Mahabharata Stories: 28 – Rescuing the Enemy

Almost all of us have, sometime in our lives, started on something but ended on something else, leading to a lot of embarrassment and endless teasing by our friends and family members. Embarrassment is an awkward feeling, and is always accompanied by a ticklish humour. The embarrassed would, almost always, wish that one did or did not perform a certain act in the first place. However, here also, it is the intention of the act that takes prime importance, not the act itself.

Once a Brahmana visited Dhritarashtra. The king, as customary, enquired of him the welfare of the Pandavas. The Brahmana elaborated at length the difficulties they faced, of Arjuna’s gain of the Pasupatastra from Lord Shiva and Bhima’s and Arjuna’s heroic exploits. The former details made the king feel much remorse for all he had done, and the latter kindled jealousy in the Kauravas.

There were now only two more years for the exile period to come to a close, and Duryodhana kept looking for ways to extend this period and make it as difficult for the Pandavas as he could. He, along with uncle Sakuni, Radheya and Duhsasana, planned to go to the Kamyaka forest where the Pandavas were. In order to convince the king of their intention, they told him that they were going to Dwaitavana to inspect cattle. The king, knowing that Dwaitavana was close to Kamyaka where the Pandavas were, tried to dissuade them from going, but in vain.

The foursome, with an extensive retinue, camped at Dwaitavana. While there, they came to know that the Pandavas too had moved to Dwaitavana and were living close by a lake. Duryodhana issued orders to his men to at once set camp by the lake.

His men, however, returned with the news that the lake was already occupied by a gandharva and his retinue. Duryodhana asked his men to tell the gandharva to vacate the lake for the Kuru monarch. The gandharva was untouched by the orders and questioned the audacity of a mortal against denizens of heaven.

Duryodhana, when he came to know that the lake was not given him by the gandharva, was furious and attacked the occupants of the lake. Despite the size of the troops and the obstinate courage of Duryodhana and Radheya, the fight, almost from the start, was one-sided in favour of the gandharva. At a point, Radheya was forced to flee. Duryodhana was captured by the gandharva and unceremoniously dragged by the hair. Soon, his brothers too were dragged away.


Panic stricken, the remaining men in Duryodhana’s retinue ran to the Pandavas’ ashrama and, relating briefly what had happened, beseeched their help in rescuing the Kauravas. Bhima refused help saying it was an occasion for all of them to rejoice. Yudhishtira, intervening, said: Oh, Vrikodhara, is it not a shame that you talk thus? The Kauravas are, after all, our brothers. Now, take along with you Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva and rescue them from the gandharvas!

Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva favoured Yudhishtira’s just view and Bhima fell in train. The fight that ensued was intense, and even the heavenly weapons the gandharva chief threw at them Arjuna could handle with ease. Surprised, the gandharva came to see closely whom they were fighting. Arjuna was surprised to see not any gandharva, but one he had befriended while in Indra’s court. Chitrasena, this gandharva, had been Arjuna’s teacher of music and dance.

The two, immensely pleased to see each other, embraced and talked at length. Arjuna asked Chitrasena why he had captured his cousins, and the latter said: You see, Duryodhana did not come here just to inspect his cows. His intention was to make all of you suffer. Lord Indra, your father, came to learn of this and he sent me down to curb their moves. I acted accordingly. Now, I shall hand over all the prisoners to Yudhishtira, by whose orders, you are here.

Yudhishtira profusely thanked Chitrasena, then turned to Duryodhana, gently advised him against such unwise moves, and set them all free.


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