Thefirst theme that emerged was “Chosen disability: love and affection”. Most ofthe narratives about Gandhari focus on her love and respect for her husband.
Thesenarratives suggest that she blindfolded herself as she did not wish to have thegift of sight which her husband was deprived of. Neelakantan (2015) wrote inhis book Ajaya – Book 2: Rise of Kali that Gandhari was “the pativrata who had refused the lightdenied to her blind husband”. Thisequates Gandhari to the perfect wife – a Sati. She is called a Pativrata as shevoluntarily choses blindness to stand in solidarity with her husband. This isparticularly important as Gandhari is often said to be the perfect wife.Pattnaik (2010) says, “By blindfoldingherself to share her husband’s blindness, Gandhari attains the status of ‘sati’or the perfect wife. Later in the epic, her sacrifice grants her magical powers.
“This is considered to be a penance which grants Gandhari magical powers –powers she has achieved because of her piety towards her husband. Thesecond theme that emerged was “Chosen disability: Protest”. Some narrativessuggest that Gandhari blindfolded herself not because she loved her husband,but because she was appalled at being asked to marry a blind man. Hence, shechose to blindfold herself instead of having to look at the face of her blindhusband.
This corresponds with the aesthetic model of disability, as oneaccount suggests that the main reason for Gandhari choosing to blindfoldherself was her dislike for looking at her husband’s sightless eyes. Accordingto Neelakantan (2013), “It had been aforced marriage, thrust upon a hapless Princess by a powerful man”. Thiswas one of main reasons for her protesting against it. Thethird theme that emerged was “Love for children”. Gandhari’s love for herchildren is well-documented and remains constant across various narratives.Gandhari was incredibly fond of Duryodhana, her first-born child.
She loved himso much that she wouldn’t let the courtiers harm him even when his birth wasfollowed by many ill-omens. She loudly declared that her first-born was herfavourite and she wouldn’t let anyone harm him. To ensure that Duryodhanabecame the king of Hastinapuri, Gandhari had a fierce rivalry with Kunti.Furthurmore, during the Battle of Kurukshetra, Gandhari uses the powers shegained due to her piety to make Duryodhana invulnerable to the attacks ofothers.
She always turned a blind eye to the faults of her children, which iswhy they turned out to be such villains, according to most narratives.According to Pattnaik (2010), “Vyasawonders if parents are naturally blind to shortcomings of their children likeDhritarashtra, or if they choose to be blind like Gandhari.”