44. VIRTUE VINDICATED
YUDHISHTHIRA put on the garb of a
sanyasin. Arjuna transformed himself into
a eunuch. Others also disguised
themselves. But no disguise could take
away their natural charm, grace and
nobility of appearance.
When they went to King Virata seeking
service, they seemed to him born to
command and rule rather than to serve. He
hesitated, at first, to engage them in
service but yielding to their urgent
solicitations, he finally appointed them to
the places they sought of him.
Yudhishthira became the king's
companion and spent his days in playing
dice with him. Bhima worked as the chief
of the cooks. He also entertained the king
by wrestling with the reputed men of
might whom came to the court, and by
controlling wild animals.
Arjuna assumed the name of Brihannala
and taught dancing, singing and
instrumental music to Princess Uttara, the
daughter of Virata, and the ladies. Nakula
looked after the horses and Sahadeva
looked after the cows and the bulls.
The princess Draupadi who, if fate had
been less cruel, should herself have been
served by many maids, had now to pass
her days in serving Sudeshna, Virata's
queen. She lived in the inner apartments
of the palace as maid and companion,
engaging herself in uncongenial tasks.
Kichaka, the brother of Sudeshna, was the
commander-in-chief of Virata's army and
it was to him that the old king Virata
owed his power and prestige. Kichaka
wielded such vast influence that people
used to say that Kichaka was the real king
of the Matsya country and old Virata king
only in name.
Kichaka was inordinately vain of his
strength and his influence over the king.
He was so smitten with Draupadi's beauty
that he conceived an uncontrollable
passion for her. And he was so sure of his
own attractions and power that it never
occurred to him that she, though a mere
maidservant could resist his will. He made
amorous overtures to her, which greatly