Mahabharata: Kichaka's Death and the Dance of the Goddess

I left Bhima and went straight to Virata’s Andarmahala.
Partha was about to begin his dancing lessons
Partha was surprised to see me.

There is something in Panchali’s eyes. She is definitely up to something.

- What are you doing here Sairindhri?
- Aha! Perhaps a dancing lesson I need Brihannala
- Hah! Will I be so fortunate to be the teacher of a Gandharva’s wife?
- How happy you are Brihannala when the Gandharva’s wife languishes!
- Brihannala has griefs too, terrible ones. You cannot see into my heart. Can any one peep into the deepest recesses of another’s heart?

You know me not; you know not what I feel.

- Feel? Oh! Brihannala feels for me! What does Sairindhri need more? Dear Brihannala…
- I have heard everything Panchali. Kichaka will not be spared.
- Only you must postpone it for future, isn’t so Brihannala?
- A little more waiting…and then…
- Thank you Brihannala for your so kind words. Will you do me a favour?

Why is she speaking in such a peculiar tone?
The moment I heard Kichaka insulting her in the open Sabha, I have been burning in guilt and anger.
Can’t she understand it is for her interest that I cannot defend her interest now!
O Panchali! I know your humiliation is beyond all consolation.
O what failure for us! Five husbands could not give you security.

- Don’t enter the Dancing Hall tonight for your usual nocturnal practices, Brihannala
- Well! Are you going to Avisara there?
- Yes, my dear Brihannala. Will a eunuch understand its Rasa? You should not enter lest you spoil, but present you must be guarding the door lest my lover gets disturbed and my love-game is spoiled.
- And who is the fortunate man?
- Kichaka
So saying, I hurried. Partha called me, ‘Wait, Panchali. Did Bhima agree to…?’
- Yes Brihannala. I must hurry now. I have to grind sandal for the king.
- Wait wait.

She would not wait.
So Panchali has finally made Bhima agree to kill Kichaka.
What a predicament she has thrown me into. Bade bhaiya certainly knows nothing about it.
What should I do now?
I can neither desist Bhima from what he has set his mind on, nor can I take Bade-bhaiya into confidence. He will not approve.
Will it be right to keep Bade-bhaiya in the dark? Won’t it be betraying him?
Panchali does not say much in details. She does not want to give me time to reason with her.
Who can stop her now?
True, the Kuru ambassadors visit might expose us; yet we cannot leave Matsya now.
But to solve the problem thus!
Only Panchali can think that way.
I see the dust raised by war chariots; I see mangled bodies lying in pools of blood.
A Great War is ensuing.
Krishna was right. Krishna is always right.

I met Kichaka at Sudeshna’s palace in the morning. He was doing his morning exercises on the roof of the palace.
As I approached him he was a bit surprised. He stopped his exercises and came to me with a smile that boasted his conquest over me.
- Throwing you down in the court I kicked you in the presence of the king. Could you obtain any protection then? This Virata is in name only the king of the Matsyas. Commanding the forces of this realm it is I, who am the real lord of the Matsyas.
I smiled, ‘I know my Lord.’

‘O Lady of beautiful smiles, O timid one, accept me cheerfully. I shall become your slave,’ said he lustfully licking me with his ogles, ‘And, O Lady of graceful hips, I will immediately give you a hundred nishkas, and engage a hundred male and a hundred female servants and will also bestow on you cars yoked with she-mules. O timid lady, let our union take place.’
He wrapped my hips with his trunk-like arms, pulled me towards him, pressed my breasts on his chest and tried to kiss me. I placed my fingers between our lips like a lotus petal separating two fires.

Lust and Wrath!

‘Foolish male psyche! All poetry leads to bed! The only one salvation in their life! I am tired of these eulogies of my body. Sometimes I envy my body. It drew so much eulogy, not me!’
Gently I whispered, 'O Kichaka, I am at your will. Everything that is mine is yours. O…do have patience, my hero. Please know my condition. I thwarted you in fear of my husbands. Trust me; I am thirsty to please you. Never in my life had I felt such comforting security…never had my essence tasted the rain of such manliness as pressed in your arms.’
I felt his body shook in joy.
I felt his coils relaxing in confident complacency.

- Come to my palace at night. I will arrange that.
- If you order me, I will come. But I fear…
- What do you fear?
- I am a woman, my Lord. So, I fear.
- Hah! How you woman deceive your desire with fear! And how your fear fans your desire!
- Please see to it, my Lord, that neither your friends nor your brothers should know your union with me. I am in terror of detection by my Gandharva husbands. Promise me this, and I will yield to you.

He pressed me harder and dipped his lips in mine. I felt like a hare salivated by a fox.
I felt the restless spree of his blood.
Gently and firmly I pushed away his face. His eyes glared and his hot breath scalded my face. I felt his hardening pride. He whispered, ‘I cannot wait. I want you now.’

- If you want to take me now I won’t resist. I am burning too. But please understand my fears, and I will be yours.

Hearing this Kichaka was very glad like an insect at the sight of fire.
Gently I freed myself from his grasp and said, ‘We might be spotted here my Lord.’
He said, 'I will, O Sairindhri of graceful hips, do as you say. I will, O beauteous damsel, alone repair to your abode for union with you.’

- No my Lord, not in my abode. The Dasis will surely spy on us. Do go, when it is night, to the dancing-hall where your nieces dance during the day. The Gandharvas do not know that place. We shall then without doubt, escape all censure.'
Kichaka tried to embrace me again. I pushed him gently with a smile, ‘Not now, O prince of my heart.’
- Believe me Sairindhri, that was a dark spell. I don’t know what passionate madness grabbed me. I love you Sairindhri.

I gently stroked his huge chest and said, ‘Please let me go now my Lord. Other Dasis may be around.’
With a smiling sigh he let me go and said, ‘Together what cannot we achieve Sairindhri? I need a living woman by my side, and all my visions will come true.’
As I left him I coyly turned slightly with a slight bend of my neck. Before descending the stairs I turned around again.

What a woman she is! What has happened to you Kichaka?
It is such a long day. Has time lost its wheels?
At last you will merge in me Sairindhri. At last this temple will have its Goddess.
The temple must be well decorated for a worthy worship.
How you woman pretend nonchalance! How you woman yearn for violation of your chastity! How you woman burn secretly to dupe your husband!
I embellished myself with unguents and garlands and ornaments. Wherever I looked her bright eyes shone, whenever I closed my eyes her pearly smile shone.
She made me forget time, her ways are more timeless than time!

Panchali has come to the kitchen on the pretext of taking some food. She has wrapped my neck from behind me and bites my ear like the stings of Kamadeva. Her hairs fall on my face like waterfalls. I cannot forget the night, nor can I forget Panchali’s pitiful laments and insult at Kichaka’s hand.

I put faggot-fuel in the fire, ‘See Panchali, Kichaka’s last funeral rites.’

- He has agreed to come to the dancing Hall alone. Partha will wait outside once he gets in.
- What was the necessity of calling him? I don’t need protection.
- Why do you think so? I have not called him to protect you. I have called him lest he misunderstands you and me. We are keeping this a secret from your elder brother. Taking Partha in confidence will protect you from his sulks.
- Did Kichaka harm you today?
- Oh no. I did not allow him to come near me.

The fire glows in the giant oven. Panchali’s eyes glow brighter -

- O chastiser of foes, Slay Kichaka, O, lift him up from the earth even as Krishna had lifted up the Naga Kaliya from the Yamuna…wipe the vermin from the face of the earth like Partha wiped the Nagas in Khandavaranya.
O Panchali, what cannot I perform to wipe your tears, what cannot I do to see you smile.

I left Bhima in the kitchen with a happy mood. I felt someone was watching me. Whose eyes were those?
As I began dressing myself with the fall of darkness I felt yet again that someone spied on me.
I draped a shawl on my left shoulder, hiding my kanchuli-entrapped breasts like two sabres in sheath. I tightened the knot of my kanchuli more than usual. I put beautiful decorations on my hair, bracelets on wrists, rings on fingers, toes, ears, like a warrior preparing for a climactic battle. I wore embroidered apparel with silken sashes; I lined my eyes with kohl, vermilion on my forehead and went to the dancing Hall, my heart dancing to the tune of its own beats.

When Kichaka entered the Hall it was all dark, with only a lamp at the altar.
A suspicion passed his mind that Sairindhri perhaps duped him.
As the smoke of anger was gradually convoluting in him, he heard a laughter that rippled like a fountain on the rocky darkness.
He saw Sairindhri appearing from behind the idol of Goddess Saraswati. It seemed to Kichaka that the idol had gained life.
She was wearing a heart-piercing Kanchuli and lower apparel half-shrouding the navel like mist about to slip from the eyes of dawn, or like dew on a lotus leaf ready to drop at the softest warm touch. Her features were lighted up by the single lamp on the altar as if her form was light itself. Her shadow loomed large behind her on the high domed wall like a stormy cloud preparing for torrential rain.

Kichaka approached Draupadi restless in excitement like a young pony at the sight of a mare.
He heaved a happy sigh and said, ‘O Sairindhri, you cannot guess how I spent the long day. I thought only of you, O damsel of large eyes. The day seemed to me to be without an end. See how I have embellished myself with unguents and garlands and ornaments, for you and you only.’

Draupadi laughed, ‘Welcome hero to the doorway – who knows - of Heaven or Hell.’
She gently picked up the lamp. Its flickering flame set to flame Draupadi’s beauty in all its grandeur.
Kichaka felt a deep agony and with open arms rushed to embrace her, like a bee rushes to honey-flower, like a snake rushes to a lotus stalk.

- I love you Sairindhri, I love you Goddess.

I held up the lamp between us.
Like a water-wheel in endless repetition he went on chanting slokas –
‘Your eyes like lotus-petals invite me, a bee. Where am I in fault intoxicated by your faultless features?
Your waspy slender waist stings me
Your body fragrance like a blue lotus lulls me in trance
Your resplendent features like moonbeam burn me
Your lavishing beauty ravishes me’

As Kichaka approached, you held up the lamp between your breasts and his chest.
Fire separating two Fires!

- Forgive me Sairindhri. Believe me Sairindhri, I tumbled in darkness…the darkness of insanity. Man is helpless before the power of that darkness.

Draupadi laughed and it echoed on the walls like phosphorous laden waves smashing on the shore of darkness.

- O Sairindhri, do not remember that day. Anger and desire are the greatest enemy of man, because they blind a man, make a beast of a man. It was not I Sairindhri who tried to ravish you, it was a beast; it was a beast that insulted you in open court. Forgive me Sairindhri.

Draupadi slowly lifted up the lamp to Kichaka’s face.

- You are not an ordinary woman Sairindhri. You have changed me. I don’t want to enjoy you by lust. I love you Sairindhri. We will merge in love like two rivers merge at a confluence.

Draupadi slowly circled the lamp before Kichaka’s face as if she was doing an Arati.

- I want to marry you Sairindhri. You will be my queen Sairindhri. To you I have already given many and various kinds of wealth from the stores earned by me, as well as hundred maids and many fine robes, and also a mansion with an inner apartment adorned with beauteous and lovely and youthful maid servants and embellished by every kind of sports and amusements. And having set all those apart for you, I have speedily come to you. And all the women who saw me today have begun to praise me, saying, 'There is not in this world any other person like unto thee in beauty and dress!'

Draupadi laughed and the flame flickered, as if it became one with her laughter.

- O Sairindhri. It’s true I wanted to enjoy you, I wanted to use you as my pleasure toy…but…believe me…that is not my real self. I wanted to hurt you in rough strife because I never knew what it is to take shelter in the warm softness of a woman’s bosom…I wanted to desecrate you because I never knew I was only hurting myself…desecrating myself…I wanted to drown you by power because I never knew the Joy of sinking slowly in the depth of an ocean of your vitality. The beast comes out…sprawls its hidden paws and fangs…without my knowing it. The beast and I reside together. Take me in your arms Sairindhri, let me hide my face in your soft warm breasts Sairindhri…and make a Man of me. My sadhana…my tapasya…all will remain distant echoes without you, Sairindhri.

You had a fascinating smile playing on your lips, Draupadi, as you uttered slowly in lyrical rhythms,

‘See me O great Kichaka, the true ruler of Matsya, see standing before you a woman who has undergone the greatest insult and humiliation of her life, see in my eyes the last reflection of your human existence before you are transported to some other world.’

- I did not know the value of my seed…the greatness of your womb. Marry me Sairindhri and take me to a different world. You are a woman of great vitality. Woman like you are born for a purpose…the purpose to uplift the humankind. You were not born to remain a Dasi. You are the queen…Nature is your Dasi. Make me immortal by giving me an offspring blessed with all the vitality of Mother Nature. Let us go Sairindhri, let us undertake the journey of Life together…
- Your journey you must undertake Kichaka
- O Sairindhri, pardon me that I wanted to force myself into you. I was overcome by passion being thwarted. Blame me not Sairindhri by your intellect. It’s the male psyche to blame. What can poor Kichaka do before Nature’s ordains? However, if you choose to blame by your emotion, blame me with compassion. I was venomous; it was a fall for me. However, O Sairindhri, remember the two maxims of Tantra: "One must rise by that by which one falls" and "the very poison that kills becomes the elixir of life when used by the wise”. You have made me wise. Thoughts of my merger in you inflame my mind with Kama Agni and harm my Ojas…causes disturbance in the Ojas.

Kichaka heard a very harsh male voice behind him, ‘Be ready for the journey, Kichaka.’

Kichaka quickly turned around.
A huge tall frame stood behind him, his mane-like hairs tied with a piece of white cloth, his lower garment buckled, and his naked muscles swelled like elephant in chains.
Kichaka’s glaring eyes pushed his bushy eyebrows up, his broad chin hung in astonishment, ‘Vallabha! You! You scoundrel, what are you here for?’
He collected himself quickly and moved a few steps backward.
He regained his dignity, raised his index to Bhima and shouted in commanding tone, ‘So, the rumour was true. You are her secret lover. That’s why she swooned seeing you fight Pardesimalla’s tiger. You want to enjoy her secretly.’
Bhima gnashed his teeth, ‘You lusty fox, I am her husband and protector. Today you will pay the price of insulting my wife.’
There was something in Bhima’s voice and posture that made Kichaka exclaim, ‘Who are you! You are no ordinary mortal. You cannot be a wrestler or cook.’

Draupadi came forward with the lamp and stood between the two. In the light the shadows of the two giants rose behind them high up to the dome and in the slight flicker of the lamp the shadows swayed like two giant cobras spreading their hoods and about to blow at each other.

Bhima hissed, ‘If you are a man Kichaka get ready to fight with me.’
Kichaka looked at Draupadi then at Bhima and laughed, ‘I have a faint idea who you might be. It’s a shocking surprise to find you here. But what are you fighting for? You fool! She is your wife no more. I have already tasted her. She bears my mark. Ha Ha Ha Ha!’
Bhima rushed towards Kichaka and seized him by the hairs of his head adorned with garlands. With another hand he held his throat. Kichaka immediately overcame the suddenness of the attack, collected himself, quickly freed his hair and grasped the arms of Bhima.

The fight began.

They fought in spree like the erotic game of two love-struck elephants in the season of spring. Their arms coiled each others’ like two pythons mating, and attacked each other with their nails and teeth, like lovers do in passionate foreplay. They charged each other and then Kichaka threw Bhima down like he threw me to his wanton bed. Bhima resisted Kichaka with a kick and Kichaka rolled to the ground. As they fought on, the crash of their arms noised like the clatter of splitting wood in oven.

Then Bhima throwing Kichaka down by force again began to toss him about furiously like a hurricane tosses a tree… like Kichaka tossed me in beastly passion in his bed. And attacked thus relentlessly, Kichaka grew weak and began to tremble, like me overpowered by the pressure of Kichaka’s massive weight and python coil. And attacking Bhima, and making him wave a little, Kichaka struck him with his knees and brought him down to the ground, like he kicked me at Virata’s Sabha.

Bhima quickly rose up like I did having exhausted Kichaka of his sap.
They grappled with each other and as they roared at each other in wrath, the strong edifice of the dancing Hall began to shake every moment. And slapped on the chest by the mighty Bhima, Kichaka fired with wrath moved not a single pace.
The Suta, overpowered by Bhima's might, became enfeebled… and waning weak; Bhima forcibly drew Kichaka towards his breast…pressing hard… like Kichaka …my helpless body…on his rocky chest.
Breathing hard wrathfully, Bhima forcibly seized Kichaka by the hair… as if to penetrate his chastity. And finding him exceedingly exhausted, Bhima bound him fast with his arms…as Kichaka de-motioned me in his coils. And then Bhima began for a long while, to whirl the senseless Kichaka, who began to roar frightfully like a broken trumpet.

Kichaka was almost senseless. Bhima threw his exhausted body panting like a dog at my feet.
Bhima would kill him soon like a butcher slays a beast. Kichaka could hardly open his eyes, and he was like a fangless snake.
He was breathing heavily in futile anger. Filthy blood drained profusely from his temples like the blood of a beast draining from slaughter house. Bhima looked resplendent in blood like a mountain with blooming Kimshuka flowers.
I kicked Kichaka’s face with my left foot.

And in order to pacify my wrath Bhima grasped Kichaka's throat with his arms and began to squeeze it. And assailing with his knees Kichaka’s waist, he was about to slay him like a beast.
O Bhima! Can’t you rape him before slaughtering him?
Rape him Bhima, Rape him! Destroy his human dignity by rape before destroying his human form.

I stopped Bhima. Bhima was surprised but with eyes red in wrath, relinquished his hold of Kichaka, whose dress and ornaments had been thrown off his person, whose eyes were rolling, and whose body was yet trembling.
- Would you be so kind to him as to let him die so peacefully?
I tore open all my garments, my Kanchuli, my lower apparel and became naked.

Bhima breathed fire.
I laughed and laughed aloud as I chanted musically and rhythmically-
‘Imagine Bhima that hand of Kichaka grabbed my slender waist my Vina-like hips … ‘
Bhima, with a cry of unbearable agony broke Kichaka’s right hand into pieces, like me folding pieces of soft wood to apply to the oven. Kichaka’s sky-rending scream was submerged in Bhima’s yells…
‘Imagine, that other hand fiddling and cuddling my breasts …’
Bhima mangled the left arm beyond recognition, like me making dough…
‘Those thick filthy lips took my petal lips in between and sucked and sucked and sucked...’
Bhima kicked on the lips and they were besmeared with blood, like me crushing tomato…
‘Those teeth nibbled my lips, my shoulder, my breast, my cheeks, my neck...’
Bhima kicked and kicked on the teeth till all came out, like me taking out pulse seeds of a bean…
‘Those thighs pressed my thighs, my inner thighs …’
Bhima mangled his thighs like me breaking a plantain trunk for the edible stem…
‘That chest mounted on my breasts and crumpled me’
Bhima tore open the chest and intestine of Kichaka’s carnal body like me opening the kernel of a fruit…

With dishevelled hairs like summer clouds spread across the sky Draupadi laughed and danced as it echoed on the high dome and walls of the Hall, like goddess Kali dancing to Shiva’s tambour.
She tore Kichaka’s intestine and wore it as a garland.
The Hall had never been witness to such a dance.
The giant pillars stood like frightened trees before an impending storm. As the oil-lamp flickered light on her it seemed even the darkness of the Hall was trembling in fright.
She stood on Kichaka’s mangled body, with one foot dipping in the gushing blood of his heart, and with one foot on his mangled thigh. Standing thus she cried, ‘See Kichaka see! See a mother and save your soul. See a woman and damn yourself for eternity.’
She laughed and laughed as she waved her naked body to and fro like a snake dancing in love ecstasy.
Bhima stood by her in wondering silence, trying to calm himself and panting.
Draupadi kicked Kichaka again and touched Bhima’s chest as she whispered, ‘Are you tired Bhima? Imagine this fleshy body churning and churning your wife … imagine my lotus-petals are crushed and crushed … imagine his vital venom reaching my depth… a depth only you can reach Bhima …’

With unbearable agony and frenzied like an elephant poked with red-hot iron spear, he roared like a lion inflicted with excruciating pain.
All the limbs of Kichaka’s body broken into fragments Bhima begins to roll him about on the ground.
And Draupadi laughed, clapped and danced around the body, which was no more recognizable as one…
And Bhima raised his arms towards Heavens, 'Slaying this wretch who intended to violate our wife, -- I am freed from the debt I owed to my brothers, and have attained perfect peace.'
- That body has still a human shape Bhima; its human dignity mocks me still. Imagine that body planting its poison seed in me Bhima …the womb of the future of Hastinapura

At my words, squeezing his own hands, and biting his lips in rage, Bhima again attacked the remnants of human flesh, and thrust the trace of arms and legs and neck and head into his body like the wielder of the Pinaka reducing into shapeless mass the deer, which form sacrifice had assumed in order to escape his ire.
And having; crushed all his limbs, and reduced him into a ball of flesh, the mighty Bhimasena showed it to me saying, 'Come princess of Panchala, and see what hath become of that lustful wretch!'
I laughed and danced with my garlands of Kichaka’s intestine swaying.

Why did I become so mad? What pent up passion over-powered me thus?

O Heavens! What scene! What tempestuous passions! What inanity!
Bhima, smeared with blood, is kneeling before her and staring awestruck!
This is not Bhima who can tear apart an elephant’s trunk with ease.
What pent up passion over-powered her thus?
Kichaka came alone. He was too proud to let his body-guards accompany him in his nocturnal hunt.
I knew how Bhima roars and squeals while slaughtering a foe.
So, I closed the huge door of the Hall and waited outside, occasionally stealing in to see the progress of the fight.
And all that has happened today is beyond my wildest imagination!
Are the two gone mad? Is it the outburst of their pent-up passion?
Bhima has great power of abstinence; but he has been abstaining from sex too long.
And so does Panchali. I have always thwarted her yearnings to meet me.

O me!
Where is her self-restraint gone?

I go to her at once and throw away Kichaka’s intestine from her neck, gently wipe the blood on her body with my shawl, embrace her blood-bathed naked body and hold her tight on my chest.
To Bhima I say, ‘Calm yourself, Majhli Bhaiya, and retire to your place.’
Bhima looks at me, at Panchali, at Kichaka’s remains.
His eyes wear a strange look…wild and bewildered! Perhaps he needed Draupadi’s motherly embrace now.
Draupadi trembles in my embrace and weeps.
I repeat, ‘Please go Bhaiya, I will take care of her.’
Bhima looks at me with uncharacteristic fear in his deep eyes, ‘Calm her Arjuna, calm her…cannot bear the sight anymore. Is she gone mad? Will she be well again Partha?’
What rare sight to see Bhima frightened!
I nod at him and softly caress her hair and back, ‘Panchali, my Panchali, calm yourself.’
She merges in my chest like a storm-struck dove…her heart beat in tumults…
After Bhima leaves turning back every now and then as he goes, I lift up Draupadi’s face besmeared with tear, sweet and blood.
What immense passion my brother and my Panchali are capable of!
Will the like of them ever be born on earth?
I kiss her…on her forehead…her lips…embracing her passionately
She calms down immediately.

What an age!
Man detached from his own desire…and running after fantastical images of his desire! Kasturi Mriga!
Man will dehumanize a woman body in objectifying it as his desire.
Is relation possible?
Will pretension of relation help evolution?
What future for mankind? Seeking fulfilment in representation and not in reality!
I see a great future for the entertainer class. They will get all necessary environment to flourish as intellectuals!

What an age!
Who could set it right?
With fragmented self no man can ever set it right.
Even if Gods take incarnation in this age, they would cut pathetic figures.

(Excerpts from my novel “The Rape of Draupadi?” © 2011)


More by :  Indrajit Bandyopadhyay

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