While it is a well known fact that Dhritarashtra had 100 sons, it is little known that he also had 1 daughter, Dushala and it is even lesser known that she was married to Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu. Jayadratha is probably more remembered for being instrumental in being the cause of brave Abhimanyu’s death in the Kurukshetra war, more of which have been discussed in these earlier posts of mine [A little knowledge and A little more knowledge]. But this post is the story of Jayadratha himself.
As mentioned earlier Jayadratha was the son of Vridhakshtra, king of Sindhu and was the brother in law of the Kaurava prince, Duryodhana. One day when the Pandavas were in exile in the forest, the brothers left Draupadi in the care of Sage Trunabindu and went into the forest to collect materials for a holy puja they were planning. Seeing Draupadi alone and enamored by her beauty, Jayadratha approached her and proposed to marry her even after coming to know that she was the wife of the Pandavas. When she refuses to comply, he took the hasty decision of abducting her and starts moving towards Sindhu. The Pandavas in the meantime learn of this ghastly act, defeat Jayadratha and take him captor. Draupadi prevents Arjuna and Bhima from killing Jayadratha as she doesn’t want Dushala to become a widow. Instead she requests that his head be shaved and he be set free so that he doesn’t dare ever commit an act of transgression against another woman.
To avenge his humiliation, Jayadratha conducts severe penance in order to please Lord Shiva, who granted him a boon in the form of a garland which will hold all the Pandavas at bay for one day. While this was not the boon that Jayadratha wanted, he accepted it nevertheless. Not satisfied, he went and prayed to his father Vridhakshtra who blesses him that whoever causes the head of Jayadratha to fall on the ground will be immediately killed by having his own head burst into a hundred pieces.
By virtue of these boons, Jayadratha was an able ally to the Kauravas when the Kurukshetra war began. Using the powers of his first boon, he managed to keep all the Pandavas at bay, except for Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna who were battling elsewhere on the battlefield. On this day, Jayadratha waited for Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu to enter the Chakravyuha and then blocked the exit knowing fully well that the young warrior did not know how to exit the formation. After being brutally and treacherously killed by the Kauravas, Jayadratha then goes on to kick the dead body of Abhimanyu and rejoices by dancing around it. The dreadful manner in which Jayadratha conducted himself on that occasion was shocking even to the most battle hardened kshatriya warriors who were part of the great war.
When Arjuna hears of his son’s death and the circumstances surrounding it, he blames Jayadratha for the same and vows to kill him the very next day before sunset, failing which he would kill himself. Hearing of this vow of Arjuna, Dronacharya arranges a complicated battle formation the next day to achieve two objectives, one was to protect Jayadratha who had till then proven to be an extremely good warrior to have in the Kaurava army and two was to enable Arjuna’s death which so far none of the Kaurava warriors had even gotten close to achieving in normal battle.
The next day, despite a full day of fierce fighting when Arjuna is unable to get to Jaydratha, Krishna realizes that he would need to resort to unconventional tactics to achieve this objective. Using his divine powers, he masks the sun thus creating a solar eclipse in order to create the illusion of sunset. Given the kshatriya dharma of not fighting after sunset, the entire Kaurava army rejoiced at the fact that they had managed to keep Jayadratha safe from Arjuna and also at the fact that Arjuna now would be forced to kill himself to follow his vow.
Elated and beside himself with joy, Jayadratha also appears in front of Arjuna and laughs at his defeat. At this moment, the sun appears in the sky and Krishna points Jayadratha to Arjuna and reminds him of his vow. In order to prevent his head from falling to the ground, Krishna asks the Pandava prince to use his arrows in a sustained manner so that Jayadratha’s head is carried over the battlefield and falls on the lap of his father Vridhakshtra who was meditating nearby.
Disturbed by the head falling on his lap, when the father gets up, the head drops to the ground and immediately Vridhakshtra’s head bursts into a hundred pieces thus fulfilling the boon that he had given his son years ago.
Thus ends the story of Jayadratha, the one and only brother in law of Duryodhana.
This post has been written for Three Word Wednesday : 3WW CCCXLV prompt where the post had to compulsorily include the words dreadful, hasty and sustain which is the reason these words have been specifically underlined in the post.