“Rulers from far and near!” he said to them. “Please hear these words patiently and my vow. You would not have heard these in the past. There is no likelihood of your hearing it in the future also. If I do not fulfil the vow I am undertaking, let me not get the fortune of liberation which my father and ancestors have got. In the forthcoming war, I will cut asunder this villain’s bosom with the weapon of my bare nails, drink the blood for his sacrilege against the Bharata clan and take his life without fail. If I don’t do it, let me not get eventual liberation.”
Bhima’s voice of courage and vow of revenge stunned all those who had come. They stood up in astonishment. Their praise, “Bravo, Bhima!” rent the air, followed by the shouting against Dhrutharashtra’s son. “Down with Dusshaasana!”
There was a mountain-like heap of colourful sareees. Draupadi was not denuded of hers. Dusshaasana lost his strength. After hearing Bhima’s determined vow, there was virtually nothing left in him and instead of shaming Draupadi he himself felt ashamed and sat down, giving up his wicked act of robbing her robe.
The sons of Kunti drew sympathy from the assembled ones for the miserable condition they were driven to and Dusshaasana drew constant snubs of “Down, Down!”. Even such deprecating sounds against him were hair-raising. The atmosphere was tense and the kings who were seated in the hall said to themselves, “These Kauravas have not at all answered Draupadi’s question! Certainly, this is regrettable. Criticisms and disparaging words hurled at Dhrutharashtra were also being heard here and there. In the confusion that characterized the goings on, the all-knowing and righteous Vidura got up and raising his hand politely asked them to calm down.
“Esteemed members!” he said to them, “Draupadi has placed her question before you. She is crying like an orphan. If you do not respond to her query, dharma will be at stake. He who is stricken with grief and consumed by worry enters the assembly hall like a raging fire. It is the duty of the members present to relieve his misery and mitigate his tension by expositions of truth and exercises in righteousness. When a stranger questions about his own rights which are foundations of dharma, members also must banish anger, desire and the like and give a verdict in all impartiality.”
“In your presence,” said Vidura, “Vikarna has placed before the assembly without fear or favour his own answer to Draupadi’s question according to his conscience. Likewise, whatever you also feel is the correct answer must be spelt out.”
“A protagonist of dharma”, clarified Vidura, “who, having gone to an assembly, utters a lie, or remains silent to a question concerning some aspect of dharma, will get half the share of sin. Having known what dharma is, if a person gives a false opinion opposed to dharma, will take the full share of the burden.”
“In order to throw light on this subject, the elders mention the anecdote of the legendary King Prahlada, I shall also relate the same episode to you.”
Vidura then proceeded to place Prahlada’s episode before the assembled dignitaries.