Q. 1. Read the following extract carefully and answer the questions that follow :
“Proper” Social Roles
Here is a story from the Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata : Once Drona, a Brahmana who taught archery to the Kuru princes, was approached by Ekalavya, a forest-dwelling nishada (a hunting community). When Drona, who knew the Dharma, refused to have him as his pupil, Ekalavya returned to the forest, prepared an portrait of Drona out of clay, and treating it as his teacher, began to practise on his own. In due course, he acquired great skill in archery. One day, the Kuru princes went hunting and their dog, wandering in the woods, came upon Ekalavya. When the dog smelt the dark nishada wrapped in black deer skin, his body caked with dirt, it began to bark. Annoyed, Ekalavya shot seven arrows into its mouth. When the dog returned to the Pandavas, they were amazed at this superb display of archery. They tracked down Ekalavya, who introduced himself as a pupil of Drona.
Drona had once told his favourite student Arjuna, that he would be unrivalled amongst his pupils. Arjuna now reminded Drona about this. Drona approached Ekalavya, who immediately acknowledged and honoured him as his teacher. When Drona demanded his right thumb as his fee, Ekalavya unhesitatingly cut it off and offered it. But thereafter, when he shot with his remaining fingers, he was no longer as fast as he had been before. Thus, Drona kept his word: no one was better than Arjuna.
(i) Why did Drona refuse to have Ekalavya as his pupil
(ii) How had Drona kept his words given to Arjuna?
(iii) Do you think Drona’s behaviour with Ekalavya was justified? Give reason.
Ans. (i) (a) Ekalavya was a forest-dwelling nishada.
(b) Drona (a Brahmana), knew the Dharma, so following the Dharma, he refused to have Ekalavya as he belong to a lower origin–Nishada.
(c) Drona had once told his favourite student Arjuna, that he would be unrivalled amongst his pupils.
(ii) (a) Drona approached Ekalavya, who immediately acknowledged and honoured him as his teacher.
(b) Drona demanded his right thumb as his fee honorarium. Ekalavya unhesitatingly cut it off and offered it.
(c) But thereafter, when he shot with his remaining fingers, he was no longer as fast as he had been before. Thus, Drona kept his word that no one was better than Arjuna.
(iii) (This is an open-ended question. The student should be given due weightage for their logical reasoning and understanding).
The answer could be as follows:
(a) No, I don’t think that Drona was justified. His behaviour was partial towards Arjun, who was his disciple.
(b) Yes, Drona knew his Dhamma. Since he was a brahmana and the Guru of the royal families, he could not take a disciple form a low origin. The Dharmashastras and Dharmasutras also contained rules about the ideal “occupations” of the four categories or Varnas. Brahmanas were supposed to study and teach the Vedas. Shudras were assigned only one occupation – that of serving the three “higher” Varnas.
Q. 2. Read the passage and answer the questions that follow:
A Mother’s Advice
The Mahabharata describes how, when war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas became almost inevitable, Gandhari made one last appeal to her eldest son Duryodhana :
By making peace, you honour your father and me. as well as your well-wishers...it is the wise man in control of his sense who guards his kingdom. Greed and anger drag a man away from his profits; by defeating these two enemies, a king conquers the earth. You will happily enjoy the earth, my son along with the wise and heroic Pandavas. There is no good in a war, no law (dharma) and profit (artha), let alone happiness; nor is there (necessarily) victory in the end - don’t set your mind on war.
Duryodhana did not listen to this advice and fought and lost the war.
(i) Why did Gandhari make an appeal to Duryodhana not to fight against the Pandavas?
(ii) Why did Duryodhana didn’t listen to Gandhari?
(iii) Do you agree with the stand taken by Duryodhana? Give two reasons to support your answer.
Ans. (i) Gandhari appealed to Duryodhana not to fight against the Pandavas, because war is nothing but destruction. It is not necessary that victory would come in war. Greed and anger drag a man away from families and profits. By defeating these two enemies, one could save his state.
(ii) He did not listen because he was overconfident and egoistic about his power. His advisors were not good enough.
(iii) I do not agree with Duryodhana for war as it only leads to destruction. (Student’s own view)
Q. 3. Read the following paragraph carefully and answer the questions that follow:
Draupadi was supposed to Yudhisthira whether he had lost himself before staking her. Two contrary opinions were expressed in response to this question.
Once, that even if Yudhisthira had lost himself earlier, his wife remained under his control, so he could stake her, two, that an unfree man (as Yudihsthira was when he had lost himself) could not stake another person. The matter remained unresolved; ultimately, Dhritarashtra restored personal freedom to the Pandavas and Draupadi.
(i) How did Draupadi’s question unsettle everyone in the assembly?
(ii) What was the implication of her question?
(iii) What makes Draupadi’s question admirable?
Ans. (i) Draupadi’s question unsettled everyone when she asked Yudhisthira whether he had lost himself before staking her.
(ii) Two contrary opinions were expressed in response. One, even if Yudhisthira had lost himself earlier, his wife remained under his control so he could stake her. Two, that unfree man as he was when he had lost himself could spot stake another person. However, the matter remained unsolved and Dhritarashtra restored their personal freedom to the Pandavas and Draupadi.
(iii) Draupadi’s question was admirable as she challenged the desultory position of women during that era.