Part One: The Last of the Kurus
Time. Where had all the time gone? Wondered the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty. How did it come to this? This carnage of the entire Kshatriya clan because of an internal feud in his family? Where had he failed? How did he fail so badly?
Questions, thought he. Questions which held no answers. It was too late anyway. Answers held no meaning anymore. Is this to be my legacy? He asked himself. To die like this, reflecting on the futility of my own life?
A sigh escaped his lips. Sometimes he longed for the pain to return. At least, the pain obliterated all questions. Questions which held no answers and answers which came too late.
But the Lord had removed his pain. The excruciating agony he had experienced for a brief while was taken from him. The bed of arrows no longer hurt though his body protested the discomfort.
Krishna had blessed him by removing his pain, he knew. And yet, he wished he hadn’t received that blessing. All my blessings have turned into curses for me, he thought.
His father had blessed him with the power to choose the hour of his death. Swachchanda Mrityu. And that gift had only helped in prolonging his agony. Bound to the throne of Hastinapura by invisible fetters stronger than the strongest chain, he could not leave his life since the need of his Kingdom was dire. And yet, in the end, he had failed. Failed to save Hastinapura from internal feud; from the fight for its throne.
And now Krishna’s blessing had taken from him the one thing that could have helped him to forget. To forget the mistakes, the failures, the utter futility of his life in retrospect.
When first the arrows pierced him, the pain had been momentary. And then it became debilitating; an exquisite agony that took his self away. He was no longer Devavrata, the pampered son of Ganga; he was no longer Bheeshma, the strength of Hastinapura and the Kurus. The only reality was the arrows that pierced every part of his body. The only experience was the torment of pain.
How he longed for that sweet oblivion again! The pain that had erased his identity! How he longed again to float in that nothingness where there was no Devavrata and no Bheeshma; only a being who floated in a sea of blood and gore and who felt nothing but a pain that was endless!
A tear trickled down his cheek, startling him. Have I become so weak? He pondered. How could I have resorted to self-pity and ingratitude? The Lord in his mercy had chosen to relieve me of my affliction and I am complaining?
“But, O Govinda,” he whispered. “This regret that is coursing through me is worse than any torture!”
He closed his eyes as another tear found its way down his face. And he remembered….
The great war of Kurukshetra is over and death is the only victor. In the aftermath of the war, a few of the survivors look back into their lives, into what might have been….
This is the tale of The Unvanquished….
Pitamaha Bheeshma, the Last true heir of the Kuru Dynasty, who renounced the throne, but not the responsibilities……..
Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, one blind by birth and the other blind by action, but both chose not to see what they did not want to till it was too late….
Atiradha and his wife, Radha, mute spectators to the tragedy of their son’s life………..
Padmavathy, wife of Karna who remained nameless in the epic, and whose role was often neglected…..
Queen Mother Kunti, whose shrewdness and strength helped her sons survive and stay united, but who hid a dark secret……..
Prime Minister Vidura, the incarnation of Dharma who yet failed to hold his family together……..
The princess born from the fire, Draupadi, whose thirst for vengeance was blamed for the carnage, but who lost everything she held dear……..
The Yadu princess, Subhadra who was forced to sacrifice her only child……..
The brahmana turned warrior, Aswathama whose deeds earned him a curse for all eternity………
Bhanumathy, whose name and role were relegated to the background in the epic………
Through their eyes, the story unfolds; the saga of greed, of envy, of love, of hatred, of sacrifice. They are The Unvanquished.