48. VIRATA'S DELUSION
AFTER defeating Susarma, king of Trigarta, Virata returned to his capital amidst the acclamations of the citizens. When he reached his palace, he saw that Uttara was not there and the womenfolk told him with much elation that Uttara had set out to conquer the Kauravas. They had not a doubt that their hand some prince could conquer the whole world. But the king's heart sank within him at the news, for he knew the impossible task which the delicately nurtured prince had taken on himself with no better following than a eunuch. "My dearly loved son must be dead by now," he cried, overwhelmed with anguish. He then bade his ministers collect and send as strong a force as could be got together for rescuing Uttara if he was still alive and bring him back. Scouts also were immediately despatched to find out Uttara's whereabouts and fate. Dharmaputra, now disguised as the sanyasin Kanka, tried to comfort Virata by assuring him that the prince could come to no harm, since Brihannala had gone as his charioteer. "You do not know about her," said he. "I do. Whosoever fights from a chariot driven by her, can be sure of victory. Further, the news of Susarma's defeat must have reached there and the Kauravas must have retreated." Meanwhile courtiers arrived from the field of battle with the glad news that Uttara had defeated the Kaurava forces and recovered the kine. This seemed too good to be true, even to the fond father, but Yudhishthira smilingly reassured him. Said he: "Have no doubts, O king. What the messengers say must be true. When Brihannala went out as charioteer, success was certain. There is nothing extraordinary in your son's victory. I happen to know that even Indra's charioteer or Krishna's cannot equal Brihannala." This seemed absurd to Virata, but he was too happy to resent it.