Agape- An unconditional love, so committed, that it sees beyond your beloved’s flaws and shortcomings. It is about loving someone very deeply and yet expecting nothing in return.
Today’s tale is one such story from Mahabharata, that tells us about unconditional love. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
“It is time for all of us to give up this earthly body and begin our ascent to heaven,” announced Dharma Putra Yudhistir to his brothers and their common wife Draupadi.
The four brothers and Draupadi nodded their heads dutifully and followed him as he led the pathway to heaven atop the Meru mountains. As they began climbing, Yudistir warned them, “If anyone of us falls down or is unable to climb higher, the others must not look back. They must continue climbing the peak. However, if you look back, you will forfeit your own position in heaven and will perish too.”
The Swargarohini peak on Mount Meru was steep, and the snow made it even more difficult to climb. As they climbed higher, Bheem looked at the beautiful Draupadi. She was an epitome of grace and beauty. She was fiery, courageous and strong. Yet she could be incredibly child-like and stubborn. He had fallen in love with her at first sight. But he had never told her that, for he knew, that she loved Arjuna the most. Now as they took the last strides of their lives, he was filled with a desire to know if she had loved him as much as he had.
He had always fulfilled her every wish, her every desire, be it bringing her flowers from the garden of Kuber or ripping open the heart of Dushasana and bringing her his blood so that she could wash her hair with it. He had torn apart Keechaka for casting his evil eye on her with the same ease as one would tear a piece of cloth.
He had loved her all his life, unconditionally, unquestioningly and unwaveringly. It had never mattered to him that she did not reciprocate. She was his wife too, and he did not suspect her devotion towards him even for a minute.
Suddenly there was a sound.
Draupadi had fallen.
Bheem’s heart sank the minute he realized this. “Parth,” screamed Draupadi as she fell, calling out to her beloved Arjuna.
But oblivious to anything around him, Arjuna continued climbing. Tears filled Draupadi’s eyes as she saw Arjuna, her husband, whom she had loved the most, walk away without even a glance.
Hearing Draupadi’s cries, Bheem could walk no further. “How can I walk away when my beloved in is so much pain, can I let her die before my very eyes?”
Unheeding of his brother’s warnings, he turned back and walked towards her and picked her up in his arms.
Nesting in his strong arms, Draupadi looked at her four husband’s walking further away from her and then she looked at the mighty Bheem. His eyes were full of love for her. She had been so overwhelmed with her feelings for Arjuna that she had never recognized Bheem’s love for her. She thought of all the times Bheem had stood by her fulfilling her every command. He was the only one who had roared like a lion when Duryodhana had attempted to outrage her modesty, even as her other husbands sat with lowered heads. She had seen his monstrous and unrepentant side when he avenged her humiliation by slaying Keechaka, but she had also witnessed his soft side that been torn and in pain and had shed tears when Draupadi had to serve as a maid to the queen of Matsya. He had indeed loved her the most.
As she gasped for breath, she whispered, “Oh Bheem, I have never told you how much I love you, but at this very moment, I love you the most.” And then she signaled for him to leave, “Go, and join your brothers.”
Not willing to leave her behind, Bheem carried her in his arms, even though he knew she was dying. He tried to climb again, but he collapsed soon and died holding his beloved Draupadi’s hands till their very last breaths.