Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Draupadi and Bheema are Disaffected


This episode is from [Maha:3.24-3.36].

After his allies had left, Yudhishtra took a good look at his retinue. He realized that the spot at which they were residing, near the edge of the Kamyaka woods would not be able to support such a large contingent. He called his brothers and said, "Find a better spot where we may establish our camp. The location you choose should be near water, and should be abundant in fruits and game. There should also be ample space for the Brahmanas accompanying us to perform their religious rites."

According, his younger brothers went forth to scout for such a location. After a lengthy search, they found a suitable spot and the whole contingent traveled there and established their new camp. This location was on deeper into the forest, on the banks of a lake known as Dwaitavana. There were abundant deer and boars to provide meat and a large number of fruit bearing trees. Sala trees were particularly abundant at that spot.

Soon, word spread that the Pandavas were now encamped at Dwaitavana. Since they were renowned for their piety, large number of Brahmanas continued to arrive there to reside. The Pandavas spent their days in religious contemplation and the evenings were enlivened by the discourses of learned persons on morality and religion. Quite a few of the old Brahmanas had traveled widely, and had seen much of the world. Some of them were noted story-tellers, and their stories were in great demand in the evenings.

Arjuna and Bheema hunted game during the day and the others gathered fruits and roots for food. There was also the sacred-copper-vessel given by Surya to Draupadi, which made sure that food was always plentiful.

Though a far cry from there luxurious life in their palaces, this forest dwelling was not particularly arduous. Yudhishtra was a philosopher, so he was able to adapt himself to this mode of life. He began to derive not a little enjoyment from the company of so many learned men. Arjuna was famed for his self-control, and thanks to his discipline, was able to patiently bear this time, secure in the knowledge that when thirteen years would pass, he would have his revenge. No one knew what the twins thought, but they were outwardly ever cheerful, and seemed content with their lot.

It was far otherwise with Draupadi and Bheema. He was impetuous, and chafed under the restrictions imposed by this new lifestyle. She did not enjoy a moment's repose, for the events that had occurred in that assembly at Hastinapura were playing themselves out again and again in her mind's eye.

[Ed. Note: The following encounter was the first sloka from the original Mahabharata I happened to read, because it was in my Sanskrit textbook in 8th grade. I distinctly remember the title: "Kshama tejasvina tejaha", or Forgiveness is the glory of the glorious", and the opening line: "Priya cha Dharshania cha Panditha cha Pativrata cha, tataha Krishna Dharamarajam idam Vachanam Abhraveeth"]

One evening, finding Yudhishtra sitting all by himself, after he had finished yet another discussion on morality with a learned scholar, Yajnaseni could contain herself no longer. With wrathful eyes, she spoke to him thus: "How can you sit here, seemingly content, as if you had no care in the world? The evil minded Duryodhana's heart must be made of stone, for not only did he insult me, he spoke to you, his senior, in harsh words! Only four persons, namely, Duryodhana, Dushasana, Shakuni, and Karna rejoiced in your misfortunes. The rest of the Kurus shed copious tears when the sentence of our exile was pronounced. I have formerly beheld you seated in a golden throne, decorated with rubies and sapphires. Now, seeing you seated on the muddy floor, with nought but Kusa grass as your seat, my heart breaks into a thousand pieces!

Seeing our dear Bhimasena living in sorrow in the woods, does not your anger blaze up? Why doesn't your anger blaze up at the sight of your God-like younger brothers toiling in the forest under the merciless sun? Capable of vanquishing all the Kurus in a single day, your brave brothers are holding in their anger, in obedience to your promises. Does not the sight of Arjuna, at whose feet the innumerable Kings used to serve, now reduced to having to hunt for his own food, cause your heart to swell in anger? The scriptures say that of all the qualities essential to a Kshatriya, that of righteous indignation is the foremost. A King without anger is not fit to rule, is no better than a mindless animal. When a King should feel anger at an injustice done to his subjects, how much greater should his anger be, when an injustice has been done to him? O, fie on your forbearance, for it has reduced you, your brothers and myself to this piteous plight, exposing us to the ridicule of the world!"

Yudhishtra replied, "It is true that indignation is a virtue for Kings. However, it has also been said that anger is the root of many evils. He that suppresses his anger, and gains control over his rages, gains prosperity. Nobody will respect, or claim friendship with one who gives way to anger easily. Knowing the great harm that can be done by an ill controlled temper, the wise have enjoined men to conquer wrath. Pursuant to the path shown by the scriptures, I have striven to conquer my anger, and thus you behold me at peace with all. O daughter of Drupada, know that forgiveness is the glory of the glorious. It is the supreme virtue. It is the highest path, it is a way to eternal salvation. Forgiveness is the strength of the strong, it is the supreme sacrifice. My forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of a mind at peace with itself and all creatures. Do not give way to impotent anger, it shall consume your very soul. Instead, strive for control over your anger, and practice forgiveness like myself."

With a derogatory smile on her lips, Draupadi said, "I have never heard scriptures quoted to justify something so unjustifiable. You are called Dharmaraja due to your mastery of the path of truth, but your senses have been clouded now! You claim that virtue is dearer to you than your very life, nay it is dearer to you than myself and your brothers! How then, O King, could you have participated in gambling, which has been acknowledged by the ancients as a major vice? You have acted in a manner unworthy of your illustrious lineage. Now that the consequences of your folly are manifest, you are taking refuge in your protestations of virtue, and refuse to act in a manner befitting your birth! Do you believe that all our actions are pre-ordained, and that nothing we do can alter our destiny? Indeed that is the only explanation that strikes me as plausible for your refusal to act now and seize back your patrimony from the usurpers."

While this argument had been going on, Bheema had come that way and was listening to the dialogue. His wrath rose at what he considered the pusillanimous arguments of his brother. He intervened and said, "Walk, O King, in the path ordained for the race of Kshatriyas. It is the duty of Kings to conquer Kingdoms, to wage war to recover that which has been snatched from them. We do not lack strength, for what army can stop us, fighting with the invincible Arjuna at our head, and supported by my super-human strength? It was by your carelessness, O brother, that our Kingdom has been snatched away by the little-minded sons of Dhritharashtra. Once the Kingdom was snatched away, the rightful, natural course that we ought to have pursued was war. We should have slain those hundred Kauravas in the very sight of their father. Neither Drona, nor the grandsire could have stopped us, even if they had fought to the utmost of their capability. I marvel at you claiming forgiveness as a virtue, having allowed the insulter of your wife to live! We had attained fame as great warriors by our feats on the battlefield. Now, exiled to the forest, doing nothing to better our situation, the world will wonder if we are really heroes. Nay, they may even wonder if we are men in the first place!

"O King, one should give weight to virtue, wealth and pleasure in proper proportions. One should not devote oneself to virtue alone, nor regard wealth as the sole object of our life, nor should one spend ones time solely in the pursuit of pleasure. The scriptures have said that the morning is for virtue, noon is for wealth and that night is the time for seeking pleasure. Youth is the time for pleasure, wealth should be the object of middle age, and old age the proper time to acquire virtue. By all respects, this is the time in our life for the pursuit of pleasure and wealth. Virtue can wait. Give us leave, my lord, to wage war on the Kurus. Let me, Arjuna and the twins set forth in full battle armor and invade the Kingdom of Dhritharashtra. Let us sally forth, supported by our allies the Panchalas, Srinjayas and the Kaikeyas, taking the help of Krishna of the Vrishni race. Permit us to wage war right now!"

Yudhishtra listened to these reproaches patiently. Finally, he said, "No doubt all that you have said is true brother. Indeed no one can blame me as much as I blame myself. It is due to my folly, due to my reprehensible conduct, that we have been reduced to such a pitiable state. I have, however, given my word in the assembly that I will reside in exile for thirteen years. I cannot break my solemn oath. At the end of thirteen years, however, it shall be as you wish. I will myself be part of our force that shall wage war on the Kauravas. It is true that our grandsire Bhishma and our perceptor Drona shall be on their side, but I believe you and Arjuna to be more than equal to them. However, Bhurisravas, Sala, the mighty Ashwatthama and the King of Sindhu will be part of the Kaurava army. We cannot undertake to vanquish this army without due deliberation. There are also many Kings, who have been previously vanquished by us, who may side with the sons of Dhritharashtra due to animosity towards us.

"All these obstacles may be overcome by us, for I have full faith in your might, Arjuna's bow and the steadfastness of our own allies. However, there is one thing that bothers me day and night, indeed, due to this worry, I have not obtained one wink of peaceful sleep ever since we began our exile. That obstacle is that mighty warrior — Karna, who is equal unto Arjuna in archery, and is besides the master of countless celestial weapons. Invincible, encased in impenetrable armor of divine origin, that hero is incapable of being vanquished! His friendship with Duryodhana is the stuff of legends. He has pledged to protect the Kuru prince with his life, and is ever engaged in doing us an ill turn. It is well known that a combat until death with Arjuna is his cherished wish. Every time I try to close my eyes, I see only the cruel smile on his face. How is it possible for us to achieve victory, as long as we do not neutralize the threat posed by Karna, the foremost among wielders of the bow?"

Even the impetuous Bheema had to pause when Yudhishtra posed this question. Something very like fear entered his brave heart, and he forebore from continuing the argument, an expression of deep thought on his face. Draupadi also wore a worried frown, thinking about the only warrior who could ever hope to withstand the might of Arjuna in battle.

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Last Modified At: Sun Apr 24 00:13:59 2005