Kissaa Kahaani

July 24, 2014

Yudhishthira- Dharmraj, Really??

Was Yudhishthira really a dharmaraj? Was that title only because he was sired by Yama or Dhrama? I have my own doubts and so do many others.

What is Dharma? The word has been defined in many ways in our holy books- it can mean Justice, Truth, Virtue, Code of Conduct, Character, Manner, Etiquette, Law, Truth and what not! But doesn’t Dharma mean Conscience as well!? Isn’t it about morality too?

Yudhishthira, the so called paragon of righteousness, ignored the calling of his heart and soul and went ahead with what was the “law”. Doesn’t dharma mean doing right, not betraying the conscience, not twisting the truth, taking a stand? Was he really obliged to play the game of dice and lose all he had and also deprive his brothers, mother and wife at the same time? Would abandoning the vile addiction of the game make him a coward as per Kshatriya rule of not backing down under any circumstance? Doesn’t this law of Dharma apply solely to the battlefield? Wasn’t this most pathetic excuse for continuing his weakness of the game? When Krishna admonished the warriors in Kaurava army saying, “Where was your Dharma when Draupadi was being insulted and robbed off her humility in the game of dice”, shouldn’t he have admonished Yudhishthira instead, “Where was your Dharma when you gambled away your wife, making her face the severest trauma a wife can feel?”

Was Yudhishthira really noble and great? Wasn’t he the shrewdest, most opportunistic man ever in the great war of Kurukshetra, wearing the mask of Dharma? And why do I doubt Yudhishthira on the front of Dharma? Let me recount my reasons.

The Lakshagriha- the house made of lac

When Pandavas and Kunti were given the gift of the Lac palace- highly inflammable substance, by Kauravas, and when Vidura apprised the Pandavas of the situation and informed of a secret tunnel he had made sure to be constructed to help Pandavas escape, the Pandavas with the consent of their mother Kunti, gave shelter to 6 Nishads- 5 sons and a widow mother, unbeknownst to Kauravas. The purpose was that when Kauravas would see the charred corpses of the unknown Nihads, they will think of them to be of Pandavas. Was it not murder? Pure cold blooded murder? Why didn’t Yudhishthira spoke up and refused to be a part of the conspiracy? Where was his call of duty when he decided to brutally sacrifice his innocent subjects? Was it about survival? Is survival worth it when it costs others’ lives? Wasn’t survival possible by just escaping and not killing anyone in the process?

The Shared Wedding

When Arjuna won Draupadi’s hands in marriage fair and square and took her home as his legally wedded lawful wife and when Kunti unknowingly told the brothers to divide the “offerings” amongst themselves, Yudhishthira ordered that all brothers would have to abide by the words of his mother and would have to wed Draupadi. Was that right? Was this the Dharma which objectified Draupadi as a plaything for all brothers? Was it Dharma to snatch away Draupadi from her beloved Arjuna? Was it not purely his desire to obtain Draupadi and the only way he could do so was by making sure that Draupadi is shared by all brothers? Does desire become a part of Dharma? If Dharma means to follow the words of elders and superiors, doesn’t Dharma also mean to respect womanhood, respect the integrity and sanctity of a marriage? How is it that Yudhishthira is hailed as a supreme son then? Didn’t he misuse and twist his mother’s words to meet his own terms?

The Vices of Gambling Addiction

Isn’t Dharma all about letting go of the vices and embracing virtues? Then this vile addiction of Gambling was not a step towards Adharma? Yes, Shakuni cheated. But was Yudhishthira not wrong to quit when he could? What kind of Dharmaraj was he that he kept on losing his all possessions, and not only had he lost all the possessions of his brothers as well? Were the brothers’ belongings his as well?  Didn’t he knowingly and deliberately threw his wives to the vultures just to fulfill his gambling habits? Was his wife his belonging, a possession? If that is the case, then why didn’t he gamble away his second wife Devika- who belonged only to him? Why Draupadi? Because she was a shared wife?

The Great Kurukshetra war

When Yudhishthira uttered the words that Ashwathhama died to Dronacharya, wasn’t that not exactly a truth- but twisted half-truth? And isn’t half-truth much more vile that a lie? Didn’t he betray the trust of his Guru who had the firm belief that Yudhishthira would never ever utter a lie? And wasn’t this half-truth the result of his desires to win? Where was his Dharma then?

And what about allowing a young boy to penetrate the Chakravyuh? That also when the boy’s father was not present? Was that again not his desire to win at any cost- may that life he is throwing away belong to his brothers’ young son who is newly married and who is soon going to be a father? Why couldn’t he have entered the Chakravyuh himself and be forever known as the valiant warrior? Was it because he was scared of death?

 

 Sources

http://jayadiscussions.blogspot.in/2013/04/yudhisthira-righteous-really-part-2.html

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July 23, 2014

Hindu Mythology: The Wives & Children World Did Not Know About (Mahabharata- Pandavas)

The Pandavas, acknowledged as the brave and just sons of Pandu, were fathered by Devas- Dharma (The God of Justice & Truth), Pawan (God of Wind), Indra (The king of Devas) and the divine twins Ashwini Kumars. Thus came on earth Pandavas, born of five devas and Kunti and Madri, queen consorts of Pandu- Yudhishthira, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva.

The World knows and revers Draupadi, the shared wife of five Pandavas. The world knows and loves Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna, wife of Arjuna. The world somewhat acknowledges Hidimbi, the Asura princess and wife of Bheema. The world doesn’t know that there were many other wives. The World respects and sings praises for Abhimanyu, The son of Subhadra and Arjuna. The world admires Ghatotkacha, the Asura son of Hidimbi and Bheema. The world doesn’t know that there were other sons… So here are the stories of the other wives- not of Draupadi, not of Subhadra, but the other wives…. So here are the stories of the other sons- not of Abhimanyu, not of Ghatotkacha, but the other sons….

BHEEMA: Hidimbi & Ghatotkacha

When Kauravas, the first cousins of Pandavas, tried to incinerate them and Kunti alive, the Pandavas escaped into the jungle in disguise of orphaned sons of a Brahmin widow. In the forest resided Rakshasas – Hidimba, Bakul and Hidimba’s sister Hidimbi. The Rakshasas Hidimba, enticed by human smell, and filled with desire to consume human meat, asked Hidimbi to take the form of a beautiful woman and lure the human to him. However on approaching Pandavas, Hidimbi fell in love with Bheema and revealed her true self and of the danger of Hidimba. Bheema easily killed Baka and Hidimba. However he refused to do anything with Hidimbi, who approached Kunti and said that she is all alone due to Bheema therefore it is his duty to marry her. Bheema acquiesced on the condition that once Hidimbi bore a child; he would leave her and go away. Within a year, Ghatotkacha was born who was a great sorcerer and was given a boon by Krishna that his sorcery would be unmatched and almost parallel to that of only Krishna. Ghatotkacha played a major role in annihilating the Army of Kauravas during the great war of Mahabharata.

BHEEMA: Naga woman & Bilalsen/Barbareek

There is a legend… folklore in some parts of Rajasthan, and Orissa, that Bheema was married once before he met Hidimbi. Bheema was the strongest of Pandavas and extremely hot tempered at that, not to mention mischievous. He used to play practical jokes on the Kaurava brothers; he used to engage in wrestling bouts where he out-powered them with extreme ease. This irked Duryodhana and he decided to do away with Bheema. Bheema, known for his love for food, was lured to the river bank of Ganga and was offered poisoned food. Thereafter he was drowned in the flowing Ganges. Thankfully The Naga king Vasuki was present and he saved Bheema, and gifted him the strength of thousand elephants. As per the legend, and there is no reference to it in Mahabharata or such, It was not Vasuki, but Ahuka, the Naga, who saved Bheema and took him to serpentine realm and gifted him a Naga woman. The union brought forth a son called Bilalsen or Barbareek. In some variants, Barbareek was the son of the Ghatotkacha, and thus grandson of Bheema.  Barbareek was convinced by Krishna to not participate in the war as he had promised his mother that he would help the weaker side and thus would keep oscillating between Kauravas and Pandavas and ultimately annihilate the entire armies from the both sides. There is a separate story revolving around great Barbareek, which I will tell later on, some other time….

BHEEMA: Other wives

Bheema also had another wife Valandhara, the daughter of the king of Kasi, begat upon her a son named Sarvaga. Chedi king Sisupala’s sister also was wedded to Bheema.

ARJUNA: Ulupi & Aravan

The story goes that Arjuna once entered Draupadi’s chamber while she was with Yudhishthira. To atone for this trespassing, he went on a ‘pilgrimage’. During this time he married many women. One of them was Ulupi.

Ulupi was the Serpentine Princess who became infatuated with Arjuna and abducted him and had him conveyed to the realms of netherworld. There she reasoned with Arjuna to take her as his wife and Arjuna consented to the Union. However the condition was that once he went away from her, he would not remember (this condition is a variant in many folklores). Thus after spending a night Arjuna went his own way. Ulupi gave birth to Iravan or Aravan. Ulupi also played a major role as a friend of Chitrangada, other wife of Arjuna, and was an important part of Arjuna and Chitrangada’s son, Babruvahana. She also restored Arjuna’s life after Babruvahana slayed him- Arjuna’s short death was the fulfillment of curse by Bhishma’s brothers, Vasus after Bhishma was killed in the Kurukshetra war; she redeemed Arjuna from the curse. Ulupi had also granted Arjuna with invincible powers while in water.

There is a legend from the oral traditions of Tamilnadu about Iravan (Also mentioned in the first book of Mahabharata, Adi Parva and sixth book, the Bhishma Parva). The Battle of Kurukshetra was evenly matched and there was akashvaani that Pandavas would have to please the Goddess of War with human sacrifice. There were only three men worthy of sacrifice- Krishna, Arjun & Iravan. Since both Krishna and Arjuna were indispensable to the victory of the Pandavas, Iravan was selected for the sacrifice. He agreed on the condition that he wanted to get married before being sacrificed- he wanted to be not forgotten, to be mourned by someone, to be missed by someone. But no one would give his daughter to a dying man. Finally Krishna too the form of Mohini and spent the night with him and at dawn when Iravan was sacrifices, Mohini mourned his death as no one would ever mourn for their deceased husbands.  

ARJUNA: Chitrangada & Babruvahana

Arjuna travelled the length and breadth of India during his term of above mentioned exile.  Arjuna visited other Tirthas in India, including Kalinga and the ashrams of Saptarishis, Agasatya, Vashishtha, and Bhrigu. Finally he reached the palace of Manipur. In Manipur he met the daughter of King Chitravahana’s, Chitrangada. It was love at first sight and requested the hands of Chitrangada from her father in marriage. King readily agreed but put forward a condition- since Chitrangada was his oldest child and Manipur practiced equal primogeniture, the king sought a promise from Arjuna that Chitrangada and any of her and Arjuna’s children would remain in Manipur as Chitravahana’s heirs. Arjuna agreed, and later spent time in the palace until the birth of his son, Babruvahana

Babruvahana did not participate in the Kurukshetra war and during Ashwamegha Yajna, slayed Arjuna, unaware of the fact that Arjuna was his father. Ulupi revived Arjuna with her powers. And the son and father reunited.

Other Wives & Children of Pandavas

Yudhishthira’s other wife was Devika, the daughter of Govasana of the Saivya tribe, who bore him a son named Yaudheya.

The Pandavas spent some of their exile at Chedi. Nakula later married Karenumati, the daughter of the Chedi King, who bore him a son, Niramitra.

Sahdeva obtained Vijaya, the daughter of Dyutimat, the king of Madra and his maternal uncle, brother of Madri, and begat upon her a son named Suhotra.

All these wives lived with their sons in the house of their fathers.

In the classical Sanskrit retelling, Arjuna married the Naga Ulupi, the princess Chitrangada of Manipur and finally Krishna’s sister Subhadra during this pilgrimage. But in Tamil retellings of the Mahabharata, he married totally seven women. One of them was a warrior woman called Ali who refused to marry him but Arjuna was so besotted that he sought Krishna’s help. Krishna turned him into a snake and he slipped into Ali’s bed at night and frightened her to become his wife. Some say he forced her to be his wife as he managed to spend the night in bed with her in the form of a snake. This illicit folktale alludes to Pisacha-vivah, or the marriage that is condemned in the Puranas.

 

Upapandavas (Draupadi’s children with the Pandavas)

Yudhishthira: Prativindhya

During the Kurukshetra war, Prativindhya, the oldest of the Upapandavas, is (estimated) 24 years of age. He killed Karna’s son Chitrasena on the fifteenth day of the battle. Presumably, he was the crown prince.

Bheema: Sutasoma

Sutasoma was the third oldest, and fought and won over Shakuni during the war. He was also instrumental in holding off Drona and Ashwathhama during the course of the 15th day.

Arjuna: Shrutakirti

Shrutakirti was fourth son and was also involved in the fight against Ashwatthama as well as Dushasana.

Nakula: Shatanika

Shatanika is the second oldest of the Upapandavas. He was an upa-senapati of the Pandavas army during the war.

Sahadeva: Shrutakarma

Shrutakarma was the youngest of the Upapandavas, He was defeated by Shakuni, but in turn killed Dushasana’ s son as well as Shala the brother of Bhurshravasa.

All the Upapandavas actually survived the 18 days of war. On the night of the 18th day, during the victory celebrations, they were killed when Ashwatthama set fire to their camp while Kripa and Kritavarma manned the entrances/exits to the camp mowing down any escapees. In most versions, Ashwatthama confuses the Upapandavas to be the Pandavas themselves, because of their likeness to their fathers.

Sources:

http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Bhima.html

http://pvravi.blogspot.in/2013/12/the-pandavas-their-matrimonial.html

http://devdutt.com/articles/mahabharata/2-of-5-the-other-wives.html

Wikipedia

Hindu Mythology: Why do Babies Suck Thumb

In Mahabharata there is a reference to King Mandhata, the child of the Golden Age.  There is an interesting story about how he was born.

There was a king, King Yuvanshva of Ikshvaku Clan. He had several wives and concubines but sadly he was not blessed with a child. He requested the sages to prepare magical nectar which would enable his wives to bear his children. The sages invited him to the Ashram, after travelling many days the king reached the ashram. He was weak due to thirst and hunger and upon reaching the ashram he saw a pot of water and drank it, unaware that the water was actually the magic potion created for his wives by the sages. He ended up being pregnant and upon the completion of gestation period he experienced labor pain.

Due to lack of female organs, there was no way he could give birth to the baby. He invoked The Ashwini Kumars- the divine physicians. They cut open his thighs and Yuvanshva gave birth to Mandhata. Now the problem arose of nursing the child as the king was incapable of breastfeeding. Indra, the king of Devas, came to his rescue. The Deva King, cut open his thumb and out flew the milk, as in the veins of Devas flow milk and not blood as unlike humans. The infant Mandhata sucked on to the thumb and sought comfort. That is why babies suck on to their thumbs as it is considered in Hindu Mythology and Legends that babies, until they understand and speak human languages, are  reflections of Gods and hence their thumb has milk.

The King Mandhata was called as one who belonged to the Golden Age, as he was born of a man; his midwives were divine physicians and his wet-nurse was the King of Devas.

Reference: The Story of Mandhata was retold in Mahabharata twice. In genealogical lists of Puranas, Mandhata was ancestor of Rama- both belonging to Ikshvaku clan.

special thanks to Devdatta Patnaik’s Shikhandi.

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