Tree of Dharma Part 1

The Antonym Case

In the very beginning of Mahabharata, Vyas gives a clear depiction of both the camps. The Tree of Righteousness and Tree of Adharma.

Poet described that Duryodhana was a tree of evil with Karna its scabrous trunk, Sakuni its crooked branches and Dusshasana its evil spreading seeded flowers and the root is Dhritrashtra.

Whereas Yudhishthara was the Tree of righteousness with Bhima and Arjuna growing from him as the smooth trunk and far reaching and shade giving branches, twins were the beautiful flowers and the wide pervading perfume of that tree with Krishna and Brahma as the roots.

Our heroes and villains are instantly described in two slokas. One is a fellowship of blood, binded by women, one a mother and other a wife and rooted on altruism. Other is fellowship of selfishness, bound by greed, ego, ahankara, and rooted on self-interest.

The biggest, the only, the true test of a King is the interest he takes in the welfare of people. A king’s bad actions do not hurt his family, his hangers-on, his yes-men, his mistresses, his servants, but they have the potential to destroy the people themselves.

एकं विषरसं हन्ति शस्त्रेणैकश्च वध्यते |
सराष्ट्रं सप्रजं हन्ति राजानं मंत्रविप्लव: ||

Only one person dies due to the poison; By the weapons too only one living creature can die. But due to the incorrect decisions by the king, the king himself, the whole nation and it’s citizens can die!!

Whenever a King or tyrant has confused himself with being the PEOPLE themselves people have suffered. Hitler is a great example of this. Duryodhana is another.

We are again and again told of the education of the both sides or lack of education of one side.

Duryodhana is not literate, that itself is no major flaw, neither was Akbar.

But whereas, Akbar realized the lack of education as a flaw and worked to ameliorate it and surrounded himself with a wide variety of views and profound people, people with strength o character to disagree and dissuade, people who would tell him what is wrong and what is right.

People who would so violently disagree with him that they wished he died in fires of hell like Badauyani.

But, Akbar kept such people around him because that always gave him perspective, a wide vista of view to base his decisions on. He thus had a muslim fundamentalist like Badayauni sitting next to Goswami Tulsidasa.

He even asked Badayauni to translate Mahabharata, may be the worst punishment you can give a fundamentalist.

Dhritrashtra is the King who is blind and needs great and loyal servants. He gets them. He has a Bheeshma, a Vidura, a Vyas, a Sanjaya at his command.

When he is in doubt, Sanatasujata themselves come to treat him to 200 of the best slokas on the importance of Dharma and Renunciation outside of Geeta. (The Sanatasujata parva.)

What does he do with that knowledge?

यस्य नास्ति स्वयं प्रज्ञा शात्रं तस्य करोति किम् |
लोचनाभ्याम् विहीनस्य दर्पण: किं करिष्यसि ||

What is use of knowledge to a person who does not have intellectual capacity? what is use of mirror to a person who is blind?

The poet says that, knowledge is like a mirror, which reflects world in it. Indeed knowledge is something through which we perceive the world. The person’s pragya or intellect is like his eyesight hence the title Pragyachakshu for Dhritrashtra as a epithet. Unless one has it, one can’t use a mirror. Similarly if one does not have power to perceive the knowledge or one does not the have aptitude, then this knowledge is useless to him.

Dhritrashtra did not use that knowledge. He did not use the mirror of knowledge to identify the faults in him and his sons and thus, never corrected them.

Hence he is the root of the tree of Adharma.

Asal aisa hoga to fasal waisi hi hogi. The roots, the seeds determine the crop.

Duryodhana had a great memory but no education to organize and use that great memory. He surrounded himself with yes men and men who fed his ego and his false ambitions. He had advisors like Kunika, Purochana, Karna, Kuniti, Kuchakra and Kudharma themselves. The trunk of that adharma was karna, brought up a soota and rejected his family for the profession of that of warriors.

That is a very deep and important point Vyas makes straight away. Vyas is a son of a boatwoman, the story of Mahabharata is narrated by a SOOTA Ugrashrvas who narrates the story of narration by SOOTA Sanjaya Gavalgani to the blind king.

SOOTAS All, Soota the keepers of records, Sootas responsible for Puranas, Sootas the keepers of knowledge, Sootas the servants of Saraswati.

And Karna rejected that Soota life. Karna rejected knowledge, the path of learning. And thus ignorance is the trunk of the tree of Adharma!

He screamed at Sanjaya at Hastinapur Sabha during Udyoga Parva that Sanjaya should not call Karna a Sootaputra as Karna is not a Soota.

Sanjaya would go on to call Karna Sootaputra 147 times more in the War Parvas. Never abuse the writer.

Sootas worship Saraswati, that is from beginning the representation of Draupadi in Manvadi and Upacharira interpretations.

When Karna ordered the stripping of Draupadi, he is ordering the removal of knowledge; he is manifesting the destruction and oppression of Knowledge by Ignorance.

Even in that horrendous attack on a weak female by animals in guise of humans, Draupadi kept her composure and asked the question on the subtlety of the dharma.

Draupadi did not protest her weak sex or use that as an excuse but argued on the point of Dharma, even in those horrible circumstances of Dyuta. She was not afraid. She was Nirbhaya.

That is the Daughter of Fire which dispels the gloom and darkness of ignorance from minds of men.

स्वभावं न जहात्येव साधुरापद्गतोऽपि सन् |
कर्पूर: पावकस्पॄष्ट: सौरभं लभतेतराम् ||

A good person never gives up her nature even when caught in a disaster. Camphor caught with fire, emits more fragrance.

Sanjaya and Sootji, Sootas all, worship Draupadi throughout the Epic.

Draupadi the daughter of fire (the light of understanding) is the fount of comprehension, knowledge is the basis of prosperity and hence she is called an avatar of Shree again and again by them.

They sang of Drauapdi thus as Saravsvati, as Bharati, the poetic play on Bharti is seen in the next sloka: (Draupadi is joint avatar of several goddesses including the wife of Vayu, Bharati)

अपूर्व: कोपि कोशोयं विद्यते तव भारति |
व्ययतो वॄद्धिम् आयाति क्षयम् आयाति संचयात् ||

Oh Goddess, your treasure of knowledge (‘vidyA’) is indeed very amazing! If spent it grows (‘vrudhim’) and if unused (Without using it only accumulating it – ‘sanchayAt’) it becomes less!

It is a common experience of every one that the knowledge that an individual has, keeps growing only if that individual applies that knowledge in practical work or in giving it to others. If unused, we keep forgetting what we have learnt. And the poet asks us that we should not be self-centered in matters of giving knowledge to others because that helps even us also!

Same Sootas (Ugrashrava and Sanjaya) are equally damning of their so-called caste brother. The device they use here is that Karna is a son of Surya Arka is used to demonstrate just what the usefulness of Karna is to the Sootas, the seekers of knowledge.

रविरपि न दहति तादॄग् यादॄक् संदहति वालुकानिकर: अन्यस्माल्लब्धपदो नीच: प्रायेण दु:सहो भवति

Direct Sun does not burn our skin as much as a hot sand dune does. Just as this mediocre person is often annoying and useless who has become great and powerful due to another person (Duryodhana), just like a sand dune gets hot due to Sunlight and burns the skins of passerbys.

Note the double entendre, the construction of sloka derides both Duryodhana and Karna, Karna rose due to patronage of Duryodhana or does Duryodhana the tree of Adharma is standing on the leprous trunk called Karna using the roots Dhritrashtra.

Karna looked down on his heritage, he looked down on the Sootas, he did not want to be called one, the Sootas who wrote the story looked down back at him deriding even the gifts of the Arka.

श्रोत्रं श्रुतेनैव न कुण्डलेन दानेन पाणिर्न तु कंकणेन |

The ears of a ‘sajjan’ (Honest/Good) person looks more good and pleasant hearing some knowledge (‘Vidya’) and not by the ear-rings (‘Kundalas’).

Never cross a poet. They do wield Sarcasm as a weapon that hurts deep and long.

संरोहति अग्नीना दग्धं वनं परशुना हतम् |
वाचा दुरूज्ञग्त; बीभत्सं न संरोहति वाक्क्षतम् ||

The forest of evil which gets destroyed due to the fire (daughter of fire) or due to the axe (the Rama who wielded Parasu), will again and again grow in time.

But the wounds caused by the sarcastic words of a poet (or knowledge) will always cause deep furrows on the psyche and will of evil that will never get healed.

Only by detailing the knowledge again and again can we prevent the growth of forest of evil, we cannot rely on having a son of rishi handy with axe and a daughter of fire with five sturdy husbands to always bail us out. And when the simple message does not travel much or bores the audeince, Use Sarcasm!!

के-शवं पतितं दॄष्ट्वा पाण्डवा हर्षनिर्भरा: |
रूदन्ति कौरवा: सर्वे हा हा के-शव के-शव ||

Notice that ke and shava have been separated. The word “ka” means water (among several other meanings). Hence ke means “in water”. p ANDa va also means fish who born from eggs. And kaurava also means crow.

Hence the interpretation is : Seeing the corpse (shava) fallen in water, the fish were overjoyed as they saw Keshava!. All the crows aka Kauravas, however, started crying .. ” O the corpse in water !!”

Shree Hari..

Deepak Kumar Jha (A Learner)

Thanks PBS sir.

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