The gang of four again

The moment the Pandavas left Hastinapur for Indraprastha after seeking permission from Dhrutharashtra, Dusshaasana met his elder brother Duryodhana and said to him in a low tone, “This old man has in a minute lost all the huge wealth we had amassed with very great difficulty. Even the laurels of the game of dice were made over to the enemy. You have therefore to decide at once about our future course of action.”

That was enough prompting for Duryodhana and immediately he had a brief discussion with Karna and Shakuni, only to come to the joint conclusion that the power of the Pandavas must be put an end to. With this sole aim in view, he proceeded with Karna and Dusshaasana to have an exclusive audience with Dhrutharashtra.

“The Pandavas” he said to the king, “armed as they are with weapons and chariots, are fuming with fire and like the poisonous serpents that are wounded bide their time to bite the enemy; they will also wipe us out. The intention to do so was writ large on their face according to our secret observers. Their immediate plan after reaching Indraprastha is to gather strength in order to get rid of us.”


Distress and Shame

“The Pandavas,” continued Duryodhana, “having been humiliated by us will never pardon us for the distress and shame to which Draupadi was exposed by us. Never will they forget the humiliation caused to them. Who among them in fact will ever excuse us for the humiliation caused to Draupadi?”

“It is certain that for these reasons Pandavas are preparing themselves for our total destruction. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we should prevent it with a proper strategy before it is too late. The only secret weapon we have in our armory is the game of dice. With Shakuni’s prowess at and invincibility in it, it is possible to prevail over them and beat them. The only way to banish them to a forest is this game itself. This is the only way to establish control and superiority over them and make them subservient to us. But in the forthcoming game, there is no need to ask their wealth for purposes of their stake. We can determine our luck and fortune with a single bet. Whoever gets defeated in dice must spend twelve years in forest, wearing only deer’s skin as a symbol of renunciation and penance. Thereafter the thirteenth year must be spent incognito in a town or city. If, however, during this period of hiding for a year, their true identity is discovered, they must spend another period of twelve years in the forest. With this bet in view, let us play with Pandavas again. At this grave juncture, I believe that this is our principal duty. Since Shakuni is a confirmed expert in the game of dice, our success and Pandavas defeat and failure are self-accomplished matters.”

“Let us also assume,” he continued, “That they come back after completing thirteen years in the forest. By that time, we will have settled well in this kingdom. There will be enough time available to us for befriending all the kings. We can prepare an army of lakhs of warriors and motivate them to prepare for a war by providing for them and assured monthly payment and giving them rewards. When the Pandavas return to a place bereft of friends and sympathizers after a lapse of thirteen years, we can confront and annihilate them. Maharaja! It is mete and proper that you should endorse this plan wholeheartedly.”

Duryodhana’s persuasion appealed to Dhrutharashtra who was overcome by excessive attachment to his son. So far as Duryodhana himself was concerned, he looked upon Yudhishtira with a penumbra of suspicion as it is customary for the wicked to suspect the virtuous and the vicious alike! Dhrutharashtra asked Duryodhana to send word to Pandavas.  “Recall the Pandavas. Let them have a game of dice with you again.”

Great ones like Gautama, Vidura, Bhishma, Drona, Aswathama, Vikarna and a few others met Dhrutharashtra and appealed to the king and advised him to forbear from playing the game that had brought disaster to their door!

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