Friday, 18 November 2011

Draupadi is dragged into the sabha. Visiting Mahabharata 64

Surely one of the most dramatic moments, could even be the most, in Mahabharata. I quote mostly from Vachana Bharata this time.

Draupadi shocked to see that even elders Bheeshma and Drona were indifferent to her dire situation and her pleas, concludes that these apathetic khastriyas have become devoid of human values. Full of anguish she looks at the Pandavas with her eyes brimming with tears. Seeing her thus, pale and distraught, it ignites their anger and the intensity of sorrow they feel exceeds everything, even greater than what they felt when they had lost their kingdom and all their wealth. As she looks at her helpless husbands, she feels faint and is unable to stand as her knees buckle. Dussasana laughs at her condition and drags her forward and is encouraged  by the derisive laughter of Karna and Sakuni.

To her question whether Yudhisthira pledged her before or after he had pledged himself, Bheeshma has this to tell her: 'Amma सौभाग्यवती(a married woman is addressed thus, a fortunate woman!). I have thought about your question deeply as dharma here is very intricate . Yes, a slave having no rights, cannot pledge anything. But a woman's status is always that of a dependent of her husband. However I have no answer to your allegation that Yudhisthira was forced to gamble as he had choice not to gamble.'
Draupadi wails: 'These wicked, अनार्य, cheats and gamblers have cleverly manipulated an innocent and a pure hearted man. It surely was not out of his free will. This sabha has elders with sons and daughters-in-law, I urge them to truly examine my situation and answer me!' As she keeps wailing Dussasana continues to speak cruelly and harshly as he drags her towards the center of the sabha. 

 Bheema cannot bear to look Draupadi as her sari is in total disarray full of agony and anger, bursts out at Yudhisthira: 'Maharaja, gamblers do not even pledge their servants out of kindness. I was not upset when you gambled our wealth, kingdom and even us as you our master. But it was not right to have pledged Draupadi and put her through this traumatic experience. These evil and cruel men have humiliated her. I am very upset with you'. He then asks Sahadeva to fetch him a log of fire and says 'I want to burn both his hands'.

Arjuna tries to calm his brother: 'Bheemasena, I had never heard you speak like this. It seems the behaviour of these cruel people has affected you and you have lost both dharma and respect. Don't give up your dharma and overstep your brother. As a khastriya, once invited,  he could not say no to the challenge'.  Bheema replies that he knows his place as otherwise he would have burnt his brother's hand much earlier.

Looking at the anguish of Draupadi and the discomfiture of Pandavas, Vikarna, one of the sons of Dritharashtra appeals to the kings; 'Please give a reply to her question. Both the elders and the wise men have kept silent. It is necessary that we apply our mind dispassionately and give her a reply.'
As no one responds Vikarna speaks his mind 'It does not matter if you do not reply, I would like to say what I think is right. It is well known that kings have a weakness for hunting, drinking, gambling and in sensual pleasures. The wise say people with a such a weakness, will stray from the path of dharma and the world does not approve them. Yudhisthira with a weakness for gambling accepted an invitation by cunning hard-core gamblers. Yudhithira pledged her after he had lost everything including himself, that too at the prompting of Sakuni, considering all this I think Draupadi is not a slave.'

Vikarna's words had a dramatic effect and the sabhikas began to applaud Vikarna and shouted criticisms against Sakuni. Karna upset by this takes charge and castigates Vikarna for being a traitor. He asserts that people are quiet because they know that she was won in a fair manner. And that as a youngster Vikarna spoke irresponsibly in front of his elders. While it could be that Sakuni suggested Draupadi but Pandavas had agreed! And maintains that Sakuni won Draupadi and all their wealth and possessions in  a fair game. He then asks Dussasana to collect clothes from Pandavas and Draupadi. On hearing this Pandavas remove their upper garments and throw them out. Dussasana forcibly pulls out Draupadi's sari and another of the same type appears on her body, this continues; as one is pulled out another appears and there is a commotion in the hall!

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