Duryodhana - A Villain or A Hero?

The Mahabharata is regarded as one of the longest poems in this world, written in the form of a poem it is actually an epic depicting the family feud for the coveted throne of Hastinapur.

Everybody knows the basic story there were Pandavs and there were Kauravs, cousins who were hardcore enemies, Yudhisthir the eldest Pandav was only a few months older than Duryodhan the eldest Kaurava.

But in the modern world of entertainment especially television and daily soaps based on this epic will always show Duryodhan as a villainous man who loves to inflict pain upon everyone and who hates Pandavas to no extent, the modern day shows on Mahabharata will show him as a pure villain who is completely negative without a single trace of positivity or kindness in him but it’s not the media or the entertainment industries fault.

In our country we have stereotyped all the antagonist of every epic or story, their basic characteristics being cruel guys who hate the hero, lust for the heroine, do villainous acts.

This just shows one side of every story where the hero is heavenly and the villain satanic?

But always representing the story from one side doesn’t serve the purpose at the end of it all of us are human beings and all of us do wrong deeds at some point of time.

In the Mahabharata Duryodhan is regarded as the main antagonist one who makes havoc in the life of the Pandavas but what was his story? was he actually as evil as he is portrayed in the modern times?

Born to Dhrithrashtra and Gandhaari he was born as Syyodhan ,the oldest of the 99 Kaurava brothers and one sister, he is regarded as many as the personification of the kali age {kalyuga} itself, some even regard him as the product of Dhrithrashtra’s unfulfilled desire of becoming a King.

Dhrithrashtra was the oldest child of King Vichitraveerya , he was no less than Bheeshma in his valour infact he was trained by Bheeshma himself , a strong man who is regarded as stronger than Bhima too as he had decided to hug Bhima and crush him completely in order to take revenge from Bhima for killing all his sons, the only problem was Dhrithrashtra was blind and that is the reason why he wasn’t made the King of Hastinapur and in place of him his younger half –brother Pandu was made the King, this enraged him and he kept on nurturing the hatred for his once most loved younger brother who was now his sworn enemy. when Pandu died dhrithrshtra was made the King in his place but he considered it as an insult since he believed it was a “used throne” that was given to him and now he feared that his son who was a few months younger than Yudhisthira the oldest son of Pandu would not become the King and that is when the real feud for the throne of Hastinapur began.

Amidst all this was Syyodhan who was always regarded as an evil man with even more evil intentions but nobody ever spoke about the merits that he possesed.

Even though he was named Syyodhan his cousins and others who regarded him evil and cruel started calling him “Duryodhan” for the this name meant “an evil Syyodhan, as ‘dur’ for them was evil” but the actual meaning of Duryodhan was “dur meaning unconquerable and yodhan means ‘yodha’ or a warrior thus his name meaning unconquerable warrior”.

Even though Duryodhana was a staunch kshatriya he still believed that a person should be respected and rewarded on the basis of merit and not the caste they belong to, he was the only person who was not in interested in caste inequality.

This can be seen by the strong friendship bond that he shared with Karna who was a suta {a charitoeer’s son} he was the only one who stands up for Karna during the royal contest that guru drona had organised for the prince’s of Hastinapur, when Karna participates in it and is insulted by everyone including the Pandavas, he even crowns Karna as the King of anga in order to give him a place among the royals so that nobody can question Karnas skill again.

Even during Draupadis swayamvaar when Draupadi refuses to let Karna participate in the swayamvaar saying “i will not marry a sutputra”

Duryodhan stands up for Karna and defends him saying “great sages, philosophers and warriors have no source or caste, they are made great and not born great”

In the modern day many scholars believe that Duryodhanas dislike for caste discrimination and blind following of tradition was a positive trait and an exceptional thought. that is the reason why the friendship between Duryodhan and Karna is regarded as a great example of loyalty and love.

Since Duryodhan adhered to his duties as a kshatriya he has been praised by many for it even at the last day of the Kurukshetra war when he is the last man left and is given the chance to choose any Pandava brother to fight, he chooses to fight Bhima over all the other Pandavas, with whom he had an advantage in mace fighting he still fights fair even though Bhima kills him by breaKing his thighs which was actually unfair as attacKing below the stomach wasn’t allowed in mace fighting.

He was also a true companion for his wife and true friend for Karna , one day when Bhanumati his wife was playing the game of dice with Karna they both were completely involved in the game , Bhanumati was losing and Karna was winning but when she saw Duryodhana coming she got up in order to greet him but Karna thinKing she was trying to run away as she was losing, Karna tried to pull her hand in order to make her sit but he pulled her upper robe instead and pulled by his powerful hands the robe along with a pearl necklace got pulled and the beads of the necklace got unstringed.

Bhanumati was terrified and she did not know what to do seeing he this way when Karna turned to look at the entrance of the chamber he saw Duryodhana standing there and Karna was embarrassed as not only was he in the royal private chamber playing a game of dice with his friend’s wife but he also had the audacity to catch hold of her clothes and pull them, Karna and Bhanumati were terrified of the punishment they would recieve but Duryodhana smiled at them and says “do you want me to collect the beads alone and string them as well.”

This revealed not only did he trust his wife Bhanumati but also he had complete faith in his friend Karna. as he does not get angry or suspect them but instead indulges in a light banter and helps his wife and best friend collect the beads or pearls of her broken necklace.

not many are aware but Duryodhana is worshipped as a main deity in Kerala’s kollum district the story behind that is Duryodhana was travelling with his friends and companions when he reaches the village and he is thirsty and is unable to find water , that is when an old woman approaches him and gives him water but when she discovers that he was a King and a kshatriya warrior she is terrified and is aware that she will now be killed as she had committed a sin but even then she tells Duryodhana that she was a shudra woman as at that time shudra who were the lowest caste were not allowed to even touch kshatriya’s, Duryodhana touches her feet and says that she has done a great deed by giving water to him and by doing so Duryodhana transcends the caste barrier thus maKing the village people worship him as a deity even today and celebrating a festival dedicated to the Kaurava scion every year.

Thus making scholars all over the world argue and contemplate whether Duryodhan was evil or good?

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