Chaitraratha Parva is the elevnth upa parva in the first maha parva named as Adi parva in the epic Mahabharat. Mahabharat epic had been told by Vyasa to his son Shuka and to disciple Vyshampayana Rishi. We hear the holy incidences from the mouth of Vyshampayana as told to Janamejaya on his queries.

Sages instructing Yudhistira
What happened to the Pandavas in Ekachakrinagar after killing Bakasura?

Pandava brothers lived in the house of a Brahmin as his guests. During the day, Kunti and one of the Pandavas would remain in the house, helping the owner in routine works and the other brothers would go out to collect alms. In the evening, after collection of alms, they would distribute their collections to the host Brahmin and share within themselves. They practiced rituals also.

One day, a learned Brahmin came there as a new guest. On that day, Arjuna and Kunti were in the house. The new comer Brahmin had told them several news including the rituals, performed by Panchala king Drupada and as its result the birth of Shikhandi, Drishtadyumna and Krishna.

What was the necessity of Drupada’s rituals?

Drupada was unmarried when his father Prahasta had died. Drupada and Drona had studied together under the sage Bharadhwaja. Drona was the son of that sage, Bharadwaja but later Drona married, after his education was over. Drona married Kripi, the sister of Kripacharya. In their training period, under the Bharadwaja hermit, Drupada had promised to Drona,  half of his country in offer to Drona as a token of friendship. Then both of them were students, and had no idea of real life.

Ashwathama was the son of Drona. For the child care, Drona required cow milk but due to poverty he could not afford cow milk. He approached his class mate Drupada but Drupada had forgotten his old promise and Drona was put in distress. Then he approached Bhishma. He had become royal teacher and Arjuna and his companions had studied under Drona. Drona induced the disciple Arjuna and his companions to bring Drupada as his Gurudakshina. Drupada was captivated and when he was brought to Drona, Drona had freed him, offering him half of his country to keep friendship alive. But Drupada lost half of his kingdom and desired to get back his lost kingdom.

Drupada understood the importance divine powers. Drona had divine powers. Son of Drona, Ashwathama also had divine powers. Drupada had decided to conduct rituals to get sons or daughters in order to get victory through them over Drona and rule his country. Hence he searched for a suitable priest for a long time.

Who was the priest of Drupada?

Drupada got Dhoumya as his priest. He was a learned scholar and a great sage .

How many children Drupada had?

Through the rituals, he got three children. Shikhandi and Krishna were girls and Drishtadyumna was a boy. After few years, Shikhandi had become a eunich or dressed like a boy. Both Drishtadyumna and Shikhandi learned archery when they had grow up. Since they had born by the ritual fire, they had picked up their education quickly and had mastered many weaponry training and had become experts in their usages.

Kunti and Pandavas decided to go north towards Panchala after hearing the news and took leave of the host Brahmin and started towards north.       

Who was Chaitraratha ?

Chaitraratha was a Gandharva. Initially, he had a different name as Angaraparna and he used to fly over Bhagirati River during late night with his wife Kumbhinasi, an apsara, using their invisible chariot. They passed in the night over the banks of River Bhagirathi and teased persons who travelled in night times. Gandharvas and apsaras were used to amuse angels in heavens by music and dancings and occasionally visited in night times causing problems to human beings. Arjuna had controlled his arrogant nature.The Gandharva then desired friendship with him. As a result, his name was changed as Chaitraratha.

What Chaitraratha had done to Pandavas?

When Pandava brothers with Kunti started to cross Bhagirathi River, the Gandharva Chaitraratha and his wife, apsara Kumbhinasi had looked down towards them with their special knowledge. They frightened them but Arjuna had used his divine powers and applied the divine fire weapon towards them. Then the chariot of Chaitraratha had fallen to the river. He lost his identity.

Kumbhinasi apsara, the wife of the Gandharva begged Yudhishtira not to kill the Gandharva. Then Yudhishtira had compromised between the Gandharva Chaitraratha and Arjuna. Then Arjuna had let him off. The pleased Gandharva had offered them special types of horses and special ability to view things and some special type of wepons which were preserved by Arjuna except the horses. 

What was the main message of Chaitraratha?

Chaitraratha advised Pandava brothers to accompany with a learned priest always so that they would be leading in the right path of life like kings.

But later, the Pandava bothers disguised themselves as learned priests since they had already got training and practised the essential rituals while they had lived in the Ekachakrinagar, in the house of a Brahmin.  

After crossing Bhagirathi River, the Pandava brothers with Kunti travelled north. They disguised as Brahmin priests accompanied with their mother. On their way, they met with few other Brahmins and they told Pandavas as they intend to attend the swayamvara of princes Draupadi, daughter of Drupada.   

What was advised by Vyasa?

Before meeting the new Brahmins on their way to Panchala, the Pandava brothers with Kunti met with Vyasa. In the forest, Vyasa and Pandava brothes had spent a day and discussed various items. After burning of lacquire palace, Vyasa got the news and advised them to visit Panchala and try in the swayamvara of Draupadi.

How Vasishta had influenced Vishwamithra?

Vyasa had told Pandavas how Vasishta had influenced Vishwamithra.

Vasishta was a great sage. Shakti was his son and Adrishyanti was his daughter-in-law. Shakti had ninty nine brothers and hence Vasishta had one hundred children in total. When Viswamitra could not pull Nandini from the hermit of Vasishta, he understood the power of asceticism and started penance to become a Rishi. Later, he had become Vishwamithra Rishi. Previously his name was Kaushika, the king of Gadhi kingdom. Later, the son of King Sudasa, from Ayodhya had visited Vishwamitra to become his disciple. His name was Kalmashapada.

One day,  Kalmashapada was coming to meet Vishwamitra after taking bath from the River Sarayu. Shakti and his brothers wer going to the river to take bath in the morning. A demon Kinkara by name was very hungry and hiding himself to eat something but Vishwamitra Rishi had seen the demon. Kalmashapada was a young prince and hence ordered Shakti to allow the path to pass him first since it was very narrow. Shakti started arguments with him as he should be respected being a sage.

The quarrel continued and due to anger Shakti had cursed Kalmashapada to become a cannibal and to live by eating human flesh. Kalmashapada was a careless king and already had got cursed in a previous occasion . Immediately, the demon Kinkara had entered the body of Kalmashapada and Vishwamitra Rishi had left the place to avoid the unsuitable disciple. Then Vishwamitra Rishi had continued his penance for a long time. The demon started actions inside the body of Kalmashapada.

Kalmashapada had lost his sense and wanted to eat Shakti first who cursed him. He held him like a lion and ate him. Kalmashapada had eaten all the hundred children of Vasishta and then Vasishta had become very sad. When Shakti had been eaten by Kalmashapada, his wife Adrishyanti was pregnant.  Vasishta heard the child reciting Vedas through the stomach of Adrishyanti. But Vasishta was very possessed and a peace loving sage. He had sympathy on Kalmashapada. Vasishta had removed the demon from the body of Kalmashapada and driven the demon to the underworld to live there for a long time.

Then, Kalmashapada was very old but became happy and asked to bless a child for Ayodhya. Vasishta had donated the child of Adrishyanti, by naming the child as Asmaka. Kalmashapada had adopted Asmaka and later Asmaka had became a great king of Ayodhya. After a few years of penance, Vishwamitra had carried away the cow Nandini to his own hermit.Vasishta had lived as a priest for the palace of Ayodhya for a long time after he lost the cow.

How the announcement of swayamvara of Draupadi was got by Arjuna?

Pandava brothers continued as priest boys with their mother Kunti. Some other Brahmins were moving towards Panchala capital only to eat the feast of the swayamvara day. Arjuna had spoken with them and they travelled to Panchala city.

Why this upa parva is named after Chaitraratha? As per instructions of Chaitraratha, Pandava brothers accepted Dhaumya sage as  their priest. Arjuna had got divine visual powers from Chaitraratha . Along with their mother, Pandava brothers moved towards Panchala with a hope to succeed in the swayamvara due to the benefits got from Chaitraratha. Hence this upa parva is named after him.

सर्वस्य हि परीक्ष्यन्ते स्वभावा नेतरे गुणाः ।
अतीत्य हि गुणान्सर्वान्स्वभावो मूर्ध्नि वर्तते ॥

Meaning: At all times, character plays an important role, not any other features. Character occupies the most important position of human beings.

Next post, Mahabharat: Swayamvara parva is more interesting.

Mahabharat: Vaivahika Parva would be presented separately in another article.

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