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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kurukshetra Battle (Continued) - Maha Bharatha Series 38

My eyes were clouded with tears when I read Section 43, immediately following Bhagvat Gita. In this, Sanjaya describes the scene just before the battle starts. Yudhishtra gets down from his car and proceeds towards the opposing army on foot. All his brothers are surprised and concerned and ask him why he is walking into the army of the foe. Krishna knows and tells them all to calm down. Yudhishtra knows that it is proper to pay respect to Bhishma, Drona and Kripa before this battle. And he does it because it is the proper thing to do. His high sense of values made him do that. I wish this section is better known among those who read or speak about Maha Bharata.

The Kauravas do not know either why Yudhishtra was walking right into their army. They think that he was afraid and was coming to surrender. But, Yudhishtra makes a bee-line to Bhishma first, bows to him, touches his feet and says: 'I salute you, O invincible one. We come to battle. Grant (us) your permission in that matter. Give (us) also your blessing." Of course, Bhishma does so. He says: “I am like an eunuch, bound with the Kauravas owing to their wealth and have to fight on their side. But I will pray for your victory”.

Yudhishtra goes to Drona and Kripa also. The same scene is repeated. All of them say “I have to fight for the Kauravas; but will pray for your victory”. Yudhishtra says: “That is my wish too, that you fight wholeheartedly for them but pray for us”. Finally, Yudhishtra comes to Karna and says: “I know you have decided against taking arms because of your dislike of Bhishma. Please come to our side. You can go back to the Kauravas after Bhishma is killed”. Karna declines, of course. Then, Yudhishtra announces that anyone from the Kauravas will be accepted by the Pandavas, if they choose to do so before the battle starts. Yuyutsu born to Dhrithrashta of   a non-kshatriya wife is the one who switches sides.

The later part of Book 6 gives detailed descriptions of the battle day by day, as narrated by Sanjaya to Dhritrashtra. Here, we learn the names of several formations of the army, what their arrangements are and which hero occupied each position etc. We learn the names of several weapons that were used. It is obvious that this war happened after the iron-age had settled in. There is mention of several celestial weapons and one of them is called satagni which from description appears to be some kind of missile! It appears to me that Sanjaya mentions the names of each of the 100 kaurava princes as they get killed by Bhima just as he had vowed. The only son of Dhrithrashtra left alive was the one he had by a non-kshatriya wife (by name Yuyutsu), who survived to perform the ceremonies for his 100 half-brothers.

In Section 65 (it is 63 in the Sanskrit version), Bhishma is explaining why Pandavas are winning. In this section, the following ideas as expressed by Bhishma about the Supreme:  ”I worship Him who is called TAT, He who is Supreme, He who is existent at present and who will be for all time, He who is the highest Self, He who is the Soul of beings, and who is the great Lord. He is the creator of all beings. His body is un-manifest (avyakta). His mind is manifest (Vyakta).  The gods were created by His breath. With His heads, He pervaded (root word in Sanskrit is bruh which means to expand) the Heavens. His arms support the Earth. The three worlds are contained in Him and He is the Eternal Being. He is the Sat of Sat, ultimate Truth, Eternal”.

Some interesting Slokas from this section follow:

सर्वभूतानि भूतात्मा महात्मा पुरुषॊत्तमः
      आपॊ वायुश तेजश तरयम एतद अकल्पयत
मुखतः सॊ ऽगनिम असृजत पराणाद वायुम अथापि
सरस्वतीं वेदांश मनसः ससृजे ऽचयुतः

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