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Mahabharata as Dharmashastra

  • Date Submitted: 11/04/2015 09:15 AM
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Mahabharata as dharmashastra

Mahabharata is often referred to as the dharma shastra. Dharma is explained in its widest concept to Yudhishthar and the assembled princes and warriors in the Shanti and Anushasan parvas by Bhishma Pitamah lying on his bed of arrows. It comprises of raja dharma or the duties of the ruler or hence the norms of governance; apad dharma that is behaviour during times of crisis; moksha dharma or liberation from birth; Dana dharma or liberality and charity.
Three people who represent Dharma are- Bhishma Pitamah, Yudhishthira (the son of Dharma) and Vidhur who is supposed to be the avatar of Dharma himself. Throughout the epic, the opinions of these three people have been of great importance, they are considered to be ‘firm in law’.
There are various moral issues raised in ‘the dicing and the sequel to dicing’. Vidhur is well aware of the ill consequences of the game of dice and tries hard to stop the game of dice from happening but all his efforts go futile.  
The Kshatriya dharma is often questioned. Yudhishthira knows that “gaming is trickery” yet he agrees to play Sakuni because being a Kshatriya it was his dharma not to refuse when once challenged.
During the game of dice Yudhishthira asks Sakuni “don’t defeat us by crooked means and cruelty” because that is against the Kshatriya code of conduct. Sakuni tells Yudhishthar that if at any point of time in the game he feels that he is being tricked; Yudhishthira is free to leave the game at that very moment. On this note the game of dice began.
After nothing else is left to stake, not even Yudhishthar himself Saubala suggests him to stake Draupadi.   Blinded by his addiction to the game and his Kshatriya dharma, Yudhishthar stakes Draupadi and loses her. She is dragged into the assembly of men and molested in front of her five husbands and her in laws. She puts up a question in front of them “whom did you lose first, yourself or me?”   Everyone sits blankly even the knowers of...

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