The Mahabharata is one of the oldest epics ever written. Experts are of the opinion that perhaps it was written around 4500 BC. This epic predates the Iliad and the Odessey by at least a few centuries. Like the Greek epics the Mahabharata also  has some interpolations and additions. One version of the Mahabharata is adopted by the Bhils a tribal community from Madhya Pradesh. Though the standard theme of the Bhil Mahabharata is similar to the main tale , it also relates a tale of  love of Visaka the Snake God for Draupadi. As is well known Draupadi was a woman of great beauty and in addition was the wife of the 5 Pandava brothers. She lived in a celestial palace and each brother spent one year with her by rotation, when she was exclusively his wife. During the period of  this love tale, she was the wife of Arjuna who had exclusive right to her. Visaka the snake god is worshiped by Bhils who revere him.

One day the Snake God while moving about in his chariot, espied Draupadi playing in the garden of her palace. He was smitten by her beauty and longed to possess her. It was a carnal desire that grew upon him  as the days elapsed. He decided to approach the palace of Draupadi and make known his  love for Draupadi to her directly. It was a dangerous step, but Visaka was sure that Draupadi would accept him.

One day he landed in front of the palace and was accosted by Arjuna.  When Arjuna came to know the intention of Visaka he was incensed and drew his sword. A furious battle ensued, but as per the Bhil Mahabharata, Arjuna was defeated.  Visaka however did not kill Arjuna but tied him  with a lock of his hair and hung him from the ceiling of the bedroom.  As Draupadi entered she saw Visaka and his manly garb and demeanor. Visaka swept Draupadi off her feet and carried her to the bed and disrobed her.  After that he made ferocious love to Draupadi and all Arjuna could do was to watch. As per the Bhil Mahabharata , Draupadi accepted Visaka as her lover. After the sex act, Draupadi prepared a meal of 52 dishes for the snake king, followed by another ferocious bout of love making. This continued for 40 nights and poor Arjuna could do nothing.

After 40 nights he spoke to Draupadi, that it will be better if Visaka was killed. He requested that she put some sedatives in his meal. Draupadi agreed, albeit reluctantly and Visaka was drugged and then killed.  This is a singular tale and does not find mention in the main epic. Perhaps it was added later or it was in an earlier version, but removed. We do not know how this particular episode came to be part of the Bhil Mahabharata. One clue is that the Bhils love and worship Visaka the snake god and this  tale was added by the Bhils to show the power of the snake god. Whatever it may be, this tale of the love and amorous encounter between Draupadi and Visaka the snake god makes a thrilling reading.


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