Duryodhana Vadham

By Vayaskara Aryan Narayanan Moosad (1841-1902)

(Scene from Epic Mahabharata)

Background Situation : This play tells the story of two of the most important events of the Mahabharata- the banishment of the Pandavas after their defeat by the Kauravas in a game of dice, and their triumphant victory over the Kauravas many later on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

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The Kauravas’ hatred for their cousins, which became intense when Dharmaputra conducted the Rajasuya sacrifice, reached a climax when Duryodhana and his brother were laughed at by Bhima during their visit to the Pandavas’ place at Indraprastha. The Kauravas insidiously prevailed upon Dharmaputra to gamble in a game of dice, his opponent being their wicked uncle Sakuni, who has loaded the dice. In the course of the game Dharmaputra lost everything –his army, his palace, his wealth and kingdom. He then staked his brothers one by one and finally his wife and himself. Again he lost, so the Pandavas all became slaves to Duryodhana.

Duryodhana ordered his younger brother Dussassana to fetch Draupadi into the open court and disrobe her, but he did not succeed because she prayed to Lord Krishna and her cloth became endless. For this insult Draupadi cursed the Kauravas and would only stop cursing when Dhritarashtra, the blind father of the Kauravas, agreed to free the Pandavas. At Dussassana’s request another game of dice was played at which whoever lost was to be banished to the forest for twelve years, after which they would have to spend on year in disguise: if they were recognized during that year, they would have to go back to the forest for another twelve years. The Pandavas again lost the game, and were exiled.

After the completion of the thirteen years, the Kauravas were still unwilling to restore their share of the kingdom to the Pandavas. Krishna peaded with them in vain. Finally a war which lasted for 18 days was fought at Kurukshetra. To enable Bhima to fulfill the vow made by Draupadi at the time she was insulted by Dussassana- that he would avenge the insult by drinking Dussassan’s blood- Krishna gave him special powers. After a fierce fight, Bhima floored Dussassana and drank his blood. He then summoned Draupadi to the arena and wiped her hair with his blood stained hands. (When Dussassana dragged her into the Kaurava court she had vowed that her would remain disheveled until the insult was avenged)

Scene - 1 The Pandavas, Sakuni, Duryodhana and Dussassana

Dharmaputra accepts Duryodhan’s invitation to play dice with Sakuni, thinking that it would be discourteous to refuse the inviatation: it would also be contrary to the duty of a Kshatriya to refuse a challenge. The game begins; the more Dharmaputra loses,the more he stakes: having lost his army, his kingdom and all his wealth, he stakes his brothers one by one: finally he stakes himself and Draupadi. All of them become slaves to the Kauravas.

Duryodhana now retaliates for the mockery shown by Bhima and Draupadi when he was their guest at the Pandava palace. On his orders, Dussassana brings in Draupadi, dragging her by hair, and begins to disrobe her. She prys desperately to LordKrishna, and miraculously her cloth becomes endless. Dussassana, tired of unwinding it, collapses and leaves her as she swoons. Regaining consciousness, she cursesw the Kauravas and Sakuni. For Dussassana she has a special curse, the Bhima will rip him open and drink his blood. She vows that her hair will remain disheveled until Dussassana is killed. Dhritarashtra, the blind father of the Kauravas, begs Draupadi to stop cursing. He asks for forgiveness and agrees to free the Pandavas.

Scene - 2 Krishna and Draupadi

Krishna is about to go to Duryodhana’s place when Draupadi arrives. She deplores the idea of any settlement with the Kaurava’s,and remined Krishna of her that everything will turn out as she wishes, as Duryodhana will never agree to an honorable settlement.

Scene –3 Duryodhana, Dussassana, Krishna and Mumukshu

Duryodhana, Dussassana, Dhritarashtra, Karna and Bhishma. Duryodhana is in his court his consellors. He tells them that Krishna will arrive shortly, but no one should show any respect to him as he is coming to plead for the Pandavas. He departs, and when Krishna arrives the whole assembly rises in adoration and does homage to him. Krishna tells Dhritarashtra the purpose of his visit, and he in turn advises Duryodhana to abbey Krishna. He leaves and Krishna delivers Dharmaputra’s message. But Duryodhana is not prepared for any agreement with the Pandavas. He questions their parentage, and Krishna resorts that Duryodhana’s origin are also dubious. Unable to stand this insult, duryodhan orders Dussassana to tie up Krishna in ropes, whereupon Krishna, shows his Viswarupa (the cosmic form of Vishnu) and dazzles Duryodhana and Dussassana who fall to the ground in a faint. Mumukshu a pious Brahmin, appears, praises Krishna and advises Duryodhana to obey Krishna. Krishna departs. War is now inevitable.

Scene – 4 Krishna and Arjuna

The peace mission having failed, the two sides, Pandavas and Kauravas are in the battle filed. Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers and a great warrior, is driven to the battlelfield by Lord Krishna in his chariot. The chariot is stopped before the two mighty armies ready for the war.Arjuna surveys the enemy ranks and sees the great masters of archery, his guru Dronacharya, his great grandfather Bhishma, and his other kith and kin arrayed against him.Arjuna asks Krishna what good it would bring him by winning a war after killing his own kith and kin. He wants the chariot to be turned back. The disheartened Arjuna is in no mood to fight and cannot even lift his bow. Lord Krishna taunts Arjuna for his cowardice and tells him that his dharma as a Kshatriya is to fight for righteous cause. Death and killing have to be understood in proper perspective.The soul does not die; it only leaves body, just in the same way as new clothes are worn, discarding old ones. To infuse courage and self-confidence in Arjuna, Lord Krishna assumes his cosmic from and appears before Arjuna as Lord Suprme. Arjuna finds that the Lord’s cosmic form has no beginning, no end.He sees the truth in full measure. The enlightened Arjuna, charged with courge.

Scene – 5 (Roudra Bhima and Dussassana)

To enable Bhima to fulfill Draupadi’s curse on Dussassana, Krishna has given him special powers. Bhima appears in a terrifying form (called Roudra Bhima), blazing with anger as he searches for his number one enemy, Dussassana. He finds him and there is a fierce battle. After killing Dussassana, Bhima drinks his blood out his entrails and roars. Bhima summons Draupadi to the battlefield so that she may see what has happened to Dussassana, and ties up her hair with his hands dripping with her enemy’s blood. Vengeance is thus complete. Krishna now appears before Bhima, who prays to him for forgiveness for his outrageous behavior. Krishna forgives him and blesses him.

Presentation: THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR KATHAKALI, New Delhi.