Friday, 11 November 2011

The Sabha at Jayantha; Farewell to Indraprastha. Visiting mahabharata 62

Sakuni after a number of attempts, finally manages to talk to Duryodhana.  Duryodhana tells his uncle everything that happened at Indraprastha and says that he cannot be happy till he sees the Pandavas destroyed and beseeches Sakuni to think of a plan. Sakuni says 'They can never be defeated in a war'. and has a plan to grab all that immense wealth of the Pandavas without a drop of blood being shed or any blame being attached!

 I hazard a guess that if a poll could be taken, Sakuni will be the most remembered personality in the epics after Krishna and possibly Rama. I am certain that the epithet 'He is cunning like Sakuni' will be heard more often than 'Noble like Rama' when describing a person. Anyway his idea is brilliant. Attacking the weakness of your main opponent.

Sakuni says, 'Yudhisthira has one weakness, gambling. I will use this to serve our ends. I am extremely clever in throwing the dice.' Duryodhana is convinced and requests Sakuni to get the permission from his father to invite the Pandavas for a game of dice. After many discussions the reluctant father, Dhrithrastra is constrained to agree to this ploy and he orders them to build a beautiful hall in Jayanta, a suburb of Hastinapura.

 Vidura tries to stop his brother and warns him that this enterprise of his would create new dissensions between the children, but fails in his effort. The sabha is built and Vidura is asked to go and invite the Pandavas for a game of dice. And he leaves for Indraprastha with a heavy heart.

Yudhisthira is intrigued by the sudden  appearance of his uncle Vidura and the invitation from  Dhritharashtra. When Yudhisthira hears about the game of dice planned and about the players, he becomes despondent. 'The cleverest of the players have been selected.  I am weak in this game and Sakuni is a veritable wizard at throwing the dice. But what can I do? All that happens in this world has been ordained by the creator....The king knows  that I will never disobey the commands of my elders....It is also the rule among Khastriyas that one must play when one is invited to play. Let fate have her way.'

Accompanied by Kunti and Draupadi, followed by his brothers, Yudhisthira went to Hastinapura at the behest of cruel fate which was prodding him on.

Vachana Bharata gives us some interesting details as a frustrated Duryodhana describes the events to Sakuni. He tells his uncle that as he sees no possibilty equaling the wealth acquired by Pandavas, he rather die. Later he meets Dhritharashtra and again expresses his anguish and details the wealth he has seen with Yudhisthira; 88000 snathakas and grihastas are supported by him; each one of them employ 30 servants. In the palace only golden vessels are used for eating. A conch would be sounded each time 10,000 people ate, and he heard the conch a countless number of times. Later as they take decisions to build the Sabha and plan a game of dice, Vidura is totally kept out of it.

Samhita also adds an interesting sidelight to the story. Years ago, Duryodhana had thrown Shakuni and Shakuni's ninety-nine brothers into a prison. Everyday food enough for just one was given to them. They would pounce upon the food like a pack of wolves. A few wise brothers realised that only one could survive. The drew lots and Shakuni was chosen as the one to survive. They dying brothers are promised by the surviving brother that their deaths would be avenged. Shakuni carves out a beautiful dice from the bones of his dead brothers. All the anger and hatred the brothers had towards Duryodhana had gone into the dice. This unique dice would defeat all the opponents mercilessly. For some reason Shakuni does not try to take revenge but joins Duryodhana.

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