Lessons from the Life of Dhrtarashtra - Part 14

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

This is in continuation of the previous offering titled, "Lessons from the life of Dhrtarashtra" based on glorious verses present in first canto, 13th Chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam. In the previous offering we saw that Dhrtarashtra left the palace after receiving the transcendental instructions from Mahatma Vidura. Now we shall see further.

In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.13.30 Suta Goswami describes how Gandhari followed her blind husband when he left for the forest.

patiṁ prayāntaṁ subalasya putrī
pati-vratā cānujagāma sādhvī
himālayaṁ nyasta-daṇḍa-praharṣaṁ
manasvinām iva sat samprahāraḥ

The gentle and chaste Gāndhārī, who was the daughter of King Subala of Kandahar [or Gāndhāra], followed her husband, seeing that he was going to the Himālaya Mountains, which are the delight of those who have accepted the staff of the renounced order like fighters who have accepted a good lashing from the enemy.

The words pati-vratā means one who is devoted to her husband and sādhvī means chaste. Our senses always crave for sense-enjoyment. Hardly do we care for others or feel others' pain.  But Gandhari was unique personality and so she is always counted one among the chaste women of the world . As soon as she heard that she would be married to Dhrtarashtra who has been blind right from birth, she voluntarily chose to blind fold herself for the rest of life, although she was blessed with good eye-sight. Srila Prabhupada mentions in the purport to the above verse that just like how Mother Sita chose to follow her husband Lord Ram when He was banned to go to the forest, Gandhari also chose to accompany Dhrtarashtra, though he did not inform her. 

In verse 1.9.48, Srila Prabhupada mentions as to why Gandhari is called tapasvini. - tapasvini refers to very austere person. He says, "Gandhari was a powerful ascetic, although she was living the life of a faithful wife and a kind mother. It is said that Gandhari also voluntarily closed her eyes because of the blindness of her husband. A wife's duty is to follow the husband cent percent. And Gandhari was so true to her husband that she followed him even in his perpetual blindness. Therefore in her actions she was a great ascetic. Besides that, the shock she suffered because of the wholesale killing of her one hundred sons and her grandsons also was certainly too much for a woman. But she suffered all this just like an ascetic. Gandhari, although a woman, is no less than Bhishmadeva in character. They are both remarkable personalities in the Mahabharata."

Srila Prabhupada compares her with Bhishmadev's character for both of them voluntarily sacrificed their sense-pleasure for the sake of others. When she had lost all her children and grandchildren, she could have very well gone back to her father's house or stayed back somewhere in the royal household. No one would have questioned her as to why she is staying back. But she simply followed her husband without any hesitation. His Divine Grace says in one of the lecture to the above verse, "Gandhari never said that "I am now old. I have lost my children. These nephews, they're taking care of me. Why shall I go with my husband?" No. Wherever Dhrtarashtra stayed - be it royal palace or wild forest, she simply followed him and tried to serve him. Just like how ascetics voluntarily suffers all kind of sufferings, Gandhari accepted and tolerated all the miserable conditions, which she had to face in her life. 

Krishna willing we shall continue to meditate further on this topic in the subsequent offerings.

Hare Krishna.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Sudarshana devi dasi.