Friday, September 09, 2005

Great Grand Epic

The “Mahabharat” is unquestionably the greatest epic of all time.. No other tale, comes anywhere close to it, in terms of the chronological canvas, the hundreds of different and uniquely intriguing characters, and the fantastic intricacy of the of the storyline.. People generally regard the “Geeta” as the most important takeaway from the epic.. But for me, each and every minor incident in the tale is as fascinating..

There are zillions of tiny anecdotes, each of which add a new nuance to the “Mahabharat”.. Like Yudhishthira’s proclamation that women would hence forth never be able to keep a secret, on discovering that Kunti had kept the fact that Karn was the eldest Pandava a secret.. Or the story of how Vyas divided a single lump of flesh into 101 parts, resulting in the birth of 101 Kauravas (Yes, 101 is the number, including 1 sister called “Dushala”)..

My introduction to “Mahabharat” happened in the same way as almost everyone else’s in my generation.. courtesy Mr. B.R.Chopra.. One can still remember show the entire country used to come to a standstill at 9AM every Sunday morning.. and how some of the actors began to be regarded as real Gods by rural folk..

But my fascination with this great tale did not end there.. Over the years, I have spent many an idle night discussing the nitty-gritty of “Mahabharat” with Prayas, and later Nikhil.. and we have formed some of our own theories about it.. One such theory is that most of the Pandavas and Kauravas were impulsive, impractical, and dumb, illustrating their foolishness at many situations.. Some examples of their hair-brained behavior are as follows-
--When Arjun comes to know that Jayadrath had killed Abhimanyu, he pledges to kill Jayadrath before sunset next day, else he would immolate himself.. On hearing this, Lord Krishna severely reprimands Arjun, and even goes to the extent of saying “You Suryavanshis have a very bad habit of making impractical pledges”.. Had it not been for Lord Krishna’s supernatural interference (making the sun set, and then rise again), Arjun would never have fulfilled this pledge of his.. and the Mahabharat as we know it, would never have concluded the way it did..
--At the end of the war, Duryodhan challenges any one Pandava to fight with him.. Youdhishthira foolishly offers Duryodhan to choose the Pandava he would like to fight, knowing full well that no other Pandava except for Bhim, had any chance of putting up a fight against Duryodhan in Gada-Youdha.. This time, Lord Krishna reprimands Youdhishthira for his idealistic stupidity.. It was only an act of even greater arrogant stupidity from Duryodhan, when he chooses Bhim to fight, that bails the Pandavas out of the sticky situation..
-- The list of Duryodhan’s foolhardy behavior is endless.. Two glaring examples include his happiness at getting to use the help of Lord Krishna’s army, instead of Lord Krishna himself, for the great war.. And not obeying Gandhari’s instruction to come fully naked to her to so that she could make his entire body un-injurable.. that too because of a comment made by Lord Krishna, who belonged to the enemy camp..

Another fascinating aspect of the epic is the fact that, although the Pandavas were fighting for righteousness, justice and truth, they used unethical methods to kill most of the Kauravas.. Like using Shrikhandi against Bhishma, the “Ashwathama hata” case with Dhronacharya, hitting Duryodhan below the belt.. and so on.. It makes you wonder, is there a hidden message behind all this.. Does the Mahabharat tell us that “The end justifies the means”..

Even after so many years, there is still so much in the Mahabharat that I do not know, and do not understand.. One of our Profs. in NITIE, had told me about the “Geeta”, “Reading the Geeta is like looking at yourself in the mirror.. Each time you look, you find something different.. and you keep looking again and again”.. Perhaps, it is the same with the Mahabharat as well..
Image hosted by

1 comment:

Newton said...

What I find very much galringly unethical in Arjun's behaviour is his blaming Jaydrath for killing Abhimanyu. Wasnt Jaydrath only fulfilling his own duty when he stopped the Pandavas from entering the Chakravyuha? Werent the other Kauravas, who ganged up & killed Abhimanyu inside the chakravyuha, far more responsible for Abhimanyu's death than Jaydrath? Should Jaydrath just have allowed the pandavas to go in unscathed & freely? I find it really hard to understand that not only Arjun but almost everybody in the Pandavas camp including Bheeshma blamed Jaydrath for Abhimanyu's death!!
Although there is 1 big ideological difference between those times & now due to which we find them foolish. Humans values & relationships were far more important. People dint appreciate neither had the knack of thinking selfishly & twistedly. There were obviously a few exceptions like Shakuni but then since people were not used to that type of thinking (as opposed people in our generations thanks to politicos) most of his wrong doing went unnoticed. Consider this ... That Purochan had ordered huge amounts of Animal Fat, Ghee, Oil & dry grass around the same time as the laksha graha was built was almost like common knowledge. Yet it took a gr8 mind like Vidur to understand the vicious plan behidn this. Even a small child in our generation could have spotted this!! Even duryodhan was said to be kind hearted & generous but only flew into a rage whenever he came in contact with the pandavas. And we all know the brotherly love of Ram & Lakshman as well as Bharat & Ram in Ramayan which happened before Mahabharata. So i think the difference in thinking between then & now is bcoz of values that those people nurtured & preserved until shakuni & duryodhan came & tore it all down