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How Krishna solved a clash among the Pandavas

Karna Parva

Kar­na par­va is the 8th Par­va in the Mahab­hara­ta. Kar­na is appoint­ed as the third com­man­der-in-chief of the Kau­ra­va army. This par­va also describes the extreme frus­tra­tion of war­riors on both sides as they try to van­quish each oth­er. Unable to han­dle each oth­er’s prowess, mem­bers of the same clan engage in con­flict with each oth­er.

When teams under­go extreme pres­sure, con­flict and blame game among the team mem­bers is not unknown. When its a mod­ern soft­ware team, noth­ing dras­tic may hap­pens (gen­er­al­ly). A few ver­bal assaults and life goes on- may be a ! In a bat­tle field, the sto­ry is of a dif­fer­ent order. With access to all kinds of weapons, in-fight­ing can lead to dras­tic sit­u­a­tions and this is what hap­pened once. Krish­na pitched it and restored har­mo­ny among the Pan­davas.

Shouting Match: Yudhisthira and Arjuna

Know­ing that Kar­na was still alive, Yud­histhi­ra, extreme­ly angry with Arju­na and burn­ing with wrath said ” Oh Arju­na! You had promised in Dwai­ta vana that you would slay Kar­na. You have brought such dis­re­spect to Kun­ti. If you had told that you would­n’t be able to fight kar­na, we could have made some arrange­ment. You have now bro­ken us into pieces. would have been bet­ter if you had­n’t been born to Kun­ti. How could you let Kar­na go! If you had giv­en this bow of yours to Krish­na, he would have killed Kar­na. You wicked soul! Fie on your Gan­di­va, fie on the might of your arms, fie on the inex­haustible arrows! Fie on the ban­ner with the gigan­tic ape on it, and fie on the car giv­en by the god of fire!”

The moment Yud­histhi­ra men­tioned insult­ed the Gan­di­va, Arju­na drew his sword. The Pan­da­va broth­ers observed in shock. Krish­na asked ” Why do you draw your sword. There is no ene­my here.”

Arju­na replies ” Krish­na! I had tak­en a secret oath that who­ev­er insults my Gan­di­va will be slayed. I now can­not spare Yud­histhi­ra who has not just insult­ed me but my Gan­di­va bow”.

Krishna’s Advice

Krish­na advices Arju­na to choose the path of ahim­sa and cen­sured him for mov­ing away from the path of Dhar­ma. He talks about 5 kinds of false­hoods that become truth because of the intri­cate sit­u­a­tions in which they are uttered. Dhar­ma is not a stiff but flu­id and dynam­ic.

Krish­na then pro­ceeds to nar­rate the sto­ry of Vala­ka and Kaushi­ka.

Vala­ka was a hunter. He hunt­ed all kinds of ani­mals for the wel­fare of his fam­i­ly. One day, unable to find any ani­mal to hunt, Vala­ka was feel­ing deject­ed. He sud­den­ly saw an ani­mal that he had­n’t seen before. He slew the ani­mal and imme­di­ate­ly there was a show­er of flow­ers. The ani­mal had obtained a boon of killing all ani­mals. Hav­ing killed such an ani­mal, Vala­ka went to heav­en.

Kaushi­ka was prac­tic­ing aus­ter­i­ties and had vowed to speak the truth. He was prac­tic­ing in the forests. Once a group of peo­ple, fear­ing rob­bers hid in the for­est. When the rob­bers came there, they looked at Kaushi­ka and asked the where­abouts of the peo­ple. Unwill­ing to utter a life, Kaushi­ka gave away the hid­ing place and the rob­bers killed every­one. Igno­rant of the sub­tle­ty of moral­i­ty, Kaushi­ka went to hell.

Krish­na explained the sub­tleties of Dhar­ma to Arju­na and Arju­na was con­vinced about that his reac­tion to Yud­histhi­ra’s words were wrong.

Krishna’s Unique Solution

Arju­na returns to his sens­es and explains his posi­tion. Krish­na explains how Kar­na was invin­ci­ble and his tough fight frus­trat­ed every­one. He had to be van­quished for Dhar­ma to be restored and at the same time, Arju­na’s vow also has to be kept up.

Krish­na came up with a unique solu­tion. He said, address Yud­histhi­ra in the sin­gu­lar (with­out the respect­ful plur­al) and talk to him. This is the worst form of killing any respect­ful per­son. Arju­na said to Yud­histhi­ra ” It is for you that we have been doing all this. Yet you speak such harsh words? I do not derive any plea­sure as you are addict­ed to gam­bling. It is because of this that we have all fall­en in hell today. It was because of you that we lost our king­dom..” Arju­na poured all his pent up emo­tion and calmed down. He also took out his sword to kill him­self as he had insult­ed Yud­histhi­ra.

For the sec­ond time, Krish­na had to pitch in and save the Pan­da­va. When the but­ter is about to be formed, the pot was bro­ken, goes a say­ing. This sit­u­a­tion can be com­pared to that say­ing. Krish­na said “Oh Arju­na! why do you want to kill your­self. Lis­ten to me. Speak your own praise. This is equiv­a­lent to killing one­self”

Arju­na spoke at length about his own achieve­ments and then hung his head in shame. He put the arrows back and vowed to kill Kar­na.

Both Yud­histhi­ra and Arju­na calmed down. Under­stood the grave con­se­quence of what just hap­pened. They thanked Krish­na for his time­ly inter­ven­tion.

The Mahab­hara­ta is filled with such emo­tion­al sequences which find par­al­lel in our own pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al lives as well. We all need that guide who can bring us out of such com­plex sce­nar­ios and restore peace and har­mo­ny.


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