It is natural to expect a mother to be more attached to children than a father. Being an embodiment of tolerance, the mother forgets a son’s mistakes or lapses and forgives him. It is often said – and very correctly too – that when a mother goes to a temple or when she offers prayers at home or outside, she prays for the welfare of others in the family and rarely if ever for herself. The son’s well-being is paramount to her. But the great paradox of material attachment to the son – a paradox to which only the illustrious life of Gandhari has given an adequate expression or convincing explanation is that far from the great queen showing even a modicum of maternal attachment, she counseled Dhrutharashtra to give up Duryodhana in the interest of family prosperity!
The moment she came to know about the King’s invitation to Pandavas for replay she rushed to Dhrutharashtra with intentions to save the life of her other children at the expense of her eldest son. “Maharaja!”, she said, “I would like to remind you about what the wise Vidura said the moment Duryodhana was born. As soon as he was born, Vidura had advised dispatching Duryodhana to the other world as would pollute the prestige of the dynasty and cause the destruction of our whole family. This sub-human specimen gave vent to an inauspicious and loud cry of a fox immediately after birth. There is therefore no doubt that he has signaled the death knell of the Kuru clan. Maharaja! Ponder patiently over what I say. Do not sink yourself in the ocean of worry and distress by personal guilt and dereliction. Do not listen to the foolish words of unrefined boys.”
Fanning the fire of prejudice
“Do not be instrumental,” continued Gandhari, “In becoming the cause for the tragic disappearance of our clan. The misunderstandings between Pandavas and Kauravas have been cleared somewhat peacefully. King! Who will break a bridge once it is built? Is it proper to fan the fire of prejudice again? Who would like to enrage the Pandavas who have chosen to go back peacefully? Having been born in the illustrious family of Ajameeda, you should be aware of all these and I would like to remind you that unrighteous action has no place. The codes of conduct have no influence on the wicked ones. One who is ripe with age should not listen to boys bereft of circumspection. Let your children stay in your control. On account of the foolishness of one, let not the other children leave you for ever! For these reasons, you should give up Duryodhana. He constitutes the destroyer of our family. He should have been thrown out (of our mind) very long ago. But your attachment to him came in the way. Now is the opportune moment. Has it gone into your head now at least that he will be a certain and great destroyer of the family? Do not falter again. Do not also be carried away by illusions. Let wise counsels prevail. Do not choose the erroneous path. Wealth amassed through cruel ways will be lost in a very short time. Whatever wealth is acquired through soft and refined ways will ensure to the benefit of generations of descendants and will last for ever.”
Deaf and blind!
Gandhari’s words fell on the ‘deaf’ ears of the King who was physically blind and mentally blind to any change. But what was comparable to Gandhari’s counseling was his categorical assertion: the writing on the wall was clear from his reply, “If it is true that our family is on the verge of ruination, let that fateful day come. I am unable to resist its onrushing advance. So let whatever is in store come to pass according to my sons’ intentions. Let the Pandavas go over here to play the game of dice. This is my final decision.”
As the invitation from Dhrutharashtra was in the nature of a command from the King and an elder uncle, Yudhishtira found himself unable to reject it.