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 vexed her.