Arjuna was sitting near the stream, his face contorted with miserable, helpless rage. Here the six of them were struggling in the wilderness. In Hastinapur, the unjust, cruel Duryodhana with his brothers was leading a life of luxury. How unfair life is!
These thoughts were riling Arjuna so much that he was unconsciously clenching his teeth so hard that they made a grinding noise and clenching his fists so tightly that the nerves seemed ready to pop out from his mighty biceps.
He saw Vidura, his uncle, walking towards him. He knew that his brother Yudhisthira would have sought the elder’s counsel after last night’s fiasco.
Arjuna was angry that Yudhisthira believed it was their duty to complete the agreed period of exile. He and his second brother Bhima were ready to attack Hastinapur and take what was rightfully theirs.
Yudhisthira had tried in vain to explain the interplay of destinies. Bhima had walked off in a huff in one direction and he came away to the stream to try and calm his seething rage. Yudhishthira must’ve called Uncle Vidura to speak to him.
His uncle was carrying a trunk. He got up and respectfully bowed to the Kuru elder and seated him on a rock. He sat on a stone beside his uncle. “What have you got for me? My favourite ladoos made by Mother Kunti?” He couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
Vidura smiled back and said, “No! This is your trunk of debts?”
Arjuna’s fury erupted in an instant. “What? What debts have I got? I don’t owe anyone anything. On the other hand, the world owes me!”
Vidura opened the trunk. The first item he took out was an arrow. “Do you know whose arrow this is?”
“It is Karna’s,” said Vidura when Arjuna said no. “It is the same arrow that he threw down in frustration when he was prevented from participating in the archery event because he was not a Kshatriya but a charioteer’s son. If he had used it, you may never have won that day.”
Arjuna’s face paled. The next item Vidura pulled out was a decaying thumb and this time, Arjuna’s face broke into a sweat!
“Yes, you’re right. This is Ekalavya’s right thumb and if it was not severed from his hand so willingly when Guru Drona asked for it, you may never have been the greatest archer ever! Whose debts are these, Arjuna?”
Arjuna fell at his uncle’s feet and cried unabashedly. “I’m sorry for my arrogance, uncle.”
Vidura lifted him from the ground and said, “Each of us has this trunk. The items in it are stored carefully in the universe, whether we know it or not. Dharma is on the side of those who accept it. Whenever you feel excessively sad or dejected, remind yourself of the debts you owe to the universe. And you’ll realise we all get what we deserve! Nothing more, nothing less.”
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One thought on “The Trunk of Debts”
Love this story beyond words.