Marvellous Mahābhārata Morals

Marvellous Mahābhārata Morals

Introduction

The Mahābhārata is the finest gem from the treasure trove of Hindu Scriptures.  Lord Ganeśa wrote the Mahābhārata at the request of Riśī Kṛṣṇa-Dwaipāyaṇa Vyāsa.  Lord Ganeśa agreed to this request on the condition that Riśī Vyāsa would not halt in his dictation, and Riśī Vyāsa agreed provided Lord Ganeśa, before writing it down, took the time to understand it.  Originally, the Mahābhārata was of 8,800 verses and Riśī Vyāsa titled it as Jaya (Victory).  Later Vaisampāyana (disciple of Riśī Vyāsa) recited it to King Janamejaya (great-grandson of Arjuna) and made it to 24,000 verses titling the work as Bhārata (India).  Many years later Ugrasravas added many hymns to make it a huge book of over 90,000 verses, organized it in 18 parvans (books) with many sub-sections in each book, and titled it as Mahābhārata (Great India).

The Mahābhārata is a sacred text and one of the two great Hindu epics, the other being Rāmāyana.  In the Ādi Parvan (first book) of the Mahābhārata, it is claimed that what is found here may be found elsewhere, but what is not found here will not be found anywhere.  No other book of the world excepting the Mahābhārata can make such a bold claim, as it contains the song celestial- Bhagavat Gita, an abridged version of the Rāmāyana, and the essence of all the Vedas, Itihasas, Puranas, Brahmanas, Agamas, Upanishads, Aranyakas, and the Shastras.  It is rightly justified in making such a bold claim.

The Mahābhārata offers many stories, themes, motifs, and morals.  Innumerable morals can be obtained from this text and one life even would be insufficient to describe them all.  Yet, a sincere attempt is made to present few marvellous morals as highlighted in the following passages.

Dharma has to be followed under all circumstances

This is the central moral of the Mahābhārata.  The moral of strict obedience to Dharma rings in every word of the Mahābhārata.  Dharma is Righteousness and Adharma is Unrighteousness.  Dharma followed, preserves and Dharma violated, destroys.  The author of Mahābhārata, Riśī Kṛṣṇa-Dwaipāyaṇa Vyāsa writes in the concluding Book 18, titled Swargārohana Parva (The Book of the Ascent to Heaven):

“With raised hands, I shout at the top of my voice; but alas, no one hears my words, which can give them Supreme Peace, Joy and Eternal Bliss.  One can attain wealth and all objects of desire through Dharma.  Why do not people practice Dharma?  One should not abandon Dharma at any cost, even at the risk of his life.  One should not relinquish Dharma out of passion, fear, and covetousness or for the sake of preserving one’s life.  This is the Bhārata Gāyatrī.  Meditate on this daily, O man!  When you retire to sleep and when you rise from your bed every morning.  You will attain everything.  You will attain fame, prosperity, long life, eternal bliss, everlasting peace and immortality.”

The author during the whole narrative repeatedly points out the fallacies that the Kuru princes commit and thus go deeper and deeper on the path of unrighteousness.  Unprincipled, unethical, unscrupulous, corrupt, dishonorable, fraudulent, disreputable, immoral, disgraceful, outrageous, shocking, appalling, wicked and sinful are the actions of the Kuru princes.  Their unrighteousness had crossed all boundaries and limits.  It was precisely to put an end to their insolent ambitions and to establish righteousness that Śrī Kṛṣṇa says:

“Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya

Glanir Bhavati Bharata,

Abhyutthanam Adharmasya

Tadatmanam Srijamy Aham;

Praritranaya Sadhunama

Vinashaya Cha Dushkritam,

Dharamasansthapanarthaya

Sambhavami Yuge-Yuge”

“Whenever there is decay of righteousness

And the land of Bhārata is steeped in shame,

And a rise of unrighteousness prevails

Then I manifest Myself!

For the protection of the good

For the destruction of the wicked,

For the establishment of Righteousness

I am born in age after age!”

[Mahābhārata, Bhīśma Parva, Bhāgavata Gītā Parva (Chapter IV- 7&8)]

The Mahābhārata is replete with several instances where Dharma and Satya (Truth) are highlighted and given utmost importance.  Unethical conduct, lies, deception, and evil deeds never fructify to good endings.  Perfection and even God is realized if one follows Dharma and Satya.

Control of Desires

Desire is paramount for progress in any field.  It is the driving force that leads one to attain heights of profound duty and glory.  The desire of Śrī Kṛṣṇa to establish righteousness made him the charioteer of Arjuna and lead the Pāndavas to victory.  The desire of Eklavya to become a skillful archer made him even better than Arjuna.  The desire for the throne of Hastināpur kept Dhritrāśtra always blind to the wickedness of his beloved son Duryodhana.  Hence, desire is the force that drives one to righteousness or unrighteousness.  Desire if controlled, leads to Dharma and uncontrolled desires lead to Adharma.  Eklavya had controlled desires and thus willingly offered his right thumb as gurudakshinā to Dronācharya.  Arjuna has controlled desires and thus always followed the instructions of Śrī Kṛṣṇa thereby winning the war.

Bhīśma is a towering example of how desires can be controlled by his rigorous, faithful, and awe-inspiring practice of celibacy until his last breath.  Yet, his desire of keeping the throne of Hastinapur unharmed, binds him to Duryodhana, the crown prince, and although unwilling, he has to participate in the war from the side of Adharma.  When he is lying on his bed of arrows and upon the request of Yudhiśṭira, he explains to him the meaning of Dharma and how a king should rule justly and wisely according to the principles of righteousness and truth.  Bhīśma explains how uncontrolled desires bring anger, which bring self-delusions, which in turn bring destruction.  Desires have to be reined in as per the dictates of Dharma, only then can truth shine, and victory is achieved.  Desires fuelled by Adharma lead to frustrations, anger, self-delusions and destruction.

Peace is always better than war

In order to establish peace between the Kauravas and the Pāndavas, Śrī Kṛṣṇa takes up the role of an emissary and addresses the Kuru elders to maintain peace instead of opting for war.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa repeatedly emphasizes the virtues of peace and asks for only five villages for the Pāndavas.  However, Duryodhana guided by evil desires and extreme jealously responds that he will not part with even a speck of earth as small as a point of a needle.  Duryodhana even tries to imprison Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whereupon the Lord shows his Universal Form and everyone is humbled.  All the peace efforts of Śrī Kṛṣṇa fail and peace is rejected; thereby, paving the way for the epic war, in which rivers of blood flowed, with the air being rent with the agonized cries of hundreds of thousands of wounded soldiers amongst millions massacred.  Victory comes to the Pāndavas because in spite of innumerable trials and tribulations, they always wanted peace, and faithfully followed Dharma and Satya, as per the guidance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Āpat Dharma may be practiced to establish Dharma

Āpat Dharma is righteousness that is practiced in times of contingency.  Extraordinary stressful times are known as contingent times.  During these times, the ordinary rules may be relaxed for sometime, so that ordinary times are regained.  Once normal conditions are established, then the ordinary rules are again followed with rigidity.  Āpat Dharma consists of acts that are inherently considered as wrong and immoral.  For example, Satyavatī calls upon his son and the author of Mahābhārata, Veda Vyas, who was born of the union between Riśī Parāśara and Satyavatī before the marriage of Satyavatī when she was a maiden, to come and pregnant the wombs of Ambīkā and Ambālika, the widows of Vichitravīrya, so that princes may be obtained for the throne of Hastināpura.  Now, under normal circumstances, widows cannot have sexual relations.  Again, an intercaste sexual relation was prohibited.  Satyavatī was a Śudra and Riśī Parāśara was a Brahmin.  They were not married but they conceived a son Veda Vyāsa.  Thus, Veda Vyāsa had the blood of a Śudra and a Brahmin.  He is called to pregnant the widows of Vichitravīrya- Ambīkā and Ambālika, who are Kśatṛiyas.  Dhritrāśtra is born from the union of Ambīkā and Veda Vyāsa, Pāndu is born from the union of Ambālika and Veda Vyāsa, and Vidura is born from the union of Veda Vyāsa and a female servant who is dressed up royally as Ambīkā and presented to Veda Vyāsa for the union.  Dhritrāśtra was born blind as Ambīkā closed her eyes in fear during the union; Pāndu was born pale and weak, as Ambālika was instructed to keep her eyes open, but she was also gripped with fear when she saw the ascetic countenance and yogic heat of Veda Vyāsa; Vidura was born a perfect child, as the servant woman served Veda Vyāsa dutifully with love and care.  All the three sons, have mixed blood of Śudra, Kśatṛiya, and Brahmin.  However, after their births, they were treated and brought up only as Kśatṛiyas and Dharma was again restored.  Hence, if the circumstances are of a critical and extraordinary nature, than extraordinary measures like Āpat Dharma may be utilized to achieve one’s aim for the restoration of normal circumstances and Dharma.

Again, when Pāndu, due to a curse, was unable to produce an heir for the throne of Hastināpura, Kuntī recounted to Pāndu as to how she had served Riśī Durvāsa when she was a maiden.  Pleased with her service, how Riśī Durvāsa had granted her a mantra (magical utterance) by which she could summon any God and conceive a child by the God, on a condition that the mantra may be used only five times.  Kuntī does not tell Pāndu that she had already used the mantra once, when she was a maiden and had given birth to Karṇa whom she had left afloat on the river, as she was ashamed to acknowledge a child before her marriage.  Upon the request of Pāndu, she used the mantra thrice and gave birth to Yudhiśṭira (from Dharma), Bhīma (from Vayu), and Arjuna (from Indra).  Thereafter she taught the mantra to Mādrī, the second queen of Pāndu, and told her to summon the twin gods, the Aświns.  Thus, Mādrī gave birth to twin sons Nakula and Sahadeva (from the twin gods, the Aświns).  Therefore, now five sons were born and Kuntī could say that the mantra was used five times, and the secret of Karṇa remained a secret.  These acts were resorted by Kuntī because the circumstances were not normal, and thus to restore normalcy, the use of Āpat Dharma was justified by Kuntī so that Dharma ultimately prevailed.

Courage to bear pain and sorrow

The Mahābhārata skillfully shows how to courageously bear pain and sorrow, in order to rise above both.  As gold is made only after it has gone through intense heat, similarly human beings are perfected only after they have gone through intense pain and sorrow. However, if pain and sorrow is not borne with courage and fortitude, then it festers and rots the mind with jealousy, anger, and frustrates the senses into doing evil and wicked acts. Due to his blindness, Dhritrāśtra could not become King of Hastināpura, although he was the eldest son.  This pained Dhritrāśtra and he was forever jealous of his younger brother Pāndu, who was made the king.  Dhritrāśtra could not bear this pain courageously.  Thus, he was seized with anger and jealousy for the Pāndavas.  His pain was imbibed in Duryodhana and his other sons, who all remained enemies of the Pāndavas from the very beginning.  However, on the other hand, the Pāndavas were also subject to numerous griefs, but they came through all the pains, because they bore them with courage and always remained on the path of Dharma.  Duryodhana had them burned alive in a palace made of lac and other inflammable materials.  Due to Vidura’s intelligence, they escaped through a tunnel, unhurt.  Thereafter, they spent many years in the forest and suffered many unsavory events.  However, in the end, due to their faith in Dharma they rose above all their trials and tribulations.

At the beginning of the battle, Arjuna is overcome with grief when he sees his brothers, relatives, and teachers on both sides.  In despondency, his Gāndiva (bow) drops from his hand and he sits down in his chariot unable to fight.  At this time, Śrī Kṛṣṇa delivers his heavenly discourse, the song celestial – “Bhagavat Gita”, which raises Arjuna from his grief and he resolves to fight.  At the end of Mahābhārata, Yudhiśṭira is again grieved and wishes to resort to a fast unto death, as he felt that principally he was responsible for this great tragedy.  Riśī Veda Vyāsa consoles Yudhiśṭira that old age and death shadows an individual from the very moment of birth.  These were the facts of life and hence there was no reason to grieve. The relatives, teachers, and friends had all taken part in a just war and their deaths came due to their own karmas (actions), and in no way can Yudhiśṭira be held responsible for this tragedy.  Sorrow and joy are bound to alternate in life, and one should always remain on the path of Dharma under all circumstances.  Riśī Veda Vyāsa told Yudhiśṭira to let go of his grief and rule the kingdom as per the dictates of Dharma and Satya.

Gifts should be given without desiring anything in return

Munificence is a virtue and a noble quality.  This was most highly developed in Karṇa.  He willingly with an open hand gave anything to anyone without desiring anything in return.  There were no conditions attached to his gift.  It was complete charity given cheerfully and with due warmth.  Karṇa used to pray to the Sun God at dawn and dusk. During these times, it was well known that Karṇa would give anything, even his own life, if asked.  Now, Indra – lord of the Gods, was worried that Karṇa may prove more than a match for his son Arjuna.  Thus, he disguised himself as a Brahmin and came to Karṇa as he finished his evening prayers.  The Brahmin asked for Karna’s kavach and kundala (armour and earrings) with which he was born.  Karṇa did not refuse and promptly took out his knife and cut the armour and his earrings, as they were fused with his body.  In spite of extreme pain at cutting himself in such a way, yet Karṇa kept the request of the Brahmin and gifted him his kavach and kundala.  Indra was extremely pleased with the munificence of Karṇa and showed his real form.  He then gave his weapon- the powerful thunderbolt Indrāstra, as a gift to Karṇa and told him that he may use it but only once.  Karṇa thanked Indra and told him that it would be used only against Arjuna for whose safety Indra had taken his kavach and kundala from him.  Man proposes but God disposes. Karṇa wanted to use it against Arjuna but had to use it against Ghatotkaccha – the son of Bhīma.  However, this incident reflects that when giving a gift no mental reservations should be there, and one should give with full warmth, willingly, smilingly, and without desiring anything in return.

Kuntī also approached Karṇa when he was returning from his evening prayers and told him that he was her son and his father was Surya- the Sun God.  Kuntī revealed this secret only to Karṇa and during such a time, when the battle was inevitable.  She asked him that five Pāndavas should remain alive, and Karṇa told her so be it.  Karṇa told Kuntī that since now he knew that he was the eldest Pāndava, he would not kill the Pāndavas with the exception of Arjuna.  Either he or Arjuna would live, and thus instead of six, five Pāndavas would remain alive, as Kuntī had asked.  Such munificence can only be expected of heroes of supernatural will power and profound generosity as Karṇa.

Evil men can fall to any limits

Duryodhana was an evil man.  He had no scruples and could fall to any limit to accomplish his evil intentions.  From his childhood to youth to manhood, he nurtured hatred towards the Pāndavas and behaved not as their cousin brother but as their enemy. At every turn of event, he wanted them dead.  The incident of Lākṣagṛha where Duryodhana attempts to burn all the Pāndavas alive in a palace made of lac and other inflammable materials proves his evil wish.  If he could not kill them, then he humiliated them.  He even made Karṇa his friend only because he saw that Karṇa was equal or perhaps better than Arjuna in archery.

Is there any greater depth that a man can fall than when he tries to disrobe a menstruating woman in full public view?  The profound humiliation of Draupadī speaks volumes regarding the perverted minds of Duryodhana and Duḥsāsana.  Their extremely wicked acts and the inhuman humiliations of Draupadī reveal important aspects of evil-minded persons.  Firstly, evil-minded persons will have no compunction, no qualm, and no regret in performing their evil deed.  Secondly, they take an inexplicable, sadistic pleasure in tormenting, degrading, humiliating, and harming others.  Thirdly, there is no rational explanation behind their horrid behaviour.  The incident of disrobing Draupadī also shows that people of pure hearts and devotees of God can come to no harm.  When nobody could help, then Draupadī surrendered herself to God and Śrī Kṛṣṇa saved her modesty.  This proves that God does never let his devotees suffer and is always there to help when he is earnestly called.

Destiny operates in its own way

Fruit of past action is destiny.  Hence, if the present actions are good then the future is bound to be good.  However, the present comprises of the current moment and the past.  We strive to make the current moment good, but we have no control over the past.  If we had committed bad actions in the past, then it may fructify as a bad result in the present.  So many a times we find that the present is not so good in spite of all our good efforts.  This is because the past has contributed its bit in making the present.  Thus, in spite of all the good efforts of the Pāndavas, their present was not improved.  This is because of their actions that they committed in their past lives, which were fructifying in their present lives.  This law of Karma is lucidly explained by Śrī Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna in the Kurukśetra battlefield.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains that destiny operates in her own way and is not in the control of humankind.  Hence, one should only concentrate on action and not think about its result, as the result is not in one’s control.  Therefore, there was no reason to grieve, no reason to feel guilty over the deaths of elders, relatives, and teachers.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa urged Arjuna to follow his own Kśatṛiya Dharma, pick up his fallen Gandiva (bow), and to fight courageously.

Destiny has played a major part in Mahābhārata.  It was destiny that the Vāsus were cursed and born as the sons of Śāṅtanu only to be drowned by their mother Gaṅgā.  It was destiny that Devavrata had to take the terrible vow of remaining celibate until his last breath and thus being called as Bhīśma.  It was destiny that Riśī Veda Vyāsa had to pregnant the widows of Vichitravīrya.  It was destiny that Pāndu was cursed and thus could produce no children.  It was destiny that Kuntī abandoned Karṇa.  It was destiny that Draupadī was humiliated.  It was destiny that Ambā was reborn as Śikhandī only to cause the death of Bhīśma.  It was destiny that Śrī Kṛṣṇa became the charioteer of Arjuna and led the Pāndavas to victory.  It was destiny that the great battle of Kurukśetra took place.  It was destiny that Gāndhārī curses Śrī Kṛṣṇa and due to this curse the entire Yādava clan of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is destroyed, by fighting within themselves, in front of Śrī Kṛṣṇa very eyes, and he did nothing but remain only a mute spectator.  Destiny indeed plays a prominent part in every individual’s life.  An individual’s destiny is formed by the actions of the individual himself.  Thus, Śrī Kṛṣṇa imparts the heavenly knowledge in Śrīmad Bhāgavata Gītā, as to how to perform actions in the present, so that destiny is likewise shaped and the future is beneficial and good.

Character makes the man

Education imparts discretion.  Discretion makes a man know what is right and what is wrong.  Discretion prompts noble thoughts.  Noble thoughts give birth to correct words.  Correct words guide right action.  Repeated right actions create right habits.  Repeated right habits makes right character.  Steadfast devotion to right character results in the right destiny.  Therefore, character makes the man.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa teaches Arjuna that due to lust and greed, man commits sins and becomes impure.  Lust and greed makes a man succumb to temptations, and his power of thinking is temporarily lost.  Thus, he behaves like an intoxicated man who does not have control over his mind and body.  His actions are all guided towards the fulfillment of his lust and greed.  He stoops low and invites calamities and dangers upon himself.  If he does not correct his actions soon enough, then he may even be killed by his twin foes – lust and greed.  Both these foes are very strong, and even great sages are known to have fallen for lust, for the guiles and charms of women.  Thus, one should be very careful with women and besides one wedded wife, one should look at every other female as his mother, sister, or daughter.  A glowing example of such impeccable behaviour is Śrī Rāma, who besides Sītā never desired any other woman in his whole life.

The Mahābhārata gives numerous illustrative examples of how character makes a man.  Nahuśā was an illustrious emperor who due to strict adherence to religious principles elevated himself to the highest position.  He was offered the position of the Head of the Celestials in Heaven, but he was enamored of the charms of the apsarās.  His lust for the apsarās angered the Gods and a sage cursed him to go back to the world and live as a python.  Nahuśā repented and thus his curse was a bit relaxed.  He would find his deliverance when the Pāndavas would visit him and Yudhiśṭira would answer his question.  Subsequently, when the Pāndavas were in the forest, they chanced upon this python and the python asked that when would a man’s knowledge, fame and riches prove of no use?  Yudhiśṭira replied that whatever a man acquired in this world or the next, be it knowledge, fame, name, or wealth, all were of no use and would prove very futile, if the man was without any character.  Character was the only index of a man’s greatness and thus it should be preserved at all times.  Hearing this wise and correct answer from Yudhiśṭira, the python became Nahuśā and obtained deliverance from the curse.

Role of blessings and curses

When an individual is so pleased with another individual that out of natural, deep affection and love, the individual wishes benefit for another individual, then that wish is known as a blessing.  Likewise, when an individual is so displeased with another individual that out of natural, deep anger and sorrow, the individual wishes harm for the another individual, then that wish is known as a curse.  Both blessing and curse arise out of extremely felt deep emotions and are thus highly potent and effective.  The Mahābhārata has innumerable instances, where blessings and curses are either given or received.

Māhābhīśa and Gaṅgā were both cursed in heaven to lead sorrowful lives on earth as Śāṅtanu and Gaṅgā.  Bhīśma was blessed by Śāṅtanu to die whenever he wished to die.  Bhīśma was also cursed by Ambā to receive death because of her.  Riśī Durvāsa blessed Kuntī with a boon whereby she could summon any god and obtain a son.  Pāndu was cursed to die whenever he tried to make sexual advances.  God Indra blessed Karṇa with the heavenly weapon Indrāstra.  Gāndhārī cursed Śrī Kṛṣṇa that he would not be able to do anything when his entire Yādava clan would die in front of his eyes.  There are also many other short stories in the Mahābhārata, where curses and blessings occur.  All these incidents point towards the fact that when a person feels deep emotions, and then wishes for something, that wish invariably and ultimately fructifies.

Purpose of human existence

Human life is a rare gift of God.  By entering a human body, the soul gets a much sought after chance of becoming liberated from the cycle of birth and rebirth.  Gods never die; hence, they never get the chance of being liberated.  Their souls cannot merge with the Almighty Soul.  It is only Nara (Human Soul) that can merge into Nārāyaṇa (Almighty Soul).  Hence, Gods and all celestial beings consider a human birth as highly fortunate.  The purpose of human existence is to free the soul from the bondage of birth and rebirth, with the help of the human body and mind.  The human body and mind should be cultivated in such a manner that right thoughts come, right words are spoken, right actions are performed, and right results are obtained, all leading to the liberation of the soul.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains to Arjuna how a soul can be liberated.  The Bhagavat Gita is a song of the Almighty Soul.  Bhīśma instructs Yudhiśṭira at the end of the battle, how simply a bath in the holy Gaṅgā with a pure heart can liberate the soul.  Riśī Veda Vyāsa also instructs Yudhiśṭira that a human should always follow the path of Dharma only and then the soul can be easily freed.  Scriptures give numerous guidelines how to conduct one’s affairs towards this aim.  A human being is born alone and dies alone.  However, while he is alive then knowledge is the best companion, his virtue is the best guide, his health is the best profit, his contentment is the best happiness, his anger is the best enemy, his covetousness is the best disease, his charity is the best glory, his equanimity in all circumstances is the best wealth, and his strict adherence to Dharma is the best destiny.

Vidura, the youngest brother and the prime minister of King Dhritrāśtra, counseled him how a ruler can obtain liberation of his soul by performing his royal duties.  Vidura states that a ruler should aspire for higher ideals and he should have forbearance, exertion and steadiness in virtue.  He should carry out such duties that are within his capacity.  He should not disclose his plans until they fructify.  He should not be affected by honours or slights.  A weapon and poison can kill one man, but wicked counsel can destroy an entire empire.  Thus, the ruler should steadfastly practice virtue as it brings discrimination to arrive at the right decisions.  A king should never keep company with people of low character, who procrastinate, who are stupid, pompous, or deceitful.  He should avoid anger, excessive sleep, excessive sexual relations, fear, arrogance, and self-pride.  His countenance should be as befitting a king, yet he should practice asceticism, self-restraint, and should give gifts of food and gold.  However, in spite of hearing the scriptures, a ruler does not mend his evil ways, then he is doomed and the scriptures merely remain books that are only referred for the purposes of religious ceremonies.  Vidura tried his best to explain to King Dhritrāśtra, but destiny had willed otherwise and King Dhritrāśtra failed to act according to the laid down rules of the scriptures.  For a foolish man, a scripture remains a closed book.  Thus, Dhritrāśtra had the opportunity of attaining salvation by discharging his royal duties according to Dharma, yet he failed because he could not conquer his love for his son and his throne.  Hence, King Dhritrāśtra always remained in the side of Adharma.

Qualities should be used for general welfare

According to one’s karma, many extraordinary qualities are gifted at birth.  Some people are highly intelligent, some are physically strong and some are endowed with enormous wealth.  These are extraordinary qualities and people who are gifted with such qualities may cultivate a false sense of superiority, due to self-conceit and arrogance.  They may treat other less fortunate people as inferior and may treat them with contempt.  This is not correct as it leads to oppression, discrimination, and degradation of the weak, which ultimately causes downfall of all concerned.  Power, wealth, status, intellect and all other attributes should be utilized for the general welfare of the people and then only can it grow and prosper.  Many a times we find that the wicked are prospering and the just are being victimized.  This leads to questioning that if the law of karma is correct, then why do the wicked prosper and the just suffer.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa answers that the wicked prosper due to past good actions, but they will suffer in the future due to their present wicked actions.

Jarāsandha was an extremely powerful ruler.  He had great physical prowess.  He had undertaken a campaign to capture one hundred rulers.  His great and formidable army had captured more than eighty kings.  According to the kśatṛiya dharma, if a kśatṛiya is killed in battle, then he attains heaven.  However, Jarāsandha instead of killing them on the battlefield, kept them captive as prisoners, and humiliated them.  This had angered all the remaining rulers.  Jarāsandha fought many battles with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and every time he was defeated.  Śrī Kṛṣṇa neither captured nor killed Jarāsandha.  He knew that it was the destiny of Bhīma to kill Jarasandha.  When Bhīma killed Jarāsandha, all the captured rulers were set free and this enabled Yudhiśṭira to perform the Rājasuya Yagna.  Since the Pāndavas used their superhuman talents and extraordinary qualities for the benefit of the public, they emerged victorious.

God never fails to rescue

A devotee is a person who is devoted to God.  In all ages, God has come in various forms and has never failed to come to the rescue of his devotees.  There are many instances in society, when extremely rich people are, by a sudden turn of fate, reduced to utter poverty.  People who are used to mansions are forced to live in a shanty.  People used to the best delicacies are forced to beg for a living.  People who had several servants at their command now have to work as servants.  During such times, if they lose their morals and demean their character, then they invariably fail in all their attempts to regain their lost position and glory.  It is especially true that during such times, they should keep their faith on God and work honestly by keeping their character intact.  The Pāndavas were used to all the royal pleasures.  However, after they lost everything in the dice game, they were forced to live in the forests for twelve years and the last thirteenth year in disguise.  Without any wealth and without any servants, they spent their twelve years as ascetics living on fruits, roots, and herbs.  They never lost their morals and character, and thus they passed through all their trials and tribulations with calmness and fortitude.  They had to face numerous hardships and tests, and with the guidance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa they passed all of them.

It so happened that one day Riśī Durvāsa came along with his numerous followers, at an odd hour, to visit the Pāndavas and told them to arrange for their lunch.  Thus saying, they all went to the river for a bath.  Draupadī had just fed all the Pāndavas and there was no food left.  There was only a single grain of rice left in the magical bowl gifted by the Sun God, which could produce food of any quantity but only once a day.  Riśī Durvāsa was known for his anger and curses.  Draupadī did not know how to arrange to feed Riśī Durvāsa and his large retinue.  She feared that Riśī Durvāsa would get angry and curse them.  She prayed to Śrī Kṛṣṇa who came and partook of that single grain of rice that was left in the bowl.  Thereafter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa burped, thus signifying that his stomach was full.  At that same time, with the grace of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the stomachs of Riśī Durvāsa and all his followers also became full.  Thus, they left without any lunch and carried on with their journey.  This incident proves that God never fails to come to the rescue of his devotees.  Again, during the last year of their exile, when the Pāndavas had to live in disguise, they took refuge with the king of Virāta.  Yudhiśṭira became a royal courtier, Bhīma became a cook, Arjuna became a dance teacher, Nakula and Sahadeva worked as stable hands, and Draupadī became a maidservant in the palace.  All of them had never worked in such menial positions, and yet they faced all with courage and remained true to their character.  They never lost their morals and their faith in God always remained unshaken.  Due to this, they successfully passed their exile period and revealed who they really were.  Subsequently, they claimed for their rightful inheritance, which Duryodhana refused.  Hence, the battle of Kurukśetra, the battle of Dharma and Adharma, took place.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would humbly repeat what the author of the Mahābhārata, Riśī Kṛṣṇa-Dwaipāyaṇa Vyāsa says that Dharma should always be practiced, since a human being can attain fame, prosperity, long life, eternal bliss, everlasting peace and immortality, simply by practicing Dharma.  I wish all who have read this article to imbibe these marvellous morals into their own lives and thus create equally marvellous destinies for themselves.

AUM Śāntī , Śāntī, Śāntīḥ

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