Mahabharata: The Harvest of Hatred

I was never sure about Gandhari. Never sure about anything concerning her. Did she love me? Or did she not? I know she was devoted to me, but was that love? At times I felt she hated me more than she loved me. Her blindfold unnerved me. Everyone said she blindfolded herself because I was blind, the world of sight was denied to me and she did not want to enjoy the world that was denied to her husband. Though she never told me whether this was true or not, something told me it was not. It was not devotion to me that had made her blindfold herself. It was anger. It was a kind of blind fury.

She perhaps had a right to be furious with me. In her early youth, when Bheeshma sought her for me, she was one of the most beautiful women in the entire known world and, beyond any doubt, one of the most accomplished. All Gandhara is famous for its accomplishments. Music, art, sculpture – Gandhara is the birthplace of all that, the finest things that make life worth living. She was accomplished in these, as a princess of Gandhara was expected to be. But she was renowned for her knowledge of politics and economics too – subjects in which she, at her tender age, rivaled men who had spent long lives in their study. It is this woman that had been forced to marry a blind prince – a blind prince who did not even have the right to the throne of his ancestors. She agreed to marry me because she had no other choice. It was a polite request that Bheeshma had sent to her father, but everyone knew that a request from Bheeshma was an inviolable command. You defied it at your peril. In this case, the peril could have involved anything including the death of the king and the royal family, at least of all the male members, and the sovereignty of the country. She bent her head before Bheeshma’s will and her father’s request to comply with it, but the revolt that rose up like a whirlwind in her heart when she learnt whom she was to marry never died. Never ever. She had reasons to be furious with me.

A blind man has eyes that others do not have and with those eyes I felt this cold fury emanating from her whenever she was near me, cold fury directed at me. As though she was silently accusing me for all her misfortunes symbolized by her blindfold. That blindfold – I had never suggested it, she had done it all by herself, I never wanted it, I hated it and yet I felt as though she was constantly rebuking me for being responsible for it. As though she constantly held me responsible for denying her all the pleasures of the world. As though I had taken away her right to be happy, forever. She never spoke one harsh word to me, never in all her life, never protested even when she had a right to. All those children born to me by different women in the palace, she never made a comment about them. I would have loved to hear her shout at me, to scream at me, but she never did that. She just kept silent. At times I suspect if I didn’t take all those women just to hear her shout at me, scream at me.

Of course, that is not true, certainly not completely true. I had this constant need for women which Gandhari refused to fulfill. She never gave herself to me happily. There was no ardour in her love for me. A man needs his woman to long for him. To come to him, or at least to wait for him, with ardent desire flaring up like fire in her heart, all over her body, in her blood and flesh, the fire of passionate yearning blazing up like a jungle fire at his touch and enveloping him threatening to devour him up, to reduce him to ashes. Her desire should climb all over him, smothering him, suffocating him. Her need for him should be like a torrential flood that inundates everything on its way, pulls out mighty trees by their roots and casts them into the water, plucks out mammoth rocks on the banks and hurls them downstream. But Gandhari had no desire for me. She gave herself to me because it was her duty to do so. And she hated herself for doing it, hated me for making her do it.

In any case, my need for women was more than what Gandhari alone could have fulfilled. Women for me were an insatiable need. Perhaps I was trying to compensate for what I had lost. No, not sight, not just sight. But what I had lost because I was sightless. Power. I was the eldest Kuru in my generation, born to be emperor, to rule over an empire, created through niyoga especially to be the emperor of the Kurus, but the fact that I was blind denied my throne to me. It took all power away from me. The weak Pandu was given my throne. The eldest of the Kurus had no royal power. I couldn’t rule over men and their affairs. I couldn’t conquer nations. But women – I could have power over them. I could submit them to my will. I had enough power to do that. And I had more than enough strength to do that. I had the power of a wild elephant in rut in me – and I had its needs. Always. Perpetually.

No, Gandhari alone could never have satisfied me, even if she had given herself happily to me. But she never gave herself to me happily. Never loved me. Never needed me.

There have been times when I have wondered if she loved her own children. Did she ever truly love Duryodhana and Dushshasana? Or Dushshala? Ever once? From her heart? At Duryodhana’s birth she had asked me to get rid of him! Can anyone imagine a thing like that? Gandhari had asked me to get rid of Duryodhana, to abandon him, or better still, to kill him, as soon as he was born. Bad omens, she had told me. Bad omens everywhere. With his first cry, the child had brayed like an ass. Everything ugly, everything inauspicious, everything that was sinister, had responded to that cry. Donkeys, jackals, dogs, vultures, owls, crows, all had readily responded to his cry and filled the whole city with an evil cacophony of ominous noises that portended dreadful calamities. That is what she had told me. She wanted me to expose Duryodhana to death. To kill her own newborn child!

Well, she had tried to kill Duryodhana herself. And failed. That was before he was even born, while he was still in her womb. Like Madayanti, queen of the Ikshwaku king Kalmashapada of yore had done, she too had picked up a stone and hit her womb with it again and again. Until what was in her womb had come out: a bloody mass of flesh, with no shape to it. It should already have been dead because of her attack on it with the stone, as Gandhari had wanted. But somehow Sage Vyasa, my father, had managed to save its life and do whatever was needed to make it human. 
Gandhari had enough willpower to try to kill what was in her womb. Enough willpower to make the decision to do it and enough willpower to endure the physical agony of it. Just as she had the willpower to keep that blindfold all her life. Imagine this. She had that blindfold on her eyes the day we were married and she kept it there, through all the triumphs of our life, through all our tragedies. It was there in its place when Duryodhana was born, it was there when he met with his death, it was there when we left for the jungle for wait for our death. That is the kind of will that Gandhari had. She knew how to deny life to herself. She knew how to hate.

Poor Duryodhana was a child of hatred. Gandhari hadn’t married me happily, hadn’t arrived at Hastinapura with her blindfold happily. She hadn’t given herself to me happily. Duryodhana was conceived in a moment when her heart was full of loathing for me. She gave her body to me because she had no other choice, but she refused to surrender anything else to me. Her mind, her heart, her love, all her positive feelings, she held it all back from me. To me she gave only her body and her hatred. And poor Duryodhana was conceived in that hatred. Conceived in a physical body offered to me passively in unspeakable abhorrence. And all the months he remained in her womb, she fed him her hatred.

Gandhari never forgave me that Bheeshma had forced her father to give her to me. 
No wonder Duryodhana was evil. I knew he was evil. I knew he would be evil – long before he was born. I didn’t need omens to tell me he was. The hatred in his mother’s heart at the moment of his conception, months before that conception, and all the months following that conception until he was born – that had ensured that Duryodhana would be born evil. A child conceived in hatred, nurtured in his mother’s womb in hatred, is bound to be so.

Just as Kamsa was. Krishna’s uncle Kamsa. Jarasandha’s son-in-law Kamsa. One of the wickedest men who lived in my lifetime. I have heard it said that his mother was taken against her will by a wicked Gandharva while she was with her friends in a valley far away from her home. And that was how Kamsa was born. He too was thus conceived and raised in hatred. His mother detested with all her being the child that was growing in her womb. And after he was born, every time she looked at him, the humiliation, the loathing, the burning shame of those moments came back to her. Just as it happened to Gandhari in Duryodhana’s case.

No wonder Kamsa turned evil. And no wonder Duryodhana turned evil. The union of a man and a woman to bring forth new life into the world should be the most beautiful thing in the world. Done as an act of worship. In reverence. In humility. In adoration. In celebration.

True I have not always done that act in that mood. Often I have done that act in pure lust. In anger. In fury and frustration. In despair. In fact, I don’t think I have ever done it in reverence, or humility, in adoration or in celebration. It was always a desperate act for me, desperate and bitter. Full of spite. An act of emptying the poison in me into a woman. An act of conquering a woman, submitting her to my will. An act of degrading women, humiliating her, of demeaning her, shaming her. Gandhari’s complete rejection of me, her chillness towards me, her chillness towards life itself, drove me to fury and frustration, drove me to despair and bitterness. Drove me to all those women. It also made it sure that it would always be an ugly act.

But Duryodhana had a right to be conceived in love and not in hatred. And he had a right to be brought up with love and tenderness.

Gandhari never loved her children. There was no love left in Gandhari once she discovered her fate. There was no love left in her to give anyone. Gandhari was a living corpse, a living corpse of bitterness. Duryodhana never received her love – his mother’s love, his most basic human right. Or her care. He was brought up not by his mother, but by the servants.

And by his uncle Shakuni, Gandhari’s brother who had come with her and never left Hastinapura. A man whose aversion and hostility for the Kurus knew no bounds. His talented, beautiful sister had been forced to marry a blind prince obsessed with lust. Gandhari’s marriage to me was not only a personal humiliation for him, but a national shame.

And that is what I pitied Duryodhana. That is why I felt guilty towards him. That is why I gave in to him so often, again and again, even when I knew he was evil, he was wrong, what he was doing would bring destruction not only to others, but to himself too.

I was driven by guilt. Guilt about which I could have done nothing, except to give in. That is why I refused to punish him for his sins – never ever.

How could I have? For he was not responsible for what he was. He was not responsible for his nature. He was not responsible for his wickedness.

I was. His mother was. And Bheeshma was, because he had created this loveless situation, this loveless marriage.

But Duryodhana was not.

No one can hate another person as a woman can hate her husband, or a husband his wife. Theirs is the most intimate of human relations and theirs could be the bitterest enmity too. Gandhari hated me with all her being, in spite of serving me dutifully, never erring in her service to me. Hated me with an eloquent hatred that never failed to communicate to me.

Duryodhana had said once, much later in his life: Janami dharmam na cha me pravrttih, janamyadharmam na cha me nivrttih; kenapi devena hrdi sthitena yatha niyuktosmi tatha karomi. He knew what dharma was, what adharma was, but he could never follow dharma, nor abstain from adharma; it was as though some powerful deity was seated in his heart and he acted as directed by him.

Poor Duryodhana! Perhaps he never understood the nature of that deity who was far more powerful than he was. I knew him. He was his mother’s hatred for me. For me and for all the Kurus, which included him too.

That is why I could forgive him all his crimes. A thousand times.

I know I should have punished him on that day when I learnt that he had poisoned Bheema and tried to kill him in Pramanakoti. Considering how young he was, the cunning Duryodhana had shown in planning and executing his wicked programme to get rid of Bheema forever was shocking. He had visualized each step of action in its minutest details and supervised its execution with extreme thoroughness. But for his evil purpose, what he had done should have deserved universal appreciation. With that action, he showed he could one day become a highly competent king – competent and evil. He had selected the place where Bheema would be eliminated with extreme care, the whole programme there sounded absolutely innocent, the items of food were selected with great taste and taking the tastes of each of the participants into consideration, particularly of Pandu’s sons, the games were appropriate for the occasion and even the water sports that came towards the end of it showed Duryodhana’s genius – it exhausted the inexhaustible Bheema completely, who had already been given poison along with his food. It was a wonder that Bheema came back alive – or maybe, it was the decree of the gods that he should have.

Duryodhana had kept it all a secret from me – even from my spies. But I learnt of it soon after it happened.

I should have punished Duryodhana then. But I remembered the loveless world in which he was conceived and had grown up. I remembered that monster seated deep in his heart. And I forgave him.

Again I should have punished him when he plotted to kill Kunti and her sons in the house of lac. Sending them to Varanavata was his plan – and maybe his uncle Shakuni too was behind it. But the plan was fiendishly evil and I suspected nothing and allowed myself to be persuaded to send Kunti and her sons there, in the name of vacationing there for a while. In fact, except to blindly trust Duryodhana and do what he asked me to do, I didn’t have to do anything. The plan was so cunning that Yudhishthira readily fell into the trap – he was always a fool who believed in appearances, extremely gullible and, for these reasons, thoroughly unfit to be king. When Duryodhana told me how beautiful the place was and how wonderful the fair there was and asked me to talk to Yudhishthira about, I readily did. Unknown to me others had been praising the place and the fair in the presence of Yudhishthira too. The result was exactly what the deceptions had intended: Yudhishthira himself came to me and sought my permission to go there, which I gave him happily. It was only then that I learnt how Duryodhana had sent Purochana there months ago to fill the walls and floor of the house in which Kunti and her sons would be staying with lac and clarified butter so that it would catch fire easily and go up in flames in moments before the people inside had any chance to escape.

I should have punished Duryodhana then. But I remembered the loveless world in which he was conceived and had grown up. I remembered that monster seated deep in his heart. And I forgave him.

I do not know how, but Kunti and her sons escaped the fire and were safe. I wonder why they never let me know they were alive and safe – they would have been most welcome back in Hastinapura. But perhaps they were afraid of Duryodhana – by now most people, including me, had suddenly realized the reigns of power were really not in my hands anymore, but my son had taken them over. Frankly, I was in awe of him – so young and yet so powerful. Besides, Duryodhana had a way with words which I did not have, and the fierce loyalty he had already begun to command among people, including the most powerful in the palace, was almost scary.

Kunti and her sons eventually reached Panchala and there, dressed as brahmanas, they participated in the swayamvara of Draupadi and Arjuna won Drupada’s beautiful daughter. Asked to do so by Kunti, all the five brothers together married Draupadi, something unheard of in these days, something that disturbed me deeply but they quoted precedence and said they had the support of Sage Vyasa. Yudhishthira came back here victorious, bringing with him Draupadi and the friendship of the Panchalas. He was the crown prince when they had left for Varanavata and he had already gained name as a competent ruler loved by the people. When he came back, his position as the crown prince should have gone back to him. But Duryodhana refused.

I should have punished Duryodhana then. But I remembered the loveless world in which he was conceived and had grown up. I remembered that monster seated deep in his heart. And I forgave him.

Duryodhana persuaded me to give part of the kingdom to Yudhishthira instead of all of it. Khandavaprastha – an uninhabitable, uncultivable, wild jungle, occupied mostly by the Nagas – that is what I gave them. And yet they prospered there. With Krishna’s aid, Arjuna freed the jungle of the Nagas and cleared it – a superhuman feat, considering the Pandavas now had no arms with them nor other resources required for such a project. Indraprastha was built in its place – of which I heard that it was superior to all cities on earth and could vie with even the cities in Swarga. The rajasooya Yudhishthira performed there was superior to anything that I had heard of. 
The number of Brahmana scholars who had stayed with him during the entire period of the rajasuya was eighty-eight thousand, and he had given each of them thirty beautiful young women in his service. Ten thousand other Brahmanas were served their meals in plates of pure gold at the palace every day. Wealth had poured in from all over the earth - the list of kings who had come in person with gifts or had sent them included the Yavanas, the Romakas, the Chinas, the Shakas, the Vikings and others from across the oceans, apart from every single king from within Aryavarta.

Queues of kings who waited at the palace gates stretched for miles. The gifts each had brought were so abundant they had to be loaded on elephants and in huge carts. 
The gifts included endless quantities of jewels, gold, gems, and other precious stones; elephants, camels, horses, cows, donkeys and sheep; swords, scimitars, hatchets, battle axes, daggers, maces, bows and arrows; chariots, carts, other vehicles; hides of rare animals, priceless blankets inlaid with gold and rare silk… There were other interesting gifts – the gift of the kings from the coastal regions, for instance, was thousands of exquisite young girls from the Karpasika country, all slender-waisted, of luxuriant hair, decked in gold.

The acknowledgement was universal: Yudhishthira’s wealth exceeded that of every region abounding in wealth – the Himalayas, the oceans, mines of gold and precious jewels, all.

Yudhishthira, in his generosity, had made Duryodhana in charge of receiving these gifts. His hands ached in acknowledging so much wealth. And he hated every moment of doing it. The plotting had begun while he was still at Indraprastha. It was finalized on his way back, with the help of Shakuni. What followed was an invitation to Yudhishthira to play dice with Duryodhana at Hastinapura.

The tragedy that followed is known to the whole world. Yudhishthira lost everything: all his jewels, all his chariots and horses, all his wealth and all his kingdom and then one by one he wagered all his brothers and lost them. He then offered himself as a wager and, losing, became a slave of Duryodhana. And to crown the shame of it all, the next wager was the wife of the Pandavas herself, Drupada’s daughter. When she too was lost, what took place in the dice hall of Hastinapura was the most shameful event in the long history of the Kurus. Draupadi was in her periods and was wearing a single cloth as custom required and, in that state, she was dragged by her hair into the middle of the assembly of kings and attempts were made to humiliate her to unheard of measures. The protest came not as much from within the dice hall as from the world outside – owls hooted, hyenas laughed, vultures screeched, donkeys brayed, dogs whined, jackals wailed, men and women screamed in hideous terror. And the blood-curdling cries seemed to be coming from everywhere – from every part of the city, from inside the palace walls and, mysteriously, even from within the dice hall. Soon the elements themselves seemed to be protesting. The angry protest of the earth was heard, thunderous heavy sounds, as though the land itself was going to collapse as a mountain does under a quake. Terrified, I released the Pandavas and Draupadi from their bondage and allowed them to go away with all their wealth and kingdom.

I should have punished Duryodhana then. But I remembered the loveless world in which he was conceived and had grown up. I remembered that monster seated deep in his heart. And I forgave him.

A furious and bitter Duryodhana wept at the loss and I couldn’t stand his pain. When he persuaded me to call the Pandavas back for yet another game of dice, I agreed. Yudhishthira came back, as he was honour-bound to come back, played the game against a new wager. This time the condition was that the losers would lose everything they owned and spend twelve years in jungles, followed by a year living incognito, during which, if they were discovered, they would repeat the twelve year period of life in jungles and the one year life incognito, in repeated cycles. This time too Shakuni, playing for Duryodhana, played with loaded dice and won by that fowl means. Yudhishthira lost everything. The Pandava men were not allowed to take even the clothes they wore. Draupadi left in the bloodstained cloth she was in. That evening the sun seemed to hurry away but lamps were not lit in homes, worship was not held in temples, and the Brahmanas refused to perform the sandhyas.

I should have punished Duryodhana then. But I remembered the loveless world in which he was conceived and had grown up. I remembered that monster seated deep in his heart. And I forgave him.

The thirteen-year period was over and then a message for peace came from Yudhishthira through a brahmana. He said he wanted to avoid a war at any cost and requested that their part of the kingdom be given back to them, now that the terms of the dice game had been completed. But of course, Duryodhana would have none of it. A war seemed inevitable. But I knew the Pandavas would listen to me even when Duryodhana did not. I sent Sanjaya to the Pandavas to persuade them once again to avoid the war at all costs. They should stick to the practice of peace and contentment, I told them. Pacifism at all costs. Avoid the war in the interest of all, for the survival of the Kurus, that is what I told them.

It was Krishna who came in the form of an emissary this time. Krishna made it clear at the very beginning that he had not come to beg, his demand would be small, but he would be firm about it. He refused to accept the hospitality offered by Duryodhana and instead, stayed with Vidura. Give the Pandavas five villages if not their half the kingdom, he said, and avoid the war. Duryodhana refused. He said he would not give so much land as can be pierced by the sharpest needle.

I called Gandhari to try to persuade her son, to show him the path of sense. But she too failed. Duryodhana was adamant. Walking out rudely from the assembly, what he did was to plan to capture Krishna and throw him in prison and fight with the Pandavas, who would be weak without the strength of Krishna. An emissary of the stature of Krishna, and a close relative to boost – Duryodhana’s wickedness didn’t hesitate to plot a plan to seize him by force against all conventions of civilized behavior. Krishna showed in the assembly who he was. The war had by now been declared for all practical purposes. The destruction of the Kurus now became inescapable as though it had been ordained by the gods themselves. I knew the holocaust that was to follow would leave nothing behind. I could see before my blind eyes an infernal conflagration swallowing up the whole land with all its kshatriyas. This war was going to be the fiercest ever fought on this land – and would forever remain so. All because of Duryodhana. Just because of him and his adamant wickedness.

I should have punished Duryodhana then. But I remembered the loveless world in which he was conceived and had grown up. I remembered that monster seated deep in his heart. And I forgave him.

And then everything was lost. One by one all my children were sacrificed at the bloodthirsty altar of the war. The first of my sons to go were Senapati, Jalasangha, Sushena, and Veerabahu, offered by Bheema to all-devouring time in the sacrifice of war. Then one by one the turns of the others came. My son Dushshasana met with a death no human being deserves. I still shrink back in horror as I recall the words of Sanjaya describing how gruesomely Bheema had slaughtered him.

Pandu’s son had rushed at him like a lion in wild fury and attacked him right in the presence of Duryodhana and Karna. When Dushshasana fell, Bheema, his whole body quivering with rage, climbed on his chest and challenged all his enemies to come and save Dushshasana if they could. Then standing on his chest, Bheema savagely plucked out the mighty arm of my son from his fallen body – the arm with which he had touched the daughter of Drupada. By now Bheema had crossed the borders of humanity and was in the kingdom of fiends. Lifting the plucked out hand in his hands, he thrashed Dushshasana with it again and again and then, still not content, he tore Dushshasana’s chest open and drank his heart-blood, fulfilling the vow he had taken in the dice hall thirteen years ago. Yet far from content, he pushed my son back to the ground as he tried to get up, without an arm and his heart open, and then, roaring, he cuts off my child’s head. He raised it above his head, drank the blood flowing down from it – slowly, deliberately, enjoying every drop of it. "How delicious is the taste of my enemy’s blood! It is tastier than my mother’s milk. Tastier than honey or clarified butter. Tastier than good wine made from honey. It is tastier than the sweetest drink on earth,” Bheema had then said his heart still filled with wrath.

My Duryodhana was hiding in the lake at the end of the war when he was humiliated, challenged and brought out. He fought nobly. He could have selected any of the other sons of Pandu for a fight, Yudhishthira had given him the right to choose, but his integrity wouldn’t allow him to choose anyone other than his greatest enemy, Bheema. The mighty Bheema’s might was not enough to crush him, though my son was totally exhausted by then, and eventually Pandu’s son had to use shameful treachery to vanquish him.

My Duryodhana was a noble kshatriya, a glorious one, the likes of whom are born rarely on this earth. Not more than once in an age. He had the power of a thousand elephants in him. He was generous. His subjects loved him and he never did a single thing that went against them. His befriending Karna in the arena was a noble act. Even in his last moments, when he knew he did not have much time to live, when he was called out for his last battle, he was every inch a hero. I remember Sanjaya’s words describing him then. He had said: “There was neither agitation nor fear in Duryodhana then, neither depression nor worry. He stood there in the battlefield, fearless like a lion. Holding his mace lifted up, he stood there unflinching, like Mt. Kailasa itself.” That was my son.

Later, after he had fallen, he had said: “I have studied the scriptures systematically, I have given plenty in charity, I have ruled the earth stretching right up to the oceans, stood with my foot on the heads of my enemies and now I am dying a death longed for by every kshatriya – death in the battlefield.” There was great pride in my son’s voice as he said he had enjoyed the rarest of pleasures on earth and while his enemies would still be living a miserable life on the earth, he would be enjoying still more pleasures in heaven. One thing even his fiercest enemies would admit – that my son knew no fear even in the moments of his death.

What greater proof do you need for the glory of my son than that as he lay fallen in the battlefield waiting for his death, the heavens showered rains of fragrant flowers on him? If donkeys had brayed and owls had hooted and vultures had screeched at his birth, now the musicians of the gods stood in the skies and played the most melodious music in his adoration, and Apsaras sang celestial songs. Throngs of Siddhas stood in the heaven above and said, “Splendid indeed! Great indeed is Duryodhana!” And then the softest of breezes began to blow filled with divine aromas, the ten directions were filled with the most effulgent light, and the sky turned the purest blue and shone like the vaidhoorya jewel. Seeing this splendorous heavenly worship offered to my fallen son, even Krishna felt ashamed of what he had done. Such was my son.

True he hated the Pandavas. And that brought about his ruination. But he was not responsible for that hatred. It was his mother’s hatred seated deep in his being. The unknown deity he spoke of as seated in his heart, controlling him in spite of himself. His mother’s hatred for me, for all Kurus. Perhaps for him too. Because he was a true Kuru.

I remember she never once blessed him with victory. Duryodhana came to her every morning of those eighteen days of the war. And she never had a word of blessing for him. Yato dharmas tato jayah – she said on every one of those eighteen days. Where there is dharma, there shall be victory. That is not what one comes to hear from one’s mother as he goes out to the battlefield. Day after day he came to her and day after day she repeated those empty words, those unloving, harsh, hurting, pitiless, cruel words.

And did dharma win in the end? Were the sons of Pandu righteous? Krishna – was he righteous? Did they fight the battle righteously? Was killing Bheeshma hiding behind the eunuch Shikhandi righteous? Was lying about Drona’s son’s death and slaughtering him as he sat in his chariot in meditation after laying down his arms righteous? Was crushing my son’s thighs against all rules of the mace righteous? 
And what did they do to their own people? Didn’t they betray their nearest and dearest ones? Wasn’t Ghatotkacha, so devoted to the Pandavas, used as a bait for Karna’s mighty weapon? Was it that the sixteen-year-old child Abhimanyu rushed forward to battle all alone with half a dozen of the greatest warriors of the day along with their armies? Or was it that the situation was so manoeuvred that he in his nobility rushed forward thirsting for glory? Abhimanyu was a sacrifice they made at the altar of victory and from that day the sin of killing him was heavy on the minds of all the mighty warriors who were involved in that heinous act. Exactly as Krishna had wanted, as the Pandavas had wanted. And I lost my only son-in-law Jayadratha because of that – he too was killed not in a noble battle but through treachery. 
I was shocked by what Ashwatthama did to those who were asleep in the Pandava camp that last night of the war. If what was done to Draupadi in the dice hall was the wickedest act by any Kuru before the battle, then Ashwatthama’s was the wickedest act in the war. And yet why did a man like Ashwatthama, who loved the Pandavas no less than anyone else did, no less than he loved the Kauravas, do such a thing? Loyalty to my son. Fury at what had been done to him, at how he had been treated. Pity for Duryodhana. Perhaps guilt that he too could do nothing for the noble Duryodhana, all said and done.

Guilt. And hatred for the Pandavas who had reduced my son to what he had become.

There is yet another side to it all. Perhaps by not punishing Duryodhana I was punishing his mother. Ours was a relation based on hatred and just as she wanted to punish me, perhaps I wanted to punish her too. And what better way to punish a woman than to send her child on the way to destruction? Perhaps by not punishing Duryodhana, I was punishing her. That is how hatred works. Hatred creates such a vicious environment around one that one can walk into destruction and yet not do anything to hold oneself back, send one’s nearest and dearest one’s to their doom and yet do nothing about it.

That is why hatred is the purest evil. And the harvest of hatred will be hatred.


More by :  Satya Chaitanya

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Comment But, Sir, how would you fit in/explain the instance, when Gandhari wanted to bless Duryodhana, by seeing him all naked, opening her blindfold that one single time, and when Krishna, contrived and persuaded Duryodhana to at least wrap a banana leaf around his his waist to cover his private parts ?

Ur Vaasantik
20-May-2012 07:57 AM

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