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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Book 13, Anushasana Parva - Maha Bharatha series 88

Book 13 is Anushasana Parva and it starts with an interesting parable which Bhishma uses to answer Yudhistra’s question.  Yudhishtra’s laments on how wretched he feels for his mistakes. He feels remorse seeing Bhishma on his death-bed of arrows and dejected at the thought that he (Yudhistra) is responsible for this calamity and also for the death of so many of his family members.

Bhishma answers Yudhistra with a parable about a boy, a snake which bit him, the boy’s mother, a hunter, angel of death (Mrytyu) and Time (Kala).

A snake bites a boy and the boy dies. The mother is afflicted with grief. A hunter passing that way catches the snake, ties it and is ready to kill it. The mother says: “Let the snake go”. The hunter says that the snake should not go unpunished. The mother says: “What good will it do to my son? He cannot come back. Let the snake go”.

The snake says that he is not to be blamed because he was merely an instrument of Mrutyu, the agent of death.

The hunter says that “in that case both you and Mrutyu are responsible and you (the snake) was the immediate cause and both of you have to be punished”.

Mrutyu comes in defense of the snake, but says that neither of them are truly responsible because it is the angel of Time (Kala) that decides what happens to whom at what time. Kala comes and says that none of them are responsible because it was the boy’s Karma. The boy’s time had come to pay for his karma and others were only the intermediaries.

The boy’s mother accepts this as the correct attitude to take and does not want to punish the snake. She says that her son died because of his karma and she is also suffering because of her own karma. She also says something very important: “People who carry resentment and revenge in their hearts suffer. Therefore, forgive and release this snake out of compassion”. Modern psychologists will tell you how important forgiveness is for mental health. Buddha also said the same thing. So did Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi.

Bhishma uses this story to convince Yudhishtra that he (Yudhishtra) was not responsible for the death of his relatives and his Grand-father (Bhishma). He says: “All of us go to heaven or hell because of our own karma. Neither you nor Duryodhana were responsible for all this carnage. Time had come and everyone was paying for his or her Karma.”

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