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21 November, 2015

Mahabharata Unravelled

Dev was finally there, Kurukshetra, the ground where the great war of Mahabharata was fought. He wanted to make it his life’s work to study and write about the epic. He also knew that it was not possible till he went to the spot where the greatest war took place. It was said in the texts that eighty percent of the fighting male population of the civilization was wiped out in the eighteen days of the war.

He stood on the ground, the sun overhead; it was hot, the wind hiding the far reaches of the grounds with columns of dust. He looked around and wondered if the war really happened, if the ground beneath him had soaked all that blood, if the great Pandavas and Krishna stood where he stood.
“You will never know the truth about that!” said an aging soft voice.
Dev turned around to find an Old man in saffron robes appearing out of a column of dust. He had a long white beard and eyes that could settle an indignant storm.

“I know you are here to find out about the Kurukshetra war, but you cannot know about that war till you don’t know what the real war is about.” the Old man said enigmatically.
“What do you mean?” Dev instantly knew that he was in the presence of someone who knew more about the war than any living person.
“The Mahabharata is not only an Epic, a ballad, perhaps a reality but definitely a philosophy.” The Old man smiled luring Dev into more questions.

“Can you tell me what the philosophy is then?” Dev requested.

“Sure. Here goes,” began the Old man. 

“The Pandavas are nothing but your five senses, sight, smell, taste, touch and sound and do you know what the Kauravas are?” he asked narrowing his eyes. Dev shook his head. “The Kauravas are the hundred vices that attack your senses everyday but you can fight them and do you know how?” Dev shook his head again. “When Krishna rides your chariot!” The Old man smiled brighter and Dev gasped at that gem of insight.
“Krishna is your soul, your guiding light and if you let your life in his hands you have nothing to worry.” Dev was stupefied but came around quickly with another question. “Then why are Dronacharya and Bhishma fighting for the Kauravas, if they are vices?”

The Old man nodded, sadder for the question. “It just means that as you grow up your perception of your elders change. The elders who you thought were perfect in your growing up years are not all that perfect. They have faults.  And one day you will have to decide if they are for your good or your bad. Then you may also realize that you may have to fight them for the good. It is the hardest part of growing up and that is why the Geeta is important.”
Dev sat down on the ground, not because he was tired but because he could understand the enormity of it all.  “What about Karna?” he whispered.
“Ah!” said the Old man. “You have saved the best for last. Karna is the brother to your senses, he is desire, he is a part of you but stands with the vices. He feels wronged and makes excuses for being the vices as your desire does all the time. Does your desire not give you excuses to embrace vices?”

Dev nodded. He looked at the ground, consumed with a million thoughts, trying to put everything together and then when he looked up the Old man was gone. He seemed to have disappeared in the column of dust.

Later, when he checked into the hotel he saw a large painting of Ved Vyasa narrating the Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha and he could swear that the Sage looked exactly like the Old man whom he met in the dusty outdoor.

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