Insights into Mahābhārata - 01

(A new series hoping to bring out lesser known incidents in Mahābhārata)

भीष्मद्रोणकृपाचार्याः राजसेवार्थं दुर्योधनपक्षे युद्धम् अकुरुतेति प्रसिद्धमेवैतत्। तस्मात् कारणात् अभिमन्युहनने एतादृशी घृणारहितता न दर्शयनीया खलु। तच्च धर्मविरुद्धमिति ते ज्ञातवन्त एव। तर्हि कथमेवम् अकुर्वन्निति पर्यालोचने किञ्चिदिव वनपर्वपठनम् आवश्यकम्।

घोषयात्रापर्वणि दुर्योधनः सैन्यैः सह मृगयायै तथा घोषावेक्षणाय च द्वैतवनम् अगच्छत्। गन्धमादनसरसः समीपस्थे वने आवासशिबिराणि स्थापयितुं दुर्योधनः सेनाग्रम् आदिदेश। गन्धर्वाणामिदं वनमिति कारणात् वनद्वारि एव तैः सह युद्धमारभत। गन्धर्वनृपतिः दुर्योधनं बन्धीकरोति स्म। कौरव्याः युधिष्ठिरस्य समीपं गत्वा स्वराजानं मोचयितुं प्रार्थयामासतुः। तेषां कृते अर्जुनः चित्रसेनं पराजित्य दुर्योधनं बन्धात् मोचयामास।

पराजयम् अर्जुनहस्तेन मोचनं च असहमानः सुयोधनः प्रायोपवेशाय उद्युक्तोऽभूत्। प्रायोपवेशात् तं पराङ्मुखीकर्तुं पातलस्थाः दैत्याः दानवाश्च होमं कृत्वा तम् आनाय्य तस्य निश्चयस्य मूढताम् आचक्षुः।

तदलं ते विषादेन भयं तव न विद्यते।
साह्यार्थं च हि ते वीराः संभूता भुवि दानवाः॥ (वनपर्वणि, घोषयात्रापर्वणि, १०)
भीष्मद्रोणकृपादींश्च प्रवेक्ष्यन्ति अपरे असुराः।
यैराविष्टा घृणां त्यक्त्वा योत्स्यन्ते तव वैरिभिः॥ (वनपर्वणि, घोषयात्रापर्वणि, ११)

It is usually said that Bhishma, Drona and Kripa fought on behalf of Duryodhana to show their gratitude to their king. But that does not warrant their inhuman and unscrupulous behavior during Abhimanyu’s killing. A little background study sheds light on their atypical conduct.

When the Pandavas were staying in the forest for 12 years, Duryodhana wanted to see their life, now without prosperity. He undertakes the responsibility of inspecting their cattle stations and includes a hunting expedition to dvaitavana. He decided to camp near lake gandhamādana with beautiful woods surrounding it. As these woods belonged to the Gandharva Chitrasena, there ensued a fight between the soldiers of Duryodhana and Gandharvas. Chitrasena took Duryodhana captive and later released him after being defeated by Arjuna.

Ashamed by the defeat at the hands of Chitrasena and his subsequent liberation by Arjuna, Duryodhana decides to commit suicide. Asuras from the nether world who wanted Duryodhana’s help in defeating devas performed a homa and brought Duryodhana to the nether world. They advise him on the stupidity of suicide. While trying to revert Duryodhana’s mind, they offer their services during war. They inform him that many asuras and rakshasas have been born in the Kshatriyas. They promise him that they would enter the bodies of Bhishma and others, thereby, making them merciless.

(Source: English translation
Sanskrit text Chowkambha Publications)

श्लोकोऽयं मह्यं रोचते – 29

क्ष
क्षुत्क्षामोऽपि जराकृशोऽपि शिथिलप्रायोऽपि कष्टां दशा-
मापऩ्नोऽपि विपन्नदीधितिरपि प्राणेषु ऩश्यत्स्वपि ।
मत्तेभेन्द्रविभिन्नकुम्भपिशितग्रासैकबद्धस्पृहः
किं जीर्णं तृणमत्ति मानमहतामग्रेसरः केसरी ।। ( नीतिशतकम् -21 )

kṣutkṣāmo'pi jarākṛśo'pi śithilaprāyo'pi kaṣṭāṁ daśām
āpanno'pi vipannadīdhitirapi prāṇeṣu naśyatsvapi|
mattebha-indra-vibhinna-kumbha-piśita-grāsaika-baddha-spṛhaḥ
kiṁ jīrṇaṁ tṛṇamatti mānamahatām agresaraḥ kesarī|| (nītiśatakam - 21)

क्षुधा क्षीणोऽपि, जरया कृशोऽपि, बलहीनोऽपि, आहारेण विना कष्टाम् अवस्थां प्राप्तोऽपि, नष्टकान्तिरपि, प्राणेषु नश्यत्स्वपि, मत्तगजपुंगवस्य कुम्भस्थलात् पिशिते मांसे एव सिंहस्य वाञ्छा अस्ति। तस्मिन् अवसरे अपि सः सिंहः न जीर्णं तृणं खादति। अभिमानोन्नतानां बुद्धिः न नीचवस्तूनि प्रवर्तते। प्राणात् मानमेव रक्षन्ति ते।

The above verse is from Bhartrhari’s nIti satakam .

Though a lion is emaciated by starvation, and reduced by old age, though it is almost completely enfeebled, though reduced to a wretched condition, though it has lost its bodily luster and it is about to die- still the leader of the jungle will have its longing fixed on the flesh from the broken forehead of a maddened elephant. Will it ever taste the dry grass?

क्षुत्क्षामोऽपि – emaciated because of hunger, जराकृशोऽपि – thin because of old, शिथिलप्रायोऽपि – though very weak, कष्टां – difficult , दशाम्- condition, आपन्नोऽपि- attained, विपऩ्नदिधितिरपि – lost its bodily luster, ऩश्यत्स्वपि – about to lose its, प्राणेषु – life,
(even at this condition) ग्रासैकबद्धस्पृहः- he has an attraction towards the , मत्तेभेन्द्रविभिन्नकुम्भपिशित – flesh broken from the forehead of a maddened elephant.
केसरी – lion, मानमहतामग्रेसरः - rich or great in pride, किं जीर्णं तृणमत्ति – will it eat the dry grass?

Here the poet beautifully explains with an example of the lion to put forward his view- People who are rich or great in pride will never degrade themselves even at the time of calamity. For them pride is important than life.

शास्त्रं वदति – 17

Saastram speaks -17

सा सभा यत्र न सन्ति वृद्धाः न ते वृद्धाः ये न वदन्ति धर्मम्।
नासौ धर्मो यत्र न सत्यमस्ति न तत्सत्यं यच्छलेनानुविद्धम् ।।


na sā sabha yatra na santi vṛddhāḥ na te vṛddhāḥ ye na vadanti dharmam|
nāsau dharmo yatra na satyamasti na tatsatyaṁ yacchalenānuviddham||

The above sloka is from vidura nIti.

That is not an assembly where there are no old men, and they are not old who do not declare the virtues or mortality, those are not virtues which are separated from the truth, that is not the truth which is loaded with deceit.

यत्र – where ,न सन्ति – are no, वृद्धाः – old people, सा – that ,न सभा – is not a court, ये – those, न वदन्ति- do not say, धर्मं – the virtues , ते – they, न वृद्धाः – not old people, यत्र – where, सत्यं – truth, न अस्ति – is not there, न असौ धर्मः – those are not the virtues, तत्- that is, न सत्यं – not the truth, यत्- which is, छलेन – with deceit , अनुविद्धम्- filled.

श्लोकोऽयं मह्यं रोचते -28

क्व
क्वचित्पृथ्वीशय्यः क्वचिदपि च पर्यङ्कशयनः
क्वचित्शाकाहारः क्वचिदपि च शाल्योदनरुचिः।
क्वचित्कन्थाधारी क्वचिदपि च दिव्याम्बरधरो
मनस्वी कार्यार्थी न गणयति दुःखं न च सुखम् ।। (नीतिशतकम् - 74)

kvacit pṛthvīśayyaḥ kvacidapi ca paryaṅkaśayanaḥ
kvacit śākāhāraḥ kvacidapi ca śālyodanaruciḥ|
kvacit kanthādhārī kvacidapi ca divyāmbaradharaḥ
manasvī kāryārthī na gaṇayati duḥkhaṁ na ca sukhaṁ|| (nītiśatakam - 74)

धीरः कार्यसाधनतत्परः क्वचित् काले भूमौ स्विपिति क्वचित् च पर्यङ्के। क्वचित् शाक एवाहारो क्वचित् च शाल्यान्ने रुचिः। क्वचित् जीर्णवस्त्राणि धारयति क्वचित् पीताम्बराणि च धारयति। कार्यनिमग्नः धीरः सुखं दुःखं च न गणयति। कार्यसाधनतत्परस्य सुखदुःखयोः समानावस्था एव भवति।

The above is the seventy fourth verse from Bhartrhari’s nItisatakam.

Here he has his bed on the floor, there on a bed made of soft mattress, here he lives only on vegetables, there he takes the feast prepared from the highest quality of rice, here he wears rags, there he wears the silk garments. The brave man, who has set his mind in achieving a goal, never bothers the pain or pleasure.

क्वचित् – In one place, पृथ्वीशय्यः - sleeps on the floor, क्वचिदपि च – In the other place, पर्यङ्कशयनः- sleeps on the bed. क्वचित्- In one place ,शाकाहारः – eats only the vegetables, क्वचिदपि च – In another place , शाल्योदनरुचिः – tasty food made of rice.
क्वचित् – In one place, कन्थाधारी- wears the torn clothes, क्वचिदपि च – In another place , दिव्याम्बरधरो- wears a silken garment. मनस्वी- brave man, कार्यार्थी- who is involved in achieving a goal, न गणयति – does not bother about, सुखम् – happiness च – and , न – not about, दुःखं – sorrow.

श्लोकोऽयं मह्यं रोचते -27

कः
कस्त्वं कोऽहं कुत आयातः का मे जननी को मे तातः ।
इति परिभावय सर्वमसारं विश्वं त्यक्त्वा स्वप्नविचारम् ।।

kastvaṁ ka'haṁ kuta āyātaḥ kā me jananī ko me tātaḥ|
iti paribhāvaya sarvamasāraṁ viśvaṁ tyaktvā svapnavicāram||

The above verse is from Adi sankara’s bhajagovindam.

Who are you? Who am I? From where did I come? Who is my mother? Who is my father? You enquire, renouncing the entire world of experiences which is essenceless and also a mere dream born out of imagination.

त्वं कः- who are you?, अहं कः – who am I, कुतः आयातः – From where did I come , मे जननी का- who is my mother?, मे तातः कः – who is my father?, असारं -essenceless, स्वप्नविचारं – born out of imagination, सर्वं- the entire, विश्वं - world, त्यक्त्वा - leaving, इति परिभावय- enquire.

The above sloka beautifully explains that how an individual should dismiss the thoughts from the worldly objects and also from the haunting passions of senses from the mind and turn the mind towards the enquiry of the inner self. Such continuous queries reveal the uncertainity of the world and the false pride of life we live in.

श्लोकोऽयं मह्यं रोचते – 26

कं
कंचन काञ्चीनिलयं करधृतकोदण्डबाणसृणिपाशं ।
कठिनस्तनभरनम्रं कैवल्यानन्दकन्दमवलम्बे ।। 3 ।।

kañcana kāñcīnilayaṁ karadhṛtakodaṇḍabāṇasṛṇipāśam|
kaṭhinastanabharanamraṁ kaivalyānandakandamavalambe||3||

The above is the third sloka of the Arya satakam of mUkapancasatI written by mUka kavi.

‘I seek the support of the goddess kAmAkshi, who is in the form of moksha, the ultimate bliss, who resides in kAnchIpuram, carries the bow, arrow, Ankusha and pAsha in her hands and stands in a slanting posture.’

काञ्चीनिलयं – resides in kAnchIpuram, करधृतकोदण्डबाणसृणिपाशं – holds the bow, arrow, hook and rope, कठिनस्तनभरनम्रं – in a slanting posture, कंचन- an entity, कैवल्यानन्दकन्दम् – which is in the form of moksha the ultimate bliss, अवलम्बे – I follow or seek support.

श्लोकोऽयं मह्यं रोचते – 25

कौ
कौमारमारभ्य गणाः गुणानां
हरन्ति ते दिक्षु धृताधिपत्यान् ।
सुराधिराजं सलिलाधिपं च
हुताशनं चार्यमनन्दनं च ।। ( 8, 58 )

kaumāramārabhya gaṇāḥ guṇānāṁ haranti te dikṣu dhutādhipatyān|
surādhirājaṁ salilādhipaṁ ca hutāśanaṁ cāryamanandanaṁ ca||

हे भैमि, बाल्यादारभ्य ते सौन्दर्यशीलत्वादीनां गुणानां गणाः देवेन्द्रादीन् हरन्ति। त्वत् गुणाकर्णनात् इन्द्राग्नियमवरुणाः इति चत्वारोऽपि त्वयि अनुरक्ताः भवन्ति।

The above is from the eighth canto of naishadIya charitam of srI harasha.

The context here is: Nala, as a messenger of gods, meets damayantI in her garden. He says, ‘O! damayantI since your childhood your virtues have attracted the lords of various directions – indra, varuNa, agni and yama.

O! damayantI , कौमारमारभ्य - from childhood , ते गुणानां गणाः – your qualities like good conduct etc., दिक्षु – direction, धृताधिपत्यान् – lords, हरन्ति – attracts the mind.
(who are the lords?) They are सुराधिराजं – indra, the king of the devas, सलिलाधिपं – varuNa, हुताशनं – agni , अर्यम्नः- of sUrya, नन्दनं- son yama.

वैराग्यशतकम् - 14

धन्यानां गिरिकन्दरेषु वसतां ज्योतिः परं ध्यायताम्
आनन्दाश्रुकणान् शकुना निःशङ्कमङ्केशयाः।
अस्माकं तु मनोरथोपरिचितप्रासादवापीतट-
क्रीडाकाननकेलिकौतुकजुषाम् आयुः परं क्षीयते॥१४॥

dhanyānāṁ girikandareṣu vasatāṁ jyotiḥ paraṁ dhyāyatām
ānandāśrukaṇān śakunā niḥśaṅkamaṅkeśayāḥ|
asmākaṁ tu manorathoparicitaprāsādavāpītaṭa-
krīḍākānanakelikautukajuṣām āyuḥ paraṁ kṣīyate||14||


धन्यानां – blessed
गिरिकन्दरेषु वसतां – those who live in the caves of mountains
ज्योतिः परं ध्यायताम् – meditating upon Brahman
आनन्दाश्रुकणान् – tears of bliss
शकुना – birds of prey
निःशङ्कमङ्केशयाः – fearlessly sitting on their laps
अस्माकं तु – but we
मनोरथ-उपरिचित – created by imagination
प्रासाद – palace
वापीतट – on the banks of pools
क्रीडाकानन – pleasure gardens
केलिकौतुकजुषाम् – excited to play
आयुः – life
परं क्षीयते – quickly lessens

The poet is still talking about how difficult it is to forsake the pleasures of the world. He compares the lives of the great with our lives.
Blessed indeed are those who meditate upon the Brahman. They are so engrossed in their thoughts that even birds of prey, which tend to fly high descend fearlessly and sit on their laps to drink the tears of joy that fall from their eyes.
But, our focus is entirely on the pleasures of life and do not realise that our life is fast ebbing away.

श्लोकोऽयं मह्यं रोचते – 24

को
को न याति वशं लोके मुखे पिण्डेन पूरितः।
मृदङ्गो मुखलेपेन करोति मधुरध्वनिम् ।।

ko na yāti vaśaṁ loke mukhe piṇḍena pūritaḥ|
mṛdaṅgo mukhalepena karoti madhuradhvanim||

Who cannot be flattered by food? A lump of food can calm down even the harshest of tongues.
Like, a mrdangam that gives melodious sound just by applying rice paste on both sides.

लोके – In this world, मुखे – on the face, पिण्डेन – with a lump of food, पूरितः – filled, को – who , वशं – flatter, न याति – does not become.
मुखलेपेन – By applying the rice paste on the heads, मृदङ्गो – mrdangam, मधुरध्वनिम् – melodious sound, करोति – does or gives.