The Slaying of Kichaka

As per the condition laid down during the wager, the Pandavas
completed twelve years of exile in the forest. They now had to live incognito for one year. During the year if their true identity was to be found out, they were to spend another twelve years in exile.
The Pandavas followed the Yaksha’s instructions and entered the city of Matsya in disguise. Prior to that, they wrapped all their weapons in a gunny bag and hung it to a branch of a tree in a crematorium which was outside the city. Yudhishtira secured the friendship of king Virata, under the name of Kankabhatta. Bhima was employed as a cook in the royal kitchen and was known as Valala. Arjun, who had learnt the art of dance and music under Chitrasena, called himself as Brihannala, and dressing up like a woman taught these arts to the king’s children. Sahadev obtained employment in the cowshed and Nakul
in the stables. Draupadi worked as a maid to the queen under the name of Sairandri. It grieved Yudhishtira that all of them had to do menial tasks, especially Draupadi.
The queen had a brother called Kichaka. He was the commander-in-chief of Virata and wielded a lot of power and influence.
Once Kichaka went to the queen’s chamber to meet his sister and saw Draupadi there. Draupadi was extremely beautiful and Kichaka was so smitten by her beauty that he talked indecently to her. Scared of his intentions. Draupadi escaped from his clutches and fled to her own room.
Kichaka who had great influence over his sister, went to her and told her about his passion for the maid. “Dear brother!” Sudeshna, the queen, advised him, “Do not force any woman into submission. Give up your desire for her”. But Kichaka would not listen. He persuaded his sister by saying, “After all, she is just a maid. Make her come to my chamber.” Out of her love for her brother, the queen decided upon a plan.
That evening Sudeshna summoned Draupadi and instructed her to carry a jug of intoxicating drink to Kichaka. Draupadi hesitated but she had to follow the queen’s orders. She went to the royal quarters of Kichaka and left the wine jug at the doorstep. She then hurriedly tried to get away from the place but Kichaka chased her. Trembling like a leaf, Draupadi fled to the court of Virata, fell at the feet of Yudhishtira who was in the midst of a game with the king, and begged him to come to her rescue. By that time, Kichaka reached the court and kicked her in the presence of all. Though Yudhishtira was pained to see this, he did not utter a single word, for he could not possibly reveal his relationship with Sairandri (Draupadi) and suffer another twelve years of exile. So he kept quiet. Crying over her helplessness Draupadi returned to her room. That very night she went to the royal kitchen, woke up Bhima and told him about Kichaka. “Either you kill Kichaka, or I will kill myself,” threatened Draupadi in desperation. The enraged Bhima assured Draupadi that he would kill Kichaka. But not wanting to act in haste and reveal his true identity, Bhima advised Draupadi to entice Kichaka to the dancing hall the next night and that he would take care of the rest.
Draupadi visited Kichaka the next morning and pretending to yield to his desires, invited him to come alone to the dancing hall that night. The excited Kichaka waited for nightfall.
That night, Kichaka drank plenty of wine, dressed himself well and went to the dancing hall. In the dim light, he saw someone lying on a cot with a saree covered over the face. Thinking that this was Sairandri, he gently laid his hands on that form. Bhima who was on the cot draped in a saree, leapt upon Kichaka like a thunder, thrashed him into a lump and killed him. He then quietly slipped
out of the hall and went to sleep on the kitchen floor.
In the morning the news about Kichaka’s death spread like fire all over the city. Sudeshna was filled with grief about her brother’s death. She suspected Sairandri about this but had no proof.
The people of Virata were stunned that the valiant Kichaka met with such a terrible death. They felt that the person who killed Kichaka ought to be much more powerful than Kichaka himself. But none had the tiniest inkling that it was Bhima who killed Kichaka.

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