Monday, April 24, 2017

Gatothgaja - Chapter 5


Meanwhile, Hidimba was waiting for his sister. She had never been late before. She had always been quick and efficient in her kills.
But right now, Hidimba waited and waited and still there was no sign of his sister.
Finally, Hidimba got impatient and walked towards the direction that her sister had gone.
And as he walked the entire forests trembled. Because Hidimba was a really frightful looking monster. With red eyes, hairy body and arms which were as thick as the truck of trees and long and sharp pointed teeth, Hidimba looked like he could kill humans with a single blow. He could.
Hidimba plodded through to the clearing where the Pandavas and their mother was sleeping and on arriving there, he was stunned.
His sister, was now looking ravishingly beautiful and was talking with the human.
Shock gave way to anger as Hidimba snarled loudly looking ferocious as he bared his teeth at the human.
Looking at his sister's beautiful dresses and her made up face, Hidimba could almost immediately guess that his sister had changed her mind. Hidimba looked furiously angry at his sister and then murderously studied the human whom her sister loved.
Hidimbi naturally did not know anything about Bheema and she was afraid that her brother was going to kill the human who she had so deeply desired.
Bheema for his part, saw the ferocious monster and gave a mirthless smile. He looked at Hidimbi and shook his head. "Lady, do not be afraid of anything. As long as I am here, that monster can do nothing to anyone here," Bheema said in a sneering voice.
Hidimbi could not believe the audacity of the human before her. He was proud and regal and looked completely confident. Hidimbi had seen enough people to realize that the human was really not afraid of Hidimba.
But Hidimbi had seen her brother in action too and she knew that Hidimba was not someone to be taken lightly. "That brother of mine is really powerful, human!" Hidimbi said struggling not to get afraid.
Hidimba looked at the human and his own sister and he could barely control his hatred. "Hidimbi, in the mighty honour of the Rakshasas, who are your ancestors," Hidimba said in a sneering tone, "I am going to kill you and the human whom you hold so dear."
Hidimba came closer as he was trying to kill his sister.
Bheema wasted no time as he pushed Hidimba back angrily. "Your sister was sent here by you. And she fell in love with me. By loving me, she has committed no crime against you." Bheema said in a sneering voice. "And I will never let you hurt a woman when I am here."
"Talk and boast!" Hidimba said angrily, as he turned his attention from his sister to the human before her. "That is all you humans can do."
Hidimba gave a cursory glance at the sleeping Pandavas and Kunti and looked at Bheema with contempt. "And take it from me. I will destroy you and then I will kill you. And after that, I will kill every single one of those people who are behind you."
Hidimba had not even finished speaking, when a terrible battle ensued between the human and the Rakshasa.
Hidimba attacked Bheema, who deftly step sided the attack. Bheema with his ferocious strength, clutched Hidimba by the throat and dragged him far away from the clearing, because he did not want the Rakshasa's yelling to wake up his brothers and mother. (It is said that Bheema dragged Hidimba nearly 32 cubits which is about 0.14 kilometers).
And then as the two fought each other ferociously, the other Pandavas woke up.
The first thing they saw on waking up, was Hidimbi who was keeping a watch on them. She looked worried as she was watching the fight between her brother and the human and she was struggling not to get afraid.
Hidimbi quickly told the sleeping Pandavas and Kunti everything that had happened.
Arjuna wasted no time as he and his brothers ran towards the clearing that their brother and Hidimba were fighting.
"Let us help you!" Arjuna yelled at Bheema as he saw the fight between the two.
"STAY!" Bheema snarled angrily as his eyes did not even move an inch from Hidimba.
Without even pausing to take a breath, Bheema pushed the Rakshasa back who fell down hard.
"The twilight hour is coming, Bheema!" Arjuna yelled. "Rakshasas become extremely powerful during this time. It is practically impossible to defeat them during the twilight. Finish him before that!" Arjuna yelled. "Or let us help. You look tired!"
Bheema snarled as he looked at Hidimba and saw the skies behind and realized that Arjuna was right.
And Bheema wasted no further time. Summoning up the power of the Wind God within him, Bheema hurled Hidimba to the ground and smashed the Rakshasa in one swift move.
The Rakshasa gave a fearful yell which resounded through the entire forests. The entire forests seemed shaken with Hidimba's earshattering roar.
With that Hidimba breathed his last.
The three Pandava brothers – Yudhishtara, Nakula and Sahadeva along with Kunti and Hidimbi watched the impossible feat of Bheema unable to believe what they were seeing.
But Arjuna was not even paying attention to the fight. He was more worried about what the death of Hidimba signified. They were already on the run from Duryodhana. As of now, the only reason they were safe was that Duryodhana believed them to be dead. But if Duryodhana learnt about the death of Hidimba, there was a chance that he could suspect that this was the handiwork of Bheema leading to conclusion that the Pandavas were still alive.
So the most prudent thing to do right now was to move away from the place and get to the nearest town.
"Let's move." Arjuna told his brothers immediately.
Bheema and the other Pandavas looked at the place and the dead Rakshasa.

They all realized the logic of Arjuna. They moved away from the place, making way to the nearest town. And all the while, they were followed by Hidimbi, the Rakshasa woman.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gatothgaja - Chapter 4

In the underground tunnel, the Pandavas walked.
They crossed the town of Varanavatha and reached the banks of the river Ganga. There, they met a boat man who happily took them across to the other side.
Anxious to put maximum distance between themselves and the city of Varanavatha, the Pandavas did not stop at the other side of the river. They kept walking even after reaching the other side.
But by then it was dark.
Still, using the lights of the stars, the six people walked and they walked until they were exhausted. And now they had reached a dense forest.
Unfortunately, the forest was so dark, that after walking for some time, the Pandavas were completely lost.
And in the dark forest, they could not even make out which way they had to go to get out of the forest. Stumbling, they kept walking and slipped and fell often, because they could not see where they were going.
Tired and hungry after hours of walking, the Pandavas were exhausted and just did not know what to do. Feeling almost hopeless, Yudhishtara turned to Bheema, “I cannot do this anymore. I do not know...” Yudhishtara swallowed painfully as he continued. “I do not even know what has happened to Purochana - whether that wretch survived the fire or not. And all I have done is keep walking. Please,” Yudhishtara said shaking his head tiredly. “Please, help us.”
Bheema was obviously not one to even find the request of his brother odd. He was after all the son of Vayu – the powerful Wind God – the God who could create tornadoes and shake up entire cities. Bheema did not even hesitate as he carried all his brothers and his mother. He put his mother on his shoulder, Nakula and Sahadeva on his arms and he carried Yudhishtara and Arjuna in his hands. And with all this, Bheema did not falter or run out of breath. He walked as if he was walking normally.
And Bheema nearly smashed through the forest as he walked. The force with which Bheema walked through the forest and even grown up trees did not have a chance. Bheema kicked the trees and kept walking unmindful of what was in his path.
They were almost in the middle of the forest, when the brothers were now feeling thirsty.
Yudhishtara hearing the sounds of water birds, realized that there was a pond nearby.
So under the instructions of his brother, Bheema left his mother and brothers and walked towards the pond to get water. After drinking water, he carried it back.
Bringing the water back in his soaking upper garmet, Bheema saw a disheartening sight – his brothers and mother – the people who were meant to be kings and queen, were lying fast asleep on the rough forest ground. The people who until a day back were sleeping on the softest bed in the entire kingdom, were now asleep in the rough and rocky regions of the forests. That was the time Bheema cursed angrily. All this was happening because of the wretched son of Dhirdarashtra. Bheema looked at Yudhishtara almost with despair. I would kill all the sons of Dhirdarashtra. All at one go! The only reason, I have not yet done it, is because Yudhishtara is not yet angry with Duryodhana. Bheema wondered what would make Yudhishtara really angry at the sons of Dhirdarashtra....
And as his brothers were asleep, Bheema looked around the forest and decided that he would not sleep. The forest looked dangerous and Bheema wanted to keep his brothers and mother safe. He kept watch over his brothers, while they slept.
And the Pandavas rested there not knowing the dangers that they were in...
Because not far away from the place where the Pandavas were asleep, there lived a Rakshasa by name Hidimba. Hidimba was a vicious cannibal. In the forests which was his home, Hidimba with his heightened sensed was able to smell the brothers as soon as they had stepped inside the forest.
And Hidimba was ready for a tasty meal. He turned to his sister Hidimbi. “I can smell humans in my territory, sister. Go and see who these humans are. And after you find them, kill them.” Hidimba said with mad, gleeful eyes.
Hidimbi who had been living with his brother for as long as she could remember, had done many such work for her brother. She did not find it any odd to do her brother’s bidding this time too, as she walked towards the sleeping humans.
Little did she know that her life was about to change.
As Hidimbi saw the Pandavas fast asleep in the grounds of the forest, she saw Bheema who was awake and keeping a watchful eye around.
And in the dark forest, as Hidimbi saw Bheema’s features, she immediately fell in love with the human. It was love at first sight for Hidimbi and she could not even remember that she was here because she wanted to kill the humans. Right now, she could do nothing else – she just wanted to keep staring at the handsome man in front of her.
After some time, Hidimbi just could not control herself, as she changed her appearance and decided to talk with the human.
Looking beautiful and decked up like a human, Hidimbi approached Bheema.
Bheema stirred and saw a beautiful woman come near him and was wary. “Who are you?” Bheema asked the woman keeping an eye, looking around.
This territory belongs to the cruel Rakshasa – Hidimba, human. Hidimba is an evil man and feasts of human flesh. I am his sister and I was sent by him. But on seeing you, I just cannot do anything that my brother wants me to do. After seeing you, I realize that I want only you as my husband, and no one else.”
Bheema stared blankly at the woman as she continued. “What are you doing here at this time? Do not stay here all alone. Come away with me. Come away with me so that I can keep you safe from my brother.”

Bheema laughed mirthlessly. “My mother and my brothers are sleeping. I cannot leave them here all alone.” Bheema studied the woman again. “And I do not fear Rakshasas.” There was a mad gleam in Bheema’s eyes as he looked at Hidimbi. “In fact, rakshasas need to fear me. I am so powerful that I can defeat anyone who fights me.”

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gatothgaja - Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – A Palace on Flames
Would there be anything else, my prince?” Purochana asked as he bowed to Yudhishtara and the other Pandavas. Yudhishtara was struggling not to let anything show on his face as he nodded to Purochoana, “That would be all for today. Thank you so much,” Yudhishatara said with the false smile that he had cultivated over the year that he had stayed here in the Palace of Lac at Vanavarata.
In fact, Purochana did not even notice anything amiss as he nodded and went back to his quarters, outside the palace.
Yudhishtara’s gaze followed the man as he made sure that Purochana was out of the palace and could not overhear them. It was only after that Yudhishtara went inside his own inner apartment where his brothers and the miner were working on the tunnel as his mother was keeping a watch making sure that the servants did not come inside the room.
They all stopped the work as Yudhishtara came inside and sat heavily on the throne behind him.
Yudhishtara peered inside the tunnel and saw that the tunnel had reached outside the palace, all the way underground.
It is time,” Yudhishtara said finally looking at his brothers.
Now?” It was Bhima who asked the question.
Yudhistara nodded. “We need to do it before Purochana beats us to punch. As of now, Purochana believes that we are deceived. It would be difficult to keep these appearances for much longer.”
One by one, the other brothers nodded as they looked at the miner who was watching and not saying anything.
It will be done, my princes,” The miner nodded finally.
That night Kunti spoke to her eldest son, “Son, we need to organize a feast for tomorrow.”
Yudhishtara looked at Kunti for a huge second and then blinked. He realized what his mother was saying and knew that it was wrong to do it. But they did not have a lot of choice in this matter. It needed to be done. With a heavy head, Yudhishtara nodded not saying anything else.
********
The next day people thronged at the palace of the Pandavas. Though the sons of Pandu were generous with the money, still for the people of the kingdom, a feast was a feast. That was something which was eagerly awaited by all the people in the kingdom. Especially, since they all realized how much the second son Bhima enjoyed his food. The food from the royal kitchens was almost unmatched with anything found anywhere else in the kingdom.
Among the people who came to the palace was a Nishada woman and like Kunti she also had five sons. Probably, it was fate as the Nishada woman came to the palace of Lac with her five sons to enjoy the feast.
Neither the woman nor her sons realized that they had had more wine than they should have had. Unable to control themselves, the woman and her five sons slept in the very inside the palace, fast asleep and completely oblivious to the real world.
The feast was over and the other guests had all gone back to their homes. Purochana had helped the Pandavas during the entire day and was completely exhausted as he went to his quarters just outside the quarters and was asleep even before his head hit the pillow.
Yudhishtara saw all this and then nodded to Bheema as they opened the hole of their floor.
Bhima took the fire torch from the place and lit it. Without another thought, Bhima set fire to the entire palace. And Bhima set fire to all parts of the palace and outside the palace, making sure that no one who was inside or around the mansion could escape the fire. Bhima, started the fire from outside the palace and came inside as he walked inside the innermost room with the hole in it and closed the door.
Ignoring the heat and spreading fire, the Pandavas entered the tunnel and closed the hole behind them as they walked out of the passage.
*******
The townspeople were shocked as they saw the blazing fire. They all brought buckets of water and tried to put out the fire and that was when the townspeople realized something horrific. The palace was completely combustible. No matter how much they tried putting out the fire, the fire spread so quickly that there was never really any hope of protecting anyone who was inside the palace.
Slowly, the next day, as the townspeople saw the unrecognizably charred body of the Nishada woman and her five sons and all the people arrived at the conclusion that they were meant to arrive at – that the Pandavas and their mother had perished in the fire.
And they saw the charred body of Purochana outside the house and they all realized that it was a plan…A plan made by the prince of Hastinapur to get rid of his cousins. The townspeople even believed that Purochana had perished in the fire because he had been unable to get out of the fire after setting the palace on fire.
The townspeople all cursed Duryodhana and Dhirdarashtra for their wickedness.

No one noticed the well-made tunnel which was made right in the centre of the palace mostly because none of them were looking for it and more importantly because the tunnel was built brilliantly well to make sure that it was not seen from the outside.