Mahabharata – an introspection
Lord Ganesha acts as a scribe writing down the entire epic himself, at Sage Vyasa’s dictation. Sanjaya relates to the blind King Dhritarashtra, the state of affairs at the battlefield throughout the epic battle of the Kurukshetra.
 
That’s what the epic story says.
 
I feel they both, Ganesha and Sanjaya act as blogger or writer, in their effort to chronicle the events to astute perfection for the benefit of those who could not be part of it.
 
Sanjay, yesteethatsme, presents to you an introspection, a humble attempt at interpretation of the characters of Mahabharata.
 
 
Sanjay was finally there, at Kurukshetra, the ground where the great battle of Mahabharata was fought.
 
Sanjay really wanted to make it his life’s work to study and research about the epic.
 
Sanjay knew that it was not possible for him to complete his research authentically till he went to the spot where the greatest battle took place.
 
Sanjay had read the epic extensively and had known that almost eighty percent of the male population of that time in the civilisation, fighting the battle had been wiped out in the eighteen days of the war.
 
Sanjay stood on the ground, the sun overhead; it was hot, the wind hiding the far reaches of the grounds with columns of dust.
 
Sanjay looked around and wondered if the war had really happened, if the ground beneath him had really soaked all that blood, if the great Pandavas and Krishna really stood where he was standing at that time.
 
“You will never know the truth about that”, Sanjay heard a soft voice behind him.
 
Sanjay turned around and saw an old man appear out of the column of dust and walking towards him. Sanjay looked bewildered as the ageing man came and stood in front of him. He had a long white beard and eyes that could settle an indignant storm.
 
The old man smiled at Sanjay and said enigmatically, “I know you are here to research about the Kurukshetra war, but you won’t be able to know anything about that battle, unless you know what the real battle is all about”.
 
Sanjay instantly knew that he was in the presence of someone who knew more about the war than any living person he had ever met. “What do you mean?” he quipped.
 
“The Mahabharata is an epic, a ballad. It may perhaps be a reality or perhaps may not, but it is definitely a philosophy”, the old man smiled and said, luring Sanjay into more questions.
 
Sanjay was surely getting inquisitive. “Can you tell me what the philosophy is?” Sanjay requested.
 
Sure, here it goes”, the old man replied and commenced his narration.
 
 
“The Pandavas are nothing but your five senses, the sense of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound”. The old man narrowed his eyes and quizzed, “Do you know what the Kauravas are?”
 
 
Sanjay shook his head in ignorance as the old man continued, “The Kauravas are the hundred vices that attack your senses everyday but you can fight them”. The old man seemed to be adept at quizzing after each sentence and he asked yet again, “Do you know how?”
 
Sanjay shook his head again and the old man smiled and continued, “When Krishna rides your chariot”. Not waiting for Sanjay to interrupt and question, the old man continued, “I am sure you would want to know what Krishna and the Chariot are”.
 
 
Sanjay gasped at that gem of insight coming his way and the old man smiled brighter and continued, “Krishna is your inner voice, your conscience, your soul, your guiding light and if your let your life, being your Chariot, in the hands of  your true conscience, you need not worry about anything”.
 
Sanjay was surely stupefied, but quickly recovered with another question, “Then, why are Dronacharya and Bhishma fighting for the Kauravas, if they are vices?”
 
 
The Old man nodded, looking a bit sadder at that questioning of the choices of the old wise men in the ballad. He continued, “It just means that as you grow up, your perception of your elders change. You start realizing that the elders who you thought were picture perfect in your growing up years are not that perfect after all, that they too have their faults”.
 
“One day will come in your life when you would need to decide whether they are there with you for your good or for your bad. That would be the day you may also realize that you may have to fight them for the good. This is perhaps the hardest part of your growing up”.
 
Sanjay was awestruck by the enormity of the thoughts and words failed him as he just whispered, “What about Karna?”
 
 
“I am glad you asked about him too”, the old man smiled and continued. “Karna is the brother to your five senses, it is your Desire. He is an inevitable part of you but still stands with the vices. He feels that he is always wronged and hence makes excuses for being with the vices, exactly the same way as your desires do all the time”.
 
“Doesn’t your desire give you excuses to embrace the vices?” It was now time for the old man to quiz again. Sanjay just nodded silently.
 
Sanjay stared at the barren land, trying to consume and embrace and put together every bit of those million thoughts. As he looked up, the old man was already gone, seemed to have just disappeared in the column of dust.
 
Sanjay was walking back to his hotel, his legs refusing to carry him, overwhelmed by the weight of all the knowledge that he was carrying.
 
Sanjay’s glance fell on the painting behind the reception desk. It depicted Sage Vyasa narrating the Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha who was writing the ballad with his broken elephant tusk.

 

Sanjay stared at the face of Vyasa in the painting and was awestruck.

How could it exactly resemble the old man he had met moments ago on the fields of Kurukshetra.

 
 
Mahabharata story credits: Ankit Sanghavi
Images credit: Google
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Wish I was a woman. Today, I feel ashamed to be a man in this country.

What is happening to the men in this country; is it the society, our upbringing that creates this mentality in men.

We live in a society where it is absolutely normal for men to have sexual fantasies about women. In some classes, it is even considered healthy. Ridiculous, it may sound, but this is the honest truth. And when this happens, such fantasies do turn violent.

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Independence or In Dependence

Tonight as I go to sleep, I will be sleeping with a dream. I shall be sleeping with the dream of waking up tomorrow morning to the sounds of patriotic songs all around me; the dream of being able to stand in attention and watch our National Flag being hoisted high and the rendering of the National Anthem, the lyrics of which still gives me goose pimples.

But like every other Independence Day that I eagerly look forward too, this year too I am haunted by a question which keeps reminding itself on my brain every year, i.e. the question whether we are really independent.

It has been 71 years that we gained freedom from the British Rule and 48 years since I am part of a “free” nation, but the question that I pose to myself still remains unanswered by me.

What are we really independent from? We may be independent from a foreign rule and is that what we had really asked for? Are we really free from jealousy, hatred and intolerance towards others, our own country men, our brothers and sisters, as per our national pledge?

71 years since we took the pledge to be united and we are still in shackles. We wished to be bound in the real sense but unfortunately we are bound in the literary sense; we are tied up. So tightly are we tied up in the shackles of corruption, communal violence, discrimination in the name of caste, class and creed, terrorism, extremism, and so many of these false ideologies.

To many, these questions may sound to be monotonous and cyclical. They may be too. But then wouldn’t these questions be repeated till we get a convincing reply.

We claim to be responsible citizens, but time and again, in every election that we get an opportunity to elect our leaders, we prove ourselves wrong. We have been proving ourselves wrong since the last 68 years and we still continue to do so.

We falsely claim to be living in an independent country but our behaviour so clearly suggests that we are still in dependence; on our leaders and their false claims. We are still in dependence on other’s culture and not our own. We are still in dependence on admiring the other nations but looking down on our own.

Every year, as I raise my hand to salute the National Flag fluttering the announcement of our independence, I keep thinking whether we are really independent. And every time, I get the same answer; that we still do not think independently, we think what others make us think.

We are not worthy of celebrating Independence, we are actually In Dependence. As I say this, I am reminded of the poem by Rabindranath Tagore, “Where the Mind is Without Fear”.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

I wish this poem be the real anthem for all of us who seek the real meaning of independence; the meaning which conveys the freedom to hold our heads high with knowledge, depth of truth and clear reasoning, without any fear in our minds.

Epilogue:

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
—Tryst with Destiny speech, Jawaharlal Nehru, 15 August 1947

 

Our pledge still remains unredeemed.

 

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