THE MAHABHARATA SAGA – GANDHARI: HER HIGH VALUES AND DARKNESS
We all are reading Mahabharata, the epic tale of Indian mythology from our childhood and we know Kauravas are always portrayed as evil. But there was something about her mother “Gandhari” which raised many disputes and actually did too. Before proceeding to her story and milestones, let’s have a little introduction and I know the maximum of you are aware of this name as it is again a very important character when it comes to Mahabharata but there’s no harm to have a little intro for some readers who ain’t aware about her.
Gandhari was the daughter of Subala, the king of Gandhara, a region spanning northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, from which her name is derived. In old times love marriage was hardly a concept, the marriages were fixed by parents and even the bride and groom had no idea about that, well this still happens but I think the ratio is less now. So Gandhari’s marriage was fixed with Dhritarashtra, the eldest prince of the Kuru kingdom.
HER HIGH MORALS
Dhritarashtra is also a main character and he is often called ‘The blind King’ as he was born blind. Gandhari wasn’t aware of this fact and after her marriage, she got to know this. Imagine being in this situation pretty shocking obviously but that’s where it all started being interesting and now we have this epic tale about her and her sacrifices.
After she realized that her husband is blind, she decided voluntarily to get blindfolded for life. Now there are many tales and opinions about why she decided that some are bad theories and some are really good. Well one of them is because of love and a duty towards her husband. She refused to see the world simply because her husband/love can’t. For her, it was a sacrifice to show her love and to pay respect to him.
Now if this is true, it’s really beautiful how someone decided to sacrifice this much for love. This little tale where she decided to get blindfolded is portraying the beauty of love and how love is about compromising and making sacrifices.
“When you are willing to compromise and make sacrifices for someone, that’s where you feel True Love”
As I mentioned above her sons Kauravas were portrayed evil in Mahabharata. But the Mahabharata attributes high moral standards to Gandhari. She was mother of Kauravas but she always exhorted her sons to follow dharma and make peace with the Pandavas. It is always shown that when Duryodhana asked for her blessing of victory during the Kurukshetra war, Gandhari always said and I quoted “may victory find the side of righteousness”. This pretty much sums up why in Mahabharata Gandhari is a character with really high morals.
Like in the previous article of The Mahabharata saga https://gogomagazine.in/the-mahabharat-saga-karan-and-duryodhan-the-bond-beyond-blood/ it was shown that Karan and Duryodhana showed the world that some bonds are greater than blood. Maybe it’s not about in which or what we are born with, it’s about karma and dharma we have and which we learn with time. So here Gandhari irrespective of the fact that Kauravas are her beloved sons she always wanted to see peace and if not a win of righteousness. Maybe she was above this and even Kunti the mother of Pandavas never blessed Pandavas and reacted the same way as Gandhari did. Kunti was a lady with a pure heart and maybe we will know more about her in upcoming editions.
That was something about Gandhari and her high morals. But again no one is perfect and now the following tales can be a little question but that doesn’t make her any less but there were some incidents which will show us that we all have flaws and darkness. Gandhari made a single exception to her blindfolded state when she removed her blindfold to see Duryodhana rendering his entire body except his loins invulnerable to any foe, which has a different story and a clever move by Lord Krishna.
She poured all her power into her son’s body in one glance except his loins, Lord Krishna foiled Gandhari’s plan by asking Duryodhana to cover up his private part before meeting his mother. Resultant on their decisive encounter on the eighteenth day of the Kurukshetra battle, Bhima smashed Duryodhana’s thighs, a move both literally and figuratively below the belt.
*As per Vyasa’s Mahabharata, Duryodhana, while fighting against Bhima, displayed his superior mace skills, due to which Bhima could not defeat him and had to break rules to kill him*
The curse of Gandhari; when all of Gandhari’s sons died as any normal being she was so upset and angry with this fact. And her wrath turned to Lord Krishna to create such mess and destruction. She cursed that he, his city and all his subjects would be destroyed. Krishna accepted the curse. And so it happened.
These events were a dark part of her, as it is completely understandable as a mother losing her sons is a big deal but again it disputes the High moral part of her. And her making an exception of blindfold so she can give powers to Duryodhana, which was no doubt a nasty move and her breaking a vow which she made pretty clear. We know, the situations she was were different and as a mother and being it is quite digestible.
But it also shows the two sides of her. And it is a perfect practical representation of any other being too, the two sides. The concept of dualism as well. It is all about perspective when it comes to Mahabharata.
Because if we see the Mahabharata as simply being ourselves it’s pretty clear who is evil and not and that’s how we are reading it from the beginning. But when we see Mahabharata from the perspective of one character, the whole concept just turns around somehow and to complete something else. And I think that also works with our life pretty much the same way. Good and bad are just two different forms of one’s perspective if that makes sense.
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