Friday, 6 January 2012

Duryodhana's misadventure in the forest. Mahabharata 81

It is clear that celestial gods were truly in favour of the pandavas. While in our times, the kaliyuga, gods work in inscrutable ways, behind the scenes, during Mahabhrata times their actions were very direct and visible.

Duryodhana and his retinue reach the village and set up camp in a scenic spot, well shaded and where water is easily accessible.  They inspect and take a count of the cattle. Later the gopalakas, men and women, dress up for the festivities and entertain the visitors with dance and music. Duryodhana rewards them generously.

Kauravas then go hunting and on excursions enjoying the sights of the very scenic and beautiful parts of the forest, full of flowers and dancing peacocks. Finally they approach  Dvaitavana lake with full regal pomp and splendour. The sevants go ahead to prepare the place for the royals and are stopped by the gandharvas and sent back. In reply Duryodhana's soldiers confront the gandharvas and command them to vacate. Gandharvas laugh at the soldiers and tell them they are devatas and are not obliged to listen and mock at them, 'Neither you nor your king seem to have any sense, run back if you value your lives'. Duryodhana on hearing this gets very angry and orders his soldiers to go and punish them and that he does not care even if god Indra is there with them.

The soldiers go back and attack as ordered and unable bear the onslaught of the gandharvas, take flight and scatter. Then Duryodhana, Sakuni and Karna engage the gandharvas and fight with great valour and gain an upper hand. Gandhravas facing defeat switch to maya yuddha (illusory war), Karna is badly beaten and absconds in his chariot. Duryodhana and Dussasana are captured.

Kaurava soldiers and the camp followers go to Yudisthira and plead for help. Bheema reacts to their request with, 'The gandharvas did what we should have done and the kauravas have been punished for their adharma!'. Yudhisthira thinks differently. 'Bheema! This is not the time for harsh words. We cannot ignore a plea for help. In any case they are our relatives and it is an insult to  our kula(clan) if  Duryodhana and his women are dragged away in this manner. Use kauravas' chariots and charioteers and secure their release. Let Duryodhana spend the rest of his life, with the thought that he is alive because of your strength. Nothing is better than the feeling that he is forever obliged to you.'

Arjuna and Bheema then go and demand that kauravas be realeased, but the gandharvas refuse! Arjuna launches an attack on the gandhravas with a shower of arrows and gandharvas unable to face the superior pandava jump to the sky and fight, but fail to stop him. The gandharvas then become invisible and continue the fight. But Arjuna making use of his शब्दवेध (sound sensor) skills is still able to attack them. At this point king Chitrasena becomes visible and announces 'Arjuna I am your friend Chitrasena'. Seeing his friend Arjuna stops the stream of arrows.

Chitrasena tells Arjuna that they were sent by god Indra to fight Duryodhana and briefs them of his real intentions in coming to Dvaitavana and says they are taking Duryodhana captive as instructed by Indra. Arjuna tells Chitrasena that they are brothers of Duryodhana and are also ordered by Yudhisthira to get them released. Chitrasena advises Arjuna 'It is not wise to release these evil people, but if it is the wish of Yudhisthira, so be it!' and releases his captors.

Yudhisthira offers gandharvas due hospitality and bids them a thankful farewell. Then advises Duryodhana not to attempt such misadventures and urges him to go back without  nursing any ill-feelings. Duryodhana leaves  with a lowered head and a heavy heart.

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