Story and Relevance of Mahabharata in Today's World (88)


Lesson 88 takes a fresh start after 4 month break. Before continuing Bhagavad Gita CH10, we first dive into the fascinating story of Mahabharata and how it's symbolism can teach us to manage life in all aspects.

Reason why a Bhagavad Gita is significant and applicable today:

  • Basic message of Bhagavad Gita is: There is only one reality, which is without a second, that I am.
  • However people start pretending to be the WHOLE reality. While discounting/rejecting life in front of them, in the name of being desireless or detached. Or doing without expecting results. Calling emotions an illusion. Or “love everyone”.
    • So even after exposure to Advaita, misinterpretations occur.
  • Therefore, B.Gītā becomes significant because it removes misinterpretations, and helps you to integrate the vision of Oneness into decision making, responding to situations, into daily behaviour, into coping with life changes.
    • It’s a transformative learning. And needs lots of thinking on our part.
  • Meaning, B.Gita is written to give lucidity / clear-headedness / soundness for those who wish to live a meaningful life.


Mahābhārata Story:

  • King Vicitravīrya (Hastinapur ruler) had 2 princes. Dhṛtarāṣṭra & Pāṇḍu.
    • Dhṛtarāṣṭra:
      • Elder brother. Blind.
      • Married Gāndhārī.
      • Had 100 sons, Kauravas. Eldest being, Duryodhana.
    • Pāṇḍu:
      • Married Kuntī.
      • Had 5 sons (Pāṇḍavas): Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva.
  • Dhṛtarāṣṭra, being older, was entitled to inherit But impossible, being blind.
    • Thus Pāṇḍu ruled.
  • Dhṛtarāṣṭra resented he couldn’t rule, as he was older. While Pāṇḍu noticed his condition gave him due respect.
      • Don't put people in boxes. EG: All of us would've felt like Dhṛtarāṣṭra (resentful for being blind).
      • Point is to come out of black/white view of world. But understand complexities of human nature.
  • STORY CONTINUES: One day, Pāṇḍu decided to temporarily retire to forest for a break, and requested Dhṛtarāṣṭra to care for kingdom.
  • This is when the problems started…
  • While Pāṇḍu was in forest hunting, he mistook sage & his wife for an animal. So he shot an arrow, killing both.
    • Sage cursed Pāṇḍu that we would die if gets intimate with wife.
    • QUESTION: What is symbolism of Pāṇḍu “accidentally” killing sage & his wife?
      • Even good person has negligence and gets punished for it.
      • Pāṇḍu didn't exercises his judgement. Hence acted without thinking, leading to unfavorable consequences.
      • Whether you do things knowing or unknowingly, we still have responsibility. Because we do have capacity (yesterday) to know.
        • Even if get conditioning as child, still have chance to use feedback in adult, and correct If don't correct, it brings discomfort. Thus interactions become hard in life.
      • Not exercising responsibility, doesn't serve you, nor others. Creates unnecessary pain.
      • Meaning all pain gives incentive to change. Over time, you become better problem solver.
    • We are mixture of Pāṇḍu / Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Through characters in Mahābhārata, we recognize each in our personality.


Keywords: Dhritarashtra, pandu, mahabharata, kunti, gandhari, pandavas, Yudhishthira, bhima

Recorded 11 Aug, 2020



  1. Hi Andre.
    With respect to the observation that the sage could have acted differently and shown forgiveness.
    Pandas negligence began when he ‘ decided to take a break’.
    He was not mindful as he decided to neglect his duties.
    Already he has set up the initial conditions.
    At this point he could have enquires’ why am I taking a break and what could be the consequence of this’.
    When he shot the arrow, he was reacting without thought to past experience.
    That is, when I hear a sound like this it usually equates to the presence of a deer.
    There was no consideration of the consequences of an action performed without deliberation.
    Why did the sage curse him.
    This story is an allegory for the process of the action of karma.
    Had the sage forgiven him there would have been two consequences.
    1. It would have sent the incorrect message that only intention, not action, matters.
    This deprives the individual of an element of responsibility.
    2. It would have denied Pandu the opportunity to learn from his mistake by experiencing consequences.
    Hence would be counter to Pandu’s evolution.
    I am interested to know if I am on the right track.
    Thank you for sharing your history.
    If you think it is relevant for me to share mine I am happy to do that.
    It may not be.

  2. Robert wrote “Pandas negligence began when he ‘ decided to take a break’. He was not mindful as he decided to neglect his duties.
    Already he has set up the initial conditions.”

    I agree that Panda acted mindless while taking a break and go into the forest to use a deadly weapon. And at the same time, I see a danger in becoming dogmaticlaly self opinionated by trying to be always good, noble and doing the right thing. In other words to become perfect and virtuous. The downside of this, like anything that is taken to its extreme, are rigid moral judgements, to be judgmental towards those who are not, in this case Panda.

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