Mahabharat Episode 45: Duryodhana vs. Bhima - The Final Fight Begins
What happened so far : After Arjuna kills Karna, the war soon comes to a close. All the Kauravas are dead except Duryodhana, Ashwatthama and Kripacharya.
After the War, Still HostilitySadhguru :The war has ended. The Pandavas have won; Duryodhana leaves the camp. He is burning with the shame of being defeated. Vyasa described it as being like hot oil poured over Duryodhana’s skin. Duryodhana goes to a place where there is a small pond, and he uses a certain capability he has to sit inside the cool water. He wants to quell the suffering he is going through; his body is burning like he is in hot oil, so he goes and sits underwater. Krishna says, “Duryodhana is still not dead, so the war is not over. Look for him.” They go looking here, there – he is nowhere to be found. They sent spies all over the place, to nearby forests, caves, searching everywhere.
Then they find footsteps going into this pond and not coming out. The Pandavas arrive, and Bhima loudly shouts at Duryodhana, “Hey coward, what are you doing there underwater? Come.” Duryodhana hears it, but he restrains himself; he knows this is not the time to burst out. Then they are all looking at what to do, because they cannot go underwater like him and do what he is doing. Krishna indicates to Bhima, “Just taunt him. You are the best person. Use whatever vulgarities you have in your vocabulary.” So Bhima lets loose all the vulgar vocabulary that he has, insulting Duryodhana in many ways.
Duryodhana Burns Underwater
There is a beautiful piece of literature in Kannada, a poem that somehow stuck in my head. The poet is saying Bhima’s insults were such that Duryodhana started sweating inside the cold water. Unable to bear it, he comes out. Yudhishthira, being the king who won the war, steps up and says, “Duryodhana, you brought this war upon us. We did not want to fight, but unfortunately, you did not want to give what belongs to us. I even told you I just want five villages, but you said you will not even give me a needlepoint of land. We had to kill your brothers. We had to lose many people who are dear to us. Some of our children died; so many dear friends died. Now if I let you off, it will be a disgrace for you; you cannot bear it. So, you can duel any one of us with any weapon you choose. If you win, you can take back your kingdom.”
Krishna looks heavenward. What to do with this man! Yudhishthira is such a good man. After having hundreds and thousands of people dead, he wants to hand over the fruit of the war. When Yudhishthira gave him the choice of weapon, Duryodhana immediately saw his chance. If he picks the mace, there is nobody who can fight him. Bhima believes he can beat him, but the truth is that he cannot. Bhima is stronger than Duryodhana, but he is a little bit of a lump. Duryodhana has been training in mace fighting every day, for years; when the Pandavas were walking the jungles, he was training. He is a very skillful mace fighter.
The Last Duel
Yudhishthira says, “The choice of weapon is yours.” In this kind of extreme situation, he employs standard language, and he knows. He even says, “You can pick any one of us.” If Duryodhana picks Nakula or Sahadeva, he will swat them like flies. But his pride will not allow him to pick Nakula or Sahadeva. He says, “The choice of weapon is mace, and of course I will choose Bhima, because it has always been my wish to kill this lump of a man that you call a brother.”
Krishna rolls his eyeballs. The duel starts. Right from the first moment, Duryodhana has the upper hand, because during the war, a certain incident happened. Since Gandhari kept her eyes consciously closed for so long, she had acquired a certain amount of power within herself. When Gandhari saw, through Sanjaya’s eyes, that this war could go any which way, she decided to use her power. She told Duryodhana, “Tonight you come into my tent completely naked. I will look at you just once, and you will become indomitable; no one will be able to kill you. But you must come totally naked.”
Duryodhana, Tricked Again
Duryodhana had a dip in the river and was walking naked towards his mother’s tent. Krishna accosted him and said, “Oh Duryodhana, what is this? Like a child you are walking, but you are no child. I can see you are a grown up man.” Duryodhana covered himself. Krishna said, “Where are you heading? It looks like you are going towards your mother’s tent. Have you fallen this far that you’re going to your mother’s tent naked like this, a grown man,” he said mockingly. “No, my mother asked me to come like this; that’s why I am going.” “It doesn’t matter what she asked. She had her eyes covered all the time. She has not seen you. She thinks you are a baby. But you are a grown man, a king, a warrior. Don’t you have this much sense that in Arya dharma, we don’t stand naked in front of our mothers? At least cover yourself to the necessary extent.”
So Duryodhana cut a banana leaf, covered himself with it, and went to his mother. “Mother, I have come.” Gandhari untied her blindfold, opened her eyes and looked at him, and her heart sank. She let her power out, and then she asked, “Why did you cover yourself?” He said, “Mother, I thought it would be inappropriate to stand in front of you naked, so I covered myself with a leaf.” She shook her head, closed her eyes, tied the blindfold once again, and asked, “Who told you to cover yourself?” “Krishna.” Gandhari’s heart turned cold for Krishna. She waited for her opportunity to come.
The Skill to Kill
On the day of the duel, no matter what kind of blows Bhima strikes, Duryodhana again comes back. Duryodhana is not only protected, he is also more skillful than Bhima. Bhima is more powerful but Duryodhana is more skillful. Then, when it looks like for sure Bhima is going to die today, Duryodhana starts laughing. He is not only going to have the joy of killing Bhima, he is going to get back his kingdom. He is laughing, taunting Bhima. Duryodhana knows he can kill Bhima any moment. It is no more a fight – he is playing with Bhima.
To be continued..
Editor’s Note : A version of this article was originally published in the Forest Flower magazine, February 2019. To subscribe online, click here.