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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Drona Parva (Part 1) - Maha Bharatha Series 43

It is very difficult to choose one section of Maha Bharatha as the best section. One such great section is Dronavada Parva in Book 7. Bhagvat Gita is excluded from this choice. It is a class by itself.

In this section, we learn that a Kimpurusha is half-man and half-steed. Yaksha is a superhuman being who lives in accessible mountains and halls. There are descriptions of several kinds of arrows and spears and maces used in battles in those days. One of them is a special small bow and arrow used when the combatants are very close to each other. There are descriptions of how Arjuna and Drona moved their chariots around each other, keeping the opponent always on the right and Dhrishtadhyumnan fought with Drona hiding under the chassis of the car.  There are descriptions of what a “fair” battle is – and what kinds of moves and instruments should not be used. For example, spears with hooks which cannot be extracted and double spears are not allowed. Nor is an arrow which does not come straight but takes a wiggly path, since it does not give a fair chance for escape to the person being attacked. There is also a description of an encounter between Duryodhana and Satyaki, who were bosom friends when they were children. They exchange kind words and smiles, recount their young days and then start their battle saying that they have to follow the rules of the battle and fight fair. Even in war, they were highly civilized. Compare those high values with cowards now who kill innocent people with unfair means!

Then there is the section where Krishna, yes, Lord Krishna whom we all worship, asks Pandavas to kill Drona by stealth. The only one who objects, is Arjuna. Krishna asks that Bhima kill an elephant named Aswatthaman and declare loudly that Aswatthaman has been killed.  Arjuna does not like it. Krishna says that it is acceptable to tell a lie under four circumstances: for the sake of saving a life; during conversation with women; for the sake of a marriage and to save a king. He even convinces Dharma to go along with that lie. Thinking that his son has been killed, Drona asks Dharma point-blank whether that is true. Dharma says “Aswattaman is killed” loudly and then “But that was an elephant” softly!!  Drona gives up and gets nominally killed by Dhrishtadumna as it was “destined” to happen.

When Aswattaman is expressing grief at the death of his father, he says that one does sinful acts under the influence of desire, anger, folly, hate and levity. He is, of course, furious not only because his father was killed, but Dhrushtadhyuman held the severed head by the hair and treated it with disrespect.  Aswatthaman starts an unbelievable battle in which he devastates the Pandava army single-handedly. He then uses the Narayana weapon against which no human being can fight. It also happens that when Aswatthaman received this weapon from Shiva he was told that it will work only once. (In Indian mythologies, every boon comes always with an exception or an escape clause!) In spite of knowing that fact, Aswatthaman wields that weapon at this time in the battle. Lord Krishna knew this, of course. So, he advises everyone to get off their vehicles or mounts and stand on earth because Narayana weapon does not touch those who stand on Mother Earth. Now, Krishna has accomplished two things – the Narayana weapon could not do what it was capable of. Then, since it has been used once, it became powerless and Aswatthaman could not use it again.

Later, Arjuna speaks harshly to Aswatthaman who was his dear friend at one time. Arjuna showed his anger because he was stung by Dharma’s words of disappointment with Arjuna for not being able to kill Aswatthaman. Aswatthaman sends arrows after arrows which do not touch Arjuna and Krishna.  He gets frustrated, drops all his weapons and stops the battle. Arjuna then sees Vyasa (who shows up conveniently at opportune times to share his information, knowledge and wisdom) and asks him why he is not winning.  (These sections are in Book 7, Sections 201-202) 

Vyasa answers by saying that Narayana, the most original creator of everything was born in this world as the son of Dharma for some unknown reason. He then performed tapas (austerities, ardor) and was able to see (visualize) the Master, the Origin and the Guardian of the Universe, The Lord of all the gods, the Supreme Deity. In describing this Originator (who is also Narayana, as seen above), the text (written by Vyasa) calls that Supreme as Rudra, who is smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest. (We can see how the names of Vishnu and Shiva are interchangeable, and how the “fights” between the followers of Shiva and Vishnu are so silly). Rudra is also called Hara, Shambu, Nilakanta, Kabhardhin, and Pinakapani. There is no question that these names refer to Shiva.

As a result of this austerity, Narayana (in his human form) obtained a vision of that Adorable One. At the sight of that Original Being, the First Cause having the universe for his form, Narayana worshipped him with words.  Narayana says: “Form, the pancha bhutas and the five senses which perceive them and the objects of perception are all your manifestation. So are Time and the Vedas and all the animate and inanimate objects”.  “Two birds sitting on the branches of a tree (One is Iswara, Brahman unattached and the other is Jiva, attached to worldly things) are YOU. The aswattha tree on which they are sitting with the Vedas as its branches, the seven guardians viz., five senses, mans and intellect and the 10 indriyas (5 organs of perception and 5 of action) are YOU. And, YOU are the past, present and the future”.

The Supreme Lord (in this episode IT is referred to as Rudra) is pleased and bestows on Narayana (Who is also the same Originator) His blessings that in this world Narayana will be invincible. “That Narayana born in this world is none other than Vasudeva, Krishna” says Vyasa to Aswatthaman. Vyasa goes on to say that out of that asceticism of Narayana was born a muni (a sage) by the name of Hara. “That Hara is Arjuna” says Vyasa and that no one can conquer them on this earth. Vyasa also says that Aswatthaman has also worshipped Lord Shiva in his earlier life and this is how he is endowed with such prowess. But, Aswatthaman realizes that Nara and Narayana who are the embodiments of the Supreme and who know that Brahman and the Universe are the same are here for a purpose and that no human can “conquer” them.

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