The great Mahabharata war was an watershed moment in Indian ancient history. Marked by death of countless people, the war left no winner. Pandavas got back their kingdom but they could never recover from all that was lost during the war, primarily people they loved, grew with. One can draw parlance only in later days when Ashoka was similarly grief stricken by the outcome of Kalinga war, struck by the ruins & destruction of war.
The Kurukshetra war is also said to be the war of ‘dharma’, where truth prevails over lies & deceits. The righteous wins! Truly, that was as Yudisthira rightly got back the throne that was rightfully his as he was the eldest child of the Kuru dynasty. Primogeniture was the rule of the day at that time!
But what was the genesis of such lies/ deceits that laid the foundation of such strong hatred that ended up in such a devastating war? Perhaps, there is a cue to it in Bhagvad Gita. In the ‘Visad Yog- Chapter1’, in the 1st shloka the blind king Dhritarashtra asks his charioteer Sanjay (who was given the boon to be able to see the war and relay to the king)
“dharmaksetra kuruksetra, samaveta yuyutsavah; mamakah pandavas cai va, kim akurvata sanjaya”Bhagvad Gita
Translated to English, it says:
“In this field of dharma/ righteousness at Kurukshetra, where my people and the Pandavas have assembled with desire to fight, tell me what is happening, Sanjaya”
The part that is most interesting and holds the key is the one highlighted in bold. Dhritarashtra’s ego (and perhaps jealousy of being superseded by younger brother Pandu, due to his blindness) made him always see his sons (Kauravas) and his brother’s sons (Pandavas) differently. This blind love ignoring the fact that there were all very dear to him and he, as king, should have set aside ego and never erred from the path of righteousness lay at the core of the Kuruskehtra war. Hence, he turned a blind eye to all the follies of Duryodhana and thus hastening to an inglorious end and becoming the nemesis of himself!
Coming back to our today’s life, there is very important lesson for us. There are so many battles that we fight every day, either at home or at office which not only disturbs our happiness but also sows the seed for further hatred. If we introspect closely, we will perhaps realize that at the core of it all lies our strong ego which makes us look only at ‘I’. We, like Dhritarashtra’ are blinded by this ‘I’ and fail to distinguish between right and wrong. Many centuries back, our ancient text ‘Hitopedasa’ noted “What distinguishes men from animals is the knowledge of right and wrong“! Alas! we are not focusing!