SECTION I (Pandava-Pravesa Parva)
OM! Having bowed down to Narayana, and Nara, the most exalted of male beings, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.
Janamejaya said, "How did my great-grandfathers, afflicted with the fear of Duryodhana, pass their days undiscovered in the city of Virata? And, O Brahman, how did the highly blessed Draupadi, stricken with woe, devoted to her lords, and ever adoring the Deity, spend her days unrecognised?"
Vaisampayana said, "Listen, O lord of men, how thy great grandfathers passed the period of unrecognition in the city of Virata. Having in this way obtained boons from the god of Justice, that best of virtuous men, Yudhishthira, returned to the asylum and related unto the Brahmanas all that had happened. And having related everything unto them, Yudhishthira restored to that regenerate Brahmana who had followed him the churning staff and the fire-sticks he had lost. And, O Bharata, the son of the god of Justice, the royal Yudhishthira of high soul then called together all his younger brothers and addressed them, saying, 'Exiled from our kingdom, we have passed twelve years. The thirteenth year, hard to spend, hath now come. Do thou therefore, O Arjuna, the son of Kunti, select some spot where we may pass our days undiscovered by our enemies.'
"Arjuna replied, "Even by virtue of Dharma's boon, we shall, O lord of men, range about undiscovered by men. Still, for purposes of residence, I shall mention some spots that are both delightful and secluded. Do thou select some one of them. Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and the spacious Kuntirashtra. Which of these, O king, wouldst thou choose, and where, O foremost of monarchs, shall we spend this year?'
"Yudhishthira said 'O thou of mighty arms, it is even so. What that adorable Lord of all creatures hath said must become true. Surely, after consulting together, we must select some delightful, auspicious, and agreeable region for our abode, where we may live free from fear. The aged Virata, king of the Matsyas, is virtuous and powerful and charitable, and is liked by all. And he is also attached to the Pandavas. Even in the city of Virata, O child, we shall, O Bharata, spend this year, entering his service. Tell me, ye sons of the Kuru race, in what capacities ye will severally present yourselves before the king of the Matsyas!'
"Arjuna said, 'O god among men, what service wilt thou take in Virata's kingdom? O righteous one, in what capacity wilt thou reside in the city of Virata? Thou art mild, and charitable, and modest, and virtuous, and firm in promise. What wilt thou, O king, afflicted as thou art with calamity, do? A king is qualified to bear trouble like an ordinary person. How wilt thou overcome this great calamity that has overtaken thee?'
"Yudhishthira replied, 'Ye sons of the Kuru race, ye bulls among men, hear what I shall do on appearing before king Virata....