The Vijaya Dashami Story

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The story of Vijaya dashami, when Arjuna revealed himself at the end of the 13 years of exile imposed on Pandavas, is told here briefly.
  Page 1 of  8   The Vijaya Dashami Story Dear All:As with other stories, like the Diwali (Deepavali) and Dashera stories there aremany twists added to the Vijaya Dashami story(click here and here and here and here). But, here ’ s the one that I remember, to the best of my abilities, from Rajaji'swritings (Chakravarthi Rajagopalacari, the last Governor-General of India, astatesman, but also a prolific writer on many topics like Gita, Ramayana,Mahabharata, Bhaja Govindam, Thirrvaluvar's Kural, to name just a few).  After inviting the Pandavas to play dice (gambling), Duryodhana, with Shakunee ’ strickery, managed to force Yuddhishttira to wager everything. And he did. In theprocess he lost all of his possessions and that also meant (according to the ‘ old ’  rules) Draupadi as well. Then followed the most notorious and disgraceful of allMahabharata episodes - the disrobing of Draupadi - the subject of so many poemsand comments in many scriptures including the Srimad Bhagavatam.The Pandavas were then forced into 13 years of exile, the last of which was to bespent incognito, which means nobody should know their identity. If there was anyfailure to meet with these stipulations of the exile, the whole exile would start all  Page 2 of  8   over again. Duryodhana had spies all over watching what the Pandavas were doingand created many troubles for them. It is these troubles that Kunti recalls whenKrishna is ready to leave for Dwaraka (after the Mahabharata war), in her famoushymn with the verse below.The slaying of RavaNa by Rama is also believed to have occurred onVijayadashami and is celebrated with the burning of the effigies of Ravana, hisbrothers, and son (annual Ramlila event in New Delhi )   Page 3 of  8   Vipadah santu nah shashvat yatra tatra Jagad-gurO l BhavatO darshanam yat syaat apunar-bhava-darshanam ll   विपदः   सतु   नः   शत   य   त   जगगुरो l भितो   दशनं   ययात्   अपुनभिदशनम् ll We all want ‘ sampad ’ , which means good fortune (as in the Apadaam apahartaramsloka), not ‘ vipad ’ which means misfortunes. But, Kunti asks Krishna formisfortunes here. Why? She adds in this verse, that she prefers misfortunes sinceeach time Krishna seemed to appear to help them. (So, folks, don ’ t start praying formisfortune, yet, until you get the same assurance from KrishNa!)Anyway, when the 13th year started, the Pandavas magically disappeared anddecided to take residence in the kingdom of ViraTa. This king was favorablydisposed to the Pandavas. He is also mentioned in chapter 1 of the Gita when thekings on the Pandava side are listed. Since Arjuna was so easily recognized (hewas also considered to be one of the most handsome of men, they say, he was sohandsome that women all over were attracted to him and so he had a wife whereverhe went - back in those days polygamy was ok, there are some attempts to bring itback even in the US, with all these new laws about marriage!), he took advantageof the curse of the apsara Urvashee -- she cursed him to become a napumsaka(enunch) for one year, for refusing her when he went to meet with Indra (to getweapons to fight the Mahabharata war, Arjuna was also the son of Indra, throughthe divine gift that Kunti had for conception).As they approached the kingdom of ViraTa, Arjuna also had to get rid of all hisweapons which would make him easily recognizable. They came across the ‘ vanhi ’  tree (the Tamil word, shami tree in Hindi, see story click here), the tree that produces ‘ drumsticks ’ that we use in Sambar. Like pizza, there is no graceful wayto eat the ‘ drumstick  ’ . One has to put it in the mouth and suck on it and enjoy andeveryone still does, unabashedly, since it is so tasty.  Page 4 of  8  The “vanhi” tree with drumsticks hanging from it.The ‘ vanhi ’ tree is also suppo sed to be a haunted tree where ‘ vetalas ’ , or ghosts,live. We come across this tree also in the famous Vikramaditya-Vetala stories. Thevetala was living on top of the tree and when the king happened to pass beneath it,it jumped on to him and would not let go of him. He kept telling the king all kindsof stories, ending each with a question, which the king had to answer correctly. If he did not, his head would burst into 100 pieces. And, if he did, the vetala would just tell another story and ask another question! (You can do the research now and find out how Vikramaditya got rid of the ‘vetala’. There was kiddie magazinecalled ‘Chandamama’ when I was growing up which would have one of these stories in each issue. The magazine was universally popular all over India andpublished in several languages with identical content.)And so, everyone avoids this tree as much as possible. Arjuna decided to tie up allhis weapons in a big bundle and climbed the ‘ vanhi ’ tree and tied the bundle to oneof the topmost branches. This way it would be safe since, this tree is avoided byall. Even if anyone saw the bundle, Arjuna felt no one is going to dare to climb thetree to find out what was hanging from that topmost branch.
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