Wife to the five Pandava brothers.

A son and daughter did beget Drupada of Panchala; the former to kill Drona, the latter to wed Arjuna.

To seek Arjuna, hatched a scheme did Drupada. His daughter the bait, Panchali’s swayamvara.

To win the princess, came the kings of Bharata. So too did Duryodhana and his friend, Karna.

Lord Krishna, incarnation of Vishnu, graced the event; with his brother, Balarama of the Yadava clan.

The Pandavas too came to gain a wife and an ally in Drupada. They joined the brahmana who hoped to receive gifts from the kshatriya.

To win the princess, the champions should lift a heavy bow; string it and hit the illusive fish with one blow.

The kings failed to even lift the bow as did too Duryodhana. To save the honour of his friend, stood up the Angaraj Karna.

In a snatch he lifted the stubborn bow; wedged it in his foot and bent it low.

Before Karna looped the string, the kings exclaimed his worth. Panchali’s voice carried forth; she questioned his low-birth.

His attention broken, the string whiplashed and bow bounced back. Laughter accosted Karna; his face turned an angry black.

Arjuna, in brahmana garbs, stood and wondered if he could approach. “Yes,” said Dhrishtadyumna, “a man of good birth is beyond reproach.”

The Pandava lifted and strung the bow; fired five arrows and won the prize. He and his brothers took Panchali home to give Mother Kunti a surprise. 

Dhrishtadyumna followed and learned the identity of the brahmanas. Drupada was happy his daughter had joined the house of the Pandavas.

But the king was aghast that the brothers five would marry his Panchali. He accused the Pandavas of all that was immoral and unholy.

When bereft, Kunti had commanded her sons to share all things in common. Their mother’s command and their pledge bound, and so too an obscure norm summoned.

Drupada agreed and gave over Panchali to the marriage. To destroy Drona, the Pandavas would be Drupada’s carriage.

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Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2020

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Next Friday: Indraprastha

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