Did Duryodhana have any good qualities?
Transcription by-VandanaGoel and Keshavgopal Das
Question – Did Duryodhana have any good qualities for everyone has some good quality and also what was his real name Duryodhana or Suyodhana?
Answer–In Vedic times it was not that people had just one name. So both names were there and they were used in context. Duryodhan in and of itself is not a negative name. But there are certain places there where Dhrithrashtra refers him as Suyodhana. Suyodhana refers to the person who fights virtuously but Duryodhan it can mean the one who fights viciously or it can mean also the person who is very difficult to defeat in fight. Duryodhana in and of itself is not necessarily a negative name although from his behavior it can be associated with negative connotation of that name.
Now-a-days, there is a tendency to say that everybody has some good in them. Definitely true! But then, if we can see the good in the bad then we should also see the good in the good. Isn’t it? As I said because the Mahabharata and Ramayana is so popular, there are many people who try to use that popularity to become themselves popular and give some twist to the story. For example there is serial coming “Ravankibhakti”. The idea is that Ravana was also a bhakta. But that is a very self centered kind of devotion he had in him but the idea of trying to giving twist to the traditional stories to attract attention is very common so some people portray Duryodhana as very virtuous person.
If he had any virtues one was his friendship with Karna. That also was selfishly motivated. Basically Karna was a virtuous person in many ways. He; at least in the initial part of the Mahabharata; in the Adiparvaupto the Sabhaparva; whenever Duryodhana makes any crooked plans and Duryodhana wants to accent to them, Karnaopposes them.
But if we look at the Drupadivastraharanlila in the Kurusabha, the one person who fairs the worst, who comes out as the biggest villains is Karna. It’s Karna who suggests thatDraupadi be disrobed, its Karna who calls Draupadi a prostitute. It is Karna who opposes Vikarna as Vikarna says the match is unfair. Basically Karna becomes a pawn in the hands of Duryodhana for his powergames. Duryodhana wants to get an upper hand over the pandavas. He thinks I can better Bhima but who will deal with Arjuna. When he see Karna exhibiting his martial skills he thinks, yes Karna will become the nemesis of Arjuna and that’s why he helps him not only helps but gives very eloquent speech. At that time some people are objecting that he is a Sutaputra. He says that can a jackal produce a lion? See the physique, see the prowess, the skill of this person, surely he must have sprung from the lords. He is not a son of a suta. And even he is, he has the prowess of a warrior and I will make him a king. So his helping Karna in the time of need, can be said to be a virtue in him.
At one level the fact that he had his ninety nine brothers who followed him throughout their lives that some people associate to his leadership skills. But we see that they followed him primarily because of fraternal devotion. Fraternal devotion is to follow elder brother. Like we see in pandavs also it is not they agreed with Yudhishtra when he wanted to gamble away Draupadi. Arjuna, Bhima neither of them agreed to him, Bhima was enraged but the culture was they followed the elder brother.
Duryodhana had this tendency to always find fault with others. When pandavas were getting upperhand, he was blaming Bhishma saying you are not fighting with your whole heart; you are partial with the pandavas. Same thing happened with Dronacharya and actually this unrelenting goading of Drona, you taught pandavas, you should be able to defeat. How are your students defeating you? This was that unrelenting goading by Duryodhanathat made Drona suggest the plan of killing of Abhimanyu by six warriors combined together.
Basically he not only himself was vicious but he spoiled many other persons.Karna was a prime example, the person who was quite virtuous but he was spoiled by the bad association of Duryodhana.
Towards the end of the Mahabharata in the Bhishmparva, when Bhishma has fallen and is about to die; Karna meets him on the eleventh morning and he apologizes for his harsh words. The tradition is if someone is going to die then don’t bear bitter feelings for someone is going to die. So he goes and apologizes and he seeks his permission for entering the battle. At that time Karna says, ‘the whole that I spoke in the sabha against Draupadi, I regret them throughout my life.’ I spoke them only with a desire to please Duryodhana. Yes, he had some virtues but overall the balance was weighed towards vice.