Note: The Virata Parva is the 4th parva of the Mahabharata. It consists of 2050 shlokas divided into 67 sections.
This parva deals with the thirteenth year of the Pandavas’ exile. They had to spend this year in disguise. According to the rules set in the prior game of dice, if they were recognized, they would have to go into exile for another thirteen years.
The Pandavas spend this year in King Virata’s palace. Nobody in the palace, including King Virata, knew about their real identities.
This parva begins with the Pandavas arriving in King Virata’s kingdom. When they were on the outskirts of the capital city, they hid their weapons in a large Shami tree that had grown near a cemetery.
Also described, in this parva, are the various incidents that happened while the Pandavas were living in disguise in the King’s palace.
The wicked Kichaka, pursued Draupadi out of lust and was eventually slayed by Bhima.
Meanwhile, Duryodhana sent several clever spies to search for the Pandavas. However, none of them succeeded.
This parva describes the incident where the Trigartas took hold of King Virata’s cattle. A terrible battle followed in which the king was captured by the Trigartas. However, Bhima rescued the king and his cattle.
The Kauravas became suspicious when they learned of this incident. Consequently, they too captured King Virata’s cattle. In the battle that followed, the Kauravas were single-handedly defeated by Arjuna who was disguised as Brihannala.
Following this incident, the Pandavas revealed their true identity since the year of disguise had come to an end. When King Virata learned about who these brave warriors truly were, he bestowed his daughter, Uttara, to Arjuna in marriage. However, Arjuna suggested that she come into the Pandava household as his daughter-in-law and Abhimanyu’s wife. King Virata accepted the proposal and Uttara married Abhimanyu (the son of Subhadra and Arjuna).
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Featured image by Unknown artist – https://archive.org/details/mahabharata02ramauoft/page/1007/mode/1up, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21155741