The Avengers of the Mahabharat – Full Stories
Shakuni. This one goes against the popular belief. Shakuni is considered to be a well-wisher of the Kaurav clan, particularly his nephew Duryodhan. But the reality was the opposite. Shakuni wasn’t what he appeared. He held grudges he never expressed. One against Bhishma for proposing the blind Dhritarashtra’s marriage to his sister Gandhari. The other against Dhritarashtra for imprisoning, torturing and killing Shakuni’s family. A young Gandhari’s horoscope didn’t augur well and astrologers suggested a remedy. Gandhari was married to a goat, which was later scarified to appease the malefic planets. The rituals were done and forgotten. Years later after her marriage, when her husband Dhritarashtra came to know of this, he alleged foul play. Reasoning that Gandhari was technically a widow and that her family hadn’t been transparent about it. A furious Dhritarashtra captured and imprisoned the whole of Gandhari’s family. Shakuni’s father Subala ensured Shakuni alone ate the little food they were served in prison so he could live to avenge. Subala asked Shakuni to carve dice out of his bones, stating the dice thus made would always roll a result of Shakuni’s choice. Subala prophesied that a game of dice would help Shakuni bring down the Kaurav clan. When Subala was about to die, he broke Shakuni’s leg which left him limping. Subala did so to ensure each limping step reminded Shakuni of his objective. In no time did Shakuni’s family die of starvation. Seeing him left alone, Dhritarashtra let Shakuni free. Full of despise within but using saccharine coated words, Shakuni earned his place as a well-wisher of the Kaurav clan. Behind the scenes, he fuelled hatred in an adolescent Duryodhan. Shakuni’s encouragement was enough for an already narcissistic Duryodhan. It was under Shakuni’s influence and guidance that Duryodhan executed devilish plans against the Pandav siblings. With each conspiracy, the rift between cousins got wider. Eventually, Shakuni’s trickery with the dice in the gamble at Hastinapur became the cause of the biggest war the world had ever seen. By the time Shakuni got killed in the war of Kurukshetra, he had almost avenged. With Duryodhan’s death soon after, the Kaurav clan was history. A sweet and silent avenger indeed!
Shikhandi. This one spans over multiple births. Bhishma was bound by his oath to protect the King of Hastinapur thereby ensuring the well-being and prosperity of the kingdom. Bhishma abducted the three princesses of the kingdom of Kashi so they could be the queens of King Vichitravir. Bhishma defeated each and every one who tried to stop him in his tracks. Amba was one of the abducted princesses and on reaching Hastinapur, she revealed the fact that she was already in a relationship with another prince and could not get married to Vichitravir. Bhishma gracefully accepted Amba’s situation and had her sent to the man she loved. Amba’s lover rejected her, stating that accepting her would go against his honour in the royal circles. With nowhere to go, Amba pled Bhishma to accept her as his wife. Bound by an oath to remain unmarried all his life, Bhishma rebuffed the plea. Amba shared her plight with Parshuram, Bhishma’s guru. Upon hearing the story, Parshuram ordered Bhishma to accept Amba as his wife. Bhishma politely reminded Parshuram about his oath. Enraged, Parshuram invited Bhishma into a duel which lasted for days. Bhishma got the better of his guru and emerged victorious. Heartbroken, angry and with no choice left, Amba spent the rest of her life meditating to please Lord Shiva. Undertaking gruelling penance, Amba eventually impressed Shiva. Shiva granted Amba the boon of being the cause of Bhishma’s death in her next birth. Amba later took birth as Shikhandi, a woman in a man’s body, and waited for the right time. Shikhandi fought by the Pandav’s in the war of Kurukshetra, in which Bhishma was proving to be unstoppable. In walked Arjun seeking Shikhandi’s help. Shikhandi was more than happy to help, ready to do whatever it took, so long as it was Bhishma on the receiving end. Knowing Bhishma well, the Pandav’s knew he would lower his weapons seeing the woman in a man’s body. Arjun made Shikhandi his shield for the day and fired a barrage of arrows much to the delight of Shikhandi. Bhishma lay on a bed of arrows, with his body pierced all over. Amba smiled for very old scores were finally settled. A patient avenger Amba proved to be!
Duryodhan. Duryodhan was the eldest of the Kaurav siblings. Though younger than Yudhisthir, the eldest of the Pandav siblings, he saw himself as the undisputed heir to the throne of Hastinapur, which became the bone of contention between the Kauravs and Pandavs. Later, much to the dislike of Duryodhan, the kingdom of Hastinapur was divided and the Pandavs built a new capital that came to be known as Indraprasth. The Pandavs turned around what seemed to be an unjust deal and were successful in establishing themselves as a strong kingdom. Their successes didn’t go down well with Duryodhan who was amazed by the palace his cousin Pandavs lived in. The palace was known for its illusions and any one visiting it for the first time was bound to get awestruck by its magnificence. Duryodhan was no exception. In one of his strolls through the palace corridors, he mistook a pond for a carpet and stepped on and fell, drenching himself in water. Before his strong body could realize any pain, he heard a laughter. It was Draupadi, the wife of the Pandav siblings who witnessed the sight and couldn’t supress a hearty laugh. Humour wasn’t a quality Duryodhan was ever known for, especially when the joke was on him. To add to that, Draupadi remarked that it was no wonder Duryodhan couldn’t see the pond, for he was the son of a blind man. The remark was insult to injury and left Duryodhan fuming. With his male ego bashed by a woman he already considered arrogant, Duryodhan decided to repay. Insult for insult was his way of giving it back. He planned the game of dice with the help of Shakuni, who put trickery to play. Yudhisthir, lost everything in gamble, including Draupadi. The Pandavs and Draupadi were now Duryodhan’s slaves but that wasn’t enough for Duryodhan. His chance to teach Draupadi a lesson had just arrived. He had her dragged into the court and made lewd comments. He gestured pointing towards his thigh, showing Draupadi her place to sit. Crossing all limits of sanity, Duryodhan then had his brother Dushasan strip Draupadi in front of the packed court of Hastinapur. Duryodhan enjoyed the sight and laughed to his heart’s content. A tit-for-tat avenger, this Duryodhan!
Bheem. The second Pandav sibling was known for his strength, voracious appetite and his ability to complete arduous tasks. Krishna’s powers had saved Draupadi’s honour but the damage was done. An enraged Bheem pledged before he thought but that was what he was about, more brawn than brains. This mace wielding Pandav sibling was full of raw energy coupled with a short temper. Draupadi’s insult was too much to tolerate and Bheem stood up and roared like a lion. The roar itself was deafening and what he said was stunning. Bheem vowed to shatter Duryodhan’s thigh into pieces, the thigh Duryodhan shamelessly gestured pointing towards. Dushasan’s deed got him a place in Bheem’s hit list. He vowed to avenge Draupadi’s insult by tearing open Dushasan’s chest and sipping the blood that would ooze out therefrom. Bheem’s words sent ripples across the court. His vow was a first of its kind and in a way outlined the future of the tumultuous relationship between the Kauravs and Pandavs. A future that was to witness an inevitable war. As a sanction of sorts on the Pandav’s, for they had lost it all in gamble, they were exiled for twelve years and had to live a year in anonymity as well. Upon completion of thirteen years, the Pandav’s sought peace, much against Bheem’s choice. Krishna supported peace and lead the initiative. The peace process failed as Duryodhan wanted war and hence a war it was. It was Bheem’s the chance to avenge. He pinned Dushasan to the ground and mercilessly plucked his hand from the body. The witnesses were horrified as Bheem flung Dushasan’s hand away and tore open his chest. Dushasan’s shrieks echoed in the whole of Kurukshetra as Bheem sipped his warm blood and roared with joy. Within minutes, Bheem danced circling Dushasan’s dead body. The next in line was Duryodhan. On the final day, Bheem and Duryodhan got into a duel and upon Krishna’s insistence, Bheem violated rules. He landed multiple blows with his mace on Duryodhan’s thigh bone, shattering it into pieces. The wounds profusely bled, leading to Duryodhan’s death and victory to the Pandavs. Easily the most ruthless avenger of his time – Bheem.
Arjun. The third Pandav sibling was the finest archer in the world. He was the only warrior on the Pandav side who could stand the wrath of greats like Bhishma, Drona & Karn. When Drona became the commander in chief of the Kaurav army, capturing Yudhisthir was his single largest motive. Drona knew that the minute Yudhisthir got captured the war would end, ending the carnage that had hundreds of thousands of men losing lives daily. Duryodhan was aligned with the idea of capturing Yudhisthir for it not only meant victory but yet another chance to humiliate his cousins. Every time Drona made a move to capture Yudhisthir, Arjun would end up blocking his way like an impregnable shield. It so happened that the only obstacle standing in the way of Drona’s strategy was Arjun. The Kaurav commanders pondered over tactics to get Arjun away from the scene. They realized that the only way to do that was to ensure Arjun gets engaged elsewhere. They knew that Arjun would never ignore a one to one challenge. It was also clear that the one challenging Arjun would be dead. Duryodhan had loyal generals in his army and one of them, knowing the repercussions, agreed to challenge Arjun. The plan worked. Whilst Arjun chased his challenger, Drona arranged his army in a formation called Chakravyuh knowing only Arjun and Krishna could breach it. Neither of the two were around. Yudhisthir knew that making no attempt to breach the formation or failing at the attempt would mean defeat and could lead to being captured. With the Pandav generals in a fix, a ray of hope emerged. Arjun’s son Abhimanyu who came forward. Just in his teens but no less than his father when it came to archery, Abhimanyu stated that he knew the way to breach into the formation but didn’t know the way out to safety. He was assured by the Pandav siblings that they would follow his lead and ensure he doesn’t enter the formation alone. The brave Abhimanyu breached the first line of enemy forces and entered the concentric formation. The likes of Yudhisthir and Bheem were blocked by Jayadrath. One after another, Jayadrath fought the Pandav generals trying to follow Abhimanyu and didn’t let any of them succeed. Abhimanyu was left alone. Frustrated at yet another failed attempt to capture Yudhisthir, the Kaurav generals brutally killed Abhimanyu. Arjun returned to a gloomy camp and wept like a child. His sorrow turned into fury when he heard the whole story and he pledged to kill Jayadrath before sunset the next day, else he would commit suicide. All knew that if Jayadrath lived to see the sunset, a Kaurav victory would be certain. The battle on the subsequent day had all the Pandav generals rallying behind Arjun’s chariot and all the Kaurav generals standing between Arjun and Jayadrath. With the sunset near and Jayadrath nowhere in sight, Krishna used his mystic powers to create an illusion. The sun appeared to have set, which made Jayadrath come up to and mock Arjun. Just when the Kaurav’s were in the middle of a laugh riot, Krishna made the sun reappear and assured Arjun that it wasn’t dusk yet. Seeing Jayadrath right in front of him, Arjun pulled the string of his bow, which now had a sharp and glowing arrow ready to be released. Jayadrath’s head flew with the arrow, out of sight, into the twilight sky. That was Arjun – quickest of all Avengers!
Drupad, Drona, Eklavya, Dhrishtadyumna & Ashwathama. It all started when Drona and Drupad were young. Drona was the son of a Brahmin and Drupad the crown prince of his kingdom. Keeping their backgrounds aside, they became the thickest of friends. In an emotionally charged conversation, Drupad promised Drona that once he became king, he would give half of his kingdom to Drona. Drupad forgot about what he had mindlessly said but Drona didn’t. When Drupad eventually became king, Drona reminded him about the promise. Drupad not only feigned ignorance, but also mocked Drona for taking an adolescent conversation too seriously. He even showed Drona his place in the society as a Brahmin and stated that there were no friendships between Kings and commoners. More than not getting what he was promised, Drona was upset with the mocking and decided to someday settle scores with Drupad. Life moved on and Drona was appointed as the martial arts trainer to the Kaurav and Pandav princes. Impressed with Arjun’s skill, focus and hunger to excel at archery, Drona permanently disabled Eklavya, who had the potential to be threaten Arjun’s place as the finest archer. Eklavya felt cheated and longed to get back at Drona. He eventually died at the hands of Krishna not before being blessed with a boon to be born-again to kill Drona. Drona’s pupil grew up to be the finest warriors of the time. As a fee for his training, Drona asked the Pandavs to challenge Drupad in battle and capture him. The Pandav siblings succeeded in capturing Drupad and handed over him over to Drona, who got Drupad surrender half of the kingdom to Ashwathama, Drona’s son. What was an old score settled for Drona became a new reason for animosity for Drupad. A humiliated Drupad pursued a holy ritual to be blessed with a son capable of killing Drona. The sacrificial offerings bore fruit as a man emerged from the pyre. Already blessed with advanced combat skills, the man came to be known as Dhrishtadyumna. Drupad was elated and waited for the day Dhrishtadyumna would kill Drona. The friends turned foes faced each other in battleground Kurukshetra. Drona was proving to be too much for the Pandav forces to curtail. Drupad didn’t live to see his revenge come alive as Drona killed him. Menacing as Drona had been, the Pandavs had to retort to trickery. Falling prey to a trap well set, Drona lowered his weapons. As he sat in meditation, Dhrishtadyumna pulled out his sword and charged. A two-handed slash had Drona’s head toppling on the ground. With the end of Drona’s life, both Drupad and Eklavya got their revenge as Dhrishtadyumna was none other than Eklavya reborn. The eye for an eye saga didn’t end here. Drona’s killing enraged Ashwathama who vowed to punish the Pandavs for their deed. On the night Duryodhan died, Ashwathama went on a killing spree in the sleeping Pandav camp. He brutally killed Dhrishtadyumna and avenged the killing of his father. He then entered a tent and killed five sleeping men, thinking they were Pandavs. Elated at the thought of having settled all scores in a night, he killed hundreds of soldiers before escaping. At dawn, the Pandavs were aghast and angry at the merciless killings, didn’t take long to identify their culprit and were on the lookout. When caught, Ashwatthama killed Abhimanyu’s son in his mother’s womb. This turned to be the last revenge killing. The Pandavs couldn’t kill Ashwatthama for he had the boon of immortality. However, an infuriated Krishna cursed Ashwatthama for the terrible deed and brought Abhimanyu’s son to life. Ashwatthama made futile pleas for mercy and eventually disappeared into oblivion.