Monday, 19 January 2015

Teachings From Mahabharata

It’s around 1 am last night and I just recollected the thought that I have 10GB internet still remaining for the month. I was thinking to utilize this net pack by watching couple of episodes of BR Chopra’s Mahabharat on Youtube. Though I have seen entire series twice, but still watching some of the episodes to bring back some learning which we apply for some time (after watching some inspirational program) and then forget about it.  I have been a big fan of BR Chopra’s Mahabharat & Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan serials. Both of these programs are full of teachings and one can extract lot of learning after understanding the gist. In this post, I will mention about certain events from epic Mahabharata which inspire us and give us some learning which we can apply in our daily life.

Every coin has two sides. While we can question certain characters for their action, but in this post, I would like to point out positive aspect of certain characters, which give us some teachings/learnings and thus motivate us to apply them in our life.

Respect your parents, care for them
Son of Shantanu and Ganga, grand uncle of Pandavas & Kauravas, Bhishma was a great warrior and an ace archer. Originally named as Devavrat, he was famous and known as Bhishma after he took the oath bhishama pratigya — that he will not marry in his life and till the time he lives, will serve to whoever sat on the throne of his father (the throne of Hastinapur).  This is a great oath taken by a son to show his commitment and responsibilities towards parents, especially in an unavoidable crisis.

Learning  – Although many can question that being a prince, was it justified to take this kind of oath? With this oath, the country was deprived of a skilful king who could have done really well for the country, had he became the king, instead of King’s savior.

 However, for me I take this learning - always pay respect to your parents. All wealth, all charity is of no-use if your parents are not happy.  For this, you need not to take any terrible oath but an oath that you will make them happy by dedicating time to them. If there is any disagreement then talk politely and make them realize your point. Parents always wish for our success. Their blessings will make the way of our progress.

Always love your country
Bhisma took this oath so that his father, Shantanu could marry a fisherwoman Satyavati — Satyavati's father had refused to give his daughter's hand to Shantanu on the grounds that his daughter's children would never be rulers. This made Devavrata to take the vow of lifelong celibacy thus sacrificing ‘crown-prince’ title. He also took an oath of always see his father image in whosoever sit on the throne of Hastinapur, thus serve him all his life.

When Shantanu got to know about this terrible oath, his heart melt and he granted him the boon of Ichcha Mrityu (control over his own death).

In war, when Bhishma was on his death bed of arrows, he declared that he will not die until he sees his country Hastinapur is secured from everywhere and that is possible only when it has a true king. Later when Kauravas lost the battle and Yudhishtira became the king, Bhisma Pitamah took his last breath upon realizing that now Hastinapur was in safe hands under the rule of King Yudhisthira. No words for such act of love for the country.

Learning –  This gives us the teaching to always love your country. Put country interest above your own interest. Never think what country has given us, because we are nonentities to understand what a country means to the citizens. Always think what we can give to the country (or society).  Another instance from Mahabharata when Karna asks Krishna why he is not being ranked as better warrior than Arjuna? To this Lord Krishna replied that “you have always thought of taking revenge from Arjuna.   You gathered all sorts of skills and arts but you never used them for the wellbeing of society. This means that we as an educated person should serve the society first for whatever mean is possible. Whatever education we have got, whatever skills we have learned, we should use them for the wellbeing of our country/society. 

Don’t make promise which you cannot fulfill
It’s easy to make promise but difficult to keep.  We have a very good example in Mahabaharat to explain this. During their study days, Drupad a prince and Dronacharya a commoner became such good friends. One day, Drupad (in a lighter mode) promised to Drona that when he becomes king, he will share half of his kingdom with Drona.  However when they grew up, Drupad changed his stand and often mocked Drona in his court. This caused estrangement between the two, which turned out to be a life long battle.

Learning – Never make a promise which you think you can cannot keep (or fulfill). This is also a very good management lesson. Often we have seen employees are being given false promise of good appraisal, promotion for short term gain. When these promises are not fulfilled, it result in employee dissatisfaction which further affect work quality. 

Don’t take sides. Be impartial
A great episode with full of teachings when Yaksha asks number of questions and Yudhishtir answers each one of them with full devotion and clear mind. After answering all the questions, Yudhishthira is asked as to which of his four brothers he would wish to be brought back to life. He chooses Nakula.   When Yaksha ask him why he choose Nakula, he answered – that out of five pandavas, three of them (Yudhishtir, Arjun and Bheem) are born to Kunti and two (Nakul and Sahdev)  are born to Madri. With Yudhishthir, Kunti has one son alive, so let Madri also has one son alive so that both mothers are partially bereaved. Pleased at this, Yaksha revives all the four remaining brothers.

Learning – This gives us the learning that we should not be partial when the onus of justice or decision making is on us. We should be rational in our approach and instead of thinking what others will think; we should take decision from mind not from heart. Being impartial is not easy, but it’s a sign of mature person and a true leader. 

Be passionate of your dream if you want to achieve it
Eklavya was born in tribal family and very passionate about learning archery. When he approached Drona and requested him to teach him archery in Gurukul the way he used to teach to Pandavas & Kauravas.  However, as Eklavya belonged to the lower castes, he was denied access to Drona's mentorship.  But Eklavya was so dedicated and passionate about learning archery from Drona that created an image of Drona and took the image as his guru monitoring and inspiring him. He used to practice the arts of Drona in front of Drona's image. When guru Drona used to teach Pandavas & Kauravas in Gurukul, Eklavya used to hide behind trees and watch him teaching boys from Royal family. Such was his passion that he actually learned the trade of archery from his guru, without his teacher teaching him. Eventually he became so skilled in archery that guru Drona felt that Eklavya could well be regarded as greatest archer than his best disciple Arjuna and with this insecurity he asked for Eklavya right hand thumb as part of dakshina.

Learning – This episode of Eklavya teaches us the value of being passionate about our Goals. If we are passionate and dedicated to our goal, it will lead the way of goal accomplishment. Important to note that being passionate doesn’t mean to continuously think about it all the time, but to act on it (like Eklavya did) and work so hard to make it reality.

Don’t always criticize
When Shishupal, son of King of Chedi, born with three eyes and four arms, his parents wanted to cast him out, but an announcement stopped them. The announcement stated that his features of extra third eye and two arms will be disabled when a certain person took this child into his lap and the same person will eventually kill Shishupal.  Such was the writing by destiny that it was Krishna who placed the child into his lap and the extra eye and arms disappeared and it was destined that Shishupal will be killed by Krishna later.  However, upon Shishupal’s mother request, Krishna promised her that he would pardon his cousin Shishupal a hundred times per day and he will kill him when he exceeds the limit.

Later when Yudhishthira organized Rajsuya Yagya, Shishupal insulted not only Krishna but Bhishma as well. He scolded Krishna as a cowherd and worthless to be honored as a king. He also challenged Pandavas and Krishna for war.  Listening to all this, Krishna smiled at him and warned him when he crossed the limit of 100th time insult. But Shishupal ignored the warning and kept on the verbal abuse. To this, Krishna released his sudarshana disc and it flew at Shishupala and dismembered his head.

Learning – Shishupal episode teaches us that we should not always criticize. If we keep on criticizing someone and if that person is listening, after sometime he will retaliate because there is a limit of everything. If Lord could not bear the continual verbal insult, how can we expect mortals like us to be patient and listen all insult directed at us. In our family my mother always says “apni ijjat apne haath”. So don’t push any person to that extent that he will lose his patience and retaliate against your continuous jibe at him.

Although when we think about penning down teachings of Mahabharata, one post is not sufficient. I will try to cover the other teachings in some posts later on. Let me know what are views about teachings of Mahabharat. I am sure we can learn lot more than above mentioned. It’s a plethora of knowledge. 


  1. Great lessons for the day!
    Sometimes it does good to mind and soul to revisit!

  2. Very well put, inspirational and guiding :-)

    1. Good to know that you liked it. Thanks for stopping by Paresh. Keep Visiting :)

  3. Truly inspirational... Thanks for sharing Vishal ji...hope to hear many more from you.

    1. Thanks Ashish for sharing your feedback. Glad that you liked it. Keep visiting this space for more useful stories. :)