Draupadi’s distress, crime & punishment

While Dhrutharashtra and Vidura were still in conversation with each other, Narada Maharshi heading a team of Rishis entered the royal auditorium and confirmed Draupadi’s prophecy and disappeared soon:

“In the fourteenth year from now,” said the resplendent Narada, “as a result of Duryodhana’s sin against Draupadi and the Pandavas, all the Kauravas will be destroyed at the strong hands of Bhima and Arjuna.”

 

Gang of four in jitters

The fierce voice of Narada caused a fearful flutter in the hearts of even Duryodhana and his followers, especially Dusshaasana, Karna and Shakuni. The “gang of four” approached Drona for solace and comfort. Drona’s reply clarified the writing on the wall for the Kaurava clan:

“I have heard from Brahmins that the Pandavas having had divine births, cannot be destroyed by anyone. However, you have surrendered to me, and I shall do everything to protect you. But the ways of Lord Brahma, the Creator, are inscrutable. There is no doubt they will avenge their defeat and energy. There is no doubt they will avenge their defeat and loss of face in the past. But listen! Once King Drupada and I were very good friends. Our friendship however suffered for various reasons and we became estranged. I made him lose his kingdom. But the exiled Drupada performed a Mahayaga (sacrificial offerings in fire) on the advice of a pair of Rishis called Yaaja and Upayaaja and got the gift of a son (Dhrishtadyumna) who would kill me and a daughter (Draupadi). These two are products of manifestation from the yajna kunda itself. Since Arjuna conquered the Matsyayantra, the Pandavas won Draupadi’s hand and married her. Dhrishtadyumna became their brother-in-law, I am afraid of none except Dhrishtadyumna who is of divine origin and was looking at the time of emergence like the Lord of Fire, Agni himself. He emerged endowed with an impregnable armory and weapons. But I have remained an ordinary mortal Duryodhana, do not delude yourself into thinking that merely because you have driven the Pandavas and Draupadi to the forest, you have achieved everything. Your happiness is short-lived. The only antidote you have to think of is to indulge in Mahayajnas and charities. The fourteenth year, however, will be the year of danger for your lives.”

 

Dhrutharashtra was panic-stricken.

Sanjaya said: “Maharaja!  These wicked people dragged helpless Draupadi to this Mahasabha and shamed her, only to invite danger to themselves. Being an ayonije (born outside the womb), born of Fire, knowing every facet of dharma and known for her fame and beauty, only Duryodhana could have made bold to commit a sacrilege by ordering her to be physically dragged. Even a remembrance of her pitiable condition that day makes me feel miserable. When she saw her husbands, they looked crest-fallen and their lotus faces hesitant and unable to make a show of their strength. Duryodhana and Karna saw their helplessness and grabbed this opportunity to hurl impolite and vulgar words at Draupadi who was already suffering from great physical, mental and psychological strain. Certainly, she should not have become a victim of such cruel punishment. All these are indicators of deadly tragedy in store.”

 

“Fiery rays of Draupadi”

“Sanjaya!” said Dhrutharashtra, agreeing with him, “what you have said is true. On that day in the royal assembly the fiery rays of Draupadi, who was subjected to demeaning acts of humiliation, could have certainly consumed the whole world. When such was her fiery frame, if only she had cast her wrathful eyes on my hundred sons, do you think any of them would have survived? When the paragon of virtue of Pandavas – Draupadi – was dragged to the court, Gandhari and my daughters-in-law cried loudly, unable to bear the humiliating sight and the sacrilegious act. Even today, like my subjects, they are still immersed in sorrow. The Brahmins who witnessed the sacrilege did not perform their evening ablutions, of sacrificial offerings in fire, in silent protestation. Like the day on which this world gets into the violent throes of a deluge, there were stormy and tempestuous winds on that day followed by thunder and lightning besides the phenomenon of shooting stars. Though it was not a New Moon day, the sun suffered an eclipse and was not to be seen – to send waves of fear among the people besides the rank and file. There were weird fires in the enclosures of chariots, elephants, horses and the cows. The flags in chariots fell off their own accord. When Duryodhana sat before the sacrificial fire, the fox herd gave a hysterical cry and the donkeys brayed in all the four corners. Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Somadatta and Baahlika left the auditorium and then at the instance of Vidura, I offered, in expiation, to give boons to Draupadi. But the great and virtuous princess she was, asked only for redemption of her husbands from slavery.Accordingly, as desired by her, I ordered that they should be set free to get back to Indraprastha with their chariots, bows and arrows. Later, at Duryodhana’s insistence, I recalled them for a second round of dice. Then Vidura advised me not to give room for another clash as the sin of dragging her to the court hall was sufficient crime and cause for the fall and destruction of Bharata’s dynasty. He cautioned me against viewing Draupadi as an ordinary princess.  He said she was the veritable Sree Devi herself. Moreover she had taken birth in a fiery form as part of divine dispensation. He said crime against her was unpardonable and the Pandavas would never excuse us. Vidura wanted me to have peace with the Pandavas. But his words of wisdom covering all aspects of righteousness and justice fell on my deaf ears as I could not come out of my attachment to my sons.”

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