Lessons from Mahabharata E 7 – Your vast knowledge is of no use if…

No matter what field you belong to, the basic criteria to succeed is having enormous knowledge in it. Whether you are a student eager to gain good marks or a grown up wanting to do well in his or her profession, doing maximum study of your subject is the backbone of success.

However, there is one quality that plays a strong part in determining whether the knowledge you acquired bears any meaning and that is your intention. Your knowledge is worth nothing if your intention is evil. Such examples are found in our ancient scriptures.

Duryodhana was the villain of the Mahabharata. But not many people would know about his positive quality. He was an expert mace [gadaa] fighter. He acquired training from his guru sage Balarama and became a champion in the skill. In fact, Balarama even went onto say that Duryodhana was the greatest mace fighter of his generation; even better than the mighty Bheema.

But Duryodhana had a huge negative point, which was his jealousy towards his cousins Pandavas – Yudhishthir, Bheema, Arjun, Nakula and Sahadeva – right from his childhood. He was lusty for the throne of Hastinapura and wanted to sit on it by hook or crook; more by the latter.

Actor Darshan as Duryodhana in the Kannada movie Kurukshetra

After failing to eliminate the Pandavas, Duryodhana played a cruel game of dice by collaborating with his equally evil uncle Shakuni. The result was that the Pandavas, along with their wife Draupadi and mother Kunti, were sent for exile for 14 years.

Duryodhana had the throne for 14 long years for himself but he wasn’t able to enjoy it. He knew the period will finally end and he will be faced with the great battle of Kurukshetra. We all know what happened with the Kauravas in the battle. Despite having a great warrior force, they had to face a humiliating defeat.

One of the most interesting incidents during the war was Duryodhana’s mace fight with Bheema. As per sage Balarama, Duryodhana was the greatest mace fighter. However, it was Bheema who won because Lord Krishna signalled him to attack Duryodhana on his thigh, which would ensure his defeat.

In other words, even God will be on the side of someone with lesser knowledge if his intentions are noble.

By: Keyur Seta

(This is the 7th episode from our series, Lessons from Mahabharata. To visit previous episodes, click HERE.)


Krishna personally didn’t kill anyone in Mahabharata war, but is it true?

(This is the 7th episode in my ‘Lessons from Mahabharata’ series. To have a look at previous episodes, click HERE.)

One of the most significant aspects about the Mahabharata war was Lord Krishna’s role in it. He ensured victory for the righteous Pandavas against their evil cousins Kauravas through various tactics. However, he contributed in a mammoth way without taking weapons in hand or killing anyone.

But what if I told you that Krishna did kill in the war?

The Kurukshetra war started off in the most unusual manner. Arjuna developed cold feet and simply refused to fight. He was overwhelmed with the very thought of killing his own cousins, although they had proven to be evil. The opposition also had his highly respected grandfather Bheeshma and teacher, Drona. Hence, Arjun dropped his bow and arrow.

Lord-Krishna-MahabharataThis was when Krishna was compelled to motivate Arjun in fighting the war. The conversation turned out to be the most beautiful enlightenment on duties of a warrior and the real meaning of life, death and journey of soul. The talk turned out to be the sacred Bhagavad Gita. It continues to be the driving force for human beings (not just Hindus) till today and shall continue to do so.

This was enough to open Arjun’s eyes towards his real duty. He went onto valiantly fight the war and the rest, as we all know, is history. The war goes down in history as the victory of good over evil.

But the biggest evil was inside Arjun. It was his weakness and faintheartedness that stopped him from taking part in the war.

This evil force within Arjun was defeated by Krishna. Man can be his biggest enemy if he is filled with weakness. Krishna killed this weakness and with it, the biggest enemy on the battlefield. If he hadn’t done that, Pandavas’ greatest warrior wouldn’t have taken part in the war. The result of this would have been disastrous.

By doing this, Krishna also indirectly gave a message that fighting the outside enemy is futile without destroying the evil within.

By: Keyur Seta

Lessons from Mahabharata: Can a non-violent person engage in war?

(This is the 6th episode in our ‘Lessons from Mahabharata’ series. To visit the previous episodes, click HERE.)

The general definition of ‘non-violence’ is abstaining from harming anyone physically in any way. Its meaning is not limited to physical violence though. Verbal abuse or hurting someone through words is also a kind of violence. But in this write-up, we will only be focusing on the physical aspect of violence.

As a non-violent person is not expected to even slap anyone, can he or she ever take part in a war? The whole idea sounds crazy, right? But if you look closely, he or she can do that, at least in my opinion.

To explain my point, I would like to go back to around 5000 years. The Pandavas valiantly fought against the Kauravas in the great war of Mahabharata in Kurukshetra. They eventually decimated their enemy. In other words, they killed them. So, this will obviously make you think that they were violent as they indulged in a violent act. What if I tell you that it wasn’t a violent act by them? Okay, let me explain.

krishna-and-arjunPandavas never wanted the war in the first place. They lost their kingdom through treachery in a game of dice to Duryodhana. They also had to face 14 years’ of forest exile as part of the punishment. Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, was almost stripped in front of others in the court.

But despite facing such humongous atrocities and that too for no fault of theirs, they were ready to live peacefully with the Kauravas. After completing their exile period, they only asked for five small villages for each brother without showing any desire to win back the entire kingdom of Hastinapur. Can there be a bigger example of non-violence?

Lord Krishna is blamed to have played tricks in defeating Kauravas. But we tend to forget that he himself visited Kauravas with a proposal of peace while asking only five small villages for the Pandavas. However, Duryodhana refused to grant even a needle space to Pandavas.

He was hell bent in fighting the war.

Now, the most important question – What could they have done if Kauravas were adamant in attacking them? Obviously, they would retaliate with equal force. They had to because they can’t let the enemy kill them for no fault of theirs.

The Kauravas were not only wrong but they also wanted to kill the Pandavas to fulfill their evil mission. Hence, being true Kshatriyas, the Pandavas had to make sure that Dharma roots out Adharma.

As explained in the Bhagavad Gita, if Arjuna had refused to fight the war and let Kauravas kill them, it would have given a wrong message for the upcoming generations. It would have shown the victory of evil over good.

Therefore, what Pandavas did in the war was self-defense. It was not violence. To protect the good from evil can never be violence.

Now, let’s see at this situation from today’s point of view. If an enemy country attacks us, our soldiers would retaliate to make sure that the innocent citizens aren’t harmed. In this case, our soldiers aren’t violent. They are only protecting us.

Hence, a non-violent person can indulge in war.

By: Keyur Seta

Lessons from Mahabharata: Why wealth acquired through fraud never provides peace

(This is the 5th episode in our Lessons from Mahabharata series. To read the previous episodes, click HERE.)

By: Keyur Seta

It is mandatory for everyone to earn money in order to survive. It is also necessary to keep earning as much as possible to ensure a good future for our family. But problem crops up when greed appears in front of us in the guise of need. Once a person reaches this stage, s/he will be obsessed with devising newer ways to earn money, even if it means treading on the path of fraud.

His or her obsession to please the senses through every means of luxury will destroy his ability to differentiate between legal and illegal or ethical or unethical. In fact, now money will no longer satisfy that person. S/he will need is wealth. Money is required to satisfy needs. But we need wealth to satisfy our unending wants or desires.

But how much value does wealth acquired through fraud or corrupt means hold? Rather, does it hold any value? Answers to these questions are found in the great epic, Mahabharata.

Picture from B R Chopra’s Mahabharata

Duryodhana snatched away the throne of Hastinapur from the Pandavas through evil tactics. He and Shakuni invited Yudishthir to a game of dice and tricked him in losing the throne and the entire wealth and power of the Panadvas. Not just that, he also made sure they are exiled to the forests for 14 years as punishment.

What this meant was that Duryodhana had 14 years of uninterrupted materialistic enjoyments of all kinds. He had all the luxuries of the world at his disposal. But was he able to attain satisfaction through such uncountable wealth and immense power? No, he wasn’t.

Although he appeared happy, deep inside he knew he had committed grave treachery. His subconscious mind was aware that he will have to pay for his crime; karma will hunt him one day. He was the emperor only for 14 years. What after that? These thoughts never let him live in peace despite being the sole owner of such enormous wealth.

In fact, the so-called victory over Pandavas came with a baggage of some high levels of anxiety. This coupled with his sky high ego hampered his thinking ability. Hence, he refused to part with even five small villages to the Pandavas even when Lord Krishna himself appealed to him by personally visiting him.

In short, wealth acquired through corrupt means destroyed his life and how!

Mahabharata is timeless. Whatever is taught or portrayed in it will be relevant as long as there is life on earth. Therefore, the above lesson is also seen in today’s times. Most of us might think that those who have heaped crores and crores through corrupt means or scams are having the time of their lives. But that is far from the truth.

Having seen and even known people who have amassed wealth in fraudulent ways, I can assure you that their lives are far from what you are imagining. There is constant fear and anxiety of being caught. More so because the honor and the future of your family is constantly at stake.

What is the point of being an owner of such luxuries if you need a sleeping pill to put you off to sleep?

Lessons from Mahabharata: Your choice determines your fate, like Karna’s did

(This is the 4th episode in our Lessons from Mahabharata series. To have a look at the other episodes click HERE.)

By: Keyur Seta

We have always been advised to be good and kind-hearted. We have always been told that imbibing the aforementioned qualities will ensure we live a successful life.

However, being good and kind alone is of no use if we cannot distinguish between right and wrong; between Dharma and Adharma. And it is this choice that will ultimately decide our fate in life or where one ultimately ends up. This message is glaringly visible through one of the important characters of Mahabharata – Karna.

Picture: iyadav.com

Karna faced rejection right from the time he was born. He was abandoned by his mother, Kunti since his birth took place outside wedlock through her union with the Sun god. He was raised by Dhritrashtra’s charioteer, Adiratha. After growing up, Karna was eager to learn warfare but was rejected by Drona as he didn’t belong to the Kshatriya clan.

He ultimately did learn warfare from Parshurama but by lying that he is a Brahmin since the teacher only taught students from that clan. Karna’s lie was ultimately exposed during the end of his training and he was cursed by Parshurama that he would forget the divine knowledge of using his deadly weapon, Brahmastra when he would need it the most.

At a time when there was no hope left for Karna, he met Duryodhana, who not only considered him as his best friend but also gave him a position equal to that of his real brothers. In order to make sure Karna could take part in a tournament organized by Dronacharya, Duryodhana also made him the King of the Anga territory.

In other words, Duryodhana turned out to be the biggest boon for Karna. Considering he did so much for Karna despite not being of the same bloodline, it was obvious for the latter to be indebted to him forever. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Karna became the most important warrior for Duryodhana during the great battle of Kurukshetra against the Pandavas.

However, Duryodhana, as we all know, was the embodiment of evil. He devised evil ways to denounce the Pandavas of their rightful throne of Hastinapur and to achieve that, he was ready to vanquish them through war. In short, Duryodhana was Tamas personified.

So the big question is – How right was for Karna in supporting Duryodhana in his terribly evil mission? Or rather, is there any justification in supporting evil? There answer, as per my view, is a big NO. Despite being fully aware of who is good and who is evil, if you still support the latter, you are doomed even if you are just repaying that person.

Picture: Indiaopines.com

There is another way of looking at this. As we all know, Lord Krishna is the embodiment of Dharma. Hence, he ensured victory for the Pandavas despite not directly taking part in the war. When Krishna himself made it clear as to which side Dharma belongs to, do we need more examples?

So, Karna could have chosen Dharma (Pandavas) in place of Adharma (Kauravas). But he didn’t and suffered a terrible death at the hands of Arjuna. Had he chosen otherwise, the latter stage of his life could have been completely different. Being the eldest of the Pandavas, he would have enjoyed the throne of Hastinapur.

Karna had suffered ill-luck or bad fate throughout his life. But many a times, life knocks at our door to give us one last chance of making amends for everything negative that happened to us till now. It is up to us to make the right choice.

Fate was against Karna throughout his life but it was his own choice that determined his ultimate fate in life.

Lessons from Mahabharata – Episode 3: Is money enough to bring peace?

(This is the second episode of the series ‘Lessons from Mahabharata’. The sole aim of this series is to highlight that the many messages given in the greatest epic are completely relevant even today and will be forever… For previous episode, click HERE.)

By: Keyur Seta

The basic necessities of any human being are food, clothing and shelter. To fulfill these basic needs, it is essential for him or her to earn money. Hence, each one of us is into some profession or the other to make sure we keep earning to survive. But how much money is enough even after being able to live life comfortably? Or rather, is money ever enough?

We regularly come across people who are so rich that even their next few generations can live a decent lifestyle without having to work. But despite that, they aren’t satisfied. They continue to devise newer methods to earn even more. If you ask them the reason for their obsession to make more lakhs or crores, their standard answer is – To be happier! But happiness comes from a state of peace or absence of conflict. So can money surely being peace of mind?

Yudhishthir crowned the king (Picture: Wikipedia)
Yudhishthir crowned the king (Picture: Wikipedia)

Now let me present you with some interesting facts. There have been thousands of studies and surveys suggesting that the rich and the super-rich are more depressed than anyone else or are more prone to be depressed. But there is more to it. Many of these studies also suggest that suicidal tendencies are found the most among the wealthy lot. So naturally, psychiatrists come across a lot of people from this class suffering from depression.

I personally know quite a few super rich individuals who are depressed. I also know one such person who committed suicide few years back after being trapped into depression. Similarly, I have also witnessed some very well to do individuals getting treated for depression.

This, obviously, throws light on few important points – If money is enough to bring peace and happiness, why such large numbers of wealthy individuals are falling into depression? Worse, why some of them are ending their lives despite such a fat bank balance? If money is enough to bring happiness and peace, these people, leave alone committing suicide or even being depressed, should not be even close to depression.

This aspect is also seen in the great Indian epic Mahabharata after the war of Kurukshetra. As the Pandavas defeated the Kauravas, Yudhishthir, being the eldest of the Pandava brothers, was crowned as the King of Hastinapur. But was he or the other four Pandava brothers – Arjun, Bheem, Nakul and Sahadev – able to enjoy the fruits of the kingdom?

Despite being the rulers of the richest kingdom in the country, the Pandavas, especially Yudhishthir, weren’t happy or at peace simply because it was achieved after the annihilation of their own cousins, grandfather (Bheeshma), teacher (Drona), brother (Karna) and friends. Plus, thousands of warriors who fought for the Pandavas too had lost their lives on the battlefield.

When a kingdom is achieved after such terrible carnage, it becomes meaningless. So the Pandavas were just unable to enjoy its fruits as they were feeling remorseful. Hence, they retired to heavenly abode. I am not at all trying to say that the war shouldn’t have been fought. It was absolutely necessary to preserve Dharma by not allowing the Kauravas to succeed in their evil ways. I am just pointing out that wealth doesn’t mean much in the presence of inner conflict and remorse.

Now let us look at a fictional example. Mr X is the CEO of a big business empire. But his personal life is in disarray. His health is deteriorating while his family members are constantly into conflict. On the other hand, Mr Y is an executive earning a moderate income. With a healthy lifestyle, loving wife and obedient children, he is happy in his own little world.

So who of the two is richer? You decide.

(To follow Road To Divinity on Facebook, click HERE.)

Pandavas on their way to heaven. (Picture: Goelweb.com)
Pandavas on their way to heaven. (Picture: Goelweb.com)

Lessons from Mahabharata – Episode 2: Quality is above Quantity

(This is the second episode of the series ‘Lessons from Mahabharata’. The sole aim of this series is to highlight that the many messages given in the greatest epic are completely relevant even today and will be forever… For Episode 1, click HERE.)

By: Keyur Seta

All of us must have heard the phrase ‘Quality is above Quantity’ a number of times in our lives. Be it our elders, teachers, friends or bosses; someone at some point utters these words with regards to different contexts. One might think that this phrase is relevant to the current professionals from various fields. Although there is no denying this, I feel it has been relevant since ages; since thousands of years ago.

Yes, I am talking about the Mahabharata. There is a huge and obvious example of ‘Quality above quantity’ in the epic. Strangely, I haven’t heard or read anyone referring to this event in the context of this phrase. Or maybe many must have drawn a link of this incident with the phrase; such is the magnanimity of the many events of this epic. The episode I am talking about took place much before the commencement of the Great War of Kurukshetra between the Pandavas and Kauravas.

krishna-duryodhanAfter the war was announced and the preparations about the same were on in full swing, Duryodhana, the evil antagonist, and Arjuna, the righteous Pandava, visited Lord Krishna to ask for his assistance in the war. Krishna said he can either offer himself weaponless or his huge army (with weapons) to any one of them. As Duryodhana was the first one to arrive, he was given the opportunity to choose first. Despite knowing Duryodhana’s evil intentions, Krishna agreed to help him too since it was against the dharma for a Kshatriya to say no to a relative.

We all know how materialistic Duryodhana was. For people with a materialistic mindset, numbers matter the most. In fact, their mindset always forces them to judge people and situations on the basis of numbers. Therefore, without giving it a second thought, Duryodhana chose Krishna’s army and was delighted about his choice.

On the other hand, Arjuna too was immensely pleased for getting the services of Krishna, although without weapons. Arjuna’s mind was unlike Duryodhana. As he didn’t measure things in terms of numbers, he very well knew the importance of having Krishna on his side as his charioteer. He knew Krishna alone is many times mightier than any army in the world.

The result of Duryodhana’s choice was devastating for the Kauravas. In fact, we can even infer that the biggest turning point in the Great War of Kurukshetra arrived much before it commenced. A change of choice by Duryodhana would have turned around the entire result on its head. However, some people do believe that if Duryodhana had chosen Krishna, the latter would have either convinced him against fighting the war or would have still ensured a victory for Pandavas. I too would like to believe it.

So there we are! We have had the biggest example of ‘Quality above quantity’ thousands of years ago, which is relevant even today and will be as long as the earth exists; such is the timelessness of the epic.

I would like to list down few examples of this theory out of our daily living:-

  • In today’s age we have gadgets for almost everything. The basic aim of every gadget or machine is to save our time and at the same time achieve more perfection. However, we had more contentment and free time when we were less dependent on gadgets.
  • The number of TV channels today is well above a thousand! But we were more satisfied when there was just one channel or a handful of channels. And despite such huge number of channels, many are seen spending their time just flipping channels as they aren’t satisfied with any. The same goes for movies.
  • The numbers of shopping centers and shopping malls have increased rapidly over the years. People are also seen indulging in shopping like never before. The reason for this is their lack of satisfaction from whatever they buy. Although he or she is happy initially after buying something, the satisfaction derived out of it lasts only few moments, forcing them to shop more and repeat the cycle. On the other hand, people were more satisfied when they used to spend on simple items with less frequency.
  • Since a decade or so, we have also been witnessing an overdose of cricket. Obviously, this had had a great impact on our satisfaction derived from the sport. Plus, the emergence of Indian Premier League (IPL) made matters worse by staging around 80 matches in less than two months! And since it is becoming more and more a batsman’s game, the value of a century or six-hitting has reduced. For how long do we now feel happy when a batsman scores a 100?
  • In today’s social media savvy era, we have hundreds of friends. But how many are there really with whom we can share our heart out comfortably?