The Noble Prince
The Birth of Karna
The Pandava Princes
The Great Archer
The Charioteer's Son
The Shellac Palace
The Slaying of Bakasura
Draupadi's Swayamvara
The Rajasuya Sacrifice
The Game of Dice
In Exile
The Year in Hiding
The Defence of Matsya
The Exile Ends
Envoys and Missions
Preparing for the War
Kurukshetra and After
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The Rajasuya Sacrifice

The people of Hastinapura were overjoyed when they heard that their beloved princes were returning after long years of exile and hardship, and the whole city was decorated for the occasion.

The elders in the court of Dhritarashtra advised him to make peace with the Pandavas and to give them what rightfully belonged to them. So, when the five brothers came before him, Dhritarashtra welcomed them and congratulated them on their escape from the burning house and on their marriage to the Panchala princess, Draupadi. Then he gave them a small tract of land called Khandavaprastha, some distance away from Hastinapura. It was a barren place, desolate and uninhabited. He hoped he had seen the last of the Pandavas.

The blind king was secretly pleased with his plan and relieved that Yudhishthira did not complain about the injustice meted out to them. He wanted them both out of sight and away from any harm.

The Pandavas along with their mother and Draupadi left for Khandavaprastha. On the instruction of Indra, Vishwakarma built a beautiful city for them, which they named Indraprastha.

As the years went by, more and more people from the surrounding areas began to acknowledge Yudhishthira as their sovereign. Tributes filled the royal coffers, in return for friendship and protection. Throughout, Drupada, the king of Panchala, and Krishna remained the young king's trusted friends and advisors. Yudhishthira sent his brothers to the four corners of the country to extend his empire and influence.

Yudhishthira ruled Indraprastha in all glory. Then one day his advisors urged him to perform the Rajasuya Yagna and assume the title of emperor. He consulted Lord Krishna who agreed with the suggestion, but said "Prior to the sacrifice, the other kings must accept you as their sovereign. But Jarasandha, the king of Magadha, will oppose you. You cannot perform the sacrifice till he is killed."

The Pandavas and Krishna made a plan to kill Jarasandha. Bhima and Arjuna along with Krishna set out for Magadha dressed as ascetics. On the way Krishna told the Pandava brothers the strange story of Jarasandha. According to legend, he had been born not whole, but in two halves. A woman named Jara had magically joined the two pieces together and restored the child to his grateful parents. Jara had blessed him with long life and superhuman strength. All men would fear him, she said. No weapons would touch him and he would excel in wrestling and in other feats of strength.

As they came closer to the capital of Magadha, Krishna warned them that Jarasandha was strong and cunning and that it would not be easy to overpower him. On reaching the city, they went to the court of Jarasandha, who was impressed by their noble bearing and gave them due respect. He expressed a desire to talk to the illustrious guests at their convenience, to which Krishna replied, "My two companions are under a vow of silence and can speak only after midnight."

Jarasandha called on his guests at midnight. He became suspicious when he saw the scars made by the bowstring and demanded an explanation. They said, "We are your enemies and seek instant combat. You can choose one of us to fight." Once he knew the identity of the three, he said "I choose Bhima as being the most worthy of fighting me."

He then led them to the wrestling arena. And soon they were grappling with each other. Bhima and Jarasandha were so evenly matched that they fought continuously for thirteen days with their bare hands. Then one day, something happened, the wrestlers had taken so close a grip of each other that it was difficult to distinguish one from the other, only their heavy breathing could be heard. Suddenly, Bhima managed to free himself from, Jarasandha's grip, catch his opponent's foot and throw him upon the floor. Then, with a mighty roar of triumph, he put his foot upon the fallen Jarasandha, and tearing him into two, flung the pieces away. "Victory! Victory is ours," he roared.