Bheema cannot contain himself after he strikes Duryodhana down. He looks at the people around him. 'Look! They ridiculed us, called us cows! We now call them the same! Cows! Cows! We did not depend on either fire or dice or deceit! It was just the strength of our arms. We have killed all those who made fun of us and treated us with contempt.' Bheema then kicks Duryodhana on his head, calling him a Cheat!
Yudhisthira stops Bheema, 'Bheema, it is all over! You have fulfilled your vows! Do not do things which are unlucky. He should not be kicked, it is not dharma. In any case we are related, very recently he was the lord of 11 akshohini army! We should feel sorry for his plight, it is not right to make fun!'
Yudhisthira then gets emotional and laments, 'Duryodhana! Do not grieve! We must all face the consequences of our karma. You brought this on yourself by to your misdeeds! Your brothers had the same fate. Your near and dears were destroyed! Their wives, now widowed will curse you!'
Balarama is very upset and angry! 'It is a shame. Bheema hit below the navel. I have never seen this happen in a fight with clubs. It is not allowed. He is doing as he likes and is breaking rules!' Totally enraged, he picks up his yoke and rushes to hit Bheema with it. Krishna stops him very politely! 'Pandavas are our natural friends from the beginning, they are pure and brave. They are also related, children of our aunt! They were cheated by their enemies. Moreover Bheema had vowed to break Duryodhana's thigh. It is khsatriya dharma to keep your vows. In addition, Maitreya had cursed Duryodhana that Bheema would break his thighs. This had to happen, hence I did not see any wrong doing here! Stop being angry!'
Balarama is still unhappy, 'Whatever you say! One should not give up dharma to fulfil desires! I feel upset that Bheema fulfilled his vows by going against dharma. He will get a bad name in the world for this. Duryodhana will attain heaven for his right conduct in the war!' and immediately leaves for Dwaraka.
Bheema then speaks to Dharmaraja 'Here! The whole world is yours now. Duryodhana, who was the root cause for all your troubles, is lying on the ground defeated! The rest, the fierce warriors are all dead!' Dharmaraja agrees that with the blessings of Krishna, they have destroyed their enemy and are victorious. They all celebrate by blowing their individual conch and the whole sky is filled with its reverberating sound.
Krishna suggest that they move from there 'It is not right to keep talking in front of the fallen enemy. Let us go from here. He is lying here having lost his honor, by collecting a group of sinners around him and by not listening to the sound advice of his elders, Vidura and Bheeshma. He refused to give a share to pandavs even when they begged for it. He is now lying here like a log. What is the use of hurting him further! Let us go!'
The contemptuous words of Krishna has the desired effect. Duryodhana lifts himself up, like a snake whose tail is cut, and stares angrily at Krishna, 'Are you not ashamed of the many things you have done? Was it not adharma?' Duyodhana then lists out things which Krishna initiated in the warfare which were not honest and caused the death to many who were conducting themselves correctly in the war, including himself, Drona, and Bheeshma. Of using Ghatokacha as a pawn to save Arjuna and so on. Krishna responds that Duryodhana only reaped what he had sown and it was due to his evil actions! He recounts all the things Duryodhana did against the pandavas.
Duryodhana replies, 'As long as I lived, I tried to educate myself. Did charity. Enjoyed being a king. Defeated enemies and I am now dying the way a kshatriya who practices dharma, dies! Is there a better way to die? I will now go to heaven with all my heroic relatives and friends! Whereas you will all be unhappy with your low thoughts and deeds!'
I had thought that the story ended with the fall of Duryodhana! With a bang, as it were! But I see that the author keeps going back to the events again and again with slightly different view points. Nothing seems to be in black and white, there are shades of grey. It is in fact confusing or very clear depending on your understanding of human nature or for that matter nature of gods!
I wondered about Duryodhana's place in history and here is what I find:
.........you will see that Duryodhana was a respected and loved king in Uttaranchal. He was clearly more than unpleasant to Draupadi (Panchali, the princess of Punjab, his sister-in-law), but his people loved him and remember him to this day, to the extent that they worship him as God. It is said that Dehradhun was named after Duryodhana and the people here are spoken of as very nice people.
....This wonderland is called as Jaunsar-Bawar in Dehradun district and Rawain in Uttarkashi district. There the people are culturally distinct from their Garhwali or Kumaoni brethren. The Jaunsaris are one of the few polyandrous societies anywhere and they tend to be more liberal and their women enjoy greater freedom of choosing and divorcing. Jaunsaris are also famous for their colourful clothes and festivals.
.....Lakhamandal is in the same area where Duryodhana had tried to get the Pandavas burnt to death in the Lakshagriha or the palace made of wax. The land is replete with icons of the Mahabharata age. The local people consider themselves as inheritors of them. It is believed that the kingdom of Raja Viraat was also in the same region.
.....This entire region of sporadic villages is considered to be the domain of Duryodhana Maharaj. The man whom the spirit of Duryodhana visits is called Maali. He issues orders while the spirit has taken over his ‘subjects’ carry them out undefiantly. In other cases, Sayanas, or the elderly, of the villages issue orders, which are final. But, if problems still remain or are not solved, Duryodhana Maharaj is approached for the final and unquestionable judgement.
......The reason being that complaints are hardly directed to the government representatives like Patwari because Duryodhana is the final word. Duryodhana’s entry into this magnificent land is filled with myths and still sung by locals and narrated through Jaagars, a form of invoking the deities. Dr Nautiyal says that legend has it that during Dwapara Yuga, King Duryodhana, after travelling through Kashmir and Kullu, arrived in Hanol situated in Jaunsar-Bawar region where he was mesmerised by the sheer natural beauty.
....He thought it was the place for him and appealed to Lord Mahasu, the reigning local deity, that a piece of valley, next to Himalaya, be given to him, which Lord Mahasu accepted and bestowed upon him this region instructing him to look after the people carefully. Even today, inhabitants of Har-Ki-Doon believe that their king Duryodhana is the one who looks after them.
...It is only Jakhol village where an idol of Duryodhana has been installed. Incidentally, Jakhol is the seat of the Lord and also it is here where his main temple is seated. Other such village temples do not have idols of Duryodhana. The icon is carried to each temple turnwise. When the customary journey is concluded it is taken back to the main seat in Jakhol.