California, USA — Thursday, July 7th
One of the many reasons for the Battle of Kurukshetra — the fratricidal war in which Arjuna and his brothers, the Pandavas, had to kill grandfather Bhisma and Acharya Drona — was the complicity of these venerable patriarchs in Srimati Draupadi's shameful ordeal, prior to the war, in Dhritarastra's great assembly hall.
In the purport to verse 11:49 in Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad writes:
In the beginning of Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna was worried about killing Bhisma and Drona, his worshipful grandfathers and masters, but Krishna said that he need not be afraid of killing his grandfather: when they [the Kauravas] tried to disrobe Draupadi in the assembly, Bhisma and Drona were silent, and for such negligence of duty they should be killed. Krishna showed His universal form to Arjuna just to show him that these people were already killed for their unlawful action.
And in the purport to an earlier verse (1:11),
Duryodhana... was confident of the full support of Bhismadeva and Dronacharya in the battle because he well knew that they did not even speak a word when Arjuna's wife Draupadi, in her helpless condition, had appealed to them for justice while she was being forced to strip naked in the presence of all the great generals in the assembly.
We cannot even begin to imagine the enormity of this heinous insult, this scandalous ordeal that the terrified Draupadi was forced to endure... Dragged by her hair into the assembly of kings on the order of the wicked Duryodhana, shamefully mocked and abused in front of her impotent husbands, gurus, and elders of the Kuru dynasty... Why did none of them lift a finger, voice any objection, or defend the honor of this innocent lady? Her chastity and purity are unquestionable:
ahalya draupadi kunti tara mandodari tatha
panchakanya smarenityam mahapataka nashanam
These five saintly women — Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari — are the purest of the pure. Simply by chanting the names of these virtuous women, you become purified.
Even in this degenerate Age of Kali, we can imagine the mortification of a woman forced to strip naked in an all-male assembly; how do we account for the fact that this disgraceful treatment of such a virtuous woman took place in the supposedly more enlightened Age of Dvapara — in the presence of such venerable personalities like Bhismadeva, Dronacharya, and Dhritarastra?
Draupadi is a great devotee and an intimate friend of Lord Krishna. In a November 1981 darshan, Srila Guru Maharaj says:
When Draupadi was placed in such an awkward position, she appealed to the respectable members in the assembly; no response. She appealed to her former husbands who were so great, so powerful; no response. Disappointed from all quarters, all help in this extreme moment — with one hand trying to protect herself from exploitation and with the other hand towards Lord Krishna — she finally joined both palms together and prayed to Lord Krishna, to Gopi-jana-vallabha.
Nowhere in the Mahabarat can we can find any reference to krsna-lila, to the vraja-lila of Krishna: all Dvaraka, Mathura. But only here we find vraja, from the lips of Draupadi: "He Gopi-jana-vallabha! O Beloved of the Gopis and Lord of Vrindavan, save me!" And immediately help came. Krishna protected her in the form of cloth, and the clothing got infinite character. And [Dushashana] is pulling and pulling at the cloth, and the cloth extended no end. She's all right there [he could not disrobe her].
And in Sri Prapanna Jivanamritam, in the chapter entitled "Words of Nectar from the Devotees — Confidence in the Lord's Protection," Srila Guru Maharaj uses this quote from Draupadi as an example of "the revealed sweetness of confidence in the Lord's protection":
tamasi ravir ivodyan majjatam aplavanam
plava iva trsitanam svadu-varsiva meghah
nidhir iva nidhananam tivra-duhkhamayanam
bhisag iva kusalam no datum ayati saurih
"Like the sun ascending through the darkness, like a boat for the helplessly drowning, like a rain cloud of sweet waters for the parched, like a treasure for the impoverished, like a physician for the deadly afflicted — our Lord Krishna is now coming to bless us with all good fortune."
—Sri Prapanna Jivanamritam (5:17)
So the question may arise: if Draupadi is such a great devotee, such a great friend of Krishna, why did He allow her to be so scandalously abused? Why did Krishna wait so long — until Draupadi was almost naked — before coming to her rescue?
As Srila Acharya Maharaj explains, Krishna wanted to show us that until we depend exclusively on Him (mam ekam saranam), until our surrender (saranam) is like that of the Gopis (of vraja), until we finally stop relying on our own strength to get us out of all our difficulties (sarva-papebhyo) — when we stop clinging to our bodily covering with one hand while calling to Him with the other and, like Draupadi, at last throw up both hands in complete surrender to His will — Krishna will not rush to save us (moksayisyami).
Krishna wants our complete surrender (mam ekam saranam vraja). Draupadi's example is such a beautiful, profound, and edifying ideal. And scary too — what hope is there for me? As Srila Guru Maharaj says: "Such narrations [are] very sweet to our ears, but to accept [such a position for ourselves] is horrible."
Layout by iMonk — July 7th, 2011.