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THE BOOK OF THE ASSEMBLY HALL NOTES

The Book of The Assembly Hall (Sabha Parva) Marks 5
1. Discuss Yudhishthira’s fatal flaw in the Game of Dice.
The second section of the Mahabharata, the Sabha Parva, has the eldest of the heroic Pandava brothers, the otherwise virtuous Yudhishthira display a fatal flaw. The Pandavas had built a magnificent capital for themselves at Indraprastha and within it a grand palace and at its inauguration had invited their cousins the Kauravas. The eldest Kaurava, Duryodhana, first was smitten by extremely jealousy at the achievement of the Pandavas. This was aggravated by his observation of how charitable the Pandavas were being in sharing their glory and wellbeing. Further he felt humiliated when he was beguiled into some clumsiness in the hall of illusions within the palace, whereupon many including the younger Pandavas did not conceal their amusement at Duryodhana’s blustering.
Burning with rage and envy he opened up to his uncle Shakuni, the prince of Gaandhaara. The scheming mind of Shakuni came up with a plan for Duryodhana to settle scores with the Pandavas.
The plan was to invite the Pandavas to the Kaurava capital of Hastinapura, ostensibly to partake their hospitality as a returned favour and then to lure Yudhishthira, known for his love of the dice, into a game against the Kaurava princes.
One by one Yudhishthira put at stake prized jewels ornaments from his treasury, his brocades, vestments, his mineral and precious metal savings; then his livestock, horses, his armies, slaves, servants and courtesans, then his lands, his capital, his cherished palace and the crafty Shakuni with the roll of the dice kept winning them all. Protests from Vidura tò Duryodhana’s father, the ruling king Dhritrashtra had no effect but to evoke Duryodhana’s wrath.
Desperate to win, Yudhishthira gambled away each of his four younger brothers and finally himself. The deceitful Shakuni finally suggested he put at stake his spirited and beautiful wife Draupadi and Yudhishthira fell for the ploy. Bereft of all his possessions and even his younger brothers and spouse, Yudhishthira was shorn of his pride as well for his great virtues stood him in no stead in the face of one fatal flaw: the
irresistible enticement of the dice. After the pledged Draupadi was put through unprecedented humiliation before the full assembly, Dhritrashtra was woken to the cruel reality of his son’s evil doings right before his eyes. He returned to Yudhishthira all that he had lost in the gambling, attempted to console Draupadi burning with rage at her shame and sent back the Pandavas to their city with honour.
Yudhishthira is depicted in the epic as being lured into gambling despite knowing its dangers and ceaselessly and mindlessly increasing the stakes, forfeiting each and every one of his material and personnel assets, blinded by the hope of some chance win which never does occur. In Vidura’s words are phrased the grave hazards of gambling, which we will now look at.
2. Describe how the Pandavas left their Kingdom.
When the Pandavas were defeated, they took off their royal dress and were given deer-skins as their garments. Dussasana was very pleased with Shakuni’s victory and announced to all assembled, “The absolute sovereignty of King Duryodhana has now begun. The sons of Pandu have been defeated and our goal has now been achieved. O Draupadi, what will you gains by following these men into the forest. Now, is the time to pick a husband from among those heroes of the Kuru race. Why wait upon these poor men any longer?”
Upon hearing Duhsasana’s distasteful words, Bhima approached him like a tiger chasing a deer and boldly said, “As you are piercing my ears with these arrow like words, I will pierce your heart on the field of battle and drink your blood. O spineless person, you have won only by the cheating methods of the Gandhara King. When I return from the forest, I will make good my vow.”
Overcome with shame, none of those men could look at Yudhishthira or say anything to him. However, within their hearts they prayed for his welfare. Vidura then said, “Kunti is a princess by birth, and she should not go to the forest. I will keep her here in Hastinapura and protect her from any harm just as if she were my mother. O Yudhishthira, know that one who has been vanquished by sinful means need not be pained by such defeat. You also know every law of morality. Dhananjaya will be victorious in battle; Bhimasena will kill his enemies; Nakul will gain great wealth; and Sahadeva will obtain his goals. With learned Brahmans accompanying you to the forest, you need not fear anything. Draupadi will also assist you in your exile. You are all attached to one another and feel happiness in each others association. Go now, and we will again see you returned here safely and crowned with success.” The Pandavas then left Hastinapura much to the distress of the citizens and those relatives who loved them very much.
Vidura then replied to the King, “Yudhishthira, though robbed of his
kingdom and wealth, he has not deviated from the path of virtuous kings. He has left Hastinapura blindfolded, or else with the anger of his eyes, he would have burned the whole city to ashes. Bhima has left the city stretching his mighty arms indicating to everyone that upon his return he will destroy your sons with his prowess. And Arjuna, the son of Kunti, has left Hastinapura scattering grains of sand indicating that upon his return he will rain arrows from the might of his Gandiva bow. Sahadeva has left the city smearing his body with dirt so that none will recognize his plight and take action against your sons, O King. Nakul has left the city in the same way. Draupadi has left the city Hastinapura dressed in one cloth and her hair upbraided indicating that upon her return, her husbands will destroy the Kuru hoșt, and the wives of those who insulted her will have to dress in the same way. The learned Dhaumya has left the city walking n front of the Pandavas holding kusha grass and chanting mantras from the Sama Veda which relate to Yamaraja. This indicates that when the host of the Kurus are slain in battle, the priests of the Kurus will chant the Soma mantras for the benefit of the deceased. And also, O King, the citizens seeing the Pandavas leaving are cursing you and your family. Upon their leaving many evil omens appeared: flashes of lightning in the cloudless sky, the earth trembled, and Rahu began to devour the sun. Meteors fell from the firmament, and jackals began to howl. Birds like the crows began to shriek, indicating the destruction of the Kuru house.”
3. Examine the relevance of Druapadi’s question in The Book of the Assembly Hall.
The messenger enters Druapadi’s chamber and asks her to be present in the assembly after the cruel throw of fate.
She sends him back with the question “Whom did you lose first, yourself or me?” It was legal question at that point of time. But later, she turns it into a moral question in the assembly “Is it right or fair that a woman, let alone a queen, become a slave because her husband staked her in a gambling game?”
Though the legal aspect resounded completely, the moral one fell short in one aspect – If she could be won at a contest, so could she be lost, taking into cognizance the prevalent customs of those times. But a lady who could stand up and ask this question in the face of dire adversity indicated courage, clear thinking and a will to preserve her dignity at any cost. It could only point to a trait of boldness above all else.
Therefore, it came something as a surprise when I read a completely different interpretation by Iravati Karve, of the very same incident. Quoting from her book, she says:
“Druapadi’s question was not only foolish, it was terrible. No matter what answer was given, her position was desperate. If Bhishina told her that her husband’s rights over her did not cease, that even though he became a slave, she was in his power and lie had the right to stake her, her slavery would have been confirmed. If Bhishma had argued that because of her slavery, her husband had no more rights over her, then her plight would have been truly pitiable… She had made many mistakes in her life that were forgivable, but by putting on airs in front of the whole assembly, she had put Dharma into a dilemma and insulted him. Though she was only a young bride of thie house, she had spoken in an assembly of men, something she should have known she must not do: Over and above, to pretend tliat she could understand questions that baffled her elders, that was inexcusable arrogance.”
She further espouses that instead of arguing about the legal technicalities like a lady pundit, she should have cried out for decency and pity in the name of the Kshatriya code. Had she done so perhaps things would not have gone so far?
There are some definite points which struck me-Draupadi had the guts to speak in an assembly of men and elders who might have been more learned than her but who were also prepared at that point of time, to be mute spectators to her humiliation. To think, that at a moment of adversity such as this, a woman would have the capacity to put on airs instead of focusing on using all weapons at hand to defend herself, is also casting an unjust aspersion on her. Though there are sexist connotations and it abounds in far too many patriarchal interpretations for my liking, I had to acknowledge there are facets which are interesting and deserve further thought.
The importance of Druapadi’s question would find no relevance for an audience which lacks the will and the power to arrive at the right an swer. The fact that she asked the question also shows that she reposed faith in their moral dharma and their system of governance even though her faith was later proved to be misplaced. In today’s world, there will be no divine intervention when a woman is being disrobed. It will be entirely up to the woman to keep her wits about herself and figure out the answer to Druapadi’s dilemma.
4. Does chance play as an essential part of creation?
Chance appears to be an intrinsic part of the evolutionary development of the world. Random events seem to operate within an overarching law-like framework. As Elizabeth A. Johnson has pointed out the mechanistic view of the world associated with Newtonian physics has been replaced by twentieth century science by a dynamic, open-ended view of the world in which some events are in principle unpredictable, although in retrospect they may make sense. At the micro level of the atom and its subatomic particle quantum mechanics uncovers a realm where time, space and matter behave according to laws that have uncertainty built into them. For example, while it is possible to predict how long a certain mass of radioactive uranium will take to decompose, it is impossible to say which atom will decompose next and why. This may be because our scientific instruments are still not sophisticated enough bout more likely because reality itself has an element of indeterminacy. At the macro level, a butterfly fluttering its wings in Beijing may set up an air current that may magnify into a storm in New to a storm in New York. While the effect of each such individual action can be predicted, the number of such initial conditions that will take place and the effect of their confluence cannot and hence the final outcome also cannot be predicted.
Out of this apparent in conscience each potentiality is revealed it its turn, first organized matter concealing the indwelling Spirit, the Life emerging in the plant and associated in the animal with a growing Mind, the Mind itself evolved and organized in Man.
Thus, the laws of nature require the workings of chance if matter is explore its full range of possibilities and emerge towards richness and complexity. Without chance, the potentialities of the universe would go unactualized. This has implications for human consciousness and freedom. Just as the material world moves towards a larger consciousness and freedom. Just as the material world moves towards a larger evolutionary purpose so too the human consciousness evolves but is free to explore the conditions for the emergence of free and conscious human being as part of the universe. The ‘Placer’s sway’, then, to use Yudhishthira’s words is not the traditional one of omniscient and omnipotent God who creates and sustains the world, laying down the natural law and miraculously intervening when the occasion requires. It is God.
If this be the case, the question arises what is the nature of Krishna’s intervention on behalf of Draupadi.
5. What is at stake in the Game of Dice?
Vidura goes with the invitation to Yudhishthira although he is opposed to it. He is born of the union of a Brahmin who is outside the material realm and a slave or a Sudra who is outside the realm of society itself. Thus, he is truly a neutral party able to cross the boundaries of case and hierarchies and yet not a part of baronial intrigues. Besides he is dharma himself while Yudhishthira is the son of dharma. That is, in this game of dice, the dharma has to be tested. That is why Sakuni can be unethical but not Yudhishthira.
Yudhishthira is beset by conflict in this crossing of boundaries. He is a Kshatriya who aspires to be a Brahmin, not wanting to deal with worldly desires or possessions. By the laws of primogeniture he has to take the reigns of kingship but he is a reluctant king who would rather not deal with the mundane world. He is not even sure that he is qualified to perform the Rajsuya but Krishna assures him that he is because he is possessed of all royal virtues or gunas-truth, industry, non-envy, forbearance and firmness. He is the king of dharma. The one who rules is the one who serves. All these qualify him to be Supreme Ruler.
Krishna also points out to Yudhishthira that for him to become a universal sovereign, baronial agreement is necessary. For this, Jarasandha has to defeated. He was the King of Magadha who was all powerful. He had defeated Krishna himself and had to be killed to smoothen Yudhishthira’s path
It is interesting that Krishna prevaricates in order to convince Yudhishthira and Arjuna uses arguments similar to those of Duryodhana while convincing Dhritrashtra. Alsó, stratagem and deceit are used to kill Jarasandha who was valiant and noble. This parallels the deceit during the game of dice and during the war itself. Again, it is a question of crossing the boundaries between dharma and Adharma.
The issue of succession has been a long-standing one in this family. Santanu, father of Devavrata of Bhishma fell in love with Satyavati, a fisherman’s daughter. He married her on the promise that her son would inherit the kingdom and to ensure that he took a vow that not only would be never stake his claim but also that he would not marry so that there would be no successors to him. Hence the law of primogeniture was violated. Then, Santanu had two sons, Citrangada and Vicitravirya of whom Citrangada the elder dies before getting married. Vicitravirya has two wives Amba and Ambalika but dies before having any children. Vyasa, Satyavati’s illegitimate son from Parasara begets sons on the widows according to the rules of Niyoga. Dhritrashtra, the elder, is born blind and hence cannot succeed. Pandu, the younger therefore becomes the king once again violating primogeniture. He is however, under a curse that he will die at the moment of intercourse. Hence, sons are born to Kunti and Madri, the two wives through niyoga. Santanu himself was the younger son of Retsina who had got himself installed as king over his elder brother Devapi. Devapi retired to the forest to practice austerities. Santanu was cursed with a drought of twelve years and he had to finally implore Devapi’s help who acts as a priest and gets rain. Thus, for four generations at least before Duryodhana the question of succession has not been settled. In the case of Duryodhana and the Yudhishthira the rule of primogeniture becomes even more difficult to employ. Duryodhana is the eldest son of Dhritrashtra who was elder to his brother Pandu and who should have been the king but for his blindness.
Hence, Duryodhana’s claim as being the eldest son of the rightful kind: However, his younger to Yudhishthira the eldest son of the rightfully king. Hence, if the Kuru branch is taken as a whole, Yudhishthira is the eldest son. If the claims of Dhritrashtra and Pandu are examined separately, Duryodhana is the rightful heir. The claims being equally balanced leads to a division of the kingdom and Duryodhana’s dissatisfaction. Thus, by this generation the skein has got so tangled that perhaps it can only be resolved through the roll of a dice. The game of dice, then, could have solved the succession but for Shakuni’s unethical meddling which in a sense nullifies the game. cerrorsh
6. What does Yudhishthira stake?
To begin with all his wealth because he knows that wealth is useless without power. Then, follows the city, the country and his people’s property that are symbols of power because power is not worth fighting for as long as dharma remains. Finally go the brothers – Nakula and Sahadeva who represent wealth; and then Arjuna and Bhima who represent power. Finally goes Yudhishthira, king Dharma himself causing transgression of ‘lakshman rekha’ requiring the cosmos to realign itself and so necessitating a war by which the balance can be restored and dharma reinstalled. At a material level the aim of the game should have been over after winning Yudhishthira. Then, why does Sakuni challenge Yudhishthira to stake Draupadi? Perhaps once dharma is lost, honour too is lost. This is the lowest point to which the Kurus could fall. Also, Draupadi is seen as an embodiment of Sri, the consort of Lord Indra. Sri is the embodiment of sovereignty. Therefore, there cannot be any sovereignty without Sri. She has also been associated with pre-Aryan fertility goddesses who traditionally bestow wealth. However, her gift is not freely given. It has to be begged through ritual and sacrifice. Also, in order to get Sri, one has to give it away ad then regain it through ritual. Yudhishthira literally gives his Sri away by gambling Draupadi. That is why it is Draupadi who frees Yudhishthira and his brothers through the two boons granted by Dhritrashtra:
The game at this point remains inconclusive because the validity of the final and the most vital stake of Draupadi has been made ambiguous by her raising the question of dharma of whether Yudhishthira wagered her before losing himself after. Since no one can answer this question including Yudhishthira, Bhishma and Vidura the game can only be considered as interrupted. In any case, the question of succession and kingship has not been resolved. Yudhishthira feels compelled to return to the game when called upon to do so. There is the final stake that he loses and is compelled to go into the thirteen year exile.
The game of dice takes place between the Kauravas and the Pandavas two branches of the same tree. This is the first time that an actual conflict of succession has taken place in which two sides have staked their claim for which they are willing to fight to the finish. At a metaphysical level this can also be seen as conflict within a divided self. One portion of the self wins through stratagem and aggression – cheating and insulting Draupadi. However, this position is not reconcilable and hence one half of the divided self has to be banished, hence the exile of the Pandavas. Even this cannot resolve the crisis of the divided self. A true resolution can only be found by confronting the dilemma or the ambiguity of succession and not by side stepping it. Hence, the game of dice cannot substitute the actual confrontation of war. The cheating at the game is played out in a larger arena in which every preconceived notion of ethics is wiped out – Yudhishthira cannot tell lies but he does; Krishna vows not to fight but takes up his arms against Bhishma; the dharmayudha degenerates into butchery and naked lust for power. In a way what Mahabharata shows is that all these presuppositions are childish, that all is lila. As Sri Aurobindo points out, “God’s lila in man moves always in a circle, from a Satuga to Kaliyuga and through Kaliyuga to the Satyayuga from the age of gold to the age of urn and back again through the iron to the gold…. Bout the Kaliyuga is not merely evil, in it the necessary conditions are progressively built up for a new Satyayuga, another harmony, a more advanced perfection”.
7. What action takes place in the The Book of the Assembly Hall?
Duryodhana was powerfully jealous of the five Pandavas and their growing power and wealth. He consults his uncle, Sakuni, asking him how he might defeat the Pandavas. Sakuni points out that Yudhishthira has a weakness for gambling, and if challenged to play at dice will not decline. Duryodhana invites the Pandavas to Hastinapura, and offers the challenge, which Yudhishthira accepts, playing against the cunning Sakuni in place of Duryodhana. But Sakuni cheats at the game, and soon the Kauravas win Yudhishthira’s wealth and kingdom, and also his four brothers, their wife Draupadi, and Yudhishthira himself.
The Kauravas have Draupadi brought forcibly before them. She is in traditional monthly seclusion, so it is especially offensive that her privacy is thus violated. Compounding the insult to her honour, Dussasana humiliates her and attempts to strip off her clothing. Bhima, enraged by this treatment of his wife, vows that he will kill Dussasana and drink his blood. King Dhritrashtra rebukes his sons for their behaviour and offers to grant Draupadi any wish to make up for the wrong done to her. She asks that Yudhishthira and his brothers, whose freedom has been forfeited in the dice game, be set free. The king does this. As the Pandavas and their wife turn to leave, the Kauravas, hoping to thwart their future vengeance, suggest a final gambling match. The losers of this final throw of the dice must spend twelve years in forest exile, and a thirteenth year living in disguise in a foreign kingdom. The Pandavas agree; but Sakuni cheats again and they lose.
8. Discuss the ending narrative of the The Book of the Assembly Hall.
Suddenly calls of jackals and hyenas rent the air. As Duryodhana goes out to investigate, Dhritharashtra worried by the ill omens, grants Draupadi two wishes lest evil befalls his family. She seeks the release of Yudhishthira first and the release of the rest of her husbands. Dhritharashtra also gifts her Indraprastha hoping to he would never see the Pandavas again. Pandavas are on their way back and Duryodhana returns, learns about the fathers gifts and rushes to stop the Pandavas.
Breathless with running, he pants, ‘let us have another round of dice. Whoever loses in this round shall go into exile for thirteen years, and live for twelve years in the forest. The thirteenth year was to be spent in disguise. If the loser is discovered during the thirteenth year, he would have to spend another twelve years in the forest.
Anyone would think that by now Yudhishthira would have learnt the lesson not to gamble again. But they would be wrong. Yudhishthira did not like to think it was Draupadi who had given them their freedom. He wanted to prove to his brothers that he could win. In vain, they tried to stop him, but he returned to Hastinapura to play the last round.
The Pandavas watched in gloomy silence. Yudhishthira, sure he would win this time, threw the dice and lost. The Pandavas and Draupadi were in exile.
9. What is the significance of the Game of Dice?
A sport or a game can be seen on at least two levels. Creation in Hinduism is regarded as God’s ‘lila’. This ‘lila’ takes place both on the level of God and the level of man. Hence, we have Ramlila, Krishnalila and the like that are enactments or ‘lilas’ performed by human being of the lives or the earthly ‘lilas’ of Rama or Krishnal. “Lila’ in English is translated as “sport’ but this is a very inadequate word. In any case, there is no element of frivolity associated with “lila’ that may be associated with sport though the ‘lila’ itself may be sportive. ‘Lila’ can be a game or a theatrical performance. The world is a sports field or a play. God creates out of sheer joy not because he wants to acquire or own what he creates. He also neither creates out of necessity nor because he has any duty to create. However, since the world is his creative field or ‘lila’, an unknown tale that unfolds, it enables man to accept or transcend personal as well as public tragedy by seeing it as God’s mysterious play. Also, if this is God’s ‘lila’ it is a make believe and unreal work in which man can only his role as it comes to him as the events group and regroup kaleidoscopically. Every time the equilibrium is disturbed, the universe regroups or readjusts unfolding unpredictable situations. Although the work is a ‘lila’, a sport or a play, and hence unreal it has a tremendous impact because man is both an actor and a witness in this cosmic play. Man parallels God’s ‘lila’ by hitoself performing ‘lila’ through which several issues pertaining to human life can be explored and resolved for the moment.
10. Why the Game of Dice was played?
Dicing is a part of the religious and cultural history of India. Gambling has two significance in religion. It is usually discouraged or prohibited. In Hinduism gamblers are associated with thieves, assassins and other depraved characters. They are dangerous characters utterly devoid of truth. Dhritrashtra himself knows the perils of dicing. He tells Duryodhana:
Enough of dicing, son of Gandhari, Vidura does not approves of it. Nor would he, in his great sagacity, tell us aught that is in bad faith that I think Vidura is speaking ……for gambling is found to be divisive. At a breach the kingdom perishes, therefore avoid it, son.
Yudhishthira too knows the dangers. When Vidura goes to invite him to the game on behalf of Dhritrashtra, he says:
At a dicing, Steward, we surely shall quarrel. Who, knowing this, will consent to a game? Vidura is equally sure that the game will bring disaster. The dangerous gamblers have been assembled by Dhritrashtra .
It is the King Dhritarashtra’s behest So, I will not refuse sage to go to the game A son will always respect the father: I shall, Vidura, do as thou tellest me.
I am not, unwilling to play Sakuni, I were, would recklessly challenge In that hall….Once challenged I will not refuse, For so I have sworn for eternity: Yudhishthira is well aware that he is going to his ruin.
11. How Fate does takes away the Reason?
Perhaps because it is a part of the Rajsuya Yagya that Yudhishthira is performing and he feels he is honour bound to follow the rules and not because he has a weakness for gambling as Sakuni would have us believe. In any case up to this point there is no incident, which exhibits this weakness in Yudhishthira. The dice game follows the unction and the chariot drive in the ritual. However, the question still remains why a game should and that too a game of dice be a part of the rituals of Rajsuya Yagya.
Dicing seems to have a special significance when connected with myths and rituals. Shiva and Parvati play dice and dicing is also a part of Deepawali the beginning of the financial year in Hindu Society. Dicing involves uncertainty, chance, and the vagaries of fortune. The dice game is representative of the challenges that a king must endure during his reign.
12. What was the result of the game of dice?
The Kauravas have Draupadi brought forcibly before them. She is in traditional monthly seclusion, so it is especially offensive that her privacy is thus violated. Compounding the insult to her honour, Dussasana humiliates her and attempts to strip off her clothing. Bhima, enraged by this treatment of his wife, vows that he will kill Dussasana and drink his blood. King Dhritharashtra rebukes his sons for their behaviour and offers to grant Draupadi any wish to make up for the wrong done to her. She asks that Yudhishthira and his brothers, whose freedom has been forfeited in the dice game, be set free. The king does this. As the Pandavas and their wife turn to leave, the Kauravas, hoping to thwart their future vengeance, suggest a final gambling match. The losers of this final throw of the dice must spend twelve years in forest exile, and a thirteenth year living in disguise in a foreign kingdom. The Pandavas agree; but Sakuni cheats again and they lose.
13. Describe in brief the summary of the Sabha parva.
After the marriage of Draupadi with the five Pandavas and their alliance with Panchala king Drupada, Dhritharashtra, the king of Hastinapura invited them to the palace and asked Yudhishthira to stay with his brothers in Khandavaprastha in order to avoid the differences between them and Duryodhana. The eldest Pandava gave his consent and set out from Hastinapura. With half the kingdom, the Pandavas were removed to Khandavaprastha which was actually in a desert. The Pandavas, with Krishna arrived there and beautified the place as a second heaven. Several Brahmins, well-acquainted with the Vedas, came to the newly kingdom in order to dwell there. Several merchants also came to that town hoping to earn wealth. A number of beautiful gardens were constructed.
around the city with several trees bearing fruits and flowers. For the beautification of the city, the close-by forest of Khandava was burnt by Arjuna and Krishna. Arjuna encompassed the entire forest with several arrows like a thick fog and no living creature was able to escape from below. However, Arjuna did not kill Maya, powerful demon, and the Asura became an ally of the Pandavas. Maya showed his gratitude by constructing a very beautiful palace for the Pandavas at Indraprastha. The Sabha Parva is also the second Parva of the great epic Mahabharata which narrates the Rajsuya Yajna of Yudhishthira. It also describes the death of Jarasandha and also the death of Shishupala.
14. How was Draupadi humiliated in The Book of Assembly Hall?
Born of sacred fire, Draupadi, the heroine of the Mahabharata seems to be walking through the fire in her life. She is married off to the five brothers without consulting her. She was anointed as queen, but very soon was put as a stake during a dice game and was lost. Unaware of all the happenings in the dice game, Draupadi was suddenly announced that she has become a maid and now she had to do the bidding of her new master. This sudden twist of fortune seems to have shocked Draupadi. She was sitting in her private chamber wearing only one piece of cloth and was having her menstruation period. She refused to accept her status as a maid and also tried to avoid going in front of so many male member in the assembly. But she was forcibly taken to the assembly by pulling her hair. Stained with the blood, bleeding and trembling Draupadi was not only taken to the assembly, but an attempt was made to disrobe her in front of everybody.
15. Why the part is named The Book of Assembly Hall?
Most of the proceedings of this Parva take place in an assembly hall, a kind of longhouse for the men in which to hold council and entertainment, and it is from such a hall that the Parva takes its title. There are two halls involved, the one at Indraprastha and that at Hastinapura. It is Indraprastha hall that becomes a bone of contention; it is in the Hastinapura hall where it all ends.
The hall at Indraprastha was newly built by an Asura, Maya by name, who had been saved from the fire of the Khandava Forest, which concluded the Adi Parva. So magnificent was that hall that it excited the envy of Kaurava’s cousin Duryodhana, and this envy led to the game at dice on whose outcome the rest of the Mahabharata hangs. When Yudhishthira has reached the pinnacle of temporal power as the acknowledged suzerain of the entire world, he is challenged to the game. Why he felt he had to accept the challenge is a question that is not fully addressed in the Parva. It is sufficed to note, however, that there is a conspicuous thread in the Parva: the settlement in Indraprastha needs a hall – the hall needs validation as a royal court through the Royal Consecration – it evokes the others’ envy – and brings about a game in another hall where Yudhishthira loses all.
16. What were the important events in the The Book of Assembly Hall?
Sakuni, who represents the Jaina system of thought, proposes that there should be a debate between him and Yudhishthira, who claims that he has accepted Saivism in the light of Buddhi or pure reason for he represents Buddhi himself; and he is sure that he would be able to overthrow the Pandava prince. As the Hall of Yudhishthira is a picture of Saivism or principal Yoga, even so we get a picture of the principal Sankhya or Buddhism and Jainism combined in the Hall of the Kauravas. We have now a debate between Saivism or principal Yoga on the one hand, and Jainism or Sankhya-Nyayà on the other. Before the discussion begins, they lay down their rules of debate. Yudhishthira is not to presume that God exists or has a share in the creation of life for that is the very thing that he is called upon to prove. Starting in this way, Man is unable to prove in the light of reason that God exists and creates; and so Sakuni end of life is the renunciation of Action.
The conclusion now reached is that all actions, of whatever kind, must be renounced; for God has no place in the universe which is created by Prakti alone, and we can escape from its toils only by renouncing all kinds of action and here a question is asked whether acts of Sacrifice too must be renounced.
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