15.THE SLAYING OF BAKASURA
IN the city of Ekachakra, the Pandavas
stayed in the guise of brahmanas, begging
their food in the brahmana streets and
bringing what they got to their mother,
who would wait anxiously till their return.
If they did not come back in time, she
would be worried, fearing that some evil
might have befallen them.
Kunti would divide the food they brought
in two equal portions. One half would go
to Bhima. The other half would be shared
by the other brothers and the mother.
Bhima, being born of the Wind god had
great strength and a mighty appetite.
Vrikodara, one of the names of Bhima,
means wolf-bellied, and a wolf, you
know, looks always famished. And
however much it might eat, its hunger is
never quite satisfied.
Bhima's insatiable hunger and the scanty
food he used to get at Ekachakra went ill
together. And he daily grew thin, which
caused much distress to his mother and
brothers. Sometime later, Bhima became
acquainted with a potter for whom he
helped and fetched clay. The potter, in
return, presented him with a big earthen
pot that became an object of merriment to
the street urchins.
One day, when the other brothers had
gone to beg for alms, Bhimasena stayed
behind with his mother, and they heard
loud lamentations from the house of their
brahmana landlord. Some great calamity
surely had befallen the poor family and
Kunti went inside to learn what it was.
The brahmana and his wife could hardly
speak for weeping, but, at last the
brahmana said to his wife: "O unfortunate
and foolish woman, though time and again
I wished we should leave this city for
good, you would not agree. You persisted
in saying that you were born and bred
here and here you would stay where your
parents and relations had lived and died.
How can I think of losing you who have
been to me at once my life's mate, loving
mother, the wife who bore my children,
nay, my all in all? I cannot send you to
death while I keep myself alive.