Monday, December 27, 2021

Mahabharata: if it's in life, it's in Mahabharata

Popular computer game studio EAsports has this tagline, "if it's in the game, it's in the game". I think Mahabharata too must have a similar tagline, of which the converse is also true.

It is the one story I'll never tire reading. The version I liked the most, is the modern rendering by Ramesh Menon. That version treats Krishna like almost a human being, without divinity, facing the problems and confusions as most humans do, and doing what's needed to be done / expected of him.

I'm now listening to on audible, the book "The difficult of being good" by Gurcharan Das. It's not telling the story, it's rather a commentary on Dharma as espoused by the Mahabharata, peppered with western philosophical thoughts on similar lines, and examples from modern life / history.

Mahabharata never fails to amaze me, with the amount of character detailing for even smaller characters, or the number of extraordinary lives that it showcases, right from Yayati to Bheeshma to Krishna, Karna, Yudhishthira, Ekalavya, Abhimanyu, etc.

I, being born on the same star as Arjuna, had always imagined myself to be similar, mainly on the aspect of being under confident until someone like Krishna gives reassuring statements and prods into action. And also how much after the war and Krishna's death, Arjuna realises that he can't win against some insignificant nuisance creators without Krishna (an incident that hastened their decision to go to Himalayas) - I too feel the same lost feeling after the death of my father, who has played Krishna to me all my life.

But after many readings, I now suspect I have more in common with Yudhishthira - who the world expects to be good and perfect but has many grey areas and imperfections; the same reluctance/ pressure to avoid violence; and most importantly, being under the tremendous pressure to do the right thing or to be dharmic.

The concept of Karma also figures prominently in Mahabharata - even Krishna (despite being God) isn't spared, meeting a lowly end like a random forest animal, by someone who is actually a later birth of Bali from the Ramayana, thus completing the karma cycle.

I've always wondered about Karma, if it keeps going on, does it exhaust or keep repeating in cycles? I've myself seen Karma in action a lot of times, and I suspect life and Karma will keep going in cycles unless one picks up on the window of opportunity to break free of the repeating patterns. I personally find it difficult to break the pattern even if I'm able to spot the pattern, in self as well as others.

Indeed, being good is difficult, and maybe being difficult is good! Or maybe there's no good or bad, we just make our choices and face the consequences, right or wrong. 

On that note, പരിണാമം (parinamam) in Malayalam is such a deep word. It can mean evolution, or also result or consequence.