Some of the members present welcomed Duryodhana’s words. Their token of acceptance was indicated by weird utterances and movements of their lips and eyes. Some others could know the innate innuendo in Duryodhana’s words and expressed shock. For those on Duryodhana’s side, his speech was very sweet. All the Kauravas were very happy. Some of the kings were delighted and congratulated Duryodhana.
The attention of everyone was then directed towards Yudhishtira. Everybody was very keen on hearing the righteous Dharmaraja, the repository of the moral code. Even the unconquerable Arjuna, the super strong Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva turned towards Yudhishtira eager to know what he would say to Duryodhana’s posers and suggestions. There was silence in the court hall. Bhima threw up both his sandal-paste smeared hands and addressed all with a thundering voice.
“If his eldest brother of ours Yudhishtira,” he said, “had been our lord, I would not have tolerated the unpardonable crime committed by the Kaurava family even for a moment. More than our fortune and thapas, he is our lord and rules over our very life force. As Dharmaraja has himself admitted that he has been conquered, we concede we have been conquered. Otherwise, in the whole of this universe, which living being could dare to live with the mortal coil? See my long, strong and enormous arms. Even Shatakratu, if caught between these arms cannot escape from the clutches, I have refrained from embarking on such fierce and punitive expedition in deference to the respects that are due to our eldest brother who has been tied by bonds of dharma and in due deference to Arjuna’s words of advice. If only the righteous Yudhishtira gives the direction once, like a lion that kills the smaller animals, I shall finish all the wicked sons of Dhrutharashtra with singular beatings alone. These hands of mine are capable of fulfilling the function of the sword.
Bhishma, Drona and Vidura advised restraint in one voice, “You are capable of all those things Bhimasena!” they said, “But let there be the element of excuse.”
Wicked words of Karna & Duryodhana
Words of forbearance spelt out by Bhishma, Drona and Vidura were obviously distasteful to Karna and Duryodhana. In order to provoke Bhimasena, Karna thought it fit to address Draupadi and indulge in derisive comments against the Pandavas.
“Bhadre!” he said to her, “A slave, son and servile woman – these three are said to be devoid of wealth by the elders. They are devoid of freedom too. They cannot earn anything for themselves. The wife of a slave bereft of wealth and all the belongings accrue to his master. At this moment, you happen to be the wife of a slave devoid of freedom. There is therefore no point of benefit in joining him. It would be proper for you to get into Dhrutharashtra’s palace and serve the royal family. Dhrutharashtra’s hundred sons have become your masters now, not the Pandavas. It appears appropriate for you to choose a new lord for yourself. When you make your selection, do not forever choose a gambler. The elders say that those who have become slaves will not be subjected to reproach or criticism by having some other spouse. That would be the correct course of action open to you. Dharmaraja, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva have all been vanquished. There is, therefore no doubt whatsoever that you have also become a slave. Your husbands who have become slaves can no longer be your master. What is the earthly use of the Pandavas living, having staked you, the daughter of Drupada, and lost? What is the benefit of their courage and valour? Everything is nugatory.”
Bhima felt bad at Karna’s piercing words of grave provocation and was breathing heavily – obviously unable to show his reaction. He had to abide by his elder brother’s intentions and desire. He was bound by the tie of dharma. It looked as though the inflamed anger hidden in the heart would come out of his eyes as they became fiery red and consumed everything.
Grinding his teeth, he said to Yudhishtira, “Great King! I will not be provoked by Karna’s words. But if only you had not staked Draupadi, do you think our enemies would indulge in such words?” Bhima rubbed his palms against each other to register his protest.
Duryodhana could not contain himself, after hearing Bhima’s words. He wanted to go further. He addressed Yudhishtira who was sitting silently and unmoved: “Dharamaraj!” he said, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva are those who just carry out your command. Hence they cannot answer Draupadi’s question. At least, you can spell it out. Has Draupadi been won over or not?”
Duryodhana’s intention was to provoke the Pandavas and Panchali more and more. Bhima was his main target. He had no idea about what was in store for him.
He lifted the cloth that covered his left thigh perfectly formed which indeed looked as strong as Indra’s weapon ‘Vajrayudha’ and giving in to a hysterical laugh made weird sounds on the thing with his palm to demonstrate his strength in the presence of Draupadi to ridicule Bhima.
Bhima could not naturally tolerate his indecent gesture before Draupadi. Duryodhana’s intoxication and gestures of strength of thigh, his pride and prejudice enraged him. With blood-red eyes, he looked at Duryodhana and declared loudly before the members in the midst of the kings in the assembly as under:
“In the forthcoming great war,” he said with vehemence, “If I do not destroy that very thigh of yours with my mace, let me not get the higher heavenly abodes my ancestors have got. “Bhima’s limbs were looking really red with rage.