Monday, April 27, 2020
Saturday, January 18, 2020
KURUKSHTHRA WAR and DHARMAPUTHRA
There are many passages in the Mahabharata in which you will see Yudhisthira arguing against fighting a bloody war for the sake of a kingdom, but Krishna justifies the war as moral and as the unavoidable duty of all moral warriors.
Yudhisthira and his brothers were favored by the Kuru elders like Bhishma, Vidura, Kripa and Drona over Duryodhana and his brothers, the Kauravas, due to their devotion to their elders, pious habits and great aptitude in religion and military skills, and for having the necessary qualifications for the greatest of the kshatriya order.
In the war, the Kuru commander Drona was killing thousands of Pandava warriors. Krishna hatched a plan to tell Drona that his son Ashwathama had died, so that the invincible and destructive Kuru commander would give up his arms and thus could be killed. The plan was set in motion when Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwathama, and loudly proclaimed that Ashwathama was dead. Drona, knowing that only Yudhisthira, with his firm adherence to the truth, could tell him for sure if his son had died, approached Yudhisthira for confirmation. Yudhisthira told him: "Ashwathama has died". However Yudhisthira could not make himself tell a lie, despite the fact that if Drona continued to fight, the Pandavas and the cause of dharma itself would have lost and he added: "naro va kunjaro va" which means he is not sure whether elephant or man had died. Krishna knew that Yudhisthira would be unable to lie, and had all the warriors beat war-drums and cymbals to make as much noise as possible. The words "naro va kunjaro va" were lost in the tumult and the ruse worked. Drona was disheartened, and laid down his weapons. He was then killed by Dhristadyumna.
Due to his piety, Yudhisthira's feet and his chariot do not touch the ground, to symbolize his purity. When he spoke his half-lie, Yudhisthira's feet and chariot descended to the ground.
After the war of Kurukshetra, Yudhisthira performs the funeral rites of all his people including Karna. He was deeply hurt that many of his men were killed. His mother Kunti came and said she tried to inform Karna of his relationship with Yudhisthira and persuade him to give up his enmity. Even the Sun god also spoke to Karna but because of his friendship with Duryodhana, he did not change his position. Kunti revealed that Karna was her son, and one of them. So basically, it was only after Karna (who was pretty impressive in everything he did) was killed, that the mother of Pandavas revealed about him to the other five sons. This revelation by Kunti made the Pandavas angry and depressed Yudhishthira a lot.
Yudhisthira thought that Karna should have had the same right and respect as the other five brothers. He was very upset that his own mother had kept a huge secret from him and the others. He could not contain his anger and cursed the entire woman race with not being able to hide any secrets.
Yudhisthira performed the tarpana ritual for the souls of the departed. Upon his return to Hastinapura, he was crowned king of both Indraprastha and Hastinapura. Out of his piousness, Yudhisthira retained Dhritarashtra as the king of the city of Hastinapura, and offered him complete respect as an elder, despite the misdeeds of his dead sons. Yudhisthira later performed the Ashwamedha yagna (sacrifice) to re-establish the rule of dharma all over the world.
Upon the onset of the Kali yuga and the death of Krishna, Yudhisthira and his brothers retired, leaving the throne to their only descendant to survive the war of Kurukshetra, Arjuna's grandson Parikshit. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas made their final journey to pilgrimage in the Himalayas.
While climbing the peaks, one by one Draupadi and each Pandava in reverse order of age fell to their deaths, dragged down by the weight of their guilt of few, but real sins. But Yudhisthira reached the mountain peak, because he was unblemished by sin or untruth. The true character of Yuddhisthira is revealed at the end of the Mahabharata. On the mountain peak, Indra, King of Gods, arrived to take Yudhisthira to heaven in his Golden Chariot. As Yudhisthira was about to step into the Chariot, the Deva told him to leave behind his companion dog, an unholy creature not worthy of heaven. Yudhisthira stepped back, refusing to leave behind the creature who he had taken under his protection. Indra wondered at him - "You can leave your brothers behind, not arranging proper cremations for them...and you refuse to leave behind a stray dog!"
Yudhisthira replied, "Draupadi and my brothers have left me, not me [them]." And he refused to go to heaven without the dog. At that moment the dog changed into the God Dharma, his father, who was testing him and Yudhisthira had passed with distinction.
Yudhisthira was carried away on Indra's chariot. On reaching Heaven he did not find either his virtuous brothers or his wife Draupadi. Instead he saw Duryodhana and his evil allies. The Gods told him that his brothers were in Naraka (hell) atoning their little sins, while Duryodhana was in heaven since he died at the blessed place of Kurukshetra.
Yudhisthira loyally went to Naraka (hell) to meet his brothers, but the sights and sounds of gore and blood horrified him. Tempted to flee, he mastered himself and remained on hearing the voice of his beloved brothers and Draupadi calling out to him, asking him to stay with them in their misery. Yudhisthira decided to remain, ordering the Divine charioteer to return preferring to live in hell with good people than in a heaven of evil ones. At that moment the scene changed. This was yet another illusion to test him on the one hand, and on other hand to enable him to atone for his sin of using deceit to kill Drona. Indra and Krishna appeared before him and told him that his brothers were already in Heaven, along with his enemies, for earthly virtues and vices don't hold true in heavenly realms. Krishna yet again hailed Yudhisthira for his dharma, and bowed to him, in the final defining moment of the epic where divinity bowed down to humanity.
Yudhishthira (Dharmaraja) – towards Kurukshetra WAR
In Mahabharata, Yudhishthira(Dharmaputhra) was the eldest son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti. He was the king of Hastinapura and Indraprastha was the principal protagonist of the Kurukshetra War.
Pandu, due to a curse, was unable to father children and asked his wife, Queen Kunti to invoke the wish granted to her by Rishi Dhurvasa in order to give birth to children. Urged by Pandu, Kunti gave birth to Yudhishthira by invoking the Lord of Righteousness, Dharma. Yudhishthira's four younger brothers were Bhima, (born by invoking Vayu); Arjuna, (born by invoking Indra); and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, (born by invoking the Ashwini Gods). As Karna, the son of Kunti was born before her marriage by invocation of Surya, Yudhishthira was considered as the eldest. Yudhishthira's dharma was markedly distinct from that of other righteous kings. He married Draupadi along with his four brothers, the dharma that modifies itself to suit the times.
Yudhishthira was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors Kripa and Drona. He was a master of the spear weapon, and a maharatha, capable of combating 10,000 opponents all together at a time. Yudhishthira's true prowess was shown in his unflinching adherence to satya (truth) and dharma (righteousness), which were more precious to him than any royal ambitions, material pursuits and family relations.
Being Pandu's eldest son, Yudhishthira was the rightful heir to the throne. However, this claim was contested by the Dhritarashtra's son, Duryodhana. Yudhishthira is also known as Bharata (Descendent of the line of Bharata) and Ajatashatru (One without Enemies).
Yudhishthira rescued Bhima from Yama, and all of his four brothers from death by exemplifying not only his immense knowledge of dharma but also his very own way of understanding the finer implications of dharma, as judged by Yama, who was testing him in the guise of a Crane and a Yaksha.
Yudhishthira learned dice play from Narada Muni and assumed the guise of a brahmin courtier and dice player in the Matsya Rajya of king Virata. Yudhishthira was unable to refuse when Duryodhana's maternal uncle Shakuni, challenged him to a game of dice. Thanks to Shakuni's cheating, Yudhishthira lost each throw, eventually gambling away his kingdom, his wealth, his brothers and finally his wife. Owing to the protests of Vidura, Bhishma and Drona, Dhritarashtra returned all these losses. However, Shakuni challenged Yudhishthira one more time, and Yudhishthira once more lost. This time, he, his brothers and his wife were forced to discharge the debt by spending thirteen years in exile, with the condition of anonymity in the last year, in the forest before they could reclaim their kingdom.
When the period of exile was completed, Duryodhana and Shakuni nevertheless refused to return Yudhishthira's kingdom. Yudhishthira made numerous diplomatic efforts to retrieve his kingdom peacefully; all failed. To go to war to reclaim his birthright would mean fighting and killing his own relatives, an idea that appalled Yudhishthira. But Krishna, Yudhishthira's most trusted advisor (whom he recognized as the Avatar of Vishnu, the Supreme God), pointed out that Yudhishthira's claim was righteous, and the deeds of Duryodhana were evil. If all peace efforts failed, war was therefore a most righteous course.
Thus, Yudhishthira agreed for the Kurukshetra war.
Kunti : The Perfect Devoted Mother
In Mahabharata, Kunti was the daughter of Shurasena, and foster daughter of his cousin Kuntibhoja. She was married to King Pandu of Hastinapur and was the mother of Karna and the three of the Pandavas - Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna. She was the paternal aunt of Krishna, Balarama, and Subhadra. She was a beautiful and intelligent lady. She is often regarded as one of the protagonists of the Mahabharata.
Kunti's story is also told within Srimad Bhagavatam, wherein she speaks on the philosophy of devotion of Krishna, known as Bhakti yoga. Kunti is thus held as a figure of great importance within many Hindu traditions and especially with worshippers of Krishna (Vaishnavas).
Her father was Surasena of the Yadu clan, and she was named Pritha (Pŗtha). She was thus the sister of Vasudeva, father of Krishna. She was given in adoption to the childless King Kuntibhoja, after which she came to be known as Kunti. After her arrival, King Kuntibhoja was blessed with children. He considered her his lucky charm and took care of her until her marriage.
When she was young, rishi Durvasa told her a mantra with which Kunti could summon any deva and have a child by him without a pregnancy. When Kunti asked why he gave her this mantra, he told her that it would be useful to her later in life.
Kunti could not believe the mantra, so she tried to use it. The God Surya, appeared. She asked him to go back, but Surya said he was compelled to fulfill the mantra before returning. Kunti then abandoned the child in a basket on a river. This child was later found and adopted by a chariot driver and his wife, and was named Karna. He went on to become an important character in the Mahabharata. The ambiguous emotions Karna felt about his birth mother play an important role in the Mahabharata.
Kuntibhoja organized Kunti's swayamvara. Kunti chose King Pandu of Hastinapur, and this made her the Queen of Hastinapur.
Soon after, during his mission to expand his empire, Pandu married Madri, a princess of Madra in order to secure the vassalage of Madra. Madri was of the view that Kunti was inferior by birth to her because Yadavas were cattle herders while Madri was a princess. Kunti was disturbed by her husband's act, but eventually reconciled with him.
Pandu, while hunting in a forest, mistakenly shot and killed Rishi Kindama and his wife as they had taken the form of deer to mate. The dying sage placed a curse on Pandu since he had not only killed them in the midst of lovemaking but was not remorseful for his action. King Pandu argued with sage Kindama by misquoting sage Agastya's ruling on the right of Kshatriyas on hunting. Sage Kindama then decided to curse him to die if he ever should become intimate with his wife. Pandu renounced the kingdom and went into exile with Kunti and Madri. He met some sages and asked them a way for the heaven and salvation. They said, without children, one can never aspire for heaven. When Pandu expressed to Kunti his despair at the prospect of dying childless, she mentioned the boon granted to her. He advised her to beget children by suitable, illustrious men.
She used it three times, first receiving a son, Yudishtira, from the god Yama, then Bhima from the god Vayu, and thirdly Arjuna, from the god Indra.
Kunti's character within the Mahabharata is accorded much respect within the Hindu tradition. Her activities were that of a very pious and loyal wife and of a person with a great deal of self-control. Kunti was given a special boon which enabled her to bear the sons of great celestial devas as many times as she wished. However Kunti did not misuse her boon, limiting herself to three sons only.
And when requested by Pandu, she shared this special mantra with Madri, Pandu's other wife. Madri bore twin sons, Nakula and Sahadeva, from the twin Gods the Asvins. The five together are known as the Pandavas.
One day, Pandu, forgetting his curse, attempted to make love with his wife Madri. But, as a result of Kindama's curse, he died. Madri committed sati as she was the cause of his death. Kunti was left helpless in the forest with her children.
After the death of Pandu and Madri, Kunti took care of all five Pandava children taking them back to Hastinapur. As the rivalry culminated between Pandavas and Kauravas, she decided to go back to Kuntibhoja. But her attempt was stopped by Bhishma.
After the great battle and in her old age, she goes into exile to the forest, with her brothers-in-law Dhritarashtra and Vidura, and Dhritarashtra's wife Gandhari, where they die together in a forest fire.
Gandhari – Saddest and Most Powerful Woman
Gandhari is a less sung heroine of Mahabharata. She was brave and powerful with deep traits of dharma and adharma (for the better). She tried guiding Duryodhana through righteousness and was sad on failing in it.
Gandhari was a beautiful princess of Gandhar (Qandahar - a small kingdom with region spanning northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan) ruled by King Subala who was the contemporary of Bhishma half-brothers, Chaitrangad and Vichitravirya. Gandhari had obtained a boon of 100 sons from Lord Shiva and Bhishma knew this.
Bhishma was looking for suitable wives for his nephews - Dhritarashtra and Pandu (and Vidura too). Bhishma felt that Gandhari would be an ideal wife for Dhritarashtra, the eldest (blind by birth) prince. As he was blind, Pandu became the ruler and hence Gandhari couldn't become the queen.
Gandhari faced a difficult life. When she heard that she was to be married off to a blind prince, she chose to blindfold herself for the rest of her life. There are many opinions on this. Some (majority) say that this was the epitome of her sacrifice and she thus qualified herself to be an ultimate pati-vrata (a devout wife) and then sat in the ranks of Savitri, Sita, Damayanti, etc. Modern thinkers say that this was her snub to the society for not having given her the choice - a swayamvaram style.
Folklore says that this marriage was brought out of force by a show of strength. This "bulldozing" caused Shakuni, the brother of Gandhari, to flare up in anger, but could do nothing. Folklore also says that he swore eternal vengeance on the Kurus and made it his lifelong purpose. Movies and films (as well as many books) liked this drama angle and happily adopted the myth.
Gandhari bore a hundred sons, (collectively known as the Kauravas), and one daughter Dhushala who married Jayadratha.
After Pandu’s death, Dhritharashtra was ruling and hence Gandhari became the queen. She was always considerate to Pandavas and was always upholding Dharma.
That is why though Gandhari's sons were portrayed as villains, the Mahabharata attributes high moral standards to Gandhari. She repeatedly exhorted her sons to follow dharma and make peace with the Pandavas. Gandhari was especially close to Kunti who respected her like an elder sister.
Gandhari made a single exception to her blindfolded state, when she removed her blindfold to see Duryodhana rendering his entire body except his loins invulnerable to any foe. This was however to prove fruitless as Bhima smashed Duryodhana's thighs in their decisive encounter on the eighteenth day of the Kurukshetra battle, a move both literally and figuratively below the belt.
The Kauravas, principally Duryodhana and Dhushasana, were the villains of the Mahabharata, and were all killed in their war against their cousins, the Pandavas, at Kurukshetra.
Gandhari was also devout; an ardent worshipper of Lord Shiva. Gandhari's sacrifice of her eyesight and her austere life was to grant her great spiritual power. Gandhari's anguish in the loss of her hundred sons resulted in her cursing Krishna in effect ensuring the destruction of the Yadavas. It is also said that through a small gap in the napkin in which her eyes were blindfolded, her gaze fell on Yudhisthira's toe. The toe was charred black due to her wrath and power.
Krishna came and hugged her. She wept. And she felt Draupadi weeping next to her. Both were being hugged by Krishna, the mother of villains and the mother of heroes, both being comforted by him who they say is God. He said nothing. He allowed Gandhari to vent out her venom and he accepted the curse quietly – no retaliatory curse. Yes, his children would die as Gandhari had deemed fit and so would he. Let his clan suffer so that the spiral of vendetta does not continue. It must end sometime. And if this demands the sacrifice of his clan, then let it be so.
Gandhari ended her life with her husband and her sister-in-law Kunti in the Himalayas, where they died in a forest fire.
Kurukshetra War and aftermath - DRAUPADI
Students of Drona, when trained had only one role; defeat his enemy Drupada. Thus, Drupada got defeated and half of the kingdom was got under Drona. Now it is Drupada’s turn to fight back Drona and his students. They can only be won when they are divided. Drupada needs a trump card here. Hence, Draupadi was born. Her mission was to create jealousy among the first cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, which will make her a cause for war through humiliation and will make the brothers kill other brothers. Drupada’s classical example of Divide and Conquer can only be achieved by a woman whose beauty has no match on this planet.
The plot of the swayamvara hiding Arjuna’s identity, though Arjuna knew that Drupada whom he defeated is the father of Draupadi, got her married. The dice game and the plot created for the war is to make Bheema’s pledge to kill Kauravas. Thus, Kurukshetra war is a requirement of Drupada through Draupadi.
During the war, Draupadi stays at Ekachakra with other women. On the 16th day, Bhima kills Dushasana, drinking his blood and fulfilling his oath to Draupadi.
There is a popular myth often depicted in well-known adaptations of Mahabharata. It says that, Draupadi washed her hair with her brother-in-law Dushasana's blood, as a mark of her vengeance against the abuse she had suffered at the dice-game. Though an extremely powerful and symbolic theme, this incident does not appear in Vyasa's Sanskrit Mahabharata.
Ashwathama, in order to avenge his father's as well as other Kuru warriors' deceitful killing by the Pandavas, attacks during his surprise raid on Pandavas camp at night with Kripacharya and Kritavarma. Aswathama killed Shikhandi, Dhrishtadyumna and Upapandavas (Draupadi had five sons, one son each from the Pandava brothers. They were known as Upapandavas; Prativindhya, Sutasoma, Shrutakarma, Satanika, and Shrutasena. None of the Draupadi's children survive the end of the epic.)
In the morning, Yudhishthira hears the news and asks Nakula to bring Draupadi from Matsya kingdom. Draupadi vows that if the Pandavas do not kill Ashwathama, she would fast to death. The Pandavas find Ashwathama at Vyasa's hut. Arjuna and Ashwathama end up firing the Brahmashirsha astra at each other. Vyasa intervenes and asks the two warriors to withdraw the destructive weapon. Not endowed with the knowledge to do so, Ashwathama instead redirects the weapon to Uttara's womb, killing the Pandavas' only heir (Parikshit, who was again revived by Krishna). Krishna curses him for this act. As a punishment, Ashwathama was asked by Vyasa to surrender the gem on his forehead to Pandavas.
After the cremation was done Yudhishtira was crowned as the king of Hastinapur and he in consultation with Dhrithrashtra was running the Kingdom and is loved by all people. When Yudhishtira became the king of Hastinapura, Draupadi again became the queen.
Later Dhrithrashtra and Gandhari made their mind to retire to woods to do penance. After pacifying by Vyasa, Vidura, Yudhishtira was ready to let them retire. After performing due rituals when they were ready to leave for the woods then Vidura and Sanjaya also wanted to accompany them and seeing all this Kunti also accompanied them to woods.
Thus, Draupadi became the senior queen at Hastinapura.
After Lord Krishna ascended to Vaikhunta-loka; Pandavs after the advice of Veda Vyasa left their Kingdom in the hands of Parikshit and left for the Himalayas. When they were travelling to Himalayas a Dog accompanied them throughout their journey.
When her husbands retired from the world and went on their journey towards the Himalayas and heaven, Draupadi accompanied them, and was the first to fall on the journey. When Bhima asked Yudhishthira why Draupadi had fallen, Yudhishthira replied, "O best of men, though we were all equal unto her she had great partiality for Dhananjaya. She obtains the fruit of that conduct today, O best of men."
The Draupadi Amman sect (or Draupadi devotional sect) is a tradition that binds together a community of people in worshipping Draupadi Amman as a village goddess with unique rituals and mythologies. The sect believes that Draupadi is the incarnation of goddess Kali. Fire walking or theemithi is a popular ritual enacted at Draupadi Amman temples. At the ancient religious festival of Bangalore named Karaga, Draupadi is worshipped as an incarnation of Adishakti and Parvati in a nine-day event.
There are over 400 temples dedicated to Draupadi in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa. In these regions, Draupadi is worshipped mainly by people of the Vanniyar caste. There are a few processions and festivals which are conducted for about 3 weeks a year. The most famous festival is in the village Durgasamudram, Tirupati of Chittoor district.