Mahaabhaarat | General


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Seeing my page of "Doubts", Mr Ravin Singh sent me his own page of problems about Mahaabhaarat, (the address is given below)  to see his own problems. I gratefully copy his problems here along with my "Doubts" Page and invite people to comment on this. They may e-mail me on my contact address below. His doubts are in Maroon and all comments are in blue.

Sameer's Comment


The first issue I have with the Mahaabhaarat is that right prevailed over wrong. As a matter of personal beliefs, I do not accept that there is a general set of rights and wrongs, or that someone’s rights and wrongs can be judged by someone else. Beside my personal beliefs though, the whole war was about who should control the Bharat dynasty. The eldest son of the ruling king or the eldest son of the clan? Ignore the merits of the characters of the Duryodhan and Yudhishthir for now. They suffer from the popular perception too. As a matter of logic, if not a matter of law, I do not agree that Yudhishthir had a rightful claim to the throne. Yudhishthir’s claim to the throne was based on false lineage. He was not the son of Paandu. He was the son of Kuntee. According to ancient Indian lineage laws, if the king was impotent, and failed to produce a son, a child to the queen by someone else could also be considered as an heir. That was Yudhishthir’s path to royalty. Compare that to the lineage of Duryodhan, who was the eldest son of the ruling king Dhritraashtra, who was also elder than Paandu. Given that all of Indian history has been about the passing of the crown from the king to his eldest son, there really should not have been a fight about this issue.

My Reply
In this regard, you may read my Doubt entitled "Division of Hastinaapur". I am in your opposite camp. My plea is, when Dhritraashtra was never a king, his family had no right over the kingdom. Otherwise also Duryodhan was younger to Yudhishthir. In fact, this was the main grief of Dhritraashtra, that since he was married before Paandu, he was thinking that if he will a son before Paandu, then at least he could set a ground to make his son a king of Hastinaapur.

You rightly said "Given that all of Indian history has been about the passing of the crown from the king to his eldest son, there really should not have been a fight about this issue". And you are right "there should not have been a fight about it" but there was, that is what this whole Mahaabhaarat is. When Dhritraashtra was never a king then why should he claim the kingdom? He was only the representative of Paandu when he went on vacation, later also he was only the representative of Paandu when he went to forest for Praayashchit.

If you are doubting Pandav's lineage, it means you have the doubt about this creation too. Whose descendents are we? If you read Puraan, you will find the account of creation. You say that Paandav were not the children of Paandu. But then all the children of Devtaa, or their incarnations were not the children of their mortal fathers. When Devtaa come on Prithvi in human being form, they have to choose somebody as their parents. Vishnu's other Avataar like Varaah, Koorm, Mohinee, Nrasinh, Matsya do not have parents, but Raam, Krishn, Parashuraam, Hanumaan, Paandav, Baali, Sugreev etc who were the incarnation of Bhagvaan or the children of Devtaa all have their parents.

However, as I alluded to above, much is also said about the characters of the two princes. Yudhishthir was considered to be the Dharm Raaj, cast as the upholder of law and justice. Duryodhan was cast as the egoistic megalomaniac, who could think of nothing but power. That is the basic contrast between the two.

My Reply
We are not concerned about their character here because if Duryodhan had been the legal king, nobody could stop him being the king whether his character was good or bad. But if you have doubts about the character of Dharm Raaj Yudhishthir, know about it that his chariot used to ,move four fingers above the ground before telling the lie "Ashwatthaamaa died" in war, later it used to move on the ground. The second incident is when Paandav went to Swarg, Yudhishthir was taken to visit Narak (Hell). On his asking that why was he brought there, Dharm Raaj said -"Because of that lie you spoke in war, you are brought here just to visit." So such was the result of that one lie, otherwise you could have imagined his purity without that lie. So no question about his being Dharm Raaj. 

In Mahaabhaarat there are only two characters who are righteous and just - Vidur and Yudhishthir. One was the incarnation of Dharm Raaj, the other one was the son of Dharm Raaj.

Much is also made of the fact that Duryodhan molested his sister-in-law, Yudhishthir’s shared wife. But how do you say that Yudhishthir was an upholder of the law and justice? What kind of a man would rather bet on the liberty of his wife and brothers than accept defeat in a game of dice?

My Reply
Read about the incident, when Draupadee was asked to be present in the court, she asked the person - "First let me know that did Dharm Raaj lose himself first or lose me first? I want to know this." She asked a similar question to Bheeshm also in the court - "All say that you are wiser amongst the wisest. Tell me, whether I am a slave or I am free?" Then Bheshm also told her that Dharm's rules were very hard to understand. A man cannot gamble something once he has lost himself and declared that he has been won. At the same time a man has all the rights over his wife whether he is free or not."

And this is very unnatural that a man can accept the defeat until he has something with him. He even put himself on the stake. Especially the defeating man can put even his last belonging on stake in the hope that he would win that time. The same thing was done by Raajaa Nal also, except that he didn't put his wife or children on stake.

What kind of a righteous king would condone deceit to win a war? Bheeshm, Drone, Karn, and even Duryodhan were all murdered, because they were not killed according to the rules of engagement of war that were agreed upon. How is that righteous? Didn’t Yudhishthir have a lust for power too? Wasn’t the claim of Duryodhan more genuine? I say yes.

My Reply
All this was done with the consent of Krishn, or rather He asked them to do in that way. Paandav repeatedly reminded Him that it was against the rules of war, but Krishn said, "this whole war is against the rules, so don't worry." Otherwise you are right, all the four were killed not according to the rules. But Bheeshm knew about his death so it could not be said as deceit (Arjun never wanted to kill him that way). Karn had two Shaap at his head, still Arjun never wanted to kill him that way too. Only Krishn instigated him to do so. About Duryodhan's death: Bheem has already vowed to break his thigh that way, so no question of deceit. But then what about Abhimanyu? 

It was not lust of power, it was only to live lawfully. Yudhishthir himself said to Krishn while sending Him on Peace mission that "because of being Kshatriya, he could not live upon alms, that is why he wanted only five villages for five brothers, that is why to escape war he asked only five villages. What was wrong in it?

I am going to bypass the role of Karn in this discourse. Three people knew that he was also Kuntee’s son – Bheeshm, Kuntee herself and of course, Krishn. All of them allowed the war to be waged because they all favored the Paandav. What they did was nothing short of genocide. For all his faults, even Yudhishthir would have given up the throne if he knew that Karn was his elder brother, and had as much a claim to the Kuru throne as he did. That is obvious.

My Reply
Kuntee never wanted this war, but of course when the war was certain, she never wanted that the real brothers should fight each other, so she went to request to Karn to be with Paandav. She was so helpless that she could not even call him her own son when she first came to know about it (at the time of the graduation ceremony).

Krishn never wanted war so He went to Hastinaapur as Peace messenger and tried His best, but when war was inevitable He also went to Karn to be with Paandav.

Of course Bheeshm never said a word about it until the last moment. He never wanted to defame his daughter-in-law. But he also never wanted war. He always said - "Krishn and Arjun are Naaraayan and Nar, they are invincible. Don't make fool of yourself, make peace with them."

But see Karn's greatness that even after knowing that he was the eldest of the Paandav, he fought with all Paandav and spared (except Arjun) all of them in the war.

I am more interested in the Geetaa. Not many question the knowledge of the Geetaa. It is blindly accepted as a source of inspiration, guidance and divinity. That may all be well and good, but it was the Geetaa through which Krishn made Arjun fight the war. 

My Reply
"It is not Geetaa through which Krishn made Arjun fight the war."

If you have read Mahaabhaarat, you might have read about the incident when Krishn went to Hastinaapur to plead for peace. It is after Paandav had finished their Agyaatvaas and married Abhimanyu to Uttaraa. From there only (from Upaplavya Nagaree) Yudhishthir sends Krishn to Hastinaapur with his peace message. At that time Yudhishthir, even Bheem who had vowed to kill Duryodhan and Dushaasan and Arjun who was always eager to fight, all asked Krishn to plead for peace. They did not want even their kingdom, they just wanted only five villages to stay in, that is also because being princes and Kshatriya they could not have stayed on alms. On asking by Vidur that what will Krishn get to plea for peace with such a stubborn man like Duryodhan who doesn't listen to anybody, Krishn said - "I am not going for myself. If I am successful to bring peace, I will be famous for bringing the peace, and if I am not successful, then Duryodhan is inviting his destiny. Besides, I do not want that I should be blamed for this fight." He also said - "I know that this war is going to happen, but still I have come here to try."

Besides in Geetaa also He says - "Arjun, why do you hesitate to fight these people? I, means Kaal (Time), has already killed them, you are only a means to kill them physically."

Although my comment on this statement is that when Kaal has already killed them then why should we take this responsibility of killing them on our head. If God is looking for a means, let Him seek somebody else who does not mind killing his own people. In fact it literally means that "one should kill somebody and say "You have been killed by Kaal, I was only chosen by God to kill you, so I am faultless." - But I am sure there should be some other explanation of this statement.

Even once Krishn says in Geetaa - "Neither anybody dies, nor anybody is killed. This is only transformation of this life to another one. So why do you worry? You should do your duty." -- When the matter of duty comes then you have to read a Kshatriya's duties and matching with Paandav's you yourself will have to decide whether they should fight this war or not?

So it is not Geetaa which instigated war. War was already there. It was not a Kshatriya's duty to go back from his duty of suppressing Adharm just because it was done by his kinsmen.

Why was he so interested in the destruction of so many people? Krishna managed to convince Arjun that it was his duty to fight. ‘Do your duty, and do not worry about the results of your actions’. That was the summary of Krishna’s discourse. But wasn’t Arjun’s original doubt valid? He was worried that his entire family will be destroyed. And by following the advice of Krishna, indeed, his entire family was destroyed. What did Arjun gain from the war? How can you say that do not worry about the consequences? Wasn’t that just a way of lulling Arjun’s mind and compelling him to kill? I do not accept that Krishna was right, just because he was supposed to be an incarnation of God. As I said earlier, rights and wrongs are a very personal matter, but I want to challenge the notion that what Krishna coerced Arjun to do was righteous. In light of the fact that Krishna knew about Karna, he should be treated as an inciter of violence. Why isn’t he? In modern times, a person who incites violence is certainly not judged in a very generous light. Krishna’s arguments fall into the line of ‘kill and you will obtain paradise’. Gaandhaaree rightly cursed Krishn for allowing this war to happen, because He knew everything. Krishn has to be labeled as a friend. This was obviously recognized even within the story, and His entire clan was punished for it.

My Reply
If you "do not accept that Krishn was right, just because He was supposed to be an incarnation of God", then the whole meaning of our scriptures is lost. Because our religion is based on Ved and Ved are the word of God. Everything has come up from Ved.

"Rights and wrongs are a very personal matter." It is not always so. I agree that some may be taken as personal matter in the light of psychology and new research, but certainly most of them are fixed. If you behave in that way, nobody can challenge you that you did wrong. When there is nobody to challenge you for some action that action is supposed to be right.

Krishn never said "Kill and you will obtain paradise". He has always stressed for doing one's duty. That is what He did by going to Hastinaapur with a message of Peace, although He knew that it is not going to happen. (He was God Himself so He knew). If you have read Bhaagvat, you will know that He came only to destroy all his own kinsmen and Kaurav. Gaandhaaree's Shaap was only a means for that.

One has to understand what is the "end" and what is the "means", then one can relate things together. Gaandhaaree's Shap was only the means to destroy Krishn's entire family, while to destroy His own family was Krishn's end.

The conclusion I reach from the popular perception of the Mahabharata is that history is always biased on the side of the winner. Even in something as philosophical as the Gita, the crimes of the winners are not questioned. The motives of the winners are not questioned. This is what we have been doing throughout history. Look at Alexander. Look at Prophet Mohammed. The problem I have is that this tendency continues on even today. I am absolutely certain, had Hitler won the War, he would have been depicted as one of histories greatest generals. His blitzkriegs would have been recognized as the brilliant tactics. His ruthlessness would have been pardoned.

My Reply
Although it may not contain the whole truth that even after winning Hitler's ruthlessness would have been pardoned, but partly it is true. In this context I would like to quote Tulasee Daas Jee's one Chaupaayee "Samarath ko nahin dosh gosaayeen" means = whoever is powerful, no fault is found in him. Why? There is a reason for this - either he is so powerful that people are afraid to speak anything against him, or he is so powerful that people consider him as their protector and do not dare to oppose him for his slight ruthlessness, or he is so much qualitative that his small mistakes are ignored. In this regard Tulasee gives the example of Sun that even if he can burn everything still he is worshipped every morning as a life-giver.

Even Duryodhan quotes Brihaspati while talking about Pandav's and his own armies, that according to Brihaspati one should not fight when somebody is weak, and if the enemy's army is one-third less of one's own army then one can have fight with him. So he could fight with Paandav.

As it is, we do not question the policies of America. Was the carpet bombing of Germany necessary? Did Japan need to be subjected to a nuclear attack? Was the killing of Saddam Hussein necessary? etc etc.

This is just an illustration of what the Mahabharata has to offer. As a study of ancient literature and its importance in contemporary society, it is a text without equal.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 05/27/04
Modified on 06/22/13