King Dhristarashtra and Queen Gandhari, famed for their hundred sons led by Duryodhana, had another child, a daughter, Dussala.

After her marriage, she went to live with her husband, Jayadratha, the King of Sindhu. He traced his lineage to the misty ages of time and to Lord Maha-Vishnu himself.

As the war clouds gathered, Jayadratha appeared with his large army to support his brother-in-law, Duryodhana. The Kaurava scion welcomed him with open arms, for the Sindhu king was a rathi-general and a sworn enemy of the Pandavas.

Jayadratha’s father, Vridhak-Shatra, satisfied he had a son who would become the most illustrious of the dynasty and carry the family line, abdicated the throne and retired to Samantapancaka to pray, perform penance, and prepare for his afterlife. Burdened with the responsibilities of a monarch, Jayadratha matured quickly; and proved himself an astute ruler and a great charioteer.

During Panchali’s swayamvara, Jayadratha vied for her hand. He failed to lift the heavy bow, let alone string it. When Arjuna, dressed in the garbs of a brahmana, stepped up and won her hand, he joined the kings who protested; accused King Drupada of crafting a challenge that aligned with the Pandava’s unique skills.

“Why this farce to humiliate us? Why not simply give away your daughter to the Pandava?” said Jayadratha. But his words drowned in the clamour that erupted between both sides of the divide.

He followed Duryodhana and Karna and the group of kings, who left in a huff. Their shared outrage led to a friendship, and Duryodhana invited him to Hastinapura. They sealed their bond with blood ties when Jayadratha married Dussala, only sister to Duryodhana. Jayadratha was also present during the dice game.

When the Pandavas went into exile, he visited Kamyaka forest, for Panchali had besotted him. He tried to be friendly and offered his help and protection. But she saw through his intentions.

She rejected his advances and, when he persisted, ran and sought help from Bheema, who gave him a good beating. Hurt and humiliated, the Sindhu swore vengeance on the Pandavas.

A Shiva devotee, Jayadratha, subjected himself to severe austerities and reached the verge of dying. Lord Shiva did not read, will not read, his devotee’s mind; cosmic law forbade such intrusions into a person’s privacy. If he had read Jayadratha’s mind, he would have known that his devotee was determined to summon his god; but this determination did not extend to killing himself.

Shiva could see his devotee’s aura. There was every sign that the man was dying; a high probability that he might die.

The Lord manifested; requested his devotee give up his determination to die. The Sindhu king recounted his humiliation at the hands of the Pandavas.

“I wish to destroy the Pandavas, O Lord. Give me a boon to redeem my honour, for that is the only way for me to continue to draw breath.”

“No one can destroy the Pandavas. Ask me something else and I shall indulge you,” said Lord Shiva.

“If I cannot destroy them, give me a boon to defeat them at least once in battle. That defeat will erase my humiliation,” said the Sindhu.

“You cannot defeat Arjuna, not even once. But as for the other Pandava brothers, I give you a boon to prevail over them, but once, and only once.”

*** Copyright @ 2022, Eric Alagan ***

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