Dharamaraj Yudhistira?

Posted: 2011-03-29T07:16:00Z
"Dharamaraja Yudhistira?"
I know most of you would be wondering as to why did I put a question mark along with it!
Because I really do wonder what does Dharma say in the various situations in which he did not raise his voice, mostly related to Draupadi.

NOTE:-I would open the topic with an apology.... i'e. if I my views are not fit .... i am ready to be enlightened.
I hope I am pardoned!
I admitt my views about Dharmaraja Yudhistira are not as high as they must be.... so can anyone offer n explanation as to how far were his actions justified?

[source wiki]


The Attempted Stripping

Draupadi humiliated. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

This key incident is often considered to mark a definitive moment in the story of Mahabharata. It is the one of the driving reasons that ultimately led to the Mahabharata war, though it cannot be considered the central or the most important one.

Yudhishthira and his four brothers were the rulers of Indraprastha under the sovereignty of King Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra's sonDuryodhana who resided in the capital of the empire Hastinapura was always jealous of his cousins and the wealth they had acquired by building Indraprastha. To take revenge on the Pandavas, his uncle Shakuni came up with a plan and together with his brothers, his friend Karna and maternal uncle Shakuni, he conspired to call the Pandavas at Hastinapura and win their kingdoms in a game of gambling. Shakuni was skilled at winning by unfair means. The idea was that Shakuni would play against Yudhishthira and win at the gambling table what was impossible to win at the battlefield.

As the game proceeded, Yudhishthira lost all his wealth and kingdom one by one. Having lost all material wealth, he went on to put his brothers at stake one by one and lost them too. Ultimately he put himself at stake, and lost again. All the Pandavas were now the servants of Kauravas. But for the Shakuni, the humiliation of Pandavas was not complete. He prods Yudhishthira that he has not lost everything yet; Yudhishthira still has Draupadi with him and if he wishes he can win everything back by putting Draupadi at stake. Yudhishthira walks into the trap and to the horror of everybody present, puts Draupadi as a bet for the next round. But Bhishma and Drona oppose this move recalling that a queen being a woman cannot be put at stake. However Yudhishthira ignores their call and puts her at stake much to the ire of Bhishma, who in his frustration breaks his chair. Shakuni wins. Duryodhana commands his younger brother Dushasana to forcefully bring her into the forum. Dushasana barges into the living quarters of Draupadi, who was "clad in one piece of attire"[2]. Dushasana grabs her by the hair and brings her into the court dragging her by the hair.

Bhima and Draupadi, as depicted inyakshagana.

Now in an emotional appeal to the elders present in the forum, Draupadi repeatedly questions the legality of the right of Yudhishthira to place her at stake when he himself had lost his freedom and as a consequence did not possess any property in the first place. Everybody remains dumbfounded. Bhishma, the patriarch of the Kaurava family and a formidable warrior, has only this explanation to offer to Draupadi - "The course of morality is subtle and even the illustrious wise in this world fail to always understand it." Duryodhana now commands the Pandavas to strip themselves in the manner of dasa. They obey by stripping off their upper garments.

Then Kauravas demand the same from Draupadi who refuses. Then to the horror of everybody present, Dushasana tries to strip Draupadi of hersari. Seeing her husbands unable or unwilling to help her, Draupadi prays to Krishna to protect her. A miracle occurs henceforward, which is popularly attributed to Krishna but in Vyasa's Mahabharata, Draupadi's saviour is named as Dharma (who could be just morality, the god Dharma, Krishna as the Lord of Dharma, or even Vidura or Yudhishthira, or even a logical paradox of Draupadi's question - did Yudhishthira have the right to stake her when he had already lost himself). As Dushasana unwraps layers and layers of her sari, her sari keeps getting extended. Bhima is furious at Dushasana and says, "I Bhim, Pandu's son vows until I will tear open Dushasana's chest and drink his blood I will not show my face to my ancestors." Finally, a tired Dushasana backs off without being able to strip Draupadi.

Duryodhana repeatedly challenges Yudhishthira's four brothers to disassociate themselves from Yudhishthira's authority and take their wife back. No one dares to denounce their loyalty to their eldest brother. In order to provoke the Pandavas further, Duryodhana bares and pats his thigh looking into Draupadi's eyes, implying that she should sit on his thigh. In rage Bhima vows in front of the entire assembly that one day he will break that very thigh of Duryodhan in battle.

The only Kaurav who objects to the disrobing of Draupadi in the court is Vikarna. Vikarna also appeals the assembly to answer the questions raised by Daruapadi but in vain.

Finally, the blind monarch Dhritarashtra's conscience is stirred, in part fearing the wrath of Pandavas against his sons. He intervenes and asks Draupadi to wish for whatever she desires. Draupadi asks her husbands the Pandavas to be freed from bondage. Dhritarashtra grants her wish and also restores to Pandavas all they lost in the game of dice. Free from the bondage Bhima immediately proposes to his brothers to slay all Kauravas present then and there itself. Yudhishthira and Arjuna prevent him from taking any rash action. After many words of reconciliation between Pandavas and Dhritarashtra, Pandavas withdraw to their kingdom along with Draupadi and their entourage.

Shakuni, Karna and Duryodhana later convince Dhritarashtra to invite Pandavas for a new game of dice, with modified rules. It was following the defeat in this new game that Pandavas were sent into exile for 12 years.

However, not pledging her, given that the other Pandava brothers had already been pledged and lost, would also not have resolved the dilemma Yudhishthira faced. That the elders likeBhishmaDrona, and Dhritarashtra remained silent spectators of the entire episode adds valuable insight to their personalities too. Vidura was the only one who objected to the whole thing but he did not have the authority to stop it.


[edit]The Abduction of Draupadi by Jayadratha

While the Pandavas were in the Kamyaka forest, they often went hunting, leaving Draupadi in the care of Dhaumya, their priest. At this time Jayadratha, the son of Vriddhakshatra, the husband of Duryodhana's sister Dussala, passed through Kamyaka forest on the way to Salwa Desa. There he saw the stunningly beautiful Draupadi. Jayadratha then started beseeching her to go away with him and desert her husbands who had fallen upon bad times. Draupadi pointed out that it was wrong to desert one's spouses when they were in difficulty and then gave him a rather long and deliberately delaying speech on exactly the sort of bad time her husbands would give him on their return.Jayadratha then said "thou canst not frighten us(he was with several other Kings when he saw and abducted Draupadi) now with these threats. We, too, O Krishna, belong by birth to the seventeen high clans, and are endowed with the six royal qualities." and was sure that he could beat the Pandavas in battle. Draupadi said "Even Indra himself cannot abduct her for whose protection Krishna and Arjuna would together follow, riding in the same chariot." And she spoke of the way in which Jishnu (Arjuna) would rout Jayadratha and his armies. She also said, "The warring princes of the Andhaka and the Vrishni races, with Janardana at their head, and the mighty bowmen of the Kaikeya tribe, will all follow in my wake with great ardour". Failing with words Jayadratha tried violence and she called for Dhaumya's help. Though she pushed him to the ground, he overpowered her and forced her onto his chariot. Meanwhile the Pandavas had finished their hunt and Yudhisthira observed that all the animals were disturbed in one direction and was suddenly overcome by premonitions. So he and his brother climbed their chariots pulled by horses of Saindhava breed and gave chase in the direction of the disturbance.And on learning of their wife's abduction by Jayadratha they rushed towards that host with great fury( like hawks swooping down on their prey. And possessed of the prowess of Indra, they had been filled with fury at the insult offered to Draupadi. But at sight of Jayadratha and of their beloved wife seated on his car, their fury knew no bounds).Then follows the exciting description of a battle in which the 5 pandavas routed the Sauviras, Ikshwakus, Sivis, and Saindhavas and their armies.Jayadratha in fera ran away leaving Draupadi behind in all this confusion. Dharmaja urged Bhima to spare Jayadratha's life for the sake of Dussala and Gandhari, much to the indignation of Draupadi.And that highly intelligent lady in her excitement said to her two husbands, Bhima and Arjuna with indignation mixed with modesty, 'If you care to do what is agreeable to me, you must slay that mean and despicable wretch, that sinful, foolish, infamous and contemptible chief of the Saindhava clan! That foe who forcibly carries away a wife, and he that wrests a kingdom, should never be forgiven on the battle-field, even though he should supplicate for mercy!' Thus admonished, those two valiant warriors went in search of the Saindhava chief. Bhima and Arjuna caught up with Jayadratha and Arjuna asked him how an unmanly fellow like himself had the guts to take a woman away by force. Thereafter there was more running away than actual fighting and Bhima caught Jayadratha and wanted to kill him. Arjuna reminded him of Dharmaraj(Yudhisthira)'s words, so the annoyed Bhima shaved Jayadratha's head in 5 places and made him swear to declare himself the slave of the Pandavas in public.They brought the chained Jayadratha back to the hermitage where Yudhisthita later forgived him telling him not to repeat such an evil deed again and freed him.(Book 3: Vana Parva-Draupadi-harana Parva)

[edit]Kichaka's Attempted Molestation

Kichaka with Draupadi.

While the pandavas were leading their normal life in their own disguised form, one day Kichaka, the brother of sudeshana, and the commander of virata's forces, happened to see the draupadi. He was pleased by the beauty of her. Also Kichaka struck hard with the shafts of cupid in the desire to obtain her.Kichaka praises Draupadi with the words of beauty. He asks her to serve him with her beauty. When Draupadi rejects he tries to attract her by telling that he will marry her. Then she can enjoy the pleasure of richness and the service of maids. But Draupadi refuses him by telling that she is already married to 'Gandharvas'. She warns Kichaka that her husbands are very strong and you cannot escape the Death from their hands.Later he played a trick to get her with help of queen Sudeshna. Sudeshna ordered to Draupadi to serve food and wine for Kichaka. Draupadi tried to oppose but failed. Draupadi entered alone to Kichaka's room, Kichaka tried to rape her. Draupadi escapes from his hands and runs into the court of Virata. Kichaka kicked her in front of all the courtiers. Yudhisthira who was also present in the court did not try to interrupt the wickedness of Kichaka. Bhimasena began to crush his teeth in anger. He was commaded by Yudhisthira to suppress his anger. Draupadi curses Kichaka in the court that his husbands 'Gandharvas' will surely kill him. King Virata says that he did not know of the quarrel between them and he will go through the true version of the case. The courtiers praised Draupadi's attitude (a lady of such kind is very rare). She, later at night, comblind to her husband Bhima and so he planned to kill Kichaka through a plan which involve Draupadi's assistance. Khichaka comes near her after the night passed. He tells her that she have no other chance except to accept him. Draupadi, as per the plan, agrees with him but on some conditions. None of his fiends or brothers should know their relationship. This is so because the Gandharvas will know. Kichaka accepts her condition and promises her that he will not let anyone that they are united. Draupadi asks Kichaka to come to the dancing hall at night. Bhima fought with Kichaka and finally Kichaka was killed. (Book 4: Virata Parva, Kichaka-badha Parva)


How far were his actions justified as Dharmaraja?

Did dharma not allow him to stand for his own wife?

Did dharma allow him to gamble on his wife?

Did dharma allow him to continue being helpless when his wife was in grave trouble?

You may skip the wiki info!

Most of us might know it already!

Big smile

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Posted: 2011-03-29T19:29:38Z
RES for reply!
But let me just say beforehand that I'm happy you opened this topic Radha, as Yudhisthira is my favorite Pandava and I am always looking for a chance to defend him.Big smileLOL
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Posted: 2011-03-31T09:00:03Z
There is one more acquisition that is made over Yudhistira. During the war he "lied" about the death of Ashwathama. Even though it is not a pure lie; many do consider it as a serious flaw in his character.
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Posted: 2011-03-31T09:49:00Z
I can justify that lie! LOL
The Bhagwad Gita itself mentioned ....Kisi ki bhalai ke liye bola gaya jhooth 100 sach se upar hai.
Guru Drona was wrong. He was involved in all crimes Duryodhana committed. Be it keeping mum During dhudh krida or others. His death was required..... otherwise what message would have passed on to generations!
So, in a way, I did not find fault with that!
But others....Dead
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Posted: 2011-04-01T06:11:38Z
Very good post TM...The problem lies in the interpretation of Dharma. What is Dharma? Is it whatever written in scriptures? If yes, then Yudhishtir was right. According to scriptures, wife and younger brothers are "properties" of husband and elder brother respectively. So he had every right to gamble them away. Raja Harishchandra had sold off his wife and children in the same way for almost the same reason.

And if we consider scriptures to be Dharma, even Duryodhan and Karna were perfectly justified. Duryodhan ordered Dushasan to disrobe Draupadi. Because he "owned" her and she was his slave, his property. Similarly, Karna called Draupadi a wh**e. Even that was right as according to the scriptures, any woman marrying/ begetting children to more than 4 husbands is a prostitute. (That is why Kunti had refused to beget Pandu any more children after Ajuna, as she had 4 children from 4 Gods, though that was unknown to Pandu)

Yudhishtir, Duryodhan and Karna were technically right. But morally?? Certainly not. And the same thing could be said about Dushasan. You may say that he merely did his dharma, by obeying his elder brother's command. You can also say that Bhishma, Drona, Kripa were following Dharma as they were not suppose to object to the decisions of the King or the Crown Prince. So were they Dharmic?? NO they all were Adharmis. Because all of them either directly or indirectly supported Adharma.

Dharma is NOT there in any scripture. Scriptures are actually rule books written by the privileged and the educated, mostly with the intention to dominate the weak and uneducated. Be it Vedas, Bible, Quran or the Granths - I think all are worthless. Throw them away, if possible burn them. They are of no use to anyone. They can neither give us knowledge nor truth. Perhaps that is why all scriptures are, some way or the other, biased - be it gender wise or caste wise or creed-wise. Scriptures have always been used as per the convenience of a wrong-doer to justify his sins. That is why Krishna says "Discard all religion and surrender in me". That is why when the upper class began to use the Vedic knowledge to their own advantage and oppress the poor and illiterates, Narayan himself manifested as Buddha and shunned those Vedas and showed us a different path. Narayan is in our own conscience. Our conscience is the Ninth Gate which leads to Him. There is no higher Dharma than our own conscience. Only those who follow their conscience are the Dharmic people and rest all are Adharmis.

The only people who followed their Dharma in that particular incident were Vidur and Vikarna.
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Posted: 2011-04-30T16:05:55Z

I am happy to see a topic on Yudhistira and I hope that ppl here can understand the great character he was!!!!

Firstly, the term "Dharma-Raj" is to be understood in the appropriate manner.

Does the title mean he is the role model for everyone to follow "dharma"?

I for sure not think so. If it were the case, we would have prayed him just the way we are doing Lord Krishna today.

Then why have a title..>

In my view, Yudhi has certainly followed "dharmic" principles as given in the "Dharma Shastras" more than anyone(Kshatriya) else of his generation in and around H'pur!!! (Yes, Lord Krishna was an exception but that is an exception.)

How far were his actions justified as Dharmaraja?

If you were assuming that "Dharmaraja" is a perfectly dharmic king, then there is no debate. If you agree with my definition, then I explain his actions as black dots on otherwise white space, which is his whole character.

Did dharma not allow him to stand for his own wife?

That is the dilemma he faced during those "black" incidents he mentioned. It is not as if Dharma did not allow him but his understanding of dharma was not perfect (as that of Lord Krishna).

Did dharma allow him to gamble on his wife?

Yes it did (partially) a loophole "Dushta Chatushtayam" cleverly exploited and "No" it did not holistically. Yudhi was in such a bad mental state at that time that he probably did not care whether he was taking "the most dharmic" step among the available options and yes in my view that is indeed a "black" dot of his otherwise Dharmic life.

Lord Krishna has explained clearly that wife is not an object that is owned by husband and hence cannot be gambled!!!!! Overall adharmic nature of the action is well explained.

Did dharma allow him to continue being helpless when his wife was in grave trouble?

Again he was taking the wrong Dharmic principle that he was a slave and he does not have any right to speak up at the moment of his wife's humiliation.

Moreover, Yudhi is such a great character who never felt anger at any point of time(almost). He could always forgive anyone for anything.

I am finishing my post with the great(greatest) message that Yudhi has given to the mankind!!!!!

          Forgiveness is Righteousness
          Forgiveness is Mercy
          Forgiveness is Compassion
          Forgiveness is truth
          Forgiveness is everything the world depends upon

     I will never forsake the greatest virtue that is Forgiveness

         Forgive... Forgive... Forgive...

     I will always and always have high regards for the great Yudhistira for this great message he has given by leading his life!!!!!

Whenever I am angry or irritated by someone/something that that someone/something has been unfair to me, I hope to recollect the memory of these great words and tell to myself, "Can I be anywhere close to what Yudhistira was? Is it possible for me to be at least one part of what he was?"

IMHO, Life will be wonderful for everyone if everybody in the world can inculcate it!!!!!!!!!!!Smile

Edited by esrujan - 2011-04-30T16:06:12Z
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Posted: 2011-04-30T16:37:21Z
Originally posted by lakshmin42

There is one more acquisition that is made over Yudhistira. During the war he "lied" about the death of Ashwathama. Even though it is not a pure lie; many do consider it as a serious flaw in his character.

For this I agree to Radt that his lie was justified and even he was punished for the same as he visited hell for once(as punishment.)... 

But the point is: someone lost his life due to his half-lie.. and that is not justified.. but whether we talk about episode of chirharan or half-truth half lie, we can see that he kept his Dharma over everything.. 

I read an impressive post by Janki ji about Lord Ram .. that post justified why Lord Ram should not be blamed for banishing Sita ji from Ayodhya.. the reason is same..Dharma..

Dharma says country comes prior to your wife... and he wanted to have rule of Dharma (Dharm Raj) in his own country so whatever sacrifices that asked, he kept going with all including betting on his wife-draupadi.. Same thing applied in other case of half-lie about ashwaththama.. winning that war was dharma of Skhatriya..

Moreover, he is known as dharmraj for other reasons, not the one we are defending right now..

Till his death, he didn't leave righteous path of dharma.. and that dog story (his journey to heaven), answering yaksh's questions to save his brother etc explains it all..

Lastly, that was the time of Mahabharat and within few years Kaliyug started so whatever he did at that time couldnt be questioned on the name of Dharma for sure!

Edited by jaisiyaram - 2011-04-30T16:39:42Z
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Posted: 2011-04-30T20:04:38Z
@jaisiyaram...I agree that Nation comes prior to wife. But, I am afraid, banishing an innocent can never be justice. Ram obeyed his Maryada, but not Dharma. If Sita had been guilty and Ram had punished her, that would have been absolute Dharma. Maryada means obeying traditions, norms and Religious texts while Dharma means absolute Righteousness, even it requires you to go against the prescribed norms of the society.

Please read the second-last post of mine in this page. I have tried to explain the difference between Dharma and Maryada, between Ram's actions and Krishna's actions.


Yudhishtir deviated from the path of Dharma by wagering away his wife and brothers. If Yudhishtir wasn't unrighteous, then even Shakuni, Duryodhan, Dusshasan and Karna were not unrighteous. Technically they had every right to insult Draupadi as she was their slave and as per Karna's definition, she was a wh**e as well.
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