In the Mahabharata, when Draupadi was being disrobed by Dushasana, why did the Pandavas sit quiet? Is there any other reason besides the fact that they had already lost in the gambling match and had become slaves? The primary duty of a husband is to protect his wife. How could Yudhisthira Maharaj fail to understand this?
Regarding Draupadi’s disrobing, here are the main points as I see it:
- 1. The Bhagavatam many times gives the highlights of Mahabharata: a) in Bhishma’s prayers; b) in Kunti’s prayers; c) in Arjuna’s and Yudhisthira’s recollections after Krishna leaves this world; d) in the description of Vidura’s pilgrimage after quitting Hastinapura; e) throughout the 10th canto; f) elsewhere.
- That Yudhisthira gambled away his brothers in the sense that he gambled their legal and military obligation to him as their older brother and King. Just as today a financial obligation is a negotiable instrument that can be gambled, auctioned, sold, bought etc, so in ancient societies, military and political obligations were similarly negotiable instruments. I believe that Yudhisthira thus gambled away the obligation, not the people, though it would be normal to say, as Mahabharata does, that he gambled his brothers.
The relationship between husband and wife in Vedic culture is not political or military and cannot be negotiated or gambled in the same way. Interestingly, neither the Bhagavatam, nor the CC mentions the attempt to disrobe Draupadi.
- If for the sake of discussion we assume that the Kurus did attempt to disrobe Draupadi, then why did Yudhisthira remain silent? In the description of this incident found in the Mahabharata (which Madhvacarya declared to be a highly corrupt text), Yudhisthira falls into the same ethical misunderstanding that Bhishma fell into many years before: act-based ethics. This ethics theory states that moral good lies in the act itself, regardless of the act’s consequences. Thus if you are sworn to tell the truth, then you should tell the truth, even if by doing so you cause terrible suffering to innocent people. Example: a person, with nor risk to themself if they life, “honestly” reveals to Nazi soldiers where Jews are hiding. Consequences don’t matter, only the act.