Duryodhana & the Pandavas

In Part IV of our series we learn lessons from the story of Duryodhana as he is squarely defeated in the war of Kurukshetra

 K.K. Shanmukhan

Dhritharashtra and Pandu were the sons of Vichitraveera. Since the former was born blind, Pandu, the latter was crowned the king. Dhritharashtra wedded Gandhari, while Pandu wedded Kunti and Madri. Pandu had five sons - three from Kunti and two from Madri. Known as the Pandavas, they all were noble, chivalrous and ‘Dharmis’. Most of Dhritharashtra’s sons were wicked. Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, was evil, arrogant, greedy and ‘Lobhi’.
Pandu along with his two wives spent some years in the forest where his sons were born. Pandu had been affected by a curse by a saint. One day when he desired an amourious union with his second wife Madri, alas, he fell dead! Madri, out of guilt, jumped into her husband’s funeral pyre and sacrificed her life. So Kunti had to bring up all the five children of Pandu.
The Rishis in the forest looked after the five sons of Pandu and Kunti, and taught the boys all essential sciences like the Vedas, the Vedangas and martial arts. When Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas came of age, the Rishis brought them to Hastinapura and handed over to Dhritharashtra. Gandhari and Dhritharashtra received them with pleasure and nourished them well.
Duryodhana and his brothers did not like the company of the Pandavas, particularly of Bhima for he was excellent in physical power. The Kauravas tried to annihilate the Pandavas in many sinister ways which the Pandavas somehow survived.
After the completion of higher studies of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, Dhritharashtra gave half the kingdom to the Pandavas. Keeping Indraprastha as the headquarters, the Pandavas built an empire of amazing beauty and wealth. They conducted a Rajasuya sacrifice and amassed huge riches. This caused a great envy in Duryodhana towards the Pandavas. He, in connivance with his uncle Sakuni, invited Yudhishtira for a game of dice. In the game, the Pandavas lost all their wealth and were forced into exile for twelve years and one year thereafter in incognito.
During these twelve years of exile, the sufferings of the Pandavas were inexplicable. A sadist Duryodhana, along with his friends and accomplices like Karna, Sakuni etc. wanted to visit Dwaitavana where the Pandavas were living and spending their days in poverty and misery. His real intent­­ion was to appear before the Pandavas in great joy to tempt them and make them feel remorse in their agony and penury. This would have provided Duryodhana with immense joy and unlimited satisfaction. But before Duryodhana and his coterie reach Dwaitavana, they were thwarted and encountered by Chitrasena, the Gandharva. Duryodhana and his army were miserably defeated and he himself became prisoner.
Some of the tribes, who watched the encounter, rushed to Yudhishtira and narrated the episode and the predicament of Duryodhana. Hearing this Bhima was overjoyed and reacted: “That ruffian Duryodhana deserves this and more. He came to insult us over our injury and to enjoy over our miseries. He has brought a huge number of courtesans and courtiers. What happened to Karna and his army who always used to boast?”
“Bhima,” said Yudhishtira, “this is not the time you should take vengeance on Duryodhana. His defeat and being captive is infamy to our lineage. You and Arjuna go at once and liberate Duryodhana.”On the order of Yudhishtira, they marched towards Chitrasena, the chief of the Gandharvas. Chitrasena, however, had no desire to fight them.
“Arjuna,” he said, “We are friends and I have no desire to fight you. Take Duryodhana away.”
Duryodhana was released and led to Yudhishtira who consoled him saying: “Brother Duryodhana, don’t venture in the future to get entangled in such dangers.”
The petulant and arrogant Duryodhana cut a sorry figure. All his arrogance melted away. He even thought of committing suicide rather than living in disgrace. ­ n