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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Final advice from Vyasa   Book 12, Section 25: Maha Bharatha series 57

 Yudhishtra was clearly distraught and confused at the end of the war, since it resulted in the death of so many warriors and so many of his kith and kin. He was also sad that so many women lost their husbands and sons. 

Vyasa comes in at this time, as he often does on important occasions.  He supports the arguments of everyone. He addresses Yudhishtra: “You are now in the second ashrama – that of a house-holder. Therefore, take charge of your ancestral kingdom and do the duties of a Kshatriya king. Penances and mendicancy are for the Brahmins. Duties of kshatriya include sacrifice, learning, work, ambition, protection of subjects (raksha), wielding the rod of punishment (siksha), acquisition of wealth and gifts to deserving persons”.
Vyasa comes with some profound statements about the realities in this world and human life. He talks about Time (kaala) as the ultimate adjudicator of everything that happens. He says: “Until the time comes, nothing happens however much we try. If the time is not favorable you cannot acquire any earthly possessions. When the time comes, wealth will come, even if you do not ask for it. Trees grow, flowers bloom, night becomes dark and the day dawns when the time comes. If the time is not right, nothing happens. It is with Time the summer and winter come and the rainy season comes. If the time for it does not come, no one gets born and no one dies. If the time does not come, a child does not acquire speech and the child does not attain maturity.  All earthly things ripen when the time comes and then perish. Birth and death are ordained to happen by the very nature of this world. Therefore, there is no use grieving over the inevitable effects of Time”.
Vyasa continues: “There are plenty of causes for sorrow and for happiness. They follow each other. In one sense, sorrow is the natural state of affairs. Happiness is the absence of sorrow. It always ends in sorrow. Sorrow comes from desire and attachment. Those who desire eternal happiness must abandon sorrow and happiness. (Go beyond happiness and sorrow) One should learn to bear happiness and sorrow without getting overwhelmed and not cling to them. Happiness and misery, gain and loss, death and life, prosperity and adversity come upon all creatures. A wise person should not get elated with joy, nor should he depressed with sorrow.”
This is reiterated by Vyasa through a discourse by Asma, an ascetic. Later still, at Arjuna’s request Lord Krishna advises Yudhishtra not to grieve for the fallen heroes. In summary, they reiterate the same points over and over again – that everyone born is destined to die; life is full of happiness and misery and we should be able to bear them in equanimity; good people may suffer and bad people may enjoy all prosperity; we should practice our varna and ashrama dharma irrespective of all these things; that all of these are due to Time and Karma.
Krishna lists several kings one by one and recounts all the great things they had done. This list includes Lord Rama, yes Rama who lived in an earlier Yuga. In this passage Krishna describes the greatness of Rama’s reign. This is Rama Rajya, we all hear about. (Book 12 Section 28).
All these great kings had performed many, many sacrifices. In this section we learn about the names of sacrifices performed in those days. These kings had given gifts in plenty. Yet, “none of them escaped death” points out Krishna.

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