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Did Gandhari do the right thing by blindfolding herself in Mahabharata?

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Nidhi Mishra
Nidhi Mishra
An avid reader and writer.

Gandhari has been portrayed in Mahabharata as a lady of immense wisdom, dedication, virtue and courage. Gandhari’s character has always been depicted as the one who is thoroughly devoted to her husband. The proof of this devotion and dutifulness can be seen when after getting married, as she becomes aware of the fact that her husband is blind, she also embraces darkness by blindfolding her eyes.

This aspect of Gandhari’s personality has been highlighted since times immemorial in our mythological history to raise her stature as a sacrificing woman in order to prove her intense love towards her husband.

But here, a new perspective needs to be given to this exemplary step of Gandhari, as blindfolding herself could be considered as the paramount cause of the brutal warfare Bharatvarsha witnessed at Kurukshetra.

Had she been not blindfolded, she could have been the sight of her husband and would have played a crucial role in the matters of Statecraft in Hastinapur. Hence imparting the new turn of events to the history of Bharatvarsha. Thus, should she have restrained herself from going on the same path as of her husband?

It was Dhritarashtra’s blindness and Gandhari’s choice of blindfolding herself which became the foremost reason behind Duryodhana’s stubbornness and ego. In the absence of proper attention of his parents, Suyodhana (his original name) became Duryodhana. Thus the influence of his maternal uncle Shakuni over him augmented, who was a devious man  resulting into turning Duryodhana the most negative character in Mahabharata.

Shakuni had due to various reasons an anger against Hastinapur and thus wanted to take revenge. Therefore, he made Duryodhana his pawn in the pernicious goal of ruining the ruling clan. For this, he mentored Duryodhana who participated in all of his malicious plots against Pandavas very boisterously forgetting even that they too are his brothers.

Had Gandhari not blindfolded herself, she could have subdued the influence of Shakuni over her son. Every child’s first teacher is his/her mother. Mother plays a significant role in molding child’s character. This too could have proved true in the case of Gandhari and Duryodhana.

Gandhari is portrayed in Mahabharata a very pious, just, intelligent female who epitomizes all virtues of character. In Mahabharata, several times we see that she never favoured the deeds of her son Duryodhana and exhorted him to follow the path of justice and make peace with Pandavas. But Duryodhana never paid heed to her advises because she failed to hold a considerable influence over him. Had Gandhari been the ideal for Duryodhana, he would never have gone for playing the game of dice with the Pandavas.

As we see in the Sabha Parva, she advises her husband to stop the game of dice and even reprimands Dushashan for treating Draupadi in the most demeaning manner. Thus we see her always in a dilemma and repenting over her fortune because now she has nothing left in her hands to control the course of events in the manner they were taking place. The fact that she was stuck to righteousness is highlighted when she gives blessings to her son Duryodhana that may the victory be with those who are righteous! Despite being a pious lady she sometimes feel sorry for her sons.

Gandhari chances upon in Mahabharata as a distinctive person bestowed upon an innate sense of justice and righteousness.  She is assertive and a woman of indomitable will and passion. But the irony is that she being not able to transfer the aforementioned qualities of hers to her sons. She was particularly unhappy about Duryodhana’s association with Shakuni. She in fact urges Shakuni to stop interfering in her son’s life and stop making crooked designs against the Pandavas but all this is in vain.

In stark contrast to Gandhari, we see Kunti spending her whole life devoted thoroughly to her children. Always trying to make her children walk on the path of righteousness. As a result, Pandavas in the epic stand as the symbol of dharma who always follow their mother’s advice. They stand as the apostle of dutifulness which Kunti nurtured in them.

Many a times in Mahabharata it can be seen how Gandhari regrets, not being able to inculcate these superior qualities in her sons. Gandhari sometimes even criticizes Dhritarashtra for his unjust fondness towards his sons.  She in fact asked him, firmly, not to support Duryodhana who was completely under the influence of her brother Shakuni.

One can argue that by self imposing blindfoldedness, she became the reason behind her sons’ misconduct. Thus while she became a devout wife, she failed to become a dedicated mother, which in turn inflicted horrendous sufferings on Bharatvarsha in the form of the most brutal war of Mahabharata.

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Nidhi Mishra
Nidhi Mishra
An avid reader and writer.
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