In defence of Duryodhan

Book: I, Duryodhana

Author: Pradeep Govind

Publisher: OM Books International

Pages: 344; Price: Rs 295

History often glorifies the victorious and vilifies the vanquished. I, Duryodhana, by Pradeep Govind, explores the history of the Mahabharata and disillusions the readers about the epic’s antagonist Duryodhan. Over the ages Duryodhan has become a symbol of unrighteousness whereas his rival Pandvas stand for righteousness. But this work, like Sanskrit poet Dandi’s Urubhangam, can be designated as an attempt to give Duryondhan the opportunity to narrate his side of the story.

Critics opine that in The Paradise Lost, Milton subconsciously sides with Satan and Satan emerges as a hero. Likewise the hero of this masterpiece is Duryodhana who is more sinned against than sinning. Since his birth, he remains victim to the circumstances. The Mahabharata by Vyas holds him guilty of many crimes and depicts him as a plotter who conspires to burn Pandvas to death.

Contrarily, Duryodhana denies the charges and calls it a ploy of Pandhavas. The facts the author quotes in his defense seem plausible. Making his claims to the throne, he attaches importance to administrative acumen and possesses abilities to be an efficient ruler. Standing against caste system, he embraces Radhey (Karn) and forges friendship with him. Even the established version of the epic can not negate the truth about his fondness for Karn.

Though history derives pleasure in dubbing him a conspirator, many of his warriors are killed by Pandavas through deceit. Taking the alibi of religion, the so called virtuous Pandavas are allowed to go scot-free. But this book reverses the narrative and lends the readers a new perspective about Duryodhana worth picking for the rational minds, however the indoctrinated ones will scoff at it.

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