Mahabharata: Lessons from the epic

Two major epics of ancient India are the Ramayana and Mahabharata. In both epics it’s believed Lord Vishnu took on a human avatar, as Ram in Ramayana and Krishna in Mahabharata, to ensure that justice was served and peace and prosperity prevailed in the aftermath of wars that were fought by two sides involved in the conflict. Very righteous human manifestation can be found in Ram while Krishna is a more playful and adopting creative means type of human manifestation to deliver justice. A short summary of Mahabharata ( is as follows:
The Pandavas and Kauravas are cousins of a ruling dynasty. Hastinapur is the capital of this kingdom. When the time comes to choose a new king the eldest scion of the Pandavas, Yudhishtra, is considered as the rightful heir. Next in line is the eldest scion from the Kaurava side, Duryodhana. However, Duryodhana is not willing to accept this as he believes he should be the first in line as his father has ruled the kingdom. So, he engineers conditions which result in the Pandavas getting just a fraction of the kingdom. The elders had intervened unsuccessfully to broker peace and a proper split of the kingdom but Duryodhana’s quest for absolute power and intransigence prevailed. The Pandavas set about the task of building from scratch from the forest land granted to them. During a visit to the Pandavas’ new place Duryodhana is jealous of the success of the Pandavas and also the peace and prosperity around. He also feels insulted by an incident or two. Enraged, Duryodhana returns back to Hastinapur to plot his way to grabbing the tiny piece of land too from the Pandavas. He finds a willing ally in his uncle Shakuni. They hatch a plan and invite Yudhishtra to play a game of dice which he accepts. The game starts and the dice is loaded against Yudhishtra which he doesn’t realize. He loses his kingdom, wealth and even the freedom of him, his siblings and all their families in betting during the course of the game. Losing everything Yudhishtra, his brothers and their families are forced into exile. The elders in the court are aghast at the unfairness and try to instill sense but Duryodhana brushes them all aside. Wise minister Vidura warns that the health of the kingdom will suffer by the result, his words are ignored too. Ultimately, their sense of righteousness, morality and virtue is trumped by duty and loyalty to their king and they accept the result. The Pandavas go on exile and upon completion of exile period try to negotiate their return by sending Krishna as their emissary for discussions. The talks fail and the only way for justice is a battle. Duryodhana led Kauravas are a mighty force as they hold the reins of power and command the loyalty of reluctant but duty-bound warriors reknowned for their valor and battle-hardened skills. The rest of the story is about Krishna nullifying the military superiority of the Kauravas as he guides, encourages and inspires the Pandavas to victory in their quest for justice. 👍

The lessons of the epic are still relevant in today’s world. There will be occasions when one’s sense of duty and loyalty may have to be weighed against what is correct and morally right. Each individual makes their own decision based on what they perceive to be the action the situation demands 🙏

Ardern’ed victory!

Few days ago Labor Party in New Zeland won outright parliamentary majority and in the process another term as Prime Minister for Jacinda Ardern ( ). The victory appears to be hard-earned (I prefer the similar sounding Ardern’ed) as the Ardern-led Government has had to deal with, in this term, a terrorist attack in Christchurch, a natural disaster when the White Island/Whakaari volcano erupted, and COVID-19 pandemic too.

Sound familiar to Northerners on the other side of Pacific?

It’s instructive how the NZ Government handled the terrorist attack and COVID-19 pandemic in their country. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack the Government first acknowledged a need for action and, within a short time, issued a ban on possession of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. The Government has also garnered praise for its handling of the COVID-19 cases and for success in measures taken to contain the spread. Obviously it has come with a price. Travel and tourism would have taken a big hit and the country is in recession now. For a country with ~ 5 million total population a major outbreak would have been a great setback. Yet, with good implementation of safety measures the country is back to as-close-to-normal-as-possible at this time. I do not follow NZ news regularly. Obviously terrorist attack points to existence of some individuals or fringe groups intent on creating racial/religious tension in society (which can be expected in any country). It’s the response to such tragedies that makes a big difference. Likewise COVID-19 related measures likely caused hardship to people while making the country safer. It’s also likely some mistakes were made and lessons learned in an evolving situation ( ). Going by the result of general election – a resounding majority for the incumbent, the people have approved the performance. That’s not to say everything must have been done perfect. The lesson to learn, in a functioning democracy, is that if the leaders share known facts people understand and are also more forgiving of honest mistakes made. No economy can survive being shut for a long time and it’s not easy to balance safety with minimal economic impact. It’s good to see transparency and sincerity still matter. Wish it could be replicated on a bigger scale by other countries too 🙏