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Declaration of War - Slippery slope PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

tasya sanjanayan harsam
kuru-vrddhah pitamahah
simha-nadam vinadyoccaih
sankham dadhmau pratapavan

Then Bhisma, the great valiant grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the grandfather of the fighters, blew his conchshell very loudly like the sound of a lion, giving Duryodhana joy. ||1:12||

tatah sankhas ca bheryas ca
sa sabdas tumulo 'bhavat

After that, the conchshells, bugles, trumpets, drums and horns were all suddenly sounded, and the combined sound was tumultuous. ||1:13||

Declaration of War
As Duryodhana finished his analysis and strategy talk with Dronacharya (1:11), Bhishma blew the concshell to declare the war. So far the war was a possibility, it was probable; now it was official. It is understandable that Bhishma was the one to start the declaration. He was the most respected amongst both the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He was the General appointed by Duryodhana and most of all was an invincible warrior.

What is more interesting is the fact that Duryodhana was delighted with this declaration of the war. This is very perturbing but is not only true in the times of Mahabharata but it holds true even today. The moot question is, does war give pleasure to any one? And if it does, then is there need for a reason for a given war? And, how do you find friends and enroll others in such an act.

Obviously, Duryodhana is happy that ultimately he got the war going. As pointed out in the last write up, this is where he wanted to be. The showdown time has come. He has the stronger army. He has a stronger General. He thinks that his side will definitely win. Once he wins, he will have an unopposed kingdom. There will be no one to challenge him. All these things must be going through his head to give him the pleasure that showed on his face when the war was declared.

Yes, there are some people who enjoy, wars. They derive some sort of pleasure from killing. It is true even today, may be more so today than in those times. How else can you justify the current day terrorism? How else can you explain killing of innocent villagers? How else can you explain hijacking and blowing up of planes? There are people who cherish violence for violence sake. They do not see the human aspect of the war. They are so blinded by their pleasure out of the war that they forget what havoc it causes to the people involved. And this leads them down the slippery path. Once the desire takes over, it feeds on itself.

It is crucial to understand the phenomenon of enjoying violence, because of how subtle the functioning of the mind is. Most of the time, we find a reason why we are upset. Buddha or Krishna will look at it differently, they will say that you are the problem; you are upset first and you find a reason to justify your upset mood later. Duryodhan wanted a war; it is obvious from his happiness shown at the declaration of the war. He kept closing all doors to peace one by one and the Pandavas were dragged to this situation. In fact, Pandavas had many more reasons to fight when compared to Duryodhana. But, no they did not want it; they derived no pleasure from conflicts.

People of very high caliber surrounded Duryodhana. There were wise people like Bhishma Pitamah, Guru Dronacharya and others. But who were his close associates? Mama Shakuni was a crook and he was the closest friend and advisor that Duryodhana had. It is not difficult to find friends in any situation. His slippery slope started with his mode of thinking and it accelerated with the company he kept. With the declaration of war it just gathered more speed.

There is much to learn from these shlokas. Whenever you start enjoying a torture or a punishment, there is something wrong. It is easy to be judgmental and say how bad Duryodhana was in Mahabharata. But, we should not forget that every one of us has part of that Duryodhana in us. All it takes is the start of the slippery slope. You are angry with your son. He dares to object to what you said. You have a choice of using your love and understanding here. You choose to hit your adult son. And the slippery slope starts. There are several examples on individual levels and on public levels in the current world. How do Ranbir Sena and the Naxals in Bihar survive? How come Pakistan continues to support terrorism? The same slippery slope is evident here. And once the slope starts, there is no stopping. It is important to understand this. Once you take this path, you face the consequences of that path. And, there is a certain momentum that establishes in the process. The way to get out is to change the path completely; stop and take a fresh look at the situation.

The war has been declared from the Kaurava’s side. Some are happy and some are unhappy. A response is expected from the Pandava side. Many in the Kurukshetra might be still thinking as to what Pandavas will do. Will they accept the challenge or will they decide not to fight. There had been several occasions where the Pandavas could have picked up a fight, but they decided not to. We shall explore that in the next column.

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