A question on the Mahabharata…
So, I finished Vol-3 of Krishnavatara. This one is titled “The Five Brothers”, and is mostly about the Pandavas, Krishna’s involvement with the Kurus, his intention to defuse Duryodhana and to establish Dharma among the Aryas. My question is about the escape of the Pandavas from the “house of lac at Varnavat”. Duryodhana, with the help of the architect of the house Purochana, had deigned to burn the Pandavas to death in the house.
As it turns out, Vidura comes to know of Duryodhana’s evil designs and forewarns the Pandavas. Unknown to all, they make an underground tunnel into the forest. One night, before Purochana could set the house on fire, the Pandavas decide to do away with Purochana, and set fire to the house themselves. In order to make it seem that they had also died in the fire, they set fire to the house when a blind woman and her 5 sons are also staying in the house. The Pandavas escape, but in the fire, Purochana, the blind woman and her sons are charred to death. The people of Varnavat find the charred bodies and think that Kunti and the Pandavas have died.
That’s the story in short. My question has to do with the “dharma” of the Pandavas wilfully killing the old woman and her 5 sons by burning down the house. While Krishnavatara is all about Krishna’s desire to see Dharma established in the land, KM Munshi in the book skims over what seems to be an act of “adharma” by the Pandavas. Is there some justification of that act? Was there something about the woman and her 5 sons that justified the Pandavas burning them to death? My memories of Amar Chitra Katha have also dimmed, so I don’t remember this story all that well.
Can someone who is in the know about this story clarify? Did the Pandavas act against “dharma” or was there some justification to their action?