“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
Friend1: One of the more sympathetic characters from the Mahabharata is Kunti Devi, the mother of the Pandavas.
Friend2: We should be clear that by saying “character”, we are referencing a historical personality whose story happens to be told in a beautiful poetry style format in the Sanskrit language.
Friend1: Yes, of course. There is symbolism to the factual events, especially since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is involved.
Friend2: Who is the well-wisher to the Pandava family, though He is actually neutral towards everyone roaming the material world.
समो ऽहं सर्व-भूतेषु
न मे द्वेष्यो ऽस्ति न प्रियः
ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या
मयि ते तेषु चाप्य् अहम्
samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
Friend1: Krishna favors the Pandavas because they are devotees. He would have shown the same kind of favoritism to the Kauravas, the rival family, if they were similar in nature.
Friend2: In fact, some of them were. Vidura was on that side of the family, but he was always with Krishna in spirit. Bhishmadeva actually fought against the Pandavas in the subsequent war, but he meditated directly on Krishna at the time of death. This was arranged by the Supreme Lord.
Friend1: At one time Kunti remembers the various times of distress and danger, where Krishna intervened. One of those times was when Draupadi was in danger of being stripped naked in front of an assembly.
Friend2: This was not her fault. Draupadi was the collateral in an unfair wager lost. A beautiful princess who was small in comparison to the warriors on the other side.
Friend1: She tried her best to hold onto the sari, but she eventually realized it was a losing battle.
Friend2: Calling out to Govinda, He saved her by extending His ananta property to the garment.
Friend1: That is where my question lies today. A casual observer may wonder why Krishna didn’t intervene directly.
Friend2: What do you mean? Instead of the magic with the sari, just show up?
Friend1: Yeah, exactly. Tell the Kauravas to cut it out. Lecture them on the proper etiquette to be observed towards females. Show your might.
Friend2: But He did show His might. The sari could not be removed from her.
Friend1: Okay, but no one except the Pandavas knew that it was Krishna’s work. Why be so secretive?
Friend2: No higher purposed would be served by intervening directly like that. The Kauravas would not learn a lesson. There is ample evidence of the existence of God. Based on the existence, a sober and rational person chooses dharma over adharma.
Friend1: Right over wrong. Piety over sin.
Friend2: A mere show of strength is not going to change things. In fact, later on Krishna did reveal the universal form, the virata-rupa, to the leader of the Kauravas. Duryodhana had an idea to bind Krishna, who was acting as an ambassador to prevent war between the parties. The Supreme Lord laughed at the proposal and invited the mastermind to go ahead and give it a shot.
Friend1: If intervening directly wouldn’t make much of a difference, then why intervene indirectly?
Friend2: We’re talking about the incident today, aren’t we? Kunti Devi never forgot it, did she? It adds to Krishna’s glory. He protected the devotion of the devotees. That is His promise, and He is always true in this regard.
Perhaps one day for me,
Since like ananta is He.
When princess to Govinda calling,
That sari never from her falling.
Asuras even if seen not knowing,
Since with inimical spirit to going.
For devotees intervention reserved,
So their saintly life preserved.