Did Yudhisthira lie ?

Image courtesy : hushbabies.com
Image courtesy : hushbabies.com

Every once in a while you come across a personality who has the courage to do the right thing irrespective of the consequences. Yudhisthira’s insistence on following the path of righteousness was an example of such a personality.

On the 15th day of the Kurukshetra war, Drona was at his unconquerable best. Using years of experience and all his divine knowledge, he was wreaking havoc on the Pandava army. Knowing that Drona loved his son Ashwatthama dearly, he asked Bhima to kill an elephant with the same name. Obeying Krishna, Bhima killed an elephant and loudly proclaimed that he had slain Ashwatthama, so as to make Drona believe that his son was dead.

Image courtesy: urday.in
Image courtesy: urday.in

Not believing Bhima, Drona approached Yudhisthira, who was known never to lie and asked him as to whether his son was truly slain in battle to which he replied “Ashwatthama is dead, but, I am not certain whether it was a human or an elephant.

Knowing fully well that Yudhisthira would be unable to lie to Drona on his face, Krishna ensured that the second part of this sentence was completely deafened out to Drona by asking the remaining Pandava warriors to loudly blow on their conches and trumpets.

Hearing only the first part of the reply, Drona dropped down his weapons and sat down in the battlefield in meditation. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Dhristadyumna (who was ordained to take Drona’s life) beheaded Drona thus tilting the advantage in the war on the Pandavas’ side.

Image courtesy: thebravesandsmarts.com
Image courtesy: thebravesandsmarts.com


This post has been posted for Write Tribe’s 100 words on a Saturday – 6 prompt. The prompt was to write a post with exactly a 100 words using the term “Every once in a while”, but I took the liberty of writing 250 words with the prompt.

A little more knowledge



Read my post  A little knowledge before you read this one, in case you have not already read it.

My earlier post “A little knowledge” [Link to post] seemed to have stir up quite the debate and question among readers as to why Arjuna did not impart the complete knowledge of entering, destroying and exiting the Chakravyuha to his son Abhimanyu when he was in his mother, Subhadra’s womb.

In the comments section, I had referred to two different versions of stories for this lapse on the part of Arjuna.

One version had it that Subhadra actually feel asleep when Arjuna was narrating the portion of how to destroy and then exit the Chakravyuha and that is why Abhimanyu was not equipped with this knowledge.

The second version was that if Abhimanyu were to learn the complete technique of entering, destroying and then exiting the formation, that would tilt the strategic advantage of this particular war in the favor of the Pandavas. And as Krishna wanted the war to be a reasonably fair one, he distracted Arjuna and prevented him from imparting the entire knowledge to Subhadra and his son, Abhimanyu in her womb.

As if these versions were not enough, and as luck would have it, one of my all time favorite mythological expert and authors, Devdutt Pattanaik recently publicized one of his earlier blog posts which dealt with the exact same topic [Link to blog post].

Devdutt cites three different folktales to provide the reason as to why Abhimanyu was not given the complete knowledge of destroying the Chakravyuha.

The first folktale has Abhimanyu who was actually a Rakshasa and that his demonic qualities would emerge if he survived the Kurukshetra war. That was the reason that Krishna prevented Arjuna from imparting the entire knowledge so that his son could be killed during the war.

The second folktale has that Abhimanyu was actually the son of the Moon god, who was cursed to live on the earth as a mortal. Since the Moon god missed his son too much, he requested Krishna to find a way to end his mortal life and the only way that Krishna could do that was by preventing Abhimanyu from learning the whole truth about the Chakravyuha and consequently be killed in the war.

The third, and probably the most morbid of the tales cited by Devdutt states that Krishna allowed Abhimanyu to be killed in the Chakravyuha as that would be the only way that Arjuna would take the Kurukshetra war more personally and fight more intensely.

One way or the other, all the folktales cited by Devdutt have Krishna as someone who emerges as the main sutradhar or puppeteer who pulls the strings of this memorable episode in the epic.

What heartened me the most was the fact that Devdutt also ends his post with “beware of half knowledge” which kind of corresponds to the title of my earlier post “A little knowledge”. I guess I must be doing something right with all these mythological posts and my understanding of these tales.

Image courtesy: devdutt.com  This is one of his sketches, a man of many talents, the good Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik