If Draupadi was dishonored due to her past karma, why did the Pandavas have to take revenge?
Transcription: Sudha Mehta
Question: If Draupadi was dishonoured due to her past karma, why did the Pandavas have to fight and take revenge? How is the whole thing related with forgiveness? And what is the point of this example
Answer: Our past life Karma should not be brought in as an interference to our present life dharma. I answer questions in my website spiritual scientist. I answer over 1600 questions over there. One of the questions asked in there was
Few months ago in India in Delhi there was a very brutal gang rape of a medical student. After that gruesome incident one mataji had asked this question “What was the Karma of the woman who was so violently raped”? My answer there was “Firstly we shouldn’t even be asking this question” Although I said the point that “When Draupadi was dishonoured, when Sita was abducted we don’t see the sages saying “Oh whatever happened is because of your Karma” Nobody says like that. Why? Because we have this life responsibilities, we have this life duties. We are not meant to judge others by whatever karma they have done in their previous lives. The thought about previous life Karma is for that person to be able to accept what has happened and to be able to go on with life.
If a King who is supposed to maintain law and order starts thinking not in terms of this life Justice but in terms of past life karma then there will be no law and order in the system.
For instance a murderer will go and kill someone and the murderer will say “That person had to die because of his bad karma in his previous life and therefore I should not be punished” That would be ridiculous. Irrespective of whether that person had some bad life karma because of which the victim had to die or not the point is that the murderer has no right to murder, he has no right to commit violence against anyone. The murderer having done a grievous wrong doing has to be punished for the same.
In our normal dealings with people we don’t try to psycho analyse or spirituo analyse in to previous life situations. We deal with it normally. Normally means “If a person is unnecessarily rude in his normal dealings does this mean everyone around the person is supposed to think that “all of us have done bad karma to that person in our previous lives and hence this person is being so ruthless to us”. No. obviously not. Somebody has to tell that person “No you cannot behave like this. You have to correct your behaviour”
The point is all of us are meant to act in particular way. We all have our duties and there is proper conduct expected for us and that conduct is what we are meant to adhere to
In the case of the Pandavas wasn’t it the duty of Pandavas to protect their wives when she was being dishonoured at that time itself? Yes they had the duty at that time also. But at that time that duty was subordinate to some other duty. The other duty was to honour their words. Yudhistra had gambled all of them and lost so they all were slaves. And slaves had to obey the master and so they stuck to that words at that time. And after 13 years of exile when they came back they were ready to forgive. They requested the Kauravas to give just five villages and thus avoid the war.
Thus they had done the duty of honouring the words and now was the time for rectification of the wrong. When they saw that Duryodhana had no intention of rectifying the wrong then they had to take corrective action and that involved fighting the war
So the point of this whole analyses is that whole Vedic philosophy is not Karma based, in terms of past life karma, it is Dharma based. It is duty centred.
I will conclude this with another example to make to clear. In srimadbhagawatam 10th canto Text 8 when Kamsa comes to know that Devaki’s eight child is going to kill him he catches her hair and raises his sword to kill Devaki and at that time Vasudev gives various arguments to stop Kamsa
And one of the argument he gave was “Ultimately Destiny is Supreme” “If you are meant to die then killing her or killing her child is not going to stop death. And any way we all are going to die one day. Why do you want to do bad karma in order to avoid destiny which is in anyways unavoidable”?
Now here Vasudev could have turned around and used that argument to pass the buck “Oh if it is destiny then Devaki is going to die anyway then what is the need for me to reason, argue persuade and talk to Kamsa? If Devaki is destined to die then nothing can stop her”
But he doesn’t he do that? Because he is concerned with his duty? For him as a husband it is his duty to protect his newly wedded wife
Then why is he bringing the talk of duty because Kamsa is deviating from his duty. Even for a brother it is his duty to protect his sister. Kamsa and Devaki was not real brother and sister but they were cousins they were almost like brother and sister. But when a person is giving up his duty for some short term gain or for the sake of avoiding some short term pain at that time the person should be reminded about destiny so that the person will come back to the path of duty. But destiny or Karma theory should not be used to give up ones duty
So from the point of view of forgiveness the point is if somebody has hurt us and if we are burning with resentment then the best way to get rid of that resentment is to think “Oh I must have hurt someone in that same way in my previous life and therefore I am getting reactions now. So I don’t hold any kind resentment.”
In that sense knowledge of Karma can help us to forgive at emotional level but the action at particular level depends on the specifics of the situation
If the person is ready to reform then physically also forgiveness can be given
But if the person is going on in wrong doing and then forgiveness may actually be a form of violence and therefore the person may have to be punished
Therefore when we talk about past life karma, it is primarily so as to not let emotions block our perception of our present life dharma and if the talk of past life karma obstructs our this life dharma then we should know that it is not relevant over here.
Like Vidhur and Dritarashtra :-
Dritarashtra saying “If it is the will of the destiny that our dynasty will be destroyed then what can we do?” For Dritarashtra the question should not be of the will of the destiny but the question should have been what is his duty? And it is his duty as a father to control his son. And it is not a father controlling the son he is a king he as duty towards the citizens his nephew and towards the whole world and he was failing in that duty
So the talk of destiny should be to increase our focus on our duty and remove any emotional blinders that may obstruct us from perceiving our duty
The talk of destiny should not be brought in to justify our shrieking from our duty