In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Naarada rendering some important pieces of advice to the Paandava brothers with regards to leading their married life with Draupati. In order to ensure that no undue fight happens between the five brothers over Draupati, Sage Naarada formulated some “rules” and “regulations” to live with her. One important rule was that each person would have twelve months at a stretch to live with Draupati. Yudishtra would first live with her for the first twelve months, and subsequently the others would have their time with her as well. However, if anyone comes in the middle while the other is spending time with Draupati, he would have to go to the forest for a full-fledged “Vana-Vaasa” as a Brahmacharya. As Sage Naarada explains thus, the Paandava brothers accept it, and with this, the current Parva gets over. We’re now going to enter into the next “Parva” called “Arjuna-Vana-Vaasa-Parva”, wherein whatever Sage Naarada said, happened! Arjuna once came in the middle of Yudishtra and Draupati and hence, he had to go on a “Vana-Vaasa” for a year. However, when Arjuna went on the Vana-Vasa, even though the stipulated time was twelve months, he did not return back for the next twelve years! He was roaming around for the next twelve years here and there and in fact, Arjuna was a Brahmachari only for a year. However, within the next eleven years, Arjuna got married thrice and he was literally “enjoying” his life! Sage Vyaasa explains all this in detail in the subsequent Parvas.
The event starts like this – One fine day, a Brahmana Rishi was crying aloud that someone had abducted his cow, which was faithfully giving milk to his family. As Arjuna was passing by that place, he heard the cries of this Brahmana Rishi and Arjuna’s heart melted. He wanted to somehow relieve the Brahmana Rishi of his problem, however, he did not have his weapons in his hand at that moment. All the weapons were in the room where Yudishtra and Draupati were living together! As Arjuna went for it, he suddenly remembered Sage Naarada’s advice that he shouldn’t be going in the middle when another person was living with Draupati. However, if he has to save the cow and the Brahmana Rishi, he has to take his bow and arrow from where Yudishtra was. Now this was a huge dilemma for Arjuna! What could he do? Arjuna sank into confusion for a moment, thinking which way to take – Either to go ahead and save the Brahmana Rishi, or to go into Vana-Vaasa because of barging into Yudishtra’s life!
Thinking for a while thus, Arjuna came to a decision. The decision was quite straightforward – Preventing the killing of a cow in the kingdom was of paramount importance, rather than him going on a “Vana-Vaasa”. If Arjuna has to go on the “Vana-Vaasa”, it is only for one year and after that he can always come back and live with Draupati. However, if he did not stop the killing of the cow, it would bring a bad reputation on the whole clan of the Paandavas that they did not stop an “Adharma” taking place right in front of their eyes. Moreover, it would be on record that Arjuna acted on his “personal interests” rather than acting for the people and the kingdom’s interests. Hence, Arjuna decided to take the extreme step of barging into the chamber where Yudishtra and Draupati were living. He tied a cloth around his eyes, entered into the chamber, took his bow and arrow, went ahead and protected the cow from being killed! In fact, as Arjuna did this, Yudishtra never took Arjuna in the wrong sense, because he also knew that Arjuna was compelled to enter inside. Moreover, since Arjuna had tied his eyes with a cloth, Yudishtra never even thought that Arjuna should go on a Vana-Vaasa.
However, Arjuna’s conscience pricked him when he came back. He straightaway went to Yudishtra and explained his stance thus, “Oh Yudishtra! I’m extremely sorry that I had to barge inside when you were living with Draupati. As per Sage Naarada’s instructions, I’ve to go on a one-year Vana-Vaasa! Please give me permission for the same!” As Arjuna said thus, Yudishtra was in tears! He did not want to let go of his dear brother to the forest for one full year. Yudishtra replied thus, “Oh Arjuna! You did not come inside wantedly to disturb us, isn’t it? You had come for a purpose and the purpose was extremely important! This is a special case, wherein you needn’t take up the Vana-Vaasa. Sage Naarada’s advice was that, if someone unnecessarily barges inside, he should enter into the Vana-Vaasa. You did not wantedly barge in. It was a circumstance that made you come inside. Hence, I do not approve of this as a mistake! You needn’t go anywhere!”
Even as Yudishtra explains his stance clearly, Arjuna wasn’t convinced! He replied to Yudishtra thus, “Oh Yudishtra! Please let us not flex the “Dharma” to our whims and fancies. Let us take “Dharma” as it is. If we start flexing the “Dharma” today for just one person, everyone will start flexing “Dharma” to their own convenience and it would become a chaos! I shall take up the Vana-Vaasa for what I’ve done. Please do not stop me!” Saying thus, Arjuna walked away with shame written all over his face. He undertook the Vana-Vaasa immediately after that! So for today, let us understand until this point, and we shall wait till the next episode to continue further! Stay tuned! 🙂