|Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)|
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This episode is from [Maha:2.66-2.72].
As her robe was being peeled off her body, Draupadi thought off Hari (Krishna), and cried aloud saying, "O Govinda, O thou who dwells in Dwaraka, O Krishna, are you not seeing that the Kauravas are humiliating me. O Lord, the husband of Laxmi, O grinder of foes, rescue me! Save my honor! I have five husbands rivalling the prowess of the celestials, but they are powerless to prevent my humiliation. This assembly is filled with men of great fame, invincible warriors and Brahmanas learned in the scriptures, but none has shown the power to prevent this injustice. I am the most unfortunate of women, for I am being insulted in a public court, by those who ought to be the defenders of my honor. I am the daughter-in-law of the Kurus, and they, for reasons best known to them, have chosen to insult me in this reprehensible manner! O Naryana! you are my sole refuge. You are the only one who can save my honor!"
By his divine insight, Krishna heard the prayer of the Panchala princess, and was deeply moved. By his grace, a miracle took place. As Dushasana pulled off the sole garment of Draupadi, another appeared in place, covering her body from prying eyes! Stunned, but determined, Dushasana pulled the new garment off, and another appeared in its place! In this manner, many hundred times did the wicked Kaurava attempt to disrobe her, only to have a new cloth in a different, brilliant color cover the beautiful form of Yajnaseni! The assembly roared their approval of this miracle, that had saved the Kurus' honor, and applauded the resplendent Draupadi. At last, exhausted and defeated, Dushasana fell down in a swoon to the ground.
Bheema could contain himself no longer. With lips quivering in rage, he strode to the center of the assembly and in a loud voice, swore a terrible oath: "Hear these words of mine, O Kshatriyas of the world. Words such as these have never before been uttered, nor shall ever be uttered in the future. Lords of the earth, having spoken these words, if I do not match them with deeds, let me not attain the blessed regions of my deceased ancestors. Tearing open in battle by sheer force, the breast of this wretch, this wicked minded scoundrel Dushasana, I shall drink his life-blood. If I fail in my quest, let the regions of the blessed dead be ever barred to me!"
Everyone in the assembly was stunned. The body hair of everyone hearing this terrible vow stood on end. A roar from the crowd signified their appreciation of the second Pandava's vow and their censure of the wicked Dushasana.
Once again, Vidura got up and said, "All of you here! Draupadi is weeping helplessly, having posed a question to this assembly. No one save Vikarna has answered her question, and he regards her as a free woman, not the slave of the Kauravas. He has spoken his mind. It is now your turn. One, who despite knowing the rules of morality, does not answer a query put forth, incurs at least half the sin that would have accrued on having spoken a lie. If, despite knowing the truth, he answers falsely, he would incur the sin of a lie. It is time you all spoke up!"
Despite Vidura's pleas, none of the Kings in the assembly dared to answer Draupadi's question. Fear of Duryodhana held them silent. Smiling triumphantly, Karna said to Dushasana, "Take away this serving-woman Draupadi to the abode of your slaves!"
Dushasana began to drag Draupadi out of the assembly, even as she was trembling and crying. She cried, "Wait a little, wretch! I have not saluted the Kuru elders. It is by no fault of mine that I have not paid them their due respects, so busy I have been with saving my honor. Alas! fate is cruel! Only once before, on the occasion of my Swayamvara, I was beheld by the assembled kings in a full court. I, whom even the sun had never before seen in her palace, is today dragged to this assembly and exposed to the gawking crowd. Alas, she, whom her husbands would not suffer to be touched even by the wind, has been dragged to the court by this wretch! How is that the illustrious Kurus have let their daughter-in-law to be insulted thus in a public assembly!"
She continued, "O Kurus, I, the wedded wife of king Yudhishtra the just, ask you one last time! Tell me now if I am a serving-maid or otherwise. I will accept your verdict whatever it be."
"I have already said, O blessed one, that the course of morality is subtle.", said Bhishma. "Even the wise ancients could not fathom all its nuances. It is no wonder that in this instance, I am unable to answer your question. One thing is certain however, as the Kurus have become slaves to covetousness and folly, the destruction of this race shall occur at no distant date. It seems to me, that only Yudhishtra the just can answer your question with certitude."
Duryodhana was getting happier by the minute. He smiled at the thought of the fear that was holding the assembly silent. He said, "O Yajnaseni, your question can be answered only by your husbands. Panchali, let them for your sake declare in the midst of these Kings that Yudhishtra is not their lord, and proclaim him a liar. You will then be freed from the condition of slavery. Or, let the illustrious son of Dharma himself declare that he is not your lord, that he had no right to stake you. If he says these words, you will be a free woman."
A murmur went through the assembly. All were curious to hear what the Pandavas would say. At last, Bheema said, "If the high-souled Yudhishtra were not our lord, we would not have kept quiet so long while Draupadi was being insulted. He is our master, and our lives are his. If he regards himself as won, we too have all been won. Behold these mighty, well-formed arms of mine, like maces of iron. Having once come in their grip, not even he of a hundred sacrifices (Indra) can escape. I have been held silent by the promise given by my elder brother. Let him but give the word, I would slay these wretched sons of Dhritharashtra in the manner of a lion slaying small animals in the forest."
Once again, Karna got up and said, "Of all the persons in this assembly, only Bhishma, Vidura and Drona appear to be independent, for they are always censuring their master as wicked, and do not wish for his prosperity. Everyone else is well disposed towards Duryodhana. The slave, the son, and the wife are always dependent. They may not earn wealth for themselves, for whatever they earn belongs to their master. You are the wife of slaves, incapable of possessing anything on their own. Repair to the inner apartments of King Dhritharashtra and serve there. The sons of Pandu are no longer your masters. It is well known that slaves are not censurable if they proceed with freedom in electing husbands. Proceed to select a new husband, and forsake the worthless Pandavas."
Hearing these words, Bheema's wrath was further inflamed. With burning eyes, and a voice choked with anger, he turned towards his elder brother and said, "O King, I cannot blame this son of a Suta (Shudra), for we have truly become slaves. The root cause of this shame is your staking of the Panchala princess at dice. How could you have done such a vile deed?"
Meanwhile, Duryodhana, with the intention of encouraging his friend Karna, and of further enraging Bheema, quickly removed the robe that covered his thigh, and showed his thigh as a mark of disrespect to Draupadi.
When Bheema saw this, he let out a terrible roar and shouted an oath, "Let me not attain the regions obtained by my blessed ancestors, if I do not break the thigh of this Duryodhana in battle." As he uttered his vow, sparkles of fire began emanating from his pores, and his body shone like a burning tree.
Vidura was alarmed. He said, "O Kurus, behold the great danger that has arisen. Our race is in danger of extermination. The Kauravas have organized this wicked game of dice and, by deceit, have obtained ascendancy over the Pandavas. And here they are, disputing in an open assembly about a lady of the royal household. The prosperity of our kingdom is at an end. O Kauravas, do you not know that if virtue is persecuted, the whole kingdom becomes polluted? It is obvious that Draupadi is not a slave, for Yudhishtra became a slave first himself, and thus lost any right to stake her."
Duryodhana repeated his previous words. "As soon as Yudhishtra admits that he had no right over Draupadi, I shall make her a free woman."
At this moment, a jackal started braying loudly in the sacrificial chamber of the Kurus. The asses in the city started braying in response to that jackal. Birds of ill omen started answering these noises with their cries. All those in the assembly, especially Vidura and Shakuni, who were skilled in the art of interpretting such signs, understood the meaning of these terrible omens.
Dhritharashtra was frightened. He had been in two minds since the gambling began, and these ill omens decided the issue. It was not his sense of justice, but his instinct for self preservation that made him intervene at this point. He said to his son, "O wicked minded Duryodhana, you wretch, you will be the ruin of our race. How could you insult the wife of the great Pandavas?"
He then tried to console the bitterly weeping Draupadi. "Dear daughter, do not grieve. Try to forgive and forget all that has happened here. Ask of me any boon, O princess of Panchala. Chaste and devoted to the path of virtue, you are the first among my daughters-in-law. Ask, and it shall be yours."
Draupadi said, "O King, I ask that the handsome Yudhishtra, the glorious son of Dharma, be freed from slavery. I ask this, so that my son Prativindhya be not called the son of a slave."
Dhritharashtra said, "So be it. The eldest Pandava is now a free man. Ask another boon of me, I am wishful of doing you good."
Draupadi said, "I ask, O King, that Bheema, Arjuna and the twins, with their weapons, be free of bondage."
The king said, "Dear daughter, it shall be as you desire. Ask a third boon, for you are deserving of the greatest honor. Two boons are not enough to honor your virtue."
Draupadi replied, "Father, I do not deserve a third boon. Covetousness always brings loss of virtue. It has been said in the scriptures that a Vaishya lady may ask one boon, a Kshatriya woman, two, a Kshatriya male, three, and a Brahmana, one hundred. O King, with my husbands free from the wretched state of bondage, we will be able to achieve prosperity by their own efforts."
Vexed by the turn of events, Karna said in an aside, "I have never before heard of such a thing. The Pandavas have been saved by their wife! When they would have had to spend an eternity in bondage, Draupadi has secured their freedom by begging Dhritharashtra! How can they ever erase this shame?"
Although the words were spoken a low voice, Bheema heard them, and was sorely afflicted. He turned to Arjuna and said, "O Dhananjaya, it has been said that three lights reside in every person, namely, offspring, virtuous acts and knowledge. When life becomes extinct and the body becomes impure and is cast of by relatives, these three are the means of salvation for every person. How, O Arjuna, can a son born from this insulted wife of ours be our salvation?"
Arjuna replied, "A person becomes impure, loses respect, by the bad deeds committed, not by insults heaped by others. Draupadi is as virtuous as ever, as none of what happened here was her fault. Do not grieve, do not be angry. Ignore the words of Karna, for they have been spoken out of chagrin, and have no basis in truth."
Bheema was still not satisfied. He said to his elder brother, "Shall I, O King, slay without loss of time all these foes here? Or shall I take them outside and kill without mercy? Give but the word, and it shall be done."
Yudhishtra, however, signalled his brother to remain calm. With folded hands, he approached Dhritharashtra and said, "Dear uncle, you are our master. Command us as to what we should do. O King, we will always be obedient to you."
Dhritharashtra replied, "O best of men, go in peace and safety. Go back to your kingdom and rule with justice. You are aware of the subtle path of morality. Not only are you possessed of great wisdom, you are also humble, and respectful unto your elders. The truly wise practice forbearance. Follow the counsels of peace. Forgive and forget the injustice done to you by my sons. Control your anger and that of your brothers, by recollecting the love shown to you by myself and your aunt Gandhari. Let there be peace between your brothers and my sons."
Yudhishtra saluted his uncle and the other elders of the court and took his leave. Soon, the Pandavas, accompanied by Draupadi, mounted their chariots and left for Indraprastha, not wanting to stay in Hastinapura, with which many painful memories were now associated.
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|Last Modified At: Sun Jan 23 15:39:49 2005||© ApamNapat, All rights reserved|