The Wax Mansion

Pandava’s courage and the love and affection people had showered on them had created a deep jealousy within Duryodhana. His thoughts were always about killing the Pandavas. His plot to poison Bhima had failed. So, he wanted a good plan to wipe them out totally. His brothers aided him in his actions. Dhritarashtra adored his eldest son Duryodhana and could not bring himself to tick off his son though he knew of Duryodhana’s evil intentions.
Duryodhana’s mother Gandhari also doted on her eldest son and thus Duryodhana fully exploited the love of his parents for his selfishness.
Duryodhana once came to know that a grand festival was being arranged in Varanavati and he decided to use the occasion to achieve his aim. So, he paid
a visit to the Pandavas and praising the beauty of Varanavati, he described the great festival to be conducted there with all the pomp and grandeur. He also told them that the people of the city were eagerly awaiting the Pandavas to grace the occasion. The unsuspecting Pandavas agreed to go, more so, since Dhritarashtra also told them to witness the festival.
Overjoyed that Pandavas had agreed to go to Varanavati, Duryodhana had a palatial mansion built for their stay. It was made of wax and other inflammable material like jute, dry grass etc. The idea was to set the mansion on fire at night when the Pandavas were fast asleep and make people believe that it was a fire accident. No one would suspect the Kauravas.
The Pandavas came to know of this wax house through Vidar. They felt deeply hurt that their own kith and kin were betraying them. But pretending to be unaware of the danger to their lives, the Pandavas proceeded to Varanavati but tried to find out if there was any escape route from the wax mansion. Luckily for them, Vidura had engaged an expert miner who had dug a tunnel under a chamber leading to a pit in the forest.
Duryodhana had employed many servants to keep a watch over the Pandavas. Kunthi was also staying with her children in the mansion and hence the Pandavas familiarized themselves thoroughly with the tunnel route, somehow or the other escaping the attention of the guards.
Within a few days, Vidura sent a secret word to the Pandavas informing them about the precise day on which the mansion was to be set on fire. That night, Kunthi prepared a feast for all the servants in which an intoxicating powder had been mixed.. Soon all the servants were fast asleep. Shortly afterwards, the Kauravas set fire to the mansion. Soon the entire building was ablaze but not before the Pandavas made good their escape. Seeing the fire, people rushed to the spot. By that time, the building had been reduced to ashes.Believing the Pandavas to be dead, these people conveyed the news to Hastinapur. But then, the dead bodies charred inside the mansion were not those of the Pandavas. They were of the servants.
Duryodhana was absolutely delighted to hear that Pandavas died in the fire. But outwardly he put on a sad face and pretended to grieve over their death.
With utmost difficulty, the Pandavas crossed through the tunnel and entered the dense forest. With the exception of the powerful Bhima, all the others were exhausted. So he carried them through the forest and reached the Ganges where Vidura had arranged a boat for them. They crossed the river in total darkness and entered another mighty forest. From there, the Pandavas marched on, eating the forest produce and sleeping by turns. They were ever vigilant and ever confident that justice would be theirs sooner or later.
Hidimbi, a demoness, ruled over the forest where Pandavas had sought refuge. One day, while Bhima was fetching water for his mother and brothers, Hidimbi saw him and wanted to marry him. She herself proposed marriage to Bhima. But he was a human and she, a demoness. So, Hidimbi’s brother Hidimba objected to this marriage and challenged Bhima to a fight. Bhima lifted up the demon with his powerful arms and killed him by thrashing him on the ground. He then took Hidimbi to Kunthi. Kunthi agreed to this marriage and so, Bhima and Hidimbi were married. Hidimbi looked after the Pandavas well. She offered them good food and took care to see that they came to no harm in the forest. Subsequently she became pregnant. Bhima was very happy.
Meanwhile, the Pandavas reached the city of Ekachakra. But Hidimbi did not agree to go with them for she said, “I cannot bear to live outside the forest.” Shortly afterwards, she gave birth to a son called Ghatotkacha.
In the city of Ekachakra, the Pandavas lived in the guise of Brahmins, begging for their food. They brought
home food and Kunthi always divided it into two portions – one portion for Bhima alone and the other portion for the rest of them. None could imagine or recognise them as the princes of Hastinapur!
One day, Kunthi heard her neighbour’s wife cry. So she went to their house to find out the reason for such anguish. The neighbour’s wife, with tears rolling down her cheeks said, “0! Great lady! You have been like a mother to us. But I do not know how you can help us, because this relates to a wicked Rakshasa by name Bakasura. Earlier, he used to pounce upon people and after killing them indiscriminately, would eat human flesh. To prevent such slaughter, the citizens of Ekachakra agreed to send a human – being to the demon daily, along with a cart load of rice and other delicacies. Tomorrow is
my turn and so, I have to send my only son to Bakasura. Only God can help us.”
Kunthi pacified the woman and told her, “Don’t worry, I will send one of my sons in the place of your son.”
Bhima immediately agreed to go to Bakasura as his food. His aim was to kill the Rakshasa and provide peaceful living to the people of the city.
The next day Bhima drove the cart loaded with rice and other food straight
to the demon’s cave. But even before he reached the cave, unable to bear his hunger, Bhima himself ate up all the food in the cart and gave out a loud belch. On hearing this, the demon, already angry that his food had been delayed, rushed out of his cave, only to find that the cart was empty. He charged towards Bhima to eat him up. Bhima just raised his fist and gave a severe blow to the demon. Then ensued a big fight between them but finally Bhima threw him down and smashed him to death. The Rakshasa howled so loudly in pain and hearing this, the people of the city trembled with fear, not knowing the outcome of this fight. But soon, their fear turned into joy when they saw Bhima dragging the body of the dead Bakasura. Little did they realise that this courageous man was none other than Bhima, one of the Pandava princes.

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