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At the Feet of The Mother

Reflections on the Mahabharata 8: Born of Fire

Flaming dresses of Draupadi by Onkar FondekarDraupadi is born of fire, of the fire of “yajna”. Whatever occult processes there may be involved in this it mainly indicates that hers is a conscious birth. She has been asked for for a purpose and therefore has a mission assigned to her right from her very birth. Though her father had asked for a son to defeat Dronacharya at whose hands King Drupad had suffered humiliation, a la tit for tat, the first child that comes out of this yajna is Draupadi, a woman. The father rejects the boon and asks for a son again. The son Drishtadyuman is born but Darupadi, though rejected initially by her father, has been born with a purpose too. She is Sri Krishna’s counterpart in the great epic, His friend, sakhi. Like Radha, she is never married to the Avatara but a common divine work, a divine intention has brought them together in the great battle of life. Inwardly, she is the Avatara of Kali who has come to destroy the arrogant Kshatriyas who have lost their way in their pride and lust for power. She is ever pure though married to five husbands, a “sati” who lives by truth. Where else in the world can we find such bold portrayal of the feminine, such liberal views on woman, such a lesson that a society that does not respect women and treats them as pleasure objects deserves to be destroyed! Draupadi is the dynamic Divine Will, the incarnate Divine Force who has come to set the balance of justice right, to once restore the reign of dharma. Like Sri Krishna, she too does not lift a weapon in the great war but her will is enough to ensure that the scales of destiny are tilted in Pandavas’ and thereby in dharma’s favour.

Of course, all this can be seen symbolically but to see it only thus is to relegate its real significance. For example, the chariot of Arjuna being driven by Sri Krishna is very clearly also a well-known Upanishadic symbol wherein the chariot is the body, the horses are the senses, the reins are the mind whereas the driver is the Buddhi, the illumined Intelligence in man. Arjuna is the soul that travels through the chariot. But a still better symbol is that Arjuna is the human soul and Sri Krishna the immanent Divine in man. As long as man drives his life with his senses and limited mental lights that we call as moral and ethical doctrines, he has chances of being lost when crucial dilemmas confront and bewilder his soul. But when he can make the courageous act of surrender to the Lord within and live only to obey His Will and His impulsion, abandoning all other standards of conduct, moral and mental, then is he truly delivered from delusion and grief and error and sin. That is how the Gita declares as its “mahavakya” towards the end revealing this great and profound truth, “Abandon all dharmas and take refuge in ME alone. I shall deliver thee from all fear. Do not grieve.” Yet the war is not just the symbol of an inner war but a real war, where forces of light and darkness clash and their result will determine the destiny of the world. The inner war within man also has its collective counterpart and therefore needs to be understood as such. The epic therefore, is at once symbolic and real replete with spiritual wisdom and occult truths. To speak about all of them or even a fraction of them would need a whole book. But here we are touching upon just a few main issues.

Sri Aurobindo reveal to us:

There are many who say that the Mahabharata is only a symbol; Sri Krishna is God, Arjuna the human soul, the sons of Dhritarashtra the inner enemies of the soul’s progress, the Pandava army represents the forces that help towards liberation. This is to relegate the Mahabharata to a low position in the world of letters and at the same time to minimize and bring to nought the deep seriousness of the Gita, its utility for the life of the man of action and its high teaching that makes for the progress of mankind. The war of Kurukshetra is not simply a frame for the Gita picture; it is the prime motive and the best occasion for carrying out the law given in the Gita. To accept a symbolic meaning for the great war of Kurukshetra is to reduce the law of the Gita to a law of ascetic quietism inapplicable to life in this world, not a law of the heroic man, a law to be followed in life.

Sri Krishna is the Speaker. The scriptures say that Sri Krishna is God Himself. In the Gita too, Sri Krishna has proclaimed Himself as God. It has there been declared, on the basis of the Avatara doctrine in the fourth chapter and the theory of the Vibhuti in the tenth, that God dwells hidden in the bodies of all creatures, shows Himself to a certain extent through the manifestations of power in some particular beings, and is fully incarnated in the person of Sri Krishna. According to many, Sri Krishna, Arjuna and Kurukshetra are mere metaphors, and in order to recover the true meaning of the Gita these metaphors are to be ignored. But we cannot reject this part of the teaching. If the Avatara doctrine is there, why should Sri Krishna be ignored? Therefore, God Himself is the propounder of this knowledge and the teaching.

Writings in Bengali: 93

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