Saturday, June 17, 2017

30. Duryodhana convinces his father to act against the Pandavas

Duryodhana became jealous of the accomplishments of Bhima and Arjuna.  He, in consultation with his brother  Duschasana, his uncle Sakuni and his friend Karna devised various plans to kill the Pandavas. But the Pandavas came unscathed from all these attempts. In deference to the counsel of Vidura, they didn’t  mention these attempts to anyone.

The citizens of the country, after  hearing about the accomplishments of the Pandavas and after observing the way they conducted themselves, began to speak highly of them at public places. Opinions were expressed in courtyards and other places of gathering that Yudhishtira possessed the qualifications to become the king.

The citizens felt that since Dhritarashtra was already considered not fit to be the king because of his visual handicap and Pandu was chosen the king, he could not become the king now.  With Bhishma having opted out long time back, they felt that installing Yudhishtira as the king was the right thing to do. Since Yudhishtira was truthful, kind, well accomplished in battle and well versed in Vedas and was respectful towards Bhishma and Dhritarashtra, he would  take proper care of  Bhishma, Dhritarashtra and his sons, they averred.

When these views reached Duryodhana’s ears, he became even more distressed.  Burning with jealousy, he went to his father and conveyed to him what he had heard. He pointed out that the citizens' stand was highly unfair to Dhritarashtra and his sons. He said that if this proposal was accepted, the kingdom would pass on only to Pandu’s descendants. “Being the eldest son, you should have become the king and if this had happened, we would have inherited the throne. But this did not happen because of your blindness. We and our children will be kept out of the royal line. We will have to depend on Pandu’s descendants even for food.  Please adopt a course that will save us from this perpetual distress,” he pleaded.

On hearing this, Dhritarashtra became upset, Fearing that his sons and their offspring would have to live a life of common people, despite his being a king. He thus  became inclined to consider plans for preventing  this from happening.

Duryodhana in consultation with his brother Duhsasana, uncle Sakuni  and friend Karna, devised a plan to kill the Pandavas and their mother.

Duryodhana went to Dhritarashtra and told him “Oh father, If, by some means, you can send the Pandavas to the town of Varanavata, then we need not have any fear of them.”

Dhritarashtra, after reflecting for a moment, replied, “Duryodhana! My brother Pandu was a man of virtues. He didn’t care for the pleasures of the world. He was devoted to all his relatives, particularly to me. He even gave me the kingdom that was bestowed on him. His son Yudhishtira is just like his father in being virtuous and in his devotion to me. He is also adored by the people and he has strong allies. So, how can we force him out of his ancestral kingdom? The ministers, counselors, the generals, the soldiers and others  were well maintained by Pandu. They will all support only the Pandavas. The citizens will kill all of us if we cause any harm to the Pandavas.”

Duryodhana replied, “What you say is true. But we have the power and the wealth. We can appease people by bestowing wealth and honour on them. The ministers and counsellors will stick with us since we have the power. We only have to send the Pandavas to Varanavata, through some gentle means. Once they are out, you can make me the king. After sovereignty is vested in me, Kunti and her sons can be asked to come back.”

Dhritarashtra said, “Duyodhana! I have also thought on these lines. But the sinfulness of this proposal has deterred me. Bhishma, Drona and others will never consent to the idea of sending the Pandavas out of this country. They consider us and the Pandavas equal. If we do such injustice to the Pandavas, we will  incur their wrath.”

Duryodhana replied, “Father! Bhishma will be neutral. Drona’s son Aswathaman is on my side. Drona will be on the same side as his son. Kripa will also go with his nephew Aswaththaman. Vidura has his sympathies with the Pandavas. But since he is dependent on us, he cannot act against us. So, go ahead and send the Pandavas to Varanavata.  That is the only way you can extinguish the grief that has been burning within me.”

Dhritarashtra began to relent.

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