Updated: May 7, 2022
Would great power and strength make you supremely arrogant?
Would you then behave in condescending manner to those weaker to yourself?
Would you become defiant when rightfully confronted by the righteous and perhaps reprimanded for your errors?
Would that lead to you becoming full of resentment and vengeful?
How far will you go for that revenge? What costs are you willing to pay?
What if it leads to slaughter of the innocent?
Could your condescension could lead to your own ultimate downfall?
The Mahabharata Context
King Jayadratha from Sind was a peerless charioteer and also a powerful archer. He happens to see the beautiful Queen Draupadi working alone in her garden and proposes marriage to her knowing full well she was married to the powerful Pandavas. He perhaps even knew about the outrage of Queen Draupadi by his friends the Kauravas. When spurned, his condescending instincts turn into rage. He kidnaps her and tries to forcibly whisk her away to his kingdom. He is chased and soundly defeated by the Pandava brothers who proceed to humiliate him for his transgressions and yet amazingly spare his life in an act of compassion and forgiveness.
The resentful King Jayadratha resorts to performing severe penance and secures a divine boon that he will be able to use his skills to defeat the Pandavas for a day in battle. His devout father also secures a boon that anyone who causes his son King Jayadratha's severed head to fall on the ground will see their own head explode into a hundred pieces.These two boons give King Jayadratha a false sense of invulnerability. Who would dare kill King Jayadratha now knowing that even if they win their own head would explode into a hundred pieces?
King Jayadratha dominates the pivotal 13th day of battle by single-handedly blocking the charge of the entire Pandava army behind the valiant Prince Abhimanyu. Alone inside the terrible labyrinth, Prince Abhimanyu is ruthlessly hunted by a group of formidable Kaurava warriors leading to his brutal death. The beavered father, the furious Prince Arjuna promises to kill King Jayadratha before sundown on the 14th day or self-immolate himself. Prince Arjuna needs divine intervention from Lord Krishna who creates an illusional sundown that finds King Jayadratha with his weapons down and yet spewing insults on his rivals. Prince Arjuna's divine potent arrow decapitates him and drops King Jayadratha's severed head on his father's lap far away in his hermitage. King Jayadratha's father awakes from his deep meditation in shock and gets up forcing his son's severed head to fall from his own lap to the ground. His own head then explodes into pieces.
Our Null Hypothesis about the King Jayadratha persona
King Jayadratha was a remarkable warrior-strong, talented, powerful with many strengths- His archery skills were among the best and in addition he was a great charioteer second only to King Shalya and Lord Krishna. He was able to mobilize his army with tremendous effectiveness to win huge victories. However, his negative traits included not only his arrogance, resentfulness, vengeful behavior but perhaps the most terrible instinct of all-preying on the defenseless when they are alone and vulnerable.
King Jayadratha teaches us a great lesson to resist becoming condescending to others weaker than us or perhaps blessed with less gifts or skills than us. Here are some tips from this story for us to consider
Be grateful for our strengths, gifts and power and resist being condescending to those weaker than us
Honestly acknowledge that we are all far from perfect and prone to occasional moments of weaknesses and perhaps rash acts that we are not proud of
Acknowledge that the weak and the vulnerable amongst us need our protection if we can rather than our worst instincts
Be humble admit our small or sometimes big mistakes during these moments of weakness
Accept the just punishment with grace and class and do not feed the demons of resentment
Learn from these episodes to make ourselves better human beings rather than given into negative feelings like resentment and revenge
What % of King Jayadratha do you have in you?