Lecture by His Holiness Romapada Swami (download mp3), at the 2007 Gaura Purnima Festival, Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir, Mayapur, India.
ity ucivams tatra suyodhanena
TRANSLATION: While speaking thus, Vidura, whose personal character was esteemed by respectable persons, was insulted by Duryodhana, who was swollen with anger and whose lips were trembling. Duryodhana was in company with Karna, his younger brothers and his maternal uncle Sakuni.
PURPORT: It is said that giving good counsel to a foolish person causes the fool to become angry, just as feeding milk to a snake only increases its venomous poison. Saint Vidura was so honorable that his character was looked up to by all respectable persons. But Duryodhana was so foolish that he dared to insult Vidura. This was due to his bad association with Sakuni, his maternal uncle, as well as with his friend Karna, who always encouraged Duryodhana in his nefarious acts. (end of purport)
[repeats verse and translation, chants invocatory prayers]
Romapada Swami: So we have been hearing about the fearless, faultless, and powerful advice given by Vidura to his elder brother Dhrtarastra, consistently given advice, and Dhrtarastra's inability to hear because of his fault of attachment on the bodily platform. Although given the opportunity for taking the high road, doing the right thing, acting virtuously, he was unable to do it. Again and again, as Maharaja described so very wonderfully yesterday: "Get rid of him!" But he couldn't do it.
There is a sequence in this corruptibility of persons because Dhrtarastra also has elevated qualities. The conclusion of how Dhrtarastra finally takes the advice of Vidura and the capacity he demonstrates shows he was actually a very elevated person. He was a very elevated person corrupted by his attachment. There is a chain of events how that attachment was inflamed by his son Duryodhana and how his son Duryodhana was also influenced by Sakuni, that's what's in this purport: "Duryodhana was so foolish that he dared to insult Vidura. This was due to his bad association with Sakuni." So the focus of this morning's class is going to be role of Sakuni, or the function of bad association.
Sakuni comes into play in Mahabharata from the time that Bhismadeva made an arrangement for the daughter of King Subala, Gandhari was the daughter of King Subala. The Gandahar kingdom was under the rule of Subala. Gandhari had been given a benediction by Lord Siva that she would have one hundred sons. Dhrtarastra had been given a benediction by Vyasa at the time of his conception that he would have one hundred sons. So Grandfather Bhisma considered these two nephews that he was looking after, Dhrtarastra and Pandu. At the time, they were needed to be married. Mahabharata describes that Bhisma, although a brahmacari, was considering, "We must not have a break in lineage." So the successors to the throne, Dhrtarastra and Pandu, needed qualified wives to continue the lineage of kings.
Vidura was so much respected that even Bhsimadeva consulted Vidura. When Bhismadeva consulted Vidura about who were prospective queens for Pandu and Dhrtarastra, Vidura agreed in a very humble way, "You are the grandsire of this dynasty and you are certainly the wisest amongst us all."
So Bhismadeva sent an envoy to King Subala making this recommendation that his daughter marry Dhrtarastra. Subala had some mixed feeling, "How can my daughter marry a blind king? But on the other hand, the Kuru dynasty for generations and generations and generations and generations had been known for being so very strong and powerful and virtuous. This would be suitable alliance between our kingdoms." So he agreed.
He made the arrangement that his son Sakuni would, just like we know Kamsa was the chariot driver of Vasudeva and Devaki, the brother, Sakuni escorted Gandhari to Hastinapura. Gandhari, just hearing that the man she was to marry was blind, immediately covered her eyes with cloth so that she would not be in a superior position to her husband. When she reached Hastinapura, in a very devoted, faithful way she served her husband. After things were settled, Sakuni returned back to his father's kingdom. We don't hear so much about Sakuni until the next stage of events.
Pandu was married to Kunti and Madri. Then children are born. Pandu dies. Madri enters into the funeral pyre of Pandu. Now the boys and Kunti return back to the royal palace. As young boys, they require proper education and training in military skill. Drona enters into the picture.
Drona, with the assistance of Bhisma, becomes in charge of training the boys in military skill. On Drona's request, Balarama also came to Hastinapura and trained Duryodhana and Bhima in the art of fighting with a club. While Balarama was visiting in Hastinapura, he understood the tension and the intrigue that was going on in Hastinapura and reported this to Krsna.
Krsna, being related to the Pandavas and having special affection for Queen Kunti, was very concerned. Meanwhile, in Hastinapura, the reputation of Krsna and Balarama was well known. So Krsna made an arrangement for Akrura, Akrura has got this very special position. Akrura was so good that Kamsa even selected Akrura to be the mission carrier to bring Krsna to Mathura. So after Kamsa's demise, Akrura is sent by Krsna to go to Hastinapura and check out the scene: "Assess the situation, see what you can do to improve the situation, and report back to me."
For three months, Akrura is in Hastinapura. When he reached Hastinapura, he was received by the Kuru dynasty in a very grand way. He is a representative of the Yadu dynasty, and very esteemed and respected, an elder, learned person. After being received by the Kauravas, Akrura then went to Kunti. Kunti couldn't control herself. She just burst out in tears saying, "Does Krsna ever think of his relatives, the Pandavas and myself? Will he someday come and give us his association?" Just thinking of Krsna, she began to cry.
Both Akrura and Vidura pacified Kunti, indicating to her, "We know from Vyasadeva the prophecy that your sons will live a long life and be victorious. We know that your sons are expansions, or manifestations, of the devas. Please don't worry for their welfare." By the pacifying words of Akrura and Vidura, Kunti became relieved. Then she poured her heart out over the turmoil. Because she was who she was, she was such a qualified devotee and also of ksatriya lineage, she understood very, very well what the intrigue was.
She described the recent event that had taken place when Drona asked for the daksina that he wanted, that was his students--the Kauravas and the Pandavas--usurp the kingdom of Drupada, defeat him in battle. The Kauravas' whole army was defeated by Drupada, but just the five Pandavas brothers defeated Drupada. The Kauravas were humiliated. This served to increase the tension between the two. Envy, as we were hearing form Maharaja yesterday. This was a very strong prompt. Yudhisthira understood, Kunti understood, the other Pandavas also understood. The intrigue was intense.
Akrura stayed for some time getting a very clear, detailed picture of the whole situation and then it was time, after three months stay in Hastinapura, to return. Just before returning, he arranged for a private discussion with Dhrtarastra. It is very similar to a Bhagavad-gita discussion, Krsna counseling Arjuna. What Akrura said was very, very similar.
He said, "You are thinking in terms of this body. You know very well, everyone knows very well, the Pandavas by Vedic law are the rightful heirs to the throne. You received the throne only because of the untimely death of Pandu. But the sons of Pandu, being the first born, are the lawful heirs to the throne. Don't discriminate, 'my sons and Pandu's sons.' Please understand, those who are your sons today, previously they were not your sons; in the future, they'll not be your sons. You should make your decisions as the in charge of the kingdom on the platform of understanding the soul and act on that platform of the understanding of the soul. If you act on the platform of the body then you are covered in ignorance. What are the consequences of activities that are based upon ignorance? The consequence is suffering. My dear King Dhrtarastra, don't act in ignorance. Act in virtue. The right thing is the throne should be given to Yudhisthira."
So there were two messages: "Don't act on the platform of the body and act on the platform of what is right according to Vedic instruction. Then you will have a very wonderful outcome. If you don't do that, you will have a disastrous outcome."
In this morning's class, I want to emphasize two main points. This is one of them. That is what the Mahabharata is teaching us, when there is a situation like Dhrtarastra's, or our own, or any situation where we fail to understand and apply the principle of the soul--however high intentioned one may be--it's flawed from the onset and the outcome of acting on that platform will be bad or disastrous. That is ABC understanding for devotees who study Bhagavad-gita. Studying Bhagavad-gita and applying it properly are two different things.
Dhrtarastra's reply was, "Akrura, your words are like nectar. They are ambrosial, everything you have said is absolutely true but it doesn't stay in my heart. What can I do? I'm attached to my sons. It must be fate, it is providential that I have this attachment. I cannot act accordingly. Whatever is the outcome is a providential fruit. What can I do; I am helpless."
Vyasa's explanation of Dhrtarastra's reply is that Dhrtarastra refused to accept responsibility for his own actions: "This is just my nature, what can I do?" Like sometimes devotees will say, "You know I'm the kind of person who. . . (fill in the line). Somebody does like this, but I'm the kind of person who does like that. What can I do, that's just that's my nature."
It's the same principle, not taking responsibility for one's actions. We know that we're spirit soul, we're not this body. We know that intellectually, but the message of Bhagavad-gita, or the message delivered by Akrura--we heard it repeatedly yesterday--or the message delivered by Vidura, the message of the soul is something that we should take shelter of and guide our life by. Dhrtarastra just threw up his hands and said, "I take no responsibility for my actions, whatever the outcome is is the destiny of Providence."
Akrura could understand, because he was a very wise person, what Dhrtarastra would do, the consequence of that and the disaster that would follow. He left Hastinapura and reported that to Krsna. So Krsna had a clear picture of what intrigue was going on. I'm going to back to this point, if time permits, and make the contrast of how good advice can make a difference if properly received. Maybe I'll do it now.
The good advice that Dhruva received from Narada is similar. The dynamic is somewhat similar: Dhrtarastra wanted a kingdom, he wanted something of this world. He was restrained from that by his blindness, but he was so attached that he couldn't receive good advice. Dhruva wanted a kingdom, not just a kingdom equal to his father's--better than his father's, better than his father's father's father's, better than Lord Brahma--and his mentality was "I want to get back at Suruci." Get back mentality, on the bodily platform.
Narada gave multiple points of advice to Dhruva. Dhruva said something very similar to what Dhrtarastra said. Dhruva said, after hearing from Narada, "Narada, what you have said is all true. Unfortunately I have a ksatriya spirit--I want a kingdom! I want a kingdom! And you're a great saint, surely there's something that you can instruct me in so I can get the kingdom. My mother said, 'By the grace of Lord Visnu one can achieve anything. Can you help me achieve Lord Visnu? How can I attain Lord Visnu? I want a kingdom!"
Notice the difference? Dhrtarastra, specifically in yesterday's verses, Vidura said, "Because you are maintaining a nondevotee of Krsna, you are devoid of all auspicious qualities." Dhrtarastra maintaining Duryodhana who was opposed to Krsna had no capacity to take shelter of Krsna. Dhruva had the capacity to take shelter of Krsna even though he had material attachment.
This is the second line. One line is we're all in this material world influenced by the modes of nature. Mahabharata is teaching, "Take the high road, act according to the principles of virtue and the principles of virtue are in the codes of the Vedas. Follow the codes of the Vedas and you'll get released from the influence of the lower modes of nature. By virtue you will ascend to a higher position. Virtue leads to ascending. And the opposite, neglecting, leads to destruction; hellish circumstance on earth and a lower destination afterwards."
The message of the Bhagavatam, embedded in this section we are reading, is that attachment to Krsna, or its opposite, offending Krsna, being envious of Krsna, leads to total destruction. But even if one has attachment on the material bodily platform like Dhruva, if there is somehow genuine shelter with the lotus feet of Visnu or Krsna, all of that can be dismissed.
Dhruva had that aspiration to take shelter of Visnu. "I want a kingdom." Narada gave him specific instructions how to achieve Visnu. There is a sequence. His mother pointed the direction: Visnu. Narada gave him the detail. After examining Dhruva and seeing the strength and intensity of his aspiration to achieve the Supreme Lord, he gave instructions how to achieve Visnu. Then the next step is very, very important: Dhruva's heart started to change because he felt very, very indebted to Narada. He felt deep gratitude that Narada had given his blessings how to achieve Lord Visnu.
He then circumambulated Narada three times, and just as he instructed, he went to Madhuvana, and underwent austerities in the process of worship of Lord Visnu. He achieved Lord Visnu and his attachment to the modes of nature and anything of this world was gone.
That's not what happened with Dhrtarastra. He held on to his attachment. Therefore, that is what is in this verse, even when good association was given, it just made Duryodhana seething with anger. His body was swelling with anger. His lips were trembling with anger. So he had that envious disposition, as we heard yesterday, but that envious disposition was corrupted and magnified by bad association, Sakuni, specifically Prabhupada describes in the purport.
Now back to Mahabharata. After Akrura left, Dhrtarastra, refusing to take responsibility for his actions, began to reflect on Akrura's words. He thought, "Akrura's right; the Pandavas are the rightful heirs to the throne." And he also considered throughout the kingdom the citizens are saying they want Yudhisthira to become the king. Yudhisthira had the affection, adoration and love of the citizens throughout the kingdom. They wanted him to become king and Dhrtarastra knew it. He was getting reports even from Duryodhana, "They are speaking like this. This is terrible!"
And his other advisors were letting him know. Then, being Dhrtarastra, who would never make independent decisions, he consulted with Bhisma, Vidura, and his other ministers. They all affirmed, "Yes, you should give the kingdom to the Pandavas--they are the rightful heirs. Take the high road. Do the right thing."
So he arranged for a ceremony for Yudhisthira to be anointed the prince-regent, or heir apparent, (it's translated in different ways) the incumbent king. Now just as in the verse for this morning, Karna, Sakuni, and Duryodhana had a little conference, a little subcommittee. [chuckles] And Sakuni, as described in Mahabharata, with his fingers pressed against one another and his lips drawn, his eyes pinched, was considering what to do. His consideration was, "The strength of the Pandavas has already been shown to be superior to ours. The citizens already show their support of the Pandavas. There is only one thing to do. We have to get rid of them by unfair means."
Karna, who is in this list in today's verse, didn't like the idea at all. He said, "Let's fight them. We are ksatriyas. We shouldn't do this other business. Stand on the battlefield with them and fight."
Sakuni said, "You are very chivalrous but very foolish. It's already been demonstrated that their strength is superior to our strength."
Karna was seething saying, "That's only because we didn't know how powerful Drupada was. They came to find out how powerful Drupada was, they had the advantage and therefore they were prepared. Let us fight."
Sakuni rejected the idea. So did Duryodhana. Karna left the assembly, their little subcommittee. "I am leaving. You can do what you want. I am not going to part of some corrupt action like this."
But Sakuni supplied the whole plan. As the purport is saying, through the bad association of Sakuni. Prabhupada teaches in relation to the Ajamila story, he specifically says wherever you can find bad behavior, you can go backwards in time and find there is some bad association that precedes that bad behavior. So devotees are taught in Caitanya Mahaprabhu's teaching, warned, "asat sanga tyaga ei vaisnava acar", that we give up unwholesome association.
When you have unwholesome association, as Duryodhana who was already envious of the strength of Bhima and the prowess of Arjuna and the fact that he would not be king because Yudhisthira is already placed in the incumbent king position. . . just the spark on gasoline explosion: Sakuni, bad association.
He fed Duryodhana the whole plot of how they would remove the Pandavas from Hastinapura and then destroy them. He said, "You can do this because your father, Dhrtarastra, is very attached to you. He won't deny anything that you wish."
Meanwhile, Dhrtarastra was understanding, "My one hundred sons headed by Duryodhana are already having tension with the Pandavas. Now that I put Yudhisthira as the incumbent king, they are going to be very disturbed. What should I do?" So he asked Sakuni, "What should I do?" You ask advice from a fool, you'll get foolish advice. Sakuni brought his brahmana friend, Kanika, "He'll give you advice."
Kanika's advice was, "You eliminate the Pandavas, kill them." After hearing this advice Dhrtarastra dismissed the brahmana and was sitting in his room alone thinking, "This is terrible, how can I do this?" The advice of a brahmana. Where there is no attachment to Krsna the intelligence becomes corrupt. Then Duryodhana came with Dhrtarastra in this condition, huffing and seething, noticeably disturbed. Although Dhrtarastra was blind he could understand by the sounds of the pacing of Duryodhana and his seething breath that he was very, very angry. Duryodhana submitted the detailed plan, removing the Pandavas and killing them. This is on association.
Dhrtarastra's response, his character was, "I can't do this. I can't do this. When we were growing up, I was the elder brother and my younger brother Pandu took care of me through everything. How can I even consider in his absence destroying his sons? No." It wasn't like "I can't do it." It was "No." Duryodhana knew the weak spot of his father and he pressed it, "Then I'll give up my life because I can't stand Bhima throwing us around, the power of Bhima and the might of Arjuna. They're very diplomatic like we are. They're going to know if we're still around after Yudhisthira becomes king, what are they going to do with you and your one hundred sons? What's going to become of us? Do it, give your permission." When Dhrtarastra became silent instead of saying no, Duryodhana knew he had him and he kept pressing.
So the sequence: Sakuni corrupting the diabolical capacity of Duryodhana, Duryodhana pressing on Dhrtarastra, and then the way of intelligence that's not spiritually guided becomes all this calculation of friends and enemies. Like Prahlad said to Hiranyakasipu, "I've heard about this friends and enemies, but now I'm seeing it. What is this idea, the enemy is Lord Visnu and you are on the side of Lord Visnu so you are an enemy? What is that?"
Sakuni and Duryodhana got together: "Dhrtarastra by his silence has given his consent. For the Pandavas to leave Hastinapura, Bhisma will remain neutral because he always remains neutral. Drona will say nothing because his son, Asvatthama, is my dear companion and supporter. Drona won't go against his son." It's all on the body. "And because Drona's wife is the sister of Krpa, Krpa also won't object. There's only one--Vidura. Vidura is an enemy, we must watch Vidura."
Just friends and enemies, on the bodily platform. Just as the demoniac kings do, they bring themselves together and make alliances and so forth. Not on the platform of the soul and doing what's right to achieve the Personality of Godhead. That's a whole other program. So when one departs from this association of saintly persons, just as this verse is describing:
"While speaking thus, Vidura, whose personal character was esteemed by respectable persons, was insulted by Duryodhana, who was swollen with anger and whose lips were trembling."
The value, Prabhupada teaches over and over and over, the importance of protecting brahminical culture. Dhrtarastra was known for not making independent decisions. But if one takes advice one must be very selective in where one takes advice from in the matter of kings: from those who are attached to Krsna and detached from the platform of bodily identification and making actions on that platform, decisions and alliances and all of that business.
This is within the pages of the Bhagavatam. It's certainly following parallel with the line of the message of Mahabharata. For us, the Bhagavatam's message is attachment to Krsna. Vidura had that, he was attached to Krsna, Yudhisthira and the Pandavas, Kunti were attached to Krsna and thus they were protected. They were protected. And those that leave that protection were corrupted by unwholesome association. Whatever weaknesses one may have, in the wrong association they'll become enflamed.
So the whole of Bhagavat-dharma is to bring us more and more to the shelter of Krsna and that's the way of devotional life. The Bhagavatam is helping us to move to that position. Taking full shelter of the way of devotional service, carefully guarding against unwholesome association, carefully applying from the root attachment to Krsna, acceptance of the reality of the eternality of the soul, and not forgetting that acting on the platform of the body, the desires and attractions and repulsions, desires and hates, friends and enemies and all of the terrible, terrible ways of material life. We have a genuine shelter.
We were discussing in one of our GBC discussions the internal cultivation of Krsna consciousness is something that is the responsibility of each one of us. The opportunity and association and process is there. That deepening of our internal cultivation of Krsna consciousness will give us the right protection, keep us on the track of going back home, back to Godhead.
Thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki jai! [Applause]
We have to break for breakfast.