LIFE LESSONS FROM THE EPIC MAHABHARAT

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NIRANJAN GIDWANI – DIRECTOR AND FORMER CEO OF EROS GROUP DUBAI

The epic narrative of Mahabharata had been written ages ago. Yet the legendary tale continues to find prominence in every form of art, and continues to overwhelm us even today.

The fact that the epic is still revered is not only because of its poetic grandeur. The stories that almost all of us have grown up with hold relevance even during present times. The deeply philosophical ideas that perpetuate throughout the epic have a lot to teach us about the art of living, whether it’s in the family, the corporate world, the world of medicine, or the world of politics and Government.

So, here are 7 important lessons that we can learn from the Mahabharata.

1. A revengeful instinct can only lead to one’s ultimate doom

Mahabharata may revolve around the war of duty. But we cannot escape the fact that the major reason behind the destruction of all was revenge. The Kauravas lost everything to their blinded desire to ruin the Pandavas. The war did not even spare the children, including Draupadi’s five sons and Abhimanyu.

In today’s world, there are very frequent instances to be seen where the more affluent, the more influential, the more well-connected find the flimsiest of reasons to take revenge, simply to pamper their egos. 

The art of taking revenge has been mastered into a game that is enjoyed at the expense of the lesser fortunate. Over time, slowly but surely, it leads to one’s doom.

2. Stand by what’s right; even fight for it

Arjuna was initially hesitant to wage war against his kin. But Krishna reminded him that one has to stand by Dharma (duty), as long as it was always on the side of justice. Therefore, Arjuna had to fulfill his responsibility as a great warrior of Dharma.

More than half of the world’s problems exist because even the righteous hesitate from voicing their correct stand, albeit politely. Interestingly, this same breed does not hesitate to write on social media about correcting the world’s issues.

3. The eternal bond of friendship

The friendship between Krishna and Arjuna is something all of us look up to. It is perhaps because of Krishna’s unconditional support and motivation that the Pandavas managed to survive the war. None of us can forget the epic dice scene where it was Krishna who came to Draupadi’s rescue while her husbands gambled her away to disgrace. The friendship between Karna and Duryodhan, on the other hand, is no less inspiring. 

While friendship is always on equal basis, more often than not, the onus, at many times, would tend to lie on the senior/more influential friend to go that little extra in the relationship. All scriptures and books of morals point towards this philosophy.

4. Half knowledge can be dangerous

Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu teaches us how half-knowledge can have an adverse impact. While Abhimanyu knew how to enter the Chkaravyuh or the web, he did not know the way out.

Creating or concocting a web can seem exciting initially, but ultimately leads the one creating it to getting caught in his or her own web. History has always proven this.

5. Don’t be swayed by greed

What did Yudhishthir win out of greed? On the contrary, he lost everything he possessed–from his kingdom to his wealth. And to gamble away one’s most important relationships in the pursuit of hubris! How can one possibly justify that?

Returns cannot and should not be measured only on financial and money investments. 

6. We cannot give up on life despite all hurdles

Who can be a better example for this than Karana? Right from his birth, the ‘suta-putra’ battled his way through life, fighting discrimination and disgrace at every stage. He almost became a puppet in the hands of fate. But no obstacle could ever deter him from pursuing his goal. And his devotion towards his mother knew no bounds, to the extent that he even gave up his kavajkundal (his life-saving power) on her demand.

7. Being a woman does not make you a lesser individual

Yes, Draupadi was manoeuvred into taking five husbands, she was humiliated by the Kauravas for the fault of her own husband. She was violated but she was bold enough to take a stand. She ensured she got justice by vowing to wash her hair with the blood of Duryodhana and Dushasana, perhaps another reason that led to the war. A woman like Draupadi will not be passive, she will be fiery, she will fight for herself.

Inculcating values of justice, boldness and standing up for one’s rights needs to be inculcated in the right manner in half the world’s population. The onus clearly rests with the other half of the world’s population.