45. MATSYA DEFENDED
There were only two persons who could kill Kichaka, and Bhima was one of them. And so they suspected that Bhima might have been the vengeful Gandharva who had killed Kichaka. Duryodhana also felt that the lady who was the cause of the killing might be Draupadi. He expressed his doubts in the open assembly. He said: "I suspect that the Pandavas are in Virata's city. Now, he is one of the kings who are too stiff-necked to court our friendship. It would be a good thing to invade his country and carry away his cows. If the Pandavas are hiding there, they will certainly come out to fight with us to repay Virata's hospitality and we can easily spot them. If we discover them there and we can sure before the stipulated time, they will have to go to the forest again for another twelve, years. If, on the other hand, the Pandavas are not there, there is nothing lost." King Susarma, the ruler of Trigarta heartily supported him. "The king of Matsya is my enemy." he said, "and Kichaka has given me a lot of trouble. Kichaka's death must have weakened Virata considerably. Give me leave to attack Virata now." Karna seconded this proposition. They unanimously came to the decision that Susarma should attack Matsya from the south and draw off the army of Virata to the south for defence. Duryodhana, with the Kaurava army, would then launch a surprise attack on Virata from the northern side, which would be relatively undefended. Susarma invaded Matsya from the south seized the cattle and laid waste the gardens and fields on the way. The cowherds ran in great distress to Virata, who now very much wished that Kichaka were alive, for he surely would have made short work of the raiders. When he said so to Kanka (the assumed name by which Yudhishthira was known in Virata's court) the latter said: "O king, be not worried. Even though I am a hermit, I am an expert in warfare.