“Tulsi says that one who insults Hari has their entire society and kingdom go to dust, like with what happened to Duryodhana, his family, and everyone associated with him.” (Dohavali, 67)
tulasī hari apamāna tēṁ hō'i akāja samāja |
rāja karata raja mili ga'ē sadala sakula kurūrāja ||67||
It’s funny what a little power does to people. In the case of Duryodhana, it wasn’t acquired through his own effort. He took advantage of a situation, a tragic one at that. The father of his cousins passed on, leaving the family to fend for themselves. Little did that family know that their greatest enemy would be their uncle and his sons, led by Duryodhana. The fiend usurped land that didn’t belong to him. Caught in the fever of power, he made the grave mistake of going against the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The wronged party, the Pandavas, would never think of committing such an error.
As Goswami Tulsidas points out, insulting Shri Hari leaves you and your family in the dust eventually. Duryodhana coveted land so much that he behaved sinfully at every turn. These events are described in the Mahabharata, which is an epic Vedic text. Due to its length and rich philosophy, it is often known as the fifth Veda, or branch of important knowledge passed on since time immemorial. In the Mahabharata we get a true understanding of Duryodhana’s character, which has at its foundation envy of the Supreme Lord.
The land in question belonged to the Pandavas. The father Pandu was the rightful heir to the throne, and so upon passing away his sons should have taken control. But those sons, headed by Yudhishthira, were cheated by Dhritarashtra, Pandu’s brother. Duryodhana was the leading son of Dhritarashtra and he executed many plans intended to get rid of the Pandavas. But those brothers survived each time due to their devotion to Shri Krishna, who is the same Hari mentioned by Tulsidas above.
As the events played out, war became inevitable. As one last attempt to prevent the hostilities, Shri Krishna made an overture. He visited Duryodhana to try to broker a peace deal. Duryodhana and Karna decided to try to bind Krishna, to make a fool out of Him. Of course Krishna is not of the material world. The fools are those who think that He has assumed His form, not knowing His changeless nature.
Krishna showed a partial version of His universal form in response to the pathetic attempt. This was one example where Duryodhana directly insulted the Supreme Lord. In another instance, he had the choice of either Krishna or Krishna’s army. In fighting a war, obviously you want to have more men than the other side. Therefore the choice seemed obvious to Duryodhana. Yet Arjuna, the leading warrior for the Pandavas, took Krishna immediately. The Supreme Lord had stipulated that He would not fight; He would simply give His personal presence. Arjuna understood that where there is Krishna, there is victory. Duryodhana had no desire for Krishna by his side.
The result of the war is what Tulsidas speaks of above. The entire family, what to speak of Duryodhana himself, ended up in dust. The land they treasured so much became their final fate. The Pandavas regained their kingdom, but the lesson shouldn’t be misunderstood. The Pandavas did not covet land; they fought to uphold righteousness. Death is guaranteed for every individual, so the difference between the Pandavas and Kauravas related to the sustained devotion to God.
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form - to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)
In the Bhagavad-gita, which is found inside the Mahabharata, Krishna says that He gives the devotees what they lack and preserves what they have. The non-devotees don’t enjoy the same benefit. Duryodhana’s land was not preserved. His power also left him quickly.
One may question Krishna’s response. Is He a mean God? Why should insulting Him result in losing everything? The answer is that the reaction is built into the action. There is no divine intervention required. Duryodhana insulted the Supreme Lord in the same way that the atheist thinks that everything occurs by chance. In that mentality their first instinct is to exploit. They become so power hungry that they forget from where everything came. The mentality is what leads to their demise.
In the case of the Kauravas, the Supreme Lord was there to be consulted. They could have asked Him for advice. They could have sought His opinion on matters. They didn’t have to stay in the dark; they chose to. In this material existence, it is indeed my choice to live as I see fit. Those choices have their consequences, and in the case of the Bharata War the results are clear to see.
Independent, choice is mine,
From there consequences to find.
When Supreme Lord against going,
The lesson from Kauravas knowing.
Family, friends and kingdom to dust,
Mistake in Duryodhana to trust.
Pandavas showing the proper way,
Trusting Krishna, theirs to stay.