Thus, all the impediments that had come in the way of performing the Rājasūya-yāga were removed; Yudhiṣṭhira completed the yāga successfully under the protection of Kṛṣṇa. All the guests returned to their hometowns after seeking his permission. Yudhiṣṭhira gave them bountiful gifts and bade them farewell with great affection. Kṛṣṇa too expressed his wish to return to his city of Dvārakā. Yudhiṣṭhira expressed his gratitude to Kṛṣṇa and said, “Thanks to your benevolence, the yajña went off well and the kings offered tributes.
With the killing of Jarāsandha, the greatest obstacle for the Rājāsūyayāga was removed. But Yudhiṣṭhira still needed to subdue the other kings or have a treaty of peace with them and gather their tributes. And so, his four brothers, upon his approval, went on a conquest to defeat kings in all directions (digvijaya). Arjuna went to the North, Bhīma to the East, Sahadeva to the South, and Nakula to the West. They defeated the kings there and offered to Yudhiṣṭhira the tributes they had gathered. Thus, Yudhiṣṭhira became the king of kings.
Maya was a sculptor of the rākṣasas. He was one of the few who remained alive without getting charred to death when the Khāṇḍava forest burned; out of his gratitude towards Arjuna for letting him live, he built a palatial sabhā as per the latter’s request. Maya gave Bhīma a mahāgadā (great mace) and Arjuna a conch named Devadatta.
In the north, Arjuna went to Gaṅgādvāra, the Agastyavaṭa in the Himalayan region, Vasiṣṭha mountain, Hiraṇyabindu, and other pilgrimage centres; in the east, he went to the Naimisāraṇya, River Kauśikī, Gayā, Gaṅgā, Mahendra mountain, Maṇalūra, and other places; in the south, he went to the Pañca-tīrtha and other places; in the west, he visited several famous pilgrimage centres and finally came to Prabhāsapura.
Vidura said, “Dear king!
Duryodhana’s spies brought news that Draupadī was married off to the Pāṇḍavas; the archer who bent the bow, strung it, and shot the target was none other than Arjuna; the one who lifted and whirled Śalya, uprooted trees, and vanquished everyone in combat without himself losing his composure was Bhīma.
Drupada heard the words of Dharmarāja sent through the purohita and was yet unable to determine the clan and the family lineage of the groom; so he thought of a plan to find that out.
As the celebration of the svayaṃvara started, the crowd at the venue kept growing; actors and dancers entertained them and were rewarded with precious gems. Fifteen days passed this way and on the sixteenth day, Draupadī took her sacred bath, wore a grand sari and decked herself with magnificent ornaments. She held a golden vīra-kalaśa and entered the stage. As she entered, the musical instruments grew silent and Dṛṣṭadyumna entered the stage. With a voice that was as deep as thunder, he announced, “Dear kings! Pay attention!
[The following sub-stories appear in the Ādi Parva of the Mahābhārata, Adhyāyas 158–74] The brave Pāṇḍavas travelled day and night and arrived at a holy place called Somaśravāyaṇam. Arjuna, the bravest among them all, carried a fire-stick to light their path and also as a means of protection. In an isolated corner of the Gaṅgā, the king of the Gandharvas was engaged in water-sports with several women. He heard the Pāṇḍavas approaching and was enraged.
In the meantime, the other Pāṇḍavas returned home after their daily round of seeking alms. Looking at Bhīma’s face, Yudhiṣṭhira guessed that there must be something amiss and asked his mother, Kuntī, “What is it Mother? What does Bhīma want to do? Has he told you about it and got your approval?” She narrated the day’s events and said, “Bhīma has embarked upon this task only on my advice. He is going to help the brāhmaṇa’s family and also liberate the town from the clutches of the evil rākṣasa. He has undertaken a tremendous task!” Yudhiṣṭhira was not satisfied with her answer.