In the last part of this ongoing series (check it out here), we learnt the origin stories of the heroes and villains of our story. Now let us jump right into how this group of cousins define the idea of the first ever ‘dysfunctional family’. You did think this family would be into what every dysfunctional family does like being petty, melodramatic and argue pretty much all the time. But the Pandavas and Kauravas took this concept to a whole new level; arson, gambling, exiling their cousins, and waging war, they have it all. Let us get to it.
Bhisma along with weapons master Drona are responsible for educating and training all 105 boys. Unfortunately, cooperation is something which he could not teach them. They keep mindlessly messing with each other. At one instance, the first born of the Kaurava clan (the villains) Duryodhana, gets so jealous of the five Pandavas that he locks them in a house and burns the place to the ground. Somehow, they manage to escape. The siblings are so traumatized by this incident that they decide to hang out in the woods for a while.
While camping out in the wilderness, Bhima comes across a demoness called Hidimba, who falls madly in love with him at first glance. She shape-shifts into a beautiful maiden and entices him. They have a half-demon son named Ghatotkatcha, who promises to call to his father’s aid should he need him.
A while later, the Pandavas attend a swayamvar (a ceremony where a princess chooses her groom from a pool of suitors via a series of war games) and Arjuna wins the hands of Princess Draupadi. When they return home, Arjuna excitedly tells his mom Kunti that he had a surprise he wanted to show her. Before knowing what it is, Kunti asks him to share the ‘thing’ with his brothers. Taking his mother’s words as an unbreakable vow, Arjuna asks his brothers to marry Draupadi. (And here I am, refusing to share a slice of pizza with my little sister).
The brothers live happily with their new wife, promising to respect each other’s privacy. On Lord Krishna’s advice, they agree to meet the blind king as a peace offering. He agrees to give them half of the kingdom (which is all barren). Yudhishthira happily accepts the offer. Together the brothers, their wife, and mother move to their new kingdom named Indraprastha. Over time they turn the area to a prosperous and mighty kingdom even more powerful than Hastinapur, ruled by the villains. Furious with the turn of events, Duryodhana decides to teach them a lesson.
THE FAMILY FEUD
Duryodhana goes to his wicked uncle Shakuni, who tells him that Yudhisthira has a weakness for gambling and he should challenge him for a game of dice called Pashichi. Shakuni also discloses that he has a special magical dice. The dice is made from the bone of his late father. So, the outcome is always the number decided by him. Duryodhana agrees and invites Yudhisthira along with his brothers and their wife to his court in Hastinapur.
As the game progresses, Yudhisthira starts losing everything, his lands, wealth, and kingdom. You did think, he stopped at this point. But no. With nothing else to bet, he wages himself and the lives of his brothers and loses everything. Finally, he wages Draupadi, his wife and loses her too.
Duryodhana then orders his second-born brother Dushasana to pull Draupadi by her hair and drag her to his lap. Dushasana obeys his elder brother’s wishes and drags Draupadi in front of a filled court and her five husbands, who stand with their heads hung. He throws her in front of Duryodhana, who proceeds to peel away her saree.
Devastated, Draupadi starts praying to Lord Krishna, who appears before the court and keep adding more layers of saree. Frustrated Duryodhana lets go. Draupadi vows to never tie her hair unless she washes them in Duryodhana’s blood and Bhima, her second husband vows to break Duryodhana’s thighs (because he orders her to sit on his lap).
Adding fuel to the fire, Duryodhana exiles the Pandavas into the woods for twelve years. They had to spend one more year disguised. Should their true identities be discovered, they had to start over. The Pandavas obliged. After they return from their exile, they wage war on their cousins, to win back their kingdom and dignity. The war lasts eighteen whole days and came to be known as Mahabharata meaning, the great (war of) the Bharata (Sanskrit for India).
Up next. The family great war begins. People die. Lecture by a god on duty. Bloodshed. A man lying on a bed of arrows. Killing a child by conspiracy. More bloodshed. End of war.
WAIT FOR PART-IV
Thanks for waiting. Check out Part-III here.