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The Unseen forces in Mahabharata PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

atha vyavasthitan drstva
dhartarastran kapi-dhvajah
pravrtte sastra-sampate
dhanur udyamya pandavah
hrsikesam tada vakyam
idam aha mahi-pate

O King, at that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, who was seated in his chariot, his flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows, looking at the sons of Dhrtarastra. O King, Arjuna then spoke to Hrsikesa [Krsna] these words||1:20||

arjuna uvaca
senayor ubhayor madhye
ratham sthapaya me 'cyuta
yavad etan nirikse 'ham
yoddhu-kaman avasthitan
kair maya saha yoddhavyam
asmin rana-samudyame

Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting, and with whom I must contend in this great battle attempt.||1:21-1:22||

yotsyamanan avekse 'ham
ya ete 'tra samagatah
dhartarastrasya durbuddher
yuddhe priya-cikirsavah
sanjaya uvaca
evam ukto hrsikeso
gudakesena bharata
senayor ubhayor madhye
sthapayitva rathottamam
sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam
uvaca partha pasyaitan
samavetan kurun iti

Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhrtarastra. Sanjaya said: O descendant of Bharata, being thus addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krsna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties. In the presence of Bhisma, Drona and all other chieftains of the world, Hrsikesa, the Lord, said, Just behold, Partha, all the Kurus who are assembled here.||1:23:1:25||

tatrapasyat sthitan parthah
pitrn atha pitamahan
acaryan matulan bhratrn
putran pautran sakhims tatha
svasuran suhrdas caiva
senayor ubhayor api

There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers--all present there.||1:26||

tan samiksya sa kaunteyah
sarvan bandhun avasthitan
krpaya parayavisto
visidann idam abravit

When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus.||1:27||

The Unseen forces of Mahabharata (1:20-1:27):

Light bulb/energy
The universe
Ishwar allah eke naam politically correct
Ramayana and Mahabharata
Right observation

The scene is set. War has been declared by the Kauravas and it has been accepted by the Pandavas. Arjuna gets ready. He picks up his bow and arrow and requests his saarathi Krishna to place his chariot so that he can see the ones he has to fight. Krishna does exactly that.

This is worth taking a note of. Arjuna is cool and collected. He is now ready to fight. He is ready to shoot his arrows. He wants to assess and evaluate the strengths of the people he has to fight with. If you see his statements, it is obvious that he is not angry and is not too eager to fight. He wants to evaluate first. People who are too eager to fight, people who fight with anger often loose. Arjuna knows that. His whole approach of wanting to evaluate the situation without getting emotional speaks for itself that he knows the art of winning in a battle.

But, when he goes to evaluate the scene, whom does he see? He sees relatives and friends on both sides of the army. This war is unique in that sense. A large family as if has been divided by an arbitrary line. For some body like Arjuns with intellectual mind it is hard to ignore this fact. The question is not that of enemy and friend; the question is who is less friendly and who is more friendly. Even worse, there are people on the Duryodhana side who love Arjuna more than they love Duryodhana. Dronacharya for example loved Arjuna so much that he asked Ekalabya’s thumb for his Gurudakshina simply to keep Arjuna number one in the archery. Now, Dronacharya is standing in the so-called enemy camp.

When you are obsessed with the desire to fight, when you are guided by anger and hate, all you want to see is how you are going to win. That is what Duryodhana saw when he looked at the two sides. When a war is thrust upon you, when you are drawn in a war without any active participation on your part, you are prone to see what Arjuna sees. The same scene, the same Kurukshetra, the same people; Duryodhana sees yodhas (warriors) and Arjuna sees friends and relatives. Both judgments are true but at the same time vastly different.

The situation is getting close to take an unexpected turn. We will explore that further in later verses. But here I want to bring to attention some unseen factors that are mentioned in passing in these verses. Kapidhwaj is one of them. This refers to Hanuman. It is interesting to note that Rama and Hanuman played a different role in Ramayana when compared to Krishna and Hanuman in Mahabharata.

In Ramayana, Ram takes up the bow and arrow in his own hands. Hanuman takes an active role too. In Mahabharata Krishna takes the role of a saarathi (driver) and Hanuman has the role of a stabilizer. Hanuman’s role is almost completely silent. It is not highlighted at all. You only find some fleeting reference here and there. At the end of the war Krishna asks Arjuna to dismount first and then he dismounts himself. Hanuman then flies off and the chariot burn to ashes. This signifies what role Hanuman may have played. In my mind, this Kapidhwaj although mentioned in passing has gone deep in the psyche of many Indians. In my village, for example, many people have this kapidhwaj in their houses and have strong feelings and respect for the flag.

A question sometimes arises as to why if Rama and Krishna represent Parmatma, do they need the role of Hanuman? My feeling is that Rama and Krishna have a more global approach while Hanuman can have a more focused approach. After all, both Rama and Krishna had a human aspect as well as that of the Parmatma. Some force needs to keep a close watch on the smaller things around them as well. In today’s’ terms, a Prime Minister needs a Personal Assistant (PA) and a President needs a Chief of Staff.

The other question is how did Hanuman or Krishna influence the war? There are some places where we can see what Krishna did, but we do not see what Hanuman did. We, at least today want to see to believe. But, let us examine few things that we know about. You see a switch; turn the switch on and the light bulb switches on. You do not see the flow of electricity. You know the physics but you do not see it. Similarly, you see the fruit falling on the ground, but you do not see the gravitational force. There are many other such phenomenon that exist but we do not have an explanation yet. Similarly, the forces of Hanuman, which were perhaps evident once, are beyond our explanation range today. But that does not mean it did not exist.

We have used the word Parmatma several times since the eGita series started. I have deliberately avoided using the word God or Godhead in this reference. The reason is that to me Parmatma, God and Allah convey different meaning to different people. Gandhi popularized the saying “Allah Ishwar Eke Naam” in his time. ‘Allah Ishwar Eke Naam’ may have been a politically correct slogan but spiritually it is an incomplete statement. I am not trying to say that one is inferior to the other. I am simply saying that they are uniquely different.

Let me explain it a little further. God to an Indian may mean the same as Parmatma. He has only known Parmatma and thinks these two words to be synonymous. But, for a westerner, Parmatma means God unless the differences are pointed out to him. A western mind has not yet thought of anything beyond God. It is not exposed to the existence of Adwaita (non-duality), it is not aware of nirvichar (thoughtlessnes). The west is already exploring all this through the techniques of yoga and meditation, but has not yet been exposed to the concepts of Atma and Parmatma. It has been partly our fault too. We have been translating Parmatma to God in every literature that exists. God conveys the meaning of goodness, it reminds you of Ten Commandments, and it also raises the possibility of the opposite that is Satan. Parmatma on the other hand is all-inclusive. The east has been able to say that Parmatma includes the good and the bad, the terrible things that happen as well as the magnificent ones. It blooms through the flowers of spring and at the same time it brings destruction through the lava of volcanoes

Parmatma has to be understood in its entirety without translations and similes. We shall do this all along through our discussions on eGita and bringing in excerpts from Upanishads and other shashtras.

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