Insult After Insult

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Then Draupadi said with sobs:

“I appeal to the elders of the respectable Kurava court, and to all the righteous men who are present here. Haven’t you seen what this dastardly villain has done to me? And if you’ve seen, how can you remain silent and not speak up in my defense? Or does righteousness don’t count for you? This dice game was a trap, a hoax designed by the shame of the Kurava race: Duryodhana. Where are the invincible Vrishnis, and the Panchala with my father and brother at their head? Don’t challenge good luck yet. Do justice, and free me from this terrible anxiety.”

But neither Bhishma, nor Drona, nor Vidura, nor all righteous men said anything. It seemed that no one was able to help her.

At that point there was a terrible roar that shook the hearts of all men: it was Bhima, unable to contain his wrath.

“Brother,” he said, “and also all those present here, look at my arms and my mace. How much do you think I would need to impart the appropriate punishment to the vile Duryodhana? And if anyone objected, how much do you think I would need to exterminate his friends and relatives, Duhssasana and his brothers, and the cheater Sakuni and Karna who pride themselves so much on their military prowess? If you, brother, say a single word I will immediately massacre all those who have lent themselves to this vile deception and to the outrage of our wife; but you don’t speak or say a word even when you see Draupadi dragged on the ground like a villain, as if she had husbands unable to protect her. How can you tolerate all this? It was you who, because of your attachment to the game, put us in this situation and if you can’t solve it, at least let me do it. You know that with Arjuna and the twins I can defeat even the gods themselves. Don’t give in to that lethargy that seems to have caught you.”

“Brother, listen,” Arjuna then intervened. “You don’t have to talk like this. In the glorious history of our house there are many examples of holy kings who preferred to abandon their riches and honors forever in order not to give in on the most fundamental principles that govern our lives. One of these is unconditional respect for the superiors: our fathers, our teachers, and even our elder brothers. At this moment it may seem to us that Yudhisthira has made a mistake in playing, but since we do not know what fate has in store for us, we cannot know if what happened to us will turn out to be good or bad. And don’t forget that we are the Supreme Lord’s servants, no one is completely independent in building their own destiny. So we must always accept what happens to us with serenity.”

“But it is also true,” Arjuna continued, “that these hard-hearted wicked ones have sinned gravely, and that one of the duties of the Kshatriya is to severely punish those who disobey the divine laws. You just have to wait, my brother, and be sure that soon Duryodhana and his cronies will reap what they have sown. Let us not respond to wickedness with other sins. Let us wait for the appropriate time to restore justice, and then we too will have our revenge.”

When the speech of the wise son of Indra finished, the audience rose, uttering heartfelt words of condemnation against Duryodhana. Even one of his brothers, the righteous Vikarna, tried to defend Draupadi, stating that being the wife of all five Pandavas Yudhisthira could not play her without the consent of the others. In the tumult, the voice of Karna was suddenly distinguished, shouting against Vikarna and hurling terrible offenses against Draupadi.

Meanwhile, everyone was talking or arguing with each other, trying to determine what was right and wrong. At one point, at the height of madness, Duhssasana grabbed Draupadi’s sari and began to pull it, attempting to undress her in front of everyone. At that sight, the Rishis present covered their eyes and the elders were horrified, shouting at him not to do it. But the coward did not stop. Such wickedness had never been seen in an Aryan descendant.

Draupadi wept desperately and held her robe with both hands. She looked at her husbands one after another for help, knowing they could do nothing for her.

At that moment she thought that the only one who could help her was the incarnation of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna; when the poor spiritual soul in this world suffers and is in danger, and finally understands that nothing and no one can protect him, it turns to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can protect him from any threat. And the devout Draupadi, while Duhssasana vigorously pulled her robe, gave up trying to protect herself by her own strength.

So, letting go of her grip, she prayed aloud:

“Oh, Govinda, You who reside in Dvaraka, Oh, Krishna, You who favor the pastures of Vrindavana, Oh, Keshava, don’t you see how the Kuravas are humiliating me? Oh, Lord, Oh, Husband of Lakshmi, Oh, Lord of Vraja, You destroy all afflictions, Oh, Janardana, I am drowning in the ocean of the Kuravas. Oh, Krishna, Oh, Krishna, You are the greatest of yogis. You are the soul of the universe. Oh, Creator of all things, Oh, Govinda, save me, I am suffering, I am fainting in the middle of the Kuravas.”

Grieved and weeping, Draupadi prayed to the Lord with deep spiritual love and Krishna, having heard that invocation, intervened on behalf of His devotee. And the more Duhssasana pulled the more the sari, miraculously, stretched. In a moment, dozens and dozens of meters of cloth sprung from the queen’s body covered the floor. Everyone shouted in front of the miracle uttering praises to the Lord.

Seeing his efforts useless, the Kurava sat down, exhausted from fatigue.

At that point Bhima shouted with fury:

“Listen to me all! If I do not kill that evil sinner of Duhssasana may I never see the heavenly planets, deserved by practicing the Kshatriya laws! I swear that I will tear the heart from his chest and drink his blood!”

Duhssasana, who by then had his reason completely darkened, mocked him. And once again, a choir of discordant voices broke out.

“Take Draupadi to the queens’ chambers so that she may know her future duties as a servant,” Karna shouted.

Vidura’s voice was still heard trying in vain to defend her, but Duryodhana’s voice overtook him.

“Now that your husbands are slaves, choose one of us and you will still live like a queen.”

“If it weren’t for the respect I owe my brother,” Bhima yelled, “you wouldn’t be alive for long. If my hands weren’t bound by the laws of dharma, do you think you and your damned brother Duhssasana would still be alive?”

Bhima, holding the mighty club that Maya Danava had given him, had his chest swelling and deflating out of all proportion, and it was terrifying just to look at him. However, Duryodhana, not at all intimidated by the latter’s threats, jokingly asked Yudhisthira:

“You played and lost. Tell us, then: is it correct that we consider Draupadi our property?”

The son of Dharma did not answer. Then the Kurava showed his thigh to Draupadi and laughed in her face. At that umpteenth insult, Bhima raised the club towards him and in a solemn voice shouted:

“May I not be able to see the celestial planets if I do not break you with this club that thigh that you have shown to Draupadi! If I fail to do that, may I be condemned to live eternally in the lowest of hell.”

 “I tell you, I will kill Duryodhana” he shouted then, “and when he lies in the dust at my mercy, I will scornfully push my foot on his head! Also, rest assured that Arjuna will kill Karna, and my brother Sahadeva will eliminate the treacherous Sakuni!”

At that point, having lost all calm, the other Pandavas got up and took their vows. Arjuna claimed that he would kill Karna, Sahadeva that he would take the life of Sakuni and Nakula that he would kill Uluka, Sakuni’s dearest son. At that juncture Arjuna inspired even more terror than the terrible Bhima, and those present were seized by an uncontrollable tremor. Thrown like boulders, those furious words sounded like sure death sentences.

Then they all came out of Jayanta’s cursed Sabha.

 

Now the blind king was not at all calm; on the contrary, as soon as the scene presented itself before his eyes, he felt overwhelmed by unstoppable shivers of fear. And when in the afternoon, terrible, evidently unfavorable omens appeared in the palace of the Kuravas and Gautama, Vidura, Bhishma, and Drona warned him of the tremendous danger they were all in, Dhritarastra, terrified, realized the gravity of the situation and returned everything to his nephews.

That same evening the Pandavas, without having calmed down despite their uncle’s gesture, left for Khandava-prastha.

 

This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.

To buy the complete book, click above

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