As SOON as the news of the slaying of Sisupala by Krishna
reached his friend Salva, he became very angry and besieged Dwaraka with a
Krishna having not yet returned to Dwaraka, old Ugrasena
was in charge of the defence of the city. The sieges described in the
Mahabharata seem very much like those in wars of the present day.
Dwaraka was a strongly garrisoned fortress built on an
island and well provided with means of defence. Ample barracks had been
provided and there was an abundant supply of food and weapons and the garrison
included many illustrious warriors.
Ugrasena imposed a stringent ban upon drinking and
amusements generally for the period of the siege. All the bridges were
demolished and ships were forbidd enentry into ports in the realm.
Iron spikes were planted in the moats around the fortress
and the city walls kept in good repair.
All entrances to the city were guarded with barbed wire
and permits and passwords strictly controlled ingress and egress. Thus no
arrangements were neglected that could further strengthen the city which nature
had already made impregnable.
The pay of the soldiers was increased. Volunteers for
service were rigidly tested before being accepted as soldiers.
The siege was so rigorously pushed that the garrison
suffered great privations. Krishna, when he returned, was struck to the heart
at the sufferings of his beloved city and he compelled Salva immediately to
raise the siege, by attacking and defeating him.
It was only afterwards that Krishna learnt for the first
time of the events at Hastinapura, the game of dice and the exile of the
Pandavas. At once be set out for the forest where the Pandavas were living.
Along with Krishna went many, including men of the Bhoja
and Vrishni tribes, Dhrishtaketu, the king of the Chedi country, and the Kekayas
who were all devoted to the Pandavas.
They were filled with righteous indignation when they
heard of Duryodhana's perfidy and cried out that surely the earth would drink
the blood of such wicked people.
Draupadi approached Sri Krishna and, in a voice drowned in
tears and broken with sobs, told the story of her wrongs. She said: "I was
dragged to the assembly when I had but a single garment on my body. The sons of
Dhritarashtra insulted me most outrageously and gloated over my agony. They thought
that I had become their slave and accosted me and treated me as one. Even
Bhishma and Dhritarashtra forgot my birth and breeding and my relationship to
them. O Janardhana, even my husbands did not protect me from the jeers and the
ribald insults of those foul ruffians. Bhima's bodily strength and Arjuna's
Gandiva bow were alike of no avail. Under such supreme provocation even
weaklings would have found strength and courage to strike the vile insulter
dead. The Pandavas are renowned heroes and yet Duryodhana lives! I, the
daughter-in-law of the emperor Pandu, was dragged by my hair. I, the wife of
five heroes, was dishonored. O Madhusudana, even you had deserted me." She
stood trembling, utterly unable to continue, for the grief convulsed her.
Krishna was deeply moved and he consoled the weeping
Draupadi. He said: "Those who tormented you will be stricken to death in
the bloody quagmire of a lost battle. Wipe your eyes. I solemnly promise that
your grievous wrongs shall be amply avenged. I shall help the Pandavas in every
way. You will become an empress. The heavens may fall, the Himalayas may split
in twain, the earth may crumble or the boundless sea may dry up, but, I tell
you verily, my words shall stand. I swear this," and Krishna took a solemn
vow before Draupadi.
This vow, it will be seen, was in perfect accord with the
purpose of the Lord's avatars, as declared in scriptures:
"For protecting the righteous, for destroying the
wicked and for firmly upholding the law, I am born on earth age after
Dhrishtadyumna also consoled his sister and told her how
nemesis would overtake the Kauravas.
He said: "I will kill Drona, Sikhandin will cause
Bhishma's fall. Bhima will take the lives of the wicked Duryodhana and his
brothers. Arjuna will slay Karna, the charioteer's son."
Sri Krishna said: "When this calamity befell you, I
was in Dwaraka. Had I been in Hastinapur, I would never have allowed this
fraudulent game of dice to take place. Uninvited, I would have gone there and
stirred up Drona, Kripa and the other elders to a sense of duty. I would, at
all costs, have prevented this destructive play of dice. When Sakuni was
cheating you, I was fighting King Salva who had besieged my city. It was only
after I had defeated him that I came to know of the game of dice and the
subsequent sordid story. It grieves me that I am not able to remove your
sorrows immediately but you know, some water must be lost before a broken dam
Then Krishna took leave and returned to Dwaraka with
Subhadra, the wife of Arjuna, and their child, Abhimanyu.
Dhrishtadyumna went back to Panchala taking with him the
sons of Draupadi.