Mahabharata: The Ghosha Yatra Episode

Source: Mahabharata Vana Parva, Ghosha Yatra Upa Parva, Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, Chapter 22

Once, when the Pandavas were staying in the forest as part of their Vanavasa, Duryodhana and Shakuni come up with an evil plan to humiliate the Pandavas. Using the concept of Ghosha Yatra as a pretext, they decide to show off their power and status to the Pandavas and make them feel dejected. Ghosha Yatras were undertaken by Kings to inspect the cows in various lands and ensure their well being. But the Kauravas decide to make that a pretext to insult the Pandavas.

Accordingly, Duryodhana, Shakuni, Karna and the other Kauravas travel along with their families into Dvaita vana where the Pandavas are staying. They carry huge wealth and weapons along with them to show off. The King of Devatas, Indra, doesn’t like this plan of Duryodhana and he decides to teach him a lesson. He calls Chitrasena, a Gandharva, and instructs him to setup Duryodhana and insult him. He grants him boons to overcome the might of Duryodhana. Similarly, Lord Hari and Brahma also bestow boons on the Gandharva.

Even before the Kauravas, Chitrasena, along with his huge army of Gandharvas, reaches the Dvaita vana and occupies the lake which the Kauravas were approaching. Seeing the lake taken over by others, the soldiers of Duryodhana enter into an argument. They ask the Gandharvas to vacate the place for their King. The Gandharvas laugh at this and tell the soldiers that they consider only Indra as their King. Karna, Shakuni and Duryodhana also get into the argument and soon a fight breaks out.

The Gandharvas at first fight with Karna and Vikarna (a brother of Duryodhana). After a short duration of equal fight, Karna suffers losses. Soon, he loses his chariot also. He climbs on to the chariot of Vikarna and flees the place. After this, Duryodhana himself enters the battle. Again, Duryodhana manages to fight well for a short duration but soon the boons of Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Indra start to take effect. Duryodhana is badly defeated and taken prisoner, along with Shakuni and all their wives and families. Chitrasena ties them all up with “Vidyut Pashas” (equivalent to live electric wires).

Some ministers of Duryodhana escape from that battlefield and approach the Pandavas who have camped nearby. At that juncture, Yudhisthira is in the midst of a short Yajna which is supposed to be completed in a single day. He listens to the whole episode and asks Bhima and Arjuna to release Duryodhana. Bhimasena then displays his extraordinary knowledge and tells Yudhishthira the real purpose behind the visit of Duryodhana. He opines that Chitrasena has done exactly the right thing which they themselves ought to do. But Yudhisthira is overcome by his fraternal feelings and insists that Duryodhana and his family be rescued.

Bhimasena and Arjuna obey their older brother and approach Chitrasena. They engage him in a battle and very easily defeat the Gandharva. Chitrasena then tells the entire story behind Duryodhana’s visit and also Lord Indra’s instructions. Duryodhana is extremely shamed. Bhimasena and Arjuna get them all released and bring them in front of Yudhisthira. The wise Pandava chastises Duryodhana and advises him not to venture into such foolish pursuits ever again. He releases all of them and sends them back.

Duryodhana leaves Dvaita vana and travels some distance. He feels very dejected and sits down. Karna comes back at this stage and, upon finding Duryodhana there, thinks that the Kaurava managed to defeat the Gandharvas. He showers heavy praise on his friend and congratulates his friend on his ‘victory’. This further embarasses Duryodhana and he, very ashamedly, narrates the entire incident. Duryodhana then decides to enter into a “Prayopavesha” (fast unto death).

Thus, the evil plan of Duryodhana to insult Pandavas boomerangs on himself leading to extreme insult and embarassment.

(to be continued in a subsequent post…)

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