All the kings and sages departed from Indraprastha after the Rajasuya. Even Krishna had returned to Dwarka. Duryodhana, his brother Dusshashan and Karna were still staying. They wanted to see the palace built by Maya. Yudhisthira was all love, affection and courtesy to them. However, everyone was not so friendly.
Once Duryodhan wandered around the halls of the palace made by Maya got confused. So skillful was Maya’s artistry that where there was no water it gave the impression of water and where there was water one thought it was floor.
Doors turned out to be solid walls and walls were the doors. Amazed Duryodhana once hit by wall when he thought he was walking through the door and once jumped into a pond where he was treading on the floor. His embarrassment and discomfiture was great. To add insult to this injury a resounding laughter was heard through the hall and voice of Draupadi was heard echoing, "Son of a blindman can only be blindman." Enraged Duryodhana left Indraprastha ignoring all entreaties of Yudhisthira.
Duryodhana had a lot many good qualities. He was like a king, generous in nature, his gifts to Karna of Anga, was there to approve it. He never was afraid of war. In personal bravery he was second to none. He knew his dharma as a Kshatriya. He was a very able warrior as was evident by the fact that he became a favourite pupil of Balarama. He was generous to his friends. He was an able administrator, learned in Shastras. His warmth towards his friends was genuine. Only his undoing was his envy towards the Pandavas. This consumed him fully, deprived him of his sense of right and wrong, and led him on the path of deception treachery and unholy conduct.
THE GREAT GAMBLE
Duryodhana reached Hastinapura, full of envy and hatred. Insolent laughter of Draupadi and her acidic remarks were still ranking in his ears. He was closeted with his advisors. Shakuni was the main hope. Karna being too righteous was not of much use. After deep planning and deliberating Shakuni presented a scheme for his consideration. It involved, inviting the Pandavas for a game of dice. It was quite impossible for a Kshatriya to refuse an invitation for a game of dice. Gambling being a much popular pass time of the ruling classes of that time. Shakuni was not sure if Yudhisthira would accept such an invitation coming from Duryodhana. They discussed the issue in all its aspect and details. Shakuni suggested, if any of the elders sent the invitation then Yudhisthira could not refuse. Dhritarastra was the only elder who could agree to such a scheme at all. It was left to Duryodhana to persuade Dhritarastra to send such an invitation to Yudhisthira.
Shakuni was sure that if Yudhisthira were caught in the trap of gambling it would be quite easy to raise to stakes to very high levels.
Duryodhana approached his father with his wicked scheme. Dhritarastra was initially against such a plan. He was very reluctant to send such an invitation to the Pandavas. But Shakuni and Duryodhana, finally prevailed over his judgement and he agreed to invite the Pandavas for a game of dice. Shakuni was entrusted with the task of carrying this message to the Pandavas. Shakuni accepted this task very happily. He went to Indraprastha to invite the Pandavas for this purpose.
In the meantime, Duryodhana was busy making the preparations for the gambling. A huge hall was constructed for this purpose. It was named Jayanta. Vidura was aghast to know this plan. He went to Dhritarastra and pleaded with him to stop such an immoral act. Dhritarastra had become blind to all his senses and his mind was also befogged by the blind love for his son Duryodhana. All efforts of Vidura failed to stop this diabolical conspiracy. Shakuni delivered Dhritarastra’s invitation to the Pandavas saying that Dhritarastra being very happy with the good progress made by them in rebuilding the ancient capital of Kuru dynasty. Having heard the excellent reports of the palace constructed by Maya, now desired that the Pandavas pay a visit to Hastinapura and also play a game of dice with Kauravas. This would engender bon homie and camaraderie among the cousins. That was Dhritarastra’s reasoning.
Dhritarastra also sent Vidura to deliver the message to Yudhisthira as he was not very comfortable with the embassy of Shakuni. Vidura reached Indraprastha and delivered Dhritarastra’s message to Yudhisthira. Vidura told Yudhisthira about all the news in the court of Kauravas. He also apprised Yudhisthira of the deceitful schemes hatched up by Shakuni and Duryodhana to invite the Pandavas for gambling and to win everything by trickery. Knowing all the underlying traps and deceitfulness. Yudhisthira still decided to obey the command of Dhritarastra. Pandavas their mother Kunti and Draupadi started for Hastinapura.
In Hastinapaura there was a grand receptions for them. Extra ordinary care was taken by the Kauravas to ensure that the stay of Pandavas was utmost pleasant. Gandhari welcomed Kunti and Draupadi and they stayed in her palace. Next day the Pandavas visited the newly constructed palace "Jayanta". There in the great hall, the game of dice was arranged. All the Kaurava brothers along with Duryodhana, Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Vidura all were there. Karna was also there. It was decided that Shakuni will play dice on behalf of the Kauravas while Yudhisthira was to play dice on behalf of Pandavas. Shakuni was a past master of the game of dice. While, Yudhisthira was a novice.
Yudhisthira started losing from the start. He lost his wealth, jewels, precious things, and all possessions. He then lost his part of the kingdom. Finally, after having lost everything in gambling, only Pandavas, were there sitting with sullen faces with their heads down in shame and sadness. Then Shakuni said that if they could put themselves at the stake, whatever they had lost would be restorted to them or they would become the slaves of Kauravas. Yudhisthira lost this gamble also. Then Shakuni instigates them that Draupadi, their queen was still there to be put on the stake. They could get back everything if won. Other wise Draupadi too would be a slave; At the end Yudhisthira lost this game also.