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Vaisampayana said,--"Intoxicated with pride, the son of Dhritarashtra spake,--'Fie on Kshatta! and casting his eyes upon the Pratikamin in attendance, commanded him, in the midst of all those reverend seniors, saying,--'Go Pratikamin, and bring thou Draupadi hither. Thou hast no fear from the sons of Pandu. It is Vidura alone that raveth in fear. Besides, he never wisheth our prosperity!'"

Vaisampayana continued,--"Thus commanded, the Pratikamin, who was of the Suta caste, hearing the words of the king, proceeded with haste, and entering the abode of the Pandavas, like a dog in a lion's den, approached the queen of the sons of Pandu. And he said,--'Yudhishthira having been intoxicated with dice, Duryodhana, O Draupadi, hath won thee. Come now, therefore, to the abode of Dhritarashtra. I will take thee, O Yajnaseni, and put thee in some menial work.'

Draupadi said,--'Why, O Pratikamin, dost thou say so? What prince is there who playeth staking his wife? The king was certainly intoxicated with dice. Else, could he not find any other object to stake?'

"The Pratikamin said,--'When he had nothing else to stake, it was then that Ajatasatru, the son of Pandu, staked thee. The king had first staked his brothers, then himself, and then thee, O princess.'

"Draupadi said,--'O son of the Suta race, go, and ask that gambler present in the assembly, whom he hath lost first, himself, or me. Ascertaining this, come hither, and then take me with thee, O son of the Suta race.'

Vaisampayana continued,--"The messenger coming back to the assembly told all present the words of Draupadi. And he spoke unto Yudhishthira sitting in the midst of the kings, these words,--Draupadi hath asked thee, Whose lord wert thou at the time thou lost me in play? Didst thou lose thyself first or me? Yudhishthira, however sat there like one demented and deprived of reason and gave no answer good or ill to the Suta.

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"Duryodhana then said,--'Let the princess of Panchala come hither and put her question. Let every one hear in this assembly the words that pass between her and Yudhishthira.'

Vaisampayana continued,--"The messenger, obedient to the command of Duryodhana, going once again to the palace, himself much distressed, said unto Draupadi,--'O princess, they that are in the assembly are summoning thee. It seemeth that the end of the Kauravas is at hand. When Duryodhana, O princess, is for taking thee before the assembly, this weak-brained king will no longer be able to protect his prosperity.'

"Draupadi said,--'The great ordainer of the world hath, indeed, ordained so. Happiness and misery pay their court to both the wise and unwise. Morality, however, it hath been said, is the one highest object in the world. If cherished, that will certainly dispense blessings to us. Let not that morality now abandon the Kauravas. Going back to those that are present in that assembly, repeat these my words consonant with morality. I am ready to do what those elderly and virtuous persons conversant with morality will definitely tell me.

Vaisampayana continued,--"The Suta, hearing these words of Yajnaseni, came back to the assembly and repeated the words of Draupadi. But all sat with faces downwards, uttering not a word, knowing the eagerness and resolution of Dhritarashtra's son.

"Yudhishthira, however, O bull of the Bharata race, hearing of Duryodhana's intentions, sent a trusted messenger unto Draupadi, directing that although she was attired in one piece of cloth with her navel itself exposed, in consequence of her season having come, she should come before her father-in-law weeping bitterly. And that intelligent messenger, O king, having gone to Draupadi's abode with speed, informed her of the intentions of Yudhishthira. The illustrious Pandavas, meanwhile, distressed and sorrowful, and bound by promise, could not settle what they should do. And casting his eyes upon them, king Duryodhana, glad at heart, addressed the Suta and said,--'O Pratikamin, bring her hither. Let the Kauravas answer her question before her face. The Suta, then, obedient to his commands, but terrified at the (possible) wrath of the daughter of Drupada, disregarding his reputation for intelligence, once again said to those that were in the assembly,--what shall I say unto Krishna?'

"Duryodhana, hearing this, said,--'O Dussasana, this son of my Suta, of little intelligence, feareth Vrikodara. Therefore, go thou thyself and forcibly bring hither the daughter of Yajnasena, Our enemies at present are dependent on our will. What can they do thee?' Hearing the command of his brother, prince Dussasana rose with blood-red eyes, and entering the abode of those great warriors, spake these words unto the princess, 'Come, come, O Krishna, princess of Panchala, thou hast been won by us. And O

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thou of eyes large as lotus leaves, come now and accept the Kurus for thy lords. Thou hast been won virtuously, come to the assembly.' At these words, Draupadi, rising up in great affliction, rubbed her pale face with her hands, and distressed she ran to the place where the ladies of Dhritarashtra's household were. At this, Dussasana roaring in anger, ran after her and seized the queen by her locks, so long and blue and wavy. Alas! those locks that had been sprinkled with water sanctified with mantras in the great Rajasuya sacrifice, were now forcibly seized by the son of Dhritarashtra disregarding the prowess of the Pandavas. And Dussasana dragging Krishna of long long locks unto the presence of the assembly--as if she were helpless though having powerful protectors--and pulling at her, made her tremble like the banana plant in a storm. And dragged by him, with body bent, she faintly cried--'Wretch! it ill behoveth thee to take me before the assembly. My season hath come, and I am now clad in one piece of attire. But Dussasana dragging Draupadi forcibly by her black locks while she was praying piteously unto Krishna and Vishnu who were Narayana and Nara (on earth), said unto her--'Whether thy season hath come or not, whether thou art attired in one piece of cloth or entirely naked, when thou hast been won at dice and made our slave, thou art to live amongst our serving-women as thou pleasest."

Vaisampayana continued,--"With hair dishevelled and half her attire loosened, all the while dragged by Dussasana, the modest Krishna consumed with anger, faintly said--"In this assembly are persons conversant with all the branches of learning devoted to the performance of sacrifices and other rites, and all equal unto Indra, persons some of whom are really my superiors and others who deserve to be respected as such. I can not stay before them in this state. O wretch! O thou of cruel deeds, drag me not so. Uncover me not so. The princes (my lords) will not pardon thee, even if thou hast the gods themselves with Indra as thy allies. The illustrious son of Dharma is now bound by the obligations of morality. Morality, however, is subtle. Those only that are possessed of great clearness of vision can ascertain it. In speech even I am unwilling to admit an atom of fault in my lord forgetting his virtues. Thou draggest me who am in my season before these Kuru heroes. This is truly an unworthy act. But no one here rebuketh thee. Assuredly, all these are of the same mind with thee. O fie! Truly hath the virtue of the Bharata gone! Truly also hath the usage of those acquainted with the Kshatriya practice disappeared! Else these Kurus in this assembly would never have looked silently on this act that transgresseth the limits of their practices. Oh! both Drona and Bhishma have lost their energy, and so also hath the high-souled Kshatta, and so also this king. Else, why do these foremost of the Kuru elders look silently on this great crime?"

Vaisampayana continued,--"Thus did Krishna of slender waist cry in

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distress in that assembly. And casting a glance upon her enraged lords--the Pandavas--who were filled with terrible wrath, she inflamed them further with that glance of hers. And they were not so distressed at having been robbed of their kingdom, of their wealth, of their costliest gems, as with that glance of Krishna moved by modesty and anger. And Dussasana, beholding Krishna looking at her helpless lords, dragging her still more forcibly, and addressed her, 'Slave, Slave' and laughed aloud. And at those words Karna became very glad and approved of them by laughing aloud. And Sakuni, the son of Suvala, the Gandhara king, similarly applauded Dussasana. And amongst all those that were in the assembly except these three and Duryodhana, every one was filled with sorrow at beholding Krishna thus dragged in sight of that assembly. And beholding it all, Bhishma said, 'O blessed one, morality is subtle. I therefore am unable to duly decide this point that thou hast put, beholding that on the one hand one that hath no wealth cannot stake the wealth belonging to others, while on the other hand wives are always under the orders and at the disposal of their lords. Yudhishthira can abandon the whole world full of wealth, but he will never sacrifice morality. The son of Pandu hath said--'I am won.' Therefore, I am unable to decide this matter. Sakuni hath not his equal among men at dice-play. The son of Kunti still voluntarily staked with him. The illustrious Yudhishthira doth not himself regard that Sakuni hath played with him deceitfully. Therefore, I can not decide this point."

"Draupadi said,--"The king was summoned to this assembly and though possessing no skill at dice, he was made to play with skilful, wicked, deceitful and desperate gamblers. How can he be said then to have staked voluntarily? The chief of the Pandavas was deprived of his senses by wretches of deceitful conduct and unholy instincts, acting together, and then vanquished. He could not understand their tricks, but he hath now done so. Here, in this assembly, there are Kurus who are the lords of both their sons and their daughters-in-law! Let all of them, reflecting well upon my words, duly decide the point that I have put.

Vaisampayana continued,--'Unto Krishna who was thus weeping and crying piteously, looking at times upon her helpless lord, Dussasana spake many disagreeable and harsh words. And beholding her who was then in her season thus dragged, and her upper garments loosened, beholding her in that condition which she little deserved, Vrikodara afflicted beyond endurance, his eyes fixed upon Yudhishthira, gave way to wrath."

Next: Section LXVII