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Oppiliappan List Archive: Message 00087 Mar 2005

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Dear members,

We are continuing from Part-2 posted earlier. 

What happened next in the Mahabharata is the tale of
Draupadi's moment of supreme glory. It is the tale of 
how one who has performed 'saraNAgati' eventually
attains such an extraordinary strength of will -- an
aspect, one may even venture to say, of divine will
--that one is ready to effectively deal with
"prArabdha" rather than fatalistically succumb to it.
It is a beautiful tale of how Draupadi dealt with her

Draupadi's loss of her sons was an unmitigated tragedy
indeed. Her pain was insufferable. It was the sort of
pain in life that no mother ever wishes upon her worst
enemy even. Her anger at Aswatthama too was unbounded
and the way it seethed inside her she was tempted
indeed to command Arjuna to lop off Aswhatthama's head
without much ado... exactly as Krishna Himself had
suggested before. None would or could have faulted
Draupadi that day if she had taken that course of
action just as none could ever say a word against her
earlier vow -- the vow, taken after the shame heaped
upon her in the royal court, to wash her hair in
Kaurava blood before she ever groomed it again.  

And yet, at the very last moment, as the Mahabharatha
records, when Draupadi spoke on that last day of the
Kurukshetra war, when Aswatthama's, the cold-blooded
killer of her sons, fate lay in her hands, she spoke
words that simply stunned everyone by its human
nobility and divine compassion. She said:

"Ärjuna, please release Aswatthama forthwith.
Dronacharya was your guru. He taught you everything
you have known in archery. He loved you as a father
might love a son. Aswatthama thus is like a brother to
you. When Drona died, his wife Kripi, did not join her
lord in the funeral fire because her son, this
Aswatthama who stands now before us, was still alive.
If you kill him now in this moment, Kripi will suffer
the pain too of losing her only child. I do not wish
upon Kripi the pain I as a mother have myself suffered
in the loss of my children... Let this pain remain
with me and let Aswatthama go.. let him go his way,
for he has suffered both retribution and humiliation
enough. Please release him!".


The above scene, one of the last ones in the
Mahabharatha, is a gripping one indeed full of
emotional charge and ethical nuance. It is also a
scene in which the true character of Draupadi shines
forth brightly. In a sort of spiritual way far deeper
than one might come across in other "pUrANAs" or
"itihAsas" of India even, it is a scene that affirms
and celebrates the spirit of 'saraNagati'. 

Let us discuss and enjoy it further in the next



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