Mahabharata, real-life guide!

DassaraMy friend Sudhakar and I appear to have some telepathy connection! I just started writing this blog about Mahabharata and at the same time he shared the above painting on our friends’  WA group! I am assuming that this painting is a gift to me; hence I have borrowed the painting as a perfect fit for the blog!

I had read Mahabharata while in school, then maybe I saw a few episodes on the famous serial in 90’s on TV. Later on, when I started reading about it at random, I realized that all the stories, all narrations are our real-life stories! I am not going to write about Mahabharata as scholarly treaties as I am a common man and trying to understand its meaning. While I was reading Mahabharata, I felt that it is written as a Metaphor and the idea is to explain to common people, tough and a dry subject in the manner to make it interesting.

I will be jumping from some references from Gita and some from Mahabharat. I feel that Vyasa told the stories as a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, the war was described by Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra; Sanjaya could telepathically witness the war, as if by “live streaming”. These are typical good versus bad stories; these are Metaphors teaching us about of life. What I have observed is that we accept some of the stories as Gospel and modify others suitably. Some of the concepts we simply dump. It appears that Vyasa was a storyteller par excellence! Had these concepts been told only as poetry or prose, maybe it would not have become so famous, it would not have reached the general public. Upanishads are not read by the general public but by scholars and experts because of this reason.

In Hinduism, we say “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma!” With this background how could Krishna tell Arjuna to bear his arms and kill his own family and gurus! But the actual verse is a two-line verse.

Ahimsa paramo dharma

Dharma himsa tathaiva cha

Means

Nonviolence is the ultimate Dharma

So, too, is violence in service of the Dharma

This means that to preserve dharma (righteousness), to eradicate adharma, a person can resort to violence if non-violent methods fail. Krishna tried his best to avoid a war. But Duryodhana wanted a war so that he could kill all of the Pandavas, thus the war became unavoidable. Arjuna is a Kshatriya (Warrior) and it would be impossible for him to run away from his karmic debt and become and an ascetic. If he ran away from this war, he would have been forced to run away to the Himalayas and fight a war for food and shelter and even for his women.

Arjuna, the main character in Mahabharata is the best fighter in the world. The world in those days started and ended with Bharat Khand. Obviously, people in those times did not have knowledge about the existence of the world beyond, not that there much happening beyond. Arjuna should replace the modern world word, Casanova. Whenever he travelled alone for a duration, he would marry some Rajkanya or the other. It is very interesting that after the marriage and pregnancy (it was always predicted to be a boy!) he would tell his latest bride that he has a mission to complete; now she live with their  Putra and his memories. Surprisingly those were the accepted norms, in those days! There were some interesting episodes too! Once he had broken a vow of not disturbing, any brother who was in privacy with Draupadi. He took one-year vanavas as a punishment. Dharmaraja was with Draupadi at that time. He tried to convince Arjuna that he had broken the vow because of some urgent work. But Arjuna stuck to his words. Arjuna met beautiful Chitrangada near the Ganga river and both fell in love with each other. Chitrangada asked him to marry her. But Arjuna convinced her that since he was in penance and celibacy, he could not marry her. Chitrangada was smarter and more convincing. She argued that his penance and celibacy was about Draupadi so he could always marry her! Wow, she would have the top leading lawyer at the Supreme Court today! So another son for Arjuna and left behind wife later….

I feel that the Mahabharata war was not a war of relatives or relatives killing of relatives. Instead, it is a symbolic war between good and bad, right or wrong which happens within us all the time. The actors are symbols of various things in life. Arjuna symbolizes individual or the immortal soul within the body, Lord Krishna symbolizes the God, Kurukshetra is the field of action or our day to day life, five white horses of Arjuna’s chariot symbolize the five senses, Pandavas are positive spirits and Kauravas are negative destructive thoughts.

To me, Bhagwad Gita and Mahabharata merge into each other at the same time they remain separate entities. As we know that Bhagwad Gita was the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, when Arjuna gets depressed when he sees his grandfather, his guru, his relatives with whom he has to fight. This war shows the conflicting view of how the deceptions and tricks were used during the war. But for most of the times, it was fought in a just manner.

On the 18th day of the war Drushtadyumna, Shikhandi and many other warriors were killed by Ashwathama while they were sleeping at night. This was generally not done during the war in those days. Was Ashwathama’s attack vengeance or trickery? There is a story that all Upapandavas (Pandvasa five sons from Draupadi) were also killed on that night. What is the significance of that story? Why the rules were suddenly broken on that day? As I have said earlier, the war and the whole Mahabharata, depict our day to day lives where we are generally honest but suitably cheat! This is human nature.

I will share one interesting episode from this saga. Krishna was the strategist and advisor par excellence. Before the war he had given his Yadav army to Kauravas and stayed as the advisor or maybe the right word is a schemer, to Pandavas. He is shown as a cunning personality. In Arjuna’s battle with Jayadrath, he helps Arjuna to achieve his goal by cunning. Arjuna had vowed to kill Jayadrath on a day to avenge the death of Abhimanyu; failing which he would commit suicide! Dronacharya and Kauravas tried  their best to hide Jayadrath. Suddenly the sky darkens and it is almost sunset. It was supposedly done by Krishna by hiding the Sun behind his Sudarshan Chakra. In one version, the Sun appears to be set because of the eclipse and came out when the eclipse was over! When Jayadrath comes out to see Arjuna’s imminent death, suddenly the Sun becomes bright. Krishna tells Arjuna to kill him. He also tells Arjuna to ensure that Jayadrath’s head falls in his father’s lap. Jayadrath’s father being a sage had given him a boon that whoever was responsible to make Jayadrath’s head fall on the ground will die instantaneously, with his head broken. The father gets up when the head falls in his lap and the head falls down on the ground, the father dies instantly. Thus, Krishna avoids sure death of Arjuna due to the boon. Narration shows that Krishna was the schemer and had terrific knowledge. Till he had shown Arjuna that he was an avatar of the god, even Arjuna thought Krishna was a human and a good friend. To me it becomes tricky to understand if Krishna’s knowledge was because he was God or he had acquired the same as a human being?

You may have a question why Pramod is delving in this subject of Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita? My maturity is helping me to understand the real meaning of life, real life, warts and all! I found the stories fascinating. The stories and sequences are absolutely real life. We can relate to them as if something we have heard, observed, maybe went through in real life. Some of the points become complex, some disputable and some outright mended to create interesting stuff. I am sure that all storytellers and especially those in Bollywood treat these as Gospel (Gita is Hindu Gospel anyway!) They give further twists and turns and create a highly marketable products! Maybe you will get some more from me on the subject in future too!

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Righteous Violence!

अहिंसा परमो धर्मा is a Sanskrit phrase popularized by Mahatma Gandhi and is repeated many times across the world to emphasize non-violent ways of Indians. It means “Non-Violence is the ultimate Dharma”! In Sanatan Dharma this line is applicable to the renunciates and ascetics! Even if one is attacked he should not defend himself even if there is danger to life because in Sanatan Dharma you identify with Atman and not the body. 

I feel that in real life the second line of this phrase is purposely hidden by so called peace loving people. The full phrase is 

अहिंसा परमो धर्मा 

धर्म हिंसा तथैव च  

Non – Violence is the greatest Dharma, So too is all righteous violence 

When these two lines are taken together, what we can understand is that non-violence is relative! It is the moral responsibility of the person to use violence if it is used to stop greater violence or evil.  

The first line of the phrase was made popular by Gandhi. But Nathuram Godse apparently believed more in second line; he felt that Gandhi had done great harm to India and he took a violent decision to kill Gandhi! It is well proven, post-independence, that violent means are part of ruling a country. In olden days also, the kings resorted to violence and if required they killed people. Same is happening in today’s times. The Naxalite movement is causing a big headache to the Indian state. Initially, appeasement was tried but a stage was reached when this movement started becoming stronger and more violent. Government had no option but to take aggressive stance. This resulted in guerilla warfare where government forces are systematically destroying the violent groups but at the same time they are allowing some of them to surrender and change their ways. Only the strong state can talk of peace, because the other side is aware that otherwise they will get brutally crushed. Kashmir issue is for a completely separate discussion.

A society has an Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.), Spiritual Quotient (S.Q.) and a Knowledge Quotient (K.Q.). But it also has Fear Quotient which, which is based on Valour Quotient. But post-independence, due to over dependence on non-violence, India as a  country had become famous for peace and non-violent ways, especially in international dealings. This led to our society having abnormally high Fear Quotient and abnormally reducing our Valour Quotient. 

The result of such thought process was what happened in China war. At the time of China war, our defense minister Krishna Menon was telling everybody that our ordinance factories were busy manufacturing Lanterns! Such weak Leadership of Menon under guidance of Nehru resulted in India having a bloody nose in International diplomacy. China for some reason wanted to teach India a lesson, under very smart slogan Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai (Chinese and Indians are brothers!) Luckily for India, China stopped the war unilaterally otherwise we could have lost many North Eastern States! Nehru wanted to gain personal popularity on the world stage and was gunning, pun not intended, for Nobel Prize of peace! What did he gain? A bloody nose, shame and ultimately died a sad man!  

Subsequent Governments took time to come out of this “Peace Movement”! Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, realized the meaning of being strong and aggressive. Soldiers of the Indian army had fought under the British rule in second world war and had battalions of Sikh, Gurkhas, Rajputs, Marathas and Mahars with great tradition of Valour! What they needed was the support from the government by way of policy.  

Indira Gandhi took the decision following the second line of the phrase, धर्म हिंसा तथैव च! Result was 1971 war against Pakistan! In ten years, India had changed from 1962 debacle to 1971 Victory, which resulted in defeating aggressive Pakistan. At the beginning of this war, Pakistanis were so confident about winning, that they had made statements like, “One Pakistani soldier is good enough to Kill 10 Indian soldiers!” They made such statements because of our post-independence history and conciliatory stand on the global platform. India was always talking of peace, and non-aggression pacts. We never bothered about having weapons, ammunition. Indian polity was changing internally and end result was creation of Atomic Bomb, against all odds. 

Indian thought process had changed so much during 1971 war that India were threatened by USA during this war. They said that they were sending their seventh fleet in Bay of Bengal to help Pakistan! India kept on negotiating with US and on the side, before the fleet could arrive, they made Pakistan surrender! Currently when US is again threatening India about non-supply of missiles, India has joined hands with Russia for these missiles. 

In Bhagwad Geeta, Lord Krishna tells the same thing to the great Warrior Arjuna! On the battle field, Kauravas had opted for Yadav army and Pandavas had opted for advice of Lord Krishna. Ajuna tells Krishna that he can not fight a war with his cousins Kauravas, his Guru Dronacharya  and his Grandfather Bhishma! He almost puts his weapons down and says, “I cannot fight this war which can lead to total destruction of the people I love and respect.” Lord Krishna tells him, “O son of Kunti (Arjuna), either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up and fight with determination.” 

Friends, the history of mankind has been brutal. But the wise and smart know one thing that this brutality should not be used for the sake of brutality! But if required, this should be used forcefully and effectively for just cause!  

Whatever people may say about Gandhi’s “Quit India” movements contribution to push British out of India. People claim that this made British go away! I don’t believe it for one minute! It is the Tilak’s, Savarkars, Netaji Boses, Bhagat Singhs and Rajguru’s of this world who pushed British to the brink! Ultimately, the proverbial last straw was the Mutiny of the Naval sailors in 1946, that led to their final decision to quit!  

 

 

My Favorite Blog!

I started blogging very casually in the 2011, honestly I do not know why! It was more of a start and stop journey in which there were more stops! Post my health issues in late 2013 and early 2014 my frequency of writing improved. I publish my blogs on Word Press and wordpress helps one understand how to increase the reach of the blogs. Slowly I started incorporating those suggestions and I find that reasonable number of people read my blogs, some of them comment also. I have good friends who are my Critiques; we discuss why I write something and why I write in a certain way. They also point out important points that I miss out! This tête-à-tête with friends encourages my grey cells to become more active, helps me understand and accept different point of view.

 Out of 100 plus blogs I have written the most viewed blog, to my surprise is, “Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana” was published on 17th July 2017. This is a blog about my first experience of a known person suddenly going in trance, during a religious program at home. That lady was like you and me but the change in her behavior and persona happened in front of our eyes. She went into trance and was behaving in the way that can be described as paranormal. She came out of it when the religious chanting got over; she was sweating profusely and looked visibly tired! Question that comes to my mind, why this blog is most viewed? Is it because of the subject? Is it because the way I have written it? I don’t think so, I have not done anything special in this blog! Is it the curiosity? Is it that as human population we secretly want to understand what paranormal behavior is? Is it that people were hoping that I will explain the mystery? Honestly I have not understood this phenomena at all. I thought it will be good idea to retrospect and analyze my other blogs!

In the very early stages of my blog writing, I had written one piece called “These are the few of my favorite things”! Similarly I am trying to find out “Few of my favorite blogs”! I am going to select a few which I like the best and why I like them. I request you to give your opinion too! I have written the name of the blog and the date on which it was published. When you go to my blog page panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com you will see on the right side the list of recent posts and & archives. The details I have shared, will make it easy for you to locate old blogs should you want to read them!

“Dance of Civilization” was written on 19th January 2016, is my most favorite blog. It is tricky and is like trying to find out which is your favorite child? I am like Dhritarashtra, father of Kaurava’s who had 100 children, now I have 100 plus blogs! Why this is my favorite blog? I felt that I was able to make a proper mix of life’s small events with philosophy! Along with this, I was able to mix up view point of a small child; in fact they have no view point, they do what comes to their mind! This is the advantage of not having any “experience” in life! The child’s slate is a blank one and they will express what comes to their mind. This can be understood where I discussed the different ways of entering the Mandir! Rhea my grand daughter sometimes just did not want to enter the Mandir, she was more interested in drainage cover, she was interested in tearing up tree leaves that had fallen on the ground. She was more interested in jumping in the water puddle! She was keen to see how the crow was drinking water from the puddle! With our life’s “experiences” we become too rigid, too ritualistic and too stiff! In the blog I was able to compare the child’s view of life and the adult’s view!

“God! Where are you?” 10th March 2016 is a blog about how people believe more in rituals rather than achieving their goal! It’s about a group of people singing their hymns in a Mandir! Obviously they are trying to achieve peace of mind or maybe they were trying achieve Niravna! Two things in this world are really pure, the nature and the children! While trying to achieve their goal, the group was  disturbed by joyous shouting of kids! I feel that if I get to watch small kids enjoying their evening games, everyday, I will achieve Nirvana! Recently we achieved Nirvana by enjoying the nature at its best for about two weeks! What more do you need? I felt that this group of people had lost their path hence the title “God! Where are you?”

“Life’s Speed breakers” 15th October 2015. I always feel that people should share all their experiences with others. This blog is about the sudden detection of cancer in December 2013. My discussing all the events as if it was a third party event, I have tried to keep things impersonal. Even if a few of those who read this blog are benefited by this blog, in handling life’s difficult events, I will feel that I have achieved my goal. In tough situations, it is the positivity of the family and friends, quick actions, trying to get the best possible solution is the key. In case of issue like Cancer, Dr. Maiyya, my radiation Oncologist told me that Doctors, Equipment, Medicines do a play a major part but he felt that it may not be more than 60/65%. Balance is positive attitude of patient, family and friends. Luck of course also plays a major role! I have used a story format, telling date wise events to make it brisk and more readable by keeping the reader interested!

Parijatak उर्फ Nyctanthes arbor-tristis 5th November 2014. We look at many things in life but we never give thought to things in understanding that each living thing has its own usefulness and in case of flowers, its color and fragrance. I was able to get perfect simile where I could compare human traits with those of flowers. I have compared exotic flowers with highly skilled humans like pilots, engineers and doctors. Flowers like Parijatak are common folks like artisans, carpenters and nurses. But life is complete only when these two traits come together! I felt that sometimes we forget one of groups, depending on which group you are in. But I thought that I was able to explain how’s and whys of working together of Heliconia’s and Parijatak’s of this world!

From being grounded to going Sky high 8th June 2014. This blog is written more than three years back. During this phase I feel that I was becoming a better writer. The subject of this blog is an event from life where I changed home; I moved from a town house on the ground floor to a condominium on the 7th floor! This small change, made a great difference in my thought process and opened my mind to a much wider horizon which the seventh floor physically gave me. This maybe one of my smaller blogs but I was able put in a lot of thoughts in the blog. I was able to express a deep meaning in this blog. Probably my thoughts were also becoming more mature after recovery from health issue. In short, I have tried to say that every change in life is an opportunity!

Friends you must be wondering if I have written this blog because I have a writer’s block. No that is not the reason. Ever since I published the blog about Paranormal behavior, it is viewed everyday by sizable number of people; what is this phenomena? why this is so? Please read these other blogs also and give your comments! I would also love to know, if you read more than one blog, “Which you like the best”!