a day. However, after it was used one time in a day, it could be filled only the next day.
Story of Sage Durvasa
Once while passing through the forest the sage Durvasa, accompanied by his many disciples, reached the hut of Pandavas. Sage Durvasa was known for his short temper and throwing curse whosoever did not obey his commands.
Draupadi welcomed the sage and after proper salutations inquired about their needs. Durvasa told her that they were all hungry and would be happy to receive proper meals. Draupadi was at her wits end as there was nothing in her kitchen to offer to these hundred pious guests! Unfortunately the vessel that could have solved her problem was already used for the day and washed clean. Now it would yield the food the next only. It was, at the same time essential for her to make some arrangements as per the command of Durvasa lest his curse might prove disastrous for her and Pandavas.
To buy time, she requested the sage and his disciples to take bath in the nearby river, and in the meantime she could prepare meals for them. The sage agreed and left for the river with his associates.
Krishna Comes to Help Again
Perturbed and helpless, Draupadi started praying Sri Krishna for help. She sat in front of the image of the Lord and with wet eyes prayed to Him to rush to her assistance. Sri Krishna, in his palace in Dwaraka, heard the cry of despair of his devotee and rushed to her forest dwelling. With a sweet musical voice he consoled her not to worry and asked her for some food for himself. He said he was hungry.
Draupadi did not understand this unusual demand. On the one hand she had called Sri Krishna for help, and on the other, Sri Krishna himself appeared to trouble her. This paradox confused her.
She said, "O Krishna this is not time for joking. Durvasa has demanded food for himself and hundred of his disciples. There is not a single grain in my kitchen. What should I do? How can I resolve this crisis."
Hearing this, Sri Krishna said, "O sister, that is why I am asking you to give me something to eat! Bring that vessel that gives you your daily food, there must be something in it."
Reluctantly Draupadi did as was asked. And there attached to the back of the vessel was a grain of rice! Sri Krishna put it in his mouth. His hunger was satisfied. Then a miracle occurred. The Lord of Universe had eaten enough; and with this was satisfied the appetite of whole world!
Here on the bank of river, Durvasa and his disciples suddenly felt their stomach were full! They had no appetite left even for a single bolus of food. How could they now eat the meals prepared by Draupadi? Therefore, the sage with his party, beat a hasty retreat without ever bothering Draupadi any more.
Life in Exile - 3
Days passed by. Many sages and saints reached the dwelling place of Pandavas for talks and discussion on various aspects of Yoga and Scriptures. Topics like duties of householders, aim in life, and spiritual practices were also brought up. Group chanting of verses from Vedas and Upanishads were organized.
It was getting obvious to the five brothers and Sri Krishna that Duryodhana and Shakuni would never return them their share of land and kingdom. It was futile to expect change of heart. War would be the last solution; prepared they must be for such eventuality.
Story of Arjuna 3
Therefore, to increase their power and capabilities, it was decided to send Arjuna to the kingdom of Himalayas and heaven to bring special divine missiles from gods. Moreover, Arjuna could learn a few more skills from them.
On one auspicious day, Arjuna left for his mission. His first destination was Mount Kailash in the heights of Himalayas, abode of Lord Shiva. One day he encountered a beautiful deer freely jumping here and there. He shot an arrow at the deer to hunt it down. At the same time another arrow from opposite direction hit the deer. Arjuna saw a local tribesman opposite him with bow and arrow in his hand. The deer lay dead with two arrows in his chest. It was undecided as to whose arrow had killed the deer. It was essential to establish one's right over the kill. Both Arjuna and the tribesman staked their claim.
A bitter fight ensued. After their arrows were exhausted, they were engaged in wrestling. The apparently weak tribesman brought Arjuna to his wit's end. No one was willing to relent. Arjuna was surprised to find his inability to defeat even a simple tribesman. He, therefore, requested the tribesman to reveal his true identity. Arjuna said, "O brave fighter, you must not be what you appear, for it impossible for any one to compete with me in the game of archery."
And, yes, indeed, the tribesman was none other than Lord Shiva himself! Pleased with Arjuna. Shiva appeared before him in Divine form and as an act of blessing gave Arjuna his most powerful divine missile Pashupat that was to prove very useful to Pandavas in the war of Mahabharata.
From there Arjuna went to Indra-loka, kingdom of Indra, Heaven, through beautiful provinces of Moon, Stars, and Planets. In fact, the king of god Indra was his father, as Mother Kunti had obtained Arjuna from Indra through her yogic powers.
After welcoming Arjuna to that beautiful place, Indra asked him the purpose of his visit. Arjuna narrated about the evil designs of Duryodhana and Shakuni and requested him to teach him special skills in warfare. Indra was pleased with Arjuna and requested him to stay in the heaven for a few days more.
Besides archery and other martial arts, here Arjuna learnt music and dance from Urvashi, the most beautiful celestial nymph. She fell in love with Arjuna, but Arjuna had no such feelings towards her, his teacher she was. Thus, disappointed in her love, Urvashi sent a curse to Arjuna that he would become eunuch for one year. This curse later was to prove beneficial to Arjuna during his exile to stay incognito for one year.
More Suffering for Draupadi
From Dvaita forest Pandavas returned to Kamyak forest. Arjuna returned from heaven to stay with his brothers.
One day when all the five Pandavas had gone for hunting and Draupadi was alone in the cottage, King Jayadratha of Sindhu province (brother-in-law of Duryodhana) happened to pass by that side. He saw beautiful and attractive Draupadi all alone. Lust made him blind and he forcefully tried to abduct her. Draupadi cried for help. Pandavas were returning from the forest and heard her cry of help. They saw the evil Jayadratha attempting to abduct Draupadi away in his chariot.
Soon Pandavas overpowered this mean person, and the angry Bhima was about to kill him for his misdemeanor. However, Yudhisthira intervened and said, "O Bhima, I understand your rage at this lowly Jayadratha, but still I would pardon him for he is our brother in law. If you kill him our cousin sister Dushala (sister of Duryodhana) will become widow."
One wonders at the righteousness (or foolishness!) of Yudhisthira when even a person related to Duryodhana and engaged in ungainly act is granted pardon.
Bhima let Jayadratha go, but Arjuna vowed to kill him in the battle-field.