Friday, 30 March 2012

Krishna the invincible. Mahabharata 122

Satyaki after informing Krishna about the plot, walks towards  Dhritarashtra and Vidhura and tells them, 'Your sons are thinking of adharma and are to be censured. With their vile mind they have resolved to capture Krishna and tie him up. But your boys should know that it is like trying to tie fire in a cloth!'

Krishna adds, 'Maharaja, it seems  your sons want to do it out of anger! Let us see who ties up whom! Anyway I will not stoop so low. In case they really attempt it out of  their selfishness, they will only play into Yudhisthira's hands. I have nothing more to add.  Let Duryodhana do what he likes!'

Dhritharashtra again sends for Duryodhana and rebukes him for befriending wrong people and trying impossible things which will give him a bad name! Asks him not to act stupid and cautions him, 'You want to capture Krishna? Even Indra and other devatas cannot do this. It is like trying to touch the moon, grab air in your fist or carry earth on your head!'  Vidhura supports his brother and narrates the many miracles Krishna has performed so far! Krishna taunts Duryodhana with a loud laugh, 'You think I am alone here and it is possible for you to tie me up! Pandavas, Andhakas, Vrishnis, Rudhras and Vasus are all here!' 

 And suddenly devatas, thumb sized, spark out from his body. On his forehead Brahma and Rudra are seen. Dhikpalakas, the guardians of the world from his shoulders and Agni from his mouth.  Adityas, Sadhyas, Vasus, Maruts, Vishwadevatas, Yakshas, Gandharvas and Rakshasas are all seen on his biceps and arms!  On his back are  Balarama, Arjuna, Bheema, Nakula and Sahadeva and many more Vrishnis. Weapons such as Shanka, Chakra. Gadha (Mace), Shakti (Missile) and many more  arrive in front of Krishna. Flames spew out from his eyes, nose and ears. Pores of his skin blaze like the sun. Except Bheeshma, Vidhura and Sanjaya, the rest unable to bear this vision, close their eyes. Krishna assumes his normal form and goes out of the Sabha with Kritavarma and Satyaki.

Udyoga parva, so far, was more or less about human transanctions. But it seems we cannot be without miracles and mystery for too long!

We hear the list of weapons enumerated in some of our prayers, as we invoke the blessings of god. I never did pay much attention to it. But obviously being prepared was essential those days. So it is even now! Makes sense we invoke god along with his powerful weapons!

Author Kamala has some interesting additions to the story: 'His aspect was terrible. It looked as though death, which has no shape, had now decided to take shape and reveal to the world her dread form. No one had the power to look on this unique spectacle...........Then happened a miracle. The kind Dhritarashtra who was blind, was now granted eyes to see Krishna. He was looking and still looking. He had the great  good fortune of seeing  the lord when his eyes opened.

Heavenly music could be heard everywhere. Flowers rained incessantly. Dhritarashtra looked at Krishna. Tears ran down his aged cheeks. He prayed to Krishna. He said: ' You are the lord of this earth. I have been able to see you.  Having seen you, I do not want to see anything else. Please take away this sight from me. I do not want it.'  Krishna granted him his wish.

Intriguing story. The blind Dhritarashtra, who was born blind,  had never seen anyone of his family, especially his wife and his sons, let alone others, chooses to go blind again!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Bheeshma is upset as Duryodhana makes an abrupt exit from the sabha. Mahabharata 121

Bheeshma is upset and is worried at the lack of  courtesy by Duryodhana, 'Intolerably proud, ill-natured Prince walks out enslaved by his anger and greed! His obedient brothers and ministers follow him. It seems the time for khsatriyas destruction has come!'  Krishna hears this and turns towards the elders of the kurus to suggest, 'It was a mistake to have tolerated him from the begining. It was same with Kamsa, hence his relatives and friends abandoned him. I killed him in the interest of others! Now, the Vrishnis and Andhakas are safe and happy. In the same manner, if you keep Duryodhana in captivity and make peace with pandavas, the extinction of khsatriyas will be avoided.'

Dritharashtra on hearing this advice, is frightened and sends Vidhura to bring his wife Gandhari to the sabha. She sends for her son and advises him to give up his enmity and make peace with pandavas, 'War is not good! It does not lead you towards dharma and success in your aims. There is no guarantee of a victory. You are also depending on Bheeshma and Drona, they may be obligated to fight on your side, but they are with both! They will not reject Yudhisthira. Listen to the elders and share the kingdom with pandavas and rule in peace. Your greed will not fetch you wealth!'

His mother's word does not please Duryodhana and he immediately walks out of the Sabha and conferring  with his ministers decides, 'Before Krishna succeeds in getting me arrested, let us capture him. Once it is known he is captured,  pandavas, like the snake whose teeth are pulled out, will become incompetent and will loose enthusiasm. Their efforts will diminish.'

Satyaki gets to know Duryodhana's plans, calls out Kritavarma and asks him to keep his troops ready and near the door and goes into the sabha to inform Krishna.

The events tell us more about the times. The lack of respect for the elderly. A father's weakness and mother's inability to influence her own son. Interestingly the story of Krishna killing his evil uncle is given as an example of how evil can be averted if it is nipped in the bud.

Yudhisthira claimed to be a true khsatriya.  The qualities of a  Khsatriya were well known those days. The story of  Rama, the ideal Khsatriya had already been told! Surely Duryodhana would have heard the story of Rama, the ideal Khsatriya! Obviously Rama was not his role model.

Probably an anthropologist would term khsatriyas as the alpha humans of those times! Wonder who are the modern day khsatriyas? Just imagine! In today's India, chief of the armed forces is a woman and India is in fact run by a woman and there are more administering the various states! Could we call them khsatriya women!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Duryodhana reacts to Krishna's advice. Mahabharata 120

Duryodhana turns towards Krishna and reacts,  'Krishna, it is better you think serioulsy before you speak. You are mainly blaming me. You, my father,  grandfather and my guru are only  after me. I have thought about it and I cannot accept that it is my fault.'

'Pandavas came willingly to gamble. Shakuni defeated them and won their kingdom. How can I be blamed for this? If they lost in a game and went to the forest, it is not my fault. Now they have joined forces with Sanjaya and a  few of our enemies  and are trying to further their enmity! They are intent on killing us, for no fault of ours. We are not afraid of either tough words or actions. Even devatas cannot defeat Bheeshma, Drona and Kripa; so what can  mere pandavas do?'

' If there is a war and I die, I will go to heaven reserved for heroes who are killed in a war! It is khsatriya dharma to sleep on a bed of arrows in the battle field. We have no regrets. A Khsatriya may break but  he will never bend! I will never return the portion of the kingdom my father gave them as long as I am alive. They were given this kingdom by mistake when I was a kid  and they do not deserve it. Not even a  tiny portion of this earth, even as small as the size of the point of a needle, will be given to them!'

Krishna is visibly angry at Duryodhna's words. His eyes widen, but he still replies laughing, 'You will surely  sleep like the fallen heroes. The time for war has come! You want to know what crime you have committed against the pandavas?  You became jealous of their wealth and  plotted with Sakuni and enticed them to gamble and won by cheating. As if this was not enough, a noble and a chaste woman, the queen of pandavas, was dragged into the sabha and  had to face many indignities . Every one knows the injurious and insulting words used by you and Karna. You tried to burn pandavas including their mother alive in Varanavratha. You tried to kill them in many ways, but did not succeed. The way you have tried to harm pandavas, doesn't it  make you a sinner? None but a criminal  will behave with a relative in this manner. There is happiness  for both if there is peace. If  not, you will suffer and will also become infamous.'

Dussasana comes up to Duryodhana and announces, "Elder brother, if you do not agree to a truce with the pandavas, I heard that father, grandfather and our guru will capture you, me and Karna and hand us over to Yudhisthira.'  Duryodhana  hearing this, rears up like a provoked python, walks out of the sabha without even a glance at Dhritharashtra, Bheeshma and Krishna. His brothers and other ministers follow him.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Krishna talks to Duryodhana directly. Mahabharata 119

By making a direct appeal to Dhritharashtra to stop his children from waging a war, Krishna exposes the reality! Dhritharashtra's admission that it is for Duryodhana to decide, brings the true decision maker out in the open. Oftentimes people are set up to take the blame! It is tempting to comment on our present prime minister! He is in a unique situation. Yudhisthira in his qualities, but placed in a situation similar to Dhritharashtra! He has many admirable qualities, but the one which may finally help India to sort out its leadership problems would be his lack of pretense. We all know who the decision makers are and hopefully the buck will stop there!

Krishna turns to Duryodhana, 'Kurushresta! Listen to what I have to say! I am interested in the well being of you and your people! You are educated, well-behaved and endowed with good qualities. Such persons should not behave like ill-born,  evil minded, cruel and shameless persons! Virtuous people follow the path of dharma. We often see in you a behaviour  contrary to this. Adharma is dreadful and may rob you of your life. Give it up and move towards श्रेयस्, more praiseworthy actions. Make peace with Pandavas. It is also the desire of your father and Bheeshma, Drona and others. This action will bring joy to your friends, relatives and the world. As a knowledgeable person you know  that abiding by the wishes of your parents will bring you fame. If not, you will regret it later. For your protectionon, you are depending  on men who are ill-behaved, ignorant and incompetent. While, even if you have been ill-treating your relatives they are not upset. After all you are one family. Instead of being angry with them, if  you try to win them over, your desires will be fulfilled. At the present you are enjoying the kingdoms they won, but are seeking help from others against them. The people you are depending upon, be it Karna, Sakuna or others are no match to the pandavas in dharma, knowledge or in valour. These kings, including Bheeshma and Drona cannot defeat Bheema and Arjuna.' 

'Duryodhana! What is the use in decimating your race? Let Kuruvasmsha survive! Why do you want to be disgraced as a destroyer of the family? They will want Dhritarashtra as the king and you be the yuvaraja! Do not reject this opportunity, give them half the kingdom and be happy forever!'

Bheeshama, Drona and Vidhura speak supporting a truce and Dhirtharashtra looks at his son and tells him, 'My dear son, the suggestion by Krishna Mahatma will ensure peace and security. Accept it and go with him to meet Yudhisthira. If you refuse to accept their offer, they have come on their own to seek peace, it may not augur well for you and you may loose.'

Friday, 23 March 2012

Lord Krishna, the envoy of Pandavas. Mahabharata 118

The next morning as Krishna gets ready to go, Duryodhana and Sakuni arrive with a message that Dritharashtra is already at the sabha and wants Krishna to join him.  Krishna and Vidhura take the same chariot and proceed. Duryodhana, Sakuni, Satyaki and Kruthavarma and other vrishnis follow. Thousands of soldiers carrying swords and barbed missiles march along with the chariot of Krishna. Similarly hundreds of elephants and thousands of horses follow them. People congregate to watch the procession and soon Krishna reaches the palace gates. Conch shells are sounded as he arrives and music is being played on the flute!

Krishna alights and walks towards the sabha, with him are Vidhura and Satyaki.   Walking ahead of them are Karna and Duryodhana and at the rear are Kruthavarma and the other vrishni rajas. As soon as Krishna enters, Dritharashtra and Bheeshma get up to receive him and then the thousands of rajas in the sabha show respect by rising from their seats .

Krishna, greets many with smiles, engages in conversations,  appropriate to their age,  and finally occupies a seat of gold, specially reserved for him. Dussasana offers a seat to Satyaki and others are also seated formally. A little away from Krishna, Karna and Duryodhana sit together on one seat. Sakuni and his son are closeby. Vidura sits close to Krishna on a seat covered with a white deer skin. Krishna is the cynosure of all eyes and there is total silence. It is a serious moment as they wait for Krishna to speak.

Krishna waits for people to settle down and addresses Dhirtharashtra in a loud and firm voice, like the thunder before the rains. 'Maharaja! I am here to try and bring peace between kauravas and pandavas.' He begins with a praise of the kaurava clan; their intelligence, character, kindness, patience, truth and honesty,  now vitiated by the behaviour of Duryodhana and others. And about his belief  that if Dritharashtra speaks to them, a calamity could be avoided. He in turn promises to speak to pandavas and convince them to follow the path of peace. Adds that if the two groups join together they could rule the world. If not, it is certain that there will be total destruction!

 He reminds Dhritharashtra how he had brought up the orphaned sons of Pandu and  conveys a message  from Yudhisthira. A message which reminds his uncle of the difficulties panadavas have faced all these years. That he is their father and mother put together. And ends with a request for a fair share of the kingdom as they have kept their words and have spent thirteen years in great hardship.

Krishna then recounts the series of events which provoked pandavas and how they had to keep quiet because of their khsatriya dharma and concludes that keeping the interest of both parties, Dhritharashtra should stop his sons.  'Pandavas are bound by their reverence to you; they are also ready to fight a war. It is your decision to choose the one you like!'

While Krishna's words are appreciated by the kings, they keep silent. Dhritharashtra replies that he is in agreement with Krishna, but he is not free to take the decision by himself and suggests that Krishna should talk to and convince Duryodhana, only then there could be peace!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Krishna explains the need for his visit, Mahabharata 117

As Vidhura expresses his concern for Krishna's safety and his regret that Krishna's attempts for peace would be futile, Krishna explains the reasons for his attempt.

'Vidhura, you have spoken the way a parent would speak and it is the truth. I will tell you the reason for my visit. I know that Duryodhana is wicked and I have come here, fully aware of the hostility of the kings who are with him. But if I am able to release the vast army that has assembled from the grips of death, it would be a worthy effort and an act of duty! A virtuous conduct, even if it does not succeed, has its own benefit. The same way, an evil thought is itself a sin!  I will try to bring peace between kauravas and pandavas, if not, they will become casualties of a war. While a friend is in serious difficulties, if you do not make sincere efforts to bring him out of his calamitous circumstances, you will be considered cruel. If you can stop him from doing wrong by pulling him out of it, even by his ಜುಟ್ಟು, (tuft), it is worth it.'

'I am attempting for peace with all my sincerity. If Duryodhana rejects it out of suspicion. I would have tried my best and  would be free from my obligations. People would not accuse me of not trying to stop the war even if  I were capable of doing it. I have come here to benefit them both. If Duryodhana fails to accept my counsel due to his ignorance, events will go according to his destiny. If they agree for peace, my conduct will be seen as pure. '

'Lastly, even if all the kings gang up together against me they cannot do anything. They would face my anger like the other animals in the forest would face the lion.' 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Krishna meets kauravas and sets the tone for negotiations! Mahabharata 116

The next morning Krishna leaves  for Hastinapura from Vrukshasthala. Bheeshma, Drona and many more meet him half way and escort him to Hastinapura. The city is fully decorated. People throng the roads  slowing down Krishna's horses. The upper floors of buildings, full of people, seems to sway with their weight.

 Krishna first visits Dritharashtra to pay his respects, exchanges pleasantries. Then moves on to meet Vidhura.  Enjoys Vidhura's hospitality and after giving a detailed account of Pandavas' welfare, goes to meet his aunt Kunti. As soon as she sets her eyes on Krishna the past  memories come flooding back to her and she tearfully cries! 'My children who were used to sleeping on a bed of soft feathers and waking in the morning to auspicious music and chants, were compelled to lie on deer skin and to wake up to the growls of wild animals.'  Krishna consoles her with 'Your children will soon defeat their enemies and you will see them again with their kingdom and wealth.'

Krishna later arrives at the palace of Duryodhana, comparable in splendour to Indra's abode. After crossing three sectors, climbs a building as tall as a hill and sees Duryodhana seated in the midst of thousands of kings. Dussasana, Karna and Sakuni are seated close to him. As soon as  Krishna enters, the kaurava and his ministers, get  up to show respect. After Krishna is seated on an attractively furnished golden throne, all  the kauravas bow to him. Duryodhana invites him to join them for a meal. But Krishna declines. Duryodhana is upset and begins softly but ends being harsh in his questions. 'Why did you refuse the food that was specially made for you, Janardhana? You have helped us both, you are also close to us and a relative. You are aware of  the  requiste niceties.  Hence let me know the reason?'

Krishna replies in all seriousness, 'Suyodhana. Envoys should enjoy the hospitality  only after they have done their job! That is the accepted way and I will  enjoy your hospitality only after I have accomplished my work.' Duryodhana does not agree, 'It is not right to behave with us this way, Krishna. Whether the work is done or not, we wanted you to join us and you have refused! You must tell me why? We have no fight with you or enmity. Hence it is not correct to speak in this manner!'

Krishna decides to be frank, 'Duryodhana! We eat at others home out of love and affection! Or if you are in trouble. You have no affection for me and I am not in any trouble. You are the elder, still you hate the pandavas, who are endowed with all the good qualities, without reason. It is as if you hate me, as we are both one! Anyone, because of desire and anger, hates people of good quality out of ignorance, is a vile man. The food that is offered by them  is not worthy to eat. I believe eating at Vidhura's place is right for me' and leaves for Vidhura's home. Bheeshma, Drona and others go to meet him at Vidhura's and invite him. Krishna talks to them well and sends them back graciously and eats with Vidhura and enjoys the tasty meal.

After dinner, Vidhura addresses Krishna 'I think it was not good that you came. Duryodhana has no concern for dharma, has no respect for elders,  is short tempered , arrogant and egoistic. He believes that he is very smart and knows everything. Such a person will not listen to advice even if it has merit and is superior. He is feeling happy with the army that is with him and has decided that only Karna will be able to defeat the enemies. You have come to establish friendship and peace between kauravas and pandavas. But he has made up his mind not to give them anything. It is no use talking to such a person. For them there is no distinction between good and bad. Speaking sense to them is like playing music in front of a deaf man. I do not like it that you will be in midst of evil men with bad intentions! These  people  are young, impatient and ignorant and good sense will not sink into their minds. Madhava, I am telling you all this as I have the same regard for you as I have for the pandavas. I spoke to you with the same affection and with respect.'

Monday, 19 March 2012

Krishna reaches Hastinapura. Mahabharata 115

While Udyoga parva reflects human nature in all its complexities and frailties, it is embedded with two important treatises,  Viduraniti and Sanatsujatiya, with a hope that the future generations would be guided better. The Sanatsujatiya has some added importance as Adisankara chose to comment upon it. While you could read a small bit of Viduraniti in my blog, the Sanatsujatiya, considered vedanta, was not included in Vachana Bharata as the author thought it was not part of the story. Interestingly Viduraniti  is considered a great source of wisdom, by a few management experts.

Krishna is on his way to Hastinapura, his chariot fully loaded with weapons. Duryodhana has arranged many pavilions  to greet Krishna on the way. Women wait with scented garlands to welcome him. There is plenty of food and  comfortable seats to relax. Krishna ignores all this and reaches Vrukasthala.

Kauravas are excited that Krishna is visiting. Dritharashtra plans to overwhelm Krishna with gifts. He intends to give, 'Sixteen golden chariots harnessed with four black horses each brought from  the country Bahlika, eight elephants, a hundred maids, goats from the hilly regions known for their soft wool , a thousand skins from China. Decorate the whole town. Let Krishna occupy Dussasana's house, which is better than Duryodhana's place.'  He wants everyone, excepting Duryodhna, to go and receive him. 

Vidura reacts with 'Maharaja, you are now getting old. Learn, at least now, to be an upright person. Do not loose your kingdom and your family! There is no doubt that Krishna  deserves all these gifts.  But, if you think that Krishna will come to your side and you can avoid parting with the five villages pandavas have asked for, you are mistaken. Krishna will not be swayed by your gifts and forsake Arjuna. He has come with good intentions for the kauravas, do as he wants and treat pandavas as your children.'

Duryodhana agrees with Vidura that Krishna is partial to Arjuna and that these gifts are not needed. 'If we show him  too much respect, he will think that we are doing it out of fear. That will be insulting to us, khsatriyas. The war has already begun and there is no peace until after the war.'

This upsets Bheeshma, he advocates a truce. He tells Dritharashtra, 'Krishna is not the one to be upset whether he is treated well or not. He will not react with disrespect even if he is treated with contempt. You cannot influence him if he has come with a purpose. Listen to what he has to say and  go accordingly. Make peace with pandavas with his help!'

Even before his father reacts, Duryodhana replies, 'Grandfather, I am ruling the kingdom all by myself. I have no intention of sharing it with pandavas as long as I am alive. This is what I have decided. I will capture Krishna, pandavas main support, tomorrow, hold him in captivity. Once this is done, the vrishnis, pandavas and the world will be subjugated. If you think of a way to accomplish this without him suspecting my plans and we will be free from danger, tell me!'

Hearing this, a saddened Drithrashtra protests, 'Duryodhana, it is not dharma for a king to arrest an emissary. In addition, Krishna is our relative, friend and a well-wisher and is not against us!' 

 Bheeshma is totally upset, 'Dhritarashtra, your son has lost his mind. He is unwilling to listen to those who mean well. He has lost his way with the bad company he keeps and you support him! If he attempts to attack Krishna, he will face ruin in a second! I cannot bear to listen to his talk which will only lead him to disaster' and walks out!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Draupadi says no to peace, wants a war! Mahabharata 114

Draupadi, as she hears Yudhisthira and especially Bheema advocating peace, is visibly upset!  She is then soothed by Sahadeva's stance against peace and develops greater respect for him.  Her eyes full of tears, addresses Krishna, 'Janardhana! If kauravas want truce without offering the kingdom, we definitely do not want it. They do not deserve any compassion. A greedy, covetous khsatriya should be killed by khsatriyas.'

'It is unfortunate that I keep repeating my question! Is there any other woman as unlucky as I am? For one, who is Drupada's daughter, Dhristadyumna's sister, your friend, king Pandu's daughter-in-law, queen of five pandavas, mother of great warriors, I had to bear appalling humiliations! They dragged me by my hair right in front of pandavas. They dared to call me a slave, when you, pandavas and panchalas are still living! Pandavas were mute spectators when I was being disgraced and I could only pray!'

'Finally, Dhritarashtra offered me a boon and I requested him to release pandavas from their slavery and give them back their weapons and chariots. They were relieved from slavery and sent to the forest. You know this! If Duryodhana is alive even for a second, there could only be contempt for Bheema's strength and Arjuna's bow. Krishna, if you want to be compassionate and  kind towards me, show total anger towards kauravas'.

She holds her long un-plaited hair in her left hand and asks Krishna 'As you talk about truce with our enemies, never forget this hair which was pulled by Dussasana. In case Bheema and Arjuna in their wretchedness and depression seek truce, my aged father and brother, my sons and Abhimanyu will fight.'

'How will this fire for revenge,  which is still burning  in my stomach be doused, if I am not avenged! I want to see Dussasana's arm, severed from his body, on the ground covered with dust. I have suffered  this fire, the last thirteen years, with a hope that one day it will all end. But Bheema's discourse on dharma has pierced my heart as if by a spear.' Unable to contain her grief Draupadi breaks down sobbing.

Krishna consoles her, 'Krishne, You will see the wives of the men who are responsible for this wrath in you, cry the same way, after they loose their nears and dears. I will get this done by the pandavas! Let the Himalayas shake, let the earth split into a thousand pieces, let the stars fall from the sky if my words do not become the truth. I  give this promise to you Krishne! Very soon, your husbands will kill their enemies and you will see them get back their position and wealth. Please wipe your tears!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Arjuna leaves it to Krishna, Nakula is hopeful but Sahadeva wants a war! Mahabharata 113

Arjuna feels confident that Krishna will be able to convince the kauravas. Though he is all for punishing the evil kauravas for what they did to Draupadi, he leaves it to Krishna. ' Krishna you said that human effort may not succeed and at the same time we cannot be without human effort! It seems both are right.  Anyway, truce or whatever you decide is acceptable. If you think it is best to kill them, make it happen soon. I do not think that they will  behave well with us. So please decide what is good and is right for us and we will go accordingly.'

Krishna clarifies, 'The world is dependent on both human effort and the will of god. The farmer can till the land and fertilise it, but there will be no yield unless there is rain. Even if  we irrigate the land, the crops may go dry if it is so decided by gods or you may not find water. I will try my best, but the almighty is not in my control. Duryodhana is ill-natured. He has no need for truth, dharma. His friends only encourage his foolishness. I do not think he will change and yield. I am not very hopeful. I will try to do what pleases Yudhisthira and what I understand is fair. Have faith  in me and do not have doubts!'

Nakula also believes that a visit of Krishna to meet kauravas will yield results. He says times have changed and the fact that many kings and a large army is already with them increases his desire for a kingdom. He is confident that Bheeshma and Drona will understand what Krishna means and will convince Dritharashtra and Duryodhana to accept. 

Sahadeva has an opposite view. While he agrees that his elder brother  Yudhisthira is right, he wants Krishna to push for a war! 'Even if kauravas propose peace, see that  we fight a war. How can we keep quiet after  the way Draupadi was treated by them? Bheema and Arjuna may want peace, but  I want war!.

Satyaki supports Sahadeva's opinion and says it is what the warriors prefer and the warriors who have thronged there show their approval with a resounding सिंहनाद lions roar.

Bheema is also for peace. Mahabharata 112

Bheema reacts to Krishna's advice to prepare for war with a suggestion that Krishna should try all possible ways to avoid war!  Asks him to deal with Duryodhana, who is adamant by nature without threatening him, as that will only provoke. 'It is clear that Duryodhana's behaviour is taking our clan towards destruction. If the elders can convince Duryodhana to be reasonable with us, we could even follow him. My brother is ready for this and even Arjuna, who is kinder, does not want a war.'

 A very surprised Krishna asks Bheema with a smile 'Bheemasena! In  the past, you were always advocating war, wanted to kill the kauravas. You were like the smouldering ember or  a man with an unbearable burden. You behaved as if you had lost your mind! You would gnash your teeth and take a vow that you would smash Duryodhana with your mace! How is that  you are now advocating peace? '

'As the war is becoming a reality, are you afraid? Is your heart palpitating? Are your legs become wooden with fear? This change in you is like leaving pandavas adrift in the middle of an ocean. I am very surprised.  It is as unnatural as if the mountain has moved!  Bheema get strong and give up this defeatist attitude. This does not suit you, a khsatriya does not enjoy what he has not won through a fierce combat!'     

Bheema is stung by Krishna's remark. 'Achyuta! You have totally misunderstood me. It appears that even if you have known me a long time, you do not know my true abilities. It may be the reason why you have ridiculed me. I should not boast, but I have to, after your criticism! If the earth and the sky decide to squeeze me between them out of anger, I can push them aside and escape. I have yet to see anyone who can extricate himself from the grip of  my arms. I can crush all  those attacking us with just my feet. This is as clear as the brightness of sun. If you did not know this, you will surely see it in a battlefield. I had to speak, as your words hurt me like the prick of a sharp pin. I am not scared, I can face the world. I chose to swallow all my anguish as I did not want to see the extinction of our clan. Hence the suggestion to seek friendship and peace!'

Krishna pacifies Bheema, tells him that there is no doubt about his abilities and spoke to him with affection and not in anger. Only wanted to  know his intentions. Then adds, 'There is no guarantee in human endeavours. Even the best thought out plans may go awry, blown away as it were by the wind. Even plans, which are just, may not succeed as they could be opposed by the will of gods. But by their efforts, humans could also succeed in feats thought impossible, without any hindrance. Hence the world cannot give up efforts. A wise man who attempts to combine the will of god with his own efforts will neither be too agitated if it  fails or feel too happy with success. It is possible that we may not win, in case of a war with the kauravas. In such an event, there should be no excessive grief .'

' I will try for peace. If I succeed, I will get a good name and  your wish is fulfilled. In case they do not accept my proposal there will be a frightful war. Then the burden will fall on you. You and Arjuna must shoulder the burden and inspire others. I will be Arjuna's charioteer as per his wishes. I did not know your mind and spoke a little harshly just to spur you.'

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Krishna advises Yudhisthira. Mahabharata 111

Yudhisthira is not too comfortable that Krishna plans to meet the kauravas. 'However right your words,  Duryodhana is not the one to accept them! In addition, he is surrounded by a clique of kings supporting him. If anything happens to you, whatever the outcome  later, it is not worth it.'

Krishna replies, 'I know Duryodhana's true nature, but if I do not go, we will be blamed for not trying. If in case he acts rashly, I am confident of destroying all of them. There will be a benefit from my visit. We will not be reproached in the future.'  Yudhisthira then yeilds to Krishna, 'You are our elder brother and a friend. I wish you a very safe journey. You know us and the kauravs very well. I hope there will be peace and good feelings between us with your effort.'

Krishna is candid with Yudhisthira, 'I heard Sanjaya speak and you as well! I have a clear idea of the opinions and the purpose on both sides. Yudhisthira you possess धर्मबुद्धि, a virtuous mind, while kauravas have a hostile temperament. You are content with whatever is given without a waging a war.'

'But a khsatriya should not beg. He should defeat his enemies or die fighting. The  prescribed dharma  for a khsatriya is to fight and not being weak! Kauravas are greedy, they have been consolidating their forces for a long time. Will they ever treat you like an equal? They think that they are very strong, hence your soft nature will make them act even tougher. They will not accede to your request, as  compassion, dharma, poverty or wealth, none influences them.'

'They inflicted unwarranted difficulties on you, do they show any remorse? Any shame? Do not think of morality and good conduct, only think of destroying them! They insulted you in a packed assembly of kings.  For a nobleman, death is preferable to such insults. Killing them, is like getting rid of the snakes, it will make this world safer.'

'There are people who are not fully in favor of Duryodhana. Hence my extolling your virtues and exposing his shortcomings in the open assembly will dispel the slight belief they have in his fairness and increase their respect for you. If they reject your plea for peace the world will only blame them. Keeping your interest in mind, I will try for peace. Let us see what they say and what they actually do! I will also see the extent of their preparations.'

' Finally, I am in favour of a war. I suggest you start preparing for a war by collecting soldiers, arms and armours.'

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Krishna proposes to meet kauravas and try for peace.Mahabharata 110

It is morning and the kauravas congregate at the sabha to hear the message that Sanjaya has brought. Bheeshma and Drona arrive along with Dhirtarashtra; Karna and Sakuni follow Duryodhana as he enters. Sanjaya arrives and directed by Dhritarashtra recounts the conversation he had with Yudhisthira and the words spoken by Krishna. Dhritarashtra also wants to know what Arjuna had to say.  Sanjaya quotes Arjuna, 'Sanjaya, convey my respectful salutations to Bheshma, Dhirtarashtra and others. Tell Duryodhana ,when he is in the midst of the kings who have joined him, that they would all die scorched by the anger of pandavas and he can  avoid this narayagna (Human sacrifice!) by giving Yudhisthira his due share of the kingdom'

Worried and scared, Dhritarashtra suggests a compromise and Bheeshma supports it. But Duryodhana does not agree and tells his father that even if Bheeshma and others give up, he would fight with the support of Karna and Dussashana, asserting that he would surely win.

Meanwhile at the opposing camp, Yudhisthira confides with Krishna 'Did you realise Dritharashtra and his son's intentions?  It is very clear that they want peace but do not want to give us back our kingdom! I am in a bad situation, unable to take care of my mother and other dependents. But Duryodhana will not part with even five villages! ' 

'A man without money is less than a corpse. It is easier if born poor, but having become poor by loosing wealth it is more difficult. It is better to die trying to regain our lost wealth than keeping quiet. If we fail with our peaceful attempts, we are forced to kill and regain our kingdom. I know it is evil to kill your own family members, but it seems there is no other choice.'

'Khastriya dharma is such. We are often constrained to kill so as to exist. Then there is more killing to avenge this killing, war is thus very evil. The defeated hate the victorious, brood and plot revenge. Hate begets more hate. Only those who follow the path of peace can sleep in peace. But we cannot give up as that will be like death. We must find a way of achieving our purpose without war and without giving it up.'

Krishna responds with, 'My idea of going to meet the kauravas is to help you both! It is best if  we can achieve our purpose with peaceful methods. It will save you, them and the world from the grip of death'.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Dhritharashtra is unable to sleep. Mahabharata 109

Sanjaya returns late in the night and briefly meets Dhritarashtra before going home. He is very candid, 'Your actions, neither respectable nor honourable, have brought you a bad name in the world. I have to blame you for the enmity between pandavas and kauravs which will result in a calamity for our people. By showing a fondness for those who are not trustworthy and neglecting those who wish us well, you have become weak and are incapable of governing. I will convey Yudhisthira's message tomorrow at the Sabha. I am too tired now and will go and sleep.'

Dristhrashtra unable to sleep, sends for Vidhura, 'Sanjaya just left after blaming me for everything! Says that he will deliver Yudhisthira's message at the Sabha. Not knowing what it is, I am unable to sleep.'  Vidhura first turns sarcastic, 'If one cannot sleep, it must be the fear of a stronger person's attack, weakness without any means or wealth, because of desires or being a thief  or coveting others' wealth out of jealousy. But you do not have any such blemish!'

Dhirtharashtra does not react to this taunt and seeks his brother's advice on what is dharma and what is preferred! Vidhura speaks at length about the difference between those who act with विवेक wisdom and those who are imprudent and thoughtless अविवेक. (The list is long! Could be a good mental exercise to list it out!)

Vidhura concludes with 'Even if it is only one who sins, it will affect many more. An arrow from a bow can kill one. But a clever man applying his mind can ruin a king and  his kingdom.'  and adds a few more pearls of wisdom to help man to navigate through his life.

A king who does not go to war and a brahmin who does not travel, will both be like the snake inside the ant-hill and will go unnoticed!
Those totally drunk, negligent, frantic, tired, angered, hungry, hasty, cowardly, miserly, lovesick will not know dharma.
A king should give up women, gambling, hunting, drinking, bad language and dispensing harsh punishment. And many more.

Vidhura and Dhirtharashtra continue talking the whole night. Vidhura again counsels his brother to grant pandavas, who are still obedient to him and treat him like their father, a share of the kingdom. This generous action would then, not give any room for either a man or a devata for finding fault with his actions. He narrates a story to emphasise the importance of being upright, a situation wherein a king decides against his own son!

Dritharashtra while agreeing with Vidhura also declares his helplessness! How the moment he is with Suyodhana he is unable to go against his son's wishes. He then becomes fatalistic and is willing to accept his destiny as he has no control over it.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Sanjaya brings a message from Dritharashtra. Mahabharata 108

Dhritrashtra instructs Sanjaya before he departs to meet pandavas.  ' Sanjaya! Pandavas, in spite of their suffering still want peace. But my son and Karna  are intent on provoking the pandavas. I feel it is better to give half the kingdom to the pandavas. Arjuna by himself is capable of  turning us upside down and added to this Krishna is his charioteer! Even more than Arjuna's strength I fear Yudhisthira's anger. He is an ascetic. Meet them and convey my message nicely that I am for peace and an agreement.  Do what is best for our family and be diplomatic and do not offend anyone!'

Sanjaya travels quickly to meet the pandavas and their supporters, conveys the message of peace sent by Dhirtharashtra, requests them to avoid a war which will mean destruction of everything. Yudhisthira assures Sanjaya that he has no desire for war and whatever occured was the outcome of Dhrithrashtra trying to please his son. He asserts that Duryodhana, by rejecting the good counsel given by Vidura and listening to only Karna and Sakuni is only headed towards ruin. Yudhisthira assures Sanjaya that he is happy to accept Indraprastha and also adds that he will follow whatever  advise Krishna gives him.

Krishna had this to say, 'Sanjaya! I want pandavas to do well. So do I want the father of many children Dritharashtra  to live well! Hence I am advising peace between them. As Yudhisthira has pointed out, the greed of kauravas is coming in the way. It seems it is difficult to avoid a conflict.  What then is the use of stopping pandavas from making an effort regain their kingdom? While it is good to try peaceful methods, for a khsatriya it is also dharma to fight and is more praise worthy if he meets death in a war.' Krishna then says that going by the events in the past it is very difficult for them to re-unite. He says that he is also keen to visit Hastinapura to seek a solution but is not sure if anyone would pay attention to him. 'Convey that Pandavas are ready for peace as well as war and it is left to Dhritarashtra to make his choice.'  

Yudhisthira asks  Sanjaya to convey  his respectful greetings to all the elders and appeals to them individually. To Dritharashtra, 'Pandavas were given a kingdom due to your kindness! Let us all join together and avoid being victims of others.' To Bheeshma 'Please try and bring us, your children, together!' and to Vidhura 'If you want the well being of Yudhisthira, please see that there is no war.' And asks Sanjaya to tell Suyodhana when he is with the other kauravas, 'When you ill-treated Draupadi, we kept quiet as we did not want to kill our own flock. Now give us what is due to us and is just! Give us even five villages for us five brothers. Let us all live as a family and in peace. But do not be mistaken, we are soft, but we are also capable of being harsh. We are keen for peace but we are also ready for war!' 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Drupada's emissary, a brahmin priest, addresses the kauravas. Mahabharta 107

Drupada's emissary comes to the point directly , 'The chiefs assembled here are well aware of Rajadharma. Hence I am just going through the formality of presenting the facts already known. Dhritharashtra and Pandu are sons of one father and have equal rights to their father's property. But Pandavas did not get their due share. You know the reason why! Moreover there were attempts to kill them and luckily blessed with long lives they survived. Later pandavas built a kingdom on their own and  also expanded it. Kauravas took it away from them by cheating them and Pandavas had to do twelve years of vanavasa and spend an year incognito as menials in Viratanagara. Even if they underwent great difficulties, they still want to deal with kauravas peacefully. They do not want a war. If Duryodhana thinks that he is stronger, the assembled nobles should convince him that he is mistaken. Yudhisthira has seven akshohinis in his army. It may be that you have eleven akshohinis, but one Arjuna is more that equal to all of  them put together, in addition he has the support of very intelligent krishna to support him. All those assembled here should ensure that pandavas are given back their kingdom; do not miss this opportunity for peace.'

Bheeshma agrees with the emissary 'Whatever you say is right. As a brahmin you have spoken frankly and bluntly. Pandavas have suffered a lot! They must regain their kingdom. Arjuna is surely an expert in the use of weapons. Who is capable of defeating Arjuna?..

Even before Bheeshma completes his talk Karna, very angry, looks at Duryodhana and interrupts Bheeshma and accosts the brahmin 'Hey Brahmin! You spoke things which are known to all beings. What is the point of repeating the same things again and again. Having lost, Yudhisthira went to the forest as per the agreement. But he is not honoring the agreement now when he asks for the kingdom. Duryodhana will not give away even a foot of the land on a threat. If it is right he will give away the whole kingdom. If Yudhisthira wants the kingdom, he has to first complete another twelve years in the forest. He can then come and settle here. What he is seeking is not dharma and if  he wants to forsake dharma and is ready for a war, let him fight with us and learn his lessons.'

Bheeshma is totally angered by Karna's behaviour and his posturing. 'Radheya, what is the use of your idle talk. Have you forgotten what happened to you in the recent conflict wiht Arujuna. If we do not listen to this brahmin and decide go to war, it is certain that we will all be dead and our bodies will be strewn around in the mud!.

Dhirtharashtra interevenes, pacifies Bheeshma and silences Karna with 'Bheeshma has the right advice which is in the interest of pandavas, us and the world! I will think about it and will depute Sanjaya to meet the pandavas and convey my thoughts to them.' He then sends back the brahmin emissary with due honors and sends for Sanjaya.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The opposing sides start building up an army. Mahabharata 106

If I recall correctly, Krishnavatara II, sections 10 and 11 are about Krishna and Uddhava going to Nagaloka (current Nagaland ??) and Uddhava getting entangled with a Nagakanya!--Sriram.
 'Naga Lore' would fill countless volumes. The fear and the fascination for snakes is instinctive and would go  right back to the beginning of human evolution. We would have shared, surely not by choice, the same safe dwellings in those prehistoric times. There would have been snake bites and deaths, certainly by accident.

 In Mahabharata the great grand son of Arjuna, Janamejaya performs a snake sacrifice. It is said that the story of his ancestors, Mahabharata, was recited to him at the time of this snake sacrifice. Janamejaya was intent on wiping out snakes altogether to avenge the death of his father, who died because of  a snake bite.

Snake sacrifice.   Courtesy Wikipedia.
Obviously the priests who officiated had no concerns about its effect on earth's ecology.

Shalya after comforting Yudhisthira takes his leave. Later kings Satyaki, Dhrishtaketu, Jayathsena, Pandya and more  join the pandavas along with their forces. The army thus added totals up to seven Akshohinis. Duryodhana is supported by Bhagadatta, Bhurishravas, Jayadhrata and many more. Hastinapura full with the forces overflows into the nearby  forests, desert, the hills and the river banks and the entire area is totally packed.

While the opposing sides are building up, the priest who was sent by Drupada to meet the kauravas reaches Hastinapura and meets Bheeshma and others. After the usual formalities of enquiring of each others well being, the priest addresses the assembled chiefs of the various armies.