Mahabharat Episode 35: Durvasa’s Visit – Averting Fury and Curse
Duryodhana, still itching to bring more suffering on the already exiled Pandavas, tries to contrive a situation to have them cursed.
What has happened so far: The Pandavas are exiled in the forest for twelve plus one years. Surya Deva, the sun god, gives Draupadi the Akshaya Patra, a bowl that provides an abundant supply of food every day until Draupadi herself eats. Duryodhana, along with Karna, wanted to hunt down the unarmed Pandavas, but upon Vidura’s pleading, Dhritarashtra did not allow this.
Sadhguru: Sage Durvasa came to Hastinapur. He was known to be a very angry man. For the smallest things, he would flare up and curse people. The Mahabharat and even the Ramayan are full of his curses. Wherever he went, if he was pleased, he would bless them. He was the one who blessed Kunti with the mantra . He was the one who cursed Shakuntala (an earlier queen of Hastinapur). Wherever sage Durvasa went, everyone was on their toes to make sure that he did not get angry.
When Duryodhana came to know that Durvasa was on his way to Hastinapur, he went outside the gates of the city to receive him, which was a very unusual thing to do for Duryodhana. When he saw Durvasa, Duryodhana prostrated, welcomed him, brought him to the palace and offered him the best possible hospitality to keep him happy. By then, Duryodhana had come to know about the Akshaya Patra, the bowl that Draupadi had received from the sun god. People kept coming to visit the Pandavas in the forest, and because of this bowl, Draupadi was able to feed them well. The fact that the Pandavas were eating well and that they were even entertaining guests made Duryodhana furious. According to him, such things were not supposed to happen in the forest exile. Things were going well for the Pandavas in the forest. Duryodhana wanted to change that.
A few days into Durvasa’s stay with him, Duryodhana suggested, “My brothers, Pandu’s sons, are in the forest because of some unfortunate circumstances. As you have blessed me, they must also receive your blessings. Please go and bless my brothers.” Duryodhana told Durvasa that arrangements will be made at the camp for him and his people, and he sent his men to guide them to the Pandavas’ camp in the forest. But actually, the Pandavas and Draupadi were not informed about the impending visit of Durvasa and his few hundred disciples. Duryodhana wanted to make sure Durvasa and his entourage reached only after Draupadi had already eaten, so that she would have nothing to serve them. Then Durvasa would get angry, which for sure would be a disaster for her and her five husbands.
When they arrived, late in the afternoon, Durvasa and his disciples were very hungry from walking all the way from Hastinapur. Naturally, being a well-known sage, he expected a certain level of hospitality. The Pandavas welcomed him and said, “Please have your ritual bath in the river and then please come for food.” They did not know Draupadi had already eaten, which meant food would not come again before the next day. Durvasa and his disciples went to the river to have their ritual bath. Then, Draupadi came to know about their arrival, and she was in great distress. There was no point asking anyone around, because there was no one there who could provide food. And there was no point bothering her husbands either. At the most, they could have gone hunting, but Durvasa did not eat meat.
She knew a curse from Durvasa would be disastrous for them. Twelve years plus one year in exile was already a big enough disaster. Durvasa may curse you for a hundred years. She called out to Krishna, “Oh Krishna, only you can save me! Do something. I don’t want this sage to curse us now, when we are already down.” Krishna had promised her earlier, “Whenever you call, I will be there.” He appeared and Draupadi told him her plight, “Durvasa is here with his disciples. He is hungry. He will be back from his bath any minute. I have nothing to offer.” Krishna said, “Why only Durvasa? I’m also hungry. Is there nothing at all?” She said, “Nothing.” Then he said, “Show me the bowl.”
At the time when the news of Durvasa’s arrival reached her, Draupadi had just finished eating and was yet to go and wash the bowl. There was one tiny piece of a vegetable stuck to the bowl. Krishna took it and put it in his mouth. Draupadi said, “What are you doing, eating a leftover from me!” He closed his eyes and said, “Oh, I’m so full.” She thought he was mocking her – eating a small, leftover piece of vegetable and saying he was full. She said, “Don’t be so cruel. I’m already in great distress because these people are waiting and I have nothing to offer. And now you are doing this to me!” He said, “No, Panchali – I’m really very full,” and he burped.
Down at the river, Durvasa and the people who accompanied him had finished their bath. They were supposed to come for lunch now, but they all suddenly felt overfull. They said, “We can’t eat. We don’t need food.” “You cannot refuse our hospitality – please come.” The Pandava brothers insisted, not knowing about the whole situation. Now, this was a problem – when someone is asking you to come for a meal, you cannot say “no.” So they said, “We will come. You go – we will follow you.” When the Pandavas went to the camp to make some arrangements, they saw Krishna. They said, “Krishna, when did you arrive?” He said, “Draupadi invited me for lunch, so I came.” They said, “Durvasa and his disciples have come. They are also going to have lunch.” Krishna said, “Please bring them.” Nakula went to look for them, but no one was there. They had all run away, because their stomachs were so full, and they could not come and say they will not eat.
In many situations, when things were about to really go off course, the Pandavas always got help in some form, which was nothing short of miraculous. When Krishna seemed to let everything happen, and things were going to spill out of control, course corrections were always done. People made judgments, “Why all this? Could you not have done something earlier? You could have avoided the whole situation. You could have made sure Durvasa lost his way, or something like that.” But that is not how it works. You do not interfere with anything and everything. You let it run its course. Only when it is going beyond a certain point, you pitch in. Repeatedly, therefore, Krishna said, “I’m not here to continuously play the game for everyone. Everyone should play their own game. The only thing is that it should go where it needs to go. If it doesn’t, some corrections will be made here and there. But I cannot interfere with your life at every point.”
Grace does not mean you do not have a life to live. It does not mean you do not have to use your brains or your body. In fact, it means you have to use them much more than ever before, because you are working with a partner who is of a different nature. When you have a partner like that, you better work to the limit. Do not think that because you have a good partner, you can sit around – then he will not be your partner. It is so even if your partner is a human being. If you have a great partner, you will have to strive to do great things – otherwise you won’t have a great partner.
This is the message that Krishna is constantly giving to them: “Yes, I’m there, but you have to do what you have to do.” In the name of devotion, in the name of the Divine, people tend to become lazy, lethargic, and do not explore the full potential of who they are. So Krishna is constantly telling them, “It is your complete involvement in every aspect of life which is most important. I’m there, but you have to do what you have to do.” The very Gita is just this. Arjuna is trying to throw up his hands and say to Krishna, “Why should I do it? Anyway you’re there – just fix it.” But Krishna said, “You have to do what you have to do. Especially because I’m there, you have to do more than you would normally do.”
To be continued