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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bhima's advice to Yudhishtra (Book 12,section 16) - Maha Bharatha series 55


I thought that Arjuna’s plea to Yudhishtra to accept his duty as a King in Book 12, Section 15 was a masterpiece. Therefore, I summarized that speech and wrote that such pieces carry the essence of the teachings of Maha Bharatha and should be brought to the attention of everyone. I was too quick, because in the very next section (section 16 of Book 12), Bhima gives a piece of his mind. In it are some superb set of ideas.

Bhima says that there are two kinds of diseases, physical and mental. They are inter-connected. Physical illness leads to mental illness and vice versa. Cold, heat and wind (the Sanskrit words used are shita, ushna and vayu) are the elements, which when in harmony lead to good physical health. When are not balanced, there is illness. You can balance the cold with heat and heat with the cold etc. Ayurveda is based on these concepts.

Similarly, goodness, passion and ignorance (satva, rajas, tamas) are the elements which have to be in balance for good mental health. If they are not in balance, there is mental illness. Grief is balanced by joy and joy is checked by grief. There is no use being sad at good times because of recollection of the past. Bhima says to Yudhishtra: “If your nature is to be sad when things are good because of memory of the loss of so many of our family and friends, why don’t you remember the times when the Kauravas insulted us and Draupadi and made us suffer? You won the physical battle against the mighty Bhishma and Drona, with the help of all of us and so many friends. You are now succumbing to your mental battle. You have to win it by yourself”.

To me, these are profound words coming from an unlikely source in this epic. After all, Bhima is considered to be full of strength and impulsive and not so bright. For him to say these words?

More important, is this not the essential message of Maha Bharatha? Is not battle of Kurukshtra  a metaphor for battle between dharma and adharma (virtue and falsehood); and also of our internal battles, mental battles? Even the famous physical scene of Gitopadesa is a metaphor. The advice is given in the battlefield. The chariot is the body. The horses are the senses. The reins are the sensory impressions and the mind. And the reins are held by the Lord.

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