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