Bytes By Bhavin Random Words From The Factory Of My Thoughts!

19Aug/151

Suyodhana’s Advocate – Part 1

My Lord,

Considering the fact that you, the reader, have taken out some spare time out of your schedule to go through my post, I feel highly obliged to address you as “My Lord”. Today, I consciously plan to stir the hornet’s nest. I plan to represent the case of the deceased crown prince of the Kuru clan, the eldest amongst the Kauravas, the son of the deceased king Dhritirashtra and queen Gandhari. Yes, I represent The Crown Prince, Suyodhana along with his 100 brothers. Yes, he is Suyodhana and not Duryodhana. In addition, you may be wondering why I have quoted ‘Suyodhana and his 100 brothers’ when the history is used to identify them as 100 Kauravas. The answer is Dhritirashtra fathered 100 sons and a daughter, Sushala through Gandhari and one son, Yuyutsu, through one of the queen’s maids. (Well. It was all fine for men to sleep with women outside marriage.)

Now, I am assuming the fact that you are laughing on your seat, considering that I am fighting a battle for the lost cause. I also assume to be a laughing stock, a dunce or a jobless person in your eyes who, out of sheer boredom, has decided to take side of the most vicious and wicked villain of the Indian mythology. After all, who would be stupid enough to challenge the verdict already passed about 5000 years ago? It is already an accepted notion, the heroism of the Pandavas and the treachery of the Kauravas. Right? So why now? Why, unnecessarily, dig the skeletons out of grave? Considering the fact that everybody from the epic maybe going through his or her cycles of birth and death, somewhere around this universe. You see, off late, I have had this habit of going through different versions of Mahabharata, the great war of Kurukshetra. In most of the cases, I have read the same synopsis. The sacrifice of Bhishma, the births of Pandava and Kaurava princes, their struggle against each other for the greed of power and ultimately, the victory of Pandavas over Kauravas. All right, the start and the end of the story heard from the mouth of elders, grandpas, grannies, nannies and wet nurses has been nearly the same. However, it is the central part of the story that makes me feel difficult to digest or accept.

My Lord, it is a commonly perceived notion, the characteristics of the Pandavas being all white and that of the Kauravas being all black. In addition, certain amongst the people believe that Pandavas made mistakes but Kauravas were of villainous character. Nevertheless, I have a point to prove. What if I say, neither of the Pandavas and Kauravas were black/white? They were grey. It sounds amusing, ridiculous, naïve and outrageous as well. The common law of physics says that every action has a reaction. (May not be equal and opposite all the times.) A clap needs a pair of hands. Every action/inaction is a result of provocation. Now, the next question in your mind must be, “What would have provoked the Kauravas to become villains? What was the bone of contention?” My Lord, neither birth nor death defines the character, the karma decides. As for the cause of disagreement, it was the throne of Hastinapura. The capital of Indian subcontinent's strongest kingdom. The charges on Suyodhana: The first charge being, deliberately scheming a coup against Pandavas for the greed of throne.

Before we get talking about the first charge, I would like to talk about a bit of history regarding the lineage of Kuru dynasty.

 

1. King Shantanu married Devi Ganga (river in human form) on a pre-nuptial agreement clause stating that Shantanu should question none of the actions of Ganga. Failing to do so, she would leave him forever. Now, Ganga gave birth to the king's seven sons and deliberately drowned them. This infuriated the king to no end. While on the way to kill their eighth son, Devavrata, he stopped her and questioned her motives. It broke the pre-nup agreement and she left him forever along with their only son, Devavrata. Years later, the son returned to his father as a learned man and a brave warrior under the tutelage of Lord Parshurama.

2. King Shantanu, being lonely, fell head-over-heels in love with a fisherwoman named Satyavati. Nevertheless, her father refused to get her married as Devavrata would be the future king of Hastinapura and Satyavati's kids would be just sidekicks. Devavrata took an oath of celibacy and his service to the throne of Hastinapura as a caretaker but not as a king. Impressed by his oaths, King Shantanu blessed Devavrata death-by-choice (ichcha-mrutyu) and named him as Bhishma. Shantanu and Satyavati married and gave birth to Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.

3. Chitrangada, known for his brashness, died a premature death while fighting Gandharvas. Vichitravirya was a weak and drunkard king capable of nothing. Bhishma kidnapped Amba, Ambika and Ambalika to get them married to Vichitravirya. Amba died holding a grudge against Bhishma and cursing him that she would be the reason of his death. Ambika and Ambalika married to Vichitravirya but before he could copulate with either of them, he died. Technically, that by itself ended the blood lineage of Kuru dynasty.

4. Queen Satyavati wanted Bhishma to copulate with the wives of Vichitravirya. He denied her due to his oath of celibacy. She, in turn, called her sage son Vyasa (born to her out of wedlock by consummating with a passer-by sage) and asked him to perform niyoga (a ritual where the woman remains covered at the top and naked at bottom, to avoid lust in the 'holy act') with Ambika and Ambalika. At the time of copulating with Vyasa, Ambika closed her eyes in fear, resulting the birth of blind Dhritirashtra. Similarly, the pale gone Ambalika gave birth to the albino Pandu. Vyasa also copulated with their house cleaner, which resulted in birth of Vidura. Dhritirashtra, the eldest of the trio, was the frontrunner for kingship. However, due to his blindness, the cabinet decided to make Pandu the king and Vidura as the minister.

5. Bhishma, on orders of Satyavati, forcibly got King Subala's daughter Gandhari married to Dhritirashtra. Gandhari, as an act of protest, decided to remain blindfolded forever. Gandhar prince Shakuni, the brother of Gandhari promised to avenge the murders of his parents and blindness of his sister by destroying the Kuru Empire. Pandu married to Kunti and Madri but was unable to consummate due to a curse by a mating sage. Pandu abdicated the throne and left for Himalayas with his wives to do penance. Dhritirashtra became the king and continued ruling henceforth.

6. Dhritirashtra and Gandhari fathered 100 sons and a daughter (as mentioned earlier) along with a son from the house cleaner. Pandu, unable to bear any kids, requested Kunti to invoke the boons received by her during her teens through sage Durvasa (known for his short temperament). Kunti consummated with Yama (Dharma), Vayu and Indra and mothered Yudhisthira, Bhima and Arjuna respectively. Madri consummated with the Ashwini twins, giving birth to Nakul and Sahadev.

 

After the sudden death of Pandu (because of having sex with Madri), Kunti along with the five sons of Pandu reached Hastinapura. My Lord, the amusing part being the way Kunti had slowly but deliberately started promoting Yudhisthira as the crown prince of Hastinapura, thereby putting the position of Suyodhana into trouble. Shakuni, in his own way, meticulously planned to create a rift amongst the cousins. Yudhisthira, minus his gambling addiction, was a sober prince. Bhima was a well-known bully who never missed out an opportunity to terrorize the Kaurava cousins. Arjuna was famous for his haughtiness for being the best archer amongst all. Nakul and Sahadev, well known for horse riding, intelligence, looks, medicines, communication with birds and animals, were however side-lined by the eldest three Pandavas.

My Lord, Kunti had deliberately planted the story of Yudhisthira being the eldest of the Kuru clan and hence the crown prince. She along with Dhaumya (the head of priests at Hastinapura) badmouthed Suyodhana and the Kaurava princes while portraying her sons as the best amongst all. She marketed the credibility of her son to an extent by planting stories of her sons’divinity. Talking of the successor, the ruling king’s eldest son becomes the crown prince and not the son of the king who had abdicated the throne years ago. The argument, by itself, turns out void and invalid. The credibility seems null.

As for the eldest of the Kuru princes, Kunti also bore a son through Surya, named Karna, before her marriage with Pandu. However, she gave him up due to the fear of society targeting unwed mothers. However, Kunti never addressed Karna as her own son until the Kurukshetra War broke. Karna fought from the Kaurava side. She cajoled, forced, reprimanded and begged Karna to fight for Pandavas. (More on the topic, later.) If Suyodhana had no claim on the throne due to being tad younger then so did Yudhisthira. Based on being eldest, Karna deserved the most. However, if Karna did not have blood of Pandu running inside his veins, then so did the rest of Pandavas. Suyodhana had the blood of Dhritirashtra and Gandhari running in his body, thus proving the legality in his claim.

My Lord, another point amuses me to no extent. Kunti mothered Karna through Surya and Yudhisthira through Yama (Dharma). Have you ever wondered how Surya and Yama (Dharma) are related? Well. Yama (Dharma) is the son of Surya. In addition, the Ashwini twins are the sons of Surya. (The other sons being Shani, Manu and Sugreeva, they play no role in Mahabharata.) Kunti dared to defy the society norms by sleeping with the father (Surya) as well as the son (Yama) who in turn gave her sons (Karna and Yudhisthira, respectively). Before we question about the legality of claim of Hastinapura, how about questioning the morality of the scheming woman Kunti.

My Lord, hence proved, Suyodhana had legal claim over the kingdom of Hastinapura while the Pandavas and Kunti were the usurpers. Suyodhana had no excuse to scheme against the Pandavas. It was the other way round. If the world has passed the verdict based on the text by Vyasa then I request you to refer the other versions as well. I request you to pass the judgment accordingly so that it sets an example for our future generations.

Peace, Poetry and Power.

Bhavin Shah
Bhavin Shah | Official Website

 

(References: 1. Ajaya by Anand Neelkantan, 2. Duryodhana by V. Raghunathan, 3. Wikipedia)

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16Aug/150

Mahabharata – In Brief

Ramayana and Mahabharata have been a part of storytelling since childhood in India. The stories of the heroes and anti-heroes have been going around since ages. Yet, many are unaware of, or maybe seem to avoid knowing about Mahabharata due to its lengthy nature. To help remove the ignorance between the people known and unknown to the epic of Mahabharata, here is the briefing of the epic shared by the renowned author, V Raghunathan.

Please Note: This is the epic originally written by the sage Ved Vyasa. However, there are many versions of this epic.

 

The Mahabharata, along with the Ramayana, ranks among the greatest epics of ancient India. Set some five millennia ago, the Mahabharata is a collection of nearly 100,000 shlokas or double that number in dual verses – which is about seven times the length of the Illiad and Odyssey combined. It evolved over a period of nearly a millennium, through contributions by innumerable and anonymous contributors. However, the origin of the epic is traditionally ascribed to Sage Vyasa who, as the grandfather of the Kaurava clan, himself plays a significant part in the epic. Apparently, Vyasa, who is said to have dictated the verses to Lord Ganesha, meant the text to be itihasa, which in Sanskrit means ‘this is what happened’. In other words, the text is intended to be ‘history’ rather than ‘mythology’.
While several references to early Vedic times and practices give the epic a history-like credibility, the lack of verifiable historical facts places the text in a distinctly mythological space.
This real and surreal character of the epic makes it one of the most important ancient texts of mythology painted in historical hue, while the segment of Gitopadesha – a didactic sermon about dharma (higher duty) – gives it a moral character.
The epic captures the story of two sets of paternal cousins – the Pandavas and the Kauravas – in the Kuru kingdom of Hastinapura. The sum and substance of the story is the heroic struggles of the Pandavas against the excesses of the evil Kauravas, leading to the ultimate victory of the heroes. The Kauravas are the sons of King Dhritarashtra, who is blind, while the Pandavas are the sons of Pandu. Dhritarashtra and Pandu are half-brothers, sharing the same father. Since Dhritarashtra, the elder of the two, is blind by birth, the reins of the kingdom are handed over to the younger brother Pandu following the death of their father. However, as Pandu cannot beget children, he abdicates the throne and leaves the kingdom accompanied by his two wives Kunti and Madri, repairing to the Himalayas to undertake rigorous penances. At this point, Dhritarashtra ascends the throne. Duryodhana (originally named Suyodhana), the eldest of the Kaurava brothers, is hoping to succeed his father.
However, in a few years, Kunti returns from the Himalayas with five sons, the Pandavas. In time, she claims the throne, or at least a share of the Hastinapura kingdom, for her eldest son, Yudhisthira, who is also the eldest of the Kaurava and Pandava cousins put together – the Kurus.
From here on, Duryodhana spares no effort – fair or foul – to thwart the exertions of the Pandavas to secure a share of the kingdom. In due course, Dhritarashtra prevails upon his eldest son to let the Pandavas have the wild end of their kingdom, namely the forest of Khandava. By dint of hard work and sagacity, the Pandavas establish their capital city of Indraprastha and turn the land into a powerful kingdom and go on to conduct the rajasuya – the declaration of sovereignty over the surrounding kingdoms, including Hastinapura. This, Duryodhana is unable to stomach.
Together with his maternal uncle Shakuni, he invites Yudhisthira for a game of chance – chaupar. Yudhisthira ends up wagering and losing not only his kingdom, but also himself, his brothers and wife, Draupadi, aka Panchali. In a climax of the dark deeds ascribed to the Kauravas in the usual version of the epic, Draupadi is sought to be disrobed by one of Duryodhana’s brothers in the court of Hastinapura.
Following these losses, the Pandavas are exiled for twelve years, followed by one year of incognito existence, with the promise that Indraprastha would be handed back to them upon their return, provided they are not discovered during the last year of living undercover.
When the Pandavas return after thirteen years, Duryodhana refuses to meet his end of the bargain on the grounds that they violated the conditions of the thirteenth year. This inexorably leads to the end-game, which culminates in the epic war of Kurukshetra in which brothers, uncles, teachers, cousins and friends fight each other, and the lives of millions of men, women and children are lost, and many others widowed and orphaned. In the ultimate vindication of their dharma, the great war is won by the Pandavas.
It is as a prelude to the war – when one of the Pandava brothers, Arjuna, refuses to fight his cousins, teachers, uncles and grand-uncles who are arrayed on the other side against him and his brothers – that Lord Krishna gives the Gitopadesha, which contains an ocean of wisdom relating to choices that one is constrained to make in life.


More versions of Mahabharata to be shared in future. Keep updated and posted regarding the same.

Peace, Poetry and Power.

Bhavin Shah
http://www.bhavinshah.in

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