Sunday, March 05, 2006

Heroes or Villians?

Every one has read The Mahabharat or at least have heard the stories from the great epic or thanks to B.R. Chopra seen it in DD. The story deals with the very virtuous Pandavas being oppressed by their wicked and villainous cousins the Kauravas and how the good overcomes evil at the end.

But are the Kauravas really the villainous people they have been depicted as, or the pandavas as pious or virtuous?

Duriyodhana, the eldest Kaurava, was considered the most wicked of the lot. The same Duriyodhana, who befriended, the then low class, Karna and made him king of Anga. It could be argued that he was friendly with Karna only for defeating Arjun. Maybe that was how it started, but there is a sequence in the story where Karna and Duriyodhana’s wife Banumathi are playing chess and Duriyodhana enters the room and Banumati stands up in haste at his sight, Karna whose is back towards him catches her and the ornamental belt around her waist breaks. Any ordinary husband would have been immediately suspicious, but all Duriyodhana asks them is, if he should just collect all the pearls or string them for her also.
And we all know the kind of loyalty given to him by Karna. Can a villainous creature like Duriyodhana really inspire this depth of feeling from an indubitably virtuous person like Karna, or find in himself such trust towards his wife and friend.

One could wonder of course if the Kauravas were such nice people, why would they try to kill their cousins. I don’t doubt for a minute that anyone in the Kauravas place would have done the same thing.

From the time of their birth, they are brought up with the belief that they would be the next rulers. Then in their teens, they are told that their cousins who had been in exile, would be joining them and they would probably be the next rulers, and to add insult to injury, the new cousins are hailed as the next best thing since sliced bread. Where the kauravas were once the favorites of their teachers, they are now ignored for the new cousins and constantly compared with them.

When parents have a second child, the first kid becomes naturally jealous and feels threatened and the parents are counselled to make the first child understand that the presence of a second child will not be a threat to the affection it gets from them. When this is true of children of the same parents, I cannot even gauge the amount of bafflement, resentment and inferiority complex that would have been felt by the kauravas.

Also, as we read about their childhood, we find that every time Bhim or one of the pandavas play a prank on the kauravas, it was laughed away as a childish prank and if the kauravas retaliated, they were punished and called wicked.

And to boot, they had a father who could never show them the right path and was blinded by not only by birth but also by his greed and an uncle who was always ready to steer them on the wrong path.

Seriously, can we blame the Kauravas for being what they were? They were just normal people, whose childish resentment and inferiority complex was left to fester to their adulthood and had no means to let it out but to fight their “so-called” perfect cousins.

Talking of the Kuruksethra war, it can be noticed, not even one of the kaurava warrior was killed in fair war. Karna was killed when he was repairing his chariot. Duriyodhna was killed by being hit in his thighs, when it was considered bad sport to hit below the belt, Drona was beheaded when he was meditating, after hearing the death of his son, which was a lie perpetuated by the oh so pious and virtuous Dharma and Bhishma was shot dead by a eunuch, coz he refused to fight against one, and put down his arms.

The Mahabarat is not really a story of good overcoming evil. It is a lovely epic and it talks about people, just normal people, with complexes and greed and emotions just like anyone. No one is either fully good or evil. It is a story that talks about life in its entirety. Life is grey, there is no black or white in it.

6 comments:

Vikram said...

Essence of Mahabhartha told in new perspective

hazel said...

Gita upadesh..I guess Vyasa wanted a story to spin around the moral .. :)

Laxmi said...

The 2 reasons Kauravas were probably deemed evil, were their behaviour with Draupadi and the wax palace business.

varuag said...

The 1 reason Kauravas were probably deemed evil was that they were the ones who lost the war. The history is written by the victors. always.
just a lil thought, if hitler had won the II WW, he wudn't be the same monster he is made out today. whatsay??

Sanjana said...

You are probably right Varuag. But i find i cannot condone Hitler..not after the concentration camps and what he did to the jews. Kauravas on the the other hand never tortured anyone for sadistic pleasure.... at least i have never read about it anywhere :-p

Subbu said...

Different Vista....Different Viewpoint....

Duruyodhana was an excellent ruler...Agreed... ....Also, .....

Knowing that you have read Mahabharatha thoroughly ........I am explaining in detail the incidents....which give a different viewpoint....

1)The incident that you describe with Karna and Bhanumati( Duriyodhana's Wife) never happened. No such thing in Vyasa Bharatha....only in Villi Bharatham...

2)Saving a person from Ignominy inspires Lifelong gratitude and what Karna felt was that... Proof... When Karna was offered the Kingdom by Krishna before the War...he declined it saying that if he were to get the kingdom, he would offer it to Duruyodhana and therefore Dharma will die.... He therefore felt that Duruyodhana was not virtuos... (If he had thought so high of Duruyodhana, he would have got the Kingdom and given it to Duriyodhana )

3) Envy and Duruyodhana... It was an attribute that was genetically imbibed by him.... and Envy is the root cause of all evil....and the Envious of the lot was Dhridrashtra....

4) You have conveniently forgotten the basic facts.... The Kauravas were initially told that they will rule and then Yudhishtir was made as Yuvaraja.... True... I agree....But even when they were given the entire kingdom...they had only one thought....that they should be better than their cousins...Jealousy ....

The Kingdom was split into 2 halves..wherein Duriyodhana got Hastinapura.....the other half which was nothing but barren land. The Pandavas agreed to that and due to their diligence and hard work they converted it into one of the mightiest of the Kingdoms (Indraprasta being the capital) and performed the Rajasuya Yaga....
Duriyodhana could not even digest that.....

4) How can you forget the Game of Dice.... Not the Kshatra Dharma...that won them the Kingdom.. but the cunningness of Shakuni.. that made them Gain a Kingdom.......

5) Sanjana.... I CANNNOT BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY DID TO A WOMAN IN AN ASSEMBLY......You ...???? as a defence lawyer for them.....???? Unbelievable..........

6)Chilish Pranks... Naturally....when you take the food of another kid or throw them to a ground.....yes.... But not when you 'poison' them or try to drown them...or...' to burn them in a 'wax' palace......

7) Normal people...and that too the Kauravas..... ???? .... maybe I need to change my perception of 'normal'...You should be kidding..... When the Pandavas was in exile, they tried in every way to humiliate them...(The Story of Durvasa... The story of Duriyodhana captured by Ghandarvas and due to Pandavas intervention were released...The story at Virata... wherein Arjuna single handedly defeated the entire Kaurava Army ...and could have killed them had he decided to.... should tell you that there were totally abnormal.....

8) Hmmm... I agree that they had a very bad influence of their dad and uncle.....

But they also had near them...the dharma incarnate Bhishma.... the virtuous Kripa....Drona...Ashwattama.....andthe 'Mahatma' Vidura..... Why were they not influenced by them.....

9) Who can forget the famous statement ' I will not give them even a needle point area of land' ...when he had to rightly hand over the land after the 13 yrs in exile....

10) All is fair in Love and "War"..... If Arjuna had decided to use his celestial weapons....then he could have killed all of them within a muhurta... (He proved it during the Virata Battle....)... There was no need for 18 days.... He din't use the celestial weapons ....

Fate....Deiva had to satisfy all....and therefore...the end...

Bhisma had a curse.... that Shikandin (Amba in the previous birth...) should be the cause of his death....

Drona....The purpose of Dhristadyumna's birth was to kill Drona....and Drona can only be killed when he lays down his arms....

Karna.... The curse of the Brahmana and that of his Guru...had to be fulfilled....

Duriyodhana..... A curse of the Sages...had to be fulfilled....
=================================
The Final Conclusion is Correct... But I disaree (We can agree to disagree) with the premise....on which the conclusion was evolved....