The Pāṇḍavas spent twelve years in the forest in this manner. One day, Dharmarāja called his brothers and said, “It has been twelve years since we left our kingdom and we are now in our thirteenth year. It’s difficult to spend this year under the conditions our enemies have put down for us. Where shall we live incognito without them discovering our whereabouts?”
Yudhiṣṭhira told the Yakṣa, “O revered one! I do not desire that which belongs to you; the noble ones do not appreciate such behaviour. I shouldn’t indulge in self-boasting; I shall endeavour to answer your questions to the best of my abilities. Ask, what are your questions?”
Yakṣa: Who makes the sun rise? Who are those in his presence? Who makes the sun set? Where does the sun reside?
Upon listening to the story of Sāvitrī, Yudhiṣṭhira experienced a great deal of relief; he did not allow any more worries to plague his heart, and after spending some more time in the Kāmyaka forest he returned to the Dvaita forest along with everyone, where he established residence once again. It was there that their twelve-year forest exile came to an end.
During their stint in the Dvaita forest this time, the Pāṇḍavas fell into grave danger while trying to help out a poor brāhmaṇa –
After Yama left, Sāvitrī returned to the place where her husband’s lifeless body lay. She placed his head on her lap once again and Satyavān slowly came back to life. His eyes were filled with deep love as he looked at Sāvitrī again and again, as though he had come back to her after a long voyage. As he looked at her, he said – “Seems like I have slept for too long. Why didn’t you wake me up? Where is that dark-skinned man who pulled me along with him?” Sāvitrī said – “Yes, my dear. You slept for a long time on my lap. Yama, the controller and master of all living beings is now gone.
The couple gathered fruits and put them together in a bundle. As Satyavān was working on the logs, his body began sweating all over. He had a tremendous headache. He immediately stopped his work, went to Sāvitrī, and said, “Sāvitrī! My limbs, head, and the entire body is aching. There is some pain in my chest too. I feels like a spear has pierced my head. I don’t seem to be keeping well. I'm not able to stand on my feet and feel like lying down.” Sāvitrī rested his head on her lap and let him spread out on the ground. She recalled Nārada’s words.
In the kingdom of Madra, there lived a king named Aśvapati who always abided by dharma and truth and was loved by everyone. He did not have any children even though he grew old. With a desire to obtain offspring, he undertook many rigorous vows and vratas. He would lead a life of self-restraint, eating little, and performing ten thousand homas daily in praise of goddess Sāvitrī. After eighteen years of strictly adhering to this ritual, one day he had a vision of goddess Sāvitrī, who appeared before him, pleased with his devotion.
Just as Śani approaches Rohiṇī for pleasure, Rāvaṇa decked himself up in expensive clothes and ornaments and went to Sītā. He described his achievements and wealth to her and persuaded her to be his wife. She, however, held a blade of grass before her and spoke to it with tears in her eyes, “I’ve heard these words several times from you already. I’m the wife of another and I’m committed to my husband alone. I’m a pativratā. Give up your thoughts about me! What do you get out of tormenting a helpless lady, O wicked king?
Worried that the citizens of Ayodhya may yet again come to the forest, Rāma left the great forest, went to the banks of the beautiful Godāvarī river, and began residing near the āśrama of Sage Śarabhaṅga. Owing to Śūrpaṇakha, Rāma makes an enemy out of Khara, who was residing at Janasthāna. Rāma killed Khara, Dūṣaṇa, and thousands of other rākṣasas, thus making that dhārmic forest safe for everyone. Śūrpaṇakha, with her lips and nose chopped off, went to Laṅkā, fell at the feet of her brother Rāvaṇa, and narrated her tale of woe.
There was a great king named Aja in the Ikṣvāku dynasty. Daśaratha was his son. He had four sons who were all experts in dharma – Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata, and Śatrughna. Rāma’s mother was Kausalyā; Bharata’s mother was Kaikeyi; Lakṣmaṇa- Śatrughna’s mother was Sumitrā. Janaka, the king of Videha, had a daughter named Sītā. Tvaṣṭṛ (Brahmā) himself created her to become the beloved queen of Rāma.
Sometime after this episode, Duryodhana felt that he too should perform a grand yajña like Dharmarāja. Upon learning of this, Karṇa said, “Indeed! This can take place. Now, all kings have been brought under your control; we shall call the ṛtviks and start the preparations for conducting the yajña! Nothing else remains.” When the purohita was called, he said, “Mahārāja! Yudhiṣṭhira is still alive; your father is aged.