The Book of the Assembly Hall QUESTIONS ANSWERS MARKS 10

The Book of the Assembly Hall 10 MARKS QUESTIONS WITH ANSWERS

1. Discuss how The Book of the Assembly Hall debates the concept of Dharma.

Subhamoy Das, a journalist and multimedia editor involved with the Hindustan Times and the India Today Group, says the following about dharma in his essay: “What is Dharma?”: “Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one’s life. Hindus consider dharma the very foundation of life. It means that which holds’ the people of this world and the whole creation. Dharma is the ‘law of being’ without which things cannot exist.” Further on Das explains the relationship between karma and dharma, by pointing out that good dharma results in good karma, while Adharma, or a disregard of dharma, results in bad karma.

From a Western point of view dharma was deemed important enough to be listed in Collins Concise English Dictionary, where it is defined as follows:

1. Hinduism social custom regarded as a religious and moral duty.

2. Hinduism a: the essential principle of the cosmos; natural law b: conduct that conforms to this

3. Buddhism ideal truth as set forth in the teaching of Buddha.”.
4. Although the expert will agree with this, the layman will most probably still be left in the dark, unless he or she take the trouble to extend the search, and thereby try to arrive at a more comprehensive meaning of the concept.

The second book, the ‘The Book of the Assembly Hall, recounts how Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava cousin, challenges Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava cousin, to a dice game. Yudhishthira, addicted to gambling, loses everything and everybody, including ‘his’ wife Draupadi who offers strong resistance to her illegitimate treatment by appealing to dharma and challenging Yudhishthira understanding of it during the dice game, and is spared the shame by divine intervention.

After the dice game,”Draupadi challenges the men by asking, if Yudhishthira lost himself first, then by what right did he wager her freedom, being a slave himself? When even the wise Bhishma cannot resolve the question, she says, “I think time is out of joint. The ancient eternal dharma is lost among the Kauravas.”

Carried away by the intoxication of the game, Yudhish ra wagers and loses all that he possesses: his lands, his kingdom, his brothers, even himself, and eventually Draupadi, who is dragged before the company by her hair, a special insult since a married woman’s hair was sacred.

She challenges the Kauravas with a question: how can someone who has lost himself wager someone else in a game, but no one can answer her. Even Bhishma is confounded: “The ways of dharma are subtle.” When even the wise Bhishma cannot resolve the question, she says, “I think time is out of joint. The ancient eternal dharma is lost among the Kauravas.” Instead, they iosult her, displaying her during the time of her period. Karna, still stinging from his rejection at the Swyamvara, calls her a harlot who services five men. Duryodhana seeks to entice her by uncovering his thigh. Enraged at this treatment of his wife, Bhima vows that he will one day drink Duhsasana’s blood and break Duryodhana’s thigh.

Draupadi is about to be stripped naked when she invokes Krishna, who comes to her rescue and creates an endless supply of cloth around her. She swears that one day she will be avenged. There will be a great war, a war without mercy. At her curse a jackal howls. Frightened, Dhritrashtra apologizes to her and gives her husbands’ back everything they lost, but Draupadi asks nothing for herself, saying, “Greed devours all beings and is Dharma’s ruin. I refuse greed.”

Seeing his advantage given away, Duryodhana insists on one more throw of the dice. Yudhishthira agrees to a final game, but once again, he loses. The Pandavas and Draupadi are condemned to spend twelve years in exile in the forest, and a thirteenth year in an unknown place, disguised so that no one may recognize them. If anyone does, then they must spend another twelve years in exile.

The Pandavas are free to leave but are then challenged to a second dice game which Yudhishthira loses again. All the Pandavas and their shared wife Draupadi are sent into temporary exile in the forest. After that, the Kauravas agree to a partitioning of the kingdom. Yudhishthira builds a new assembly hall at Indraprastha. Krishna, a Yadava chieftain, functions as a neutral mediator between the two rival parties, even though he sympathizes with the Pandava side, since Krishna and Arjuna have been maternal relatives by marriage and friends for a long time, burning the Khandava Forest together. He offers the two rivals Arjuna and Duryodhana the choice between either his personal service as a charioteer and a counsellor or his armies. While Arjuna prefers Krishna’s service in person unarmed, Duryodhana is happy to get Krishna’s armies. Peace negotiations fail and the two parties prepare for war. The conflict has thus seriously escalated. The two sets of cousins and their allied armies face each other at Kurukshetra, the Kuru battlefield, on the brink of a fratricidal and suicidal war which will destroy not only the two clans but also the very prospect of any heir surviving in order to succeed to the throne. In the end, the fatal battle takes place and the two clans are virtually destroyed. The five Pandava brothers themselves remain alive, along with Krishna and his compatriot, Satyaki. The one single Pandava heir to the throne, Parikshit is killed in his mother’s womb. But Parikshit is promised revival by Krishna whose divine intervention saves him and the Kuru lineage for the future. He will be Arjuna’s grandson and Janamejaya’s father.

2. Analyse the character of Draupadi in the light of her outburst in The Book of the Assembly hall in Mahabharata.


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