The source of knowledge for this series of blogs on the Mahabharata, are the talks by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Any error in understanding is mine alone.. Not all situations from the Mahabharata are blogged upon; and for those situations blogged upon, parallels are drawn to day to day living.

MAnvi’s prolonged quietness drew her thAthA’s attention. As he probingly looked at her, she started talking.

MAnvi: thAthA, sages may do a lot of tapas, grow in knowledge and gain a quietnes within and this makes them be revered; however in situations of extreme happiness or anger, their reactions don’t seem to be different from the many of us, who may not be as knowledgeable or may not have gained as much quietness within.

thAthA: Interesting comparison, indeed!! Go on, MAnvi..

MAnvi: thAthA, when the sages are extremely happy, they give a boon which may make the receiver experience a pleasant situation in their life. When they are extremely angry, they give a curse which may make the receiver experience an unpleasant situation in their life. That’s what many of us also do in real life, isn’t it thAthA? When we are happy with the way someone acts, we immediately reward them – materialistic reward or an appreciation; and when we are not happy with the way someone acts, we give them a consequence – taking away what means a lot to them or use words and tone to express dissatisfaction – leading to pleasant or unpleasant experiences. Sometimes, we regret giving the reward or the consequence but what is given cannot be taken back.

Sage Durvasa being extremely happy with the way Prtha (also called Kunti and hereinafter referred so) served him, gave her a boon – he taught her a mantra and when she would chant it and think of her favorite devatA, this devatA would bless her. A pleasant experience for Kunti.

Kunti immediately wanted to try the boon she received.. She prayed to Lord Surya or the sun god for a child and lo and behold, a child was in her lap!! The child was looking bright as the sun and was adorned in gold. She asked for a child and once she got it, she didn’t know what to do with the child. She put the child in a box and let the box into River Ganga.

thAthA: Let’s look at similar situations in life, MAnvi.

  • Children throw a temper tantrum for what they want and they get what they want, but how many days do they play with it?
  • Adults buy an appliance because it seems attractive and appears to have a use. Once bought, some appliances are used well but some just lie in dust; as after buying it, there is no time or interest to use it
  • An organisations offers a responsibility to one of its employees, and the employee takes it. After taking the responsibility, the employee doesn’t know what to do with it and procrastinates.

What is the costly spend? Time once lost cannot be gained and money once lost takes time to earn back. An expensive loss!!

MAnvi, in the case of Kunti, it is a child she asked for and what came with it was the title ‘parent’. She suddenly realised that she wasn’t ready for it and that the consequences of it would be far too an unpleasant experience and she gave up the child!! The reasons maybe valid for her but look at the impact it had on this baby as he grew up!! An expensive loss – both for Kunti and the child!! Something that I am sure we will discuss again another day in the future.

MAnvi went quiet thinking of the impact of what Kunti did, may have been on the child, but she knew that her grandfather would not talk about it then; she wasn’t ready either. Her urge to get back to the topic of this child of Kunti got her back into the conversation with thAthA.

MAnvi: thAthA, how strange life is!! The box with this child that Kunti left in River Ganga was found by the charioteer Adiratha. As he and his wife Radha had no children of their own, they brought him up as their child. They named him Radheya, otherwise called Karna. Kunti’s loss is Radheya’s gain!!

It is also said that when Karna didn’t want to become a charioteer like Adiratha, he was curious to know why. Children were expected to take up the profession of the father and they did so too. Karna though wanted to sit inside the chariot like a king and not drive it like a charioteer. The curiosity to know why his aspirations were different, made him seek answers from Radha. She told him his back story and that he maybe a Kshatriya as he had the marks of one – born to rule!!

thAthA, what may have gone thru’ Karna’s mind when he

  • was told by Radha that he wasn’t born to her and Adiratha?
  • came to know that he was left in the river by his mother Kunti?
  • thought he was left in abandonment?
  • wanted to sit inside the chariot like a king and his father wanted him to drive it like a charioteer?
  • realised that he wasn’t interested in becoming a charioteer like Adiratha?
  • understood that he was different and he didn’t feel belonged to the clan that Adiratha belonged to?
  • wasn’t happy with the way he was and wanted to earn a name, fame, prove himself and wanted to become big? Something that was different from the way he was taught and brought up?

thAthA: Powerful questions, MAnvi, to which we don’t have answers. Many of Karna’s actions though may provide clues to these questions, which we will discuss another day.

MAnvi, battles are fought within the mind first and then fought outside. Think of what happens within your mind when

  • you want to do something but are prevented from doing so
  • you don’t feel a sense of belonging to the place you are in, but you have to be there
  • you know you are different and don’t fit in the environment; you feel like a fish out of water and all you can do is wriggle and squiggle
  • you have an ambition but people around think that ambition is not a healthy thought to have
  • you feel that you are a square peg in a round hole and neither can you fight nor can you be in flight

Each one of these reinforce that you are different from the environment that you are currently in. You may then go searching for an environment that makes you feel a sense of belonging and a sense of ‘fitting in’. There is also that feeling of insecurity within. This search and insecurity makes you vulnerable to anyone who offers a sense of belonging and security.

MAnvi, despite the other person attempting to give a sense of belongingness or insecurity, conflicts may continue to arise because your answers arrive slowly; and you are not in a frame of mind to give it the time needed.

When your search provides you with some answers that you begin to accept, your vulnerability becomes your strength.

MAnvi wasn’t sure whether what her thAthA said about the battles that get fought in the mind, was for Karna or if it was for her!! She wasn’t far removed from the situation that Karna ‘found’ himself in!!

MAnvi knew that her seacrh and wait had begun!! Her clues she was certain, lay in her understanding of the actions of Karna.