In the previous episode, we witnessed Sage Vyaasa’s continuation of the “Preface” that he had authored before he went on to commence the detailed Mahabharata text. In fact, we can actually split the “Preface” into two segments – The first segment talks about two great “Trees” – The “Kaurava” tree and the “Pandava” tree, and how these two trees are distinctly built. We’ve seen how the Kaurava tree had Duryodhana at the helm of affairs, holding on to the “fulcrum” of it, with all his anger at its peak. Eventually there are others like Karna, Shahuni, Duchaasana and King Dhirdiraashtra holding fort. Similarly in the other tree, we have Yudishtra (Dharma-Putra) at the helm of affairs, who is ably assisted by the rest of the Paandava brothers, who occupy various echelons of the tree. Finally, like how King Dhirdiraashtra anchored the entire Kaurava tree, Bhagawan Krishna anchored the “Paandava” tree, wherein the seed sown here was “Dharma” in verbatim text book format! With this, Sage Vyaasa clearly outlined the “Mahabharata” text within a jiffy!
This wasn’t of course the end of the preface. In the second segment, we had commenced witnessing in yesterday’s episode as to why Duryodhana was an epitome of anger. This is an important accord that Sage Vyaasa is giving first-up, and with this, we can understand the crux of the entire Mahabharata story without even going into it in detail. This is where we saw how skilled and talented Sage Vyaasa was to explain content both in brief as well as in detail. So let us now continue from where we left yesterday. For readers’ recollection, we shall look into the slokas once more:
“Mrga vyavayaadidhidanaath krishraam paapa sa aapadam!
Janmah prakrithi paarthaanaam tatra aachara vidhihkramaha!!
Maatraha maatrorabhupa patthischa dharmopanishadam pathi!
Dharmascha vaayo chakrasya devayoshca tathaasvinou!!”
We’ve to now see how King Paandu went about things at Hastinapura. We’re of course going to witness all of this in detail later, but now this is only a “Preface” isn’t it? So Sage Vyaasa is explaining this in short here – King Paandu was ruling Hastinapura and at that time he had a curse from a sage. Accidentally King Paandu had barged into a sage when he was together with his wife. The sage did not like this and as a result, he cursed King Pandu that if he gets together with his wives, he would die the next moment itself. Thus, because of the curse, King Paandu could not have biological children through his wives. However, his wife, Kunthi Devi had a boon that she could pray towards any “Devata” and obtain children with their divine grace. Now after her marriage with King Paandu, when she knew that her husband had such a curse, she makes use of that boon – She first prays to Yama-Dharma-Raja and obtains Yudishtra as her first son. Subsequently, she prays to Bhagawan Vaayu and obtains Bheemasena as her second son. Similarly, she prays to Indra and obtains Arjuna as her third son. Thus, Kunthi Devi had three children.
So much and so forth for Kunthi Devi – Now King Paandu had another wife by name Maadri, isn’t it? We’ve seen this earlier itself. This Maadri Devi also wanted to have children. However, due to the inability of King Paandu to do so, Kunthi Devi passes on the “sacred Mantra” for obtaining children through “Devatas”. Thus, Maadri Devi prays towards “Ashwini Kumaras” and obtains twin sons of Nakula and Sahadeva. Thus, the three children of Kunthi Devi and the two children of Maadri Devi together constitute the “Paandava” brothers. Sage Vyaasa explains this in a nutshell at this point. However, we’re going to witness a detailed description of all this later on.
As this happens, King Paandu eventually passes away due to some diseases that were plaguing him for a long time. The five children that Kunthi Devi and Maadri had, were being brought up for a certain period of time by some sages in the forest. Eventually after King Paandu’s demise, his brother Dhirdiraashtra took over the reins of the Hastinapura kingdom. As this happens, the children of Paandu were brought to King Dhirdiraashtra’s palace. As the children came, everybody casted their doubt as to whether these children were the “real” sons of King Paandu or not. Everyone knew King Paandu’s curse that he wouldn’t be able to obtain children. However, the children were brought to the Hastinapura palace with a claim that they were Paandu’s sons! Many weren’t able to buy this argument, including King Dhirdiraashtra himself. However, because of some undue pressure from various fronts, including that of some senior sages, King Dhirdiraashtra was forced to accept the Paandava brothers as his own sons.
More than this, there was a divine voice that was heard aloud from the sky, saying that these five children are none other than the legal heirs of King Paandu. There was a strew of flowers being strewn upon the children by the Devas from above, and with this, King Dhirdiraashtra had no other option but to accept the five children. So since these children were the legal heirs of the erstwhile King Paandu, ideally Yudishtra should succeed the kingdom after the demise of his father. However, King Dhirdiraashtra, although he was forced to accept the Paandavas, wasn’t very convinced. This passed on to his son Duryodhana too. The moment Duryodhana came to know of all what had happened in the past, he raised a strong objection that Yudishtra and Co. can never be encouraged to be part of the Hastinapura royal family. As his words went into deaf ears, his anger slowly started to build. Every action that Duryodhana did after this point was mooted against the Paandava brothers and as each action of his resulted in a failure, the anger only increased further and further!
It is thus for this reason, Duryodhana was an epitome of anger and frustration. So for today, let us understand the glimpse of what the Mahabharata storyline is all about, and let us wait till the next episode to continue this further! Stay tuned! 🙂