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Gandhari was so faithful, one of the most exalted chaste wife mentioned in the sastras, Gandhari, that in all conditions she followed the husband

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"Gāndhārī was so faithful, one of the most exalted, chaste wife mentioned in the śāstras, Gāndhārī, that in all condition she followed the husband"

Lectures

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Gāndhārī was so faithful, one of the most exalted chaste wife mentioned in the śāstras, Gāndhārī, that in all conditions she followed the husband. At last, when everything was finished in the Battle of Kurukṣetra, no Kaurava, none of the sons or grandsons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra was living, neither of the Pāṇḍavas, still, Gāndhārī was faithfully serving her husband.


Lecture on SB 1.9.48 -- Mayapura, June 14, 1973:

Just like Hiraṇyakaśipu. He also underwent tapasya. The whole universe become trembled. Brahmā came: "Why you are undergoing such severe tapasya?" On one finger he stood up, and undergoing tapasya. Brahmā came: "What is your purpose of this tapasya?" "Sir, I want to be immortal." "So that is not possible. You cannot become immortal." Then in so many ways he wanted to become immortal. What is the purpose of becoming immortal? There are many trees standing for ten thousands of years. That is very successful life, to stand in a place for ten thousands of years without any movement? Or prolonging life for many thousands of years? Brahmā lives also for many millions of years. Huh?

So people are misled in this way. They undergo hardship for some temporary gain, which is condemned. Śāstra says that if you take hardship, if you go . . . undergo tapasya, it must be for realization of God. Tapo divyam (SB 5.5.1). That will give you permanent happiness. And if you accept hardship for anything material, it may give you temporary, so-called happiness, but with the end of your body, everything will be finished.

Therefore this tapasvinī, this Gāndhārī . . . tapasvinī. She has been described as tapasvinī. She wanted to be a faithful, chaste wife. What is the result? If a woman becomes faithful, chaste wife, then the next life there is chance of her becoming a male. Because according to Vedic literature, to take birth as woman is low grade. Striyaḥ śūdrās tathā vaiśyā ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ (BG 9.32), in the Bhagavad-gītā. The . . . as there are higher-grade and lower-grade births, so according to Vedic understanding, the woman, the body of woman is lower-grade birth. Therefore if she's fortunate to have a good husband, devotee, and if she becomes faithful to that husband, then her life is successful. That is called tapasya.

So Gāndhārī did it. Gāndhārī . . . in India still, marriage does not take by canvassing all of a sudden. The father, mother, especially in aristocratic family, royal family, even in Western countries, the father, mother selects the husband or wife. Even in England, the King Edward VIII, he was intimately in friendship with a common girl. So the state would not allow him that "You can marry a common girl." So at that time the prime minister, one Mr. Baldwin, he said to him that "Either you have to give up the company of that common girl or you have to give up this empire." So out of sentiment, he gave up the empire. Later on he was very sorry. And his second brother, George VI, he . . . George VI means the father of the present Queen, Elizabeth. So still this is current in aristocratic family, that the husband and wife should be selected by the parents.

So Gāndhārī, she was the daughter of Afghanistan, Kandahar. Still, the name is there Kandahar. Gandhar. Formerly the name was Gandhar. So Gāndhārī means the daughter of Gandhar country. So when she was informed that her would-be husband is a blind man—Dhṛtarāṣṭra was blind from birth—so immediately she practiced austerity. Voluntarily she closed her eyes with cloth, that she would also live as blind. "My husband would be blind. So, although I'm not blind, I must live also as blind." This is the beginning of austerity, Gāndhārī.

So Gāndhārī was so faithful, one of the most exalted, chaste wife mentioned in the śāstras, Gāndhārī, that in all condition she followed the husband. At last, when everything was finished in the Battle of Kurukṣetra—no Kaurava, none of the sons or grandsons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra was living, neither of the Pāṇḍavas—still, Gāndhārī was faithfully serving her husband. And Dhṛtarāṣṭra was living with the nephews, Yudhiṣṭhira and his brothers. They were keeping the uncle very comfortably as elder uncle, all respect. But Vidura came there, and he criticized him, that "You have no shame. You all along remained enemy to your nephews. Now your nephews have killed all your descendants, and you are living here just like a dog. They are giving you some morsel of bread and you are eating and living here. You have no shame. You have become old."

So he became very sorry, "My dear brother, what shall I do?" "Please come immediately along with me, and come to the forest." So Dhṛtarāṣṭra went, according to the instruction of Vidura. Gāndhārī followed. Gāndhārī never said that, "I am now old. I have lost my children. These nephews, they're taking care of me. Why shall I go with my husband?" No. She also went. So there are many good qualities in Mahābhārata about Gāndhārī. Therefore she is described here as tapasvinī. Tapasvinī. Very chaste, faithful wife. Ideal wife. Gāndhārī. Tapasvinī.