Khandava-prastha was a huge forest full of birds and beasts. It was abode of the Nagas as well as the Demons. Krishna advised Pandavas to burn Khandava-prastha. Yudhishtira wondered on why Krishna said to burn the forest, since the forest was abode to several creatures and burning will result in the massacre of those creatures. But Krishna convinced Yudhishtira that, one can’t establish a farmland or a garden or a city without destroying a forest. Agni, the fire-god suddenly appeared before them and said that the ghee poured on him during 12 years yagna by a king called Swetaki made him sick and pale. So burning something raw will restore his luster and he inquired Yudhishtira that should he want any support from his side. Agni’s timely arrival gave the Pandavas a reason to set Khandava-prastha on fire. Agni then started to burn all living creatures including trees, herbs, shrubs and even grasses.
When the birds and the beasts cried out and tried to escape, Krishna shouted Agni to kill all those trying to escape. Arjuna inquired the reason for killing; Krishna then said that if anybody left from this forest, then they will return to claim the land. So you should know the price of ownership. Arjuna then said that when should to stop this massacre. Krishna replied that you should stop this when your needs are met and before you fall prey to greed. Also he said that knowing when to stop the massacre is the hallmark of an excellent king. Arjuna who didn’t grasped the full meaning of Krishna’s reply, followed Krishna and started to kill the creatures using the arrows who are trying to escape from the fire including deer, lion, tiger, monkeys, serpents, birds, bees and even ants. They also killed the resident Nagas and the demons. The Nagas asked for help to their friend, Indra who launched the thunder and made the clouds to shed rain. Krishna saw the rain fall and advised Arjuna to generate a great umbrella of arrows above the forest such that not a drop of rain touches the ground. Thus, under the umbrella of arrows, the forest continued to burn.
Strangely, the destruction of the Khandava forest harbored the enemies of god. The forest was colonized by creatures hostile to god. Takshaka, the serpent king was escaped since being away at Kurukshetra. Takshaka’s son Aswasena was caught in the fire along with his mother. Aswasena escaped by tricking against Arjuna with Indra’s help, but his mother was killed by Arjuna’s arrows. Krishna and Agni cursed Aswasena for not becoming famous due his escape. Besides Aswasena, only five other lives were spared. They are Maya and four birds called Sarangakas. Maya (a danava demon) who begged for mercy was spared by Krishna, since he had given a promise to pandavas for helping them to build a palace as he was an architect of the demons. The four birds, Sarangakas life was spared by Agni since their father, sage Mandapala appealed him to spare them. The fire raged for fifteen days and finally Agni restored his luster. In gratitude, he gave Arjuna a powerful bow called Gandiva and Krishna a discus called Sudarshan. Then Agni said to both of them to use these weapons only for maintaining dharma on earth. Agni then returned to his celestial abode.
Krishna then invited Lord Vishwakarma, the majestic architect to design the city just the way he had made Dwarka or perhaps better than that. He transformed the desert into a paradise on earth. He built a palace for pandavas in the city. Numerous trees were later planted and many lakes were dug by the Pandavas. Priests, warriors, farmers, traders and artisans from different parts of the Bharata-varsha came for settling there. The new city was named as Indraprastha, means a paradise on earth. It later became a prosperous city with farmlands, gardens, orchards and markets. Yudhishtira along with his brothers spread the ideas of dharma in this city. In Indraprastha, Yudhishtira endorsed everybody to perform each one’s dharma by doing their role in the society. In a family, women should take the responsibility of taking care to their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.