Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Die is cast. Draupadi a slave. Visiting mahabharata 63

Pandavas reach Hastinapura. They are greeted cordially. Excellent arrangements are made for their stay. Pandavas are pleased and spend a pleasant, happy night. Morning they get ready and are taken to Jayantapura to see the new sabha, the excuse which brought them to Hastinapura.

After a quick visit they return. Sakuni proposes a game of dice. Sakuni manages to overcome Yudhisthira's reluctance, who calls it a poison, by terming it just a harmless past time and by taunting him that he is afraid to loose his wealth and to accept the challenge. When Duryodhana says that Sakuni will play on his behalf, Yudhisthira demurs. But agrees to play when Sakuni reacts with 'If you do not want to play, tell us frankly' .

The game begins and Yudhisthira keeps loosing, attempts by Vidura to stop the game with help of his brother and does not succeed. Yudhisthira loses all his material possessions and then wagers his brothers one by one and loses. Then pledges himself and loses again. Then finally wagers Draupadi and loses.

The entire hall is shocked into silence. Duryodhana is jubilant, thanks his uncle Sakuni profusely. He announces that Draupadi is their slave and asks Vidura bring her. 'Let her be made to enter the apartments meant for servants. She must get familiar with her duties'. Vidura advises Duryodhana not to insult her and that Yudhisthira had no right to wager Draupadi and cautions him to heed his words or face the wrath of Pandavas and be destroyed.

Duryodhana reacts with 'We have had enough and more of this low-born man' and asks his attendant of the court and sends him to fetch Draupadi. Draupadi is stunned with the message that her husband had gambled her away, but does not obey the summons and sends back the attendant with some questions to Yudhisthira, who just keeps his head down and is silent.  Duryodhana then sends his brother to fetch her.

Draupadi is horrified by the words of Dussasana and his behaviour and tries to escape but he grabs her long black hair and drags her to the court.

The descriptions and the diaglogues in Vachana Bharata create the scene of the gambling and its aftermath vividly. One detail that Draupadi was in her periods and hence had covered herself with just a sari and was in no condition to present herself to court, but was still dragged into the court is astonishing.
More shocking when Dussasana ignores her pleas and replies: 'You may be in your periods, you may be just covered with one cloth or none at all, it does not matter as you are just our slave'. In this tussle, her sari slips halfway and she cries in shame and in anger 'It appears that dharma and khsatrian values are gone from our land. If not, would the kings and elders like Bhishma and Drona present in this hall could just be a mute witness to this atrocius adhrama?.

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