Mahabharata is a great epic of ancient India written in Sanskrit. Longest ever known poem of the planet, it consists over 100000 shloka.
Known for the battle of Kurukshetra, this epic offers countless life lessons. These ideals are critical for living a good life, building a principled character, learning civic duties and lessons of diplomacy in times of modern nation – states.
Here we are glancing at some of them.
Gambling corrupts the character!
Gambling breeds greed, ego, jealously, hatred and hijacks the noble emotions. It is a cancer of soul. Gambling was responsible for the bloodshed in the war of Mahabharata and disrespect to the women. It destroys families, societies, kills love and human dignity. It is described as the darkness which gulps the sun as well.
We can see its devastating effects on the society of Cuba where the gambling mafia hijacked the entire socio-political process for years. In the end, Viprachitti (son of Shakuni) decides to throw the evil dices in the river and banned the gambling in the kingdom of Gandhara!
Karma (deeds) not Caste makes you great.
Mahabharata is replete with instances where the disabilities caused in the name of caste are reflected. Be it not admitting the Eklavya in the school of the guru Dronacharya or repeated insult of Karna being the son of a charioteer.
But it gives numerous instances to break these myths. It makes an assault on the notion of privilege by birth. Be it in Eklavya being the greatest archer or Karna choosing to marry the Padmavati (daughter of a charioteer) after denying to marry the Kshatriya princess Asawari.
Today also, privilege by birth is a great cause of inequality in society. True meaning of democracy means a society where your birth does not decides your future.
Fearlessness and courage is sine-qua-non to fulfil Duty!
Dhritarashtra was afraid of annoying his stubborn son and so kept on fulfilling his wrong wishes. It led to the destruction of the empire due to erosion of ethics in public life.
Nepotism is antithetical to a great leadership. Fear breeds cowardice and leads to miscarriage of justice. This is beautifully espoused in Bhagavad-Geeta. Its message is clear: Keep doing your deeds without worrying for the consequences.
Kurukshetra is within us!
When there is the decisive war between the good and evil within us, our heart becomes the battleground of ‘Kurukshetra’. Often we want to change the world outside but pay little attention to the battle against evil inside.
Fighting the enemy within makes us humble. We are not perfect and we can be a better version of ourselves. It is a great message.
Empty ideals and traditions of the society force people to hide the Truth!
Kunti couldn’t reveal to the society of giving birth to a son (Karna) before marriage. It was apparently for the fear of what the “Samaj” or society would say. It would demean the honour of the family, she thought. This led to a drama where the Karna was in a war against his own brothers. Perhaps, the war would not have happened if the identity of Karna was revealed to the Pandava brothers.
Similar things happen today in societies worldwide. Still today, people have to hide their sexual identity if it varies with the dominant identities of the society. Lovers have to hide themselves from the contractors of societal order. Employees fear to give a counter opinion in a team and leads to ‘Groupthink’.
Why one human cannot accept the alternative version of other human?
Why we are looking for our clones in other human? Why we cannot cherish the variety of life.
Why? I ask! Why?