43. DOMESTIC SERVICE
The Pandavas retired to a secluded spot in the forest and discussed their future line of action. Yudhishthira sadly asked Arjuna: "You are well conversant with the ways of the world. Where would it be best for us to spend the thirteenth year?" Arjuna replied: "O great king, you know Yama, the Lord of Death, has blessed us. We can easily pass the twelve months together without being discovered. There are many charming states for us to choose from for our sojourn, states like Panchala, Matsya, Salva, Videha, Bahlika, Dasharna, Surasena, Kalinga, and Magadha. It is, of course, for you to choose. But if I may venture an opinion, the Matsya country of king Virata is the best, prosperous and charming as it is." Yudhishthira answered: "Virata, the king of Matsya, is very strong and he loves us much. He is of mature judgment and is devoted to the practice of virtue. He will not be won over or frightened by Duryodhana. I agree that it would be best to live incognito in Virata's kingdom." Arjuna said: "Well then, O king, what work would you seek in the court of Virata?" When he asked this question, Arjuna was full of sorrow at the thought of Yudhishthira, the great and guileless king, who had performed the Rajasuya sacrifice, having to disguise himself and take service. Yudhishthira answered: "I am thinking of asking Virata to take me in his service as a courtier. I could delight him with my conversation and my dexterity at dice. I shall take the garb of a sanyasin and shall keep him agreeably engaged by my skill in reading omens and knowledge ofastrology as well as of the Vedas, Vedangas, ethics, politics and other sciences. I shall have to be careful of course, but be not anxious about me. I shall tell him that I was an intimate friend of Yudhishthira and learnt these things while I was privileged to be with him.