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Chapter 19
The Pândavas - An Example for Kali Age


Agnideva, the God of Fire, was gladdened at this. He granted Arjuna the two boons: an inexhaustible arrow-sheath from which he could draw out a continuous supply of arrows and a chariot with the Maruthi flag. Besides, he created the Âgneya-âstra, the weapon of fire, and placing it in the hands of Krishna, took leave of them both.

Son, Parîkchit! Krishna, you must remember, accepted that weapon only to satisfy the God of Fire. He has no need of such weapons. There is no weapon more effective than His Will. It can, in the fraction of a second, transform the earth into sky and the sky into the earth. He acts the human role when He moves among people and so, men frame their own guesses without understanding the inner significance of His acts. That is but the consequence of the delusion that veils the vision of man.

After taking leave of Krishna in this manner, Agnideva started consuming the Khândava Forest. Just then, exactly as anticipated, Indra sent his attendants on the mission of saving the forest from destruction. Their efforts failed to rescue it. They returned to their master and reported their discomfiture. So, Indra himself with his stalwart followers rushed to the scene, to save the Khândavavana, and fell upon your grandfather, Arjuna [see also S.B. 1.15: 8].

Arjuna received him with a shower of arrows from his famous Gândîva bow. Indra, too, fought with all his might. Within minutes, the followers of Indra turned back, unable to withstand the rain of arrows which pelted them from all sides. Indra realised that the person who inflicted the defeat was his own son, Arjuna. He was overcome with shame at this. He regretted that he could not defeat his own progeny, and, returned sad and chastened.

Meanwhile, the God of Fire consumed the forest merrily and with hearty appetite, swallowing everything with his thousand red tongues and raising a huge conflagration. Only ash was left behind. Seeing this, the birds and beasts of the forest tried in vain to escape from the holocaust, but, they could not; they were caught by the flames and roasted alive. Krishna was going round the forest in His chariot to prevent any denizen from running out into the open for safety, especially the animals and the snakes. He discovered the snake Takshaka, a great friend of Indra, in the act of escaping from the fire. Krishna called Arjuna near Him to point this out to him; that gave Takshaka the chance to wriggle out and speed towards Kurukshetra.

But, Agni pursued the snake; He sought the help of the windgod to catch up with his fleeing speed. So, Takshaka sought refuge with Maya (Dânava) the architect of the Devas and the Dânavas; he and Maya were moving fast towards Kurukshetra. Krishna noticed this and He pursued them. Just then, Maya surrendered to Arjuna and sought his protection for himself and his protege, Takshaka. Arjuna granted his wish and so, Maya, out of a sense of gratefulness, fell at his feet and said, "0, son of Pându, I will never forget this kindness. Whatever is in my power, I shall gladly do for you. You have only to indicate your desire".

Your grandfather reflected for a while and replied, "Maya! If you yearn to satisfy me, I demand but one thing: Build a Sabha (Assembly Hall) for my brother to hold court, the like of which is not to be found on earth. It must be so grand that no Deva or Dânava or Gandharva can ever hope to build such a one for himself. It must fill all who see it with amazement. I have no desire, other than this". Krishna too added a suggestion. "In that hall of wonder, you must establish a throne of wonder for Dharmaraja to be seated; then only will the Hall be fully magnificent".

Did you note, Parîkchit, how much Krishna loved your grandfather? Do you need any more convincing proof than this to know that He is ever mindful of the welfare of His devotees? The wicked Duryodhana was overcome with envy, at the sight of that amazing Hall. Duryodhana and Dushashana and their companions were puzzled and discomfited into humiliation, when they were led to believe that there was water where there was none and that there were doors, in places where there were no doors (see also S.B. 10.75)! They fell in so many places and knocked their heads against so many walls that they nurtured unquenchable hatred against the Pândavas. The Kauravas plotted incessantly to destroy the Pândavas; but, since the Pândavas had the grace of Krishna in a large measure, they were able to overcome them as if they were mere child's play and to enjoy varied manifestations of His mercy. The Kauravas developed violent hatred against Krishna too, for they knew that the son of Yas'odâ was the bestower of fortune on the Pândavas. But, what can any one do to the very Lord of all Creation? To cultivate hatred against Him is a sign of their ignorance, that is all.

When Vyâsa was thus relating the story of Takshaka, Parîkchit was listening with rapt attention; when he finished, Parîkchit queried in wonder, "What was the reason which provoked the wicked Kaurava to ill-treat and insult my grandmother, Draupadî? How did grandfathers bear the insults they heaped on their spouse, how did it happen that they were mere onlookers, unable to retaliate or punish, in spite of their prowess and undoubted manliness, when their spouse was dishonored publicly, in the royal court? I find it beyond me to understand how these incidents came about. Tell me the real facts, and enlighten me. You can clear my doubts, I am sure".

Draupadî's Imprecation

Parîkchit prayed with tearful eyes and with such humility that Vyâsa said, "Son! The Pândavas are staunch adherents of the moral law; they never deviated from the given word. They observed the rule that the defeated party has no right to challenge the victors; your grandfather and his younger brother recognised the moral superiority of Dharmaraja, their elder brother and suppressed themselves. Or else, they would have felled the foul Kauravas to wallow in their own blood and cast their corpses to be mangled by dogs and vultures.

In spite of this, however, your granduncle, Bhîma, was straining to fall upon those vicious men like a lion chained to a tree; he was laughing cynically at the weak attachment that Dharmaraja had towards dharma. But, what could he do? He was rendered harmless, by the will of his eldest brother. So, he had to behave like an ineffective person.

When Vyâsa said thus, Parîkchit asked him the reason why the grandfathers were so enslaved. Vyâsa smiled and replied, "Son! I shall tell you that also. Your granduncle, Dharmaraja celebrated in unprecedented grandeur the Râjasûya-yajña in the Assembly Hall that Maya built for him. The Kauravas were invited for the yajña and as I said, they were struck with amazement at the magnificence and wonder; they were also filled with envy and a spirit of vengeance, as if they were insulted by the affluence and power of the Pândavas. They held counsel with wicked elements and sought some means by which they could undermine their fortune. At last they struck on a plan.

That was the gambling contest through the royal game of dice. They behaved as if they were filled with filial love and as if they were motivated by the utmost affection. Their words were poisoned drops of honey, stabs steeped in butter. They persuaded their blind old father to send Dharmaraja a communication which ran thus: "Son! you are all brothers. Come and be together in one place and make merry over a game of dice". On receipt of this invitation, your granduncle who had no inkling of the wiles that the Kauravas are capable of, who had a guileless mind himself, accepted it and played the games they proposed, unaware of the stratagems they had planned. He was then tempted to stake his brothers and finally, even his queen, Draupadî. He did not realise that the game was fun of foul movements and conspiratorial tricks. He never imagined that his cousins will land him in abject misery. So, under the rules of the gambling game, Draupadî became the property of the victors. They too, in order to wreak vengeance and cool their overwhelming passion of hatred, designed to dishonor the Queen of the Pândavas in fun sight of the entire Assembly of Courtiers. Foul brains can hatch only foul plans.

At these words, Parîkchit began shedding tears; he asked Vyâsa in a voice interrupted by sighs, "How did that blind Dhritarâshthra, himself an Emperor, suffer this degrading behavior towards another woman and a queen to happen? Of course, he had no eyes to see; but, he had certainly ears to hear. Had he plugged his ears so that her wailings could not reach his understanding? Or, had they too become blind? The s'âstras teach that no woman can be injured or insulted; she has to be given help and succor; and, these rulers who ought to be exemplars to their subjects in morality and justice have the audacity to break the s'âstras with impunity. How can such vicious persons be Emperors? Are they not the meanest of mortals? Only the worst sinners will contrive to insult and dishonor another's wife, a helpless woman. I feel that this land has been torn into bits, only because such abominable persons were raised to power; at last these disasters brought about total destruction. God is not blind, is it not?"


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