Mahabharata Stories: 32 – The Eye-Opener

When we see a blind person trying to cross the road, or a disabled man pulling himself up a bus, the sympathetic nature in us surges out. When we learn that the lead singer in the concert cannot hear, we laud her louder than we would otherwise. Handicap is something that we all pity and we deem ourselves fortunate if we are bodily whole. To what extent is this true? Who really should be considered handicapped? Does handicap have to be natural? Could a handicap turn out to be a blessing in disguise?

When Dhritarashtra, who was born blind, was old enough, Bheeshma sake for him the hand of the princess of Gandhar. The king of Gandhar was reluctant to give his young daughter in marriage to a blind man. The beautiful Gandhari, however, expressed her desire to marry the strong young prince from the renowned Kuru lineage. They were hence married and Gandhari, wanting to share in her husband’s disadvantage, bound her eyes with a cloth vowing never to see again. However, though not for seeing, she did open her eyes once.

Due to the severity of her penance, Gandhari gained immense powers. When the Great War seemed certain, an anxious Gandhari desired to protect her eldest son by bestowing upon him immortality. She expressed her wish to Duryodhana and, as per the set rules, asked him to bathe in the Ganges and appear dripping wet and unclad before her.

Lord Krishna foresaw the consequence of Duryodhana attaining immortality. As Duryodhana was returning after the bath, the Lord intercepted him wayside and mockingly said:

Why Duryodhana, what happened to your clothes? Has something gone wrong with you that you should shed your shame?

Duryodhana replied: I have to appear unclad before my mother. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that!

Sri Krishna said: Oh, Duryodhana! You are now a well grown and mature man. Don’t you understand that it is a shame to appear naked even if it be in front of your own mother?

All of a sudden, Duryodhana felt very shy and wrapped himself with a banana leaf concealing his private parts and part of his thighs.

EyeOpener

When Gandhari removed her blindfold, and let the radiance of the power accumulated in her eyes swathe her son’s body, she was aghast to find that he had hidden a part of his body from her. She was all the more agitated as she was aware that Bhima had sworn to break Duryodhana’s thigh!

Thus, nothing could stop Bhima from killing Duryodhana in the final combat. All the power of vision of Gandhari’s great penance came to a naught!

Dhritarashtra had the power of vision but once.

At the time when war seemed inevitable, there was many an attempt from several quarters to impede the war. Sri Krishna’s attempt was the final and the greatest.

Lord Krishna came to Duryodhana’s court and, elaborating at length the consequences of war, tried to persuade Duryodhana to make peace with the Pandavas but the prince did not budge. Even the old Dhritarashtra tried to dissuade his son from war, but to no avail.

Duryodhana and his friends, knowing that Sri Krishna was on the side of the Pandavas, had plotted to seize and kill Him. He, knowing this, revealed His Universal Form or Viswarupa. Dhritarashtra had a vision of the Lord. He humbly begged of the Lord: I have seen You and only You. I do not wish to see the wicked world. Please make me blind again!

And the blessed Dhritarashtra turned blind again!

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