One day the Kauravas and the Pandavas were playing a game which, today, we would most likely call “kabaddi”. When there is jealousy, malice and hatred in the mind, a game like this could turn into a mini battlefield. This was precisely what happened that day. Misusing the rules of the game, Dussasana hit Yudhisthira so hard that he vomited blood. In response, Bhima mercilessly thrashed each of the hundred Kaurava brothers and they all passed out. Bhishma and Sanjaya arrived and revived the Kaurava princes.
Dhritarashtra was extremely worried. Most fervently he prayed to Bhagawan Balarama and he arrived. Dhritarashtra told him about what Bhima had done. He was very fearful about his children, he told him. Balarama smiled and said that things like that would happen in a game and that he should not be unduly worried. Dhritarashtra did not feel reassured by these words. So Balarama touched the head of each of his sons and said that from then on, they were his children too and that he himself would protect them. Saying that he left. Dhritarashtra was relieved.
Reaching home in Dwaraka, he told everything to his younger brother. No brother, not just in Sarala Mahabharata, in the entire puranic literature in Odia, was as indulgent to his younger brother as Balarama was to Krishna. He told Krishna that he had assured Dhritarashtra that he would protect his children. He would teach the use of mace to the Kauravas, so that in case the Pandavas fought them, Duryodhana would kill them all and become king.
Now Balarama didn’t know that Arjuna was very dear to Krishna. Krishna was worried. Without telling his brother, that very night he went to Indraprastha and met Arjuna. Since they met outside the palace, no one knew about their meeting – neither Kunti nor Arjuna’s brothers. Arjuna prostrated himself at his feet again and again. Krishna asked him what had happened during the game. Arjuna told him everything: how Dussasana had hit Yudhisthira maliciously, how Bhima had got angry and beaten up the Kaurava brothers, how Balarama had arrived and assured Dritarashtra that he would henceforth protect his sons.
Krishna told him that Dhritarashtra was trying to exploit Balarama’s naivety, natural kindness and generosity and set him against them. From then on, he warned Arjuna, the Pandavas must never trust not only Dhritarashtra, but also Duryodhana, Karna, Ashwasthama and Shalya. Arjuna was overwhelmed with Krishna’s concern for them. “If you are so concerned for us, O Lord,” said Arjuna, “we will not be defeated even if we are pitted against not just one, but one lakh Balaramas.” Krishna liked his friend’s self-confidence but warmed him again. “Remember, Arjuna”, he told him,” you all must be extremely careful on matters of food and sleep. Often one falls into the enemy’s trap because of one’s lack of attention and other minor lapses. You must convey my message to your brothers and you must find a way of moving away from those who you must not trust.” Saying this, he left.
We might pause a while and reflect on these words of Destiny. Often one’s vulnerability relates to food and sleep. Bhima was given poisonous ladoos (sweets) after this meeting of Krishna and Ajuna and later, attempt was made to burn the Pandavas and their mother to death in a house of lak (wax) during their sleep. Destiny is not unkind; it forewarns, but ordinary mortals do not often understand its language.
To return to Arjuna. He went to Yudhisthira and told him what all Krishna had said. The son of Dharma was unruffled. “He is the Lord of the Universe and is the Soul of the Universe”, Yudhisthira told his brother, “he knows what is in whose mind, who thinks in terms of adharma and who, dharma.” However, there was no reason, he told Arjuna, for them to be worried on account of Dhritarashtra. They had always treated him with utmost respect. They were devoted to him. Why then would he want to harm them, he asked. One who wished ill of others would be consumed by one’s own adharma, he said. Therefore, the one who was ever untouched by anger and who could never look upon any one as his enemy, told Arjuna that the Pandavas must live in accordance with dharma and not worry about Dhritashtra.
One day, soon after his meeting with Balarama, Dhritarashtra told Sanjaya, his trusted advisor, that he was very worried about Bhima. His sons were not safe, he told him. He feared that being extremely wicked and powerful, Bhima might harm them. Sanjaya did not like Dhritarashtra’s attitude. If he was distinguishing between Pandu’s sons and his, then how would he look after the former, he asked him. With suspicion in his heart, how would he trust Pandu’s children and live with them? That very night Dhritarashtra sent for Vidura.
“You are learned and wise,” said Dhritarashtra, “what do you think of Bhima?” Vidura told him that he must not worry about him. He was a mere child. Children in their innocence would always be like that – sometimes they would be friends, sometimes they would fight among themselves. Besides, he was their father’s elder brother. Their father having died, who, but he, was there to look after them, he counselled Dhritarashtra. The blind king was unimpressed. His sons would be unsafe so long as Bhima was alive, he told Vidura.
If that was in his mind, he must stop living with those five, said Vidura. Dhritarashtra was happy. He had given sensible advice, he told cousin Vidura. On the outskirts of Hastinapura, there was a hilly terrain called Indraprastha and he got a modest palace built there for his brother’s sons. Incidentally, Indraprastha became very prosperous only later – mainly at the time of Yudhisthira’s rajaswiya(alternatively, “rajaswa”) yajna. All that for a different post!
In the meantime, one day the wise elder Bhishma visited Dhritarashtra. He had just witnessed Bhima’s energy and power, he told him. Near Indraprastha there was the hill named Karabira. Bhima flattened that hill with just one hit with his mace and Bhima was a mere child! Knowing the wicked nature of the Kaurava princes, he advised Dhritarashtra to keep his children under control. The king was very nervous and disturbed. At what unfortunate moment had Kunti given birth to that son of hers, he wondered.
Sanjaya was there with him when the Pandavas paid their respects to him the following morning. Dhritarashtra ritually blessed them, sat with them and told Yudhisthira that along with his brothers he should live in Indraprastha. Duryodhana and Bhima could not stand each other. “Your brother, Bhima, is very wicked”, he told Yudhisthira”, “if he stayed in Hastinapura, there would be continuous tension and conflict.” “That was proper”, said the sinless Yudhisthira. He told him that they would happily leave for Indraprastha, in obedience to his wish.
Kunti was very upset. She blamed Bhishma for having persuaded her to come to Hastinapura. She had settled down at the mountains of Satasringha. That was not very long ago. Now she again had to leave for a new place with her children. All this was unsettling for her.
One day, after they had moved to Indraprastha, Kunti chided Bhima. It was all because of his wickedness, she told him, that such problems arose for them from time to time. King Dhritarashtra was so kind and considerate towards them, and he spoiled everything.
Bhima behaved as though he was completely deaf.