Thetheme ‘Is it my fault I am sightless?:Unfair treatment’ explored the unfair treatment meted out to Dhritarashtrabecause of his disability.

Dhritarashtra was always ridiculed and consideredinferior. He was always considered to be less worthy than his brother simplybecause he was disabled. Even though he was stronger, and even saved hisbrother once, no one praised or appreciated him for it. Such was the prejudiceagainst a disable king that they chose to make an impotent man the king insteadof a disabled man. Thesecond theme that emerged was ‘Making ofa figure of pity and a dependent fool’, which very slightly conveys a grimsubtext in mythological accounts of disability: that a disabled person has tobe extraordinary to earn basic respect. Most retellings of the Mahabharatadepict Dhritarashtra as a weak character – one who can be easily manipulated,one who always seems helpless, dependent on others. WhenGandhari first sees Dhritarashtra, “shehad been shocked to see the man who was to marry her” and “the horror of seeing Dhritarashtra for thefirst time and shuddering at his sightless eyes” was something sheremembered.

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Thethird theme that emerged was ‘Masquerading:Use of cleverness and cunning to secure his position’. Dhritarashtra’s casefollows the narrative wherein ‘the masquerade may inflect private and publicspace, allowing expression of a public view of disability for political ends'(Seibers, 2004). This can be seen when Dhritarashtra said “I play a part so they can imagine it is they who are running thekingdom”. Playing this part included him letting other people have anillusion of power over him. Dhritarashtrahad to masquerade because the idea of having a disabled king was quitedifficult for most people to follow, and if he didn’t let others believe thatthey were the ones actually running the kingdom by influencing his decisions,he would have been easily replaced by some other person. Thefourth theme that emerged was ‘Familiallove for son’. At the birth of his first son Duryodhana, Dhritarashtra wasadvised by Vidura, Bhishma, and the city elders to abandon the child due to badomens during the birth.

However Dhritarashtra’s filial love stopped him.Throughout his reign as King of Hastinapur, Dhritarashtra was torn between theprinciples of dharma and his love for his son Duryodhana, and often ended upendorsing his son’s actions merely out of fatherly love. Everytime a parent chooses to blindly praise their child without acknowledging theirflaws, they are said to be “very muchlike the blind Dhritarashtra and the blindfolded Gandhari who regard Duryodhanavery highly”.

His blindness is an allegory to his carelessness as a father.He turned a “blind eye” to the faults of his sons which led to his family’sepic downfall.


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