The Cases of Misplaced Duty, Honesty, Integrity, etc. – Part 2 – Drona

The earlier thread covered the choices before Bhishma and the path that he chose to undertake.

In this part, I shall try to cover Drona.

Much like Bhishma, Drona also chose to follow the path of adharma, even knowing fully well what he was doing, was wrong. This is worse that by an “adharmi” (an unrighteous person). An unrighteous person does what he does out of ignorance or false beliefs; he firmly believes that his beliefs, deeds/actions and thoughts are the right ones.

Drona was an employee of the king of Hastinapur, who happened to be Dhritarashtra, the father of Duryodhana. He was employed to teach all the princes of that kingdom in the art of warfare and statecraft, and was considered the very greatest teacher of the era. For his services, he was remunerated handsomely. Before he got this job, he was very poor and therefore was very grateful to the King for employing him.

But, being a Brahmin and guru, Drona had no business to follow the dictates of a kshatriya. Indeed Bhima ridicules Drona on this same issue on the 15th day of the war, the day Drona was killed. Drona also had the sense misplaced duty and allegiance to Dhritarashtra because he believed that the current Kuru king was his benefactor. If he had taken to arms in support of the Hastinapur against external enemies, which by no means is supported by the shastras, it would have been justified to an extent. But siding to one party in an internal squabble and pure family matter of succession and rights, was not on.

No society, religion, shastra, practice, and belief purports the dragging of a woman in open court (whether a royal court or a public court) by the hair – and certainly not when known that she is menstruating and covered in one cloth (as was the practice in those days). No society permits the public disrobing of a woman, even if she is a slave, which Draupadi was not, and in fact, she was the royal daughter-in-law and a guest of the king. But during the Draupadi vastraharan incident, Drona, a learned Brahmin, did not raise one word against the incident. Out of false sense of duty he ignored the heinous act that happened that day.

When Duryodhana heard that Arjuna had acquired all the celestial weapons, he and the all the brothers, along with Shakuni and Karna went to Drona. Drona was the caretaker of the Indraprastha kingdom. They said that they have come in “sharan” (amnesty and protection) of the guru and they wished to be ever protected by him under all circumstances. A brahmin cannot deny protection to those who beg from him in such circumstances. Drona told them that Arjuna and Krishna are invincible and no force in the three worlds can defeat them. But he said that since they have come to him for protection, he will use his full might to do so. Admirable action but misplaced duty, once again.

Drona was unbeatable on the battlefield. Having sided with the Kauravas, he could not bring to himself to kill the Pandavas. Bhishma at least publicly declared that he would not harm the Pandavas but Drona said that he will not commit any such vow. But his heart was not in the job, especially against his most dear disciple, Arjuna. After the slaying of Jayadratha on the 14th evening and Arjuna slaying near one aukshahauni army, Duryodhana insulted Drona like never before. Irritated and humiliated, and furious, Drona unleashed his full might on the Pandava army. He started using the celestial weapons of mass destruction on the ordinary foot-soldiers.

Indeed Drona’s whole life was spent much in the following of adharma. Be it the Eklavya episode or Draupadi vastraharan or his final siding with the wrong side, Drona committed sins – knowingly or unknowingly. Drona, despite being an outstanding warrior, and well versed in morality, put his loyalty towards his employer (King Dhritarashtra) before the more important and fundamental question of dharma. Despite knowing better, he never quite had the guts to just leave and tell the king – “Enough is enough, what you are doing is wrong, I will not support you anymore.” He was too afraid of being called ungrateful. Drona put his loyalty towards his employer above the bidding of Shri Krishna who tried to tell Drona not to keep supporting the side of evil just because of his loyalty to his employer.

It can be hypothetically argued, that perhaps just like Bhishma, if Drona had chosen to abstain at various times including the final act of war, the whole Mahabharata may not have happened.

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Post Author: Prasanna Bhalerao

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