Friday, August 15, 2008

Rakshabandhan-- the threads of love; story from Mahabharat

The festival of Rakshabandhan is near. The story presented below is quite famous but still its good to read it on this occasion.

It is said that Lord Krishna came to the swayamvara (ritual, where a girl herself chooses groom for her among various contender) of the daughter of King Drupad and princess of KamPillai, Draupadi. Some say that he regarded Draupadi as her sister. Arjun, the prince of Hastinapur came in the guise of a brahmin and won the challenge of the swayamvara and thus was chosen by Draupadi as her husband. Krishna knew the real identity of Arjun, but he kept it secret.
He said to Arjun, “O Brahmin, you are now husband of my sister. Make sure that you protect her in all adverse circumstances. She is now your responsibility”
Arjun at Draupadi's Swayamvara, Painting from Mrinal Rai's Kurukshetra Yuddha
Draupadi was taken to the hut where Arjun used to live in those times with his four brothers Yudhishthir, Bheem, Nakul and Sehdev and their mother Kunti. They were hiding from the plans of their wicked cousin Duryodhan who wanted to kill them for the kingdom. On the order of Kunti (which was given by mistake, Draupadi became the wife of all the four brothers as well). When asked why, Krishna explained to her that the numerous qualities that she wanted in her husband cannot be fulfilled by one individual, so these five people will be your husband and will protect you.

After the five brothers (called Pandav) returned Hastinapur, the eldest Yudhishthir was made king of a section of the kingdom named Khandavprastha which was later transformed into Indraprastha by the dedicated efforts of the brothers and blessings of Krishna. Then, the eldest of the five brothers, Yudhishthir planned to perform a Rajasuya yagya (A ritual performed by the king to show his superiority over others ). At the time of the yagya, when one of the cousins of Krishna named Shishupal started insulting the elders and everyone present there and crossed limits, Krishna called his discus the ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ and killed him. When the discus returned to his finger, he got a cut and a stream of blood flowed. Draupadi tore a piece from her cloth and wrapped it around his finger. Lord saw her in the eyes and told her, “Dear sister, one day I will pay you the debt of each thread of this cloth” and Draupadi smiled.
Krishna slaying Shishupal, drawing from Mrinal Rai's Kurukshetra Yuddha

One day Duryodhan invited all the Pandav brothers to Hastinapur court to play dice with him. By tricks of his evil uncle Shakuni, he made Yudhishthir lose everything including Indraprastha and Draupadi. Duryodhana ordered his brother Dussahasan to bring Draupadi in the court. Draupadi was having her periods that time and was wearing a single sari. But the evil Dussahasan dragged her by hair and brought her in the assembly hall before all the elders and her husbands. Duryodhan asked Dussahasan to strip Draupadi in the hall. Draupadi cried for help to the heroic Pandavas who were the greatest warrior of that time. Though even after becoming Duryodhan’s slave after losing the game, they were still husbands of the lady who was being humiliated at that time, they still didn’t help her. She called the elders present in the assembly, her elder in-laws who should protect her, but everyone was bound to watch that horrific scene either because of some duty or some vow. Draupadi warned Dussahasan not to touch her garment, but the wicked man approaches her cruelly.

When Dussahasana tried to strip Draupadi and pulled her cloth, she joined her hands and prayed to Krishna, “O my brother, all those who swore to protect me have dejected me, now you are the only hope”, and then a miracle happened. As Dussahasan unwrapped layers and layers of her sari, her sari kept on getting extended. Thus Lord Krishna saved the honor of her sister.

Later when the Pandavas accepted 12 years of Vanavasa (living in forest) as a result of another dice game, Krishna came to visit them. Draupadi, who never cried after that incidence, couldn’t stop her tears and told her whatever happened to her. Krishna who had come to pacify the Pandavas anger , after hearing Draupadi’s story said, “Don’t cry sister, now it is the turn of the wives of the people who humiliated you, to cry on the dead bodies of their husbands” and Draupadi could see tears in the eyes of Krishna. “There would be a war, isnt it?” she asked. “There should be…” Krishna replied, and he meant it.
Krishna and Draupadi, drawing from Mrinal Rai's Kurukshetra Yuddha
13 years later the famous Kurukshetra war was fought in which all those people who were present in that assembly at that time were either killed or left to live a cursed and humiliated life. Krishna keeps his promise.

This story tells that the most sacred and blessed relationship is between a brother and a sister. A brother has to protect her sister. He is always bound and remains indebted to the love of a sister. Even if the husband of a women dejects her, his brother will not, because he has to pay the debt of every thread of love wrapped around his hand. That’s the beauty of Rakshabandhan. Blessed are those men who have a sister and more blessed are those who make someone a sister.

(All paintings in this post are from Mrinal Rai's novel, "Kurukshetra Yuddha". You can have a look at the preview and buy a copy from here:


Anonymous said...

love of radha and krishna...... its s o beautiful.. being a non hindu i had lots of doubts on why krishna left radha inspite of sharing a honest and sweet childhood bond with her... wat u wrote,its like a tiny bit of wisdom for me.. now..i understood the depth and purity in their love..with so much of grace they accepted the bitter truths and facts of life without a single word of complaint.. radhika is a real goddess and krishna is the indeed, the yug purush..i loved the writing.. god bless u.... Nisha

MR said...

Thanks Nisha..

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navneet kaur said...

wish you very very happy Raksha Bandhan my sweet sister Gauri.i wish this Rakhi comes in your life with new happyness.Make this Rakhi Memorable with Latest

navneet kaur said...

wish you very very happy Raksha Bandhan my sweet sister Gauri.i wish this Rakhi comes in your life with new happyness.Make this Rakhi Memorable with Latest

Joseph Luis said...

Raksha Bandhan/ is a Hindu festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters; the festival is also popularly used to celebrate any brother-sister like loving protective relationship between men and women who are relatives or biologically unrelated.

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