Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mahabharata/Jaya - Living incognito in Matsya kingdom and Keechak Vadh (murder)

“Come to the Dance Hall in the night. We should keep it very discreet. If my Gandharva husbands come to know of it and they might kill you.” Thus spoke Sairandhiri to Keechak, Commander-in-Chief of Matsya Kingdom. Little did Keechak know that it was an invitation from his death and that this would again cause some more debates between the Pandavas and Kauravas.

12 years of forest exile were over and now it was the last clause of the condition – one year in anonymity during which if the Pandavas are identified by Duryodhana then the exile will start all over again. The Pandavas decided to discguise themselves and stay in Virata, capital city of Matsya kingdom, which wasn’t that far from Hastinapur kingdom. Their logic was that Duryodhana would have cast his spies in the forests and in the higher mountainous regions as they would not anticipate Pandavas taking a chance so close. Pandavas went to Virata city separately as unrelated strangers and seeked employment. They claimed that they used to work for Yuddhistira but after the dice game they have been wandering and looking for jobs.

Yuddhistira disguised himself as a Brahmin named Kanka and worked in the court of King of Matsya asa minister. He used to play dice with King who too had a weakness for the dice game. It is said that Yuddhistira really excelled in the game here and became an expert. Bhima took up the job of a cook and named himself Ballav. Arjuna used his curse for this year and assumed the role of a eunuch named Brihanalla. He taught dance to princess Uttara. Nakula became a royal groom in the horse stable and Sahadev became the royal cowherd. It can be noted that Pandavas used this time to indulge in their fantasies. Bhima, with his affection for food, was also known to be interested in cooking. Maybe, he was unable to do so once he grew up to be a prince. Arjuna’s is the most strangest. Did he have a tendency to be a transvestite? Or did he love arts and dance but his royal lineage did not allow him to explore those fields as a participant? Or maybe, he was too famous and could have been easily recognizable without such a drastic makeover. Nakula and Sahadev were animal lovers and they were very comfortable managing the respective stables.

Draupadi was still to suffer here as compared to her husbands. Draupadi called herself Sairandhri and claimed that she used to be a personal maid of Queen Draupadi. She now became the personal maid of the Queen. A queen of a great empire was now to serve as a maid to another queen. It must have hurt her a lot. If this was not enough, then there were constant threat from lusty higher caste men. She had then concocted a story that she was married to some powerful Gandharvas (forest tribes/sorcerers) who would take revenge on anyone who would hurt her.

Once Keechak, Matsya kingdom’s commander-in-chief, saw Draupadi and was instantly attracted to her. He tried to woo her but she refused stating her marriage. Then he tried to force himself on her. Then Draupadi ran towards the royal court for help. Now, Keechak was not just a commander-in-chief but was also the queen’s brother. Also, his might and warfare prowess kept the kingdom safe from external threats though everyone knew him to rough and tyrant. Even the king did not interfere in his tantrums. Sairandhri asked the king for his help but he only scolded Keechak who was not even bothered by him. Sairandhri looked at Kanka for help but he did not do anything except for standing with his head bowed down. Ballav had heard Sairandhri’s calls for help and had rushed to the royal court. But Kanka stopped him and reminded him of the clause of not being found out by Duryodhana. This again shows dispassion and long-sightedness of Yuddhistira. He refuses to help his own wife as he knows that getting back Indraprastha was bigger than killing Keechak.

Keechak leaves Sairandhri for the time-being confirming that he will come to her quarters in the nights. Sairandhri is no ordinary woman and her wrath is unforgiving. Kanka approaches Sairandhri later to ensure that she forgives Keechak and somehow withstand the current humiliation but she could have none of it. Sairandhri vows that she will not wipe the blood on her face until Keechak is dead and that will happen before sunrise next day. She then sneaks to the kitchen that night and manipulates Ballav to kill Keechak. It is to be noted that Sairandhri did not approach Brihanalla (Arjun) or any of the other younger brothers but Balav (Bhima). She knew that Bhima could be easily moved by emotion and then reasoning or Dharma cannot stop him. Ballav tells Sairandhri to entice Keechak to come to the Dance hall at midnight. Bhima will disguise himself as a woman and wait for him. Sairandhri does as told. At midnight, Keechak finds a figure covered in sari waiting for him. As he touches it, the figure removes the sari and discloses himself as Bhima. Keechak was in an inebriated state. Bhima easily pounds him to death. The next morning everyone is surprised and scared to see the dead body of Keechak. They now believe that Sairandhri is truly married to Gandharva (Sorcerer) husbands and they can punish anyone. This gives some respite to Sairandhri but then all was to change yet again.

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