Bhishma had a chance to say something at the time of Draupadi’s disrobing. He famously didn’t. This article is about discussing what might have stopped the mighty patriarch from saying even a single thing when a horrible wrong was being committed in front of his own eyes.

He was not afraid of the Kauravas, he could have fought with them then and there. He obviously didn’t think disrobing of a woman was right. He would have been completely pained at seeing a woman – no less than his own grand daughter in law – being disrobed in his presence. He would have gone through a personal agony just like anyone of us would have.

He was silent because he had taken an oath of loyalty to the throne. Was his Dharma to remain loyal to the throne or was his Dharma to remain loyal to his values ? At the end of Mahabharata, when he was on the painful bed of arrows, he was punished for not being loyal to his values.

My question is – what would have been his punishment if he was disloyal to the King ?? There would have been some other punishment, surely !! The actual disrobers – namely Dusshasana and Duryodhana went away scott free. It was because it was their version of Dharma – they believed they were right – that Draupadi was their property – and they were entitled to do what they wanted with her.

As an individual, many times we see something happening that makes us feel uncomfortable and yet we remain silent. We are caught in a dilemma like Bhishma. We are bound because of being a friend, part of a community, workplace, family relationship – or whatever – and we choose to remain quiet even if we feel it’s wrong. The question to ask ourselves is – is what happening in sync with our own internal values. If it’s not, it’s important for our own selves to speak up. Ultimately I believe that our own conscience will deal out our punishment or reward. A person of such greatness in Hindu scriptures was punished horribly because of remaining silent. Can we even imagine what could happen to lowly souls like us.

In my community, recently we had 5 people (interestingly like the Pandavas), on the management committee of my building. I believe they are honest hard-working, sincere people – four of them highly accomplished women. For months, a few vicious old men targeted the single man on the committee with personal attacks on his wealth, profession, and did everything they could to malign him publicly and privately. I didn’t think they could sway the thinking of the entire community – because I believed that my community was like me – that all of us thought they were honest sincere hardworking and dedicated. I kept quiet at all the allegations – because I was confident that in the court of God my committee was doing no wrong. I did nothing to disprove the allegations or even stand up for them because I believed their inherent hardwork and goodness was there for everyone to see.

When the Annual General Meeting happened last week, I was aghast at seeing that these men had swayed the public mood against my committee, completely. All because I kept quiet. Today, after the committee has resigned, and we are left with incapable old men with twisted thinking, I have vowed to not remain quiet. Everytime something goes against my values, I will open my voice and speak up. Else I believe I will die a Bhishma’s death because I didn’t speak up for what I think is right or wrong.

What is your belief.