Ashwathama - A lesson to be learned!

Before starting this post, I want to reminisce a bit on our Blog journey. Last year in 2017, it was on Kerala (a state in India) New Year Day called Vishu, I published my first post. This year Saturday (April 14, 2018) is Vishu. So it has been one year since I started my writings. At this moment, I would like to Thank all,  for the encouragement I got from my immediate family, extended family, friends, blog readers and the greater world. It is your comments. views and encouragement that helps me to post every week topics that I assume to be important. I would also very much like to interact with my readers as well. If you feel any Moral, Ethical, Mythological, Philosophical, Astrological topic worth pondering on, please let me know through comments and I would try a stab at it. Thank you for a wonderful and inspirational year. Wishing all a very Happy Vishu! Namaste!

Now to the post. Last week, we discussed a bit on the spiritual law of justice through the post of Kannagi, how due to her rage for being treated unjustly, burned down the beautiful city of Madurai. This week I was planning to write about another Goddess 'Kanyakumari' and how she shows with her life the pursuit of her purpose. Then the chemical attack on innocents in Syria by the regime of Bashar-Al-Assad happened. The atrocity on the innocents and how the kids were sprawled on the ground dead, dying or struggling to breathe left a stab of pain in my mind and I decided that the post on Ashwathama will be apt for this week. 

Syria, Assad, Bashar, Ashwathama
Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria
By Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Before that, what is a chemical attack? A chemical warfare is an act of using chemical substances with toxic properties as weapons to destroy masses. Many types of agents like Mustard gas, Sarin gas, chlorine or any other nerve, choking, blood affecting agents can be used. Anything that cuts the oxygen supply or makes imbalance of the nerve system or interferes with the normal functioning of the body and kills a person in the form of a chemical or poison, but in mass proportions is a chemical attack.

In Vedic wisdom, the 'Prana' or life force is given huge importance and is considered as a thing to be valued and treasured. That Prana is sustained by the air or oxygen we breathe. When that 'Prana Vayu' (or life oxygen) is being cut off using a nerve or chemical or blister or blood agent, it is a terrible thing. Think about it, choking on one's life air, breathing that poisonous gas and struggling to breathe and dying due to the very lack of oxygen/ life air one needs for sustenance. 

Who gives the people lives? Let us think about the kids and adults who died in Syria, struggling to get their life air and choking to their death. Did Bashar-Al-Assad give them the life? If he was not able to give life to even one person, who gave him the right to take away the life of thousands? (Of course, he may have kids. But that too is a divine gift. We humans only perform the acts. The decision whether a person should or not have kids is definitely a prerogative of the divine. Otherwise, every couple in this world would have had kids.) So children and every life is a divine gift. Treasure it with utmost care and nurture and don't kill or put anyone down. But of course, we have to stand up for ourselves if we are put down. But that does not mean we have to put others down. We can stand tall on our two feet even without putting down others. 

So if anyone cannot give life, they don't have the right to take it as well, whether it is a school shooter, a terrorist or a dictator like Assad or many others. In many of the courtrooms in this world only after proving a person is guilty, the proper punishment is given. So how can people become policemen, judge, jury, and executioner at the same time and kill people? In such a scenario, where is the justice for the innocents? Who gave one law for a person who is rich and powerful and another law for weak and downtrodden? My intuition is it is the humans who have brought this difference to this world. A divine who makes sure a baby always gets nine months of nourishment before being born into this world in the mother's womb, will definitely not differentiate people as rich and poor. We, humans, have created this classes, races, castes, colors, and what not and fight among ourselves without thinking about our greater good. Now let us proceed with Ashwathama and see how his story very much relates to the chemical attack.

Ashwathama: Who was Ashwathama? Many of you know the story of Mahabharata, which is the war between two sets of cousins, Pandavas, and Kauravas. Both the two sides of cousins had a teacher or Guru who taught them warfare, archery and martial arts, Drona. Ashwathama was his dear son. He had an extremely close relationship with his dad. So along with the Pandavas and Kauravas, Drona taught Ashwathama also all the warfare lessons and archery. Ashwathama even though a Guru's son was slightly arrogant and egoistic and due to this very nature was closer to Kauravas like Duryodhana and Dussasana.

Drona being lied to: In the Mahabharata war, Drona being the Guru to all and knowing all the mantras (Sacred chants) for all the arrows (many of the arrows were effective in the name of a God and a secret chant has to be said to use the arrow, for eg; Brahmaastra [Brahma's arrow] a chant for Brahma has to be performed.) Drona was decimating the Pandava army. Being the Guru of the court of King Dhritarashtra, Drona had to fight on the side of the Kauravas, as they were the sons of Dhritarashtra.

The army of Pandavas was getting butchered in the hands of Drona and the soldiers were running all over the battlefield. Seeing the way their army is getting annihilated, the younger Pandavas, Bhima, and Arjuna approached Yudhishthira, the oldest Pandava.They told him the way the Pandava army was getting butchered by Drona and if proper action is not taken fast there will be no Pandava army. Yudhishthira asked what can be done? Then Krishna, the divine who was also their guide, their maternal side cousin as well as the charioteer of Arjuna told Yudhishthira that the only way to make Drona give up on war is to say something happened to his dear son Ashwathama.Drona was living only for his son and once that son is taken out of the picture, Drona will not have the will to live.

But the problem was Ashwathama was someone who cannot be defeated. He had a bow called 'Vijaya' (Victory) and as long as he can use it he is always victorious. So here Krishna being the diplomat as well as the strategist gives a technique by which Drona's willpower can be destroyed. He says Yudhishthira who is always honest and virtuous should lie to Drona that Ashwathama, his son has been killed in the battle. Drona is not going to believe it from any other person except Yudhishthira who is well known for his honesty.

Now the question comes.Was it okay for Krishna, the divine to advice Yudhishthira, the honesty incarnate to lie to Drona, so that the battle of Mahabharatha can be won by Pandavas? For that many intelligent interpreters have come to the conclusion, Krishna, the divine was only interested in the larger victory of Pandavas (Good) over Kauravas (Evil). For that, any technique in small scales can be used so that ultimately goodness trumps over evil. Remember as the saying goes, "Everything is fair in love and war". Here winning the larger battle of goodness was more important than the smaller act of lying by Yudhishtira. But here also the Karma ( cause and effect) accrued by Yudhishthira for lying and Krishna for prompting to lie doesn't leave them later. They had to go through the effects of the Karma brought by their acts.

So remember, even the divine Krishna, could not escape the Karma. So think whether Ashwathama or Bashar-Al-Assad could escape the spiritual law and justice? Anyway, let us continue with the story. Upon the guidance of Krishna, first Arjuna and Bhima tell Drona, Ashwathama has been killed. When Drona asks Yudhishthira, he confirms and lies to Drona that in the battle Ashwathama, the elephant was killed. When the term elephant was uttered by Yudhishthira, at the exact time Arjuna and Bhima blew their conch declaring again the war calls. So in that conch sound, Drona just heard, Ashwathama was killed. He didn't hear the term 'elephant'. Immediately Drona became dejected, kept his bow and arrow in his chariot and sat with immense sadness and started meditation. This time Drishtyadumna, Draupadi's brother who was born just to kill Drona, beheaded him. Thus Drona, the Guru was killed in the Mahabharata war.

Drona, Mahabharata, Ashwathama, death
Death of Drona
By Ramanarayanadatta astri, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The anger of Ashwathama: After the war was over, Ashwathama comes to realize the cheating done by Pandavas to kill his father and becomes terribly angry. He could not digest the fact that his father was not killed in a war, but was killed using a lie to overpower him. Now Ashwathama being very close to his father decided to take revenge for his father's death by killing all the five Pandavas.

The day the war was over, he stealthily came to the Pandava camp and saw five men sleeping. In the dark thinking, they are the five Pandavas, killed each one of them by beheading. But they were not Pandavas. They were the five sons of the Pandavas with Draupadi. Thus the lineage of Pandavas was almost decimated. Even after this, not able to control his anger, Ashwathama directed a 'Brahmashira Astra' (Head of Brahma Astra or arrow) at the womb of Uthara, wife of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna who was pregnant with Abhimanyu's son, Parikshit. Remember, Parikshit was the one last link in the lineage of Pandavas surviving. Parikshit was killed in the womb as a baby. But Krishna, being the human form of the divine was able to give back the life to baby Parikshit. 

Cursed by Krishna: Now because of Ashathama not able to overcome his anger, sent a very powerful arrow at a baby in the womb, who was not able to defend itself, Krishna the divine decided to punish him. Ashwathama was born with a gem on his forehead. (In Mythology gems can occur on the forehead ;-)). Krishna asked him to take out the gem from his forehead and surrender it to Krishna. Once Ashwathama did that Krishna cursed him to roam around the worlds with an unhealing wound on his forehead, oozing blood and pus for around 3000 years or until the end of Kali Yuga (time period according to Vedic knowledge). There have been some reports of people spotting a man with such a wound in the Northern parts of India. Who knows the truth? Same as the case of the Lochness Monster. This was the story of Ashwathama.

Analysis:
Now let us analyze and bring it to relate to the current event of the chemical attack. As mentioned previously, Mythology and Vedic wisdom are for us to lead a proper life, not to keep in books as knowledge in some shelf in some library.

The anger of Ashwathama: Indeed the anger Ashwathama felt was justified. His father was killed by trickery and treachery. But can a revenge killing against another killing, is it the proper solution? Now Ashwathama killed the five Upapandavas (sons of Pandavas). He was not punished for that. So for the killing of his father he took revenge by killing five other people. Above that, he directed a powerful arrow at an innocent baby in the womb. Was that justified? Can somebody take revenge on a baby that cannot defend itself? Did the baby Parikshit do anything to justify the way he was cut up in the womb by Ashwathama? The baby did not escape and it died. It was later given life and brought back to life by Krishna, the divine.

Here another thing to note that who was able to give life to the baby? Not Ashwathama or the Pandavas or not even Uthara, the mother of the baby. But Krishna, the divine in the human form. So what can we understand from this? The one and only being who can give life is the divine. Nobody or no one else can give the treasure or gift of life. So who is the only one who can take away the life? Only the divine. Nobody and no one else should do that. The death penalty in many countries, even today is being discussed and there is any number of reasons on both sides that can be argued. But according to Mythology, a life can be taken only in a battle when the party on the opposite side also has a sword or arrow or mace to defend himself/herself. So in this case, the way Ashwathama killed the Upapandavas also doesn't become justified or even the way Drona was killed by Drushtyadumna cannot be justified. But it is a fact in Mahabharatha, Drishtadumna was killed by Ashwathama and he also killed the Upapandavas. So here Karma didn't spare Drishtyadumna as well.

Even the divine in the human form, Krishna could not escape the iron hands of Karma. Later at the end of Mahabharata, Krishna gets shot by an arrow from the hunter called Jara and dies and the clan of Krishna, the Yadavas also gets destroyed due to infighting. Neither the divine in the form of Krishna nor us mere humans can escape the principle of Karma.

The curse on Ashwathama: Krishna curses Ashwathama. This was mainly for the way Ashwathama was not able to control the anger and the way he killed sleeping people and later even directed his arrow and killed an innocent baby. As mentioned before, a person should be only fought and killed when that person is aware of the danger he/she is in and can defend themselves with a sword, arrow or mace. But this scenario even in Mahabharatha is only applicable in a battlefield. Not in a school, or a church or in a mall. There a person has not come to perform battle and they are not in the mindset of a war and they again are considered innocents. So here also according to mythology, there is absolutely no tenet to kill innocents. If that is the case think about someone coming into one's home or the sacred private space and killing or injuring people. That also is a big 'NO' according to the spiritual justice/Karma/mythology.

So here is Ashwathama who is killing innocents, sleeping or in the baby form. Isn't his curse of roaming the Earth for eons with an unhealing wound justified? If in Mythology, Ashwathama got the curse and was brought to task, don't you think the same Karma theory will work for Bashar-Al-Assad who is killing innocents by gassing them with poisonous fumes? Will he escape from the fangs of justice? Will the Goddess of Spiritual justice leave someone who is killing innocents, who are not able to defend themselves, alone?

Now to the current events: On, April 7, 2018, Saturday, the regime of Bashar-Al-Assad used chemical weapons against the civilians in the place called Douma. There were children and women in the 42 assumed dead. They were in their homes and the poisonous gas made them choke, faint and fall and die like insects in the hallways of their homes while trying to escape the poisonous gases. Is that the best way to fight a war? Gassing civilians who are choking and gasping for their very life air (Prana Vayu- Life breath). Did Bashar-Al-Assad, give life to any of them? So can he or his men take away the life from any of them?

We could see pictures and videos of people and babies gasping for air, trying to live and breathe. Now, remember in the Ashwathama story he killed, yes even though an atrocious act, one baby. For that, he is being cursed to roam around the worlds for eons. Now Basher-Al-Assad in the last seven years has killed numerous defenseless babies, children, women, and men in innumerable chemical and gas attacks. So according to Karma theory if Ashwathama got eons to roam around the world, how much is Bashar-Al-Assad going to get? Do we want to be in his place when the divine judgment comes? Do we want to be in front of the Spiritual law, in his shoes? No, never and absolutely not. 

Syria, war, civil war, Bashar, Assad
A picture of  the Syrian civil war
By Voice of America News: Scott Bobb [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
My intuition is ringing with warning bells at the Karma that people are acquiring with their senseless acts. As previously mentioned one may be able to escape human justice, through power, connections or influence. But in the realm of Spiritual justice, can we be sure we can escape retribution? As per the information I have read as well as my intuition suggests, in the realm of Spiritual laws interfering with another's life as well as their purpose is a huge 'No'. Any type of interference, whether to kill somebody, to stop someone from doing what they want to do or even misguiding someone away from their purpose deliberately brings down the wrath of the Spiritual justice or Karma. Sometimes we also have to analyze negative actions and negative behaviors of people to realize what we absolutely should not do.

Many times in our peanut sized brains (pun intended), we humans don't realize this major spiritual tenet. We keep on interfering in other's lives, whether as a family, friend, a dictator or a terrorist. The only way we are really supposed to interfere is to bring positive changes into another's life. If we cannot bring that then, the only thing we should do is to leave them alone. Instead, we keep on putting our noses into other people's affairs.

Another thing to note, Ashwathama was cursed to roam around the worlds in a body that was diseased and oozing with pus from the wound. But in the case of Bashar-Al-Assad, if he gets the same punishment, (Who knows, the ways of the divine can never be judged or predicted), it is going to be after death. So no physical body here only the soul/spirit or Atman. As we discussed before an Atman cannot be seen, smelt, heard, tasted or felt. So basically if there is no divine grace, the Atman, which no one knows exists is going to roam around the Worlds without peace or salvation, for eternities. Think, should any one of us deliberately opt for that? The actions of Bashar-Al-Assad or any terrorist who kills people without sense is deliberately opting for that. Even imagining about it brings terror into our mind. Leading a life or whiling away time in utter loneliness for eons, as a spirit. Terrible retribution, it will be! Do I know it? No! But somehow whenever I think about his actions, a pang of fear arises in my mind, each and every single time.

Example of Rama: In the epic Ramayana, when just one washer-man spoke against keeping Seetha as Rama's wife, due to the time she was in Lanka, Rama being a great King, deserted Seetha in the forest. That action (even though I am against it), showed to the World that a King should very first look after the welfare of his people. A King or a ruler or a monarch or a President is only effective if he has the hearts and minds of his people. A King/ Emperor/President is made by the people. The minute a person loses the hearts and minds of his people, he no more has the ability to rule his people. 

Here, Bashar-Al-Assad has lost the hearts of his people. Now any actions he takes will bring only negative consequences. The most proper thing he can do is to step down from power. But 'POWER' is very addictive. So being in the position of Rama or Ashwathama, he is bringing in the very heavy hand of Spiritual justice on himself. The tears, pain and the terror he has inflicted on people will be given back to him in the exact measure, when and wherever the divine decides. The only thing we can do is just pray to the divine, to be a bit kind on him.

In the Bible there is a famous quote of Luke 23:34, Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

So let us also repeat the same thing, "Divine, forgive him, for he doesn't know what he is doing".

I wish you a good weekend and I'll see you next Friday! 😉

Next week: Chemical attack - Where is the Ethics or Dharma?
 
Note:
Images from Wikimedia Commons.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance ; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried".  


 
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Comments

  1. Akka, great going. Proud of you!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Anonymous. Yes, it is all of your comments, views and encouragement that helps me to post every week.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I realized the way you incorporated "Spiritual Justice " and the true meaning of "Vedic Scriptures " and Mythology in Present life scenario is very awakening . Alas ! We humans have lost the true Significance of Culture and engrained ourselves with Radical Mindset that exclusive of these of values . Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Unknown, Thank you for the comment. The truth, humans don't understand is, in the mythology almost all things are metaphorical from the energy realm. For example think of someone who hurts or kills people. For themselves, they can never find joy. Because only after having the hurt or killing mentality within, it can manifest outside. Every single thing in our own life is a reflection of our inner life. We manifested it consciously or unconsciously. Same way, only a person who has joy, contentment and peace within can extend the same to another. Even if they are the greatest/grandest leader, if they don't have a joyful cup of emotions within, they can't share it with another. How can contents of an empty cup be shared, right? The hell and heaven are very much here, within each of us. What are we creating for ourselves -heaven or hell? Now, the concept of deliberate choice and discernment comes. What are we choosing for ourselves, no, not for another. But for ourselves - hate/rage or love/peace. So, simple, yet so complicated. Happy New Year! :-)) Best. Swaroopa

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