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Sabha Parva : Part 2

The Raja­suya Yaj­na comes to a com­ple­tion After the Raja­suya yaj­na and the elim­i­na­tion of King Sishu­pala by Sri Krish­na, and Sri Krish­na receiv­ing the high­est hon­our as part of the yaj­na, all the kings leave. Yud­hishthi­ra is not very hap­py. As the say­ing goes, ”All is well that ends well. ” But this has not end­ed well. A king has been killed. There has been a fight, show­ing a clear polar­iza­tion of those who stand with Krish­na and those who stand against him. But still, the yaj­na has been com­plet­ed and so many gifts have been pro­fuse­ly giv­en. One of the pur­pos­es of the yaj­na is to ensure that the wealth is tak­en in and giv­en out in pro­fu­sion. The econ­o­my depends on the ebb and flow of wealth.

Duryodhana’s rag­ing envy So the Raja­suya yaj­na is over. One of the key turn­ing points in the Mahab­hara­ta has hap­pened. Dury­o­d­hana, whose envy was smoul­der­ing, has now become a full-fledged fire, because he has seen immense wealth com­ing in and pour­ing into the trea­sury of Yud­histhi­ra. And now he’s the lord of the world-the chakravarthi-the last thing he had expect­ed. And, worst of all, he has been insult­ed in the Mayasab­ha. So he goes back to Hasti­na­pu­ra, to his father’s place. His body begins to get ema­ci­at­ed. He can­not enjoy his food or his com­forts. He has every­thing going for him but he just can­not enjoy any­thing. We find it so often nowa­days. We have every­thing in our lives, but we just can­not enjoy the lux­u­ry — the out­ward wealth. There is no hap­pi­ness. There is some­thing is burn­ing us inside.

The evil coun­selors of Dury­o­d­hana This news reach­es king Dhritha­rash­tra. He has to do some­thing. Dury­o­d­hana is his son. And the evil coun­selors of Dury­o­d­hana — his uncle Shaku­ni, his broth­er Dushasana and his friend Kar­na, put their heads togeth­er to make plans. Kar­na is an evil coun­selor. Though he has many good qual­i­ties, asso­ci­a­tion with Dury­o­d­hana has caused it. In fact, Bheesh­ma, at one point, says that he can­not act out of Dhar­ma because he has had the food served by Dury­o­d­hana. That’s how sang­ha, asso­ci­a­tion, pen­e­trates us, whether we like it or not. So, the evil coun­selors of Dury­o­d­hana build up a plan. They say, ”We should defeat these Pan­davas. We should take away every­thing that belongs to them. How do we do that?” Kar­na sug­gests, ”Let us go to war. ” But then Shaku­ni and the oth­ers advise, ”No, no, we can’t do that. They are pow­er­ful, and Yud­hishthi­ra has become the king of kings. We can­not defeat them at war. They have Arju­na and Bhi­ma on their side. And, after their mar­riage to Drau­pa­di, the whole of Pan­cha­lade­sha is with them. The pow­er­ful Dru­pa­da, his sons and his broth­ers are on their side. So we need to use strat­e­gy to defeat them. ”Shaku­ni is good at that. So he sug­gests, ”Let’s play a game of dice.” What an idea! Kar­na is not hap­py with that and his blood rush­es, because he is a war­rior, and he wants to defeat them in war. But any­how, all of them set­tle for the game of dice.

Dhritarashtra’s real blind­ness So they approach Dhitha­rash­tra and get his con­sent. Dhritha­rash­tra is so attached to his son, that he can eas­i­ly be arm-twist­ed. Triv­ial attach­ment. It is not wrong, but beyond a point, his affec­tion blinds him to Duryodhana’s faults and his adharmic deeds and he is not able to cur­tail his son’s actions. There has to be a fine line, there has to be detached attach­ment. If this fine bal­ance is not tak­en care of, then things can go to extremes. So they arm-twist Dhritha­rash­tra into agree­ing to invite the Pan­davas for a game of dice.

Dury­o­d­hana gives instruc­tions to con­struct Jayan­tasab­ha after Mayasab­ha. Though it is a won­der­ful sab­ha — a huge sab­ha, it is noth­ing com­pared to Mayasab­ha. It is con­struct­ed, and the Pan­davas are invit­ed. They come over because they have to accept the invi­ta­tion. It is Ksha­triya Dhar­ma. And also they have grown up with the Kau­ravas, under the pro­tec­tion of Dhritha­rash­tra. They are his sons after all. The sons of Pan­du, his broth­er, are his own sons — Dhritha­rash­tra has this under­stand­ing ear­li­er, but over a peri­od of time, it gets cloud­ed. And hence his actions are become extreme­ly par­tial towards his own bod­i­ly sons and he does not look upon the Pan­davas as his own sons. So he fails to live Dhar­ma.

The game of dice The Pan­davas and Drau­pa­di arrive at Jayan­tasab­ha, and they are tak­en over. Then, the game of dice is announced. A Shub­hamuhur­ta is fixed for the game of dice and every­body is invit­ed. The elders of the Kuru court — Bheesh­ma, Drona, Kri­pa and Vidu­ra, are not hap­py. They strong­ly crit­i­cize this. They advise the king against it, but Dhritha­rash­tra does not lis­ten, because Dury­o­d­hana would not lis­ten. And hence it starts. Yud­hishthi­ra says, ”I’ll play. ”And Dury­o­d­hana says, ”I will have a by-run­ner. Shaku­ni will play for me. ”Shaku­ni will play for Dury­o­d­hana! The entire sab­ha strong­ly oppos­es this. But that’s how it hap­pens. Shaku­ni throws his dice, and he wins every step. Yud­hishthi­ra is such a naïve play­er, but he is addict­ed. Once, he is in the heat of things, he can­not pull him­self back. Once one is into some­thing, one gets so lost in that activ­i­ty that one can­not detach one­self and with­draw from it, and hence one los­es every­thing in the process. This is what hap­pens with Yud­hishthi­ra — his mind get cloud­ed. With the Kau­ravas and Shaku­ni taunt­ing him with words, Yud­hishthi­ra is con­stant­ly goad­ed to stake more and more of his assets, until, he los­es all his wealth. Yud­hishthi­ra is a mahara­ja — king of kings. And all the wealth he had amassed in the Raja­suya yaj­na is lost in an instant. And Shaku­ni does not stop. Yud­hishthi­ra is forced to stake his broth­ers. So the Pan­davas, one by one, are lost and become slaves. And final­ly, Yud­hishthi­ra him­self becomes a slave.

The stak­ing of Drau­pa­di It does not end there. Shaku­ni fur­ther goads Yud­hishthi­ra, ”You have not lost every­thing. There is still one very pre­cious pos­ses­sion that you have. ”Yud­hishthi­ra does not under­stand. Nobody under­stands. Shaku­ni says, ”What about Pan­chali?” The whole sab­ha can­not believe this is hap­pen­ing! Nobody can believe that this is hap­pen­ing in the Kuru sab­ha — the great Kuru lin­eage, long known for it’s Dhar­ma, for its sub­lime ideals, and which has seen many great raja rishis. There is a huge uproar. But Yud­hishthi­ra is such a man that once asked, can­not retrace his steps. And hence, he agrees. He stakes his wife — the wife of all the Pan­davas, Drau­pa­di. He stakes the great Pan­chali and los­es her. Nobody can believe this. But Dury­o­d­hana and Kar­na are excit­ed. Kar­na is excit­ed because Drau­pa­di had insult­ed him at her swayam­vara, telling him that she will not mar­ry a suta­pu­tra. Now is the time for revenge. Revenge is called sweet revenge, because when one sees the oth­er suf­fer­ing, one feels sweet. But that is only a tem­po­rary state. Long term, it pro­duces great bit­ter­ness. But nobody under­stand that. One set­tles for short-lived plea­sure and not for long last­ing good­ness — Dhar­ma.


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