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Mahabharat - Episode 34 and 35 - Draupadi's Swayamvar

2023-04-01

Bakasur Vadh

Vartmaan bhagya ki kokh se janm nahi leta, Vartmaan Ateet ki kokh se janm leta hai.

Synopsis

King Drupad hosts a swayamvar for his daughter, Princess Draupadi, and the Pandavs attend in disguise. The suitors must demonstrate their skill by shooting the eye of a rotating fish on the ceiling while looking at its reflection in the water below.

Multiple princes, including Duryodhan and Jarasandh, fail to even pick up the heavy bow, but Karna is able to pick it up. On instructions from Shri Krishna, Draupadi denies Karna's claim, citing that he is not a Kshatriya. Karna feels insulted and decides to opt out. In the end, Arjun, disguised as a Brahmin, passes the challenge and wins Draupadi's hand in marriage.

By a strange turn of events, she now has to marry all five Pandavs at once. News of the Pandavs being alive is spread by Vidur, eventually reaching the Shakuni gang. Dhritrashtra prepares to welcome the Pandavs and Draupadi.

Discussion

I have merged the two episodes in one since the first one involves a cliffhanger and is not very fleshed out in terms of content.

This episode introduces one of the most titular characters of Mahabharat: Draupadi. Draupadi, the daughter of King Drupad or Panchali the princess of Panchal. She is such a complicated and well-written character that an entire book has been written which depicts the Mahabharat from her perspective. She has suffered a lot in the story, and she is also the cause of many battles. This episode goes into the backstory of Draupadi, king Drupad and Dronacharya himself. When king Drupad and Dronacharya were little, Drupad joked that when he becomes king he will give Drona half of his kingdom. Drona took this literally and came for his half when Drupad was crowned king. Drupad refused and insulted Drona, sowing the seed of revenge in Drona's heart. Drona then went on to teach the kuru princes and in guru dakshina asked the princes to get the kingdom of king Drupad. The Pandavs were able to provide this easily by defeating Drupad. Drupad was then insulted by Drona who gave him half the kingdom, like they talked about years ago. Drupad swore revenge and dreamt of a son who will kill Drona. He performs a Yagna which blesses him with a grown son and a daughter ~ Drishtadyumna and Draupadi. This is how Draupadi was born.

Coming to the present, the pandavs decide to attend the swayamvar of Draupadi. This episode was delight to watch because we get to see Shri Krishna and Balram's playful banter again.

When all the princes fail to pick up the bow and Karna accomplishes the impossible, it seems like the episode will take an entirely different turn. Shri Krishna does not let that happen and signals Draupadi to do something. She cleverly insults Karna by bringing up his soot-putra status like many before her did, and once again a veer is denied his glory because of his caste. I feel sympathy for Karna but I also understand that what happened to him needed to happen for the victory of Dharma. He was siding with adharma and what was done to him needed to be done. Or did it? This is not a black and white story and all the characters have their flaws. Shri Ram was called maryaada purushottam, but not Shri Krishna. That is because he had to cross many limits to get to the end goal of the victory of dharma. Means to an end, I guess.

Once Karna is disqualified, Arjun disguised as a brahmin takes aim and ends the episode on a cliffhanger. I really wouldn't think of this as a cliffhanger because there is no way that the fisheye won't be shot through when the shooter is Arjun. After he wins her hand, the other princes present at the swayamvar put an ultimatum. Either Draupadi marries one of them, or they burn her. Typical insecure males. Bhim, who was there to look out for Arjun protects them and they leave peacefully. Tiny tidbit: Karna is still honorable even after being insulted. When he is about to shoot at Arjun, he makes sure Arjun is aware of it and is not shot in cold blood.

Another very well known story takes place when they get home. Arjun jokingly says that they brought some nice bhiksha today, referring to his wife. Kunti, like every day asks him to divide it equally among the brothers. This brings everyone to a dilemma. A mother's orders are irrefutable, but her orders are also bizarre in this case. A moment later Shri Krishna arrives and brings a solution. This situation is the consequence of a boon that Draupadi asked from lord Shiva in her previous life. She asked for a husband with five gunas~

When lord Shiva told her that it is impossible to find all these in one man, she insisted that this was what she wanted. Her boon is granted in this life, all those five qualities were in the five pandav brothers~ Yudhishthir, Bhim, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdev. Shri Krishna also points out the mistakes of the Pandav household. Arjun should not have referred to his wife as bhiksha(alms). A mother's orders are supreme but with that power also comes the responsibility of thinking before giving out orders. She should not have said anything without looking first. Now they all must repent by having her as the wife of all five brothers.

Back in Hastinapur, everyone now knows about the Pandavs being alive and all of them start working on their plans. Vidur manipulates Dhritrashtra into inviting them back to Hastinapur, while Shakuni gang plots how to get them out of the picture. Dhritrashtra is still the confused fool he is, showing that he is more than happy to know that Pandavs are alive but feeling disappointment in the deepest corners of his heart. From their conversation, it is made clear that at least some part of the Hastinapur's people blame Dhritrashtra for the Pandavs death. To clear his bad reputation, Dhritrashtra must welcome them back.

Now Hastinapur faces a challenge. It now has two yuvraajs. Will it be Yudhishthir? Who was yuvraaj before his supposed death? Or Will it be Duryodhan, who was crowned after the Lakshyagrah incident?

Find out, in the next episode, of Mahabharat!

Notable dialogue

Rishiyon, Nadiyon aur Veeron ka gotra nahi hota Maharaj Drupad.

Pratishodh jeevan ka lakshya nahi ho sakta.

Aashirvaad ho ya shraap, soch samaj kar dena chahiye.

Shaant rehne se bada na koi shashtra hai, na koi astra.

Guru Dronacharya, Parshuram, Indra aur Arjun ke atirikt koi Karna ka dhanush nahi tod sakta.

Aaj tumhari vaani me mandir ki ghantiyo ke swar kyun sunai de rahe hai?

Ye nirasha ka yug hai.

Duryodhan! Tum jaisa moorkh ab kadachit hi janm lega.


To be continued