CHARACTERS OF DHARMAJA AND SAKUNI
With the blessings of God, The Almighty, I have completed Mahabharat, Sabha Parva. After completing Sabha parva, knowingly or unknowingly, I intend to write an analysis, on the role of Dharmaja and Sakuni. If you accept it, kindly send me a word of appreciation; otherwise, just ignore it.
In Sabha Parva, there are Two Sabhas. One is Maya Sabha built by Maya, the Great Sculptor and the other which was got constructed by Dhrutarashtra to satisfy his son, Duryodhana, where the dice play was conducted between Dharmaja and Sakuni.
Sabha, in common parlance, means a place where people gather and discuss important matters. In England, there are Two Sabhas. One is House of Commons and the other is House of Lords. Similarly, in India, there are Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
But here in Mahabharat, Maya Sabha means a huge, magnificent building built by Maya in Indra Prastha. The other is in Hastinapura got built by Dhrutarashtra for the purpose of inviting Dharmaja for dice play. These two Sabhas are most important in Mahabharat. Without these two buildings, the story of Mahabharat would not have proceeded further. The Maha Bharat story would have been concluded with the performance of Rajasuya Yaga by Dharmaja.
On completionof Rajasuya Yaga, all the dignatories have departed to their original places. But Suyodhana remained in Indra Prastha along with Sakuni, to see the glimpses of Maya Sabha.
He visited Maya Sabha alone. He was insulted there. Besides that, Suyodhana was kept in charge of Reception Committee to receive all the gifts and presentations brought by all the kings. He felt jealousy on looking at the enormous wealth like gold, silver, pearls, diamonds, etc., etc., given by all the Kings.
In Raja Suya Yaga, all the kings prostrated before Dharmaja and their crowns touched the feet of Dharmaja. Suyodhana could not tolerate this. How two emperors could survive in one Country? He wanted to grab all the wealth of Pandavas. He wanted to teach a lesson to Pandavas especially to Droupadi, for the insult caused to him in Maya Sabha.
Sakuni added fuel to fire. As a result, Dharmaja was invited to play dice game at Hastinapura. Dharmaja lost all his wealth and kingdom including his beloved brothers and their wife. Droupadi was insulted in the Sabha in Hastinapura. At last, Pandavas along with Droupadi were sent to forests.
Now we will see how the dice game was conducted.
Why Dharmaja accepted to play dice game?
At the inception, Dharmaja did not like to play dice game because it was not Kshatriya Dharma. If kings indulge in dice game, it is a sin. That was his original opinion. Again he changed his opinion. If the dice game is played according to rules and regulations, it is like waging a Dharma Yudha. (a war following rules and regulations strictly). Dharmaja quoted a citation of Devala. Hence he supported Dice game but with rules.
(Even today, Rammi, cards game, is considered to be a game of skill. But if it is played with betting it is a crime).
But Dharmaja was hesitating to take part in Dice Game. Sakuni provocated him. "If you are not dare enought to play dice game, you can withdraw". "Once invited to play dice game it is not proper to go back" thought Dharmaja. He played the game.
Therefore, at first, Dharmaja did not like to participate in dice game. Slowly he changed his opinion. He was procovated by Sakuni. Hence reluctantly he took part in the game. That may be so.
How the Dice Game was played?
There are to participants. One is Dharmaja and the other is Suyodhana. But Sakuni is playing on behalf of Suyodhana. Dharmaja knew that according to Dharma, it was not correct. Still, Dharmaja continued the game with reluctance. He didnot express any protest that that was not correct and proper. Was Dharmaja addicted to the vice of Dice game?
Dice Game continued. Sakuni won the first game. "Look, I will defeat you?" thought Dharmaja in mind. Dharmaja continued the game with a kind of challenge.
Generally, a common man, if he loses one game, he feels false prestige. He challenges his opponent"Come on I will defeat you".. Here Dharmaja also behaved like a common man. Was it proper for Dharmaja, an embodiment of Dharma, to behave like that?
Dharmaja was betting and losing one by one. Still he continued the game.He did not think it proper to stop the game. Why?
In common parlance, while playing cards also, if one player was suffering with losing hand, he will stop the game for the present. Similarly, in stock market also, a trader will buy a share for certain amount and put stop loss to minimise the loss, in case the rate falls suddenly. It appears that Dharmaja was not having this much of common sense while playing dice game with Sakuni.
What we deduce from out of this? By that time, Dharmaja learnt some Dharma Sutras. He knows them. But he did not try to put them in action. He was an ordinary king. While the flatterers around him praised him that he was an embodiment of dharma, he thought that he knows the entire dharma. Knowledge is quite different from practising it. Dharmaja had no self control. His mind was not serene between the opposites like joy and sorrow, honour and ignominy. His senses were not completely under his control. He was not having neutral mind. As a result, when he lost one bet, he put another bet. Again he lost it. Again he put another bet. He behaved as a common gambler. That may be the reason why Droupadi called Dharmaja as a "bad gambler" (kitavu) Kitavu means gambler.
Let us look at the political state of affairs obtaining at that time.
When they left Hastinapura for Khandraprastha, they were without wealth. They conducted Rajasooya yaga with the help of one and all and got enormous wealth and great kingdom. Dharmaja with one hand, lost all the wealth gained by his brothers, and remained with empty hands.. How they had come, they have gone in the same way.
Even when Narada visited Dharmaja and told him all the Principles of Dharma to be followed by a wise king, Dharmaja did not care them much. He asked Narada whether he has seen Maya Sabha? There is no better lesson than experience. Hence fate determined to teach him a lesson. Dharmaja lost all.
That may be the reason why Vidura did not say a single word to Dharmaja to stop the game. Vidura tried to convince Dhrutarashtra and Suyodhana? Even Bheeshma, Drona, Krupa and other elders did not intervene and tell Dharmaja to stop the game. Why?
At last, when Droupadi challenged in the open assembly whether she was lost even before Dharmaja lost himself or otherwise, Bheeshma said only few words "Only Dharmaja could answer your question and none else". It may be the idea of Bheeshma that when Dharmaja lost his entire wealth, kingdom, brothers and wife of his own misdeed by playing dice game, he alone should answer that question because he was embodiment of dharma.. What can we do? Is it still flattering or heckling?
Now we will discuss about the character of Sakuni, the King of Gandhara.
Sakuni is the maternal uncle of Suyodhana. Brother of Gandhari. The character of Sakuni entered Maha Bharata in Adi Parva, Panchamaasvaasa (5th chapter), in 12th prose. "Sakuni followed Gandhari to Hastinapura for performing marriage of Gandhari with Dhrutarashtra.".
Even after the marriage of Gandhari with Dhrutarashtra, Sakuni remained in Hastinapura. After a long time, Suyodhana, along with 99 others, was born.
An anecdote is appearing in some books with regard to Sakuni. Suyodhana imprisoned Sakuni along with his father and brothers for some misdeeds committed by Sakuni and they were offered a fistful of rice per day. The father and other brothers offered that little amount of rice to Sakuni and they all died without food, with the hope that Sakuni would wreak vengeance against Suyodhana. Sakuni got prepared dices with the bones of his father and played dice game with Dharmaja and won the game. But there is no basis for this anecdote in Mahabharata.
It will not stand for reasoning also. Because, after advent of Sakuni to Hastina, after a long time Suyodhana was born. After Suyodhana grown up and became youth, this might have happened. In Mahabharata, Sakuni was always faithful to Suyodhana since inception. Hence there is no basis for the above anecdote. That might be a fiction.
Sakuni was the King of Gandhara (now called Khandahaar). He left his kingdom and remained in Hastinapura. Why?
Since child hood, he was supporting Suyodhana. He was observing Suyodhana from his child hood. He knows that Suyodhana would be the future emperor of this entire Bharat. The Political situation at that time appears to be like this.
"Kuru" Dynasty was the powerful Dynasty at that time. By inheritance, Dhrutarashtra became the king, being the eldest. Because he was blind, his brother King Pandu was ruling the country on his behalf. King Pandu waged many wars and extended the Kuru Kingdom. For some reason or other, he left Hastina and went to forests and begot five sons, Pandavas. Later he died. Pandavas reached Hastinapura.
There was an internal fight for kingship. There was a partition. Dhrutarashtra allotted Khandava prastha, waste land filled with forests and hills, to Dharmaja. With help of Krishna, they burnt away Khandava forest and constructed Indraprastha and Maya Sabha.
Dharmaja performed Rajasooya. All the four brothers,
conquered the foursides of Bharat and extended their kingdom upto Kashmeer
on north, Lanka on south, Dwaraka on west and Chedi kingdom on east. So
the entire kingdom was under the control of Dharmaja.
With this back ground, we can deduce some logical inferences.
Now the problem before Sakuni was who would be the future Emperor who was capable of ruling this entire Bharat?
Only two options are left. Suyodhana and Dharmaja. With a peer comparison, he thought, without any favour towards anybody---
Suyodhana is the son of existing Emperor Dhrutarashtra. Dhrutarashtra was the Emperor for name sake. In fact, entire administration was being run by Suyodhana.
Suyodhana was an autocrat. Cruel. Jealous. Always thinks about war and aggression by hook or crook. A man of vices. People were not leading peaceful life in his regime. He was not fit to continue as an emperor for the entire Bhart Khanda.
The second option is Dharmaja. He was good, intelligent. Studied jurisprudence. Acclaimed by one and all. He rules people with kindness by understanding their difficulties. But, while the flatters around him praised him as an embodiment of Dharma, he thought that he was great and knows everything.
Instead of making Suyodhana who was an incorrigibe as Emperor, it would be better if Dharmaja was made the Emperor, Sakuni might have thought.
Before doing so, it would be better if the entire country is brought under one umbrella. How it would happen?
Suyodhana was more powerful. He was having the support of his brothers 99 in number and Karna, the unconquerable. Besides that, Bheeshma and Drona are there. Therefore, it was highly difficult to grab the kingdom from Suyodhana and keep under the control of Dharmaja.
Instead, it was easy to grab the kingdom of Dharmaja and bring it under the Control of Suyodhana. Besides that, he wanted to test Dharmaja about his capability.
The insinuation metedout by Suyodhana and the jealousy arose in his mind, helped Sakuni to execute his plan. He fomented the jealousy in Suyodhana. He promised that the entire kingdom of Dharmaja and all his wealth will be grabbed without shedding a drop of blood and without waging any war. He suppressed the ideas of Karna who said that war would be the only solution to grab the kingdom of Dharmaja.
Sakuni knows that Dharmaja likes dice game. Sakuni instigated Suyodhana to convince his father, Dhrutarashtra, for inviting Dharmaja for dice game through Vidura. Dharmaja could not reject the invitation.
Dharmaja started to play the game and lost all his wealth, kingdom, his brothers and wife. But due to the intervention of Gandhari, Pandavas got back all his kingdom and wealth.
Sakuni might have thought that with this vice of dicegame, Dharmaja did not even hesitate to bet his entire wealth, kingdom, his brothers and even their wife. Sakuni thought that Dharmaja requires some improvement of knowledge and experience before becoming an Emperor to the entire Bharat.
In the present days, we have got Indian Limitation Act. If any body is in possession of any property belonging to others, to the knowledge of one and all including the true owner, for a period of 12 years, he will be entitled to the property. It is called the "doctrine of adverse possession". This was in vogue in Tretayuga for 14 years. In Dwaapara as 12 years.
That was the reason why Sakuni put the condition that who ever loses the game, they should renunciate their kingdom and wealth and live in forest for a period of 12 years. After 12 years they will lose their right to claim the kingdom back. As a precautionary measure, he put another condition of Agnatavasa viz., living in a city in disguise. If they are once identified, they have to again live in forests for 12 years. It is nothing but an "asidhaaraa vrata" (walking on the edge of a sharp sowrd). This will prove how Dharmaja would be very cautious and make himself tobe more intelligent.
On the other hand, the above condition was nothing but a death warrant for Suyodhana written by Sakuni, limiting his life and his rule for 13 years. That means—
It is certain that Dharmaja will lose his game and go to forest along with hisbrothers and wife. On completion of 13 years successfully, as they cannot claim their king dom back, the only alternative left for Pandavas would be waging war against Suyodhana.
Within these 13 years, with the autocratic rule of Suyodhana the people will fed up. The way he grabbed the kingdom of Pandavas will be known to all the kings. It will cast a negative vote to Suyodhana.
On the other hand, the behaviour of Pandavas and the woes they suffered in forest will be known to one and all. It will cast a positive vote to Pandavas. That was the plan of Sakuni.
Even after the Pandavas left for forests, Sakuni instigated Suyodhana for Ghosha Yatra thus created a bad image to Suyodhana as a jealousy man in the eyes of one and all, as he was not allowing Pandavas to live peacefully even in forests. Thus the entire sympathy of all the Kings was in favour of Pandavas.
In the meanwhile Dharmaja will realise his mistakes. He will learn many things under the guidance of great sages and saints in the forests and gained vast knowledge. He will develope serene mind, equal vision towards joy and sorrow and keeping his senses under his control, not influenced by outward attractions.
Arjuna acquired Pasupataastra from Lord Siva. Indra,
the father of Arjuna, invited Arjuna to Indra Loka and gave his half throne
to him, and sent signals to the kings and he was supporting Arjuna and
On completion of 13 years, there was a great war at Kurukshetra. Pandavas won the war. At the end of war, Sakuni lost his life at the hands of Sahadeva. The entire Bharata Khanda was brought under the rule of Dharmaja. I think that would be the vision of Sakuni.
Till today, India, the Bharat, is united. In this way, in my view, Sakuni's vision was fulfilled. Mera Bharat Mahaan.
Om tatsat. Om tatsat. Om tatsat.