Mauritius: Mauritian Parliament – About a Game of Dice

The Mahabharata, one of the two major epics of ancient India, narrates the conflict between two families: the Pandavas and the Kauravas, descendants of two brothers. Dhritarashtra, the eldest brother, is forced to renounce the throne in favour of his brother Pandu because he is blind.

After Pandu’s death, Dhritarashtra is appointed as the king of Hastinapur. For many years, the children of the two brothers argue over the succession to the throne. Eventually, the relationship between the two clans becomes so fractured that the Pandavas (Pandu’s sons) leave the kingdom and settle in Indraprastha, which goes on to become very prosperous.

Although Yudhishthira, Pandu’s eldest son, is the rightful heir to the throne of Hastinapur, Prince Duryodhana, Dhritarasthtra’s eldest son, is desperate to be the next king. He and his brothers despise the Pandavas and do all they can to sabotage their lives. When Indraprastha prospers, Dur yodhana becomes envious and conspires with his brother Dushasanaand and his uncle Shakuni to strip the Pandavas of all they have.

They invite Yudhishthira to a game of dice in the court of Hastinapur. Shakuni insists that they can snatch the Pandavas’ wealth since he is very good at rolling the dice. Yudhishthira loves gambling and accepts the invitation. As the stakes rise with each round, Duryodhana and Shakuni win Yudhishthira’s treasures and kingdom. Eventually, they goad Yudhishthira into gambling away his and his brothers’ freedom.

In a final throw, his and his brothers’ wife Draupadi is also lost. She is dragged into the assembly where Duryodhana orders Dushasana to disrobe her in front of everyone. Sadly, all the elders, including King Dhritarashtra, remain silent during the incident even though they know full well it is an unrighteous act. Even her husbands are powerless in front of the injustice meted out to her. Draupadi prays to Lord Krishna who, albeit physically absent from the court, works a miracle to prevent her sari from running out of layers. This incident is one of the rare occasions in the Mahabharata when Lord Krishna is brought to tears.

The events which unfolded in the Mauritian Parliament on 16 May 2023 reminded me of the above story from the Mahabharata. It is clear that what happened that day was premeditated. The Speaker, who was in charge of proceedings as was Shakuni during the game of dice, bent the rules to allow one side of the house to have what they thought would be the upper hand. The Prime Minister and Hon.