Sunday, October 22, 2017


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Deepavali is a festival lights which celebrates the return of Rama, the end of Narakasura, the end of the reign of Bali, the bonding of siblings with the worship of the Goddess of Wealth besides being a new year season for some. However, the Deepavali's start signifies the birthday of one of the close to heart friends of yours truly. After a long time the Gregorian calendar has come quite close and his birthday falls on this Sunday.

Cherishing the bonding that we cherish mutually and understanding our long silence, the email was checked. Elation writ large on my face, a treasure of Hanuman Ramayana was found which was promptly packaged as a gift while an old (pun intended) friend who had flown into the country dropped in to lift the spirits. ( Of course, he had to return as a teetotaller with no room for any liquid spirits being afforded). Even as this cherished day of friendshp was getting etched into the voluminous RAM, the drift proceeded to another mail which dealt with the comparison of Karna with Arjuna and a conclusion that Karna was after all the better one with fate determining things against him.

With due apologies to Karna, my journey within Mahabharata began again. It first went to Puru who unconditionally traded his youth with his father Yayati not being able to bear the unfulfilled pangs of his father. Much later, the much gifted Devavrat inflicted the tragedy of being celibate on himself without realizing that he would have to fetch brides for his incompetent brother or defend the acts of the blind Dhritarashtra or the wily Shakuni or the stubborn Suyodhana. That also took me to the author of this illustrious work Ved Vyasa who himself was an offspring of Sage Parashara and Satyavathi, the step mother of Bhishma. He was neither nurtured by father or mother akin to Karna. He had to bear the brunt of penance as well as discharge burdens cast on him by his mother from her second liasion with King Shantanu. Imagine the man's plight when he is called upon by his mother and step brother to father children for the royal lineage and the queens chose to send a maid servant to him. As though this was not enough they panic at the sight of him subsequently. However, none respect his divinity or knowledge to even as much as seek his counsel much like an use and throw item of today.

This took me to Vidura, the father of Vidura neeti which remains uncontested even by Kautilya. Born of an illustrious father such as Ved Vyasa and a maid servant, he was given a gubernatorial post, denigrated, suspected and even accusations regarding his wisdom and loyalty hurled for justly discharging his duties. He did not stake a claim to the throne unlike a Haider Ali or Sher Shah Suri on grounds of competence. He did not justify every act merely because it came from a friend like Suyodhana or a son or a nephew or a relative or an acquaintance. He reprimanded Suyodhana and Sushasana on one hand while he did not spare the rod for the Pandava princes either. He respected them all while they sought refuge for crisis management and chose what to follow. On the day the war becomes imminent, he chooses to relinquish his post rather than side with either camp. He never questioned his father's identity nor did he lament over his fate. He was neither treated on par with the princes nor with the Gurus. That way even the trauma of teachers such as Kripa and Drona get marginalised. He had the nerve to chastise Shakuni in an open court when even Bhishma and Kripa were quiet in the name of Dharma. He respected Krishna offered him his residence but differed with him. He sheltered Kunti and counselled Gandhari. None showed any gratitude. Yudhishthira regrets that Karna's identity could have saved the war but does not offer the throne to Vidura but only seeks counsel which he can have the freedom to choose to follow or not. He held the state secrets well but was not trusted by his own king.

The cake is truly taken by Vidura as none regret that he was more capable and competent than his keepers but they only to rebuff him for their detriment. Is then the story of Vidura a lesson for the present day Governments and bureaucrats to learn. Should they understand and evaluate persons more from the perspective of talent and not from the perspective of class? No doubt Karna makes for a glamorous tragedy king but Vidura lacks glamour as he does not aspire. This is also the case of the friend whose birthday is today but can he say he is celebrating it - a million dollar question for which the answer is an emphatic no.

A must read for Vishal of the earlier blog.