The fall of Duryodhana

There are many incidents in the Mahabharata which, unfortunately, have not been brought forth correctly in today’s media (print, TV, etc). Consequently, wrong impressions are spreading about the great characters of Mahabharata. One of the favorite weapons of the bashers of the Pandavas is to note the methods used to kill Bhishma, Drona, Karna and others. People get great pleasure villifying Pandavas and projecting Duryodhana and his team as reasonable (even good) people. The fact of the matter is that Duryodhana was the avatar of Kali and he was “very” evil. Period.

In the original Mahabharata itself, there are clear references to many incidents which indicate that no  “tricks” were used by Pandavas to win the war. At least on two ocassions, the Pandavas approach Bhishma and Drona asking them how they could be defeated (killed). Bhishma indicates to them that he will not fight a non-male and Drona says that he can be killed if he is made to lose interest in everything. Bhishma and Drona are killed with their permission!

Another of the episodes highlighted very wrongly is the final battle between Duryodhana and Bhimasena.If one sees the incident in the popular TV serial Mahabharata, it will not be a surprise if first time viewers perceive Duryodhana as the great and honest hero who is deceitfully killed by Bhimasena. Sri Madhvacharya has once again brought out the truth in his Tatparya Nirnaya. Surprisingly, I was going through the original Mahabharata and many of the following points are mentioned even there! It is still surprising how wrong stories spread.

  • After Shalya is killed, Duryodhana runs away and hides in a pond. This technique is called Jala Sthambana
  • His goal is to complete some repetitions of mantras (thousands of them) learnt from Sage Durvasa. Success in this would have enabled him to revive his entire army and made him invisible.
  • Some locals watch Ashwathama, Kripa and Krutavarma having a conversation with Duryodhana and report this to the Pandavas.
  • Pandavas come and challenge him to come out and fight. He tries to fool them by saying he has lost interest in life. He actually wants to finish chanting the mantras.
  • Yudhisthira (quite unlike him), chastises and berates Duryodhana heavily. Finally, Duryodhana is left with no option and comes out.
  • Yudhishthira next makes a critical mistake. He offers several options to Duryodhana. Duryodhana can choose anyone to fight, any weapon of his. If he defeats even one Pandava, he gets back everything and Pandavas go to the forest once again.
  • Krishna expresses extreme displeasure at this. But Duryodhana chooses Bhimasena only. If he had chosen anyone else, Pandavas would have lost.
  • Sri Madhva has clarified that since the thinking ability of an individual is also completely controlled by Paramatma, Krishna ensured that Duryodhana chose Bhima only!
  • A very good battle ensues between the two. Duryodhana is beaten badly several times.
  • Bhimasena had earlier vowed to break both the thighs of Duryodhana and kill him.
  • Towards the end of the battle, Duryodhana tries to play a trick. He tries “Avasthana” – some sort of a somersault. Just when Duryodhana is in the inverted position, Bhimasena hits him right between the thighs below the back. Both his legs become dysfunctional.
  • According to the rules of engagement in mace-fighting during those days, one was not supposed to hit below the waist. Bhimasena never breaks this rule! Duryodhana foolishly turns upside down and brings about his own downfall.
  • Bhimasena crushes Duryodhana’s face with his legs. Yudhisthira objects to this saying he is the King of Kauravas. But Bhimasena insists on doing it as Duryodhana had used obscene language against Draupadi. Krishna fully agrees with Bhimasena’s actions.
  • Balarama is very upset with Bhimasena and challenges him to a battle. Bhimasena agrees! But Krishna steps in and stops Balarama. He tells him that Duryodhana has paid for his own bad karma and therefore nothing else counts. Balarama leaves the place unsatisfied with the response.
  • Sri Madhva has clarified that the extra Punya that Balarama had accumulated as Lakshmana by serving Lord Rama got washed away in this avatar with such disagreements.

The trick by Duryodhana is mentioned here as well. Still, it is such a popular misconception that Bhimasena unfairly killed Duryodhana.

9 thoughts on “The fall of Duryodhana

  1. Hello Hariprasad:

    I visit your website and find your posts enlightening. Keep up the good work.

    Which book are you referring to by “original Mahabharata”?
    I would like to read the book as well.

    Also, could you please list some good books related to Madhwa philosophy in English. Most books I have come across are in Kannada.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Namaskara Shree Hariprasad,

    I also wanted to add that there was another and far more important reason for why our Acharya Bheemasena insisted on kicking and disfiguring Duryodhana’s face after he was brought down by our Acharya’s great gada. I read in one of the other Madhva sampradaya websites (the name of the site escapes my memory unfrunately) that during the game of dice, Duryodhana had the perverse temerity to ask Yudhishtira to wager Lord Krishna himself as a stake in the game!! If this is indeed true, it must have infuriated Acharya beyond imagination. As the greatest servant of the Lord, an insult of this magnitude leveled against Lord Krishna could never be tolerated by Acharya!! Apparently, this was the main reason for Acharya’s manic rage when he pummeled Duryodhana’s head to a pulp.

    You may want to verify this story with others who are obviously better qualified than i am to comment on its veracity.

    As always, please continue to shed more light on the three avatars of our most amazing Acharya. You know Shree Hariprasad….simply writing these words about him, just thinking about how much he must have loved Lord Krishna….i always shed tears. I hope and pray Lord Krishna will give me Acharya Bheemasena for my Jagadguru for all janmas to come.

    Na Maadhava Sama Deva
    Na cha Madhva Samo Guru

    Pranams and best wishes for 2011


    Sarvam Shree Krishnaarpanamasthu

  3. Sir,
    When dis Bhisma die and when did he tell Vishnu sahasra nama. Simply, can you through light on Bhismastami and Bhisma Ekadasi as per MBTN.

    Is MBTN complete translation in English available?

    Murthy Rao

  4. Hello Hariprasad,

    thanks for your good work about pandavas. I have a question
    Did karna really defeat Arjuna and spare his life due to sunset on 16th day. This is shown in br chopra mahabharata. I have not read it anywhere in mahabharata. Is this true?

  5. If we see the detail of last battle between Bhima Duryodhana, no where it looks that Duryodhana defeated Bhima. On the contrary Bhima had an upper hand. Duryodhana’s body was badly mangled Bhima’s mace. Bhima did not move by Duryodhana’s blows. He made Duryodhana fall on ground twice. At last Duryodhana also succeeded to to make Bhima fall on Eearth. Bhima raised quickly continued the fight. Meanwhile Duryodhana struck Bhima’s head. Though this blow was painfull Bhima did not move and rushed at Duryodhana to return the blow. Duryodhana jumped to avoid that blow. Bhima knowing Duryodhana’s intention struk hard on his thighs. Duryodhana succumbed to only one hard blow by Bhima on his thighs. It means Bhima was much stronger than him. Even if Bhima had not struck Duryodhana’s thighs, one more hard blow of Bhima’s mace was enough to end Duryodhana’s life.

    It is given in mahabharata that Krishna said that Bhima was mightier than Duryodhana, but Duryodhana was more skilled in the use of mace. But I think it is an interpolation in original mahabharata. If Duryodhna was more skilled in mace fighting, why then he coudn’t he saved his brothers from Bhima, using his skills in mace fight ? Again if Bhima wanted to kill Duryodhana by using unfair means, he would have struk Duryodhana, when Duryodhana fell on ground. Bhima hurled his mace and Duryodhana jumped to avoid the blow. It means that Bhima’s mace was going to hit Duryodhana’s upper body and not his thighs. Had Duryodhana been invincible , he would not have fled from battle field.

  6. a load of crap is your explanation needless to say, Mahabharata was written by bunch of Krishna’s followers and propagated the theory of “Dharama” and glorified the winners( as all History does) as Heroes. when you mean you read original mahabharatha did you mean the one hand written Vysaya? NO right, don’t fall into the trick and come up with irrelevant arguments justifying Pandavas’ action. Simple logic is no one tells you to the secret behind killing them, these are added long after mahabharatha.

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