In the previous episode, we had been witnessing Sage Vaishampayana’s briefing about how the feud between the Paandava and the Kaurava camps started and how this feud led to the ultimate Kurukshetra war, which ended up in mass destruction on both sides. This briefing is being given here by Sage Vaishampayana in response to King Janame-Jaya’s curious question as to how things conspired in his past, and why his ancestors ended up fighting with each other within the family. In this lines, we’ve witnessed upto the point wherein Duryodhana tried to “burn down” the Paandava brothers inside the “Laaksha Griham”, which is nothing but a huge and an attractive palace built of wax and other easily inflammable materials at a place called Vaaranavatam. Upon Duryodhana’s repeated convincing, King Dhiridraashtra asks the Paandavas to go and reside in this new palace at Vaaranavatam for a year. However, as the Paandavas start residing there, Vidura knew the conspiracy plan of Duryodhana and Shahuni and he immediately alerted the Paandavas through a messenger. With the help of this messenger, an underground secret passage was constructed overnight and through this, the Paandavas and Kunthi Devi escaped out of the “Laaksha Griham” as it was set on fire by Duryodhana and Co.
Thus, till this point we can see that Vidura was instrumental in many occasions in protecting the Paandavas, as he knew that the Paandavas were genuine people and epitomes of “Dharma”. After this episode, the Paandavas were roaming around in a thick forest, without getting into the eyes of Duryodhana and Co. We’ve to understand here that at this point, Duryodhana doesn’t know that the Paandavas have escaped the “Laaksha Griham” trap. He is still of the view that the Paandavas were burnt down, and was celebrating at Hastinapura. However, thanks to Vidura’s timely intervention, the Paandavas escaped the wrath of Duryodhana yet again, and are now in a secret place. As days and months passed, they heard of the “Svayamvara” of the daughter of King Drupata. King Drupata’s daughter was none other than Draupati. The Paandava brothers went to the Drupata Desha, participated in the Svayamvara event, and married Draupati. Thus, Draupati became the wife of all the five Paandava brothers.
In the meanwhile, there was a Raakshasa by name “Bagaasura”. He was destroyed by Bheemasena and the Brahmins in that area were rescued. Subsequently, another Raakshasa by name “Hidimba” was destroyed by Bheemasena and ended up marrying Hidimba’s sister, Hidimbi. With this, Bheemasena obtained a son by name “Gatodhgaja”. We’re going to witness all of these in a great detail later on when we discuss the apt “Parva” and “Upa-Parva” of the text. Thus, all these instances took place in the forest, and after these incidents, the Paandavas returned back to Hastinapura. By the time, the one-year-period got over, and with their return back to the Hastinapura kingdom, Duryodhana couldn’t believe his eyes! Till that point, he was thinking that the Paandavas were history, but when they walked in front of him with Draupati in the middle, Duryodhana’s anger only shot up northwards! His jealousy grew northwards as he was fuming about the Paandavas’ growing popularity all over the country. Thus, he again sat with his uncle, Shahuni and planned the next conspiracy.
Now comes the main part – The phase wherein the “Gambling” took place! With the help of Shahuni and his wicked and crooked planning, Duryodhana wanted to play the game of gambling with the Paandavas. Although King Dhirdiraashtra opposed this initially because this is against the “Raaja-Dharma”, Duryodhana played the “emotional card” and convinced him to grant permission. The Paandavas were invited for the game and as the game started, Yudishtra started losing all his wealth and kingdom to Duryodhana one by one. Finally when nothing was left for Yudishtra to lose, Duryodhana and Shahuni induced him to stake his wife Draupati and play! When Yudishtra lost Draupati too in the gamble, Draupati was dragged into the courtroom by Ducchaasana, who was the brother of Duryodhana. As Bhishmaachaarya, Guru Dhronaachaarya looked on helplessly, Ducchaasana insulted Draupati by undressing her saree in public! Amidst all this, again Vidura tried to intervene and did his best to stop this nonsense from happening, but this time, Vidura was helpless! His words went to deaf ears! King Dhirdiraashtra too wasn’t able to stop this insult from happening!
As the entire Hastinaapura palace was watching helplessly, Bhagawan Krishna intervened in the middle and His “invisible” hand saved Draupati from getting insulted further! It is only at the end of this disgraceful event, the Paandavas take a strong pledge that they would defeat and kill Duryodhana and Co. somehow or the other by pulling them into the war. Thus, this incident sowed the seed for the Kurukshetra war to happen! This was the main trigger point for the mass destruction that took place henceforth! As Sage Vaishampayana was narrating thus, tears rolled down King Janame-Jaya’s eyes as he was lost in his thoughts! His ancestors have been clearly ill-treated, insulted and cheated in public! As he was listening more keenly now, Sage Vaishampayana continues to brief the further happenings. We shall stop with this for today, and let us continue this briefing further in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂