When a family plays a game of dice
|"You're cheating!" Susan protested.
"I am NOT," Jason replied. "I tossed it fair and square. Besides, you can't cheat at dice. Ok, score -- yeah, yeah -- Dad, your turn. Dad? Dad?"
Their father was looking dreamily in the distance.
"Your turn, dear," his wife nudged him.
"My turn can wait," he said. "Jason, you CAN cheat at dice. Do you know, the greatest battle in mythology was fought because someone cheated at dice?"
The Yahtzee game was interrupted. The teenage Johnsons and their mother leaned back in their chairs for another one of Dad's fascinating tidbits of general knowledge.
Dad had spent holidays in his youth backpacking and cycling in countries around the world. Every now and then, something would jog his memory and he imparted a story, a fact or an anecdote.
This time, it was from India.
"The Mahabharata," he began. "The epic battle of the cousins, was fought because the Pandavas lost a game of dice. There were five brothers, the Pandavas, who had a hundred cousins, the Kauravas. The Kauravas ruled the Kingdom of Hastinapur, and denied the Pandavas their share of this Kingdom."
"Where does the dice game come in?" Jason asked.
"I'm telling you, I'm telling you. The Kauravas challenged the Pandavas to a game of dice, to regain their share of the kingdom. The eldest Pandava and the eldest Kaurava faced off. But the Kauravas had bewitched the dice, and the Pandavas lost. They kept gambling and kept losing - they lost their possessions, themselves, and finally, their wife."
"THEIR wife?" Mrs. Johnson asked.
"Draupadi was married to all five of them," her husband replied.
"FIVE husbands?" his wife was aghast. "Isn't one enough?"
"I guess he is. Anyway, when she became the property of the cousins, they insulted her in open court. There was a battle to avenge this insult, the greatest mythological battle of all time."
"Wow! Because of a game of Yahtzee?"
Dad went on. "Cousin attacked cousin. Nephew plotted against beloved uncle. Families were torn asunder, in the quest for power. Power and property, in the name of revenge, all relationships were forgotten."
"Wait," Mrs. Johnson said. "I remember reading something about this. Didn't the main warrior say he couldn't attack his family members?"
"Yes," her husband replied. "He was the only one who thought that way. He was in a dilemma. And that led the Lord Krishna, who was his charioteer, to preach the Hindu Holy Book, the Bhagvad Gita. Lord Krishna said that duty does not take emotions into consideration. If a family member is impeding truth and righteousness, the family member needs to be destroyed. It is the warrior's duty to destroy anything unjust or unlawful."
"See, if you cheat at the game of Yahtzee, it's my duty to destroy you," Susan told her brother. "So be careful."
"Anyway, what happened finally, Dad?"
"All the Kauravas were destroyed. The Pandavas won. Five brothers on the side of righteousness destroyed their one hundred unjust cousins. But there's more to the story."
"Yes. The Kauravas went to Heaven. The Pandavas, however, when their lives ended, had to have a taste of Hell before attaining Heaven."
"This is complicated!"
"The thing is, the Pandavas rejoiced upon killing their cousins. That was where they went wrong. They should've done their duty without feeling any glory about wiping out their own family. So they had to pay for that. The Kauravas, on the other hand, had paid their debts of honor on the battlefield - they had been killed there, and could go to Heaven directly."
"Hmmmm. So if I cheat and you destroy me, you don't have the pleasure of rejoicing," Jason winked at his sister.
"There's no fun in destroying you, then."
"Nobody's going to cheat and nobody's going to destroy anyone," their mother asserted. "Now - I'm winning here. Can we go on with the game?"