One day Yudhisthira has a dream. The animals of the Dvaitavana forest plead with him to spare them from being killed. He decides to move to Kamyaka forest.
The decision by Dharmaraja to move to a new location made me practically sit up. Surely talk of wild animals being in threat of becoming extinct would be non-existent in Mahabharata times. In fact, humans living in forests were probably under a greater threat! We also hear about ashramas of great rishis wherein wild animals lived in harmony with domesticated animals. But the fact a khsatriya heeds a message received through a dream indicates a level of awareness which seems to be missing now.
Times have now changed dramatically. We visited Kanha National park 28 years ago and were extremely fortunate to see a tiger on the third day of our stay. And saw just one bison and some deer including a black buck and of course lots of monkeys. The normally tolerated monkeys have been killed to save crop in Himachal, Chief Wild Life Warden A K Gulati informed that 259 permits were issued and 15
monkeys were shot from November to December 15, 2010. There are stories of leopard attacks and elephants raiding farms in some parts of India and of being counter attacked with vengeance by the affected people.
The animal rights activisits continue protesting and there are many conservation movements afoot to save naure, wild life! The most visible action of saving wild life is the much flaunted project tiger. I remember being told by project officer in MP during our Kanha visit that there were about 3000 tigers in India. The latest numbers are much lower at 1411 individuals (2008 census)! Obviously tigers did not appear in the dreams of people that matter. If at all, they may be the subject of day dreams of poachers intent on making money.
The Indian tiger population at the turn of the 20th century was estimated at 20,000 to 40,000 individuals. The first country-wide tiger census conducted in 1995 estimated the population to comprise a little more than 1,800 individuals. In 1973, the project was launched in Palamau Tiger Reserve, and various tiger reserves were created in the country based on a 'core-buffer' strategy. (wikipedia)
Typically we also discover things about the project which is not flattering to us, actually a bloody shame : Global organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) contributed much funding to Project Tiger. Eventually, however, it was discovered that the project's field directors had been manipulating tiger census numbers in order to encourage more financial support. In fact, the numbers were so exaggerated as to be biologically impossible in some cases. In addition, Project Tiger's efforts were damaged by poaching, as well as the Sariska debacle and the latest Namdapha tragedy, both of which were reported extensively in the Indian media.
But it is good to see a movement for Animal rights in the world, which Yudhisthira instinctively understood. A movement, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings. As I read about these efforts, I develop a little more respect for Yudhhisthira!
Pandavas now in Kamyaka vana, go hunting one day, leaving Draupadi all be herself. It transpires that the king Jayadratha of Sauvira and Sindhu, sees Draupadi and is smitten! Being a king, he refuses to accept her rejection of his overtures and abducts her by force. Pandavas luckily arrive in time and go after him. Jayadratha seeing them releases Draupadi and speeds away. But Pandavas chase, catch and teach him a lesson of his life. They do not take his life, as Yudhisthira tells Bhima and Arjuna 'He is the husband of Dhushala, so he is one of us! Do not kill him!' Bhima and Arjuna let him go only on the condition that he tells the world that he is a slave of pandavas.
The rishi Markandeya tries to console Yudhisthira and by telling him the story of Rama and his suffering when Sita was abducted and how he was helped by monkeys and a bear. He tells Yudhisthira 'When compared to Rama you are much better off''.