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4-Revenges in MBH

MBH is full of revenges, some of them listed here. let us take from the eldest one to down -

1. Dhritraashtra is angry at his own fate of being born as a blind, and as a result his on was not getting kingdom; secondly not getting his first-born son before Yudhishthir, while he could have him before Yudhishthir.

2. Shakuni has to take revenge of his family's insult.

3. Ambaa is burning in her own fire and plans to kill Bheeshm, because he abducted her from her Swayamvar and although when after knowing that she wanted to marry Shaalv, he sent he to Shaalv, he did not accept her saying that he would not accept her because he was already won by Bheeshm. She went back to Bheshm and asked him to marry her, but Bheshm refused her offer as he had already taken vow to be Brahmchaaree. But Ambaa insisted that Bheeshm was responsible for her present condition, that she was not getting married. So he took the vow to kill him.

4. Drone wants to take revenge of his own insult done by Drupad

5. Duryodhan wants to take revenge of his father's insult done by Vidur at the time of coronation of King of Hastinaapur.

6. Karn wants to take revenge from Arjun of his own insult done by Drone for the sake of Arjun - first, at the time he went to become his disciple and he refused to accept him, because he was a Soot Putra - neither a prince nor a Braahman; second time when he did not allow him to contest with Arjun.

7. Draupadee wants to take revenge from Dushaasan of her own insult, dragged by him in the court in an odd condition and from Duryodhan who wanted her to sit on his right thigh. Even Karn insulted her calling her prostitute.

8. Bheem is angry with Dhritraashtra and his family as a whole - the whole affair, since their coming to Hastinaapur till not giving back their kingdom after coming back from their exile.

9. Arjun is also overall angry - with Duryodhan, Dushaasan, Karn, with Jayadrath, and with Ashwatthaamaa

10. The twins (Nakul and Sahadev) want to take revenge of their own grief that their Maamaa Shalya deceived them

11. Krishn has to do His own work for which He has come in this world - kill many Raakshas, destruction of Kuru Vansh, Yadu Vansh and some other kings; and establishing Paandu's sons' rule.

Revenge in Sarala's Mahaabhaarat

There are two major acts of revenge in Sarala’s Mahaabhaarata (also called Shaaralaa Mahaabhaarata here, following popular usage, in which the creator’s name becomes part of that of his creation): Duryodhan's revenge and Shakuni's revnge. Duryodhan avenged a perceived wrong done to his father by destroying his maternal grandfather, all his sons, his close relatives and friends, except Shakuni. We do not wish to go here into what low cunning he resorted to in order to lure his victims to their own destruction, what inhuman cruelty he had subjected them to, and how just one man survived his destructive design. However we would like to clarify that making that exception for Shakuni was not intentional on Duryodhan’s part. It was an accidental event that led the crown prince to think that the sole survivor would prove to be very useful in his fight with the Paandav; so he made him a minister, ignoring his mother’s warning that her brother Shakuni was a dangerous person, and would surely take revenge.

This was precisely what Shakuni did. He was in no position to avenge the killing of his father and his brothers on his own strength. The Kaurav were just far too powerful. What Shakuni did for revenge was what the weak can do to annihilate the mighty. He abandoned the straight path, and followed the devious route. Shakuni soon became the crown prince’s confidant, and his principal adviser. It was he who pushed Duryodhan to the disastrous war, when all his elders had advised the crown prince against it. Thus these two acts of revenge converged on the battlefields of Kurukshetra where Duryodhan and his brothers were wiped out.

In those violent days revenge was elevated, for the elite at least, to the status of a duty, even a sacred duty, when it came to one’s family. The two acts of revenge under reference here differed in certain ways, and most of them could be located in the two agents - what they thought was adequate justification for their action, and what they thought of the action itself. Duryodhan's revenge was a sickly arrogant response to what he felt was an affront to his self-esteem. His feeling that his father had been wronged by his maternal grandfather was nothing but an exercise in either self-deception or rationalization. Before his mother Gaandhaaree married his father Dhritraashtra, she had been married to a Saahadaa tree which died the moment the marriage took place. On account of some unfortunate constellation of stars at the time of her birth, her husband was doomed to die. So following the great sage Vyaas' advice, her father first married her to the tree in order to neutralize the malignant effect, and then married her to Dhritraashtra. From Duryodhan's point of view his maternal grandfather had done a grievous wrong to his father by giving him a widow in marriage. This he thought called for revenge. It is another matter that others, including his mother, did not think that Dhritraashtra had been wronged. But revenge is not merely intensely personal, it is intensely blind too.

In Shakuni’s case, he, the eldest son of the king of Gaandhaar, was the chosen avenger by the members of his family who were dying a slow death. They made sacrifice in order for him to live. And before his father died, he told him what course of action to follow in order to avenge their deaths. He also told him that after taking revenge, he must not live - one could not destroy one’s nephews and continue living thereafter. Thus Shakuni had to perform a double duty, which he did.

Karn had just fallen, as had Bheeshm, Drone, and other great Kaurav warriors, and all the Kaurav princes with the exception of Duryodhan. As Shakuni and Sahadev faced each other on the battlefield, the latter told the former that since his purpose had been served, he had no reason to take part in the war and should go back to his kingdom instead and rule there. Sakuni told him that he had sinned grievously by being the cause of the death of his nephews, other relations, dynasties, and also of innumerable soldiers. He had thus forfeited his right to live and had to atone for it by sacrificing his life in the battlefield. He challenged Sahadev on the last day of the war, and was killed by him.

In those days when successful revenge was a matter of honor and glory and even of otherworldly merit, Shakuni’s put an emphatic question mark on this attitude to revenge. He knew, as did his father, that one could not destroy others without committing oneself to destroy oneself in the process. Thus his act of revenge was simultaneously his act of suicide. Shakuni's revenge dharma detached him from his act of revenge because one cannot choose to commit suicide without detachment from self. He acted when he systematically executed his revenge on Duryodhan, and was true to self when he fought Sahadev on the eighteenth day of the war with full knowledge of the result of that engagement.

In contrast to his maternal uncle, Duryodhan was a man of his time. He had internalized its values, and did not critique them. As such, revenge for him was a demand of justice; that was why it was a noble act. In his consuming arrogance and his intense hatred of the Paandav, he never realized that he could himself be a victim of that hatred – after all, it resided in him, and pervaded his whole being. It is easy to condemn him, as his elders often did, but they didn’t help him grow up. He remains an object of pity.

Duryodhan died with the same illusion with which he had lived ever since he made Shakuni his minister; his faith in Shakuni was intact. Almost every elder and every well-wisher in his family had warned him that Shakuni was untrustworthy and would avenge his family’s killing, and drive him to his destruction, but he had complete trust in him. Shakuni's death plunged him into abject despair – perhaps the ultimate disaster that one could suffer. One feels sorry for him, he was a man betrayed by the one his faith on whom had never wavered. If there was one good that Shakuni had done him, intentionally or unintentionally, we can never be certain, it was this: even at the very end he didn’t tell him the truth about himself.

At the same time this was the ultimate deception of uncle Shakuni. He withheld the truth from the victim. Perhaps the victim had a right to know. He could have breathed his last with knowledge which would have been redeeming. Perhaps justice demanded that the condemned knew why he had been punished.

But let us not be harsh on Shakuni. Here was a man who had condemned himself the day he had decided that he would take revenge. He had signed a bond with his relatives in their blood that he would avenge their miserable death. He lived a life acting, to redeem that pledge. He succeeded, but the success gave him no satisfaction, no sense of fulfillment. Instead it had filled him with a profound sense of sin. At this point of time, the only image of Duryodhan he had was that of his nephew. He wanted to pay the price with all earnestness, and walked on to his death. At that moment he was lonely, utterly lonely, emptied inside of every feeling and thought except the reassuring thought of his own death through which he knew would come his redemption. His language was already dead within him, what could he have told anybody anyway?



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 03/24/12