Gandhari, the Chaste

 In Part VI of our series, we follow the wisdom of chaste Gandhari

 K.K. Shanmukhan

Gandhari has been a devotee of Lord Shiva since her childhood. The Lord blessed her with a hundred sons in her married life. Bhishma who came to know of the fortune of Gandhari, decided to get Dhritharashtra married with Gandhari and sent a messenger to this effect to Subala. Although Dhritharashtra was born blind, thought Subala, he is a prince of an illustrious lineage and therefore gave his consent to the marriage.
As she came to know that her would be husband is a blind man, she blind-folded her eyes with a silk robe and sacrificed vision as her birth right. What privilege my husband does not enjoy, I, too, do not want to enjoy. She had determined.
Gandhari was a queen of most admirable qualities. She wanted peace between Duryodhana and the Pandavas. She was never selfish or narrow-minded.and never tried to take sides with or argue for her sons. She always stood for Dharma. When the Kurukshetra war was about to break out, Durhodhana, her eldest son used to approach her daily seeking her blessings for his success in the war. The great lady blessed him saying, “Yado Dharma, thato jaya:”
Success is there where there is Dharma. The maintainer of Dharma alone will have success.
Being a devout and god-fearing lady, had she blessed her son with success in the war, it would have been so. Then Adharma would have overcome Dharma. The world order would fall into disarray.
Although very just, fearless and stubborn for logic and truth, her voice was overshadowed by that of her evil son Duryodhana. She lamented on her cruel destiny even amidst bounty and opulence in abundance. In fact, her bad luck started from the day she was led to Hastinapura by her brother Sakuni, the evil genius. After escorting his sister to her husband’s abode, he never returned to his own kingdom. He had been injecting poisonous ill-advices to his nephews against the fair Pandavas. He wanted to wrestle out half the kingdom owed to the Pandavas by any stratagem. Sakuni was a crafty player in the game of dice and a crooked orator. He lured to his side Karna, the most cunning hero and a sworn enemy of the Pandavas. Each action of the trio – Sakuni, Duryodhana and Karna – hurt her, pained her.
At the end of the Mahabharata war, when she came to know of the sad death of the great generals, her sons, friends and relatives all alike, Gandhari could not control her grief. Even the Pandava scions were extirpated. She ran towards the battlefield along with her few remaining relatives and Shri Krishna. She bursted out in tears as she beheld the corpses, headless soldiers, limbless elephants, and dead horses scattered all over the battlefield. Rivers of blood were flowing in all directions. Vultures, jackals and foxes were devouring the corpses. She assumed that Krishna was the sole responsiblity for all these calamities. He could have prevented the war had he so desired.
Unable to bear her grief, she cursed Krishna thus: “Oh Krishna, within thirty-six years from now, all your relatives, ministers and friends would be extinguished in internal war and your kingdom would be in ruin. You will also meet your death in treachery.”
If a curse was to be effective even in Krishna’s case, what would have been the potency of a yogic and chaste lady! ­ n