Virata – The King of Matsya


Virata was the King of Matsya Kingdom, adjacent to the Kingdom of Hastinapura, and their traditional foe. He had two sons, Shweta and Uttara, and a daughter named Uttara.

When the Pandavas had to spend the thirteenth year of their exile incognito, they chose to take up service with King Virata, disguising themselves as humble servants.

Yudhishtra obtained a post at the court, passing himself off as a Brahmana named Kanka. Bheema obtained employment as a cook. Arjuna, who had become an eunuch due to the curse of Urvashi, obtained employment as a dance and music teacher for the royal ladies, under the name of Brihannala. The twins obtained employment in the stables and cowshed respectively. Draupadi became the tire-woman of the Matsya Queen, under the name of Sairandhiri.

After the thirteenth year came to an end, the Pandavas revealed themselves. Virata was exceedingly glad, and offered the hand of his daughter Uttara to Arjuna. However, Arjuna declined the alliance, for she had been his pupil, and as such was like a daughter to him. He instead caused her to be wed to his son Abhimanyu.

Virata fought in the Kurukshetra war on the Pandava side, and fell in battle along with his two sons.

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