Freedom Is Not For Free

The Mahabharata is the most wonderful book in the world; there can be no doubt of its authenticity because it depicts people not as heroes or saints but as they are. The Rishi’s faults are pointed out and the good points of even evil persons are mentioned. It is a retelling of what happened as it did happen. Which is why it is called an Itihasa.

There is no one who is entirely bad, no one who has always been entirely good. In a human being is the whole universe, good bad and middling; clever mediocre and foolish. In him resides all the beings, including devas, asuras Rakshasas and pisachas. In him are munis like Durvasas and noble beings like Uddalaka Aruni.

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As an American poet wrote,

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, I contradict myself
I am large, I contain multitudes

This is seen in the Mahabharata where nobody is a totally evil person or a totally good person. Even Duryodhana is not blindly judged. And this is one powerful reason to believe that the Mahabharata is an historical text and not a mythological fancy of an inspired Rishi.

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One such person is Drona the teacher of the Kuru family. Though he was dependent on the Kuru family, he did not hesitate to warn against the war and prophesied the defeat of the Kaurava faction led by Duryodhana. Both Drona and his son Asvathaman spoke in the assembly urging peace and Asvathaman’s speech is noteworthy. After recapitulating all the favours he had received from the ruling family and his friendship with Duryodhana, he declared, “the faults of even a guru must be declared. Duryodhana did great evil in the game of dice and the kingdom must be returned to Yudhistira.”

However their knowledge of what was wrong did not make them abandon Duryodhana to his fate but though they advised him to do what was right they did not make it clear that their support to him was conditional upon his doing the right thing. Duryodhana, Dussasana, Karna and Sakuni knew that Drona would do what his son said and Asvathaman would ultimately side with them.

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A look at Drona’s history from his early days shows that he had an urge to sit among the rich and famous, his leaving to Drupada’s court is generally presumed to be at the urging of his wife who saw his son’s distress at their poverty but he could have asked for assistance from many other places, he could have approached the king more diplomatically, after all, all Hindus know of another poverty stricken Brahmana who went to see a childhood friend who was a rich and powerful king. But Sudama who had twenty-eight children (Drona had only one) did not go seeking wealth. Subsequent to his humiliation by Drupada, he sought employment from the Kurus for the sake of his own advancement and to avenge his humiliation by Drupada.

Throughout his career one sees a strong sense of selfishness. His teaching of Arjuna is based on the hope that Arjuna would avenge the insult, which he suffered. In all his life we see a thread of selfishness running through, nothing being done except in his or his family’s interest.