An Epilogue of Duryodhana (Suyodhana)[Mahabharata has always inspired me.Each character in the epic has a story to say.While scholars may differ in their view.I feel each and every character in the epic has two shades - one negative and the other positive just like any other mortal being.While it is an established fact that History is always written by Victors, I feel there is every reason to believe that there may be sections in the story which may have been manipulated to show some characters in a grey shade deliberately.Considering that no parents can name their kid Dushasana (meaning one who misgoverns) or Duryodhana (one who fights for evil) , I am quite sure there is lot more to understand about the characters and all characters are correct in their own way.
The paragraphs I have written below is only an opinion I share ,from Duryodhana's point if view.]
Scene – Kurukshetra Battle, Kaurava Camp, Night of Day 17
Remorse had struck the Kaurava camp. The great Karna had been killed by Arjuna. The impending defeat was now the only certainty for the Kauravas.
Grief struck Suyodhana stood helplessly staring at Karna’s noble corpse in disbelief. Suyodhana was submerged in sorrow, more than he was when his younger sibling Sushasana was murdered scornfully by the beastly Bhima. Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, Kritavarma and a few others stood speechless beside their revered prince. Suyodhana’s affection for his loyal friend was known to all. The mighty and dreaded Suyodhana today resembled an orphan in the hands of fate. Never did he think he would see such a day when his most beloved friend and brother would be grounded to an eternal slumber leaving him alone to face the demonic phase of anguish.
“Take away all my wealth, take away my kingdom, and take away all I have O Kripacharya. If all wealth could have brought back my beloved companion back please do so. Scared I am of no soul on earth or heaven or hell. My dear friend Karna is more precious than all world put together. I have lost all my near and dear ones in this battle but cannot bear the separation of my dear friend Radhey.He stood by me in all good and bad phases like a shadow which never leaves the body”said Suyodhana.
Seeing the prince’s grief Kripacharya was deeply moved and said "O great warrior , by ambition and ravenousness we placed too great a encumbrance on friends and near ones. They have uncomplainingly borne it and laid down their lives on the battlefield and attained the heavenly abode. There is but only one course left to you to make peace with the Pandavas. Do not, O King, any longer continue this catastrophic fight. End it and save the thousands still waiting to be dead."
Even at that moment of deep misery, Suyodhana did not delight this guidance. "Possibly, there was a stretch for that, but it no longer exists. What talk can there be of peace between the Pandavas and us with all this resentful blood between us, the blood of our dearest and theirs? If I surrender in order to escape death, how can I escape the contempt of the world? What happiness can I hope to have in a life so ignobly saved? And what joy can I hope to find in sovereignty, secured by a peace after my brothers and relatives have all been slain? Can the peace treaty bring back my dear ones back to life? Can it bring back my Karna ? I cannot insult the sacrifces of all great souls and behave like a coward. We will fight till we die. Hastinapur belongs to the great lineage of Kauravas. Maybe we will lose but we may strive for glory in death than strive for cowardice.’
The words of Suyodhana were cheered by fellow-men. Battle it was and in battle men do not die they attain martyrdom. The sacrifices glorified the brave men in their respective lineage. There was still a few hours before dawn would break and before long the henchmen lifted the royal corpse for performing the last rituals.
Suyodhana sat all alone in his camp reconciling himself to the situation. A few night lamps had died , running out of oil. The night lamps lit in his room attracted moths which died instantly when in contact with the blazing heat. Suyodhana gazed at the lamp and his moist face glowed in the dim light. The moths are like the warriors in the battlefield, he thought.
He rose and walked close to the mirror. He was still wearing his heavy armour. Bruised and tired he was. Staring at the mirror he proclaimed -
“I , I am Suyodhana the elder most son of Dhridharashtra. Hated by most. The final day of war is closing in .Defeat is staring at us. History will perhaps always know me and my brothers as evil. History is after all written by victors as always. Our names will be tarnished and personified with evil deeds. But, I am the true inheritor of the throne. My father was blind and Pandu his younger brother was throned the emperor. When he left for the forest my father became the emperor and he governed over the massive territories with utmost sovereignty. I am his eldest son. I am the true heir of the throne. Why must I sacrifice the throne to the incapable Pandavas who do not even have a factual biological father. I am the inheritor of the throne which once belonged to the great Bharata Maharaja. How can one forget the fact that Yudhishtra and his brothers are but borne out of Niyog. The day won't be long before they declare these illegitimate sons as the sons of our deity Gods Vayu and Indra.How can one forget that Mata Kunti was but characterless in her youth and I will not be surprised if she has more children.
The Pandavas have always enjoyed the celebrated support of Drona , Bheeshma , Kripacharya and all elders. I was always termed as notorious. Vidura wanted me killed on my birth as he wanted his Niyogi son Yudhishtra to ascend the throne. Vyasa cursed me. As a kid I always protected my younger brothers from evil Bhima who relentlessly and un-provokingly harassed and bullied them to show case his superiority and strength. Elders , others than Shakuni rebuked me and humiliated me and never guided me or applauded me on good deeds. I and my brothers have always been desirous of the love Bheeshma gave the pandavas. For my brothers I was always there. Arjuna always fancied himself as the numero uno archer. Drona supported him. The prides of both these heroes have been broken by me and my friend Karna time and again. Draupadi always spoke contemptuously with us Kauravas and insulted me and my father by calling me a blind man’s son during our trip to Indraprastha much to the joy and cheer of Bhima. What wrong have I done if I gave back the insult during the friendly dice match? I am an emperor and should be treated like one. History will always highlight one part of the story after I am gone. Today, I have lifted the dead bodies of my brothers, uncles and sons.
By base tricks, they contrived the death of my warriors, who fought bravely according to the laws of war. They could not have dreamt of victory in a fair fight with Karna or Bhishma or Drona. They cheated on us everytime and yet declare themselves as Dharmic. I have always been an able ruler and administrator and my nation hath never known poverty and misfortune before this battle broke out. Untouchability and casteism will divide the society. Equality will never exist in a society which is governed by the Pandu putras. Calamity will strike further if they become emperors.”
Dawn was about to break, the sun was about to push through the dark canopy of smoke still raging out of the previous day’s battle. Birds no longer chirped on the ravaged and bloodied land of the dreaded battle. A few vultures were feasting on the dead and wild ravens and foxes dragging the dead in the battleground for a beasty meal. The battle drums and trumpets will resound in a few moments from now.
“I do not repent for what I did”.So saying Suyodhana turns around and lifts his mace. He is all prepared to fight till the end. His bruised and weary hands lifted the heavy mace. The anger on his face glowed like bright ardour. “Here I come, foes. The lone protector of the kuru clan is still alive to avenge the death of the brothers and relatives and friends alike. The battle is still on. Here I come, panadavas.”
The battle conch of Krishna has been blown and can be heard from miles away where the Kauravas are all set to begin their new day with a new morale. The battle for the day is about to start. This could be the final day of the battle…..