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Chapter 40: Duryodhana Disgraced

THE Kauravas reached Dwaitavana with a great army and many followers.

Duryodhana and Karna went with unconcealed joy at the very thought of being able to gloat on the sad plight of the Pandavas.

They themselves camped in luxurious rest houses in a place four miles off the abode of the Pandavas. They inspected the herds of cows and took stock of them.

After counting the cows, bulls and calves, they enjoyed the dance, the hunt, the sylvan sports and other entertainment’s arranged for them.

While hunting, Duryodhana and his party reached an attractive pond near the hermitage of the Pandavas and ordered a camp to be put on its bank.

Chitrasena, the king of the Gandharvas, and his attendants had already encamped in the neighborhood of the pool and they prevented Duryodhana's men from putting up their camp.

They returned to Duryodhana and represented that some petty prince who was there with his followers was giving them trouble.

Duryodhana was annoyed at this presumption and directed his men to turn the Gandharva prince out and put up the tents. The attendants returned to the lake and tried to carry out their orders but found the Gandharvas too many for them and had to retreat in precipitation.

When Duryodhana came to know of this, he grew very angry and with a large army marched to destroy the audacious enemies who had dared to resist his pleasure. A great fight ensued between the Gandharvas and Duryodhana's army.

At first the fight went in favor of the Kauravas. But the tables were quickly turned when Chitrasena, the king of the Gandharvas, rallied his troops and began using his magic weapons.

Karna and the other Kaurava heroes lost their chariots and weapons and had to retreat in haste and ignominy.

Duryodhana alone remained in the battlefield but he was soon seized by Chitrasena, who placed him in his chariot bound hand and foot, and blew his conch in token of victory.

The Gandharvas took many of the prominent Kauravas captive. The Kaurava army fled in all directions and some of the fugitives took refuge in the hermitage of the Pandavas.

Bhima heard the news of Duryodhana's defeat and capture with delight and amusement. He said to Yudhishthira:

"These Gandharvas have done our job for us. Duryodhana, who must have come here to mock at us, has got what he deserved. I feel like thanking our Gandharva friend!"

But Yudhishthira reproved him: "Dear brother, this is not the time for you to rejoice. The Kauravas are our kith and kin and their humiliation, at the hands of strangers, is ours. We cannot hold back and take this lying down. We must rescue them."

Bhima did not think this very reasonable.

He said: "Why should we save this sinner who tried to burn us alive in the wax house? Why should you feel sorry for the fellow who poisoned my food, bound me hand and foot and wanted to drown me in the river? What brotherly feeling can we really have towards these vile wretches who hauled Draupadi by the hair to theassembly and disgraced her?"

At that moment a cry of agony from Duryodhana reached them faintly from the distance and Yudhishthira, greatly moved, overruled Bhima's objection and bade his brothers go to the rescue of the Kauravas.

Obedient to his behest, Bhima and Arjuna rallied the routed Kaurava forces and offered battle to the Gandharvas. But Chitrasena had no wish to fight with the Pandavas and at their approach, released Duryodhana and the other prisoners saying that all he wanted was to teach a lesson to these arrogant Kauravas.

The dishonored Kauravas returned in haste to Hastinapura, with Karna, who, having been, driven off the battlefield, joined them on the way.

Duryodhana, in great shame and dejection, felt it would have been far better if be had been killed by Chitrasena and announced his wish to fast unto death.

He said to Duhsasana: "Be crowned and rule the kingdom. I can no longer continue to live after having become a laughing stock to my enemies."

Duhsasana protested his unworthiness to be king and caught hold of his brother's feet and wept. Karna could not bear the sight of the brother's sorrow.

Karna said: "This does not befit heroes of the Kuru race. What is the use of just collapsing under sorrow? It will but make your enemies happy. Look at the Pandavas. They have not taken to fasts in spite of the disgrace they have suffered."

Sakuni interposed and said: "Listen to Karna's words. Why do you say that you would give up your life when the kingdom seized from the Pandavas is yours to enjoy? Fasting serves no purpose, for if you really repent of what you have done till now, you should make friends with the Pandavas and give them back their kingdom."

When Duryodhana heard this speech, his evil nature regained ascendancy, for giving back the kingdom to the Pandavas was to him a hundred times worse than defeat or disgrace. He shouted: "I shall conquer the Pandavas."

Karna said: "That is the way for a king to talk."

And he added: "What sense is there in dying? You can do something worthwhile only if you are alive."

While returning home, Karna said: "I swear to you by all that is holy that, when the stipulated period of thirteen years is over, I will kill Arjuna in battle." And then he touched his sword in token of the oath.