Mahabharata - Part 6 
Indraprastha Lost  

Narrated by: Grandpa, Edited by: Monisha Chakravarthy
Courtesy: Association of Grandparents of Indian Immigrants (AGII)
Picture acknowledgements : Dreamland Publications, Delhi, India ,
India Book House Pvt. Ltd., Publishers of Amar Chitra Katha, Mumbai, India

On the way to Hastinapur, Shakuni revealed his evil plan to Duryodhana. He said, " Yudhishthira is fond of the game of dice, and none can beat me in this game because I use charmed dice. Your job is to persuade your father, Dhritarashtra, to invite Yudhishthira to play dice with me in the presence of all the dignitaries in the court. Leave the rest to me."

When Duryodhana reached Hastinapur, he went straight to Dhritarashtra and narrated the prosperous condition of the Pandavas. Dhritarashtra was a nice man and was pleased to hear that his brother's sons, the Pandavas, were doing well.

Finding an appropriate moment, Duryodhana asked "Father, let us have a special celebration to exemplify our friendliness with the Pandavas by inviting them to Hastinapur. We will also invite other dignitaries to this occasion where the top attraction and excitement will be the dice game between Yudhishthira and our maternal uncle Shakuni."

Dhritarashtra did not comprehend the evil plan of Duryodhana and Shakuni. He was blind and had been indulgent towards his eldest son, Duryodhana. So, he permitted Duryodhana to have his way.

The invitation of the dice game went to Yudhishthira and he accepted. The Pandavas arrived on the previous day along with Draupadi leaving behind their mother Kunti and their children with Subhadra. The Pandavas rested for the night in the guesthouse and reached the gambling hall on the following day, the day of the royal dice game. Other royal dignitaries also arrived and Dhritarashtra and his courtiers welcomed them.

Before the starting of the game Shakuni wished Yudhishthira good luck and said, "Your majesty! Let us decide about the stakes."

Yudhishthira remarked, "Uncle, let us keep the game fair."

Shakuni was a professional gambler and he knew the weakness of his challenger. He retorted, "Yudhishthira, let the dice decide our luck. Play fearlessly if you have the courage and accept whatever comes out of it. If you are afraid, you can refuse and quit now. There is no quitting after this."

Yudhishthira's pride was hurt. He did not want to withdraw in front of the dignitaries who came there to witness the game. He proudly said, "You may call for the stake and I will agree to that."

Duryodhana was waiting for the opportunity, he spoke at once, "I shall put the stakes and uncle Shakuni shall throw the dice for me. Is it acceptable to you?"

Yudhishthira agreed.

Yudhishthir was no match for Shakuni. Using his charmed dice Shakuni won every game. Eventually, Yudhishthir lost everything, his riches, his kingdom, his brothers and finally even himself. Last of all, he staked his wife Draupadi and lost her too.

Duryodhana asked his brother Dushashana to bring Draupadi to the court. When Dushashana reached the guesthouse, Draupadi was unaware of the calamity that had befallen on her family. She was amazed to hear that Yudhishthira gambled away every thing that the Pandavas owned. Draupadi refused to go to the court. Dushashana, in the pretext of carrying out the orders of his elder brother dragged her into the court by her hair.

Karna got this chance to humiliate the Pandavas in public and got even with the insults that the Pandavas showered on him in the past. He asked Duryodhana to order to remove off the royal garments that the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi were wearing. Dushashana could not find a better way to insult Draupadi in public.

Draupadi looked around but there was no one who could rescue her. She finally called for Krishna to save her honor. As Dushashana pulled her saree to disgrace her, Krishna invisibly supplied the sarees one after another and Draupadi could not be undressed.

When Dushashana got tired of pulling the saree, Duryodhana ordered Draupadi, "You are now my maid, sit on my thigh."

Bheema could not tolerate the insults any longer and shouted, "I am taking this vow that one day I will drink blood from Dushashana's heart and break the thigh of Duryodhana for insulting a chaste woman in public."

Draupadi charged the elders with anger, "It is a shame for the race of Kshatriyas, the descendants of Bharata, to allow a chaste woman of their own family to be disgraced before their very eyes. I condemn the elders, the so called warriors, sitting here and watching me disgraced."

Dhritarashtra was shaken up. He asked his sons to stop and he apologized to Draupadi for fear of the curse that may befall on the Kauravas.

Then he asked Duryodhana to accept an alternative to release the Pandavas from the slavery. Duryodhana agreed to banish them for thirteen years before they return to Hastinapur along with the condition that they should be incognito during the thirteenth year. If their identity is disclosed on the thirteenth year, they would have to go for an exile of another thirteen years.

Upon Draupadi's request Dhritarashtra returned all the weapons to the Pandavas and bade good bye, wishing them well. The Pandavas returned to Indraprastha for the last time to make arrangements for their mother to stay with their uncle, Vidur and Subhadra, Arjuna's wife, with her brother, Krishna, along with the children.

The Pandavas faced hard times as they started their exile. It was difficult for the Pandava brothers to get enough food to satisfy their hunger. Yudhishthira prayed for the sun god, Surya, with his utmost sincerity. The Sun god came and presented Yudhishthira with a miraculous copper plate.

"Give this plate to Draupadi. It will go on giving you whatever dishes you want every day till Draupadi finishes her meal."

After returning home from his daily worship, Yudhishthira gave the copper bowl to Draupadi and told her everything that sun god had said. Draupadi was very pleased to hear of the boon and took the bowl to her kitchen with great reverence. The Pandavas soon invited all sages and saints to share food with them.

One day Vyasa arrived to pay his sympathy for the Pandavas. He predicted, "After thirteen years, following your period of exile, there will be a fearful war with the Kauravas when you return to Hastinapur. Finally you will come out victorious. The war will leave only a few survivors of the descendants of Bharata. It will be wise if you start preparing yourself for the oncoming battle. Hence start to acquire as many divine weapons as you can during your exile."