The Game Of Dice
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The Game Of Dice

Mahabharata

The day was fixed for the game of dice.

On one side sat Duryodhana, uncle Shakuni, and Dushasana while other side was occupied by Yudhisthira and his four brothers. Shakuni would throw dice for Kauravas while Yudhisthira would do the job for Pandavas.

Initially a small amount of money and jewelry was put at stake. The dice was rolled and Shakuni won the throw. Thus the game progressed on and on, every time Shakuni came up with requisite number with his magical dice. Yudhisthira was bound to lose as the game was already corrupted by Shakuni.

But as a losing gambler, Yudhisthira lost reason and discrimination. He put Indraprastha at stake!, and as expected lost that turn too. The king Yudhisthira was stripped off his kingdom and he became an ordinary citizen! Mocking him further, uncle Shakuni challenged Yudhisthira, "You have lost your kingdom and all money. It is better you say quits and leave this palace. We shall allow you to lead a life of ordinary lay person in Hastinapur."

The insulting words, in stead of dissuading Yudhisthira, further stimulated him to play and regain the lost kingdom. Hope never dies for a gambler! Yudhisthira asked Shakuni to continue the game. When asked as to what he would put at stake, Yudhisthira replied: "Bhima"!

Yudhisthira lost the count and Bhima became the servant - slave - of Duryodhana. On the similar lines Yudhisthira lost Arjuna, Nakul, Sahadeva, and at last himself to the evil designs of Shakuni. Pandavas were bereft of all rights, even those of ordinary citizens!

The whole court was stunned to see this unusual betting from so righteous a person as Yudhisthira. Bhishma, Dronacharya, and Vidura could foresee the approaching catastrophe, but could do nothing. Their appeal for restrain and reason kept hitting on the deaf ears of Kauravas. After all it was a game, a sport, which was played according to set rules; both the parties willingly participating.

Ordeal of Draupadi

At last, the desperate gambler in Yudhisthira put Draupadi at stake! Everyone, almost everyone, in court protested, but in vain. The destiny of this great Bharatavarsha -India as was called in those days - could not be changed, as if it had the tacit sanction of Almighty! Male chauvinism put a helpless lady at the mercy of crooks.

As was destined, Yudhisthira lost the dice, and with it started the dark period of Indian downfall.

Draupadi became the serving maid of Duryodhana and Kauravas. Victorious and lustful Duryodhana asked his brother Dushasana to bring Draupadi to the court. He obeyed his elder brother and brought helpless Draupadi dragging by her hair. Her protest that Yudhisthira had no right to put her at stake was not heard in the agonizing cries of the ladies in the court. Heads drooped with shame. Bhishma, Dronacharya, and Vidura could nothing. King Dhritarashtra was silent.

Cries of "shame, shame" were mingled with terrifying laughter of Duryodhana, Shakuni, and Dushasana.

Duryodhana ordered Dushasana to disrobe the lady. Bhishma objected, Dhritarashtra trembled, but the lust, pride, and blind power of victory was not prepared to listen or see sense.

Lord Krishna Comes to the Rescue

Helpless Draupadi had but one hope, one last hope to save her grace. Sri Krishna could alone, and would, save her from disgrace! She started repeating and praying for his grace, a saviour of his devotees, the Master of the Universe.

And the Lord does not wait when his devotee is in such a grave crisis. Sri Krishna provided unending lengths of cloth on the body of Draupadi.

Here, Dushasana pulled one yard of her robe -sari - and there two yards were added by the grace of Sri Krishna! The evil Dushasana went on and on, his hands aching and paralyzed with fatigue, but there was no end to the covering of Draupadi's body. At last Dushasana collapsed, completely exhausted.

"Victory to Lord Krishna", exclaimed Draupadi and fell down unconscious tears rolling down her eyes.

But still, Shakuni and Duryodhana were not to be put off. Duryodhana baring his thigh invited Draupadi to sit on it. This was the last straw on camel's back. The infuriated Bhima rose to kill Duryodhana but was prevented by Yudhisthira to act. "O brothers, we have no right to protest or fight against our master. We are all slaves of Duryodhana", said he.

At this Bhima vowed, "Listen everyone, listen O Dhritarashtra, I will kill Duryodhana by breaking open his thigh and would drink blood from the same. And moreover, O evil Dushasana, remember and tremble in the heart, for I will break open your chest and dress the hair of Draupadi with that blood." (Draupadi later vowed to keep her hair loose till Bhima fulfilled his pledge.)




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