Once upon a time, in the Kuru Kingdom in Central North India a king died. He left behind two wives but no heir to the throne. Queen Mother was troubled by there being no successor and therefore she summoned a great sage, her first son and king’s stepbrother whom she conceived with a traveling ascetic yogi, to the royal palace to help her with the problem.
When the sage arrived, queen dowager asked him to know his brother’s wives to become the father of the future scion who will inherit the throne. The sage agreed.
But when the night came and the sage approached the first wife, she was so appalled by his dirty and unkempt appearance that she closed her eyes in fear and disgust. Not long after, she gave birth to a blind son. Therefore, when the sage was about to approach the second wife, queen dowager instructed her to keep her eyes open. No mater what. But upon seeing the sage, the second wife turned utterly pale and bloodless. Therefore, soon after, she gave a birth to a son, a child who was born pale and unhealthy.
The blind son then had hundred sons who entered into history as Kauravas, and the pale son had five sons who became famous as Pandavas.
Now, because the oldest of Pandavas was older than the oldest of Kauravas, even though Pandavas were a younger clan, there was a constant rivalry between the two clans. And since ever since they were children, the five Pandavas excelled in everything above the best of Kauravas, Kauravas felt threatened and plotted to get rid of Pandavas.
First they tried to kill them. When that failed, they split away a small part of the kingdom and sent Pandavas there. Pandavas didn’t protest and turned that tiny piece of wild forest inhabited by King of Snakes into a prosperous and glorious land which made Kauravas jealous. And therefore they enticed the oldest of Pandavas to gamble away whole wealth of Pandavas, even their freedom, in a rigged game of dice.
Thus stripped of everything, only miraculously preserving the last remnants of their human dignity, Pandavas were exiled for thirteen years. During this time they acquired powerful weapons and alliances, until they finally challenged Kauravas for the throne in the fratricidal war of Kurukshetra.
It is here, in the wake of a bloodbath, where the legendary archer Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers, stands distressed in the middle of the battlefield with his close friend Krishna who gives one of the most spectacular discourses on human existence known as Bhagavad Gita, The Song of Sublime.
For those who don’t know, right before the start of the battle, Arjuna steps in between the two lined up armies and can clearly recognize the faces of his cousins, uncles, and teachers among the enemy. Thus a deep doubt about the whole meaning of upcoming war falls upon him. Krishna then answers Arjuna by explaining the ultimate nature of reality and ways to achieve the knowledge of it. On Arjuna’s insistence, Krishna also reveals his true nature, thus directly showing the true nature of reality to Arjuna (who is, however, terrified by it).
Eventually, Arjuna’s doubts are dispelled. Persuaded by Krishna, he assumes his role as warrior who stands against people hell-bent on lies, cheating, stealing, even murder. People who, even though they are Arjuna’s relatives, demonstrated times and again that they won’t mend their ways. And since they are not interested in truth, they are already dead as proclaimed by Krishna and physical death just puts them out of misery.
In the end, all hundred Kaurava brothers and their whole army are slaughtered. The five Pandavas survive and establish a prosperous and just kingdom for thirty six years after which they decide to go on the path of liberation and eventually reach Moksha thanks to their devotion and purity.
For a long time, I didn’t quite understand Arjuna. Not his reluctance to slain his kin, but why he simply didn’t walk away. Then I realized that he reached Moksha only decades after the war. Yet, despite his many flaws, Arjuna strove to know the truth. He was Krishna’s friend. It’s just that war has found him as a warrior on the battleground fighting for what was rightfully his.
Where did the war find you?
Are you looting houses in a foreign land? Raping its women and killing its men? Are you rummaging through your neighbor’s house not invited in the first place? Are you merely cheering on it? Is your world build on lies?
Or, are you still interested in knowing each other? God? Yourself?
Because you know, the dead, even if they survive the battle, stay dead forever. That is, if they don’t come to their senses and begin to strive for the Truth.
I must say that Russians remind me of Kauravas and Ukrainians of Pandavas.