Arjuna, the Sole Husband of Draupadi – Sree Krishna
Kalki Revealed in Yugadharma, Malayalam monthly, in the year 2000. Thereafter, published as book in 2008 by Kalkipuri Publication.
Kunti was meditating on Lord Sree Krishna while busily preparing food for those who would arrive soon. There was very little space and convenience in the potter’s house. But in her present situation, that was a blessing. She was worn out due to her long tiresome journeys. There was no one to share her burden of work and she was exhausted.
Food should be ready when her sons reach home. She slipped into fond reflections of her sons while cooking. Bhima would be famished by now. Yudhishthira couldn’t stand the pangs of hunger even a short while. Arjuna would never complain. Nakula and Sahadeva also would suffer silently. They were very understanding and co-operative. Five gems, her sons! But what a fate! Her thoughts wandered around them.
Did she hear their footsteps outside? She listened. Yes! They were coming! Kunti was instantaneously relieved of her anxiety though she was fatigued and her body craved for rest. Her long journeys had taken their toll on her. Even rising up from her seat was a painful effort but she tried to ignore all her pains and immersed herself in the finishing touches of her cooking.
Suddenly, she heard the joyous outburst of Yudhishthira from outside “Ma, see the extraordinary alms we have got today!” She answered spontaneously without thinking, “Whatever it is, share it equally among yourself”!! Hearing this hasty reply, Yudhishthira was puzzled and disturbed. When Kunti hurriedly reached out to receive her sons, she saw Draupadi. She was shocked to realise the gravity of her thoughtless words. She had mistaken the ‘alms’ to be the usual things they brought home daily. She was devastated! Who was this Lady? She enquired about Draupadi, taking care not to show her mental turbulence outside.
Yudhishthira gave a very tactful reply to Kunti’s queries. “This is the most appropriate reward for Arjuna’s valour.” His presence of mind was always intact, he had the ability to speak amiably on any occasion to anybody, without revealing his mind. He narrated the happenings that led to the swayamvara of Draupadi to Arjuna. After hearing him, Kunti composed herself and received Draupadi with suitable formalities and courtesies and took her in. Then she addressed her sons with compassion. “The words I have uttered should not be in vain. But at the same time, nothing should go against ethics and morality.” But in her heart she started repenting her own thoughtless words. Seeing the plight of his mother, Arjuna said that they would obey their mother without questioning. But Kunti was in a dilemma. Draupadi was not just an object but a human and how could she be shared equally. Others also fell silent. Yudhishthira spoke decisively that they should ask Vyasa who was the last word regarding right and wrong. His words and its tone frightened Kunti. She asked uneasily, “What about Krishna? Couldn’t he be the adviser”? But Yudhishthira tried to justify his suggestion by saying that no one could surpass Vyasa in Vedas. Kunti resorted to silence knowing that her persistence would end up in dispute and drift between them. ‘Was Yudhishthira manipulating them using her own unintentionally uttered words?’ Kunti was in grief. Yudhishthira again asked, “Shouldn’t the virtuous sons obey their mother’s words to fulfil their filial duty?” Their discussion became very much alive with these words. ‘If so, are we not obliged to follow Ma’s order to share the alms we got?’ Kunti was growing more and more restless because she could see Yudhishthira’s hidden intentions behind his show of propriety. Bhima said that Yudhisthira’s decision should be regarded as the final regarding the issue since he was the eldest and so the wisest of them all. Yudhishthira asked for a repose after which he would be in a position to speak out his decision. So the brothers got up and Kunti rose to escort them to serve them food. Suddenly she froze at the door! Draupadi! The beautiful daughter of the king of Panchala, Drupada; the ardent devotee of Lord Krishna; the Krishna-like complexioned princess, Draupadi was standing at the doorway! Would she have heard all their conversation? Aren’t her eyes pleading to Kunti, ‘Don’t, Please don’t’! Kunti was grief struck once again. She invited Draupadi with compassion to have food. After their supper, they retired to their resting places. Kunti was incessantly praying to Krishna to lead them through the right path; to help them adhere to right ethics; to take charge of the situation so that they could just follow Him.
Kunti was startled out of her tired slumber by a distant sound of galloping horses which were fast approaching. Suddenly she became attentive. Could the enemies have found them out? Had Drupada grown suspicious? Had Arjuna’s archery skills exposed him off to the enemies? Had Dushasana, the disgraceful brother of pious and noble Duryodhana, heard the news? Did he seek any evil path to take revenge? What he always secretly wanted was to grab Duryodhana’s power. Nobody could suspect the poisonous snake hidden in him! Kunti heard the unmistaken sound of the horses’ hoofs and the chariot coming closer and closer, louder and louder. She was filled with fear and anxiety. Who could there being the chariot? Could that be Lord Krishna himself? She woke up from her thoughts, lighted a wick in an earthen holder and glanced at her sleeping sons. There was very little room for them to relax peacefully. They were in fact, crammed together. Kunti’s heart went out to Draupadi when she saw her tired figure curled up in a little space among them. Poor girl! What a fate to be in that hell! Though Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were sleeping almost touching each other, Yudhishthira had been given a special place separately as a sign of respect. While Kunti was thus reflecting upon her children, hesitating to wake them up, the chariot reached at the threshold of their abode. Kunti immediately woke up everybody including Draupadi and told them what she knew and what she feared. They lost no time in arming themselves and were ready to face the unknown. Arjuna was all alert, Bhima held his club ready to strike, Yudhishthira, Nakula and Sahadeva were also all set for action. They were used to such quick moves and didn’t face any difficulty while preparing themselves to face any danger. If there was going to have any combat, the people who gave them temporary shelter might get frightened and behave like those in other places had. Now that Draupadi was also with them… In spite of five strong and courageous sons they didn’t have a place which they could call their own… Were not all these misfortunes their own making? Kunti’s thoughts of reality were abruptly and rudely disrupted by heavy footsteps outside.
‘Hey Pandavas, open the door. We are not enemies, but friends.’ They heard a voice. Kunti roughly calculated the number of people from the noise of the shuffling of their feet. They were many. Meanwhile, Yudhisthira opened the door without fear. What a surprise! king of Panchala, Drupada had come with his people! Though with limited material resources, Yudhishthira extended a very grand welcome to the honourable guests and paid them due respects. Still Drupada was filled with grief to see the plight of Draupadi. What a fall for someone who had lived a princely life! Fate had been very cruel to her. He consoled himself thinking that at least she got the husband whom she had wished for; everything else could be set right in due course. Even while thinking so, his eyes were overflowing with tears.
Drupada profusely apologised for waking them up at those odd hours. He had suspected the five who had come coveting Draupadi at the swayamvara were none other than the Pandavas. He cleared his doubt by verifying with Lord Krishna even though Krishna was not present at the swayamvara. Once he became sure of their true identity, he was rushing to see his dear daughter, unmindful of the time of the day. Drupada’s words of humility stole the heart of the listeners. It was obvious that those words had come straight from his heart. Draupadi was a prized possession of Drupada and he had never before known the sorrow of separation from her. On top of that, he came to realise that as a father he had in many ways fallen short of fulfilling his duties towards his daughter. Lord Krishna was instrumental for this realisation. This was the reason for him to make this unpremeditated journey. Kunti observed Yudhishthira’s expression to see if Drupada’s words explaining his reasons for the visit had created any uneasiness in him. But Yudhisthira was composed and he courteously said that their hut was blessed by the visit. His words pleased Drupada very much.
Meanwhile, the sound of the chariot had aroused the curiosity of the villagers and they started trickling in to see who had arrived. The guards rose to the occasion and dispersed the villagers as per the instructions of the King. Their conversation was resumed after that. Drupada said that the purpose of him going there personally was to invite all of them to his palace; noble people like Yudhisthira and his brothers should be invited appropriately and not through a messenger. He also said that Lord Krishna was waiting for all of them.
Drupada’s words arouse suspicion in Yudhisthira. Kunti suspected that Yudhisthira would object. But when he added that since their identity had been revealed to the enemies, their security was of prime importance, Yudhisthira consented without hesitation. Kunti’s fervent prayers to the Lord had been answered!
Without wasting any more time they commenced their journey. Nobody spoke much on the way. Kunti was silently praying to Almighty Lord ShivaDeva and VishnuDeva. She gained confidence that all would go well with the blessings of Lord Krishna. Draupadi would not be made to suffer the humiliation of becoming a wife to five brothers. Lord would see to it. Subjecting her to such an embarrassment was unthinkable! Any lady with self-respect would be succumbed by such an insult! And Draupadi, being the daughter of a King would not have any dearth of self-respect. Till that moment, in spite of facing such an awkward situation, Draupadi had only behaved with dignity and maturity. She might be loving Arjuna so fervently. Otherwise why should she put the swayamvara garland on a loitering vagabond like Arjuna? ‘It should be the will of Lord Krishna’, Kunti immersed herself in deep meditation.
Their chariot reached the palace. The King had made prior arrangements for a befitting welcome to the honoured guests. Draupadi also took rest with Kunti and others. Though the palace was her own home, the place where she was born and brought up, she now completely took up her new role as the bride of Arjuna and seemed to have forgotten her past maiden life. Kunti was surprised at the change that had taken over Draupadi within a single day. She admired her with affection for her matured behaviour.
Drupada formally addressed his guests and as per etiquette extended a warm welcome to them in the assembly of his people. Kunti was at ease as she saw that Lord Krishna was present there and was adorning the most respected position. Krishna started to speak, “Yudhishira, it was I who arranged this meeting to let you know that all your present difficulties would vanish if you follow the path of truth and righteousness. This is an opportunity for that”. But Yudhisthira did not respond. Krishna continued, ‘Now Arjuna is not just another prince. He is the husband of Draupadi and the son-in-law of King Drupada. So it is mandatory that he keeps up the dignity of his position.’ Krishna’s majestic words were keenly listened to by all. Suddenly Yudhisthira came alive, “It’s not yet decided who are going to be Draupadi’s husbands”. Everybody except Krishna was shocked to hear these rather retorting words of Yudhisthira! Kunti was also taken aback. When Krishna half teasingly asked, ‘How could Yudhishthira ever utter such nonsensical words, his resentment grew beyond measure. He said unperturbed, “We are dutiful sons who obey their mother’s words, whatever they be.” He was testing the patience of everybody! Kunti realised that the discussion was taking an unpleasant turn and decided to step in. ‘Listen to me, Krishna. My sons reached home with Draupadi while I was busy cooking food for them. When Yudhishthira called out to me that they had brought some special alms that day, without even checking what it was, I unwittingly told them to share whatever it was equally among themselves. Yudhishthira is now misinterpreting my words!” Kunti’s words were most appropriate in that situation.
Draupadi’s eyes reflected her immense relief in hearing Kunti. But Drupada and his other family members were not so relieved because they could sense tension mounting up in the atmosphere. Krishna tried to lighten the scene by trivialising Kunti’s utterance to her children while she was busy in cooking. Seeing this, Yudhishthira again became agitated. His words became sharper, “So do you mean to say that our mother’s words are to be ignored? Do they have no value?” Krishna tried to convince him that he was mistaken. ‘Ma Kunti herself has confessed that she was otherwise engaged while instructing her sons to share the alms they got and didn’t pay due attention to the happenings outside. She deeply regrets it now. She was only stating the general rule that they always followed and there was no intension in her to ask her sons to make Draupadi a wife for all of them!’ Then he proceeded to analyse the different aspects of the issue with hair splitting precision. ‘The bounty they received that day was not something that could be measured in quantity and then divided equally! The bounty was Arjuna’s wife!’ Then Krishna started shooting questions at Yudhishthira, disarming him of all his senseless arguments. ‘Is it your culture to share one’s own wife among many? Does such an act show any morality? Is it Yudhishthira’s nobility to partake in such a heinous act in the pretext of obeying his mother? Does sharing his own wife exhibit Arjuna’s bravery? Are Yudhishthira and Bhima showing piety by making their brother’s wife their own? How could Nakula and Sahadeva be so immoral as to share their elder brother’s wife? Is it Kunti’s speciality to divide and give her daughter-in-law to all her sons alike? And is it Draupadi’s chastity to remain a wife to many brothers? Should a pious ruler like Drupada support such an unethical deed? I cannot be a part to this immoral act.’ Hearing this all those who were present there lowered their heads. They had no answer to Krishna.
Finally Drupada was relieved of his heavy mind. It was Krishna who had inculcated deep love for Arjuna in Draupadi by telling her stories when she was a small girl. Now she got Arjuna as her husband. Drupada saluted Krishna in his mind. Kunti was also regaining her peace. Draupadi, who was known as Krishna or Panchali was happy and thanked Krishna profusely in her mind. Though Arjuna was a little embarrassed, he also felt pride in Krishna’s words. Krishna, the Eigth Incarnation (Avathar) of VishnuDeva, would always take actions based on strong morals and practicality. He would not support anything illegitimate. Kunti also felt confident that since the issue had reached in the hands of Krishna, it would be settled in the right and amicable manner. Meanwhile, Krishna continued, ‘Motherhood is the last word of selfless love. Although a woman has to enact the roles of a sister, wife, daughter and mother, her position as a mother is the most noble. All her children have an equal place in a mother’s bosom. Hence, when Kunti said ‘divide your bounty equally’, she was only being fair in fulfilling her motherly duty. Everybody should get what they rightfully and morally deserve, or else there would be anarchy and instability in the country. And that would be its downfall. Every action should be based on principles and good values and then only Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu would shower their blessings consistently.
‘Draupadi should be wife to only Arjuna and sister-in-law to the other four brothers, Yudhishthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. There would be strong bond and harmony in the relations only if they behave wisely and sensibly.’ Krishna’s judgemental statements were strongly based on the age old culture of the land that still remain to be the pillars of our heritage. ‘A mother gives appropriate food to each one of her children. What she gives to the eldest may not be suitable for the youngest; what is good for one may not be so for another. Requirements depend upon the body structure, age and other factors. She would be satisfied only when she identifies and gives the food that is needed for each one. The quantity and quality of food varies from one to another. It is not wise to insist on giving the same to all the siblings. What is required by the eldest might be too much for the youngest and what is enough for the youngest might be too little for the elder. There it would be foolish to insist on uniformity.’ The words of Krishna were like a soothing shower of nectar on Kunti. Draupadi also was energised by Krishna’s words.
‘It is true that a mother should never show partiality to her children. But should all her children get uniform portions from her, whether they are small or big? This would create difficulties. For the small child the food will be more than what he could consume but for the big child it would be insufficient. Since the general wellbeing of her children is her prime aim, the mother should take into consideration all aspects like age, body structure, health etc. Only then she could be said to be fulfilling her motherly duty. Likewise, Kunti said what they got should be shared equally. That only meant they should take their share according to their position in the family; what they truly deserve.’
‘If royalty itself goes against rules of morality, what would be the fate of the subjects? Pandavas should never set a wrong example.’ Saying this, Krishna glanced at everyone present, especially Draupadi. He continued, ‘As an honourable lady of a royal family, Draupadi had never agreed to be the wife of all the five brothers when she consented for her wedding with Arjuna. Why should she subject herself to the obstinacy of Yudhishthira? Is it not treachery? Even an ordinary citizen has the right to live according to his values; so it goes without saying that Drupadi’s wish could not be violated. Any attempt in that direction would be unacceptable. Decisions should be based on good intention, care, consideration, observation, analysis and wisdom. Only then could those decisions be put into practice. And such practices should be unquestionable morally and ethically.”
‘Arjuna’s elder brother, Yudhishthira should have looked objectively into what Ma Kunthi hastily and thoughtlessly blurted out. He should have analysed it wisely befitting the royal dignity, before telling his opinion. If he had done so, the issue could have been solved in no time. This topic would not have got so much of undue importance.’ Krishna continued, ‘On top of all this, king Drupada’s criterion in selecting the bridegroom was very immature and unethical. Expertise and talent in archery should not have been the yardstick of eligibility to become the groom of his daughter. A clear vision of life, righteousness, practical insight, truthfulness, diligence, enthusiasm, moral courage, care to fulfil duties to parents and elders, wisdom to identify wrong notions and practices and ability to stand away from them, spirituality, flexibility, progressiveness, social awareness, tolerance, adaptability- these are the qualities a king should look for in a prospective groom. A wedding should not be reduced into a competition. In a swayamvara, as conducted here, the bride is choosing her groom from a pool of contestants. In effect, it is like insulting the rejected ones. A marriage is a matter of one’s very personal likes and preferences. It is not to be exhibited in the public but to be held in privacy in a small gathering of relatives and well-wishers only. On the other hand, if the bride selects one out of the many invitees who had come coveting her in marriage, it is equal to insulting the others. This practice should be discouraged. It only breeds rivalry; invites animosity even from friendly neighbouring countries.’
Lord Krishna said he had already made this clear to King Drupada. But he did not take it seriously. It is an individual’s decision to do what he wants. He has the freedom to take an advice or reject it. Krishna’s duty was to reveal the right path and never stand with wrong doings. The doer is solely responsible for his actions, good or bad.
‘I did not partake in the swayamvara, but I know what would have happened there. That is why I reached here and announce my judgement in an issue where morality is at stake. What happens here should not become a blemish to the period of my Avatar. Yudhishthira has to correct his misconceptions. I am not with him in this issue.’ He proclaimed with strong conviction.
Then he continued, ‘In the present state of Pandavas, where they wander with no place even to fulfil their basic needs, priority should be given to finding a solution for that. All problems should be truthfully and earnestly approached if a solution is to be evolved.’
Another context was recalled where the Lord had handled a very difficult situation in the most appropriate manner. Queen Kaikeyi misused the boon given to her by King Dasharatha and asked to send the Seventh Incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Sree Rama, to the forest for fourteen years. What did the Lord do? Discussing with Sree Rama he gathered the truth and weighed the pros and cons, called for the assembly of royals and led the discussion and thereby ultimately evolved the rightful course of action for Sree Rama. Realising his own mistake, Dasaratha stepped down from the throne to entrust the kingdom to Sree Rama. The enthroned Sree Rama very objectively examined the events starting from Dasaratha giving the boon to the happenings that led him to be exiled. He pronounced sentences to the deserving offenders who took the wrong paths. Though Dasaratha, Manthara and Kaikeyi were guilty, their evil intentions had not been fulfilled. As they were publicly proved to be guilty they were in shame and were rejected by the people. No one should suffer punishment twice for one crime. So they were acquitted. To set an example and warn the people who instigate others to commit offences, Manthara was punished. A King should never heed to wrong requests; he should never give boons that would hinder imparting his official commitments; he should not exploit his official position for his personal benefits. Those who pretend to do their duties but have hidden agendas behind them, are to be dealt with as criminals. A King should punish the offender ignoring his relationship with him. That is the moral duty of a King. He should not only uphold the value of truth but also convince the people that he is doing so. ‘The story of Rama, the incarnation of virtues mandatory for a King, is helpful in taking a decision in the present situation’, said Krishna. (Read the first part of ‘The real story of Sree Rama’ by Kalkipuri Publications).
Kunti was amazed at the wisdom of Lord Krishna’s words. She mentally prostrated in front of Him.
Though Yudhishthira’s mind was filling up with resentment towards Krishna, he was not in any position to open his mind in front of all. Drupada rose to the occasion by saying that the course of action for the safety and success of Pandavas including Ma Kunti and Draupadi could be decided in the presence of Krishna.
“Yes”, Krishna said. “Decisions should be befitting the royalty. Draupadi is only Arjuna’s wife. She is the sister-in-law of Yudhishthira, Bheema, Nakula and Sahadeva. They should uphold the values of the age old culture of the land by behaving with dignity. Since Draupadi always treated every one according to what they deserved, usually the Pandava brothers did not crave for undeserving possessions. Here, although their misplaced ambition did not bear fruits, the sheer fact that it occurred in their minds is a warning to Draupadi. She should, hereafter, pay more attention while mingling with them. Or else it will lead to suspicion and criticism which would affect their life. True knowledge of the law of the land alone will help in ruling a country with the blessings of Lord, extending peace and prosperity to the people.” Krishna’s words made Pandavas, including Yudhishthira, uneasy but they had no way but to accept them. Kunti prostrated at the feet of Krishna for setting the stage for Draupadi to live as the wife of only Arjuna.