22.SAKUNI COMES IN
It shall be my duty to give no occasion for anger or pretext for hostility. Thus shall we profit by Bhagavan Vyasa's warning." His brothers expressed cordial assent. The first event of the series which culminated in the devastating slaughter on the blood-sodden field of Kurukshetra and the event which was the evil root of all, was the gambling match into which Yudhishthira was inveigled by Sakuni, who was Duryodhana's evil genius. Why did the wise and good Yudhishthira suffer himself to be persuaded to this step which he must have known to hold evil possibilities? The main cause was his fixed resolve to be on amicable terms with his cousins by not opposing their wishes. And a friendly invitation to dice could not be summarily turned down, since the etiquette of those days made it a point of honor to accept a game of equal hazard. Out of his very anxiety to foster goodwill, he laid open the field for the poisonous seed of hatred and death. Here is an illustration of the futility of human plans, however well meant or wise, without divine aid. Our best wisdom is vain against fate, and if destiny is kind, our very follies turn to our advantage. While Dharmaputra was care-worn with solicitude to avoid a quarrel at all costs, Duryodhana was burning with jealousy at the thought of the prosperity of the Pandavas that he had witnessed in their capital during the Rajasuya sacrifice. Duryodhana saw unprecedented wealth, attractive and sight eluding crystal doors and many pieces of exquisite artistry in the court-hall of Yudhishthira, all suggestive of great prosperity. He also saw how glad the kings of many countries were to become the allies of the Pandavas. This gave him unbearable grief. He was so absorbed in sorrow at the prosperity of the Pandavas that he did not at first hear Sakuni who was by his side, speaking to him. Sakuni asked: "Why are you sighing? Why are you tormented with sorrow?" Duryodhana replied: "Yudhishthira, surrounded by his brothers, is like Indra, the king of gods. Before the very eyes of the assembled kings Sisupala was slain and not one of them had the courage to come forward to avenge him. Like the vaisyas who live by trade, they bartered their honor and jewels and riches for Yudhishthira's goodwill. How can I avoid giving way to grief after seeing all this?