In Mahbharat, Jatugrihaparva is the eighth upa parva, under the first mahaparva namely the Adi parva. The original name of the Mahabharat book was Jaya, as Veda Vyasa Rishi, the original author, had desired and named it. His disciple Vaishampayana had continued to narrate the story to Janamejaya:

Burning lacquer palace
Pandavas and Kunti escaping the burning lacquer palace

Show of skills after learning

Yudhishtira had learned to fight in any kind of war and could be able to possess self-defense at any time. The last kid of Kaurava was a girl named as Dushala and Drona had taught her also, the archery lessons, according to their traditional status. Then Bhishma arranged her marriage with the king of Sindhu, Jayadrata.

The Pandavas had learned under the teacher Drona according to their aptitude in the various archery branches. Bhima and Duryodhana learnt the martial art of fight using the mace. Arjuna and other Kauravas had become experts in the use of bows and arrows. Karna had secured the friendship of Duryodhana, in order to complete his education there. Ashvathama was the son of Drona and he had also got his education there. After completion of teaching and studying, one day, all the princes had shown their efficiencies by a public exhibition. It was like a show of athletics by the children, for the enjoyment of their families. After that, Dritarashtra, Gandharai, Vidura and all people of the town of Hastinapur started to talk about the Pandu and Kuru children in appreciation.

Karna crowned as the king of Anga

The show time for the skill in weapons by Karna had been postponed for the second day. Ashvathama was also there. In addition to the children of Hastinapur, Drona was imparting education to the princes of nearby kingdoms. Hastinapur had sufficiently wide palace ground, thus practical training was easy for the children. Karna was the son of the Charioteer of Dritarashtra and Arjuna was a prince or son of late Pandu. Arjuna had objected to match Karna with him in show. Karna had a good physical body and he had secured the friendship of Duryodhana. Duryodhana could allot him a small kingdom so that he would feel like a prince of a small country. Then the father of Karna, Adiratha had become very happy.

In the middle of the show of weapons, Karna was anointed as the king of Anga rajya and that boosted the self-confidence of Karna. The people of Hastinapur witnessed the coronation ceremony there itself, carried out by Duryodhana. Then the trial show fight between Karna and Arjuna was proposed by a few. Immediately, arguments started against it and then the sunset time had approached. Hence the weapons show of the royal children was declared concluded successfully.

Gurudakshina to Dronacharya

The time for the discharging of students by Drona after the completion of their education was due. The Gurudakshina was a formality and all students anticipated for paying their nominal fees. The teacher would sometimes reject any thing and declare the education free. But Drona called all his disciples towards him and told them to bring as fees, Drupada, the king of Panchala kingdom, by arresting him.

Then Yudhishtira, Karna, Arjuna, Ashvathama and all the disciples of Drona had marched with their weapons to the kingdom of Panchala and declared war against Drupada. Drupada had a good army and he was also a good warrior but before the young and fresh enthusiastic regiment, Druapa had failed. Arjuna and other Pandavas with Kauravas had tied Drupada with rope and brought before Drona like a pet animal. Then the conversation between Drona and Drupada had started. Drona was a friend when Drupada had studied under Agnivesha and the time had been reminded by Drona. Due to failure and humiliation, Drupada had agreed to all the terms and conditions of Drona.

Drona had equally divided the Sindhu country based on the River Bhagirati as the divider. North part was allowed to Drupada and south part called Gurugrama area would be retained by Arjuna and would be added to the kingship of Hastinapur. Then both Drupada and Drona would continue to live with friendship. Drupada had agreed since he got half of his old kingdom back. Then he was allowed to enjoy freedom and to build a new palace for his new portion of his kingdom. Drona and Drupada departed for that day.

After building a new palace for his country, he married and conducted a ritual. His purpose was to get children who would conquer Drona and reunite the divided country. After the ritual, two children had been granted by the agni deity to Drupada. He named the male child as Drishtadyumna and the female child as Draupadi.

Drupada had brought his children up and provided good education to them.

Varanavat festival publicity

Varanavat was a small rural town away from Hastinapur. There was annual fair in that town every year in the season. But when Duryodana and his Kaurava brothers had completed their education, some new ideas had haunted the minds of Kauravas. People talked about the five Pandava brothers with appreciation. But Duryodana could not get such pleasing approach from the Hastinapur public. Hence Duryodana thought to keep away the five Pandava brothers with Kunti and house them in Varanavat would be better for his prestige. Duryodana obtained the sanction of Dritarashtra and Bhishma for a proposed temporary palace near Varanavat for housing Pandavas during the fair and festival.

Duryodhana’s instructions to Purochana

Duryodana had a Minister called Purochana. He called him secretly and instructed him to build a palace for housing the five Pandavas with Kunti during the fair and festival seasons, at Varanavat. Vidura was the Minister for Dritarashtra. Vidura had started to supervise the developments of the construction of the Lacquer Palace as he was the responsible one for the cash and materials of Hastinapur. Purochana had used mules to carry most of the inflammable items to Varanavat for the palace construction for Pandavas. The wooden parts were smeared with ghee and most of the walls were constructed utilizing lacquer.

Construction of lacquer palace

Vidura helped Yudhishtira secretly. He could notice the two groups of children in their daily movements. One day, the lacquer palace was ready for inauguration and all the five Pandavas with Kunti had been allotted for ten days. Yudhishtira with his brothers and mother had entered the new house at Varanavat. Then Duryodhana felt happy.

The five Pandava brothers have examined the palace made of lacquer. Yudhishtira remembered the secret warnings of Vidura. Yudhishtira and his brother Bhima discussed future plans to save their own lives.

Tunnel to forest for safety

Bhima could not sleep on the first night in the lacquer palace. He started to dig a tunnel from a distant safe place in the forest to the central room of the lacquer Palace in the ground floor to escape in case of fire mishap.

Burning of the Lacquer palace

On the next day, the tunnel works were completed by Bhima. On that evening, the Pandavas’ guess had proved to come true. Immediately on sunset, the people of Duryodhana had started to watch the Pandavas and waited to be asleep. In the early night, the five Pandavas with Kunti had pretended as asleep. Then they had closed the doors of the palace, and started their journey to the forest through the tunnel with minimum dress for their stay and vessels to start a camp.

Sleeping on bare ground in forest

After getting out of the tunnel, they could see the fire blazing over their lacquer palace. Bhima and Yudhishtira had confirmed about Purochana and his mischievous scorching of the lacquer palace during night. Bhima had gone out of the palace last. They reached the forest and walked to a very distant place in the forest. The terrain hills and rivers, faced on the route, had been crossed by them. All the five Pandava brothers and their mother Kunti were tired after walking. They had crossed the border of Hastinapur kingdom and felt a place under a banyan tree confortable for sleeping due to fatigue. They had slept on the ground under the same tree without expecting anything, except Bhima.  

Bhima’s sadness

Even though Bhima had carried his mother and brothers on the way while coming, he was still keeping awake in that late night, and would bring some water for emergency use at night, so he started searching for water. Taking a small vessel, he walked a small distance and found a good natural tank and fetched water and sat near his brothers. He decided to watch the place in the night.

Now Bhima with his brothers were lying on the bare ground. On the previous night, they had slept in the royal palace, enjoying all the comforts as befitted for the princes. Bhima could start thinking of the reality of life but felt sad as his mother had slept on the ground. He was not married. All of the Pandava brothers had basic education but they were due to get higher specialized education. He decided to live in forests. He had heard his mother had lived in forests with his father before his birth. Hence Kunti was not worried at all. As applicable to the people who dwell near forests, they would start their life and found Yudhishtira sleeping without any worries on that bare ground, enjoying a natural sleep, feeling better than the royal palace built using lacquer.

The life of forest had been a benefit for them. Since after a few years, they were bound to go exile for twelve years, and it had given a good background experience. The youngest of Pandavas, Sahadeva could assess them as he was a good astrologer. In the early morning, Bhima had washed his face and mouth by going near the tank and when his mother had awakened, he provided her water but then he slept due to his continuous two days of hard work at night.

On the following day at Hastinapur, news had been spread regarding the fire mishap of the lacquer palace at Varanavat and everybody thought the Pandava brothers with their mother had died. Bhishma for Dritarashtra had ordered for the final rituals for the Pandava princes and Kunti. When the people had started searching the lac house for the remnants, they found the five charred bodies and that of one charred lady. Before the arrival of the neighborhood people, the labor that assisted Bhima to dig the tunnel had reinstated the soil and left the place intact as it was earlier, unnoticed by anybody.

On the Lac palace burning night, Kunti had served a grand vegetarian supper to some learned persons as the sign of donations. But Purochana had invited a women who belonged to forest tribes to bring alcohol for drinking himself. That lady had brought the alcohol along with her five children. The five Pandava brothers and Kunti had only vegetarian food and pretended as slept early. The alcohol consumed by Purochana and due to intoxication lied on ground inside the palace. Kunti had provided rice to the children of the lady servant. Since the servant had brought a large quantity of alcohol the balance remained had been consumed by herself and her children. Due to intoxication, they slept inside the palace itself. They could not stand up and run away and hence burnt and died inside the rooms.

People talked about Dritarashtra badly, on thinking the five Pandava brothers with Kunti had died, it was deliberately arranged by them to murder the sons of Pandu to grab the throne by Duryodhana and his Kaurava brothers.  Purochana had also burnt and died there itself since he could not stand up and run away. He was trapped in his own riddle and found the end of his life.

Next post, Mahabharat: Hidimbi Vadha parva may not be missed.

Mahabharat: Bakasura Vadha would be presented separately in another article.

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