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The Mahabharata, the biggest epic ever, unfolds beautiful treasures for its readers, giving them not just the solutions to various problems, but a thousand reasons to smile as well. Though comprehending the secrets that hide inside the eighteen chapters of the book might seem a big task, the one who has understood them, has known the real ways to happiness.
Besides being a battle between the Kourava and the Pandava brothers, simultaneously occurs a battle inside the heart of the Pandava, Arjun, who was a follower of righteousness. This battle inside the heart relates to all of us, while we deal with the personal and other problems of life.
Dealing with these problems sometimes becomes so difficult that life seems a burden. At such times, we seek motivation from various sources. Here are some lessons from the epic Mahabharata, which will inspire a reader for life, besides offering the required knowledge.
1. Wrong Thinking Is The Only Problem In Life
Krishna saved Draupadi while she was being humiliated in the court of Dhritarashtra. When she met him after the incident, the first question she asked was, why she was chosen by nature as the victim of the incident. She questioned if it was because of some poor karmas or misdeeds she might have done in her past life. To this Krishna replied that it is not the victim, but the victimizer who should be credited with bad karmic records in past life. Therefore, he said that it was the misdeeds of Yudhishtir that she became a part of such a sinful act.
Thus, though Draupadi suffered, God came to save her and was there by her side all the time. But believing that it was her past mistake for which she was being punished by nature, was a wrong way of thinking. Such thoughts would have just undermined her faith in herself as well as God.
Right thinking also means checking your beliefs, thus moving towards right belief as well as self-belief. It was all on the basis of right belief that Krishna's father could carry baby Krishna to Gokul in a basket amidst the heavy rains despite being in the captivity of Kansa. It was all because of immense faith in oneself that the Pandavas were successful in defeating the Kouravas. The best teacher of archery, Dronacharya, had denied to accept Ekalavya as his student. Still, it was all the power of self-belief that he is today known for his excellent skill in archery.
2. Right Knowledge Is The Ultimate Solution For Our Problems
Shishupal was the cousin of Krishna. The family priest had predicted at the time of Shishupal's birth that he would be killed by Lord Krishna. But Shishupal's mother tried hard to convince Krishna not to kill her son. She took a promise from Lord Krishna that he should forgive his first hundred mistakes. Shishupal was a spoilt man and he abused Krishna ninety-nine times. When Krishna gave him a final warning not to make one more mistake, Shishupal just ignored that too and abused Krishna once more, making it the hundredth sin of his life. Thus Krishna chopped off his head with the Sudarshan Chakra. If Shishupal's mother had convinced her son instead of convincing Krishna, she would have saved his life. Shishupal's wrong knowledge put him in trouble. The priest's prediction would not have worked if Shishupal worked on disproving it through right knowledge and renouncing sins.
Right knowledge also asks you to think not of the results, and this is probably the biggest lesson we get from the Mahabharata. It has been mentioned in the holy book that one should neither desire the benefits of his actions nor long for inaction. Both are extremes and extremes do not beget good results. Focusing on the result and not on the action, only leads to poor performance due to distributed concentration and it demotivates a man if the desired results are not achieved. Even if the results are achieved, the man will be trapped in the demonic quality of pride, which eventually leads to destruction.
3. Selflessness Is The Only Way To Progress And Prosperity
There was a sage named Barbarik; he wanted to support the weaker in the war. Barbarik was so powerful that he could have become the reason for the victory of the Kouravas. Only Krishna knew that the Kouravas would be the weaker team. So he, already knowing about Barbarik met him on his way to the battlefield. Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin asked Barbarik to give away his head as a donation to him, and Barbarik, who never let go a Brahmin empty-handed, fulfilled his wish. Pleased by his selflessness, Krishna gave a boon to Barbarik that he would be known by the name of Shyam and will be worshipped as another form of Lord Krishna. Thus, selflessness helped him progress from being a warrior to a deity.
4. Every Act Can Be An Act Of Prayer
Whatever we say and we do, if it is inspired by a thought of blessing, it can work as a prayer. Rather than cursing a man for his sins, what is needed is blessings which can help him overcome his ignorance and limited knowledge. Somebody seen doing something wrong needs to be taught more than the need to be punished.
Krishna says that when we see the outer world as a part of our own body, we can feel people's pain, and thus bless them and pray for them.
5. Renounce The Ego And Individuality And Rejoice In The Bliss Of Infinity
Krishna tells us to believe that we are a part of a higher being, the ultimate power, from whom all the lives and the soul have come. When we know that the body we possess is mortal but the soul is real and immortal, only then can we rejoice. We need to believe that we are a part of the supreme power, who is infinite in all measures.
Trapped in the selfish desires we forget to trust what God does. People often repel changes. They need to know that change is the only constant. Nothing in the universe has ever remained same. Krishna himself has said in the Mahabharata that change is the law of nature. Lord Krishna himself had to see drastic changes all throughout his life. Born to some other parents and looked after by others, he had a peaceful life in Gokul and Vrindavan, but had to leave it at the call of duty. Similarly, he was in love with Radha but got married to Rukmani. Amidst all kinds of changes in his life, he handled himself as well as the situations very well. This change is evident in the life of the Pandavas. While at one point of time, they were the lords of palaces, at others they had to wander in the forests, hiding their true identities, all for the bigger goal of Dharma.
6. Connect To Higher Consciousness Daily
Meditation is the way we can connect to the higher consciousness every day. This helps us introspect our inner self and analyse our own actions. We need to realize every day where we have come from and where we are heading onto.
It is after connecting with the higher consciousness that we shall be able to realise the bigger motives of nature. Lord Krishna, soon after birth, had lo leave his real parents, but could therefore escape from the demon Kansa. Droupadi was attacked by the Kouravas, so that the higher aim of establishing Dharma could be achieved. Moreover, when Krishna saved Doupadi at the time of her 'Cheer Haran', her faith in Krishna was proved, as he came to save her. As told above, in a conversation later, Lord Krishna told her that it is not the victim but the sinner who has a history of bad karmas, and as a result of which he has to become a sinner in the present life. Therefore, all that happens is for a good reason, a reason which we may not be able to infer at present but which will be proven in the long run.
7. Live What You Learn
We read something, ponder over it for a while and then get busy and forget it. This limits our knowledge to the brain and not into the character. Real progress happens when we can apply all that we learn into our lives. Krishna revealed the truths of life through Geeta to Arjuna, but he could benefit from these truths only when he adhered to them.
8. Never Give Up On Yourself
When Guru Dronacharya denied to accept him as a student, Eklavya did not lose the spirit and the desire to learn archery. He took the soil from the traces of footsteps of Guru Dronacharya, made a symbolic teacher out of that and practised the skill of archery all by himself, and thus excelled in it. This teaches us to never give up on ourselves.
Lord Krishna knew that a hundred sons of Gandhari along with the others had to be sacrificed for the welfare of the future generations, the innocent masses. He told Arjuna to kill his own kins, for the bigger purpose of establishing Dharma. This is the most important lesson and serves as the conclusion of the whole Mahabharata. The real aim of every man is Dharma, righteousness. WIthout giving up on the self, one should keep walking on the path of righteousness.
9. Value Your Blessings
As the example above, Krishna had promised not to kill Shishupal for his first hundred mistakes. As a blessing, had he taken it seriously, and valued it, he could have saved himself. But his ignorance led him to death at the hands of God.
10. See Divinity Everywhere
Seeing divinity all around means respecting everything as a creation of nature and believing that things are under the control of God. As Krishna says in the Mahabharata, he is there in every particle. Believing there is divinity in everything, makes us respect it.
11. Have Enough Surrender To See The Truth As It Is
Arjuna was initially not willing to kill his kins in the battle, but when Krishna made it clear to him, that his uncles and brothers are spreading Adharma on earth, and the only way to save the earth was killing them, he accepted and finally waged a war, thus leading to victory and the fulfilment of a larger goal.
12. Absorb Your Heart And The Mind In The Supreme Lord
When Krishna played the flute, the smile on his face would prove that when the heart and the mind are absorbed in something pure, it gives immense pleasure. Similarly, absorbing the heart in some eternal power, known as God, gives peace to the mind. It is just like enjoying the melodious notes of Krishna's flute.
13. Detach From Maya And Attach To Divine
Krishna had to leave his real mother just the day he was born. Then he had to leave his second parents as well as his beloved Radha while going to Dwarka to kill Kansa. Despite loving them so much, he also knew the art of detachment, for he had to serve the divine aim of bringing back Dharma on Earth.
14. Live A Lifestyle That Matches Your Vision
Living a lifestyle below and above the limits what we believe in, both can be harmful. We must first find out what we want in life, then evaluate the potential and only after that should we decide about the lifestyle which supports our vision. A mismatch between the lifestyle and vision brings confusions. Even the princes had to live in forests without the luxurious life when they had to gain knowledge from the most prominent Gurus.
15. Give Priority To Divinity
When you have to choose between two things, decide what a divine being would have done in your place. Be it in troubles, confusions, sadness or happiness, when you trace the footsteps of the God for example Krishna, you will lead on to the right path only.
16. Being Good Is A Reward In Itself
Don't we like it when somebody praises us? Of course, we do. Does it not sound good to our ears when somebody says we are good? Sometimes, we do something good to somebody and expect the nature or God to be good to us in return. Here we need to understand that goodness is a matter of happiness since it is a reward in itself.
17. Choosing The Right Over The Pleasant Is A Sign Of Power
He displayed power and inspired us to become like him when Krishna could choose to leave his beloved ones behind when he had to save the people of Mathura from the demonic rule of Kansa. One must learn that in order to achieve big things in life, it is vital for the welfare of the masses that individual goals and pleasures need to be compromised with sometimes. Even Arjuna found it difficult to kill his own loved uncles and cousins, but Krishna motivated him through lessons.
18. Let Go, Let's Move To Union With God
We as materialistic beings, often cling to relations and fall prey to whatever the relationship offers us. For example, a father is hurt when the son does not obey him. It appears that others have the key to our feelings in their hands. Krishna says, this is an illusion, neither the people nor our feelings for them are going to accompany us when we leave the world. The only love that will go along and the only relationship which can give permanent happiness is the one with God. Everything else is temporary. Hence, we should move towards a union with God.