Mahabharat Episode 46: The Feud’s Bloody Climax
The Blow Below the Belt
Sadhguru: The other four brothers stood there, distraught. They realized what they thought to be victory was again defeat. Bhima looked at Krishna, and Krishna reminded him, “You have taken a vow to break Duryodhana’s thigh. Do it now!” But in a mace fight, hitting below the belt is not allowed. Below the belt is considered treachery. Bhima looked hesitant. Krishna just said, “Come on!” Duryodhana was now playing with Bhima, showing off his skills. He leapt up in the air to come down with a deathblow. Bhima took his mace and went down between Duryodhana’s legs. Shattered, Duryodhana fell, mortally wounded, and he said, “I did not think the Pandavas will sink so low that they will hit me below the belt in a duel.” Krishna said, “Don’t talk about dharma, not you. With you, there is no dharma.” But then Balarama came back.
Rukmi and Balarama did not participate in the war. Balarama went on a pilgrimage at the time of war. Now he picked up his mace to kill Bhima, because Bhima had broken the laws of mace fighting – and Balarama was a teacher of mace fighting for both of them.
Krishna stepped in and said, “Oh, now you are here to establish dharma? When you were needed, you went on a pilgrimage. Why did you come back now? When Panchali was pulled into the court by her hair, you did not get angry. When they tried to disrobe her, you did not get angry. When the Pandavas were sent to the forest after being cheated in the game, you did not get angry. And when they completed their full term of exile like fools – anyone else would have come back and attacked – after thirteen years, they were not given what was due to them, but you did not get angry. Now your favorite disciple is lying here with his manhood shattered, you are angry and you want to protect the dharma. Leave this place! Protecting the dharma is not your business, because you have never participated in that.”
Once Krishna took a stand like this, Balarama had no answer. Very angry, he promised Duryodhana, “You will attain to heaven – this much I promise you,” and he left.
Bhima Thirsts for Blood
Then Bhima put his foot on Duryodhana’s head. This is the worst thing you can do. When your enemy is defeated, you treat him with respect. But now Bhima put his foot on Duryodhana’s head and wanted to drink his blood and eat his heart like he had done to Dushasana. He had killed Dushasana in the battle, opened his chest, taken his heart out, and eaten it. And he had taken Dushasana’s blood and had gone and smeared it on Draupadi’s hair. Only then had she started combing and tying her hair again. For thirteen long years, she had not tied her hair, because she had taken a vow. [After the infamous game of dice when Dushasana dragged Draupadi into the court assembly by her hair and attempted to disrobe her, Drapaudi vowed to leave her hair loose until it was washed in his blood]
So when Bhima had a desire to do something like what he had done to Dushasana to Duryodhana as well, Yudhishthira interfered, “Don’t do this – this is not dharma. You can’t put your foot on a defeated enemy’s head. Stop it.” Krishna looked at him and said, “Yes, you cannot put your foot on his head, nor do you have to do anything else. Let us leave Duryodhana to his own ways. Let us not interfere.” That means they wanted him to die slowly. Actually, by law, they should have killed him. But Krishna said, “You don’t want Bhima to put his foot on his head. You are so concerned about dharma. So let us not interfere with Duryodhana’s life anymore,” and he took the Pandavas and went away.
The Kaurava Allies’ Last Attempt
Ashwatthama, Kritavarma, and Kripacharya, who survived the war, had escaped to the forest. They came down to the battlefield, found Duryodhana, and saw what happened. Ashwatthama was raging because the Pandavas had lied to his father about his death, and they had killed Dronacharya. He said, “We must do something.” While others fell asleep out of exhaustion, Ashwatthama sat there, thinking about what to do. When a man is filled with hatred, he has tremendous energy; he cannot sleep.
Ashwatthama wanted to somehow avenge his father’s death. Then he saw a night owl quietly flying in and attacking a crow’s nest. The little crow babies were trying to pop out of the nest, but the hunting owl ruthlessly killed all of them. In a few moments, the job was done. The whole family of crows was killed by the owl, without a sound. Have you seen an owl fly in the night? If it flies past you, except the wind, you will not hear a bit of sound – that silent it is. Ashwatthama watched this, and he thought this is the thing to do.
The Pandava Children’s Slaughter
It is a tradition that when someone wins the war, the victors will go and sleep in the camps of the losers. This is a way of establishing that they have won the war. Krishna told the Pandavas, “As per the dharma, we must sleep in the Kaurava camp. Come, let’s go and enjoy Duryodhana’s bedroom.” All the five Pandavas went there. The women and children were sleeping in the Pandava camp. Ashwatthama, Kritavarma, and Kripacharya sneaked into the Pandava camp. First thing is they stabbed Dhrishtadyumna, Drupada’s son who killed Dronacharya.
They thought the Pandavas were lying there, sleeping. Ashwatthama went and slit their throats and cut their heads off. The five heads in his hand, he came running to Duryodhana. Duryodhana was lying there in excruciating pain. But in the moonlight, he saw Ashwatthama coming with five heads in his hand, and joy spread through him. He thought Ashwatthama had killed the five Pandavas and brought their heads as an offering to him. Even Ashwatthama believed that he had killed the Pandavas, but then they saw it was the five children of the Pandavas and Draupadi. He had slit their throats, cut their heads off, and put them at Duryodhana’s feet.