In Sanskrit, Mahabharata was written by Bhagawan Veda Vyasa.

It was translated into Telugu by Kavitrayam viz, Nannayya, Yerrana and Tikkana. The enire translation was done in verse form and prose.

Durng 1022 AD, Rajamahendravaram (now called as Rajahmundry, East Godavari District) was ruled by King Raja Raja Narendra. In his Court, there was a great poet called Nannayya. During 1055 A.D, at the request of King Raja Raja Narendra, Nannayya translated Sanskrit Maha Bharata into Telugu. He translated Aadi parva, Sabhaa Parva and some portion in Aranya Parva and dedicated the same to King Raja Raja Narendra.

Later, during 1255-60 A.D. Simhapuri (now called Nellore) was ruled by Manumasiddhi. In his court, there was a great poet called Tikkana Somayaji. Tikkana Somayaji continued the translation work commenced by Nannaya. But he started translating Mahabharat from Virata Parva and completed the remaining Fifteen Parvas and dedicated the same to Lord Hari Haranatha. He did not complete the unfinished portion of Aranya Parva.

Later, during the earlier part of 1400 A.D. a great poet called Yerra Praggada completed Aranya Parva, left by Nannayya.

We have so far completed Aadi parva, Sabha Parva and Aranya Parva written by Nannaya and Yerrapraggada, and entering Virata Parva written by Tikkana.

Let us know something about Tikkana Somayaji who had written fifteen parvas in Maha Bharata.

Tikkana Somayaji was the son of Kommana Dandanaadhudu and his wife Annamaamba. He was born in Goutama Gotram, Aapastambha Sootram.

One day, his father Kommana Dandanaadhudu and Lord Hari Hara Natha appeared in his dream and requested him to translate Maha Bharat into Telugu.

Accordingly, Tikkana Somayaji translated 15 Parvas into Telugu and dedicated the same to Lord Hari Haranadha.

While Nannayya dedicated his Mahabharat to KingRaja Raja Narendra, Tikkana dedicated his writings to Lord Hari Haranadha.

In Maha Bharat, we come across the episodes of Ajnaata Vaasamu and Krishna Raayabaaram.

In the real life of Tikkana also, he experienced both Ajnata Vasa and Raaya Baaram.

While Manumasiddhi was ruling Simhapuri (Nellore), Tikkana was his minister. At that time, King Ganapati Deva was ruling Kakatiya Kingdom from Orugallu (present Warangal).

Manumasiddhi was defeated and exiled by his step brothers Akkaya and Bayyana and he was driven out of his kingdom. In this task, one King Kulottunga Chola helped Akkana and Bayyana.

At that time, Poet Tikkana kept Manuma Siddhi in Ajnaata Vaasa. Then, along with his Sishyas, he went to Orugallu and met King Ganapati Deva as the emissary of Manumasiddhi. Poet Tikkana won the laurels of King Ganapati Deva by explaining Maha Bharata in detail. He defeated Buddhist Monks in dual arguments.

King Ganapati Deva asked Poet Tikkana "What do you want?"

Poet Tikkana explained in detail the political turmoil in Simhapuri and about the fate of Manumasiddhi and sought the help of King Ganapati Deva in installing Manumasiddhi again on the throne of Simhapuri (Nellore).

King Ganapati Deva responded positively. He had a talk with Kulottanga Chola and stopped his help to Akkanna and Bayyanna. He defeated Akkanna and Bayyanna and installed Manumasiddhi on the throne of Simhapuri. Thus Poet Tikkana succeeded in restoring Manumasiddhi to his Kingdom.

Poet Tikkana lived for 78 years, from 1210 AD to 1288 AD.

In the writings of Tikkana, we mostly see dramatisation of events. Ofcourse, Nannayya also commenced dramatisation even in Sabha Parva. But Tikkana completely adopted dramatisation of events in writing Maha Bharat. The following may be the reason.

We are aware, during that time, Kakateeya Kingdom was ruled by King Ganapati Deva. During the reign of Kakatiya kings, fine arts like music, dance, drama etc., flourished in abudance. One Jaayappa Senani (Army Chief) wrote a book on the art of dance called Nrutta Ratnaakaram. Several carvings and sculptures of dance styles on the walls of temples in Orugallu are the only proof. During that time Poet Tikkana translated Mahabharat. Therefore, the flourishing of fine arts in Kakatiya Empire might have influenced Poet Tikkana in adopting dramatisation in Mahabharat.

(see the Preface to Sreemadaandhra Mahabharatamu, Virata Parvamu, published by Tirumala Tirupati Devastaanams).

Janamejaya, the grand son of Arjuna, asked Saint Vaisampaayana:

"O Saint! Kindly tell me how, our grand fathers, Pandavas, on completion of Aranya Vasa, spent Ajnaata Vaasa, unrecognised by Kouravas" .
Saint Vaisampaayana continued to say:

Yudhishtira addressed all the Brahmins accompanied them during Vanavasa

"O Brahmins! you all have been associated with us all these twelve years and undergone much hardship. We have to undergo one year Ajnaata Vaasa as per the agreement with Suyodhana. Kindly bless us to complete Ajnatavasa uninterruptedly" requested Yudhishtira.

"Yudhishtira! you are the embodiment of Dharma. In the past also, after the killing of Vrutraasura, Indra spent some time in Ajnaatavaasa on Nishadhaacala; likewise Lord Hari spent Ajnatavasa in the womb of Adithi as Vaamana; similary Ourva spent some time in the thigh of his mother; it is only due to bad time. Later, Indra, Hari and Ourva attained their previous glory. Similary, you also will attain your previous glory on completion of Ajnata vasa" said Dhoumya, the Purohit.

Then all the Bramins left Pandavas to their own places.

Then Yudhishtira called all his brothers and said:

"Exiled from our kingdom, we have passed 12 years. The 13th year, hard to spend, has now come. Do you therefore select some spot where we may pass our days undiscovered by our enemies. " said Yudhishtira.

"Even by virtue of Yama Dharma's boon, we will not be discovered by anybody. Still, for purpose of residene, I shall mention some spots that are both delightful and secluded. Please select some one of them.

Surrounding the Kingdom of Kurus, there are many countries beautiful and abounding in corns, such as Paanchaala, Chedi, Matsya, Saalva, Videha, Baahlika, Dasaarna, Soorasena, Kalinga, Magadha. Which of these, would you choose and where shall we spend this year?" said Arjuna.

"As far as my knowledge goes, King Virata, ruling Matsya Kingdom, is a virtuous, powerful and charitable and is liked by all. He is also attached to Pandavas. We shall enter the city of Virata and spend this one year. Tell me in what capacities will you dwell in the city of Virata?" asked Yudhishtira.

"Brother Yudhishtira! you are mild, modest and charitable and virtuous and firm in promise. How will you overcome this great calamity that has overtaken you? asked Arjuna.

"On appearing before King Virata, I shall present myself as a Brahmin, Kanka by name. I know Srouta, Smarta, Sakuna, Jyothisha and other sciences. I am also skilful in dice game. I shall become a courtier of Virata and show my talent in the above fields. Should the King Virata ask me I shall say "formerly I was the friend of Yudhishtira" . It is thus I shall pass my days." said Yudhishtira.

Yudhishtira looked at Bheemaa "O Bheemaa! you have killed Bakasura, Kimmeeraa. What office will you take?" asked Yudhishitira.

"Brother Yudhishtira! I intend to present myself before King Virata as a cook bearing the name of Valala. I am skilled in culinary art. I shall prepare curries for the king and excelling all those skilful cooks who have been serving the King hitherto. I shall gratify the monarch.

I shall command to subdue powerful elephants. If any combatants will fight with me, I will vanquish them and thereby entertain the monarch. But I shall not take any life of them. I shall only bring them down in such a way that they may not be killed. On being asked as regards my antecedents, I shall say "formerly I was the wrestler and cook of Yudhishtira. Thus I maintain myself." said Bheema.

Yudhishitira then looked at Arjuna. "Arjuna! What about you. What office will be performed by you?" asked Yudhishtira.

"While I was with Devendra, when Urvasi tried to have sexual pleasure with me, I refused. She cursed me to become a neuter sex. But Devendra modified it saying that I may undergo that curse during Ajnaata vaasa and on completion of Ajnaatavasa, I will be relinquished of that curse.

Hence, I will declare myself as one of the neuter sex. I shall appear as one of the third sex, Bruhannala by name, and living as a female. I shall entertain the king and the inmates of the inner apartments by reciting stories. I shall also instruct the women of the palace in singing and delightful modes of dancing and in playing musical instruments of diverse kinds.

Should the king enquire me, I will say that I lived as a waiting maid of Draupadi in the Palace of Yudhishtira. Concealing myself by these means, as fire is concealed by ashes, I shall pass my days in the palace of Virata." said Arjuna.

Then Dharmaja looked at Nakula. "While living in the dominions of King Virata, Nakula, what office will you take. Tell me all about it?" asked Dharmaja.

"Brother Yudhishtira! In the name of Dhaamagrandhi, I shall become the keeper of the horses of King Virata. I have thorough knowledge of this work and I am skilful in tendering horses. Besides, this task is agreeable to me. I possess great skill in training and treating horses and the horses are ever dear to me. To those persons who enquire about me, I will tell "formerly I was employed by Yudhishtira in charge of his horses". Thus, disguised, I shall spend my days delightfully in the city of Virata. I will gratify the King Virata in such a way that no one will be able to discover me." said Nakula.

"Sahadeva! how will you bear yourself before that King and what is that which you will do in order to live in disguise?" asked Yudhishtira.

"I will become a keeper of the kine of King Virata. I am skilled in milking kine and taking their history as well as taming them. Passing in the name of Tantri Paala, I shall perform my duties skilfully. If asked, I will tell that I was formerly keeping the kine of Yudhishtira. I always take delight in work of this kind. No one will then be able to recognise me and I will moreover gratify the King Virata." said Sahadeva.

Then, Yudhishtira looked at Droupadi. "This is our beloved wife, Droupadi, dearer to us than our lives. Delicate and Young, she is a princess of great repute. Unacquainted as she is, with any kind of womanly work, what office will she perform?" said Yudhishitira with sorrowful voice.

"There is a class of persons called Sairandhris. I will go before Queen Sudheshna, as a Sairandhri, by name Malini. On being questioned by the Queen, I shall say that I served as a waiting woman of Droupadi. I shall thus pass my days in disguise and I shall serve the Queen Sudheshna, the wife of Virata. Surely she will cherish me" said Droupadi.

Yudhishtira was satisfied with what has been said by his brothers and Droupadi. All are fixed in their own positions. Yudhishtira requested Priest Dhoumya to protect Agnihotram carefully. All the other persons like chariot drivers, cooks, personal servants were sent out to their respective places. While leaving them, Yudhishtira told them that "if any body asks about our whereabouts, you may tell that you donot know where Pandavas have gone leaving all of you at Dvaitavana."

Then Priest Dhoumya told Pandavas thus:

"Dharmaja! all of you were born in a respectable Kuru race, and led a virtuous life. At this juncture, it is very difficult for you to serve others. You should not forget that, for the present, the time is not in your favour. This is not proper time to exhibit your vigour, valour and heroism. That may break your Ajnatavasa agreement.

To dwell with a king is a highly difficult task. I shall therefore speak to you how you may reside in the royal household, avoiding every fault.
One should not wear more costly clothes than King or reside in a palace more than a king and should not speak unnecessarily before a king.

Generally, Kings do not forgive even their own sons, brothers, relatives and friends if they happen to tamper with their dignity.

One should not accept any work which he will not be able to discharge properly; otherwise he will have to face the unpleasantness of the King.

One should not keep himself silent before a king, nor he should be more talkative. One should speak softly and tactfully before a king and win his favour.

One should not leak out the royal secrets to anybody.

After carefully deliberating on all things, a person should set forth, before the king, those topics that are both profitable and pleasing.

One should never occupy a seat higher than a king. One should not feel proud that King praised him or feel sorrow that King cursed him.

One should discharge the royal duties entrusted to him with great care and devotion, irresepctive of place, time, weather, hunger or thirst.

One should feel the royal moneys and property as poison, misappropriating royal funds may take away his life.
One should not laugh, snore or sleep in the presence of King.

One should not move friendly with the enemies of King or with their men.

A servant should not enjoy more plealsures than a King. It may not be liked by the King.

Therefore, during the Ajnatavasa period, you have to move in the royal household with greatest care and caution so that you should not be recognised by anybody." said Dhoumya, the Priest.

Dharmaja, with folded hands, said: "You are my Priest andwell wisher. We have been well taught by you. There is none that could say so to us." said Yudhishtira.

Then Pandavas started their journey to Matsya kingdom. They were walking along Yamuna river and reached the outskirts of Matsya kingdom.

Dhoumya, along with Agnihotra, stopped in an Ashram.

Pandavas continued their journey through forest areas. Droupadi was very much tired and she could not proceed further.

"Pass we here for the rest of the night, for, great is fatigue" said Droupadi.

Dharmaja did not agree. His aim is to reach Virata City as early as possible. Droupadi could not move a step further. Dharmaja asked Nakula to carry Droupadi. Nakula expressed his inability as he was also very much tired.

Yudhishtira looked at Arjuna "Arjuna! will you take up Panchaali and carry her upto the outskirts of Virata City?"

Arjuna took up Droupadi and carried upto the outskirts of Virata City.

"Arjuna! where shall we deposit our weapons before entering the city. If, we enter, with our weapons, we shall surely excite the alarm of the citizens" said Dharmaja and looked around.

In the vicinity, there was a burial ground. Generally prople were not moving there. Besides that, people believe that devils and demons were roaming there. There was a mighty Samee Tree throwing its gigantic branches to four sides and very difficult to ascend.

Arjuna said: "Brother Dharmaja! I think this Sami Tree is the fittest place to keept our arms."

Then Pandavas kept their bows, arrows, knives etc., on a skin with hair and bundled them. Dharmaja found a dead body of an animal. He asked Nakula to peel its skin and bring it. Arjuna wrapped the skin to the bundle. There was a dead body of unidenified person lying at a distance. Arjuna brought and tied that dead body also along with the main bundle.

Yudhishtira, along with the bundle containing the bows, arrows, knives etc, climbed the tree and hanged that bundle to a big branch. Dharmaja prayed that the bundle should be invisible to others, especially to Bheema, and should be visibe only to himself and Arjuna and it should appear as a bundle of poisonous serpants to others.

(Dharmaja might have entertained a doubt in his mind that, during the course of Ajnatavasa, at any point of time, Bheema, in a fit of anger, may run up to this tree, take his mace and attack Kouravas, in order to to kill them, thus breaking the agreement of Ajnatavasa.).

Dharmaja climbed down the Sami tree. He looked around. He saw some cowherds grazing their cattle. He went near them and told them "My aged mother died with disease. As per our caste custom, we have to hang the dead body to a Sami tree. Hence we hanged the dead body to that branch of this Sami Tree." said Dharmaja.

The cowherds were verymuch frightened with his words. They swiftly ran away to inform about the same to their friends.

Then Yudhishtira prayed Yama Dharma Raja. They were transformed into a Brahmin Sanyasi, a cook, a Bruhannala, horse keeper and cowherd respectively. Yudhishtira told his brothers and Droupadi to enter the city one by one. First Yudhishtira entered Virata City.

Incidentally, on that day, King Virata was going round the city. The King saw Dharmaja as Sanyasi Brahmin.

"Enquire who he is. He cannot be a brahmin. He shines like Indra. I think he is the lord of this earth" said Virata. Dharmaja was brought before him.

"Who are you? To which place you belong? What made you to come over here?" asked Virata.

"O Great King Virata! Know me for a brahmin, who, having lost all his wealth, has come to you for means of subsistence. I desire to live here beside you." requested Dharmaja.

"You are welcome. Tell me also particularly what is your name, family and what knowledge you have?" asked Virata.

"My name is Kanka I am a brahmin. I am skilled in dice game.I lost all my wealth in dice game. Unable to bear that agony, I left my country. I heard that you are a virtuous king. I will remain here for a period of one year. Then I will go away in serch of my enemies. Formerly, I was a friend of Yudhishtira." said Yudhishtira.

Virata satisfied with his replies. "I will give you whatever position you want. It is my fortune to have you with us. Kanka is as much lord of this realm as myself. There shall also be at his disposal apparel in plenty, various kinds of food, drinks etc., for you, all my doors are open" ordered Virata.

"I do not want any royal plealsures. I will eat the remains of Homa and will sleep on the ground and comlete my one year period." said Dharmaja.

"You may live as you like" said Virata.

Thus Yudhishtira entered the royal palace of Virata.

Then entered Bheema, holding in hand a cooking ladle, a big spoon and an unsheathed sword. He came in the guise of a cook. He bowed before King Virata.

"O King Virata! I am a cook, Valala by name. I am skilled in preparing sumptious dishes.. Plese employ me as a cook. I was previously worked as Cook in the palace of Yushishtira. I am also a wrestler and I will entertain you with my wrestling. If you dont like me, I will go elsewhere" said Bheema.

" I am very much impressed with your words. Do as you like. Be you the superintendent of the kitchen and you are placed at the head of all those who have been working in the kitchen." said King Virata.

Thus Bheema entered the court of King Virata as a cook.

Next appeared at the gate of the royal palace, another person of enormous size and exqusite beauty, decked with the ornaments of a woman, wearing large ear rings, with long hair floating about his neck.

"O King Virata! I am proficient in dance and skilled in singing and playng all kinds of instruments. Know me to be Brihannala, a third sex. I will teach music and dance to young girls in your palace. Kindly allow me to join in your inner apartments" said Arjuna.

Virata looked at Arjuna "You are so beautiful. How you become brihannala?" asked Virata.

"By virtue of some curse, I am undergoing this neuter sex. Due to this neuter sex , I could not do any work. I learnt music and dance from my childhood." said Arjuna.

King Virata was satisfied that he belongs to neuter sex. He called his daugher, Uttara.

"Brihannalaa! this is my daughter, Uttara. Will you teach dance to her?" asked Virata.

Brihannala humbly replied that she will do it.

"Brihannalaa! she is still childish and interested in playing. You have to inculcate in her some interest in learning music and dance and give him good training." said Virata.

"My child! She is your teacher. You have to learn dance with great devotion" so saying Virata handed over Uttara to Brihannala.

Thus Arjuna joined the office of Virata as dance master.

Then entered Nakula, in the attire of horse keeper. At that time, King Virata was examining some horses bought by him earlier. Nakula began to observe the horses around. King Virata stared at Nakula and thought that he was having proficiency in horses. He asked his minister to enquire about Nakula.

At that time, Nakula himself approached King Virata and said: "O King Virata! I will look after your horses. As a trainee of horses, I have alwlays been highly esteemed by kings. I will be a clever keeper of your horses" said Nakula.

"Who are you? From where you have come? Tell me all the arts you are master of?" asked Virata.

" My name is Tamagrandhi. I was formerly employed by Yudhishtira to keep his horses." said Nakula.

King Virata was very much satisfied with his antecedents.

"Whatever horses I have, I consign to you their care even from today. All the keepers of my horses and all my charioteers will, from today, be subordinate to you." said King Virata.

In this manner, Nakula joined as horse keeper.

With a long stick in his hand, and a bundle of ropes on his head, Sahadeva entered the city of Virata clad in a cowherd dress.

King Virata asked him "Who are you? Where do you come? I have never seen you before. Tell me the truth about you?" asked King Virata.

"O King Virata! victory is yours. I was employed as a cowherd in the service of kuru race. I intend now to serve you. I was previously employed in keeping the cattle of Yudhishtira. He used to call me Tantri pala. I am well acquainted with the kinds of kine and the possible diseases they may get. I can treat them." asked Sahadeva.
"I am having innumerable kine. I place you in charge of all my kine." said King Virata.

Thus Sahadeva joined the service of King Virata as cowherd. In this manner, all five pandavas got their abode in Virata City. Now remains their wife, Droupadi.

Binding her black, soft, fine long hair into a knotted braid, wearing a soiled saree, filling her heart with service motto, Droupadi was walking along the streets in Virata City.

At that time, Queen Sudheshna was standing on the top of the palace for fresh air. She saw Droupadi walking along the streets. She sent her servant maid to fetch her. Accordingly,Droupadi was brought before her.

"Oh beautiful lady! Who are you? What do you seek?" asked Sudheshna.

"I am a maid servant of Sairandhri class. My name is Malini. I know to dress hair and also to make beautiful and variegated garlands. Previously, I served Satya Bhama, wife of Sri Krishna and Droupadi. I am the wife of five husbands. But I was insulted by enemies in the presence of my husbands. I went to forests along with my husbands. I have to spend one more year. I am in search of a respectable abode where I can spend that one year period. I heard that you are a virtuous and respectable queen. I will serve you in a respecable manner. Will you employ me?" asked Droupadi.

Sudheshna got a doubt "Sairandhri! you appear tobe more beautiful. If my husband himself will be attracted by your beauty, what can I do? It is nothing but keeping fire upon my head. Even ladies are looking at you with lust. What male person is there that can resist your attraction? I may bring destruction upon myself by harbouring you." said Sudheshna.

"O Queen Sudheshna! neither King Virata nor any other person will be able to touch me, for, my five youthful husbands who are Gandharvas always protecting me. Any man that attempts to have me like any other woman, will meet with death that very night. Therefore no one can succeed in having me for, those Gandharvas possessing of great energy and mighty strength always protect me secretely. I have no such bad intention to attract anybody. You can believe me. I have got some principles. I will not touch food already parttaken by another nor I will touch or wash anybody legs." said Droupadi.

Sudheshna satisfied with the character of Sairandhri and admitted her into her household.

In this manner, all five pandavas and Droupadi joined the royal palace of King Virata in disguise and spending their time happily.

(Maha Bharat – Virata Parva –
First Chapter – Completed)