In the midst of this confusion and total disillusionment in Yudhishtira’s camp, the cunning Shakuni had a brain wave.
“You made a mistake”, he said to Yudhishtira, “by staking yourself. However you are left with one more valuable item of wealth. In spite of it, it is unfortunate on your part to have offered yourself and lost. Don’t forget Draupadi is left over and she remains as free as ever. Can’t you stake her and win back all that you have lost?”
“You are correct, Soubala!” said Yudhishtira, “I shall offer her as the stake for this game. Her beauty is indescribable. She is neither short nor tall. She is neither lean nor stout. She is endowed with a plentiful of black curly hairs.
Describing Draupadi’s great attributes, Yudhishtira said “Rupana Sree-samaanyaa– in beauty, she is equal to Lakshmi. Her eyes sparkle like the lustrous leaves of kannaidile in spring. She exudes natural aroma of the scented flowers of the spring. She is also fond of such flowers. A man aspiring for fulfillment of the four-faceted human goals of dharma, artha, kama and moksha will find in her the personification of agreeable qualities of a soft heart, beauty and the like expected in his wife. She is an ocean of kindness. She has a sweet tongue. Whoever gets her can be sure of attaining dharma, artha, kama and moksha. After the entire royal entourage in the palace goes to sleep, she retires to bed, she gets up before all others get up. She watches the duties of all, including those of the shepherd folks and the derelictions of duties.
After a hectic day’s work, her face beaming with the particles of sweat, will be as pretty as the lotus flowers and as fragrant as the jasmine flowers. She has a slender waist. She has long hair. I offer such an enchanting dame Draupadi as stake for this game.”
The moment Yudhishtira uttered these words, there were immediate protestations and display of righteous indignation; the sound of “Fie!” filled the court hall from all those who had been watching the proceedings, causing ripples and reverberations. The whole assembly was restless. Many kings were sad. Bheeshma, Drona and Krupa were seen perspiring as they were obviously jolted. Vidhura looked as if he lost his mental balance and he was holding his head firmly with both the hands and breathing heavily like a hissing serpent. Bur Dhrutharashtra looked a picture of satisfaction as could be gauged from his frequent enquiries from a beaming face, “was the stake won by my side?”. He was unable to conceal his prejudice against the Pandavas.
The arrogance of the rest of the Kauravas was indescribable. Karna, Dusshaasana and Duryodhana were laughing loudly and making hysterical gestures. But the right thinking royal visitors were shedding tears, unable to control them.
“Yudhishtira” said Shakuni, “Draupadi is a beloved spouse. She is the sole remaining source for the stake. You have to live or perish by her. Isn’t it? Do you think you will be able to score a win in this game? You will not achieve it. In this land, Dharmaraja, there is hardly anyone who can outplay me in the game of dice. I am going to win this beautiful dame for the sake of Duryodhana”. So saying, he pushed the accursed pieces of dice to seal Yudhishtira’s fate. The heart of everyone began to beat fast. Amidst the tension and excitement, Yudhishtira deluded himself into thinking that he might register a win in the most crucial game.
But who can prevent the onrush of an avalanche akin to the force of inexorable fate? At least the outcome of this game was divinely ordained and previously determined. Shakuni won. There were stormy scenes of wild appreciations from some corners and appalling scenes of disapprobation in others. Many in the court hall were against all that happened. Pandemonium prevailed but soon there was complete silence. Everyone was over-awed by various conjectures of the shape of things to come and overcome by fears of what would follow. The Pandavas had their heads bent and sat crestfallen.