Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Visiting 'Mahabharata' ...10: 'A TURNING POINT' (revisited in 2011)

Satyavati and Bheeshma
Young Vichitraveerya married the two pretty women. He was without a care, as Bheeshma minded the affairs of the state, he was indeed a happy man but not lucky. Fate struck again and he had an early death from consumption, a dreaded disease.

Satyavati was stunned by the calamity. With her own sons gone, her objective now was to find a way of continuing the line of Kuru. After much thought she summoned Bheeshma and explained her plan, often adopted under similar circumstances, ' to continue the lineage you must take the wives of your brother, and your sons will be the true descendants of Kuru'.

Bheeshma taken by surprise, but being aware of the shock and grief she was in, patiently reminded her of the vows he had taken to facilitate his fathers marriage. Satyavati countered with the argument that circumstances had changed now and demanded 'You must obey me. That is a greater Dharma than all the oaths you have taken'. Bheeshma now angered by her command refuses, 'I have once dared to defy my guru for the sake of this oath' and said 'please desist'.

(The author has wonderfully analysed the inner feelings of  Bheeshma which he had curbed. Satyavati was the cause of all his misery. His pleasant times with his mother and his four happy years with his father had changed forever. His oath of celibacy had turned an young man 'old' in an instant. Even the torment he underwent as he was constrained to refuse Amba's appeal was due to this oath. Hence her 'command' to give up his oath seems to have made him even more stubborn. Satyavati wanting him 'take' instead of 'marry' is also interesting!

The idea was not really out of place considering the prevailing practices of the period. For us mortals in Kaliyug this event seems to be a real turning point. If he had only implemented Satyavati's plan, hopefully, there would have been no Mahabharata war.   Bheeshma's inner anger, which he could not deal with rationally, definitely changed the course of human history.

Gods who kept a watch while Bheeshma fought his guru and managed to save the world seem to have ignored this event.)

(Amba who pleaded with so many, including the rigid and helpless Bheeshma, strangely did not approach Vichitraveerya direclty with a request that he marry her along with her sisters. In any case that was the original plan!) 

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