short story from the Mahabharata

updated 26 Sep, 05
Though I’d read the Mahabharata in my childhood days – all abridged versions, though from multiple sources , I heard a story today in a seminar in IISc that I had never heard before… (What’s in italics here is merely a verbatim repetition to the best of my memory…)

After the war was over, Duryodhana lay mortally injured on the battlefield, his thighs broken, simply lying there awaiting his death.

Krishna is with the victorious Pandavas, and suddenly thinks of Duryodhana and feels “he is in such a bad state, after all he is also my brother-in-law, let me go and atleast visit him”. Yudhisthira readily agrees but the other Pandavas would have nothing of it and stay back. So Krishna and Yudhisthira go and visit Duryodhana and contrasts him lying there in a terrible condition with Yudhisthira who is the victor of a kingdom. How did he end up like this…?

And Duryodhana lying there, says to Krishna…

jaanaami dharmam na cha me pravritihi
jaanami adharmam na cha me nivrutihi
kenaapi deven hridasdhiten yatha
niyuktosmi tatha karomi

Not only Yudhisthira, I too knew all about right conduct and the right thing to do at the right time and all that kind of thing. But… the only difference was that when actual situations came where I knew I should do something, I could not bring himself to doing it! And when actual situations came when I knew I was not to do something, I could not really get myself to refrain from doing it! There are some unknown forces within me dragging me in other directions which I simply cannot resist!

And after narrating this story, the speaker in the seminar posed this question to the audience: Do you know this person Duryodhana? Do you know him?? Where is he?!

Pin drop silence for what seemed to be eternity.

(As far as I am concerned… I was stunned – stone stunned – to clearly see him in me …in so many situations of my own life! )

[Btw after hearing him quote directly, for the first time in so many years, I wished I’d learnt Sanskrit properly when I’d studied it in school 😉 ] …but anyway, I felt this story represented the very core of the great epic.

Literally, Duryodhana means “hard to conquer”

12 Responses to “short story from the Mahabharata”

  1. Pratap Says:

    *Literally, Duryodhana means “hard to conquer” *

    If you go by the meaning given above, then Suyodhana means something opposite to this!!!

    Hmmm… But I have seen Duryodhana also being addressed as Suyodhana!

    Any clues about this ?

  2. msanjay Says:

    interesting point, I will try to find out and post it here.

  3. msanjay Says:

    Pratap, I asked the speaker (who was among other things, a scholar) and he said that indeed Duryodhana was called Suyodhana, and mostly as far as he remembered only by Drithirashtra… his blind father.

  4. Sanjay Mysoremutt ಸಂಜಯ » Blog Archive » lessons from nature| ಪ್ರಕ್ರುತಿಯ ಪಾಠ Says:

    […] of life worth living Nevertheless there’s a mere hairline – yet infinitely deep – chasm, between knowing the path and walking on it! There’s no doubt […]

  5. Sanjay Mysoremutt ಸಂಜಯ » Blog Archive » quote: benefits of philosophy Says:

    […] ns to him. I guess this rather stunning quote conveys more or less the same point as this story from the Mahabharata Allthough philosophy is something I may indu […]

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    […] othing to stop me really from living the same way here. Hmm… just a case of being in Duryodhana’s situation… Procrastination is a universal proble […]

  7. Harish Says:

    I have heard some scholar saying that Vyasa has also described Weak points of Arjuna, Good points of Duryodhana. I feel the above verse fits in this catagory.
    Very interesting. I have Sanskrit version of Mahabharata. Can you tell me the Canto No. Chapter No. etc of this beautiful verse?

  8. Harish Says:

    I will be obliged if any reader may send me the info about the Chapter No. and Verse No. of this (Jaanaami..)Shloka at the following email

  9. msanjay Says:

    no idea Harish, if I find out I’ll let you know. Thanks for your points – didn’t know weaknesses of Arjuna were described as well, pls post further info if you come across it.

  10. Harish Says:

    If we consider the text (and not the SPIRITUAL meaning), then Arjuna’s weaknesses are blown up(with e-Vyasa’s Magnifier Tool) like anything in Bhagavad-Gita Chapter of Mahabharata.

    The following is one of the very popular verses describing Arjuna’s autobiography at that critical time.

    gaandivam saunsate hastaad, twak cha eva paridahyate
    na cha shaknomi avasthaatum bhramati iva cha me manah (Bh.Gita 1:30)

    Verses 28 to 47 of Bh.Gita Ch.1, best describe the unbalanced state of Arjuna’s mind. Even an innocent will have a laugh to a great warrier Arjuna’s arguments for stepping back from the fight.

    This is only true for the person of the superficial level of understanding like me.. If one travels subtle (I am not the one), he finds that all the characters described in Mahabharata are one’s very own qualities. Sometimes my innocence (Arjun) supersedes my wickedness(Duryodhana), sometimes vice-versa.

    At the time of exam, when mother tells her brilliant child, “Hey, you’re not doing well, Be aware, you are going to get zero number this time”, obviously the undercurrent meaning of her ill-looking statement is, “My child, you are CAPABLE, you can DO it. Just be ALERT always”. Her only aim is to keep the bullet-mind of his child ON THE RIGHT TRACK. The same way Vyasa acting Mother warns my Arjuna to be AWARE always, motivates my Duryodhana to nourish good qualities, while describing weaknesses and strengths respectively.

    And if one dives further deep into the mind-ocean (again I am not the one) the words become meanings themselves. Vinoba Bhave, C Rajagopalachari and many others have commented thoroughly in this regard. I will be back if I find something further sharable.

  11. Manikanta raj Says:

    I think about my self Duryodhana is best of mahabharata

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