“My dear Krishna, Your Lordship has protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Ashvatthama.” (Queen Kunti, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.24)
विषान् महाग्नेः पुरुषाद-दर्शनाद्
मृधे मृधे ऽनेक-महारथास्त्रतो
द्रौण्य्-अस्त्रतश् चास्म हरे ऽभिरक्षिताः
viṣān mahāgneḥ puruṣāda-darśanād
mṛdhe mṛdhe ‘neka-mahārathāstrato
drauṇy-astrataś cāsma hare ‘bhirakṣitāḥ
1. Not really the age of chivalry
There is the saying that the age of chivalry is dead. The opinion is that in times past men were more honorable, particularly with respect to the treatment of women. As an example of the drastic change that takes place over a few generations, during the period of World War I in the United States, an elderly former president in the United States was ready to enlist. He volunteered to fight for his country, though he was well past the age where his skills would be of service. When one of his sons later enlisted and died in the cause, both parents took the sacrifice as a tremendous honor.
In modern times the attitude certainly shifts. What leaders of the state are actually ready to defend their decisions with weapon in hand? The lack of a belief in an afterlife has gained in popularity, and so giving up one’s life of enjoyment for the defense of another is not seen as worthwhile.
From the incident with Draupadi, we see that several thousands of years ago there was dishonorable behavior to be found, even amongst the ruling class. She was a queen belonging to the Pandava family. Due to an unfortunate series of events, the rival party known as the Kauravas was ready to strip her naked in an assembly of friends, family and dignitaries. The offenders had no reservations; they would have succeeded if higher forces had not intervened.
2. Gambling can get the better of anyone
Draupadi found herself in that predicament due to the gambling of Yudhishthira Maharaja, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers. He was known for his dedication to dharma, which can be described as virtue. He was actually born from the god of justice, Dharmaraja.
Yet even someone who is so discriminating in terms of right and wrong can get swept away by the waves of gambling. Yudhishthira knew better, but he would not stop. The rival party took advantage to the point of winning Draupadi during one of the rounds of dice. The honorable husband did not intervene; he was ready to pay the debt that was owed.
3. Politics is a tricky business
Yudhishthira and his brothers were unwilling to intervene on Draupadi’s behalf. This was due to the wager with agreed upon terms. At the same time, the Kaurava side had some respectable people, such as Bhishmadeva and Dronacharya. They could have stepped up and stopped the nonsense. They knew that Draupadi had done nothing wrong.
In the world of politics the proper decision is not always clear. If they had intervened, then the Kauravas might suspect foul play. Perhaps Bhishmadeva would then get the same treatment as the Pandavas, who had many attempts made against their lives. Due to allegiance to the wrong party, the elders did not act when someone in distress needed help.
4. There is only so much you can do on your own
Draupadi tried her best to save herself. No one was willing to step up. They had their own reasons for sitting quietly. Perhaps if she could hold on to her sari then the fiends would not succeed. The problem was that she lacked the physical strength. There was no comparison between a beautiful and delicate princess and a mighty-armed warrior seasoned in battle.
5. Krishna is there for His devotees
The incident is famous today because of the outcome. The Kauravas did not succeed. They could not show Draupadi naked. They sure were able to pull at the sari. The princess could not hold back. It was a one-sided tug-of-war match.
The Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, took the form of the sari. He turned material elements that are usually limited in size into something unlimited. He can do this because He is ananta. Krishna is without beginning and without end. He is always there for His devotees, especially when they call out to Him, whether in frustration, desperation, or jubilation.
Whether from effort frustration,
Or helpless in desperation.
For His devotees aware,
Arriving at situation there.
Like with Draupadi in assembly full,
Wicked Kauravas at sari to pull.
Krishna form of that garment taking,
And endless to amazement making.
Categories: the five