Ath Shri Mahabharat Katha

For those who don’t understand Hindi, the title translates to – This is The Great Story of Mahabharata.

Mahabharat, undoubtedly is the greatest epic which Lord himself gave to the mankind. It’s the greatest fable, its most comprehensive book of human psychology, it’s a book which maps human behaviour completely, it’s a book which clearly distinguishes between good and bad or evil and divine, it’s a book which, if read with complete non-attachment will let you know what you stand for.

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It actually is not a book, it is said, Mahabharat happened some 5000 years or more ago, but in reality, Mahabharat is fought all around us every day. At times, we play the Pandavas (representing truth and justice) and at other we play Kauravas (senseless evil doers). At times, we become the Lord himself, Krishna, and at others, we become the eternal evil Ashwat-thama.

We ourselves are the disciples of Lord and act as Arjun and we only play the role of unflinching ego and become Bhisama. Unending desires make us Duryoudhana and to fulfil such desires we become undiscriminating intelligence Dhritrashtra.

We are The Mahabharta and we play it daily.

The plot of the story in Mahabharta is that the evil becomes stronger and stronger with the passage of time. Once it reaches the peak good forces come together and destroy the evil. In this story the princes who represented Dharma were subject to many atrocities, many unsuccessful attempts were made to kill them. The crown princess Draupadi was striped at the seat of justice. The ones aligning with good were exiled and after exile they were denied their well-deserved right to the throne. This was the tipping point and the Good fought back against the evil and won, sadly enough the evil Ashwat-thama was cursed to live till eternity.

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Here we are, the evil lives on and thus does the good. Every day when we do something bad to succeed we become the evil, the Kaurvas, a step closer to self-destruction, losing out on the favour of God. Every time we endure something bad and refuse to leave the path of justice we become closer to God.

Beware of the side you choose, Mahabharta is not a text, its ensconced in our minds.

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DID THE GOD ERR?-2

To an extent, the eternal struggle between good and evil can be understood once we understand the basic premises which we make about life. First premise, which we make, across the religions, is existence of afterlife. Second premise which can be taken into consideration is, the God gave us intelligence, thus power to decide what is right what is wrong, what is good what is bad, what is evil what is divine. Being intelligent, it can be easily assumed we don’t do anything which we consider bad, evil or sinful. Also we justify all our acts, anything that we can’t justify to ourselves is either not done or is not repeated, if at all we do that once.

Before you read any further take a break, just imagine no afterlife exists, we don’t have souls and we won’t be born again and then allow your intelligence to explore how you would like to live life.

No after life would mean that whatever we can do to make this life comfortable we should do that. After all the only purpose of being alive would then translate into eat drink and be merry. Only rules which define good bad or ugly will go around, what makes me wealthy, powerful and comfortable. Conspicuously absent would be the desire to do good karma, need to pray, time to meditate, being fair, truthful and upright.

Now add to this recipe the spice of your intelligence. You are not going to have after life and your intelligence lets you discriminate between good and bad. Everything that serves the purpose of making life more comfortable would be correct and good. Its ends, that would be important not means. Anything that lets me make enough money, amass enough power and have enough luxuries will be repeated and will not be put to any moral or ethical test.

Now, take the diametrically opposite view into consideration. Everyone is a soul and thus after life is inevitable. Either you will be born again or you will achieve salvation, this will be the result of your Karma which you do in the human life. Good karma will bring one closer to God and bad karma will lead to rebirth.

But, how do we decide what is good karma and what is bad karma. I am a vegetarian and eating meat is bad karma for me. For a non-vegetarian eating flesh is absolutely fine. The intelligence, the power to discriminate stands divided in such dilemmas. I repeat many actions which by the measure of others are inappropriate, but, my intelligence approves of it as good karma and thus I repeat it over a period of time.

Good karma is karma done as per the Gods will, and we all were taught this in childhood, don’t tell lies, don’t steal, don’t hurt anyone….. and so on. Gandhi outlined its opposite in form of seven deadly sins (Wealth without Work, Pleasure without Conscience, Knowledge without Character, Commerce without Morality, Science without Humanity, Religion without Sacrifice and Politics without Principle). Great epics like Mhabharat and Ramayan bring out every possible sin a human can commit.

‘Saatwik’ is the best way of doing Karma the scriptures tell. Any karma failing the test of Saatwik way of life, which has been laid out by God himself and presented to us by many epics and saints in simple form will be good karma, rest all is bad karma and drifts us away from God.

Then, is it fear of God and fear of rebirth that should lead us to lead saatwik way of life? The answer is NO. Any God, religion or way of life which instils fear should be shunned as fear is one of the vices listed out by God himself. Its responsibility of mind (intelligence which discriminates between good and bad) towards the soul which shall take us in the direction of having Saatwik life.

Yet again, did the God create sin? No he did not, he created certain rules which we should follow if at all we should achieve emancipation. We fell outside the Lakshaman rekha of Saatwik rules and created sin.

DID THE GOD ERR?

I was stumped, as I was concluding the final stories of Great War of Mahabhart, and my 6-year-old daughter asked a seemingly simple question. She questioned why Lord Krishna allowed Ashwathama to live till the end of time? While he was most sinful of all.

The story from this epic goes like this. Ashwathama was the only survivor amongst those who allied with Duryodhan. Pandavs had won the battle. Still, with revenge in mind, Ashwathama killed all sons of Pandavas who were deep asleep. He tried to kill the embryo growing in the womb of Uttara. Lord Krishna himself stepped in to protect Uttaras foetus. Lord then cursed Ashwathama to live till the end of time, thus making the evil doer eternal.

Entire epic of Mahabharat is metaphorical, and Ashwathama metaphorically represents evil. Mahabharat concludes with an end of tyrants and thus represents beginning of a new era where expectedly truth shall prevail. A pertinent question is why did Krishna not kill Ashwathama and thus end the eternal struggle of good and evil to prevail upon each another. Is evil so important that the Lord himself had to ensure its existence till eternity? Or was He wrong in his judgement and He made an erroneous choice?

Just imagine a perfect world where everyone strives for his and others wellbeing. No one is backstabbing, none steals, kills or hurts anyone. What a blessed life it would be. Life would be a perfect song everyone dancing to its tunes happily. No opposing forces struggling against each another. No misery no suffering.

The world is full of duality and dichotomy, in this essay I will use the two words interchangeably though the words are not fungible. Plants grow with branches branching out in pairs, periods of darkness and light follow each another, seasons interchange and we have all sensory organs in pairs, representative of duality within us and around us. Pair of eyes, ears semi forked tongue (having a line in middle), limbs in pairs and so on represent Duality.

Duality is representative of the existence of good and evil within us. Krishna and Ashwathama residing in this duality. Its for Krishna within to bless Ashwathama with eternity or to kill him now. If Krishna inside kills Ashwathama within, soul merges in God and if Krishna blesses Ashwathama soul has to be reborn. Thus once we kill vices within our soul achieves salvation. But the question remains why did the God create evil (read Ashwathama) at all?

Maybe He did so to make our life more meaningful. Imagine life without internal conflicts, monotonous and boring life it would have been. Imagine no one disagreeing with you, none resisting you, thus pronouncing the end of dichotomy. No duality would mean everyone is you and you are everyone (aham brahmasmi), thus salvation is granted to everyone who takes birth.

Is it that to achieve salvation one should take the test named life? Is it that one has to decidedly team with Krishna and not Ashwathama in an internal conflict? Even if the answer is yes, why at all God created system of suffering, agony and five sins. He could have chosen something else.

A Pertinent question still remains, did the God err?

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