continued from "The Other Duryodhana in Classical Mahabharata" ...
3. Dharma-Yuddha: What is it? Dharma vs Adharma, or Dharma vs Dharma?
If we attempt to interpret the Pandavas as Deva-forces, then let us remember that the Asura-entity is equally inherent to Pandavas. I am using the word Asura here in its “newly acquired” meaning of Anti-God, and not in its original sense as found in ancient portions of RgVeda (i.e. Asura = Breath of God) where all Major Gods are hailed as Asuras.
This newly acquired meaning of Asura is akin to the newly acquired negative connotation of Daanava.
The Pandavas except Arjuna are incarnates of ex-Indras according to one Mythical Narrative in Mahabharata, and in later RgVedic terms, ex-Indras are Vrtras, or Anti-Indras. Thus, the Pandavas themselves represent Old and New Power, and therefore, the Pandavas against Kuru/Duryodhana cannot be interpreted as strife between New Kshatriya Order vs. Old Kshatriya Order. So much for the scholars who insist on such interpretation!
If Duryodhana is mastermind of many evils regarding Pandavas, the Pandavas are equally so. It is not that they were entirely passive victims of Duryodhana’s oppression. In fact, as the Kurukshetra War testifies, the Pandavas believed and acted more than Duryodhana the principle of “Everything is Fair in Love and War.”
What I want to say is: since we cannot logically take the argument of Good vs. Evil to describe Pandavas vs. Kauravas conflict, what could be other possible reasons that Krishna’s Ideal of Dharma-Raajya would not allow Duryodhana a niche? What sort of Dharma-Raajya did Krishna conceive that Duryodhana’s thighs had to be smashed?
As I have discussed elsewhere, Duryodhana’s mangled thighs might be a powerful metaphor for Kuru alienation from Vaishya support (in RgVeda, Vaishya = Thigh) or people’s support (Vaishya from vish = people). If Common People were Content in Duryodhana’s reign, why would the poet metaphorically represent Duryodhana’s loss of “support?” What is this “support”? What is the nature of this “support”? Why did Duryodhana lose “support”?
The alienation from Vaishya may be metaphoric. Vaishya represents Artha; and Artha-Centricity is certainly alienation of Artha from the true Artha (meaning) and purpose of Artha.
Another interpretation is possible. Vyasa compares Duryodhana’s thighs with Vajra (particularly when he invites Draupadi to sit on his thighs), and on many occasions compares Duryodhana with Indra. Is it Vyasa’s way of saying that Duryodhana-Vajra had to be smashed?
This brings us to an interesting situation. We know Vajra is Indra’s Danda. Does smashed Danda suggest consequence of the corruption of Danda? Danda, let us remember, is Governance – and not just punishment or chastisement. In what way was Duryodhana’s Governance corrupted?
If Duryodhana is Indra and Vajra; so are the Pandavas. Thus, Pandava opposed to Duryodhana is not Indra opposed to Asura; but Indra opposed to Indra.
How is that possible?
To understand, we need to have some understanding of Indra as portrayed in RgVeda.
3.1. Old Indra, Tyrannous Indra and New Indra
In RgVeda, we have all three.
Well, in RgVeda true; but not exclusively in RgVeda.
It is known to all that Indra is not a single individual; not even a specific gender, that is, we have Female Indra too in RgVeda. There is at least one Rk, where Indra is called Devi.
The “New Indra” is Ideal King, Ideal Man, and the Arrester of Maatsyanyaaya – the Dandadhara. This is the Indra the Rishis cherish and worship (and Kautilya wants and Ashoka imitates)… and their spirit here is one of Bhakti. This Indra represents Material-Spiritual Balance; or Balance of Purusharthas; or Internal-External Balance.
The “New Indra” is opposed to “Old Indra” and Tyrannous Indra.
Though, not mentioning Bhakti as Bhakti, the Spirit of Bhakti is clearly traceable in many RgVedic hymns (surely, Bhakti called by any other name smells as sweet; and Bhakti is as Ancient as the Human Heart). So, I do not agree with scholars who suggest Bhakti arriving at a later date (- aka the Post-Buddha or Post-Ashokan fixation!)
Well, the Rishis worship the Tyrannous Indra too – but out of fear.
Power is a great responsibility; often it degenerates into Tyranny. The Tyrant has to be rejected. The “New Indra” emerges and removes the Tyrant. This is actually restoration of Balance, because Tyranny stems from Disbalance.
Sometimes the “Old Indra” and Tyrannous Indra are one and same. That “Old Indra” is Vrtra, Indra’s arch rival.
Ironically, in Yaajnavalka’s wisdom in Shatapatha Braahmana, Vrtra never dies; he resides in Indra-Shakra’s stomach – and it is Indra himself who out of compassion allows him to survive. Metaphorically that suggests, even “New Indra” carries within himself the very seed of his own degeneration. Such is the Law of Kaala-Time.
We have seen, the Pandavas excepting Arjuna are all incarnates of “Old Indra” or ex-Indras. The Pandava-Purusha is therefore, a combination or Synthesis of Old and New. The Synthesis is not an easy one; and Vyasa shows that through the conflict narratives of Yudhishthira-Bhima and Yudhishthira-Arjuna. Yet the Synthesis is not only workable but also “succeeds.”
Interestingly, it is this Tension within that perfects the Synthesis. No Tension – and we get a Jarasandha – his joints are smooth – and that makes him a Tyrant or “Old Indra” to be torn apart by another “Old Indra” incarnate – Bhim.
However, within the Pandava-Purusha the Paradox is: if Arjuna is “New Indra” or Shakra, why is ex-Indra-incarnate Yudhishthira the chosen Dharma-Indra?
Actually this is no Paradox; and the clue lies in the identity of Mahabharata itself.
Vyasa wanted to create new Literature – Mahabharata, new Culture – Mahabharata, moving away from the Vedas. Yet he needed the Vedas; and that’s why Mahabharata is ‘Vedaan Pancamaan’. In other words, Vyasa needed the Old to create the New. The Old here is the Tradition – the Vedas.
Yudhishthira is the “Old Indra” – the Tradition; and with the help of different degrees of Oldness or Newness (Bhima, Nakula-Sahadeva) and the “New Indra” Arjuna, he establishes Dharma-Raajya. Yudhishthira, the Face or Head of the Pandava-Purusha, represents the Synthesis of “Old Indra” and “New Indra”; it is this Synthesis that is Dharma. Dharma is never Old or never New. Dharma is the harmony or Balance or Synthesis of Old and New.
In a previous article I explained the Upanishadik significance of the Fall of Draupadi and Pandavas. Here, in brief, (after all this article is dedicated to Duryodhana!), I offer another of my views.
I suppose, the Svargaarohana Parvan throws light on the complexity of Old and New.
The order of Death of the Pandavas is reverse to their Physical age. I think, that is Vyasa’s message on the actuality of Old and Young.
Nakula-Sahadeva and Arjuna fall owing to their Ahamkaara; and Bhima falls owing to his Hunger. Therefore, Ahamkaara and Hunger are the two symptoms of Oldness. Interestingly, Arjuna is the most prominent “New Indra”; however, Ahamkaara makes him Older to Yudhishthira, and even to Bhima.
Sahadeva falls first owing to his Ahamkaara in his Wisdom; then Nakula for his Ahamkaara in the beauty of his Body. This is an interesting Mahabharatan wisdom. Brain-Centricity makes one Older than Body-Centricity. Academicians with rounded shoulders beware!
Arjuna’s Ahamkaara in his Heroism makes him Younger to his Younger brothers, but Older to his Older brothers.
Bhima’s Hunger or Appetite-Centricity is a matter of Jiiva-Dharma. Paradoxically, the Appetite keeps one Younger. Here we are back to Upanishadik Wisdom. In the Upanishads, Anna and Praana are the two Highest Gods. In Vyasa’s vision too, Jiiva-Dharma is the Highest Dharma.
If Jiiva-Dharma is younger to Brain-Centricity, that explains why the farmers and labourers, whom the Brain-Centric ones have always looked down upon, have survived down the ages, while the Brain-Centric ones, except the rare few who knew and actualized the Balance, have been swept away by the tide of Kaala-Time. In other words, Karma is more powerful than dry Jnaana in terms of Survival of the Fittest. If that giant meteor did not hit mother Earth, we would have evolved from Dinoseurs. Our tails would have been our most pronounced fashion statement instead of Dash-Lakhi suit!
Rabindranaath Tagore’s poem “Oraa Kaaj Kare” is based on this theme of Survival of Karma. So is Thomas Hardy’s “In Times of the Breaking of the Nations”:
‘Yet these will go onward the same
Though dynasties pass
Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.’
Or we may remember the last two lines of Alastair MacLean’s ‘In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"’-
‘Napoleon or whatever his name was then
thunders helplessly by.’
And of course, let us not forget Mahaatmaa Gaandhi; the man who pointed out again the ancient Wisdom that Brain without Manual Labour is nothing.
It needs no explanation therefore, why Krishna preaches and teaches Karma-Yoga as the central doctrine of Mahabharata. And needless to explain to any ardent reader of Giitaa, this Karma is not physicality alone; but Synthesis of Jnaana, Karma and Bhakti; the same as the Balance of the Four Purushaarthas (Dharma-Artha-Kaama-Moksha). Again, when the Synthesis and Balance are achieved, Karma and Dharma are one and the same.
The Rishis of RgVeda cherised the Indra who embodies the Synthesis and Balance as Lord of both Karma and Dharma.
Indra is associated with Dharma (dharmakrte vipashcite panasyave, RV- 8.98.1c). He is dharmakrte – one who does one’s duty, or one who virtuously maintains the Order. He is vipashcite – the inspired, wise, and learned; he is panasyave – one who excites admiration and praise.
Let scholars with Ashokal-Fixation and scholars proposing Post-Buddha “Hindu Dharma” read this Suukta again and again.
This Rk significantly connects Dharma and Karma (√kr), and connects both with Saamaan. Indra is also Satya (RV- 8.98.5a). Indra is also imagined as Sakhaa (RV- 8.98.3c). Indra is both Father and Mother (tvam hi nah pitaa vaso tvam maataa shatakrato babhuuvitha, RV- 8.98.11a). Repeat: Indra is both Father and Mother. Readers, please register this very significant dimension of Indra, and remember Duryodhana-Indra the Father.
Don’t we find Krishna and the Pandavas in this Indra? And don’t we now start understanding that Duryodhana was the Father-King but lacked the Mother?
Well, lest manyumayo mahaadrumah (1.1.65) Duryodhana vents Manyu (Anger/Wrath) with me, let me now come back to him; and not before remembering that in RgVeda, Manyu was once Indra. Duryodhana’s identification with Manyu must have been the work of Vyasa or later poet/s who interpreted him as “Old Indra”.
Duryodhana died before the Pandavas. Therefore, going by my previous explanation, it was indeed his Manyu that made him Older to the Pandavas.(There might be an ironic twist here given the fact that at least twice in Mahabharata, Duryodhana seems to be elder to Pandavas in age; and if so, that is indeed a justification of his claim to throne). Also significant to remember here that Krishna gave way to Manyu at the time of Yaadava Destruction; and finally when he was sitting thoughtfully under a tree (= Brain-Centricity), he was killed by Jaraa-Vyaadha (Jaraa = Old age). The Jnaana-Vrddha Krishna (Bhisma indeed called him so, once), and physically Vrddha Krishna, finally merge together when Krishna assumes the temperament of Vrddha courtesy Manyu, cessation of Karma (sitting) and Brain-Centricity (thinking without doing). Logically therefore, he is killed by Jaraa – the Oldness.
Now, let us pose the crucial question: where does Duryodhana fit in this scheme? He is not “New Indra” as the outcome of Kurukshetra War establishes; is he then “Old Indra” Vrtra by virtue of his Manyu? Or is he Tyrannous Indra? Or, is he somewhere In-Between any two?
3.2. Dharma-Yuddha ≠ Dharma vs Adharma;
Dharma-Yuddha = Dharma vs Dharma
That brings us to the interesting situation. What sort of Dharma-Raajya was it that needed a Dharma-Yuddha? Why Yuddha in which the foemost victim is Ethics? And what sort of Dharma-Yuddha was it that despite Pandavas and Krishna’s share of Oldness, Duryodhana had to be Red-Carded out of Dharma-Raajya?
And that again takes us to square one: what is Dharma-Yuddha?
I have provided the answer in the heading; let me now try to explain.
Imagine the scenario – Water fighting against Fire.
Who is the hero here? Who is the villain? Who is good here? Who is evil?
It is easily understandable that we cannot answer in absolute terms unless we know the Context – and even then the Context is Relative and a matter of Subjective Perception.
If a house is on Fire, then Water is the Hero. If a person is warming himself and a sudden downpour extinguishes the fire? Water is the Villain.
What about Khaandava-Dahana? The Pandavas need the Fire, and then even Indra’s Water (= their own Self) is the Villain!
The Water goes by its own Dharma; and the Fire by its. The fight is therefore, between Dharma vs Dharma; and not between Dharma and Adharma. Relativity of Perception brings in the Adharma dimension, which is actually non-existent. The Brahmin Shamba is then right in regarding Duryodhana – Dharma-Atma.
Let me quote Swami Vivekananda again: “There was a time in India when Dharma was compatible with Mukti. There were worshippers of Dharma, such as Yudhishthira, Arjuna, Duryodhana, Bhishma, and Karna …” [i]
Why would Swami Vivekananda name Duryodhana at par with Yudhisthira as worshippers of Dharma?
Like all Human Beings, Yudhishthira/Pandavas and Duryodhana are at different steps or layers of Dharma … no step is superior or inferior to the other … every step validates every other step like the Gems of Indra’s Net refelecting each other in an endless mirror.
Similarly, Vyasa never had a simplistic narrative of Good vs. Evil or Devas vs. Asuras in mind. No great Kavi ever has such a frame. And regarding Mahabharata, we have to remind us again and again that Vyasa is here depicting Itihaasa in the form of Kaavya. So, Vyasa has here ‘double duty’ of Objectivity – as a Kavi and as a ‘historician.’
Just as, as a Mahaakavi, Vyasa could not have been partial to his characters, he certainly could not have distorted the Itihaasa into a simplistic narrative frame.
Further to remember is: Duryodhana is no Kamsa or Jaraasandha or Kichaka or Jayadratha.
In short, if Duryodhana had been a Self-Centric Tyrannous Ruler, his Self-Centricity and Tyranny must have been of a Different Order. And it is that Different Order that did not fit into Vyasa’s Academic and Political Reform Movement known as Bhuubhaaraharana, of which, and to usher the New Era, Krishna was Vyasa’s protagonist Yuga Purusha.
Wiping out most Kshatriyas in the excuse of Kurukshetra War is the Political side of that Reform Movement; and Vyasa’s composition of Mahabharata as ‘Vedaan Pancamaan’ (1.57.74) or Fifth Veda is the Academic side of that Reform Movement.
Duryodhana is Nowhere! He is neither “Old Indra”, nor Tyrannous Indra nor “New Indra”. He simply loses out in the Existential Scheme of Social Reality where Indra must be either this or that. His hiding in Dvaipayana Lake towards the end of his life might be a metaphor for his return to the Oceanic State – the State of a Child in Mother’s womb. Vyasa’s mind is compared with Ocean; and Duryodhana tries to hide there; or, perhaps Vyasa provides him shelter in himself (Dvaipayana). However, even Vyasa cannot hide him forever. Bhima – the Prana – the Life-Force – must destroy his Flesh-Blood Body so that Order of Existential Reality is restored.
Now, our task is to search the characteristics of that Different Order of Duryodhana’s Tyranny, nay, Indra-hood.
Remembering the fact that Mahabharata has always had an Always-Already appeal in every phases of history, that is Mahabharata’s Universal Appeal is Beyond Doubt, we can easily say that our search for that Different Order of Duryodhana’s Tyranny would ultimately reveal a Truth that would not seem Different – but very familiar, indeed, very very familiar – corresponding exactly to our contemporary experience.
In order to understand that Different Order, we need to understand the style of Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s Rule, and in order to understand Duryodhana’s rule, we need to study Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s brand of Raajadharma.
4. Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana Raajadharma
To understand Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s brand of Raajadharma let us recollect the Braahmana Shaamba episode again – the Shaamba who highly praised Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s rule.
Though there is no cause to disbelief Shaamba’s statement about Duryodhana’s rule, we may still wonder why the citizens do not find even one among them to represent their address to Dhritarashtra, and has to depend on a Brahmana. However, this wonder is just a passing wonder and not intended to doubt Shaamba’s merit, because elsewhere we find no clue to doubt what Shaamba says.
It seems that irrespective of time and place, the character of ordinary people is the same. A huge ‘sympathy wave’, like a Tsunami, washes away people’s memory, and they forget with ease the breaking of the nation etc. Their sympathy is always reserved for their rulers, the high and mighty. Why blame destiny then, if the Ruler is destined to Rule, and the Ruled is destined to be Ruled!
Perhaps, citizens too believe at heart like Machiavelli ‘A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise,’ (Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter-18) so that they forgot it was Duryodhana’s breach of promise that caused the war.
Yes, I think that Kautilya’s Arthashaastra and Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince would provide us with much necessary clue to understand Duryodhana’s Raajadharma.
Before going into that, let us not forget to Note the irony in the name Shaamba. Shaamba, Krishna's son does not seem to be as anti-Duryodhana as his father. The Puranas lead this to a logical outcome – that Duryodhana was Shaamba’s father-in-law. And if Shaamba represents the pro-Duryodhana tilt of Krishna's own family, let us also not forget that Shaamba was one chief protagonist of Yadava Destruction.
4.1. King’s Strategy of Contentment
Why the citizens praise Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s rule can be best understood from Machiavelli – ‘The prince must consider, as has been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptible; and as often as he shall have succeeded he will have fulfilled his part, and he need not fear any danger in other reproaches. It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.’ (Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter-19.)
Aren’t we reading exactly Duryodhana’s life-story?
Note the word Content.
Duryodhana, whatever he might have or would have done to the Pandava and Draupadi, never perpetrated any crime on women and the poor. Never did he abduct any married woman, or ravish any woman. Let me reiterate, Duryodhana was not a Ravana or Jayadratha or Kichaka. (Duryodhana’s Kanyaa-harana with Karna’s aid was a traditional Kshatriya practice, and certainly he cannot be blamed for that with stalwarts Bhisma before him, and Arjuna around him.)
So, what was actually lacking in Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s rule?
Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s rule lacked the creative spirit. People were content to be ‘healthy animals’ in cages without realizing them as such. This is the actual nature of Duryodhana’s Tyranny. Doesn’t it sound and seem familiar to our contemporary experience?
The Creative Spirit is Feminine, because Creative Spirit is a higher level of Buddhi – not Cerebral-Centricity, but Buddhi that integrates Head, Heart, and Hand – Hrdaya (Heart) being the centre of the trio. That is why this Buddhi is the highest principle in Giitaa, this is why Hrdaya (Heart) is Central to our existence in Upanishadik Philosophy; and Vyasa cherishes Buddhi as Feminine.
I have noted that Duryodhana was Father-King and he lacked the Mother. This is symbolically represented by Gandhari’s eye-bind – she indeed never looked at the face of her new born baby, and the baby too could never look into her eyes. Without Eye Contact there is deficit in Essence-Contact – and the Mother /Feminine is lacking in Duryodhana’s personality.
(As sidelight: this prospect does not arise in case of a naturally blind mother. When nature does not give a mother the gift of sight; nature compensates that too through her other faculties. Gandhari’s self-inflicted blindness is no comparison to one naturally blind.)
What I highlight is: Duryodhana lacked the Masculine-Feminine Balance – the Ardhanaariishvara principle – that Krishna-Arjuna most prominently had. Duryodhana was Shiva’s creation, but creation with tilt to Masculine only; Duryodhana was no Shiva-Ardhanaariishvara.
Shiva sends the five Indras to Earth for penance; and he sends his own deficit-form to aid that penance.
The Father-King can make his subjects Content, and earn their Support. However, as I said, this Contentment is that of the “Healthy Animal”, and the Support is therefore, sure to collapse. Even if the Dog loves the master, the same Dog will not hesitate to bite the master if obstructed while taking food.
Had George Bernard Shaw been born in Hastinapura, he would have surely commented –
‘The earth is a nursery in which men and women play at being heroes and heroines, saints and sinners; but they are dragged down from their fool's paradise by their bodies: hunger and cold and thirst, age and decay and disease, death above all, make them slaves of reality: thrice a day meals must be eaten and digested: thrice a century a new generation must be engendered: ages of faith, of romance, and of science are all driven at last to have but one prayer "Make me a healthy animal."
Perhaps, seeing Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s rule Machiavelli would say again -
‘It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.’ (Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 - 1527), The Prince (1532), Chapter-6; Source Wikipedia)
While Contentment is a positive attribute of the soul, mark of Spiritual quality (to have samtosh), the same Contentment can be deceptive – that is, the Contentment in Appearance may not be true Contentment but one born of Stasis – of Tamah Guna, though Sattva Guna in appearance.
This Stasis of Contentment indeed makes one a Healthy Animal.
One effect of this Contentment is that the Subject would be so Content with the existing System that he would not seek change – either Internal or External. He would not seek Change because he would think the sources of happiness are available to him courtesy the “Good” Ruler – just as most of our modern day Rulers fill us with Entertainment-Items – every other day we have magic items at the tip of our fingers to forget the power of all fingers together!
Bhisma lamented once in similar veins -
The man of the Pukkasa or the Chandala orders never wishes to cast off his ‘Self’. He is quite contented with the order of his birth. Behold the illusion in this respect!
Bhisma points out how contentment creates the illusion of ‘good condition of living’. It is a commentary on human psyche that will not consider slavery as slavery if supply of means of sensual gratification is sufficient. A chandala is thus forced to remain chandala by contentment. Marx blamed social reality for that. True, but Internal Reality is equally to be blamed – and unfortunately, the Marxist constructed Marx never thought of that! And this despite the fact that Marx spoke of Alienation – which is essentially no different from Krishna’s philosophy of Svadharma.
4.2. Raajadharma: The Kali Yuga Symptom
In Mahabharata, there is an alternate version of Yuga-Theory; and Kunti is the foremost preacher of that doctrine. We hear the same doctrine from Bhisma and Uttanka too.
What does Kunti say?
Kunti tells Krishna (for conveying to Pandavas) that king’s Devattva is owing to his Dharma and conduct (raajaa carati ced dharmam devatvaayaiva kalpate, 5.130.12a), and how he fulfils his duty as Dandadhara:
‘When the king properly abideth by the penal code, without making any portion of it a dead letter, then that best of periods called the Krita Yuga setteth in (dandaniityaam yadaa raajaa samyak kaartsnyena vartate/ tadaa krtayugam naama kaalah shreshthah pravartate, 14). Let not this doubt be thine, viz., whether the era is the cause of the king, or the king the cause of the era, for (know this to be certain that) the king is the cause of the era (raajaa kaalasya kaaranam, 15c). It is the king that createth the Krita, the Treta, or the Dwapara age. Indeed, it is the king that is the cause of also the fourth Yuga (viz., the Kali). That king, who causeth the Krita age to set in, enjoyeth heaven exceedingly. That king, who causeth the Treta age to set in, doth enjoy heaven but not exceedingly. For thus causing the Dwapara age to set in, a king enjoyeth heaven according to his due. The king, however, who causeth the Kali age to set in, earneth sin exceedingly (5.130).’
Duryodhana hailed as Kali is thus a logic developed the other way round. Once his “sin” is established, he becomes the natural claimer to Kali! The later poet is a genius too! The Power of his Narrative makes us forget that there is no adequate Objective Correlative to Duryodhana’s “sin”.
Mother is the foremost Guru (- remember Swami Vivekananda who said that one worthy Mother is greater than hundred Teachers?), and Nakula certainly learnt from Kunti to define Kali as any non-protective king (12.12.27)
raajnah pramaadadoshena dasyubhih parimushyataam /
asharanyah prajaanaam yah sa raajaa kalir ucyate // (CE-12.12.27)
Now what is Protection?
Does protection mean providing security only? Security from what? From robbers, dacoits, taxes, dangers …. Material Security only?
Does this security make us secure with ourselves? Unless we are secure in our own Self, with our own Self, are we really secure?
The Kings of our modern democracy also offer us Protection. But Protection against what, from what? Protection against enemy? Who is the enemy? Isn’t he one among us? Will that enemy believe he is an enemy? Won’t he mark me an enemy if I call him so?
What about the Enemy Within?
Maatsyanyaaya is as much an External Reality as much Internal. This Internal-Maatsyanyaaya is propelled by two “Big-Fishes” of the Self – Kaama and Krodha. Krishna says so in Giitaa.
I have earlier mentioned that Pati is a non-gendered word; and Pati actually means one who protects. Interestingly, this definition of Pati is offered by two foremost women – two of the Panca-Kanyas – Draupadi and Ahalya (via her son Chirakari who found more failure in his father Gautama’s role as Pati, than in his mother’s submitting her body to Indra).
Pati - the “One” is non-gendered anyone who protects is Pati.
The Father-King Duryodhana was good Pati – but lacking the Mother, he was not True Pati. He protected his subjects, he gave them security; but he was incapable of truly protecting them because without the Feminine Buddhi of Creative Spirit and Creative Dynamism, he was incapable of protecting his subjects from the Internal Big-Fishes of Maatsyanyaaya.
And his subjects were Content, his subjects “supported” him. However, in that very support was his weakness. The King in Illusion-creating spree in subjects ends up in Delusion – losing sight of the fine-border of Reality and Illusion. Thus Duryodhana’s thighs – the vish – are ultimately crushed.
The “Healthy Animal” – the Dog - will surely desert the Father-King.
The Other Dog does not desert Yudhishthira, because Yudhishthira never gives up the Dog even lured by Svarga. Every Dog is not that Dog for that Dog is Dharma himself.
Thus, Duryodhana with smashed thighs dreams of Svarga; a dream that Yudhishthira never dreams. Even when the Pandavas set out for their last journey, it is with Dharmakama – desiring Dharma. Svarga is never in their mind.
5. Paandu-Yudhishthira and Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana – a study in contrast
Yudhishthira's Dharma wanted to see a world where co-existence is possible by sharing power and through unity (5.31.7). In the footsteps of their father Paandu the Pandavas never wanted to rule alone, they wanted to share sovereignty with Duryodhana (5.122.59; 5.148.14-16).
The main difference between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana is that, Yudhishthira does not want to engage in Maatsyanyaaya; he wants to be the Benign-Fisherman for protection of Small-Fish. After all, the Fisherman survives on the Maatsyanyaaya-System; therefore, he cannot offset the System.
Yudhishthira is even willing to play the Small-Fish role if that prevents Maatsyanyaaya. He wanted five villages if that could prevent war (5.148.14-16).’ He engages in Kshatriya Maatsyanyaaya only when that becomes inevitable.
In contrast, Duryodhana seeks a permanent Big-Fish role in Maatsyanyaaya. This is the problem. The Permanence of “Big-Fish” is not permitted by Existential Reality. Duryodhana thus fails to transform to “Benign-Fisherman”.
Paandu – also called Indra on earth - devised a system of joint rule with Dhritarashtra and Vidura (1.106.1-5; 5.93.55-56; 5.146.4-5, 8; 15.8.13) and never ruled alone.
Even when the Pandavas had a separate kingdom in Khaandavaprastha, they acknowledged Dhritarashtra as the supreme king (1.214.1; 5.93.55-56; 5.122.59). Even post-war, Dhritarashtra retained same status (12.42.2; 12.41.18; 15.1.4-6; 15.1.13). Thus the Pandavas kept up the tradition of their father.
In contrast, Duryodhana’s Dharma cannot envisage a world of peaceful co-existence (5.57.17-18). He refused to give Pandavas any share as long as he lived (na sa labhyah punar jaatu mayi jiivati keshava, 5.125.22)’, and yield even a needle-point of earth (5.125.26) - yaavad dhi suucyaas tiikshnaayaa vidhyed agrena maadhava / taavad apy aparityaajyam bhuumer nah paandavaan prati.
Protection of subjects and social welfare is central to Yudhishthira’s governance, thus subjects are compared to Soul and Yudhishthira with the Body (1.214.1-10). This is a complete Deconstruction of conventional wisdom of rulership in which the King is supposed to be the soul and the subjects, the body.
Dhritarashtra views his officials as slaves (15.10.11)
karmadrshtyaatha bhrtyaams tvam varayethaah kuruudvaha /
kaarayethaash ca karmaani yuktaayuktair adhishthitaih (15.10.11)
He views his subjects as kine-asses – to be exploited (15.10.11-13).
sarve jaanapadaash caiva tava karmaani Pandava /
paurogavaash ca sabhyaash ca kuryur ye vyavahaarinah (15.10.13)
To Duryodhana – Like Father Like Son - rulers are a privileged class, and Artha is their only Dharma (2.50.14-15). Discontent – that propels ambition - is the mantra of Duryodhana’s dynamism (2.50.18) – which, he considers the root of Shrii, reminding of Bhisma’s sayings on ambition propelled by discontent (12.173.23-24). Duryodhana’s ‘asamtoshah’ is what puts him in diametric opposition to the Pandavas whose secret of unity is to be ‘samtushtaah’ (2.69.10).
The Father-King Duryodhana who makes his subjects Content is himself Discontent at Heart. Isn’t Duryodhana our contemporary Ruler?
5.1. Duryodhana’s transformation to Vrtra
The later poets perhaps thought that Indra vs. Indra, and Dharma vs Dharma Narrative would be difficult for Common People to comprehend. Thus, in the Mythical Narratives of Mahabharata – the parts which are later adages – the Pandavas are transformed into Indras – and to leave no doubt about the matter, they are hailed as ex-Indras and God-sons. For the later poets, this was perhaps the easiest way to establish Pandavas in perpetual Godhood – or Indra-hood.
In similar vein, Duryodhana is transformed into absolute Vrtra. And to strengthen matters further, he was also hailed as Kali.
The Indra-Bali Vairocani-Shrii mythical narrative (12.220-221) is a case in point.
Yudhishthira acts like Indra and Dharma – the Dandadhara and arrestor of Maatsyanyaaya, while Duryodhana like the mythical Shrii’s Darpa-son becomes the Perpetrator and Perpetuator of Maatsyanyaaya –a primary casual fact why Vyasa felt the earth ‘burdened’ by Aasurik forces, and why the four Krishnas work in tandem with common view of Danda to wipe out the contemporary ruling community through a political and academic project titled ‘Bhuubhaaraharana’.
Some features of Yudhishthira’s rule show why he is Indra-Dharma Fisherman-King:
based on Naaradian principles (2.5) presaging the idea of Modern Welfare State - envisaged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Article-38 of the Indian Constitution.
sarveshaam diiyataam deyam (02,012.007d*0145_01) was Yudhishthira’s ideology in the spirit of service, better than – ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need (or needs).’ (It is a slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program)
Yudhishthira’s post-war ministry comprised of 4 Braahmanas, 3 Shuudras and 8 Suutas (12.86.7-8) – a clear indication of his Pro-people administration. In recension, there are also 8 Kshatriyas and 21 Vaishyas (12.86.7b*0207_01-02). With Shuudra ministers (mentioned also in Shatapatha Braahmana -220.127.116.11) Yudhishthira revives the liberal tradition.
Yudhishthira’s cabinet consisted of eight ministers and the ‘minutes’ of cabinet meeting were published - tatah sampreshayed raashtre raashtraayaatha ca darshayet (12.86.10c-11a). This is one conclusive proof that writing was in practice in those days. No doubt, Yudhishthira’s rule had no necessity of Right to Information Act.
Shatapatha Braahmana specifically mentions Dharma-Indra; Yaajnavalka states the custom of listening to legend of Dharma-Indra-King whose “people are the Gods, and they are staying here” (dharma indro raajetyaaha tasya devaa vishasta ima aasata, Shatapatha Braahmana-13:4:3:14).
Well, Kings claim Divinity; and in that scheme, people or the mass are Ordinary Flesh and Blood beings. Note Yaajnavalka’s visions in Shatapatha Braahmana – here, the Common People are the Gods; and the King is a mere Servant – undoubtedly presaging the concept of Public Servant.
The Mythical Narrative of Dharma, Adharma, Shrii and Darpa actually explains the Difference of Raajadharma.
Over-inclination to Artha propels Maatsyanyaayam, yet the Big-Fish cannot retain Shrii with Adharma. Shrii stays with Dharma as his wife (1.60.12-14).
Duryodhana enjoyed Shrii because Darpa is also born of Shrii, and Duryodhana is Darpa personified. However, as Adharma is his father (Dhritarashtra is root of Duryodhana-Adharma-tree – 1.1.65), Shrii ruins him (12.91.24-25) because Darpa (Ahamkaara), causes loss of Shrii of many Devas, Asuras, and Raajarshis (12.91.24-25).
After Indra-Bali conversation, Shrii tells Indra that she dwells with victorious and Dharmik sovereigns, warriors unretreating from battle, spiritual and humanitarian monarchs (12.221.23).’
With the transformation of Pandavas into Absolute Indras, the transformation of Draupadi into Shrii is also thus necessary.
The polyandrous marriage of the Panadavas and Draupadii thus becomes a metaphor for “sharing Shrii.” The Pandavas are capable of sharing Shrii – this is their Power.
5.2. Duryodhana’s transformation, the deficit of the Mother/Feminine and Brahmana Text
The Pandavas are Five in number; and Duryodhana opposed to Pandavas is also his opposition to Five. Now, in a unique way, Duryodhana’s opposition to “5” not only marks his lack of the Mother/Feminine, but also gives us a clear logic on his transformation to Asura Vrtra (and the genius of the later poets to mix Brahmana Text Narratives in Mahabharata) – other than a significant metaphoric explanation on why he fails to possess Draupadi.
Now, I am aware this is sounding complicated. So, let me clarify.
I have read some good ideas on the significance of “5” in Mahabharata. The Mystic Number “5” dominates Mahabharata. However, the most spectacular idea came to me courtesy Dan Brown’s The Vinci Code.
Let me first quote the relevant portion from Brown’s The Vinci Code:
“Langdon decided not to share the pentacle's most astonishing property—the graphic origin of its ties to Venus. As a young astronomy student, Langdon had been stunned to learn the planet Venus traced a perfect pentacle across the ecliptic sky every four years. So astonished were the ancients to observe this phenomenon, that Venus and her pentacle became symbols of perfection, beauty, and the cyclic qualities of sexual love. As a tribute to the magic of Venus, the Greeks used her four-year cycle to organize their Olympiads. Nowadays, few people realized that the four-year schedule of modern Olympic Games still followed the cycles of Venus. Even fewer people knew that the five-pointed star had almost become the official Olympic seal but was modified at the last moment—its five points exchanged for five intersecting rings to better reflect the games' spirit of inclusion and harmony.”
So, “5” represents perfection of Feminine in the Western World; and Venus symbolizes that.
With all gratefulness to Brown for that sudden flash of “5”; it then struck me: is Brown saying anything new? Is this “5” all in the Western World?
And then I remembered Panchavimsha Brahmana.
One passage in Panchavimsha Brahmana (21.13. 2) narrates: “The Gods and the Asuras strove together but could not gain a definite victory. They said: ' Let us gain the definite victory by a pairing of the word.’” The Asuras could not find a matching word to ‘Five’ and were defeated.
The Asuras lacking “5” means they lack the Feminine. This is also evident in the narrative that they lost Vak to the Devas. To remind: Vak is the foremost Goddess in Vedas.
Well well well …
The Pandavas represent that invincible Five. Five Pandavas are the five pointed angles of the pentacle – and Draupadi as Buddhi is their centre. Indra is also the centre of five nations – and Indra is both Feminine and Female in Vedas; therefore, Draupadi as Buddhi of the Pandavas is Indra of the Indras.
Draupadi’s name Panchali suggests “5”. Drupada is Marut incarnate, so Draupadi is Marut’s daughter or Prana – in fact, Prana-Agni. Wedded to 5 Pandavas, she actually has 5 aspects – Buddhi, as wife of Dharma (according to one Mythical Narrative of Mahabharata that Buddhi is Dharma’s wife); Prana, as wife of Vayu, Shachi, or Vak as wife of Indra, and Surya’s daughter as wife of Ashvins. As Krishna’s sakhi, she is Vishu – the Makha or Yajna.
Duryodhana therefore, as the perpetual loser of “5”, naturally qualifies as Asura to later poets inspired by Brahmana Texts.
Since this essay is on Duryodhana; I would not further elaborate on Draupadi here; and I reserve that for a separate article.
For now, I am more and more convinced that Draupadi was the Original Vishnu and the central character in Vyasa’s Ur-Mahabharata.
5.2.1. Duryodhana and Venus!!!
I have been consistently using the word Tyrant regarding Duryodhana; and in this chapter Duryodhana and Venus have come closer in a unique way through “5”.
Now, incidental accidental coincidental or whatever; Tyrant and Venus do have something common; and I must Note that.
Let’s do a quick etymological study of the word Tyrant.
Tyranny in the sense "cruel or unjust use of power," is from Old French tyrannie (13c.), from Latin tyrannia "tyranny," from Greek tyrannia "rule of a tyrant," from tyrannos "master". This is the Male-dimension of Tyrant.
However, the Greek tyrannos connoting "lord, master, sovereign, absolute ruler," is in all probability a loan-word from Lydian language of Asia Minor – from Etruscan “Turan” meaning "mistress, lady"; and interestingly, “Turan” is indeed surname of Venus!
At the beginning of this essay, I noted: “And here, Duryodhana shares the strangest of affinity with none other than Draupadi – because Mahabharata hails Draupadi too as Shiva’s creation.”
As I have discussed and shown (hopefully), Duryodhana as Vrtra or Duryodhana as Kali-personified are interpretative in favour of a simplistic and commonly understandable narrative of Deva vs Asura or Good vs Evil. And as I have shown, Duryodhana’s transformation is however, logical; and here lies the greatness of the later poets.
The difference between Duryodhana-brand of Indra and Pandavas-brand of Indra is understandable from another contemporary experience.
There is a saying in Bengali: “Dehatyaag naa karle padatyaag kare naa” – meaning, “one doesn’t resign/retire from office (read Political Status/Chair) unless one leaves one’s body, that is, unless one dies.” If good old Dalmiya or Advani or even Karat flashes in some readers’ mind at this point, I am not to be held responsible for that.
The name Dhritarashtra now gains significance. Dhritarashtra = Dhrita + Rashtra – the one who “holds on to State-power unless ousted.”
The superiority of the Pandavas as Indra is marked by their willing abdication of the throne. Arjuna could read the Message of Kaala-Time after his humiliation at the hand of Dasyus of Panchanada. He was the first to propose abdication, and the Pandavas and Draupadi consented to it.
Suppose Duryodhana had won the Kurukshetra War. Would he have done that? I think NO. Duryodhana’s end would have followed the similar path of Jaraasamdha at the hand of some other Krishna and Bhim. In any case, his ouster was written in the books of Kaala-Time. It is his glory to die on the battle-field at Bhima's hand and as ordained by Krishna.
Gandhari did not directly wish Duryodhana’s or Yudhishthira’s victory. She said “Dharma will win.” We tend to think that she did not bless her son.
I would differ. Wise lady that she was, she knew whether Duryodhana or Yudhishthira, it would be Dharma’s victory because the war was between Duryodhana-Dharma vs Yudhishthira-Dharma – between two Indras; and the winner would take it all – in this case, the title of Dharma.
Had Duryodhana won, he would have surely fallen at his mother’s feet crying hysterically: “Oh Mother! How great is your blessing. I, the Dharma-Indra have indeed won.”
Well, time to cease testing readers’ patience.
Back to topic.
To sum up Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s rule:
1) Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana’s rule provided Material Security to subjects but no Spiritual succour
2) The Ruler’s seeking Stasis – No Change – (reminding of the Hawk’s boasting “” in Ted Hughes’ “Hawk Roosting”) - and not quitting in favour of New Ruler
3) The Ruler’s view of Ruler as the Centre and Prajaa as Margin
4) The Ruler’s Artha-Centricity creating Disbalance of Purushaarthas
5) Discontent at heart, the Ruler’s promise to met out Contentment to Prajaa (Peter Brook nicely portrays this “Discontent” Duryodhana. He says: “But I want to be discontented! Dissatisfied!”)
6) The Ruler’s Male/Masculine centric World (to me, Patriarchy is not just Male rule over Female; but deficit of Feminine in both Male and Female – Disbalance in Ardhanarishvara)
In short, Krishna red-carded Dhritarashtra-Duryodhana for the same reasons we all, at times (perhaps, too often), want to oust our Rulers.
Duryodhana is thus our most familiar contemporary Ruler; the one who gives us Security by keeping us Insecure Within; the Ruler, with whom some of us are Content with in unique Self-Deception of being Content; the Ruler, who poses to speak for Woman but creates a patriarchal society; the Ruler whom we elect to power being duped by promises of a Static future of Contentment, and soon seek his downfall once the Myth starts waning.
NO! WE, the Ruled will never change. Therefore, THE SHOW MUST GO ON.
Every election testifies to that.
Long live Duryodhana.