Last time we read about Vidur, who was mainly referred to as daasi-putra in the epic Mahabharat. However, besides Vidur, there was a lesser known character, who too was also a daasi-putra and that was Yuyutsu.
When Gandhaari could not deliver in spite of her pregnancy, Dhritarashtra was worried about his heir. In one of those moments of insecurity, he is supposed to have bedded Gandhari’s chief maid, Sukhada. The child of Dhritarashtra and Sukhada was Yuyutsu, who was born after Duryodhan, but before the other Kauravas. Since he was the child of Sukhada, a maid-servant, he too was a daasi-putra.
Yuyutsu grew up in the royal palace and spent a lot of time with the Kaurava’s, but was morally upright with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is supposed to have objected to the disrobing of Draupadi as immoral, besides Vikarna, the third Kaurava prince.
It is said, during the preparations of the war, he used to pass relevant information of the planning of the Kaurava’s to Yudhishtir. Prior to the war, with the two armies on either side, Yudhishtir announced to both the armies, that if there was anybody on either side, who felt that he belonged to the wrong side, then it was time to change sides then, and no offence would be taken by any side. It was at this stage that Yuyutsu changed sides, much to the anger of Duryodhan, who was stopped from taking any action by Bheeshma.
Later when the Pandavs depart for the Himalayas, Yuyutsu was appointed as the guardian to King Parikshit, the then King of Hastinapur. It was Yuyutsu who finally performed the last rites of Dhritarashtra, as all the hundred sons were killed in the war, proving that a daasi-putra might not have rights to the throne, but could be the only means to ones salvation. While this might seem a very depraved view of the then society or royalty, such opportunism was an accepted norm.
The noted Bengali writer, Mahashweta Devi, in one of her stories, “Sauvali” has discussed this episode. According to this version, Sauvali was a maid of Gandhari, who was sent to him for his physical gratification, during the pregnancy of Gandhaari. She brings out the irony of Yuyutsu not being a prince, but being the ‘liberator of Dhritarahstra’s soul’. She focuses on the illicit relationship of the royals with maids, as it was not possible to have females from outside the palace for sexual escapades and matters remained within the walls of the palace.
A number of parallels can be drawn between Vibhishan of the epic Ramayan and Yuyutsu. Both defected into the enemy camp, however, for the cause of what they perceived as right. While Vibhishan helped Ram with critical information of killing Ravan and directions of Lanka, Yuyutsu is accused of leaking information of Kaurava plans, prior to the defection. After the war, Vibhishan was made the King of Lanka, and Yuyutsu was made the guardian of Parikshit, the only surviving child of the Pandavs.
If anybody is aware of any daasi-putras, do send in details of such characters.