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Thread: A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

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    A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

    Namaste,

    As much as Mahabharata is appreciated for the practical wisdom conveyed throughout the ithihasa, there are yet so many critical of it, and call it a chronicle of wars and warring behavior with a god who is more clever and cunning than good.

    I have, for my part, arrived at a few conclusions regarding the ithihasa.

    1. Shows how powerful delusions (maya) are: It is hard for anyone to get over duality. That is what is portrayed by the Karna character. All along, he is stigmatized by the fact that he is only raised by a humble charioteer, and the word, "Charioteer's son" torments him even more when he becomes a king. He falls in love with the princess of the kingdom of Chandradesh, and eventually marries her too! But only after hiding the fact that he is raised by a charioteer. When later his father-in-law, the king of Chandradesh finds out the fact, he is furious. Refuses to send his daughter with her husband Karna. Although we find this behavior bad/wrong, the practical implications behind a great and prosperous King having a charioteer as his in-law and his equal via deceit elicits sympathy in us! After all, it is a dual world! And it is difficult to transcend this duality.

    A story from Bhagavatham comes to mind. Sage Narada who is a great bhakta claims to Sri Vishnu that he has attained perfection and no more desirous of anything material world can offer! Narayana laughs. Shortly, Narada is deluded into marriage after seeing a beautiful damsel, and is happily locked in matrimony with her, producing children and forgetting his Narayana! After a long, long time passes this way, there is a huge deluge wherein Narada loses his loved wife and children, at which time, Narayana emerges before him reminding of who he is! Saying, "thus is the power of maya!".

    So this maya-factor is emphasized by Mahabharata. Even when the Kauravas refuse to give even 5 tiny villages to the Pandavas who lost in the game of dice, we see 'maya' in play. Because not only are the Kauravas so desirous, they are disillusioned to not make much out of Krishna's association with the Pandavas!

    Mahabharata cautions the reader to be mindful of maya always!

    2. Never trust anyone's words or follow them blindly:

    This is the next lesson the book offers. For, Kunti, the virtuous mother of the Pandavas, mothers Karna and floats the child away, when her own survival is at stake. Whereas the 'evil' Dhuryodhana, who will not refrain from disrobing a good, married lady in front of a crowd, is married and committed whole-heartedly to one lady, does not doubt her chastity ever even if circumstances seem suggestive otherwise (the dice game with Karna and Dhuryodhana's wife implied here), does not mind Karna's birth details and makes him a king, treats him his equal, etc. He seems to have a large heart too, at times!

    Thus, the characters all have flaws and positive points about them, whether they belong to the good side or bad side.

    Thus, the ithihasa offers the reader the valuable suggestion, to evaluate anyone's deeds and words carefully before blindly following them or dismissing them.

    ----------

    The above are a few lessons I could glean. What's your 'take home' from mahabharata? Kindly share.

    Thanks and regards.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

    I thought of adding this information in a separate thread, but decided not to.

    How many have thought elaborately on 'why Lord Krishna asks Karna, at the time of death, to donate all his merits (punya) from charitable deeds to him?'.

    Some acharyas have briefed on their understanding of why.

    The following is my understanding. I trust this is another "take home lesson" from karma yoga. If you have different explanations, you can share in this thread.

    Karna is very meritorious indeed. However when his friend Duryodhana asks to disrobe Draupadhi in front of the entire assembly, he merely watches and never utters anything. This is a major sin.

    One of the principles of Karma says that even though one might performed a million meritorious deeds, he will not enjoy their results and their results will not manifest (blocked) if he has any major sins on hand.

    Therefore Lord Krishna asks Karna, the karma yogi, to donate all his merits.

    One advances spiritually by donating his merits without expecting anything. Thus, Krishna has enabled Karna the karma yogi, to advance spiritually by accepting his merits, as in any case, Karna would not have realized the blessings from his merits as his one major sin blocks their results.

    The above is my understanding only.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

    Namaste

    One of my instructive parts of Mahabharata is to be found in Udyoga Parva.

    King Shalya, on his way to fight on the side of the Pandavas, thought to be welcomed by the Pandavas but had to realize that he was tricked - it was Duryodhana, who had arranged a banquet for him. Thus he felt obliged to fight for him.

    He wanted to inform Yudhishthira and apologize. Duryodhana agreed.

    Yudhishthira asked Shalya to help the Pandavas ‚undercover‘ by becoming Karna’s charioteer and to discourage Karna, to make the victory possible for Arjuna.

    Visibly to all, Shalya fighted for the Kauravas, in reality he fighted for the Pandavas.

    Karna was killed … later Yudhishthira killed Shalya.

    This entanglements deeply impressed me, thinking to happenings esp. in politics. Things are not always as they seem.

    There is a Latin aphorism: ‚Cui bono?‘ ‚To whom is it a benefit?‘ to finally find out who pulled the strings, who the rope team is.

    Pranam
    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

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    Re: A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

    Very nice thought and nicely narrated, IndiaLover! Thank you for this contribution.

    Regards.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

    Dear Viraja,

    This is a slightly differend version of the Karna myth - connected with Karnaprayag.

    Krishna realized that Karna could not be killed as he was protected by Dharma Devi due to his merits. Thus Krishna disguised Himself as poor Brahmin and asked Karna for his merits. Karna agreed and his merits where transferred to the Brahmin. Dharma Devi disappeared and Karna could be killed by Arjuna.

    Krishna rewarded Karna with the view of His Vishvarupa and Karna asked Him to cremate him in a virgin land. Krishna cremated Karna at Karnaprayag.

    All about Karna’s temple https://www.euttaranchal.com/tourism/karna-temple.php

    Pranam
    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

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    Re: A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

    Quote Originally Posted by Indialover View Post
    Dear Viraja,

    This is a slightly differend version of the Karna myth - connected with Karnaprayag.

    Krishna realized that Karna could not be killed as he was protected by Dharma Devi due to his merits. Thus Krishna disguised Himself as poor Brahmin and asked Karna for his merits. Karna agreed and his merits where transferred to the Brahmin. Dharma Devi disappeared and Karna could be killed by Arjuna.

    Krishna rewarded Karna with the view of His Vishvarupa and Karna asked Him to cremate him in a virgin land. Krishna cremated Karna at Karnaprayag.

    All about Karna’s temple https://www.euttaranchal.com/tourism/karna-temple.php

    Pranam
    May be that explains the real reason as per the book.

    Thank you for this explanation!
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: A few "take home" lessons from the Mahabharata

    Dear Viraja,

    the term ‚sin‘ always makes me suspicious … thus I read about Karna’s death in Karna Parva 91. Krishna is talking about ‚virtue‘, Krishna does not use the word sin. Krishna does not accuse Karna of sin.

    Ten occasions (not only one) Krishna mentiones and asks Karna ‚Whither had this virtue of thine gone?‘

    (1) Thyself and Suyodhana and Duhshasana and Shakuni, the son of Subala, had caused Draupadi, clad in a single piece of raiment, to be brought into the midst of the assembly. On that occasion, O Karna, this virtue of thine did not manifest itself. (2) When at the assembly Shakuni, an adept in dice, vanquished Kunti's son Yudhishthira who was unacquainted with it, whither had this virtue of thine gone? (3) When the Kuru king (Duryodhana), acting under thy counsels, treated Bhimasena in that way with the aid of snakes and poisoned food, whither had this virtue of thine then gone? (4) When the period of exile into the woods was over as also the thirteenth year, thou didst not make over to the Pandavas their kingdom. Whither had this virtue of thine then gone? (5) Thou didst set fire to the house of lac at Varanavata for burning to death the sleeping Pandavas. Whither then, O son of Radha, had this virtue of thine gone? (6) Thou laughedest at Krishna while she stood in the midst of the assembly, scantily dressed because in her season and obedient to Duhshasana's will, whither, then, O Karna, had this virtue of thine gone? (7) When from the apartment reserved for the females innocent Krishna was dragged, thou didst not interfere. Whither, O son of Radha, had this virtue of thine gone? (8) Thyself addressing the princess Draupadi, that lady whose tread is as dignified as that of the elephant, in these words, viz., 'The Pandavas, O Krishna, are lost. They have sunk into eternal hell. Do thou choose another husband!' thou lookedest on the scene with delight. Whither then, O Karna, had this virtue of thine gone? (9) Covetous of kingdom and relying on the ruler of the Gandharvas, thou summonedest the Pandavas (to a match of dice). Whither then had this virtue of thine gone? (10) When many mighty car-warriors, encompassing the boy Abhimanyu in battle, slew him, whither had this virtue of thine then gone?

    I do not find the myth that Krishna asked Karna for his merits in the Mahabharata. Anyhow, the Karnaprayag myth is a neutral/positive one, preserving Karna’s dignity.

    Your story is threatening by the word ‚sin/major sin‘.

    Who wants to create fear by using this term, even more stating, that one of the principles of Karma is that even though one might have performed a million meritorious deeds, one will not enjoy their results and their results will not manifest if one has any major sins on hand? This is inhuman, because no human being is perfect!

    ‚Sin‘ is used in Christianity by clergy constantly to create fear, by parents sometimes to make children docile, demoting God to a policeman.

    Seems that ‚sin‘ was adopted by Hindus to do what is not possible with papa and punya. Both are like debit and credit, being brought in balance anytime. This wise system gives fear no chance.

    Pranam
    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

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