The recurring nightmare


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 

Day 3 : When Krishna attacked Bhishma

Arjuna chooses Krishna
Arjuna chooses Krishna

While it is a well known tale that when Krishna was approached by both Duryodhana and Arjuna to take their respective sides in the Kurukshetra war, Krishna made two offers. The first offer was that one person would get the entire Vrishni army totaling almost 10,000 soldiers or more and the second offer was his own personal support albeit under the condition that he would not actually lift any weapons and fight in the battlefield. Since Arjuna was the younger one, he was given the first right of choice and he chose the unarmed Krishna thus leaving Duryodhana with Krishna’s army.

On Day 3 of the Kurukshetra war, Bhishma arranged the Kaurava army in the eagle formation and proceeded to lead the same from the front. To counter this formation, Arjuna and Dhristadyumna decided to arrange the Pandava army in the crescent formation with Bhima leading the right flank and Arjuna himself leading the left flank.

During the course of the battle, Bhima managed to wound Duryodhana who lay down in a swoon in his chariot. When his charioteer took him close to Bhishma, Duryodhana accused the Kaurava commander of being too soft on the Pandavas, which enraged the grand old sire a lot.

Stung by the young Duryodhana’s reproaches, Bhishma fought during the second half of the day with extremely high intensity and delivered quite a severe attack on the Pandava army. Despite attempts by several brave Pandava warriors, the onslaught of Bhishma was causing a great number of fatalities in the Pandava army.

Spurred on by Krishna, young Arjuna took it upon himself to fight the grand old commander of the Kaurava army. While Bhishma was very impressed with his grand nephew’s prowess on the battlefield, Krishna sensed that Arjuna was not fighting at his best on that particular day. He could clearly see that Arjuna simply did not have the heart to fight Bhishma, someone he had always admired and treated as a role model from his childhood.

Krishna approaches Bhishma with the Sudarsana Chakra
Krishna approaches Bhishma with the Sudarsana Chakra

This angered Krishna and he dropped the reins of the chariot, jumped down and went forward towards Bhishma with his Sudarsana Chakra. Ecstatic at this turn of events, Bhishma welcomed Krishna by dropping his weapons and stated that it would be his absolute joy to die at the hands of Krishna, the Lord of the World.

Completely distressed at this situation, Arjuna raced down towards Krishna and reminded him of his promise of not lifting any weapons on the battlefield in this war. He also promised him that he would not flinch anymore at the thought of fighting his own kith and kin in the Kaurava army and that he would unfailingly do his duty to Dharma. It was only when the young Pandava prince provided these assurances that Krishna put away his weapon and came back to Arjuna’s chariot.

Thus, Day 3 of the Kurukshetra War almost saw Krishna break his promise and kill Bhishma.


This post has been written for the Week at the Merge, Week 45 writing prompt where the post had to be about the William Shakespeare quote – “The third day comes a frost, a killing frost.

Yuyutsu – The Kaurava who survived

Before we begin the actual story of Yuyutsu himself, we need to take a small walk down another path.

Once when Gandhari was hostess to Veda Vyasa at Hastinapura, he was so pleased with her services that he granted her a

Veda Vyasa grants a boon to Gandhari
Veda Vyasa grants a boon to Gandhari

boon. The queen immediately asked the sage for one hundred sons who would be as powerful as her husband, which was immediately granted to her. In due course of time, Gandhari got pregnant. And this, my friends, is where the story of Yuyutsu starts.

While it was a matter of great joy that the queen was pregnant, what was extremely worrying was the fact that she remained pregnant for almost two years. And this worried Dhritarashtra to no end as he was disturbed about the fact that he might not have any heirs to the throne by his wife Gandhari. During this timeframe, he had a fall from grace and conceived a child through a maidservant in the palace.

When Gandhari learnt of this, she was gracious enough not only to forgive this mistake of her husband, but also went on to accept and acknowledge the son born of the maid, Yuyutsu.

Yuyutsu was Dhritarashtra’s second son, younger only to Duryodhana but elder than the rest of the 99 Kaurava brothers. He grew up alongside them, and was treated lovingly by all of them including Duryodhana. That being said there were more than a few traits of his Kaurava brothers that Yuyutsu did not quite agree with.

Draupadi being disrobed in court
Draupadi being disrobed in court

It is said that after the game of dice, when Duhshasana brought Draupadi to the Kaurava court and tried to disrobe her, Yuyutsu was the only Kaurava brother to openly protest the injustice that was being meted out to a daughter in law of the family. And this was not the only instance when he openly showed dissent.

When Duryodhana was planning for the war with the Pandavas, he mentioned that the war was necessary to teach the Pandavas a lesson for their ‘treachery’ in demanding for a portion of the kingdom from him. Upon hearing this Yuyutsu immediately stood up and berated his elder brother and told him “If you really didn’t want war, then you would not have tried to cheat the Pandavas of what was rightfully theirs nor would you have tried to disrobe their wife in open court.

At the beginning of the war, Yudhisthira comes over to the Kaurava camp and takes the blessing of his elders such as Bhishma and his teachers Drona and Kripa and then addresses the army. He tells that anybody who believed that the truth was with the Pandavas were more than welcome to their army and that they would be treated with due respect accorded to all warriors.

On hearing this, Yuyutsu, without any hesitation immediately orders his charioteer to take their chariot to the Pandava army to join his cousins in the war against his own brothers. For Yuyutsu, the truth was more important than relationships or the bond of brotherhood. He clearly realized that in the end truth alone triumphs.


After 18 long days of battle, he ended up being the only Kaurava brother to have survived the great war of Kurukshetra, cementing his belief in truth, justice and fairness.

The last battle of Karna

On the sixteenth day of the Kurukshetra war when Karna was the commander of the Kaurava army, he single-handedly defeated all of the Pandava brothers with the exception of Arjuna. He stuck by the promise that he made to Kunti that he would not kill any of the Pandava brothers with the exception of Arjuna.

When he defeated Bhima, he leaves him alive stating that as Bhima was younger than him he wouldn’t kill him. When he defeated Yudhisthira, he leaves him alive asking him to practice all that his gurus and teachers have taught him. Similarly he refuses to kill Nakula and Sahadeva after defeating them in one to one battle on that day.

Finally Karna asks his charioteer to take him to where Arjuna was on the battlefield. In the fierce battle that ensues between these two great warriors, neither one budged or hesitated. When Karna shot the powerful Nagastra at Arjuna, Krishna gently presses Arjuna’s chariot downwards using his divine powers, enabling the Pandava prince to survive this assault. Not to be outdone, Arjuna showers Karna with all his arrows, but Karna manages to neutralize all of them with arrows of his own.

Finally when all of Arjuna’s weapons are exhausted and he is defenseless, the only thing that saves him on the sixteenth day was nightfall, and since it was against the code of war to battle at night, Arjuna managed to escape the wrath of Karna that day.

However, as a parting shot, Karna shouted out “Oh Arjuna, today you were saved from the powerful Nagastra due to the insidious tactics of your beloved Krishna. But mark my words Pandava prince, tomorrow will be your last day on this earth.

On the seventeenth day, both the warriors resumed their dueling, which was so fierce that it is said that even the Gods from heaven were witnessing this spectacle. Karna managed to cut Arjuna’s bowstring many times, but Arjuna managed to tie it back so soon that Karna had to acknowledge his rival’s skills with the bow as a weapon.

As the duel went on, Karna slowly began to forget all the divine incantations that were revealed to him during his training with Parasurama. This was the result of a curse of his guru Parasurama as a punishment for lying about his caste.

And suddenly his chariot wheel also got stuck in the wet mud of the battlefield. Descending from his chariot, when Karna was trying to pry open the greasy chariot wheel from the mud, Krishna reminded Arjuna of all the rules and etiquettes that Karna had violated in the past, by assisting Duryodhana in trying to kill the Pandavas in the house of lacquer, by encouraging Duhshasana to disrobe Draupadi after the game of dice. Krishna advices Arjuna that he would not get a better opportunity to kill Karna and that he should go ahead and kill him despite the fact that he was unarmed and the rules of war forbade attacking an unarmed warrior.

Reminded of these incidents, an enraged Arjuna uses the Anjalika weapon grievously injure Karna and leave him dying on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Thus, Karna, the charioteer’s son died on the battlefield tending to his chariot. Now, if that wasn’t poetic justice, what else is.


This post has been written for the Three Word Wednesday prompt where the post had to include the words greasy, insidious and reveal, and that is the reason that these words have been underlined in the post.

Santha rasa – Yudhisthira and his attempts for peace

Image courtesy: wikipedia
Image courtesy: wikipedia

Read this post about an introduction to the Rasas.

Read this post for the shringara rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Ganga and her love

Read this post for the hasya rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Draupadi and her laughter

Read this post for the raudra rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Amba and her anger

Read this post for the karunya  rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Chitrasena and Duryodhana

Read this post for the bibhatsa rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – The effect of Vyasa on Ambika and Ambalika

Read this post for the bhayanaka rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Hidimba and his hideous Asura form


After the Pandava brothers completed their exile of 12 yrs and the 13th year in disguise evading all attempts by the Kauravas in trying to find out where they were during this year, they came out of exile and temporarily settled down in Upalavya. From there Yudhisthira send out emissaries to summon all his friends, relatives and brethren, to which almost all responded and arrived.

Addressing the gathering, Krishna spoke and reminded the people present as to how Duryodhana and Shakuni had cheated Yudhisthira at the game of dice and sent the Pandava brothers to exile for the past 13 yrs. He went on to state that Yudhisthira did not want to spill the blood of his cousins and wanted only what was rightfully his share of the kingdom. Despite the fact that the Kauravas had treated them wrongly and had cheated them out of their rights, the Pandavas were magnanimous to treat their cousins with ‘dharma’ and did not hold any grudges against them. He then went on to state that it was the intention of Yudhisthira to send an envoy of peace to the Kauravas to ask for their rightful share of the kingdom.

However, despite multiple attempts by the Pandavas to find a peaceful solution to the issue, Duryodhana refused to budge from his position. He steadfastly refused to recognize the right of the Pandavas to the kingdom and even went to the extent of declaring in open court that the Pandavas will not receive a needle-point of territory from him. Even after this declaration, Yudhisthira maintained his calm despite protests from his own brothers, kinsmen and other friends, and sent Krishna as an envoy of peace to convince Duryodhana of the mistake of his actions.

Thus, despite being cheated by the Kauravas out of his share of the kingdom, despite the fact that Duryodhana and his brothers had humiliated him and his brothers, despite the fact that they had tried to disrobe his wife in open court, Yudhisthira maintained his efforts to find a peaceful solution to this issue. This is a classic example of the santha rasa being referred to in the Mahabharata.