The eldest of the Korawa, Duryudana, in fact was not the legitimate heir of Hastinapura. The one who had a right to become king of Hastinapura was Yudistira, the eldest of the Pendawa.
With full back-up of his mother Gendari, who influenced strongly Destarata and Sengkuni, the tricky Prime Minister, Duryudana was coronated as king of Hastinapura. The wayang puppeteers called him also Prabu Kurupati, the king of Kuru or Korawa.
Gendari had always planted a hatred to Pendawa because her love to Pandu was rejected. That was why the Korawa had always hated the Pendawa since their childhood. Although Duryudana and his sister and brothers always asked a help from Pendawa in difficult time, they never stopped to humiliate Pendawa whenever they got opportunities.
Duryudana’s unjustable behavior was encouraged by Sengkuni, Karna and Burisrawa and other ruling elite of Hastinapura. The advice of wise Resi Bisma and sometimes even from Guru Durna were ridiculed by Duryudana, if it was against his wish.
Duryudana was a very proud man, considered himself as the greatest ruler of the world. He was the symbol of a cruel and dishonest ruler, greedy to power and material wealth. He had an opinion that as king he could do anything he wished.
Breaking a promise to justify his own personal interest was not a Taboo for him. The most important principle for him was to discredit Pendawa, his main rivals for the throne of Hastinapura.
He hated Arjuna very much because he knew that his wife, Banowati secretly loved Arjuna. Definitely, he did not want to co-habitate peacefully and happily with Pendawa. Against the logical advice of his own father Destarata, Resi Bisma, his uncle Widura, his father-in-law Salya and from the wise Kresna, Duryudana preferred to confront Pendawa in Baratayuda, rather than a win-win solution for both sides. (See Mahabarata, Baratayuda and The Kingdom of Hastinapura)
Before Bisma died, he had advised Duryudana sincerely, as his last request to stop the war. He said that Pendawa was very strong, it was impossible for Korawa to win and in order to minimize the victims. Duryudana accused Bisma was in favor of Pendawa, he said no.
When all of his brothers and cronies-warriors had been killed in the battle, he refused to stop the fight. He said in anger that he alone could eliminate Pendawa. He further said that it was better to die rather than seeing Pendawa’s happy life.
In despair he mocked Pendawa by saying that he was very satisfied with his life, for a long time he enjoyed the extravagant life as a king in the beautiful palace, rich with material wealth and facilities, respected by many other kings and dignitaries. That was a real happy life according to Duryudana, not a miserable life in the jungle or life as hermits and servants in other countries.
Hastinapura under Duryudana was a joyful country, if Pendawa could kill him, Pendawa would live in the kingdom of misery, have to take care of millions of widows, orphans and disabled.
Enough for insult, Bima came forward to challenge him in duel with bludgeon. The fight was terrific but within a short time Duryudana was in trouble. Without shame, he run away and tried to hide somewhere to save his life.
At last, the king of greediness was assassinated by Bima. In Javanese traditional teachings (Kejawen), the characteristics of arrogancy, greediness of power and material wealth have to be eliminated as a pre-requisite to seek a real life.
Suryo S. Negoro