Finance for a Horse sacrifice. Abhimanyu’s son is born. Yudhishthira performs the Horse sacrifice.
Ulipi engineers Arjuna’s death. Ulipi engineers Arjuna’s death
Finance for a Horse sacrifice
Yudhishthira was steeped in sorrow and was constantly blaming himself for the destruction and grief caused by the war. Krishna as well as Vyasa consoled him, pointing out to the fact that it was the evil Duryodhana who caused the holocaust. Forever desiring the welfare of the Pandava king, Vyasa advised Yudhishthira to perform the Aswamedha (Horse) sacrifice along with the Rajasuya, Sarvamedha and Naramedha sacrifices.
Yudhishthira pointed out that the sacrifice would entail heavy expenses that he could ill afford at the present juncture. Vyasa had a solution for this. He said, “In the Himalayas there lies buried a huge treasure. This was left behind by brahmins who received enormous quantities of gold from the king Marutta during a sacrifice. Go thither and recover the gold.” Vyasa then gave details about the location of the treasure to Yudhishthira.
Yudhishthira, with a huge army, proceeded to the Himalayas and camped at the spot indicated by Vyasa. After observing religious ceremonies, he caused the site to be excavated. The treasure that issued from the earth was so huge that thousands of camels and elephants had to be employed to transport it to Hastinapura.
Abhimanyu’s son is born
Krishna had, in the meanwhile, returned to Dwaraka. He narrated the events of the war to his father, Vasudeva. The patriarch swooned on hearing about Abhimanyu’s death. After spending some time with his people, Krishna started for Hastinapura.
As Krishna reached Hastinapura, there were joyous tidings that Uttara had given birth to a son. Almost immediately came the news from the delivery room that Uttara’s son was still born. The wailing princess reminded Krishna of his promise that the child would live. Krishna withdrew the Brahma weapon of Aswatthama that had scorched the foetus, and the child came to life. Thus was born the great king Parikshit (one born after testing times), the son of Abhimanyu, and the perpetuation of the Kuru dynasty was assured.
Yudhishthira performs the Horse sacrifice
With the active participation of Krishna and Vyasa, the Horse sacrifice was launched. According to the rules of the sacrifice, the royal horse was to roam the four corners of the country. Any king who challenged it would have to fight the performer of the sacrifice. Arjuna was deputed to follow the horse on its triumphal footsteps, fighting off anyone daring to interfere with its movements. Yudhishthira gave strict instructions to Arjuna not to kill those who opposed him but to merely subdue them.
As was to be expected, most of the opposition came from the successors of those who were vanquished by the Pandavas at the Kurukshetra war. The first was from the Trigartas, whose king Suryavarman was easily put aside. Next was from Vajradatta, the son of Bhagadatta of the Pragyothishas. Vajradatta was brought to his knees.
Arjuna then had an encounter with the Sindhus whose king, Jayadratha, he had slain in the war. The Sindhus at first resisted Arjuna. But Jayadratha’s widow and Dritarashtra’s daughter, Dussala, appealed to Arjuna to spare them. Arjuna graciously agreed and left his sister happy.
Ulipi engineers Arjuna’s death
The next event in the triumphal tour turned out to be unusual. Arjuna had reached Manipura where his son Babruvahana was the king. The young king welcomed his father with reverence. But Arjuna bade him to fight, since he had transgressed into Babruvahana’s territory.
Just then the Naga princess, Ulipi, made her appearance and encouraged Babruvahana to fight against the intruder. In the exchange of arrows, Babruvahana pierced Arjuna who fell down dead. Babruvahana’s mother, Chitrangada, rushed to the scene and accused Ulipi of causing Arjuna’s death. Ulipi assured them that they were witnessing only an illusion, since Arjuna could not be vanquished. She produced a gem with which she revived the fallen prince.
Asked by Arjuna, Ulipi explained her action. She said, “During the war of the princes, you killed Bhishma by unfair means. The old warrior, refusing to face Sikhandin, had laid down his arms. It was then that your arrows penetrated him and brought him down. I overheard a conversation between the heavenly Vasus and the goddess Ganga. The Vasus cursed you for your foul act and Ganga endorsed the curse. Alarmed, I sought my sire, Kauravya, and asked for his advise. My sire immediately went to the Vasus and represented your case. The Vasus relented and said that if the highly endowed Babruvahana killed you, you would be expiated of your sin. I enacted this play only for that purpose.”
Reaching Rajagriha, the capital of Magadha, Arjuna was challenged by Jarasandha’s son, Meghasandhi. The Magadha prince was defeated in the battle, but his life was spared.
Sarabha, the son of Sisupala of the Chedis, stopped Arjuna as the Pandava prince entered their capital, Saktimati. After a token engagement, Sarabha worshipped Arjuna and assured to attend the sacrifice.
King Ugrasena of the Vrishnis received Arjuna at Dwaraka and duly honoured him. At the next port of call, Gandhara, Sakuni’s son led a charge against Arjuna, only to be overpowered by the conqueror.
A strange intruder during sacrifice
After his triumphant tour, Arjuna returned to Hastinapura, just in time for the sacrifice, fixed for the full moon day of Chitra (April). Elaborate arrangements had been made for the royal guests to stay and a special hall had been put up for performing the religious rites.
The successful completion of the Horse Sacrifice established Yudhishthira as the supreme ruler of the country. The sacrifice was however marred by a small incident. A mongoose appeared near the holy fire and started making disparaging remarks about sacrifices and righteousness. It later came to be known that the animal was the god Dharma (the custodian of righteousness) who was under a curse for misbehaving in a sacrifice performed by the sage Jamadagni. He was redeemed from the curse by talking derogatorily about himself. The animal disappeared as strangely as it had appeared.