“Maha” means great; “Bharata” was the ancient name of the land that later became known as Hindustan, and more recently, the Indian subcontinent. The Mahabharata is the world’s longest poem. It narrates the bitter rivalry between two sets of cousins, the five Pandavas and a hundred Kauravas who lived five thousand years ago. Both vie for succession to the throne of Hastinapur. The Pandavas epitomize goodness, whereas the Kauravas represent arrogance and disrespect.
The Kauravas, consumed by jealousy and hatred, make multiple attempts to destroy the Pandavas. Years later, this animosity leads to a devastating war.
Yet, the war was avoidable. The elders and wise men of the kingdom accept the Pandavas as the rightful heirs. Nonetheless, bound by their oath to support the throne, they fight on behalf of the evil Kauravas. Ultimately, the Pandavas are victorious. Only twelve people survive this war.
The good and mighty men who pledged allegiance to the “crown” are defeated.
Sage Vyasa originally composed the Mahabharata thousands of years ago. It contains within it the Bhagavad Gita, the quintessential doctrine of Hinduism.
Human nature has remained unchanged despite monumental external changes. The single most important principle that I hold dear is that of doing one’s Karma. Do your job without expectation of reward: this is the message of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Mahabharata explores the sacrifices, vows, internal and external struggles of extraordinary men and women in detail.
Perhaps superhumans existed on earth at that time. Even if they possessed exceptional military prowess, the men and women in this tale battled anger, hate, jealousy, and lust for power the way ordinary people do in the twenty-first century.
I have found solace in the Mahabharata’s stories. They provide a roadmap to fight for what is right, be it in personal, professional, or civic life. The cosmic law that guides righteousness is called dharma.
As humanity grapples with multiple calamities, I find myself returning to the lessons from Mahabharata. Do all you can to fight for what is right. Do not support evil because of past misplaced vows. Pledge your allegiance to righteousness, not to a title or throne. No other story has stirred my soul like the Mahabharata.