Bhimsen: Episode 69

[Episode 68] [Archives]

The throne Dhritarashtra had formally vacated loomed ahead of us as we sat discussing arrangements for our brother’s formal coronation.

Yudhishtira had summoned us to the main hall of Hastinapura. He walked in while we were reviewing the list of friendly kings to invite, and perched on a small stool beneath the dais. Typical of my punctilious brother, I thought – though he was acknowledged the new king of Hastinapura, he would not occupy the throne till he had been officially crowned.

I was wrong.

“I’ve thought long and hard these last few days, and I’ve taken a decision,” Yudhishtira said. “I called you here because I wanted my brothers to be the first to know.”

We looked at each other, mystified by the portentous note. Life had just begun to settle into a routine of sorts. The four of us had busied ourselves with an exhaustive inventory of the treasury, the stocks of cattle and the state of the various trading and artisan communities — a review we were far from completing.

Arjuna and I had taken on an added responsibility – that of figuring out how to quickly augment our dangerously depleted army. As things stood we could hardly raise a single division, and that left us extremely vulnerable to inimical kings or even to random raiding parties.

War -- Grant Morrison

War -- Grant Morrison

“Hastinapura is a nation without a heartbeat,” Yudhishtira said, breaking in on my thoughts. “Wherever I go – inside the palace, on the streets – all I see are widows, all I hear is the heart-rending sound of their sorrow. The feeling of guilt, the feeling that all of this is my fault, that none of this would have happened if I had not insisted on my right to the throne, has been growing on me these last few days.

“I have therefore decided to give up the throne and retire to the forest, where I will spend the rest of my life in penance and prayer.”

He held up a hand to silence our protests.

“No, don’t say anything – my mind is made up, there is nothing further to discuss. I have decided that our brother Bhima should be crowned king. It is fitting – it was he who led us all along, he who won the war for us, he who destroyed our enemies, and kshatriya dharma says the kingdom belongs to the victorious warrior.

“Hastinapura today is a dangerously weakened kingdom. With Bhima on the throne and with Arjuna supporting him, no one will dare take advantage of this weakness…”

I was compelled to interrupt. “I don’t agree. Kshatriyas do not fight for themselves but for their king – and right from our days as children in the forest, there has been no doubt in our minds that you are our king. We fought this war to uphold your right to the throne.”

Yudhishtira made as if to speak. I held up my hand. “No, let me finish. From the time we were children, we have been brought up to perform different functions. Arjuna and I were brought up to wage war; Nakula and Sahadeva are masters in the arts of administration; and you alone among us have been trained to rule. You speak of dharma – but how does dharma permit you to abandon this kingdom and its people at the time of greatest distress? I agree we are weak – but you have Arjuna and me to look after our security. We need you to heal the wounds of war, to bring prosperity back to this kingdom.”

“My child, did I not tell you at the outset that my mind was made up? You more than anyone else know I do not make up my mind lightly – I have thought of all of this, I have agonized over what my dharma demands of me. Know this — to be effective a king has to focus on one thing alone, and that is the welfare of his subjects. If he is tormented, distracted by doubt as I am now, he can never make a good king.”

He paced around the room, agitated, while we looked at each other in silence, unsure what we could do, what we could say.

Abruptly, he stopped before me. “I know this has been sudden, that you need time to think. I will leave you now so you can discuss this with our brothers. When your mind is made up, come to me. I have to speak to our uncle Vidura, make sure he understands my decision and gets everything ready for your coronation.”

Yudhishtira turned and strode out of the room. Arjuna was the first to break the silence.

“He is right, brother – we need a strong king now and there is none stronger, more feared than you. You have no reason to worry – not when you have Nakula and Sahadeva to help you in the task of running the kingdom, and me beside you to make sure Hastinapura is strong again …”

“In any case,” Sahadeva cut in, “our brother said his mind is made up, that his decision is final – so what is the point of discussion? He believes you are the best person to rule, and I agree — Hastinapura needs a king and if it is not Yudhishtira, then who better than you?”

I looked across at Nakula, who as usual sat silent, listening to everyone but not venturing any opinion of his own. “And you – what do you think?”

Nakula smiled. “Where is the need for me to say anything? Did you think I would have a different opinion from Arjuna and Sahadeva? Anyway, it is not as if such things haven’t happened before — didn’t uncle Dhritarashtra step down in favor of our father? And when our father thought he was unable to govern, didn’t he give the crown back to Dhritarashtra and retire to the forest?”

“Listen, brother,” Arjuna said, “there is nothing left to discuss. Our minds are made up. You need time to absorb this, so we’ll leave you alone now.”

He came up to me and bent low to touch my feet. Nakula and Sahadeva followed. I hugged all three – an embrace that contained a world of doubt, of questions, and a surge of gratitude for their unquestioning support.

I sat in the empty assembly hall, listening to the sounds of their departing footsteps and gazing at the raised platform in front of me. In the center stood the throne of Hastinapura, flanked by the two giant tusks bound in gold and crusted with precious stones. To its left was the smaller, but equally grand, throne for the queen.

My eyes fixed on the much smaller seat to the right of the throne – a seat set on a lower level of the dais, one without arms and the glittering paraphernalia of royalty.

That was my seat – the one I would, after the coronation, have occupied as Yudhishtira’s heir. Now Arjuna would sit there, to my right, and I…

I walked over to the dais and climbed up to the throne. I looked all around to make sure I was truly alone, and then I sat on the throne of my ancestors – gingerly at first, and then more firmly, with a growing feeling of belonging.

All those years ago, when as a child I had first come to Hastinapura, the first thing I had seen when I entered this hall was uncle Dhritarashtra seated on this throne – an imposing, awe-inspiring figure. From now on, it would be me they would see on the legendary throne of the Kurus. Would I look majestic, I wondered, would I evoke awe in our friends and fear in the emissaries of our enemies?

I looked to my left and, in my mind’s eye, saw Draupadi seated there, her eyes on me as I sat in state, dispensing justice.

My doubts vanished. My mind was made up. I would rule – and with my brothers beside me, I would be a good king, fair and just.

I jumped down from the dais and walked towards my own chambers, my mind in a whirl. I had to go to Yudhishtira and tell him my decision, ask his advice, learn from him all that I possibly could in the little time I had before he left for the forest.

Nakula and Sahadeva would look after the details of the coronation – but what then?

Our wealth of cattle had been depleted by the war – with our soldiers engaged and with no able-bodied men to look after them, large numbers of cattle had wandered off into the forest, and more had been taken away by the small raiding parties that infested the surrounding forests. I must remember to order Arjuna to lead an expedition into those forests, clear them of the raiders – to have them running amok, unchecked, was too big a security risk for us to take.

There was so much to do. Nakula and Sahadeva needed to take stock — we could then figure out ways to consolidate our cattle, get the breeding process started again and oh yes, horses, elephants, we needed to replenish our paddocks and I’d have to find a way to free up Sahadeva’s time so he could visit some of the neighboring kingdoms, find talented artisans to set up silk industries, metal and wood work, all the things we had done in Indraprastha to turn it into a bustling kingdom we would have to do all over again here, and that reminds me there is the question of Indraprastha and Panchala to be decided, what were we going to do with those kingdoms and I wonder if Arjuna had thought of Matsya now that Virat and his son were dead and Uttara was living under our protection, we had to urgently appoint regents who would rule the various kingdoms of our allies under our authority and oh yes I have to send a messenger to Krishna so when he comes for the coronation we can discuss this problem and decide on the right person and I needed to take my brother’s opinion as well before he went off into the forest and out of my reach oh and while on my brother I wonder if we should do the Ashwamedha, in one sense it would mean that everyone accepts our sovereignty and I could rule without the constant threat of war hanging over us but then again there was the risk that if we embarked on the Yaga it could give other kings an excuse to gang up against us at a time when we were not particularly strong, I must ask Yudhishtira what he thinks of this…

I walked on in a trance, my mind whirling with thoughts of all that I had to think of and do, and almost missed the light tinkle of anklets that told me I was no longer alone.

Draupadi -- Grant Morrison's visualization

Draupadi -- Grant Morrison's visualization

Draupadi walked out of the shadows and bent low to touch my feet. She must have heard, I thought – while she was always careful to greet Yudhishtira in this fashion, she had never done this for me or any of my other brothers until now.

“So have you decided on the date of the coronation?” she asked.

“Yudhishtira has made some decisions, but I am yet to make up my mind,” I said, hiding my elation under an off-handedness I was far from feeling.

“I heard,” she said. “That is why I came.”

To my surprise I saw a glint of tears in the eyes she raised briefly to meet mine before she looked down again.

“All those years I slaved in the forest, and that year in Matsya when I hid in the disguise of a maid, I always consoled myself with the thought that my time would come.” Her voice throbbed with the weight of unshed tears. “I would remember Krishna’s promise that he would one day see me seated on the throne of Hastinapura, and I’d dream of the day my husbands would win a kingdom for me and finally, I would be the queen I was born to be…”

She sighed, a wealth of weariness, of helplessness in the sound. “Maybe it is my destiny to live always in the forest, to live always as a slave…”

“Live in the forest?!” I exclaimed in surprise. “But why..?”

“What then? Would you have me live here instead as serving maid to your queen, to do for Balandhara what I did for Sudeshna?! Is that what you wish for me – me, Panchali, daughter of Drupada, sister to Dhristadyumna, wife to the Pandavas?”

“Balandhara…? But… it is you who will rule here beside me, on the throne of Hastinapura …”

“Fat fool, they call you – and fat fool you are!” The scorn in her voice scoured me like a whip. “I was married first to Yudhishtira – it is he who has the first claim on me and if he goes into the forest, then I must go too, even if I am too young for vanaprastha, even if my mind and heart are not ready yet, not prepared yet to turn my back on life…”

Abruptly she turned and vanished into the shadows, leaving behind a long, shuddering sob that bounced off the walls and echoed down the corridor.

Sick at heart, unsure of what I must do, I hurried to my chambers. I needed to be alone… I needed to think… Balandhara my queen… Draupadi in the forest, wearing the deerskin and bark robes of vanaprastha… how had I overlooked this?

The maids had not yet lit the lamps. In the gloom, I saw two figures waiting for me – uncle Vidura and behind him a woman, her robe pulled over her head to cover her face.

“So your brother wants to go to the forest to do penance?”

It was mother.

“I heard he has decided on vanaprastha – uncle Vidura did his best to persuade him against it, but he seems to have made up his mind.”

I stood there, silent, waiting. She had clearly come for a purpose – and she would get around to telling me about it in her own way.

“The people of Hastinapura have lost everything, my child – and now they are about to suffer their biggest loss.

“Do you remember the day I brought you children here, to the gates of Hastinapura, for the very first time? The people thronged the streets in their thousands then, flowers in their hands, waiting for their first glimpse of the prince who was born to rule them.

“And they have been waiting ever since for the day Yudhishtira will be crowned their king, the day the rule of dharma, of righteousness, will be established in Hastinapura. They have lost everything they had – and now they will lose the one hope that has sustained them all these years…”

I felt the sudden sharp sting of tears, and ground my nails into my palms – a physical pain to take away the sudden sharp agony in my heart as I realized what she had come here to say.

“What do you want me to do, mother?”

“Your brother must become king. You are untrained in the shastras, in dharma shastra and rajya shastra – you are not fit to rule. It is not just me, child – your uncle also thinks as I do. Go to your brother and tell him that – tell him that under no circumstances will you sit on the throne.”

I took a deep breath, fighting back the haze that clouded my mind. And then I laughed – loudly, uproariously. I sank down on a seat and laughed still, slapping my thighs and drumming my feet on the floor.

“Mother,” I gasped, “don’t you know my brother yet? Don’t you know it is just his sense of humor at work, this notion of me – what is it you always called me, fat fool? – as king of Hastinapura? Did you think he was serious?! Don’t worry – Yudhishtira will sit on the throne, you have my word.”

Vidura smiled in sudden relief. “God bless you, child,” he said as he turned and walked away.

Mother eyes were shadowed with doubt, but then she too touched my head in benediction and walked out after my uncle.

Alone in the dark, I thought of that brief moment in the great hall of Hastinapura when I had sat on the throne of Hastinapura — that one fleeing moment when I was king.

And I laughed, loud and long.

I was Bhima, the mightiest warrior of my time. I would not cry.

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44 thoughts on “Bhimsen: Episode 69

  1. Great episode! – I never have heard of this particular passage in the story. You have given a very personal touch to it – which is your hallmark. You expand the human part of the story even at the cost of the “happenings” in it.
    I have feeling this whole episode is your own creation (meaning none of the other versions have this piece where Y relinquishes and then is forced to be the king) – is that so?

  2. This may be a totally useless and irrelevant question. My apologies if you find it so.

    Why is it that Bheema is always referred to in this narrative [and the comments] as Bhim [without the ending a] but all his brothers are addressed with an ending a? I dont see references to Nakul and Sahadev or Arjun.

      • Sorry – didnt mean to nitpick, In general my observation has been that the South Indian narratives end with a and the North ones without it.

        • influence of urdu in the north i guess.. generally sanskrit/indian names do end with an ‘a’ .. somehow later in the north ‘a’ was left out most of the names.. Rama is Ram i guess 🙂

  3. In the midst of all other discussions, we seem to have lost track of the fact that Y’s sole strength so far — that of unequivocal interpretation of ‘dharma’ , and of right and wrong, and of his duties — soon stands to be negated when he does revert his decision.

    The man just cannot catch a break!!

    • abhi, the problem really is that you guys have converted this thing about Y-as-wimp into memetic proportions, and it has now become a self fulfilling prophesy. Vide this instance — you are already anticipating that he will again look like a guy whose strong suit is also his biggest weakness.

      Why?

      Y’s strong suit would actually be his capacity to think deeper, to feel more, to be more empathetic to the world around him. That empathy can drive him to despair when he sees a ravaged kingdom that, he believes, got that way because of his insistence on his right to rule.

      But equally, he could either by himself or at the promptings of others also think that the raja dharma he has been taught since birth, and which it is his duty to uphold, suggests that even granting he is responsible for the devastation — especially granting he thinks he is responsible for the devastation — it is now his duty to do right by his people; to mitigate that devastation and restore their lives to an even keel. Prompted by this second thought, he can put aside his personal wanting to get away from all this, and buckle down to the job he has been trained for.

      How does that make him a loser? How does any of this negate his interpretation of dharma, which is his *sole strength*?

      Hence my point — if you start out with the presumption that everything here is intended to show up Y in negative light, then everything *will* show him up that way.

      Incidentally, while I do intend, I think, to begin the next episode with the coronation, I have no intention of getting into this elaborate explanation for the changed state of mind, since I reckon it is unnecessary.

      The source narrative offers no explanation for this or lots of other things; it then forced me, the reader, to think for myself — MT’s writing creates space for my own imagination, and that is one of the beauties of that book.

      • Chill, Prem, I was joking; this was actually a sarcastic comment, evidently not communicated well / cleverly enough, to the Why-is-Y-always-being-shown-as-a-wimp brigade
        🙂

        Personally, I have been much amused that Y’s perceived ‘wimpiness’ caused such a furore in the last episode.

        I actually disgareed with Kalki and EpicEnthusiast and others who interpreted your writings were meant to put Y down.

        My thought was that this will show that Y after saying nothing can change his mind, does just that! But like I said, the man has a right to change his mind, no.

        Anyways.

        • Been following this series for a long time. Superb job. Had read Randamoozham several years ago.

          My interpretation of this particular episode was that it served to depict that Bhim would have been an able king. Within a short span of minutes, soon after being thrust into the role, mind awhirl, no formal training, the guy comes up with a very competent to-do list and well thought out plans.

          The idea is to make the reader think Bhim probably deserved the throne even on Y’s supposed strong suit.
          Like the commenter above, I too read this as another dig at Y’s character, coming when he flips.

          Thanks,
          Jai

  4. I remember reading that after the war, when the pandavas went and met dritharashtra, he hugged each one of the pandavas.

    When he was about to hug bhima, krishna replaced bhima with an iron statue, and when dritharasthra hugged bhima’s statue, he was overcome with anger that bhima is the one who killed duryodhana and he crushed the statue of bhima out of anger it seems.

    After crushing the statue, dritharastra felt guilty that he has killed bhima.

    I could feel for dritharashtra venting his anger.

    Do you plan to write any meetings between dritharashtra and the pandavas, atleast emotionally how they felt for each other.

    • Oy, I am not answering questions about what I plan to write 🙂 Hopefully not more than 6/7 episodes to go, so you don’t have all that much longer to wait before you find out.

  5. Prem, What’s up with the pictures? I don’t remember any pictures on Bhimsen till now.! I was free to create my own mental pictures as I felt.! :-), I am just kidding about the pictures part, as I know it doesn’t show any scene of mahabharata as such. But would like to know why the pictures for this episode?

  6. Since the episode is about filling the gap with own interpretation, I would have prefered if it had concluded with B realizing on his own that he isn’t suited. Around the time B is thinking of all that needs to be done, he realizes the enormity of the responsibility and his own inadequacy and why Y is the suitable one. It would be a case of reason conquering ambition. It would actually put B in a more positive and solve the problem without putting D and K in a negative light.

    • I am not sure any such realization is even required. There are dozens of kings around at the time. You don’t hear of all of them being masters of dharma and such — some could just be able administrators, some could be strong kings who expand their kingdoms through conquest, etc. So where is it written — at least, as Bhim would think — that only the embodiment of dharma should rule? And if that was the case, then what if Y were to die shortly after taking over?

      Also, I am not sure it is about *negative* and *positive* light. Draupadi is a human and is entirely entitled to her own ambitions and frustrations — how does expressing those make her negative? Similarly with Kunti — like any mother of the time, she dreams of seeing her eldest on the throne, and that is not exactly some kind of black mark against her.

      • Fair enough that Draupadi is ambitious and Kunti does all she can to put Y on the throne (Y felt that she has sacrificed Karna for this – Bhima on one early occasion feels that she would not hesitate to sacrifice ‘one of them’ for that objective).

        But both are seen to be manipulative (at least in my view). At least on one occasion, Bhim and Arjuna, each, have had a raw deal.

        • Fair enough. People *are* manipulative, to greater or lesser degrees. Not a problem, and as far as I could see, not reason enough for Bhim to have a sudden surge of modesty simply so he could abdicate on his own and thus avoid this impression of D and K. 🙂

  7. Prem,

    One curious question

    Why is it that dritharastra has to cede the throne after the war? As you said the war was mainly to decide who is the next in line for the throne.

    So is it not the dharma of yudishtra to allow dritharastra to continue as king and be the yuvaraja. Then take over when his turn comes.

    Also Was the war officially between drithirashtra and yudishtra?

    • He does not have to, but he does. Why, is harder to determine — anguish at the loss of all his sons, coupled with the knowledge that he backed Duryodhana and lost, and now is honor bound to take responsibility and quit, added to the fact that age is creeping up and Y is ready — there is every reason for him to quit, and none really for him to continue, so…

      Also, I am not sure about how to define *officially* — but in all accounts, it is Duryodhana who receives Y’s various emissaries and gives the response, so I’d think the war would be between D and Y. One of the things that happens once D is grown up is that he reduces his father and even the elders — Bhisma, Drona, Kripa, Vidura et al — to irrelevance.

  8. Nice one.This episode especially the one where Bhima sits on the throne reminds me of Santosh Sivan’s Ashoka :).

  9. I am also surprised at the silence on Ashwathaama? He killed the children and many others and wouldn’t the Pandavas want revenge at the earliest. And what happened to Kripa and Kritivarma(sp?)?

    Also, I thought what A did isn’t so surprising but what the other two did is the most surprising and uncharateristic of the entire epic, IMO. Is there any explanation for that? A guru and a Yadava ally doing something so repugnant against all held principles of those days.

  10. A qq to the readers?

    If Yudhishtira had been captured or killed during the war, would that have been end of the war? Why would they not continue fighting under “Bhim as King” platform?

    • One argument would be that the battle is for the ‘right’ to rule — and in that sense, it is a contest between Y, who bases his claim on his being the eldest son of Pandu, the acknowledged ruler till his own voluntary abdication, and Duryodhana, who bases his claim on being the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, the incumbent. If either of these men fall, the other becomes the eldest in the family and the one with the strongest claim; Bhim would necessarily then have to wait in line for his turn.

      None of that is to say the Pandavas would have stopped fighting — but the backing they received was at least in part owing to the fact that many kings recognized Y’s right to the throne.

      • In light of this argument, there is the quandary that remains unsolved. Karna was Duryodhana’s greatest well-wisher. Before he died, he had the chance to capture or kill Yudhisthira (the episode where Y and Arjuna have that huge argument)…killing Yudhisthira would have closed the battle…in a way. Why didn’t Karna take that opportunity. Did Duryodhana know that Karna had missed that opportunity ? Did he hate karna for that ? I know that Karna had promised Kunti that he would kill only one of her sons, but he culd have atleast captured Y if not killed him, no ? Maybe he could have dealt with Arjuna some other time when so much was not at stake ?
        How do we explain that ?

        • 🙂 You can’t. It is one of those boxes into which the narrators painted themselves, and then ignored because there was no logical way out. Much of the war is that way — the logical thing, if done, could have ended the conflict much earlier, but it is never done, and there is never a commonsense explanation of why. D tended to get upset with Bhisma, who was clearly underperforming as c-in-c, and with Drona, but by the time Karna takes charge, the army is decimated and there really is very little hope of victory. In any case, there is nothing in the established narrative to suggest D knew, and didn’t like K letting the Pandavas off lightly — fairly troubled terrain that I mercifully didn’t have to think about just now, though if I do end up doing the Karna pov thing, I’ll have to figure all this out.

  11. Prem,
    Just a few months ago, Bhim for me was a simple sraightforward man with superhuman strength like the characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in his films. Now after reading this brilliant series especially this chapter I find him as a complete opposite – a tragic hero with a complex personality. If you can do this to him, God knows what you can do with other colourful and complex characters like a Karna. Maybe you can crossover to the Ramayan and do a Bhim on a Lakshman or better, Ravan. That epic needs some real un”Ramanand Sagar”ization:)

    • That is pretty much the point: every human being seems like a unidimensional character — until he begins to tell his own story. Exploring the possible inner workings of a character has been the greatest fun in doing this — thanks for the kind words. The Ramayan? I don’t know — the story never attracted me in and of itself; too monochromatic, even with the possibilities inherent in say a Ravan.

      Karna? Maybe — he is the other character who I’ve been fascinated by, but not sure yet if I want to start on another year long exercise after this one is over. Lemme see. 🙂

      • A year long exercise definitely must be taxing. What about writing a book on it. You excel at this, might as well make money on it.

  12. It is known for sure that Y went on to be king and not B. What is fascinating in this episode is how, after victory, B’s mother and wife push their individual agendas to the fore.

    Draupadi – after having lost her father,brothers and sons in the war takes refuge behind “Krishna’s promise” to put her on the throne, while Kunti speaks for the “people of Hastinapura” with Vidura to back up. Mahabharata is truly ‘The Great Game’, unfortunately for B it is a zero-sum game and he happens to be at the wrong end everytime.

    The unique trait of B – never saying ‘no’ to Draupadi and never disagreeing with his mother – is costing him again. One small consolation is the support of brothers A,N and S – but again they would stand no chance against the women. Otherwise, things are following the larger pattern that B is sumbitting to others’ interests. Wonder what his mother has against B? Any thoughts on that?

    Superb episode!

    • For now, I’ll pass on the question of what the mother has against B — though I don’t think she has “anything against him”, there is a possibility I want to explore in a later episode 🙂

      • Kunti/vidura are probably right in the sense that Bhima may not be a better king. He was never interested in dharma/shastras right from his early days. Those were the qualities that were expected out of a king more than anything else.

        So I think kunti and vidhura should be applauded for taking such a stand, which would be ultimately good for the kingdom

      • Prem, you are probably going to suggest that Y is Kunti and Vidur’s son, going by the way you went about making vidur and kunti responsible for the change in heart of Bhim. Correct? anyway, never mind…we will wait and see.

        quite a few people in fact seem to think that vidur is Y’s father, going by the way things are explained in vyasa MB in cryptic manner while Kunti invokes Gods to beget sons.

  13. Okay, two out of three comments ask the same question: is this part of the conventional narrative. A small explanation:

    In an author’s note, MT said he had no intention of adding to the actual Mahabharat things that were not contained in it. He also said his intention was to “read the silences and interpret them”.

    This episode — which MT’s version also has, though in somewhat smaller form — is one such instance, of a silence interpreted. In the conventional version, you have the bit about Y suffering from major angst and wanting to give up the throne and go off into the forest to do penance. At the time, he suggests that Bhim would make a good king. And then, next thing you know, the scene shifts to Y’s coronation.

    What happened in the interim, is left up in the air. The episode is merely used to underline Y’s morality, to further reinforce the image of him as thoughtful, empathetic to the sufferings of others, torn by internal conflicts.

    Therein, the silence. Surely something happened between Y’s original decision and his acceptance of the throne. Question is, what? It couldn’t be the brothers — if you look at their characters, there seems to be nothing to suggest they would have been against Y’s renunciation and B’s ascent to the throne.

    Who then? That is when you think of Draupadi. Her own ambition, and Krishna’s unequivocal promise. Is it possible she intervened? Given her personality, yes. Would she have gone to Y? Likely not — more possibly, her appeal would have been to B, who she knows will deny her nothing.

    Similarly, the mother’s sole goal has been to see her eldest on the throne — at a time when peace seemed inevitable, it was Kunti who sent that fire-and-brimstone message to Arjuna and B. Would she have meekly accepted the renunciation, without making a push to reverse the decision? Again, likely not. So what appeal would each of them have used, and how would they have gone about it? That is this episode.

  14. Stunning episode. Seconding Magesh’s query, I don’t remember reading this in Rajaji’s version. Is it included in Vyasa’s Mahabharata or was it added on by MT/yourself?

  15. Oh Boy !

    Just when i thought there cannot be a better episode than the Abhimanyu death , this one comes along.

    Awesome. Thanks Prem.

  16. Prem

    Lovely episode.

    I really felt for bhim. It was like showing a chocolate to a child and then taking it away.

    I did not know that Y wanted to go to vanaprastha and let bhima be the king.

    Is this present in the conventional version also?

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