(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Meanwhile the Kauravas and the Pandavas, after having thus sported there, set out, without Bhima, for Hastinapura, some on horses, some on elephants, while others preferred cars and other conveyances. And on their way they said to one another, 'Perhaps, Bhima hath gone before us.' And the wicked Duryodhana was glad at heart to miss Bhima, and entered the city with his brothers in joy.
"The virtuous Yudhishthira, himself unacquainted with vice and wickedness, regarded others to be as honest as himself. The eldest son of Pritha, filled with fraternal love, going unto his mother, said, after making obeisance to her, 'O mother, hath Bhima come? O good mother, I don't find him here. Where may he have gone? We long sought for him everywhere in the gardens and the beautiful woods; but found him nowhere. At length, we thought that the heroic Bhima preceded us all. O illustrious dame, we came hither in great anxiety. Arrived here, where hath he gone? Have you sent him anywhere? O tell me, I am full of doubts respecting the mighty Bhima. He had been asleep and hath not come. I conclude he is no more.'
"Hearing these words of the highly intelligent Yudhishthira, Kunti shrieked, in alarm, and said, 'Dear son, I have not seen Bhima. He did not come to me. O, return in haste, and with your brothers search for him.'
"Having said this in affliction to her eldest son, she summoned Vidura, and said, 'O illustrious Kshattri, Bhimasena is missing! Where has he gone? The other brothers have all come back from the gardens, only Bhima of mighty arms does not come home! Duryodhana likes him not. The Kaurava is crooked and malicious and low-minded and imprudent. He coveteth the throne openly. I am afraid he may have in a fit of anger slain my darling. This afflicts me sorely, indeed, it burns my heart.'
"Vidura replied, 'Blessed dame, say not so! Protect thy other sons with care. If the wicked Duryodhana be accused, he may slay thy remaining sons. The great sage hath said that all thy sons will be long-lived. Therefore, Bhima will surely return and gladden thy heart.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The wise Vidura, having said this unto Kunti, returned to his abode, while Kunti, in great anxiety, continued to stay at home with her children.
"Meanwhile, Bhimasena awoke from that slumber on the eighth day, and felt strong beyond measure in consequence of the nectar he had taken having been all digested. Seeing him awake, the Nagas began to console and cheer him, saying, 'O thou of mighty arms, the strength-giving liquor thou hast drunk will give thee the might of ten thousand elephants! No one now will be able to vanquish thee in fight. O bull of Kuru's race, do thou bath in this holy and auspicious water and return home. Thy brothers are disconsolate because of thee.'
"Then Bhima purified himself with a bath in those waters, and decked in white robes and flowery garlands of the same hue, ate of the paramanna (rice and sugar pudding) offered to him by the Nagas. Then that oppressor of all foes, decked in celestial ornaments, received the adorations and blessings of the snakes, and saluting them in return, rose from the nether region. Bearing up the lotus-eyed Pandava from under the waters, the Nagas placed him in the selfsame gardens wherein he had been sporting, and vanished in his very sight.
"The mighty Bhimasena, arrived on the surface of the earth, ran with speed to his mother. And bowing down unto her and his eldest brother, and smelling the heads of his younger brothers, that oppressor of all foes was himself embraced by his mother and every one of those bulls among men. Affectionate unto one another, they all repeatedly exclaimed, 'What is our joy today, O what joy!'
'Then Bhima, endued with great strength and prowess, related to his brothers everything about the villainy of Duryodhana, and the lucky and unlucky incidents that had befallen him in the world of the Serpents. Thereupon Yudhishthira said, 'Do thou observe silence on this. Do not speak of this to any one. From this day, protect ye all one another with care.' Thus cautioned by the righteous Yudhishthira, they all, with Yudhishthira himself, became very vigilant from that day. And lest negligence might occur on the part of the sons of Kunti, Vidura continually offered them sage advice.
"Some time after, Duryodhana again mixed in the food of Bhima a poison that was fresh, virulent, and very deadly. But Yuyutsu (Dhritarashtra's son by a Vaisya wife), moved by his friendship for the Pandavas, informed them of this. Vrikodara, however, swallowed it without any hesitation, and digested it completely. And, though virulent the poison produced no effects on Bhima.
"When that terrible poison intended for the destruction of Bhima failed of its effect, Duryodhana. Karna and Sakuni, without giving up their wicked design had recourse to numerous other contrivances for accomplishing the death of the Pandavas. And though every one of these contrivances was fully known to the Pandavas, yet in accordance with the advice of Vidura they suppressed their indignation.
"Meanwhile, the king (Dhritarashtra), beholding the Kuru princes passing their time in idleness and growing naughty, appointed Gautama as their preceptor and sent them unto him for instruction. Born among a clump of heath, Gautama was well-skilled in the Vedas and it was under him (also called Kripa) that the Kuru princes began to learn the use of arms.'"