Tag Archives: ancient india

From Funeral to Throne

1.8.1-3

Sūta said:

So they went to the Ganga, with Kṛṣṇā and the women in front, wanting to give water to their departed family members. They all offered water and lamented terribly again and again while immersed in the river purified by the dust of the lotus-like feet of Hari. Then they sat down, overcome with grief – The Kuru King with his brothers and Dhṛtarāṣtra, Gāndhārī, Kuntī and Draupadī, and  Mādhava too.

The Kuru King and his brothers are Yuddhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Their wife is Draupadī. Their mother is Kuntī. Dhṛtarāṣtra and Gāndhārī are the father and mother of the opposing side, who tried to cheat their way onto the throne. After the war was over, the members of both side of the previously divided family united to mourn their dead together. That seems a significant moral lesson.

Mādhava is a name for Kṛṣṇa highlighting his honey-like sweetness. He sincerely participated in these emotional scenes, although categorically different from all the others – being the source of the purity of the river in which the others sought purification.

4

Along with scholars, he calmed the shock of those who had lost their friends and relatives by explaining that there is no way to undo what a living entity must attain due to their own destiny.

5

Cheating a faultless man of his kingdom created the destiny that killed so many. Daring to defile the hair of the queen with their touch created the destiny that killed many others.

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He [faultless Yuddhiṣṭhira] performed three opulent āśvamedha sacrifices, helping his pure fame spread everywhere, like he who performed a hundred.

Performing an āśvamedha is the way an emperor in ancient India could ritually demonstrate his power. An āśvamedha is a shockingly explicit, flamboyant and martial ritual that would give pause even to the most seasoned pagan. It is very difficult to possess the power and wealth required to perform this function even once. Indra, the king of the heavens, did it one hundred times. Yuddhiṣṭhira did it three times, but because he was so naturally powerful and impressive, the effect was similar to the effect Indra obtained from a hundred.

Interestingly the Manu Samhita says that being vegetarian is a better way to achieve the same effect as an āśvamedha. It takes a very long time to perform an āśvamedha, so this particular verse describes a relatively long span of time transpiring after the end of the huge war.

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Then, asking permission from the Paṇḍu family and their friend Sātyaki, he prepared to leave with Uddhava. Dvaipāyana and many sages and teachers offered their respects, and he offered his respects in return.

Here is a good example of why Kṛṣṇa is named Mādhava (“sweet”). He is the supreme independent power. If he desired he could do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. But because his heart is sweet and selfless he is humble and feels the need to behave according to the desires of his beloved friends and family. Great sages and teachers headed by Dvaipāyana (another name for Vyāsa) do not foolishly mistake him for an ordinary person simply because he is so sweet. Therefore they offer him worshipful respect. This is quite socially out of place because Kṛṣṇa’s caste at this phase of his life (warrior) is such that he should bow to the sages and teachers. The sages however, know the spiritual truth of Kṛṣṇa’s supreme position and enjoy his sweet and humble role without forgetting that he deserves all respect and worship. Kṛṣṇa, however, is so sweet that he takes refuge in these social customs as an excuse to offer respect and worship to those who love him.

If anything, we can learn that to be humble is more enjoyable than to be proud, for the supreme enjoyer tries to put himself into a humble circumstance. It appears that modern civilization chases happiness by running away from where it truly lies.

The central figure is Yudhisthira. The two to ...

LTR: Nakula, Sahadeva, Yuddhisthira, Arjuna, Bhima, Draupadi


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