93.THE PANDAVAS REPROACHED
WHEN the war was nearing its end, Balarama arrived at Kurukshetra after completing his tour of holy places. He came just when Bhima and Duryodhana were engaged in their last mortal combat. He saw Bhima aiming the deadly blow which broke Duryodhana's thighs, and his anger flamed up at this great breach of the rules of single combat. "Fie upon you all! Would any kshatriya hit below the navel? This Bhima has offended the law most disgracefully," he exclaimed and impatiently going up to his brother Krishna, shouted: "You can look on and tolerate all this. But I cannot bear to see such unclean fighting!" Saying this he advanced towards the offending Bhima with upraised plough. The plough was Balarama's weapon on supreme occasions, as the discus was Krishna's. Krishna was alarmed when he saw his elder brother advancing in a passion towards Bhima. He rushed forward and, intercepting him, said: "The Pandavas are our friends and closest relations. They have been the victims of insufferable wrongs at the hands of Duryodhana. When Draupadi was insulted in the Assembly Hall, Bhima vowed: 'I will one day in battle break the two thighs of Duryodhana with this mace and kill him.' He proclaimed this solemn oath at that time and everyone has known it. It is the duty of a kshatriya to fulfil the vow he has solemnly taken. Do not let your anger mislead you and do not be unjust to the innocent Pandavas. You should, before condemning Bhima, take into account all the wrongs that the Kauravas have done to the Pandavas. Nothing but error can result if one proceeds to judge conduct without taking into account the chain of events leading up to it. You cannot snatch a particular act out of its context and proceed to give judgment on it alone without gross injustice. The era of Kali has arrived, when the laws of a previous age cannot apply. It was not wrong for Bhima to strike below the navel an enemy who had wickedly contrived against his life on many occasions. It was because of Duryodhana's foul instigation that Karna sent a shaft from behind and broke Abhimanyu's bowstring when he was defending himself against heavy odds. Arjuna's young son was attacked by numerous warriors who surrounded him, when he stood all by himself in the field, deprived of bow and chariot, and in a most cowardly manner, killed him. Duryodhana thought evil and practised deception from the time of his birth and has brought about the destruction of his people. There is no sin in Bhima killing this man. Bhima bore the wrongs done and kept his wrath within himself for thirteen long years. Duryodhana knew well that Bhima had sworn to break his thighs and kill him. When he challenged the aggrieved Pandavas to battle, he knew very well that he invited Bhima to make good his oath. How can you think that it was wrong for Bhima to do this?"