The recurring nightmare


bhima-duryodhana

Yet again the queen woke up with a start; her hand-maiden, the one who had been in her service for the past 40 odd years now was by her side in a flash. She knew that her mistress would be troubled by that nightmare tonight as well, and if she knew her mistress as well as she thought she did, then that nightmare would continue to recur forever. She gently consoled the queen and helped her get back to sleep.

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While most kshatriya wives knew that their dharma instructed them to embrace valor and war with dignity and grace, the fact remained that whenever the men of their homes went to war, the one emotion that was at the forefront of their minds was the love they had for their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.

The old queen was no different. Three generations of her family were on the battlefield; her grandsire, her brother, her sons and nephews. What was worse was the fact that her sons and nephews were on opposing sides, so either way she faced severe losses at the end of the war.

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As a young bride, she was considered the most beautiful and most chaste of all the queens of her age. Her womanly qualities endeared her to each and every member of her husband’s court and her elegance and charm was spoken about by all her subjects.

On one occasion, pleased by the courtesies she provided as a host, a holy man granted her a boon for which she requested that she be the mother to a hundred brave sons who would be as powerful as her husband. Her boon was granted and she thereafter soon became pregnant.

But despite two years of pregnancy, her baby was not born, and when she finally delivered, she gave birth to a lifeless piece of flesh that was not a baby at all. Under the guidance of the same holy man who granted her the boon, she cut the piece of flesh into a hundred pieces and placed each one of them in a jar with some ghee in it.

After two more years of waiting, when the jars were opened, she was the proud mother of a hundred brave and valorous sons. She was the happiest mother in the world.

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Today, 13 yrs after that eventful day in the court when her nephews’ wife, her daughter-in-law was humiliated in open court by her sons, when her family was on the battlefield with her sons and her nephews taking up arms against each other, she was reminded of that one vow that her nephew had taken against her sons.

“I shall not rest until I have killed each and every one of you. This shall be the revenge for the grave mistreatment of my wife and the absolute lack of respect that you have shown to this august gathering.”

While the fact remained that her sons had indeed committed a grave error and had sinned when they laid their hands on their cousin’s wife and had tried to disrobe her in the open court, hers was a mother’s heart and the very thought of her nephew killing all of them distressed her.

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Yet again the queen woke up with a start; now that the Great War had started at Kurukshetra, Gandhari knew that it was only a matter of time before Bhima fulfilled his vow and killed each and every one of her hundred Kaurava sons. Her recurring nightmare of the last 13 yrs would finally bear fruition and there was nothing that she could do about it.

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This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts: 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “Describe the last nightmare you remember having. What do you think it meant?” and I have taken the liberty of narrating an incident from the great epic Mahabharata and using the prompt to describe a nightmare that Gandhari might have had about Bhima killing her sons in the battlefield. 

22 thoughts on “The recurring nightmare

  1. I’ve read the Mahabharata, but I do not remember reading about how Gandhari “cut the piece of flesh into a hundred pieces and placed each one of them in a jar with some ghee in it.” Thanks to you, I’ve read about it now.

    • @Proactive Indian, yes, that is the story behind the 101 Kauravas, 100 brothers and 1 sister 😀 Glad you learnt something new from this great epic which just has so so many stories within itself

  2. Good read, esp. since it is from Gandhari’s perspective.. True she must have gone through a lot in her life time… and despite the pain remained with a good heart all throughout..

  3. Yet again a prompt so well weaved to tell the greatest tale ever! It’s always refreshing to read the mythological stories you write Jairam! 🙂

    • @Aditi, thank you so much for your kind words regarding the post, and yes, my intention is to make these mythological posts as interesting as possible 😀

  4. Imagine Queen Gandhari’s plight of being married to a sightless and ambitious king , and seeing the death of her children on the battlefield. Ramayan and Mahabharat are evergreen epics adn we are left wanting for more.

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