Chapter XIX - 67 Home | Index | Previous | Next

At these words, Parikshith began shedding tears; he asked Vyasa in a voice interrupted by signs, "How did that blind Dhritharashtra, himself an emperor, suffer this degrading behaviour towards another woman and a queen to happen? Of course, he had no eyes to see; but, he had certainly ears to hear. Had he plugged his ears so that her wailings could not reach his understanding? Or, had they too become blind? The Sastras teach that no woman can be injured or insulted; she has to be given help and succour; and, these rulers who ought to be exemplars to their subjects in morality and justice have the audacity to break the Sastras with impunity. How can such vicious persons be emperors? Are they not the meanest of mortals? Only the worst sinners will contrive to insult and dishonour another's wife, a helpless woman. I feel that this land has been torn into bits, only because such abominable persons were raised to power; at last these disasters brought about total destruction. God is not blind, is it not?"

Parikshith continued his wailing of protest. "Even ogres and barbarians respect their womenfolk. Among them, if one woman is thus insulted, they avenge it as if the entire tribe is ill-treated. When such is the case, the elders of the clan, the emperor, their preceptors, sages and learned men, were all present there and watching in open assembly, this atrocious act; did the intelligence of those high placed witnesses suddenly disintegrate? Were their eyes suddenly blinded by some dire disease? Did they feed on grass that their taste became so beastly? Did they forget in their animality the honour of the race? And the elders! Their sense of discrimination deserted them and they must have looked pathetic caricatures of themselves."

Vyasa interrupted this tirade against those elders who sat quiet during those awful moments; he said, "Son! Parikshith! Do not jump to conclusions and confusion. No one of the elders in that assembly was in favour of the wicked behaviour of Duryodhana, Dussasana and others; they warned them of the consequences of their iniquity; what could they do if those foul men perpetrate sin? When Dussasana was dragging Droupadi by the hair, right into the royal hall which was filled with courtiers and others, the agony of Vidura, Bhishma and Drona was beyond control. Words are inadequate instruments to describe it. Tears flowed in streams down their cheeks. They could not lift their faces and cast their eyes upon the abominable gang."

There was another reason, too. Sparks flew from the angry eyes of Droupadi when she was so tortured and, if they had fallen on any one in the hall, he would have been reduced to ashes! Luckily, she was looking only at your eldest grandfather, Dharmaraja; his fortitude and equanimity were imprinted on her mind; so, the assembled men were saved from destruction. Or else, Duryodhana, Dussasana and the rest of that foul brood would not have survived at all."

"The face of Dharmaraja, so full of equanimity, had such transforming effect. Your grandfathers, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were watching that face, while their hearts were being torn by Droupadi's struggles; but as they watched, their tempers cooled. Dharmaraja's unruffled face saved every one from cataclysm that day; else, all would have been consumed in the fire of anger, making the battle of Kurukshethra superfluous."