Chapter 1 - The Palace of Lac
Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava was really jealous of his cousins – the Pandavas. After the death of Pandu and Madri, the Pandavas had returned from the forests with their mother Kunti, Duryodhana just could not bear it. Duryodhana saw the Pandavas as his enemy and did not care who knew it.
Duryodhana’s insane jealousy and eating him up and it was not helped by the fact that Bheema, the second Pandava, was ferociously strong. Even as a young boy, Bheema was a very strong and Bheema found the puny Kauravas very funny.
Bheema had been born and brought up in the forests. The rough jungles had just made Bheema more stronger and Bheema had nothing but disdain for the soft Kauravas, who had known nothing other than the the luxuries of the palace.
Bheema used to bully the Kauravas and the Kauravas were really terrified on him. In fact, whenever they used to see Bheema, the Kauravas used to hide on the treetops. And Bheema would still not leave the Kauravas alone. Bheema used to stand at the base of the tree and with his ferocious strength, Bheema used to shake the very tree.
The Kaurava boys used to fall down from the tree like fruits and look shaken and run away terrified of the young Bheema who would laugh at the fleeing Kaurava princes.
And all these events only made Duryodhana hate the Pandavas even more.
Duryodhana’s hatred for the Pandavas and Bheema is particular went so bad that when they all started learning warfare and the science of the administration of the kingdom from Dronacharya, Duryodhana actually tried killing Bheema.
Duryodhana poisoned the food which was to be eaten by Bheema and when the drugged Bheema fell unconscious, Duryodhana tied up Bheema’s hands and feet and pushed the second Pandava inside the river.
And without a second glance, Duryodhana walked away from the place.
Luckily for Bheema, the place under the river where Duryodhana had pushed him had a huge kingdom of snakes. The snakes bit the unconscious Bheema as he sunk inside the waters. The poison in Bheema’s body and the poison of the snake acted as antidotes to each other and the poison from Bheema system was completely gone, when he reached the snake kingdom.
And on talking with the snakes, Bheema realized that he was related to the snakes through his mother – Kunti. The snakes were very glad for their new visitor though he had come to them in unfortunate circumstances. In honour of their new guests, the snakes fed Bheema with the nectar of the snakes. It is believed that this drink actually made Bheema even more strong than he previously was.
And that was how Duryodhana’s first plan of killing Bheema had badly backfired. After pushing Bheema into the river, Duryodhana came back to the palace and he claimed to have no knowledge of what had happened to Bheema. Kunti and the Pandavas were distraught and they kept combing the river for some signs of Bheema and that was when they had some suspicion of foul play. But Duryodhana was quiet and said absolutely nothing.
Duryodhana almost thought that he had gotten away with it, when the impossible happened. Bheema came back from the dead. And not only that, Bheema came back even more stronger than before. And a little wiser.
The event was an eye-opener – both to the Pandavas and to Duryodhana.
Duryodhana realized that he would have to be more careful of disposing off his annoying cousins in the future because they seemed to be lucky and the Pandavas realized that Duryodhana was really insane in his jealousy and that there was no line that Duryodhana would not cross if it meant the destruction of the Pandavas.
That was the reason, the Pandavas never spoke of the incident again. The Pandavas feared that if they spoke about Duryodhana’s involvement in the whole affair, Duryodhana might do something even more horrific.
But just because the Pandavas were silent, it did not make Duryodhana change his mind. Duryodhana was as bad as ever and his plans if anything were becoming more and more bold and the next time, Duryodhana had an even more audacious plan to kill the Pandavas.
Duryodhana spoke highly of a place called Varanavatha where the huge festival was to be organized in honour of Lord Shiva. Duryodhana manipulated things that he sent the Pandavas to Varanavatha and at the time the Pandavas went there, Duryodhana had a beautiful palace built. The palace was one of the most beautiful constructions of its times and definitely the most combustible – because the palace was made of lac.
And Duryodhana was patient this time. He did not want any of the events to ever lead back to him, which was why Duryodhana wanted for a whole year. The Pandavas had lived in the lac palace of Vanaravatha for an entire year when Duryodhana through one of his men called Purochana, set his plan in action.
In the dead of the night, when a huge feast was conducted during the day, when Duryodhana was sure that the Pandavas were fast asleep, Duryodhana asked Purochana to set the entire palace on fire.
In the dead of the night, a fire broke out in the lac palace of Varanavata. The lac palace was built completely of things which could burn and burn very easily. Which was why, the time between the commencement of the fire and the spreading of the fire was too short.
The people from Varanavata were horrified when they saw the entire lac palace go down in flames. The people tried dousing the flames of the palace and that was when they discovered something impossible – the fire was spreading too fast. Far too fast, than in the case of a normal fire. The fire kept raging and there was no part of the palace which even escaped the fire.
The next morning a charred body of a woman with five men were inside the palace and the people were terrified.
They all realized that the Pandavas were gone and this time, there was no one who could bring them back. And the fire had started right from the room where Purochana was sleeping, who was also killed in the fire.
So the entire kingdom believed that the evil Purochana had set fire to the lac palace and Purochana himself killed in the fire.
Back in Hastinapur, Duryodhana could not hide his glee when he heard of the six dead bodies found inside the lac palace. And with the death of Purochana, Duryodhana realized that another loose end was tied up and this time there was nothing which could lead back to him. And Duryodhana was actually happy. He felt that he had got rid of the Pandavas in a masterly stroke and he had done with with absolutely no suspicions leading back to him.