Does there exist a greater hunger?

Sensing the wetness beneath her feet and smelling the pungent smell of the cadavers lying on the blood soaked and fatigued battlefield, Gandhari cried in grief, “Oh Krishna! All my ninety nine children died by the sinful hands of the Pandavas! But while there deeds are sinful, your very mind is much more than so…why O why Krishna! Would you initiate such a dreadful doom!? How will I ever let go of this immense sadness that has descended upon me…how will anything ever satisfy my need and the tender motherly hunger within me, to touch my sons again!?”

With his ever solemn voice, Lord Krishna replied, “the reason behind their death is their own karma, their deeds, their decisions, their actions….with a slight backing of destiny from behind. As about the immense sadness that has descended upon you, time is the key that heals every wound, that transforms, that leads into evolution. Have faith in the power of time. Hunger here, is a matter of intensity and realization of the same. There is always a greater hunger, a greater pain of the soul, a greater suffering that a being realizes lying on her death bed, recounting all the past sufferings, which by then seem very minute. Wait till the greater hunger knocks on your door, that is when the present that you feel is the greatest, will take form into the most trivial”

Gandhari, too shattered and exhausted emotionally and psychologically, sensing her dead sons’ blood splashed across the battlefield, deemed it futile to answer back, only contemplating what can be a greater hunger and suffering than the loss of all her sons, dismissing Krishna’s words with a silent rage.

Sitting at a spot on the battlefield, she decided to spend the last hours of the day with her dead sons, with an intense and inexplicable sense of bereavement. But, due to extreme fatigue, her stomach soon began to crumble due to hunger. Surprisingly, somewhere above her, she could smell the sweet fragrance of a fresh mango, increasing her hunger and giving rise to an uneasy anxiety to grab it. She stood up, and stretched her hand for the mango, supposedly attached to the tree. Realizing that it was too far for her hand to reach, she gathered some flat rocks from nearby and piled them one above the other creating a pedestal to stand on to it. Having done so, she finally reached the mango and inhaled the fruit with great relish and satisfaction. However, just as she tried to step down from the rocks, having eaten the fruit, she realized that the rocks did not feel like rocks anymore. They were rather softer and felt wet and rough as if draped by garments. Touching and feeling the rocks, it came to her with a huge sting that those flat rocks were none other than the Kaurava men themselves, her own sons who she had piled up and stepped onto to fulfill her own selfish need. Who else, she thought, but Krishna could have created the illusionary mango to prove his statements that were made earlier.

The feeling of real hunger, the sensation of starving escapes us most of the times. The basic necessities of life for us – food, shelter, water and clothing, are in abundance for us. Some of us might have not even felt poverty and hunger in their very least sense. It is so because we have such an easy and quick access to our absolute necessities, that we have somehow forgotten to value what we have and how what little we think we have, can mean the world’s treasures to someone else, living right across the street, struggling to taste even a single morsel of nourishment for each meal of the day.

Krishna had very well warned Gandhari about the greater hunger and suffering that would wash away the effects of her present loss completely. Her basic necessity – hunger, which gave her the ability to function and breathe, was much greater a suffering than the loss of her sons, as keeping one – self alive by fulfilling the basic desires of life is the most rudimentary but at the same time, the important and significant. In Thomas Hobbes’ ‘State of nature’ humans only believe in cut throat competition with one another over resources in order to survive. An element of Darwinism can also be touched upon here, which would indicate that in a state of nature, where there exists no civic rule, law or code of conduct that would be running the sentient beings, only the strongest survive and the weak perishes. Although, the state of nature is long gone with humans having evolved and living into settlements, creating a society that has civic order and laws to be followed, with an authority governing human affairs, some aspects of ‘the struggle to live on’ still exists. The greatest fear for most of us is the fear of death due to starving.

I am by no means trying to convey, that sufferings can be measured by any sort of a yardstick. I completely agree that the loss of Gandhari’s sons would have meant something as equivalent as devastation to her. Nothing can match the loss of a familial member. Such sufferings result in the imbalances of life, where at times, you stumble and fall so hard that the wound might take a lot of time to be healed, however it heals if one has faith in time, as said by Krishna to Gandhari above. Nothing can match the sorrow erupted out of a failure at an important entrance exam, nothing can match the pain having lost a loved one due to a fatal ailment or nothing can match the divorce and separation of parents. However, the ultimate goal of a human being must be to remain happy and I would add, even if it means kidding oneself sometimes. To achieve that, one has to be practical and think how things could be worse than the present scenario, but isn’t so. How there can be a greater, more intense hunger and suffering that could have had no way out at all. That would automatically and intrinsically give you courage and the will to move on. Sorrow can only act as an obstacle if held on to for too long. So, one must learn the cruel art of detachment and letting go. It might appear cold, but ultimately will bring upon happiness with positive results.

What Gandhari could have done was that she could have given a thought to those mothers who lose their children due to extreme starvation or fatal diseases. Losing children as warriors in the battle field is the death that comes as a part of the golden luck to only a handful. Hence, next time when you feel that there are no answers to your questions, that every door has been shut on your face, that you cannot see any signs of a ray of light in the darkness that has emerged, look around, and there you will find people with the greater hunger and suffering, still smiling and living with a ray of hope. Look at them for at least ten minutes or so and then ask yourself – can I be sorrowful now?

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light

  • Albus Dumbledore

Perfection is not just about gaining control, it’s also about learning to let go

  • Black Swan (movie) 2010

 

Standard

Striking a mental target

It often makes me wonder; the way we are obligated towards believing that elders are always right! Or that one must not argue with elders! Or that any man who is perceived to be great and well accomplished must not be questioned, as it is always most likely that the accomplished shall be incapable of being questioned. If we look around us, particularly in an Indian household, questioning, opposing and arguing with the more experienced is only a very recent phenomena that has come into practice. Now the question is – is it healthy to argue or does it actually reflect the meaning that it has always been assumed to be reflecting, i.e. Disrespect and lack of etiquette?

Parshurama is one of the most mesmerizing characters in the Ramayana. Although he has a small role in the epic, the paradox that his role brings about is incredibly interesting. Due to the irony reflected, it is difficult to grant him a place in the four fold Varna system under Hinduism; A Brahmin or a Kshatriya? He is a sage possessing an axe , who kills Kshatriya kings who show lack of control or any sort of flexibility over the people of their kingdoms. The accidental breaking of Lord Shiva’s bow by Ram had resulted in the entry of an enraged Parshurama into Raja Janak’s palace. The entire palace was mum due of fear, due of fear that grew out of Parshuma’s infamous fatal fury as he was known to have decapitated many unruly kings. Very interestingly, Parshurama and Lord Rama introduced themselves to each other as the destroyer of unruliness, the killer of Kshatriyas who have shown disregard towards rules, and the forgiver, one who turned Ahilya  from her cursed stone form back to her original human form respectively. After the narration of the polar opposite introductions, the tale progresses towards a debate between Ram and Parshurama.

It was Sita’s swayamvar and archery being one of the most difficult arts of warfare, in both the epics, it is the skill of archery that is used as a property for assessing strength and the ability to be an impeccable husband. The bow that was offered to the participants for striking a target was Lord Shiva’s bow, so extremely heavy that no one had ever been able to pick it, except Sita. As a result of which, her parents had decided to find her a husband who would be equally competent in terms of strength. Hence, the same bow was used in the ceremony to examine the participants. While setting up the bow, Rama’s and Sita’s eyes met, and the bow broke accidentally due to the sweet distraction. The breaking of the bow due to distraction enraged Parshurama even more and he mocked Rama saying, what sort of a Kshatriya is one, who has no control over mind so much so that the targeting of an arrow leads to breaking of the bow itself? over which, Rama then argued pointing back at Parshurama saying, what sort of a mind did he himself possess, one that could not forgive, one that was not hesitant towards initiating immense bloodsheds among Kshatriyas? Rama insisted that the human society should function with love and faith as its fundamental norms and not with rules that are imposed. Rules have to be followed voluntarily. Parshurama was so impressed by his argument that he gifted Rama with Vishnu’s bow and chose his own constrained mind as a target for Rama to strike, so that all the rigid chains that his mind was tangled with could be broken. For the first time, a mental target was striked with a bow.

After Ram put forward his argument, for a moment, I as a reader thought, Parshurama will attack Rama with his axe or that he will burst the mansion into flames due to extreme fury. Such reflex conclusions came into my mind because of the preaching that the society gives us right since the time we were beginning to develop our conscience. Being argumentative with the venerable is a sin, is a thought that we have been imbibed with. An argumentative attitude is often perceived interchangeably with rudeness and insolence. Arguments never mean putting the opponent down and forcing him/her to start believing in your conviction. It only means putting forward your reasons for believing in a different opinion and reaching a mutual conclusion that is closest to the truth. Due to Ram’s argumentative words over Parshurama, a fierce and aggressive figure realized that he himself was incapable of controlling his own mind and it did not lead to the establishment of a structured society, rather it lead to the growth of fear that started to rule the society. We humans are intellectual beings. We are capable of thinking in diverse directions with rationality, often leading to innovations and discoveries. As a parent, one shall naturally feel content about the obeying nature of her children, but little does she realize that the same nature will turn into a habit and following will become much more convenient than leading. Can a mind that has never questioned, judge? Can a tongue that has never voiced its arguments, speak? Arguments should be seen as healthy. Elders should undoubtedly be revered for their experiences and hardships that they have gathered all their lives, however this should not mean that opinions cannot be raised. Hence, in the final war of Mahabharata, Yudhishthira’s initial two arrows deliberately landed at Bhishma’s and Drona’s feet to show reverence, despite them supporting the kauravas. But the gesture of respect never meant that they did not fight the elders in the war.

Children should be inculcated with the habit of putting forward their opinions laid on a foundation of logical reasoning. Arguments and rudeness should not be perceived as interchangeable concepts, as rudeness just infuriates minds but arguments, you never know, might act like a bow that strikes a constrained mind and breaks the unnecessary chains binding it.

Standard

darker side developed with time. OR, was it always present in disguise?

No individual in Kaliyuga can ever visualize a student cutting off his thumb and placing it at his Guru’s feet. Eklavya’s act was incredible and the tale from Mahabharata has always been narrating an act of great sacrifice by a passionate pupil and a foxy action taken by a much revered master, that reflected insecurity and jealousy. All through, we have been comparing the kinds of people that existed in different Yugas. Perhaps, it will not be completely illogical to believe in the fact that a pupil as devoted as Eklavya is non existent in the present times. Perhaps, it will be impossible for even the most respectful pupil today to master over a skill, rise above his rivals, and then, with one show of external insecurity, to give away the acquired skill forever. The ability to sacrifice and maintain relational ties under harmony has deteriorated with subsequent yugas. However, that is only true considering Eklavya’s great sacrifice. What shall one say about Guru Drona? Does his insecurity and jealousy not correspond with what might be the constituent traits of a human in the kaliyuga today? It is not rational to generalize human traits based on time periods. No matter which yuga, no matter which century or decade, the brighter side cannot exist without the dark side. There will be present polar opposites to every ideological designation. It is not possible to comprehend the value of the positive without the negative. The Acharya’s audacious and tyrannical deed would not have been felt so strongly, had the pupil would have questioned his actions. Almost each one of us who has read the Mahabharata have contemplated over the Guru’s unbelievably torturous act towards his pupil. Eklavya’s silent and perhaps painful obedience unveiled the injustice even more overtly in front of us. This brings about two essential aspects infront of us. First being – Every yuga contains both sides of a coin ; one gleams, the other does not. Although Eklavya’s alter ego may be difficult to be traced in the present times, the unsecured and contemptuous mind like that of the Guru was in existence then and can be found in plenty in every fifth person today also. It was the constrains laid down by the set rules and norms that deliberately kept opposition and questioning far away from imagination. The second and extremely ironical aspect being – injustice cannot be brought forwarded without voicing it openly today. However, in the epic it is Eklavya’s silence that reflected the tyranny to the fullest extent. Questioning Acharyaji’s words would not have left us in disbelief. Hence, silence had its own beauty. It did what words could not have done.

Standard