Chapter 25 The Pandavas Lose Dice Game
When Yudhishthira saw Vidura, he worriedly questioned: “Why are you acting so gloomy? Are all of our relationships in Hastinapura doing well? Are the princes and the king both healthy?”
Vidura briefed him on his assignment: “There are no ill people in Hastinapura. How are you all doing? I’ve come to invite you to visit the recently constructed hall of games on behalf of King Dhritarashtra. There is a stunning hall there that resembles yours. The monarch wants you to go with your brothers, see everything, play some dice, and then go back to your home town.”
Yudhishthira appeared to consult Vidura for advice “Games of chance lead to disputes between kshatriyas. If possible, a sensible man will stay away from them. We always abide by your recommendations. What do you want us to do?”
Vidura answered: “Everyone is aware that dice gaming is the source of several ills. I made every effort to fight this notion. However, the king gave me the order to invite you, so I did. The choice is yours.”
Yudhishthira travelled to Hastinapura with his siblings and entourage despite the warning. One could wonder why the sage Yudhishthira accepted the offer.
Three explanations are possible. Men rush knowingly into their destruction, propelled by desire, gambling, and alcohol. Yudhishthira enjoyed playing the slots. It was considered polite and honourable in the kshatriya tradition to accept an invitation to a dice game.
There is also a third explanation. In accordance with the commitment he made at the time, Vyasa had forewarned him of the conflicts that would develop and cause the extinction of the race. By declining Dhritarashtra’s invitation, Yudhishthira would not provide any cause for complaint or anger.
These motivations combined with his inherent propensity led Yudhishthira to accept the invitation and travel to Hastinapura. The splendid palace set aside for them was where the Pandavas and their entourage stopped.
After settling down, Yudhishthira took the day off to relax before heading to the games hall the next morning.
Following the exchange of formal pleasantries, Sakuni informed Yudhishthira that the game’s cloth had been spread and extended an invitation.
Initially, Yudhishthira said: “O king, don’t gamble. One does not win at a game of chance via valour or merit. Gambling should be avoided, according to Asita, Devala, and other enlightened rishis who were knowledgeable about worldly concerns, since it provides room for deception. They have also said that the kshatriyas’ rightful route is through military victory. You are conscious of it.” However, a part of him that had been damaged by gambling addiction was at odds with his judgement, and Yudhishthira secretly yearned to play.
We witness this internal tension in his conversation with Sakuni. The quick-witted Sakuni saw this flaw right away and declared: “Why is the game broken? What what is a battle? What even is a debate amongst Vedic academics? The educated man triumphs over the uneducated. Every time, the stronger man prevails. There is nothing wrong with it because it is simply a strength or talent test. As for the outcome, in any activity, an expert beats a novice, and the same is true in a game of dice. However, you should not play if you are terrified. However, avoid using the tired justification of right and wrong.”
“Well, who is gonna play with me?” Yudhishthira said.
Says Duryodhana “It is my obligation to locate the game’s stakes, which take the shape of money and stones. I’ll really let my uncle Sakuni roll the dice.”
Yudhishthira had assumed that he would be able to overcome Duryodhana via play, but Sakuni presented a new challenge because Sakuni was a renowned specialist. It is not, I believe, typical for one man to play on behalf of another, he remarked after pausing.
I see that you are fabricating another justification, Sakuni shot back in jest.
Yudhishthira reddened and said, “Well, I shall play,” disregarding prudence.
The room was completely packed. There were Drona, Kripa, Bhishma, Vidura, and Dhritarashtra sitting. They sat unhappy spectators watching what they could not stop even though they knew the game would finish brutally.
The gathering princes were enthused and highly interested in the game. At first, they bet on jewels, then on gold and silver, and then on chariots and horses. Yudhishthira kept dropping the ball.
Yudhishthira bet his servants and lost them as well after losing all of them. He gave up his army and elephants and lost them as well. The dice Sakuni threw appeared to always bend to his desire.
Yudhishthira lost everything—cows, sheep, cities, villages, people, and all other belongings. However, he would not stop since tragedy had drugged him.
In addition to the clothing they were wearing, he also lost his brothers’ and his own jewels. He continued to experience terrible luck, or perhaps Sakuni’s deceit was too much for him.
“Is there anything else you can gamble on” Sakuni questioned.
Says Yudhishthira “Here is the lovely Nakula with the sky-complexioned skin. He is among my wealth. I stake my bet on him.”
Sakuni answered: “Is that true? If we can gain your beloved prince, we will be happy.” With these remarks, Sakuni threw the dice, and the outcome was as predicted.
The audience shook.
Says Yudhishthira “My brother Sahadeva is shown here. He is well known for having a vast understanding of all the arts. Even if it is wrong, I still gambled on him. Let’s have fun.”
“I have played and I have won here,” Sakuni said as she threw the dice.
And Sahadeva was lost by Yudhishthira.
The evil Sakuni feared that Yudhishthira may end his journey there. Therefore, Yudhishthira, be beaten with these words: “Being your full brothers, Bhima and Arjuna are undoubtedly more precious to you than the sons of Madri. I’m aware you won’t accept their offer.”
The mocking accusation that he thought his step-brothers were cheap hurt Yudhishthira to the core, and he responded: “Fool, do you want to split us apart? You lead a terrible life; how can you comprehend the virtuous one we live?”
He went on: “The ever-victorious Arjuna, who skillfully navigates through oceans of conflict, is my wager. Let’s have fun.”
I rolled the dice, Sakuni said, playing. Likewise, Yudhishthira lost Arjuna.
The tenacious lunacy of uninterrupted tragedy dragged Yudhishthira further and deeper. He answered, his eyes streaming with tears: “Bhima, my brother, is our commander in war, O king. He is comparable to Indra, frightens demons, can never suffer even the slightest disgrace, and is unrivalled in the world for physical prowess. I put him up for a bet “and he tried again, losing Bhima as well.
Is there anything else you can provide, the evil Sakuni enquired?
In Dharmaputra’s response: “Yes. This is who I am. I’ll be your slave if you win.”
“See? I win.” Sakuni rolled the dice and won, so to speak. After then, Sakuni loudly announced that the five Pandavas had now become his legal slaves as he stepped up in front of the group.
The group watched in startled silence. Yudhishthira was the only one to turn to Sakuni, who said: “There is one diamond that is still in your possession that you may still free yourself from by staking. Can’t you carry on the game using Draupadi, your wife, as the bet?”
“I pledge her,” Yudhishthira replied in desperation, unintentionally trembling.
In the area of the gathering where the elders were seated, there was audible anguish and agitation. Fie! Fie! cries of enormous volume soon erupted from all directions. The more sensitive sobbed. Others began to perspire and thought the end of the world had arrived.
Karna, Duryodhana, and his brothers yelled in joy. Yuyutsu, the lone one in that group, bowed his head in grief and shame while exhaling deeply. Sakuni threw the dice and said, “I have won,” once more.
When Vidura turned to look at him, Duryodhana said: “Bring back Draupadi, the Pandavas’ cherished spouse. She must thus sweep and tidy our home going ahead. Allow her to arrive right away.”
Vidura yelled: “Are you crazy to run toward certain death? You are dangling precariously over an infinite chasm! You are too buzzed from accomplishment to see it, but it will swallow you whole!”
After correcting Duryodhana in this manner, Vidura addressed the group and said: “Yudhishthira had no right to put Panchali to death because he had already forfeited his rights and freedom at that point. I perceive that the Kauravas’ downfall is nigh, and that the sons of Dhritarashtra are headed for hell notwithstanding the counsel of their friends and well-wishers.”
Vidura’s remarks incensed Duryodhana, who said to his charioteer Prathikami: “Vidura fears the Pandavas and is envious of us. But you are unique. Bring Draupadi right away, and go.”
Keep Mahabharat Book at Home and Read Daily – DO NOT FALL TO FAKE PROPAGANDA and Allow Enemies to Weaken our Dharma and Bharat
This historical epic Mahabharat is known as fifth Veda. It is a common misconception spread by mlecchas; muslims and christian missionaries, and secular Hindus that reading Mahabharat or keeping it at home will likely lead to arguments and fighting. All of this misinformation was spread by illiterate mlecchas and anti-Hindus, and it is completely incorrect. It is done to mentally weaken Hindus so that they avoid reading Mahabharat. Because Mahabharat invokes bravery, pride and sense of confidence in Hindus.
Keep a copy of Mahabharat at home and read it online at the HariBhakt website. Mahabharat is rightly called the fifth Veda for Kaliyuga people because it is a tool and guidance to invoke confidence and bravery in Sanatan Dharmi Hindus.
You can read complete Mahabharat by following Chapter links given below. You can check Glossary of Mahabharat here.