Many people will say that Duryodhana was the worst character in Mahabharata. Some would opt for Shakuni.
For me, the worst character in Mahabharata is none other than Dhritarashtra.
In entire Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra proved that his blindness was not limited up to his physique. He was blind by his mind too.
- He was blind in his love for his son: He couldn’t see the evil nature of his son which was gradually growing. He never guided his son in right path. Instead, he was so blind in his love for his son that he remained silent when his son was reaching new heights of notoriety. It was not only Duryodhana, but all his sons (except Yuyutsu) were evil by nature because being a father, he failed to guide them in right path. His blind love and silence over his son’s wrong deeds actually encouraged them to carry on their deeds.
- He had lust for the throne for his family: He was always after the throne whose frustration and greed led to the fall of the dynasty. Vidura, in past, suggested to make Pandu the king because of Dhritarashtra’s blindness. That time Dhritarashtra saw the throne slipping out of his hand and he became bitter at the result. He conceded the crown, but this later resulted in protectiveness for his crown which he had gained in his later life.
- Wanted to name his son the king even after he was not worthy: Dhritarashtra became Pandu’s heir and ruled Hastinapur when he was not present. After Pandu’s death, he became the de facto king. When his sons were born, he favored his eldest son Duryodhana to be his heir. But when Pandu’s family came, he again saw the history repeating itself and the crown again slipping away. He wanted his son to be the next king. But the Brahmin council, Vidura and Bhishma pressurized him to declare Yudhisthira to be the next king due to his merits. Keeping the grudge within himself, he agreed.
- Gave ruined piece of land to Pandavas in the name of property sharing: After the ‘Lakshagriha’ incident, he was quick to crown Duryodhana his heir. When Pandavas revealed that they survived, Duryodhana refused to concede the throne. Dhritarashtra didn’t want his son to concede the throne. He couldn’t force him to give up the claim. He split the kingdom into two part and gave Hastinapur to Kauravas and Khandavprasta to Pandavas. He intentionally gave Khandavprastha to Pandavas because it was a ruined land surrounded by forest ‘Khandav’. This shows his utmost partiality towards his sons.
- Remained silent when Draupadi was disrobed in assembly hall in front of everybody: When Draupadi was disrobed in the assembly hall in front of everybody, people like Dronacharya, Bhishma, Vidura, etc were mute spectator even though they were against it. That is because of their obligations towards the throne of Hastinapur. Bhishma took oath to be loyal to the throne, so he couldn’t stop this forcefully. Dronacharya was employee of imperial family so he was obliged to the throne, too. Same issue was with Vidura. The only person who could have done something was Dhritarashtra. Duryodhana was not the king. He was Yuvraaj (crowned prince). That means only Dhritarashtra had more authority and power than Duryodhana. He could have protested against the crowned prince, but he didn’t.
- He showed his selfishness when Draupadi was to curse Kuru vansh: As already said above, Dhritarashtra didn’t intervene when Draupadi was disrobed. But when Draupadi was about to curse the Kuru Vansh, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari were quick to ask her not to curse them.
- He didn’t intervene against his son’s misdeeds but holds grudge against people who fought for their right: In the entire Mahabharata, Dhritarashrta never advised his son to walk on the path of dharma. It was his inability to guide his son which led into the Kurukshetra war. When Pandavas emerged victorious and all his sons were slain by Bheema, only then he got the time to act and decided to take revenge for the death of his evil sons. He tried to crush Bheema with his bare hands, but thanks to Krishna who switched Bheema with an iron model.
Dhritarashtra is indeed the worst character in Mahabharata, not because of his inability but because of his lack of will to stand for good cause.