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The Mystery of The Pandava ‘God-Fathers’ - 3
|by Indrajit Bandyopadhyay|
Continued from Previous Page
In Section CC of Adi Parva we find after the union of Yudhishthira and Draupadi was complete, ‘the priest Dhaumya, taking leave of Yudhishthira……went out of the palace.’ The other marriages were held day by day in succession, but Dhaumya had no role in it! Dhaumya did not give marriage to Pandavas except Yudhishthira, because he was father to Nakula and Sahadeva. As a father he could not act as priest. He did not act as priest in Bhima or Arjuna’s case too, lest his retirement in only Nakula-Sahadeva’s case raised any suspicion!
The Pandavas during their exile (both post-‘jatugriha’ and post-dice) were never without a father or mother! In the first part, they had a mother, and in the second part, a father!
So where does all this take us? What actually happened?
To speak of ‘actually’ would be an ‘actual’ pretension! Our reconstruction of the story is as follows.
Pandu’s sexual problem was infertility, not impotency. After the Digvijaya he went to the forest to clear up his psychological blockade, and also in search of herbal medicines. The news of Gandhari’s pregnancy reached them and caused worries over not having progeny. Pandu and Kunti certainly did not like the idea that Dhritarashtra’s son would inherit Pandu’s throne.
News reached again that Gandhari had a premature abortion. Pandu did not want to wait any more. He insisted that Kunti begot a son by niyoga, instead of waiting for his cure. The first choice was Vidura, because family blood should get the priority for Hastinapur-throne. Different interests mingled together in this choice, as well as in Vidura’s consent to enter his elder brother’s wife. He was discriminated against for his low birth. He agreed to ‘niyoga’ partly for his love for Kunti, partly for his religious inclinations which sanctioned ‘niyoga’ as an act of ‘dharma’, and partly for his ambition.
Vidura and Kunti had shared some mental relationship. Without consulting Kunti or Pandu, Bhisma brought and bought Madri to be Pandu’s second wife. Kunti had a tragic childhood and adolescence. Now her nuptial bliss was spoiled by Bhisma. In all her loneliness she found in the wise Vidura a compassionate friend and lover. Vidura too could not have been satisfied with his wife of a very ordinary merit. Here again, it was Bhisma’s choice for him. It was not an ideal match worthy of Vidura’s talent. Vidura found in Kunti the right ‘wave-length’, and perhaps, an impermissible ‘chemistry’ too!
Pandu might or might not have understood Kunti’s ‘platonic relationship’ with Vidura. Kunti loved Pandu truly. She protested at first, but later acceded to Pandu’s proposal of niyoga, mainly out of her love for him, partly for her love for Vidura, and partly for her political acumen in understanding the future of Hasinapur throne.
Yudhishthira was born out of the union of Vidura and Kunti.
Pandu wanted to have another son. As he lived in the forest, may be he was insecure about having only one son. Kindama was a Rishi who frequented their ashrama. They did not know that he was a pervert! Kunti chose Kindama by herself. Bhima was born. Kunti could not love this child at first, born of a union in which her womanhood was severely humiliated!
When Pandu insisted again, she firmly refused. Her firm resolution and counseling worked. Pandu could at last procreate. Arjuna was born. It was celebration and jubilation in the green forest outside, as well as in the dark forest of Pandu and Kunti’s mind. Yet Kunti remained dissatisfied, because this union was not very spontaneous. It was more of the nature of a religious ritual.
Now Madri wanted to have her share of progeny. So long she kept mum, because Pandu did not have the capability to gift her with a child. She disliked niyoga. Besides Pandu too did not have the courage to approach her for that! But now that Pandu had given birth to Arjuna, she wanted a child from him.
By now Pandu had decided to renounce the world. Perhaps, he realized how he had exploited Kunti. He certainly knew Kunti’s life story. Repentance stimulated his ‘Vairagya.’ After having procreated, he felt his worldly duties had been completed. Yet his mind was conflict-ridden because his duties for Madri were yet unfulfilled. At this crucial moment tragedy struck again in the form of Kindama.
Pandu killed Kindama. He saw Kindama in an act of bestiality, and could not control his anger and passion. This was the perverted man that humiliated his loving wife. Before dying, Kindama cursed him. Kindama admitted Pandu had a cause to kill him, but he could not accept that he should be killed during an act of sex, and that Pandu should not wait for the completion of the act!
Pandu’s ‘Vairagya’, coupled with his superstitious mind, accepted Kindama’s curse as the final curtain to his family life. What about Madri then? Pandu requested Kunti to give her the mantra. In other words, Pandu used Kunti yet again to convince Madri for niyoga!
Madri finally agreed. Otherwise, she could never get a child. Her choice of a Rishi was not her own. Perhaps, Vyasa suggested Dhaumya’s name! The birth of a twin calmed her. She had at last gained a bliss which Kunti could not. Yet she knew Kunti was one up! Her desire of a son from Pandu was still unfulfilled.
That was Arjuna’s birthday. It was spring in nature as well as in the mind of Pandu, Kunti and the Rishis. Arjuna’s birthday was being celebrated with much fanfare. A very joyful Pandu went to his favourite recess in the forest. Madri followed him in semi-transparent attire. She tempted him. She wanted physical relation with Pandu on the very birthday of Arjuna, to have a son like him. Pandu could not control himself. Tragedy struck again both for him and Madri. During the intercourse, and before completion of the act, like Kindama, he died in the arms of Madri. Perhaps, of a heart attack!
Kunti and the Pandavas were nearby. They came running, but it was all up. Kunti blamed Madri at first, but realized that at least Madri had the fortune to see Pandu’s passionate face! Madri lost all interest in life. She committed suicide.
Now the Rishis assembled. A decision had to be taken. Vyasa entered the scene. His script for the future of the Pandavas was already written.
A very practical view of the situation was taken. Various rumours were doing the round in Hasinapur about Pandu, Kunti and Madri. The orthodox Bharadwaja-Gautama Brahmana ministers of Dhritarashtra under the leadership of Kunika were spreading the rumours among the mass. One such rumour was that, an imbecile and impotent Pandu had long before renunciated material life, so he had no progeny. The pupose was to make Duryodhana acceptable to all, and at the same time give a final seal to Pandu’s lineage!
The Rishis knew that it would not be easy to convince the mass about the strange circumstances of the birth of the Pandavas. No one would believe that Arjuna alone was Pandu’s biological son, while the others were obtained by niyoga. Only the Rishis, Kunti and the Pandavas knew the truth.
Vyasa and the Rishis decided to counter myth with superior myth. This assembly took at least fifteen days time to arrive upon a decision and consider its future imports. A strong sympathy wave coupled with traditional and religious appeal would compel the mass to accept the myth of the birth of the Pandavas! The brahmanas on Vyasa’s side would confirm the myth as true! The royalty would be forced to yield thus!
The story of the ‘God-fathers’ of the Pandavas was born.
What other proofs of the birth of the Pandavas?
When Pandu, ‘tempted by the desire of having more children’ wanted another son, Kunti told him, 'The wise do not sanction a fourth delivery even in a season of distress. The woman having intercourse with four different men is called a Swairini (Heaton), while she having intercourse with five becometh a harlot.’
Kunti’s arguments don’t hold well with us, because we find her later approving five husbands for Draupadi. However, if we raise the point that Draupadi’s case was an ‘actual marriage’, whereas her own case was not, in other words there is a difference in 'patitva' and 'niyoga', then too we get a very significant point. Since, Kunti keeps ‘marriage’ outside the parlance of her ‘wise-sanctioned dictum’; she must also be keeping her marriage with Pandu outside the parlance of her ‘counting.’
Let us try to understand the point by a chart –
Sun/Durvasa Dharma/Vidura Vayu/Kindama Indra/Rishi Pandu
Now let us consider this chart –
Surya/Durvasa Dharma/Vidura Vayu/Kindama Pandu
If Pandu is the biological father of Arjuna, then Kunti had had intercourse with three men, other than Pandu. She had no intercourse with ‘four different men’ other than Pandu. That keeps her well within her ‘wise-sanctioned limit.’
A valid question arises here. If Pandu could really procreate Arjuna, why should Kunti object to having more progenies? Or, to be precise, why could not Kunti give birth to any more offspring of Pandu? To this, my answer is already given. Kindama’s curse-episode occurred after Arjuna’s birth, thereby interrupting Pandu’s new found bliss!
This new chart raises a new point! ‘Who is the third man?’ – Pandu could well have asked! That Kunti’s ‘counting’ (we hope, Pandu was not so weak in elementary arithmetic!) did not raise Pandu’s eyebrows is owing to the fact, Pandu knew Kunti had a ‘kanina’ son. Though this is not clearly stated in any Kunti-Pandu dialogue, in support of my guess, I will mention some reasons, quoting from the Mahabharata.
In the Malayalam variation of Mahabharata - 'Bharatam Pattu' by Ayyanappilla Asan, in the Sambhava Parva, Kunti revealed the birth of Karna to Pandu: 'I left him in the river since I was a maiden.'(Mahabharata Variations in Malayalam by A. Harindranath and A. Purushothaman)
Why were particular gods chosen to be the Pandava-fathers?
The Pandava fathers came in the order – Dharma/Yama, Vayu, Indra, and the Ashwins. But, conspicuous by his absence is another important God – Varuna!
In the story of Yima we find a clear metaphor for Yudhishthira's 'Dharma-rajya".
Vyasa, in his attempt to bring about a Deva-Asura cultural synthesis, conceived of Yudhishthira as the son of Yama/Yima. Yima is the first man of the 'Asuran' culture. Yama was accepted in the Ri-veda towards the end of the Vedic age. In Rig-veda some mentions are –
The first two hymns show Yama’s connection with Vashishtha, and the last one shows Yama’s connection with Bhrigu. We know, Vyasa was a Vashishtha, and Krishna had Bhrigu blood. Vyasa gives Yama/Dharma priority over Vayu and Indra, the foremost among Devas. It is also noteworthy that Vyasa, Krishna and Arjuna - the three Krishnas, who worked for this Synthesis, had Asura-blood in them!
Another interesting thing is that, according to the Avesta, Yima was the son of Surya! That makes both father and son (Surya and Dharma/Yama) have intercourse with Kunti. This is grossly immoral. Perhaps, it is another reason, why Karna’s father is Surya, thereby hinting at an immoral act by a father-figure like Durvasa on adolescent Kunti!
Vayu - Vayu is Kunti’s choice. 'Vayu is the Hindu god of wind. In Vedic times he was much revered as one of the Hindu Triad. After that age, in the Brahmanic era, he was reduced in status but he still continues to occupy a certain eminent position in the Hindu pantheon. Vayu roams all over the earth and the heavens though his home is in the north-west, a quarter which he rules exclusively. He is featured as a destructive god who has an intemperate character and is often subject to violent desires which he never strives to repress….. He is called "the bearer of perfumes" and is credited with being a benign force who is a constant companion of Vishnu'.
In Yoga, ‘Naga-Vayu’ carries out the function of belching, and it raises the conscience.
The description fits well with Bhima. He is the ‘breath’, the life-force of the Pandavas, the ‘vital-force or Prana’ (in Upanishadic sense) of the Pandavas. Without him, the Pandavas as a ‘body’ won’t survive! He also ‘raises the conscience’ of the Pandavas, when they mistake their ‘tamah’ to be ‘sattwa’!
Indra - Indra is relegated to the third choice of Pandu. In fact, in conceiving so, Vyasa has a double purpose. The Rig-vedic age saw the marginalization of Varuna by Indra. Vyasa (bearer of Varuna’s blood!) himself wanted to give birth to ‘children that shall be like unto Mitra and Varuna’ (Section CV of Adi Parva), when Satyavati called upon him for ‘niyoga’, yet he knew that Varuna had lost appeal to the popular mass. That is why none of the Pandavas is Varuna’s son. Besides, Vyasa himself being a Varuni, could hardly make it appropriate that his son Pandu’s wife gave birth in the semen of Vyasa’s own great-great grandfather! The new Mahabharatan age needed new hero in the form of Vishnu, one who blended in him Indra and Varuna – the protector-achiever and the preserver! Krishna fitted into that role. Arjuna was conceived as Indra’s son not only to relive the Vedic Indra myth by appealing to the tradition-adhering psyche of the mass, but also to drive home the point that Indra’s son in friendship with Vishnu’s avatara superseded Indra in might. The myth of Indra’s defeat at the hand of Arjuna in Khandava-prashtha was created later, to serve that purpose. Krihsna too was anti-Indra! He stopped Indra-worship in Vraja. In other words, Indra’s days were over. Vyasa drove the final nail in Indra’s coffin by painting him as a scandalous character in the Puranas and weak character in the Mahabharata!
Several hymns in the Rig-veda pre-shadows Krishna-Arjuna friendship and might! Some of the hymns are as follows – (Griffith’s translation)
Ashwins - The birth of Nakula and Sahadeva resembles the mythical birth of the Ashwins! Many hymns in the Rig-Veda particularly of 1st and 10th Mondala (of the age just previous to Mahabharatan age) pre-shadow activities of the Pandava twins! Let’s see some such hymns –
The Pandava fathers have rich symbolic significance. In my opinion they are as follows
1) Dharma/Yama – Religion – Dharma & Mokhsa – Yet locked in Kama-Artha
Vyasa perhaps, wants to depict the Pandava-rulers as embodiment of all those aspects.
There is one hymn in the Rig Veda – 10.25.14 – written by Vyasshwaputra Vaishhwa Rishi of Angira gotra - which clearly pre-supposes the Pandavas and Krishna – ‘And may the Sindhu of the floods, the Maruts, and the ASvin Pair, Boon Indra, and boon Visnu have one mind with us’ (Griffith’s Translation). Except Yama, we find all others here, but if we take Sindhu as representing the ‘Asura-culture’, then ‘Yima’ of Avesta is certainly there! The Bengali translation (of Ramesh Chandra Dutta) of ‘Sindhu of the floods’ is ‘Parjanya.’ If that meaning is taken, then we get the idea of ‘slaying demons (as Indra did)’, and ‘chastising the wicked (as Varuna did)’! In Rig-Veda 5.63, ‘Verse 2 and 9 describe Parjanya as a violent god, slaying demons like Indra and chastising the wicked like Varuna. Verses 3 to 5 describe thunderstorm and torrential rain (Monsoon) as a gift from a benevolent god, feeding plant and animal life, and "liberating the streams", an important mythological motive of the Rigveda.’ The description fits with Yima and therefore, Yudhishthira!
The Pandavas are also collectively the ‘Purusha’ of the ‘Purusha-sukta’ (Rig-Veda – 10.90), considering their ‘mentality’ or ‘temperament’.
RV 10.90.12 goes as follows –‘The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made. His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was produced’.
Yudhishthira – Brahmana – The mouth – Mouthpiece and face of the Pandavas – ‘I’ll speak on behalf of the Pandavas’
Arjuna – Kshatriya – The arms – The protector, acquirer and achiever – ‘Action always! I always want to be on the move!’
Bhima – Vaishya – The thigh – The main Support of the Pandavas, as well as breaker of others’ Thigh (like that of Duryodhana), i.e. enemies’ support! – ‘We must think in terms of gain. We must always avoid loss.’
Nakula and Sahadeva – Shudra – The feet – Serves and carries the Pandavas – ‘No questions! We’ll follow the footsteps of our elders and obey them’.
The Why Of Myth
The Kuru-war was as much a war of arms as Myths! The Kshatriyas fought with the former, the Brahmanas with the latter! Long before the Kuru-war, its ‘script’ was already written by Vyasa! Its seed was already implanted in Vyasa’s ‘Kalpaloka’.
Vyasa and the Rishis of his school appropriated the Rig-vedic myth of the important Gods and spread the myth of God-origin of the Pandavas to have great impact on the mass psyche of a Vedic Culture. The purpose was to project the Pandavas as ‘traditional forces’ as well as forces superseding the tradition in a New Age synthesis!
Vyasa had to do this to fulfill his dream of Deva-Asura cultural synthesis and also to inaugurate a Renaissance in Vedic culture!
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