Powers Of Krsna! — Quotidian — 394
(Transcript of video originally posted on 14 May 2022)
About two days ago, we saw twenty-four laws from this book. And we compared it with The Ramayana. I thought, there are twenty-four more to go, why not bring in the OTHER great Indian epic? The Mahabharatha? Shall we give it a go?
Powers of Kṛṣṇā, this time! Same book. But, the second half, the second set of twenty-four laws, we are going to dip into the stories of Kṛṣṇā, the stories from The Mahabharatha! We are going to see if we can draw some parallels.
Law Number 25:- Re-create yourself! Come up with a new definition! One husband gets one wife. One wife gets one husband. Why should that be the case always?! Draupadi brings that angle to the story. Whether it was an accident, whether it was a purposeful intent, we will not know. There are too many stories for us to identify which one. But, stories like “Draupadi asking for an accomplished husband multiple times, and being given a husband five times” and “Draupadi asking for a husband with five special qualities, and being told that all five is not possible in one person, so, please take five!” exist!
Law Number 26:- Keep your hands clean! No better way to recollect this particular law except to think about this Yadava Prince. This King. Kṛṣṇā. He is not even a warrior clan. He didn’t pick up a single weapon. But, look at the devastation he brought about! He was the mastermind behind The Mahabharatha! And if you take a look at what he did wreak, … that is amazing! He kept his hands clean!
Law Number 27:- Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult-like following! Ekalavya had already learned a lot, using Drona as his “virtual Guru”. But, cruel and selfish teacher of Arjuna that he was, he took away Ekalavya’s thumb as Guru Dakshina! But, that didn’t stop Ekalavya from practising his skill! He continued at it! He became an amazing warrior.. without using that important thumb finger! So much so, that even today, there are warrior clans in tribal India who pay homage to Ekalavya by not using the thumb finger. In fact, even at the Olympics, archers don’t use their thumbs! What a coup! Don’t you think?!
Law Number 28:- Enter action with boldness! I am reminded of just one story. I am sure you are reminded of that same story too. Abhimanyu! How he entered that Chakra Vyooha without ever wondering whether he knew how to come out successfully from it. He never did. But, that is why we probably remember him. He entered with boldness!
Law Number 29:- Plan all the way to the end! I never knew such a sidestory existed inside The Mahabharatha all these years, until I did some research about this. Did you know?! Surprising! Ved Vyaasa, the architect of Mahabharatha, the poet, the writer, an important role-player, once met the Pandavas and advised them about the destined Game of Dice. He is supposed to have implored them to please lose! “Because, the universe is waiting! We need you to lose, so that you can win later” — he is supposed to have said! Wow! Planning all the way to the end! Is it not?!
Law Number 30:- Make your accomplishments seem effortless! Lifting mountains is already an old trick. Already done and dusted in The Ramayana itself! The Sanjeevi Mountain was lifted by Hanuman with a great leap across the ocean. That story already exists. We have to do something different! He didn’t just lift the Govardhana Giri! He lifted it effortlessly with his “Left Hand Little Finger”! How amazing is that!
Law Number 31:- Control the options. Get others to play with the cards you deal! You should be the master of that destiny! There is a story that goes like this in The Mahabharatha! Both Arjuna and Duryodhana head over to ask for help from Kṛṣṇā. But, Arjuna sits at the feet and Duryodhana sits at the head of the bed. And, because of that, when Kṛṣṇā wakes up, the first person he sets eyes on is Arjuna, and so he offers them this. “I am unbiased. I follow Dharma. I can give myself to one Army. And I can give all my.. the rest of my soldiers.. of the Narayana Army.. I can give to the other Army. And, I promise not to fight. I won’t take up weapons myself”. He looks at Arjuna and adds, “I saw you first. So, I will give you the option to choose first.” Arjuna immediately, respectfully, says, “Be with me, My Lord. That is all I need!”. And, Duryodhana just can’t believe his good luck, and he runs away with the Kṛṣṇā army! We know what happens later though but that’s the thing… control the options, and get others to play with the cards you deal!
Law Number 32:- Play to people’s fantasies! Remember the Kṛṣṇā Leela? That Raasa Leela? That Maya? Where, to each Gopika, based on that Gopika’s desire and dreams, Kṛṣṇā appears. Not only did Kṛṣṇā appear to each Gopika, he did what they wanted him to do! Not only that! He appeared as if he was only with that Gopika! What a complete fantasy!!
Law Number 33:- Discover each man’s thumbscrew! Each person has a “breaking point” button. We just have to locate that button and press firmly there! A great warrior named Jayathratha. And, his boon was, whoever beheads him, whoever causes his head to fall down on earth, will die, with that person’s head exploding! What does Arjuna do? With great celerity, he releases an arrow, severs his head, and lifting it up in the air, drops it on to the lap of his meditating father! And he drops it, not knowing what it is… He dies, and Jayathratha dies. Know each person’s thumbscrew!
Law Number 34:- Be royal in your own fashion. Act like a king to be treated like one! All the pictures, all the movies, all the TV serials, all the books that I have read… fail to acknowledge this little bit. “Hey.. They’ve been banished to the jungles for thirteen years.. And, on top of that, one year of living incognito. A widow. Five able-bodied males. Two guys who look like twins. A guy who resembles a living breathing mountain. Another who always speaks the truth and does the “right thing”. If they go together wherever they go, can’t even a common man identify that these are the Pandavas and Kunti Devi? So, that’s what happened. They were royal in their own fashion. Even if they weren’t clad in princely attire, people knew who they were.
Law Number 35:- Master the art of timing! Drona is undefeatable. And, they plot against him. Ashwattama, his son, cannot be killed. But, they kill an elephant called Ashwattama, and loudly, Bheema declares Ashwattama has been killed. Drona is not able to believe it.. Drona looks at Yudhishtra — who never lies — “Yudhishra? Is Ashwattama dead? Is this true?” “Well, Ashwattama Hataahataha… Narova Kunjarovaa”… drags Yudhishtra, meaning, “I am not sure if it is a human being or an elephant”… And at that time, at that exact moment — Kṛṣṇā blows his Paanchajanya, his conchshell and the noise is drowning out everything, and Drona drops his weapons and gets into a meditative mode and that’s when he is beheaded. Timing!
Law Number 36:- Disdain things you cannot have. Ignoring them is the best revenge! There are so many boons, so many curses, so many thousand-year-penances, so many Gods appearing, right in front of the eyes, in The Mahabharatha. They all feature one man performing a penance, and somebody trying to distract that person. So, basically, penance itself is a metaphor. Anyway, you are not going to attain it… The moment you realise you aren’t going to attain it, you throw it away as sour grapes, by doing so you get an amazing sense of clarity in your mind, and that will lead you to something more than what you thought you could never even achieve. Isn’t that the essence of all penance?!
Law Number 37:- Create compelling spectacles! That magical palace! Draupadi’s palace! Where Duryodhana falters.. He’s confused. Is this marble, is this water, is this a flower? Is this real? Is this virtual? He is not able to understand anything! A full book has been written on this subject! Called The Palace of Illusions! Divakaruni’s book about Draupadi is titled “The Palace of Illusions”! It was a really compelling spectacle!
Law Number 38:- Think as you like but behave like others! I did think quite a lot about this. Where does such a thing feature in The Mahabharatha..? And, that’s when Shikhandi came to mind. Is he Shikhandi? Is SHE Shikhandi? Are they Shikhandini? Are they a reincarnation of Amba? A woman born as a man? A woman becoming a man just for one night? A woman becoming a man whenever she wants? A woman with an unfinished task? She is born a woman. But she trains as a soldier. She behaves like a man. I thought that was the closest I could come.
Law Number 39:- Stir up waters to catch fish! At the very beginning of the story of The Mahabharatha, there is a scene where the Earth Goddess cries and laments to the Gods. Mother Earth cries! “There is too much bad in this world. I am bending in the weight. I am not able to withstand this. Please save me. Relieve me of this burden.” she asks. “No problem, we will be sending down one of our guys! He will be featuring a blue skin all over. He will be the cause of much strife and unrest. A lot of damage to both sides!” What! 116 crore people died, as per a historical reference. Nobody is left behind. Not the Pandavas. Not the Kauravas. Such is the utter decimation. Mother Earth got what she asked for! She stirred up the waters!
Law Number 40:- Despise the free lunch! If something is offered for free, read the fine print first! That is what they didn’t do, those four Pandavas! In a substory called The Yakshaprashna, near the shore of a beautiful lake, these four Pandavas will see some beautiful fruits and start eating them. The fifth Pandava will head over there. He will be told, “These belong to a Yaksha. These people didn’t ask permission and that is why they are all dead and lying on the shore.” — says the Yaksha. Yudhishtra replies, “I don’t want it. If it belongs to you, I don’t want it. If you have questions, ask me, I have some answers”. He is ravenously hungry, but he ignores his hunger. He doesn’t want what belongs to somebody else. He doesn’t want a free lunch.
Law Number 41:- Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes! That is what they did though. Dhritharashtra, just because he was the eldest, how can he just like that inherit that amazing antiquated throne…? To sit on the Throne of the Kuru Dynasty, one needs skill, ability, capability! They should have seated Vidhura on it, instead. As the grand wise man..! Instead of that, they placed a blind man, blinded to all the corruption that was happening around him… Great man’s shoes… they tried stepping in.
Law Number 42:- Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter! We know that millions fought this war. There is mythological data about this. As well as historical data too. But, how many names do we really know? Probably eighteen! Because eighteen chieftains, the most important ones, they fought. And when they fell, their armies went home, or died, left leaderless. So, strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter.
Law Number 43:- Work on the hearts and minds of others! That is what Lord Kṛṣṇā did. With the Bhagavath Gita. When Arjuna was dumbstruck.. How can I fight against my guru? How can I fight against my uncle? These are my brothers? How can I do this? At this wavering moment, Kṛṣṇā intervenes, asks Arjuna to keep his “heart” aside, asks him to listen to the advice coming to his brain, explains what Karma Yoga is, the importance of Duty, and he delivers the beautiful, beautiful advice.
Law Number 44:- Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect! There are countless weapons. Small arrows. Asthras. Big arrows. Arrows that are never supposed to be used, and so on. One of them is the Naaraayanaasthra. When Drona was beheaded, Drona’s son, Ashwattama, who’s not dead actually, is so infuriated that he takes that special arrow from his quiver and releases The Naaraayanaasthra. So, what’s so special about this weapon? Well, it will completely utterly destroy anybody who stands against it. And, Kṛṣṇā knows about it! And, guess what he does? He saves the Pandavas by ordering everybody to prostrate on the ground. Just surrender yourselves completely. Heart, Mind, Soul, and Body! The Naaraayanaasthra doesn’t know what to do…! Mirror effect! It prostrates itself, goes away! Interesting, eh?!
Law Number 45:- Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once! There are those who claim that The Mahabharatha is the Fifth Veda. The reason The Mahabharatha was conceived and written and gifted to mankind? The Four Vedas were a little too tight. Were kind of arcane. For common man to understand the concepts easily, there has to be a story-driven narrative, they felt, and that is how The Mahabharatha was born, say some! When Kṛṣṇā laid out The Bhagavath Gita, he made some modifications, but before that, he understood what The Vedas were. He spent time at the Gurukul of Sage Saandeepani and learned a lot. He debates with the master. He challenges the master. And only after all that learning, he comes up with the essence of The Srimad Bhagavath Gita. Yes, he preaches, but he doesn’t reform too much all at once!
Law Number 46:- Never appear too perfect! Didn’t Kṛṣṇā say he would never brandish a weapon? But then, did you know there is a scene like this one in The Mahabharatha? Arjuna begging Kṛṣṇā to drop the wheel that Kṛṣṇā is aiming at Bheeshma. You see, Arjuna has been shooting arrows at Bheeshma in vain, and Bheeshma is blowing them away to pieces, and Arjuna is losing again and again and Kṛṣṇā is infuriated, and wants to take the matter into his own hands! He demonstrates short-temper! For a brief moment! He is God. Incarnate. But, imperfect! A bit!
Law Number 47:- Do not go past the mark you aimed for. In victory, learn when to stop! There is a crucial moment in The Mahabharatha where Karna uses a weapon called The Naagaasthra at Arjuna. He is aiming at Arjuna’s heart. And at that time, Shalya, another king, trying to help Karna, says, “Hey Karna, aim at his heart!” “Who are you to advice me, I know what I am doing.. Do you think I will miss my mark?” thinks Karna, and he aims at Arjuna’s head, and Kṛṣṇā (timing again!) presses the chariot a bit down and it takes Arjuna’s head-dress off, rather than the head itself! Interesting!
And, finally, Law Number 48:- What a way to end this long, long tour that we have had! Assume formlessness! Isn’t that the essence of The Bhagavath Gita and that Vishwaroopa Darshanam that Arjuna and a few others get?! I am everything! I am nothing! I am your brother! I am your sister! Your uncle! I am fire. I am rock. I am also nothing. I am the past. I am the present. I am the future. I am you. Assuming formlessness.
Anyway, I enjoyed sharing these forty-eight laws with you. We will come back to these forty-eight in a modern context in one of our future Quotidians. Thank you for now!
Ohhh! Closing thought! By the way, this Mahabharatha? Eighteen Parvas. Eighteen large chapters. The Bhagavath Gita found inside The Mahabharatha? Eighteen chapters! How many armies fought? Eighteen armies! Eighteen very huge armies! Seven from The Pandavas side, and eleven from The Kauravas side. Great! And, how many days did the war go on for? Mahabharatha war — Eighteen days! Something about this number eighteen and The Mahabharatha! Don’t you say?! And, breaking my head about this number, it suddenly dawned on me! Wow! Eighteen, seen as a hexadecimal number, if you convert it to a decimal format, guess what number you get?! Try it, and you will be blown away! Let us meet again next week! Thank you!