Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mahabharata/Jaya - Nahusha

"I am Nahusha, descendant of Pururava. I was once made a temporary of King of Swargaloka as Lord Indra had gone to perform meditation to cleanse himself of some sin. All this newfound power corrupted me. I was also attracted to Indira's wife Sachi. Once I kicked Sage Agastya's head while hurrying towards her. That is when the sage cursed me that I will return to the earth as a python, moving on my stomach and waiting for food to come to me. I will be released only when my descendant Yuddhistira will teach me the true meaning of Brahman". Thus spoke Nahusha to Bhima while trying to devour him in the forest.

Yuddhistira is one of the most complicated characters in this epic. He is haled as the Embodiment of Righteousness (Dharmaraja) and yet he stakes his kingdom, his brothers and his wife. He is very silent and never speaks against King Dhritharashtra. He forgives his enemies soon. He still believes that Duryodhana would give them their land after the exile. But as is with all the humans, nothing is at it seems. Yuddhistira was the only Pandava who understood the importance of peace. Again like all humans, he too had to learn a lot from what the life brought to him. This two chapters (another chapter after this one) will give us a small insight on this important character of the Epic.

One day, Nahusha (who was in the form of a giant python) had got hold of Bhima. This is when he told his story. Bhima calls for Yuddhistira's help. When Yuddhistira reaches the spot, Nahusha asks him, "Who is Brahman".

Yuddhistira replies, "Not the son of a Brahman as most people believe. True Brahman is the one who has attained the Supreme truth (Brahma vidya) of the eternal soul by mastering his senses and disciplining his mind. This will make one gentle and generous, for he is one with truth."

On hearing this, the serpent releases Bhima and transforms into a celestial form and rises to Swarga.

Yuddhistira's answers again showcases that Hindusim (or maybe Sage Vyasa) does not consider birth to the correct decider for the caste/occupation of the individual. It is the spiritual development of a person and his corresponding actions which determine. This is just an undercurrent which is quite prevalent in the epic. Yet, it is surprising that Yuddhistira never stopped Bhima or Arjuna while they were heaping insults on Karna on graduation day. Did he learn all this during his exile? Was this why mistakes were committed by him? Who knows why events or mistakes happen? 

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