The Eternal Epics

The word classic could be undermining for the great and enduring epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. I sincerely believe these are the treasures created by the divine souls and passed on from generations so that we all can learn valuable lessons from the epics. These epics have been shared and narrated in the form of sholkas, and stories. Guess, that’s what makes it all the more interesting. In fact there are many regional versions of these epics and each of those having some variation, may be because it is subject to interpretation and the value systems of those regions. Both Ramayana and Mahabharata show different facets of human behaviour, how greed and vengeance leads to destruction.. and I can go on and on..

Being brought up in India or being exposed to these epics in some form or other (not to forget the larger than life TV serials based on these epics), many of us are already aware and know Ramayana and Mahabharata quite well. Still an attempt from my side to retell some of the parts, which highlight two very important traits of human behaviour viz. commitment and ego.

In Mahabharata, there are many characters who are generous, however only Karna, is known for his generosity. So Duryodhan once asks Krishna “Why only Karna is called as generous, even though I give away more?”. Krishna then decides to prove this to Duryodhan. He asks Duryodhan to get logs of wood ready in 3 days for performing a yagna. Krishna then ensures it rains continuously for 3 days. When Krishna goes to Duryodhan and asks him for the wood, Duryodhan answers “It has been raining since past 3 days and there is no dry wood available which I was able to collect”. To this Krishna says “Fine. Let’s go to Karna, as I had given him the same task as well”. When they reach Karna’s place, they find wood is kept ready. When asked Karna replies “It had been raining since past 3 days and there was no dry wood which I could fetch. So I have removed the wood from the roof of my house.” I think that’s one of the greatest lessons of commitment. If you really want to do something, you will, else there will only be excuses!!

After the 18 days war of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas return to their camp. As per the protocol, the charioteer should get down first and then the warrior. When Krishna and Arjuna reach the place, Arjuna is waiting for Krishna to get down. However there are no signs of Krishna getting down. Arjuna feels it’s unfair for the warrior of his status to get down first. After hovering around for some time, reluctantly Arjuna gets down.  Krishna then takes the chariot at a safe distance and dismounts. The very next moment the chariot explodes. Everyone is stunned and puzzled. Krishna then explains “During the war, there have been many powerful and destroying weapons used. Since I was the charioteer, the chariot as well as the warrior was protected”. And that shatters the ego of Arjuna as all the while he was thinking it’s all because of him and his skillsets. No doubt Arjuna was a great warrior, however to forget the role of the divine and assume all the credit, fostered his ego !!

The above two stories are based on whatever I had read or heard so far. I hope I have done some justice while retelling and also interpreting what the great sage Vyasa wanted to convey through Mahabharata. To conclude am using the lines of the famous mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik

Within infinite myths lies the Eternal Truth

Who sees it all?

Varuna has but a thousand eyes

Indra, a hundred

And I, only two

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