Warning: include(domaintitles/domaintitle_wiki.exoticindiaart.php3): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/exotic/newexotic/header.php3 on line 921

Warning: include(): Failed opening 'domaintitles/domaintitle_wiki.exoticindiaart.php3' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/exotic/newexotic/header.php3 on line 921

Subscribe for Newsletters and Discounts
Be the first to receive our thoughtfully written
religious articles and product discounts.
Your interests (Optional)
This will help us make recommendations and send discounts and sale information at times.
By registering, you may receive account related information, our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
By subscribing, you will receive our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. All emails will be sent by Exotic India using the email address info@exoticindia.com.

Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
Sign In  |  Sign up
Your Cart (0)
Best Deals
Share our website with your friends.
Email this page to a friend

Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)

Article of the Month - March 2016
Viewed 11332 times since 15th Mar, 2016
Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history. In this incident the eternal ideals, which are the foundations of Indian culture were horrifyingly violated, but at the same time, there shone out from this episode, the blazing fire of dharma, restoring our faith and eclipsing everything else in this tragic sequence of events. Above all, it highlights the essential greatness of Indian womanhood, the echo of which can still be found in the women of today.

This piece of history is from the Mahabharata. It begins with the Pandava king Yudhishthira losing his wife while gambling with his cousins. The eldest cousin Duryodhana, who wanted to humiliate the Pandavas, asked his younger brother Dushasana to go ahead and bring Draupadi, the queen of the Pandavas from her palace, dragging her out publicly to the court.

Dushasana went to the palace and said to her: "Draupadi! Come now, like your husbands, you too have been won over in gambling. Leave your modesty and look at Duryodhana. Come and serve us, the Kauravas."

The queen was shattered on hearing these words from her brother in law. She wiped her tears and ran in the direction of the palace where lived Duryodhana’s mother. Dushasana roared and rushing towards her, caught hold of her long, flowing hair. At that time Draupadi was in her periods and residing in her innermost chambers (according to the shastras a woman is supposed to rest away from family, social and religious duties when she is menstruating). She said to Dushasana: "You dim-wit, I am in my period and wearing only one cloth. It is improper to take me to a public place in this condition."

Draupadi immediately started praying to Bhagawan Krishna. Meanwhile Dushasana, hearing her words, starting pulling her hair even more forcefully and said: "You may be menstruating, wearing only one cloth or not wearing anything at all. Now you are our slave and will have to live according to our wishes."

Draupadi’s hair had become dishevelled by now. Because of being dragged her only cloth was also slipping. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger. Perhaps there can be nothing lower than this for a virtuous woman, both born and married into a high family.

In this condition did she speak slowly: "O Wicked One! In the court are sitting elders whom I revere like my own father. I do not want to go in front of them in this state. Undoubtedly my husbands will not tolerate this atrocity being perpetrated on me. Yudhishthira is always situated in dharma. I do not wish to speak of even the minuscule of his shortcomings which are nothing compared to his mountain-like qualities,." Even after being so wronged by her husbands, the great pativrata had nothing but the highest regard for them, being pretty sure that they would never do anything which would be against dharma.

Finally the great woman said: "Oh! I have not done till now what I should have done first. I should do that thing now. This wicked Dushasana dragging me made me forget it. In this court of the Kauravas, I give my pranamas (respectful greetings) to the elders present here. I am in turmoil and hence could not give my pranamas earlier; therefore, it should not be considered a breach of duty on my part."

Falling down on the floor and crying out she said: "I was only seen by other kings during my swayamvara. Other than that, nobody had seen me anywhere on any occasion. That same me has now been dragged to this public court. When I used to live in my palace, not even the wind or the Sun could lay an eye on me. That same me is now being seen by the vast multitude present in this court."

"I am the daughter-in-law of this clan, almost like a daughter, and do not deserve to be tormented like this. Even then I am being subjected to this excruciating torture. What can be more wretched than a sati and pure lady like myself being brought to a public place in this manner? I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court. But here, in this court of the Kauravas, this eternal dharma has been violated. How can I, the wife of the Pandavas, sister of Dhrishtdyumna and sakhi of Lord Krishna be brought forth like this in the assembly of kings?"

There ensued then, a long discussion on the nuances of dharma in that court full of kings, in between of which the great-grandfather Bhishma said: "The fact that even in this great state of suffering you are still looking at dharma is but befitting to your high character."

Suddenly, a howling wolf entered into the sanctified area where Duryodhana used to conduct his daily Agnihotra sacrifice. This ill-omen plus the wise counsel given by his chief-minister Vidura, prompted Dhritrashtra, the father of Duryodhana and paternal uncle of the Pandavas to say: "O dim-witted Duryodhana!, even though living you are as good as dead. O mannerless one! you have brought into this exalted gathering a lady of our own clan and that too the dharma-patni of the Pandavas and then you speak to her in this low manner."

So saying, wanting to save his kin from destruction and desiring the well-being of his clan, Dhritrashtra addressed Draupadi: "Dear daughter!, you are the best amongst my daughters-in-law and also a follower of dharma. Take any wish you want from me."

The virtuous Draupadi replied: "O Great King!, if you want to grant me a wish, I ask that my husband Yudhishthira, who is a follower of dharma, be released from his servitude, so that my sons are not referred to as dasa-putras (sons of slaves) by others.

Dhritrashtra said: "So be it. Now I grant you another wish. Ask for whatever you want."

Draupadi said: "As a second wish I ask that the other four Pandavas also be granted freedom and be released from their servitude."

Dhritrashtra replied: "So be it. Now ask for a third boon. I feel that you deserve more than two boons."

Draupadi’s reply to this offer shows the supreme character of this virtuous lady. She said: "Bhagwan! Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon; and in any case I am not entitled to ask for three boons. According to the dharmasastras, a vaishya can ask for one boon, a kshatriya woman two boons, a kshatriya man three and a brahmin a 100 boons. Respected King!, my husbands had gotten into deep trouble because of losing themselves in the game of dice. Now they are through it. Hereafter, they can achieve their well-being through their own efforts by performing punya-karma (hence I do not want any more boons)."

Not once did the great Draupadi think of asking for punishment for Duryodhana and his brothers. She wanted revenge, but not as a favor. It was now the sacred duty of her husbands to avenge her humiliation. Her conduct prompted even Karna, the sworn enemy of the Pandavas to remark: "Of all the women I have heard of, not one of them stands in comparison to the great Draupadi." (Mahabharata Sabha Parva, Chapters 67-71)

Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself. At the end of the Mahabharata war, when countless warriors from both the Pandava and Kaurava side had perished, and Bhima had broken Duryodhana’s thigh with his mace, then Ashwatthama, a brahmin and the son of their guru Dronacharya, thinking that it would please Duryodhana, in order to end the lineage of the Pandavas went ahead and murdered all the sleeping children of Draupadi. This ghastly act was criticised even by Duryodhana. Draupadi was distraught on hearing the news. Arjuna promised to her: "Draupadi! I will wipe your tears only when I will cut down the head of that low brahmin and present it to you so that you can have your bath after stepping on his head once the last rites of your sons have been performed. So saying he set out in search of his guru’s son Ashwatthama. The latter, who was already distressed at his own cowardly act, when he saw Arjuna approaching him, ran off to save his life. After a prolonged battle Arjuna defeated him and tied him up, much like a sacrificial animal is tied to a post in Vedic sacrifices.

Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him. The Lord said in anger: "Arjuna! It will not be correct to pardon this fallen brahmin. Kill him. He has killed innocent children sleeping in the night. His death will be beneficial for him also, since if he continues like this he will commit more sins and fall into hell." Lord Krishna wanted to test Arjuna’s commitment to dharma that is why he prompted him to act in this manner. However, even though Ashwatthama had murdered his children, the great Arjuna did not feel like killing him.

The two friends then went over to their camp and handed Ashwatthama over to Draupadi who was grieving for her sons. Draupadi saw Ashwatthama being brought to her like an animal tied with ropes. Because of his lowly act his head was faced downwards. Seeing the condition of their guru’s son, Draupadi’s soft heart was filled with compassion and she did namaskara to Ashwatthama who, just a few hours back, had caused her grievous harm. She could not tolerate their guru-putra being tied up in this manner and said to Arjuna: "Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. You learned the skill of archery and attained mastery in the use of weapons only through the grace of your guru Dronacharya. That same guru is now standing before you in the form his son. His mother, who is still alive, is much attached to him. You are a knower of dharma. It does not befit you to harm your guru’s family, which is worthy of receiving your respect and worship.Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children. Those out of control kings, who earn the wrath of brahmins by their violent deeds, are burned down along with their families by the fiery wrath of the same brahmins."

Draupadi’s words were in accordance with dharma. There was no deception or hypocrisy, rather they were full of compassion and equanimity. Thus her words were welcomed by all who were present and Ashwatthama was spared his life, but banished from the kingdom forever. (Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.7)

Conclusion: We find in Draupadi the primordial expression of forbearance and forgiveness, two essential features of a dharma. In India, a married woman is an institution in herself, inviolable because of the sacredness of her commitment. Truly, history is relevant to the extent that it offers us lessons to be learnt, providing us role-models to be followed. In this sense it is itihasas like Ramayana and Mahabharata which offer us eternally relevant role-models, who inspire us to inculcate ever-lasting values, thus giving a comforting and narrative continuity to our lives, which otherwise would have perplexed us with uncertainty.


References & Further Reading:

Post a Comment
  • I cannot find the articles for October & December 2015 or for January & February 2016. Were any published? Are they hidden in a strange place in your new webpage?
    by Gerard Burrows on 16th Mar 2016
Namaste and many thanks! Lovely collection you have! Tempted to buy so many books!
Revathi, USA
I received my order. Thanks for giving the platform to purchase artifacts of our culture. You guys are doing a great job. Appreciate it and wish you guys the best.
Manju, USA
Fantastic! Thank You for amazing service and fast replies!
Sonia, Sweden
I’ve started receiving many of the books I’ve ordered and every single one of them (thus far) has been fantastic - both the books themselves, and the execution of the shipping. Safe to say I’ll be ordering many more books from your website :)
Hithesh, USA
I have received the book Evolution II.  Thank you so much for all of your assistance in making this book available to me.  You have been so helpful and kind.
Colleen, USA
Thanks Exotic India, I just received a set of two volume books: Brahmasutra Catuhsutri Sankara Bhasyam
I Gede Tunas
You guys are beyond amazing. The books you provide not many places have and I for one am so thankful to have found you.
Lulian, UK
This is my first purchase from Exotic India and its really good to have such store with online buying option. Thanks, looking ahead to purchase many more such exotic product from you.
Probir, UAE
I received the kaftan today via FedEx. Your care in sending the order, packaging and methods, are exquisite. You have dressed my body in comfort and fashion for my constrained quarantine in the several kaftans ordered in the last 6 months. And I gifted my sister with one of the orders. So pleased to have made a connection with you.
Thank you for your wonderful service and amazing book selection. We are long time customers and have never been disappointed by your great store. Thank you and we will continue to shop at your store
Michael, USA
Subscribe to our newsletter and discounts
Share with friends
Links Related to
"A man receives a wife given by the gods... Where women are revered, there the gods rejoice; but where they are not, all efforts are unfruitful…. The husband, tradition says, is the wife, They can never be cut loose from one another. This is the dharma made by Brahma himself….he king who bears patiently when those in anguish insult him will be exalted in heaven…. If the driver of a vehicle injures a man, animal or property, he needs to be punished along with the owner of the vehicle…. This in a nutshell, is the definition of suffering and happiness."
Living According to Manu: God’s Manual of Instruction for Life
"Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Shiva, the Nataraja
"The sources of Dharma have been systematically divided into four simple categories....This desisting from the prohibition is what constitutes the karma, leading to Dharma.....There are many Vedic Karmas which do not find mention directly in the Vedas but are found only in the Smritis....The Agnihotra mentioned above can be performed at any one of the three times....Lord Shiva drank the deadliest poison easily. However, if anybody else did the same, he would be reduced to ashes....However, this is the weakest source of Dharma out of the four."
Understanding Dharma: The Four Authentic Sources
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Analysis of Happiness in the Upanishads
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"One uniqueness of our Vedic religion is that it allows for salvation not only through renunciation (nivritti) but also through the path of material happiness (pravritti).... If dharma makes it mandatory that conjugal pleasure be restricted to the life partner, how is it that Krishna indulged in the amorous sport of Rasa with others' wives?.... Some stopped cooking, some stopped feeding, some stopped eating, some stopped washing clothes etc. and ran away.... Upanishads call the jiva in waking state as Vishwa and the dreaming jiva as Taijasa (Mandukya Upanishad Mantras 3-4)."
Krishna's Rasa Lila: The Vedantic Perspective
"Both the Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga…. The following is a list of features typical to Kaliyuga…. A man will consider only those people to be his relatives who are related to him through….The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others….. We can save ourselves from Kaliyuga."
50 Characteristics of Kaliyuga
"people all over India will say approvingly for someone: "He is a Rama like son, a Rama like brother, or a Rama like king. " It is rare however to hear the following as a compliment "Rama like husband or son-in-law."... All of Sita's miseries in the confinement of Ravana pale in comparison...to the emotional trauma and humiliation she was subjected to by Rama himself. In a bitter irony, what was to be her moment of deliverance, turned out to be the beginning of another trial... Sita sets a high standard as an ideal wife who stays unswerving in her loyalty and righteousness, no matter how undesirable her husband's response... She emerges as a woman that even Agni - who has the power to reduce to ashes everything he touches - dare not touch or harm..."
Sita - The Silent Power of Suffering and Sacrifice
"No one spends even a single moment without doing some action or the other....We generally notice in history that almost all civilizations acquire a lot of material affluence in the beginning and after sometime they go into oblivion....We very well know that it is only the work based on well thought plan that solves problems and not our worry.....The success of any action depends not only on visible parameters but also invisible one....We are carried by the slogans of the times and move in the turbulent waters of life in a rudderless boat.....Want to give us a state of pleasure which is constant and never ending."
Dharma: The Only Remedy for Modern Man
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
The Light That Enlightened Millions
(The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"There is Rama, the son of Ayodhya's king Dasharatha in his human birth, and there is Rama's divinity, his divine aura that overwhelms the Tulasi's entire Ramacharit-manas, one manifest - with attributes, and the other, unmanifest - without attributes. With main emphasis on his majesty in South Indian tradition this crown is taller than usual. His 'khadgasana' images are usually in three modes; one with his right foot moved forward represents him in a commander's disposition ready to rush for protecting a devotee in crisis or redeem him from some calamity. Harihara, a form in which he shares with Shiva half of the body. Basically a bird Garuda is seen for ages as Vishnu's ardent devotee, a learned human being and an auspicious presence, and in iconographic tradition often conceived with a man's face, anatomy, ornaments and ensemble. The Puranas are replete with tales of Garuda's divine exploits."
Iconography of Vaishnava Images: Vishnu
"Durga Puja is more than the periodically observed navratra in the subcontinent..The akaal bodhon Durga Puja has evolved into great socio-cultural significance in the Eastern Delta region, and is the lifeblood of Bengalis everywhere...On dashami the next day, one could sense the pall that descends upon the delta...Ma Durga's time in Her girlhood home draws to a close. Now is the final throes of festive exuberance."
Durga Puja - Worshipping the Wife of Shiva, Daughter of Bengal
"Her epithet in the Devi-Mahatmya is Mahalakshmi. She is the wrathful four-armed goddess of battlefield represented holding in them various weapons…. A form of Lakshmi seated over a lotus laid over a golden seat and a pair of white elephants…. Except in some classical forms in Lakshmi-Narayana imagery Lakshmi is ordinarily two-armed…. Incarnation theory is the crux of Vaishnavism. Vishnu incarnates alone but Lakshmi also incarnates in simultaneity…. Though very rare some enthused artists have conceived on Ardhanarishvara line also Vishnu’s Ardhanarishvara images."
Iconography of Vaishnava Deities: Goddess Lakshmi
"Bhishma undoubtedly is one of the central figures of the Mahabharata.…. One should not venture out too early in the morning…. But one should not go to sleep with wet feet….A person who desires to live long should never irritate the following three…. One must shun company of people who criticize the Vedas…. If we are traveling, one must find shelter inside a house…."
Living the Full Life: 50 Instructions from the Mahabharata
Show More
All rights reserved. Copyright 2021 © Exotic India