How Sri Krishna of Vrndavan is the fundamental shelter of all.

By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Dhrtarastra is the representation of mind, and Vidura that of the conscience. Dhrtarastra represents the mind only: the mind’s inclination more so towards enjoyment: wife, children, and so on. Bhisma represents the sense of duty, which may be vitiated. Vidura holds the highest position. The sense of duty may be misdirected, as we see in the case of the endeavour to disrobe Draupadi.

Bhisma did not oppose this. He is a sober man, and a devotee, but his conscience was cowed down by his sense of duty. Of course, he explained this: “Yudhisthir understands more about the conception of duty than I do, and when he did not give any opposition, then I could not.” That was Bhisma’s explanation. “What is the real direction of the Veda in this condition? The purport of Veda is known more so by Yudhisthir than myself. So, when he tolerated, I could not say anything.” But Vidura did not care for this. He simply thought, in general, about the goodness of the dynasty in the future and boldly approached Dhrtarastra: “Under your care, taking advantage of your guardianship, what are these brutes doing? They are bringing danger to your dynasty by such actions. Are you dishonouring the Pandavas or are you dishonouring your own self? Draupadi is part of your family, so should you not help her in such a distressed state?” Dhrtarastra was then awakened, like the mind pressed by the conscience. He asked Duryodhan to put a stop to such misdeeds and asked that Draupadi be brought to him. Draupadi was then taken to him.

This was a great test. This attempt to disrobe Draupadi in the assembly was a great trial to find out who is who.

Student: The Pandavas also did not object?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: They thought that they were bound  by their vow. Bhima, now and then, burst out with promises, but Arjuna checked him, “We are one. Silently, we must accept what our elder brother [Yudhisthir] has done. Don’t be boisterous. Otherwise, our enemies will enjoy the dissension amongst us.” In this way, Arjuna dissuaded Bhima at times, but Bhima still made promises, such as, “Duhsasan! I shall break your thigh and drink blood from your chest.” Now and then, Bhima made such outbursts, expressing his promises for the future, and later he did these things.

The Pandavas had to tolerate anything and everything. “The extreme may come over us, but we should try to stand united even in such condition—united with our hope towards Krishna.” And Krishna came through to their relief.

When Draupadi was placed in such an awkward position, we find the highest type of devotion. She looked at the respectable members in the assembly, but received no response. She looked towards her husbands—so great, so powerful, indomitable—but no response. Then, disappointed, receiving no help from any quarter at this extreme moment, she came with one hand to protect herself from the exploit, and with the other hand, she called out to Lord Krishna. Then, she left behind even her self-help, and with both palms together, prayed to Lord Krishna. At that time, she called Krishna by the name Gopi-jana-vallabha, making a reference to Krishna’s Vrndavan-lila. Nowhere in Mahabharata can we find any reference to the Vraja-lila of Krishna. It is all Dvaraka- and Mathura-lila. Only here, from the lips of Draupadi, do we find, “He Gopi-jana-vallabha! You are the protector of all. We all, after all, belong to You. Please come to my relief.” When she was frustrated and received no help from her powerful husbands, she came back to patim patinam (Su: 6.7): the master of the masters, the original master. “We belong, after all, to You. Protect me in this acute position, O Gopi-jana-vallabha! You are the friend of the gopis in Vrndavan, without consideration of social position, status, or ownership, even that conferred by the sastra, the laws of the Vedas. Your connection with us is above law. I take shelter of You for my protection.”

Immediately help came. We are told that Krishna ordered, “May all the merits acquired by Draupadi in her previous life be immediately converted into cloth to protect her.” Her clothing then became of infinite character. The cloth was drawn, and drawn, and drawn, but it extended more and more to no end. She was all right.

Then Vidura went to Dhrtarastra: “What mishaps are being committed by your sons? And you are sitting tight? You are responsible for all this misbehaviour, and it will destroy—it will burn—the whole dynasty, the whole capital, and every one of us here. Put out this fire.”

Dhrtarastra then called for Draupadi to take heart. Then, of course, an order was given, and a truce was effected.


Spoken on 14 November 1981.


Draupadi’s prayer is recorded in Mahabharata as follows:

govinda dvarakavasin krsna gopi-jana-priya
kauravaih paribhutam mam kim na janasi kesava
he natha he ramanatha vrajanatharti-nasana
kairavarnava-bhagnam mam uddharasva janardana
krsna krsna mahayogin visvatman visva-bhavana
prapannam pahi govinda kuru-madhye ’vasidatim
(Mahabharata: Sabha-parva, 67.82–3)

“O Govinda! O resident of Dvaraka! O Krishna! O friend of the gopis! Do You not know I am being humiliated by the Kauravas. O Lord! O Lord of Laksmi! O Lord of Vraja! O destroyer of affliction! Save me! I am drowning in the ocean of the Kauravas! O Janardan! O Krishna! O Krishna! O best of yogis! O soul of the world! O origin of the world! Please protect this surrendered soul, O Govinda! I am sinking in the midst of the Kurus!”