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Essay: Anger’s Ripple: Lessons on Consequence from Mahabharata

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  • Published: 18 March 2024*
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  • Words: 1,727 (approx)
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“From anger leads to confusion, from confusion to the loss of memory; from the loss of memory to the loss of intelligence, and from the loss of intelligence one perishes.”

From anger and hatred towards others one is deceived, which leads to loss of consciousness and thinking. From loss of consciousness comes lack of decision making, which leads him/her to think that they are making right decisions when they are not. Such examples can be seen in the Mahabharata from Duryodhana to Dronacharya.

Duryodhana had the ancestry and skills as the Pandavas. The Pandavas are Duryodhana’s cousins. The fact that the Pandavas are going to enjoy their ancestral property and rights led to jealousy in Duryodhana. He was angry that the Pandavas also had the same rights as himself. So, Duryodhana convinced Dhritarashtra and Sakuni to invite Yudhishthira and the other Pandavas to the game of dice without considering Dhritarashtra’s decision. In the game of dice, Yudhishthira lost everything from jewels, chariots, and his servants to losing his brothers, himself and all the Pandavas’ wife, Draupadi. As a result of losing the game of dice, the Pandavas were sent to exile for thirteen years. During the first twelve years of the Pandavas exile, Duryodhana enjoyed the prosperity and kingship of Hastinapur. The thirteenth year was when Duryodhana became jealous of the Pandavas again as he realized that the Pandavas were going to be back from exile and enjoy their ancestral rights. So, Duryodhana’s people searched for the Pandavas in possible places of hiding. Because Duryodhana was afraid that the Pandavas would enjoy their privileges in the kingdom, he tried to find the Pandavas and send them to thirteen years of exile again. Unfortunately, Duryodhana was not successful in sending the Pandavas to the forest again. Duryodhana did not like the Pandavas, so he wanted to get rid of them from Indraprastha. With this wrong intention in mind, Duryodhana tried to attack the Pandavas in the thirteenth year of their forest. The only goal Duryodhana focused on was winning the kinsmanship, so he made decisions that he thought were wise when they were not. The lack of consciousness and decision making made Duryodhana follow adharma. Had Duryodhana followed Dhritarashtra’s advice there would have not been the game of dice, and both the Kauravas and the Pandavas would have enjoyed their ancestral property and rights equally. Because of jealousy and greed, Duyodhana was angry at his cousins who made wrong decisions, which resulted in him facing the consequences: the Kurukshetra war.

Dronacharya and Kripacharya were the teachers of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He fought from the Kauravas side during the Kurukshetra war. As teachers, they should be fair to their students, so why did they choose to be on the Kauravas side and not on the Pandavas? Dronacharya and king Drupada both learned military arts together. During his childhood, Drupada promised that he would give half of Panchala kingdom to Dronacharya. Living in poverty, Dronacharya remembered his friend’s promise and went to king Drupada in order to ask for help to get himself out of poverty. King Drupada, who was drunk, refused to help Dronacharya and humiliated him in front of everyone. Dronacharya left silently, and wanted to seek revenge. Then, Dronacharya asked his brother-in-law, Kripacharya, for help and they together went to Hastinapura. After seeing Dronacharya’s talents, Bhishma let him be the teacher for the Pandavas and the Kauravas. During the Kurkshetra war, Drupada’s army sided with the Pandavas because Drupada’s daughter, Draupadi, was the wife of all the Pandavas. For that reason, Dronacharya and Kripacharya sided with the Kauravas. Another reason was Dronacharya and Kripacharya did not want to go back to poverty. They knew that if they did not fight for the Kauravas then they would be jobless. Under those circumstances, with anger against Drupada and selfishness Dronacharya and Kripacharya fought against the Pandavas. With this anger, on the twelfth day of the Kurkshetra war Dronacharya directed his chariot to Drupada’s forces. Lots of Drupada’s people suffered and died at the hands of Dronacharya. However, Dronacharya’s anger did not stop here, his aim was to kill Drupada. With his strength and revenge against Drupada, he killed the king of Panchala on the fifteenth day of the Kurukshetra war. Dronacharya’s anger and hatred towards the Pandavas did not end there. He wanted the Kauravas to win, so he tried to capture Dharmaputra alive. If Dronacharya stopped fighting after the fifteenth day, then he might have lived. Once again, with hatred Dronacharya fought against the Pandavas lacking the thinking of righteousness and justice to both sides of his students. As a result, on the same day when Drupada died, Dhrishtadyumna, Drupada’s son, killed Dronacharya.

Duryodhana’s anger and greed did not end when the Pandavas were back from exile. During the Kurkshetra war, Duryodhana’s greed and hatred against the Pandavas continued to grow. When the Pandavas came back from the forest, Duryodhana wanted to win in the Kurukshetra war. With hatred and lack of consciousness Duryodhana sent his brothers to fight the war, and when they died he sent more of his brothers. On the fourth day, Duryodhana lost a lot of his brothers on the day of the battle. On the eighth day, sixteen of Duryodhana’s brothers died. As days passed by more and more of Duryodhana’s brothers perished. Even after seeing lots of his brothers die, Duryodhana did not surrender. This is because as more and more of his loved ones died, Duryodhana’s hatred towards the Pandavas increased. He lost his consciousness and lacked decision making. He was thinking about how his brothers died because of the Pandavas, but he never thought about how more of his brothers and relatives like Karna will die if the Pandavas continue to be strong. Being not in a state of mind, Duryodhana did not think about surrendering and this is because of his anger against the Pandavas. If Duryodhana surrendered to or compromised with the Pandavas, so many of his brothers would not have died. Duryodhana could have been happy sharing the kingdom with the Pandavas and everyone could have lived happily ever after. However, because of his anger by the end of the Kurukshetra war, Duryodhana and all but one of his brothers lived. His one brother was Yuyutsu, who fought for the Pandavas and followed the path of dharma, who later became the king of Indraprastha.

Does the Mahabharata exist? Some religious people believe that the Mahabharata is indeed true and that there is a lot to learn from it. What about archaeological evidence? In 1952, Professor BB Lal claimed that the Mahabharata period happened before christ year and that the city was washed by the Ganges river under Babri Masjid, muslims’ holy mosque. As the public demand for answers and archaeological evidence increased, in 1990 the court appointed a special Ayodhya investigation team. From 1990 to 2006, no major Mahabharata evidence was found. In 2006, archaeologists found a chariot in Sinauli, a place that is near Hastinapur. After carefully analyzing this evidence, in 2018 the archaeologists confirmed that this chariot is from the Mahabharata period. In August 2020, pottery evidence was discovered at Hastinapur mound. This pottery was similar to what was described in the Mahabharata and that of Hastinapur, Mathura, Kurukshetra and Kampilya. In 2020, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) identified five cities: “Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Sivasagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat), and Adichallanur (Tamil Nadu), where they found Mahabharata chariots and weapons. ASI is constantly trying to dig deep into the Mahabharata sites and more evidence will be available as time passes by.

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Tutor’s feedback:

Your focus on the themes of anger, decision-making, and their consequences is both insightful and relevant. However, there are several ways in which you could refine and enhance your essay to make your arguments more compelling and your analysis more comprehensive.

Thesis Clarity and Development: Your essay would benefit from a clearer thesis statement at the beginning. This would serve as a guidepost for your readers, clarifying the specific aspects of the Mahabharata you intend to explore and the argument you plan to make. As you develop your essay, continuously refer back to this thesis to ensure that your analysis remains focused and that each section of your essay contributes to building your argument.

Character Analysis: Your exploration of Duryodhana and Dronacharya’s motivations and actions provides a good starting point. Delve deeper into the psychological complexities of these characters, using textual evidence to support your interpretations. How do their decisions reflect broader themes in the Mahabharata? Consider also examining the Pandavas’ responses to anger and adversity. This would offer a more balanced view of the text’s handling of these themes.

Contextualisation: While you’ve touched upon the historical and archaeological aspects related to the Mahabharata, integrate this discussion more seamlessly into your analysis. How does the potential historicity of the epic amplify its moral and ethical teachings? Does knowing that these cities might have been real change our understanding of the text’s messages?

Comparison with Other Texts: To enrich your analysis, you might compare the themes of anger and its consequences in the Mahabharata with those in other epics, such as the Ramayana or Western epics like the Iliad. This could provide a broader context for understanding how these themes are universally treated in epic literature and what unique perspectives the Mahabharata offers.

Engagement with Secondary Sources: While your primary focus is on the text itself, engaging with scholarly work on the Mahabharata could provide depth to your analysis. What have scholars said about the themes of anger and decision-making in the epic? How does your interpretation align with or challenge theirs?

Use of Critical Language and Concepts: Consider employing more critical language and concepts from literary theory to analyse the text. Terms such as “narrative structure”, “character development”, or “moral ambiguity” could be useful in discussing the complexities of the Mahabharata. This would also demonstrate your understanding of literary analysis at a higher level.

In closing, while your essay presents an engaging exploration of anger and decision-making in the Mahabharata, deepening your analysis and incorporating the suggestions above could significantly enhance its scholarly rigor and impact. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to seeing how your essay evolves.

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