Kichak Vad: Draupadi’s Unyielding Triumph in Matsya’s City

During their Agyatvas, the Pandavas and Draupadi faced challenging times in Matsya’s city. Draupadi, the daughter of Yajnasena, found herself in a unique and demanding position, serving Sudeshna despite her royal status. She lived in Sudeshna’s chambers, working diligently to please the lady and the other women in the inner apartments. As the year drew to a close, the story took a turn when Kichaka, the powerful Commander of Virata’s forces, became enchanted by Draupadi’s celestial beauty.

Kichaka’s Desire Unleashed

Kichaka, inflamed by desire, approached Sudeshna, his sister, seeking information about the captivating woman who had caught his eye. Expressing his intense attraction, Kichaka compared Draupadi’s beauty to the fragrance of new wine, believing her to possess divine allure. In the face of Kichaka’s advances, Draupadi remained steadfast.

Despite enduring hardships, she rejected his persistent proposals, emphasizing her marital status and adherence to moral principles. Undeterred, Kichaka continued to express his intense desire, even going to the extent of threatening Draupadi.

Sudeshna’s Plan

Meanwhile, Sudeshna, unaware of Draupadi’s true identity and moved by pity for Kichaka, contemplated navigating the delicate situation. Sudeshna, after reflecting on Kichaka’s intentions and Krishna’s concerns, decided to help him by sending Draupadi to his abode. She instructed Kichaka to procure food and wine for her during a festival. Sudeshna planned for Draupadi, disguised as a servant, to go to Kichaka with the pretense of delivering the wine. Kichaka, following Sudeshna’s advice, left Sudeshna’s chambers and arranged for well-prepared wines and various delicious foods with skilled cooks.

As part of the plan, Sudeshna instructed Draupadi to go to Kichaka’s abode and bring the wine, claiming she was thirsty. Draupadi, however, expressed her reluctance, citing Kichaka’s known shamelessness and her commitment to remain faithful to her husbands. She reminded Sudeshna of the conditions she had set before entering the palace. Sudeshna assured Draupadi that she would be safe, but Draupadi, filled with apprehension and tears, prayed for divine protection and set out for Kichaka’s abode to fetch the wine.

Facing Kichaka’s unwelcome advances, Draupadi prayed to the sun god Surya for protection, seeking the truth of her unwavering loyalty to her husbands. In response, Surya commanded a Rakshasa to protect her invisibly. This Rakshasa began guarding Draupadi at all times.

Divine Intervention

Kichaka welcomed Draupadi with inappropriate advances, expressing his delight at having her as the mistress of his house. Draupadi, firmly rejecting his proposals, informed him that she was sent to fetch wine for the queen. Ignoring her words, Kichaka seized Draupadi’s arm, prompting her to warn him of the consequences. Draupadi, displaying her strength, threw Kichaka to the ground, and he tumbled like an uprooted tree.

Despite Draupadi’s escape to seek protection from King Yudhishthira, Kichaka followed her, grabbed her by the hair, and kicked her in the king’s presence. Witnessing this outrage, Yudhishthira and Bhima were filled with anger. Bhima, eager to retaliate, was restrained by Yudhishthira to avoid revealing their true identity and risking their Agyatvas (period of anonymity). Yudhishthira instructed Bhima to go out and gather firewood instead.

Draupadi’s Courtroom Plea

Meanwhile, Draupadi, in tears, approached the court’s entrance. Despite her lords’ melancholic expressions, bound by their pledge to maintain disguise during Agyatvas, Draupadi spoke passionately to the king of Matsya.

She lamented the son of a Suta’s audacity in kicking the proud and beloved wife of those whose foes never sleep peacefully. Draupadi reminded the king of the virtues of her husbands, devoted to Brahmanas, generous in gifts, and mighty in energy. Expressing her frustration at the courtiers’ lack of intervention, Draupadi questioned why her husbands, possessing strength and energy, allowed her to be insulted. She criticized King Virata for not taking appropriate action against Kichaka’s immoral behavior and accused the courtiers of lacking virtue.

Draupadi rebuked the king, describing his behavior as that of a robber, unworthy of a court. She called for the courtiers to witness Kichaka’s violence and condemned the ignorance of both Kichaka and King Virata regarding duty and morality. Unaware of the dispute’s actual cause, Virata expressed his inability to make a fair judgment. However, upon learning the details from the courtiers, he praised Draupadi and censured Kichaka, with the courtiers applauding her courage.

Yudhishthira’s Counsel

Feeling anger, Yudhishthira addressed Draupadi, his beloved spouse. He advised her to leave the court and return to Sudeshna’s chambers. Yudhishthira explained that heroic wives endure suffering for their husbands and, through their sacrifices, attain a region where their husbands go. Despite Draupadi’s Gandharva husbands having the power to intervene, Yudhishthira suggested they might not consider this the right moment to manifest their wrath.

Yudhishthira urged Draupadi to understand the timing of events and compared her tears to those of an actress disrupting the dice game in Matsya’s court. He reassured her that the Gandharvas would address her plight and avenge the wrong done to her. In response, Draupadi acknowledged the kindness of her Gandharva husbands but expressed concern that the eldest among them, Yudhishthira, was addicted to dice, making them vulnerable to oppression.

 After rebuking Kichaka in court, Draupadi, with messy hair and anger in her eyes, hurried towards Sudeshna. Her face, beautiful like the moon emerging from clouds, bore the marks of her prolonged tears. Sudeshna, seeing Draupadi in this state, inquired about the cause of her distress and who had wronged her.

Draupadi’s Heartfelt Lament

Draupadi explained how Kichaka had assaulted her in the court while she went to fetch wine, even in the presence of the king. Outraged by this act, Sudeshna expressed her willingness to have Kichaka killed for his lustful behavior. However, Draupadi insisted that others, those whom he had wronged, would take care of him. She was convinced Kichaka’s actions would lead him to Yama’s abode that very day.

After being insulted by Kichaka, Draupadi, fueled by a strong desire to destroy Virata’s general, went to her quarters. Overwhelmed with grief, she pondered on how to dispel her sorrow. Realizing that Bhima was the only one capable of achieving her goal, she sought his help.

Draupadi Seeks Bhima’s Help

Driven by her determination, Draupadi rose at night and headed towards Bhima’s quarters. The chamber where Bhima slept was filled with the radiant beauty of Draupadi, creating a splendid scene. With the eagerness of a forest-dwelling cow approaching a mighty bull or a she-crane seeking her mate, Draupadi embraced Bhima in his cooking apartments.

Embracing him like a creeper embracing a mighty Sala tree, Draupadi awakened Bhima with the urgency of a lioness waking a sleeping lion in the forest. Addressing him with sweet words, she urged Bhima to rise, emphasizing the need for action against the wicked Kichaka who had disgraced her.

Awakened by Draupadi’s plea, Bhima rose from his bed with his powerful arms and inquired about the purpose of her hurried visit. Looking pale and lean, Draupadi revealed the details of the insult and expressed her desire for Kichaka’s destruction. Bhima assured her of his support, claiming the sole right to her confidence and promising to handle the situation discreetly.

Draupadi expressed her deep sorrow, lamenting her hardships in Virata’s kingdom. She recounted the various insults and miseries she had endured, from being dragged to the court as a slave to facing unwanted advances from the wicked Kichaka.

In her distress, Draupadi blamed Yudhishthira for their current predicament, especially his gambling addiction that led them to a life of exile. She criticized his decision to wager their kingdom, herself, and even themselves, resulting in their loss of prosperity.

She painted a vivid picture of their once-mighty king reduced to a dependent and dice player in Virata’s court, known as Kanka. Draupadi highlighted Yudhishthira’s previous grandeur, where kings adored him, maintained a grand court, and generously supported countless guests and sages.

Draupadi mourned the contrast between Yudhishthira’s past glory and his current servitude under Virata. She lamented that the compassionate and just king, who once cared for the blind, old, and helpless, was now reduced to begging for subsistence.

The once-dazzling Pandava, who had rulers paying tribute and respectfully waiting upon him, was now a courtier in Virata’s kingdom, waiting on others. Draupadi expressed her anguish at seeing Yudhishthira, a king who had once ruled the earth, now living in subjugation to another.

Draupadi poured out her heart to Bhima, revealing the profound grief that consumed her as she witnessed the transformations in the lives of her husbands during their incognito stay in Virata’s kingdom.

Bhimsen, once a mighty king adored by many, was now reduced to the lowly role of a cook named Vallava. Seeing him fighting with elephants and beasts in the king’s court while the princess and other women laughed distressed her deeply. The mention of Bhima, once a mighty warrior, now serving as a cook invoked a sense of helplessness in Draupadi. She questioned the purpose of their sacrifices, and the outcomes left her lonely.

Draupadi lamented the change in Arjuna, the hero who once vanquished celestial and human foes but was now reduced to a dancing master in Virata’s palace. The image of him wearing braids, adorned with earrings and bracelets, was heart-wrenching for her.

Sahadeva, a noble and virtuous prince, was seen by Draupadi as a cowherd, while Nakula, renowned for his beauty, strength, and intelligence, served as the superintendent of Virata’s steeds. The changes in their lives were like a series of painful blows to Draupadi’s spirit.

She narrated the irony of Kunti praising Sahadeva’s virtues when he was sent to the forest, and now seeing him tending to cattle brought tears to Draupadi’s eyes. Draupadi concluded by expressing her profound sorrow, emphasizing that despite all the external appearances, her anguish surpassed all other miseries. The juxtaposition of her husband’s past glory with their current circumstances painted a poignant picture of their trials and tribulations in exile.

In a sorrow-laden voice, Draupadi unfolded the tale of her anguish to Bhima. She described her current predicament, living under Sudeshna’s command in Virata’s palace, disguised as a maid named Sairindhri. The princess bemoaned her fate, dwelling in anticipation of a brighter future and the return of prosperity for her husbands.

She acknowledged the transient nature of success and failure in mortal lives and hoped their fortune would change. Draupadi compared the cycles of prosperity and adversity to a revolving wheel and waited for the wheel to turn in their favor.

Despite her profound misery, Draupadi found solace in believing that destiny played a pivotal role and that nothing was beyond its control. She awaited a reversal of fortune, likening it to a dried-up tank being filled again.

Draupadi concluded her heart-wrenching narration by questioning the purpose of life in her current plight and yearning for death. Bhima, moved by her words, wept silently, and Draupadi continued her sorrowful tale, revealing the additional grief of being under the control of Sudeshna and serving her needs despite her high rank.

Bhima, expressing his frustration at the current state of Draupadi’s hands marked with corns, lamented that he refrained from causing havoc in Virata’s court due to Yudhishthira’s forbidding glance. He shared his anguish over their loss of kingdom and the unfulfilled desire to slay the Kurus, especially Duryodhana, Karna, Sakuni, and Dushasana. These thoughts tormented Bhima’s soul.

He compared Draupadi’s plight to other chaste and virtuous women from ancient tales, like Sukanya, Sita, and Savitri, who endured hardships for the sake of their husbands. Bhima urged Draupadi to persevere for a little longer, assuring her that after the thirteenth year, she would regain her position as a queen.

Draupadi, overwhelmed with grief, revealed the relentless harassment by Kichaka and Kaikeyi’s ill-intentioned efforts. She narrated the incident where Kichaka, consumed by lust, kicked her into Virata’s court while others, including the king and Yudhishthira, remained passive. Draupadi sought Bhima’s intervention, describing Kichaka as a wicked, sinful, and arrogant man who would undoubtedly harm her again.

Despite Draupadi’s plea for vengeance, Bhima implored her to endure and not speak ill of Yudhishthira, fearing that such words could lead to dire consequences. He reminded Draupadi of other virtuous women who faced adversity for their husbands and asked her to remain patient until the thirteenth year ended.

Draupadi, unable to bear her grief, revealed the torment she faced at Kichaka’s hands and expressed her desire to end her life if the situation persisted. She urged Bhima to protect her honor by eliminating Kichaka. Overwhelmed with sorrow, Draupadi declared her readiness to consume poison if Kichaka continued to harass her, emphasizing that death was preferable to enduring such humiliation.

In response, Bhima consoled Draupadi, wiping away her tears, and reassured her that he would take action against Kichaka. Filled with rage, Bhima vowed to crush Kichaka like an earthen pot dashed upon a stone, declaring that Draupadi’s honor would be safeguarded.

The Plan Unveils

Determined to end Draupadi’s suffering, Bhima promised to slay Kichaka and his friends the following evening. Bhima explained the plan to Drupadi, suggesting a secret meeting where Kichaka would come alone in the dancing hall. Bhima agreed to this and assured Draupadi that he would eliminate Kichaka.

As the day passed, Kichaka, consumed by lust, eagerly prepared for his expected encounter with Draupadi. Draupadi, disguising her impatience, approached Bhima in the kitchen and conveyed her readiness for the plan. She informed Bhima about Kichaka’s intentions and requested him to kill Kichaka in the dancing hall at night.

Bhima welcomed Draupadi’s news, expressing his joy at the opportunity to face Kichaka. He swore to eliminate Kichaka, comparing his excitement to his satisfaction when slaying Hidimva. Bhima vowed to crush Kichaka, even if the Matsyas fought for him, and pledged to win back their lost kingdom by defeating Duryodhana. Draupadi insisted on a secret slaying to maintain Bhima’s earlier oath, and he assured her that he would kill Kichaka and his friends discreetly.

Promising to fulfill his word, Bhima declared that he would crush Kichaka’s head like an elephant crushing a vela fruit. The stage was set for Bhima to avenge Draupadi’s humiliation and reclaim their lost honor.

As the night descended, Bhima disguised himself and waited in the dancing hall for Kichaka, who arrived with embellishments and eager expectations. Kichaka entered the dark chamber, expecting to meet Draupadi, unaware that Bhima had already concealed himself there.

Approaching Bhima, Kichaka began boasting about the wealth and offerings he had provided Draupadi, claiming her affection and praising his attractiveness. Bhima, feigning ignorance, responded mockingly, acknowledging Kichaka’s supposed charm and skills in the art of love.

Kichak Vad

Suddenly, Bhima, unable to bear the insults to Draupadi, rose with a burst of laughter and declared that today, Kichaka would witness his defeat. Grasping Kichaka by the hair, Bhima engaged him in a fierce battle, resembling the clash of two powerful elephants during the mating season or the legendary fight between monkey brothers Vali and Sugriva.

The clash between Bhima and Kichaka shook the building, producing a loud noise akin to the clatter of splitting bamboo. In the intense struggle, Bhima overpowered Kichaka, tossing him about violently. Kichaka, desperate and weakened, retaliated, but unwavering Bhima fought back with formidable strength.

Ultimately, Bhima seized Kichaka’s hair, lifting him like a hunter lifting his prey. Now powerless, Kichaka was at Bhima’s mercy, who taunted him for attempting to violate Draupadi. Bhima then inflicted a crushing blow on Kichaka, throwing him to the ground and holding him tightly.

As Bhima continued to dominate Kichaka, Draupadi witnessed the scene, feeling a sense of relief and satisfaction. Finally, Bhima declared that slaying Kichaka had freed him from the debt owed to his brothers and brought him peace. He then exhibited Kichaka’s lifeless body to Draupadi, assuring her that those who sought her would face a similar fate.

The Aftermath of Kichaka’s Defeat

In the aftermath of the battle, guards of the dancing hall arrived with torches, witnessing the lifeless Kichaka, now without limbs, and expressing astonishment at the superhuman feat. Draupadi, having avenged her honor, addressed the guards, revealing the fate of Kichaka at the hands of her Gandharva husbands. The guards, astonished and filled with grief, acknowledged the incredible act, and the justice meted out to the violator.

Amidst the aftermath of Kichaka’s demise, his relatives gathered, lamenting loudly as they witnessed his mangled body. Overwhelmed with fear, they decided to perform his funeral rites and take him outside. Spotting Krishna nearby, they accused her of being the cause of Kichaka’s death, suggesting that she be cremated with him.

Bhima’s Mighty Retribution

In response, King Virata, aware of the Suta clan’s prowess, agreed to their request. The Kichakas forcefully seized Krishna, bound her, and placed her on the funeral bier. As they headed toward the cemetery, Krishna, in distress, cried out for her Gandharva husbands – Jaya, Jayanta, Vijaya, and Jayatsena – invoking their swift intervention.

Hearing Krishna’s pleas, Bhima, without hesitation, rose from his bed, assuring her that she should no longer fear the Sutas. Swelling with anger, he changed his attire and stealthily left the palace. Climbing over a wall, he approached the cemetery where the Kichakas had gone.

Bhima, determined to confront them, noticed a large tree. He uprooted the tree, measuring ten Vyamas, with his mighty strength, and placed it on his shoulders. Rushing towards the Sutas like Yama wielding a mace, Bhima created chaos, causing trees to fall in his wake. Witnessing the approaching Gandharva, the Sutas panicked and released Draupadi, fleeing towards the city.

Bhima, wielding the uprooted tree, swiftly dispatched a hundred and five of the Kichakas, sending them to the abode of Yama. Setting Draupadi free from her bonds, Bhima comforted her. He assured her safety. Addressing Draupadi with tears, Bhima instructed her to return to the city while he took an alternative route to Virata’s kitchen.

Bhima’s remarkable feat left onlookers in awe, and the corpses of the fallen Kichakas lay strewn like uprooted trees in a hurricane-ravaged forest. The powerful display of Bhima’s strength silenced the gathering, leaving them astonished and without words.

Virata’s Dilemma

As the Sutas’ demise spread throughout the kingdom, citizens rushed to inform King Virata about the Gandharvas’ victorious intervention. They recounted the mighty sons of the Sutas lying lifeless, akin to massive mountain peaks shattered by thunder. Fearing the consequences of Krishna’s return, they urged the king to devise a plan to protect the kingdom from the wrath of the Gandharvas.

Concerned about Krishna’s safety, Virata ordered the last rites for the Sutas and Kichakas, instructing the citizens to perform a grand cremation with gems and fragrant unguents. Meanwhile, anxious about Krishna’s response, Virata conveyed a message through his queen Sudeshna, assuring Krishna of her freedom and advising her to go wherever she pleased.

Relieved from her fears, Krishna, now free, washed herself and her clothes in water and headed towards the city. The citizens, terrified of the Gandharvas, fearfully fled upon seeing Krishna. Draupadi found Bhima waiting at the kitchen gate like an enraged elephant of colossal proportions. Expressing her gratitude, she acknowledged Bhima’s intervention and addressed him with words they could only understand.

Draupadi then witnessed Arjuna, the mighty-armed Dhananjaya, instructing Virata’s daughters in dance. Emerging from the dancing hall, the damsels approached Krishna, expressing their joy at her safe return and the demise of the Sutas who had wronged her. Vrihannala inquired about the events to understand how Krishna had been saved and the sinful Sutas slain.

In response, Krishna, having lived through unparalleled sorrows, dismissed Vrihannala’s concern, assuming that Vrihannala, being carefree in the girls’ apartments, wouldn’t comprehend her distress. Vrihannala, however, conveyed that each had their share of sorrows, and despite their shared experiences, one cannot fully understand another’s heart.

Draupadi’s Request to Stay

Draupadi and the girls entered the royal abode to meet Sudeshna. The queen, conveying Virata’s message, advised Draupadi to go wherever she pleased, citing the king’s fear of the Gandharvas. Draupadi, with grace and unparalleled beauty on earth, requested to stay for thirteen more days, believing that the Gandharvas would safely convey her away, benefiting Virata and his kingdom.

The news of Kichaka’s demise and the Sutas’ defeat spread across provinces, with people acknowledging Kichaka’s valor but condemning his oppressive and dishonorable actions. The invincible Kichaka once praised for bravery, became infamous as a slayer of hostile ranks, ultimately meeting his end at the hands of the Gandharvas.

Why Hindu

We, a group of youths born into Hindu families, were raised in the rich culture of Vedic Sanatan Dharma, embracing its cultures and traditions. Post-graduation, recognizing the immense value of our Sanatan Dharma for humanity, we initiated the "Why Hindu" project. With guidance from our elders, we aim to create awareness about Hindu Dharma, delve into Vedic scripture, explore Vedic mantras, and elucidate the significance of festivals. Through this endeavor, we strive to share the profound teachings of our heritage, fostering understanding and appreciation for the timeless principles of Sanatan Dharma.

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