One of the greatest (if not the greatest) revenge story has to be that of Shakuni taking revenge on the entire Kuru dynasty of Hastinapur by forcing them into Mahabharata.
Shakuni’s sister Gandhari, the princess of Gandhar (modern day Kandahar between Pakistan and Afghanistan) was married to Vichitraveerya’s eldest blind son Dhritrashtra. The kuru elder Bheeshma proposed the match and despite having objections Shakuni and his father were not able to refuse it.
Gandhari’s horoscope showed that her first husband would die and leave her a widow. To avert this, on an astrologer’s advice, Gandhari’s family married her to a goat and then killed the goat to fulfil the destiny and assumed that she could now go ahead and marry a human and since the person technically be her second husband, no harm will come to him.
As Gandhari was married to a blind man she made a vow to remain blindfolded the rest of her life.The marriage against his and his father’s wishes had been an insult to the kingdom of Gandhar. However, due to the might of Bheeshma and the strength of the Hastinapur kingdom father and son were forced to acquiesce to this marriage.
However, in the most dramatic fashion, the secret about Gandhari’s first marriage to the goat came out and this made both Dhritrashtra and Pandu really angry at Gandhari’s family – because they did not tell them that Gandhari was technically a widow.
To avenge this, Dhritrashtra and Pandu imprisoned all of Gandhari’s male family – including her father and her 100 brothers. Dharma did not allow killing prisoners of war, so Dhritrashtra decided to starve them slowly to death and would give only 1 fistful of rice for the entire clan everyday.
Gandhari’s family soon realised that they will mostly starve to death slowly. So they decided that the entire fistful of rice will be used to keep the youngest brother, Shakuni, alive so that he can take revenge on Dhritrashtra later. In front of Shakuni’s eyes, his entire male family, starved to death and kept him alive.
His father, during his last days, told him to take the bones from the dead body and make a pair of dice which would always obey him. This dice would later be instrumental in Shakuni’s revenge plan.
After the death of the rest of relatives, Shakuni did as he was told and created a dice that contained his father’s bones’ ashes
To achieve his goal Shakuni came to live with his sister in Hastinapur and never returned to Gandhar. Gandhari’s eldest son Duryodhana served as the perfect means for Shakuni to achieve this purpose. He poisoned Duryodhana’s mind against the Pandavas from an early age and goaded into schemes such as poisoning Bhima and throwing him in the river, the Lakshagraha (House of Lacquer) episode, the games of Chausar with the Pandavas that led to Draupadi’s disrobing and insult and eventually to the 13 year banishment of the Pandavas.
Finally, when the Pandavas returned Duryodhana, with Shakuni’s support, prevented Dhritrashtra from returning the kingdom of Indraprastha to the Pandavas, which precipitated into the war of Mahabharata and the deaths of Bheeshma, the 100 kaurava brothers, the sons of the Pandavas from Draupadi and even shakuni himself.
So lets continue……
The next Similarity is between-
Jatayu And Icarus :In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a master inventor and craftsman who designed wings that could be worn by humans so they can fly. His son Icarus was fitted with wings, and Daedalus instructed him to fly low as the wax wings would melt in proximity to the sun. After he starts flying, Icarus forgets himself in the ecstasy of flight, wanders too close to the sun and with the wings failing him, falls to his death.
In Hindu mythology, Sampati and Jatayu were the two sons of Garuda – represented as eagles or vultures. The two sons always competed with each other as to who can fly higher, and at one such time Jatayu flew too close to the sun. Sampati intervened, protecting his little brother from the fiery sun, but gets burnt in the process, loses his wings and falls to the earth.
Theseus And Bhima: In Greek mythology, to prevent Crete from waging war on Athens, a treaty was signed that every nine years, seven young men and seven young women from Athens would be sent to Crete, into the Labyrinth of Minos and ultimately feasted upon by the monster known as the Minotaur. Theseus volunteers as one of the sacrifices, navigates the Labyrinth successfully (with the help of Ariadne) and slays the Minotaur.
In Hindu mythology, at the outskirts of the city of Ekachakra lived the monster called Bakasura who threatened to destroy the city. As a compromise, the people agreed to send a cartload of provisions once a month to the demon, who ate not only the food, but also the bulls that pulled the cart and the man who brought it. During this time, the Pandavas were in hiding in one of the houses, and when it was the house’s turn to send the cart, Bhima volunteered to go. As you can guess, Bakasura was killed by Bhima.
Ambrosia and Amrit: The Ambrosia in Greek Mythology, and the Amrita in Hindu Mythology were the food/drink of the gods which conferred immortality on those who consume it. The words even sound alike, and it’s possible that they share an etymology.
Kamadhenu And Cornucopia: In Greek mythology, the newborn Zeus was nursed by many, one of which was the goat Amalthea who was considered sacred. Once, Zeus accidentally breaks off Amalthea’s horn, which became the Cornucopia, the horn of plenty that provided never-ending nourishment.
In Hindu mythology, cows are held sacred as they represent Kamadhenu, usually depicted as a cow with a woman’s head and containing all the deities within her. The Hindu equivalent of the cornucopia, is the Akshaya patra that was provided to the Pandavas, producing unlimited quantities of food till they were all nourished.
Mt.Olympus and Mt.Kailash : Most major gods in Greek mythology take up residence in Mount Olympus, a real mountain in Greece, believed to be the realm of the gods. One of the different lokas in Hindu mythology where deities resided was called the Shiva loka, represented by Mount Kailash – a real mountain in Tibet with great religious significance.
Aegeus And Drona: This is somewhat of a stretch, as the common theme here is that a father is led to falsely believe that his son is dead, and as a result dies himself.
In Greek mythology, before Theseus left to kill the Minotaur, his father Aegeus asked him to raise white sails in his ship if he returns safely. After Theseus successfully slays the Minotaur in Crete, he returns to Athens but forgets to change his sails from black to white. Aegeus sees Theseus’ ship approaching with black sails, presumes him dead, and in an uncontrollable bout of grief jumps off the battlements into the sea and dies.
In Hindu mythology, during the Kurukshetra War, Krishna comes up with a plan to defeat Dronacharya, one of the greatest generals in the enemy camp. Bhima kills an elephant called Ashwattama, and runs around celebrating that he has killed Ashwattama. As it’s the name of his only son, Drona goes to ask Yudhistra if this was true – because he never lies. Yudhistra says that Ashwattama is dead, and as he continued saying that it’s not his son but an elephant, Krishna blows his conch to muffle Yudhistra’s words. Stunned that his son has been killed, Drona drops his bow and using the opportunity Dhrishtadyumna beheads him.
War on Lanka And War on Troy: A thematic similarity between the War on Troy in the Iliad, and the War on Lanka in the Ramayana. One was incited when a prince abducts a king’s wife with her approval, and another when a king abducts a prince’s wife against her will. Both resulted in a major conflict where an army crossed the sea to fight a battle that destroyed the capital city and the return of the princess. Both wars have been immortalized as epic poetry singing the praises of warriors from both sides for thousands of years.
Afterlife and Rebirth: In both mythologies, the souls of the deceased are judged according to their actions and sentenced to different places. Souls judged as wicked were sent to the Fields of Punishment in Greek mythology, or Naraka in Hindu mythology where they were punished as befits their crimes. Souls judged as (exceptionally, in Greek) good were sent to the Elysian Fields in Greek mythology, or Svarga in Hindu mythology. The Greeks also had the Asphodel Meadows for those who lived ordinary lives, neither wicked nor heroic, and Tartarus as the ultimate concept of Hell. Hindu scriptures define various planes of existence as lokas among other things.
The important difference between the two afterlives is that the Greek version is eternal, but the Hindu version is transient. Both Svarga and Naraka last only till the duration of the sentence, after which the person is reborn, for either redemption or improvement. The similarity comes in that consistent attainment of Svarga will result in a soul achieving moksha, the ultimate goal. Greek souls in Elysium have the option to be reborn three times, and once they achieve Elysium all three times, they are sent to the Isles of the Blessed, the Greek version of Paradise.
Also, the entrance to the Greek underworld is guarded by Hades’ three-headed dog Cerberus, and the entrance to Svarga by Indra’s white elephant Airavata.
Demigods and Divinity: Even if the concept of gods being born, living and dying as mortal beings (avatars) is not present in Greek mythology, both sides have gods descending among men for short periods of time for various reasons. There is also the concept of children born to two deities becoming deities (like Ares or Ganesh), and also the idea of demigod children born to a god and a mortal (like Perseus or Arjuna). Instances of demigod heroes raised to the status of gods were also common (like Heracles and Hanuman).
Heracles and Shri Krishna:
Heracles Fighting With Serpentine Hydra and Lord Krishna Defeating Serpent Kaliya. Lord Krishna didn’t kill Kalingarayan (Serpent kaliya), instead he asked him to leave the Yamuna river and go away from Brindavan. Simialrly, Heracles did not kill Serpent hydra, he only placed a huge stone over his head.
Killing of Stymphalian And Bakasur: The Stymphalian Birds are man-eating birds with beaks of bronze, sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims, and poisonous dung. They were pets of Ares, the god of war. They migrated to a marsh in Arcadia to escape a pack of wolves. There they bred quickly and swarmed over the countryside, destroying crops, fruit trees, and townspeople. They were killed by Heracles.
Bakasura, the Crane Demon, simply got greedy. Lured by Kamsa’s promises of rich and swanky rewards, Bakasura “tricked” Krishna to come close – only to betray the boy by swallowing him. Krishna forced his way out of course and put an end to him.
Killing of Cretan BullAnd Arishtasura : Cretan bull had been wreaking havoc on Crete by uprooting crops and leveling orchard walls. Heracles sneaked up behind the bull and then used his hands to strangle it, and then shipped it to Eurystheus in Tiryns.
A true bull-y in every sense of the word. Aristasur the Bull Demon stormed into town and challenged Krishna to a bull fight that all the heavens watched.
Killing of Horses Of Diomedes and keshi : Horses Of Diomedes were four man-eating horses in Greek mythology. Magnificent, wild, and uncontrollable, they belonged to the giant Diomedes, king of Thrace who lived on the shores of the Black Sea. Bucephalus, Alexander the Great’s horse, was said to be descended from these mares. Heracles the Greek hero slays the horses of Diomedes.
Keshi the Horse Demon was apparently mourning the loss of so many of his fellow rakshasa friends, so he approached Kamsa to sponsor his battle against Krishna. Shri Krishna Killed him.
There are many similarities among different mythical characters of different epics. I dont know whether they are same or related to each other. Same thing is there in Mahabharata and Trojan war. I wonder if our mythology is influenced by theirs or theirs by ours! I guess we used to live in the same area and now we had different versions of same epic. Here I have compared some of the characters and I tell you this is very interesting.
The most obvious parallel is between Zeus and Indra:
Zeus, the God of rains and thunder is the most worshipped God in Greek Pantheon. He is the king of Gods. He carries with himself a thunderbolt.Indra is the God of rains and thunder and he too carries a thunderbolt called Vajra. He is also the king of Gods.
Hades and Yamraj : Hades is the God of the netherworld and death. A similar role is carried by Yama in the Indian Mythology.
Achilles and Lord Krishna: I think Krishna and Achilles both were the same. Both were killed by an arrow piercing their heel and both are the heroes of the two of the world’s greatest epics. Achilles heels and Krishna’s heels were the only vulnerable point on their bodies and the reason of their deaths.
Krishna dies when Jara’s arrow pierces his heel. Achilles death was caused by an arrow in his heel too.
Atlantis and Dwarka: Atlantis is a legendary island. It is said that after a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune.” In Hindu Mythology, Dwarka, a city built by Vishwakarma on the order of Lord Krishna is supposed to have suffered a similar fate of submersion into the sea after a war among the Yadavas, the descendants of Lord Krishna.
Karna and Achilles: Karna’s kawach (armour) has been compared with that of Achilles’s Styx-coated body. He has been compared to the Greek character Achilles on various occasions as they both have powers but lack status.
Krishna and Odysseus: It is the character of Odysseus that is a lot more like Krishna. He convinces a reluctant Achilles to fight for Agamemnon – a war the Greek hero did not want to fight. Krishna did the same with Arjuna.
Duryodhana and Achilles: Achilles mother, Thetis, had dipped the infant Achilles in the river Styx, holding him by his heel and he became invincible where the waters touched him—that is, everywhere but the areas covered by her thumb and forefinger, implying that only a heel wound could have been his downfall and as anyone could have predicted he was killed when an arrow shot by Paris and guided by Apollo punctures his heel.
Similarly, in Mahabharata, Gandhari decides to help Duryodhana triumph. Asking him to bathe and enter her tent naked, she prepares to use the great mystic power of her eyes, blind-folded for many years out of respect for her blind husband, to make his body invincible to all attack in every portion. But when Krishna, who is returning after paying the queen a visit, runs into a naked Duryodhana coming to the pavilion, he mockingly rebukes him for his intention to emerge so before his own mother. Knowing of Gandhari’s intentions, Krishna criticizes Duryodhana, who sheepishly covers his groin before entering the tent. When Gandhari’s eyes fall upon Duryodhana, they mystically make each part of his body invincible. She is shocked to see that Duryodhana had covered his groin, which was thus not protected by her mystic power.
Helen of Troy and Draupadi:
In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy has always been projected as a seductress who eloped with young Paris, forcing her despairing husband to fight the war of Troy to get her back. This war resulted in the burning of the beautiful city. Helen was held accountable for this annihilation. We also hear of Draupadi being blamed for Mahabharata.
Brahma and Zeus: We have Brahma changing into a swan to seduce Saraswati, and Greek mythology has Zeus changing himself into many forms (including a swan) to seduce Leda.
Persephone and Sita:
Both were both forcibly abducted and wooed, and both (in different circumstances) disappeared under the Earth.
Arjuna and Achilees: When the war starts out, Arjuna is unwilling to fight. Similarly, when the Trojan War starts, Achilees does not want to fight. The lamentations of Achilles over the dead body of Patroclus are similar to lamentations of Arjuna over the dead body of his son Abhimanyu. Arjuna laments over the dead body of his son Abhimanyu and pledges to kill Jaydrath the following day. Achilles laments on the dead pody of his brother Patroculus, and pledges to kill Hector the following day.
Karna and Hector:
Draupadi, although loves Arjuna, begins to have a soft corner for Karna. Helen, although loves Paris, begins to have a soft corner for Hector, for she knows that Paris is useless and not respected while Hector is the warrior and well respected.
On the other hand, she is not Arjuna’s favorite wife. Arjuna does not like sharing her with 4 other men (conjecture on my part). Arjuna’s favorite wife is Subadhra, Krishna‘s half-sister. He also dotes on Abhimanyu (his son with Subadhra) over and above his sons from Draupadi and Chitrangada. All of Draupadi’s husbands married other women, but the only time Draupadi gets upset and distraught is when she learns of Arjuna‘s marriage to Subadhra. Subadhra has to go to Draupadi dressed as a maid, just to assure her that she (Subadhra) will always be beneath Draupadi in status.
2. Draupadi and Yudhisthir:
Now let’s see the reason why Draupadi’s life is a shambles, why she is the most cursed woman of her time, and one of the most important reasons behind the Mahabharat war: Draupadi’s marriage to Yudhisthir.
Here is something we need to understand first: Yudhisthir is a bastardnot as saintly as he is portrayed to be. This is not to be held against him – all Mahabharat characters are gray – but people tend to forget this bit. Yudhisthir does not win Draupadi in the Swayamvar, he has no right to her.
He lusts for her, he cannot bear seeing her everyday and not be able to have her. So he takes a small chance that fate throws his way, when Kunti says, “Share whatever you have between yourselves”, and bullies Draupadi and his brothers into the weird “Lets all marry her” situation. Bhima does not like this, he claims that it is not right and that people will laugh at them. Yudhisthir tells him of Rishis who have done this before, and that it is accepted in Dharma. He then rushes forward and says that since he is the eldest, he must get first with Draupadi. The brothers marry her according to age, eldest to youngest.
Then, Yudhisthir calls an assembly with his brothers and tells them the story of 2 powerful rakshasas, Sunda and Upasunda , whose love for the same woman led them to destroy each other. He says that the lesson to learn here is that the brothers must be careful when sharing Draupadi. She must be with one brother for a set period of time, and during this period the other brothers cannot touch her (carnally, that is). Yudhisthir decides that Draupadi will live for 1 year with each brother and that since he is the eldest, she will start the cycle with him. And the brother who breaks this rule will have to go into exile for 12 years. Further, the same punishment will apply if any brother happens to disturb another when he is carnally engaged with Draupadi.
This punishment actually comes into play when Arjuna disturbs Yudhisthir and Draupadi. Arjuna has to retrieve his weapons from the armory, in order to help a poor Brahmin whose cows have been stolen by thieves.
Arjuna departs on exile for 12 years, where he visits his father Indra, gets cursed by Urvashi, learns a lot of new skills from multiple teachers (Shiva, Indra etc), meets and marries Subadhra, followed by Chitrangada, etc. However, what happens to the year that he is to spend with Draupadi? It reverts back to Yudhisthir, who promises to care for Draupadi on Arjuna’s behalf. Naturally.
3. Draupadi and Bhima:
Bhima is silly putty in Draupadi’s hands. Of all her husbands, he is the one who loves her the most. He fulfills her every request, he cannot bear to see her hurt.
He use to bring her flowers from Kuber’s garden. Bhima cried because his beautiful wife will have to serve as a Sairandhri (maid) to Queen Sudeshna of Matsya. Bhima kills a 100 Kauravas to avenge the insult to Draupadi. Bhima was the one whom Draupadi run to when she is molested by Keechak in Matsya kingdom.
The other Pandavas are not under Draupadi’s thumb. She is prone to outbursts of rage, she makes unreasonable, unwise demands. When she wants Keechak killed for molesting her, Yudhisthir tells her that it would expose their presence in Matsya kingdom, and advises her to “live with it”. Bhima simply walks up to Keechak in the middle of the night and tears him limb from limb. No questions asked.
Draupadi shows us Bhima’s human side. He is a savage monster with others, but he is always and only tender when it comes to Draupadi.
4. Draupadi with Nakul and Sahadev:
As with most of the Mahabharat, Nakul and Sahadev don’t really matter here. Not many version of the Mahabharat where Nakul and Sahadev have any role of substance. In reality, Nakul and Sahadev are more loyal to Yudhisthir than anyone else. They don’t share father or mother with Yudhisthir, yet they follow him everywhere and do exactly as he asks. They could have gone and ruled over Madradesh, and lived a life of luxury and ease, but they stuck with their brother through thick and thin. Makes one appreciate them a little bit more.
In summary, Draupadi’s curse is the curse of beauty. She is the object of every man’s lust, but no one cares much for what she desires or feels. Her husbands gamble her away as if she were property. When Dusshasana strips her in view of a full court, she has to beg Krishna to save her. Her husbands don’t lift a finger.
Even at the end of their 13 year exile, the Pandavas are not intent on war. They worry that the losses in the Kurukshetra war will be too big to warrant it. Draupadi has to turn to her friend, Krishna, to heal her soul. Krishna promises her: “Soon wilt thou, O Draupadi, behold the ladies of Bharata’s race weep as thou dost. Even they, O timid one, will weep like thee, their kinsmen and friends being slain. They with whom, O lady, thou art angry, have their kinsmen and warriors already slain…. I will accomplish all this.”
And thus comes about the Mahabharat war.
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